What is easy to understand but quite a difficult task to set oneself to is the meditation on: What is the real self? What are you really? What is part of you? What is not part of you and has been impressed on you?
The Culture programme presenter’s interview of Baba Avdhoot Shivanandji on MBC 1 last week was a most laudable initiative. Swamiji’s discourse on ShivYog always generates serenity, peace and joy. Devotees and regular listeners and viewers of TV programmes set up by the vast association are well acquainted with the philosophy transmitted by ShivYog. So what the Swami explains may sound familiar, but proper concentration and daily attention are needed to be permanently imbibed with the predominating philosophical guidelines taught by ShivYog’s spiritual leader. To those who are barely informed about the teachings and activities of the association, the interview might serve as an introduction to arouse interest and participation. In the course of the interview a few autobiographical elements shed light on the spiritual path he started following at the age of 7/8 when he was selected by ShivYog’s founder to become the future guru and carry on transmitting knowledge of the basic philosophy which is at the core of Hinduism. Similarly, well-known philosopher Krishnamurti was chosen at the age of 7 to become the spiritual guide of millions of people. In interviews, speeches and interactions with the public, he reached out to huge crowds in India and Europe. Krishnamurti’s discourses are relevant to people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds across the world today because of the absence of dogmas and fixated ideas, which are highly appealing to people who increasingly aspire to think for themselves and seek liberation from social relationships and roles imposed by constraining social organizations and circumstances. Self-knowledge and understanding society and the world we live in, and defining our place and role consciously are the guidelines that still make followers turn to the philosopher’s writings, video speeches and interactions with the public for guidance today. Baba Avdhoot Shivanandji’s discourses and exchanges with the public in Hindi are interpersed with anecdotes, a few English phrases and a playful sense of humour. We are not surprised to learn that he was honoured in four states in the U.S. where his approach to spirituality must have favorably echoed in the hearts of Americans. Emphasis on finding and realizing the nature of one’s real Self has a liberating effect on those who seek answers to their various queries. Every reminder that ShivYog is Science beyond Science instantly summons to our mind the teachings on the five bodies, the chakras, the three gunas, karma, the flow of energy in the human anatomy, the five elements and how we connect to Nature and the Universe. ‘You are the creator of your own destiny’ is another key aspect of his teachings. It lays emphasis on knowing oneself, listening to our emotional and intellectual intelligence, understanding the source of impulses and desires, the quality of thought and the way it impacts our actions and deeds. Ultimately, it leads to the core of Dharmic culture: doing the righteous thing. With all this in mind, the other constant reminder that ‘Shivyogis never complain’ sounds like a logical conclusion. It implies the notion of responsibility in channeling one’s energy and action, self-control, discipline, faith and hope. What is easy to understand but quite a difficult task to set oneself to is the meditation on: What is the real self? What are you really? What is part of you? What is not part of you and has been impressed on you? The Swami constantly invites devotees to get rid of psychic impressions which he says do not belong to us, which are not part of ourselves and which we should not identify with. Basically, we are a peaceful lake which is disturbed by ripples on a daily basis and over the years, ShivYog reminds us. Remembering this three times a day, morning, midday and evening, is quite helpful to recover serenity and peace. In between, deal with the disturbing ripples. Unconditional Love in the family without being judgmental is also a key pillar of wisdom in ShivYog. Family being a small unit society is composed of, it is a sound way to build an uplifting humane society. Highly advanced meditation sessions in groups under the guidance of swamis shows a halo of white light coming down in photos, called the divine light. Finding the light within ourselves is an invitation to spiritual elevation. A sound piece of advice Swamiji repeatedly gives in his public sessions is to connect to the Cosmic Energy to re-fill our bodies, our hearts, minds and whole beings with that energy we are part and parcel of. May we suggest that the Culture presenter on MBC1 also invite members of the public to participate and ask questions on Philosophy and Science in future programmes on ShivYog and other associations.
Currently, the different episodes of ‘Mahakali’ featuring the subliminal abode of the gods and goddesses, the thought-provoking verbal exchanges between them, the deep philosophical meanings running through them are a delight to the mind. The epic serial is a masterpiece of sound, light, colours and dialogues depicting the realm of gods and daemons, of light and darkness. Recurrent portrayal of Parvati morphing into Kali, from white to blue and the soundtrack that accompanies it is excellent. It beautifully depicts the metamorphosis of Parvati to destroy evil forces, which implies a transformation of the same energy into different shapes in different circumstances. At Mahadev’s instigation, Parvati has no choice than take the initiative to defeat aggressive daemons to save herself by gathering all her strength and unleashing a pitiless destruction of evil. Arguments put forward by different protagonists are replete with intelligence and wisdom. Parvati’s loneliness in having to take decisions to shape her destiny is a perfect illustration of the human condition. Yet, connection to the bigger and higher elevating energy is a source of inspiration, enlightenment and hope. Shiva/Shakti non-duality and immersion into One comes up as the ultimate Truth. Shivo ham, I am Shiva – the core essence of Shivyog, union with the Divine. Mahabharata is another epic serial with deep philosophical meanings being aired these days. It will be too lengthy to go through all the details of its teachings on master/disciple relationship, sense of duty, karma, the symbolism of the battlefield, self-control, ambition, desire, greed, sufferings and moksha, liberation. Let us express our thanks to the producers of epic serials in India. They have done a great work in making available the drama and greatness of great epics to millions of homes.
* Published in print edition on 28 September 2018