Trees, Devotion, Music and Perfection – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 26

Ma Durga, the Ultimate Power
Durga Ma

The image of Durga Ma is a map of successful yoga.
From left to right:

Her right hand gives blessings and initiation. Mace – scepter of sovereignty. Sword – Khechari mudra, cuts away attachments. Discus – chakra. Conch – cochlea of the inner ear suggesting yawning, the call to meditation, and divine sound. Trident – prana, apana and kundalini (and their channels, pingala, ida and sushumna), and the trinity of Brahma & Saraswati (Brahma’s shakti, or power), Vishnu & Lakshmi (Vishnu’s power), and Shiva & Parvati (Shiva’s power). Bow and arrow – the instrument of union (yoga). Lotus – the flower of heaven that floats above the water with its stem reaching down into the earth suggesting the sushumna nadi (the central channel in the body) and soma, or ‘moon juice’.

Durga Ma is the ultimate power and one’s greatest ally for reaching the fulfillment of yoga sadhana, for she demolishes the most difficult of obstacles to this end. She rides a tiger, the most dangerous of predatory creatures, suggesting that She has mastered the most dangerous of creatures, the body. We humans are servants to our bodies; they run things, they run us, and they run our lives. We are mistakenly identified with our bodies as ourselves. Durga Ma is not. For Durga Ma, She is the master, not the mastered.

The Power of God & You

The manifestations of God in the world, in you, and in the entire universe.

The eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Arjuna and his childhood friend and Guru, Lord Krishna. Arjuna has asked Him to explain how He, as Absolute God, exists within Creation (beginning with verses 19-20, “God in You”):

Trees, Devotion, Music and Perfection

Of trees, I am the Tree of Life. Of divine Seers, I am Narada. Of the Gandharvas, I am Chitraratha. Of siddhas, I am Kapila Muni.

Of trees, I am the Tree of Life
‘Where horses stand’, I am ‘the bringer of fruit’.
In the body, I am the channels of Life Energy, Prana, the bringer of good results (fruits).

The Sanskrit word for ‘tree’ means ‘where horses stand’.

  • Horses – the senses
  • Tree – where the senses are situated
  • Fruit-bearing – bringing results

This tree with all its branches represents the channels for the flow of fluids and energy in the body. The main trunk of the tree represents the spine, the central nervous system, and the sushumna nadi, the ‘kind and gracious’ central energy channel. But there is also another concept concerning this tree… 

Tree of Life
Yogeshwar used to say that to understand Yoga, you have to stand on your head.

This Eternal tree, called Ashvattha (‘where horses stand’), has its roots above and its branches below. Only yogis are allowed to eat the fruit of this tree, for only yogis can handle its power.

Because of this exclusivity, we may conclude that these ‘fruits’ are obtained not by the senses, but by their faculties. These faculties are powers of perception, powers of knowing, that are inherent in the Real Divine You, by which you are able to experience God/Truth and Divine manifestations directly (without any means) in meditation. 

According to discoveries made in Mohenjo-Daro (an archeological site), the Ashvattha tree was revered in India more than a thousand years before the oldest parts of the Bible were written.

Of the divine Seers, I am Narada
Narada MuniOf divine sages, I am Narada, the great devotee. From nara, man, or nari, woman, specifically a yogi or yogini who has reached a stage of yoga sadhana in which he or she can commune in meditation with others in or beyond that stage.  

Narada is the enraptured bard and devotee who sings to God constantly, even though everyone thinks he is only a crazy man. Narada is the ultimate musician and devotee.

Of the Gandharvas, I am Chitraratha
Of celestial musicians, I am Chitraratha, ‘of unusual and wondrous form’. 

Chitraratha means, ‘having a bright chariot’. The ‘chariot’ refers to a body, or form, used for getting around.  A gandharva’s form is bright and extraordinary in appearance. Gandharvas can be seen in meditation. They have beautiful bodies (chariots), are extremely attractive, and herald a new stage of yoga sadhana

Of the siddhas, I am Kapila Muni
Of the ‘the perfected’, I am Kapila Muni. 

Kapila Muni

Muni means, saint, sage, seer, ascetic, devotee, or hermit, from mu, ‘final emancipation’. Kapila was a perfected yogi, and is an Immortal Master. He is considered to be the greatest of psychologists and philosophers, and the founder of Sankhya (chapter two). 

The word kapila is also said to be derived from kamp, meaning a tremor, or a trembling or shaking motion. This is an effect experienced in advanced stages of yoga sadhana when the energy is established at the sixth chakra. This may present as a certain kind of pranayama (‘life energy restraint’), and may spontaneously manifest as a dynamic form of breathing that increases and stabilizes the powerful concentration of the energy at the sixth chakra. This occurs when Prana tries to keep the energy in place (restrained) when outside influences are different than what Prana in trying to achieve. 

This verse then, tells us about a very special tree, and the close relationship of music and devotion as a means of reaching perfection.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma

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As your True Self emerges, your Life becomes more satisfying, and the Lives of others are benefited. 
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Every step you take pulls every one of us with you. We ride the slipstream of your progress.

The Whole World is One Family

Kundalini and the Magic Flute

We each have a tonal center, a certain pitch to which our own bodies are tuned, just like a musical instrument.

Imagine that your sushumna [the central energy channel in the body] is like a bamboo stalk that has been made into a flute.  The finger holes represent the seed sounds of the chakras—seven holes and seven notes in a musical scale.  In deep meditation, when the energy passes through this central channel, heavenly music is playing and can be heard.  It’s not like hearing it in your mind or your imagination.  It’s as real, even more real than if you were to have it performed for you in your own meditation room by an angel.  Hearing this sound is more profound, more beautiful, more joyful, than anything that can be experienced here in our everyday world.  You may have seen pictures of Krishna playing a bamboo flute.  This is one meaning of this scriptural art.  Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, the sustainer of life.  It is prana, the incarnation of Vishnu in your body, flowing through the sushumna that creates the music of this magic flute.

Listening to music from external sources can also affect the chakras.   It is not surprising that so many attempts have been made, some with considerable success, to use music therapeutically.   In just what way music affects the chakras depends on the music.

Each component of music has an effect on the body through the chakra system, but it is tone and pitch (the highness or lowness of tone) that are most apparent.  Tone and noise are both the result of vibrations, but the vibrations that create tones are of equal size and distribution, regular and even, whereas the vibrations that create noise are irregular and uneven and haven’t the power to affect the chakras in the same way.

Just as the color white is the crystallization of all the colors of the spectrum, in music, every tone is made up of all pitches organized in specific intervals, becoming subtler as they become higher.  All the pitches that make up a specific tone are not ordinarily distinguishable to the human ear.  They are known as ‘overtones’, or ‘harmonics.’  The formula for the harmonic intervals that make up a tone are the same for each tone.  The only difference between the pitch of one tone and another is the order of the subtle pitches in the harmonic sequence.

The chakra system is based on this system of harmonics.  Comparing the sushumna and the chakras to a flute is suggestive.  Just as vibrations are the cause of sound, vibrations are the effect experienced when energy passes through a chakra.  Just as the movement of air through the flute causes it to sound, the movement of energy through the sushumna causes it to sound.  This sound is heard is deep meditation and is called anahata nada, unstruck sound.  When this Divine Sound is heard in meditation, chakras are being played—opened and refined.  The chakras in the harmonic sequence of the chakra being ‘played,’ also sound.

If you want to see for yourself how this principle works, try an experiment:  If you lift the dampers from the strings of an acoustic piano (push down on the pedal on the right) and play a certain pitch on a violin, or even with your voice, you can hear the strings sounding in the back of the piano that are tuned to that pitch as well as the closest harmonics that make up that pitch.  Another experiment is to silently depress a ‘G’ above middle ‘C’ and hold it down while you strike and release (quickly and loudly) the middle ‘C’.  What you will hear as you continue to hold down the ‘G’, is the ‘G’ and some of its harmonics—even though you never struck the ‘G’.  Similarly, if chakra number one is sounded in meditation, chakra number four will also be vibrated.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

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Kundalini and the Three Worlds

In your body there are three worlds, the world of the Creator, the world of the Sustainer, and the world of the Transformer. Each chakra calls one of these worlds home. Kundalini passes through them as it ascends.

In the following excerpt from Living the Mysteries, clarifications are in brackets [  ].

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Teachings that discuss a three chakra system are teachings about … three lokas [worlds] and granthis [knots].  This gives us an idea of how a teaching concerning only three chakras can coexist with a teaching of … seven or more chakras.

Each chakra exists in one of these worlds, so think of each chakra in the context of the loka in which it is located and the knot that kundalini tries to unravel there.  I have listed some key words that may help you get a feel for the general characteristics of the three worlds.

The First World, Brahma Loka

The god Brahma is the personification of the creative aspect of the Divine.  Brahma Loka means Brahma’s World, so the granthi, or plexus, of this world is called the Brahma granthi.  Brahma is the creative aspect of the Divine and is associated with the created world.  The first, second and third chakras are in The World of Brahma, so the earth of the first chakra, the water of the second chakra and the fire of the third all exist in the context of the material world.

Each loka is of a different quality, or guna.  The quality of Brahma Loka is rajas, which is passionate, intense or highly active.  This quality is responsible for bondage through attachment to action and the sense of doership.

The difficulties that arise when kundalini is making her way through the world of the first three chakras are material or ‘worldly’ in nature.  They are tangles about the world and your relationship to it that have to come untied.

For the kundalini to pass through this extremely complex and complicated web is extraordinarily difficult.  When this happens, a deep sound is heard, something like a combination of the popping of a cork from a champagne bottle and a deep sounding drum.  It is believed by some that the tabla, a tuned Indian drum, was created to imitate this sound.  This sound seems to come from inside and outside the body at the same time.

The Second World, Vishnu Loka

Once kundalini passes beyond the third chakra, it enters into a different world.  Vishnu Loka means Vishnu’s World.  Vishnu is the aspect of the Divine that sustains and maintains life.  If you recognize this description as the description of the life energy, prana, you have made the connection correctly—the home of prana is in the fourth chakra, the heart, the first chakra in Vishnu Loka.  Vishnu rides the bird Garuda, symbol of the life energy which enters the body primarily through the breath [air].

The fourth and fifth chakras are in this more subtle world of energy associated with the astral body.  The issues and challenges of the Vishnu granthi concern your relationship with others.  Whereas Brahma’s world was the world of matter, Vishnu’s world is the subtler world of the energy.  The quality, or guna, of Vishnu Loka is sattvas, smooth flowing, easy-going, and peaceful.  This quality is responsible for bondage through attachment to happiness and wisdom.

When kundalini finally passes through the Vishnu granthi, the sound of the cork popping out of the champagne bottle may be heard, only this time without the bass drum.  It is followed instead by the sound of the celestial music.  It is believed by some that the vina, an Indian musical instrument, was originally created to imitate this sound.

The Third World, Rudra Loka

Rudra is another name for Shiva, the god of destruction and transformation.  What is destroyed is ignorance of Absolute Truth, the Divine, and death.  What is transformed is your own being.  Shiva in his Rudra aspect, is ‘the scary other.’  The quality of Rudra’s World is tamasTamas is usually considered to be not a very good thing.  It is responsible for bondage through attachment to ignorance, delusion, indulgence and denial.  It’s quality is very slow moving, if it moves at all.  In fact, ‘fixed’ is a good definition of tamas.

The quality of tamas causes one to feel disinclined to be very active.  Before kundalini begins the journey up the sushumna, tamas indicates slowness, ignorance, sloth, impurity, and other horrible things; but when the process of spiritual evolution reaches the realm of Rudra, it’s an asset to stay put.  You become an anchorite.  You become disinterested in anything ‘worldly.’  What remains to be done?  Where is there left to go?  Where is there left for the energy to go?  Here, in Rudra Loka, when desire is no longer an issue, tamas is a blessing, not a curse.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

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