Pashupat Practices

The primary practices expressed in the Pashupat Sutras are surrender, bath-in-ashes, laughter, song, dance, etc. Secondary to this are practices for acquiring merit (good ‘karma’).

Esoteric Teachings of the Immortal, Lord Lakulisha,
Twenty-Eighth Incarnation of Lord Shiva.  

Taking a quick look over the Pashupat Sutras exposes two basic subjects. Everything taught in these sutras falls into one or the other of the two. They are, (1) sadhana practiced in seclusion, and (2) sadhana practiced in the world at large. The first of these are the primary practices of Pashupat Shaivism expressed as surrender, bath-in-ashes, laughter, song, dance, etc. Secondary to these primary practices, are practices for acquiring merit.

Why merit, and why is this important?

When not in engaged in the primary practice of surrender to God, one will be going into the village to beg food, etc., so we are given a practice that is commensurate with this sadhana and its purpose: to attain God-realization, liberation and the end of sorrows. This extends to the attainment of Divine Body, or immortality, which is not its purpose but an end product.

Beginning Yoga

The purpose of the sadhana practiced in the world at large, is the acquisition of merit. We must remember that these teachings, as mentioned in the sutras themselves, are given at the beginning of yoga (union). The recipients of these teachings have obviously been doing sadhana beforehand, and are at the point of becoming yogis (persons who have attained union). In order to progress, certain conditions are necessary. If one’s karma is not copacetic, more difficulties may arise than can be overcome without sufficient merit, or ‘good karma’. Hence the teachings on how to acquire it.

This practice can appear to be a deliberate setup for acquiring other people’s good karma and leaving them with one’s own baggage. This is how most translations read, but the translators are probably not yogis, though they do know their Sanskrit. So is this a setup? If the translators are to be taken literally, it is. But one might reasonably ask, “How can I avoid creating bad karma by deliberately setting up someone in order to steal their good karma and leave them with my bad karma?” This dilemma lies in not understanding the Principle behind these teachings.


The Principle
When others abuse you, your karma will evaporate
to the same degree that you are treated badly
if you don’t cancel the opportunity
by defending yourself, making excuses or blaming.

To the degree another person creates their own bad karma by abusing you,
to that same degree, your own karma is burned up. This amounts to merit.


Seen from this perspective, these teachings are not a setup at all, but are simply a way to increase one’s merit so that sadhana can continue to the fulfillment of its purpose. But the actual practice of this Principle is uncomfortable.

It is difficult to achieve the detachment necessary to allow people to not understand us, find fault with us or our actions, and insult, humiliate or abuse us, without our feeling compelled to defend ourselves. To avoid this situation, it is easy to say, “I don’t believe in this practice. I won’t steal other people’s good karma and leave them with my bad karma. It’s just not right!”  It is also not possible.

You cannot take another person’s good karma and you cannot make them take your bad karma. Obviously, when people are hurtful or mean, they are creating their own bad karma. The idea of stealing someone’s karma is not meant literally. It is a way of demonstrating how the law of cause and effect (karma) works by trying to get across the point of equal karma (“to the same degree”).

Practicing the Principle

OK, now that you’ve got the idea, how do you begin getting your feet wet with this strange practice?

Start with something easy. Pay attention and notice when an opportunity presents itself, and quickly decide whether to apply the Principle or not. If a situation is so loaded that you can’t get yourself to use it, be alright with that, but note the event and look for something easier to start with. Once you find your place in the scheme of things and start to apply the Principle, you can up the ante as you are able.

The up-side of all this is, when you are aware and ready to apply the Principle, you will not be able to hurt anyone yourself—physically, verbally, or mentally (bearing malice, hurtful thoughts). You will not be in a state in which such behavior can take hold—anger, fear and desire, the basis of hurtful behaviors, cannot take root in the midst of intention. This puts you in a very good position for acquiring a special power that results from the mastery of ahimsa* (harmlessness):

In your presence, enmity will flee.
There will be no violence of any kind, from any source, around you.

* Ahimsa – Harmlessness, non-injury, non-violence, non-killing. Ahimsa is the first of the Ten Keys to Success.

What goes around, comes around.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma

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Upcoming Blogs (not necessarily in this order):
Enlightenment and Ego
Enlightenment – What It Is
Enlightenment and Non-Doership
Kundalini (Series)

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