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Collections of Yoga Gems by

Sri NV Raghuram THE ESSENCE OF SURYA NAMASKARAS


Publisher: Yoga Bharati 7630 Kirwin Lane, Cupertino, CA 95014 www.yogabharati.org Yoga Bharati is a NGO with 501(c)(3) federal status First published as an e-book in 2010 The author asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publishers. Designed by Ayca Gurelman - www.yogamerkezi.com


Sri NV Raghuram After completing Bachelor of Engineering from Regional Engineering College Bhopal, in 1970 N.V.Raghuram joined service as engineer in various departments and carried on varieties of civil engineering works until 1998. His interest in spiritual learning and in the philosophy of yoga and allied subjects started during his teen age. He had on several occasions met several spiritual masters and sought guidance. It is in the year 1978 he took training in Kanyakumari and started his association with Vivekananda kendra and later since 1980, since inception he is associated with Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Anusandhana Samsthan, (VYASA/ Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation - Bangalore) as senior faculty. In this connection he extensively travels several countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Romania, England in Europe, USA and Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, etc in south east Asia to conduct several yoga courses, spiritual retreats, Yoga therapy


classes for various ailments, Yoga courses for personality development in children and Yoga instructors certification programs. He is also instrumental in training of Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma and in starting yoga therapies in MD Anderson Cancer research center in Houston/USA, Stift neurological clinic in Germany and Memorial hospital in Turkey. He also took active part initiating partnership programs with Central Michigan University in USA, conducting more than one thousand stress reduction programs (SMET) all around the world and starting yoga therapy research projects for various aliments at medical centers in USA, UK, and Germany. He is honored by YogaShree Award in 2007. Mr. N.V.Raghuram is married with a son. His wife, Dr R.Nagarathna, is the chief medical director and Dean of medicine in VYASA. His Son Amrut is in Japan introducing yoga and yoga therapy in a hospital in Kagoshima in Fukuoka.


Collections of Yoga Gems by

Sri NV Raghuram THE ESSENCE OF SURYA NAMASKARAS


The Essence Of Surya Namaskaras Hiranmayena patrena satyasyapi hitam mukham Tatwam pushan apavrunu satya dharmaya drishtaye English Translation: Similar to the way the golden-looking ( covered by light) vassal, covers all of the celestial bodies of outer space, Oh, Pushan, the Sun, please uncover for me, so that it enables me to see Satya Dharma, the truth, which will follow Dharma, righteousness.


Chapter 1: Why salutations to the sun? Once I happened to visit the saint Pujya Raghavendra Swamiji of Malladihalli in Karnataka. He showed me round the ashram, and finally we reached an underground or the cellar place and he explained that it is a place of his Sadhana and every day he will go there at three in the morning ... I wondered who will call three as morning! And he said he will do his Sadhana until eight and then he will come out. I questioned him can we know about what Sadhana he does. He replied that he does Suryanamaskaras. I asked him how many he will do. He replied, ‘now a days, doctors told him that I have grown old. So I do only two hundred otherwise I would do lot more’. He was at that time ninety five! At ninety five one could do two hundred salutations how effortlessly he must be doing them! Normally in our classes when we ask people to do six they are already exhausted and need Shavasana! He lived for more than hundred years and his life mission was to spread yoga in rural Karnataka and he also runs an orphanage called Anathashrama Welcome you all to participate in the sun prayer yagna, where we would like to collectively emotionally involve in the practice of sun salutations in various parts of the world in a disciplined way until at least the fourteenth of January which is the day sun changes his position from winter half [ solstice ] to summer half [ solstice ] . In this series I would like to express some of the thoughts about the sun salutations. In the first place sun salutation is a combination of the following practices. It is a combination of several physical postures starting from standing to go to the ‘posture of salutation’ called ‘


‘sastanga namaskarasana’ [sa=together, asta= eight, anga= limb, namaskar= salutation], and coming back retracing the steps back to the standing position. 1.The number of postures involved can be flexible. Different schools adapted different styles and the number can be any thing like ten or twelve or eighteen or thirty six. 2.Before doing the series of postures most of the schools chant a sloka [verse] from the sun prayers or from any of the scriptures like Upanishad which offers prayers to the sun. The sloka given above is taken from the foremost of the Upanishads called ‘ISAVASAYAM’. 3.After the sloka we chant a mantra or a series of mantras associated with the sun god. There are several names of the sun god which are associated with several aspects of him. Out of them twelve mantras are more popularly chanted. 4.The mantra will be followed by the actual positions stiti, the starting position being the namaskara mudra. 5.In every step breathing is associated and the sequence is so designed that it flows freely as we practice. 6.Generally the practices of Suryanamaskara can be done by normal healthy persons. Only those who have hypertension or heat problems have to consult doctor or any expert yoga master before undertaking these practices. Before we proceed further in discussing about Suryanamaskara let us see why sun god has to be prayed. Some developed this idea that the offering of our prayers to the natural elements such as sun wind etc as god was started those primitive days when science was not developed and he would be facing several natural calamities. Since he does not know the reason for the vagaries of the nature the only thing he could do was call these natural forces as gods and thinking that god is


unhappy with people for some reasons he alone knows, he was afraid of god and therefore in order to please god they would offer the prayers. Thus the sun-prayers must have started! To day we know that sun is a star and is not a human-form-divine. Thus people go to god out of fear! This may have been true in some cases but in offering sun salutations it is not the fear which has driven man for sun salutations! Earlier in villages when ever they used to have terrific thunders in the night and one could see the bolts from the blue next morning the head of the village would assemble all the people and tell them, ‘last night god has been displeased with some people in this village so he has sent bolts from the blues. So who so ever has done what so ever mistake, please come forward voluntarily, and confess and seek punishment! With that people would come and disclose all the mistakes they have done with that one benefit are that the villages used to have fewer crimes! But in this part of the world people were not offering sun salutations because of fear of god especially sun god! There are references about the details of the sun as a mass of energy in the space as a sphere and as the center of the solar system. Even there are indications about the approximate distance of the sun from earth. Based on all these details they have invented a very sophisticated calendar system. So there is less possibility that they have offered prayers to sun out of fear. If they have practiced sun salutations it is because of the respect born out of love and recognition. In fear when we go to god, god is not important but when we go to god out of love god becomes important and self is dissolved! Therefore sun salutations have a very deep meaning. Though the practice primarily has the surrender out of love which is enriching emotional experience it still has


benefit at all personality levels namely physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and finally at spiritual level. Let us look into various aspects considering one by one. For the benefit of those who do not know about the five level personality let me briefly give some explanation. It is a way of understanding human being as given in the Taittariya Upanishad. When we look at a man from outside we only see the outer of physical personality and its functioning which may be considered as life force. One can also feel the existence of mind and intellectual activity appears as if it the part of the mental faculty and further they do not have any idea about the subtler levels. In the Upanishad there is systematic discussion is about the existence at five levels of subtleties. At the grossest level we are the physical personality which is obviously visible. Immediately at the next level it is called the Prana personality or pranamaya kosa. It is the Prana which is responsible for the functioning aspect of the physical body. Eyes see, ears hear and all activities happen because of Prana only. Therefore pranamaya kosa is more fundamental. Deeper than that is Manomaya kosa or mental personality. When the mind is not there eyes do not see or ears do not hear. So we are basically mental personality which takes the support of body and Prana for giving manifestation to its activity. I think of doing first and then I employ the energy called Prana and the body as instruments. But on close observation we see we are the intellect and we identify with intellect much more than any thing and it is the intellect which also makes the mind to think and thereby function. So it is a general impression that the most important aspect of us is the intellect but intellect also sub-serves another important aspect which is our actual nature which is bliss or happiness. We do all activities for the sake of happiness and if there is no


happiness we do not do. But only doubt one can have is that the happiness or bliss appear to be coming from the object and how we can say it is our nature. For that Upanishad recommends us to look at the sleep state. In sleep we experience happiness without any exception and without any object support. In fact an object coming from out side in sleep which may be your choicest, we do not want that, because it also disturbs the joy of sleep. So we can infer that in deep sleep state we are touching our own nature which is coming from within which is ‘bliss’. So deep inside we are bliss personality and only all in all other outer layers we have intellect, mind, Prana and body. Yoga has its approach to help us at all these personality levels namely physical, Prana, mental, intellectual, and spiritual or bliss personalities. I shall deal with all these levels systematically but before proceeding further let me give some hints for the practice. •Do it in the empty stomach •People with complaints of hypertension can do this only after fifteen days of practice of various simple breathing and loosening exercises so that the body can take the strain. •Persons with back pain should avoid front bending pose. Instead they should go to next posture. •Persons with ear problems or tinnitus or seizers should avoid back bending and those with seizers should not take deep breathing.


Chapter 2: Annamaya kosha and Suryanamaskara

Let us now come to the physical body called ‘Annamaya Kosa’, which is equivalent to physical body. Though we roughly equate it is not strictly so because Annamaya kosa is not water tight compartment but it is a continuum in body-mind-consciousness complex, which is what we are. Because of this difference there are few things which we need to consider. They are Annamaya kosa as the name indicates it needs food. Food is ‘Anna’ and Annamaya is like ornament made out of gold is called as ‘hiranmaya’ where ‘hiran’ is gold. I will no go into this aspect because I would like to go into the exercise aspect which is directly connected with Suryanamaskara. The other two aspects are exercise and relaxation. Exercise is very important aspect of our life. Exercise involves bending the joints twisting and stretching. So in all the postures make sure that you fully stretch and where ever it provides an opportunity twist fully like in the case of third posture or tenth where we stretch one of the legs forward there is a chance to twist too. Use this opportunity. Regarding stretching in the second posture consciously and slowly stretch in back bending systematically from neck muscles to chest and further on to stomach muscles to waist. So that your posture helps you to fully stretch the front portion of the body. Same way use the third posture to be


used for stretching the back fully. Every posture involves some body part being stretched. In every posture also recognize that you one should be stable. If we study the postures closely we can see that starting from the top of the body come to the waist then to the lower portion of the body and come to total prostration in namaskarasana. After that the sequence is to retrace the steps back to standing position which is like unwinding. There is a nice symmetry involved, which is also further enhanced by the breathing pattern adapted in the postures. The stretch is from the upper body muscles to the lower limbs thereby e The stretch is from the upper body muscles to the lower limbs thereby exercising the whole body. That is the reason in several schools they consider Suryanamaskara is a wholesome exercise for our body. When we can not do other practices of asanas due to some external reasons we should be able to do at least six sun-salutations. Yoga postures are different from the physical exercises in several aspects. In case of the physical exercises awareness is not mandatory where as in case of yoga practices or suryanamaskaras we must have the awareness. Another aspect in physical exercises we have to do more and more and achieve more and more which is measure for progress. On the other hand in yogic practices such as Suryanamaskara it should be like a flow of physical postures smoothly and effortlessly and not the doing of ‘more’ is important! We have to relax in the practice which means actually the muscles have as little participation as possible. Therefore the physical exercises are for building muscles where as Suryanamaskara will help us in glandular system and the nervous system. For nervous and glandular problems Suryanamaskara is a good solution. Though they are essentially not focusing on muscles, since there is some participation of muscles the practice of Suryanamaskara will help in loosening the muscle tone. Early morning if we


do six rounds of Suryanamaskara followed by brief Shavasana for five minutes we have observed that the day’s activities of the work place flow very smoothly and harmoniously. In hospital ‘Stift Rottal clinic’ at Griesbach in Germany, all my doctor friends do the practice of five to six suryanamaskaras before starting their days work.The great benefits of Suryanamaskara is, it helps in improving the circulation of blood and makes the body flexible and helps to spend the energies of Vasana in a neutral way so that it helps to contribute towards inner peace! Simple muscular pains and discomfort because of our sedentary habits will be removed very effectively and makes our activities normally blissful. According to the energy model explanations when we are not engaged in any activity we can experience the accumulation of some sort of uneasiness, and the desire of wanting to do some thing or the other comes up for all of us sooner or later! This is what we call as ‘boredom’. We actually engage in either drinking cups of coffee or munch some fried stuff or in gossiping. These physical activities help us to spend the restless energy for some period of time. This restless-form-of-energydisturbance is called as Moola Vasana or anaadi avidya. Suryanamaskara offers a very non-injurious form of exercise to get rid of this moola Vasana. Therefore Suryanamaskara practice is spiritual in nature taking us to inner peace and harmony! So let me summarize the points for suryanamaskaras. Suryanamaskaras are good for circulation and helps to start the days work much more harmoniously. It is useful in case of glandular and nervous dysfunctions. It helps to loosen the joints and tones up muscles. Spends the general boredom forces and makes the life enjoyable and the over burden of life can be diffused. Heart patients should exercise caution in doing this practice. A proper Suryanamaskara should help one to go


deeper into various aspects transcending the physical identification and let us now try to understand from the pranamaya stand point. According to yogic language of physiology we have these chakras which are located in the middle of the spinal chord and the chakras are supposed to be in dormant way so that the serpent power or our vital force is lying coiled in the foundation chakra called mooladhara. Though lot of these things appear to be rather vague we can experience one thing that is we can feel the laziness in the position which correlates to chakras which will make us lazy and we will be unwilling to take up activity. Once we practice this it will make us active. For the first practice of back bending we have to pull our body from the lower abdominal region which will start working at the mooladhara chakra. The next posture will work on the next higher chakra swadhistana, in this sequence these postures are so designed to activate from lower to higher chakras. The posture immediately after the sa-astanganamaskarasana [where the participant is lying on face on earth, with forehead on the ground, with chin on the floor which is the symbol of surrender to the divine] the posture which follows is bhujangasana, the cobra pose which is indicating the awakening of kundalini or the coiled serpent power. When the force acts without awakened mind it will lead us astray where as when the activity comes up as activity with awakened mind, the same force will be constructive and all activities become spiritual activities. Therefore the Suryanamaskara has a very deep perspective from yogic physiology point of view.


Chapter 3: Suryanamaskara Practice

One of the readers pointed out since there are several styles of practice of suryanamaskaras why don’t I suggest the technique we adapted in all our contacts. Hence I am giving the details here. STITI [the starting position]: stand with back neck and head in one line with both hands folded in front of the chest in namaskara mudra. Start with eyes closed with the sloka of respect to the sun god, "Hiranmayena patrena Satyasyapihitam Mukham Tat tvam PuĹ&#x;an Apavrnu Satya Dharmaya Drstaye" Meaning: Like a lid to a vessel, O Sun, your golden orb covers the entrance to Truth. Kindly open thy entrance, to lead me to truth. This is followed by one of the sun mantras OM HRAM MITRAYA NAMAHA, OM HREEM RAVAYE NAMAHA, OM HRUM SURYAYA NAMAHA etc. one mantra with one set of


practices.

Sun mantras 1st round: Aum Hram Mitraya Namah 2. round: Aum Hrim Ravaye Namah 3. round: Aum Hrum Suryaya Namah 4. round: Aum Hraim Bhanave Namah 5. round: Aum Hroum Khagaya Namah 6.round: Aum Hrah Pu ne Namah 7. round: Aum Hram Hirangarbhaya Namah 8. round: Aum Hrim Mariçaye Namah 9. round: Aum Hrum Adityaya Namah 10. round: Aum Hraim Savitre Namah 11. round: Aum Hroum Arkaya Namah 12. round: Aum Hrah Bhaskaraya Namah

Say ‘ekam’ [one]. Inhale and bend back taking the hands all the way up and back – ardha chakrasana.


‘Dwee’ [two]. Exhale and bend forward and down completely. Keep the palms by the side of legs, if possible on the ground – padahastasana.

‘Treeni’ [three]. Inhale and take the [alternately right and left] leg back into comfortable position and stretch the body forward.

‘Chatwari’ [four]. Exhale and take the other leg back to join the first leg and the whole body is in one inclined plane.


‘Panca’ [five]. Inhale and exhale sit on the knees and bend the head down, hands stretched in front on the ground – shasahankasana.

‘Chata’ [six]. Hold the breath [kumbhaka] flat on the floor with palms, forehead, chest knees and toes on the ground in sastanga namaskara

‘Sapta’ [seven]. Inhale and with palms pressed on the ground raise the head up into bhujangasana – the cobra pose.


‘Astha’ [eight]. Exhale and raise the waist up stretch the hands and legs into invert v position. Pravatasana.

‘Nava’ [nine]. Inhale and exhale and sit on knees. It is repetition of fifth pose – shasahankasana.

‘Dasha’ [ten]. Inhale and bring the right leg forward toes in line with the palms.


‘Ekadasha’ [eleven]. Exhale and bring the other leg forward – padahastasana.

‘Dwadasha’ [twelve]. Inhale and come up bend back fully and retrieve into the starting position.

Start the next cycle with chanting of next mantra of surya – the sun god.


Breathing Pattern Following the breathing pattern is important for the following reasons. The breathing will help make the process of doing the posture easy. Body and Prana have to flow together then only one is in harmony with the other. In sun postures it is taken care of. It is natural that when we bend forward the chest and stomach is compressed and if we do not exhale that will be added burden. Similarly when we bend back breathing in will enhance the bending activity. This cycle is maintained. That is how definitely when we bend forward and down we are breathing out and whenever we bend back breathing in is included. In between the breathing is so managed that when ever we are doing posture we are adapting breathing and not holding the breath. Normally our tendency when we are not aware is to hold the breath when we do some thing. It is necessary to hold breath called ‘Kumbhaka’, when we have to lift heavy weights. But it appears that this habit percolated into other activities. Even when we are bending forward or so also we hold breath, which is not necessary. This continues in almost all activities. Similarly when ever we are anxious we hold the breath. If there is a big unexpected sound around you look in that direction in wondering what it is. That time you watch you will find that while watching you are holding the breath! Logically speaking why we have to hold the breath. There is no reason. But still this sympathetic response we do as a part of our habit. Many times it is not the work which tires us, but the breath holding is many more times taxing for us than the work we do. The practice of proper breathing and the breathing while doing the posture will help us to create


a counter habit of maintaining proper breathing wile doing an activity such as bending forward or bending back or twisting. In the sixth position, which is the ‘sa – asta – anga – namaskara – asana our face is directly on the floor or the carpet and our nose is nearer to the ground. If we inhale we may be inhaling dust how ever much we take care. In order to avoid this we hold the breath. This posture also provides us the practice of ‘Kumbhaka’ in a gentle way. All other postures we may breathe or not depending on the amount of time we give in the posture, but in sixth position we need to hold the breath. Fifth and ninth positions are basically relaxing position called sasahankasaka, the crescent moon posture. It is observed that especially in case of patients this posture in between the other flow of postures will help one to relax and regain the balance. Since it is a relaxing posture in this posture do normal breathing. Here in this posture therefore if needed do the normal breathing more than once. •One should never be in a hurry to do the number of suryanamaskaras. It has to be done leisurely and with awareness. •If we do not follow proper breathing there may not be any damage but following proper breathing will enhance its benefits. •The benefits due to adapting proper breathing pattern are as follows. •It is found to improve the lung functions. •Deep breathing becomes possible because in these postures we systematically adapt all the three lobes, namely second posture helps in abdominal breathing fourth middle lobe and fifth upper lobe


and Bhujangasana facilitates full yogic breathing! •Proper breathing will help to build stamina. •A habit of maintaining proper breathing in various day to day activities will be cultivated. •Since it has all these benefits it is very therapeutical and many times suryanamaskaras alone can be a remedy for lot of ailments.


Chapter 4: Kundalini and Suryanamaskara

Before doing suryanamaskaras as I said earlier the tradition is to say the set of mantras which are said in one of the three ways. One is say all the set of mantras together before and start the practices. Second is to say one mantra before each set and the third is to say one mantra with each posture in Suryanamaskara practice. Any method is all right but mantra chanting itself has a significance which I shall discuss below. These mantras have three portions. Aum + hraam + mitrayanamah In this Aum is the seed mantra or the mantra which is the seed of all sounds or creation. This is followed by the tantrik mantra which is a combination of three syllables, namely ‘H’ + ‘Rrr’ + Aaam, H + Rrr + Eeem, etc. Hroom, Hraim, Hraum, Hrah. Each one of them corresponds to one chakra in the body in ascending order. Then the third portion of mantra is the name of the sun which generally corresponds to the chakra. In this combination ‘H’ is only a fully opened mouth and it does not contain any sound as such because we have mouth fully open and keep the air column free. The sound


‘Rrr..’ is not a single sound. It is like beating a drum. Therefore the sound of these mantras hram hreem etc is like you keep the open air column and beat it which arouses the energy from that point. When you sa hraam, you have kept the air column open and gave a beating a the mooladhara [base] chakra which creates a very strong vibration like the drum vibrating. In the same way a,e,uu,ai,oo.mm correspond to various chakras in ascending order. This sound resonance produced that way will not only rouse the energy called Prana but it also Therefore with each mantra we are actually arousing the energy called Prana supposed to be coiled dormant in those chakras or centers of activity. Thus suryanamaskaras help to arouse kundalini. I have been using these sound techniques of chanting of Aum and Suryanamaskara mantras for therapeutical purposes in Germany in case of neurological disorders. Patients whose nerves in that the body not doing well we found them going back to normal harmonious way of functioning of Prana in those regions. Lot of scope is there for research in these areas and accurately establish the effect of these sounds on our personality.


Chapter 5: Essence of the Surya mantra

Hiranmayena Patrena Satyasya Apihitam Mukham Tatvam Pushan Apavrunu Satya Dharmaya Drustaye. Like the way the Hiranmayam Jyotirmayam = golden looking (covered by light) vassal, covers the salya = aditya mandala = the whole celestial bodies of the outer space, Oh Pushan, the Sun, please (apaavrunu) = uncover for me so that it enables me to see Satya Dharma the truth which will be following the Dharma, righteousness. This is the fifteenth sloka of Isavasya Upanishad of Sukla Yajur Veda. This sloka has been adapted widely as a preyar for Sun god before we practice the Sun postures because in addition to the prayer of sun it has a very important philosophical message. Here the prayer is not for any material gains but prays sun god for the knowledge of the truth and also for the ‘will’ to practice that truth in all situations. Sun reveals us the reality and without the sun we are in darkness; we can not see the things around, the moment sun rises on the horizon all the objects become clear in their true form, at once. With the sun rise the life will start, activities take place, energization happens. This Sun is the cause for revealing the truth of the nature, he is the cause for manifestation of activity and also he integrates


the whole creation according to their nature (Dharma). You can never imagine the world without Sun. Medical studies show in the parts of the globe where they have large spans of night or darkness – namely the countries near poles, when the sun does not appear for long period of time there is high incidence of depression in people. When Sun is absent even animals and plants also go into hibernation or suffocation. Life becomes impossible without sun. Therefore sun is life giver for us. You can see all objects under sun light but most interesting thing is all the celestial objects like the stars and the planets, milky ways and star clusters, all of them go into hiding the moment sun rises. They are there but they become invisible the moment sun rise occurs. The beautiful details that you perceive in the darkness of the sky, all the treasure that is there which the fascinating universe is and in front of that sight of the celestial objects, the details that you see on the earth are absolutely trivial and insignificant! But sun does hide the sight of the universe and brings the picture of the world in front of us! The sky that you see in the night is the real or true picture of the universe. The light is in the form of small little tiny dots which are separated by huge space of darkness. Though proportionately the darkness is several billion times greater than the light even then strangely we feel the light is more than the darkness. That way light gives illusion. The light misleads us! The sun which rises in the sky not only takes away the details in the sky like stars and planets. But you can not even see the sun. You will be blinded and your eyes will be damaged. The light which is supposed to give us sight takes away our vision – and blinds us. Isn’t this is very strange? Especially when you come out of a cinema theatre or a dark studio, you find that your eyes are blinded not


because of the darkness but because of the light outside. Your eyes are adjusted to darkness or very negligible light, and when you come from the darkness into light, your eyes will be blinded for some time. If the outside is not visible because of lack of light all that we need to do is to open the flash light so that that it will light up and will enable us to see things clearly. But in the case of blindness we experience when we come out of the theatre, that blindness is caused by the light. If light itself blinds you what can help us to come out of such blindness? In addition, if you try to force your eyes to see in that light, it is not only impossible to see but your eyes will be permanently damaged. The only solution at that time is, don’t fight with that light; don’t fight with your eyes and the brain centers. Close your eyes relax and open it slowly, little by little. Try to slowly assimilate the light after some time your eyes will get adjusted. Respect the light, respect the sun and approach it with very higher degree of humbleness and gentleness. This analogy has been very effectively used for knowledge by the Upanisadic sage. Sun is also known as “Arya” which in other wards is the respectful address for somebody who is wise, who is elevated spiritually and who can help on with knowledge. Therefore sun is depicting knowledge. This knowledge helps us to understand things around us. With such an understanding we start seeing things clearly. Confusion will be shattered fear will be resolved. The light of the knowledge removes the darkness of ignorance. Knowledge takes away our fear and confusion, knowledge open the vision of the world for us, knowledge is giving us an opportunity if unravel the secrets of the creation. All this technological developments and increase in comforts in the life have been possible because of this knowledge. This small little tiny knowledge can give us so much. One


can imagine the vast knowledge that is available and this knowledge keep on growing with the passage of time. Knowledge is infinite. That is why it is said that the more we know we will come to understand how much we really do not know. In fact that is the true learning where it gives us an idea how much we do not know. Knowledge is the one ultimately which gives us peace and harmony. From Prashanti Kutiram our residential campus, a couple was posted as yoga teachers in Indonesia. Before going to Indonesia they came to me and asked that they have one more month to improve their knowledge before they actually take the flight to Jakarta. They said, they can perform few postures, do some Pranayama and can give instruction for various meditation aspects of yoga. But they expressed that they are not confident enough to give lectures on philosophy of yoga. So they requested if I can give them few talks on the philosophy of yoga. So for a small group which included them too I was giving every day two to three hours of talk for next thirty days. Listening to the whole series very attentively at the end of the series, they touched my feet with tears of humility in their eyes and they said “Raghuramji, you are international yoga teacher and we are also going internationally to teach yoga. But you have opened our eyes. We realized after listening to the talks how much we do not know�. Thus, knowledge is that which gives us humility. Humility is the true litmus test to see whether the knowledge has made you a wise person, or not. Wisdom and arrogance do not go together. When one becomes humble with knowledge then knowledge has served its purpose of transforming one and making him a different person.


A knowledge which does not transform you did not really enter into you. But you may remember it very clearly you may quote from the scriptures. Such knowledge has only become like an addition – or like an attachment to you. All such knowledge which forms our addition becomes our “ego”, which is very dangerous. The knowledge which is light removes our blindness but a knowledge which becomes our ego and the ego of knowledge blinds us further like the way light makes us blind when we come out of a theater. Knowledge which does not transform us becomes burden (of knowledge). This burden of the knowledge gravitates us more and more towards material gains such as name fame, popularity praises and honors, position and authority. They all appear to be good and real but that is how our eyes are blinded. If the eyes are blinded by darkness or ignorance knowledge can help us to come out of that blindness. If we are blinded by knowledge itself, then what else can help us to come out of that darkness, it is like we give a medicine for killing unwanted bacteria but the bacteria within us is using the medicine itself for its growth then we will be in greater trouble. Similarly light is supposed to give us clarity but we are blinded by the light itself. In the same way if knowledge which is supposed to make us humble, will become our arrogance, then what can save us, you will not be able have any knowledge which can save you like the way. When your eyes are blinded by light no other light can help us. This is the difference between a scholar [pundit] and a sadhaka [spiritual seeker]. A scholar has arrogance of knowledge and a seeker has humility because of knowledge. A scholar feels he can intellectually solve all issues. On the other hand a sadhaka will be prayerful. Prayer really means a heart to heart talk with divinity that


I am nothing and you are everything. I am ignorant and you are knowledge. All my knowledge belongs to you rather knowledge does not belong to me but I belong to knowledge. When we surrender our ego completely in humbleness, what god shows us, leads us is the path of truth in the way of righteousness. A child while walking on the sand said to god, “I saw behind me four foot prints while walking. And I felt assured that you are walking with me because I thought the other two foot prints belong to you. But now I don’t see the foot prints, I am worried where did you go, leaving me alone?” God replied her “don’t worry when you don’t see the two extra foot prints it is only because I am carrying you and the foot prints you see are mine.” Humbleness, innocence, wisdom, and the path of truth and righteousness, all of them go hand in hand one helping the other. In humility the sage prays Oh God Pushan, the nourisher, Lord Surya, I do not see but you show me. Of the various forms of arrogance than arrogance of knowledge is most difficult to conquer. The arrogance of beauty lives for few years of youth, to preserve arrogance of wealth one has to work hard, and that arrogance gathers people who are only greedy. So all other arrogances are associated with some thing which will make you realize that it is short lived where as the arrogance of knowledge is some thing which will be most difficult to come out of it. A humble posture and a prayerful mood at once makes one slow contemplative, gives due consideration for others view point, appreciates others way of looking and in addition it provides one an opportunity not to react but to respond suitably. With humbleness one will come to exercise the idea it is futile to react but to make one to


understand is the only issue and therefore who is humble will not react but to properly respond. Swami Vivekananda said self confidence is often mistaken as arrogance and humbleness for weakness. Spiritual way is to be humble which is born out of knowledge and strength and not out of weakness. This is a mantra to make us feel and experience that it is god’s work going on and not ours. He is the knowledge and we belong to knowledge and not otherwise – not the knowledge belongs to us. Utilize the knowledge and don’t misuse this knowledge. When Pandavas were in the aranyavasa [the life of forest] during that time Krishna convinces Arjuna not to waste time but to go to earn special weapons powered by Mantra Shakti, the power of mind. Arjuna returns with most powerful weapon called the Pashupatastra. When he told others about his achievement they asked him to demonstrate it! Arjuna was about to charge this and was about to utter the necessary mantras. Immediately the celestial voice told them that these are very special gifts and be humble to this knowledge of the weapon and not to use it for entertainment and for showing off. Utilize the power only when it is very much necessary and for the good of the mankind. Same way the arrogance of knowledge will be manifesting in the form of misuse of knowledge and humility of knowledge will make us not to exhibit. We can come across talks of some people the purpose of such talks is to show how much the speaker knows but the right way of talk takes care of the listeners and the need for their learning. I always found Prof. Sastry would always use such simple language though he has wealth of scriptural knowledge in his memory. He used to use the knowledge which is required to convince the listener but not to show his erudition.


Let this mantra from Isavasya Upanishad remind us this valuable concept every day when we chant this mantra before doing suryanamaskaras.


Chapter 6: Questions and Answers

Question: If it is correct what you say here, one should need to know Sanskrit to do Suryanamaskaras and to raise KUNDALINI SHAKTI. If these MANTRAS are so substantial in acting Suryanamaskaras. , as a result, it seems no way for a person who does not pronounce Sanskrit letters correctly. On the other hand, as far as I know, KUNDALINI SHAKTI has no relation with mantras at all. Answer: Several ways sages thought and formed various aspects of Suryanamaskaras so that they aimed the progress from various angles. This was done for the society which had these mantra chanting or Sanskrit as part of the culture. But now a days even in India many do not know Sanskrit but practice suryanamaskaras and derive benefit. So my intention is to say that if you do sincerely without knowing Sanskrit or the deep meaning of mantras you will derive benefit but if you know the meaning you can have added advantage as you can feel the richness. I am trying to explain the ideas so that even people who do not have the knowledge can also appreciate and start feeling the mantras as they chant. Our own sincerity is the over riding factor and all other factors are secondary.


Question: Could you please guide on all the names or mantras before Suryanamaskaras and their relation to each chakras. I think that will be really helpful. Answer: I shall try to explain now the aspects of these mantras. 1. Aum hraam mitrayanamah mooladhara Mitra = friend of all, one who is in service; friendship is the basis for the growth in collectiveness. To befriend is our nature and is based on the feeling that basically every one is good and is friend. Since the friendship is the basis where intellect is not born it is the position of mooladhara or the base chakra. 2. Aum hreem ravaye namah swadhisthana Ravi = sahasraguna mutsrastunadatte hi rasam ravih; one who is the essence of all elements is absorbed by the stomach and lower abdomen in beings its position is swadhistana, the next chakra. 3. Aum hroom sooryaya namah manipura Surya = constant beholder of good and bad; all seeing; we hold good and bad in our heart center so it denotes the manipura 4. Aum hraim bhaanave namah vishuddha Bhanu is brightness bhaa is light splendor luster etc. our vishuddha chakra voice whose rightful sound indicates our brightness 5. Aum hraum khagaaya namah ajna Kha= Sky or space it denotes the space in the mind which is the primordial state so it denotes space between eyes in


third eye position 6. aum hrah pooshne namah sahasrara Pooshnah = Rays of light or radiation or having the radiation of knowledge! 7. Aum hraam hiranya garbhaaya namahmooladhara Hiranya garbha= golden womb its seat therefore is the lower end of the spine culminating in genital organs 8. Aum hreem mareecye namah swadhistana mareechi = a particle of light and energy which is from the abdominal region 9. Aum hroom aadityaaya namah manipura Aaditya = A son of aditi divinity in general; all samskaras or impressions of last life 10. Aum hraim savitrye namah vishuddha savitr = generating, producing , yielding which is the function of heart which integrates us inside with out side s 11. Aum hraum arkaya namah ajna Arka = a big flash of lightening like the spark of knowledge – intellect in the brain centers of us. Thus the Suryanamaskara mantras denote the centers systematically. The mantras such as hraam, hreem etc are known as beeja mantras and as I said earlier ‘h’ alone not a sound it is when you exhale keeping the mouth and air column fully open and then when we say r r r r is not a single sound but a sound of beating or percussion which is combined together with the a,e,i,o etc which when we


chant create resonance at the centers in the body. This will bring the alertness at that center. Now after developing inner awareness don’t disturb and just use that awareness to go to deeper relaxation. Once we are aware it automatically takes us to deeper relaxation and we can go to subtle level. This is what people call as kundalini rising. Another question by the sadhaka was these mantras are in Sanskrit and there are lot of people who practice but they do not know Sanskrit. do they not derive benefit of these practices? It does not matter. Knowing Sanskrit and the meaning and idea behind the practices may help one to develop greater dedication and helps them to practice with more mindfulness! So if some one without knowing the meaning and idea but having mindfulness such a person will get equal or more benefit but a person who has all the knowledge of Sanskrit but has no shraddha or mindfulness he will not be enjoying full benefit in these practices. All these explanations are given to show to the person practicing the Suryanamaskara should be able ot appreciate the great wisdom our sages have used in these practices. Their concern was for elevating the mind of sadhaka towards spiritual peaceful states which in classical terms known as chitta shuddhi. Hiranmayena Patrena Satyasya Apihitam Mukham Tatvam Pushan Apavrunu Satya Dharmaya Drustaye. English Translation: Similar to the way the golden-looking ( covered by light) vassal, covers all of the celestial bodies of outer space, Oh, Pushan, the Sun, please uncover for me, so that it enables me to see Satya Dharma, the truth, which will follow Dharma, rightousness.


This 15th sloka of the Isvasya Upanishad of Sukla Yajur Veda has been widely accepted and adopted as the prayer to the Sun God prior to the practice of Sun Postures. This acceptance comes from the meaning of the sloka, or verse. It is not only a prayer to the Sun, but it also conveys a philosophical message; it is a prayer, not for material gains, but for the unveiling of truth through knowledge and for the will to practice this truth regardless of circumstance. The sun is the light to our physical world and without it, we would live in complete darkness. The moment the sun begins to rise on the horizon, all objects become clear in their true physical form and life begins: activities commence, we become energized, and the reality of the physical world is revealed. The sun integrates all of creation according to their nature (or Dharma). Beyond the physical world that is revealed, the sun ignites life and energy within plants and animals. Medical studies have shown that those people who have prolonged periods without sunlight (i.e. those who live close to the poles of the earth) have an increased propensity towards depression. Similarly, when the sun is absent from animals or plants, it causes them to go into prolonged hibernation, or even, suffocation. Hence, it is the sun that reveals our physical world and ignites the life within our world. It is the physical world that is lit up for us by the sun, but the same sun hides the rest of the universe from our sight. All of the celestial objects, such as stars, planets, milky ways, and star clusters become invisible to us with the rise of the sun. These beautiful details of the universe are hidden from us by the sun, but those details are trivial and insignificant to our daily existence. The sun hides these unnecessary details and reveals the picture of the


world in front of us; the world in which we must live and function and thus, must be able to see. Ironically, the sun which allows us to see the world and ignore the unnecessary details of the universe, does not allow us to look at it. If we try to look directly at the sun, we will be blinded. The light which is suppose to give us sight, takes away our vision. This irony is further exemplified by the simple act of going to a movie theater or dark studio. When you step out into the sunlight after being inside a dark room, your eyes cannot see clearly. We find that our eyes are blinded, not by the darkness, but by the light outside. If we try to force ourselves to see in the light, we will damage our eyes. If the light itself blinds us, what can help us come out of such blindness? The only solution is to succumb to the light. Do not try to fight the force of light and slowly allow your eyes to adjust by closing your eyes, relaxing, and slowly opening them, allowing them to assimilate to the light. Respect the light and the sun and approach it with a high degree of humbleness and gentleness. This analogy has been effectively applied to knowledge by an Upansadic sage. The sun is also known as "Arya" which is the respectful address for a wise person, who is elevated spiritually and can help deliver knowledge. Hence, the sun depicts knowledge. This knowledge allows for the world around us to be clearly revealed, shattering confusion and resolving fear. This light of knowledge removes the ignorance of darkness. Knowledge provides us with the opportunity to unveil the secrets of creation. The technological developments and the comforts of modern day society have all been created based on increased knowledge. There is a vast amount of knowledge that is available and this knowledge will continue to grow with the passage of time. It becomes


clear that knowledge is infinite. Hence, the saying, that the more we know, the more we will come to realize what we do not know. Knowledge is the tool which can ultimately provide us with peace and harmony. It is in recognizing that regardless of the amount of knowledge we obtain, there is more that we do not know, that allows for humility. Humility is the litmus test to determine whether knowledge has made you wise. Wisdom and arrogance do not go together. When one becomes humbled by knowledge, knowledge has served its purpose and transformed a person. Knowledge which has not transformed a person is not true knowledge, as it did not really become part of you. You may be able to quote from scriptures or regurgitate facts, but that only allows the knowledge to become an addition to you, like an attachment. All such knowledge which we do not absorb, contributes to our "ego" which can be very dangerous. The knowledge which is light removes our blindness, but a knowledge which becomes our ego, blinds us, much like the sun we may try to look directly at. The knowledge which we do not absorb becomes a burden (of knowledge) which tends to pull us more towards material gains such as fame, popularity, praise, awards, position and authority. All of these facets seem to be good, but that is how we are blinded or disillusioned. If the eyes are blinded by ignorance, knowledge can help us come out of it, but if our eyes are blinded by knowledge itself, what can help us come out of that darkness? Much like the sunlight which gives us clarity, can also blind us. This is the difference between a scholar (pundit) and a spiritual seeker (sadhaka). A scholar has arrogance of knowledge, while a seeker has humility because of knowledge. A scholar believes that he can intellectually resolve all issues, whereas a seeker believes in the power


of prayer. A prayer is really a heart to heart with divinity acknowledging that 'I am nothing, you are everything. I am ignorant and you are knowledge. Knowledge does not belong to me, I belong to knowledge.' When we surrender our ego completely in humbleness, where God leads us is the path of truth in the way of righteousness. A wonderful story depicts this belief simply: A child, while walking on the sand, said to god, "I saw behind me four foot prints while walking. And I felt assured that you are walking with me because I thought the other two foot prints belong to you. But now I don't see the foot prints, I am worried where did you go, leaving me alone?" God replied to her "Don't worry when you don't see the two extra foot prints it is only because I am carrying you and the foot prints you see are mine." God will lead and carry us on the path of righteousness. Humbleness, innocence, wisdom, and the path of truth and righteousness, all go hand in hand, one helping the other. In humility the sage prays, 'Oh God Pushan, the nourisher, Lord Surya, I do not see but you show me.' Of the various forms of arrogance, the arrogance of knowledge is the most difficult to conquer. The arrogance of beauty lives for a few years of youth. The arrogance of wealth must be sustained through hard work and then leads to a life full of people who are also greedy, and thus is short lived. All other arrogances are associated with some materialism which will make you realize that it is short term, while the arrogance of knowledge is something which is difficult to recognize and abandon. A humble posture and a prayerful mood immediately makes one slow and contemplative, allows for the consideration of others' point of views, and gives the opportunity to respond suitably, rather than react emotionally. With humbleness, it becomes apparent that reaction is


futile and that understanding the issue and then responding appropriately is the only effective means of response. Swami Vivekananda made the observation that self confidence is often mistaken as arrogance and humbleness as weakness. Humbleness is born out of strength, the strength of true knowledge, not out of weakness. This sun mantra is meant to remind us and acknowledge that it is God's work that is consistently going on and not ours. He is the knowledge and we belong to that knowledge, the knowledge does not belong to us. It is our responsibility to use this knowledge and not abuse it. In the scriptures, when the pandavas were in the aranyavasa (the life of the forest) Krishna convinces Arjuna not to waste time but to go to earn special weapons powered by Mantra Shakti, the power of the mind. Arjuna returns with the most powerful weapon known as the Pushupatastra. When he told others of his achievement, they asked him to demonstrate it. Arjuna was about to charge the weapon by uttering the necessary mantras. Suddenly, a celestial voice told Arjuna that these are very special gifts and to be humble to this knowledge of the weapon and not to use it in order to show off or for entertainment. The voice instructed Arjuna to utilize the power only when it is extremely necessary and for the good of mankind. In the same regard, the distribution of knowledge should not be with the intent of arrogance but rather to distribute information and promote learning. A good example of this distribution of knowledge is Professor Sastry. Although he has a wealth of scriptural knowledge in his memory, he always uses simple language for everyone to understand and grasp what he is saying.


It is this concept of obtaining knowledge and making it an integral, transforming part of ourselves, not our egos, that we are to take from the mantra as we say it.


About Yoga Bharati Yoga Bharati was conceptualized by Raghuram ji and was started in the San Francisco Bay Area in early 2002. Under the guidance of Raghuram ji, yoga classes in the SF Bay Area started by a Vivekananda Yoga University trained instructor. Fresh impetus was provided by Raghavendra Kulkarni ji who conducted yoga workshops. Daily yoga classes in Sunnyvale temple followed soon. Yoga Bharati volunteers organized a well-attended residential camp to host Raghuram ji, which gave a big boost to Yoga Bharati's growth. Realizing the importance of providing a theoretical background of yoga, Yoga Bharati hosted talks by famous yogis - Raghuram ji, Swami Bodhananda Saraswati, Swami Anubhavananda, Swami Sukhabodhananda and others who became advisors to the organization. To build a group of authentic local yoga experts, the first Yoga Instructor Certificate Course (YICC) was started in October 2002, with active support of Raghuram ji and VYASA. Subsequently, YICC has been conducted every year to boost the ranks of certified yoga instructors in the SF Bay Area. Yoga Bharati started organizing Yoga Therapy workshops and customized sessions for pregnant ladies, kids, schools and companies. To promote easy-to-practice yoga in the broader community and provide a short daily routine for those not familiar with yoga, Yoga Bharati started Suryanamaskar Yagna (Sun Salutation Marathon) as a new-year resolution for a healthy lifestyle. Self-less service, strong commitment to the goal of spreading yoga, a committed and supportive volunteer group, and a diverse range of activities brought in many volunteers, who have been committed to serving the community through the platform of Yoga Bharati For more information: www.yogabharati.org


About sVYASA Svyasa - Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Sansthana (swami Vivekananda Yoga University), is the academic wing of VYASA, that has been running short-term courses, Certificate and Diploma courses for the last 15 years. Situated amidst nature within a 110 acre campus in Bangalore/India, SVYASA is a recognized university of Higher Learning in Yogic Sciences. The educational system in sVyasa is holistic, based on the consciousness-based approach of yoga systems and spiritual lore. It is not merely a bread-earning educational system but a personalitydeveloping and world-building tool through yoga. It is established to bring the awareness among the people about their health and inner-self. To achieve this ultimate goal Svyasa offers various courses in yogic and Vedic sciences. It provides several courses at all levels, beginning from a prerequisite of 12 years of education to graduation, post-graduation and also doctoral level programs. While sVYASA has been running certificate and Diploma courses in yoga from its campus, it also has several affiliated centers that also train the people from different parts of the country. These Affiliate centers provide certificate courses, vocational courses and short-term courses to learners. SVYASA has been providing training in yoga and spiritual lore to further the vision of Swami Vivekananda which was to combine the best of the East with the incomparable precision of the West. The best of the East is the remarkable knowledge scripted in the ancient texts and the significance of spirituality in human life; the unmatched skill of the West lies in its emphasis on scientific research and analysis using advanced technology. To read more about the courses, programs and activities of SVYASA, please visit the SVYASA website at www.svyasa.org


THE ESSENCE OF SURYA NAMASKARAS

Collections of Yoga Gems by Sri NV Raghuram www.nvraghuram.org www.yogabharati.org www.svyasa.org

Profile for istanbul yoga center & purnam publishing

The Essence of Suryanamaskaras  

The small book about Suryanamaskara by Sri NV Raghuram, international yoga professor of Vivekananda Yoga University and the chairman of Yoga...

The Essence of Suryanamaskaras  

The small book about Suryanamaskara by Sri NV Raghuram, international yoga professor of Vivekananda Yoga University and the chairman of Yoga...

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