This is part XI of “Guruji in the Horizon”, a spiritual novel consisting of many parts. To read the previous parts, please go to the labels on the right bar and click on this title or click on this link: Will You Come Back Guruji
This is the first time I am going to my yoga master without Jimmy. I could not hold my tears. Pure and chill air was blowing across, making our walking very pleasant. These paths could not be traversed after darkness. If need arises to go through these paths, one has to carry lanterns. Of late, people started using battery lights. Even petty shops in the villages sell battery cells. Along with the lantern, one has to carry a long stick. There could be snakes crisscrossing the paths. As long as we do not hurt the snakes, they do not harm human beings. But, if someone tries to kill a snake, with vengeance, they bite him. In these villages, there are many deaths due to snake bites. Most of the villagers rear dogs. When they travel in the night, dogs also accompany them. Men follow the dogs. Snakes run away on seeing the dogs. I have also taken a battery light with me. Who knows, guruji may spend more time with my yoga master.
“How much more we have to travel?” he asked.
“Another ten to fifteen minutes guruji” I said.
“You have not yet come out from the thoughts about Jimmy. Shankaraaa, you should never get attached to a physical body. Take for example, a banana. You pluck bananas from the tree and allow them to ripe. It could take about two, three or even four days to ripe. If you keep the fruits even after full ripening, the fruits will rot, becoming useless for consumption. Once they are totally rotten, you can see germs and insects around the rotten fruits. You have to ultimately discard these fruits.
“The same principle applies to animals and men. I have already told you how birth takes place. When the child is born, it grows. Growth stops at some point of time and degeneration begins to take place. It is called degeneration in human beings and rot in fruits. Birth, growth and death is like an inverted V. Birth is the one end of the V, cessation and reversal of growth happens at the converging point of the two lines at the top. The other end is death. Whatever is born has to die. A soul takes different forms in different births. Knowing this fact fully will make a person not to grieve for death. They know that the soul is going to be born for a better life. You have lost only Jimmy’s body in the present birth, since both of you know each other only through physical bodies. Even if the soul of Jimmy is born in your village, both of you will not be able to identify each other. Once the soul reincarnates, it forgets all its past. It is not right on your part to grieve for Jimmy even after knowing that all the gross bodies are perishable. If you are a wise man, you should be anticipating your death every moment. Nobody knows the time of death. That is why, wise men say live for the present. Your past cannot be undone and your future is not known. Brooding over the past and thinking about the future will make your mind corrupt. If your mind is corrupt, you become unfit to pursue spiritual path.”
I listened to him carefully and I could also understand what he said. I have decided to look at the world in the way he explained just now. He just finished when we reached my yoga master’s village. There are more houses in this village than our hamlet. There are a couple of roads and houses with muddy walls and thatched roofs. Yoga master’s home is on the first street. As usual he was sitting outside his home, on a raised arena attached to the house. The area is not too raised or two low. If you sit on the raised platform, you have to necessarily bend your legs so that your feet can be comfortably rested on the ground. My yoga master was surprised that I am accompanying an old man.
My yoga teacher stood up. That is the respect my guruji commands. Respect is one thing that should never be demanded and should be commanded. Yoga master looked at me intriguingly.
“Master, he is guruji, who has come home two days ago. He is staying with us. He is a spiritual person and he wants to have clarification from you regarding certain postures” I told my yoga master.
Yoga teacher paid his respects to him by folding his hands together. Guruji returned his gesture. Yoga master’s house is too small to offer seat to both of us. I practice yoga in his backyard, where sufficient place is available. He has a few old mats for his students to perform their yogic postures. Now he has no students. Whenever I go for classes, he will ask me to pick up a mat from the corner of his house. The house comprises of only a hall. Eating, sleeping, studying and any other activity can happen only in that 10” x 10” hall. My yoga master and his wife live there. I am not too sure about his children. I have never seen anybody at his home except his wife. Yoga master is well built and does not appear aged. Probably he should be around 45 years or so. His wife appeared much elder to him. Probably, yogic practice could have made my master to appear young.
Master wanted to offer a seat for guruji, but none was available. I went inside and bought out a mat and spread it on the ground. Guruji sat on the mat. Yoga master was still standing. I was curious to know why yoga master is scared of guruji. Guruji asked the yoga master to sit opposite to him and signaled me to sit facing both of them.
“It is interesting to know that a yoga expert is available in this remote place. Many talents in our country go either unnoticed or unrecognized and sometimes not even understood. If you were in a city, you will have many students. Yoga has become one of the most imperious commodities now.”
“Yes swami, I know. But I have not learnt yoga regularly. I was working as a cleaning boy in a yoga centre in a city. The institute charged a hefty sum as fee. In between the two classes there will be some time gap. During this time gap, I had to clean the place and keep it neat for the next batch. I was also acting as a helper for the participants. When various postures were taught, I used to observe them very closely and used to practice them at home. The classes were conducted in English, which I did not understand. I learnt them only from watching the postures. I am not a certified yoga master. I teach whatever I know to those who are seriously interested in learning yogic postures. Shankaran is one among them. I collect only a meager amount from them, that too for our living. I had only three students here. All of them left and Shankara alone remains with me. I go to the nearby town to teach yoga in a secondary school. They pay me a small sum as my salary. Only with this income, my wife and I live. It is surely a tough living and we are struggling.” My yoga master almost gave his curriculum vitae to my guruji. Being his student for the past three years or so, I never even attempted to know these details.
“Everything happens because of our karma and we have no choice except to undergo sufferings as per our karma. Do not worry, all your miseries will go away shortly. I have highest regards for you as I always hold yoga master in high esteem. People are not fully aware of the benefits of yoga. If everyone practices yoga, none will become sick. You know how to synchronize breathing with body movements.”
“No, I do not know anything except body movements. I never knew that one has to sync his breath with body movements.”
“This aspect is very important. As a matter of fact, yoga postures can begin where breathing exercises end. Breathing techniques are more important than yogic postures.” Guruji was not trying to find fault with yoga master. It was more like information.
Guruji continued. “In the beginning stages of breathing exercises, inhale by counting five. Do not hold and exhale by counting ten. You exhalation time should be two times more than your inhalation time. You should never hold your breath in the initial stages of learning pranayama (breathing techniques). There are various combinations. Time is counted for inhalation, holding, exhalation and remaining breathless. The ideal ratio depends upon one’s comfort level and convenience. However, 4 – 8 – 16 – 8 would be ideal. Four indicates breathing in time, 8 is the holding time, 16 is exhalation time and 8 is the breathless time. Thus the time to complete one cycle of ideal yogic breathing will be 46 seconds. This you have to practice. When you advance, you can do this with alternate nostrils. Inhale through one nostril, exhale through another nostril and this should be done alternatively through both the nostrils.
“You should know that prana and breath are different. Prana is vitality, the life sustaining force. Prana enters through six psychic chakras in the body to reach the crown, where the union between Shiva and Shakti takes place. Both Shiva and Shakti always exist in your body. Shiva, as the static force does not move from your crown chakra, also known as sahasrara. It is only Shakti, who climbs up through a minute tube in the spinal cord, known as citrini nadi (posterior medial suicus) and reaches medulla oblongata from the sacral area. After awakening, kundalini traverses through this nerve and reaches sahasrara. To practice kundalini meditation, breathing exercise is very important. One should know how to manipulate his breath to move kundalini from one chakra to another chakra. Breath and concentration are important to practice kundalini meditation. However, this is not the time to discuss about kundalini. We have not come here for that purpose.” Guruji concluded a long lecture.
Yoga master said. “Swami, I would like to learn kundalini meditation. Can you kindly guide me on this?”
“Yes, I will. For learning and practicing kundalini meditation, one needs a learned master. It should be practiced only in his presence. If your practice is not perfect, it could wreck your nervous system and may even cause death. I am not saying this to threaten both of you. But this is the hard reality.
“Let us take for example, Bhujanga asana. You have to gradually raise your body, beginning from the head and ending with your abdomen. When you begin to raise your head, you should start inhaling gradually and when you have raised you abdomen, the inhalations should stop. You can remain in the upraised posture, may be for twenty seconds. You can continue to hold your breath fixing your concentration between two eyebrows. When you begin to come back to the normal position, gradually exhale all the air within and by the time your head touches the floor, all the air should have been expelled. After this you can normally breathe.
“You know that the best asana is sarvanga asana. This is the posture, where you rest your whole body only on your shoulders. Like any other asanas, this should also be done while in empty stomach. When you lift your body, you have to exhale. You can be in this asana for some time, may be even up to five minutes. When your body is totally lifted up, you can breathe normally. When you come down from the asana to the normal posture, you should be exhaling gradually and by the time you are on the floor, you should have exhaled all the air within. I have taken these two asanas as only examples. Every asana is to be synchronized with our breath. You can also modify any posture to suit your requirement, provided you know the significance. The only dangerous thing that should be avoided is doing inhalation instead of exhalation or vice versa. You cannot comedown in sarvangasana when your breath is full. Proper yogic exercises and proper breathing exercises keep you in perfect health. There will be no need to go to doctors” guruji completed his synopsis on breathing and yogic postures. I was surprised with the kind of information he possesses.
It was pretty dark, probably we have not noticed. When we are engrossed seriously in a subject, we lose our attention on our surroundings. This is the first time that I have experienced this type of extreme concentration. Of course, concentration depends upon the subject and the speaker. Both have to be interesting. I was impressed with the way in which guruji explained everything to my yoga master. He never tried to expose my yoga master in my presence by probing him. The whole conversation was in general nature. Generally, one can see spiritual arrogance in some of the so called evolved persons. In every respect, my guruji appeared to be a different person. I prayed for the first time to God. I prayed to God that guruji should be with us always. Every day, he teaches one interesting thing. I have also noticed that he does not speak beyond spirituality. The way in which he shares his experience, one day, I think, it could form subject for doctorate in universities.
The time should be past 7 0’ clock in the evening. It was totally dark. A few rain drops fell from the sky. There was cool breeze blowing across indicating the possibility for showers. When it rains, it is difficult to walk from one village to another village. The paths will be very slippery and visibility also becomes poor, if the downpour is heavy. I began to worry about guruji’s safe return.
“It may rain guruji. Can we leave now?” I politely told him. Moreover, it is time for my dinner and I was already hungry. If it rains, I have to carefully tread the path with guruji and take him to safety.
“Shankaraaaaa, don’t worry. We will reach home safely. Just relax” said guruji and began to leave
Yoga master accompanied us till the end of the street. We began to walk towards our hamlet. There were occasional drizzles. Walking in the night was also very pleasant with cool wind still blowing with a whistling sound.
When I started my dinner, guruji went into meditation. After finishing dinner, I came out of the house without making any noise. He was still meditating. It was pitch dark outside. The drizzle is trying to turn into rain. I turned on guruji’s side and I saw an illuminating silhouette around him. I quietly went to my rocky bench and observed him. The illumination was becoming brighter and brighter. After sometime, the radiant silhouette of the body slowly moved to the top of his head. There was bright aura above his head. It was a very interesting phenomenon. After some more time, the aura has started moving up and down. It was clearly and distinctly bright this time. It is to be seen, to be believed. It was a wonderful and unique experience for me. I waited for him to come back to his normal state. I think, more than an hour could have lapsed and he continued to remain in the same state. The illumination was becoming brighter. Suddenly his body started lifting from the ground. He was sitting in the same posture at a height of at least half to one foot from the ground. He remained in the same posture for a very long time. Though it was very late into the night, I did not want to miss out a miracle unfolding in front of my eyes. I was watching him without moving my eyes. First, he came down and regained his normal posture. The effulgent light at the top of his head entered into his body and faded away. In no time he became conscious. Beyond this, I could not notice, it was pretty dark. I also could not sit on my rocky bench due to heavier rain now. I ran towards veranda. He got up from his place and was loitering in the veranda. I was not sure whether he had noticed my presence.
(to be continued)