Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

The Christian Bible (New Testament) states that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.(John 1:1)” Many Christians I grew up with cited this verse as indication that the Bible has always been around – literally. This is based on their strict definition of what “the word of God” means, and not only contradicts the actual history of the Bible, but also basic Christian theology. Alternately, I have also heard that “The Word” is the English translation of “Logos,” which apparently is Jesus in his pre-human, pre-creation, form. So, The Word manifested as The Son. It’s a verse and a concept that now makes me smile, and is actually quite “Hindu” and our own scriptures, which predate all Abrahamic scriptures by millennia, also assert that The Word existed before the physical world.

Hindu spirituality informs that the Supreme exists and only exists. From this unfathomable “Is-Ness” issues forth everything else. The first discernible emanation from this “is-ness-only” Brahman is an expansion in the form of sound and light. It’s because of this that our universe is built the way it is and that everything in the physical realm is actually hardly physical, but is instead varying combinations of light and sound. I find this to be yet another area where Hinduism is ahead of science, and even the mystical parts of Hinduism are supported by this kind of parallel between science and the faith – some Hindu theology indicates that God is, and pervades, everything. If the known universe is essentially light and sound in varying resonance frequencies, and the primary active manifestation of God is as Light/Sound, there’s no conflict.

My own ishtadevata, Ganesha, happens to be the arguably most common face in the Hindu pantheon attributed to that first Sound – reaching back into our foundational scriptures, the Vedas. The Word that was in the beginning, was with God, and was/is God. To Hindus across the broad Hindu spectrum, the Primal, Primeval, and Causal Sound is Aum. Aside from the notion of Brahman (which isn’t a god, per se), the only god in the entire Hindu pantheon that is endeared pretty much across that spectrum, although to varying degrees, is Ganesha. His cosmic and religion-wide (indeed trans-cultural) universality is a direct side effect of Him being the embodiment of the concept recognized by every Hindu: Aum.

An aside that I find interesting, Christianity claims that the Son was actually in “Logos” form before there was a corrupted earth on which to incarnate. At the right time, he manifested and was then known as The Son. Ganesha, with some very obvious differences, has some parallels. “In the beginning” there was Aum and later on down the road, that Word took shape as Ganesha, the Son of Shiva, also known as Mahesh (Great Lord) or Mahadev (Great God), who is The Father.

In the past, I’ve detailed my perception of Ganesha being simultaneously the closest to the material plane AND the closest to Brahman. That seemed to have mixed reception – reasons about which I sometimes still speculate. At any rate, my intention isn’t to express Ganesha’s supremacy so much as share thoughts based on material I’ve been reading lately in regard to him being The All-Sound, Shabda Brahman.

In a post a while back, I detailed (among other things) why I decided to change how I spell the symbol of the Hindu faith. I had been using the phonetic rendering, and have since adopted the try-akshar version, which I find to be cleaner and also indicative of my understanding of Ganesha as the beginning-middle-end of all that is.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti



I’ve been kind of questining things lately. I mean… this is the usual mode of operation for me, to be honest, but I feel like I’m questioning different things these days. Going deeper in some ways, and testing the surface level in other ways.

Some time ago, I asked around about the necessity and importance of Hinduism’s deep foundational orthodoxy. My specific inquiry at the time centered on the dark-n-wondrous knowledge that was revealed and codified in the images worshipped in Hinduism, as well as the intonations and sigils employed in the Sanatana Dharma. The idea is that there are very very specific formulations in place, which are meant to be employed very intentionally and specifically, for very intentional and specific reasons. And so then, what if we “misuse” those formulations. What happens in alchemy when one follows the precise steps to turn lead into gold, but the whole time just wants to turn lead into aluminum? Or what if the formulation is for turning lead into gold but you start off with aluminum and not lead? Do you still end up with gold? Or would you get a form of gold that’s fucked up? That’s what this post is about….still.

Recently, as a treat to myself I made a purchase from the Himalayan Academy. To be clear, I LOVE the Himalayan Academy and the associated Saivite sect, known in the West as Saiva Siddhanta Church. There’s an incredible lineage behind this sect and if I were to formally join, I could do so with almost no hesitation. (More on that in another post.) I’ve ordered from the good monks a number of times and have only once been disappointed – something not worth mentioning further. Their literature can change your life; time and time again it marries modern science with truly ancient spirituality that literally predates what is now known as Sanatana Dharma.

As part of this recent purchase, I managed to get my hands on no less than five rudrakshas. And the questioning begins. You can see three of the rudrakshas below. For the record, while they FEEL like they’re made of a kind of resin, although they certainly smell as one might expect and the box they came in was marked with oil spots – I’m certain they are legit.

Panchmukh Rudraksha


But what if they aren’t legit? What if they’re just decent imposters?

When I asked my other question about letting much of the “realness” of Hinduism slide, and what that might mean, a number of responses indicated that Bhakti would essentially gloss over any glitches and the rest might just be in my head anyway. Would that apply here? Does it matter at all if these are imposters, so long as I BELIEVE they are real and am devoted the the essence of real ones? Surely, whether these are real or not, if I hold them in my hand and close my eyes and do my jaapa/sadhana with love in my heart they can be as plastic as Barbie and I’ll benefit all the same, no? Will I really? Does Bhakti cover all?

I know the Gita indicates that God will accept virtually any offering made with devotion and sincerity. I actually take refuge in that consolation and also that the Gita explains that there is literally no wasted effort in one’s journey toward our Source. You do what you can, with what you can, and keep moving. Baby steps are still steps, yes? To me, this is the power of Bhaktiyoga.

But is this all that’s needed and if so, why not just go to the craft store and grab any old bead and then call it a rudraksha? I think Bhakti is a tremendous path, but I still have this nagging suspicion in the back of my heart. Many would say, and in fact have said, that in the Kali Yuga Bhatki beats all. But surely, if you’re trying to turn lead into gold you really truly must be starting with lead, or you are quite likely not to end up with gold.

What are your thoughts on this?

Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Rules I’m Likely to Ignore, #348.76

So, I’ve been working on a book. Reading one, that is. I’m trying to get a few out of the way in the coming weeks, so that I can tackle reading a work of fiction (unusual for me to read) that was suggested by a pal. One of the books I’m working my way through currently is “Loving Ganesha,” by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. I like the title a lot because loving is meant to be both an adjective and an adverb. As you might guess, knowing that, the book details how Ganesha is a loving deity as well as how one might express love toward Ganesha.

The book is a gem to me. For starters, of all the shaivite literature I own this author is among the few who manage to convey concepts that are big and small alike in a manner that makes either easily digestible. This book in particular details many aspects of Ganesha, His lore, His background, His worship, and a ton of other things. The book holds about 550 pages, and in Chapter 12 I find myself about half way through.

Where I am now is mentioning some specifics of Ganesha worship and a few traditions surrounding it. One topic touched on is when it’s general unacceptable for one to enter a temple room or engage in puja. One such time is during a woman’s monthly cycle. Apparently, she’s supposed to avoid engaging in or attending puja or making of prasadam. She is still permitted to perform lots of other religious or spiritual activities, just not making prasadam or taking part in puja. In very traditional Shaivite homes, there is often a separate living quarters for a woman during this time, at the conclusion of which she burns any clothing that might have her blood on it, puts on a new garment and rejoins the household. Similar expectations apply to any member of the house who is injured in any form beyond a minor cut or scratch. The author cites esoteric reasons pertaining on one’s aura and susceptibility to asuric influences. Apparently, the person who this might apply to should also not be permitted to go to the actual temple either, although family may go there on that person’s behalf.

I don’t have to worry about a physical monthly cycle, but men do experience cyclic hormonal fluctuations not entirely unlike those of women. Further, I don’t like this notion of being so phobic of blood. Blood is, literally, an inherent part of any human’s physical existence. We don’t have a choice in this, and superficially speaking, I don’t think something a person has no choice in should be held against them. Also, I can only imagine what the physical menstrual cycle feels like for a female and that misery alone seems punishment enough. Barring them from worship goes too far for my taste.

Nothing in what I’ve read so far indicates anything close to “original sin,” a deplorable concept that permeates Abrahamic religions, but I think this notion that exposed blood is bad kind of hints at it – at least in my own interpretation. The reasoning that the person is more open to asuric influences seems counter-intuitive. Maybe I don’t understand Hindu worship as deeply as I suppose, but my heart-of-hearts tells me that any time someone is weaker than normal, for any reason, darshan would be good medicine. If someone can adequately explain to me how my thinking is misguided in this instance, I’m happy to think again. Otherwise, for now, all are equal and whole before my Ganesham and in His sight.

Om Tat Sat


I mentioned recently that I’m forever in the middle of reading 27 books. I finish one, have six others I’m still in the middle of, and feel compelled to buy 21 others. I easily spend more, yearly, on books than I do on clothing, music & entertainment, and adding to my collection of Ganeshas… combined.



I think this year might be different. (I’m fibbing through my teeth, but humor me, will you?) I think this year might be one wherein I do my best to become a Completer. My boss uses this term to describe his own work ethic. I don’t know the exact definition of this term in that context, but I think it applies to me, too -in the work place. Outside of work, though? Far less so. This year, I want to up my sense of commitment to the things that make me happy; namely language exploration and spirituality. So early into 2013, and I’m sure some of you reading this will say, “AHA! A New Year’s resolution!” It’s not really.

Here’s my game plan. You ready?

  1. I’m hoping to devote more time to adding to my working knowledge of Hindi and Sanskrit. If I feel the itch, perhaps Spanish, too. It would be nice to be able to use at work for when I get calls asking for a Spanish-speaking rep, but it’s gonna have to be a pretty strong itch.
  2. I’m considering enrolling in the Himalayan Academy‘s Supervised Master Course Study. I already have the books (although I’ll likely be purchasing a new, matching set because I’m OCD like that), and I recently paid the $11 to receive the workbook and worksheets. The basic flow here is that there are three, rather large, books that the Course is studied from. In addition to that, sadhaks receive the workbook/worksheets and in an organized and scheduled manner sadhaks work their way through the 15-month curriculum. You study the material. You do the homework. You send it to a monk at the Kaui monastery and get feedback. The whole journey is more than just doing homework assigned by monks. As I understand it, it’s essential Saivite catechism, plus sadhana instruction… leading up to and including formal conversion. After completing this, there are another 1-2 “courses” spiritual aspirants can progress through. Support for students/sadhaks is provided by the monks directly, as well as other resources including a super-top-secret-members-only Facebook group.

Once upon a time, when for about 13 seconds, I offered Dr. Phil (the largest asshole ever) my full attention, I heard him say that part of what plagues America these days is that we never complete anything. We’re apparently excellent starters, but no so excellent completers. I don’t know that this is where my manager got the term, but it IS likely the one thing Dr. Phil and I agree on. To be a completer you need commitment. Thus this post.


These aren’t resolutions, and here’s why I think that: While I am starting these with a distant and vague goal of completing them, it’s vastly more about the journey. I love learning-learning-learning. Nonstop learning. And I’m probably not going to stop buying (too many) books. I have hundreds of books; not a single one is fiction. That’s also not likely to change. But I don’t want to be in the middle of so many. What’s the matter with exercising a little bhakti for the sake of furthering myself along the path to Jnana-yogi-ness?

Meh, we’ll see.

Om Shanti

( OM ) Loka – Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

There are three worlds of existence: the physical, the subtle, and the causal, termed Bhuloka, Antarloka, and Shivaloka.


The physical plane, or Bhuloka, is the world of gross material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses. It is the most limited of the worlds, least permanent, and the most subject to change. The material world is where we have our experiences, manufacture karma and fulfill the desires and duties of life in a physical body. It is in Bhuloka that consciousness is limited, that awareness of the other two worlds is not always remembered.

The subtle plane, or Antarloka, is the mental-emotional sphere that we function in through thought and feeling and reside in fully during sleep and after death. It is the astral world that exists within the physical plane. The astral plane is for the most part exactly duplicated in the physical plane, though it is of a more intense rate of vibration.

The causal plane, or Shivaloka, pulsates at the core of being, deep within the subtle plane. It is the superconscious world where God and highly evolved souls live and can be accessed through yoga and temple worship. The causal plane is the world of light and blessedness, the highest of the heavenly regions, extolled in the scriptures of all faiths.

It is the foundation of existence, the source of visions, the point of conception, the apex of creation, abode of Lord Shiva Himself. The Shivaloka is the natural refuge of all souls.

(The above is taken from Jan/Feb/Mar 2013 issue of Hinduism Today)

Shivohum and Same to You, too.

namaste-sanskirtOne of my favorite publications is a Shaivite magazine, “Hinduism Today.” I’ve had a subscription for years and have purchased a few subscriptions for others as well. Whether one happens to be a vaishnav, shaivite, shakta, or smarta, this magazine is invaluable. It’s been instrumental in my own growth, for sure. One thing I repeatedly adore about it is that, although it is technically sectarian, it differs from most other sects in its openness and inclusiveness. As such, while it’s definitely a Shiva-oriented source, it does great work in covering the broader picture of Hinduism and the Hindu diaspora.

The most recent issue has a focus on Swami Vivekananda, which has been really great for me. His lineage appears to be from the Shakta denomination of Sanatana Dharma, his own guru being a priest for Kali at one of Her temples … in Dakshineshwar, I think. Along with this focus on Vivekananda and all he did for our faith, there are various other articles. One of these deals with the Namaste greeting, and is what this post’s primary focus is meant to be.


The article begins in pointing out the differences and immensely varied implications to be found in the Western handshake and the Anjali Mudra (Namaste greeting). For the sake of brevity and keeping focus, from here out I’ll use bullet points to list what I think are the main talking points of the article.

  • The handshake originates in medieval Europe. Weaponry on the person used to be a more common sight, and so was fear. The resultant “accidentally retributive” attacks were sometimes thwarted by showing the other guy your open hand (“I’m unarmed, don’t stab me!!!”). Later, with a little cultural evolution, the open hands were joined upon meeting or passing, and we now have the handshake.
  • The anjali mudra is highly symbolic: “Anj” means to adore, celebrate, honor; the pressing of the hands together symbolizes the bringing together of spirit and matter; the hands coming together symbolizes the self meeting the Self.
  • Three main forms of the Namaste greeting exist: 1) Simple meeting of the hands, vertically at the solar plexus; 2) Same as before, plus the addition of raising the hands until the upper fingertips touch one’s third eye; 3) Same as before, plus the addition of taking the joined hands to a position above the head at the aperture in the crown chakra known as brahma-randhra. These three variations are progressively formal.
  •  The handshake is an outwardly conquering gesture. It hints at Western man’s desire for conquering and acquiring. An overly strong handshake can be meant for purposes of intimidation, and a too-weak handshake is also very telling.
  • Western culture is summed up in the handshake: reaching out horizontally to greet another; we reveal our humanity; we convey how strong we are, how nervous, how aggressive or how passive. Namaste reaches in vertically to acknowledge that, in truth, there is no “other.”
  • It’s more civilized to Namaste instead of shaking hands. Popes never shake hands. Kings never shake hands. Even mothers don’t shake hands with their own children. Namaste is cosmically different: Kings do namaste, Satgurus namaste, mothers namaste their own families, we all namaste before God, a holy man, or a holy place. The namaste gesture indicates our inner valuing of the sacredness of all. Namaste is also more practical: A politician or performer can greet fifty-thousand people with one Namaste and the honor can be returned.
  • The gesture has a subtle effect on the aura and nerve system. The nerve currents of the body converge in the feet, the solar plexus and the hands. To balance this energy, and prevent its loss from the body, yogis and meditators sit cross-legged and bring their hands together. The anjali mudra is a simple yogic asana.
  • An increasing number of celebrities and others around crowds are adopting the Namaste greeting as a polite means of avoiding the transmission of contact diseases. The Namaste greeting has become a veritable icon of Indianness, although an ever-increasing number of non-Indians are also using the greeting.

I’m not sure that all of these points do justice to the practicality, intuition, and value that the Namaste greeting holds versus the handshake. Hopefully these points, as highlighted from the article, hint at some of this.

Om Shanti