Knots in Yoga

Knots in Yoga

 

 

Key Terms

  • Granthies or Knots
  • Bandha or Locks
  • Chakra or Energy Centers
  • Nadis
  • Kundalini shakti
  • Tantra
  • Yoga
  • Knots
  • Triplicity
  • Tribhang
  • Trefoil Knot
  • Dhumra Linga, Bana Linga, Itara Linga
  • Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra Knots
  • Tamas, Rajas, Sattva Gunas

 

 

 

https://www.lifesloka.com/en/3-granthi-in-kundalini-yoga/

3 Granthi in Kundalini Yoga

 

In Kundalini Yoga, it is said that there are three Granthi can be responsible for preventing prana from rising up through Sushumna Nadi. This Granthi three knots prevent one’s full potential from Kundalini rising energy. These three knots are Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi. They also relate to the Prakritis three Gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattva).

Some yogis in yoga see Granthi as a bamboo tree, where each segment is a barrier or barrier to the increase in kundalini energy.

The chakras in the psycho-physical human body at the dormant state form complex intertwined structures, called Granthi, or knots, as they are “link” matter and spirit, enhancing the sense of ego. There are three main granthis in the human body, which make the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively, and they are called Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi.
In any practice to achieve success in the process of Kundalini awakening it is important to open these psychic knots. However, it is quite difficult because of granthi inextricably connected with all that we are accustomed to thinking of our personality, our habits, qualities, desires.

Three granthis together constitute the unconscious complexes (samskara) woven by illusion, and the weight and rigidity of the past is strong opposition to the passage of spiritual power.

The three Granthi are :

  1. Brahma granthi. it covers the area of Mulahara and Svadhisthan chakras. Some call it the perineal knot. It relates to the Tamas Guna (Mulahara and Svadhishthana) the universal destructive power.
    In both the Jabal and the Yogashikha Upanishad state that this granthi is located in the Muladhard chakra. However, most tantric scriptures place it in the Manipura chakra.
  2. Vishnu granthi (doing and prana). It covers the area between Manipura, Anahata and Vishuddi chakras. Sometimes it is known as the navel knot. It relates to the Rajas Guna (Manipura and Anahata) – the universal power of motion and activity.
    Vishnu granthi is said to be located in the area of Anahata chakra (the heart center), which is also the seat of prana. The heart is also the major knot chakra. So, to take the Kundalini Shakti into the passage of the Sushumna through Anahata chakra is also not very easy.
  3. Rudra granthi (Jnana, true knowledge). It covers the areas of Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It is also known as the forehead knot. Unlike the other five chakras, the Ajna chakra is not connected to the spinal cord. So, the Rudra granthi is blocking the flow of prana beyond the sixth chakra between the eyebrows, Ajna chakra, upwards toward Sahasrara. It relates to the Sattva Guna (Vishuddha and Ajna), the universal creative power.

The Brahma granthi separates the first two chakras (Mulahra and Suadhisthana chakras) from the Manipura chakra. The sympathetic chain is continuous, however, at the upper level of the splanchnic nerves, the presynaptic system changes to the post-synaptic system. So, one can say the Vishnu Granthi is between the Manipura and the Anahata chakras.

Brahma Granthi is the first major block that sadhaka need to transcend. This granthi keeps a person under the illusion of the material benefits, physical pleasures, lethargy, ignorance, and uncertainty.
Among all the most powerful is an illusion of physical pleasure. This granthi plays an important role because it is responsible for the material man’s thinking. It creates a kind of attraction in the nature of the human mind.

Brahma granthi is covered by the essence it produces. This essence is called as “Kledam”. It is colorless and smells as a lotus flower. It is like a mixture of ‘Kapha’ which covers the entrance of Sushumna and also lubricates the Nadi connected. This lubrication helps the pulses of Nadi.

This Kledam is a thick mixture and thickens when we get older if we don’t practice yoga. With the power of Yoga can penetrate this barrier and go up through Sushumna through each barrier.

In short, anatomically the Granthis exist due to either the change of systems from sympathetic to parasympathetic, the separation of Vagus nerve from the Sacral nerve, or the changes from presynaptic fibers to postsynaptic fibers.

The philosophy of Kundalini Yoga is associated with the flow of energy in the channels called Ida and Pingala, (the female and male channels of the astral body, comparable to the sensory and motor nerves of the physical body) and its criss-cross centers in the spinal canal called Sushumna Nadi called chakras.

The three major intersections in the central Sushumna Nadi are at Muladhara (pelvic region), Anahata (chest region) and Ajna chakras (between the eyebrows) are interpreted as Granthi because the exchange energies of physical and mental levels occur at these three places and named after the Trinity.

Granthi means a knotted area which prevents the free flow of energy (Prana) from rising upwards. The concept and explanations related to granthi is a vague term that deals with very internal issues of undoing it and hard to give a figurative expression in a stone medium because they are levels of awareness where the power of Maya, ignorance, and attachment to material things are especially strong.

According to ancient spiritual science, every human has a gross physical body, the subtle astral body, and mind as its counterpart which is linked to each other. Though mind resides and interacts in the physical body, it cannot be given proof for its structure nor location in the body, but the mind influences the astral body also. The energy for the physical body is through external aids, but, energy for the astral body is dependent on the calm state of mind which can be achieved by getting out of the worldly entanglements termed as granthi.

The Ida and Pingala Nadi that are like spirals of opposite poles of the central axis intertwine and unlock while passing through the seven chakras. Psychic knots of granthis are like protective blockages for the gradual change in awareness and open only with the purification of mind and balance between the two Nadi. The purpose of granthis is to block the sudden upward flow of prana, are like circuit breakers to protect the overload that may occur to the practitioner in case of a spontaneous ascension. The display of ‘granthis’ is associated with the ‘Trinity’ as the three main deities (Tri Murti).

They are visualized like psychic knots or obstacles on the path of the awakened kundalini, (The power of awareness) which is difficult to pass through for every human, as it brings about a change in personality. Each aspirant must transcend these barriers to make a clear passageway for the ascending kundalini. In tantra based sculptures, the two major components Nadi, Ida and Pingala of kundalini as are pictured in anthropomorphic form as male and female human figures and crisscross is indicated as in contact or the hand positioned in the specific region of chakra.

In sculptural representations of this topic, the figures, since it is related to mind, the core of ‘Chitta’, are usually presented in a nude form, as the bare body represents the unadorned form of mind. In symbolic representations, they are like male and female snakes coiling at three places. The psychic Knots of granthi is depicted in the symbolized form as the Shiva Linga symbol. Different temples use different motifs to convey this topic in sculptures. The two sculptural representations are:

  • Symbolic representation of granthi, through the Linga and snakes.
  • Representation of grant in the human body in a personified form.

Kundalini yoga, a classification under tantra yoga is the form of subtle energy that flows in tubular channels called Nadis towards the conductor. The conductor is nothing but the nerve energy in the physical body that is encased in the spinal canal and called Sushumna. The intersections are recognized as chakras, seven in number, where the two nadi crisscross. At every chakra, a perfect balance and harmony must be established between the two Ida, Pingala Nadi or otherwise the energy of kundalini cannot progress to higher levels in the central channel of Sushumna.

In sculptural representations of tantra yoga depictions, the mind was projected as the female deity and prana as the male deity. Some sculptures depict the two male and female figures to be in contact at three or five regions like the foot, knee, genital place (Muladhara), heart (Anahata) and the tip of the nose (that is connected to Ajna chakra). Some schools recognize the chakras to be sixteen starting from foot, knee, palm, and so on. The contact at the foot and knee is suggestive of the lower points from which the Ida and Pingala (Female and male Nadi) arise and proceed. The contact at the foot is suggestive of the initial phase of activating the Ida and Pingala Nadi.

To clear Brahma granthi is to establish in totality, clearing Vishnu granthi is perceiving the existence of universal life principle and to clear Rudra granthi is to attain a non-duality of realization of oneness and universal awareness.

granthi

Brahma Granthi

Brahma Granthi at Muladhara chakra is represented by the Dhumra Lingam. Dhum means smoky. The linga is represented smoky and ill-defined (some Lingas made of Sphatika – a crystalline form of quartz stone) as a Symbol of the physical world. It is also called Svayambhu linga- the self-created linga. It signifies the establishment of life principles in totality.

Brahma granthi functions in the base region of the Muladhara chakra at the genital area and hence a display of organs. It implies the entanglement with physical pleasures, material objects, and excessive selfishness or a sense of fear. It also implies the ensnaring power of tamas – negativity, lethargy, and ignorance. Such negative qualities act as hindrances and stop the serpent power kundalini from awakening. Once this blockage is removed from the energy instincts of the deep rootedness with worldly affairs, the realm of consciousness gets awakened and the trapped serpent power energy is released. The kundalini or primal energy is thus able to rise beyond Muladhara and Swadhisthana without bogged down by the attractions to which our consciousness is hooked. On breaking open the Brahma granthi, the practitioner feels relaxed and enjoys bliss arising from the void.

The figures related to the granthis are nude because they are related to the state of mind ‘Chitta’ and personal. Muladhara relates to, Ajna chakra as the starting and release points of prana, which is indicated in the sculptures as contact points. Muladhara has a direct link to Ajna chakra – situated in midbrain but indicated as above the nose, between the eyebrows. The subtle energy of these two Ida-Pingala currents crosses over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Brahma granthi is the manifest force of the energy of life and creation, depicted in sculptures as the pleasure of touch. It is known as blockage of Brahma because it holds the consciousness at the level related to physical dimensions like sensuality or procreation. Once this blockage is overcome, the consciousness of deep rootedness to worldly pleasures is released. The kundalini can rise above, crossing this knot.

Vishnu Granthi

Vishnu Granthi in Anahata chakra (between Manipura and Ajna chakra) is represented as Bana Linga. The linga is depicted red or gold-colored as a Symbol of the subtle world. Clearing Vishnu knot is to perceive the existence of universal life principles.

The contact at the chest is the second stage of awareness at Vishnu granthi – to detach from emotions related to bondage. Vishnu granthi operates in the region of the Anahata chakra in the heart region. It is associated with the bondage of emotional attachment and attachment to people and inner psychic visions. It relates to the qualities of rajas – the tendency towards passion, ambition, bondage and assertiveness, individual ego and power. Once the blockage at Vishnu granthi is removed, the practitioner feels great bliss. The sustenance energy undergoes a change from the localized centers of the physical level to the universal level which means the energies of the body become harmonious with the energies of the cosmos. The interaction between the individual personality and the cosmos begins to happen naturally & spontaneously, enhancing the quality of compassion.

The position of placement of chakra wheel as balls suggests that she is activating the Ida and Pingala in legs as well as in hand with the acupressure or chakra ball. It also gives a hint that opening out of Vishnu granthi is not a spontaneous act. It begins from the hand and leg Nadi, followed by the opening of Brahma granthi at Muladhara. In the right hand, as she is holding the ball, highlighting the thumb as the starting point of Nadi in hands. Activating the center of hands and feet is beneficial to health.

The freedom from the knotty – worldly problems and the freedom from knotty congestion in her meridians that restricts the flow of bioenergy at her mental and physical levels – are viewed as obstacles, the root cause for problems and indicated as the cloth around the breasts called ‘kanchuka’ with a knot. Philosophically, clearing the knot of kanchuka means liberation – freedom from ignorance, bondage, commitments due to obligations of bondage, power are the obstacles project as knotty problems in life. The aspirant is constantly advised to dissociate from all limitations and identify oneself with all the pervading, blissful, non-duality spirit of the Brahman.

Rudra Granthi

Rudra Granthi in Ajna chakra is called Itara or Itakhya Linga. The linga is black, well defined with a very consolidated outline. Here, in Ajna, the awareness of ‘what I am’ is more sharply defined and various capacities are being awakened. The Dhumra and Bana Linga are depicted in lotus petals and only Itara linga is well defined. It signifies a state of non-duality. Clearing of Rudra granthi promotes spiritual vision. Awareness goes at the transpersonal level with super consciousness.

The loving gaze was used as a simile in tantra based sculptures to explain the abstract concept that mind (female) and prana (male) are harmonizing and mind is coming under the control of prana, in other words, mind is one with the object concentrated upon enjoying supreme bliss and super consciousness called ‘samadhi’.

The third contact at nose tip is related to crossing the hurdle of Rudra granthi – restraining from the thoughts of pride that comes sometimes from service to others or as the knower of knowledge. The pride prevents one from uniting with all with a non-dual thought. The three granthis when crossed, open the doors of Sahasrara chakra promoting spiritual vision and super consciousness. The Ida Pingala Nadi first intersect at the base of the spine and ends at the third eye center indicated at the apex of the nose. At the third eye center, these two currents cross over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

The nose of the two male and female figures touch to symbolize the revitalization of memory and concentration of intuitive knowledge or cognition. Physiologically, the nasal nerves of olfactory bulb travel directly to the limbic area of the brain which controls the unconscious intuition of memory and sexuality. It functions in the region of Ajna chakra governing the Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It represents the transformation of an existing form, idea or concept into the universal aspect. It is associated with the attainment of siddhis, a psychic phenomenon but still attached to and the concept of self as the power. In a psychological perspective, though serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend one’s life at this stage, this service could create resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings as the pride of acquiring knowledge sometimes gains an upper hand. One must surrender the sense of individual ego and transcend duality to make further spiritual progress and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into compassionate actions.

With awareness, yoga practitioners ascend towards the Sahasrara chakra where the final merging of the individual Soul or Atman with the universal cosmic soul takes place to achieve the realization of oneness.

Awakening of Kundalini Shakti

Rshi Patanjali said “it is very difficult to walk on this Yoga path (Kundalini) like walking in the eyes of a knife that is very sharp, wrong or slipped a little too wounded” also walked to meet Him like doing a masterpiece project, all obstacles and obstacles we must be able to overcome only with determination. , disciplined and diligent practice.

So far we leave Him to approach him is something that requires extra energy. The energy that drives the realization of the Yoga goal is Kundalini Energy. Energy is power, power, shakti, power or whatever the term all of this already exists within us and also outside ourselves. Enormous energy that lies dormant in the form of a 3.5-circle snake with his head facing down around Linga swayambhu Siwa.

If the Kundalini energy is able to be raised, this energy will push someone to reach his life goal or his Yoga goals. The increase in Kundalini’s energy will cleanse every chakra that is passed then activate the chakras and various Siddhas will be felt even though it is still only a moment. The increase in Kundalini will be very helpful, especially to increase self-awareness and the vitality of the body is also increased, for example, to help self-healing or even become a healer.

But what needs to be considered is not only the benefits that are very useful, but also how we deal with every problem caused by the rise in Kundalini. Because the increase in kundalini will clean and open the knot chakra because kundalini is only limited to energy so this energy will play just breaking down, so we need to know the knowledge and directing techniques so that nothing happens that is desired. Many spiritual aspirants have fallen ill because of Him without realizing that the cause is Kundalini (kundalini syndrome).

Everyone has this Energy hidden in our body. Kundalini energy is very large energy like nuclear energy in the body. It can be imagined how much energy is in our bodies if this energy we are able to generate. To generate Kundalini energy you need sufficient knowledge, especially regarding the Main Chakra. In addition to this knowledge, a guide who really knows about the awakening of Kundalini or a spiritual teacher is very much needed.

Kundalini is the mother who protects us, the mother of the universe is often referred to as Mrs. Durga (Hyang Nini Bagawati), Mrs. Gayatri and Mrs. Saraswati. To awaken this Sakti Energy there are various ways and with certain training.

If the awakening of Kundalini towards this negative direction will have unfavorable consequences, there are several things that are affected that can hurt the physical body, this can be really real or will change the nature, emotions, behavior, and others towards the negative.

Kundalini is more commonly interpreted as a scroll, a power is in “Kunda” which is a quadratic place or mandala (Muladhara chakra), encircling the “Linga” three half circles that are above the “Yoni” Kundalini in the form of a snake resides in the cakra Muladhara and in in Muladhara there is linga and yoni this is where Kundalini as a power of silence. Kundalini is also known by various names including Mrs. Durga, Mother at times, Mrs. Bhuta, Mother Universe, Mrs. Bagawati and so on, all Mother’s names are Himself. She is also referred to as Ibu Prana, the inner Power of the Mother or latent energy whatever the name refers to her. I offer my devotion to the Great Mother … Energy Mother …

The negative polarities will flow towards the positive polarity, and the positive polarity is in the fontanel in Sahasrara Cakra where the Supreme Lord is located. Passive Shiva who is silent but whose vibrations spread to meet nature. Single Shiva (Eka) and many (various) at the same time. Shiva who lives in Sahasrara means that the vibrations of his silence dwell in each person’s Sahasrara. He sits in his favorite siddhasana, he whose body is bright as the reflection of sunlight on a snow mountain, whose hair is neatly woven, which flows holy Ganga water, surrounded by beautiful crescent moons, wears snakes as His necklace, blue-necked, body covered with weed, His two hands lifted up to give blessings and deliver from all fears, adorned with tiger skins as His garments, who sat on a lotus of thousands of golden leaves, whose smiles emit vibrations of peace.

The awakening of the Kundalini energy flow is determined by our level of consciousness, or in other words, we process it, we are the controller.

The thing to consider is that energy is still energy, He will follow our own consciousness, follow our mindset if we think towards virtue

Purification of Karma through 3 Granthi

In each bulkhead, vertebrae are stored with positive and negative karma as long as humans life. Every action or result of mental karma will be placed according to the place that caused it.

For example karma as a result of:

  • Material things, rough emotions, supernatural powers, magic, etc. are stored at the bottom (Muladhara).
  • Desires, desires and low egos are stored in Swadistana.
  • Subtle emotions, dynamism, strength, etc. are stored in the central node of the Manipura chakra (Stomach).
  • Feelings, love, envy, sadness, happiness, will be stored in the heart’s central node (Anahata),
  • The ego is more subtle, including the highest ego that wants to reach God stored in the Wisudhi chakra.
  • Mental instability, ignorance, wisdom, weigh and decide right and wrong, good and bad, mental balance, are stored in Ajna before heading for Enlightenment (in the Sahasrara chakra), … etc … according to the causes of chakra activeness and its consequences.

The two way of Oneness and Karma Melting through this method (granthi) :

  1. From top  (Sahasrara chakra) heading down through Sushumna. The meeting was in the deepest depth of Ajna. While experiencing calm, it will release fluid from the pineal gland, producing a form of fluid / Tirta Amritha which then drips into Sushumna, penetrates and removes impurities in each segment.
    This method is considered safer, and the risk is minimal. Although safe, it does not mean without obstacles and mental obstacles that need to be overcome. The effect is cold and some even feel like ice water flowing in each segment to the lower end until it merges with the power of Kundalini (Shiva-Shakti).
  2. From bottom (Muladhara chakra) by awakening the power of Kundalini. This Kundalini fire breaks through and increases the burning of karma in each of its ascension paths until it experiences unification in Sahasrara (Shiva-Shakti).
    In every process of ascension ranging from the most subtle (the heat) to the magma fire, the perpetrator will experience many obstacles to significant changes in mental effects and the temptation to get siddhi.

Being aware of every moment of attitudes and mental changes or the like is very necessary to get to the next level, as well as efforts to unleash the power of the siddhis obtained. Giving up the siddhi that is obtained does not mean that it will disappear when the higher attainments all of the things below will also be followed and controlled (included).

Both unity from above and taking the road from the bottom produced “Amritha / Tirta Kundalini”. The effect of this will result in peace, calm, silence, towards Samadhi.

In Bali, this meaning is also poured into the song Wargasari Down the Tirta so sublime … etc. Where this is the way from above (Requesting) the union of Shiva and Durga / Shakti (Kundalini).

In Kanda pat he the power that results in the purification of Tirta seeps through the bamboo cavities, arteries and the like depending on the experience he sees,

This result is also a Tirta “wiping out” (negative melting) released through saliva (vaguely inserted in a glass of water for Tirta by some Balinese healers). While some possessed (kerauhan) he came out through a kind of mucus through the nose when possessed.

Untying the Knots That Bind Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March, 2015

The Sanskrit word granthi means “knot” or “doubt” and also means “an especially difficult knot to untie.” People in India wearing a sari or dhoti cloth will form a small pouch to hold money, and close it by knotting the fabric – this tightly knotted purse is called a granthi. Granthi in spiritual practice are psychological or psychic barriers to total freedom. Granthi prevent prana from moving freely up sushumna nadi. Granthi bind the soul; they lock us to our misperception of reality (avidya) and self (asmita). They hold us to our preferences (raga and dvesha) and root us in fear of death (abhinivesha). Knowledge (jnana) is a key component to transcend fear, and together with action (karma) they give wings to our spiritual desires – the rise of Kundalini.

The hathayoga methods for untying these knots are the bandhas, or energy locks. By focusing the pranas in Sushumna Nadi the bandhas increase the potency of the rising Kundalini allowing us to transcend normal restrictions of thinking and acting.

Brahma Granthi is located at the base of the spine between Muladhara Chakraand Svadhisthana Chakra where primitive brain functioning like the “fight or flight reflexes” guarantee survival. Fear of death, anxiety about food, shelter or clothing, or general lack of grounding, all manifest as Brahma Granthi. When you experience fear in an asana like handstand or split, and the fear itself prevents success, this is Brahma Granthi. Lack of spare time can be part of this knot. When your bills and rent payment keep you at work and away from yoga, that is Brahma Granthi.

Mula (Root) Bandha is the first consolidation of Prana and Apana, piercing Brahma Granthi. Vitality, thought, breath, and speech are joined in pursuit of truth. This root lock can be applied all the time transforming every thing we do into a holy act.

Vishnu Granthi knots energy between Manipura Chakra and Anahata Chakra. This Granthi is a knot of individual ego and power. Our clinging to ego, self-cherishing and the quest for personal power can slow spiritual success. Fear of being ignored or of loosing prestige may plague our spiritual growth. This is a knot of power and manipulation, but it is also the knot of accumulation. Accumulation of power, possessions, and fame, all tie us to this level of consciousness. In order to transcend this level of consciousness we must “give up the love of power, for the power of love!” The degree of vulnerability that we show in life – the ability to put our façade aside and challenge our own status quo, unties Vishnu Granthi.

Uddiyana (Flying up) Bandha is the second consolidation of Prana, Apana, and Samana vayus.

Applied together with Mula Bandha, this lock pierces Vishnu Granthi. The individual is able to transcend individuality. The whole abdomen is drawn in and up – symbolizing the renunciation of accumulation and concentration of energy upward toward Anahata Chakra.

Rudra granthi is knotted between the Anahata and Ajña chakras. The attractiveness of heart centered action and the experience of serving others can distract the yogi who desires to “Be Love” – not just experience it. Serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend your life, but this service could become your cross to bear, where you hold resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings. We must strive to transcend otherness and experience the “oneness of being” in the highest levels of consciousness, and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into our compassionate actions. When we are free from the illusion of otherness our actions emerge spontaneously from Love. Jalandhara Bandha enables this leap of consciousness.

The consummate consolidation of prana is Jalandhara Bandha (Cloud Catching Lock or Net Lock – for the network of nadis in the neck) when Prana, Apana, Samana and Udana vayu in Sushumna Nadi loosen Rudra Granthi, and the veil of separation is lifted.

Teaching Tips

  • The yoga practices reveal where we are stopped by granthi, psychological knots, and give us tools for negotiating and loosening those limitations. The granthi are pierced through asana, meditation, pranayama, samyama, virtuous acts, purification of diet, good intention, yama and niyama, mudra, and through nada techniques like chanting and mantra.
  • Practice each bandha separately.
    • Mula: This bandha can be applied while breathing and moving freely.
      The two parts of this lock are a) contraction of the interior of the perineal body on men, or the vaginal walls for women, and b) the area from the pubic bone to navel draws inward and upward slightly.
    • Uddiyana: The diaphragm moves toward the throat drawing the entire abdomen in and up. This lock is only practiced on exhale retention when breathing is not possible and movement is internalized.
    • Jalandhara: Can be applied after inhale or exhale, bringing chest to chin. The spine should stay relatively straight and the chin should rest in the cleft between the clavicle bones.
  • Teach all bandha applied simultaneously in Mahamudra. See Hathayogapradipika Chapter 3, Verses 10-13
  • Investigate the psychological barriers to freedom that are embodied in the granthi, from fear of death and anxiety about survival (Muladhara,) to the accumulation of power and prestige (Manipura,) to the “feel good” effect of helping others, rather than serving others (Anahata.)
  • Teach about the Pranamaya Kosha and it’s component vayus. Asana practice most directly affects the Pranamaya Kosha and consolidates the energy of consciousness into a force of enlightenment.

In Bhagavad Gita 7.1 there is a reference to granthi as doubt, and refuge of the Lord as freedom from that doubt. In Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17-21, bhakti-yoga severs the granthi (hard knot) of material affection and enables one to come at once to the stage of asamsayam-samagram.

 

 

https://yogalinda.es/en/blog/the-bandhas-and-the-granthis/

The Bandhas and the Granthis

 

Bandhas are inner body locks that engage both the physical and the energetic body. They provide inner support during asana practice, stimulate the flow of prana and help to release the granthis, which can be understood as energy blockages or psychological knots.

By combining the action of opposing muscles, the bandhas can be activated. Their use during asana practice increases strength, stability and mental focus. Their use during pranayama intensifies its cleansing effect by directing agni or the internal fire to burn the waste matter that has settled and blocks the flow of energy.

Often referred to as locks, the bandhas help to balance two important energies within the body: the prana vayu and apana vayu. If prana is associated with drawing in that which nourishes us, apana is associated with letting go of that which is potentially toxic. Prana is connected to the inhalation and apana to the exhalation. The meeting of these two opposing energies at the base of the spine awakens the Kundalini energy.

There are three main bandhas: Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mula bandha. Activating all three of these bandhas at the same time is referred to as Mahabandha or main lock.

The Bandhas

 

The Bandhas

Jalandhara Bandha: the throat lock. Jalandhara bandha can be applied by contracting the front muscles in the neck when tucking the chin towards the sternum. This bandha is naturally activated in some asanas like Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) or Halasa (Plough Pose). It is subtly activated during Ujjayi pranayama in which the glottis (the area where the vocal cords are located) is gently contracted.
This bandha focuses the mind on the fifth or throat chakra and contains the upward-flowing movement of prana past the throat. It also seals off the downward movement of “nectar” from the sahasrara or crown chakra, which is said to preserve youth and vitality.

Uddiyana Bandha: the abdominal lock. Uddiyana bandha is applied by contracting the upper abdominal muscles (just below the solar plexus). This bandha is naturally activated after each exhalation when the lungs are emptied and the diaphragm rises. During asana practice it is especially useful to apply this bandha to support the lumbar region in back bends. When used together with Mula bandha, it strengthens the abdominal muscles. While performing asanas it is not possible to fully engage this bandha as it would constrain breathing. This bandha focuses the mind on the third chakra and directs prana up towards the sixth chakra.

Mula Bandha: the root lock. Mula bandha is applied by contracting the pelvic floor and elevating the inner organs in this region like the bladder and genitals. Other groups of muscles, like the upper leg adductors (by slightly pressing the knees together), can intensify this bhanda. If engaged during asana practice it is said to “provide an extra lift, which is especially useful when jumping”. This bandha focuses the mind on the first chakra, and directs prana from the pelvic region upwards, providing energy to the whole body and stopping it from flowing downwards out of the body.

Activating the bandhas can also help to unblock the three granthisor knots that prevent prana from freely circulating within the Sushuma nadi. These knots can block the chakras and keep us tied to negative attitudes and emotions, preventing us from fully experiencing the richness of life.

The Granthi

The Granthi

 

The Bramha or Vital Granthi is associated with the first three chakras (root, sacrum and solar plexus). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to physical comfort, material wealth and accumulation. It can be unblocked by activating Mula bhanda. To regulate the energy in these vital chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends self discipline.

The Vishnu or Love Granthi is associated with the fourth and fifth chakras (heart and throat). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to emotional excitement, self-centeredness and lack of receptivity to others’ needs. It can be unblocked by activating Uddyiana bandha. To boost the energy of the love chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends devotion and commitment.

The Rudra or Light Granthi is associated with the last two chakras (third eye and crown of the head). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to our opinions, prejudices, fantasies and intellectual pride. It can be unblocked by activating Jalandhara bandha. To dissolve pride and “dark” mental patterns, Patanjali recommends self-knowledge.

 

 

Please see my related posts

Knot Theory and Recursion: Louis H. Kauffman

Interconnected Pythagorean Triples using Central Squares Theory

The Great Chain of Being

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

 

 

 

 

Key Sources of Resources

 

https://www.lifesloka.com/en/3-granthi-in-kundalini-yoga/

 

Untying the Knots That Bind Us

 

https://yogalinda.es/en/blog/the-bandhas-and-the-granthis/

Maha Vakyas: Great Aphorisms in Vedanta

Maha Vakyas: Great Aphorisms in Vedanta

 

I have always been fascinated by terse short aphorisms of Non dual Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism.

It took me several years to understand meaning of each based on my understanding of several scientific concepts

  • Recursion or Recursiveness
  • Fractal Geometry
  • Cybernetics and Systems Theory
  • Subject Object split to Subject Subject
  • There is no objective reality
  • Part and Whole Relationship
  • Microcosm and Macrocosm
  • Pinde and Brahmande
  • Interconnectedness of all
  • Hierarchy Theory
  • Networks Theory

 

 

Key Words

  • Non Dual Vedanta
  • Dualistic Vedanta
  • Advaita Vedanta
  • Brahman
  • Atman
  • Brahman and Maya
  • Real and Apparant
  • Jivatma and Paramatma
  • Sankhya
  • Yoga
  • Buddhism
  • Tantra

 

 

http://lb.geek.rs.ba/oldstuff/swamij-mirror/mahavakyas.htm

Mahavakyas: The Great Contemplations

Contemplation on the Mahavakyas
gradually reveals their truth
in direct experience.

Introduction

The Great Utterances: The Mahavakyas are the Great Sentences of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga, and are contained in the Upanishads. Maha is Great, and Vakyas are sentences, or utterances for contemplation. They provide perspective and insights that tie the texts together in a cohesive whole. The contemplations on the Mahavakyas also blend well with the practices of yoga meditation, prayer, and mantra, which are companion practices in Yoga. The pinnacle of the wisdom and practices of the ancient sages is contained in the terse twelve verses of theMandukya Upanishad, which outlines the philosophy and practices of the OM mantra.

See also these articles:
Song of the Self (Atma Shatkam)
Mandukya Upanishad

These make the wisdom more accessible: Seven Mahavakyas are described below. By focusing on these seven Mahavakyas, the rest of the principles of self-exploration described in Vedanta and the Upanishads are more easily accessible. Included with the descriptions below are suggestions on what to do with these seven Mahavakyas.

Validation in the inner laboratory: To truly understand the meaning of the Mahavakyas it is necessary to practice contemplation and meditation in your own inner laboratory of stillness and silence. It means doing a lot of self observation, including the four functions of mind. You may find it useful to learn both the Sanskrit and the English of the Mahavakyas. They are not practiced as blind faith beliefs, but rather are reflected on, so that their meaning is validated in direct experience.

Start by hearing the insights described: Some methods of contemplation give you a principle, a word, on which to reflect, but give no clues of the insights that will come. For example, if you contemplate on the word Truth, that is very broad, and may have many meanings. It might take a long time to even come to a core principle. Sometimes, in school or elsewhere, you have probably seen a study guide that has a list of questions that also includes the answers, in a Q&A format. With the Mahavakyas, it is somewhat like that, in that the Mahavakyas provide the answers, already written down. You still have to do the contemplations, but the journey is much more direct.

Direct experience, not mere belief: In contemplating the Mahavakyas, it is not a matter of merely accepting that the statements are true. In the oral teachings of the sages, it is said that you should never merely believe what you are told or what you read in a book. Rather, it is suggested that you should check it out for yourself in the inner laboratory of direct experience. It also seems true that, while ultimate oneness is the same for all, there is also a coloring of cultural and religious influences that determine the way in which different people will experience the early, or unfolding stages of insight.

Dig deep into the well
of only a few such Mahavakyas.

Dig deep in only a few wells: It can appear that exploring only a few sentences, like these seven, is a mere beginning point, and that one must subsequently learn hundreds or thousands of other sentences. This is definitely not the case. Although in academic circles one may do complex intellectual analysis of many scholarly commentaries, comparing and contrasting viewpoints, the seeker of direct experience digs deep into the well of only a few such contemplations.  In the monastic traditions of the swami order, a monk may contemplate exclusively on a single Mahavakya or maybe several of them. The practice bears fruit by deeply going into one, or a few, rather than memorizing many, or doing only intellectual analysis of the many.

Over and over and over: The passionately dedicated practitioner will contemplate on one or more of the Mahavakyas repeatedly, often, over a long period of time. Mind gradually comes to have a greater understanding, and then becomes still as the contemplation shifts from an observing, reflective process into a deep contemplative meditation. Reflection transforms into insight, which again transforms into the direct experience of the underlying truth or reality of the Mahavakya.

Companion practices: In the oral tradition of the Himalayan sages, the Yoga Sutras, Vedanta, and internal Tantra are companions on the journey to Self-Realization. The practices of the Yoga Sutras stabilize and clear the clouded mind. The Vedanta practices form a philosophical basis and means for discovering the underlying unity of the different aspects of our being. Internal Tantra provides the means for awakening the spiritual energy, so that the absolute, unchanging reality at our core is realized.

Mahavakyas are at the heart of Vedanta: These seven principles below are practices at the heart of the Vedanta part of the triad. Actually, all of these emerged out of the one source of teachings, and now appear to be three separate practices. The higher understanding and direct experience comes from person-to-person listening (written and oral), followed by deep reflection, contemplation, and deep contemplative meditation.

Advaita or Non-Dual Reality: It is popular to speak of Advaita as if it were a brand name of spirituality. It is not. Advaita is exactly what it says, Advaita, which means non-duality, not-two. If this little planet were to fall into the sun and burn up, there would no longer be any religionists or philosophers, but that which truly “is” still “is.” Advaita is exactly what it says it is, Advaita, not-two, which stands alone. Any suggestion that there are things such as Hindu Advaita or Buddhist Advaita or Anything-Else Advaita are games of the mind. To transcend all of the levels of false identity so as to “Be” that Reality of Advaita is the Knowledge or Jnana that is sought. It is only the most sincere and longing of aspirants who seek and Know this in direct experience. For others, it is merely an arena of philosophical and religious debate. For those who Know, Advaita stands alone.

 Stages of Yoga Vedanta Meditation and Contemplation
Swami Rama

Meditation and contemplation are two different techniques, yet they are complementary to each other. Meditation is a definite method of training oneself on all levels – body, breath, conscious mind, and unconscious mind – while contemplation builds a definite philosophy. Without the support of a solid philosophy, the method of meditation does not lead to higher dimensions of consciousness.

Contemplation makes one aware of the existence of the Reality, but Reality can be experienced only through the higher techniques of meditation. In the Vedanta system, meditation and contemplation are both used. When an aspirant tires of meditation because of lack of endurance, then he contemplates on the mahavakyas [great contemplations] and studies those scriptures that are helpful in the path of Self-realization and enlightenment. Contemplation, vichara, complements the Vedantic way of meditation, dhyana.

In Vedanta philosophy, there is a definite method used for contemplation. Ordinarily, the mind remains busy in self-dialogue, entangled in the web of its thought patterns. Because of desires, feelings, and emotions, unmanageable conflicts are created in one’s mental life. But the Vedanta way of contemplating transforms the entire personality of the aspirant, for the statements, mahavakyas, imparted by the preceptor create a dynamic change in the values of his life. These statements are compact, condensed, and abstruse srutis and cannot be understood without the help of a preceptor who is fully knowledgeable of the scriptures and these terse texts. Only a realized teacher can impart the profundity of such knowledge in a lucid language.

The thoughts, feelings, and desires which were once important to the aspirant lose their value, for he has only one goal to attain. The glory of contemplation brings a dynamic transformation to the internal states of the aspirant. This seems to be very necessary, because that which creates a barrier or becomes an obstacle for students loses its strength due to the power of contemplation, which transforms all his internal states.

First, an aspirant attentively listens to the sayings of the Upanishads from a preceptor who is Brahman-conscious all the time.

In the second step, he practices vichara (contemplation), which means that he goes to the depths of the great sayings and determines to practice them with mind, action, and speech.

One-pointed devotion, full determination, and dedication lead him to the higher step called nididhyasana. Here he acquires comprehensive knowledge of the Ultimate Truth. But he has not yet attained the final step of consciousness that leads him to the direct realization of the one self-existent Truth without second.

The highest state of contemplation is called saksatkara. In this state, perception and conceptualization are in complete agreement, and all the doubts from all levels of understanding vanish forever. At this height of knowledge, truth reveals itself to the aspirant, and perfect realization is accomplished, “I am Atman – I am Brahman.” This state of advaita is attained by the process of contemplation. Meditation plays an entirely different role and helps the aspirant make his mind one-pointed, inward, and steady.

Steadiness and stillness are practiced from the very beginning in this meditational method. The method of sitting, the method of breathing, the method of concentration, and the method of allowing a concentrated mind to flow uninterruptedly are subsequent steps that help the aspirant to expand his capacity so that he can contemplate without distraction.

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Meaning of the word brahman

Root of the word: The word brahman comes from the root brha or brhi, which means knowledge, expansion, and all-pervasiveness. It is that existence which alone exists, and in which there is the appearance of the entire universe.

Not subject to change: Brahman means the absolute reality, that which is eternal, and not subject to death, decay, or decomposition. In English, we speak of omnipresence or oneness. This is the principle of the word brahman.

Not a proper name: Brahman is not a proper name, but a Sanskrit word that denotes that oneness, the non-dual reality, the substratum underneath all of the many names and forms of the universe. Brahman is somewhat like the difference between the word ocean, and the specific ocean called Pacific Ocean. The word brahman is like ocean, not Pacific Ocean. Brahman is not a name of God. These contemplations neither promote nor oppose any particular religious concept of God.

Immanance and transcendence: One may also choose to think of brahman in theological terms, though that is not necessary. Within that perspective, the scholars speak of two principles: immanence and transcendence. Immanence is described as the divinity existing in, and extending into all parts of the created world. In that sense, the Mahavakyas can be read as suggesting there is no object that does not contain, or is not part of that creation.

It’s really indescribable, as it is beyond form: However one chooses to hold the word brahman, it is very useful to remember that brahman is often described as indescribable. For convenience sake, it is said that brahman is the nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss, though admitting that these words, too, are inadequate.

Seek direct experience: The real meaning comes only in direct experience resulting from contemplation and yoga meditation.

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1. Brahma satyam jagan mithya
Brahman is real; the world is unreal
(The absolute is real; the world is unreal or only relatively real)

Brahman is real: The way in which brahman is real is like saying that the clay in a pot is real, or the gold in a bracelet is real (metaphorically speaking). The idea is that first there was clay and gold, and when those changed form, there now appears to be a pot and a bracelet.

The world is unreal: However, when the pot is broken, or the bracelet is melted, there is once again only clay and gold. It is in that sense that the pot and the bracelet are not real; they come and go from manifestation. They are not as real as are the clay and the gold. (Remember that these are metaphors, and that obviously, we could also say that clay and gold also come and go, such as when planets are born and die from the nuclear fire of suns. Also, note that using the English words real and unreal for the Sanskrit words satyam and mithya, are not perfect, but they are the best we have to work with.)

Something is more real than the temporary: In saying that the world is unreal, it means to say that literally everything we experience in the external world is, like the pot and the bracelet, in a process of coming, being, and going (so too with all of the objects of the subtle realm). If the Mahavakya stopped there, this might appear to be a negative, or depressing comment. But it does not stop there. It makes the added comment that this absolute reality is, in a sense, more real than the temporary appearances.

Two points: Thus, the Mahavakya does two major things:

  • Reminder of the temporary: First, it serves as a reminder of the temporary nature of the worldly objects.

  • Reminder of the eternal: Second, it serves as a reminder that there is an eternal nature, that is not subject to change.

An invitation to know: In these reminders there is an invitation to come to know, in direct experience, the existence, consciousness, and bliss that is this eternal essence of our being.

Don’t stop living in the world: When practicing contemplation with this, and the other Mahavakyas, it is important to not allow the reflection that the world is unreal to stop you from doing your actions in the external world. To think that the world is unreal, and therefore we need not do anything is a grave mistake. The realization of the unreality of the world and the reality of the essence behind the world brings freedom, not bondage or lethargy.

1. Brahma satyam jagan mithya
Brahman is real; the world is unreal
(The absolute is real; the world is unreal or only relatively real)

What to do: The purpose of contemplation and yoga meditation exercises is to attain Self-realization, or enlightenment, which has to do with knowing or experiencing the deepest, eternal aspect of our own being. By working with this Mahavakya, one increasingly sees the difference between what is temporary and what is eternal.

  • Be mindful of the passing objects: One way to work with this Mahavakya, is to simply be mindful of the world around you. Gradually, gently, and lovingly observe the countless objects that are ever in a process of coming and going.

  • Remember the eternal: Allow yourself to also remember the eternal nature that is always there, enjoying the beauty of how this process ebbs and flows through that unchanging, eternal essence.

Be mindful of your own temporary and eternal: As you witness the external world in this way, allow your attention to shift to your own physical, energetic, and mental makeup. Gradually comes the insight that these more surface aspects are also temporary, and in a sense, are also unreal, or only relatively real. It increasingly allows the mind to see that there is an eternal aspect of our being, and that this is actually the source of the mind itself. The mind comes to see that it must, itself, let go, so as to experience the eternal that is within.

Practice this at daily meditation time: By observing the world in this way, it is then easier to do the same kind of silent observation and contemplation while sitting in the stillness of your meditation time. Over time, the depth of the insights increase, as an inner expansion comes.

The different Mahavakyas work together: In practice, the Mahavakyas work together. This becomes evident by exploring the others, such as the ones that follow below.

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2. Ekam evadvitiyam brahma
Brahman is one, without a second
(There is one absolute reality, without any secondary parts)

No object is truly independent: As our attention goes from object to object, image to image, we keep finding that those objects and images are only relatively real (as discussed above). Gradually, we come to see that no object exists independently from brahman, the whole. Hence, it is said there is one, without a second. Wherever we look, whatever we think or feel, try as we will, we can find no second object or part. Everything is seen as a manifestation of something else.

The objects are made of the same stuff: To speak of one, without a second, is like thinking of thousands of pots or bracelets made from clay or gold. As you look at each of the pots and bracelets, one at a time, you conclude that this pot, and this bracelet is not separate from the whole field of clay and gold. Suddenly you come to the insight that there is not a single pot that is separate from clay, and there is not a single bracelet separate from gold. In other words, you see that there is one field, without a second object, or simply stated, there is one, without a second.

Once again, this can also be viewed in a theological way, wherein immanence(versus transcendence) means the divinity existing in, and extending into all parts all parts of the created world. Thus, there is no object that does not contain, or is not part of that creation.

2. Ekam evadvitiyam brahma
Brahman is one, without a second
(There is one absolute reality, without any secondary parts)

What to do: Keep exploring the latter part of the sentence, the part of being without a second. Consciously look at the objects of the world, and the thoughts that arise in the mind. Observe whether it has independent existence and permanence. It is like asking, “Does this object or thought exist on its own? Does it stay in this form, or does it go away? Is it, therefore a second object in comparison to the whole?”

  • Try to find a second object: One practice is to repeatedly look for some second object, which has independent existence from the whole, from brahman.

  • You’ll find there is none: The aspirant will repeatedly find that there is no second object, which has independent existence, but that all objects derive from some other, like the pots from clay, or bracelets from gold. This brings the increasing awareness of underlying wholeness.

See the beauty of oneness in diversity: If this is approached as a mere philosophical opinion, if we merely believe the principle, then the deep insight that comes from exploration will be missed. Each time that some new object or thought is seen to not be a second in relation to the whole, the personal realization of the truth of the principle will become deeper and more profound. We come to see the beauty in this, to see the joy of wholeness, of the unity within the diversity. The interrelationship between the Mahavakyas will also become clearer.

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3. Prajnanam brahman
Brahman is the supreme knowledge
(Knowing the absolute reality is the supreme knowledge)

Knowledge out of which other knowledge arises: There are many types of knowledge one can attain. However, they all stem from, or are a part of, a higher knowledge. There is one exception, and that is the absolute knowledge, which is the highest. It is called absolute because it is not stemming from something else. Supreme knowledge is the ground out of which the diversity of knowledge and experience grows. The plant, though appearing separate, is made of the stuff of the ground.

Many metaphors for higher knowledge: It is just about impossible to write words describing this notion of supreme knowledge, which is part of the reason that there are so many different descriptions given by many people. Thus, we use metaphor after metaphor trying to capture and communicate the essence of the meaning. This Mahavakya is saying that as you climb the ladder of knowledge, this higher knowledge is to be found at the level of brahman, the oneness of universal consciousness.

Reflect on lower knowledge to find the higher: Reflecting on lower knowledge might give some idea. The knowledge of how to ride a bicycle is a form of knowledge, but it is based on the higher knowledge of how to move your body. The knowledge of complex mathematics is based on the higher, more foundational, prerequisite knowledge that allows the thinking process itself. When you see a person that you recognize as your friend, there was first an ability to see and conceptualize, which is a higher knowledge.

Find the foundation: Intuitively, you come to see that there is consciousness, or whatever term you would like to use, that is higher, more foundational, or prerequisite to the lower knowledge in all of its other forms. The highest rung of the ladder is called supreme knowledge, prajna, and this is said to be one and the same with brahman, the oneness.

Knowing is not mere intellectualizing: It is extremely important to note here, that this is not a process of intellectualizing. Knowledge refers to knowing or awareness, not just a linear, cognitive thinking process. The knowledge here, is more like the knowledge of recognizing an object as a tree, than the process of adding up a list of numbers. There is simply no more straightforward way of saying it, than to say it is a matter of knowing the tree.

Knowing applies to both head and heart people: Also, it is not that some people are intellectual, or head people, while others are emotional, or heart people. While these differences between people might be real, this Mahavakya is talking about a universal principle that applies to all people. The practices themselves are applicable to all people, whether inclined towards the head or the heart, though different people will quite naturally have different experiences leading to the same ultimate realizations.

3. Prajnanam brahman
Brahman is the supreme knowledge
(Knowing the absolute reality is the supreme knowledge)

What to do: In trying to reflect on the nature of supreme knowledge, the eternal substratum of all other knowledge, the mind will present many memories, images, impressions, thoughts, sensations, and emotions. All of these are some form of knowledge, that’s for sure. However, they are not the highest knowledge.

Ask yourself if a knowledge is lower or higher: Simply allow these thought patterns to arise. Then ask yourself, “Is this the higher knowledge?” Repeatedly you will find that the answer is no, that it is not the higher, but is a lower form of knowledge.

Remember there is higher knowledge: This kind of reflection leaves a quietness in which the intuition of the existence of the higher knowledge starts to come. The intuition deepens with practice. This quietness is not one of lethargy or laziness, but rather of clarity and openness. It brings a smile to the face and to the heart, as the field of knowing gradually expands towards the wisdom of the Mahavakya.

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4. Tat tvam asi
That is what you are
(That absolute reality is the essence of what you really are)

That is what YOU are: This Mahavakya is stated as if one person is speaking to the other, saying, “That is what you are!” when referring to brahman. The person speaking is the teacher, and person being spoken to is the student.

It is YOU at the deepest level: Imagine that the teacher has explained to you all of the above Mahavakyas, that you had reflected on these, and that you started to have some sense of the meaning of the oneness called brahman. Imagine that the teacher then pointed a finger at you and explained, “That brahman, that oneness, is who you really are, at the deepest level of your being!” It is like telling a wave in the ocean that it IS the ocean.

You are the person underneath the personality: Often, we hold on to our personal identities, such as being from this or that family, organization, or country. We take on the identity of our roles in our jobs or in our families, such as father or mother, sister or brother, son or daughter. Or, we come to believe that who we are, is our personality traits that have developed through living. We forget our true nature, that is underneath all of these only relative identities.

We continue our duties, holding identities loosely: The realization of this Mahavakya, Tat tvam asi, leads us to see that the relative identities are not who we really are. It does not mean that we drop our duties in the world, or stop acting in service of other people because of this realization. Rather, we become ever more free to hold those identities loosely, while increasingly being able to act in the loving service of others, independent of attachment to our false identities.

4. Tat tvam asi
That is what you are
(That absolute reality is the essence of what you really are)

What to do: As if talking to yourself, direct your attention inward, possibly towards the heart center. Say to yourself, “That is who you are!”

Point a finger at yourself: You might want to even point your index finger at your own chest, the place from where you experience, “I am.” As you hold in awareness the essence of the truth that this brahman, this oneness, is who you reallyare, also observe how you can gently let go of the false identities, seeing that they are only temporary and relativelyme.

Say to yourself, “That is who you are”:When reflecting on the other Mahavakyas, such as brahman is the supreme knowledge, then shift the observation from that truth, directing attention to your own inner being and say, “Tat tvam asi; That you are!”

Remember the inner feeling: Notice the inner feeling that comes from the statement and the realization of your spiritual nature, rather than your more surface level of mental or physical identity.

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5. Ayam atma brahma
Atman and Brahman are the same
(The individual Self is one and the same with the absolute)

The wave and the ocean are one: Is the wave separate from the ocean? Not really, but sometimes we lose sight of that. Imagine that you are standing by the ocean, watching the vastness of the ocean. Imagine that a really big wave starts to come ashore, and that your attention comes to this one wave. You intently notice it, becoming absorbed in the crashing of the surf, and the feel of the salt spray. In that moment, you are only aware of the immensity of this one wave. The ocean itself is forgotten during that time. Then, an instant later, you recall with an inner “Aha!”, that the wave and the ocean are one and the same.

  • Atman refers to that pure, perfect, eternal spark of consciousness that is the deepest, central core of our being.

  • Brahman refers to the oneness of the manifest and unmanifest universe.

It is like saying that atman is a wave, and brahman is the ocean. The insight of Ayam atma brahma is that the wave and the ocean are one and the same.

Atman seems to be here, and brahman there: Notice how the statement Ayam atma brahma (Atman and Brahman are the same) is framed as if you are a separate observer of both Atman and Brahman. It is like standing at the beach, looking out at both the wave and the ocean, and declaring that the wave an the ocean are one. You are observing from a witnessing stance, outside of both of them . Notice how this perspective contrasts with Aham brahmasmi (I am Brahman), which declares that “I am!”, an inner experience, rather than from an observing standpoint (like being on the beach).

Different perspectives for the underlying reality: In this way, each of the Mahavakyas gives a different perspective of the same underlying Reality. Gradually, they are seen as mirror reflections of the same Absolute Reality. That integrated flash of insight touches on the true meaning of the word brahman. It is like gaining different points of view from different viewing points. Together, they converge in a complete understanding.

5. Ayam atma brahma
Atman and Brahman are the same
(The individual Self is one and the same with the absolute)

What to do: Sit quietly and reflect on the inner core of your being, such as by placing your attention in the space between the breasts, the heart center.

Be aware of your center: Don’t visualize anything, but allow your awareness to touch the feeling aspect of the center of your being. Or, if you like to visualize internally, imagine a tiny spark of light that represents the eternal essence your own self, the atman. Hold this attention for a few seconds or minutes.

Shift to awareness of the universe: Then, shift your attention in such a way that you are imagining the breadth of the entire manifest and unmanifest universe, the gross, subtle, and causal realms. Imagine the oneness that permeates all, and is all. Do this in a way that you are aware of the essence in which all exists, like being aware of the gold or the clay described above.

Then be aware of both as separate: Then, allow your attention to hold both the awareness of the spark that is atmanand the universal essence that is brahman. Be aware of atmanalso being within that oneness of brahman. Allow this to bring insight and peace. You might want to internally think the words of the Mahavakya, “Ayam atma brahma; atman and brahman are the same.”

Be aware of both as one: It is a beautiful practice to do the same thing in relation to other people. Think of the people who are closest to you, including family, friends, and coworkers. Allow yourself to notice the surface levels of their actions and speech, their physical features, and their personalities. Be aware of the subtle aspects of their makeup, and of the spark of the eternal that is the center of their consciousness. Be aware of how that spark, atman, is one with the oneness, brahman.

Different insights from different Mahavakyas: Notice the different insights and feelings between the Mahavakyas. The insight from Tat tvam asi (That is who you are) is experienced differently from Ayam atma brahma (This individual Self is one with the absolute). The two simply feel different internally, yet they work together, describing the same fundamental truth about about who we are. By experiencing the separate vantage points, the whole is more completely experienced.

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6. Aham brahmasmi
I am Brahman
(Who I really am, is that absolute reality.)

If a gold bracelet could speak: Imagine two possibilities of what a gold bracelet might say, if it could speak. It might say one of these two things:

  1. “I am a bracelet!”
  2. “I am gold!”

Bracelet is temporary: Which is more true, more everlasting? We might be tempted to say that #1 is more accurate, in that bracelet seems more encompassing, being both bracelet and gold at the same time. However, the bracelet aspect is not eternal. It is temporary. It is only a matter of the particular shape in which the gold was molded. Is bracelet what it really is?

Gold is everlasting: What is always true, is #2, that “I am gold,” everlasting, ever pure, and not subject to death, decay, and decomposition. (One might argue that gold is not everlasting either, but in the metaphor, gold is being only used as an example.)

Bracelet is gold; I am gold: Note that this metaphor may sound similar to the ones above, regarding the impermanence of a bracelet and the permanence of the gold (metaphorically speaking). This is not the case. The realization that, “I am gold!” or “I am brahman!” is an internal experience compared to the statement, “The bracelet is gold!” (which sounds like the bracelet over there). The two insights are separate, though they also come to be the same.

Similarly, it is very different to realize, in direct experience, “I am brahman!” than one of the statements such as, “Brahman alone is real!”:

  • Out there: “Brahman alone is real!” seems to be about the world out there. It is a valid perspective.

  • In here: “I am brahman!” is an inner declaration of who I am, in here. This is also a valid perspecive.

Truth comes in the stillness of intuitive flash: The truth of a Mahavakyacomes through intuitive flash, that is progressively deeper as one practices. It is not merely an intellectual process, as it might appear to be by explaining the gold metaphor. The metaphors are used as a means of explaining the principle, but this is not the end of the process. In a sense, such explanations are only the beginning of the process. The key is in the still, silent reflection in the inner workshop of contemplation and yoga meditation.

After thinking, let go into contemplative insight:The initial insights come somewhat like the creative process when you are trying to solve some problem in daily life. You think and think, and then finally let go into silence. Then, suddenly, the creative idea just pops out, giving you the solution to your problem. The contemplation on the Mahavakyas is somewhat like that at first. Later, it goes into deeper meditation.

Insight comes within your own context: One may experience himself or herself as being like the gold or the clay, or like a wave in an ocean of bliss, that realizes the wave is also the ocean. With all these metaphors used only as tools of explanation, the insight of each person will come in the context of their own culture and religion, and will not seem foreign or unnatural. One’s religious values are not violated, but rather, are affirmed.

6. Aham brahmasmi
I am Brahman
(Who I really am, is that absolute reality.)

What to do: Reflect on the oneness, or brahman, and the meaning, as suggested in the practices above. Allow your attention to focus on the insights from those Mahavakyas, such as Brahman is one, without a second.

Literally ask questions of yourself: Ask yourself, internally, “Who am I? Am I this body, or do I have a body? Am I this breath, or is this breath just flowing? Am I this mind, or is this mind a manifestation of some deeper truth? Who am I, really? Who am I?”

Make your own declarations: Inside the chamber of your own being, declare to yourself, “I am brahman. I am not only a wave, I am made of ocean. I am ocean!” Allow the truth of the statements to expand. Be sure to practice such affirmations only if you have reflected on them, and find truth in them. This is not about selling yourself, but on affirming what you know.

In daily life, when sitting, or resting: As you do these contemplations, you might be right in the middle of your daily life. Or, you might be sitting straight in a formal yoga meditation posture. Or, you might be resting comfortably in a chair, on a sofa, or lying down in a relaxed position. There is a great diversity of settings in which you can do this type of contemplation.

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7. Sarvam khalvidam brahma
All of this is Brahman
(All of this, including me, is that absolute reality)

The various insights are revealed: Gradually, one comes to understand and increasingly experience the deeper aspects of the other Mahavakyas (the six described above):

  • Brahman is real; the world is unreal.
  • Brahman is one, without a second.
  • Brahman is the supreme knowledge.
  • That is what you are.
  • Atman and brahman are the same.
  • I am brahman.

They sing a song together: As one comes to experience the truth of the individual Mahavakyas, it seems they come together in a song, that cries out in joy, “All of this is brahman!” As was said in the beginning, it is a process that comes from person-to-person listening (written and oral), followed by deep reflection, contemplation, and meditation.


(Perspective on “Sarvam khalvidam brahma”)

Realization comes in stages:

  • First, there is cognitive understanding of the meaning.
  • Second, intuition rolls down, revealing deeper meanings.
  • Finally, it is as if the one doing the practice travels upwards to merge in the direct experience, even though there was never any division in the first place.

7. Sarvam khalvidam brahma
All of this is Brahman
(All of this, including me, is that absolute reality)

What to do: Allow your awareness to try to encompass, at one time, the entire manifest and unmanifest universe, the objects and people in the world around you, as well as your own body and mind. Hold these together, as one whole, and reflect on the words, “All of this is brahman! All of this is one!” This builds on the other practices, and expands in its experience.

Mind is set aside in an explosion of awareness: Eventually, in the depth of meditation and contemplation, the entire mind is set aside in an explosion of awareness, in which the truth of the Mahavakyas comes forward, and is seen to have been there all along, ever still, waiting to be discovered in direct experience.

Four traditional Mahavakyas

Four of the Mahavakyas above are most traditional to Vedanta. Some 1200 years ago Adi Shankaracharya assigned one Mahavakya to one of four monastic teaching centers or mutts in India.

Mahavakya Source Mutt/Center

Prajnanam brahman
Brahman is supreme knowledge
Aitareya Upanishad
3.3, of Rig Veda
Puri/Govardhana
East

Tat tvam asi
That is what you are
Chandogya Upanishad
6.8.7, of Sama Veda,
Kaivalya Upanishad
Dwaraka/Sarada/Gujrat
West

Ayam atma brahma
Atman and brahman
are the same
Mandukya Upanishad
1.2, of Atharva Veda
Jyoti/Badrinath
North

Aham brahmasmi
I am brahman
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
1.4.10, of Yajur Veda,
Mahanarayana Upanishad
Sringeri/Mysore
South

 

 

Please see my related posts

The Pillar of Celestial Fire

The Great Chain of Being

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

On Holons and Holarchy

Recursion, Incursion, and Hyper-incursion

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

 

 

 

Key sources of Research:

 

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

arshavidya.org

Talk on The Essence of Vedanta

 

Talk on Vedanta by Swami Sarvpriyananda

Seyyed Hossein Nasr: On Islamic Philosophy

Seyyed Hossein Nasr: On Islamic Philosophy

Key Terms and People

  • Perennial Philosophy
  • Sanatan Dharma
  • Traditional Studies
  • Islamic Studies
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Islamic Cosmology
  • Frithjof Schuon
  • Titus Burckhardt
  • Marco Pallis
  • Martin Lings
  • Rene Guenon
  • Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr

 

I first came to know of Professor Nasr through my interactions with Ernest G. McClain, a famed Archeo-musicologist.

Ernest has written several books and numerous papers on musical structures in world mythology and religious texts.

His three books are available for anyone to download from this link below.

Bibliography

Ernest used to live in Washington DC area and had friendship with Professor Nasr.

Professor Nasr has written many books on Islam, Islamic Science, Philosophy, and Cosmologies which are available to download through the Internet Archive.  See the link below.

https://archive.org/details/HosseinNasr/page/n5/mode/2up

I must admit that I have not yet read books by Prof. Nasr but they are on my reading list.

Professor Nasr uses perspective of perennial philosophy (sophia perennis) to guide his views on comparing world religions.  In Hinduism, the perennial philosophy is known as Sanatan Dharma, the eternal immutable law.

Please see the link below to access works published by the Perennial Philosophy school:

Home

I share below a biographical essay available from the website of his foundation.

 

https://www.nasrfoundation.org/biography.html

About Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Introduction
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, currently University Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. is one of the most important and foremost scholars of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies in the world today. Author of over fifty books and five hundred articles which have been translated into several major Islamic, European and Asian languages, Professor Nasr is a well known and highly respected intellectual figure both in the West and the Islamic world. An eloquent speaker with a charismatic presence, Nasr is a much sought after speaker at academic conferences and seminars, university and public lectures and also radio and television programs in his area of expertise. Possessor of an impressive academic and intellectual record, his career as a teacher and scholar spans over four decades.

Born in 1933, Professor Nasr began his illustrious teaching career in 1955 when he was still a young and promising, doctoral student at Harvard University. Over the years, he has taught and trained an innumerable number of students who have come from the different parts of the world, and many of whom have become important and prominent scholars in their fields of study.

He has trained different generations of students over the years since 1958 when he was a professor at Tehran University and then, in America since the Iranian revolution in 1979, specifically at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1984 and at the George Washington University since 1984 to the present day. The range of subjects and areas of study which Professor Nasr has involved and engaged himself with in his academic career and intellectual life are immense. As demonstrated by his numerous writings, lectures and speeches, Professor Nasr speaks and writes with great authority on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from philosophy to religion to spirituality, to music and art and architecture, to science and literature, to civilizational dialogues and the natural environment.

For Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the quest for knowledge, specifically knowledge which enables man to understand the true nature of things and which furthermore, “liberates and delivers him from the fetters and limitations of earthly existence,” has been and continues to be the central concern and determinant of his intellectual life.

Brief Biography
Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born on April 7, 1933 (19 Farvadin 1312 A.H. solar) in Tehran into a family of distinguished scholars and physicians. His father, Seyyed Valiallah, a man of great learning and piety, was a physician to the Iranian royal family, as was his father before him. The name “Nasr” which means “victory” was conferred on Professor Nasr’s grandfather by the King of Persia. Nasr also comes from a family of Sufis. One of his ancestors was Mulla Seyyed Muhammad Taqi Poshtmashhad, who was a famous saint of Kashan, and his mausoleum which is located next to the tomb of the Safavid king Shah Abbas, is still visited by pilgrims to this day.

As a young boy, Nasr attended one of the schools near his home. His early formal education included the usual Persian curriculum at school with an extra concentration in Islamic and Persian subjects at home, as well as tutorial in French. However for Nasr, it was the long hours of discussion with his father, mostly on philosophical and theological issues, complemented by both reading and reaction to the discourses carried on by those who came to his father’s house, that constituted an essential aspect of his early education and which in many ways set the pattern and tone of his intellectual development. This was the situation for the first twelve years of Nasr’s life.

Nasr’s arrival in America at the young age of twelve marked the beginning of a new period in his life which was totally different and therefore, discontinuous from his early life in Iran. He attended The Peddie School in Highstown, New Jersey and in 1950 graduated as the valedictorian of his class and also winner of the Wyclifte Award which was the school’s highest honor given to the most outstanding all-round student. It was during the four years at Peddie that Nasr acquired his knowledge of the English language, as well as studying the sciences, American history, Western culture and Christianity.

Nasr chose to go to M.I.T. for college. He was offered a scholarship and was the first Iranian student to be admitted as an undergraduate at M.I.T. He began his studies at M.I.T in the Physics Department with some of the most gifted students in the country and outstanding professors of physics. His decision to study physics was motivated by the desire to gain knowledge of the nature of things, at least at the level of physical reality. However, at the end of his freshman year, although he was the top student in his class, he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism.

Furthermore, he discovered that many of the metaphysical questions which he had been concerned with were not being asked, much less answered. Thus, he began to have serious doubts as to whether physics would lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality. His doubt was confirmed when the leading British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in a small group discussion with the students following a lecture he had given at M.I.T, stated that physics does not concern itself with the nature of physical reality per se but with mathematical structures related to pointer readings.

The shock of discovering the real nature of the subject he had chosen to study, together with the overbearingly scientific atmosphere at his Department, led Nasr to experience a major intellectual and spiritual crisis during his second year. Although the crisis did not destroy his belief in God, it shook certain fundamental elements in his worldview, such as his understanding of the meaning of life, the significance of knowledge and the means to find the Truth. He was prepared to leave the field of physics and M.I.T. and depart from America in quest of the Truth. However, the strong discipline in him, inculcated by his father, prevented him from abandoning his studies altogether. He remained at M.I.T. and graduated with honors, but his heart was no longer with physics.

Having realized in his second year that a study of the physical sciences would neither lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality nor deal with some of the metaphysical questions he was concerned with, Nasr decided to look at other fields of study for his answers. He started to read extensively and to take many courses in the humanities, especially those taught by Professor Giorgio Di Santillana, the famous Italian philosopher and historian of science. Under Professor Di Santillana’s instruction, Nasr began his serious study of not only the ancient Greek wisdom as contained in the philosophies of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus but also European, Medieval philosophy, Dante’s highly mystical and symbolic Divine Comedy, Hinduism and a critique of modern Western thought. It was also Di Santillana who first introduced him to the writings of one of the most important traditionalist writers of this century, Rene Guenon. Guenon’s writings played a decisive role in laying the intellectual foundation of Nasr’s traditionalist perspective. Nasr also had the great fortune of having access to the library of the late Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, the outstanding Singhalese metaphysician and historian of art. The library had an incredible collection of works on traditional philosophy and art from all over the world. It was in this library that Nasr first discovered the works of the other traditionalist writers such as Frithjof Schuon, Titus Burckhardt, Marco Pallis and Martin Lings and who were to have tremendous and enduring intellectual and spiritual influence on Nasr.

According to Nasr, it was the discovery of traditional metaphysics and the philosophia perennis through the works of these figures which settled the crisis he had experienced and gained an intellectual certitude which has never left him since. From then on, he was certain that there was such a thing as the Truth and that it could be attained through knowledge by means of the intellect which is guided and illuminated by divine revelation. His childhood love for the attainment of knowledge returned to him but on a higher and deeper plane. The traditional writings of Schuon with their singular emphasis on the need for the practice of a spiritual discipline as well as theoretical knowledge, were especially instrumental in determining the course of Nasr’s intellectual and spiritual life from that time onward.

Upon his graduation from M.I.T., Nasr enrolled himself in a graduate program in geology and geophysics at Harvard University. After obtaining his Master’s degree in geology and geophysics in 1956, he went on to pursue his Ph.D. degree in the history of science and learning at Harvard. Nasr wanted to study other types of sciences of nature apart from the modern Western and also to understand why modern science had developed as it had. He planned to write his dissertation under the supervision of George Sarton, a great authority on Islamic science. However, Sarton passed away before he could begin his dissertation work and since there was not another specialist in Islamic science at Harvard then, he wrote his dissertation under the direction of three professors. They were I. Bernard Cohen, Hamilton Gibb and Harry Wolfson.

It was also at Harvard that Nasr resumed his study of classical Arabic which he had left since coming to America. He struggled with philosophical Arabic while getting some assistance from Wolfson and Gibb. However, the mastery of philosophical Arabic was only attained after he studied Islamic philosophy from the traditional masters of Iran after his return to his homeland in 1958.

During his Harvard years, Nasr also traveled to Europe, especially to France, Switzerland, Britain, Italy and Spain, widening his intellectual horizon and establishing important and fruitful contacts. It was during these travels to Europe that Nasr met with the foremost traditionalist writers and exponents of the philosophia perennis, Frithjof Schuon and Titus Burckhardt, who made a tremendous impact and decisive contribution to his intellectual and spiritual life. He also traveled to Morocco in North Africa, which had great spiritual significance for Nasr who embraced Sufism in the form taught and practiced by the great Sufi saint of the Maghrib, Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi. Thus, the years at Harvard witnessed the crystallization of the major intellectual and spiritual elements of Nasr’s mature worldview, elements which have since dominated and determined the course and pattern of his scholarship and academic career.

At twenty-five, Nasr graduated with a Ph.D. degree from Harvard and on the way to completing his first book, Science and Civilization in Islam. His doctoral dissertation entitled “Conceptions of Nature in Islamic Thought” was published in 1964 by Harvard University Press as An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Although he was offered a position as assistant professor at M.I.T., Nasr decided to return permanently to Iran.

Back in Iran, Nasr was offered a position as an Associate Professor of philosophy and the history of science at the Faculty of Letters in Tehran University. A few months after his return, Nasr married a young woman from a respected family whose members were close friends of his family. Five years later at the age of thirty, Nasr became the youngest person to become a full professor at the University. He used his position and influence to bring major changes to strengthen and expand the philosophy program at Tehran University which like many of its other programs, was very much dominated by and limited to French intellectual influence. Nasr initiated the important move of teaching Islamic philosophy on the basis of its own history and from its own perspective and to encourage his Iranian students to study other philosophies and intellectual traditions from the point of view of their own tradition. He maintains that one cannot hope to understand and appreciate one’s own intellectual tradition from the viewpoint of another, just as one cannot see oneself through the eyes of another person. He also created greater awareness and interest in the study of Oriental philosophies among the students and faculty members. Since Tehran University was the only university in Iran to offer a doctorate in philosophy, these changes introduced by Nasr had far reaching influence. Many universities in Iran integrated these changes into their philosophical studies and until today Nasr’s perspective that Iranian students should study other philosophical traditions from the view of their own tradition instead of studying their tradition from the perspective of Western thought and philosophy remains widely influential. The students he has trained and who have become scholars and university professors of philosophy have enabled this perspective to have enduring influence in Iran.

Apart from the philosophy program, Nasr was also involved in the university’s doctoral program in Persian language and literature for those whose mother tongue was not Persian. He strengthened the philosophical component of this program and had many outstanding students from outside of Iran to receive training, not only in Persian language, but also the rich treasury of philosophical and Sufi literature written in Persian. Many of the students trained in this program have since become important scholars in this field such as the American scholar, William Chittick and the Japanese woman scholar, Sachiko Murata.

Furthermore, from 1968 to 1972, Nasr was made Dean of the Faculty and for a while, Academic Vice-Chancellor of Tehran University. Through these positions, he introduced many important changes which all aimed at strengthening the university programs in the humanities generally and in philosophy, specifically. In 1972, he was appointed President of Aryamehr University by the Shah of Iran. Aryamehr University was then the leading scientific and technical university in Iran and the Shah, as the patron, wanted Professor Nasr to develop the university on the model of M.I.T. but with firm roots in Iranian culture. Consequently, a strong humanities program in Islamic thought and culture, with a particular emphasis upon an Islamic philosophy of science, was established at Aryamehr University by Nasr. Nasr’s pioneering effort has led Aryamehr to create one of the first graduate programs in the Islamic world in the philosophy of science based upon the Islamic philosophy of science, some ten years ago. In 1973, the Queen of Iran appointed Professor Nasr to establish a center for the study and propagation of philosophy under her patronage. Hence, the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy was established and very soon became one of the most important and vital centers of philosophical activities in the Islamic world, housing the best library of philosophy in Iran and attracting some of the most distinguished scholars in the field, both from the East and the West, such as Henry Corbin and Toshihiko Izutsu. The Academy also organized important seminars and lecture series given by philosophers, offered fellowships for short and long term research work in Islamic philosophy, and comparative philosophy and undertook a major publication program of works in this field in Persian, Arabic, English and French.

Another very important dimension to Nasr’s intellectual activities after his return to Iran in 1958, was his program in re-educating himself in Islamic philosophy by learning it at the feet of the masters through the traditional method of oral transmission. He studied hikmah for twenty years under some of the greatest teachers in Iran at the time, reading traditional texts of Islamic philosophy and gnosis, three days a week at the Sepahsalar madrasah in Tehran and also in private homes in Tehran, Qom and Qazwin. Among his venerable teachers were Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Assar, an alim who was an authority on Islamic law, as well as philosophy, and a very close friend of Professor Nasr’s father; the great luminary and master of gnosis, Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai and Sayyid Abul-Hasan Qazwini, a great authority on Islamic law and the intellectual sciences who knew mathematics, astronomy and philosophy extremely well. Nasr read and studied several of the major texts of Islamic philosophy under these masters such as the al-Asfar al-arbaah of Mulla Sadra and the Sharh-i manumah of Sabziwari and benefited greatly from the invaluable insights and commentaries provided by them orally. In this way, Nasr had the best educational training both from the modern West and the traditional East, a rare combination which put him in a very special position to speak and write with authority on the numerous issues involved in the encounter between East and West, and tradition and modernity, as demonstrated very clearly by his writings and lectures.

During the years Professor Nasr was in Iran, he wrote extensively in Persian and English and occasionally in French and Arabic. His doctoral dissertation was rewritten by him in Persian and it won the royal book award. Nasr also brought out the critical editions of several important philosophical texts such as the complete Persian works of Suhrawardi and of Mulla Sadra and the Arabic texts of lbn Sina and al-Biruni. Nasr’s great interest in the philosophy of one of the greatest later Islamic philosophers, Mulla Sadra resulted in the publication of the Mulla Sadra written by the traditional masters of Islamic philosophy. Nasr was also the first person to introduce the figure of Mulla Sadra to the English speaking world.

With the assistance of William Chittick, Nasr prepared An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science in three volumes, with Persian and English annotations. He also wrote Three Muslim Sages and completed and published Science and Civilization in Islam which he had written while still a student at Harvard. Both of these books were translated into several languages very quickly and were reprinted in Iran many times and have been used for the past three decades as textbooks for courses in Islamic philosophy and science in Iranian universities. Three Muslim Sages, which presents the whole of the Islamic intellectual tradition from within, grew out of three lectures which Nasr gave in 1962 as the first visiting professor at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Ideals and Realities of Islam, which is one of Nasr’s most widely read book on the Islamic religion and which opens up the world of Islam, revealing some of its most universal and profound dimensions, was based on the text of the first six of fifteen lectures which he delivered at the American University in Beirut as the first Aga Khan Professor of Islamic studies in 1964-65.

In 1966 Nasr was invited to deliver the Rockefeller Lectures at the University of Chicago and to speak on some aspects of the relation between religion, philosophy and the environmental crisis. Consequently, Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man, which deals with the philosophical and spiritual roots of the question and the first work to predict the coming of the environmental crisis was written for the occasion. Nasr also brought out Islam and the Plight of Modern Man, Sufi Essays and The Transcendent Theosophy of Sadr al-Din Shirazi. Both Islam and the Plight of Modern Man and Sufi Essays have proved to be very popular and have been translated into many European and Islamic languages and reprinted several times since their first appearance.

In 1964-65, Nasr spent an academic year at the American University of Beirut as the first Aga Khan professor of Islamic Studies. Besides Ideals and Realities of Islam, Nasr also brought out Islamic Studies, which is a collection of articles discussing several fundamental aspects of the Islamic tradition. This work was later expanded and published under the title, Islamic Life and Thought. During this period in Lebanon, Nasr also met with and had intellectual discourses with several important Catholic and Shi`ite thinkers and scholars. He also had the opportunity to meet with the woman Sufi saint Sayyidah Fatimah Yashrutiyah, daughter of the founder of the Yashrutiyah order, a branch of the Shadhiliyah Sufi order.

Although Nasr lived in Iran, he maintained strong contacts with America and many of the major universities in the country. He taught at Harvard in 1962 and 65 and conducted short seminars at Princeton University and the University of Utah. He also had close associations with several important American scholars such as Huston Smith, professor of philosophy and comparative religion, Jacob Needleman, editor of the well-known work, Sword of Gnosis which includes Nasr’s essays, and a number of Catholic and Protestant philosophers and theologians. Nasr also helped with the planning and expansion of Islamic and Iranian studies in several universities such as Princeton, the University of Utah and the University of Southern California. In 1977, he delivered the Kevorkian Lectures on Islamic art at New York University on the meaning and philosophy of Islamic art.

In 1979 at the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Nasr moved with his family to the United States where he would rebuild his life again and secure a university position to support himself and his family. By 1980, Nasr began to write again. He started to work intensively on the research and text of the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh to which he received an invitation shortly before the Iranian Revolution took place. Nasr had the honor of being the first non-Westerner to be invited to deliver the most famous lecture series in the fields of natural theology and philosophy of religion in the West. Thus, Knowledge and the Sacred, one of Nasr’s most important philosophical works, one which had a great impact on scholars and students of religious studies, came to be prepared amidst the strain of trying times and the strenuous commute between Boston and Philadelphia. However, Nasr discloses that the actual writing of the text of Knowledge and the Sacred came as a gift from heaven. He was able to write the texts of the lectures with great facility and speed and within a period of less than three months, they were completed. Nasr says that it was as though, he was writing from a text he had previously memorized.

In 1982, Nasr was invited to collaborate on a major project to bring out the Encyclopedia of World Spirituality together with Ewert Cousins, chief editor and professor of Medieval philosophy at Fordham University, and many other leading philosophers and scholars of religion. Nasr accepted to edit the two volumes on Islamic Spirituality, which came out in 1989 and 1991. Both volumes have since become invaluable reference material in English for those interested in this subject. In 1983, Nasr delivered the Wiegand Lecture on the philosophy of religion at the University of Toronto in Canada. He also helped in the establishment of the section on Hermeticism and perennial philosophy at the American Academy of Religion.

Nasr was soon recognized in American academic circles as a traditionalist and a major expositor and advocate of the perennialist perspective. Much of his intellectual activities and writing since being in exile in America, are related to this function and also in the fields of comparative religion, philosophy and religious dialogue. He has participated in many debates and discussions with eminent Christian and Jewish theologians and philosophers such as Hans Kung, John Hick and Rabbi Izmar Schorch. In 1986, Nasr edited The Essential Writings of Frithjof Schuon and in 1990, he was selected as a patron of the Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations of the Sally Oaks College in Birmingham. In addition, he has played an active role in the creation and activities of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He has also attended many conferences on this subject including the famous 1993 Parliament of World Religions.

He continues to travel to Europe often, giving lectures and being involved with intellectual activities. He gives lectures at Oxford, University of London and a few other British universities and is a member of the Temenos Academy. In 1994, he was invited to deliver the Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham and a major work entitled Religion and the Order of Nature was produced by Nasr for this occasion.

Nasr also continues to travel to Spain, especially southern Spain which still has an Islamic presence and which reminds him very much of his home country, Iran. It was also during some of his journeys to Spain, that Nasr was inspired to compose several poems related to Spanish themes. Nasr has brought out recently a collection of forty English poems on spiritual themes, which were written within the past fifteen years, under the title Poems of the Way.

Although Professor Nasr continues to have a very busy teaching and lecturing schedule, he still manages to allocate much of his time and energy to writing. 1987 saw the publication of two of his books: Islamic Art and Spirituality and Traditional Islam in the Modern World. Islamic Art and Spirituality which deals with the metaphysical and symbolic significance of Islamic art, poetry and music is Nasr’s first book on this subject. Traditional Islam in the Modern World discusses several important dimensions of the Islamic tradition and its relation to the West. Nasr also wrote a book specifically for young Muslims entitled, A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World which addresses some of the major problems and challenges which the modern world presents to them.

Recently, Nasr together with the British scholar of Islamic and Jewish philosophy, Oliver Leaman, edited a two volume work, History of Islamic Philosophy which consists of articles written by important scholars in this field, discussing the different aspects and schools of Islamic philosophy and its development in the different parts of the Islamic world. Nasr’s continued interest in science is made evident by his latest book on this subject, The Need for a Sacred Science. Also, together with one of his former students, Mehdi Amin Razavi, Nasr is now bringing out a major four volume work, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia which will be published by Oxford University Press. Razavi also edited earlier, The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, which is a collection of Nasr’s articles on Islamic philosophy in Persia written during the last forty years.

Another important aspect to Nasr’s intellectual activities in Washington D.C. is his active involvement in the activities of the Foundation for Traditional Studies. The Foundation which is devoted to the dissemination of traditional thought was established in 1984 under the direction of a board presided by Nasr. The Foundation has published several books including the festschrift of Frithjof Schuon entitled, Religion of the Heart, edited by Nasr and William Stoddart and In Quest of the Sacred: The Modern World in the Light of Tradition which Nasr co-edited with the executive director of the Foundation, Katherine O’Brien. In Quest of the Sacred is a collection of essays presented by some of the major traditionalist writers in an important conference held in Peru, organized by the Foundation and the Peruvian Instituto de Estudios Tradicionales. The Foundation also publishes the journal, “Sophia,” which carries essays on traditional thought written by the leading authorities in this field. Together with the Foundation, Nasr is also involved in the production of a major documentary television series on “Islam and the West,” which deals with some of the more important and profound aspects of the encounter between the Islamic and Western civilizations.

At sixty-six, Seyyed Hossein Nasr leads an extremely active intellectual life with a very busy schedule of teaching at the university and lecturing at many institutions in America and around the world, writing scholarly works, being involved in several intellectual projects simultaneously and meeting individuals who are interested in traditional thought. At the same time, he leads a very intense spiritual life spent in prayer, meditation and contemplation and also providing spiritual counsel for those who seek his advice and guidance. Exiled from his homeland, Seyyed Hossein Nasr has found his home in the inviolable and sacred Center which is neither in the East nor the West.

 

Please see my related posts:

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

 

 

Sources of Research

Frithjof Schoun

http://www.frithjof-schuon.com/start

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Frithjof-Schuon.aspx

http://www.frithjofschuon.info/english/home.aspx

 

Sophia Perennis

Home

http://www.sophia-perennis.com/index_english.htm

 

Ananda K Coomaraswamy

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Ananda-K-Coomaraswamy.aspx

https://archive.org/search.php?query=Ananda%20Coomaraswamy

 

 

Rene Guenon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Guénon

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Rene-Guenon.aspx

 

Titus Burckhardt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Burckhardt

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Titus-Burckhardt.aspx