Beyond the Sixth — A Chequered Journey — 6

Ramakrishna Abhinava Theertha

A phenomenon called Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Christopher Isherwood states that the story of Sri Ramakrishna was the story of a phenomenon, rather than ‘holy man’, ‘mystic’, ‘saint’ or ‘avatar’. He says a phenomenon is always a fact, an object of experience.

Sri Ramakrishna once told Mahimacharan, in the evening of August 9, 1885 while others were also with them in the room.:

For a long time I have wanted to tell you my spiritual experiences, but I could not. I feel like telling you today. “You say that by mere sādhanā one can attain a state of mind like mine. But it is not so. There is something special here [referring to himself]…

“God talked to me. It was not merely His vision. yes, He talked to me. Under the banyan tree I saw Him coming from the Ganges. Then we laughed so much! By way of playing with me He cracked my fingers. Then He talked. Yes, He talked to me. For three days I wept continuously. And He revealed to me what is in the Vedas, the Purānas, the Tantras, and the other scriptures. One day He showed me the māyā of Mahāmāyā. A small light inside a room began to grow, and at last it enveloped the whole universe. Further He revealed to me a huge reservoir of water covered with green scum. The wind moved a little of the scum and immediately the water became visible; but in the twinkling of an eye, scum from all sides came dancing in and again covered the water. He revealed to me that the water was like Satchidānanda, and the scum like māyā. On the account of māyā, Satchidānanda is not seen. Though now and then one may get a glimpse of It, again māyā covers It. God reveals the nature of the devotees to me before they arrive… Therefore I feel it is the Divine Mother Herself who dwells in this body and plays with the devotees. When I first had my exalted state of mind, my body would radiate light. My chest was always flushed. Then I said to the Divine Mother: “Mother, do not reveal Thyself outwardly. Please go inside.” That is why my complexion is so dull now. If my body were still luminous, people would have tormented me; a crowd would always have thronged here. Now there is no outer manifestation. That keeps weeds away. Only genuine devotees will remain with me now. Do you know why I have this illness? It has the same significance. Those whose devotion to me has a selfish motive behind it will run away at the sight of my illness.

Experience of Sankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha of Sringeri Peetam

(Yoga, Enlightenment and Perfection)

(A conversation in May, 1975)

Acharyal: Parameśvara (Śiva) instructed Me about yoga through seven dreams that occurred on successive nights. Each dream was a continuation of the preceding one. Do you want to hear about them?

I: Very much.

Acharyal: I was exhausted when I retired for the night on the day I was initiated into saṁnyāsa. As was usual, I fell asleep almost the moment I shut My eyes. That night I had a dream which I can recall even now. In it, I found myself on the amazingly scenic summit of a tall, ice-clad mountain.

I: What was Acharyal clad in in the dream?

Acharyal: An ochre upper and lower garment like the one I am wearing now. Unlike the dress that I was wearing during the day, this had no zarī border. May be the dream reflected My personal preference for a simple ochre attire rather than the costly one that I was required to wear. Two days before taking saṁnyāsa, I had thought, “Dreams are not under My control. Mistakes committed in them do not result in sin. Nevertheless, My renunciation should be so sincere and firm that after being initiated into saṁnyāsa, I should not see Myself in any dream as clad in white as I am now. I love chanting the Gāyatrīmantra. Yet, as Gāyatrī-japa is disallowed for paramahaṁsasaṁnyāsins, I should not engage in it even in My dreams from the day after tomorrow.” By God’s grace, till today, this has come to pass. Though the mountain was icy, I felt no cold. In front of Me, at a distance of about twenty feet, I saw a huge, crystal Śivaliṅga. A torrent of water was falling on it in a column from above. I could not see the source of the water. I could hear the chanting in chorus of the Rudra (praśna) but no chanter was visible. Suddenly, there was a great flash of light and from the Liṅga, Lord Śiva manifested.

{Here, Acharyal fell silent. He closed His eyes and remained motionless for some time. On opening His eyes, He took in and let out a deep breath. He then continued with His narration.}

As I saw Him then, the Lord had one face and two arms. He was extremely fair and radiant. His hair was matted and was tawny in hue. On beholding Him, I was so struck with awe that I stood unmoving. He smilingly looked at Me and raised His right hand in a gesture of blessing. I felt a great power entering into Me.

Automatically, I began to chant the Praṇava mentally. He gestured to Me to sit down.

A seat of deer skin with an ochre cloth spread on it appeared where I was standing. I did namaskāra and, in obedience to Him, sat down, even though He was standing.

He came near Me. A big tiger skin appeared on the ground and He sat on it. He positioned His legs in the padmāsana and told Me to do the same. While I knew how to adopt the padmāsana, His approach was particularly graceful and I imitated it as best as I could. Then He assumed the siddhāsana. In response to His directive, I copied Him. With His hands, He corrected My posture.

I: What was the change?

{Acharyal demonstrated the way He had positioned His legs at first and the change made by the Lord. The correction consisted in adjusting the left heel to be in better contact with the perineum. About this, the authoritative text Haṭhayoga-pradīpikā says:
yonisthānakam-aṅghrimūlaghaṭitaṁ kṛtvā(I.35) Having placed the (left) heel firmly against the region between the anus and the penis…}

Acharyal: Seated in the siddhāsana, the Lord demonstrated how to perform prāṇāyāma. Exhaling the air within, He began to smoothly inhale through the left nostril. On the completion of pūraka (inhalation), He blocked both His nostrils with His fingers and lowered His chin to His chest to form the jālandhara-bandha. At the close of kumbhaka (retention), I saw Him deeply pull in and upward His abdomen to adopt the uḍḍīyāna-bandha. His body smoothly rose to about a foot above the ground. Raising His head, He exhaled smoothly through the right nostril. As He did so, His body gradually returned to the ground. He then repeated the process by inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril.

{The Haṭhayoga-pradīpikā defines the jālandhara and uḍḍīyāna bandhas thus:
kaṇṭhamākuñcya hṛdaye sthāpayeccibukaṁ dṛḍham।
bandho jālandharākhyo’yaṁ jarāmṛtyu-vināśakaḥ ॥(III.70)

Having contracted the throat, the chin should be held firmly at the chest. This is the bandha called jālandhara. It destroys old age and death.

udare paścimaṁ tānaṁ nābherūrdhvaṁ ca kārayet ।
uḍḍīyāno hyasau bandho mṛtyu-mātaṅgakesarī ॥(ibid. III.57)

(The Acharyal continues to tell of the dreams in all details. Those interested may read it in full in the book Yoga, Enlightenment and Perfection, by Jagadguru Sri Bharati Theertha Mahaswamigal pp 39-43)

The quest continues…



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