Samstag, September 07, 2013

Yoga, PrAnAyAma and Mudras

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali eight stages are declared to be most important to practice, and the fourth - the middle one, PrAnAyAma, is very important to give your yogapractice a healthy and long lasting platform. Unfortunate it is almost lost in most of the yogaschools to teach that great practice, due to lack of interest or ignorance. It may also has to do with the focus Yoga asanas are be taught in western schools, as they dont want to develop spiritual practice instead just a good, healthy lifestyle.
PrAnAyAma is not a idle practice of Patanjali Yoga sutras, but also found in pancaratra, tantric texts as well found in vedic rituals like sandhyavandanam. We find up to 13 different prAnAyAmas there, all mainly in sitting position (but those may differ in calm or more extreme positions) and go along with recitations of mantras of a particular deity which one prepares to worship. There has been bjiaksharas (rootmantras) for each deity, which can be used for prAnAyAma in different count systems. Main idea is to regulate the inflowing and outflowing air by keeping the filled lungs or empty lungs under count, and purify by this not just the energetic centers (chakras), but also enhance the many Naadis (chanels of power inside) of the physical and mental body. Also raising the kundalini lifeforce from the Muladhara Chakra is one of those different practices by upasakas. 
Along with this a more unknown practice of Mudras are to be taught. Mudras are seals, not handgestures as we know of the ritual texts. They are connected with the PrAnAyAma practice, and will do give fast results of yoga asana, if done under a good teacher.
Both Pranayama and Mudra should be learned as first by a personal Instructor/teacher of Yoga, as he him self has learned that practice by a living teacher too. Reading it from a Book is not enough. Escpecially if it comes with mantra practice, which makes the counting, holding breath and meditation most difficult for the aspirant.

Donnerstag, August 29, 2013

Mysore Sri Svetha Varaha Swamy Temple

Inside the huge palace area the ancient kings of Mysore had many temple built for Lord Krishna and his different manifestations in all the famous Forms found all over asia. Also they have been great worshipper of Goddess Parvati on the hillock which is even today a very splendous temple complex with lot of riches and fantastic rituals to see. In ancient times the hill was used by great tapasvis to do severe yoga practise, and achieve great boons by this. The value of those sages was a spiritual upliftment of the whole country which is much more difficult to get, but it is lasting for generations. Therefore south india had been such a blessed place.
One of the Temple inside the huge palace complex area is the wonderful Sri Svetha Varaha Swamy temple. It is done in typical Hoyshala building style, with fantastic paintings from puranas and Ramayana from around the 17th century inside the main shrine. In the sanctum sanctorum is a very unusual form of Lord Sri Varaha, made from white Marble and not very big in size. His name is derived from that colour as he is worshipped as the ruling Avatara of that particular Kalpa were the 7. Vaivasvata Manvantara is running now (71 Caturyugas = 1 Manvantara and we have 14 Manvantaras in on Kalpa!). As Sri Varaha Swamy is coming in different colours to different Kalpas, like black, red (yajna Varaha) he had come now in this Kalpa in white. He`s purpose is to deminish hatred and greed and to establish Dharma, righteousness and care of mother earth.
The kings of Mysore were very pious once upon a time and did promote generiousity and religious freedom, they did know that the secret worship of Varaha brings prosperity, devotion and harmony to the land, and they supported the pancaratra study in that field with great efforts. The Sanskrit university and those Math`s which focussed on spiritual advancement, like Parakala Math (the great upasakas on Hayagriva), Sri Vyasaraya Math etc. got much support in those days. One secret is known to the Varaha upasakas once the King of Mysore established the Sri Sveta Varaha worship one of the gold mines near Mysore recieved the news that a big gold vein is found. It is well known that devotees who worship Varaha seriously get all blessings. He, as worshipped by Bhudevi, promise in the famous carama sloka from the Varaha Purana:

"sthite manasi susvasthe sarIre sati yo narah /
dhaatu saamye sthite smartaa visvarUpaM ca maam aham //
tatas thum mriyamaanaM tu kaashta-paashaana sannibham /
aham smaraami mad bhaktam nayaami paramaam gatim //"


"If a person, while having mind and body in good shape with all the natural elements in perfect harmony, thinks of me as the giver of Liberation when such a person reaches the time of death unable to think properly, I will remember that person at that time and take him to the highest state/abode."

This sloka talks about the final conclusion on sastra:
1. Time of saranagathi - Saranagathi must be done when one is young 
2. Who can do saranagathi - Anybody can do saranagathi
3. Way to do saranagathi - Just thinking (smarthaa) is sufficient, do not have to do physically strain even
4. What to contemplate on - Contemplate on him the remover of birth/death
BhuVaraha Swamy of SriMushnam and Mysore
But it is also known, especially by the Madhva Tradition secret Mantras on Varaha are only for Tapasvis, tyagis or ascetics and kept for those who want to follow the simple path of varaha upasana only. Therefore the tradition of Varaha upasana had been dried out fast. Few temples apart from this Sri Svetha Varaha Temple existing in south like the one in Sri Mushnam which is one of the 8 svayam avyakta Ksetras and a very similar Vigraha, except the colour, which is black. The entire kingdom of the Guptas were great worshippers of Lord Varaha, unfortunate only ruins of those temples and Murthys are found nowadays in Madhyapradesh. But to this place we will travel later!

Mysore Palace and the tradition of south indian Art

Mysore, the city of Yoga and great History

Mysore has been developed rapidly especially the Gokul area of the town, were the famous Astanga Yoga centrum by Pattabhi Jois has been established. I have been here 1991 and can see the clear difference in sites, prices of land and people as well.
Yoga had and still have a very strong influence on Mysore, as most backpackers and travellers come to this city for learning or exploring this art. Of course mysore as a ancient city has a lot of different subjects to offer, many good musicians come from here from were one can learn, bombastic palaces and temples are in and around the place and a very famous sanskrit University and library is attached to this place. That is also the spot were T. Krishnamacharya has started his career as a sanskrit/Nyaya philosopher, but thought about to teach something different, which he has learned in the Himalayas. YOGA ...
Many things has been written, published and documented on this in the west – much more then Ayurveda, Vastu or  vedic astrology, still the western approach is much different then the original idea is taught in classical schools of Yoga in India. In India many they expect a very strict discipline on the disciple which many westerners can`t or wont` follow. On top of this comes the difference in understanding the cultural and ethical pillars of Yoga, were indians believe the mingling of opposite sex is the death of Yoga practice, expect you do the Vama Marga (by the way very rare that people can follow that too).  Westeners dont seems to be interested in the first pillars of Yoga taught by Patanjali (Yama and Niyama is all about that). I have read many socalled „commentaries“ by westeners and even modern indians on the Yoga Sutras, were would ask after reading it, if he is writing about Yogasutras based on the sutras or on his material polluted ideas of „ i become famous“? Anyhow therefore BNS Iyengar, who is one of the last disciple of T. Krishnamacarya in Mysore teach two classes one for indians and one for westeners in two different places in mysore. The main course for indians is held in the very orthodox Parakala Matham Temple compound of the Vadakalai Sri Vaishnava Tradition, near Jagan Mohan Palace. Their are very strict group of worshippers following the Hayagriva Upasana. It may had clashed with the western understanding of living,as this place is still a place of worship and rituals very much. Therefore he has another course to offer, which is mainly for westeners in one private House near the chamaraj double road, Lakshmi talkies (cinema). Courses are usually between 7 am and 12 amevery day, except Sunday.
T.Krishnamacarya in PadmAsana

Mystic Mysore spring 2013

We as family came for the first time with our small boy Prahlada to south india, to study special field of Yoga and classical Music on Veena instrument. I had found out that there is still one of the last legend of T.Krishnamacharya`s disciples living and teaching yoga practise in mysore on the basis on his learning from that great saint and Guru. I had study Yoga branches for some good time and had the great chance in learning my yoga teacher training under a very competent teacher and friend Christof Kraft ( But i wanted to add some special branch known as Pranayama and Mudra to my learning on yoga, and that is were this mystical disciple of T. Krishnamacarya by the name BNS Iyengar comes in the picture.

He is not known to many outside of india as his almost same name bearer BKS Iyengar, who even wrote a very elaborate book on Pranayama in the year 1969. But most in all modern yoga schools have forgotten or underestimated Pranayama for their practise, what to speak of Mudras. Coming from the background of pancaratra and rituals i have learned more then 108 Mudras for Rituals, which are mainly hand gestures to invoke the deity presence. But in yoga tradition Mudras are totally something different. They are called "Seals", which are done with the prana while holding a special asana or form posture with the body. To get explored to that kind of secret teaching i booked my family room inside the crowed city of Mysore to study under BNS Iyengar daily pranayama and Mudra sessions for a month. He is a very interesting character, strong in his words, precise in his explanation and can be very strong/rude in his words if you dont catch fast the point he wants to make. "Tapasya", which is what yogaabhyasa is all about, makes the person strong but also "krura", a bit of explosive, angry type of temperament. Anyhow his teaching was very value to me, and it will stay with me for my rest of my life. Asana, pranayama and mudra are not just a weekend play but a daily practise, which are need to be every day expierenced. He has a small school were everyone is invited to come and stay, but mainly in longer term, like one month and more, to really settle the teachings of yoga in your mind/body.

Samstag, Dezember 29, 2012

starting the new year 2013

Life getting drilled into a certain perspective after experience many obstacles, so it is the best if one remembers God in his majestic and blessing mood, Lord Varadaraja (the God of ful blessings)! Many things happens in the past year (good and bad) and hope that the year 2013 brings fine prosperity, happiness and spiritual upliftment for all of us!!!
Jaya sriman Narayana!

Freitag, Juni 01, 2012


One of the best places of Narasimha worship is found in the crowded town of Vishakapatnam, actually 9 km away from it, on top of the mountain range. Those mountain area lead right up to the ocean and it is said from the puranas, that it was here that Hiranyakashipu ordered his men to trow his own son sri Prahlada from this mountain to be crushed. But as we know he was saved by Lord Narayana and Prahlad in great greatitude built a special shrine for this. Its special feature to be a Varaha Narasimha combined Murthy, as his face is a Boar, having human torso and having a tail is so unique nowhere found except here. Also his padas are covered and not seen in his original form. And only once a year this Murthy is giving Darshan in his Nija Rupa, as the rest of the year his is totally covered with Sandelwood powder.
I have visited this shrine the first time in spring 1995 and only 17 years later i had come back here and i was very happy to see not much change has creaped in that holy town of Simhachalam. It is still remote, the temple is faily mantained, every day is a beautiful marriage performed for Him, only the pilgrims have increased dramatically. My main purpose apart of taking Darshan of the Lord was to study and digitalize the 32 forms of Lord Narasimha given in the inner prakaram as carvings for book to come out.
To get the special permits and a proper guidance was due to the blessings of Sri Chinnajeeyar Swamy and his devotees like Narayana Reddy, were i could stay over night and get all the good contacts from.

We started early and had a wonderful darshan, of the egglike sandelwood form of Lord Narasimha, was welcomed by HG Sitaramagalu Swamy one of the oldest and best pancaratric Gurus in south india. Wellknown for his scholarship in agamas i had a wonderful interview with him on different subjects on Narasimha worship in Simhachalam.
He showed me the Simhachalam Mahatmiya which describe the 32 forms of Lord with each special feature. Unfortunate in the years of the 17th century the temple was almost destroyed by the mleecha muslim invaders and some of the carvings are not complete anymore. Still we could make out most of them with the guidance of HG Sitaramagalu Swamy.

Kurma Ksetra with a lot of kurmas!

Outside of the temple compound there is a "gilded cage" were a lot of living Kurmas* are kept for pilgrims and kids to see... how wonderful!

Kurma Ksetra Patala Narasimha

One of the special feature apart from the only one Kurma Deity Temple in this world is the unique bathing tank in front of the Kurma Temple. A huge water tank with a single Mandapa in the middle is visible. But not many people know why it is there.

It is said that a special Ugra Narasimha Murthy by the Name "Patala Narasimha" is placed beneath. Normally that form is only worshipped in the region of Patala (below the Bhu mandala) by great devotees like Bali or Prahlada. It is said that this deity was so furious to handle and the worship was placed in a body of water to keep it cool and pure.
There is only one carving remembering the worship of Lord Patala Narasimha visible in the Kurma Temple, were pilgrims put Sandalwood powder over him, - again to cooool Him down! 

Sri Kurma Ksetra / Andhra Pradesh

Kurma Ksetra is a beautiful place up in the north of Andra Pradesh, not far from the Orissa Border. It is a place of antiquity and has a very special history. Once upon a time this Kurma Deity was worshipped as a Shiva Lingam, as it was in the hands of shaiva pandits for some time after the buddhist tradition had left orissa and the area connected to it (around 3th AD century). It is said also that Sri Sankaracarya (7th century) had come here and established the pujas according to his belief.  
But in the Mahatmiya scripture (ancient writings about the history of the particual place) it is mentioned that on Ekadasi day there was a strong prayer by one of his devotee to save him from breaking its vow of full fast. As Sri Kurma is worshipped to mantain any vow (vrata) and stability in spiritual practise He promissed to protect her. He appeared in front of her in his Murthy Form and was worshipped by all different subtle higher beings of this Bhu Mandala region and later on a special temple was built around Him.   
In the years of the 11th century Sripad Ramanujacharya visited north india and came also to Orissa were the famous Sri Jagannath Puri city is situated. In one book by the name "Prapannamrta" chapter 36 a story of Sri Ramanuja and Lord Jagannatha is given. "When Sri Ramanuja saw the way the pujaris were worshipping the Jagannatha deity, he was thinking that it was not according to Vaishnava tradition, as this God represents Lord Vishnu indeed. He explained to them the rules and regulations according to Pancaratrika Vidhi, and the whole priesthood of the town became upset with the situation. They were doing the puja according to the rules set by Sri Shankaracarya in the mode of pancayatana ritual (5 principal Gods on equal level) and other secret tantras from their line of ancient code of Sarabas (herdsmen of pigs, goats etc.). A mystical story tells that same night after he instructed them, Lord Jagannath appeared to Ramanujacharya in his dream, right there in Puri, and told him, “I am very satisfied with the love and devotion in which my pujaris are worshipping Me. I don’t want you to change it.” Therefore that night Lord Jagannath personally threw Ramanujacharya to Kurmakshetra.

So when Ramanujacharya woke up, here he was in front of the deity of Kurmadev. He thaught it was the divine command of Lord Jagannath that he had come here and began to fast. Then he recognised that there was a head and a tail, little feet and not a Shiva Lingam as it was worshipped. So he could convince the priests to establish the gorgeous worship of Pancaratra here (with a trikala puja ritual). Also Sri Ramanujacharya installed the deities of Sridevi and Bhudevi next to the deity of Kurmadeva and did some good renovation on the temple complex.


 Later in the 14th century Sripad Madhvacharya came here on his pilgrimage to Badrinatha and also did worship personally Sri Kurmadeva here. After some time he ordered to built a special shrine for Sita Rama which is still also worshipped up today. One of his close disciple Sri Narahari Tirtha did stay here and stopped the looting and assault by chandalas to destroy the temple with his personal effort.
And in the famous Chaitanya Caritamrta Volume Madhya Lila 7.chapter Vers 113 -119 it tells about the visit of Lord Chaitanya to Kurma Ksetra in the 15th century.

Mittwoch, Mai 30, 2012

Mandasa 2012

My friend Madhusudana who is the main archaka for over seeing the special puja functions and is the main teacher in Agamas and Pancaratra in the Gurukula school in Vijayawada. A really special person and great wellwisher of mine!

Mandasa Brahmotsava spring 2012

The Utsava with the Murthy aroud the village was wonderful and i had the chance to be one of the carriers to help and assist. Actually the Lord do carry us all the time, but we attend to forget those good point...! HH Chinna Jeeyar swamy attended the festival and we all enjoyed his company!

Mahendra giri next to Mandasa village

Mahendra Giri is a mountain range described even in the epic Mahabharata and is identified to be the part of the mountain ranges in the east coast of India in Orissa. It is here were Lord Parashurama did his tapasya and did his worship and got the boon to stay up to the next pralaya (destruction of the universe). Later on he moved to Kerala and it is said that he is still visiting those mountains on shivaratri days (the festival of lord shiva, his personal Guru). Also it is said that the Pandavas did visit this place and ordered to built temples and places of worhip here. Not much is left and only one can find ruins in and around Mahendra Giri. I did walsk a bit around inside the jungle area and have found some stone pillars, carvings on rocks and even some carved lions (see pic). A very mystical place indeed!

Mandasa temple, andhra pradesh

The temple is made from red sandstone and granit and is made beautiful carved with artistic vastu view in perfection. Each digpalaka Devata is seating properly in his right direction, and even some kamasutra carvings are there. At the backside of the temple one finds a 4 handed Ugra Narasimha murthy. Ther daily puja is mantained with trikala upasana (on 3 different times of the day with 16 upacaras worship) and the Vasudeva Murthy is around 2 meters in size. He as a beautiful set of Utsava deities in a seperate shrine and they come out for special functions and ceremonies like the Brahmotsava which took place middle of february 2012.

Dienstag, Mai 29, 2012

Mandasa temple 2

This plate shows some historical background for the temple Vasudeva Perumal in Mandasa, and he is the priest who is doing seva there. he has one son and one daughter who are all living only in one room falt next to the temple. very simple lifestyle to austere for westerners and modern indians as well!

Dienstag, März 13, 2012

Mandasa history

just 4 hours away from JagannathaPuri, just next to the orissa/andhrapradesh border a very special and ancient temple is hidden in the dense forest. Just few years back this area has been strongly occupied by naxal/mao guerilla and the temple has been looted of all his wealth and ancient treasure. Pujas had been stopped and the utsava vigrahas were moved to other more like city temples. Until HH Chinna jeeyar Swami had come and made a sankalpa to renovate and restorate this ancient spot to his old glory. The history goes back to the 14th century and the building was done in the oriya style like jagannathapuri temple. I came for the annual Brahmotsava and the pranpratistha ceremony for a old rebuilt shrine for Hanuman.
It took us more then 3 hours by car from Vizag on this crazy highway which leads to calcutta, and which has one of the highest death toll in accidents. We saw few very devastating accidents on the way, with burning of cars etc. was looking like war ! Anyhow we made it safe to Mandasa and arrived in midnight. I came in the car of Ahobilam Jeeyar, so he was recieved with Purna Kumbha and sannyas sukta... and we had a wonderful darshan of the temple with the Moon as our lightgiver.

Vizag Asta Mukha Ganda Berunda Narasimha temple

I have recieved some informations that 4 temples existing of this special Form of Lord Narasimha, and one is in Vizag (Visakhapatnam). I got the infos from a Narasimha upasaka from Guntur, Mr. Prasad who helped me to get to this place. It is faroff from the main city, near the new iskcon temple and the vedic school of HH Chinna jeeyar swamy, opposite the University just next to the seashore. It took us a bit to find the road (as usual in india) but we managed to get there. It is a ancient siddhaplace with a Mahashivalingam at the center of the spot. But just before you enter the temple complex you will find a small temple shrine with 8 windows. Each window you can see the different face. Unfortunate the Upasaka who built the temple has left the world allready, and only once in a year the perform special puja in this shrine. What i saw is that some differences in the faces and numbers of arms is here, and the pujas are all done not according to pancaratra but pancopasana. Anyhow the Yagyashala just opposite this special Narasimha shrine is huge and very impressive.
The only sad story is that only once a year they perform puja for the murthy and it looks very idle and desert.

Yoga, Puja and teaching to mankind

Shamshabad Temple, or Divya Sanketam is a special place, not just for the sake of spiritual importance for the coming future, but also in his effort to teach and educate all levels of human interest and needs. I have visited the quarters of the young students in agamas/priesthood and have seen the school for the blind, both equipped with handsome computers and well educated teachers. Beside of Agamas for the young priests they learn astrology/astronomy and Yoga classes in the early morning and evening. They are very good in some of the most difficult asanas like sisumara or gandabherunda!!! So best is always start young!!!

Divya Sanketam Hyderhabad (shamshabad)

a wonderful temple has been built 3 years ago under the supervision of HH Chinna Jeeyar Swamy near the Hyderhabad Airport, along with other projects (school for blind and disabled youth, school for girls, Agama school for vedic pandits, etc.). The temple structure is made in a 3 floor building on each floor a specific Vigraha and temple formation. First floor is dedicated to Lord Rama, as he walked on earth, a huge Mula Vigraha (around 2 meters in size) with a full set of Utsava and paridevatas and alwars. On the walls you will find the whole ramayana done in orissa painting witha short explanation in telegu and english. Early morning you have first pujas at 5 am and everyday a Nitya Homa and Kalyanam for the Lord.
Second Floor you will find Lord Ranganatha with his special Vimana formed same as in Srirangam with a detailed picture on 108 Mudralakshanas for nitya aradhana.
Third floor have Sri Vaikunthanatha, as He would reside in Vaikuntha, in BHujangaAsana with Sri, Bhu and Niladevi. Also the whole YogapeethAsana is given and one can see Krta-, treta-,dwarapa and Kaliyuga, satya, dharma, vairagya and aiswarya all in personal forms serving the Lord. very unique and nicely done. On the walls you will find tousands of servants attending the Lord in awe and reverance. Outside the sealings you can see how a surrended Soul reachs the supreme abode after leaving the material body (i guess it is taken from the vaikuntha gadya of Sri ramanuja). Anyhow enjoy the photos.