“Guru is a concept by itself. The concept cannot be explained to make one understand. Guru is the one who establishes your maiden connection with Divine. You should be able to stay connected with your guru all the time.  Since we are going to begin a new session for you, first take the blessings of your guru” Maharaj said.

I looked at guruji and he nodded. 

“It is not that I am not going to bless you if you do not pay respects to me. It is the tradition. You should pay respects not only to your guru, but also to your guru’s guru and guru’s guru’s guru. The lineage of your guru is very important.  You are now in the final phases of your spiritual journey.  If you treat me as your guru, Baba is your guru’s guru.  Maharaji, who is sitting before you is Baba’s guru.  There is one more guru who we will meet in the next few days.  This will be decided by Maharaj, depending upon you ability to cope up with the pressure and strain.”

I stood up and fell at the feet of Maharaj and then at the feet of my guru.

“Lord Shiva is the chief of all gurus. He incarnates in various forms. You and I are also His incarnations. To understand this logically and scientifically is spirituality. Spirituality is purely a science. You need to acquire spiritual knowledge. Once your spiritual knowledge is complete in all respects, you become ready to pursue practice.  A surgeon cannot operate a person unless he has gained complete knowledge.  He should know about every tiny nerve and blood vessels in a human body.  If he does not have a thorough knowledge, he is unfit to be a surgeon.  The same logic applies to spirituality.  Spiritual practice culminates when you purify your consciousness.  Spirituality does not even end here.  You have two more stages of consciousness beyond your body.  If you are able to reach these two stages, you can stop all your practices and wait for His approval to merge with Him. Your transmigration ceases at that point.  Are you able to understand?” asked Maharaj.

“Yes Maharaj, except the consciousness that you are speaking about” I said. 

“Right, we will deal with that at the appropriate time.”

“I am sure that you are aware of the difference between prana and breath. Prana is the vital energy and breath is the air.  Source of breath is only air and source of prana is many, mainly the energy of sun, energy of earth and the inherent energy of air.  Even water produces prana, trees produce prana and even moon has its own prana.  Though you inhale through your nostrils, your skin also breathes.  In the same way, you inhale prana not only through your nostrils but also through certain parts of your body.  Prana is known as the life force or the vital force of your biological system.  It is the cosmic life force, without which you cannot exist. Kundalini is the feminine energy of the cosmos.  She is the Shakti of Shiva.   The energy of kundalini is present in all the humans in the place between the organs of procreation and excretion.  This place is called perineum. There is a sac in the perineum, which contains perineal membrane, a layer of skeletal muscle and various neurovascular elements.  The kundalini energy in the form of heat and light rests in this sac, well protected.  This energy can be moved to the top of the skull through certain techniques.  If you are pursuing true spiritual path, kundalini will automatically ascend without any efforts from your side.  But that is a time consuming process and continues from one birth to another birth.  You begin from where you had left in your last birth. 

“Shiva exists at the top of your skull all the time.  Shakti, in the form of kundalini moves towards Him to have intimate moments with Him. If you put one step to arouse kundalini, She is ready to move up by two steps. But it is not that easy to make the kundalini ascend through a tubular vessel in the spinal cord.  There are certain procedures by which you can arouse the kundalini from your perineum. Perineum is well connected to genital organ.  You can moderately heat a pebble and sit over the pebble.  Due to the heat and pressure, kundalini begins to move out of the perineum. This may not happen in one session.  You have to keep on trying. There are two possibilities for the perineum to ascend. In the first instance, She rips through your body and hits Her spouse at crown chakra.  But this happens very rarely.  If it happens, it is due to one’s karma.  Unless one is full of spiritual karma, such an arousal is not possible.  Spiritual karma means the impressions of your subconscious mind at the time of your present birth.  During the last birth, you would not have reached the summit in your spiritual pursuit.  You begin from the point where you had left in your last birth.

“In the second instance, which is common, you have to move your kundalini from one chakra to another chakra by multiple manipulations.  For this, your level of consciousness is very important. You have to be extremely conscious about the movement of your prana.  Like your skin, as I said earlier, there are certain parts of your body which inhales prana and these places are known as chakras. Chakras are the combination of endocrine glands and nerve plexus. Kundalini is like walking on a sharp edged sword.  If you make a wrong move, your fall could be calamitous.  You have been already taught about pranayama.  Let me now tell you about some bandas and mudras. Bhanda means controlled contraction of certain parts of body in order to allow the free flow of prana without any obstruction.  Mudra means certain gestures made with your hands.  Mudras are also used to close some of the openings in our body.  By effective combination of bandas and mudras, you can manipulate prana and clear the way for kundalini to ascend through the centra canal of the spinal cord.  The central canal is called citrini and medically known as posterior medial sulcus. Citrini links coccyx and the skull. The aroused kundalini moves through citrini to reach the top of the skull, known as the crown chakra or sahasrara. You must always remember that in kundalini, your ability to visualize is important. Progress in spirituality depends upon your ability to concentrate and visualize. 

“Let us now learn about bandhas. Three bandhas are used to arouse kundalini from the perineum and make it ascend through citrini to the head.  If prana is not properly manipulated and directed through citrini, the wrong ascension of kundalini through other nadis (nerves) could cause serious neurological and mental problems beyond repair and could make a person insane.  There are many such insane persons wandering in this place today.  You can see many of them in the main area of Rishikesh. Have patience to listen carefully and if you have doubts, ask me repeatedly.  You must practice in my presence.  However, if you want to spend sometime alone, you can go out alone.  You are distained to meet a woman in the next few days.  Let us see what happens at that time.

“The first is mula bandha. Mula means the lowest part and in our context, it refers to the perineum.  Mula bandha is the contraction of sphincter muscles of the anus. When you contract this muscle, muscles at the genitals will also get pulled.  You have to contract and pull up these muscles towards your abdomen.  When this is done, push the muscles in your posterior abdomen towards your spine.  Finally pull the lower abdominal muscles upwards.  This completes mula bandha.  I repeat again.  Pull your sphincter muscles by closing the anal aperture.  While doing this, you have to ensure that muscles in your genital area are also pulled up.  Though this automatically happens, still you have to ensure this, as the perineum has connection to both anal and genital muscles. During this procedure, the kundalini is kindled to leave the perineum.  When you push your lower abdominal muscles towards your spine and pull it up later, it makes the kundalini to move up the spine.  This bandha increases your sexual desire.  I am not here to denounce sex.  It is God’s gift and as long as it used moderately, there in nothing wrong in it.  Like any other excesses, over indulgence in sex will drain you out. Mula bandha should be done with breathing.  Inhale, hold and do mula bandha; release the bandha when you exhale slowly. This completes one round.”After having said this, he asked me to practice.  It was not as easy as I thought.  I could not synchronize the acts, particularly the breathing. To master this single bandha it took almost the whole day.  Maharaj refused to proceed without making me conversant with this yogic exercise. It was late in the evening.  I really wanted to relax.  My sphincter muscle was paining.  I wanted to take bath in the Ganges again.  I sought guruji’s permission.  He also wanted to come along with me.  We again began to walk towards Mother Ganges. While we were walking, guruji told me that we have time to witness Ganga aarti.  This is done before a Shiva statue every evening at about 5.30 and almost lasts for an hour till 6.30. We had our bath and took a comfortable place to witness this great event in which young and old participate by singing bhajan songs together and finally aarti is performed.  There are many persons who perform aarti. The sync of all aartis is the most interesting aspect to observe.  The whole place is filled with fragrance and divine vibration.  One can easily observe the divine presence and I could see tears rolling out from the eyes of many observes.  They forget all their worries and get so engrossed in the proceedings.

I was feeling hungry.  I told guruji about my hunger.  He told me that we should try to control our hunger, more so, while learning kundalini.  But having said that, he took me to the nearby temple, where they offer every evening after the aarti, the prasad (food) offered to Lord Shiva.  This prasad is hot and is generally rice mixed with dhal. Shiva is fond of this kind of offering.  They give  prasad neatly placed in a disposable plate.  I got a plate, but guruji did not take one. We sat on the banks of Ganges and began to eat the pongal prasad.  While I was eating, I remembered about my mother.  I told guruji about my concern for my mother.  He said that she is fine at this moment

 “Is my mother alright guruji?” I asked him.

“Yes. She is all right as of now”

“What does this mean?”

“I do not know Shankara.  Let us discuss about this tomorrow.  Let us go now. It is pretty dark and in our ashram area and there is no proper street lighting.”

“But guruji, my mother…” I did not finish.  Guruji was walking ahead of me.  I knew that something is going to happen to my mother soon.  I have decided to find out.  If necessary I have decided to leave this life and go back to take care of my mother in her old age. We walked and walked to reach the ashram.  When we entered, Maharaj was in deep meditation.  We never wanted to disturb him.  We sat outside the ashram enjoying the pleasant breeze blowing across the Ganges, and bringing with it, the fragrance of Himalayan forests.  The street was completely deserted with couple of street lamps blinking.  If you are not familiar with the topography, you could slip into the deep Ganges from about two hundred feet. 

“Guruji how is my mother? Anything is wrong with her?” I asked guruji.

“Shankaraaa, such things you can find out yourself. Meditate on your mother after paying obeisance to Baba and Maharaj. You will know.  Do it now as this is the right place for you to begin.  You will not have this kind of peace in most of the other places.  You need to have a calm and energetic place to have a purposeful meditation, till you become conversant.  Now begin your practice. I will be by your side.”

I began as told by guruji.  I thought about my mother.  I could only recollect some of her known postures, like cooking, eating with me, sleeping, etc.  I could not see her as she is now. I tried my best, but I could not.  I told guruji about my inability. 

“Now do what I say.  Close your eyes.  Keep your concentration between your eyebrows.  Lift your attention gradually towards the top of your skull.  Now your consciousness will be out of your body.  Now reach out to your mother and you can see what she is doing” said guruji.  After having said that, he placed his right palm on the top of my head.  I was feeling that some light entering into my body. It took about five minutes to come out of my semi conscious stage.

“Now try” said guruji.

I tried again.  But this time I tried, but I totally lacked confidence.  I could not achieve anything.  I could not even recollect what I had recollected in the previous session.  I turned and looked at guruji.

“You are practicing without self confidence. Self confidence is the most important thing in spirituality.  It is like self affirmation.  When you affirm repeatedly that you are Shiva, you become Shiva Himself. You are unable to influence your mind to think about your mother strongly. You do not achieve success immediately, particularly when you are dealing with your mind, which is the subtlest element.  Mind also has an eye.  This is different from your biological and spiritual eyes.  Mind’s eye is capable of storing images of objects in front of us when we are conscious. When you enter into a deep meditative stage, the images captured by mind’s eye can be recalled as such images enter into subconscious mind.  Subconscious mind is mind’s storehouse. When you have out of body experience, your subconscious mind also accompanies you” said guruji.

I have determined that this time I will certainly see my mom live.  I followed what guruji had said.  After initial few minutes of struggle, I could lift my consciousness out of my body and when I focused on my mother, I could see her live.  She was chatting with Mangalam. She has improved her health and she has put on some weight.  Probably, Mangalam is not allowing her to do any work.  I was happy on seeing my mother.  I wanted to speak to her, but I could not.  The vision seems to have been happening miles and miles away.  The vision gradually faded away and I brought my consciousness back to my body. I was elated with my success. Guruji simply smiled at me.

“Distant vision is different from astral travel.  In astral travel you can be present in a place where you really wanted to reach.  In no time, you can reach your desired destination.  For example, you can go to Haridwar and have your bath in the Ganges.  However, you cannot be noticed by any body, as you go only with your subtle body, leaving behind your gross body. As far as viewing through your mind’s eye, you only move your consciousness and not your subtle body.  You can only have vision and you cannot have experience. Astral travel gives you experience” guruji clarified the difference between these two confusing aspects. 

I could immediately recollect guruji’s swimming to the other side of the river in our place, and his coming back totally dry, without any bit of water on him.

(to be continued)