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Saturday, December 5, 2009

As a young man the great Guru Nityananda, a name meaning “always in bliss” was acknowledged by those with whom he came into contact as a great spiritual being, whose presence evoked awe from those around him. It was reputed that many miracles happened in the presence of Nityananda. He is considered one of the most beloved saints of India and a true “avadhut,” one who has risen above ordinary consciousness and duality.

Before the age of twenty, Nityananda became a wandering yogi, spending time on yogic studies and practices in the Himalayas and other places. During his many travels and sojourns, Nityananda was to have a fleeting encounter with a boy who eventually became his disciple.  This boy was Swami Muktananda who wrote a book about his guru:  Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.

Nityananda spoke rarely, mostly in simple sentences directing people to “eat,’ “go here,” or “do this.” If it were not for the collection of Nityananda’s utterances on scraps of paper that a female devotee named Tulsi Amma eventually collected, we would not have the Chidakash Gita, Sky of the Heart, upon which to rely. 

Nityananda’s wisdom was conveyed by transmission of Shakti rather than upon reliance of wisdom through words or thoughts. From 1922-1924, when visiting his disciple’s homes, Nityananda began to speak from an exalted state of consciousness, uttering the famous verses to be eventually included in the Chidakash Gita. His devotees began to collect them on scraps of paper. Nityananda would begin these utterances by saying “Uncle Arjuna, come and listen, Grandfather Krishna is going to speak.”

The meaning of the Chidakash Gita is “song of the Chidakash,” meaning wisdom emanating from Supreme Consciousness. Described as pure meditation in verbal form, when one reads the words of Nityananda, one is immediately transported to entering that same space of consciousness from which the great guru Nityananda speaks. Typical of Nityananda he did not care whether or not these words were published. However, Tulsi Amma saw to it that the collection was indeed published, and the first English version was published as the Chidakash Gita in 1940.

The teachings of Nityananda were always very simple and practical. In the Chidakash Gita, Nityananda outlines what is necessary to achieve final liberation and always mentions the necessity of a guru or spiritual preceptor. Nityananda does not lose his reader with a long and arduous philosophical tract of words that are difficult to understand. Nityananda simply states that God is in humankind and humankind is in God, and there is no difference between the two. All are reflected in the same mirror that is the Heart Space or the Chidakash.

Nityananda further states within the Chidakash Gita, that liberation cannot be attained until Kundalini Shakti is fully awakened by a Siddha Guru and that the goal of a human birth is to achieve liberation. Nityananda further exhorts his devotees that the time to attain liberation is now through sadhana. Sadhana for Nityananda is the willingness to turn away from worldliness and the willingness to destroy attachment to sense pleasures. Finally, Nityananda always emphasized the primary value of direct spiritual experience over mere theory.

It is interesting to note that all aspiring yogis have heard words similar to these, but when one reads the Chidakash Gita, in its simply stated and resonant words, one realizes deeply within one’s heart that these are true words spoken by a great Guru.

Rare pictures of Nityananda are seen in Nityananda In Divine Presence as well as available at Ma’s India.

Hail to the Great Guru Nityananda!

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One of my favorite remembrances of incense was at the Muktananda Ashram in Oakland, California in 1972. I had gone to visit Guru Muktananda for a private darshan. This was my first introduction to spiritual life. As I walked into the Oakland ashram, I was struck by the smell of Muktananda’s favorite incense, Nag Champa. Forever and to this day it is still my favorite incense. This is probably due not only to the smell itself but the fact that I have such a positive association with meeting the great Guru. Many types of incense have appeared since that time and I know that many of them are favorites of seekers. When I light my own incense, I feel that Nag Champa especially purifies the atmosphere of my meditative space and I am brought instantly into a quiet place. Even though it is not my first preference, I have found that the Auroshika incenses have that same purity.

One of the wonderful qualities of incense is its ability to bring a spiritual essence into any room when lit. Going into a church one is instantly enmeshed in religious significance when smelling the incense burning during the worship. Incense is used in not only Episcopal and Catholic churches but non-Christian Gnostic churches and in the practice of ceremonial magic. The purpose of incensing and the symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification. The smoke symbolizes the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven.

The use of incense dates back to biblical times and may have originated in Egypt. Used by the Pharaohs, it was thought to drive away demons and gratify the presence of the gods. 

Moving forward in time, let us also not forget the three gifts of the Wise Men to Christ: gold, frankincense and myrhh. Myrrh is a resin (dried sap) from the myrrh tree used in both perfumes and incense. It was commonly used as an embalming ointment in Jesus’ day. Frankincense is another aromatic resin, made from the milky sap of the boswellia tree. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. Used as perfume, incense and in aromatherapy today, frankincense and myrrh were costly gifts, and worth their weight in gold.

Japanese incense has been known to be more delicate incense, especially the high-quality aromas. It was brought to Japan in the 6th Century by Chinese Buddhist monks. Japanese incense is generally more refined, and in fact, the world of Japanese incense is like the world of wine, with a great variety of qualities ranging from merely good to connoisseur-level.
Tibetan aroma therapeutic incense is purely hand prepared from aromatic herbs in high altitude regions of Tibet according to fundamental principles of the ancient Tibetan traditional system of medicine that originated some 2500 years ago.
Another favorite and most traditional incense is sandalwood incense, capable of filling surroundings with a beautiful fragrance and giving a peaceful feeling to all who are present. Sandalwood itself is thought to be the most spiritual of all scents. It is best to light incense mindfully. First one lights candles, and then the end of a stick of incense is lit in the candle flame. Usually the incense burns with a flame for a few seconds, and then the incense is gently waved in the air. This has the effect both of extinguishing the flame so that the incense is now glowing as an ember rather than as a flame, and of sending a stream of smoke into the air.

When you visit Kashi Ashram, you are invited to light incense, ring a bell, sit on your meditation pillow or chair and enjoy the spiritual atmosphere as you plunge deeply into your meditation!

Find these and other great Incense at Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.

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Links to this post icon18_email-1918900icon18_edit_allbkg-1927380 Even in childhood, Bhagawan Nityananda was heralded as being in an an unusually advanced spiritual state, Eventually given the name Nityananda meaning “always in bliss,” he migrated to Southern India. While there, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and cures. As guru, however, Nityananda spoke very little, sitting with his devotees most of the time in silence.When he spoke however,as is recorded back to the early 1920’s, his devotees assiduously wrote down his rare words. Settling in southern India, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and wonderful cures.In 1936, Nityananda went to the Shiva temple in the village of Ganeshpuri and asked if he could stay there. The family that looked after the temple built a hut for him. As visitors and followers increased, the hut became an ashram. To the people around Nityananda, he was called an “avadhut,” one who is absorbed in the transcendental state.


The Sky of the Heart one is introduced to the profound simplicity and wisdom of Bhagawan Nityananda contained in the rare verses transcribed by his devotees during the 1920’s. “With the mind, you want everything. With no mind, you want nothing. With mind, you see ”God” as separate; when mind merges with higher mind, no separate god is needed.” Because Nityananda spoke rarely, this is a rare collection of inspirational verses to enlighten the soul of the devotee. In Divine Presence is an uplifting, inspiring and moving chronicle of Bhagawan Nityananda’s life by his devotees from the time of his birth to his taking of mahasamadhi in 1961.Here we see the story of this selfless saint, the many miracles that unfolded around him, his extreme benevolence to those who came to him and his candor of his sadness for those who came to him merely for material worth rather than spiritual sustenance. Included are previously unpublished photographs of Nityananda through his life. In Divine Presence is an easily read book of the great saint known as Nityananda. In this wonderful recount of a devotee’s reverence for his master. Swami Muktananda in Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri recounts his life as disciple and successor to Bhagawan Nityananda. With great clarity, love and understanding, he describes what it is to know a “siddha,” a great soul beyond duality, established in a state of supreme freedom. Swami Muktananda speaks of his years as a student of Bhagawan Nityananda and with great poignancy of his final moments with Bhagawan at his death and how Bhagawan Nityananda on that day imparted to Muktananda his final initiation as a siddha. He brings great understanding and clarity to the extraordinary teachings of Bhagawan Nityananda.

Ma’s India carries a wide range of rare Photos of Swami Nityananda from his years as a young sadhu to his advanced years as an avadhut. Some might merely see a simply clad master imparting his teachings to those who sought them. Others realize that to even see a picture of this radiant and selfless siddha is to receive his darshan.

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