Mahayogi Gagangiri
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In the early hours of the morning, it was very quiet and peaceful in the Khopoli Ashram. Gagangiri Maharaj was sitting in the meditative posture in his cottage. After my initial talk with him, Maharaj expressed that he would now prefer to sit in the stream. We moved out and entered the flowing water. He pointed out a place for me to sit near him, and for a few minutes he took a dip in the water.

After some time, Ashish came with tea. He is a young graduate who is spending the last five or six months in the company of Maharaj, serving him. Maharaj looked at him and said, "Because of such a close contact with me, Ashish has now observed, many things about me. He would tell you about my body purification processes and the art of absorbing energy from nature. This process transforms one's body. Ashish has personally seen how the transformation of energy brings luster and when I am surrounded by people and crowds, energy gets lost".

I felt very happy because Maharaj had opened a topic about which I wanted to know more from him. He too was very enthusiastic, giving details about the art of absorbing energy, Maharaj was referring to the fifth stage of Patanjali Yoga. There are eight aspects of Yoga according to Patanjali. The first four steps 'Yam', 'Niyam','Asan','Pranayam' are like laying down the foundation, but the next four steps are advanced stages for doing meditation.

'Pratyahar' is the art of withdrawal of the senses. The fifth stage is only possible when you have the right attitude and have purified your mind and body. The later stages of meditation are 'Dharana', 'Dhyana', and 'Samadhi'. Maharaj stood up and said that his body is like a shield protecting him from any human pollution and temptations. He continued the subject.

"We have to master skillfully, the technique of withdrawal of the senses from the sense objects. The external world is always pressurizing us with stimuli but as conscious humans we have to develop our choice of alternatives and willpower. We should act and not react to these external challenges. Many people, I see, have not mastered the art of 'Pratyahar, and they react and get caught in the net of their negative feelings. 'Pratyahar' is the real beginning of Yoga and the one who has learnt 'I this art is the master and not a victim in any situation or environment. Such withdrawal of senses, stops the wastage of energy. Energy is preserved now for developing one pointed concentration. 'Dharana' and 'Dhyana' are the stages of such meditative awareness and mindfulness. Later it takes us to the height of 'Samadhi'. So 'Pratyahar' is a significant step, the turning point, in one's development. Look at my body ! It is hard like metal and it is also delicate like a flower in facing the external challenges and situations. But I am always able to master a situation and 'Pratyahar' is my secret".

Maharaj was very communicative and eager to convey some of his esoteric insights. He continued,
"I would like to tell you more about the 'Navanaths', And other great yogis who stay in the mountains. They live on pure air and do not require any solid food. They are alone. They do not depend on human beings or on any external things and are self-reliant and autonomous to the highest degree. Such rare groups of Yogis have preserved our spiritual culture. Even today, our esoteric tradition is kept alive because of them. Their presence radiates the eternal Vedantic truths. It is not book knowledge or somebody's report or a mere belief or an inference. I see their very presence catalyzing the growth of other evolving souls 'The second level of work is the purification of the body and cleansing of impure, solidified sensations. The heaviness and inertia of the body is reduced and it becomes very light like a feather. A purified body is like a fine instrument for knowing oneself, for knowing the world, and contacting the Divine. Such triple consciousness can lead us to another level of reality".

"in the triple mode of consciousness, the Yogi is first aware of his own body-mind system and observes from moment to moment the complex inward processes which are happening inside him. Secondly as he is not a closed being, he is also listening attentively to the world and to the people. He is aware of their individual and collective problems. With a sense of objectivity and detachment coupled with involvement and participation, he can find out relevant solutions to their problems.

Thirdly his uniqueness lies in being aware of the dynamic potentiality of the Other World : the Divine World of Peace, Compassion and Beauty. Through his meditative awareness, he is praying on behalf of the many for bringing Grace and Happiness to all. The normal human world is a world full of problems and sufferings. The many artificial boundaries we draw for our safety, enclose us and we are stuck and doomed forever unless the Other World intervenes for our redemption. The Other World is the Unknown and Mystery. It is the inexhaustible. power ruling the universe". "The great task of the Yogi is not only the act of balance, but practicing the art of synthesis of the three modes of consciousness. The state of Triple Consciousness empowers him to play the roles of a friend, a healer, a teacher and the facilitator for a global transformation. For him the terms like life / death have lost their outer meanings. Life and death are not opposing categories but complementaries for any growth. So, what is generally called as life by others is a state of dying to him and what is commonly understood as death by many is an opportunity for the renewal of real life to him. Death is the Greatest Guru of all, teaching the lessons of negation and compassionate affirmation. The Yogi is a traveler between the worlds to life and death and frequently and leisurely camping and scouting in the intermediate, twilight zone of consciousness for nourishment and creativity. The canvas of his life now covers the Whole Time - the past, the present and the future. There is no tomorrow, but only Now".

"Because of old religious prejudices, for centuries we have looked down and condemned the physical body as an enemy, and as a heavy liability. We have neglected the growth of the potential which is in us. The body as it is now is pampered and misused. True, the body with it's unruly desires and passions has posed problems. But the same body if taken into confidence and spoken to, could be developed as a sensitive instrument for the holistic growth. In fact the 'Hatha' and 'Tantra' Yogas know and utilise the body with it's passions as an asset and sublimate these energies for spiritual powers and siddhis. A purified body is a new vehicle for unknown energy paths".

"The work is not merely purifying the body but becoming a refined instrument to receive energy from everything.

Now the third level is to enter the energy field. Every object radiates some energy. Group of objects create fields of energies. Objects are radiating positive and negative energies. The purified mind is capable of receiving energies through new sensations. A great Yogi 'eats' and 'devours' such energy and that is why I said earlier that he doesn't require solid food. I can point out a few examples. See that blooming yellow flower; it is giving me energy. Observe that light on the greenish water; it is sparkling with energy. See that bird on the wing; it conveys another subtle energy. The whole green foliage around the Ashram is giving me abundant energy. Look at those red bricks, I feel their baked hot energy.

Since I am able to absorb such energies, subtle bodily and physiolgical changes are taking place in me. Ashish has noticed how the colour of my hair changes from black to gray and some times it turns into gold". While listening to him today, I felt a clarity about a new mode of perception which we could experiment and try. Why not ? But I was questioning how this could be possible not only with Maharaj, but also with a seeking few.

"What I say is also the experience of great Rishis. Even the Buddhist Monks and the Jain Sadhus speak about the same level of reality. Sensitive souls get nourished by such energy processes and their brains do not operate on mere ideas and inference. Food is a very small item in terms of energy to them. For a normal person, when he takes food, it require six to eight hours for its conversion into blood and the rest is thrown out as waste. But the great Yogis do not require food nor mental ideas. They just open their eyes after their deep meditation and see the world. The very opening of their eyes and few breathes are sufficient to nourish them for long hours in their functioning. The process of digestion takes only a few seconds and all their intake is converted into pure energy and very little is thrown out as a waste. Such great Yogis are like receptors and reflective mirrors. The human body for such perceptive and evolving souls is not a burden or a hindrance but a valuable means, a microscopic laboratory for the exploration of human consciousness and for trans-human states".

"All these transpersonal journeys and ways of absorbing energy require a certain aloneness, in uncontaminated space and the need to be truly 'untouchable'. An alone and self-withdrawn soul is beyond human desires and conflict".

"This 'new medium' of the body, freed from the 'Past Karma' and from the negative mental states like anxiety, fear and violence does not get clouded or fog the personal adventure. With this human body, we still have to make many experiments for evolving a brand new body for stabilising the 'New Consciousness". This is a heroic work and needs to be done with the objectivity and patience of a scientist and with the courage of a great warrior. You are now assigned a big task but remember that life never asks you to do anything beyond your capacities and limits. As one grows on the scale of evolution, one is required to face new and complex challenges".

"If you have the will to go to the end, what you acquire is really beyond any measure. For this great work of transformation, the traditional forms of spiritual practices though useful in the past, are now inadequate and outdated. An experimental and operational approach to the spiritual world is needed. We have to encourage qualities like vision, imagination, objectivity, hard work and courage for our re-entry into the Other World of Triple Consciousness".

"In the triple consciousness, while living within the every day known, you are also allowing the unknown to come into your life. The Yogi through Compassion, Charity and Creativity is constantly creating a body of 'Good Deeds'- 'Punya' and establishing a moral order. He is free to create and equally free to negate what he has created. He is creating and negating and fulfilling the roles of Bramha,the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. The spirit of Lord Dattatraya, the holy trinity should be understood as the sustainer of all life. The art of manifesting and the art of emptying are complementary for this evolutionary process. The emergence of triple consciousness is the next step in our growth and the tradition of the great 'Nath-Yogis' demonstrate that what was possible for the few souls is equally possible now for the humankind. For this to happen, we need a new type of education and a corporate body of spiritual souls working together. The task before us is to wipe out the old memories of disease , defeat and death and affirm the divine qualities of Joy and Peace. Now it is not a question of human aspiration alone but we are assigned the work-of transforming the Planet Earth and supporting the self-organizing Universe".

Our dialogue went on for a few hours. It was a blessing to 'listen to him, so quitely and intensely. Going to Khopoli Ashram today was like a Pilgrimage and a day of grace.

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