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30 August, 2012

MANTRAS FOR PEACE - Invocatory Prayer Part 2

Invocatory Prayer in Sanskrit

Om bhadram karnebhih srunuyama devah
bhadram pasye maksabhiryajatrah
sastanubhirvyasema devahitam yadayu.
Svasti na Indro vrdhasravah svasti nah
Pusa visvavedah.
Svasti nastarksyo aristanemih svastino
Om santih santih santih.

Meaning of the Mantra

Om.  May we hear the auspicious with our ears O Gods! 
 May we behold the auspicious with our eyes O worshipful ones. 
May we live God-given span of life with  firm limbs and bodies, singing your praises. 
May the traditionally glorified Indra bless us. 
May the all-knowing Sun bless us. 
May Vayu, protector from harm, bless us. 
May Brhaspati bless us.
Om Peace Peace Peace.


       This peace invocation starts with Om as in all others.  Om represents the supreme Self.  It is the ultimate goal of human existence.  The guru preceptor and the sisya disciple pray together for that experience.

       O gods!  O worshipful ones -- The Prayer is directed to Indra, Pusan, Vayu and Brhaspati.  These were some of the gods that people worshipped in those days.

       The prayer directs the eyes to see auspicious sights.  In Upanisadic literature one sense organ is used to represent all of them.  So the implication is let all the sense organs perceive only that which is auspicious.

       The prayer asks for healthy limbs to function perfectly.  To sing praises to Brahman indicates that the actions perpetrated by the limbs must be of divine nature.   The reference to Vayu and Indra is a subtle indication to the pranas and the mind respectively.  Vayu is the wind-God which represents the vital-air sheath, pranas.  Indra represents the mind by virtue of his being the king of the sense organs.  The Sun and Brhaspati refer to the gross and subtle intellects respectively.  to the devotional seekers the prayer is merely directed to various gods.  The intellectual aspirant finds that all the aspects of his personality -- namely the physical body, senses, pranas, mind and intellect -- are covered in the prayer.  They are to be in perfect condition for use, in the spiritual pursuit, by both the master and student.

       Stimuli from the external world reach you through the organs of perception.  Colour and form enter through eyes, sound through ears, smell through nose, taste through tongue and touch through skin.  Having entered therein the stimuli react with your mind and intellect.  The type of reaction that will set in will depend upon the type of stimulus contacted and the nature of mind and intellect reacting with it.  Consequent to the reaction your mind and intellect send out responses back into the world through your organs of action.

       The prayer has covered the receipt of stimuli, the reaction within and the responses.  All three have to be tuned in perfectly for spiritual Enlightenment,

       May we live our allotted span of life -- a cry of all spiritual seekers.  The Upanisad directs the students to live a hundred years.  This indicates that a full term of life is necessary and is sought by aspirants for pursuing and reaching the goal of God-realisation.

Source: Excerpts from the book on THE SYMBOLISM OF HINDU GODS AND RITUALS by A.Parthasarathy.

20 August, 2012

Yoga Nidra Techniques


       Yoga Nidra is one of the most powerful methods, not only for inducing deep relaxation in a minimum amount of time, but also for reawakening the degenerated brain nuclei and centers. One hour of yoga nidra is equal to four hours of sleep.  The practice of yoga nidra is not only for those who are physically mentally exhausted.  It is also for those who tired of taking rest and those who have little interest in life.  Yoga nidra will rejuvenate and revive the physical, mental and emotional personality.  It will help those with tamasic nature by inducing and extra influx of blood and energy.  The practice of yoga nidra is particularly recommended for spiritual aspirants who suffer from fear, tension, anger, greed and other imbalances.  It is also for those who want to develop greater awareness and mental clarity.

       In the borderline yoga nidra state, between sleep and wakefulness, you make contact with the subconscious and unconscious mind where all your past memories are stored.  Those experiences that were particularly negative or painful have been pushed deep into the unconscious, beyond conscious recall. 

      It is recommended that, for the first few times, you practice yoga nidra is a class environment with a teacher to give directions.  Then you will understand the purpose of the technique more fully and will be better acquainted with the method of practicing each stage.  If you do not have access to a yoga teacher, try to obtain a class recording.

       In yoga nidra, you do not sleep.  You must remain aware throughout the practice and try to follow all the instructions without intellectualizing.  Of course one can also use yoga nidra as a prelude to sleep.  If one practises for 20 or 30 minutes before sleeping the quality of the sleep will be greatly improved.


       During yoga nidra  a resolve or sankalpa is made.  It should be something of immense importance to you.  Repeat it mentally three times with feeling and emphasis.  It is best if your sankalpa has a spiritual objective, but you can also make a resolve to break a habit or to improve some aspect of your personality.  In yoga nidra the resolutions and decisions we make and the thoughts we create, become potentially powerful.  They go into the depths of the subconscious and in the course of time they will definitely become realities.



Get ready for yoga nidra.  Lie down in shavasana, the dead man's pose and make yourself as comfortable as possible.  Keep your feet apart and let them fall a little to the sides, arms slightly away from the body with the palms of the hands facing upwards.  Make sure your position and clothing are comfortable so that you will not need to move during the practice.

Close your eyes and do not open them at all until the practice is completed.

Make any final adjustments to your posture and clothing now.

During yoga nidra you must try to remain aware.  Do not allow yourself to sleep.  Say to yourself mentally, "I will not sleep".

Now take a deep breath and as you breath in, feel calmness spreading throughout the body.  As you breathe out, let your whole body relax completely.


Become aware of your body lying on the floor in total stillness.

Awareness of the whole body from the tips to the toes to the top of the head.  Let each part of the body relax completely.  Make sure there is no tension anywhere.

Awareness of all the parts of the body which are in contact with the floor.  Awareness of the arms, the hands and the floor, the elbows and the floor, shoulder blades and the floor... Awareness of the legs, the heel in contact with the floor, the calf muscles and the floor, back of the thighs and the floor, buttocks and the floor...  Awareness of all parts of the back which are in contact with the floor.  The head resting on the floor...  Awareness of every part of the body which is in contact with the floor.

Feel that the whole body is becoming very heavy.  Awaken the feeling of heaviness in every part of the body.  The whole body is feeling so light that it seems to be floating away from the floor.  Awareness of heaviness.

Experience the feeling of lightness in the body.  The whole body is feeling so light that it seems to be floating away from the floor.

Experience this lightness.

Resolve or Sankalpa

Now is the time to make your resolve.  You must find a resolve for yourself and repeat it mentally three times.  Repeat it to yourself when emphasis ad feeling.  Remember that the resolve you make in yoga nidra is bound to come true.

Rotation of consciousness

Rotate your awareness to all the different parts of the body.  As each part of the body is named, without any physical moment, take your awareness to that part.  Your awareness is to jump from point to point as quickly as possible.

Become aware of the right hand thumb.  The right hand thumb, second finger, third, fourth, little finger, back of your hand, palm, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, right side of the chest, right side of the waist, the right hip...

Become aware of the left hand thumb.  The left hand thumb, second finger, third, fourth, little finger, back of the hand, palm, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, left side of the chest, left side of the waist, the left hip...

Become aware of the right big toe.  The right big toe, second toe, third, fourth, little toe, top of the foot, sole of the foot, heel, ankle, calf muscle, the knee, thigh, the right buttock...

Become aware of the left big toe.  The left big toe, second, toe, third, fourth, little toe, top of the foot, sole of the foot, heel, ankle, calf muscle, the  knee, thigh, the left buttock...

Awareness of the right buttock, the left left buttock, the whole of the back, lower portion of the back, middle portion of the back, upper portion of the back, the right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, the whole of the neck, the back of the head, and the whole of the face...

Awareness of the chin, the lower lip, upper lip, right cheek, left cheek, right ear, left ear, the nose, right nostril, left nostril, tip of the nose, the right eye, the left eye, right eyelid, left eyelid, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, the forehead, the eyebrow center.

Awareness of eyebrow centre...

(You can repeat rotation of consciousness once or twice more if you need to further relax the body).

Awareness of the whole of the right leg, whole of the left leg, both legs together... Whole of the right arm, whole of the left arm, both arms together...  Whole of the back, whole of the front, whole of the head...  The whole body together, the whole body... the whole body...

Source:  Sure Ways to Self-Realization by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

Learn about Yoga Nidra: Powerful Relaxation Meditation


Yoga Nidra is a technique from the great yoga adept Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga, India.

The word yoga means conscious connection to Self. Nidra means sleep. Yoga Nidra is a yoga meditation technique that allows us to relax, recharge, rejuvenate and awaken higher consciousness.

(Note: Yoga Nidra is a Sanskrit term that means the light, wakeful sleep of an accomplished practitioner yoga and meditation).

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is a powerful meditation technique where the mind remains conscious during the normally "unconscious" state associated with deep sleep.

Practice in the lying position, it is one of the most popular yoga meditation techniques because it induces a profoundly deep state of rest. It is effortless, enjoyable, soothing and recuperative.

As it is practiced today, Yoga Nidra is a technique that carries awareness deep into you, layer by layer. This process is called "introversion", or pratyahara in Sanskrit. The pratyahara of Yoga Nidra induces deep relaxation.

Thousands use Yoga Nidra scripts to relax and meditate.
Yoga Nidra takes your awareness deep into parts of you that you normally cannot access because of tensions. You systematically relax each part of your physical body and then move your awareness to the more subtle layers, your emotions and deeper mind, in order to relax these parts.

Insufficient Rest and Poor Sleep Causes Heart Disease.

Rest is the foundation of a Happy and Health life. And yet millions of people around the world are suffering from the effects of busy lifestyles, stress, overwork and fatigue. They work unable to rest, recharge and rejuvenate themselves.
Many people have lost their ability to replenish themselves through good quality sleep. Millions of people are clinically sleep-deprived or suffering from sleep disorders.

Work Hard, Party Hard.

We have become blind to the importance of sleep. "Work hard, party hard" is an accepted way of life in our modern 24 x 7 lifestyle. Sleep is given a low priority. It is seen as a weakness or something that gets in the way of life rather than as the foundation of a healthy and full life.
Sleep needs to be redefined as an activity to be treated with the utmost respect, like exercise and a good diet. Sleep, and our inability to relax and rest deeply, is the basis of a good life.

Sleep Statistics

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research in America has labelled 'insomnia' is a silent epidemic staggering proportions".
30-40% of people in the USA and Australia have insomnia and poor quality of sleep each month.
40-70% million American experience either chronic or intermittent sleep-related problems costing $15 billion in health care and $500 billion in lost productivity.
Sleeplessness is a chronic problem for one in ten Australians, over 2 millions people.
Approximately 5 - 10% of people use prescribed sleeping pills. Another 5 - 10% of people use over-the-counter prescriptions. an unknown number of people use alcohol and other substance at night to try to help them sleep.
And yet these attempts to sleep well usually do not provide the deep rest and recuperation we seek.

How much Restful Sleep do you Need?

The amount of sleep and rest in each of us need is different. There is consensus that for the majority of people six hours sleep is a minimum. However, the best way to judge if you have had sufficient rest and sleep is to feel how tired you are and how you well or poorly you perform during the day.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Going to long without sleep diminishes your ability to function. It's like being drunk. Extended periods of sleep deprivation result in the brain shutting down. We are unable to make accurate judgements and in extreme cases this can result in hallucinations.
Lack of rest and untreated sleep disorders:

1) reduces quality of life,
2) lower productivity in school and workplace,
3) increase the chance of ill-health and death from heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity,
4) increase the risk of accidents associated with excessive sleepiness.
5) increase the risk of accidents associated with excessive sleepiness.

Professor Charles A Czeisler from Harvard Medical School states that in the United States 80,000 people fall asleep at the wheel every day, an average of one person every second. Every two minutes one of those people crashes.
Research is now showing that lack of rest and the resultant burnout and depletion of energy is a major factor in a number of chronic illness, especially in heart and blood vessel disease.

Major Sleep Research

Recent medical research from Holland (2011) studied over 20,000 men and women for over 12 years. They showed that poor quality combined with insufficient sleep time is linked with massive increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

Sleep Research Findings

They discovered that short sleepers (6 hours or less) had a 15% higher risk of cardiovascular disease (disease of the blood vessels) and a 23% higher risk of heart disease (coronary artery disease) compared with people with normal sleep duration (seven to eight hours).
Researches found no association between poor quality sleep and cardiovascular disease. It was the combination of poor quality and short duration that caused the problem.
People who had a combination of poor quality sleep and short duration sleep had a massive 65% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and an 85% higher risk of heart disease than people with a normal sleep duration and good sleep quality.


Sleep Research Conclusion

This means that insufficient good quality sleep and lack of rest leads to exhaustion, which sets up the perfect conditions for degenerative illness.

Good sleep has to be experienced most nights if we are to function to the best of our potential and remain free of disease.

Get Extra Sleep Credits

Practicing relaxation techniques like Yoga Nidra in the morning following a bad night's sleep may prevent cadiovascular disease and heart disease.

Techniques such as Yoga Nidra allows us to gain deep rest and this diminish the damage that occurs t the body when it is exhausted.

If you wake feeling tired or exhausted in the morning the best thing you can do is to rest deeply with yoga Nidra before the day begins. This will give you the extra sleep credits your body needs
to maintain itself and keep you healthy and relaxed.

Although it does not replace normal sleep, 30 minutes of yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 3 yo 4 hours of sleep.

30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 3 to 4 hours of sleep

Removing Deep-Seated Tensions

Tensions block awareness and energy. Yoga Nidra releases blocked energy that is trapped within the body-mind, often frozen by anxiety and worry. The release of energy during relaxation rebalances and harmonizes the body and the deeper mind. Energy that is released can be used for healing and positive growth.
Removing tensions allows you to penetrate your awareness into the unconscious areas of yourself. You become aware of and can connect to your inner abilities and potential. This expands your sense of self by expanding your awareness of the deeper and subtler parts of you.

Yoga Nidra therapy

Yoga Nidra is a yoga meditation technique that can be used in therapy settings to enable people to recuperate from exhaustion and illness. It can be applied as both primary therapeutic tool and as an adjunctive treatment for many acute and chronic physical and psychological disease condition.

Deep relaxation liberates the energy trapped within tensions.

Source: Article by Dr. Swami Shankardev Saraswati with Jayne Stevenson.

06 August, 2012

The Symbol – ॐ (Om)

The Symbol – (Om)

Om pronounced '' Om, is a symbol of the supreme Brahman.  Om ''' is an ‘idol’ representing the divine ideal.  It is considered the most powerful word-symbol used for meditation.   Brahman is the ultimate Reality sought by all spiritual practitioners.  It cannot be reached directly through human equipment.  Brahman is not something you can perceive with your sense organs.  Nor is it an emotion that you can feel with your mind.  Nor a concept  you can comprehend with your intellect.  Brahman is the ideal unknown to you.  You need a known idol to reach the unknown ideal.  An idol takes you to the ideal.  The idol can be either gross or subtle.  An example of a gross idol is the stone image in a temple.  Fire is a subtler idol.  Sound is the subtlest of all idols.  It is considered subtlest because only one of the five sense organs viz., the ear can contact it.  Of all sounds Om is the most potent, natural.  There are reasons for the choice of Om:

Kinds of Sounds:

(i) Sounds are of two kindsarticulate and inarticulate.  Articulate sound is that which can be represented by letters of the alphabet.  The articulate or alphabetical sound is concerned with topics which deal with the knowledge of the head.  The other type of sound is the inarticulate or intonational.  The  inarticulate or intonational sound deals with the heart.  Articulate sound has a limited application.  It is understood only by people who have learnt it through training.  A man comes and speaks to you in Persian or Russian.  You do not understand him.  You have not undergone that training.  He does not know your language either.  Nevertheless when he begins to laugh you understand him.  You know that he is happy.  Suppose you begin to cry.  He understands you are unhappy.  This language is inarticulate.  It is intonational, a universal language uttered and understood by even babies and animals.  Music is another example of intonation.  The sound of music has a marvelous effect.  It produces wonderful results.  

       The word '' Om has the advantages of both the articulate and inarticulate, alphabetical and intonational.  It has a deep philosophical significance.  You will appreciate it when you learn its meaning.  Besides, the chant of '' Om has an extraordinary effect on human beings.  It produces harmony, peace and bliss to one and all.  Om brings the individual being in perfect attunement with the eternal being.

Meaning of the sound OM

(ii)  The proper way to write Om is '' A-U-M, in Sanskrit.  According to Sanskrit grammar  (A) () and  (U) () when connected together coalesce into  (O).  Even the mute can produce the sounds of A_U_M (--म्).   'A' () is the sound emanating from the base of the throat.  'U' (); is the sound produced by the impulse rolling forward in the mouth.   (M) (म्) is the sound produced by closing the lips.  There is no sound beyond these two extremities viz., throat and lips.  So Om 'AUm' (--म्) covers the full range of sounds.  It represents the entire phenomenon of sound.

(iii)  The symbol '' (Om) stands for the pure Consciousness which pervades the three states of waking, dream and deep-sleep.  It is also called pranava.  Pranava means something that pervades life or runs through prana or breath.  The sound (pronounced () ‘uh’) according to Vedanta, represents the material world, all that is observed in the wakeful state of consciousness.  The second sound  (pronounced () ‘oo’) represents all the experience of the dream land, the subject and objects of the dreaming state of consciousness.  (pronounced  (म्)  ‘im’) represents all the unknown in the deep-sleep state of consciousness.  While chanting '' Om you will have to concentrate your attention and put forth feeling in realizing that your Atman, your Self is the stern Reality pervading the three worlds.

(iv)  '' Om is the real name of the Almighty.  It is the key that unlocks the kingdom of heaven.  This mantra does not belong to any particular language.  The Hindu took it up.  It does not mean that it belongs to the Hindus.  It is a natural syllable.  It is nature’s word, nature’s mantra.  It is the name of God.  Some people discard it because they believe it comes from Sanskrit, from the Hindus.  They reject it on the ground that it is not their special label.  The word '' Om is not subjected to the same conjugation or reflection or other grammatical manipulations to which all other Sanskrit words are subjected.  So it is not a Sanskrit word.  It is a word of nature, a pure and genuine word by itself.  The Hindus made good use of it.  So can you.  '' Om occupies a very prominent place in all languages of the world.  Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent are the highest names for god.  They begin with '' Om.  In your prayers when you reach the point of silence you utter '' Om in some form or other.  In English you end the prayer with Amen.  In Arabic, Persian and Hindustani you say Amin.       

       In meditation the mind keeps chanting the mantra '' Om.  The momentary silence that exists every two successive chants is called amatra.  Amatra represents the pure Consciousness, the Atman.  In the final stage of meditation your mind is held in single-pointed chant.  The function of the intellect is discrimination between pairs of opposites.  Your intellect is engaged in discriminating between Om and amara.  In the peak of meditation you must stop the chant.  What follows is absolute Silence.  There is no more sound of Om.  No thought.  With the extinction of the last thought your mind is extinct.  There is no longer the pair of sound and silence.  In the absence of pair no discrimination is possible.  Without discrimination your intellect is extinct as well.  Your mind and intellect are thus transcended in that absolute Silence.  That is the sacred moment of Realisation.  Your individual self merges with the infinite Self.

Source: Excerpts from the book on “THE SYMBOLISM OF HINDU GODS AND RITUALS” by A.Parthasarathy.