Tanning & Meditating on Deer Skin

Dylan Smith Sitting in siddhasana on Deer Skin
Disclaimer:
Read this whole article before forming any opinion or judgments around the ethics of tanning deer skin.
This article contains photos of deer skin and its flesh.

What Drew Me to Deer Skin

When I met my friend Ei (@buckywardbucksin) she was telling me about all the different animal hinds that she tans.
Tanning is the process of converting animal skin into leather through a variety of methods. It is one of the practices of “Bush Crafts.”
I was interested in this hobby of hers, as I am mostly always interested in practices people use to connect to nature, especially practices that are radical and unfamiliar to me.
When Ei mentioned deer in the animals she was listing, it immediately sparked my interest further.
I thought about all the Yogis, Rishis (seers) and sages of India that historically meditated on deer skin; including my Guru’s Guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Maharishi's assistants would always carry a deer skin all around the world for him to sit on while he would lecture or meditate.

Not Only Ethical, But Sustainable (for Me)

Ei gets her deer hinds from a hunter in upper New South Wales who hunts for deer meat and sells it commercially.
After skinning the deer, the hunter usually throws out the skin into a landfill.
Instead of that, Ei gets the skin from the hunter (for free) and with absolute reverence for the animal, tans the skin and creates a whole range of things (Ei has a whole wardrobe of different animal hinds which she wears at parties, gatherings and during her vision quests and survival camps in the bush).
Ei is one of the most ecologically sustainable persons I have ever met. She doesn’t waste a thing!
She keeps all the offcuts from her leather that she creates to make handbag handles, she keeps the fur that sheds to make fishing lures, cushion stuffing or gives it to the compost, and keep skin scraps and reject skin offcuts to make a traditional glue (apparently this procedure was used to glue together a crashed plane on a stranded island, and it could fly again).
You’ll get a deeper insight into Ei’s sustainability throughout this article.
Due to the ethics and sustainability of this practice, my desire to connect with nature through animals, and a desire to own a deer skin to meditate on, even as a strict vegetarian (I eat eggs occasionally) for nearly a decade…
I would join Ei for 4 long days of tanning my own deer hind.

Meditating on Deer Skin

Why the Yogis and Rishis meditated or sat on deer skin:
  • Deer skin offers a soft and cushioning experience, which supports a more comfortable meditation.
  • It is said that the deer skin prevented unwanted intruders such as ants, snakes, insects and scorpions from crawling on its surface and harming the meditating yogis.
  • Deer skin effectively isolates the earth's magnetism, assisting in an unbounded cosmic experience.
  • During meditation, the energy flows upwards towards the crown, and deer skin acts to insulate against the downward pull of the earth's energy field.
  • The deer skin in its natural form (tanning it with natural substances) still has Prana (life-force) in it, which influences the meditator who sits on it.

Deer skin effectively isolates the earth's magnetism, assisting in an unbounded cosmic experience.

Why Deer?

Deer is a Sattvic (pure) animal.

Deers are herbivores or vegetarian. They are also very gentle (sattvic) creatures. The energy which is stored in their skin is considered pure and sattvic, unlike other animal skins which may transmit impurities or bad energies to those who sit upon them.
The deer skin is believed to enhance the solitary tranquility and awareness required by a a meditator or yogi who intends to go very deep (recluse / sanyasi type of people) as they absorb the pure sattvic energy as they sit.
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (a.k.a. Guru Dev) meditating on deer skin
Note that other sattvic herbivores may not produce the “neutral” effects of the deer.
You may have seen Yogis or Rishis sitting on tiger skin. This was more commonly used in invoking the wrathful aspects of consciousness or deities, and denotes rajas (stimulating and dynamic energy) rather than sattva.
Tiger skin is more powerful than deer skin, but is only to be used by yogis with great mastery over their passions or lust (kama) and anger (krodha).
Ramana Maharishi sitting on tiger skin - picture taken around 1930 in India

The relationship between Deer and the Mind

Deer represent the fickle nature (chamchalatī -  चंचलता) of the mind. 
Just as the deer wanders around elusively and is hard to catch, so is the mind. It is always wandering and it is challenging to stabilise a coherent composure with self-mastery over the mind.
This is why it is difficult for people to initiate into meditation or find extended periods of deep meditation challenging (8+ hours/day, usually relevant for reclusive ascetics / “Sanyasis”.).
This is why the texts conveying Lord Śiva (the destruction operator) sitting on Deer skin or holding a Deer in his hands represent the mastery a yogi can have over his mind.
Even in Buddhism, deer or antelope skins serve as meditation seats (asanas) for Buddhist yogis.
Lord Shiva holding a deer in his hand, sitting on a cow next to his wife Parvati
Lord Shiva holding a deer in one of his hands & Uma/Parvati sitting next to him
The Bhagavad Gita (a spiritual story and the most commentated text in the world) especially mentions deer skin for the purpose of a asana (seat) inverse (6.11):
In a clean place, having established a firm seat of his own, neither very high nor very low, covered with cloth, deer skin and kusa grass…

Deer Skin Absorbs Shakti (Divine Energy)

The skin absorbs some of the extra shakti generated during practice and becomes a valuable and nourishing aid each time you sit on it.
This is why people value the seats or cloths that gurus sit on, or the malas (necklaces) that they wear, because it absorbs their potent shakti.

TANNING DEER HIND: THE PROCESS

1. Acquire a Dead Animal or Animal Skin

This can be done in many ways such as:
  • Scavenging skins that hunters usually dispose of (we did this)
  • Harvesting roadkill (has to be warm/a fresh kill)
  • And of course hunting (if you choose this, we recommend to do sustainably with reverence)
Freshly harvested deer skin

2. Skin the deer

While the dead animal is still “warm”, skin it and preserve the skin in a freezer or salt or start the tanning process. This prevents “hair slip” - which is when the fur falls out, and from going rotten.
Unfortunately, I missed this as I had to travel for Eis workshop.
This would have been (emotionally) hard for me to see, and definitely harder to do myself, but I believe it is crucial to be able to handle whatever substance you are utilising in all its forms and stages, including its raw and gruesome forms.
For tanning leather when keeping the fur, the whole time you are working on the “inside” of the skin.

3. Scrape Off Excess Fat and Flesh

Following these steps:
  1. Once you have the skin, prop it up on a smooth log (Ei made this little apparatus).
  2. Keep some towels below the skin as padding so the skin doesn’t cut against the wood.
  3. Keep some plastic against you for cleanliness.
  4. Using a specific scraper, scrape off the remaining flesh, fat and bone-marrow. This can be kept for your pet dog to eat.
Dylan Smith scraping remains off the dear skin
This was the most confronting part for me: receiving the fleshy skin from the hunter. I wasn’t expected to be confronted or grossed out. But being a vegetarian for nearly a decade and having aversion to meat, it was like being a butcher. I soon got over it and was less previous about my hands getting dirty.
Here was a profound and beautiful connection with the individual soul of this deer. Although only the skin and some flesh remained, a unique Prana (life-force) of that soul still emanated out of the skin.
I could further understand why burning bodies assists in liberating the soul from earth into the other realms (lokas).

4. Tie Up the Skin on a Rack/Frame

Ei made these wooden frames to fit the skin.
Following these steps:
  1. Hammer in nails that stick out a couple of inches apart.
  2. Cut a hole around the edges of the skin. Use a sharp knife. It would be good to have something like a hole puncher.
  3. Using a strong steel cable or wire rope, thread through the holes and tie up to the nails to stretch the skin.
  4. Don’t tie tight as it will be adjusting as you go around the skin and frame.
  5. It’s really good to use the “Rolling Hitch Knot” as you can adjust the tightness or loosens.
Deer skin and wooden rack laying on the floor
Dylan Smith tying up deer skin to a wooden rack

5. Rack and Dry

Leave in a warm and dry place to dry.
Deer skin left to dry in the sun

6. Scrape Remaining Flesh & Membrane

  • With a specific scraper, scrape the remaining flesh and membrane.
  • This will kind of be like shaving off dried meat.
  • Don’t go too hard to rip the skin, but it is pretty sturdy.

7. Dress the Skin in Brains

  • We use the brains of that animal as an emulsifying agent.
  • Basically painting fats of the brain into the skin to replace mucous.
  • The fats of the brains are dissolved and cooked in water to make the emulsifying agent.
  • It is basically a primal and the most suitable leather conditioner.
  • It is said every animal has enough brains to dress their own skin.
  • We could not get the brain of the deer, so we got the brain of goats from a local butcher.

8. Sow Up Any Holes

  • Any holes or tears to sow up can be done now (or basically anytime in the process).
  • This is important before softening as the softening may stretch tears that are present.
  • The fibre for sowing can be sinew harvested from a kangaroo tail or similar fibre threads.

9. Softening

  • This is the most laborious and trickiest part.
  • While the skin is tied up to the rack and wet with the brains, it becomes soft and moist.
  • With a thick wooden stick or (traditionally) the elbow bone of the animal, push the stick into the skin, softening and loosening it. You are basically opening up the fibres of the skin to allow the brains to penetrate into the fibres.
Dylan Smith softening deer hind
  • You are doing this while the skin is drying. So basically, you are “fighting” against the drying process - as the skin is drying, the fibres close, tighten up and become rough. The constant “digging” or pushing into the skin is down the opposite - it is loosening and softening the skin. You basically have to do this for a whole day until the skin is dry. This way, it didn’t dry by itself and became shrivelled up and hard. It dried while you were working against that process so it didn’t shrink to much and get hard.
  • Doing this in a warm environment will make the process quicker and less laborious. You don’t want it to be too warm or you won’t “keep up” the drying/tightening process. When I did it, it was raining and cold, so I softened in a small shed with a heater on.

10. Smoking

  • The hard part is done.
  • The hind now needs to be smoked to get rid of all bacteria. This will help preserve the hind and prevent hair slip.
  • For smoking we used a homemade denim smoker made by genius Ei. Literally recycled denim jeans with some racks inside.
  • We clipped the hind inside the denim. For smaller hinds/skins, you can make a mini clothes line inside the smoker.
  • We burnt Pandanus wood from the local palm-like native shrub because the wood burns really well and long. We the burning wood in a large tin in the smoker for the whole day and re-lit the wood only 1-2x.

11. Wash and Dry

  • Only wash when the weather is warm enough to dry the skin.
  • Hand wash the hind with a wool softener or baby shampoo in a bathtub or big bucket.
  • Wash till the water is pretty clean.
  • Washing is to remove the strong smoky smell.
  • Dry in the sun or warm environment.
  • I made the mistake of washing on a rainy day and hence dried it in front of a gas heater that was too hot. This made it way too dry and hard, and I had to later do another softening!!
Deer skin laying in the sun

12. Trim and Finish

  • Cut off with quality scissors the holes, tears, off-pieces to shape the edges well.
  • Cut the offshoots in a shape where you can reuse them - sowing together for handbag handles or glue.
  • It’s ready!
There are heaps of different ways to tan animal skins.
There is vegetable tanning (tanning with plants like the decoction of certain barks. In Australia, wattle bark is traditionally used).
If you want to learn more or even attend a workshop, contact Ei on Instagram (@backyardbuckskin).
I loved getting an insight into this primal bushcraft, and can’t wait to explore it further to more deeply honor the animal kingdom.
Have you ever tanned animal hind or own any? Comment below 👇

Diwali: Spark Radiance & Supersede Limitations | Ācārya Shunya #071

Vital Veda Podcast Banner
Diwali (Dīpāvalī दीपावली) is the time of the year to supersede our personal limitations, and enliven the light of consciousness that is the basis of all existence. 
AKA the Festival of Lights, it is perhaps the most famous Vedic festival of the year. 
In Sanskrit “Dīpāvalī” means “a row of earthen lit lamps.”
On this new moon night, you will see India or Indian communities abroad lit up with lights. 
Light signifies purity, knowledge and auspiciousness.
Lighting the “diya” (earthen lit lamp) guides us through the darkness to seek the eternal truth in our own personal lives.
In the battle between light and darkness (jyoti and tamas), knowledge and ignorance (vidya and avidya), we must awaken and utilise what is offered on Diwali to leap beyond our ordinary boundaries rooted in ignorance and fear. 
We can awaken an inner transformative power in our devotion to the highest excellence within us. This is known as “Sri Rama” in the Vedas.
May the light in your life, pure consciousness, shine on you and reflect with your flavour of radiance onto all others to enhance peace and abundance for the whole world to enjoy.

About our guest: Ācārya Shunya

Acharya Shunya is a wisdom teacher and a catalyst for empowering health and elevating consciousness worldwide. 
She is an award-winning and internationally renowned  author, speaker and scholar of non-dual wisdom (Advaita) and a classically-trained master of Yoga and Ayurveda.
The first female head of her 2,000-year-old Indian Vedic spiritual lineage, Acharya Shunya provides a rare opportunity to receive authentic teachings.
Acharya Shunya is the President of The Awakened Self Foundation with its international headquarters in California and founder of the spiritual and philanthropic non-profit Vedika Global.
Acharya Shunya
She hosts the Shadow to Self podcast, the Alchemy with Ayurveda program, author of best-selling book Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom: A Complete Prescription to Optimize Your Health, Prevent Disease, Live with Vitality and Joy (Sounds True, 2017).
Author of Sovereign Self: Claim your Inner Joy and Freedom with the Empowering Wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and Her third book, slated for release in January 2022, Roar Like a Goddess: Every Woman’s Guide to Unapologetic Power, Propensity and Purpose.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Meaning Behind The Title of Ācārya

The title is given to accomplished Yogis and Vedic Scientists.
An acārya is a teacher, who teaches not only theoretical wisdom but by example, by the path (caryā चर्य) they walk in life.
The acārya is an honorific title given to the lineage holder of a particular tradition (sampradaya ​​सम्प्रदाय).
  • Acharya Shunya is the first female lineage holder of her sampradaya.

Ācārya Shunya’s Dality Routine (Dinacharya)

Waking up in the bahma muhurta
She does Sūryopāsanā सूर्योपासना: worship of the Sun (a.k.a. Sūrya)
Later she does Sandhyavandanam संध्यावन्दनम्
  • A compulsory set of 5 practices including, mudras, pranayama, chanting of mantras, envisioning, and performing tarpana
Then more pranayama and yoga asanas (postures).
She then spends time with her family, and engages in daily duties such as the writing of books, meeting students & sometimes even recording her podcast.
She tends to spend her afternoons in quiet and stillness.  

The City of Ayodhya

Ayodhya is the city where Rama, the seventh avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, was born & from where he ruled during his entire reign. 
Acharya Shunya is originally from Ayodhya and shares some insights into the history of this city and what it was like to live there for her. 
Ayodhya, India

Diwali and The Divine Feats Narrated In The Ramayana

Diwali is the anniversary of the victory of good over evil; of Rama and his army of vanaras over Ravana and his army of rakshasas.
  • Diwali is the celebration of the day in which Rama returned to Ayodhya after the battle of Lanka (as told in the Ramayana).  
Rama represents dharma (fulfillment of one’s own most evolutionary duty in any given moment in time), kṣānti (tolerance and forgiveness) and the atma itself (our true soul & higher self). 
  • Just like Rama is banished into the wilderness, our atma is banished into this worldly realm, full of sickness, depravity and betrayal.
Ravana is a rakshasa, a demon, and mainly represents ego. 
  • He has 10 heads which represent his 10 qualities & the qualities of all of those who don’t realize & attain their true higher self: 
    • Kama (lust)
    • Krodha (anger)
    • Lobha (greed)
    • Moha (attachment)
    • Madha (arrogance)
    • Matsarya (jealousy)
    • Swartha (selfishness)
    • Anyaya (injustice)
    • Durmati (evil intent)
    • Ahamkara (ego)
Ravana, Rama and Hanuman
Sita represents buddhi (enlightened reasoning and capacity to think). 
  • When Sita crosses the Lakshmana rekha (the circle which represents dharma, that Lakshman drew around her so she would remain safe while he went to assist his brother), she is captured by Ravana. 
    • This teaches that our intellect should always remain fixed in dharma, and that when our buddhi or intellect steps out of dharma the lower-self or ego (Ravana) takes a hold of us.  
The bridge that was created between South India and Lanka was created when the vanaras wrote “Ram” in stones and threw them in the ocean. These stones floated and allowed them to pass.
  • The metaphor here is that by chanting the name “Ram” over and over, you will find a bridge between any problem and its solution.
Ayodhya represents the body, the jiva, or any living being. So the return of Rama to Ayodhya is the jiva or being, returning to alignment with the atma and dharma. That is the meaning behind Diwali.
Satellite image of Ram's Bridge between South India and Lanka
  • Diwali is the return of ‘Being’ with ‘Joy’ to their home beyond all struggle, the Center of the Flow.
The reunion between Sita and Rama also symbolises the dharmic merging of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine.
Rama’s victory in Lanka is the victory of our highest Self over our lower nature. 
Diwali also translates as ‘a row of lights’ and refers to the chakras aligned in the spine.
  • It is a return to alignment with nature; where mind, body and spirit are in alignment. 

Ways to Celebrate Diwali & To Align With Our Higher Self

Diwali is a five-day festival that starts with Dhanvantari Jayanti. 
  • You can chant the Dhanvantari bija mantra: “Om Dhanvantaraye Namaha
  • Since Dhanvantari emerged from the ‘ocean of milk’ holding the divine amrita within a pot, it is tradition in India to buy a pot and cook something in it, be it a healing soup or some other nurturing dish. 
    • Worship Dhanvantari, who is present in every herb and elixir you are about to ingest, and ask for his blessing. 
Write a letter to Rama and ask for his blessing.
Clean your house & decorate
  • Evoking the ‘Sri’ value of Lakshmi (Sita) who has returned home.
Balance your financial books; everything should be sparkling and shining. 
Start journaling, this is the cleansing of the inner home, state in the first page of your journal what it is that you  want to let go of, what no longer serves you.
Lakshmi and Ganesh
Ganesha is often worshiped in this time along with Lakshmi (embodied by Sita in the Ramayana). 
  • Ganesha represents the removal of obstacles and Laksmi is the gifts & rewards that follow. 
Any new venture that is started during this festival is auspicious and will surely render good results. 
The lighting of the lamps
  • Light several lamps and connect that external light to the light within yourSelf. 
  • Diwali is the return of ‘Being’ with ‘Joy’ to their home beyond all struggle, the Center of the Flow.
Diwali also translates as ‘a row of lights’ and refers to the chakras aligned in the spine.
  • It is a return to alignment with nature; where mind, body and spirit are in alignment. 

Ghee Lamps

Ghee is a very sattvic substance. 
It comes from milk which already is very sattvic but then a lot of work has to be put into milk to turn it into butter and then ghee, this increases its pranic value. 
Ghee is soothing and nurturing, so when used as fuel for a lamp, the fire from that lamp soothes and nurtures the mind. 
Its flame is alway very stable, which represents the ‘internal flame’ we want to enliven: one that is not flickering from desire, but that is steady and ever radiating. 
Diwali Lamp

Resources

Acharya Shunya's Instagram (@acharyashunya) HERE

Shadow of Self Podcast HERE

Acharya Shunya's Website HERE

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Related listen: Listen to Living the High Value of Life with Abundance & Affluence (Laksmi) + Guru Relationships | Yashoda Devi Ma #020

"The Ramayana" translated by Ramesh Menon HERE


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Understanding Family Karma & Harmonising Complex Family Dynamics | Jonni Pollard #070

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: Family Karma & Harmonizing Complex Family Dynamics with Jonni Pollard
Karma  कर्म, a concept that is often misunderstood by most, commonly translated as "action that binds", and it is basically any action that is determining our direction or pathway in life. 
When it comes to those we call our family, our karma acts as the underlying universal intelligence that bound us to these people. 
Understanding this concept, how to transcend and work through our already existing karma and how to avoid creating more of it, is a fundamental aspect of the path towards liberation or moksha, as called in the Vedic sciences. 
In this episode we not only dive into the concept of karma, but also explore how it intertwines with our familial relationships and how one can work through one's karma to reap the benefits of a frictionless life (kriya क्रिया).

About our guest: Jonni Pollard

Jonni Pollard, program founder and head teacher of 1 Giant Mind, is a world-renowned meditation teacher who has studied how to unfold human potential for over 20 years under great masters in the East and West.
His programs, including 1 Giant Mind’s Learn Meditation app, have taught more than 250,000 people how to meditate.
Jonni is at the forefront of authenticity in the meditation teacher landscape, making practical translations of ancient teachings for a modern lifestyle.

In this Episode we Discuss:

An Introduction to Karma

The traditional definition of karma कर्म is "action that binds". 
  • Any action that is determining our direction or pathway in life
Karma is the underlying universal intelligence that ensures everything stays on track moving in the direction of its final destination (liberation [ moksha ] or dissolution). 
  • Consciousness is like a river moving towards the ocean; and karma acts like the riverbanks that guide the water (consciousness). 
  • It is a non-punitive, definitive, strong boundary that nature provides for consciousness to evolve.   
  • It is only through swelling that a river manages to escape the limits of its banks. In the same way, when one achieves higher states of consciousness one is able to transcend karma and move past its limits. 

Karma and Dharma

Karma is the force that drives dharma धर्मा into action
  • Dharma धर्म is an individual’s duty in any given time that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective consciousness simultaneously
River in a valley
Our dharma becomes the healer of our karma and everyone else’s karma.

An Introduction to Family Karma

Family karma is the bond (or bondage) that ties us to souls that we have traveled through many incarnations with, to the point where we are bound not only spiritually but on a genetic level. 
It is the karma of families that is the most powerful, impactful and more challenging to resolve, and yet it is also the most liberating when we get to the root of the challenge it presents us.
The various degrees of intensity family karma can take.
  • For some it may be a strong force that can be either loving, fierce or both. For others it may be a very mild force that doesn’t seem relevant at all.
Silhouettes of parents and two children in sunset
  • The intensity of this karma may fluctuate during a lifetime/lifetimes. 

Managing Difficult Family Relationships

When going through periods of intensity that present a real challenge to us, the key is to surrender to it and embrace everything that this period is and entials. 
  • Patience and compassion are fundamental. 
Understanding the role that every party plays within that relationship and that reciprocity is always meant to be honored
Setting healthy boundaries that create a sense of separateness that often allows others to have time and space to reflect on the degree to which the relationship is important to them or not, and whether they are willing to accept the terms by which you are willing to interact. 

Broken Families

In some cases it seems like the most appropriate thing to do is to simply cut off family members from one’s life. That is not wrong in-and-of-itself. 
  • If you did decide to do internthis, ask the following questions
    • To what extent does this family member(s) consume your awareness on a day-to-day basis? 
    • How much time are you involuntarily having to invest in relationships that you have declared that you don’t want to be in or don’t want to have? 
      • Despite being absent or not participating in these relationships, if you are still consumed by them internally, then that means that the karma is still lively and it is therefore a relevant thing to be addressed
Jonni’s method to find resolve in these situations:
  1. Start by auditing yourself, your assumptions, your prejudices and the extent to which you are seeing these people in their limited conditional state, instead of seeing them in their true light: as divine souls on a journey of awakening.
  2. Judge the degree to which you are lacking compassion and insight into their condition, along with the extent to which perhaps you might be hypocritical in your judgments. 
  3. Ponder the length to which you would make yourself available if they were to reciprocate in this internal reflection.
    • Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for the role you are supposed to play in this relationship. Are you willing to put in that effort? If not then there’s work to be done on your end. 
  4. Effectively make yourself available to the extent that this can be a shared experience.
    • If you are willing to be open hearted and put in the effort to heal the relationship but the other cannot reciprocate then it’s ok to set boundaries. 
      • But don’t take your leave still bounded to your resentment, disdain, self-righteousness and/or feeling like a victim. Let go of all of that extra weight that serves no purpose. 

The Current Global State of Affairs & Its Impact On Family Relationships and Friendships

Families are being torn apart by opposing world-views & lifestyle/health choices. 
  • What is happening on the planet right now is triggering the deepest primal wounds & fears of everybody. 
It’s paramount to allow ourselves to have our own opinion while also honoring that of others, no matter if they are aligned with ours or not
  • Projecting our choices onto others is what creates this great divide. 
Shifting the focus from worrying about the choices others make, to how our relationships are being torn apart because we can’t see how the fear that underlines our differences is affecting us.   
  • Being able to see beyond the veil of fear, worry and concern and shedding light on the love that ultimately unites us all
Letting go of the need to be right in hopes of being able to collectively transcend this divisiveness.

Nature's Divine Arrangement of a Global Pandemic

The current world-wide state of affairs is a consequence of us being grossly disconnected from fundamental laws of nature such as the governing system of Mother Earth and Mother Divine (consciousness)
It is a moment for us to face the current state in which the collective consciousness is in & what nature is trying to tell us, and repay the debt we have within ourselves and with each other. 
  • We have to face all of this not with fear, anger or trepidation of the future, but with an open heart, and trying to envision the type of world in which we want to live once we come out of all of this; then let our actions guide us in that direction. 
We have been placed in a very constrained reality right now and been given time to go into ourselves and confront who we are, what matters and the pathway to our own liberation.

Relatives That Are In The Very End Stages Of Life

Dylan’s & Jonni’s experience with close relatives that dropped their bodies. 
Being able to understand that the body will be dropped when it’s ready to be dropped. 
The peeling away of the panchakoshas पंचकोश: the five energy bodies that cover the atman of every living being. 
  • The five koshas (a.k.a. sheaths) are:
    • Annamaya Kosha (Physical Sheath)
    • Pranamaya Kosha (Vital Energy Sheath)
    • Manomaya Kosha (Mental Body)
    • Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom or Awareness Body)
    • Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Body)
Diagram explaining the panchakoshas

Karma & Reincarnation

Our karma conditions the possibilities we have for our next incarnation. 
Jonni’s recount of the moments before his last incarnation

Resources

1 Giant Mind Website HERE

1 Giant Mind Podcast HERE

1 Giant Mind Meditation App on Apple App Store and Google Playstore

Jonni's Current Group Meditation Link HERE (every Tuesday at 7pm AEST)


Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Share this episode on Facebook / Share this episode on Twitter


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


The Rock Star Who Radiates Divine Playfulness, Bhakti Yoga & Life-Altering Truths | Raghunath Cappo #068

In this episode of the Vital Veda Podcast we have a very special guest, Raghunath (Ray) Cappo, who has a wonderful life-story & absolutely profound teachings to share. 

A hardcore punk rockstar turned celibate monk turned teacher of all things Vedic.
Raghunath (Ray) Cappo achieved great fame & prominence within the punk-rock scene in the 80s, and yet decided to give it all up and wholeheartedly dive into a purely spiritual path. 
For 6 and a half years he became a celibate monk of the Hare Krishna Bhakti-Vedanta tradition and now dedicates himself to teaching & enlightening others with the powerful knowledge he attained during his wonderful lifetime. 

About our Guest: Raghunath Cappo

By the late 1980’s, Ray Cappo's punk rock band had tens of thousands of fans. Ray was a trendsetter in the centre of hardcore culture.
Then Ray discovered Bhakti Yoga, became a monk, and became “Raghunath.”
Interestingly after that, he started another punk rock band called “Shelter”, which became even more successful.
Raghunath Cappo
All members of the Shelter band were Yogi monks who would tour all over America & the world, singing to large crowds about clean living, self-mastery, vegetarianism and God through hardcore punk music. 
Now he’s the opposite of a monk and punk rocker.
Raghunath is a devotee to the Vedas and Bhatki Yogi who is magnificently relevant at integrating vedic wisdom with the modern world and sharing it in the most playful way.
He is a yoga teacher, spiritual storyteller and he is Born to Give.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Shift from Rajas and Tamas to Sattva

The self realization that allows for the letting-go of toxic habits. 
The power behind realizing this truth for one’s self (pratyakṣa) as opposed to it being “preached” to us.

The Punk Rock Days

Being very attracted to the counterculture but not so much to the lifestyle of drugs & alcohol that is often linked to it. 
Becoming a vegetarian early in life & taking an interest in Ayurveda, but resources were very scarce at the time. 
His First Hardcore Punk-Rock Band       “Youth of Today”
Ragunath (Ray) Cappo singing on-stage for Youth of Today
The cover of Youth of Today's first studio album "Break Down the Walls".
All of his fellow band members became interested in topics such as clean living, positive attitude, vegetarianism, animal rights & karma, so the mission of the band sort of became to rally people into these subjects.  
  • The lyrics were mostly about these topics. 
This marked the beginning of the “straight edge” punk rock movement in the early 1980s.
When the band started gaining popularity and the movement started to grow, Ragunath felt a rise of unhappiness & started to feel uncomfortable with his own ego.
  • He then decided to quit the band and move into an ashram in India to live a monk life. 

Studying the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous and important Hindu texts. 
It is the conversation between Lord Krishna & his cousin Arjuna during the Mahabharata (the war at the dawn of the ages). 

  • In this conversation Arjuna explains that he doesn’t want to fight in this war anymore because it pains him to kill his own kin. He instead wants to become a renunciant & go live a spiritual life immersed in meditation.  
  • Krishna answers saying that everyone has their own dharma (action at any given moment in life that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective), and that he cannot run away from this duty as a Kshatriya (warrior); doing so will only increase his suffering & that of the collective. 
Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna riding the chariot and Arjuna shooting arrows in the Mahabharata
    • One therefore has to use the god-given gifts and put them to work towards dharma - towards a selfless action that feeds the spirit & not the ego. 
Understanding the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita made Raghunath realize that he had to use his gifts as a musician & lyric writer and put them to work towards a higher goal that would allow him to enlighten others as well as his own spirit.
  • It is then that he started his second band called “Shelter” along with fellow Hare Krishna punk rock musicians.
    • The idea was to make music imbibed with Vedic teachings, but in a language that his audience could understand.
    • Shelter established the Krishnacore punk rock subgenre & became even more famous & popular than “Youth of Today”.

An Overview Of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the spiritual path where loving devotion is focused towards a personal deity. 
It’s not so much a mechanical process but a mental disposition in which one deposits pure devotion & love on god. 
It implies the recognition of one’s true self as a pure spirited soul that is immersed in a material world, and understanding that the only way to achieve unity with the whole is by serving God with love and devotion.
The process often linked to bhakti yoga consists of: japa, kirtan, puja, the dedication of all activities to the divine no matter how mundane or extraordinary they are, and the capacity to see divinity in absolutely every living entity.  
Kirtan कीर्तन
Kirtan or Kīrtana is the devotional chanting of hymns, mantras and the praise of deities; when done by a collective together it is called sankirtan & when taken to the streets it is called Nagarsan kirtan or Harinam
Chanting the holy names of God (kirtan & japa) is one of the five potent items of bhakti yoga according to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The other 4 being:
  • Association with devotees
  • Hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
  • Residing at a holy place
  • Worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration
Rama, Lakshmana, Sita & Hanuman
Raghunath Cappo in Kirtan during a Bhakti Retreat
It is said that even if a person who knows absolutely nothing of Vedic wisdom experiences kirtan, there is a possibility they can feel what it’s like to be a paramahamsa (a god-realized person). 
Ahimsa अहिंसा
Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence
It is one of the five yamas (restraints for “right-living”) that Maharishi Patañjali elaborates on in the Yoga Sutras. 
By merely living on earth, one is enforcing some form of violence towards other living beings. The practice of ahimsa implies one being able to see God in everything & worshiping him by trying not to enforce any sort of violence towards any of its infinite forms
Ahimsa is a practice that precedes asana (the postures commonly known as Yoga in the west). 
  • The yogic belief is that true success in Yogasana can only be attained if the Self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of ahimsa.
Yātrā यात्रा
Man Standing in front of a temple in India
Commonly translates to “pilgrimage”.
Raghunath explains the subtle & more explicit types of Yātrā:
  • One ideally makes time every day for spiritual focus (tends to be early in the morning & sometime in the afternoon/evening [e.g. meditation]). 
  • Throughout the month one can take one weekend or one day per week for spiritual focus.
  • In a season, one could go away for one entire weekend and have a full retreat devoted to spiritual focus. 
  • Within the year, one ideally goes at least once on a proper pilgrimage or Yātrā. It is here where one deeply and wholeheartedly dives into spiritual culture all day, every day & for an extended period of time. 
    • This is a very impactful opportunity that has paradigm-shifting effects on those who go ahead and do it.  
    • Raghunath organizes spiritual retreats every year to different places around the world
This is the ancient Indian way. There never were luxurious theme parks or all-inclusive hotels; one simply took their family to holy places.
  • Those experiences will forever be remembered by children & will leave a strong imprint on them.

Raising Devotee Children

The idea of creating “a new normal” for children. 
Teaching them from a very young age about spiritual life & the ways in which they should engage and commune with nature & everything that surrounds them. 

The 6 Pillars of Bhakti Yoga

6 pillars that one can apply to life, whether one is a spiritual person or not, that will have a deep impact in your life:

1. Do not criticize:
Criticism is us trying to correct the world, and it generally serves as a smoke-screen that we use to avoid working on our own problems. 
This doesn’t mean that we do not discern right from wrong, but simply that we do not take great pleasure in finding faults in other people. 
2. Be tolerant:
Instead of complaining, one is tolerant. 
The one who complains on a regular basis is signing a contract with itself to be miserable.
3. Take no offense:
To the degree that one is offended, one suffers. 
Not walking around with resentments. 
Being able to let go of past resentments from traumatic experiences or because of the feeling that “people are out to get me” which usually lead one to find offense where there is not. 
4. Be quick to apologize:
It's easy to forget our own shortcomings when we hurt other people & yet we get resentful when others hurt us. 
One should be very self-aware of one’s own shortcomings & be quick to apologize to others. 
5. See the good in others:
For some people it is very hard to see the good in others. That is a very diseased condition that only perpetuates suffering. 
See the good in others & let them know it. Tell them how you feel & why you appreciate them. 
This practice alone can change your whole life. 
6. Be grateful and keep a tally of your blessings:
Being aware of all the reasons for which one can and should be grateful is a very powerful tool to bring awareness and joy into your life. 
For those people who are suffering from mild depression, this can completely shift their perspective & pull them out of that unconscious state.
  • Advice: open up a note on your phone and write 20 reasons why you are blessed; read it every morning and add two more reasons to the list. Try to make that a morning practice. 

Resources

Wisdom of the Sages Podcast HERE

Ragunath’s website HERE

Ragunath's Instagram (@raghunathyogi) HERE


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Menstrual Wisdom & Womb Care with Ayurveda | Nidhi Pandya #063

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Ancient women honoured the menstrual blood as the essential life generating material willed by Mother Moon to cleanse and purify their inherited Shakti energy so that new and fragrant life could blossom.

Ancient wisdom for a healthy menstrual cycle and caring for the wombs of all women on earth: the seat of creative intelligence in all areas of life.

About Our Guest: Nidhi Pandya

Nidhi Pandya is a New York based third generation Ayurvedic practitioner working globally. She was indoctrinated into Ayurveda at birth, as her grandfather was an Ayurvedic healer. 
In 2002, she founded a value development school called Vyaktitiva to counsel young adolescents and help them find purpose in whatever they do.
Now, she is a practitioner, blogger, educator and a faculty at the Shakti School of Ayurveda.
Wellness to Nidhi means aligning your body and mind to only consume what nourishes you on both levels. This can only happen when you truly understand your body and are able to tune in to your mind.

Nidhi Pandya
After an in depth study of the scriptures and contemplation, Nidhi came to the conclusion that the ecosystem of the human body is warm and moist. Any deviation from this climate leads to imbalance. She therefore teaches people how to understand this climate; what may take it off balance, and how to bring it back to homeostasis.

In this Episode we Discuss:

Nidhi's Daily Routine (Dinacharya)

How Nidhi's relationship with Ayurveda originated

Being raised within a family of Ayurveic Healers in Mumbai, India.
Moving to New York and realizing the practice of Ayurveda is her true calling.
Eventually practicing and teaching all over the world. 

An introduction into the wonderful power behind menstruation

One of Dylan’s first lessons in his Ayurvedic journey was that one of the greatest blessings a woman has is her menstruation - the cleansing and purification of her Shakti (divine feminine energy).

The wisdom of the menstrual cycle

A woman has the capacity to be a fertile ground - taking the potential that lies within the seed and with her Shakti creating something much bigger and powerful. 
The many variables that play a role in the preservation of this fertile ground that is the female reproductive system. 
The female cycles affecting the doshas and the entirety of the female physiology. 
Why the menstrual cycle is fundamental for the preservation of female fertility. 
How a woman deals with her menstrual cycle determining how she will reach menopause later in life
The menstrual cycle and the preservation of fertility not only being linked to the capacity to birth children but also to the essential qualities of Shakti - birthing creativity and individual expression in the world. 
Lowe half of a female body with the vagina covered by a plant

Menstrual phases according to Ayurveda

1. When a woman has had her period then the body enters the Kapha phase - it starts to build the structure needed to initiate conception (thickening of the lining and building of the fluids) in case a sperm cell happens to be invited into the womb any time soon. 
2. When ovulating the woman undergoes the Pitta phase - the phase of transformation that allows for the sperm cell to fuse with the female egg and transform that into a Zygote.
  • During this phase temperatures increase inside the womb to the optimum levels for that transformation to take place. 
  • The enkindling of that reproductive agni (fire) also leads to an increased libido. 
Diagram of the dosas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha)
3. If fertilization doesn’t occur during the previous phase then the woman enters the Vata phase - the decline. Here the body realizes the structures it has created were not used and therefore destroys them in order to be able to create the optimum conditions again in the future. 
      • The wind/air element in ayurveda is that which destroys - so it’s like a little tornado charged with heat hits these structures and then the lining is destroyed and everything is pushed downwards through a period. 

Ayurvedic Protocols for menstruation

It is of upmost importance during this phase to ground the vata:
  • Very important to avoid exercising, since that wind element will be scattered throughout the body by excessive movement and the cleansing will not properly take place. 
  • Allow yourself to rest; not excessive napping, but slow down.
      • Try not to use your mind as much - avoid studying, overthinking and stress since that will move the Prana (life force) upward instead of downward.  
  • Eat cooling and grounding foods like rice-based dishes, milk (can be warm due to its nourishing properties) and coconut-based dishes. 
  • Avoid hot foods like eggplant, tomatoes, and excessively spicy foods. Also excessively cold foods and raw foods since all of these will only increase that which you are already feeling.
Melting Strawberry ice cream
  • Mainly eat easy-to-digest foods since that will allow for the blood to concentrate in the pelvic floor and to enliven the cleansing process instead of being massively sent upwards to the digestive system in order to take care of a heavy meal. 
  • Generally, any foods that balance out the dry and hot qualities of this period will promote wellbeing.  
  • Sleeping the closer you possibly can to the earth - this is a grounding technique. 
      • Traditionally a grass bed has been used so that a degree of comfort is there, while still being as close to the ground as possible. 
By following these easy protocols many women that had lost their fertility (in terms of having regular periods) have successfully regained it. 
Copulation or engaging in any sexual activity is contraindicated during this period.
Women in their menstrual period should try and avoid cooking for two main reasons:
  • Rest should be primordial during this time. 
  • There is a special warmth and sliminess women experience during their period that needs to be preserved. When physically interacting with food, these properties are going to embed themselves into the food and affect its properties & qualities. 
      • Test this yourself: buy organic rice, handle it with your bare hands and leave it to rest. In a short period of time you’ll see some of the rice grains will hatch. 
When on their menstrual periods, women should avoid visiting the temple and the chanting of mantras
  • All mantras carry a specific energy - some are more heating and some are more cooling. This energy will surely affect the temperature within your body and that will alter the inner body chemistry and possibly trigger certain undesired consequences.
  • Spiritual practices imply the upward movement of the subtle Prana & the subtle vayu (wind), which allows for the elevation of the soul within the individual. 
    • But during this period of menstruation, you are not supposed to be working on the upward movement of the subtle prana but instead the gross body is working on the downward movement of Prana/Vayu

Avoid bathing, Abhyanga and any other activities that stimulate several parts of your body
  • They are naturally vata aggravating → they’ll send that wind to all directions within the body.  

Menstrual Pain

If you are properly taking care of your body health having menstrual pain shouldn’t be normal; there shouldn’t be any. Only heightened sensitivity should be present.
  • The pain is an indication of imbalance.
Three main causes of cramps:
  • A too sluggish environment that is not allowing for the vayu (wind) to move freely
  • Too much movement that leads to excess wind aggravation that in turn causes vayu to go to undesired parts of your body (a part of your back, cervix, pelvis, etc.) and generate cramping.  
  • Excess heat and inflammation due to an over-enlivened agni usually caused by an improper diet
What a woman does between two cycles is also of relevance. 
  • The menstrual cycle is there to cleanse, so if there’s a lot to cleanse then the period will take rougher qualities; but if women take proper care of themselves then there will be less to cleanse and the period will be painless (that’s how it naturally should be). 

Menarche

It is the first occurrence of menstruation
The first 13 years of life are of assimilation - both physically and mentally.
  • The exponential expansion, growth and maturity of a woman’s physiology. 
  • The various types of learning and creation of memories and an individual psyche.
When menarche arrives, that’s when heat increases in the body and the transformation phase begins. 
  • The fire sets in and all of that which was assembled in the previous 13 years is taken into action, into creation - that is the rise and amplification of Shakti (divine feminine energy).
Ayurvedic tradition:
During the first 12 days the girl goes through a very introspective process, either with an elder-woman or alone. On the 13th day there is a celebration honouring the blossoming of this bud. 
A turmeric paste is made and spread all over the body to maintain the menstrual heat and to further purify.  
How parents should address their children’s needs and educate them during menarche:
It is important that the communication is good with their children and that they clearly educate them as to what is helpful and what is not; what enlivens their health and what will act as a detriment to it. 
Making these things clear early in life is better than having to fight these battles later, when non-healthy habits have already been assimilated as “normal” and the consequences start to appear (missed periods, acne, PCOS [PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome], etc.).

Menopause

Menopause is supposed to be asymptomatic
The degree to which you have honoured your periods will determine how rough or mild your menopause will be.

Ovulation Pain

Pain during the ovulation is very often related to low digestive fire. When that digestive agni is debilitated, ama (toxic undigested waste) is created and it blocks the tiny channels within the reproductive system. That blockages will not allow for the prana vayu to flow freely. 
To dissolve this ama you can do several things: a good body cleanse, panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleanse composed of five separate procedures), eating light foods, Laṅghana (Ayurvedic deprivation therapy) and fasting.

Piercings according to Hindu Tradition

Piercings are usually put in stimulating points called marmas. These points are related to different parts/systems within the body. 
Ear piercings are traditionally done when the child is 6 to 8 months old and they support brain health.
The nose piercing (particularly on the left nostril) has more to do with menstrual and reproductive health. For women suffering from pms and other menstrual issues, this is the piercing you should consider. 
  • There is a particular point within the left nostril that is the most auspicious and effective for this cause. It is believed that if done right and in precisely the right place, the piercing will not get infected.    

Other tips and insights that can help with female reproductive health

Warm Castor Oil applied on the lower abdomen and pelvic region will allow for Prana Vayu to be invited downwards with ease.  
  • It is also recommended for women right after they give birth. 
Organic Tampons dipped in Oil - preferably Dhanvantaram Tailam - are very good especially for older women that are already experiencing dryness in their vaginas. 
  • You can even do it once a month and wear it for 2-3 hours and that will help strengthen the whole vaginal environment
  • Our Yoni Ghee or Special Phala Ghee are also very good and can be used in the same manner and for the same purpose. 
  • The more frequently you apply them the better. 
Yoni Ghee
Avoid harsh diets and raw foods while on your period since they enhance the menstrual cramps and related pains.  
Wearing white and smelling jasmine aroma are recommended ayurvedic practices for women on their periods.       

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Honouring Our Ancestors for Celestial Support in Life | Dr. Robert Svoboda #062

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According to the Vedic tradition, ancestors have a sole role - to support their descendants (you!) so you can perform your most evolutionary (dharmic) action.
But for them to give energy and attention from their realms (lohkas), they require energy and attention to flow back to them in a reciprocal manner. 
When this flow of consciousness is reciprocated, their presence and support is enlivened.
Furthermore, us on earth actually have a profound responsibility to assist our ancestors with their evolution.
Robert Svododa and Dylan share ways to connect with your ancestors so that you can utilise their energy. These techniques and practices can promote your physical energy levels as well as increase the ability for cosmic intelligence to operate through you so that you radiate life for all to enjoy.

About Our Guest: Dr. Robert Svoboda

Dr. Robert Svoboda is the first Westerner ever to graduate from a college of Ayurveda and be licensed to practice Ayurveda in India.
During and after his formal Ayurvedic training he was tutored in Ayurveda, Yoga, Jyotish, Tantra and other forms of classical Indian lore by his mentor, the Aghori Vimalananda.
He is the author of over a dozen books and has served as Adjunct Faculty at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, NM, and at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. 

In this Episode we Discuss:

Dr. Robert’s Daily Routine (Dinacharya)

The Relevance Ancestry has had Historically

Up until the 20th century, ancestry had always been of major importance all around the world, with some communities even considering their ancestors as deities.
The hindu point of view regarding ancestry.

Getting in touch with our Ancestry & fulfilling our duty towards them

Repaying the ancestral debt we have with them by helping them evolve past lingering desires they might have had before dropping their bodies, so they are not drawn back to said desires in future incarnations.  
The dangers of falling victim to the unfulfilled cravings of our ancestry when summoning them. 
The general manner by which this whole process should be approached.

States of Being in the Afterlife

Preta (someone who recently dropped his/her body) - they need to let go and advance. 
The personal Sadhana (spiritual exercise) of one’s lifetime playing a role in the afterlife.  
Souls getting to Pitru Lokha (Pitru = forefather/foremother).
Bhutas or Ghosts (Bhuta literally meaning past / was / has been) are souls who dropped their bodies and are still clinging to that previous existence - not letting go & trying to return.

Rituals to honor our Ancestors

Sūtaka period - (10/15 days after the body drops) is the time in which the ancestral world is the most open for us to get in touch with a Preta
  • Śhrāddha Ritual (Śhrāddha = faith - from the root Hrd, meaning heart). 
      • You want to put your heart into it. Let your ancestors know that you are keeping faith in them and supporting them in this journey.
  • Pinda Dhana (Dhana = donate) 
      • You donate a Pinda - lump (ball / ladhus). - symbolic way to try and assist the individual soul to regain another body.
  • Tarpana - you can also perform a ceremony yourself with various degrees of simplicity that will allow you to honor them and support their journey to Pitru Lokha.
Pindas for Pinda Dhana ritual
Pindas (or Laddhus) used for the Pinda Dhana ritual
Ritual for Pitru
Say “Tripitam” - meaning please be satisfied, satisfied. Then say “Swada”.
Invoking the names of your ancestors up to 7 generations back, after the 8th generation less than 1% of your genetics is related to them so the genetic connection with them is not as strong. 
Explain that “Visnu will become your guide”.
To finish say “Swastana Gatcha” - meaning please go to where your own personal place is.

Dealing with Ancestor Karma according to Hindu tradition 

The relationship between mental health and family karma.  

Mehandipur Temple - Hanuman temple in Rajasthan.

Chottanikkara Temple - Devi temple in Kerala 

Native Religions

The alienation of native cultures and their externally induced detachment from the natural world. 
American, Australian and Brasilian natives.
Candomblé - religion of Brazil - has imported Gods and Goddesses from Nigeria.
Caboclo - a figure that is respected and represents all the indigenous people of Brazil that have been brutalised, violated and suppressed.
Preto-Velho - old black man represents the slaves that are brought over. 

Dr. Robert doing Tarpana every year

Doing the Ritual for those who might not be direct ancestors, but who’s sacrifice directly impacted our very own existence to this day. 
Dr. Robert’s & Dylan’s experience visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

Other Practices to honor different things

Pañcayajña (पञ्चयज्ञ) - when eating, feeding a crow, dog, cow, the fire, and another human.
Offering water to Trees (especially Ficus Religiosa a.k.a. Peepal tree, Ashvattha tree or Bodhi tree) given that they hold spirits within themselves and also embody Shanni Deva (Lord Saturn).
The importance of honoring all existing & already deceased life forms. 
Ficus Religiosa Trees
Ficus Religiosa trees (a.k.a Bodhi Trees, a.k.a. Ashwattha Trees, a.k.a. Peepal Trees)

About Robert's Lineage and his Guru (Vimalananda)

Born in Mumbai, lived as a Sādhu (renunciant) he did a ritual for the Mahavidya Tara and consequently got connected to the Astral world in a very particular way. 
Vimalananda had 3 Gurus.
Guru Maharaj (a.k.a Sri Rama Viswambharanadh (Jatala Sadhu)) was born around A.D. 1550 and he dropped his body on 05/06/1993 after living for 440 years or so.
  • He was Vimalananda’s Guru, and was once found around A.D. 1800 by arquelogers in Samadhi (meditative absorption) inside the ruins of a temple in Puri. He held the certificate that testified to that.  
  • After healing a blind person he was forced to flee from Puri to Simhachalam - 20km to the west of Vishaka Patnam (biggest city between Chennai and Kolkata) in India’s east coast. 
  • Stayed in the Varaha Narasimha Temple.
Jatala Sadhu Ram Vishwambardas
Jatala Sadhu Ram Vishwambardas (a.k.a. Guru Maharajj)
  • Guru Maharaj possessed a lot of unusual capabilities (Siddhis): he didn’t eat regular food but lived off chewing Tobacco leafs since he sustained that there was no point in eating because by doing so you wear down your teeth and digestive system.
      • He instead suggested the best option was to eat something very poisonous and with inner alquemy turn that substance into nectar. 

Resources

Dr. Robert's New Course HERE

In this course, Dr. Svoboda talks about Ganesha, the elephant-headed god who is the remover of obstacles, and his relationship to the Earth Element, our senses, and more.

This course contains 5 hours of content, including an hour-long talk about the Atharvashirsha, a Vedic chant to Ganesha, and its meaning. You also will get access to links and the words for the Atharvashirsha.

The website in honor of Sri Rama Viswambharanadh (a.k.a. Jatala Sadhu, a.k.a. Guru Maharaj) HERE

Dr. Robert's Instagram account (@drrobertsvoboda) HERE

Dr. Robert's website HERE

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The Yoga of Time, Vedic Medicine & The Veda Mandala | Prashanti de Jager, Master Herbalist #059

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Prashanti’s clinical forte and specialty is his ability to use many of the “Vedic sciences” - Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, Vaastu (Vedic Architecture), Advaita and Dhanurveda (the yoga of warfare) to analyze, diagnose, treat and empower his clients.

The episode is for the “Vedic nerds”, as we explore with a scientifically eccentric perception, the richness that the Laws of Nature: The Veda, has to offer.
Prashanti has unique capabilities to perceive the subtle in all areas of life, as well as an expanded spectrum of awareness on the true depths of wisdom traditions.

About Our Guest: Prashanti de Jager

Prashanti’s clinical forte and specialty is his ability to use many of the “Vedic sciences” - Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, Vaastu (Vedic Architecture), Advaita, Dhanurveda (the yoga of warfare), too analyse, diagnose, treat and empower his clients. 

He shares these potent vedic sciences through The Veda Mandala.

This powerful “confluence of factors” is comparable to having a session with ten different wellness guides all at once. After earning many degrees from the University of Michigan in the fields of Math, Engineering, Biophysics and Emergency Medicine, and studying numerous adjunct healing modalities, Prashanti moved to India in 1990 to study Advaita and the Vedic Sciences.

Prashanti De Jager holding a herb in the Himalayas

On his travels, he experienced the very good fortune of a decade of sitting at the feet of epic paragons like Sri H.W.L. Poonja, Annamalai Swami, Lakshman Swami, the Dalai Lama, Urgen Tulku, Jamgong Kontrul Rinpoche, Hart de Fou, Kaviraj Vaidya Nanakchand Sharma, as well a dozens of eminent Yogis, Priests, Scientists and many truly empowered Grand Mothers.

Traveling all over India training as a Yogi, Clinician and an Ethnopharmacologist, he settled in Lucknow, North India, where he started to treat hundreds of locals and foreigners that came to him with a vast number of health issues.

To ensure high-quality formulas for his clients, he started an Ayurvedic herb company in 1993 in North India where he grew, wild-crafted and processed the herbs by hand. As the reputation for these herbs grew worldwide, a beautiful team/Vision called ‘Organic India’ emerged to serve the demand in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.

Besides being a Founder of Organic India, he also is a trustee on other projects like the Dunagiri Foundation Trust, instilling sustainable herbal wild-crafting amongst thousands of tribals in central India and also in the fragile ecosystems of the High Himalayas.

He edits & writes articles for numerous magazines and his own books, and teaches classes on herbs and Ayurvedic Medicine around the world.

He is one of Tulsi’s (holy basil) humans.

a.k.a. Haldi Baba (Haldi being turmeric) - Prashanti wrote one of the most comprehensive - spirit world view, on turmeric. “Turmeric The Ayurvedic Spice of Life”


In this Episode we Discuss:

Sahanau Vavatu

ॐ सह नाववतु। Om, May we all be protected

सह नौ भुनक्तु। May we all be nourished

सह वीर्यं करवावहै। May we work together with great energy

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु May our intellect be sharpened (may our study be effective)

मा विद्विषावहै। Let there be no Animosity amongst us

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ Om, peace (in me), peace (in nature), peace (in divine forces)

Understanding the root value and spirit centric worldview of Sanskrit

Tripura Darshan (Three worldview)
  1. Spirit centric
  2. Energy centric
  3. Mass centric
Beginning of the Rig Veda
4 levels of Vat (Truth)
  1. Para-vak - the ultimate reality in the form of vibrations, of which thought and words are rough representations. It is the absolute expressed as transcendental           sound (Mantras come from here). 
  2. Pashyanthi vak - here you can have the spirit centric worldview. This is where creativity and genius are. The Heart is dominant.
  3. Madhyama vak - truth touches our minds. The middle between subtle thought and gross speech. The Throat is dominant.
  4. Vaikhari vak - truth touches our lips. Most people are here. Where words come out the mouth in the form of gross physical sound.

Vaastu Sastra

The Vedic science of harmonious design.

Vaastu is fundamental, it is at the base of the Veda Mandala because from Vaastu you can create every other science.

Vaca (calamus acorus)

To read our article on the many uses & benefits of Vaca click HERE
acorus calamus (vaca) roots

Two types of memory

  1. Episodic memory: centered around experiences and events
  2. Semantic/Terrain memory: memory of general knowledge (facts, ideas, concepts and the general meaning of things).

The importance of Dinacharya (daily routine)

The importance of waking up before the sunrise
The value that there is in watching the sunrise.
Surya Traataka:
Various practices to honour the sun.
Starting and watching the rising sun.
The frequency of light that a ghee lamp emits directly impacts the third eye.

Sunrise in Nepal

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Yama (attitudes toward our environment)
Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves)
Asana (physical postures)
Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath)
Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
Dharana (intention & intent): Tejas (Fire, energy, brilliance) is developed in this sixth limb.
Dhyana (meditation)
Samadhi (complete integration)

Vaidyas (Ayurvedic Physicians)

Balaraj Maharishi
He sent Prashanti to Tirumula around 1993 to find a very special majik plant and he found it!
Balaraj Maharishi and the first clinical trial of Ayurvedic medicines in the West: Link to read more HERE
Dr. Triguna
Famous pulse physician.

Siddhis - Divine Human Capabilities

How do humans achieve siddhis?
  • Past lives influencing siddhis.
  • Sampradaya - the core of the lineage that has sampradaya has a living goddess (vidya / supreme knowledge) at it’s core. Vidya comes from Pashyanthi vak.
  • Mantras call the Devis (divine beings) and Mahavidyas (10 aspects of mother divine)
  • Bhutas (any encapsulated intelligence with an agenda or energetic force) give siddhis. e.g. Nazi Germany was a Bhuta.
  • Bhutas hide in the life of your own identity. 
Studying elemental bhutas by going close to bush/forest fires and storms.
  • Studying how nature's elements are Beings.
Trigunas (Three Prime Attributes): Sattva (Purity), Rajas (Stimulation), Tamas (Inertia)

Rare, Endangered and Divine Healing Herbs

Divya Aushadhis (Divine Herbs)
Dronagiri Mountain in Tibetan Nitti Valley (where Hanuman picked up a mountain to heal wounds).

Once you're in Joshimath, you go left to Badrinath , to the right you go to Tibetan Nitti Valley. Half way up that valley to the right is Dronigeri. You can see at the top of the mountain Hanuman scooped a trench off the side.

Sanjeevani Booti - the herb Hanuman used to heal Lakshman according to the Ramayana. 
Astavarga -  8 High Himalayan deep nectar rejuvenation orchid herbs.

Very rare and hard to find. Prashanti is probably the only person in the world which produces a formula close to Astavarga (he calls it “Orchid Ojas”).

Hanuman holding mountain
Using “substitutes” for rare herbs.

Prashanti created a whole new metric scale to grade herbs and create the “Astavarga formula.”

The corruption & lies in the Ayurvedic herb industry.
The Processing of Herbs (Shodasha Samskāra):
  • Some of these herbs hate metal, e.g. Amalaki hates metal.
  • Preparing herbs after “lighting up” your chakras and chanting mantras.
  • Preparing herbs in the presence of or nearby Guru.
“The ultimate medicine made, is the medicine maker.”Becoming medicine via medicine making.

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Prashanti’s huge contribution to Tulsi
For more information on the many healing properties of Tulsi read our article HERE

Turmeric & building resilience in the body

When Prashanti “received the codes” for Turmeric.

Eating 30-40g of turmeric (haldi/haridra) & 10-20g of ashwagandha per day.

Difference between dried and fresh turmeric and ginger.

The myth that black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric. 

Trikatu (ginger, long pepper, and black pepper), especially ginger, is the spice that increases the absorption of turmeric.

To read more on Turmeric and its many health benefits click HERE 

Trikatu (Three Pungents)

  1. Ginger - Sattvic - To read more on Ginger click HERE.
  2. Pippali (Piper Longum) - bonfire rasayana (elixir) that has heat but also is a rasayana. It is agni (fire) and amrit (nectar) at the same time.
  3. Marica (Black Pepper) - the most rajasic (stimulating) of them all. Rajas agitates itself to decay. 

Herbal Formulas

Single Herbs vs Formulas.
3 herbs in a formula are great // 5-to-10-ingredients formulas can be challenging for the body.
  • More than three ingredients in a formula - can create confusion. 
But when you cook all together, even 50 ingredients, you can make it sama (healthy and compatible). e.g. preparations like Avaleham (paste), or Amrit/Aristam (herbal wine).

How to apply the principles of Ayurveda to every given situation

3 main concepts:
  • Kala - time.
  • Desa - place.
  • Patra - lineage.
E.g. Treating a 19-Year-Old San Francisco Goth Using the Principles of Ayurveda: Through fashion advice, advicing to wake up at 3am to go party and herb consumption. 
Diversity and curvature vs. straight line.
All the polarities coming into the singularity.
All chakras being in the heart chakra. 

The Puranas

  1. Exegesis - the methodology of how you read or interpret any ancient text or book. 
  2. Repetition - you see it all over the place.
  3. Hyperbolae - e.g. “If you stand on your head for 3 hours you will be enlightened”, said like that to remember, do not take it literally.
3 recurring themes in the Puranas (“The Old Things / Old Ones”)
  1. Tulsipurifies family karma. Points to the epi-genetic qualities of tulsi. Genes don’t change, but their expression changes.
  2. Sirsasana (Head stand).
  3. Ēkādaśi.
    • Literally means 11.
    • 11th lunar day, 2x/month.
    • There is one Purana all on Ēkādaśi.
    • Fasting not only fasting from food, but from the mundane, the heavy - feast on the light, energy and shakti.
    • It’s a great way to cyclically fast.

Prashanti’s Veda Mandala

The Veda Mandala - bringing all vedic sciences together, protecting their essence.
5 Principles for evolving:
  1. Pattern interrupt - e.g. rising run, winter solstice. 
  2. New frame of reference
  3. Trim story
  4. Curate memory 
  5. Shift identity.
Allowing for a truer understanding of “inauspicious” times.
The Veda Mandala
Shamshan sadhana
Practicing it at midnight on the ghats (river banks) of Varanasi.
When the world gets destroyed, Rudra (Lord Siva) maintains Varanasi. 

The Power of Tejas

Tejas =   

It signifies creative will power, splendor and brilliance. At the same time being a very grounded, intentional and spirited force. 

India, Powerful Holy Places and Herbs

Certain places where reality gets thin. Then and there you can see so much truth.

The holiest of holy temples in Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai and Manikarnika ghat in Varanasi.

Tirumala, an area around a Visnu temple (Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple) which is the most visited and wealthiest temple in the world.

Up the mountain from the city of Tirupati.

The Ramban herb - “Rama’s Arrows”
  • Prashanti was told by Balaraj Maharishi to find, identify and process it. Around 1993.
  • Not mentioned anywhere.
  • Prashanti was selling one leaf for $10-100.
  • Incredibly nootropic (cognitive enhancing). 
The Blue Lotus
  • Vertical element of integration.
  • Makes you feel like you are walking two inches off the ground. 
Kushta (Saussurea lappa)
  • Rasa - Bitter, pungent, sweet
  • Virya - Hot
  • Vipaka - Pungent.
  • Gunas - Dry, light, sharp.
  • The brother of Soma. Also going extinct. A high Himalayan Angelica.
Blue Lotus Flower

More on Powerful Vedic Wisdom

Haasta - the combination of Vastu, Jyotish and Ayurveda.
Non-linear knowledge: 

Prana in the Himalayas and the grace, you start receiving non-linear knowledge. 

Covid being part of a major transition that the world will undergo in the next 20 years. 

Prashanti’s definition of Dharma
The Yoga of Time
Solstice:
  • When the sun stops. “Sun stillness.”
  • Siva, masculin.
Winter solstice:
  • A time to dive deep and shift your identity, and then take action and dharma.
  • Adaptogenic herbs, build your ojas (Article on Ojas VV).
  • Take Ashtavarga around the start of winter solstice. Then don’t have to take it for the rest of the year.
  • Trees don’t dry out, they shift their juice from their periphery to their core.
  • Taking herbs.
Equinox:
  • Shakti, feminine.
  • Half way between the solstices.
  • When the energy is it’s fastest.
  • Power, shakti.
Navaratri - Nine nights of mother divine 

To read more on how to tap into mother divine and the regenerative forces of Navaratri click HERE

Saptaka-Charya - Rhythms of the week.


Resources

The Veda Mandala website

Prashanti's personal website

Prashanti's Instagram Account (@prashanti.veda.mandala)

Prashanti's Facebook Account

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Assimilating Rich Yogic Traditions Relevant For Today | Eddie Stern #053

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“Yoga does not ask you to be more than you are, But yoga does ask you to be all that you are” ~ Eddie Stern

Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices originally developed in ancient India that nowadays has undergone a complete resurgence, particularly in the west. 

Many yogic practitioners define the benefits of the daily practice of Yoga as boundless, and still many, although interested, find it hard to include practices such as this in their daily lives.

Some do not find the correct introductory stimulus and for others it is their surrounding environment that doesn't propeciate the learning. 

In this day and age, there are several Yogic teachers trying to approach the average consumer with these traditional life-enhancing techniques and other watered-down versions of them. Today’s guest is one of the most popular and well-established people to do so in the United States...

About Our Guest: Eddie Stern

Eddie Stern is a Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City.

He has been practicing Yoga since 1987, and ran his school in SoHo from 1993-2019.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the school became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York with an eclectic mix of downtown artists and spiritual seekers practicing and meditating next to well-known personalities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike D, and Lou Reed, in what was also Manhattan’s first consecrated Ganesh Temple.

Eddie Stern

Eddie has a passion for seeking out diversity in all aspects of his work and uses a multidisciplinary approach of combining technology, scientific research, and collaboration to help further understanding, education, and access to yoga.

He continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, as well as maintain a passion for the daily practice Yoga.

Eddie learned Ashtanga yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, of Mysore, India.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Eddie's and Dylan's morning routine (dinacharya).

Eddie is reading 60 verses per day, every day, for 1 year of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavatam Purana)

Swadaya

The study of the chapters of self, self reflection.

adi / ayana: To move firmly towards.

Swa: Self.

Swa - adyaya: Chapter

Yoga allowing us to get in touch with the higher/deeper narrative of our beingGoing beyond the 'little stories' we tell ourselves about what our life has been like or what has happened to us, until the only story left is our true being, pure existence.

How to mentally approach the Puranas and hindi epics to take advantage of their teachings.  

Silhouette of woman doing Yoga during sunrise

Eddie’s journey into India and the Yogic traditions

The journey of the previous generation’s most notorious spiritual seekers (e.g. Ram Dass and Radanath Swami) and what the context was like when they travelled to India.

The alleged difference between first experiencing Yoga, India and the Vedic Traditions in the late 20th century vs. what a new seeker/student experiences today.  

Three monks sitting in the entrance of a buddhist temple

Integrating religious beliefs such as Judaism with Vedic and Hindu practices. 

Some of Eddie's current projects: 

“The Breathing App” for free in app stores: provides guided paced breathing to deal with stress

Yoga 365: one minute Yoga practice every day for a year, for beginners who don't have time to put into practice a 20 minute or one hour classes any day of the week. For every one purchase, a Yoga 365 is gifted to a healthcare worker working with covid patients.   

The Urban Yogis, alongside Deepak Chopra and Erica Ford: teaching young adults coming from high-gun-violence-areas to be Yoga and Meditation teachers and also help them find steady jobs.

Breathing and rehabilitation practices for people suffering and recovering from Covid-19. In early stages of the project.  

Every-day global Yoga classes online for free or by donation.

Scroll down to "Resources" to find out more about these projects and many others. 

Eddie Stern giving a Yoga class

Ego Traps & Eddie's favorite Slohka

Going against the fallacy that because of doing a spiritual practice periodically you are better off than those who don’t.

Favorite Slohka: Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 48

Resources

Eddie’s daily online yoga classes. - eddiestern.com

Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, Eddie is a newly appointed advisory board member to the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance.

Author of One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life, a bestselling book that examines from both a Western scientific perspective and an Eastern philosophical perspective the underlying mechanisms that make yoga an amazingly effective practice for health, wellbeing, and spiritual development.

The Breathing App, a free app which guides the user in a paced breathing exercise that balances the nervous system, helping to improve sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. Created with his wife, Jocelyne Stern, and app programmer and collaborator Sergey Varichev.

International Yoga and Science Conferences, an ongoing forum for presenting rigorous scientific evidence on yoga and meditation which is accessible, inspiring, and actionable; created with Dr. Marshall Hagins.

Namarupa, Categories of Indian Thought, a Hindu philosophy and art journal, and a boutique book publishing house, with partner Robert Moses.

Engineering Health, a free, online yoga and physiology program with the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, created with Alexandra Seidenstein and Dr. Erich Anderer.

Urban Yogis, a yoga and meditation program for community transformation led by Juquille Johnston, Jaytaun MacMillan, Raheem Lewis, and Pastor NaRon Tillman, in South Jamaica, Queens.

LIFE Camp is a gun violence reduction program in South Jamaica, Queens, started and run by Erica Ford. The program uses a multi-modality intervention model to interrupt violence before it can occur. It is a city-funded program and the instigator of the NYC Crisis Management System which has reduced shootings by 40% in NYC. Eddie is the current co-Chairperson of LIFE Camp.

Set/Reset (previously Breathe, Move, Rest) Eddie was the co-founder of this health and wellness educational non-profit that has trained school teachers in 120 schools in the US in health and wellness practices based on yoga and meditation (reaching approximately 70,000 school kids, K-12.) He was a founding board member of Bent On Learning, nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to New York City public school children. As well, he led curriculum writing teams for Pure Edge, and other yoga/health and wellness in schools non-profits.

Inner Peace Network, a new platform devoted to supporting the teachers and teachings of the great wisdom traditions, and the cultures that they have emerged from.

Bhāgavatam Purana (the story of Lord Krishna) by Krishna Dvaipāyana a.k.a. Vyasa 

-

Final Image taken from Helsingin's Astanga Joogakoulu - Astanga Special Workshop 2022

Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


SHARE

Spread the word! Tell your family, friends, neighbors and all your social mates.

Share this episode on Facebook / Share this episode on Twitter


Subscribe


Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.