Author of yogic comments on Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali’s Yoga Darshans, Shiva Sutras, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Shri Shailendra Sharma (disciple of Shri Satyacharan Lahiri, grandson of Lahiri Mahasai) is the fifth guru in the lineage of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. His discoveries are opening the reader’s path to the consciousness of the Time and the Void, the mysteries of samadhi and the mechanics of karma.
His way of teaching differs from the academic methods of transferring the knowledge, but techniques of Kriya Yoga practice are taught in the strict and unmodified ways, exactly as they were given by the founder of this lineage of Yoga, Babaji Maharaj himself.
Aside from techniques of yoga, other non-traditional methods of developing the consciousness are aimed at crushing the fossils of the familiar clichés by challenging the inquirer to explore the root of the question and accept sometimes brutal truths of life, reality and self, thus widening and strengthening the mind.
This collection of selected Darshans was acquired over the last ten years and we feel it is important to give some understanding to the readers about the format and aspects of the communication between the guru and the disciples.
Read parts of the book:
Understanding the Mind of the Creator
Question: There is a belief that if you desire to obtain siddhis (supreme, mystical abilities), you can never attain self- realization.
Answer (Shailendra Sharma): In my opinion, that’s not true. If you are practicing yoga, results of these practices will include these capacities, the siddhis. They've been described in detail in Yoga Darshan and other texts. Over time these instructions have been adulterated by various devotional cults. They say, “Thou shalt not acquire any grandeur lest thou shall lose thy path.”
How can anybody get lost? There’s no other way to go! This is a journey from birth to death, and this is the path of life! Who can deviate from this path, tell me.
There’s no chance of losing the way. Sometimes we pause for analysis, sometimes we relax, but there’s no possibility of getting lost.
A common assumption is that it is the greatness of the guru that leads his disciple away from any glory so that the disciple doesn’t get lost! But the truth is, most of the gurus do not have any skills or tools for helping their students win any glory. There are many such people, fooling others. There's so much hypocrisy in this world.
Should we even care? We should analyze even the hypocrites. That’s why I’ve written dedications in all my books: “To the seekers of truth.” And truth is not just one-dimensional. It is multifaceted, diverse, and multidimensional. Whatever we are exploring, we should try to understand it in its totality.
As I said before, after understanding the creation we’ll have to be able to understand the mind of the Creator. And remember, the Creator is Alakh Niranjan – beyond carbon! Since He is beyond carbon, He is beyond this creation and is invisible.
What we are experiencing is His nature in our day-to- day life. First we’ll understand His nature, and then we’ll understand Him.
We should refuse to accept the statement: “This world is all maya” (illusion). My observation is that maya IS His nature. The more we understand Creator's nature, the more natural we become and understand Him better.
Think of it this way – when you travel, you find dozens of fellow travelers. You can see them, touch them, but you don’t know their nature. You don’t know the person; you just see the person. But that’s not enough. When you start talking to them, exchange thoughts, get to know their traveling plans, and the stories they tell you, only then the real friendship will develop. Got the point?
Mother Earth is Death Herself
A. It's an old dream, very terrifying. I saw a large number of people doing Parikrama (circumambulation of the sacred Govardhan hill). I was standing next to a very tall man, barely reaching his waistline. He was totally black and looked extremely horrifying, with no hair and with teeth and nails about four-five feet long. Behind us millions of funeral pyres were burning.
We were merrily talking. Just then, I saw him casually pick up a passing man using his nails as forks, and start roasting him on the funeral pyre behind us, all the while talking to me. The man he picked up started crying loudly in pain. I asked, “If you want to kill him, kill him. Why are you torturing him like this?” He answered, “Until the man's blood boils in his veins and turns blue, it won’t bring out the flavor!” After some time, he ate him and picked up another man in the same way!
It was a very strange dream. It is still very vivid in my memory. Later I found out that when you heat up blood to a certain temperature, it actually turns blue. And the most terrifying thing was what he said about the blood developing a flavor.
I was thinking about this black man from my dream. God of Govardhan Hill is also known as kala devata (black deity). Yamaraj (Lord of Death) is also black, and so is Kaal of Yamaraj.
Q. Who do you mean by 'Kaal of Yamaraj’?
A. Yamaraj is the God of Death, and Kaal is a special messenger of Yamaraj. Kaal is the one who carries the noose. He is totally black and always remains naked. His description is very terrifying. I feel the man I saw in the dream could be Kaal.
Kaal has other meanings as well. One is Time in its entirety. Other is the moment of death, when we say, “Your time has come.” When we read about Kaal, it's actually a description of the personified 'moment of death' – black, with a noose in his hands, etc. I saw this dream around nine years back. It could be a hint regarding events in the future.
Q. Guruji, in the Mahabharata, death has been described as a lady who prayed to Lord Brahma that she didn’t want to kill anybody.
A. Yes... Death is also described as a very beautiful lady. And our planet is the most beautiful lady in the universe. There is no difference between Death and Mother Earth; we call Earth as Mrityuloka, the domain of death.
When Death prayed that she didn’t want to kill anybody, Brahma's blessing to her was that she will never be blamed for anybody's death.
And whenever a person dies, the cause is always something else, but not death itself. We'll say it was an accident, or drowning, or brain hemorrhage, or snake bite, etc. Have you heard anybody ever say that a person died because death arrived? When a building collapses during the earthquake, crushing people, we never say it was Earth that killed them. We blame the collapsed building. If a drought strikes, we say that people die because of hunger.
Think about it, it is very important. Mother Earth is death herself. As the saying goes, death always walks alongside you, which is true because we are living on this planet, walking upon it. And after death, we are buried in the soil of Earth, going back to her.
Q. What are the roles of Yamaraj and Kaal in this?
A. Our souls have come out of the Void (Shunyata), which is also carrying Earth. It is a form of Shiva, that's why jiva (soul) is also called Shiva. When the union of Shiva and Earth takes place, multiple life forms are produced. But the soul as a life form comes only from the Void. The domain of the souls coming out of the Void belongs to Yamaraj. He has no concern with earthly matters. But the lessons, experiences, gains, and setbacks of the earthly path of the soul are definitely his (Yamaraj’s) concern.
Q. And what goes back to Earth?
A. All parthiva, all that is made of Earth. The five elements of the body belong to Earth and they dissolve back into Earth. But the eternal substance inside us, the one that is the form of Shiva, formless, unmanifested, and eternal – it travels to another realm. This is where the domain of Yamaraj starts – the 'otherworldly' realm, separate from the material, physical world.
These are stunning revelations. Until now we've been thinking about the consciousness of matter (Chaitanya Padartha). Now we are gradually moving towards the consciousness of the Void (Chaitanya Shunyata). Then we'll move to the consciousness of Time. It is beyond the Void. It is ever-present, and yet ever beyond.
Remember the movie The Matrix, the scene where the agent caught Morpheus and was saying to him, “I hate this place. I need the code to get out of this place, and the code is in this mind. Give me the code.”
The whole deal is to get this code. Once we get this code, we'll be able to get out of The Matrix.
About Khechari Mudra
Answering some questions, related to practice about exceeding limits of Khechari, pushing tongue deep inside:
Guruji: After your tongue is in Khechari Mudra, with the practice of second, third, fourth levels, it will start taking different positions automatically. The tip of the tongue goes under the upper palate and the emptiness forms the crescent moon, like the one we see on Shiva’s head, just rotated downwards. That is the desired position. If you continue to push, it will not achieve the desired shape and form. When your tongue is stretched to the limits in Khechari Mudra, keep it there, and concentrate on the given practice. Downward facing moon, the crescent, will be formed with emptiness: and from there real consciousness will come. Only continued practice will help you to put your tongue in this position. You will know when it will happen: suddenly the mind will be transferred to a different state and time and things will start changing.
When it happens, your consciousness will expand. It will not happen with a click; it develops with practice. When your tongue is already installed in its position in Khechari Mudra, forget about the tongue and concentrate on the technique. By the power of practice, the tongue will take the required shape and a different type of consciousness will develop. I have described it in my comments on Bhagavad Gita – Consciousness of the Void.
Does the breath stop in this condition?
(Consciousness of the Void)
A. After practice, the breath becomes very slow. And I have noticed another thing here. All those who have come here and sat with me, had conversations, received initiation – their breath rate reduces to 6-9 inhalations a minute. Science tells us that an average human takes 12- 24 inhalations a minute. But here, the breath automatically slows down as a result of intensive practice. Transition to this rate of 6-9 inhalations a minute in my presence is common.
Q. When does this process (of slowing down the breath) begin?
A. From the day of the initiation. From the day you begin sitting here and talking with me.
Doctors say that if your breath slows down to four inhalations a minute, you need to be put on a lung ventilator. But with good practice (and if you’ll sit calmly after the practice), you’ll notice your breath going down to 3-4 inhalations a minute.
From the medical point of view, it is an interesting observation: breathe less, receive less oxygen and you’ll live longer and will remain younger. While you are in the slow breath mode, your thoughts become calm and you enter an almost tranquil state of mind. Many Kriya Yoga practitioners go through changes in the body, the mind, and the whole personality. Some day this phenomenon will deserve additional medical research. As a guru, I am happy to see that most of my disciples look younger than their contemporaries.
Q. If someone faints or goes through epileptic seizures, the tongue can get inside of the throat as well. Are there any related (as in the practice of Khechari Mudra) effects?
A. No. When a person faints, the tongue muscles loose their power and it just falls; it is not Khechari. It just means that the person is in a very grave condition and may die.
Q. I've realized that around 11 in the night, I feel a sudden peace inside myself and in the surroundings.
A. It shows that your body and mind have started getting ready for practice at that time. Your body is beginning to get tuned to it and now it has become your physical need. That is why regular practice is so important. A set time develops a craving in your body for the Kriya practice, and your heart and mind feel an immediate sense of peace. You get in the mood to practice.
Q. I thought that peace descends due to the calm of the night.
A. No, that's not true. The real reason is regular practice. If the night time was the real reason, the entire world would be meditating at that time. Whatever time you choose for practice, stick to it and slowly your biological clock will begin to get activated at that time automatically. It’ll be like an alarm clock.
After prolonged practice, this mood will stay throughout the day – each and every second. The practices we are doing right now form a continuous cycle of effects. For example, the lunch we eat in the afternoon has its effect till dinner, which in turn has its effect till breakfast. Similarly, the morning practice supports the evening practice and vice versa. And once that cycle forms, the person starts to experience an entirely different level of awareness and consciousness.
Q. Yes, I do have a high feeling throughout the day. Is that what you are talking about?
A. Not just that, it must also be helping you to perform better. That is essentially the development of consciousness. For example, any problem you face now, you’ll be able to look at it from different angles and think of different possible solutions. You'll be able to see things and situations in their totality. I feel only those, who reach this level of performance and consciousness, are capable of doing extraordinary planning in life. Such people reach closer to the fourth dimension we call Kaal or Time, and so naturally, whatever they do has a very long term effect on them and their coming generations.
Why do you think self-knowledge is important? It is important so that at least we can understand the purpose of our birth, and the purpose of spending time on Earth. Why are we here? Where have we come from? What is our total potential? To answer these questions, nature itself will guide you towards your destiny and the discovery of answers. What we call ‘luck’ and ‘chance’ is actually nothing but nature, prompting you on. Nothing happens by chance. It is actually nature that guides and directs all things around us.
Q. So what is our role in this play of nature? Is it just to keep moving ahead wherever it is guiding us?
A. Our role is to keep getting more and more in tune with nature. We talk about yoga, which literally means ‘union, connection’. Through yoga we are aiming for this connectivity with God, with the consciousness of Earth. We are all living on Earth. We should someday realize along our paths that our actions are somewhere guided by Mother Earth herself. If we are able to form connectivity with Earth, her will will start getting executed through us. And this may even lead to ultimate evolution – final transformation in the womb of Mother Earth!
Sometimes I feel that this ultimate evolution is the driving force behind everything.
Q. You had mentioned that it takes ages for a man to reach such levels.
A. Yes, that's absolutely true. And if we flip through the pages of history, such men have mostly been either yogis or avatars (incarnations of gods). Avatars are fully evolved souls who incarnate on Earth.
We can easily explain this through the process of union of sperm and ovum. Initially, there are millions of sperms fighting for a union with ovum. But ultimately only one sperm, with some signs of evolution, gets that chance with the support of nature. It is nature that not only helps the sperm with the union, but also transforms it to the next form after the union.
Similarly, through yoga, we are aiming for a union with the super-ovum of Mother Earth. Once this union takes place, the reins completely fall into the hands of nature. After that, whatever transformation takes place is mind- boggling and beyond all imagination!
Terms like ‘self-realization’ and ‘God-realization’ have been repeated way too often. I am tired of hearing their different interpretations, as they do not convey the actual meaning of evolution properly. And think of the confusion these terms have caused in the world. Their vague explanations have led to the formation of thousands of cults and sects. Even though these cults do not last for the blink of an eye if we go by Earth time, still being mere sperms we have to bear all this confusion around us.
My suggestion is always to think big and then think bigger. Why be a miser in building castles in the air? They are just flights of imagination; so make them as big as you can. The bigger you think, the more you progress. This is just an exercise for the mind. Make plans by taking the entire life into consideration. Think of life in its totality.
Mahavedha, Classic mistake
Most of the yoga instructors will invite you to put two hands on the ground, lift yourself in the sitting position a little above the ground, and start to smack your buttocks on the ground, holding your breath. By spanking yourself in this manner, holding your breath, and concentrating on your Muladhara Chakra, you are supposed to awaken Kundalini. Good luck with that...
When I analyzed the actual meaning of the Sanskrit words step by step and compared it to the widely known version, I laughed for days...
The basic mistake in the understanding of Mahavedha began when a description of two parts of the front lobes of the brain was taken as the description of two buttocks. So people started putting their hands on the floor, raising their hips from the ground and forcing them back on the floor...
Yogis had described the brain in very exact terms, but people got it totally wrong.
Let's go through it. The original shloka in Hatha Yoga Pradipika states on Mahavedha: “Equally join your hands together” Not put them on the ground. There is a word ‘bhumau’ which is translated literally as ‘the ground’. But the Sanskrit dictionary gives you another meaning of it – ‘tongue’. So the shloka continues, “With bhumau you stroke the hip-like structure.” If you open the medical books with an anatomical image of the brain, you will see that the front lobes look like buttocks.
So, you have to perform Mahavedha by putting your hands together in Namaste, holding you breath, and sitting in the formal Padmasana. Then you have to raise your tongue in Khechari Mudra, inserting it into the nasal passage and stroking your brain with it (the hip- like structure – front lobes).
Lifting your hips from the ground and beating your buttocks against the floor has nothing to do with the original Mahavedha. That's how some hilarious misconceptions have crept into yogic texts. And for several centuries hundreds of people have smacked their buttocks on the floor mercilessly in hope of revelations...But then again, some spanking is good from time to time...
This is how this fiasco began – somewhere in the 19th century, there was a Brahmin who wanted to become a Nath yogi and went to Hardwar to Sapta Sarovar Ashram where some Naths were living. He requested to be taught.
They said, “Ok! Stay here and if you qualify, you’ll become a Nath.” He began his sadhana, washing dishes, making food, and performing other menial tasks. After four or five years, while the Naths were patiently watching him, he became impatient. He stole an original manuscript of Hatha Yoga Pradipika and ran away from the ashram. Because he was a scholar of Sanskrit, he went on to publish his commentaries on Hatha Yoga Pradipika – and these are the most useless commentaries I’ve ever come across.
That's how Mahavedha was described in the wrong way for the first time. And since then everyone began to follow these recommendations, as it was the first known commentary on the ancient manuscript of Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
There are only two highly mystical and mysterious works on yoga which I consider the best: Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Shiva Samhita. And these texts are next to impossible to understand. It is a kind of a manual, a reference book for the masters, not for the newcomers. I tried to find accurate literary translations of these works, even on the Internet.
Twenty years ago, I was planning to publish an accurate translation and commentaries on Hatha Yoga Pradipika but I received a signal from Babaji for not going ahead with it. He said that the truth was already there in the Sanskrit text. There was no need to explain or expand it. The one who became wiser would understand. There was no need to elaborate on some things. But after a long gap of twenty years I again received a signal from Babaji to go ahead with the translation. My translation and commentary on Hatha Yoga Pradipika will be published and available shortly...
But I could always share these things with you, my students. I will give you one more hint – Sheetkari pranayam is mentioned only in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. You might find its mention in Shiva Samhita, but not in any other ancient work on yoga. I will be 56 years old this year and I’ve never seen anybody doing Sheetkari pranayam correctly. It is a very mystical and mysterious pranayam.
Q. Is this pranayam used in Kriya Yoga?
A. It will come in some higher levels of Kriya.
For an ordinary scholar of Sanskrit, it is next to impossible to translate a text of such a level without losing its real meaning. This is the task for the yogi, if he has a good guru.
Q. Have you experienced samadhi?
A. My first experience came in 1985, three years after my initiation. The second experience came in January 1987.
Q. Did it happen during the practice, or after the practice?
A. It happened in Yoni Mudra after I exhaled. Suddenly something just clicked inside and opened, like a door. The first experience always comes when you are exhaling after Yoni Mudra.
Q. How long were you in that state?
A. I would say almost for an hour and a half. It was at night. The first experience was anti-climatic. I felt my consciousness entering almost every house in the city. I was able to feel what people were doing, all the activities.
Instantly a whole array of their emotions came to me – and I suddenly understood all these emotions. It was very overwhelming. Just imagine, your consciousness is suddenly in all the places simultaneously, in every house, in every being at once. All of them were doing different things. Some were eating, some were defecating, and half of them were having sex: There was such a mix, a cocktail inside of my mind during this first time. And the smell of humanity was unbearable.
Then you learn how to go beyond that. In this state, you are also very intensely aware of your own existence: you will never forget your name or personality. You
rather remember everything you have forgotten while taking different births. And this memory will last. It is impossible to forget.
Q. What is the duration and feeling during samadhi?
A. Samadhi is samadhi – from one minute to ten hours – it is the same.
Q. Is the state of samadhi controllable?
A. Not in the beginning. You can’t control it at first. But control develops over several years with practice. How many men you have came across have been able to stop their pulse and heart beat?
Q. Did your heart stop during first samadhi?
A. Yes, it had stopped as a result of experiencing samadhi. When your heart stops, your entire body processes slow down; it is like when the body goes to sleep. There is no blood circulation. But when you come back and your heart starts beating again and blood circulation is restored, the feeling is overwhelming, almost unbearable.
You know how it feels when your leg goes to sleep and then the circulation slowly restores. Now imagine your whole body in this state – numb and lifeless. Suddenly there is a feeling of itching and pricking of millions of tiny needles throughout your organs, bones, and nerves. In the beginning it is extremely difficult to bear. It is overwhelming. But then you get used to it. This is human nature: we can get used to anything.
Q. What is the state of mind after this experience?
A. It is a great feeling. I will try to give you an analogy:
Imagine you are starving and have been walking and walking for a very long time and suddenly you find a place to sit down and eat. A similar feeling of satisfaction fills your mind.
Q. Did you understand after the first experience that it was a state of samadhi?
Q. Is your experience of samadhi now, after almost thirty years, different than before?
A. The experience is far deeper and the body is able to tolerate that experience – that is the main difference.
Unless the body is changed with the help of certain pranayams, you simply cannot tolerate any high and deep experience in samadhi. That is why the support of body is so important.
My Initiation and First Meeting with Babaji
I was selected to become an officer in the Indian Army after passing all the needed tests. But my mood was bad: some incidents had happened; I saw many deaths around me. One prominent question was on my mind – what happens to the immortal soul after death. Finding the answer became so important that I abandoned all ideas about an army career and began my search. I was 22 years old then.
On July 11, 1979, I sat down to meditate for the first time in my life. It was a very good experience and I decided then and there that I would do nothing else but follow the yogic way of life.
I came across the information on the yoga system of Kriya lineage; there were some statements that by practicing this yoga you can know what happens after death.
I had already read many books. The necessity of having a teacher was obvious and I began to look for a guru. While traveling all over India, I met hundreds of sadhus, many so-called yogis. I learnt a lot from them. But whenever it came to any discussion on samadhi, they were silent. They could not teach me that.
All this began in 1979 and for three years I was searching for my guru.
I left home with only 5-10 rupees in my pocket and went to Jagannath Puri and then to Vrindavan, searching for Kriya gurus. I received the grace of my guru in Jagannath Puri while living in the ashram of Yukteshwar Giri. That’s where I first heard of my teacher...
One day I spoke to an old man who was quietly sitting on the verandah. His name was Shailendranath Mukherjee. Perhaps because my name sounded similar, he took an interest in me and asked me about my Kriya studies. Upon hearing me out, he put a doubt in my mind by saying, “What you are practicing is not an original Kriya.” He gave me money to purchase three volumes of Bhagavad Gita with commentaries by Lahiri Mahasaya. I started to realize that the truth of Kriya was somewhere else...
In the chain of events, I heard from a disciple from another line of Lahiri Mahasaya. He told me, “You may try to visit the grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya. He still lives in Benares and he is quite old. Go see him. He might agree to teach you, he might not...Give it a try.” He asked an old lady to write down the address for me on a piece of paper and I felt that I was holding a lottery ticket in my hand.
I just knew that this teacher would become my guru. While searching for Kriya, I had read all the books, all the commentaries by Lahiri Mahasaya and he always talked about Khechari. All yoga textbooks talked about Khechari. And I was told that this teacher knew it.
I wrote a letter and received an invitation to come. So I borrowed some money from somebody and just landed in Benares.
I saw my guru for the first time on September 30, 1982. I reached his house. It was a very curious experience. There were only old people sitting on the veranda and a very old man was reading from Bhagawatam. My guru was the youngest: he was 77 and the oldest man among them was 98.
Seeing the bunch of these old folks made me feel like a fool. I was only 25 then. All of them were looking at me. I could not recognize my guru among them; he was a very humble man and very simply dressed. I just sat down. Then other old people came and offered pranam to him.
Then I understood who he was and also offered my pranam after the reading was over. He recognized me and said, “You are Shailendra from Gwalior. I was waiting for you. Come tomorrow after having a bath in the Ganges at about 7:00-7:30 a.m. Bring a copy and a pen and five garlands to put on Shiva and the statue of Lahiri Mahasaya.”
I could not sleep with excitement. I got up very early, took a bath in the Ganges, and went to my guru's house at 6 0’clock. He came down at 7. There, in Benares, in the house of my guru, I received my initiation into Kriya Yoga on October 1, 1982.
That moment of initiation changed my life. It was the first level of Kriya; the same level I give to every new student. When later I became a guru, he made me promise that I would teach exactly as I had been taught, without changing a thing. Since then I am doing exactly that.
When he was teaching me Kriya, after I had made five promises, obligatory in this lineage, it seemed to me that I instinctively knew everything he said. Another extraordinary thing happened during Yoni Mudra. On the day of initiation I was able to hold my breath up to two hundred counts. That made my guru very happy. Then he told me, “Bring your luggage here, and stay with me.”
He checked my practice again in the evening and told me that I could leave the next day and come back after achieving Khechari. He also told me, “I am an old man; I do not know when I will die, so work hard.” I thought that I had found the right teacher after such a long search all over India. What would happen if he died? Who would teach me then?
That made me practice with all my strength.