Guruji ko Adesh! Adesh to all the great devotees of our Tradition! Blessings from Guru Gorakhnath to all those who have a genuine interest in our unique Tradition, which is highly important for India and beyond!
I’ll try to be concise and cover the requested topics in 20 minutes. First and foremost, it is a promotion of the Natha Tradition in the West, which I feel the need to pay special attention to. Undoubtedly, this subject is not an easy one as it involves many different areas of our lives.
It has been 35 years since I started practicing yoga and 15 years since I began promoting the Natha Tradition in the West, and I have faced many challenges in the process. The first point I would like to make is a cultural one. Westerners, trying to take the easy way, attempt to take something from such a complex phenomenon as the Natha Sampradaya without taking into account the environment in which it was formed. My Guru said that the tradition is like a potion made from various ‘aushadhi’ (plants) put together. We can’t say that it is the same as it was before, but we can’t say that the ‘plants’ are not there either. For many centuries, the Natha tradition has existed in the cultures of the Vedas, Puranas, Tantras, of the many various Sampradayas (Shramana, Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, Buddhist, Jaina and others). We know that India has been partly influenced by Abrahamic Traditions as well, even though they may look very ambiguous in India. And I have found that very few people in the West are interested in all that, which makes it difficult for westerners, including those in the Natha Tradition, to understand the realities of India. We also know very well that western Indology would not be funded by Western governments if it did not show eastern doctrines in a diminished way in comparison to what they consider traditional. Moreover, India’s colonial past is also reflected in the fact that many Indian leaders show a lack of sovereignty. Probably some of my Indian friends think that this would be good for western followers of the Natha Sampradaya. However we do not come to India to join the globalised yoga movement that has flooded the West. Many of my students want to communicate on the themes of yoga which is traditional for sincere Indians who love their country and their culture. Now the world has changed and yoga has become so superficial, that it is very difficult even to call it ‘yoga’ anymore. To tell you the truth, sometimes I am embarrassed to call what I see with that term. But it is not just about yoga, today we face a world where corporations are trying to suppress everything natural in humans. And I think we all know what I am talking about. There is a lot of low-quality food in the world, something that harms people’s health is passed off as a medicine – they are trying to take us away from nature. But yoga is oriented on a natural state of a human being. We live in a world of very aggressive media and now more than ever we need to learn to empty our minds. I am not saying that we don’t need modern technologies at all, but the way I see it, it is good when they are utilised as our tools but not the other way around. So I would like the western followers of the Tradition and those who live in India to think about it. I have sincerely embraced the way of yoga, the way of Shiva, and I wish that the great history, the great guidelines of this tradition would not fade into oblivion. It is very important for us to keep our values sincere and pure.
My satsangs and retreats are going on. This time I’ve given lectures on asanas: asanas in ancient texts, their relationship with other angas (sections) of yoga, ancient and modern look at asanas in the Tradition and among the amateur yoga practitioners. Based on meaningful and real-life experience, of all above, I talked about my understanding of asanas and then what are the best opportunities in their practice. I am grateful to Tara Michael a lot that all this time she translates me from English into French. French is very beautiful and has much in common with English, maybe I’ll study it in the future.
In the first photo I am against the temple located in Amiens, where my satsangs takes place. This temple survived during the Second World War when almost all constructions were bombed. Let us be stable and indestructible on our path like this temple.
I’ve just finished my programme in Lyons, where I gave lectures about Hatha-yoga and Tantra relationship and what tantric elements are used in some Hatha-yoga practices. Besides, I explained the connection of Hatha-yoga methods with such tantric cults as Kubjika, Shrividya, Kali Vidya and etc. We also discussed literary sources associated with Kapalikas, which mention the names of Adinath, Matsyendranath, Gorakshanath, Satyanatha and others. Along with that, the differences and similarities between the tantric and yogic approaches were considered. Thank you for all, those who organased and attended this programme.
Unlike Toulouse, where participants were mostly yoga teachers, in Louviers (Normandie) came not only those who teach, but also who practice yoga for themselves. Definitely, I am happy that in France most people understand that yoga asanas are not designed for making the body clean-limbed, well-shaped and sexy, but to achieve samadhi, the aim of Raja-yoga. In my opinion, this tendency is connected with the fact that some Indologists and scholars specified the correct direction, that is what makes me happy. Although, as elsewhere, in France there is some percentage of yoga practitioners who are interested mainly in the material things. However, people in general still have an understanding of the importance of spiritual guidance. There is still work to be done, I mean meetings and satsangs, where I will try as much as possible to talk about Gorakshanath relying on how much people are ready for this. So far they are really appreciative audience.
My teaching for yoga-instructors on the Nath Traditional Yoga in Toulouse (France) conducted in June, 2014. Thanks to Fr. John Dupuche for spontaneous discussion about the cause of ignorance from different points of view, and Tara Michael for translation from English into French.
Yesterday I communicated with a remarkable person, Andrew Harvey, he is an interesting and unique man from the USA. Here is his website: http://www.andrewharvey.net/
I was struck by his unique vision, which he developed during the study of different forms of religious spiritual practices. He divided them into two categories, they are “warm” and “cold.” I am going to explain a little: “warm” are those religions where the emotional plane involved, such religions as Islam or Christianity, the religions of a prayer. “Cold” are those religions, which built on contemplation and mind tranquility, like Buddhism, or teachings focused on jnyana and etc. Andrew Harvey said that the best thing is the ability to combine both variations.
His explanation is very similar to the approach existing in the Gorakshanatha’s traditions, namely yoga (union) of the sun (ha) and moon (tha). We agreed that our next meeting in Melbourne we will devote the public program about Shaivism.
Not long ago I visited Muktigupteshvar, the Nepalese temple in Sydney, NSW. The head of the temple kingly ask me to explain to parishioners about yoga according to my Tradition, the Tradition of Gorkshanath.
What is more surprisingly, as I’ve recently known, the famous Nepalese Guru – Shri Narahari Nath twice visited Australia, his first visit was in 1997, and then he came in 1998. He was a good connoisseur of Yoga Shastras and even Vedas, as well as a real Siddha Purusha. Guru Naraharinath blessed this temple, and even composed Sanskrit shlokas dedicated to this shrine.
During my visit to Australia, when I was invited to participate in The Interfaith Religious Dialogue, my friend, John Dupuche (a Catholic priest and expert on Kashmir Shaivism), organized for me a meeting with children at school. This is the school for pupils who mostly from Catholic families. I was very impressed with those children, actually they are well educated and asked lots of questions about India and Gorakhnath. For my part, I gladly shared with them what I know about the Tradition and India. Generally, the school often organises meetings for children with representatives of different religions. There also were invited my friend Tenda, a Tibetan Lama, some Sufis whom I familiar with, and others. I decided to share with you my impressions in the form of photographs.
Children and teachers enjoyed our communication and they wanted me to give a yoga class on the next day. We performed a few easy asanas, breathing exercises and meditation on OM sound Then, I explained how to perform bhramari-pranayama.
The fire ritual (homa) is one of the important elements in the practice of mantra-yoga, when one tenth of the number of the recited mantra you repeat during the fire ritual, then perform tarpana (abhisheka), marjana and brahmana-bhojana (or kanya-bhojana, if it is shakti-upasana). A homa may include a lot of parts required for realization of a mantra (mantra-siddhis), such as abhisheka and etc., present in the ritual. Here are some photos taken at the ashram of Shri Svamiji Shankarananda, when I performed a havan:
The Congress of all religions (Faith in Service for Peace) passed in Melbourne two weeks ago. There were representatives of different faiths. I met with one outstanding person – John Dupuche, who wrote comments on 29th part of Tantraloka. His book is called “Kaula ritual.” It was very nice to meet this person, so positive and well qualified in the field of the Kashmirian Shaivism.