The Fortune of Being a Senior Citizen 

Dr. C.L. Prabhakar

sataminnu sarado anti devahyatra nascakra jarasam tanunam

putraso yatra pitaro bhavanti mano madhyareerishatayurgantoh

“Oh you Gods! A lovely hundred years (Śarad seasons) stand before us with in the given span of lifetime. Kindly, do not trouble our mortal physical frame, until we reach to a certain age. The next generation can take charge and get ready to bear the responsibilities of becoming fathers in turn.”

Rigveda 1.89.9

Ramayana expressed a truth that death is natural to all beings while life and living is change. But if a being lives long breathing (svāsan) healthily then we consider him to be fortunate. In other words, if prāṇa-śakti is live, healthy, it is a blessing and the person would be able to witness many things for long time upon this Earth. Therefore, to grow into the stage of senior citizen for any being born on Earth is Fortunate. Here when Valmiki employed the word ‘Svāsa’ he seems to imply health, active life in the granted span of time. Svāsa is the prāṇa and when it is intact activity could be done with such vigour and enthusiasm. Further we have a prayer to Rudra ‘Prathamo Daivyo Bhishak’ (SYV 16 Ch). He needs to bless us long life followed by assurances of health and detachments of unwanted strings of responsibilities. This would help for all to subsist that period of life to go for gains like: friends, health, wealth, and above all sustained memory. In Camaka prasanga of Yajurveda, we have many articles of life programs enlisted. All of them are lending support for hope and optimistic aspirations for necessary comfort. Thereby our faculties and activity shall not be passive. In principle, we have asked for 35 optimistic desires and conditions to go safe with us until the end of being a senior citizen. There are hundreds of positive desires to stay and be fruitful to us in life. For example, one can see developments in various dimensions of life like, family, profession, contacts, religious and spiritual events and distinctions. Such long life leads to growth into being a ‘Śatāyuṣī’ (of hundred years). Right from the age eighty and more years of age, the person is styled as Śatāyuṣī and there are many āśirvāda mantras Veda and other scriptures to confirm health and peace in the life thereafter for the persons in. Prayer is unfailing measure of attainments being proved a Boon and Bonus.

As we are born and brought up as the child of the creator Prajāpati, Atharvaveda, lends a scope by confirming a blessings thus: to reach the old age. Kalidasa too has given the scheme of life:

Saisave abhysata vidyanam Yauvane vishayeshinam!

vardhake muni vruttinam yogenante tanu tyajam!!

Raghuvamsa 1.8

Which means from boyhood to 25 years, earn knowledge as much as possible. Learn arts and sciences as much as possible further. Growing young (25 to 50 years of age) one would enjoy the pleasures, acquisitions and stabilization for richness and sharing, etc. It is stage to gather wealth and properties and discharge responsibilities in many fronts. While at advanced age from fifty years and more; one has to live like a saint and finally with the practice of discipline of Yoga one to prepare to leave the body at the conclusion of living. Moreover, in old age practice the activities gravitating towards those activities of sages and saints and at end yoking the mind with the Absolute. Later evict the soul from body to attain Emancipation.

The motto of life need be, as Kalidasa continues to advise: whatever riches or wealth amassed, gift away at senior age. For a balanced safety, ‘talk judiciously’, eat fewer amounts of food for health. Thus, prepare for peaceful existence and exit.

Tyaagaya smbhrutarthanm Satyaya mita bhashinam!

yasase vijigeeshunam prajayai gruhamedhinam!!

Raghuvamasa 1.7

Taittiriya Upanishad too exhorts the same in its section on Vedic Convocation (vedamanucyacaryo antevasinamanusasti…). In this manner, on the one hand, we can also follow the instructions provided by our great thinkers and on the other gain indications and measures done profusely from our scriptures for an aspirant course of life at old age.

Moreover, the set of four aims marked for people namely Dharma, Artha , Kāma and Mokṣa constitute as their pastimes. An urge is cultivated to make them fulfilled greatly. Also four āśramas (stages of life) are suggested to individuals keeping reverence to worldly life, past times and workable activities, which are – Bhrahmacarya, Gruhastha, Vānaprastha and sanyāsa. Vānaprastha considers as the high time to go up to Śatāyuṣī. It is a stage to elevate mind and adopt the spiritual practices like Yoga, worship, dhyāna, jāpa, prāṇāyāma and more for peace and complacency. When a person turn older, they have to attend personal upliftment which they could not attend during their age of storm. At advanced age it is necessary to turn to Vedanta and mingle with the divine interest. Yajurveda Chapter 18 opens with the mantra that one has to look for the divya vajas that uplifts the life. Divya vajas are the things that would be of utility, personal, impersonal and universal. This is the most crucial time as the parents are in at the edge of old age which is full of experiences of life and eager to enlighten their next generation.

Every day is precious, a gain and a bonus after certain senior age for everybody. Personal ego need at least be reduced and in its place the divine importance is to be installed. So, to live the age of any senior for long with health and peace one needs ‘śānti karmas’ religiously. They begin from Ṣaṣṭhi purti (60 years) of age and go up to Śatāyuṣī. Every decade, after sixty years all need śānti ceremonies. This involves invoking the blessings of elders, gods and the departed ancestors in the lineage on installment basis. Religious observances (tapas of convenient order) add to the effort of seniority.

The flow of time (Kāla) is like river which never turns back. The clock for a senior person is very important and so one has to be mindful. There is a suggestion that one has to do dharma

Ajara amaravat prajnah vidyam artham ca sadhayet|

gruhita iva keseshu mrutyuna dharma macaretḥ||

Hitopadesa

The verse suggests in the course of life, vidyā and Artha need be earned as though mṛtyu is grasping hairs.

Āchārya Śankara says in one of his stotras advises- ‘please reduce the ego and pride everyday little by little to reach zero level (aharahar va garvam parityajyatam). When ego is removed scope for benefits would be at gain. Here, Śankara hints that it is in our hands to send away ego and negativity from us. Śṛi Kṛśṇa gave the importance to a fact that one should uplift by himself as self is all in all and never self be demeaned.

uddharet atmana atmanam naatmanam avasadayet

atmaivahyatmano bandhuh atmaiva ripuratmanah  !!

Bhagavadgītā 6.8

One has to help oneself to uplift. Never one should demean his own self. Self is the friend to self, but self is enemy to one’s own self. Kṛśṇa means here self-reliance is the formula of happiness and more so when people reach senior age. Relations usually neglect the requests.

Self is noble and personal too. Seniors are at the verge of evening walk of life, meaning exit remains closer. Realizing that, they should monitor their time with care and commitment. They must take assistance only when they should. Kṛśṇa said in the Bhagavadgītā that one should uplift oneself. Such instruction is a mark of wisdom to the people, more so at senior stage since children and relations grow busy in their own way.

When seniors practice Vedāntic way of life, realizing its worth in reality, then they would be near peace and in peace too. This piece will help happy ending, the conclusion of life on earth. For any senior individual, death without any hazels and life with no dependence is desirous.

These two are possible when we turn spiritual and revering the divine. This fortune is obtainable by Yoga, which includes dhyāna and accessories to them. Also, one should adopt the inclination of mind to vote for the sense of vairāgya. The awareness of the body, house and township, etc. need not be bothered at invariably. Truly speaking our body is a Traveller’sBungalow taken for lease for a period. But while enjoying ‘be neutral and uncommitted’ like the lotus leaf in a pond (Padmapatra iva ambhasa). For this way of adopted living the mind is to be disciplined and that is possible through the instructions by a guru and practice of them regularly.

The constant prayer is:’ whatever advancement in age and wealth possessed should be prosperous and helpful owing to the effort which is the form of Yajña. One always need to remember the Upaniśadic truth:

 ‘mrutyorma amrutam gamaya’

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

 move from material problems to ultimate pathway of spirituality and the immortality

When God’s grace subsists life of a senior is a FORTUNE and a true BONUS. It is so because Earth, the bhuloka, is the most beautiful loka of lokas. We have attestations given to us in the works of great sages, authors like Kalidasa, Bana and several others in the world Literature. Added to that there would be scope to wash off follies and sins in order to get higher planes of happiness and Nirvāṇa.

In a nutshell, to live a full period of Senior citizen as granted by the providence is a boon. It should be appropriately employed for personal and universal welfare by controlling emotions. Mind can be managed pleasant by studying relevant scriptures. He would have the scope to experience Bhoga, Bhāgya, Saubhāgya and Mokṣa.

Dr. C.L Prabhakar, Professor, Sanskrit & President, WAVES, Bangalore Chapter

A Spiritual Perspective on Menses (Part-II)

(Continued from Part-I)

– Dr. Athavale & Dr. Nandini Samant

Why is menarche celebrated?

The onset of menstruation, also known as menarche, is one of the most significant milestones in a woman’s life. Though the physiological aspects of menstruation are common across faiths, the social aspects vary. Many faiths across the world, celebrate the menarche in their own unique way.

courtesy : Flickriver                                
courtesy : Smithsonian_photo_contest

Sanātan Dharma looks upon life as an opportunity to make all round efforts to realize God. With menarche, as ovulation begins, conception is now possible. From the perspective of Sanātan Dharma, conception is not just procreation. Conception is important because it gives a jīva an opportunity to take birth and make efforts to move towards Mokṣa. Celebration of menarche imparts a very positive perception of menstruation, and the inherent sense of responsibility towards moral conduct to the young girl.

How can women by avoiding cooking or touching food during menses benefit themselves and society?

Food and water are basic constituents that are absorbed and assimilated at the cellular level. That is why, it is very important that these two components be Sāttvik. During menses, the Raja subtle component in the woman increases. It gets transferred to the food through her touch, thus reducing its spiritual purity. This would affect the entire family adversely at the spiritual level. That is why scriptures advise menstruating women to keep away from cooking activities or touching food cooked for the family and store of water. This is similar to how we do not put salt in milk as this would alter the basic characteristic of the milk.

Subtle picture of food after being touched by a woman during menses

The true measure and analysis of what happens in the subtle (that which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect) dimension can only be through the medium of the sixth sense. Refer to ‘Subtle picture of a woman during menses’ in the first part of this article. The following is a recreation of the subtle picture based on knowledge perceived by Mr. Nishad Deshmukh, a member of the spiritual research team of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay.

It is apparent from the subtle picture how and why the inherent Sattva component in the food is reduced after a menstruating woman touches it. As the food gets a covering of Raja-Tama and it gets charged with negative vibrations, divine energy (Śakti) and vital energy are unable to enter it. It is to prevent this loss of positivity in the food.

Universal aura scanner (UAS) of food and water before and after being touched by a woman during menses

In addition to the knowledge given in the scriptures and that perceived by seekers from our spiritual research team. A pilot study was conducted in the Spiritual Research Center of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa, on 5 lady subjects having menses using modern scientific equipment (UAS instrument) to study the effect of touch of a woman having menses on food and water. Refer to ‘Universal Aura Scanner study of a woman during menses’ from the first part of this article.

To begin with, we served food in a plate and water in a glass from the kitchen of the Āśram of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay for the first subject. Care was taken to ensure that the subject did not touch the food and water. We used the UAS to note the readings of the 2 types of negative energies and positive energy in both the food and water served to her. Then we asked the first subject with menses to touch the food in the plate and the glass of water. This contact was for a period of few seconds only. After she had touched the food and water, we repeated the above-mentioned UAS readings of both the food and water served to her. We repeated this for each of the remaining 4 subjects. Each subject was separately served the same food and water from the same kitchen. We then repeated the above experiment with the same subjects 15 days later, when the subjects were in their non-menses phase. The readings are given as under-

UAS readings for food and water touched by women in their non-menses period and during their menses

Conclusions of the experiment

Regarding subtle negative energies : It is our experience of the past 10 years with the Universal Aura Scanner that it is not uncommon to find subtle negative energies in inanimate objects or animate beings. This is because of the overwhelming rise in Raja-Tama in the present times. It is apparent form the above tables that both types of subtle negative energies were completely absent in food and water before being touched by the subjects during the experiments done in their non-menses period and also during their menses. This is because the food and water came from the kitchen of a highly Sāttvik Āśram, where many Saints reside and food is cooked entirely by seekers as their spiritual practice. However, subtle negative energies were found in very high proportion in both the food and water after the subjects touched them during their menses.

Regarding positive energy : It is our experience with UAS studies, that it is not necessary that positive energy be present in inanimate objects or animate beings. However, high positive energy was found in both food and water before the subjects touched them. The reason is the same as explained in the point above. This positive energy in both food and water increased when the seekers touched them during their non-menses period. This is a reflection of the high positive energy generated in them due to their spiritual practice. The exception to this was Subject no. 3, who is deeply affected by subtle negative energies. In her case, the positive energy was found to be marginally decreased after she touched the food and water. When these same seekers touched food and water from the same Āśram during their menses, the positivity in the food and water was completely wiped out in the case of 4 subjects and greatly reduced in the case of Subject no. 2. This study using a modern scientific equipment gives us an objective insight into the extent of detrimental effect of touching food and water by a woman during her menses.

That our sages perceived this more than 5000 years ago, before the advent of any kind of scientific measuring equipment bears ample testimony to their highly enlightened status! Not only this, they devised and implemented appropriate steps at basic day-to-day life activity level to prevent the adverse effect of menses from affecting the spiritual purity of the family.

How can women by refraining from spiritual activities such as pūjā or entering a temple during menses benefit themselves and society?

त्रिरात्रं रजस्वलाशुचिर्भवति । (वसिष्ठधर्मसूत्र .)

A woman will be Ashuchi (spiritually impure) during three (days and) nights (during menstruation).

साध्वाचारा न तावत्स्याद्रजो यावत्प्रवर्तते । (अङ्गिरसस्मृति ३७)

Do not perform any spiritual activities like pūjā, visiting temple, etc. during menstruation.

Women being advised to refrain from spiritual activities during menses is perceived as discriminatory by the modern world. This is simply not so. Sanātan Dharma has prescribed this restriction from the perspective of preventing the woman from incurring harm at the spiritual level, which would affect her at the physical and mental level too. For being competent to perform spiritual activity, shaucha is required at the bodily, mind and prāṇa level. Just as strict hygiene is required to benefit from a surgical operation, so also shaucha is required to obtain benefit from spiritual activities.

Both men and women enter a state of ‘Ashaucha’at various times in their lives such as during birth or death in immediate family. Menses also bring about a state of ashaucha in a woman. How this happens at the level of various kośas is explained –

State of shaucha in women during menses

It is apparent from the above table how the woman becomes incompetent to perform spiritual activities as it is having adverse effect on her due to her ashaucha status during menses.

1.The purpose of any spiritual activity like a pūjā or Yajña is to make the prāṇa to rise upwards. This activates the Kundalini and makes it to rise. During menses, apāna vāyu is activated which moves in the downward direction to bring about excretion of menstrual tissues. So there is a conflict at prāṇa level. This causes an imbalance of dośas (namely Vāta, Pitta, Kapha) as per Ayurveda. This affects the woman at various levels.

2.Every temple has an idol in which prāṇpratiśṭha of that particular deity principle has been done. This means the deity principle has been invoked in the Idol. Hence, it is a place of high spiritual energy (Śakti). Being in a temple causes the prāṇa to rise in upward direction.

As a consequence of the above points 1 and 2,

1.A menstruating woman, in whom the apāna vāyu is activated, would be adversely affected by the upward movement of prāṇa resulting from any spiritual activity. This may not necessarily be apparent in the first instance, but repeated exposure during menses would affect the woman seriously.

2.However, as the adverse effect of spiritual activity on a menstruating woman happens at a subtle level, it may not be apparent to her. This is similar to the fact that most people are not able to perceive the adverse subtle effect of non-vegetarian food on them. Even if the adverse effect is immediately experienced, the woman may not connect the distress to the spiritual ritual or visiting a temple.

3.The Energy generated from spiritual activities is also diluted due to the influence of high Raja in the menstruating woman. The temple, the temple at home, pūjā, Yajñas etc. are sources of spiritual energy and Sattva subtle component. We as individuals and collectively as society benefit and in a way highly dependent on this source of Sattva for our day-to-day as well as overall long term well-being and success. By polluting these sources of spiritual energy and Sattva with the Raja in a menstruating woman, we are effectively destroying our basic sources of spiritual well-being.

How can we benefit from the advice of scriptures in our present lifestyle?

It has been prescribed from the perspective of the well-being of the woman as well as society at large. However, it could be difficult to follow it in the modern setup with nuclear families, especially where both spouses work outside home. We can still benefit from the advice by understanding the underlying science with an open mind. Based on this understanding, we can see what all we can do to limit the effect of the increased Raja in the woman during menses.

(1) One sound option is to focus on chanting as per our religion of birth or ‘ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय।’ as much as possible during menses, especially during activities affecting the whole family like cooking. This sattvikta increasing measure is an efficient way of reducing the effect of Raja.

(2) It is best to refrain from going to the temples or participating in rituals. We can get the daily pūjā at home done by other family members.

(3) The effect of increased Raja emitted from the woman during menses in the premises can be reduced by sprinkling gomutra with tulsi leaf on all days of the menses and after the 5th day head bath of the woman with menses. For best results, use of gomutra of desi cows, not jersey ones, is recommended.

(4) Having a head bath on the fifth day of menses and adding a few drops of gomutra to the water used for bathing as well as washing the clothes and bedding helps remove the Raja present in the body of the woman and her clothes.

(5) Just as Raja increases in a woman during menses, Raja-Tama increases in both men and women with thoughts of anger, greed, jealousy, lust, laziness, etc. However, most are not aware of this as we are not able to perceive the subtle vibrations which come with regular spiritual practice. Menses is clearly apparent, hence, there is opportunity to take precautionary measures. Chanting as a form of spiritual practice is an effective way for both men and women to minimize the ill-effects of Raja-Tama in our lives from all sources – physical, mental and spiritual. If you cannot practice the whole, practice at least as much as you can.

The Shrimad Bhagawadgītā (2.40) advises-

नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते |

स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ||

In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

(Acknowledgement : Menstruation Practices in Hinduism : What & Why? – A Talk by Nithin Sridhar)

 Dr. Athavale M.B.B.S., Clinical Hypnotherapist & Dr. Nandini Samant M.B.B.S., D.P.M. (Consulting Psychiatrist), Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa

“Tamaso Mā Jyotirgamaya”- Finding a Guru in Modern Times

– Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal and Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Knowledge is a supreme reality that is not limited to experience, education, reasoning and practice. It is an awareness, or understanding of facts that helps in awakening the intellect of a person for making one wise, and use that wisdom (बुद्धि) to pursue naturally the purpose of life through चित्त, अहंकार (अस्तित्व), and महत (the supreme mind) according to the Sankhya Darśan. The mahat concept is the gateway to understanding the brahm (ब्रह्म), the ultimate seat of the knowledge. Thus, a journey of this kind requires training, practice, guidance, and ultimately the sākśātkār (साक्षात्कार) or darśan. An important individual who effectively guides in this journey is known as ‘Guru’. Since Vedic era the word ‘Guru’ is well recognised in various texts like Muṇdaka Upaniṣad (1.2.12), Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad and Advayatāraka Upaniṣad.

Literally, ‘Guru’ word is constructed from two Sanskrit words, gu (गु) and ru (रु), gu (गु) means dark, ignorance, superficial, confusion, etc., depending on the context, and ru (रु) means to break, to remove, to end, deeper/heavier, or enlighten. Guru-Gītā, a Hindu scripture (Guru Gītā is a spiritual text originally constructed by Sage Vyasa, and narrated again in  the Sakanda Purāṇa where the nature of the guru and the guru/disciple relationship is described in the form of a dialogue between Śiva and Pārvatī). Śiva narrated the etymological derivation of the word ‘guru’ that is based on the syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु), and their meanings in different contexts. According to Wikipedia, there are different versions of Guru-Gita ranging in verses from 100 to 400. According to a Guru-Gita following verses are directly defining the term Guru. It is interesting to note that the primary meaning of the gu (गु) as dark and ru (रु) as the remover is retained to describe the concepts of the ślokas. –

गुकारश्चान्धकारो हि रुकारस्तेज उच्यते |

अज्ञानग्रासकं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव न संशयः||33||

‘गु’ शब्द का अर्थ है अंधकार (अज्ञान) और ‘रु’ शब्द का अर्थ है प्रकाश (ज्ञान) | अज्ञान को नष्ट करने वाला जो ब्रह्मरूप प्रकाश है, वह गुरु है | इसमें कोई संशय नहीं है |

 In this translation the physical reality of dark is removed by the physical element of light, and that is then metaphorically used to indicate that the guru removes the ignorance by eating it away (grāsakam), means destroying it permanently.

गुकारश्चान्धकारस्तु रुकारस्तन्निरोधकृत् | 

अन्धकारविनाशित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ||34||

‘गु’ कार अंधकार है और उसको दूर करनेवाल ‘रु’ कार है | अज्ञानरूपी अन्धकार को नष्ट करने के कारण ही गुरु कहलाते हैं |

Here the guru is presented as someone who does not allow the darkness to continue, in other words the guru destroys it. Implications are here that the guru is a dynamic personality who can spot, assess, and prevent the ignorance from continuing.

गुकारः प्रथमो वर्णो मायादि गुणभासकः |

रुकारोऽस्ति परं ब्रह्म मायाभ्रान्तिविमोचकम् ||36||

‘गुरु’ शब्द का प्रथम अक्षर ‘गु’ माया आदि गुणों का प्रकाशक है और दूसरा अक्षर ‘रु’ माया की भ्रान्ति से मुक्ति देनेवाला परब्रह्म है |

Here guru is projected as someone who removes confusion from the illusionary māyā. Two points worth noting are (1) gu (गु) here is presented as the promoter of illusion by highlighting its qualities or features; and (2) ru (रु) means not just a remover of the confusion from this illusion but doing this from the perspective of the parbrahm (परब्रह्म), meaning after attaining that status.

Thus, a guru is a very dynamic personality who can provide guidance to his/her disciple (शिष्य) under a variety of natural and artificial (illusionary) conditions of activities to develop wisdom and vivek in the pursuits of the ultimate goals of life.  

The attributes of guru have to be such that such a dynamism in developing the disciple is readily feasible. Some of those attributes are described under stanzas on ‘आचार्यलक्षणम्’ in Śukla Yajurveda’s Advayatāraka Upaniṣad (an ancient Sanskrit text on Yoga), as outlined below.

आचार्यो वेदसम्पन्नो विष्णुभक्तो विमत्सरः ।

योगज्ञो योगनिष्ठश्च सदा योगात्मकः शुचिः ॥14॥

A truly competent teacher is, armed with Vedic knowledge, a devotee of Viśṇu to mean that the guru has full knowledge of the causal world, free from envy/jealousy through the knowledge, devotion, and practice of yoga. This is important for a guru so that there is no envy with the disciple, providing total devotion to the guidance of the of the disciple.

गुरुभक्तिसमायुक्तः पुरुष्ज्ञो विशेषतः ।

एवं लक्षणसम्पन्नो गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥15॥

He should be devoted to his own guru, meaning continues to remain a śiṣya in practice, thus being able to develop the camaraderie with his own disciple, is particularly well versed with the knowledge of puruśa and prakriti, the source and expressive powers of the universe, He who possesses various types of  such virtues is designated as a guru.

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात् रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः ।

अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥16॥

The syllable gu (signifies) darkness. The syllable ru (signifies) the destroyer of the darkness. By the reason of the ability to destroy darkness he is called a guru.

गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव परा गतिः ।

गुरुरेव परा विद्या गुरुरेव परायणं ॥17॥

The guru alone is the supreme absolute brahm. Guru alone is the supreme way. Guru alone is the master of parā (as opposed to only aparāvidyā. Guru alone is the supreme and last resort.

गुरुरेव परा काष्ठा गुरुरेव परं धनं ।

यस्मात्तदुपदेष्टाऽसौ तस्माद्गुरुतरो गुरुरिति ॥18॥

The guru alone is the limit of all knowledge. The guru alone is the ultimate wealth. He is the teacher of the non-dual reality. Therefore, he is the ultimate guru.

The tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring, where teachings are transmitted from a guru to a disciple, is known as guruśiṣya paramparā. This guruśiṣya relationship has evolved in Indian tradition since Upaniṣad era where guru and śiṣya developed resonance of thoughts and then guru transmits his knowledge to the person who respectfully sits down near him with śraddhā, in the quest for knowledge. A guruśiṣya relationship are beyond age, gender, and battlefield, as the guru can be Yama to a teenage boy Naciketā, lord Kṛśṇa to warrier Arjuna, or sage Yājñavalkya to his own wife (Gārgī / Maitreyī).

The concept of guru and Guru Purṇimā is quite old, the oldest being celebrated as the birthday of Ved Vyāsa, on the day of Aṣāḍa Purṇimā. The latest revival of Guru Purṇimā festival was done by Mahatma Gandhi in honor of his spiritual guru, Rajchandra. In its true tradition a guru does not expect anything in return from a śiṣya, and performs the imparting of knowledge as a karmayoga.  

With time, people started observing guru as a mentor, counsellor, advisor, who inculcates values in his disciples by sharing knowledge and his own experiences, and who cares about the wellbeing of his disciples. A guru, however, in its true tradition will dedicate his/her life caring about disciples spiritually, and educating them in accordance with their nature. Thus, he is an inspirational source for the spiritual evolution of the disciple. The tradition of guru runs deep in India. The entire Sikhism concept is laid down based on the the teachings of Guru. Its main scripture is called Guru Granth Sahib and the words therein called Gurbaṇī.

In present society too, we have come across many such gurus. Like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekānanda, Swami Dayānanda Saraswatī, His Holiness Dalai Lama for Buddhism, ISKCON founder A. C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada for Bhakti Yoga, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Art of living, Radha Swami, Swami Rāmdev Bābā for Yoga, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for Spirituality, and many others in such tradition. Their disciples usually refer to them as Gurudev! These spiritual leaders are kind of role models and sometimes preferred by people as an alternative to established religions to know more about divinity.

In olden days, the school or pāṭhśālā ran by guru was known as gurukula, later on in modern times they are called as āśrama, although the gurukula system of education is still in practice. Both of these are residential places of learning, without requiring any fees. Guru treats disciples or followers as part of their own family. In gurukula, students received complete knowledge of Vedic scriptures, philosophical-spiritual-medicinal-political, etc. along with various art forms, whereas in āśrama followers received spiritual preaching from their guru. Ultimately these are concentrated on such education that helps in revealing the purpose of life. While pursuing teaching or preaching, guru focuses on self-discipline among learners that result in inner perfection leading to liberation in the form of mokṣa.

Guruśiṣya tradition superficially still is observed in modern educational institutions, at least in traditional ones, where students in general pay respect to their teachers on occasions of Guru Purṇimā. Sometimes these occasions are observed in United States by Hindu groups, such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, and American teachers really appreciate such a devotion. The devotion to teachers, no matter where they are, is always beneficial to students, as śraddhā is critical for earning knowledge.

श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानं तत्पर: संयतेन्द्रिय: |

ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति || Bhagvadgita 4.39||

Those who are devoted and who are ready willing to control their mind and senses attain knowledge. Through such knowledge, they quickly attain everlasting supreme peace.

Thus, in Indian tradition the position of Guru is more or less same as Deva, the lord. One should be devoted to his Guru just like he is devoted to his Deva.  

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ । Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad 6.23

Will this system ever return, is it the right time for its return, can this system adapt to the modern time, can it compete with modern educational system, and will it be allowed in a time when education itself has become an over $6 trillion business? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear with forced adaptation during the Corona time, that the bluff of traditional system of institutional classroom has largely been called out! With the cost of education spiraling out of control at all levels throughout the world, the educational practices adapted during the Corona lockdown may in fact have provided the needed pause for pondering.

A trillion dollar question is whether gurus are ready to take their place! Let’s hope the answer would be YES by the next Guru Purṇimā!!

Worthy Gurus are absolutely needed!

– Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor and Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

A Spiritual Perspective on Menses (Part-I)

– Dr. Athavale & Dr. Nandini Samant

Introduction

Menstruation is basically a physiological phenomenon unique to women. In many parts of the world, menstruation is still related to a number of myths and taboos. For example, it is believed in Afghanistan that showering during menses causes infertility. According to a cultural belief held by some sushi chefs in Japan, women cannot be sushi chefs because of menstrual cycles. They believe that menstruation causes an ‘imbalance in taste’ and therefore sushi cannot possibly be properly prepared by a woman. Menses is thought of as a disease in Iran. Traditional beliefs in Bolivia misinform young women and girls that the disposal of their menstrual pads with other garbage could lead to sickness or cancer, according to UNICEF. Such myths and taboos about menstruation present in many societies adversely impact on women’s emotional state, mentality and lifestyle.

Vedas have also advised women with menses to refrain from entering holy places, cooking, etc. However, this advice is from a spiritual perspective alone and needs to be understood in that spirit. Any distortions in the implementation of the spiritual science are man-made and need to be recognized as such. However, due to a lack of understanding of the underlying spiritual science the advice of the scriptures is vastly misunderstood and hence frowned upon by society in the present times.

This resistance happens in the case of other sciences too. For example, modern medical science advises people suffering from a contagious disease like flu (Influenza), to rest and to keep to their room to prevent infecting other family members. They are asked to cover their nose with a tissue while sneezing for the same reason. When the disease spreads rampantly in society to an epidemic level, such as the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and Swine flu pandemic of 2009, infected people are forced to remain in isolation, away from society. All this is advised in the interests of the individual, family and society at large. It is not discriminatory to the person suffering from flu. We understand this because we are well aware of the science behind the restrictions. However, if an uneducated person from a tribal area traveling to a city suffered from flu and was advised to keep away from others, he could well feel ostracized. What would we think if he refused to believe the science and demanded to be shown the influenza virus! We understand that it would be in his best interests to believe those learned in that area, namely, the doctors. Similarly, Vedas are the authority in Spirituality. In this article we have explained the spiritual science underlying what the Sanatan Dharma says in the Vedas about menses and corroborated by research using modern scientific equipment. This is solely from the perspective of creating awareness in society about the spiritual aspects of menses.

Here, we will understand the basic principles of Sanatan Dharma and What happens at the subtle level during menstruation ?

Later (in upcoming article ) we will discuss the following topics –

A. Why is menarche celebrated ?

B. How can women by avoiding cooking or touching food during menses benefit themselves and society ?

C. How can women refraining from spiritual activities such as pooja or entering a temple during menses benefit themselves and society ?

D. Understand the underlying spiritual science and benefit from the advice of scriptures

Basic principles of Sanatan Dharma

To understand how Sanatan Dharma looks upon menstruation, let us get acquainted with some of its basic principles relevant to our topic.

A. Sanatan Dharma looks upon life as a continuum of births till the jīva (Embodied Soul) attains Mokṣa (Final Liberation or God-realisation). All efforts during one’s lifetime are looked upon from the perspective of ultimately moving towards Mokṣa.

B. Spiritual purity (Sattva subtle component) is looked upon as the foundation of any success or achievement. Subtle is that which is beyond the perception of the five senses, mind and intellect. Bhagawan Shrikrushna speaks of the 3 subtle basic components of the universe, namely Sattva, Raja and Tama

सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणा: प्रकृतिसम्भवा: |

निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् ||

(Śrimad Bhagawadgīta Chapter 14, Verse 5)

Sattva is the component that represents spiritual purity, equanimity and knowledge. Raja represents action, excitement and passion, while Tama represents ignorance and inertia. Each person is made up of a proportion of these three subtle components. Depending on which subtle component is predominant in a person, he or she would be either Sattva-predominant (Sāttvik), Rājasik or Tāmasik. His or her value system, attitude and behaviour will be aligned accordingly. That is why, Sanatan Dharma advises spiritualisation of all aspects of life. Spiritualisation means making every aspect of our life such as our home and premises, bath, dress, diet, jewellery, music, dance, office work sāttvik and enriched with Divine consciousness (Chaitanya). This way our day to day efforts in life lead us to eternal bliss (God-realisation).

What happens at the subtle level during menstruation ?

According to Scriptures

The Scriptures refer to a menstruating woman as ‘Rajaswala’. This is because during menses the Raja subtle component in her is increased. The increased Raja is in anticipation of conception to nourish the baby. When fertilization of ovum and consequently conception does not take place, the excess of Raja is excreted from the body in the form of menstruation.

According to Ayurveda

As per Ayurveda, during menses the Apāna Vāyu is activated in the woman. ‘Prāṇa’ is the subtle vital energy which drives the various actions at the level of the various koṣas. There are 5 Prāṇas, each with a specific action. Activation of the Apāna Vāyu causes movement in the downward direction to facilitate the excretion of uterine tissue and also body toxins (Aām). The high Raja subtle component in the woman during menses causes an imbalance of the 5 Prāṇas.

Subtle picture of a woman during menses

The true measure and analysis of what happens in the subtle dimension can only be through the medium of the sixth sense. At the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay (Maharshi Spiritual University), we have seekers in our spiritual research team who can actually perceive subtle vibrations emitted by an object or individual. After studying these vibrations they sketch them on paper. We call these sketches ‘Subtle pictures’. They serve as spiritual x-rays and provide clarity about the true nature of the object or individual. The readings are then confirmed or corrected by H.H. (Dr.) Athavale to get the accurate values. The following subtle picture of a woman during menses gives us an idea of what happens during menstruation in the subtle dimension.

The above subtle picture shows how there is emission of Raja-Tama subtle vibrations from a woman during menses. As a result the environment gets charged with the distressing Raja-Tama vibrations.

Universal Aura Scanner study of a woman during menses

The Universal Aura Scanner (UAS) is a scientific instrument that has been invented by Dr. Mannem Murthy, a former nuclear scientist from India. We have used this instrument extensively since 2014 and have recorded more than 10,000 readings in various experiments. It is our experience that it gives accurate readings. We have presented scientific papers based on these studies since October, 2016 in 15 National and 48 International Scientific Conferences. For more details about experiments done using UAS please refer to http://www.ssrf.org/. For more information on the instrument and its usage, please refer to http://www.vedicauraenergy.com/universal-scanner/

Please note that an average object or person can have negative energy, but it is not necessary that the positive energy be present. The negative energy readings are of 2 types and are denoted by ‘IR’ (Infrared) and ‘UV’ (Ultraviolet). IR denotes a lesser form of negative vibrations, while UV denotes a more intense form of negative vibrations. The total measured aura (TMA) is a measure of the object’s or person’s negative energy, positive energy in addition to other miscellaneous components. The TMA of an average object or person is 1 meter. When the TMA of a negativity emitting person or object (which does not have any positive energy) is high, this high TMA is a reflection of its high negativity.

We used the UAS to measure the positive and negative subtle energies and the total measured aura around a woman during menses, after chanting for 15 minutes after this reading and after her 5th and 7th day head bath. This pilot study was conducted on 1 subject only.

From the above table it is apparent that during menses high proportion of both types of negative energy with complete absence of positive energy was found in this subject.

Negativity eliminating influence of chanting

We can also see that after 15 minutes of chanting ‘ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय।’ both the types of subtle negative energies in the subject were completely wiped off. Besides, positive energy was also found in her. This shows that if a woman, though high in Raja during menses, does chanting as much as possible along with her regular activities, the negative influence of menses at the spiritual level can be reduced.

The table also shows that on the 5th day of menstruation, after the subject had taken the head bath as prescribed by Scriptures, her IR negative energy reduced by nearly 40 percent, while the more intense UV negative energy disappeared entirely and positive energy was found in her. This subtle IR negative energy further reduces or disappears in the following days with an increase in positive energy as is apparent from the last column in the table.

(continued to Part-II)

 Dr. Athavale M.B.B.S., Clinical Hypnotherapist & Dr. Nandini Samant M.B.B.S., D.P.M. (Consulting Psychiatrist), Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay