Potential of Mantra/ October 2012 imp 

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

In the science of mantra, daily practice is essential. The mantra given by the guru should be practised as much as possible. Yet, to awaken the potential of the mantra, to bring the shakti of the mantra to life, the mantra has to be practised a certain number of times.


The mantra Om Namah Shivaya has five syllables plus Om. To awaken it, practise it 500,000 times in fifteen days. This is called one anushthana, or mantra sadhana.

Gayatri mantra, on the other hand, has twenty-four syllables and needs to be practised 2.4 million times. This is a complete cycle. If you complete this cycle, then you will attain one siddhi, or perfection. The mantra awakens and becomes alive. But, this is very difficult, occupying half one’s lifespan. Therefore, other provisions have been made. The mantra can be practised in smaller cycles, such as 125,000 times. These cycles are necessary to explode the power of the mantra.

When one practises the mantra for five to ten minutes, it offers relaxation through intensification of the alpha waves in the brain, but intensification of alpha is not the discovery of spiritual potential. One has to go beyond this into a waveless state, a state where there are neither gamma, beta, alpha, theta nor delta waves. The mind has to go beyond the waves, the waveless and the void. It has to become zero. For a moment, the mind has to completely stop.

Navaratri Anushthana

During Navaratri, many householders engage themselves in Gayatri mantra anushthana. Navaratri is a period of nine nights with a tenth day that is considered the day of victory, accomplishment, when light conquers darkness. Navaratri is celebrated twice a year.

During these days, householders retire from their usual activities. One member of the family practises the mantra from morning until evening with only a few breaks here and there. They do not take grain or meat, only fruit, milk, and a little boiled vegetable. Some eat only once a day, others twice.

The sadhaka does not sleep on a mattress, but on a grass mat on the floor for nine nights. They do not eat with the women of the household. They do not shave. Then, on the tenth day, they simply come out.

These practices are repeated every year, not by the same family member, but by different members. For if everybody were to practise at the same time, there would be no one left to manage the household.

In this way, once a year, you too may retire into seclusion, practise mantra from dawn until dusk, or late at night, with a little break here and there for food. This practice constitutes one cycle of Gayatri mantra anushthana.

In Christianity there is a similar practice called Novena which, however, is more of a ritual and less of a sadhana.


In the Indian culture there are only three things: one is the Bhagavad Gita, the second is Ganga and the third is Gayatri. If you take these away, this culture does not exist. Ganga is external as well as internal. The external Ganga is the river Ganga, and the inner Ganga is sushumna which flows between the earth and heaven. Bhagavad Gita and Gayatri are the philosophy.

Some believe that Gayatri is directed towards the sun, but ultimately it has been found that this mantra is directed towards the inner brilliance, the inner sun. The inner brilliance must shine and one’s consciousness must be enlightened, but how does this happen?

There are two Gayatri mantras which can be used for two different practices. One version of Gayatri is used for mantra sadhana, while the other is used for pranayama. The Gayatri for mantra or japa yoga is:

Om bhu bhuvah suvah


Bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat

The Gayatri mantra intended for pranayama is:

Om bhu, om bhuvaha, om suvaha, om mahaha,

Om janaha, om tapaha, om satyam

Om tatsaviturvarenyam

Bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat

The second Gayatri represents one inhalation and, thus, the vitality of a yoga student. One inhalation should span the duration of the mental recitation of this Gayatri. Then, while the breath is being retained during the practice, the mantra should be repeated twice. Again, during exhalation, the mantra should be repeated twice. This is elementary pranayama to the ratio of 1:2:2. The ratio of the more advanced pranayama is 1:6:4.

Om and Gayatri

Om is a bija, seed mantra, the universal mantra. This mantra is very powerful. Sometimes the aspirant is not qualified or prepared. When he practises the mantra Om, he comes suddenly face to face with certain experiences, because the effect of Om is very rapid. This should not happen, especially when the aspirant is not prepared or qualified. Therefore, the Gayatri mantra was revealed to the wise men so that the people who are less prepared can practise Gayatri in place of Om and thereby, avoid drastic or rapid results. For this reason, Gayatri is not considered to be just a formula or combination of words. Gayatri is in fact the developed state of the mantra Om. Gayatri represents the cosmic total of the original prana. All throughout the Vedas and Upanishads it is said that “Om is nada and Gayatri is prana.”

Thus, from Om, Gayatri is created, and this Gayatri manifests itself in two stages. In the first stage, the mantra only mentions three states of individual self: bhur, bhuvah, suvah which represent, respectively, the waking, sleeping, and dreaming states of the individual self.

Yet, in Gayatri’s second stage of manifestation, the mantra mentions, not three, but seven lokas, or planes of existence: bhur, bhuvah, suvaha, mahah, janah, tapah, satyam. Satyam means absolute and represents sahasrara chakra. Tapaha represents ajna chakra, and moving down until bhur represents mooladhara chakra. These seven planes thus represent the seven realms or dimensions of individual consciousness of which one becomes aware when the sun in the inner mind rises. They begin from the gross and terminate with the most subtle, indicating that the individual self can go on ascending from the lowest possible rung of manifestation to the highest – the seventh state of satyam.


There is a beautiful poem written by Sri Aurobindo called Savitri. Savitri and Gayatri are synonymous names. In the morning there is absolute darkness, only the stars are shining. After some time, the light is felt shooting forth through the horizon. This is the indication of the coming of the light. As it happens in the external horizon, so it happens in the inner horizon. Internally there is also darkness. From time to time you see some visions, they are like the stars, and when the sun comes up, when the morning dawns, then traces of light are experienced within the horizons of the mind. That upspring of light is called Savitri, when the sun comes out. Gayatri represents both the external self which illuminates the whole world, and the inner self which illumines the planes of one’s existence or consciousness.

The external sun only illumines the external gross world, but when jnana, wisdom, rises and dawns, when the inner enlightenment takes place, not only the physical body, the mind, and the astral body, but all planes of existence become perceptible and you can experience them.

It does not matter who you are, a saint, debauchee, criminal, scavenger, butcher, or prostitute. Whatever you are, live life in any way you can, but always remember that the aim of life is self-realization and strive for it all the time.

—5 January 1981, Ganga Darshan, Munger, India


-75,000: Last ice age begins. Human population is 1.7 million.
-45,000: After mastery of marine navigation, migrations from Southeast Asia settle Australia and the Pacific islands.
-40,000: Groups of hunter-gatherers in Central India are living in painted rock shelters. Similar groups in Northern Punjab work at open sites protected by windbreaks.
-35,000: Migrations of separated Asian populations settle Europe.
-30,000: American Indians spread throughout the Americas.
Proto-Vedic Period-10,000: Last ice age ends after 65,000 years; earliest signs of agriculture. World population 4 million; India is 100,000. -10,000: Taittiriya Brahmana 3.1.2 refers to Purvabhadrapada nakshatra’s rising due east, a phenomenon occurring at this date (Dr. B.G. Siddharth of Birla Science Institute), indicating the earliest known dating of the sacred Veda.
-10,000: Vedic culture, the essence of humanity’s eternal wisdom, Sanatana Dharma, lives in the Himalayas at end of Ice Age -9000: Old Europe, Anatolia and Minoan Crete display a Goddess-centered culture reflecting a matriarchial order.
-8500: Taittiriya Samhita 6.5.3 places Pleiades asterism at winter solstice, suggesting the antiquity of this Veda.
-7500: Excavations at Neveli Cori in Turkey reveal advanced civilization with meticulous architecture and planning. Dr. Sri B.G. Siddharth believes this was a Vedic culture.
-7000: Proto-Vedic period ends. Early Vedic period begins.
Early Vedic Period-7000: Time of Manu Vaivasvata, “father of mankind,” of Sarasvati-Drishadvati area (also said to be a South Indian Maharaja who sailed to the Himalayas during a great flood).
-7000: Early evidence of horses in the Ganga region (Frawley).
-7000: Indus-Sarasvati area residents of Mehrgarh grow barley, raise sheep and goats. They store grain, entomb their dead and construct buildings of sun-baked mud bricks.
-6776: Start of Hindu lists of kings according to ancient Greek references that give Hindus 150 kings and a history of 6,400 years before 300bce; agrees with next entry.
-6500: Rig Veda verses (e.g., 1.117.22, 1.116.12, say winter solstice begins in Aries (according to Dr. D. Frawley), indicating the antiquity of this section of the Vedas.
-6000: Early sites on the Sarasvati River, then India’s largest, flowing west of Delhi into the Rann of Kutch; Rajasthan is a fertile region with much grassland, as described in the Rig Veda. The culture, based upon barley (yava), copper (ayas) and cattle, also reflects that of the Rig Veda.
-5500: Mehrgarh villagers are making baked pottery and thousands of small, clay of female figurines (interpreted to be earliest signs of Shakti worship), and are involved in long-distance trade in precious stones and sea shells.
-5500: Date of astrological observations associated with ancient events later mentioned in the Puranas (Alain Danielou). -5000: World population, 5 million, doubles every 1,000 years.
-5000: Beginnings of Indus-Sarasvati civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Date derived by considering archeological sites, reached after excavating 45 feet. Brick fire altars exist in many houses, suggesting Vedic fire rites, yajna. Earliest signs of worship of Lord Siva. This mature culture will last 3,000 years, ending around
-1700. -5000: Rice is harvested in China, with grains found in baked bricks. But its cultivation originated in Eastern India.
-4300: Traditional dating for Lord Rama’s time.
-4000: Excavations from this period at Sumerian sites of Kish and Susa reveal existence of Indian trade products.
-4000: India’s population is 1 million.
-3928: July 25th, the earliest eclipse mentioned in the Rig Veda (according to Indian researcher Dr. Shri P.C. Sengupta).
-3200: Hindu astronomers called nakshatra darshas record in Vedic textstheir observations of full moon and new moon at the winter and summer solstices and spring and fall equinoxes with reference to 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) spaced nearly equally on the moon’s ecliptic or apparent path across the sky. The precession of the equinoxes (caused by the wobbling of the Earth’s axis of rotation) causes the nakshatras to appear to drift at a constant rate along a predictable course over a 25,000-year cycle. From these observations historians are able to calculate backwards and determine the date when the indicated position of moon, sun and nakshatra occurred.
-3101: Commencement of Kaliyuga
— — — — — — Kali Yuga — — — — — —
-3102: Kali Era Hindu calendar starts. Kali Yuga begins.-3100: Reference to vernal equinox in Rohini (middle of Taurus) from some Brahmanas, as noted by B.G. Tilak, Indian scholar and patriot. Traditional date of the Mahabharata war and lifetime of Lord Krishna.
-3100: Early Vedic period ends, late Vedic period begins.
Late Vedic Period-3100-1700: Indian Empire collapsed. Separate JANAPADAS come into picture.
-3100: India includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
-3100: Aryan people inhabit Iran, Iraq and Western Indus-Sarasvati Valley frontier. Frawley describes Aryans as “a culture of spiritual knowledge.” He and others believe 1) the Land of Seven Rivers (Sapta Sindhu) mentioned in the Rig Veda refers to India only, 2) that the people of Indus-Sarasvati Valleys and those of Rig Veda are the same, and 3) there was no Aryan invasion. This view is now prevailing over the West’s historical concept of the Aryans as a separate ethnic or linguistic group. Still others claim the Indus-Sarasvati people were Dravidians who moved out or were displaced by incoming Aryans.
-3000: Weaving in Europe, Near East and Indus-Sarasvati Valley is primarily coiled basketry, either spiraled or sewn. -3000: Evidence of horses in South India.
-3000: People of Tehuacan, Mexico, are cultivating corn.
-3000: Saiva Agamas are recorded in the time of the earliest Tamil Sangam. (A traditional date.)
-2700: Seals of Indus-Sarasvati Valley indicate Siva worship, in depictions of Siva as Pashupati, Lord of Animals.
-2600: Indus-Sarasvati civilization reaches a height it sustains until 1700 be. Spreading from Pakistan to Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, it is the largest of the world’s three oldest civilizations with links to Mesopotamia (possibly Crete), Afghanisthan, Central Asia and Karnataka. Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have populations of 100,000.
-2600: Major portions of the Veda hymns are composed during the reign of Vishvamitra I (Dating by Dr. S.B. Roy).
-2600: Drying up of Drishadvati River of Vedic fame, along with possible shifting of the Yamuna to flow into the Ganga. -2600: First Egyptian pyramid is under construction.
-2500: Main period of Indus-Sarasvati cities. Culture relies heavily on rice and cotton, as mentioned in Atharva Veda, which were first developed in India. Ninety percent of sites are along the Sarasvati, the region’s agricultural bread basket. Mohenjo-daro is a large peripheral trading center. Rakhigari and Ganweriwala (not yet excavated in 1994) on the Sarasvati are as big as Mohenjo-daro. So is Dholarvira in Kutch. Indus-Sarasvati sites have been found as far south as Karnataka’s Godavari River and north into Afghanistan on the Amu Darya River.
-2500: Reference to vernal equinox in Krittika (Pleiades or early Taurus) from Yajur and Atharva Veda hymns and Brahmanas. This corresponds to Harappan seals that show seven women (the Krittikas) tending a fire.
-2300: Sargon founds Mesopotamian kingdom of Akkad, trades with Indus-Sarasvati Valley cities.
-2300: Indo-Europeans in Russia’s Ural steppelands develop efficient spoked-wheel chariot technology, using 1,000-year-old horse husbandry and freight-cart technology.
-2050: Vedic people are living in Persia and Afghanistan.
-2051: Divodasa reigns to -1961, has contact with Babylon’s King Indatu (Babylonian chronology). Dating by S.B. Roy.
ca -2040: Prince Rama is born at Ayodhya, site of future Rama temple. (This and next two datings by S.B. Roy.)
-2033: Reign of Dasharatha, father of Lord Rama. King Ravana, villain of the Ramayana, reigns in Sri Lanka.
-2000: Indo-Europeans (Celts, Slavs, Lithuanians, Ukranians) follow cosmology, theology, astronomy, ritual, society and marriage that parallel early Vedic patterns.
-2000: Probable date of first written Saiva Agamas.
-2000: World population: 27 million. India: 5 million or 22%. India has roughly G of human race throughout history.
-1915: All Madurai Tamil Sangam is held at Thiruparankundram (according to traditional Tamil chronology). -1900: Late Vedic period ends, post Vedic period begins.
-1900: Drying up of Sarasvati River, end of Indus-Sarasvati culture, end of the Vedic age. After this, the center of civilization in ancient India relocates from the Sarasvati to the Ganga, along with possible migration of Vedic peoples out of India to the Near East (perhaps giving rise to the Mittani and Kassites, who worship Vedic Gods). The redirection of the Sutlej into the Indus causes the Indus area to flood. Climate changes make the Sarasvati region too dry for habitation. (Thought lost, its river bed is finally photographed from satellite in the 1990s.)
-1500: Egyptians bury their royalty in the Valley of the Kings. -1500: Polynesians migrate throughout Pacific islands.
-1500: Submergence of the stone port city of Dwaraka near Gujarat, where early Brahmi script, India’s ancient alphabet, is used. Recent excavation by Dr. S.R. Rao. Larger than Mohenjo-daro, many identify it with the Dwarka of Krishna. Possible date of Lord Krishna. Indicates second urbanization phase of India between Indus-Sarasvati sites like Harappa and later cities on the Ganga. -1500: Indigenous iron technology in Dwarka and Kashmir.
-1500: Cinnamon is exported from Kerala to Middle East.
-1472: Reign of Dhritarashtra, father of the Kauravas. Reign of Yudhisthira, king of the [[[Pandavas]]. Life of Sage Yajnavalkya. Date based on Mahabharata’s citation of winter solstice at Dhanishtha, which occurs around this time.
-1450: End of Rig Veda Samhita narration.
-1450: Early Upanishads are composed during the next few hundred years, also Vedangas and Sutra literature.
-1424: Bharata battle is fought, as related in the Mahabharata. (Professor Subash Kak places the battle at -2449. Other authors give lower dates, up to 9th century bce)
-1424: Birth of Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna, and next king.
-1350: At Boghaz Koi in Turkey, stone inscription of the Mitanni treaty lists as divine witnesses the Vedic Deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins).
-1316: Mahabharata epic poem is composed by Sage Vyasa.
-1300: Panini composes Ashtadhyayi, systematizing Sanskrit grammar in 4,000 terse rules. (Date according to Roy.)
-1300: Changes are made in the Mahabharata and Ramayana through 200 bce. Puranas are edited up until 400 ce. Early smriti literature is composed over next 400 years.
-1255: King Shuchi of Magadha writes Jyotisha Vedanga, including astronomical observations which date this scripture-that summer solstice occurs in Ashlesha Nakshatra.
-1250: Moses leads 600,000 Jews out of Egypt.
-1200: Probable time of the legendary Greek Trojan War celebrated in Homer’s epic poems, Iliad and Odyssey (ca -750).
-1124: Elamite Dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar (-1124-1103) moves capital to Babylon, world’s largest city, covering 10,000 hectares, slightly larger than present-day San Francisco.
-1000: Late Vedic period ends. Post-Vedic period begins.
Post-Vedic Period-1000: World population is 50 million, doubling every 500 years.
-975: King Hiram of Phoenicia, for the sake of King Solomon of Israel, trades with the port of Ophir (Sanskrit: Supara) near modern Bombay, showing the trade between Israel and India. Same trade goes back to Harappan era.
-950: Jewish people arrive in India in King Solomon’s merchant fleet. Later Jewish colonies find India a tolerant home. -950: Gradual breakdown of Sanskrit as a spoken language occurs over thenext 200 years.
-925: Jewish King David forms an empire in what is present-day Israel and Lebanon.
-900: Iron Age in India. Early use dates to at least -1500.
ca -900: Earliest records of the holy city of Varanasi (one of the world’s oldest living cities) on the sacred river Ganga.
-900: Use of iron supplements bronze in Greece.
-850: The Chinese are using the 28-nakshatra zodiac called Shiu, adapted from the Hindu jyotisha system. ca -800: Later Upanishads are recorded.
-800: Later smriti, secondary Hindu scripture, is composed, elaborated and developed during next 1,000 years.
-776: First Olympic Games are held in Greece.
-750: Prakrits, vernacular or “natural” languages, develop among India’s common peoples. Already flourishing in 500 bce , Pali and other Prakrits are chiefly known from Buddhist and Jain works composed at this time.
-750: Priestly Sanskrit is gradually refined over next 500 years, taking on its classical form.
-700: Life of Zoroaster of Persia, founder of Zoroastrianism. His holy book, Zend Avesta, contains many verses from the Rig and Atharva Veda. His strong distinctions between good and evil set the dualistic tone of God and devil which distinguishes all later Western religions.
-700: Early Smartism emerges from the syncretic Vedic brahminical (priestly caste) tradition. It flourishes today as a liberal sect alongside Saiva, Vaishnava and Shakta sects.
-623-543: Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, born in Uttar Pradesh in a princely Shakya Saivite family. (Date by Sri Lankan Buddhists. Indian scholars say -563-483. Mahayanists of China and Japan prefer -566-486 or later.)
ca 600: Life of Sushruta, of Varanasi, the father of surgery. His ayurvedic treatises cover pulse diagnosis, hernia, cataract, cosmetic surgery, medical ethics, 121 surgical implements, antiseptics, use of drugs to control bleeding, toxicology, psychiatry, classification of burns, midwifery, surgical anesthesia and therapeutics of garlic.
ca -600: The Ajivika sect, an ascetic, atheistic group of naked sadhus reputated for fierce curses, is at its height, continuing in Mysore until the 14th century. Adversaries of both Buddha and Mahavira, their philosophy is deterministic, holding that everything is inevitable.
ca -600: Lifetime of Lao-tzu, founder of Taoism in China, author of Tao-te Ching. Its esoteric teachings of simplicity and selflessness shape Chinese life for 2,000 years and permeate the religions of Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
-599-527: Lifetime of Mahavira Vardhamana, 24th Tirthankara and revered renaissance Jain master. His teachings stress strict codes of vegetarianism, asceticism and nonviolence. (Some date his life 40 years later. )
-560: In Greece, Pythagoras teaches math, music, vegetarianism and yoga-drawing from India’s wisdom ways.
-551-478: Lifetime of Confucius, founder of Confucianist faith. His teachings on social ethics are the basis of Chinese education, ruling-classideology and religion.
-518: Darius I of Persia (present Iran) invades Indus Valley. This Zoroastrian king shows tolerance for local religions.
ca -500: Lifetime of Kapila, founder of Sankhya Darshana, one of six classical systems of Hindu philosophy.
ca -500: Dams to store water are constructed in India.
-500: World population is 100 million. India population is 25 million (15 million of whom live in the Ganga basin).
ca -500: Over the next 300 years (according to the later dating of Muller) numerous secondary Hindu scriptures (smriti) are composed: Shrauta Sutras, Grihya Sutras, Dharma Sutras, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas, etc.
Sangam Eraca -500: Tamil Sangam age (500 bce-500 ce) begins. Sage Agastya writes Agattiyam, first known Tamil grammar. Tolkappiyar writes Tolkappiyam Purananuru, also on grammar, stating that he is recording thoughts on poetry, rhetoric, etc., of earlier grammarians, pointing to high development of Tamil language prior to his day. He gives rules for absorbing Sanskrit words into Tamil. Other famous works from the Sangam age are the poetical collections Paripadal, Pattuppattu, Ettuthokai Purananuru, Akananuru, Aingurunuru, Padinenkilkanakku. Some refer to worship of Vishnu, Indra, Murugan and Supreme Siva.
ca -486: Ajatashatru (reign -486-45 ascends Magadha throne.
-480: Ajita, a nastika (atheist) who teaches a purely material explanation of life and that death is final, dies.
-478: Prince Vijaya, exiled by his father, King Sinhabahu, sails from Gujarat with 700 followers. Founds Singhalese kingdom in Sri Lanka. (Mahavamsa chronicle, ca 500.)
-450: Athenian philosopher Socrates flourishes (ca -470-400).
-428-348: Lifetime of Plato, Athenian disciple of Socrates. This great philosopher founds Athens Academy in -387.
ca -400: Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi. (Date accepted among most Western scholars.) ca -400: Lifetime of Hippocrates, Greek physician and “father of medicine,” formulates Hippocratic oath, code of medical ethics still pledged by present-day Western doctors. ca -350: Rainfall is measured by Indian scientists.
-326: Alexander the Great of Greece invades, but fails to conquer, Northern India. His soldiers mutiny. He leaves India the same year. Greeks who remain in India intermarry with Indians. Interchanges of philosophy influence both civilizations. Greek sculpture impacts Hindu styles. Bactria kingdoms later enhance Greek influence.
300: Chandragupta Maurya, founder of first pan-Indian empire (-324-184), defeats Greek garrisons of Seleucus, founder of Seleucan Empire in Persia and Syria. At its height under Emperor Ashoka (reign -273-232), the Mauryan Empire includes all India except the far South.
ca -302: Kautilya (Chanakya), minister to Chandragupta Maurya, writes Arthashastra, a compendium of laws, administrative procedures and political advice for running a kingdom. –
302: In Indica, Megasthenes, envoy to King Seleucus, reveals to Europe in colorful detail the wonders of Mauryan India: an opulent society with abundant agriculture, engineered irrigation and 7 castes: philosophers, farmers, soldiers, herdsmen, artisans, magistrates and counselors.
ca -300: Chinese discover cast iron, known in Europe by 1300 ce.
ca -300: Pancharatra Vaishnava sect is prominent. All later Vaishnava sects are based on the Pancharatra beliefs (formalized by Shandilya around 100 ce).
ca -300: Pandya kingdom (-300-1700 ce) of S. India is founded, constructs magnificent Minakshi temple at its capital, Madurai. Builds temples of Shrirangam and Rameshvaram, with its thousand-pillared hall (ca 1600 ce).
-297: Emperor Chandragupta abdicates to become a Jain monk.
-273: Ashoka (-273-232 reign), greatest Mauryan Emperor, grandson of Chandragupta, is coronated. Repudiating conquest throgh violence after his brutal invasion of Kalinga, 260 bce, he converts to Buddhism. Excels at public works and sends diplomatic peace missions to Persia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Crete, and Buddhist missions to Sri Lanka, China and other Southeast Asian countries. Under his influence, Buddhism becomes a world power. His work and teachings are preserved in Rock and Pillar Edicts (e.g., lion capital of the pillar at Sarnath, present-day India’s national emblem).
-251: Emperor Ashoka sends his son Mahendra (-270-204) to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he is to this day revered as the national faith’s founding missionary.
ca -250: Lifetime of Maharishi Nandinatha, first known satguru in the Kailasa Parampara of the Nandinatha Sampradaya. His eight disciples are Sanatkumar, Shanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Sivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Tirumular (Sundaranatha).
ca -221: Great Wall of China is built, ultimately 2,600 miles long, the only man-made object visible from the moon.
ca -200: Lifetime of Rishi Tirumular, shishya of Maharishi Nandinatha and author of the 3,047-verse Tirumantiram, a summation of Saiva Agamas and Vedas, and concise articulation of the Nandinatha Sampradaya teachings, founding South India’s monistic Saiva Siddhanta school.
ca -200: Lifetime of Patanjali, shishya of Nandinatha and gurubhai (brother monk) of Rishi Tirumular. He writes the Yoga Sutras at Chidambaram, in South India.
ca -200: Lifetime of Bhogar Rishi, one of eighteen Tamil siddhas. This mystic shapes from nine poisons the Palaniswami murti enshrined inpresent-day Palani Hills temple in South India. Bhogar is either from China or visits there.
ca -200: Lifetime of Sage Tiruvalluvar, poet-weaver who lived near present-day Madras, author of Tirukural, “Holy Couplets,” the classic Tamil work on ethics and statecraft (sworn on in today’s South Indian law courts).
ca -200: Jaimini writes the Mimamsa Sutras.
ca -150: Ajanta Buddhist Caves are begun near present-day Hyderabad. Construction of the 29 monasteries and galleries continues until approximately 650 ce. The famous murals are painted between 600 bce and 650 ce.
-145: The Chola Empire (-145-1300 ce) of Tamil Nadu is founded, rising from modest beginnings to a height of government organization and artistic accomplishment, including the development of enormous irrigation works.
-140: Emperor Wu begins three-year reign of China; worship of the Mother Goddess, Earth, attains importance.
-130: Reign ends of Menander (Milinda), Indo-Greek king who converts to Buddhism.
-58: Vikrama Samvat Era Hindu calendar begins.
-50: Kushana Empire begins (-50-220 ce). This Mongolian Buddhist dynasty rules most of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
ca -10: Ilangovadikal, son of King Cheralathan of the Tamil Sangam age, writes the outstanding epic Silappathikaram, classical Tamil treatise on music and dance. Western Calendar Begins. C.E. – Common Era -4: Jesus of Nazareth (-4-30 ce), founder of Christianity, is born in Bethlehem (current Biblical scholarship).
10: World population is 170 million. India population is 35 million: 20.5% of world.
ca 50: South Indians occupy Funan, Indochina. Kaundinya, an Indian brahmin, is first king. Shaivism is the state religion.
53: Legend records Saint Thomas’ death in Madras, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ and founder of the Church of the Syrian Malabar Christians (Syrian Rite) in Goa.
ca 60: Buddhism is introduced in China by Emperor Ming Di (reign: 58-76) after he converts to the faith. Brings two monks from India who erect temple at modern Honan. ca 75: A Gujarat prince named Ajishaka invades Java.
78: Shaka Hindu calendar begins.
ca 80: Jains divide, on points of rules for monks, into the Shvetambara, “white-clad,” and the Digambara, “sky-clad.”
ca 80-180: Lifetime of Charaka. Court physician of the Kushan king, he formulates a code of conduct for doctors of ayurveda and writes Charaka Samhita, a manual of medicine.
ca 100: Lifetime of Shandilya, first systematic promulgator of the ancient Pancharatra doctrines, whose Bhakti Sutras, devotional aphorisms on Vishnu, inspire a Vaishnava renaissance. The Samhita of Shandilya and his followers, the Pancharatra Agama, embody the chief doctrines of present-day Vaishnavas. By the 10th century the popular sect leaves permanent mark on many Hindu schools.
100: Zhang Qian of China establishes trade routes to India and as far west as Rome, later known as the “Silk Roads.”
105: Paper is invented in China.
117: The Roman Empire reaches its greatest extent.
125: Shatakarni (ca 106-130 reign) of Andhra’s Satavahana (-70-225) dynasty destroys Shaka kingdom of Gujarat.
ca 175: Greek astronomer Ptolemy, known as Asura Maya in India, explains solar astronomy, Surya Siddhanta, to Indian students of the science of the stars.
180: Mexican city of Teotihuacan has 100,000 population and covers 11 square miles. Grows to 250,000 by 500 ce.
ca 200: Lifetime of Lakulisha, famed guru who leads a reformist movement within Pashupata Saivism. ca 200: Hindu kingdoms established in Cambodia and Malaysia.
200-1400: Srivijaya Kingdom on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce while estimations range from the 200s to the 500s. The kingdom ceased to exist around 1400.
205-270: Lifetime of Plotinus, Egyptian-born monistic Greek philosopher and religious genius who transforms a revival of Platonism in the Roman Empire into what present-day scholars call Neoplatonism, which greatly influences Islamic and European thought. He teaches ahimsa, vegetarianism, karma, reincarnation and belief in a Supreme Being, both immanent and transcendent.
ca 250: Pallava dynasty (ca 250-885) is established in Tamil Nadu, responsible for building Kailasa Kamakshi Temple complex at their capital of Kanchi and the great 7th-century stone monuments at Mahabalipuram.
ca 275: Buddhist moastery Mahavihara is founded in Anuradhapura, capital of Sri Lanka.
Classical Age350: Imperial Gupta dynasty (320-540) flourishes. During this “Classical Age” norms of literature, art, architecture and philosophy are established. This North Indian empire promotes Vaishnavism and Saivism and,at its height, rules or receives tribute from nearly all India. Buddhism also thrives under tolerant Gupta rule.
ca 350: Lifetime of Kalidasa, the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, author of Shakuntala and Meghaduta. (The traditional date, offered by Prof. Subash Kak, is 50 bce.)
ca 350: Licchavi dynasty (ca 350-900) establishes Hindu rule in Nepal. Small kingdom becomes the major intellectual and commercial center between South and Central Asia
358: Huns, excellent archers and horsemen possibly of Turkish origin, invade Europe from the East.
375: Maharaja Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, greatest Hindu monarch, reigns to 413, expanding the prosperous Gupta empire northward beyond the Indus River.
391: Roman Emperor Theodosius destroys Greek Hellenistic temples in favor of Christianity.
ca 400: Laws of Manu (Manu Dharma Shastras) written. Its 2,685 verses codify cosmogony, four ashramas, government, domestic affairs, caste and morality (others date at -600).
ca 400: Polynesians sailing in open outrigger canoes reach as far as Hawaii and Easter Island.
ca 400: Shaturanga, Indian forerunner of chess, has evolved from Ashtapada, a board-based race game, into a four-handed war game played with a die. Later, in deference to the Laws of Manu, which forbid gambling, players discard the die and create Shatranj, a two-sided strategy game.
ca 400: Vatsyayana writes Kamasutra, famous text on erotics.
419: Moche people of Peru build a Sun temple 150 feet high using 50 million bricks.
438-45: Council of Ferrara-Florence, Italy, strengthens Roman Catholic stance against doctrine of reincarnation.
ca 440: Ajanta cave frescoes (long before Islam) depict Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, wearing “chudidara pyjama” and a prototype of the present-day “Nehru shirt.”
450-535: Life of Bodhidharma of South India, 28th patriarch of India’s Dhyana Buddhist sect, founder of Ch’an Buddhism in China (520), known as Zen in Japan.
ca 450: Hephtalite invasions (ca 450-565) take a great toll in North India. These “white Huns” (or Hunas) from China are probably not related to Europe’s Hun invaders.
ca 450: As the Gupta Empire declines, Indian sculptural style evolves and continues until the 16th century. The trend is away from the swelling modeled forms of the Gupta period toward increasing flatness and linearity.
453: Attila the Hun dies after lifetime of plundering Europe.
499: Aryabhata I (476-ca 550), Indian astronomer and mathematician, using Hindu (aka Arabic) numerals accurately calculates pi () to 3.1416, and the solar year to 365.3586805 days. A thousand years before Copernicus, Aryabhata propounds a heliocentric universe with elliptically orbiting planets and a spherical Earth spinning on its axis, explaining the apparent rotation of the heavens. Writes Aryabhatiya, history’s first exposition on plane and spherical trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic.
ca 500: Mahavamsa, chronicling Sri Lankan history from -500 is written in Pali, probably by Buddhist monk Mahanama. A sequel, Chulavamsha, continues the history to 1500.
ca 500: Sectarian folk traditions are revised, elaborated and reduced to writing as the Puranas, Hinduism’s encyclopedic compendium of culture and mythology.
500: World population is 190 million. India population is 50 million: 26.3% of world.
510 Hephthalite Mihirakula from beyond Oxus River crushes imperial Gupta power. Soon controls much of North-Central India.
ca 533 Yasovarman of Malva and Isanavarman of Kanauj defeat and expel the Hephthalites from North India.
ca 543 Pulakesin I founds Chalukya Dynasty (ca 543 – 757; 975 – 1189) in Gujarat and later in larger areas of West India.
548 Emperor Kimmei officially recognizes Buddhism in Japan by accepting a gift image of Buddha from Korea.
553 Council of Constantinople II denies doctrine of soul’s existence before conception, implying that reincarnation is incompatible with Christian belief.
565 The Turks and Persians defeat the Hephthalites.
570 – 632 Lifetime of Mohammed of the Quraysh Bedouin tribe, founder of Islam. Begins to preach in Mecca, calling for an end to the “demons and idols” of Arab religion and conversion to the ways of the one God, Allah.
ca 590 – 671 Lifetime of Saiva saint Nayanar Tirunavukkarasu, born into a farmer family at Amur, now in South Arcot, Tamil Nadu. He writes 312 songs, totalling 3,066 Tirumurai verses. Cleaning the grounds of every temple he visits, he exemplifies truly humble service to Lord Siva. His contemporary, the child-saint Nayanar Sambandar, addresses him affectionately as Appar, “Father.”
ca 598 – 665 Lifetime of Brahmagupta, pre-eminent Indian astronomer, who writes on gravity and sets forth the Hindu astronomical system in his Brahma Sphuta Siddhanta. Two of 25 chapters are on sophisticated mathematics.
ca 600 Religiously tolerant Pallava king Narasinhavarman builds China Pagoda, a Buddhist temple, at the Nagapatam port for Chinese merchants and visiting monks.
ca 600 – 900 Twelve Vaishnava Alvar saints of Tamil Nadu flourish, writing 4,000 songs and poems (assembled in their canon Nalayira Divya Prabandham) praising Narayana, Rama and narrating the affairs of Krishna and the gopis.
ca 600 Life of Banabhatta, Shakta master of Sanskrit prose, author of Harshacharita (Story of Harsha) and Kadambari.
606 Buddhist Harshavardhana, reigning 606 – 644, establishes first great kingdom after the Hephthalite invasions, eventually ruling all India to the Narmada River in the South.
ca 610 Mohammed begins prophecies, flees to Mecca in 622.
ca 630 Vagbhata writes Ashtanga Sangraha on ayurveda.
630 – 34 Chalukya Pulakesin II becomes Lord of South India by defeating Harshavardhana, Lord of the North.
630 – 44 Chinese pilgrim Hsuen Tsang (Xuan-zang) travels in India, recording his copious observations. Population of Varanasi is 10,000, mostly Saiva. Nalanda Buddhist university (his biographer writes) has 10,000 residents, including 1,510 teachers, and thousands of manuscripts. (Alternate date: 100.)
641 – 45 Arab Muslims conquer Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.
ca 650 Lifetime of Nayanar Saiva saint Tirujnana Sambandar. Born a brahmin in Tanjavur, he writes 384 songs totalling 4,158 verses that make up the first three books of Tirumurai. At 16, he disappears into the sanctum of Nallur temple, near Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu.
ca 650 More than 60 Chinese monks have traveled to India and her colonies. Four hundred Sanskrit works have been translated into Chinese; 380 survive to the present day.
686 – 705 Reign of Pallava king Rajasinha. He inherits the stone-carving legacy of Emperor Mahendra and his son, Narasinha, who began the extensive sculptural works in the thriving seaport of Mahabalipuram.
ca 700 Over the next hundred years the 2,095-square-mile Indonesian island of Bali receives Hinduism from its neighbor, Java.
712 Muslims conquer Sind region (Pakistan), setting up base for pillaging expeditions that drain North India’s wealth.
732 Franks prevent Muslim conquest of Europe, stopping Arabs at Poitiers, France, northwest limit of Arab penetration.
739 Chalukya armies beat back Arab Muslim invasions at Navasari in modern Maharashtra.
ca 750 – 1159 Pala dynasty arises in Bihar and Bengal, last royal patrons of Buddhism, which they help establish in Tibet.
ca 750 Rashtrakuta dynasty carves Kailasa temple out of a rock hill at Ellora.
ca 750 A Hindu astronomer and mathematician in Baghdad translates into Arabic Brahmagupta’s Brahma Sphuta Siddhanta (treatise on astronomy), transmitting decimal notation and use of zero to the Arab world.
ca 750 Lifetime of Bhavabhuti, Sanskrit dramatist, second only to Kalidasa. Writes Malati-Madhava, a Shakta work.
ca 750 Valmiki writes 29,000-verse Yoga Vasishtha.
ca 750 A necklace timepiece, kadikaram in Tamil, is worn by an emperor (according to scholar M. Arunachalam).
788 Adi Sankara (788 – 820) is born in Malabar. The famous Smarta monk-philosopher writes mystic poems and scriptural commentaries, including Viveka Chudamani, and regularizes ten monastic orders called Dashanami. Preaches Mayavada Advaita, emphasizing the world as illusion and God as the sole Reality.
ca 800 Bhakti revival curtails Buddhism in South India. In the North, Buddha is revered as Vishnu’s 9th incarnation.
ca 800 Life of Nammalvar, greatest of Alvar saints. His poems shape beliefs of Southern Vaishnavas to the present day.
ca 800 Lifetime of Vasugupta, modern founder of Kashmir Saivism, a monistic, meditative school.
ca 800 Lifetime (by later dating) of Auvaiyar, saint of Tamil Nadu, Ganesha devotee, author of Auvai Kural. She is associated with the Lambika kundalini school. (An earlier strong traditional date for Auvaiyar of 200 BCE is from a story about her and Saint Tiruvalluvar as contemporaries. A third reference places her around 1000. Auvaiyar means “venerable, learned lady;” some believe there were three different Auvaiyars.)
ca 800 Lifetime of Karaikkalammaiyar, one of the 63 Saiva saints of Tamil Nadu. Her mystical, yogic hymns, preserved in Tirumurai, remain popular to the present day.
ca 800 Lifetime of Andal, girl saint of Tamil Nadu. Writes devotional poetry to Lord Krishna, disappears at age 16.
ca 825 Nayanar Tamil saint Sundarar is born into a family of Adishaiva temple priests in Tirunavalur in present-day South Arcot. His 100 songs in praise of Siva (the only ones surviving of his 38,000 songs) make up Tirumurai book 7. His Tiru Tondattohai poem, naming the Saiva saints, is the basis for Saint Sekkilar’s Periyapuranam.
ca 825 Vasugupta discovers the rock-engraved Siva Sutras.
846 Vijayalaya re-establishes his Chola dynasty, which over the next 100 years grows and strengthens into one of the greatest South Indian Empires ever known.
ca 850 Shri Vaishnava sect established in Tamil Nadu by Acharya Nathamuni, forerunner of the great theologian Ramanuja.
ca 850 Life of Manikkavasagar, Saiva Samayacharya saint, born in Tiruvadavur, near Madurai, into a Tamil brahmin family. Writes famed Tiruvasagam, 51 poems of 656 verses in 3,394 lines, chronicling the soul’s evolution to God Siva. Tirupalli-eluchi and Tiruvembavai are classic examples of his innovative style of devotional songs.
875 Muslim conquests extend from Spain to Indus Valley.
885 Cholas kill Aparajita, king of the Pallavas, in battle.
ca 900 Lifetime of Matsyendranatha, exponent of the Natha sect emphasizing kundalini yoga practices.
ca 900 Under the Hindu Malla dynasty (ca 900 – 1700) of Nepal, legal and social codes influenced by Hinduism are introduced. Nepal is broken into several principalities.
ca 900 – 1001 Lifetime of Sembiyan Ma Devi, queen of Maharaja Gandaraditta Chola from 950 to 957. A loyal patron of Saivism, she builds ten temples and inspires and influences her grand-nephew, son of Sundara Chola, who as King Rajaraja I becomes a great temple-builder.
900 Mataramas dynasty in Indonesia reverts to Saivism after a century of Buddhism, building 150 Saiva temples.
ca 950 Lifetime of Gorakshanatha, Natha yogi who founds the order of Kanphatha Yogis and Gorakshanatha Saivism, the philosophical school called Siddha Siddhanta.
ca 950 – 1015 Lifetime of Kashmir Saiva guru Abhinavagupta.
960 Chola king Vira, after having a vision of Siva Nataraja, commences enlargement of the Siva temple at Chidambaram, including the construction of the gold-roofed shrine. The enlargement is completed in 1250 CE.
985 Rajaraja I (reign 985 – 1014) ascends the South Indian Chola throne and ushers in a new age of temple architecture exemplified at Tanjavur, Darasuram, Tirubhuvanam and Chidambaram. Pallava architectural influences (dominant vimanas, inconspicuous gopuras) fade.
Medieval Periodca 1000 Gorakshanatha writes Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, “Tracks on the Doctrines of the Adepts.” In 353 verses he explains the nature of God and universe, structure of chakras, kundalini force and methods for realization.
1000 World population is 265 million. India’s is 79 million, 29.8 percent of world.
ca 1000 Vikings reach North America, landing in Nova Scotia.
ca 1000 Polynesians arrive in New Zealand, in the last stage in the greatest migration and navigational feat in history, making them the most widely spread race on the planet.
1001 Turkish Muslims sweep through the Northwest under Mahmud of Ghazni, defeating Jayapala of Hindu Shahi Dynasty of South Afghanisthan and Punjab at Peshawar. This is the first major Muslim conquest in India.
ca 1010 Tirumurai, Tamil devotional hymns of Saiva saints, is collected as an anthology by Nambiandar Nambi.
1017 Mahmud of Ghazni sacks Mathura, birthplace of Lord Krishna, and establishes a mosque on the site during one of his 17 Indian invasions for holy war and plunder.
1017 – 1137 Life of Ramanuja of Kanchipuram, Tamil philosopher-saint of Shri Vaishnava sect that continues bhakti tradition of South Indian Alvar saints. His strongly theistic, nondual Vishishtadvaita Vedanta philosophy restates Pancharatra tradition. Foremost opponent of Sankara’s system, he dies at age 120 while head of Srirangam monastery.
1018 – 1060 Lifetime of Bhojadeva Paramara, Gujarati king, poet, artist and monistic Saiva Siddhanta theologian.
1024 Mahmud of Ghazni plunders Somanath Siva temple, destroying the Sivalinga and killing 50,000 Hindu defenders. He later builds a mosque on the remaining walls.
1025 Chola ruler Maharaja Rajendra I sends victorious naval expeditions to Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, initiating decline of Mahayana Buddhist empire of Srivijaya.
ca 1040 Chinese invent the compass and moveable type and perfect the use of gunpowder, first invented and used in India as an explosive mixture of saltpetre, sulfur and charcoal to power guns, cannons and artillery.
ca 1050 Lifetime of Srikantha, promulgator of Siva Advaita, a major philosophical school of Saivism.
ca 1130 – 1200 Lifetime of Nimbarka, Telugu founder of the Vaishnava Nimandi sect holding dvaitadvaita, dual-nondual, philosophy. He introduces the worship of Krishna together with consort Radha. (Present-day Nimavats revere Lord Vishnu Himself, in the form of the Hamsa Avatara, as the originator of their sect.)
ca 1130 Lifetime of Sekkilar, Tamil chief minister under Chola Emperor Kulottunga II (reign 1133 – 1150) and author of Periyapuranam, 4,286-verse epic hagiography of the 63 Saiva saints, which is book 12 of the Tirumurai.
ca 1150 Life of Basavanna, renaissance guru of the Vira Saiva sect, stressing free will, equality, service to humanity and worship of the Sivalinga worn around the neck.
ca 1150 Khmer ruler Suryavarman II completes Angkor Wat temple (in present-day Cambodia), where his body is later entombed and worshiped as an embodiment of Vishnu. This largest Hindu temple in Asia is 12 miles in circumference, with a 200-foot high central tower.
ca 1162 Mahadevi is born, Saiva ascetic saint of Karnataka. She wrote 350 majestic and mystical poems.
1175 Toltec Empire of Mexico crumbles.
1185 Mohammed of Ghur conquers Punjab and Lahore.
1191 Eisai founds Rinzai Zen sect in Japan after study in China.
1193 Qutb ud-Din Aybak, a freed slave and first Muslim Sultan of Delhi, establishes Mamluk Dynasty (1193 – 1290).
1197 Great Buddhist university of Nalanda is destroyed by Muslim Ikhtiyar uddin.
1200 All of North India is now under Muslim domination.
1200 India population reaches 80 million.
ca 1200 An unknown author writes Yoga Yajnavalkya.
1215 King John is forced to grant the Magna Carta, giving greater rights to the people of England.
1227 Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan, conqueror of a vast area from North China to Iran and Central Asia, the largest empire the world has yet seen, dies.
1230 – 60 Surya temple is constructed at Konarak, Orissa.
1238 – 1317 Lifetime of Ananda Tirtha Madhva, venerable Vaishnava dualist and opponent of Shankara’s Mayavadin Advaita philosophy. He composes 37 works and founds the Dvaita Vedanta school, the Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya and its eight monasteries, ashtamatha, in Udupi.
ca 1250 Lifetime of Meykandar, Saiva saint who founds the Meykandar school of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta. His 12-sutra Sivajnanabodham becomes the core scripture.
1260 Meister Eckhart, the German mystic, is born.
1268 – 1369 Lifetime of Vedanta Desikar, gifted Tamil scholar and poet who founds the Vadakalai, a sect of Vaishnavism headquartered at Kanchipuram.
1270 – 1350 Lifetime of Namadeva, foremost poet-saint of Maharashtra’s Varkari (“pilgrim”) Vaishnava school, disciple of Jnanadeva. He and his family compose a million verses in praise of Lord Vithoba (Vishnu).
1272 Marco Polo visits India en route to China.
1274 Council of Lyons II declares that souls go immediately to heaven, purgatory or hell; interpreted by Catholic fathers as condemning the doctrine of reincarnation.
1275 – 96 Lifetime of Jnanadeva, Natha-trained Vaishnava saint, founder of the Varkari school, who writes Jnaneshvari, a Marathi verse commentary on Bhagavad Gita, which becomes Maharashtra’s most popular book.
1279 Muktabai is born, Maharashtran Varkari saint and Natha yogini, known for her 100 sacred verses.
1280 Mongol (Yuan) dynasty (1280 – 136 installed in China, under which the bulk of translation of works from Sanskrit into Chinese is completed.
1296 Ala-ud-din, second sultan of the Khilji dynasty, rules most of India after his General Kafur conquers the South, extending Muslim dominion all the way to Rameshwaram.
ca 1300 Lifetime of Janabai, Maharashtran Varkari Vaishnava woman saint who writes a portion of Namadeva’s million verses to Vithoba (Vishnu).
ca 1300 The Ananda Samucchhaya is written, 277 stanzas on hatha yoga, with discussion of the chakras and nadis.
1300 Muslim conquerors reach Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) at the southernmost tip of India and build a mosque there.
1317 – 72 Life of Lalla of Kashmir, Saiva renunciate and mystic poet. She contributes significantly to the Kashmiri language.
1336 Vijayanagara Empire (1336 – 1646) of South India is founded. European visitors are impressed by the opulence and sophistication of its 17-square-mile capital.
1345 Aztecs establish advanced civilization in Mexico.
1346 – 90 Life of Krittivasa, translator of Ramayana into Bengali.
1347 Plague called the Black Death spreads rapidly, killing 75 million worldwide before receding in 1351.
ca 1350 Svatmarama writes Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
ca 1350 Lifetime of Appaya Dikshita, South Indian philosopher-saint whose writings reconcile Vaishnavism and Saivism. He advances Siva Advaita and other Saiva schools and compiles a temple priests’ manual still used today.
1398 Tamerlane (Timur) invades India with 90,000 cavalry and sacks Delhi because its Muslim ruler was too tolerant of Hindu idolatry. A Mongolian admirer of Sufism, he was one of the most ruthless of all conquerors.
1399 Haridwar, Ganga pilgrimage town, is sacked by Timur.
ca 1400 Goraksha Upanishad is written.
1414 Hindu prince Paramesvara of Malaysia converts to Islam.
1414 – 80 Life of Gujarati Vaishnava poet-saint Narasinha Mehta.
1415 Bengali poet-singer Baru Chandidas writes Shrikrishnakirtana, a collection of exquisite songs praising Krishna.
1429 Joan of Arc, age 17, leads French to victory over English.
ca 1433 China cloisters itself from the outside world by banning further voyages to the West, forming the first “bamboo curtain.”
1440 – 1518 Lifetime of Kabir, Vaishnava reformer who has both Muslim and Hindu followers. (His Hindi songs remain immensely popular to the present day.)
ca 1440 Johannes Gutenberg (ca 1400 – 146 invents the West’s first moveable-type printing press in Germany.
1450? – 1547 Lifetime of Mirabai, Vaishnava Rajput princess saint who, married at an early age to the rana of Udaipur, devotes herself to Krishna and later renounces worldly life to wander through India singing to Him beautiful mystic compositions that are sung to the present day.
1469 – 1538 Lifetime of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, originally a reformist Hindu sect stressing devotion, faith in the guru, repetition of God’s name and rejection of renunciation and caste. (Most present-day Sikhs consider themselves members of a separate religion.)
1478 Spanish Inquisition begins. Over the next 20 years, Christians burn several thousand persons at the stake.
1479 – 1531 Lifetime of Vallabhacharya, a married Telugu brahmin saint who teaches pushtimarga, “path of love,” and a lofty nondual philosophy, Shuddhadvaita Vedanta, in which souls are eternally one with Brahman. Vallabhacharya’s Vaishnavism worships Krishna in the form of Shri Nathji.
1483 – 1563 Lifetime of Surdas, sightless Hindi bard of Agra, whose hymns to Krishna are collected in the Sursagar.
1486 – 1543 Life of Chaitanya, Bengali founder of popular Vaishnava sect which proclaims Krishna Supreme God and emphasizes sankirtan, group chanting and dancing.
1492 Looking for India, Christopher Columbus lands on San Salvador island in the Caribbean, thus “discovering” the Americas and proving the Earth is round, not flat.
1498 Portugal’s Vasco da Gama sails around Cape of Good Hope to Calcutta, first European to find sea route to India. Portuguese Catholics soon capture Goa (1510) and other places, beginning conquest and exploitation of India by Europeans.
ca 1500 Life of Arunagirinathar, Tamil saint, author of Tiruppugal hymns; emphasizes feeding the hungry during a time of Muslim oppression and disrupted family life.
ca 1500 Buddhist and Saiva Hindu princes are forced off Java by invading Muslims. They resettle on neighboring Bali, with their overlapping priesthoods and vast royal courts: poets, dancers, musicians and artisans. Within 100 years they construct what many call a fairytale kingdom.
1500 World population 425 million; 105 million live in India.
1503 – 1566 Lifetime of Nostradamus, French physician and astrologer who wrote Centuries (1555), a book of prophecies.
1509 – 1529 Reign of Maharaja Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire in Andhra Pradesh.
1510 Portuguese Catholics conquer Goa to serve as capital of their Asian maritime empire, beginning conquest and exploitation of India by Europeans.
1517 Luther begins Protestant Reformation in Europe.
ca 1520 Poet-saint Purandardas (1480 – 1564) of the Vijayanagara court systematizes Karnatik music.
Muslim Invasions1526 Mughal conqueror Babur (1483 – 1530) defeats the Sultan of Delhi and captures the Koh-i-noor diamond. Occupying Delhi, by 1529 he founds the Indian Mughal Empire (1526 – 1761), consolidated by his grandson Akbar.
1528 Emperor Babur destroys temple at Lord Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya, erects Babri Masjid (mosque).
1532 – 1623 Life of monk-poet Tulsidas, author of Ramacharitamanasa (1574-77) (based on Ramayana). It advances Rama worship in the North.
1542 Spanish Jesuit priest Francis Xavier (1506 – 1552), most successful Catholic missionary, lands in Goa. First to train and employ native clergy in conversion efforts, he brings Catholicism to India, Malay Archipelago and Japan.
1544 – 1603 Life of Dadu, ascetic saint of Gujarat, founder of Dadupantha, which is guided by his Bani poems in Hindi.
1556 Akbar (1542 – 1605), grandson of Babur, becomes third Mughal Emperor at age 13. Disestablishes Islam as state religion and declares himself impartial ruler of Hindus and Muslims; encourages art, culture, religious tolerance.
1565 Muslim forces defeat and utterly destroy the city of Vijayanagara. Empire finally collapses in 1646.
1565 Polish astronomer Copernicus’ (1473 – 1543) heliocentric system, in which Earth orbits the sun, gains popularity in Europe among astronomers and mathematicians. (See Aryabhata, 499.)
1569 Akbar captures fortress of Ranthambor, ending Rajput independence. Soon controls nearly all of Rajasthan.
ca 1570 Ekanatha (1533-99), Varkari Vaishnava saint and mystic composer, edits Jnanadeva’s Jnaneshvari and translates Bhagavata Purana, advancing Marathi language.
1588 British Navy destroys the Spanish Armada off the coast of Calais, France, to become rulers of the high seas.
1589 Akbar rules half of India, shows tolerance for all faiths.
1595 Construction is begun on Chidambaram Temple’s Hall of a Thousand Pillars in South India, completed in 1685.
ca 1600 “Persian wheel” to lift water by oxen is adopted, one of few farming innovations since Indus Valley civilization.
1600 Royal Charter forms the East India Company, setting in motion a process that ultimately results in the subjugation of India under British rule.
1603 – 4 Guru Arjun compiles Adi Granth, Sikh scripture.
1605 Akbar the Great dies at age 63. His son Jahangir succeeds him as fourth Mughal Emperor.
1605 Sikh Golden Temple (Harimandir) at Amritsar, Punjab, is finished; covered with gold leaf two centuries later.
1608 – 49 Lifetime of Tukaram, beloved Varkari sant famed for his abhangas, “unbroken hymns,” to Krishna. Considered greatest Marathi spiritual composer.
1608 – 81 Lifetime of Ramdas, mystic poet, Sivaji’s guru, Marathi saint, who gives Hindus the dhvaja, saffron flag.
1610 Galileo of Italy (1564 – 1642) perfects the telescope and with it confirms the Copernican theory. Catholic Inquisition condemns him a heretic for his assertions.
1613 – 14 British East India Company sets up trading post at Surat.
1615 – 18 Mughals grant Britain right to trade and establish factories in consideration for English navy’s protection of the Mughal Empire against Portuguese sea power.
1619 Jaffna kingdom is annexed and Sri Lanka’s ruling dynasty deposed by Portuguese Catholics who, between 1505 and 1658, destroy most of the island’s Hindu temples.
1619 First black slaves from Africa are sold in Virginia.
1620 English pilgrims land and settle at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.
1627 – 80 Life of Sivaji, valiant general and tolerant founder of Hindu Maratha Empire (1674 – 181. Emancipates large areas confiscated by Muslims, returning them to Hindu control. First Indian ruler to build a major naval force.
ca 1628 – 88 Lifetime of Kumaraguruparar, prolific poet-saint of Tamil Nadu who founds monastery in Varanasi to propound Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.
1630 Over the next two years, millions starve to death as Shah Jahan (1592 – 1666), fifth Mughal Emperor, drains the royal treasury to buy jewels for his “Peacock Throne.”
1647 Shah Jahan completes Taj Mahal in Agra on the Yamuna River. Its construction has taken 20,000 laborers 15 years, at a total cost equivalence of US%25 million.
1649 Red Fort is completed in Delhi by Shah Jahan.
ca 1650 Dharmapura Aadheenam, Saiva monastery, founded near Mayuram, South India, by Guru Jnanasambandar.
ca 1650 Robert de Nobili (1577 – 1656), Italian Jesuit missionary noted for fervor and intolerance, arrives in Madurai, declares himself a brahmin, dresses like a Hindu monk. He is credited with composing a Veda-like Sanskrit scripture extolling Jesus.
ca 1650 Two yoga classics, Siva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita, are written.
1654 A Tamil karttanam is written and sung to celebrate recovery installation of the Tiruchendur Murugan murti.
1658 Zealous Muslim Aurangzeb (1618 – 1707) becomes Mughal Emperor. His discriminatory policies toward Hindus, Marathas and the Deccan kingdoms contribute to the dissolution of the Mughal Empire by 1750.
1660 Frenchman Franchois Bernier reports India’s peasantry is living in misery under Mughal rule.
1664 Great Plague of London kills 70,000, 15 percent of population.
1675 Aurangzeb executes Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur, beginning the Sikh-Muslim feud that continues to this day.
1679 Aurangzeb levies jizya tax on non-believers, Hindus.
1680 – 1747 Lifetime of Italian Jesuit missionary Costanzio Beschi, who preached for 36 years in Tamil Nadu. Under the name of Viramamunivar, he lived in Indian fashion and attained proficiency in the Tamil language. His long poem Tembavani retells Biblical stories in ornate style.
1682 – 1722 Peter the Great rules in Russia.
1688 Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb demolishes all temples in Mathura, said to number 1,000. (During their 500-year reign, Muslim rulers destroy roughly 60,000 Hindu temples throughout India, constructing mosques on 3,000 of those sites.)
1700 World population is 610 million. India population is 165 million: 27 percent of world.
ca 1770 – 1840 Life of the Rishi from the Himalayas, guru of Kadaitswami and first historically known satguru of the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara since Tirumular.
1705 – 42 Lifetime of Tayumanavar, Tamil Saiva poet-saint and devotional yogic philosopher of Tiruchirappalli.
1708 Govind Singh, tenth and last Sikh guru, is assassinated.
1708 – 37 Jai Singh II builds astronomical observatories in Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Benares and Mathura.
1718 – 75 Lifetime of Ramprasad, Bengali Shakta poet-saint.
ca 1725 Jesuit Father Hanxleden compiles the first Sanskrit grammar in a European language.
ca 1750 Shakta songs of Bengali poets Ramprasad Sen and Kamalakanta Bhattacharya glorify Her as loving Mother and Daughter and stimulate a rise in devotional Shaktism.
1751 Robert Clive, age 26, seizes Arcot in modern Tamil Nadu as French and British fight for control of South India.
1760 Saiva sannyasis fight Vaishnava vairagis in tragic battle at Hardwar Kumbha Mela; 18,000 monks are killed.
1760 Israel ben Eliezer (Besht), liberal founder of Hasidic Judaism, dies.
1761 Afghan army of Ahmad Shah Durrani routs Hindu Maratha forces at Panipat, ending Maratha hegemony in North India. As many as 200,000 Hindus are said to have died in the decisive eight-hour battle.
1764 British defeat the weak Mughal Emperor and gain full control of Bengal, richest province of India.
1769 Prithivi Narayan Shah, ruler of Gorkha principality, conquers the Nepal Valley and moves capital to Kathmandu, establishing the present-day Hindu nation of Nepal.
1773 British East India Company obtains monopoly on the production and sale of opium in Bengal.
ca 1780 – 1830 Golden era of Karnatic music. Composers include Sastri Tyagaraja Swamigal, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sama Sastri.
1781 George Washington routs British at Yorktown, Virginia.
1781 – 1830 Lifetime of Sahajanandaswami, Gujarati founder of the Swaminarayan sect (with 1.5 million followers today).
1784 Judge and linguist Sir William Jones founds Calcutta’s Royal Asiatic Society. First such scholastic institution.
1786 Sir William Jones uses the Rig Veda term Aryan (“noble”) to name the parent language of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Germanic tongues. Nostratic is a more recent term for this hypothetical parent language of Indo-European and certain other languages previously deemed totally unrelated.
1787 – 95 British Parliament impeaches Warren Hastings, Governor General of Bengal (1774 – 85) for misconduct.
1787 British Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is formed, marking the beginning of the end of slavery.
1789 French Revolution begins with storming of the Bastille.
1792 Britain’s Lord Cornwallis, Governor General of India, defeats Tipu Sahib, Sultan of Mysore and most powerful ruler in South India, main bulwark of resistance to British expansion in India.
1793 Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin in the US, vastly increasing cotton production, proliferating slavery required to process it.
1796 Over two million worshipers compete for sacred Ganga bath at Kumbha Mela in Hardwar. Five thousand Saiva ascetics are killed in tragic clash with Sikh ascetics.
1799 Sultan Tipu is killed in battle against 5,000 British soldiers who storm and raze his capital, Srirangapattinam.
1803 Second Anglo-Maratha war results in British Christian capture of Delhi and control of large parts of India.
1803 India’s population estimated at 200 million.
1803 – 82 Lifetime of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet who helps popularize Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads in US.
1804 – 91 Lifetime of renaissance guru Kadaitswami, born near Bangalore, sent to Sri Lanka by the Rishi from the Himalayas to strengthen Saivism against Catholic incursion.
1807 Importation of slaves is banned in the US through an act of Congress motioned by Thomas Jefferson.
1809 British strike a bargain with Ranjit Singh for exclusive areas of influence.
1812 Napoleon’s Grand Army retreats from Moscow. Out of a 500,000-strong invasion force only 20,000 survive.
1814 First practical steam locomotive is built.
1817 – 92 Lifetime of Bahaullah, Mirza Husayn ‘Ali, founder of Baha’i faith (1863), a major off-shoot religion of Islam.
1818 – 78 Lifetime of Sivadayal, renaissance founder of the esoteric reformist Radhasoami Vaishnava sect in Agra.
1820 First Indian immigrants arrive in the US.
1822 – 79 Life of Arumuga Navalar of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, renaissance activist who propounds Advaita Siddhanta, writes first Hindu catechism and translates Bible into Tamil to enable Hindus a faithful comparison to the Vedas and Agamas.
1823 – 74 Life of Ramalingaswami, Tamil saint, renaissance founder of Vadalur’s “Hall of Wisdom for Universal Worship.”
1824 – 83 Lifetime of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, renaissance founder of Arya Samaj (1875), Hindu reformist movement stressing a return to the values and practices of the Vedas. Author of Satya Prakash, “Light on Truth.”
1825 First massive emigration of Indian contract workers from Chennai is to Reunion and Mauritius islands.
1828 Ram Mohan Roy (1772 – 1833) founds Adi Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta. Influenced by Islam and Christianity, he denounces polytheism, idol worship; repudiates the Vedas, avataras, karma and reincarnation, caste and more.
1831 – 91 Lifetime of Russian mystic Madame H.P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophical Society in 1875, bringing aspects of psychism, Buddhism and Hinduism to the West.
1831 British Christians defeat Ranjit Singh’s forces at Balakot, in Sikh attempt to establish a homeland in N.W. India.
1833 Slavery is abolished in British Commonwealth countries, giving impetus to abolitionists in United States.
1834 – 79 Lifetime of Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy, brings Saiva Siddhanta to England, is first Asian knighted by Queen Victoria. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy is his son.
1835 Macaulay’s Minute furthers Western education in India. English is made official government and court language.
1835 Mauritius receives 19,000 immigrant indentured laborers from India. Last ship carrying workers arrives in 1922.
1836 – 86 Lifetime of Sri Paramahansa Ramakrishna, God-intoxicated Bengali Shakta saint, guru of Swami Vivekananda. He exemplifies the bhakti dimension of Shakta Universalism.
1837 Britain formalizes emigration of Indian indentured laborers to supply cheap labor under a system more morally acceptable to British Christian society than slavery, declared illegal in the British Empire in 1833.
1837 Kali-worshiping Thugees are suppressed by British.
1838 British Guyana receives its first 250 Indian laborers.
1838 – 84 Life of Keshab Chandra Sen, Hindu reformer who founds Brahma Samaj of India, a radical offshoot of the Adi Brahmo Samaj of Ram Mohan Roy.
1840 – 1915 Lifetime of Satguru Chellappaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, initiated at age 19 by Siddha Kadaitswami as next satguru in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1840 Joseph de Gobineau (1816 – 1882), French sociologist, writes The Inequality of Human Races. Proclaims the “Aryan race” superior to other great strains and lays down the aristocratic class-doctrine of Aryanism that later provides the basis for Adolf Hitler’s Aryan racism.
1841 First US chair of Sanskrit and Indology established at Yale University; American Oriental Society founded in 1842.
1842 – 1901 Life of Eknath Ranade, founder of Prarthana Samaj. His social-reform thinking inspires Gokhale and Gandhi.
British Colonization1843 British conquer the Sind region (present-day Pakistan).
1845 Trinidad receives its first 197 Indian immigrant laborers.
1846 British forcibly separate Kashmir from the Sikhs and sell it to the maharaja of Jammu for £1,000,000.
1849 Sikh army is routed by the British at Amritsar.
1850 First English translation of the Rig Veda by H.H. Wilson, first holder of Oxford’s Boden Chair, founded “to promote the translation of the Scriptures into English, so as to enable his countrymen to proceed in the conversion of the natives of India to the Christian religion.”
1851 Sir M. Monier-Williams (1819 – 99) publishes English-Sanskrit Dictionary. His completed Sanskrit-English Dictionary is released after three decades of work in 1899, weeks after his death.
1853 – 1920 Lifetime of Sri Sarada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna.
1853 Max Muller (1823 – 1900), German Christian Orientalist in England, advocates the term Aryan to name a hypothetical primitive people of Central Asia, the common ancestors of Hindus, Persians and Greeks. Muller speculates that this “Aryan race” divided and marched West to Europe and East to India and China around 1500 BCE. Their language, Muller avers, developed into Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Germanic, etc., and all ancient civilizations descended primarily from this Aryan race.
1856 Catholic missionary Bishop Caldwell coins the term Dravidian to refer to South Indian Caucasian peoples.
1857 First Indian Revolution, the “Sepoy Mutiny” (native troops of the Army of the East India Company), is quashed within months as the British retake Delhi, then inflict bloody retribution and plunder throughout North India for atrocities at Kanpur. Britain introduces direct rule through the India Office, a British department of state – ending the 100-year reign of the East India Company.
1858 India has 200 miles of railroad. By 1869 5,000 miles of steel track are installed by British railroad companies. In 1900, total track is 25,000 miles, and by World War I, 35,000 miles. By 1970, at 62,136 miles, it is the world’s greatest train system. Unfortunately, this vastly depletes India’s forests.
1859 Charles Darwin publishes controversial book, The Origin of Species, propounding his “natural selection” theory of evolution and laying the foundations of modern biology.
1860 S/S Truro and S/S Belvedere dock in Durban, S. Africa, carrying first indentured servants (from Chennai and Calcutta) to work sugar plantations. With contracts of five years and up, thousands emigrate over next 51 years.
1861 American Civil War begins in Charleston, S. Carolina.
1861 – 1941 Lifetime of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
1863 – 1902 Life of Swami Vivekananda, dynamic renaissance missionary to West and catalyst of Hindu revival in India.
1869 – 1948 Lifetime of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian nationalist and Hindu political activist who develops the strategy of nonviolent disobedience that forces Christian Great Britain to grant independence to India (1947).
1870 Doctrine of papal infallibility is asserted by the Vatican.
1872 – 1964 Lifetime of Satguru Yogaswami, Natha renaissance sage of Sri Lanka, Chellappaswami’s successor in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1872 – 1950 Life of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Bengali Indian nationalist and renaissance yoga philosopher. His 30-volume work discusses the “superman,” the Divinely transformed individual soul. Withdraws from the world in 1910 and founds international ashram in Pondicherry.
1873 – 1906 Lifetime of Swami Rama Tirtha, who lectures throughout Japan and America spreading “practical Vedanta.”
1875 Madame Blavatsky founds Theosophical Society in New York, later headquartered at Adyar, Chennai, where Annie Besant, president (1907 – 1933), helps revitalize Hinduism with metaphysical defense of its principles.
1876 British Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901), head of Church of England, is proclaimed Empress of India (1876-1901).
1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1876 – 1890 Max Muller, pioneer of comparative religion as a scholarly discipline, publishes 50-volume Sacred Books of the East, English translations of Indian and Oriental scriptures.
1877 – 1947 Lifetime of Sri Lanka’s Ananda Coomaraswamy, foremost interpreter of Indian art and culture to the West.
1879 Incandescent lamp is invented by American Thomas Edison (1847-1931). He patents more than a thousand inventions, among them the microphone (1877) and the phonograph (187. In New York, Edison installs the world’s first central electric power plant (1881-82).
1879 The Leonidas, first emigrant ship to Fiji, adds 498 Indian indentured laborers to the nearly 340,000 already working in other British Empire colonies.
1879 – 1966 Lifetime of Sadhu T.L. Vaswani, altruistic Sindhi poet and servant of God, founds several Hindu missions in India and seven Mira Educational Institutions.
1879 – 1950 Lifetime of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Hindu Advaita renunciate renaissance saint of Tiruvannamalai, S. India.
1882 – 1927 Lifetime of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Indian-born Muslim mystic, instrumental in bringing Sufism to the West.
1884 – 1963 Lifetime of Swami Ramdas, known as Papa, Indian saint and devotee of Lord Rama.
1885 A group of middle-class intellectuals in India, some of them British, found the Indian National Congress to be a voice of Indian opinion to the British government. This is the origin of the later Congress Party.
1885 First automobile powered by an internal combustion engine is produced by Karl Benz in Mannheim, Germany. Henry Ford makes his first car in 1893 in the US and later invents assembly line production.
1886 Rene Guenon is born, first European philosopher of some note to become a Vedantin.
1887 – 1963 Lifetime of Swami Sivananda, Hindu universalist renaissance guru, author of 200 books, founder of Divine Life Society, with 400 branches worldwide in present day.
1888 Max Muller, revising his stance, writes, “Aryan, in scientific language, is utterly inapplicable to race. If I say Aryans, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair nor skull; I mean simply those who spoke the Aryan language.”
1888 – 1975 Lifetime of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, renowned Tamil panentheist, renaissance philosopher, eminent writer; free India’s first Vice-President and second President.
1891 The Maha Bodhi Society, an organization to encourage Buddhist studies in India and abroad, is founded in Sri Lanka by Buddhist monk Anagarika Dharmapala.
1893 Swami Vivekananda represents Hinduism at Chicago’s Parliament of the World’s Religions, first ever interfaith gathering, dramatically enlightening Western opinion as to the profundity of Hindu philosophy and culture.
1893 – 1952 Life of Paramahamsa Yogananda, universalist Hindu, renaissance founder of Self Realization Fellowship (1925) in US, author of famed Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), popular book globalizing India’s spiritual traditions.
1894 Gandhi drafts first petition protesting the indentured servant system. Less than six months later, the British announce the halt of indentured emigration from India.
1894 – 1994 Lifetime of Swami Chandrasekharendra, venerated Shankaracharya saint of Kanchi monastery in South India.
1894 – 1969 Lifetime of Meher Baba of Poona, silent sage whose mystical teachings stress love, self-inquiry and God consciousness.
1896 – 1982 Lifetime of Anandamayi Ma, God-intoxicated yogini and mystic Bengali saint. Her spirit lives on in devotees.
1896 Nationalist leader and Marathi scholar Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1857 – 1920) initiates Ganesha Visarjana and Sivaji festivals to fan Indian nationalism. He is first to demand complete independence, Purna Svaraj, from Britain.
1896 – 1977 Lifetime of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In 1966 he founds International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in the US.
1896 American humorist Mark Twain writes Following the Equator, describing his three-month stay in India, during a voyage to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and England. According to him, and his critics, it is one of his finest works.
1897 Swami Vivekananda founds Ramakrishna Mission.
1898 – 1907 Cholera epidemic claims 370,000 lives in India.
1900 World population is 1.6 billion. India population is 290 million: 17.8 percent of world.
1900 India’s tea exports to Britain reach 137 million pounds.
1900 – 77 Uday Sankar of Udaipur, dancer and choreographer, adapts Western theatrical techniques to Hindu dance, popularizing his ballet in India, Europe and the US.
1905 Lord Curzon, arrogant British Viceroy of India, resigns.
1905 Sage Yogaswami, age 33, is initiated by Chellappaswami at Nallur, Sri Lanka; later becomes the next preceptor in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1906 Muslim League political party is formed in India.
1906 Dutch Christians overcome Bali after Puputan massacres in which Hindu Balinese royal families are murdered.
1908 – 82 Lifetime of Swami Muktananda, a guru of the Kashmir Saiva school who founds Siddha Yoga Dham to promulgate Indian mysticism, kundalini yoga and philosophy.
1909 – 69 Lifetime of Dada Lekhraj (1909 – 1969), Hindu founder of Brahma Kumaris, an international social reform movement stressing meditation and world peace.
1909 Gandhi and assistant Maganlal agitate for better working conditions and abolition of indentured servitude in South Africa. Maganlal continues Gandhi’s work in Fiji.
1912 Anti-Indian racial riots on the US West Coast expel large Hindu immigrant population.
1913 New law prohibits Indian immigration to South Africa, primarily in answer to white colonists’ alarm at competition of Indian merchants and expired labor contracts.
1914 US government excludes Indian citizens from immigration. Restriction stands until 1965.
1914 Austria’s Archduke Francis Ferdinand is assassinated by Serb nationalists. Chain reaction leads to World War I.
1914 Swami Satchidananda is born, founder of Integral Yoga Institute and Light of Truth Universal Shrine in the US.
1917 Following the Bolshevik Revolution, communists under Lenin seize power in Russia, one sixth of Earth’s land mass.
1917 Last Hindu Indian indentured laborers are brought to British Christian colonies of Fiji and Trinidad.
1917 – 93 Life of Swami Chinmayananda, Vedantist writer, lecturer, Hindu renaissance founder of Chinmaya Mission and co-founder of the Vishva Hindu Parishad.
1918 World War I ends. Death toll estimated at ten million.
1918 Spanish influenza epidemic kills 12.5 million in India, 21.6 million worldwide.
1918 Sirdi Sai Baba, saint to Hindus and Muslims, dies at approximately age 70.
1919 Brigadier Dyer orders Gurkha troops to shoot unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar, killing 379. Massacre convinces Gandhi that India must demand full independence from oppressive British Christian rule.
1920 Gandhi formulates satyagraha, “truth power,” strategy of noncooperation and nonviolence against India’s Christian British rulers. Later resolves to wear only simple dhoti to preserve India’s homespun cotton industry.
1920 System of Indian indentured servitude is abolished following grassroots agitation by Gandhi.
1920 Ravi Shankar is born in Varanasi. Sitar master, composer and founder of National Orchestra of India, he inspires Western appreciation of Indian music.
1922 Pramukh Swami is born, renaissance traditionalist Hindu, head of Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha Sangh.
1922 Tagore’s school at Santiniketan (founded 1901) is made into Visva Bharati University. Becomes a national university in 1951.
1923 US law excludes Indian nationals from naturalization.
1924 Sir John Marshall (1876 – 195 discovers relics of Indus Valley ancient Hindu civilization. Begins systematic large-scale excavations.
The independence movement1925 K.V. Hedgewar (1890 – 1949) founds Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist movement.
1926 Satya Sai Baba is born, charismatic universalist Hindu renaissance guru, educationalist, worker of miracles.
1927 Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is born in Oakland, California, 162nd satguru in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara and author of this book.
1927 Maharashtra bars tradition of dedicating girls to temples as Devadasis, ritual dancers. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa soon follow suit. Twenty years later, Tamil Nadu bans devotional dancing and singing by women in its thousands of temples and in all Hindu ceremonies.
1927 & 34 Indians are admitted as jurors and court magistrates in India.
1928 Hindu leader Jawaharlal Nehru drafts plan for a free India; becomes president of Congress Party in 1929.
1929 Chellachiamman, saint of Sri Lanka, dies. She was mentor to Sage Yogaswami and Kandiah Chettiar.
1931 Sri Chinmoy is born in Bengal, yogi, artist, self-transcendence master and United Nations peace ambassador.
1931 2.5 million Indians reside overseas; largest communities are in Sri Lanka, Malaya, Mauritius and South Africa.
1931 Dr. Karan Singh is born, son and heir apparent of last maharaja of Kashmir; becomes parliamentarian, Indian ambassador to the US and global Hindu spokesman.
1934 Paul Brunton’s instantly popular A Search in Secret India makes known to the West such illumined holy men as Sri Chandrasekharendra and Ramana Maharshi.
1936 – 1991 Lifetime of Srimati Rukmini Devi, founder Kalakshetra – a school of Hindu classical music, dance, theatrical arts, painting and handicrafts – in Chennai.
1938 Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is founded in Mumbai by K.M. Munshi to conserve, develop and diffuse Indian culture.
1939 Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), manifesto of Nazism, published 1925, sells 5 million copies in 11 languages. It reveals his racist Aryan, anti-Semitic ideology, strategy of revenge and National-Socialist (Nazi) rise to power.
1939 World War II begins September 1 as Germany invades Poland.
1939 Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952), renowned Italian physician and “discoverer of the child,” spends nine years in India teaching her kindergarten method and studying Hinduism through the Theosophical Society in Adyar.
1939 Mohammed Ali Jinnah, President of the All-India Muslim League from 1934 to his death in 1947, calls for a separate Muslim state. His firm stand at the time of independence is instrumental in the formation of Pakistan.
1942 At sites along the lost Sarasvati River in Rajasthan, archeologist Sir Aurel Stein finds shards with incised characters identical to those on Indus Valley seals.
1945 Germany surrenders to Allied forces. Ghastly concentration camps are discovered where 6 million Jews were killed.
1945 US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, ending World War II. Total war dead is 60 million.
1945 The United Nations is founded by the four Allied nations and China to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
1947 India gains independence from Britain August 15. Leaders agree to partition into India and Pakistan despite Gandhi’s opposition (as chronicled in a letter to Lord Mountbatten that surfaced in 1996: “I pointed [out] the initial mistake of the British being party to splitting India into two. It is not possible to undo the mistake.”) Death toll is 600,000 in dual exodus of 14 million.
Independent India1948 The last British troops leave India February 28 in a procession through the city of Mumbai culminating at the Gateway to India, a monument erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.
1948 Britain grants colony of Sri Lanka Dominion status and self-government under Commonwealth jurisdiction.
1948 Establishment of Sarva Seva Sangh, Gandhian movement for new social order (Sarvodaya).
1948 Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated January 30th in Poona by Nathuram Godse, 35, editor-publisher of Mahasabha, a Hindu weekly, in retaliation for Gandhi’s concessions to Muslim demands and agreeing to partition 27 percent of India to create the new Islamic nation of Pakistan.
1949 Sri Lanka’s Sage Yogaswami initiates Sivaya Subramuniyaswami as his successor in Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara. Subramuniyaswami founds Saiva Siddhanta Church and Yoga Order the same year.
1949 India’s new Constitution, authored chiefly by B.R. Ambedkar, declares there shall be no “discrimination” against any citizen on the grounds of caste, jati, and that the practice of “untouchability” is abolished.
1950 Wartime jobs in West, taking women out of home, have led to weakened family, delinquency, cultural breakdown.
1950S-60S Tours of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan lead to worldwide popularization of Indian music.
1950 India is declared a secular republic. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1964) is determined to abolish caste and industrialize the nation. Constitution makes Hindi official national language; English to continue for 15 years; 14 major state languages are recognized.
1951 India’s Bharatiya Janata Sangh (BJP) party is founded.
1955 – 6 Indian government enacts social reforms on Hindu marriage, inheritance, guardianship, adoption, etc
1955 Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), brilliant German physicist, author of the Theory of Relativity theory, dies. He declared Lord Siva Nataraja the best metaphor for the workings of the universe.
1956 India’s government reorganizes states according to linguistic principles and inaugurates second Five-Year Plan.
1956 Swami Satchidananda makes first visit to America.
1957 Sivaya Subramuniyaswami founds Himalayan Academy in San Francisco opens there the United State’s first Hindu temple.
1959 Dalai Lama flees Tibet and finds refuge in North India as China invades his Buddhist nation.
1959 The transistor makes computers smaller and faster than prototypes like the 51-foot-long, 8-foot high Mark I, containing I-million parts and 500 miles of wire, invented for the US Navy in 1944 by IBM’s Howard Aiken. From the 1960s onward, integrated circuitry and microprocessors will empower these descendants of the 5,000-year-old abacus to revolutionize technology.
1960 Since 1930, 5 percent of immigrants to US have been Asians, while European immigrants have constituted 58 percent.
1960 Border war with China shakes India’s nonaligned policy.
1961 India forcibly reclaims Goa, Daman and Diu from the Portuguese. Goa became a state of India in 1987.
1963 US President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
1963 Hallucinogenic drug culture arises in the US. Hindu gurus decry the false promise and predict “a chemical chaos.”
1964 India’s Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu religious nationalist movement, is founded to counter secularism.
1964 Rock group, the Beatles, practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), bringing fame to Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.
1965 US immigration law cancels racial qualifications and restores naturalization rights. Admits 170,000 Asians yearly.
1966 Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, becomes prime minister of India, world’s largest democracy, succeeding Lal Bahadur Sastri who took office after Nehru’s death in 1964.
1968 US civil rights leader Martin Luther King is assassinated.
1969 US astronaut Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon.
1971 Rebellion in East Pakistan (formerly Bengal). Ten million Bengalis, mainly Hindus, flee to India. Indo-Pak border clashes escalate to war. India defeats West Pakistan. East Pakistan becomes independent Bangladesh.
1974 India detonates a “nuclear device.”
1980 Two million attend grand South Indian counterpart to Kumbha Mela of Prayag, the Mahamagham festival, held every 12 years in Kumbhakonam on the river Kaveri.
1981 India is home to half the world’s cattle: 8 cows for every 10 Indians.
1981 Deadly AIDS disease is conclusively identified.
1981 First Bharata natyam dance in a temple since 1947 Christian-British ban on Devadasis is held at Chidambaram; 100,000 attend the performance arranged by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.
1984 Indian soldiers under orders from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi storm Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar and crush rebellion. She is assassinated this year by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation. Her son Rajiv takes office.
1986 Swami Satchidananda dedicates Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) at Yogaville in Virginia, USA.
1986 Delhi’s World Religious Parliament bestows title Jagadacharya, “World Teacher,” on five spiritual leaders for their efforts in promoting Hinduism outside India: Swami Chinmayananda (Mumbai); Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Hawaii); Yogiraj Amrit Desai (Pennsylvania); Pandit Tej Ramji Sharma (Kathmandu); Swami Jagpurnadas Maharaj (Mauritius).
1987 Coup by Col. S. Rabuka, a Methodist, deposes Fiji’s Indian-dominated government; 1990 constitution guarantees political majority to ethnic (mostly Christian) Fijians.
1988 General Ershad declares Islam the state religion of Bangladesh, outraging the 12-million (11 percent) Hindu population.
1988 US allows annual influx of 270,000 Asian immigrants.
1988 First Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival is held at Oxford University, England. Hindus discuss international cooperation with 100 religious leaders and 100 parliamentarians.
1989 Christians spend US%165 million yearly to convert Hindus.
1989 The Berlin Wall is taken down November 9. Germany is reunited October 3, 1990. Warsaw Pact is dissolved.
1990 Under its new democratic constitution, Nepal remains the world’s only country with Hinduism as the state religion.
1990 300,000 Hindus flee Muslim persecution in Kashmir Valley. Armed militancy begins struggle to end Indian rule and merge with Pakistan as a purely Islamic region. More than 25,000 people are killed over the next 12 years.
1990 Foundation stones are laid in Ayodhya (near Babri Masjid) for new temple at birthplace of Lord Rama, as Hindu nationalism rises.
1990 Vatican condemns Eastern mysticism as false doctrine in letter by Cardinal Ratzinger approved by Pope John Paul II, to purge Catholic monasteries, convents and clergy of involvement with Eastern meditation, yoga and Zen.
1990 Co-sponsored by the Supreme Soviet, Second Global Forum of Spiritual Leaders and Parliamentarians for Human Survival, in Moscow, gives stage for Hindu thinking. Sringeri sannyasin Swami Paramananda Bharati concludes Forum with Vedic peace prayer in Kremlin Hall, leading 2,500 world leaders in chanting Aum three times.
1990 Communist leadership of USSR collapses, to be replaced by 12 independent democratic nations.
1991 Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated in May.
1992 World population reaches 5.2 billion; 17 percent, or 895 million, live in India. Of these, 85 percent, or 760 million, are Hindu.
1992 Hindu radicals demolish Babri Masjid built in 1548 on Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya by Muslim conqueror Babur after he destroyed a Hindu temple marking the site. The monument was a central icon of Hindu grievances against Muslim destruction of 60,000 temples.
1994 Harvard University study identifies over 800 Hindu temples open for worship in the United States.
1998 December 20: B.V. Raman, whom fellow astrologer K.N. Rao called the greatest teacher of astrology in 400 years, dies at 86. Editor of Astrological Magazine since 1936, he challenged the trend of his countrymen to blindly adopt foreign values and reject India’s own traditions, especially astrology.
1998 December 26: Sri Ram Swarup, born in 1920, renaissance seer, founder of Voice of India, among 20th century’s most influential Hindu thinkers, makes his transition.
1999 India’s sacred art of painting is honored as senior masters like B.G. Sharma and Sri Indra Sharma, publish color large-format books of their life work.
1999 Christian campaigns gain force in India to convert the most “unreached nucleus of people in the world.” Hindu resentment erupts in sporadic violence.
1999 In Kashmir, massacres of Hindus by Muslim insurgents are so common that they attract attention only when large numbers die.
1999 With the waning of rationalism and of Christianity, Paganism experiences a renaissance in Europe as people return to the old Gods, reestablish pre-Christian holy sites and practice the faith openly.
1999 Hindu awareness and anti-defamation groups begin speaking out as never before, against insults to Hindu traditions and sensibilities, such as the use of Deity images by shoe manufacturers.
1999 India’s ruling party is the BJP, the most prominent member of the Sangh Pariwar, a network of organizations ideologically affiliated with the large Hindu activist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
1999 Pope John Paul II visits India and unwittingly galvanizes opposition to Christian conversion efforts by openly stating that the Church’s sole mission in India is the conversion of all Hindus.
Recent History2000 January 1: India’s version of the Statue of Liberty – a majestic 133-foot-tall granite statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar, author of the ethical masterpiece, Tirukural – is unveiled at the southernmost tip of the continent.
2000 October 29: massive cyclone rips through Orissa, leaving 20 million homeless, killing 20,000 people and 700,000 cattle. Swaminarayan Fellowship sadhus are instrumental in relief efforts in the devastated Indian state.
2000 Indian archeologists agree to help Vietnam restore the famous seventh-century Hindu Cham temples damaged and neglected during years of war. UNESCO declares them a World Heritage Site.
2000 Since 1900, 75 percent of Earth’s crop plant varieties have been lost; thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates face extinction due to the ravaging of Earth by man. “Most biological systems, which have sustained life on the planet for millions of years, will collapse some time during the next century,” warns the Union of Concerned Scientists.
2000 Ten million Bangladesh Hindus have fled to India over the last 50 years to escape sustained persecution and periodic riots. Percentage of Hindus has fallen from 53% in 1872, to 32% in 1900, to 22% in 1947, to 10% in 2000.
2000 Russia, dominated by the Orthodox Russian Church, bans quasi-Hindu groups and other minorities as “destructive cults.” Black-listed groups include ISKCON, Ananda Marga and Brahma Kumaris.
2000 December: Delhi’s High Court strikes down a provision for corporal punishment in the Delhi School Education Act, saying it “violates the constitutional right guaranteeing equality and protection of life and personal liberty.”
2001 January: 70 million, history’s largest human gathering, worship at Kumbha Mela 2001, Allahabad, at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna.
2001 January 22: massive earthquake in Gujarat near Ahmedabad kills 20,000 and damages 7,000 villages. Huge relief and rehabilitation effort ensues.
2001 At Harvard University, Professor Arvind Sharma launches a vanguard course, “Common Misconceptions in the Study of Indic Civilization,” to explore misrepresentations held by Western historians and archeologists.
2001 June 2: His Majesty King Birendra and most of Nepal’s royal family are murdered, gunned down in the royal palace by the king’s oldest son, Crown Prince Dipendra. The king’s brother, Prince Gyanendra, is crowned king.
2001 Studies at Dholavira help to further dispel the “Aryan Invasion” theory, even among diehard believers. The latest Indus Valley site discovered, this well-planned city of 250 acres near the Indo-Pakistan border reveals no evidence of such an invasion.
2001 September 11: Two jetliners, hijacked by Muslim terrorists, destroy the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 in a devastating blow to US economy and morale. A third plane cripples the Pentagon. The US and allies pulverize the Taliban/Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. Hindus and other East Asians in the US are victimized in sporadic anti-Muslim backlash.
2002 February 27: 54 Hindus in Godhra, mostly women and children, are massacred by armed Muslims. Vicious riots across Gujarat leave 1,000 dead and 100,000 Muslims in refugee camps. The Hindu ideal of nonviolence faces the acid test as leaders divide on condemning or condoning the carnage.
2002 Efforts by Hindus to build new Rama Temple at Ayodhya are increased, exacerbating tensions with Muslims who also revere the site.
2002 Sanskrit studies gain popularity in the West, and in India at institutions like the Sanskrit Sansthan of Uttar Pradesh, which offers Vedic courses on yajna, samskaras, puja and jyotisha to young adults in 60 centers .
2002 August 21: Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga Institute and Light of Truth Universal Shrine in Virginia, attains mahasamadhi at age 87.
2002 The Comprehensive Oxford Dictionary, the most authoritative dictionary of the English language, adds 600 new Indian entries to its 20-volume tenth edition, such as Hindutva, panchayat, puri and dosa.

Sadhvi Matarisvan Gurupriya
 changed a profile picture 

“Some sages believe there was an advaitic message. If Valmiki, an ascetic devoted to tapas (austerity) and swadhyaya (study of the vedas) created this epic to help mankind understand human characteristics he must have used the vedic philosophy as the basis.

Indian mythology is full of symbolism. One view is that, Sita portrayed as an Ideal Woman reflects how Jiva should pursue its Spiritual Path to realize the Supreme Truth - the Godhead. Ram means, the One who revels in all beings and things, the Atman, the Self of all. Ram is wedded to Sita, the Mind. Ram is born in the bosom where there is Self control and no conflict (Ayodhya). When Ram, the Self, is wedded to Sita, the Mind, there is expression of life and its activities. We do not know from where Sita (mind) appears. From Mother Earth Sita came and into Mother Earth she disappeared. From where the mind came and where it disappears in Samadhi, nobody can say. As long as Sita, the Mind, remains in perfect attunement with Ram, the Self (the higher nature) there is only joy and happiness whether in Ayodhya or in the forest in exile.

The moment Sita desires the Golden deer, the Mind identifying with the lower nature, becomes extrovert and desires the sense objects. The fall of the individual starts. Sita forgets the might of  Ram and forces Lakshman (tapas) to go to Ram's help. Sita becomes an easy victim of Dasamukha

Ravana (the ten sense organs) and is carried away to Lanka, the Material World, away from the Land of Dharma and Spirituality.

Sita is penitent, regrets her action and prays with single pointed devotion to be saved. Ram (Self). destroys Vali (Lust) and organizes monkeys (thoughts) to cross the ocean and reach Lanka. The ocean to be breached is the delusory attachments and fascinations in a deluded Mind. The forces (Rakshasas) that fight against Ram are the negative tendencies.

So when Sita (Mind) is turned towards Ram (the Self), continuously and constantly such a mind is no mind at all. Ram the man of perfection allows the Mind to remain in him but is not affected by it.

Finally, when the inner personality is purified and rehabilitated and the Mind disappears to become One with the Self. Ram, thereafter, the Man of Realization rules over the Kingdom of Life. Sita, the mind, was banished, but having lived with her for sometime something must emerge. It did in the form of Luva and Kush perfected Masters of Wisdom emerge in the form of Books singing the Glory of the Lord.”

One can read Sri Ramcharitmanas epic poem written down for us by sage Tulsidas to drink the essence of Ramayana of Valmiki. There are also golden 300 series available on YouTube that are so delightful to watch and absorb - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYbdixm0RhuzIM3Sz_ts0HsbKIbw2BrOJ

Watch this most heart breaking Bhajan - Ramayana sang by Luv and Kush to Rama himself:


“Contribution of the Satyananda Tradition to Yoga

Sri Swamiji and the Satyananda tradition have made a major contribution to yoga and sannyasa. In order to systematize the practices of yoga it was necessary to create a sequential progression in the structure of yoga, and that is what Sri Swamiji has achieved. To Sri Swamiji goes the credit for the combinations of techniques and presentation of the pawanmuktasana series, parts one (anti-rheumatic), two (anti-gastric) and three (shakti bandhas). He also incorporated components of tantric nyasa into the yogic system in the form of yoga nidra. The sequence in which the practices of pranayama are taught today by the majority of yogic schools was propagated from Munger. The reasons for the practice of mudras and the physiological and psychological effects of the bandhas are other different aspects of the yogic practices which were systematized so that they could be understood, practised and experienced.

In the course of time Sri Swamiji also brought forth the practices of kriya yoga from the recesses of the yoga and tantra shastras which, as taught by the Satyananda system, are one of only two forms of kriya recognized the world over, the other being that of Paramahamsa Yogananda, of the Mahavatar Babaji tradition.

Another contribution has been the discovery of tantric nyasa concentration and meditation techniques, which were presented in their basic form in the book Meditations from the Tantras. Then came classification of the dharana techniques and the pratyahara techniques, as well as bringing to light the subject of yoga as viewed in the different vedic and upanishadic texts.

The practice of yoga nidra has had a major impact on the world of yoga. Yoga nidra is a pratyahara technique in which the distractions of the mind are contained and the mind is allowed to relax. The two main thrusts of yoga nidra are visualizing and experiencing what is in the deeper mind. This practice has definitely had a transformative effect on practitioners. It has also been possible for people to be trained and educated through the practice of yoga nidra. In my early childhood I had the pleasure of being guided through yoga nidra by Sri Swamiji and it is only now that I am becoming aware of the depth of the instruction and training I received.

Another technique of pratyahara is antar mouna which deals with the activities of the conscious mind. In antar mouna there is awareness of the thoughts, creating, transforming and finally gaining control of the thought process. The pratyahara techniques have different levels and stages of practice, which have been clarified and explained by the Satyananda tradition.

The Satyananda yoga tradition has also contributed in giving a different dimension to the concept of sannyasa. Swami Sivananda was one of the first to initiate women into sannyasa. There was a lot of opposition but he began the process and made sannyasa initiation for women socially acceptable. After Swami Sivananda, it was Swami Satyananda who took it a stage beyond and made sannyasa for women internationally acceptable. He gave sannyasa initiation not only to women but also to spiritual aspirants from overseas. For the first time foreigners were accepted into sannyasa by Sri Swamiji himself, and later on by his tradition. Today it has become established and there are no bars or opposition.

In the sannyasa tradition Sri Swamiji also encouraged the building up of the idea of sannyasa in the lives of householders by giving initiation into karma sannyasa. This has rejuvenated the sannyasa tradition immensely. Previously the idea had been confined to only the few who were inclined to follow the sannyasa aim in life. The rest of the world saw sannyasa as a means of escaping from worldly involvement. Sri Swamiji initiated householders into karma sannyasa to live a family life, not only as husband and wife, but also to learn how to live like sannyasins, as guru brothers and sisters. As a continuation, initiation into jignasu sannyasa was incorporated into the system. Rishi sannyasa has also been given to committed and dedicated sannyasins who want to live together as husband and wife and who have been able to maintain their balance, harmony and clear vision.

In this way there has been wide social acceptance of sannyasa as an alternative way of life, in which one learns to balance the material with the spiritual. Today sannyasa is seen more as a responsibility one takes upon oneself to cherish and to fulfil those ideals in one's life. It is not seen as escapism but as dynamic participation. These have been some of the contributions of Satyananda yoga to the sannyasa tradition.

In order to provide a clear vision of the yogic, tantric and vedic traditions, Sri Swamiji touched upon and brought together all three structures. He brought to light concepts from the tantric and vedic traditions which aid in human growth and evolution and presented them along with the yogic lifestyle.

The tantric tradition believes there is a swabhava, a nature, within everyone, which can evolve by following certain disciplines. The tantric disciplines also focus on health, physical purity and balance in lifestyle, interactions and behaviour, and on a proper investigative approach to finding out methods by which yoga could be adopted to meet various social, physical and therapeutic needs. Tantra also teaches aspects of shuddhi, purification of body, mind and emotions, and awakening of the dormant shakti which is seen by many as the primordial force, or as kundalini.

Tantra believes in following a pattern of life in which there is integration of the faculties of intellect and heart. The faculties of intellect are discrimination and concentration. The faculties of the heart are seeing the unseen, having glimpses of the transcendental or cosmic consciousness beyond the non-material. Sri Swamiji adopted the meditative techniques of tantra and incorporated them into the body of yoga so that both can supplement each other.

From the vedic tradition has come the sannyasa lifestyle devoted to study of the eternal principles governing life. The sannyasa lifestyle does not mean belonging to a particular denomination or sect, but preserving those human values through which it is possible to experience transformations leading to greater equilibrium and harmony.

The approach of the vedic tradition towards education has focused more on providing the right samskaras. Everyone is free to follow their own vocation in life but with a constructive samskara in which there is no self-denial. From the yogic point of view this samskara will lead to transformation of the mind, the intellect, and the inner self.

In the field of transformation, mind management is an ability which is acquired through the practices of yoga. How perfect one's yoga is can be seen by how the mental personality is handled, how the thoughts are managed, what the train of thought is, how one observes and becomes watchful of the subtle interactions of ego, desires, passions and needs. One goes through a transformative experience, or in yogic terminology one experiences the fusion of prana with mahaprana.

In Sri Swamiji's life we have observed that the focus of his teachings and lifestyle has always been on the development of the inner personality, the inner nature, leading to ananda, bliss, fulfilment, contentment.”


In our youth we might have heard firstly about the two most famous epic of India - Ramayana and Mahabharata (very thick books with lots of colourful stories!). Later, perhaps, we have learnt about Vedas, Upanishads, Agamas, and other timeless yoga works passed down from our forefathers... 

The most popular and concise Yoga book all yogis study would be, without doubt,  Bhagavad Gita - a most crucial part of Mahabharata where the main hero Arjuna has to face his own demons and act in the most beneficial way. 

Mahabharata describes stories around the age when Arjuna lived, with his 4 brothers and 1 wife, having Krishna, his cousin as the best friend and councillor. 

This excerpt from the Shatarudra Samhita of the Shiva Purana, in the course of describing the various Dwapara Yugas of the Vaivasvata Manvantara, says this about Krishna:

“In the twenty-eighth aeon of Dwapara, there will be Dwaipayana Vyasa, the son of Parashara, and the most excellent of Purushas [Vishnu] shall be born as Krishna with his one-sixth part, as the foremost of the sons of Vasudeva.”

Krishna and Arjuna lived in Dwapara Yuga, just before our current age has descended. In fact they say that with Krishna’s death approximately 5000 years ago Kali Yuga precisely had commenced.  

Ramayana is unique in a sense that, the main hero king Rama lived looong time ago - in Treta Yuga of the 24th MahaYuga (current Manvantara), approximately 19mln years ago: 

24th MahaYuga ~2mln years after Rama.

25th MahaYuga - 4320000 years

26th MahaYuga - 4320000 years

27th MahaYuga - 4320000 years

28th MahaYuga ~4mln years up to now.

Here is what the Matysa Purana says, while enumerating various incarnations of Vishnu in the Vaivasvata Manvantara in chronological order:

In the 24th Treta Yuga, the seventh manifestation was that of Sri Ramchandra, as the son of Dasharatha, and with Vasishta as the priest, to kill Ravana.

Vayu Purana and the Skanda Purana says the same.”

Such timeless works do make it through the times immemorial thanks to the Sages occasionally descending on Earth. In a state of transcendental effulgence they break into spontaneous narration of such exalted word that it threads the eons together by the soul-saving mouth-to-ear tradition of renunciates clinging to such Sages... Rishis, The Seers...

Beyond any philosophical works, there are Bhakti revelations, like Bhakti Sutras of Sage Shandilya or Sage Narada - the works that normal people would consider being impossible to deliver, as an ordinary mind quits in the moment of rapture when the intellect dissolves into the heart melt. However, the Yogis of all walks meet in the same place of what is called Bhakti - beyond the name-form disputes, alike those blind scientists exploring the different parts of the elephant’s body - in the HEART MELT.

Beyond Ramayana, beyond Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata, beyond Shiva-Parvati’s dialogues in Agamas and beyond the splendour and comforting shanti of Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads, sits the crown-jewel of all literature given to us by Sage Tulsidas, who heard it from his own teacher...  

Yesterday, ShantiDwara Temple has received a priceless gift from Rishi Yogadiwali Saraswati and Rishi Nityabodhananda Saraswati - the rare edition of Ramacharitmanas, a folio with mind-bending sleek classical illustrations, with special inclusions like Shri Hanuman Chalisa, Lavakushakanda and Ramashalaka Prashnavali. This special book 📖 stands centrepoint in ShantiDwara hall now, in between Guru and Shakti Pujas, and is available for any visitor to sit by and acknowledge them Self with.

So heavy and so light at the same time....

Tulsidas singing The Poem of Rama...

Loving the extras...

Shiva and Kamadeva’s friendship everyone draws inspiration from...

Any page, any verse - nectar... This particular moment is in Sage Agastyar hermitage...

Sublime illustrations...

To read about Ramacharitmanas:



In addition, please, read one of the Sri Swami Ji’s many Satsangs on Ramcharitmanas:

“There is an immeasurable quantity of water in the ocean, but you can take away only as much as your container will hold. Similarly, you can only grasp God to the extent and depth of your awareness, feelings, soul, personality and totality of yourself. Swami Satyananda could not grasp the formless, nirakara God then, nor can he do it now, nor will he ever have that capacity. Swami Satyananda's capacity is limited to lighting a lamp and an incense stick in front of Ganesha's image and singing his praises as follows:

Jai Ganesha, jai Ganesha, jai Ganesha deva

Mata jaki Parvati pita mahadeva

Phool chadhe pan chadhe aur chadhe meva

Laddoo on ke bhog chadhe santa kar seva.

Therefore, worship God according to the capacity of your intellect and feelings. Adopt a puja which delights your heart and can move and melt it. The chosen deity is called ishta devata, because it is what your heart opts for, wishes for. It is that God who enthrals and captivates your imagination. So, read Ramacharitamanas devoutly, profoundly and with understanding. Tulsidas has illustrated this point throughout Ramacharitamanas. In fact, this is the theme of Ramacharitamanas. The nirakara becomes sakara. The formless God becomes manifest in a recognizable form.

    Tulsidas has not neglected the nirakara aspect of God, Sohamasmi iti vriti akhanda, which means continuous awareness of Soham. Tulsidas talks about both the God with attributes and the unattainable kaivalyapada, the path of final liberation. But the important point he makes is that worship or upasana of God means to set your heart on any aspects of God that attracts and satisfies you, that is within the grasp of your limited awareness, that stirs your feelings and sustain your interest.

   Although I am not a very high soul myself, I know that however depraved and fallen a man may be, he always looks up to a person who is great and good. He never worships another fallen man or villain, he is drawn only to a virtuous hero. He himself may be a complete rascal, but he accepts only a virtuous hero as his ideal in life. The best example of goodness in humanity is none other than Sri Rama. Sage Narada told Valmiki that in the whole history of the human race only one ideal man had reigned supreme and that was Sri Rama. Ikshvaku vanshaja prabhu Rama nama janahi sutah. Rama was born in the Ikshvaku family and was the epitome of virtue, heroism, power, intelligence and character.

     I had Sri Rama as my ishta because whatever you worship and meditate upon seeps into your inner being. It casts a long indelible imprint on your consciousness, which passes from birth to birth. You may remain a villain, a bad character, a rogue, in the present lifetime, but there is every possibility of reaching and realizing your ishta in some birth sooner or later. No one should have a doubt about nirakara coming down into sakara. Let it be very simple. Choose the form of your ishta devata and worship him or her, ring the bell, read the holy books, light a candle and an incense stick, praise him or her and quietly go to bed. Most certainly God will bless you.

Source: Satsangs on Ramacharitamanas

              Swami Satyananda Saraswati”

Puja Mulam Guru Padam 🙏🏽🕊

Today we bathe in full auspiciousness of full moon falling on Guruwar/Thursday, which is considered to be the week day of Guru/teacher and invokes sharpened clarity of perception allowing to test new depth and perspectives. This full moon, Shravan Purnima is no ordinary Purnima, most importantly being marked by Gayatri and *Hayagreeva Jayanti*. Also on this day all Hindu people celebrate the sacred brotherly love to their sisters, by preparing special gifts to acknowledge the very important bond in their life. This festival is called *Raksha Bandhan* and most brothers are looking forward a year ahead to spend this day with their sisters.

It is no surprise this pure love is celebrated on Shravan Purnima, as *Gayatri Jayanti* marks the most auspicious moment of birth of the goddess Gayatri that includes all, shines onto all and is the highest embodiment of the manifested energy the mind's eye can possibly reach.
Lord Hayagreeva is famous for various blessings, but most importantly 1) He gave Brahma the 4 Vedas; 2) He taught Lalita Trishati (300 names of Lalita) and 3) Lalita Sahasranama (1000 names of Lalita) to MahaRishi Sage Agastyar...

cāpaṁ cekṣumayaṁ prasūnaviśikhān pāśāṅkuśaṁ pustakaṁ
māṇikyāṣasṛjavaraṁ maṇīmayīṁ vīṇāṁ sarojadvayaṁ |
pāṇibhyāṁ varadā abhayaṁ ca dadhatīṁ brahmādisevyāṁ parāṁ
sindūrāruṇa vigrahāṁ bhagavatīṁ tāṁ ṣoḍaśīmāśraye ||

चापं चेक्षुमयं प्रसूनविशिखान् पाशाङ्कुशं पुस्तकं
माणिक्याषसृजवरं मणीमयीं वीणां सरोजद्वयं।
पाणिभ्यां वरदा अभयं च दधतीं ब्रह्मादिसेव्यां परां
सिन्दूरारुण विग्रहां भगवतीं तां षोडशीमाश्रये॥

Meaning: She has twelve hands, holds (1) a bow made of sugarcane, (2) arrows made of kadamba flowers, (3) a noose, (4) a hook, (5) a book, (6) a rosary made of rubies, displays (7) abhaya (removal of fear) and (8) varadha (giving boons) mudras. She closely holds a veena (a musical instrument) with two hands (9 and 10) and lotus flowers in two hands (11 and 12) one on each side. She is worshipped by Brahmā and other gods and goddesses. She is red in complexion. I surrender unto this Supreme Goddess.

One of the most divine Bhajans to Ram Raj  

🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 Hats off. 

Ram Nam Satya Hi

This year’s Yatra is yet to be processed and put into words. The major difference with the last year, it was planned lightly without much organisational hassle - however with great deal of focus on Sadhana. Once back on a computer, both - Yatra 2019 and 2018 - shall be refreshed and put into articles on ShantiDwara.com as stepping stones for other Yatris.  

Given this year’s visit to some of the favourite Ma’s portals of Kalighat, Dakshineshwar Kali Temples (Kolkata), my most favourite (Palani and Ivar Malai) Murugan Mandirs, most impressive Meenakshi Amma Ji embrace (in Madurai), fantastic swirling through Sri Rameshwaram whirlpools of Ram’s precious land marks, this journey has unearthed 3 new breath taking love affairs. Through our 5 week of wondering, with blessings of our Guru Jis, teachers and Sangha, by the invisible hand of the all-seeing One at the end of our graceful Yatra we have been brought to the following 3 extraordinary temples in Tamil Nadu. No doubt, being there will bring you down in full prostrations... 

  1. Thirupullani, 1 hour north from Rameshwaram, 20m west of Ramnathapuram. 

Divya Desam105, Thiruppullani Arulmigu Kalyana Jagannatha Perumal Temple


Keywords: ANCIENT temple (lakhs of years),  POWERFUL, huge reclining Rama with Brahma, Surya and Chandra originating of the navel, empty of crowds, mind blowing priests

Hints: take time to explore systematically, do triple parikrama around each sanctum sanctorium, visit MahaLakshmi first, Rama Bhavan next to finish with Adi Jagannath

  1. Thiruvarur, Pondicherry region, 1h west of Karaikal (went there by night sleeper bus from Ramnathpuram, can exit 1 stop earlier in Nagapattinam). 

Sri Kamalambal Temple and Arulmigu Thiyaagaraaja Swaamy Temple 

https://goo.gl/maps/U4dvjkmg8nZewJYL8  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyagaraja_Temple,_Tiruvarur 

Keywords: POWERFUL, TyagRaj Shiva and Kamalambal both with 2 crescents (one for themselves, one for consort) and sacred threads over bodies (Devi too!), two swords - Jnana and Veera, the biggest Teerth in India

Hints: ancient, powerful, take time to explore, make sure to find Sri Kamalambal Temple, it stands outside main complex

3. Thirumeyachur, just 0.5h north of Thiruvarur on the way towards Mayiladuturai (major train station). 

Sri Meganathaswamy Lalithambigai temple  


Keywords: POWERFUL Lalithambigai Temple, origin of Lalitasahasranama chanting

Hints: get darshan of Mahashodashi-Lalitambika first, then Shiva, offer bangles to Devi

Snippets from the web:


“Located at a distance of around 12km from Ramanathapuram, Thiruppullani is a small village known for the temple of Adi Jaganntha. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram that stands facing east. The temple enshrines the idol of Lord Vishnu along with Sri Devi and Bhudevi. There is a separate shrine close to this temple, where the consort of (Adi Jagannath) Lord Vishnu, Padmasini Devi is worshipped. Another temple enshrined the statue of Lord Dharbasayana Ramar in a reclining posture.”


“So Mother Kamalambal grants darshan to her devotees with this Crescent Moon jewel.  She represents Mothers Saraswathi, Parvathi and Mahalakshmi holding a flower in the right hand, keeping the left on the hip and legs on a Yoga posture as an Empress with pasam ankusham, rudraksha and lotus in her arms. Also within this temple there is another little temple called the Kamalambal Temple. This is considered one of the 64 Sakthi Peedam.

The Thiruvarur Devi, Kamalambal, is the yogini. She is the tantric focus of spiritual power.  Her shrine faces north, the direction of Kailasam, symbolizing release from the cycle of birth and death. She sits cross-legged in virginal purity contrasting the more earthy and sensual Bhoga Amman within the inner precincts.  

The Ambal sannidhi complex has a lot of mysticism built into it with the figures and construction all as per Srividya concept and it will not be explained by the priests to all. For example the Ganapathy in the main temple entrance is called Vallabha Ganapathy due to Vallabha on his left lap with the lord having 10 arms also. The Ambal sannidhi has an Uchishta Ganapathy with   an asura neela on his lap (and his hands controlling this asura with many features who becomes a goddess as Ganapathy is with her, these are all part of the srividya worship traditions hence a treat to the connoisseur.

The temple history credits this temple as the earliest in the whole complex. Muthuswamy Dikshidar has composed 9 Krithis on this deity called nava Varna krithis which people who practice srividya say is his Gnana drishti, flowing out as compositions.”


“There are many specialities associated with Sri Lalithambal sameda Sri Meganathaswamy temple in Tirumiyachur, Peralam, Nannilam taluk, Tiruvarur district. Foremost among them is the fact that this is where Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam originated. Also it was here that Sri Agastiyar composed Sri Lalitha Navaratinamala. The Goddess is referred to as Soundarya Nayaki.

Legend has it that it was after worshipping Siva here Surya got rid of a curse and recovered his brilliance. Both Sani and Yama were born to Surya here. Yama worships Sri Meganathaswamy daily at noon.

Interesting Facts Tirumiyachur has been eulogised by Tirugnanasambandar and Appar. Sri Kshetrapuraneswarar and Sri Chandrasekhar underline marital compatibility. A parrot is perched on the arm of Sri Durga. The bird is said to convey devotees’ messages and appeals to Sri Lalithambika.

A unique factor is that two Siva temples coexist here, the other being the shrine for Sri Sakalabhuvaneswarar with sri Megalambika as Consort. The vimanam of Sri Meganathaswamy temple is Gajabrishta.

There is a beautiful sculpture of Kshetrapuraneswarar and Ambal. In the background is an interesting story. Surya doing penance, cries out in agony as Siva does not appear. Disturbed by his call, Parvati protests. Siva pacifies Her and offers Surya relief. The sculpture of the Lord pacifying Ambal shows her sullen from one angle and smiling from another.”

<3 Renunciation: Shri Paramahamsa Swami Niranjan ji <3 

In the early hours of the morning, as birds were leaving 'their warm nests in search of a meal, find the rising sun was colouring the eastern sky with brilliant morning colours, the lone figure of a lady stood under a Coconut tree with tears in her eyes, totally oblivious to the soft breeze murmuring through the leaves. She was gazing at the figure of a boy aged not more than eight years, with shaved head, dressed in ochre-coloured robes and holding a staff and kamandalu in his hands, walking away with firm and determined steps towards a destiny unknown. She watched him until he was swallowed up in the distance by the tall mango, coconut, betel nut and other tropical trees surrounding the tiny village of Kaladi in Kerala State. A long time she stood there hoping against hope that the child who had walked away would return. In her heart she knew it was not to be. She wiped the tears, stifled a cry and murmured softly, "Shankara, may Lord Ashutosha protect and guide you".

Later on she was silting in front of her village hut. Her son, Shankara had left the home and village that morning- Where to? She did not know. In search of Guru and Truth, so he had said. She felt drowsy and in that state she remembered events leading to his birth. What a joyous time that was, unforgettable!

Shankara's father was named Sivaguru and was the only son of Vidyadhara. Although Sivaguru did not want to involve himself in the life of a householder, at the request of his father he returned from his Guru ashram and had married. After the death of Vidyadhara, apart from fulfilling the responsibilities and. obligations towards the small family, Sivaguru dedicated himself lo the study and teaching of the shastras. Sivaguru and his wife Vishishta Devi, were reaching middle age and both yearned for a son. After discussion they had come to the Vrisha mountain near the village, and there in the temple they worshipped Lord Chandra Maulishwar Shiva with all their devotion. How hard those days were! They used to survive on berries, roots and the fruits of trees, and worshipped prayed and fasted. Their bodies were beginning to be affected by such a rigorous discipline.

Before the end of their austerity, one night Sivaguru had a dream. In this dream Lord Shiva appeared before him and said in a voice full of compassion, "My Son, I am pleased with your devotion. Tell me your wish and I shall fulfil it". In the dream Sivaguru had fallen to the feet of his Lord and had said, "Bless me with a long-living omniscient son", Smilingly the Lord said, 'If you want an omniscient son then he shall have a short lifespan. If you want a long-lived son then he shall not be omniscient. Tell me whether you wish for an omniscient or long-lived son". Sivaguru prayed that his son be omniscient. The Lord said, "Your wish, shall be fulfilled. You shall have an omniscient son. I myself will come to your family as your son". So saying the Lord disappeared.

Sivaguru had woken up from his reverie, gently awoke Vishishta Devi and told her about the dream. How happy they were to know that the Lord's grace was with them. They soon completed their worship and returned to the village.

She remembered well the day of Shankara's birth in the year 686 A.D., on the twelfth day of Vaishakh Shukla panchami. People said that the sun had stopped moving in the sky to gaze at the new-born baby. Birds flocked to the house and sang the praise of the child while the wind gently caressed his body. All the brahmins of the Nambudiri clan had gathered to bless this divine child. How happily his father had given away land, wealth and cows to the brahmins, and they had, after observing the auspicious signs of Shiva on the body of the child, named him Shankara.

Her child was very special. As he grew, everybody noticed that he was silent, daring and of very sharp intellect. He had been able to read and remember by heart much literature in his native tongue, Malayalam. He had also read and remembered the ancient Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharat and the Puranas, His ability knew no bounds. Sivaguru was delighted with this divine ability of the god-child. He decided that after Shankara had completed five years, he would perform the Upanayana Samskara and send him to gurukula for further training, but it was not to be so.

Sivaguru died soon after and Vishishta Devi left with Shankara for her father's place after completing the last rites of Sivaguru. She never forgot the last desire of her husband, and when Shankara completed five years, she came back to her village home, performed his Upanayana Samskara and sent him to Gurukula.

She remembered that people commuting between the ashram and village came and told her about Shankara. How he had surprised everyone with his clear, sharp understanding and pronunciation of the scriptures. Whatever he was taught he remembered, and soon became the joy of his teachers. In a short span of two years he had completed the study which would normally have taken twenty years and had mastered Upanishads, Puranas, History, Dharma shastras, Nyaya, Samkhya, Patanjali, Vaisheshika and other traditional literature.

Somebody had recently told her that Shankara also possessed miraculous powers. They had told her that, as per the rules of the gurukula, the disciples had to go for bhiksha. Once while Shankara was out for bhiksha, he came upon a very poor family who gave him an amla fruit as they had nothing else to give. Moved by their poverty and devotion, Shankara had prayed to Goddess Lakshmi, and soon that poor family's shack was covered with golden amlas which had rained from the sky. This news had traveled all over the country.

Shankara was a gifted son, she mused. How otherwise would he be able to bring the river to their doorstep! She remembered that once while she had gone for a bath in the river Alwai, which flowed near the village, she had swooned and fallen to the ground-Shankara, aged seven, had found her and carried her home. Afterwards he decided that propitiating Lord Ashutosha, he would bring the river to the door of their home so that his mother would not need to undertake the arduous journey every morning. He had prayed and prayed and sure enough, after the next monsoon, the river changed her course and began to flow in front of their home.

One day some learned brahmins had visited their humble abode, and charmed by Shankara's wit, wisdom and intellect, they had requested to see his horoscope. They had said that he would be a teacher of great renown and a parivrajaka, and that his life would be short. He would die either at the age of eight, sixteen or thirty-two. They had left after giving their blessings to the family. Since that day Shankara had not been the same. He had expressed his desire to take sannyas. He had said that without sannyas there was no scope for self-knowledge, and without self-knowledge, no scope for moksha. She had very firmly stated to Shankara, "As long as I am alive, I cannot give you permission for sannyas".

How she had misunderstood Shankara! Had she forgotten that it was the Lord Himself in the form of her son? Her motherly affection wanted Shankara to be the bastion of her old age, but the Lord wanted him to be the bastion of humanity. One day she had gone with Shankara to the river Alwai for a bath when a crocodile grabbed hold of Shankara's foot and was pulling him into the deep waters. Shankara cried to his mother, 'Mother, a crocodile is pulling me in. This is the last moment of my life. Permit me to adopt sannyas, and thus die happily knowing that I will attain moksha'.

She felt the pang of utter grief and desolation after seeing her beloved Shankara in the clutches of the crocodile. Not a single bather or fisherman was able to help Shankara out of his predicament. Soberly she said "So be it my son, I give you permission for sannyas". Then she fainted and did not remember what happened afterwards.

People told her afterwards that some fishermen had come and captured the crocodile in their nets and had brought Shankara to the river bank where healing balm had been administered on his wounds by a local doctor. Rumours were going around that after Shankara had taken the vow of sannyas, the crocodile vanished. Some were speculating a divine hand in the episode. To her it did not matter what the truth was, for her beloved Shankara was alive.

When she was returning home with Shankara he said, "Mother, I cannot enter the house now as I am a sannyasin. I shall stay under a tree". She became speechless and replied, "What are you saying? How long do you think I will live? Renounce home after my death but remain with me for as long as I live. Do you not have certain obligations towards me?"

Shankara talked to her full of love and compassion and convinced her of his determination by saying, "At your instructions by the river I took sannyas. The Lord has saved me from the crocodile and it is his wish which I must now obey. With your blessings I shall attain yoga siddhis and tattwa jnana. In your last hours you just have to remember me and I shall appear beside you, and you shall have darshan of your Lord. After all, he is the source of everything that is holy and auspicious. Believe me mother, whatever I am saying will happen. Bless me so that I can unhesitatingly tread the path of dharma and sannyas". She was silently listening to her young boy saying unbelievable things. Could she believe her ears? She did believe. After all, he was a God-child, and she was his mother. She blurted out, "So be it! Wholeheartedly I give you my blessings so that you can achieve whatever you aspire for".

This event had happened the day before. After reaching home he had helped her organise a proper sannyasa ceremony. Next morning he himself lit the fire and, as per tradition, initiated himself, She dressed him in his ochre-coloured robes, gave him a staff and a kamandalu. The whole village had come to see this event and later they all followed Shankara to the edge of the village to see him depart. When he could be seen no more they all returned, sad and with tears. Only she remained standing frozen under the coconut tree, hoping against hope that her son Shankara would return.

She opened her eyes and looked at the verandah where she now sat alone, and where she had sat so many times with Sivaguru before, and later listening in rapture to Shankara reciting Sanskrit mantras from the Vedas. Today she was alone but she knew that the Lord was with her, just as he was with Shankara. Filled with the warmth of the Lord's glow inside her, slowly she got up and whispered softly, "May the Lord guide your every step toy Shankara".


It was dark inside the cave. Oil lamps were burning in the corner, giving just enough light to see the outline of those who were sitting there. In the dim light one could make out two people, one ancient, ageless, with matted hair, white beard and frail body covered in ochre coloured robes, sitting on some kind of high pedestal which was covered with a tiger skin; a staff and kamandalu kept beside him. The other person was just a boy of not more than eleven years, in the dress of a Sannyasi, sitting below him listening silently and intently to what the ancient one was saying.

'You are born with the grace of the Lord to re-establish the Vedic precepts, I have been waiting for you for many years at the instructions of my Guru for conveying to you the precepts of dharma. Now that you have learned everything, my duty is over and I am free lo attain samadhi. You will proceed to eternal Kashi and there have darshan of the Lord who will guide your future work. Govindapada then closed his eyes.  Shankara, the young boy, silently bowed before his Guru and silently left the solitude of the cave beside the river Narmada at Omkareshwar.  Govindapada heard the silent footfall of Shankara leaving the cave and his mind was diverted from samadhi to Shankara. He remembered how he had come out of his years long samadhi the day Shankara had reached the cave at Omkareshwar. The Lord had willed it to be so.

He had heard stories about Shankara, that he had taken only two months to walk from Kaladi (Kerala) to Omkareshwar, beside the river Narmada (presently Madhya Pradesh). An incredible feat for someone as young as he, just eight. Where was the Narmada? Who would guide him there? Shankara knew that the Narmada was somewhere north of his village, and had heard of an ancient one who was supposed to be waiting for someone. How much difficulty he had faced when crossing deep forests and jungles, rivers and mountains, meeting with wild men and animals; but nothing bad deterred the young boy.

He was very brilliant. All the elders, sannyasins and other disciples admired and respected him. In just three years Shankara mastered everything. The first year he had mastered Hatha yoga; second year, Raja yoga. As a result of that he attained many spiritual powers and siddhis. The third year Govindapada taught Shankara the highest truth of Gyana yoga, Aparokshanubhuti, and the secrets of dharana, dhyana and samadhi. It was indeed an honour to have such a disciple. In those times of decay in dharma, a lot of hopes were pinned on Shankara.

He also remembered that during the monsoon season just this year, when he was sitting in samadhi, the waters of the Narmada started to rise as if to inundate the cave. There was panic and pandemonium amongst his disciples. Shankara had calmly put an earthen pot in front of the cave and all the waters of the flooded Narmada were drawn into it. How surprised all had been to witness this miraculous feat!

Afterwards when Govindapada heard of this event, he blessed Shankara by saying, "I heard from my Guru Gaudapada, and he had heard from his Guru Sukadev that one would come who would contain the hundred currents of the Narmada in an earthen pot. That person shall assimilate all the Vedic teachings in the Brahmasutras to revive the dharma, I know now that they were referring to you. I bless you in your work".

Acharya Guru Govindapada was satisfied with Shankara. He was an incarnation of the Lord, and would set things right. Govindapada had completed his mission. His waiting was over and he would now enter mahasamadhi. He concentrated his mind at the eyebrow center, mentally bowed and offered a prayer to his Guru and the Lord, centered the pranas in sahasrar chakra and attained mahasarnadhi.


It was afternoon. Although the sun was shining high in the sky, it was quite dark inside the small hut. Within, one could make out two old figures, one lying on a cot all covered up with blankets, and the other crouching beside the prone figure on the bed. The figure crouching beside the bed was that of an old maid who served Vishishta Devi, the mother of Shankara, and the figure on the bed was Shankara's mother who was sick, delirious and unconscious. The whispered came of "Shankara" escaped from her lips from time to time. Doctors had come, and had given her treatment and medication but nothing seemed to work on that frail body. Ultimately the doctors had said that only the grace of Lord Ashutosha would be able to make her healthy, and had slowly left the hut, leaving Vishishta Devi in the care of the old maid who had served her since the day Shankara was born.

The old maid knew about the promise that Shankara had made his mother when he had taken sannyas and left home in search of his Guru. "In your last hour you just have to remember me and I shall appear beside you, and you shall have darshan of your Lord". But where was he now? Why had he not come? She knew that Shankara would come, but when ? "Shankara please come", was the only thought that kept appearing in her mind over and over again.

News of Shankara's achievements and glory had preceded him. He was the talk on everyone's lips. How happy his mother used to be whenever someone brought the news of Shankara from far-away lands. She would hear the news with silent tears of joy in her eyes, then go to the temple and offer worship to Lord Ashutosha and distribute prasadam to all the children in the village.

After the mahasamadhi of his Guru, Govindapada, Shankara had left Omkareshwar with some sannyasins and had gone to Varanasi. There he chose a solitary place near the Manikarnika Ghat for his stay- Daily he would give discourses to aspirants who would come to him, many times out of curiosity, and many times with an earnest desire to imbibe the wisdom of Shankara. Slowly his fame began to spread. Many used to come with the purpose of trying to defeat Shankara with their arguments and debates, but in the end they were defeated and would feel blessed to hear the truth from one so young.

It was at Varanasi, the maid mused, that Shankara met a boy named Sanandan, another young prodigy, who had come to study the scriptures and who became a disciple of Shankara. Later on he was named Padmapada.

Stories were told that at Varanasi, Adya Shakti Bhawani and Lord Mahadeva had blessed Shankara. The Adya Shakti had appeared in the form of a woman mourning over the corpse of her dead husband which lay in her lap, and asking all for assistance to perform his final rites. Shankara was going for a bath with his followers and requested the lady to move the corpse from the path, and she replied, "Why don't you ask the corpse to move?". Shankara said. "Mother, why are you so disillusioned? How can a corpse move? It has no power, no shakti". That woman answered, "Then why, O Yogi, do you profess that Brahman without Shakti is the Creator?" Shankara was astonished and the woman along with the Corpse just vanished before his eyes. He realised that it was the Adya Shakti who had come to open another dimension of reality for him, and had thus blessed him.

On another occasion when Shankara was again going for a bath, Lord Mahadeva appeared in the guise of an ugly Chandala accompanied by four dogs. Shankara addressed him by saying, "Move out of the way". The Chandala laughed and said, "Whom are you asking to move, the body or the spirit? The Atman is omnipresent and the body is merely its container. From the Atmic viewpoint, is there a distinction between the reflection of the sun in the waters of the Ganges and the same reflection of the sun in wine? Is this your wisdom?". Shankara was aghast, the realisation dawned on him, and he bowed before the Chandala, who disappeared, and Lord Mahadeva appeared in his full glory to bless Shankara and instruct him, saying "Re-establish the Vedic precepts and propagate the same amongst the masses. Write a commentary on the Brahmasutras of Vyasa. You are born of me for the welfare of mankind".

At Kaladi, his mother heard that after this encounter with the Lord, Shankara had decided to go to Badarikashram for completing the mandate of the Lord. He had left Varanasi with his followers and had travelled by foot passing many towns and tirthas, giving discourses, inspiring people to renovate temples, organising systems of worship according to the Vedic tradition. What an enormous task and arduous journey for someone just twelve! She was proud of being his mother.

Eventually Shankara reached Vyasashram in Badarika. area. This was the place where sage Vedvyasa had dictated the great epic Mahabharata to Ganesha, who had become his scribe. Here Shankara spent four years, taught his followers the vedic truths and wrote commentaries on the Brahmasutras, twelve Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahasranaam, Sanatsujatiya, Srutis and Smritis. Afterwards he travelled to the pilgrimage centres in the Himalayan region.

After completing his travels in the Himalayas, Shankara came to Uttar Kashi and there, as if knowing that his lifespan of sixteen years was coming to an end, lost himself in contemplation of the Supreme Self, People said that it was here that Sage Vedvyasa came to Shankara in the guise of an old man and, after a lengthy discussion with Shankara, was very pleased with his commentary on the Brahmasutras and other texts. He blessed Shankara with another extension of sixteen years and instructed him to guide the masses, who had deviated from this original path due to the power politics of many sects and traditions, back to the fold of spiritual and Vedic precepts. Hearing this story Vishishta Devi's joy knew no bounds. She knew that with the blessings of the Gods and saints, Shankara was going to live and that he had a great mission to fulfil.

After receiving instructions from Sage Vedvyasa, Shankara travelled with his disciples and followers through the regions of north eastern India and came to Prayag, where Kumaril Bhatta lived. He had waged an interminable war against the foreign and non-vedic influences which were trying their best to destroy the foundations of Vedic Dharma. In the course of his drive to re-establish the Vedic precepts, Kumaril Bhatta had offended, his own teachers, and as a repentance against the sin was in the process of self-immolation. It was at this time that Shankara came before him wanting to discuss the Sanatana ideals with him. Kumaril Bhatta told Shankara to find Mandan Mishra who would be able to discuss the same with him, and by defeating Mandan Mishra, Shankara would become the champion of the Vedic cause.

The old maid remembered the day when some travellers had come and told about the defeat of Mandan Mishra and Shankara's miraculous powers. How was the story? The maid started to think, Shankara had reached Mahishmati town located between the Narmada and Mahishmati rivers, and there requested Mandan Mishra to enter into a debate with him, as that was the will of Kumaril Bhatta. Mandan Mishra was a disciple of Kumaril Bhatta and accepted the debate as it was the will of his teacher.

The debate between the two started, with Mandan Mishra's wife, Ubhaya Bharati who was very learned and considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Saraswati, as the judge. The debate was very dynamic and interesting, and continued for eighteen days, at the end of which Mandan Mishra conceded defeat and offered to become a disciple of Shankara.

Ubhaya Bharati had then come forward and requested Shankara for an opportunity to enter into a debate with him, as according to the Sanatana ideals, the wife was the other half of the husband, and her husband would not be fully defeated unless and until she was defeated also.

Shankara agreed and the debate between the two continued for another eighteen days. When Ubhaya Bharati questioned Shankara about the erotic arts and sciences, Shankara became silent as he had no knowledge of the same, and asked for one month's time to find the right answers, which was granted to him by Ubhaya Bharati.

Shankara left Mahishmati and went to a cave, where he sat in meditation. His disciples brought him the news that a king named Amarak from a nearby province had just died. Immediately Shankara took this opportunity to transfer his soul to the body of the king, after leaving his ascetic body in the care of his disciples, and in the span of one month learned all there was to learn in the royal palace about the erotic arts and sciences. Before the completion of the month, he again left the body of the king and re-entered his own, then went to Ubhaya Bharati, answered all her questions, and won the debate. Mandan Mishra became a disciple of Shankara and was named Sureshwaracharya. It was astonishing to the maid that the toddler who had played on her lap, now had the ability to transfer his soul from one body into another. Wonders never cease with Shankara, she thought.

After Mahishmati, Shankara went with his increasing number of followers towards western India and visited many holy places, tirthas, before coming to Sri Shaila. People talked amongst themselves that at Sri Shaila, one Kapalika by the name of Ugra Bhairava became a disciple of Shankara with the purpose of eliminating him at the first opportunity. How low a person can fall, the maid thought. Shankara, young and compassionate, did not suspect anything and soon Ugra Bhairava invited him to a Kapalika ritual where he would sacrifice Shankara. Shankara readily went with him, and if it had not been for the ever-alert Padmapada, who cared for the welfare of Shankara, and saved him by invoking. Narasimha (the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu), Shankara would have died at the hands of the Kapalikas, his sworn enemies. The maid shuddered at this thought, "May God forbid!" she muttered under her breath.

In his travels, Shankara had come to Harihara Tirth, and there as he was going to the temple for darshan of Ambika, a young couple came with their new-born dead child and placed him at the feet of Shankara, begging for his life. Shankara in his compassion, prayed to Goddess Bhagavati, and in front of the multitude of his followers, disciples and visitors to the temple, the child moved his body, opened his eyes and began to wail.

Shankara gave life to a dead child. Had he not also given speech to a dumb boy? Yes, he had. The maid tried to remember how. Shankara had gone to Sri Beli, accompanied by hundreds of followers, and there a brahmin family brought their boy of thirteen, who had been dumb since his birth, to be blessed by Shankara. Shankara had asked that boy in Sanskrit, "Who are you? Whose son are you? Where are you going? Where have you come from? What is your name? Answer me, for I get a special feeling when I see you". That young boy had brightened up upon hearing Shankara and had replied in clear Sanskrit, "I am not a man, nor divine, nor spirit, neither a brahmin, nor kshatriya, vaishya nor sudra, nor a brahmachari, nor a householder, nor a renunciate, nor an ascetic. I am the embodiment of Self". Thus the mute boy had spoken, and his parents then offered him to Shankara who later initiated him and named him Hastamalaka.

Shankara then came to Sringagiri (Sringeri) where he established the Math and a temple where he installed Sri Yantra and invoked Goddess Saraswati. There another boy joined him, who was later initiated and named Trotakacharya, "At present Shankara is in Sringeri", thought the maid.

There was a soft knock at the door. The maid came out from her reverie and looked at the prone figure on the bed. The blanket had slipped. She gently covered the body with the blanket, and heard Vishishta Devi murmur the name of Shankara. "Is he going to come as promised ?" thought the maid. Again there was a knock at the door of the hut. Who could be there at this hour? It was nearing evening and the people of the village were busy winding up their activities of the day and preparing for the evening meal. She went to open the door.

Outside it was just evening, and in front of the door a God-man was standing, young and radiant like a mini sun. She was stunned! Who could he be? The God-man bowed before the old figure of the maid and said, "How is mother?" The maid, recognising the young man, gave a cry of joy and tears broke out of her ancient eyes. Shankara had come at last! How had he come? Well, all those questions would wait. She grabbed the young hands of Shankara with her old withered hands and pulled him towards the cot where his mother lay.

Shankara placed his bands on top of his mother's head, and in a soft voice full of love said, "Mother, your Shankara has come". These words brought instant reaction and the eyes of Vishishta Devi fluttered open. In the meantime, the maid had lit a lamp and brought it near the cot, so that mother and son could gaze at each other. Vishishta Devi's eyes were moist with tears of joy to see her son now big and great, acclaimed as the Vishwa Guru (Guru of the Universe) by the masses. She clasped his head covered with saffron robes in her trembling hands, pulled the head to her and smothered his forehead with kisses.

Shankara said to his mother, "I have come to serve you. Remove all your sorrows and get well soon". His mother said, "My son, seeing you, all my sorrows have disappeared. I am happy. The body is suffering due to old age and the near and dear ones have caused a lot of trouble. If it was not for the maid and her care I would have died a long time ago. Look after her when I am no more. Now have a bath and a meal".

After the bath and hastily prepared meal which the maid had made ready, Shankara came to his mother. His mother then said to him, "I am preparing for my departure. My last wish was to see you. You have come and now nothing remains for me, I just wish to attain the abode of my Ishta". Shankara lovingly said, "Mother, once you know the ultimate Self, you will attain liberation".

And he then started to impart the transcendental wisdom to her.  Vishishta Devi said to him, "I am not versed In this lore; I am uneducated. How will I realise the Self which is beyond speech and mind? My Shankara, show me the divine form of the Lord, so that I can look at it with my eyes and consider myself blessed".

Shankara remained silent for a while, then said to his mother. "Mother, close your eyes and merge your mind in your Ishta Devata. That way you will have his darshan". Then in a voice full of compassion, he prayed and invoked Mahadeva and Narayana, His mother had the divine darshan of her Lord in full blazing glory, not even remotely comparable to the brilliance of a thousand suns in the heavens, blessed Shankara by placing her frail hands on top of his head and said, "May Lord Ashutosha protect and guide your destiny, and may you be an able instrument of his Will"- Thus saying, she gave up her mortal frame on the lap of her beloved Shankara.


The sun was reflecting from the snow-capped mountain and the sky was clear blue. Wisps of white cloud hung in the heavens, and the few high flying birds made the glory of the Himalayan sky even greater. It was a desolate region where there were hardly any trees. The terrain was barren, with pieces of rock jutting out from the ground like eternal sentinels guarding the mountain passes. The whole scenery was vibrating with an inner beauty. Padmapada, along with Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalaka and Trotakacharya, watched the receding figure of their master, Shankara, walking alone towards Kedarnath barefoot on the snow-clad Himalayan mountains, towards a solitary place which Shankara had decided would be his final resting place.

At the age of thirty-two, the final year of his life, Shankara came with a multitude of his disciples to Badarikashram and gave final instructions to his disciples to carry on with the work of propagating and preserving the Sanatana Vedic precepts, which by now had taken a great hold over the masses of the country, and all opposition from non-Vedic foreign influences and sects had dwindled away. Afterwards he called his four close disciples and said, "The purpose of my adopting this body is over. Now all of you prepare yourselves by becoming the living examples of the highest Vedantic truth and propagate the same in all corners of the land. The Divine Will which directed this self, will also continue to guide you. Now let me go". Thus saying, he had left Badarikashram with the four disciples heading towards Kedarnath over snow. laden hilltops, and at one point stopped them from proceeding further with him by saying, "The path which I shall walk now will be without human company, so stay here". The disciples had begged him to allow them to go further with him but he had said, "I have no use for human help, for the Lord will lead me now," And declining all help he went on alone. The disciples, now alone, sat on the snow from where they had watched their Guru go towards the deep Himalayan ranges, each one lost in his own thoughts. They had a mission to fulfil which had been assigned to each one of them by their Guru.

Their minds went back to the time when Shankara was at Sringeri discussing and teaching the Vedantic reality to his followers, when suddenly he had adjourned the class in the middle of his discourse and had gone to his room. The disciples had followed him, and there he told them that his mother on her deathbed was remembering him and he was needed. They could follow him as soon as they were able to manage the affairs of the Math which had been recently established. They had asked him how he would be able to cover that long journey without any prior travel arrangements. Shankara had laughed and said, "The Lord will provide a way". Then he had cloyed himself in the room and when the room was again opened by his disciples, Shankara was not found in it. People believed that he had flown with the help of his yogic powers to his ailing mother.

When the disciples arrived at Kaladi, they found that Shankara's mother had left her mortal frame, and that it was Shankara himself who had performed her final rites as per her wishes, and had then given the family wealth to the old maid and made her comfortable.

While Shankara was in Kaladi, the King of Kerala State, Rajashekhar, approached him and requested him to stay on for a longer period and to reorganise the Vedic tradition in the State for social development.

After spending some time in Kerala, Shankara left "with his followers to travel and to instil the faith of the masses in the Dharma. He was accompanied by King Rajashekhar of Kerala and King Sudhanwa of Karnataka with all their retinue. The chanting of mantras by the disciples of Shankara vibrated the hearts and minds of all who met them. Town after town, village after village, many tirthas and countless temples were visited and a new direction was given to the people.

They had reached Madhyarjuna tirtha, where Shankara addressed a large group of pundits on Advaita Vedanta philosophy in the temple of Lord Shiva, When questioned about the validity of his Advaita system, Shankara had meditated and prayed to the Lord to give the wise some sign, and a divine voice was heard from the heavens saying, "Advaita is the Truth", This voice was heard by all those present.

After this event, Shankara went to Sri Rangam via Rameshwaram. In Sri Rangam, he had a debate with the head of the Vaishnava, sect along with his followers and taught them the five maha yajnas comprising:

1. Brahmayajna - study of scriptures; 2. Pitriyajna-offering to the ancestors; 3. Homayajna - agnihotra, etc. 4. Baliyajna - serving the creatures of the Lord, and 5. Nriyajna- service and care of guests.

Many of the Vaishnavas at Sri Rangam became his followers.

Then, travelling, Shankara came to Prayag and Varanasi where he held discussion with the heads and followers of the Samkhya system: Shaivas, Shaktas, Mimamsakas, Ritualists, Charvaks, Yogis, followers of various tantric branches, worshippers of Lakshmi, Saraswati. Ganapati, etc., and infused the zeal of Vedic aspiration in them. From Varanasi, Shankara went to Saurashtra and visited many tirthas in that region, established another Matha at Dwarika, and held debates with the followers of Samkhya, Buddhist and Jain schools of thought. Then he travelled on to Kashmir, where in a temple at Srinagar he composed the famous Saundarya Lahari hymn. Afterwards he travelled to Bihar, Bengal and Assam, where he won the hearts of everyone with his clear concept, understanding and teaching of the Vedic tradition and Dharma.

It was in Pragjyotishpur (Assam ) that Shankara was taken ill with fistula, recalled the disciples still sitting in the snow-capped hills of Kedarnath. Assam was famous for its vamamargi buddhist tantric practices and teachers, especially the region around Pragjyotishpur, which was in own as Kamaroopa, where the famous temple of Kamakhya lay, which Shankara had visited. It was here that the buddhist tantrics lead by Abhinava Gupta had come to challenge Shankara to a debate, and were defeated by his deep insight and wisdom.

Unable to accept defeat, they had performed tantric rituals and Shankara started to feel the pangs of fistula. Pus and blood began to flow accompanied by terrible pains. The disciples were concerned but Shankara, despite his suffering and deteriorating health, was fully equipoised and calm. His disciples had felt that he would not live long and once again it was Padmapada who had come to know of the malicious intention of Abhinava Gupta, and performed Shanti karmas to neutralise the effects of the tantric influence. Sure enough, soon Shankara regained his health and vigour.

After this episode Shankara came with his disciples to Gaudadesha (presently Northern Bengal) and inspired the king to propagate the Vedantic precepts in the region. It was here that Shankara had the darshan of his Guru's Guru, Acharya Gaudapada. One evening when Shankara was contemplating alone beside the river Ganges, the radiant figure of an ancient Sage materialised in front of him. The figure said, "Dear Shankara, you have received the ultimate knowledge for liberation from my disciple Govindapada. I am content that you have performed the great feat of re-establishing the Vedic Dharma and have written commentaries on the scriptures. Ask something of me".

Shankara replied, "O great Guru, your vision is like the living vision of the Supreme Lord. Grant the boon that I may lose myself in the contemplation of the Supreme Self, which is truth, Consciousness and Beatitude". The vision then blessed Shankara with raised hands and dematerialised. After a few days Shankara travelled to Nepal and Tibet and awakened the zeal of Dharma in the people of those states, then slowly but surely directed his steps towards Badrikashram and Kedarnath.

The sun was slowly settings and a soft chilling breeze began to blow in the hills where the disciples sat with heavy hearts looting again at the footsteps of Shankara imprinted on the snow, going towards infinity. Finally, they got up and bowed to the footprints and just one sentence formed on their lips, "Victory to Shankara, the Vishwa Guru, the Acharya, the Preceptor of the Kali Age. Victory to Shankaracharya." Slowly they walked down towards Badarikashram. They had a mission to fulfill, and many miles to walk before they rested.


There are many beliefs which give a different account of the final departure of Shankara. Some say that Shankara left his mortal frame in Mount Kailash after visiting the cave of Dattatreya, Where he was blessed by him. Others believe that he left his mortal frame to Ranchi, while yet others believe that he merged his body with the deity at Parashuram Temple at Trichur in Malabar state. However, most historians agree that it was in the region of Kedarnath that Shankara attained the ultimate merger with the Supreme.

Whatever the belief, all accept that no one else could have done in many lifetimes what Shankara was able to do in his short life-span of thirty two years. He changed the total religious and spiritual structure of India, reorganised the scattered groups of Sannyasins, and gave a solid direction to the Vedic movement which is still being followed with full enthusiasm by countless aspirants and seekers all over the world.

This great God-man with far-reaching inner vision, organised the ancient tradition of sannyas and collected all ascetics, renunciates, yogis and sadhus who wondered aimless and directionless throughout the length and breadth of India, under the one banner of the Vedic tradition. He established in the course of his wanderings, four Pithas or Maths in the four corners of India, in each of which one of his disciples was installed to lead the sannyasins and to guide the propagation of the Vedic precepts.

They are as follows:

1)    KALIKA MATH ; Location- Dwarika in Western India, Acharya - Hastamalaka, Veda - Sama Veda, Vakya - Tattwamasi, Sampradaya - Keetawar, Title -of sannyasins associated with this Math - Tirtha, Ashram.

2)    VIMALA MATH; Location - Puri in Eastern India, Acharya - Padmapada, Veda - Rik Veda, Vakya - Prajnanam Brahma, Sampradaya - Bhogawar, Title - Vana, Aranya.

3)    JYOTI MATH : Location - Badarikashram in Northern India, Acharya - Trotakacharya, Veda -Atharva Veda, Vakya - Ayamatma Brahma, Sampradaya - Anandawar, Title - Giri, Parvat, Sagar.

4)    SHARADA MATH : Location - Sringeri in Southern India, Acharya - Sureshwaracharya, Veda - Yajur Veda, Vakya - Aham Brahmasmi, Sampradaya -Bluriwar, Title - Puri, Bharati, Saraswati.

These maths are also known by their town names of Dwarika, Govardhan, Joshi, and Sringeri Math.

Yoga magazine, September 1992.







"Excessive eating or harnessing property, strenuous endeavors, idle talks, neglect of principles, the company of the worldly and fickleness; these six make the devotion perish."

Ambrosial streams of this text shall feed the lotus of devotion till it blossoms in full.

The basis of yoga sadhana is shuddhi (purification), sthiti (the illumination that comes through concentration as a result of purification) and arpana (awakening and conscious unification with the higher force within). Purification comes by awareness around the 6 enemies of the mind. 

In the evolutional journey of the spiralling up and down, we often stay unaware of the intricate interplay of the major basic 6 strings that our mind is playing all the time. Often a combination of some of them, occasionally all of them at once this creates the most dramatic effect to the observer or participant, depending on what our presence tells us. All the emotions that spring into the play are sprouting from one of the original six Arishadvargas, which in turn can also be traced and reduced to the original one, somewhat like a telescopic lense.

Lobha - greed, miserliness, narrow minded; Mooladhara

Kama - lust, craze, desire, passion, obsession; Swadhisthana

Krodha - anger, hatred, motivation, aggression, dynamism; Manipura

Matsarya - envy, jealousy, show or vanity, and pride. Anahata

Moha - delusory emotional attachment, infatuation;  Vishuddha 

Mada or Ahankara - pride, stubborn mindedness, arrogance, superiority complex; Ajna

These are the 6 enemies, which can be made friends with by simply acknowledging their existence and interaction in our life.

Amritananda Natha Saraswati writes "All these binding negatives come from the fixation that “I am this body, mind and intellect and these are mine. ... Anger against these children of “I” and “mine” pushes them away. Thus we become a life in everyone. We become mothers to this illusory world giving the positive elements protection and nourishment.”

KAMA... Wanting something that is not mine is lust. Desire for riches, property, honour, status, fame, children. Attachment to all things of this sensory world.

KRODHA... The object of lust not coming to me creates anger.  Yearning to harm others and cause ruin to them.

LOBHA... The object of my lust comes to me and the emotion that I should not lose it creates possessiveness. Determination that no one else should partake of even a small fraction of what one has earned or what one has. Even in times of distress, one's possessions should not be diminished by use.

MOHA... The feeling that I cannot live without it is delusion. Seeing life incorrectly. Unable to see reality, living in illusion. The delusion that some people are nearer to one than others and the desire to please them more than others, leading to exertions for earning and accumulating for their sake.

MADA/AHANKARA... The sense that only I have it and no one else has it is pride. The false pride that develops when one feels that he has either scholarship or strength or riches or high birth or good looks or fame, more than others. Even when one has not got these, Mada makes men move about without reverence for elders and consideration for others' feelings and stimulates craving only for one's own comfort and security. Mada is extreme egoism or self - centeredness.

MATSARYA... The sense that others have it and I don’t have it is jealousy. Finding it intolerable that others are as happy as oneself, Matsarya makes one miserable; over other s good fortune.  Only I should have all things  is the feeling of Matsarya.

Naropa's Yoga Of Sleep utilises practices of very simple chakra visualisation (basically just points of light without much imagery) + mantra (again very simple 1-word utterances) + breath coordination (easy) that are performed sequentially during the sleep time with a waking interval of 2hrs. I was quite stoked to discover that they worked flawlessly from the first go (after simply reading a book and committing to the practice), new dimensions for mind exploration have opened up and allowed to clear lots of doubt on the shaky path of seeking truth.

"By visualising a specific chakra, the subtle winds (which follow the mind), enter the central channel. The chakra at which they enter is important in order to realise specific practices, for example, meditating on the syllable 'Ah' in the navel chakra is important for the practice of Tummo, or inner fire, the basis of the 6 yogas of Naropa. Meditating on the 'Hum' in the heart chakra is important for realising the Clear Light of bliss and emptiness. Meditating on the throat chakra is important for lucid dreaming and the practices of dream yoga. And meditating on the crown chakra is important for consciousness projection, either to another world, or into another body." (Naropa)

Generally speaking, just knowing about chakras is already doing its wonderful job, redirecting the normally wondering senses within. But practicing Yoga Of Sleep (do not confuse with Yoga Nidra, it is another meditation) opens up the portals to the subconscious mind and allows to seek guidance within through lucid dreaming and ability to decipher the mind's keys.

Bhakti | Karma | Raja | Jnana Yoga