Yoga Shakti is the transformative power of consciousness, love and delight pulsating behind the forces of Nature and thevery source of all life. The key to physical, psychological and spiritual well-being consists of awakening this Shakti within our own minds and hearts, allowing it to flow like a river, permeating our daily experiences of pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, or just the necessary activities of sustaining our lives. When Shakti lights up our outer experiences, all that we do, moves with a certain grace. We are instilled with a higher knowledge to move us forward on our inner quest.
The path, that the Yogini herself must follow, moves like the flow of a river, its continuity carrying the forces of divinity and initiating her into inner tantric experiences through the play of Nature’s universal synchronization. Her sacred journey emulates the Divine feminine cosmic play at every level of consciousness. As a dedicated Tantrika or mystic adept, one perceives and embodies the finer nuances of cosmic grandeur, innate wisdom and gentle nurturing.
The river’s course provides a meditative study of life’s journey, rushing forth from the melting waters of Mother Earth’s womb at birth, cascading down great heights of waterfalls in childhood mirth, meandering through youthful cascades to mature, steady and calm currents, and ultimate autumnal change and expansion into an eventual resting place within thedeep recesses of the ocean. The river weathers the peace and fury of Nature’s moods, muddying its pristine waters from rainy storms and collecting the debris on its embankments to nurture the land. Yet, at its culmination, the river mirrors theclarity and beatitude of the ocean’s vastness in its sedate finality.
The inner tantric vision perceives the structure of the universe as a pyramidal configuration of “energetics” encompassing diverse worlds or lokas through varying vibratory levels; each level expressing a certain quality in relation to its inherent reflection of consciousness. At the summit of this powerful pyramid, symbolized by the Sri Yantra, rests the abode of thesupreme cosmic power or Para Shakti. The consciousness-power of Shakti, the Goddess in her exuberant expression, enhances every cosmic field, through the creation and maintenance of all existence.
The Yogini connects to this primal Shakti as Mother Earth, Nature, cosmic space, sacred waters, Divine grace and affluence through her dance with divinity – enfolding love, forgiveness, kindheartedness, open-mindedness and devotion. She cherishes every aspect of life, legitimizing both the passion and pain, which script the waves of life. The Yogini encompasses life’s experiential threshold through a sacred circumspect, drawing from the joyous celebrations of earthly existence.
In the Kaula Shakta tradition, bhoga, the experience of pleasure and delight, finds its expression in yoga, in which all negativities take on the attributes of pure perception. The Goddess is called Bhogini, ‘the supreme enjoyer,’ the Devi who genuinely enjoys every aspect of experience and all the myriad facets of the universal life. She holds the rasa, therejuvenating power inherent in every nuance of the Tanmatras, the subtle sensory essences of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, which color the flow of grace and grant beauty and fulfillment to our lives.
Revering our own inner sacredness deepens our awareness of the Self, tapping the aura of divinity through observing, healing, restoring and celebrating our core existence. Desires, wishes and expectations abound in our everyday life, enhancing our worldly attributes and yet slowly dragging us down in a whirlpool of entropy and externality. The key to physical, psychological and spiritual well-being rests in modulating our outer desires to harmonize our inner needs, harnessing the powers of the mind and heart. It requires that we let go of worldly pessimism and hostility, out of both compassion to ourselves, and respect for the dignity and independence of others.
Recognizing the enduring light of love behind the smoke of every transient desire, one creates an awareness of eternal joy, supreme bliss and boundless beauty. The Yogini does not negate these disturbed outer manifestations, but accepts them with grace, allowing them to dissolve of their own accord. She wields her inner wisdom to move through this entangling web of illusory veils. All gratification and delight is experienced as energized by the inner power of awareness that is ever content in itself.
The Goddess is the supreme ecstasy of self-realization, in which the personal self fades away like the husk around a seed. As the expression of ultimate joyousness, she draws us by the inner allure of the light of awareness, from theshackles of bondage into the folds of liberation. She brings out the rasa, the inner luminosity and grace, in every expression of life; be it a great personal achievement or a great cataclysm, distilling the higher elixirs from all lower forms.
The Yogini learns to ride the waves of life as a master surfer, as it were, the waves becoming a part of the great waters of the ocean, whether tempestuous or serene in movement. The waves are the ocean’s reality, not a separate entity. Normally, we see the waves and miss the sea. But the waves are the sea in its own inherent expression. The movement of life is ever returning to the eternal presence beyond birth and death, a movement encompassed by a greater stillness that it cannot diminish. Tantra, in the real sense, requires searching the Absolute in every object, and every person who realizes the inner truth of existence becomes one with the universal self and readily accepts the flow of life as a display of one’s true nature.
The forces of Mother Nature unravel all of life’s divine secrets through the great five elements. Yet, of the five elements, it is water alone that is the element of life and which allows consciousness to be reflected and feelings to be sustained. Such cosmic water is not simply a material element but the underlying bliss or Ananda, from which everything arises and to which everything must eventually return. All is a flow of the cosmic waters, either as a material manifestation or a spiritual reality. In the coolness of that inner flow, we find beauty, peace, calm and joy
It is these cosmic waters, its emerald sapphire hues, cool and transformative, that we find in the waters of the Ganga above Rishikesh, before it reaches the plains of our worldly existence. Ma Ganga, as every spiritual aspirant affectionately refers to her, unfolds the poetic script of every sadhak’s heartfelt wishes, once one enters into her waters and surrenders one’s mind to its movement.
The yogic perception regards all mediums of expression as waves of a deeper awareness – be it the rush of a river, thesweeping waves of ocean turbulence, still waters of pristine mountain lakes, and the waters of our inevitable life force and rasa or Divine sap of rejuvenation. We exist within, and are surrounded by currents of cosmic waters. Our spiritual life merges into these mystic waters, letting go of the outer waves of differentiation and agitation.
Meditating on a river’s flow is a natural form of sadhana, a ‘spiritual endeavor,’ that draws one into whirlpools of heavenly waters, maneuvering beyond the waves of life’s illusory course. The hypnotic effect of Ganga’s mystic vapors ceases all outer expressions, luring one into a trance of natural serenity and dynamic stillness. Its meditative silence releases thepurity of Mother Nature’s nurturing calm, churning the mind’s chaos into realms of contemplative bliss.
The essence of a Yogini’s flowering unfolds through her sacred space. The Goddess’ power is extraordinary, epitomizing the soul of every flower, opening us to the flower of atmospheric space, which delights in the heavenly waters from which comes the rain of bliss. The Yogini manifests the Devi or Goddess like a flowing force, as the spontaneous self-originated flower of spatial waters that arises out of receptivity, openness and repose.
The Divine feminine force showers one with blessings of flowers, both within and around us. All forms in the universe are flowers in the waters of space. The celestial heavens, the planets, the Sun and Moon, are all cosmic flowers of light, scripting their movement in space, vortexes of Shakti, the innate energy which creates flower-like patterns, mystic designs and celestial vistas. The blooms of spiritual essences manifest as sacred flowers throughout all the worlds. Even theclouds gather the waters of the flowers of energy in the atmosphere, raining their essence on Earth to sustain all life
Ma Ganga carries with it Nature’s bounty of medicinal properties melting from pure glaciers, rushing through mountain canyons and fertile plains, ultimately offering its abundance into the vast ocean expanses. The ocean itself, in its waves and tides, is an overflowing of the flora of waters in the essence of Soma, the ‘Divine nectar.’ The higher Self, our Atman is the ultimate flowering of divinity. In its sublimity, it gives rise to the fullness of the lotuses of our subtle body, the chakras within us. Shakti is the grace within the lotus that generates and opens the power of the Self as the cosmic prana suffusing our spiritual flowering with her life force.
During potent sadhana by the banks of the flowing grace of the Ganga, I would diligently lure the Goddess with flowers, mantra invocations and fire rituals to entice her into my surroundings. The deluge of incense, flowers and chants created a sea of beatitude, allowing my emotions to express themselves in torrents of fervent Bhakti, uniting with the river’s mesmeric roar.
Bhakti Yoga isn’t a mere expression of devotional emotion. Bhakti Yoga rests upon a deep philosophy, graciousness and a dynamic movement of honoring divinity as an inner and outer aspect of spirituality. Bhakti unfolds the art of devotion, creating and sustaining the beauty of a poetic flourish through music, dance and verses. Bhakti strains gently lure theheart to a sweet surrender with the spirit of freedom, imbuing our ordinary existence with sacred intent, poise and pride. Bhakti is the flow of the waters of inspiration, back to their source within the heart.
Surrendering to the flow of Ma Ganga elevated my soul into her protective confines of peace and happiness. Theexpression of my surrender sought itself through sacred offerings and intuitive rituals relating to universal elements. Flowers given in rituals hold a poignant meaning and power far beyond mere ceremonial flourishes. In a deeper sense, we are always offering the Goddess or Nature our own life’s flowering, be it the flowers of devotion or the flowerings of moha and maya (delusion and illusion). Sadhana and divine observances grant us a perceptive and profound understanding of life’s journey.
Ganga’s eclectic flow yields the Yoga Shakti, reveling in the spell of her water’s intimacy. Her energies awaken the soul stirrings, guiding one to meander towards the ultimate source. Mother Ganga’s rushing currents spin the aspirant into thecenter of her creation where she perceives our readiness for the higher realms of celestial ecstasy.
I have learned to share this experience of Ma Ganga with sadhaks every spring. They learn to tap their divinity through healing, rejuvenating and celebrating life in sync with Nature’s benevolence.
We move through the gentle rigors of Bhuta Shuddhi, the Vedic ritual of purifying the mind, prana and senses in the aura of the river. We honor Ganga’s celestial nature with arati, hymns in praise of the cosmic powers accompanied with theeffulgence of light. Our arati plates are decorated with flowers surrounding the lamp, lit with camphor and pure ghee (clarified butter). The offering of arati serenades the divinity, in both the sacred flow of the river as well as the rivers of our being, invoking the blessings of the great Divine Powers.
Calming the senses creates a foundation for soothing our being from an outer restlessness; letting go of the stagnant energies of the outer world, so that we can effortlessly flow within. Stillness is the calm, which rejuvenates and energizes our intrinsic holistic nature. Stillness restores, holds and enhances our life prana or force. Spiritual stillness evolved through contemplative sadhana, is the calm after the storm.
Only when we learn to weather the storm with grace, will we appreciate the serenity of dwelling in quiet repose.
We steer every sadhak to become immersed in body and soul with the purity and healing force of the sacred river. Nature unveils its own graciousness when we learn to sanctify the five elements within and around us. Worshipping the elements grounds our personality, allowing the Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether to imbue us with their cosmic energetics. But in this process, water is the connective link and the transformative flow.
A full Moon night in quiet meditation by the banks of Ganga, tunes the heart to resonate with the sound of the river’s rush, contemplating the Moon’s reflection in the waters, absorbing the mystic vapors, feeling the wisp of night breeze and sensing the sand beneath one’s feet. Nature has a surreal effect on our sensitivities, once we let go of our minds, forget the world and remember our eternal Mother.
The footwork of Mother Earth’s dance leaves one reeling with energy, love, compassion and a passionate fervor for divinity. Embracing the still waters of life is not about exhaustive competitiveness with our inner and outer worlds. It is about harnessing the grace of divinity through gentle contemplative interaction with the sacred within and around us.
Sacred rivers are part of our universal spiritual heritage. Civilization itself grew up on great rivers, which allowed agriculture and cities to arise. The ancients worshipped their rivers, which sustained their traditions, wealth and aspirations. In honoring Mother Nature through her great rivers, we sustain our link to the earthly and the cosmic waters, and to the plants, animals, plains, mountains, glaciers, clouds and sky that they connect us to.
We must learn to let our inner rivers, currents and nadis of the soul, flow again with all their vibrancy. Unless our inner rivers are flowing, our outer lives will remain dry and empty, dependent upon an external world of want to sustain a mirage of happiness. Let the pure grace of Ma Ganga flow within and all that is impure or sorrowful can easily be washed away into a current of eternal delight. Let us come together in creating a harmonious, conscious and spiritually evolved universe through awakening the inner Self, empowering the Divine grace within, and embracing the inner world of Shakti!