Monday, 27 February 2017

Saint Soldier: Namaste

Namaste, Yogis and Yoginis!  Have you heard of Saint Soldier, Canada's own Sikh rapper taking on gang violence and other weighty social issues here and in India?

"Do you feel it? Love's the realest..." Saint Soldier, Namaste

Stories of King Janaka: Yajnavalkya and the Light of Man

Yajnavalkya, Image Source: Wikipedia
Yajnavalkya is one of the earliest philosophers in recorded history.

He is famous for coining the word "Advaita" and for debating the nature of existence using the method of neti neti ("not this, not this") to discover the universal Self and Ātman.

He is also applauded as one of the rare Vedic scholars in history who encouraged and included women in the study of scriptures and debate, as seen here in a comment addressed to Maitreyi:

One should indeed see, hear, understand and meditate over the Self, O Maitreyi;
indeed, he who has seen, heard, reflected and understood the Self – by him alone the whole world comes to be known.
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

This story of Yajnavalkya and King Janaka, also from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, points to the Self as the source of illumination when all other lights have gone out.

Here is a longer narrated version of the same text for you to enjoy:

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya speaks with King Janaka

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What do the Yogis Say About Success?

Rama and King Janaka, Image Source, V&A Archives
Recently I was asked, "What do the Yogis say about success?"

Not feeling particularly "successful" myself at that moment, my response was, "I think I should ask a Swami!"

The reply I received from Swami Kashi said to read the stories of King Janaka, the wise Philosopher-King and father of Janaki, also known as Sita, wife of God-King Rama.**

Swamiji said,

"King Janaka is an example of a very rich, very successful person, who was a Brahma Jnani.  There's no contradiction between the two.  It is about your approach to your possessions and how you deal with it (such as generosity etc.) and not the numbers that make the difference."

Hahaha!  How characteristic that Swamiji's answer would require a little "homework"!

Authentic teachers always prompt us to investigate for ourselves.  Besides, those of you who know me as Swamiji does, know how much I loooooooove geeky yoga homework!

I suspect that such educational and entertaining research might benefit others as well, so I'm offering a sampling here, in a series of posts over the next several days titled, "Stories of King Janaka".

I hope you find them as amusing and inspiring as I do.

Thank you Sharon for your excellent question, and thank you Swamiji for your fitting reply!

**Important Update** Swami Kashi has informed me that actually, King Janaka, the father of Sita is NOT the same King Janaka mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (3.20) and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.  Looks like I have some additional homework to do to make sure I'm sharing stories of the correct King Janaka.  Lol, otherwise, I'll have to change the title of the series to "Stories of King JanakaS"!

You Can Learn to Read Sanskrit

The Rig Veda in Devanagari Script
I just came across this extremely helpful series of videos on YouTube for all of you who are interested in learning to read Sanskrit!

You may be wondering, "Um, Tara... why would I do that?  Isn't Sanskrit a difficult language?  Who has time for that?  Can't I just stick with translations?"

If you would like to experience the full benefits of yoga I encourage you to make a little effort in this matter.  It's not as difficult or as time consuming as you think to learn the sounds and read simple words and mantras.

Translations inevitably reflect the bias of the translator.  Yoga encourages us to use our intellects to study, and also to verify and integrate those learnings through our own experience.

Therefore, I think it is well worth the effort to compare translations and better yet, form your own interpretations of foundational texts based on knowledge of the original language, the wise counsel of your most trusted teachers and your own reflection and life.

The sounds of Sanskrit, which is described as a "perfect" language, have a resonance which may be diluted when mispronounced or when heard only in translation.  Even if you have no intention of becoming a Sanskrit scholar, you can benefit from the "good vibrations" of the sounds and the energies they invoke.

So go for it!

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson One

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson Two

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson Three

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson Four

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson Five

Learn to Read Sanskrit, Lesson Six

Just in case you're still dubious about your ability to grasp this, check out these British schoolchildren reading, writing and chanting in Sanskrit!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Swami Kashi is Opening an Ashram!

Chaitanya Tapovan Ashram in India
Wow!  I'm so excited to share the news! Swami Kashi is opening an ashram in India!

He's already been leading yatras and retreats there for a few years now, but after 16 years of living in India, it will be fantastic for him to have his own centre!

Take a look at his 2017 schedule of events taking place around the world.

Fonte Avellana Monastery in Italy

This Vicharana Retreat in Italy looks spectacular!  It will be held at a beautiful 1000 year old Christian monastery three hours from Florence.  If you sign up before March 1, 2017 you can save $100 off the registration.

You can also watch his free lectures on YouTube.

I encourage you to attend whatever live teachings are taking place in your neighborhood or call to you from across the globe.

Swamiji's teachings are well grounded in countless hours of sincere self enquiry, study and service. By the way, he's also one of the best storytellers I know!

Swamiji's new puppies!
And guess what?  These cute fluffy little pups, a boy and a girl, are the new residents of the ashram!

They don't have names yet, so if you have any suggestions you can send them to:

Swami Kashi Muktananda Sarasvati Ki - Jai!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Love Love Love

My heart-felt Valentine for YOU!

Happy Valentine's Day, Yogis and Yoginis!

Wishing everyone a day overflowing with love of all descriptions, for the world, for those you care about, and for you, my dear friends and teachers!

Thank you!  I love you!

May the long time sun shine upon you!

All LOVE surround you!

And the pure light within you,
guide your way on!

Snatam Kaur at the Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas