Sai Baba Magick and Puttaparthi Mountains
31st of March, 2008 - 12:33
A few days back, as our route took us to Bangalore, we also spent a few days in Puttaparthi, the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, the famous Hindu teacher, considered by his followers to be an avatar.
Taoist-Maoist Indiana Jones
31st of March, 2008 - 12:29
The gurubhai seers of Radhakund have now realized that I have become a Tantric and a Buddhist Sannyasi, and concluded that my fame deserves to be spread...
Theravada 4 Eva
27th of March, 2008 - 13:41
To adopt a new conceptual framework, to revise the old, or neither, or both? Thoughts in principle on evolutions, revolutions and renunciations, on current emphases and future possibilities.
Shankara, Bhagavata-purana and Advaita-vedanta
25th of March, 2008 - 4:08
The first installment in exploring earlier themes of Vedas, Advaita, Buddha, Brahmanas and so forth in some further detail.
Anger Danger
24th of March, 2008 - 16:14
With my recent writings on the evolution of my views on Hinduism, featuring a departure that to many is irreconcilable and to some also unforgivable, expressions of anger have again become a theme of some contemplation to me.
Question to Readers
23rd of March, 2008 - 5:30
I don't really have a very clear picture of the demographics of the current Vraja Journal readership. Here's a question to the readers.
Gods Forsaken, Paradise Lost
22nd of March, 2008 - 19:44
Being a Buddhist means I no longer believe in god. Right? Well, let's be a bit more nuanced here.
Buddha, Vedas and the Brahmana culture
21st of March, 2008 - 13:30
Buddhism earned the nastika (atheist or infidel) label owing to the Buddha's rejection of Vedas. However, rejecting the Vedas isn't as black and white an issue as one might assume. This is a look at the Vedas the Buddha knew of.
From the Sahajiya Watcher
20th of March, 2008 - 13:03
A gem from recent feedback from Harry Krishna, a self-appointed sahajiya watcher.
Exclusive Devotion
18th of March, 2008 - 10:45
I wish to write a few words on the "exclusive devotion" theme of an earlier entry to clarify my views on bhakti.
Exit Madhava
16th of March, 2008 - 10:41
Yesterday, Advaitadas commented on my exit in his blog. These are some reflections on his message.
Style Revision
16th of March, 2008 - 5:52
Following the change of spirit, the form of the journal has undergone a due transfiguration.
Vraja Journal - Disclaimer
15th of March, 2008 - 15:57
What's the future of Vraja Journal? It'll continue, albeit in a somewhat different spirit. Please read this disclaimer before reading any further.
Dharma Reloaded
14th of March, 2008 - 18:37
Many readers of this journal have been wondering about the evolutions in my slant on things and my spiritual direction in general. Time has come to address matters in definite terms.
Vilasa Kunja Status
12th of March, 2008 - 16:13
I'm aware Vilasa Kunja and the rest of the sites (except for Vraja Journal) are down. Here's the latest on that.
Asubha: Meeting Corpses and Death
9th of March, 2008 - 16:51
Walking around the ghats of Varanasi, death is a common sight. The large piles of firewood tell their story of the volume of corpses daily burnt.
Our Shared Journey
4th of March, 2008 - 15:03
There was an earlier blog on misleading, commenting on the feedback of someone who came forward in a rather pointed manner about it. This is something, slightly retouched, I wrote to a friend who asked whether I truly felt I had misled someone.
Delhi to Varanasi
1st of March, 2008 - 13:25
Reaching New Delhi, booking train tickets, killing a few extra hours, observing the ominous Buddha-presence, moving towards Varanasi...

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Sai Baba Magick and Puttaparthi Mountains
Posted: 31st of March, 2008 - 12:33
A few days back, as our route took us to Bangalore, we also spent a few days in Puttaparthi, the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, the famous Hindu teacher, considered by his followers to be an avatar. And not just an avatar of this or that (e.g. Vishnu), "an avatar for whole universe", as a friendly gentleman there elucidated.

The whole of the Puttaparthi ashram, Prashanti Niketan or "The Abode of Highest Peace", is centered around devotion for Sai Baba. "Sai Ram", echoes the often heard all purpose greeting. While the main temple also hosts some chanting programs, the whole of the day's routine clearly reaches its climax for the devotees with Sai Baba's darshan, accompanied by dramas, musical performances and the such prepared for his pleasure.

His teachings, and the whole of his movement, are tailored into well-digestable, broad-appeal Hinduism with a good selection of noble values. There is a sense of popular syncretism in the iconography and some other nuances of the movement, but the general flavor is very distinctly Hindu. People may want to call it something else, but really, if something walks on two webbed feet and quacks, we can just call it a duck rather than an all-purpose amphibian entity.

Much is said about the Baba's miracles. (The Wikipedia entry features an impressive array of claimed miracles from levitation to matter transformation and vanishing in thin air.) In the few darshans I participated in, I didn't get to experience anything out of the ordinary on any conscious level. Whether there was something on a level I am not cognizant of, I couldn't say.

However, I'll say this: The way the place was being run was totally surreal. Stuff worked like an Ambassador from the 1950's. Everything was organized beyond anything I would have ever expected to meet in India, all the way up to a three-story Sai Baba shopping mall featuring products for below-average prices. If he can effect a change like this on a broader scale in India, I'll gladly consider him first class savior grade material.

Some Thai monks have supposedly said that the Baba would be a deva descended from the Brahma-worlds. This is, again, beyond me to judge. Be that as it may, the whole of three days I stayed in the peaceful environment of the ashram were a pleasant stay. I got a favorable overall impression, I wasn't exhorted for money, nor did I have to face any kind of cultish behavior that might have been characteristic of a group so tightly centered around a charismatic leader.

The Mountains

The mountains painting the scenic canvas of the Puttaparthi environment drew me like a magnet from the first sight. I have a thing with mountains, please don't ask me to try to explain! On the last full day of my stay in Puttaparthi, I took a few hours to walk a few kilometers to the foot of the hills, and climbed three quarter way up the highest peak in the vicinity.

Mountains are powerful. Even without any specific history of particular holiness, they are powerful, ancient, and full of symbols of wisdom for a perceptive contemplative. These wise old mountains, hills that the baba of Puttaparthi no doubt roamed across in his tender years of childhood, provided a revitalizing experience on many levels. (I had lived the past year and a half in the flatter than flat Uttar Pradesh.)

The Vedantic theory divides the being into five sheets. Annamaya-kosa, the body produced with food, got a decent exercise with the trek. Pranamaya-kosa, the body of vital airs, was rejuvenated and re-energized in the rich mountain air. Manomaya-kosa, the body of emotions, was delighted with the pristine scenery. Vijnanamaya-kosa, the body of intellect, was stimulated and enlightened with the mountain symbols, the teachings the mountain had kept in store for me since ancient days. Anandamaya-kosa, the causal body or the bliss body, is a level beyond my direct perception I assume to have been effected as well, but even without, four out of five isn't a bad score.

Achala is one of the many Sanskrit words for a mountain — as in "Arunachala", a sacred mountain I visited in Tiruvannamalai, to be featured in a bit — meaning "immovable". These vast masses of solid rock, unmoved by the forces of nature, bearing torrents of rain and parching sunshine millennium after millennium, are witnesses to countless generations of humans, and indeed a multitude of civilizations risen and fallen. Mountains, our masters from antiquity, stand as a wordless testimony of the trifling and temporary nature of our human existence. Standing ever still, they remind us of the unmoving, emancipated and eternal reality beyond the streams of time.
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