Maharshi Patanjali’s Life Story

Hope you have read the blog – YOGA, definition and a brief introduction to origin, history and development of YOGA , if not please do! In it I have mentioned that the classic yoga period came with Maharshi Patanjali composing Yoga Sutras. Well after knowing that we tend to become curious to know more about Patanjali, his life story. It’s a very interesting story, do read on…

Ādiśesa incarnates as Patañjali

There are several references about Patanjali in many ancient works but only a few give his life story, one among them is Ramabhadra Diksita’s Patanjali Caritra – it is a Sanskrit mahakavya written with Patanjali as the main character. Lets know the legendary story –

Lord Vishnu, with his blissful smile is resting on Ādiśesa <thousand headed serpent>, floating on the milky ocean. All of sudden, Lord Vishnu’s weight rapidly increases & Ādiśesa, being the couch of the Lord, struggles to maintain his balance & breathes heavily through his thousand hoods. Ādiśesa wonders anxiously as to what might be the reason for this, just then Lord opens his eyes, waking up from his yoganidrā <yogic sleep>, and with tears of ecstasy in his eyes! His weight is back to normal and Ādiśesa is able to bear the weight of Lord as before. Ādiśesa asks the reason..

Lord begins to explain the wonderful spectacle he saw when he was in yoganidrā. He describes the ecstatic devine dance <tāndava> of Lord Shiva in the golden chamber to the accompaniment of various musical instruments played rhythmically by several devas <celestial beings>. It was on account of the infinite bliss he experienced that he became heavy, he says. Hearing that, Ādiśesa himself a loyal servant of Lord Vishnu and also a great devotee of Lord Shiva, expresses spontaneously his desire to witness the divine dance of Lord Shiva and requests the Lord to give him the boon. Lord with compassionate smile, released shesha from his service so that he could experience Shiva’s ananda tāndava.

Now Ādiśesa goes to mount Kailash, home of Lord Shiva and begins his austerities. Lord Shiva noticed his devote, tells Ādiśesa he will grant a boon. Ādiśesa expresses his desire to witness Shiva’s ananda tāndava & Lord Shiva grants his boon and tells he would be born in human form, ananda tāndava would occur in tillai woods in Chidambaram southern India, and there he would witness the ‘ananda tāndava’ together with bother sage ‘Vyaghrapada’.

 

< A long time before this occurred, sage Pānini, performed severe penance and surrender to Lord Shiva. Shiva with great compassion towards Pānini, played his damaru <small drum> and from the sound created by damaru was born the Māheśvara Sūtra, the basis of Sanskrit grammar! Based on Māheśvara Sūtra, Pānini wrote a Sūtra that became the basic text for Sanskrit grammar. Further, sage Kātyāyana, wrote detailed commentary on Pānini’s sūtras. Later Pānini’s pupil Vyaghrabhūta and Kātyāyana’s pupil Svabhūti taught to several others. > However Lord Shiva was not satisfied neither by the quality of these works nor by the pace of propagation of Sanskrit grammar, which resulted in very unsatisfactory communication among people and poor understanding of the śāstras <scriptures>. Hence Lord Shiva desired that Ādiśesa take birth as human being, witness the celestial dance of Natarāja <Lord of dance, Shiva> and then write a detailed and authentic commentary on Sanskrit grammar.

Ādiśesa, desiring to reincarnate as a human being, moves around in space looking out for a suitable family to be born into, and reaches tapovana near Rishikesh. There he sees a woman named Gonikā <daughter of sage Jirania Garbha, he was a follower of the Samkhya philosophy & wife of rishi Anguiras who wrote some hymns of the Rig-Veda and the Atharva-Veda. She was a virtuous woman & tantra yoga practitioner.> Gonikā was performing a penance, desiring a satputra <worthy son>. Ādiśesa decides to bless her by being born to her as a child. As she offers oblation to Sūrya <the Sun>, with her hands kept in añjali mudrā <namaskara mudra>, Ādiśesa enters into the arghya <oblation> water in her hands and falls to the earth as a child along with the water of oblation. Gonikā immensely pleased with the birth of the divine child, showers her love on the baby and names him Patañjali which means “one who falls out of folded <añjali> hands.

Patañjali witnesses Lord Śiva’s ananda tāndava @ Chidambaram

chidambaram

As years pass by Patañjali, has a deep desire to do tapas <intense meditation> on For Śiva. Promising his mother that he would be by her side any time she needed, proceeds for tapas. Subsequently, Lord Śiva, pleased with the intense tapasya, ekagra <one pointedness> & sāmadhi state of Patañjali, presents himself <along with his consort Parvathi, seated on his bull – Nandi> in a divine vision to Patañjali. This cosmic vision brings out the poet in Patañjali , prostrating in front of the Lord, he poetically describes the Lord’s form <pādādi keśānta varnanā>, reminds Patañjali of his original form and the purpose of his incarnation in human form on earth. Lord then orders him to come to Chidambaram to witness the ananda tāndava <dance of bliss> and then write the Mahābhāsya <great commentary on Sanskrit grammar. So saying Lord disappears.

Journeying along the landscape and forests, Patañjali reaches the holy place Chidambaram. Patañjali along with another sage Vyagrapāda and other sages, reaches the golden theatre – ponnambalam to witness the divine dance. Several celestial gods were present. Lord Shiva, in all his divine splendour, accompanied by his consort goddess Parvathi, and riding on his Nandikeśvara <bull vehicle of Śiva>, arrives at the theatre. The divine dance is about to start – Nandi takes the baton, Vishnu becomes the percussionist, Brahma plays the chime, Indra the flute, Sarasvatī the vīnā. Parvathi, Lord’s consort, overseas the arrangements with her bewitching smile. Specifically asking Patañjali and Vyāgrapāda to watch carefully for all the details, the Lord gives necessary divyadrsti <divine vision>. The ananda tāndava starts with a slow rhythm and in time reaches a crescendo. Engrossed completely in the devine dance, the great sages loose their individual identities and experience advaita <oneness with the only essential principle of consciousness>. The ananda tāndava slowly comes to an end. Reminding Patañjali to write Mahābhāsya, Shiva disappears from mortal vision. Both Vyāgrapāda Patañjali, desiring that other devotees not as fortunate as they were also have the bliss of seeing the tāndava, engrave them on stone in Chidambaram. Also Patañjali passes the information on prayer rituals to Dikshitars <The temple is managed and administered till date, hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins who were trained by Maharshi Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.>

Patañjali’s renowned works – Mahābhāsya, Yoga Sūtras & Patanjalatantra & Jeeva Samadhi

Patañjali, concentrating fully on the divine vision he had of Lord Śiva, writes detailed commentary on Sanskrit grammar called Mahābhāsya. Several students hearing about the masterly work, flock to him from all directions. Patañjali, desiring to teach them all simultaneously, but individually as well, decided to teach in his nija swaroopa – thousand-hooded Ādiśesa. He withdraws himself behind a screen<as his appearence would be terrifying, more important, his breath in the confined space would be poisonous and fiery> & orders the students not to open the screen at any cost, orders one of his student Gaudapāda to guard the screen from being tampered  & he takes his original form as Ādiśesa and starts teaching all of them. As is the custom, the students chant the starting and ending prayers dutifully and study in an orderly fashion. Days pass on smoothly up to a point of studying the sūtra known as vasu sūtra.

Patañjali, was able to convey or impart this wisdom direct in the mind of students. He was able to address and answer all the students doubts and questions simultaneously and immediately at the mental level. He was so compassinate but demanding teacher, requiring students to be punctual and disciplined in the classes.  Once Gaudapāda leaves the class when the discourse was half way through,  several of his students unable to control their bewilderment as to how a single person can teach so many students simultaneously on one-to-one basis, break the law & withdraw the curtain. They were stunned to find Ādiśesa and were reduced to ashes! Ādiśesa comes back to the form of Patanjali, feels devasted as all his students are reduced to ashes, however Gaudapāda returns to the class,  but since Gaudapāda left the class without chanting the ending & peace prayer he curses him to turn into a brahma rāksasa / demon. He also gives the antidote for his own curse he says – “The curse will be exorcised , if you are able to find one who could answer your question right and tell you what is the nista <past principle> of Sanskrit root pac.” Patanjali blesses him all the knowledge of Mahābhāsya in an instant and departs.

Patanjali then writes Yoga Sūtras, a classic collection of aphorisms on conventional Yoga & another work Patanjalatantra, a commentary on the science of medicine for mental illness <āyurveda>.  He then meets his mother and after taking her blessings and being satisfies that his mission is accomplished he goes to Rameshwaram temple  <Rameshwaram temple has many temples within it. On the entrance of the temple a large statue of Patanjali facing Vyāgrapāda both in anjali-mudra profounding their reverence to the Lord Shiva, can be seen. On a wall near the entrance of the shiva mandapa is the list of self-initiated gurus who have served at the temple. Patanjali is listed as the third of eighteen. The rameshwaram temple has small, enclosed courtyard with a well, Patanjali is said to have meditate here in silence for many years. As time passed he become increasingly translucent until he become nearly transparent, then one day, He was seen no more. He was absorbed into eternity as he dissolved from sight in this world. His samadhi houses a holy fire, symbol of his life and transmutation.> and attains jeeva samadhi there.

Patanjali jeeva Samadhi

Ādiśesa re-incarnates as Chandra Sarma <also known as Govinda Swami / Govinda Bhagavatpada>

After a considerably long time, Ādiśesa, finding that his work had not spread far & wide as expected, takes another human birth. He goes to the brahma rāksasa and answers the vexing grammatical question himself. Gaudapāda, having his curse removed, volunteers to teach the Mahābhāsya to Chandra Sarma, the traveller from Ujjain. With intense interest Chandra Sarma learns the Mahābhāsya in just two months. He writes down the complete notes on dry banyan leaves, using his finger nails as pen. Having distributed the knowledge, Gaudapāda bids Chandra Sarma telling him to propagate the text faithfully, disappears. Chandra Sarmā with his notes on leaves goes back to Ujjain, marries and fathers four sons. All of them study Mahābhāsya with Chandra Sarmā. 

  1. Varuchi – The 1st son of Chandra, was well versed in all śāstras / scriptures and became proficient in mathematics & astronomy.
  2. Vikarmārka / Vikramāditya – A renowned ruler became a pioneer in law & justice. It is said that Indra gave him a simhāsana / throne made of precious gems!
  3. Kātyāyana / Bhatti  – Becomes Vikarmārka’s minister.
  4. Bhartrhari – Becomes a Sanskrit scholar and a grammarian.

After marrying off all his children Chandra Sarmā takes sannyāsa and stays in Vārānāsī, the renowned abode of learning, for some time. He then reaches Badrikāśrama in Himālayas, establishes a math / hermitage and remains in the experience of Advaita <oneness with absolute>. He becomes known as Govindaswāmī / Govinda Bhagavatpada.

Govinda Swami / Govinda Bhagavatpada guru of Adi Śankaracharya

Śankara was born in the southern Indian state of Kerala, in a village named Kaladi. His father died while Shankara was very young. Shankara’s upanayanam / thread ceremony < the initiation into student-life> had to be delayed due to the death of his father, and was then performed by his mother. He was attracted to the life of Sannyasa (hermit) from early childhood. However his mother Sivataraka disapproved. Shankara at age eight was going to a river with his mother, to bathe, and where he is caught by a crocodile. Shankara called out to his mother to give him permission to become a Sannyasin or else the crocodile will kill him. The mother agrees, Shankara is freed by the crocodile and leaves his home for education.

He travels the length of India on foot and reaches banks of river Narmada, and gets to meet Govindaswāmī, who was in samadhi / trance in the caves of the ashram. Thereafter, praising Govindaswāmī as an incarnation of Adiśesa, Śankara requests to accept him as his student. Govindaswāmī asks Śankara “who are you?” Śankara answers “I came here to know that! But if it is this body that you are referring to then I am just Śankara <kevalah Śankara aham>.” Govindaswāmī, impressed with the answer accepts Śankara as his disciple and bestows his divine blessings. Śankara was then initiated as Govinda Bhagavatapada’s disciple, thus formally entering sanyasaŚankara was then commissioned by his Guru to write a Bhashya (commentary) on the Brahma Sutra and spread the Advaita philosophy far and wide. Śankara becomes well know as the Advaita Philosopher Adi Śankaracharya !

adi

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References: Yoga for the three stages of life by Srivatsa Ramaswami, wikipedia, chidambaramnataraja

 

 

DIY all-natural organic Beard oil – Man of Woods

For some men, growing a beard is not easy and for others, it comes so fast that it is a challenge to keep up with it. But for those that sport the beard, taking good care of it is important; in fact, most beards need daily care or they go from a sexy look to a scruffy and unkempt look. You need to wash, trim and condition it to help keep it well-groomed. So, yes, beard maintenance is crucial if you plan to wear one.

I’ve done this specially for my beardy cousins (they grow it for style) & my hubby (being very occupied with his r&d shaves weekly once n so has a little beard on weekdays 😉)! I’ve come to know through them that there are few problems they face with the beard –

  • Since beard hair is typically quite coarse, men often experience itchiness and even in-grown hairs on the delicate facial skin underneath.
  • A full beard also makes it difficult to access the skin so common skin problems like dryness, acne or inflammation can be compounded.

Why Beard Oil?

DIY all-natural organic almond n castor oil kajal / khol / eye liner

Hi friends eyes are the most important feature that can make you look glamorous 👁👩🏻… When it comes to eye makeup, kajal or kohl is the most important product. But what is a commercial kajal, eye liner n mascara made up of??? 📢 Check this out to know the ingredients n the harm they might cause to your eyes!

I have already tried the almond khol and mascara, which I have been using from many months now, the mascara is just perfect but I wasn’t fully satisfied with the Kajal outcome, though the colour was perfect black it had some not so fine particles that would cause a little discomfort to the eye when applied. After lots of attempts I finally got the perfect Kajal done in a very authentic Indian Ayurvedic way!

What is required to prepare Khol powder:

  • Earthen / bronze diya/deepam
  • A cotton wick
  • Lots of castor oil to burn the lamp
  • Lots of almonds to burn
  • A sheep edge knife or long needle to hold almond
  • A copper plate
  • 2 tumbles for support

Continue reading DIY all-natural organic almond n castor oil kajal / khol / eye liner

DIY all-natural bio-degradable hair shampoo

Hello friends! I hope you’ve already read my previous blogs – DIY all-natural pre-wash nourishing hair conditioner & DIY all-natural hair serum to manage frizzy hair. If not please do, as I have written on why I have chosen these for my hair.  If you have one of these problems and are sick n tired using false promising & chemical laden shampoos, look no beyond than this DIY shampoo…

  • Hair fall?
  • Damaged & brittle hair?
  • Dandruff?
  • Early grey hair?

I have been using this diy shampoo since my childhood until my teens… Yep I did get carried away by the misleading advertisements 😬, and departed from it for few years… I have a very thick, long and wavy hair and never had faced any hair problems other than frizzy hair. Suddenly a year after having a baby, every time I washed my hair I noticed a handful would fall 😮. I changed my shampoos, tried x,y & z only to notice more hair fall… In between I was greatly influenced by the zero waste lifestyle by Bea Johnson & the zero waste girl Lauren Singer, watched their tedex talks & read few wonderful books which changed my perspective and made me realise how the small things that we do unknowingly on a daily basis can impact environment… And cause of these two major reasons I went back to my basics and started using this all-natural shampoo.

Continue reading DIY all-natural bio-degradable hair shampoo

DIY fresh aloe vera gel n cubes

The aloe vera plant is about one or two feet tall with prickly and bitter leaves, which act as a defence to keep animals and insects from feeding on the plant. The leaves hold a gooey translucent gel, also extremely bitter, and known all over the world for it’s unbelievable healing properties. This translucent gel is made up of around 96% water, some organic and inorganic compounds, a type of protein which contains 18 of the 20 amino acids found in the body and lastly, vitamin A, B, C, E and beta carotene which gives it its nourishing and anti-ageing qualities. Aloe vera gel can be used in the winter 🌥 as well as in the summer ☀️ and by people of all skin types. Aloe vera is one plant that works wonders on skin, it treats the cells on the epithelial level of the skin which is why it’s ideal to remove tan, treat sunburn and stretch marks. Once you apply it to your skin, you’ll notice how soothing 😇 and cooling ❄️ it is! Aloe vera gel is even good for your hair, it contains something called proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp. It also acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair all smooth and shiny. It promotes hair growth, prevents itching on the scalp, reduces dandruff and conditions your hair.

Other than this it has an amazing healing power. Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and has antioxidant properties that aid in healing. Ayurveda refers to aloe vera as the miracle ✨ herb that can be used to treat wounds, minor cuts, dry skin and severe burns.

When ever my LO 👦 or anyone at my home 🏡 gets hurt ( minor cuts / burns / wounds), nope I don’t use band aid / antiseptic, instead I get some aloe vera from my garden and apply the fresh gel to it, allow it to air dry and then leave it. It magically gets clotted & healed very quickly. After experiencing and practically seeing it’s healing power I’ve felt in love with this miraculous ✨ plant.

Continue reading DIY fresh aloe vera gel n cubes

Strawberry 🍓 Splash all-natural lip balm

I have tried another flavour and tint of lip balm, this time it’s strawberry 🍓!

Ingredients:

  • Grated Beeswax
  • Raw & pure Cocoa butter
  • Raw & pure Shea butter
  • Coldpressed & virgin organic coconut oil
  • Coldpressed organic sweet almond oil
  • Coldpressed organic castor oil
  • Organic ghee
  • Dried strawberry 🍓 powder

Continue reading Strawberry 🍓 Splash all-natural lip balm

DIY all-natural mango lip balm 

Despite the scorching sun ☀️ there is something I look forward to 😍 this season – what else could it be other than the sweet and juicy mangoes! No wonder it’s our <Indian 🇮🇳> national fruit… My love for mangoes made me experiment and so here comes the all-natural mango lip 👄 balm 😊.

But since I do not use preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavours and colours this was a challenge for me until I found the spray dried mango powder with shelf life of a year! 

Continue reading DIY all-natural mango lip balm