The Code of Pashupati – Part 3

The Five Stages of Pashupat Shaivism

There are said to be five stages in Pashupat sadhana. I do not know if this has been arrived at by latter day scholars and practitioners, or whether it was originally intended. I do not see anything definitive regarding five stages within the sutras themselves, although there are prayers at certain junctures that separate five sets of sutras. Still, the first of these five sets appears to be an overall synopsis of the sadhana. On the other hand, with an overview of the complete text, it is possible to identify five teachings on the subjects of residence, sustenance, practices and actions, and gains, that can be summed up something like this:

Stage 1

Residence: a house.

Sustenance: begging alms.

Practices and actions: strength-celibacy, eight-limbs practice [see Yoga Sutras of Patanjali], actions like laughter, song, dance, etc., and bath in ashes.

Gains: removal of impurities and attainment of wisdom.

Stage 2

Residence: the world at large.

Sustenance: whatever is offered.

Practices and actions: appearing foolish, eccentric, and a lunatic.

Gains: merit, demerit destroyed, purification, withdrawal of the senses from objects of sense.

Stage 3

Residence: a vacant house or a cave.

Sustenance: alms while living like a cow or a deer.

Practices and actions: remembrance, surrender to God.

Gains: purification, complete introversion of the senses and the mind.

Stage 4

Residence: a cremation ground.

Sustenance: accepting whatever comes or can be obtained as chance provides.

Practices and actions: purification of states that cause one’s constant remembrance to slip.

Gains: direct contact with God.

Stage 5

Residence and Sustenance: the mode of living like a rishi (sage).

Practices and Actions: carefulness and grace of God.

Gains: the end of sorrows.

I leave it to you to try to convert this wisdom into present day understanding that is both useful and true to the original teachings. I believe this can be done, for this is a scripture and it is the nature of scripture to be timeless.

Durga Ma

Fulfillment – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell

“Fulfillment” is the word I have chosen to represent the Sanskrit word, samadhi, which is also the title of the first chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. There is no word in English that can be used as a synonym, and no phrase or sentence that adequately supplies a valid description or a satisfactory definition. The word “fulfillment” is the closest I could come.

The following is from an intro to a little book called, Fulfillment – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell, my own translation of the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras.

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My intention in sharing my own translations of ancient mystical writings for the Nutshell series is to make these works accessible to everyone and to make them more useful to more people regardless of the specific spiritual path of any one individual.

In my early years as a teacher of music, I discovered the necessity and the means of taking the learning process back to fundamental concepts, and how to keep things simple. Making things simple and basic was a surprisingly difficult undertaking. Leaving things as they were would have been easier for me by far, yet for my students it was a boon. By teaching them in this way, I did most of the work for them and all they had to do was play the music.

By presenting music in this manner, assumptions relating to the knowledge of my students, or the lack of it, did not lead to misunderstandings and cause hours of useless effort; corrections, which are more difficult that initial learning, were avoided. They learned how to learn, and they learned about music, not just how to play the piece. And they did it their way, not mine. It is in this spirit that I offer these writings to you.

It has been my experience that few people are interested in the deeper study of writings such as these, but if you are one of the few, let me offer some suggestions:

Get as many translations as you can of a given work (such as this one, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) and read them all, skipping the commentaries at first. Compare them. Contemplate them. If you don’t understand something, read on; the meaning may become clear later on.

If you are very serious, learn some Sanskrit so that you can read them in the original language.

If you don’t have a Spiritual Master who can help you, get one and follow that person’s lead until you get results in your own practice so that you can gain experience. Your experience will be necessary for understanding these writings, and your understanding will in turn accelerate your progress.

To succeed in reaching an understanding of any spiritual writing, you will need (1) the written text, (2) your own experience, and (3) someone to talk things over with who also has some experience — a friend and/or a spiritual teacher or Spiritual Master. Ultimately, these three should agree.

In order to keep the flow moving and to present a friendly ambiance, I have not included the numbering of the sutras (aphorisms). In the event that you are someone who has an interest in studying any of the writings from the Nutshell series and would like to know the number of a sutra or verse or have a question about one, you may write me … and I’ll do my best to get back to you with what you need.

Durga Ma,
Phoenix, Arizona
June 20, 2002
The above entry consists of excerpts from the introductory pages of the book, Fulfillment, © Copyright 2002, Durga Ma, Beverly Hills, California 90211, a translation of the first chapter of the sage Patanjali’s, Yoga Sutras.

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Fulfillment, is available through electronic download at under the heading, Ancient Mystical Writings. The contents of the book are as follows:

The Truth About Yoga    

What Yoga Really Is

The Mind in Action    

Types of Mental Activity

Accurate Perception or Knowledge

Inaccurate Perception or Knowledge

Thinking, Imagining and Fantasizing

Sleep and Dreams

Memory and Remembering

The Peaceful Mind    

The Yoga of Fearlessness

The Real Meaning of Dispassion

The Payoff

The First Stages of Fulfillment

The Master Within     

The Simplest Way to Attain Fulfillment

The Manifestation of the Divine Other

Obstacles and Antidotes    

Eight Obstacles to Fulfillment

The Side Effects of the Obstacles

The Cure for the Obstacles

How to Obtain the Cure


The Scope of Mastery

OM – The Four Stages of Sound


OM image

This is the symbol for the sacred sound, ‘OM.’ When spelled out in Devanagari (Sanskrit writing), it looks different. The transliteration of the Sanskrit spelling is ‘AUM,’ which is a phonetic spelling.

Omkara is usually taught as “the four stages of speech,” but first, I will present it broadly as four stages of nada, or sound, and relate this to meditation experience

When OM is chanted, it goes from gross to subtle, beginning with the sound, ‘ah’ (A) in the chest area, passing through the sound of ‘uh’ (U), and ending with the sound, ‘mm’ (M) as the vibrations of the sound move into the head. Though the symbol shows all four stages, only three sounds are represented in the spelling (AUM) because only three of the four are audible to the ear.

If you were to chant Om from the other direction, from subtle to gross, the direction of manifestation, you would begin with the ‘Mm’ sound. If you were to hear it this way, it would sound like ‘Ma,’ as in mother—the Universal Divine Mother as Creator. This was one of my first experiences of spontaneous nada in meditation, and this is how I understood that experience.

We chant Om the way we do, gross to subtle (AUM), to find our way home, the way to God and our original situation of perfection, peace and unconditional love. For this reason, mantras, meditation and other spiritual undertakings, begin and end with the sacred word, Om.

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Light is the substance, Sound gives it form

The Four Stages of Sound

Sound is associated with the subtlest element, akasha (ether, or space).

Om, spelled “AUM”

The large symbol that looks like a three, called vaishvarivani, means “all world sounds,” (i.e., languages, etc.) 

Surrender Meditation: Spontaneous chanting, speaking in tongues, and all manner of sounds are expressed vocally.

The the loop below the curved line, called madyamavani, means “middle sound”.

Surrender Meditation:  Nada ranges from noise (irregular vibrations) to the beginnings of tones (regular vibrations) as a result of the sense faculties operating without the sense organs (pratyahara) in deep meditation.

The curved line beneath the dot, called pashanti, means “he perceives”.

Surrender Meditation: Nada of subtle and refined sound consisting of tones (regular vibrations) is heard directly in deepest meditation as a result of pratyahara.

The dot, paravani, means “beyond sound”.

Surrender Meditation:  Nada samadhi, direct perception of divine sound, the sound of God. In deepest meditation, the sound of OM is experienced in its pure and complete form.  Indistinct sounds moving up the sushumna nadi, transform into clear musical tones along the way, until all tones are heard independently and simultaneously as one True Toneultimately reaching the top of the head, beyond perception. The experience is one of inexpressible joy.