The Struggle of Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was the spiritual heir of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. Given below are some quotes from Swami Vivekananda’s biography & conversations with his disciples:

After Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away, all forsook us as so many worthless, ragged boys… Then came a terrible time – for me personally and for all the other boys as well.

On the one side was my mother, my brothers [blood relations]. My father died at that time, [sometime before Sri Ramakrishna’s demise] and we were left poor. Oh, very poor, almost starving all the time! I was the only hope of the family, the only one who could do anything to help them. I [Swami Vivekananda] had to stand between my two worlds. On the one hand, I would have to see my mother and brothers starve unto death; on the other, I had believed that [Sri Ramakrishna’s ] ideas were for the good of India and the world, and had to be preached and worked out. And so the fight went on in my mind for days and months…. I was living in hell!

I could not bear to see those who were the nearest and dearest to me, suffering…. Who would sympathize with the imaginations of a boy – imaginations that caused so much suffering to others? Who would sympathize with me? None- except one [Sri Sarada Devi]. That one’s sympathy brought blessing and hope. Well, that lady, [Sri Ramakrishna’s wife] was the only one who sympathized with the idea of those boys. But she was powerless. She was poorer than we were.

I believed, as I was living, that those ideas were going to rationalize India and bring bring better days to many lands and foreign races. With that belief, came the realization that it is better that a few persons suffer than that such ideas should die out of the world. What if a mother or, two brothers die? It is one kind of sacrifice. Let it be done. No great thing can be done without sacrifice. The heart must be plucked out and the bleeding heart placed upon the alter. Then great things are done. I appeal to each one of you, to those who have accomplished any great thing. Oh, how much it has cost. What agony! What torture! What terrible suffering is behind every deed of success in every life.

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

And thus we went on, that band of boys. The only thing we got from those around us was a kick and a curse- that was all. Of course, we had to beg from door to door for our food: a piece of bread here and there. We got hold [rented] of a broken-down old house [a ruin, left alone for a haunted house], with hissing cobras living underneath; and because that was the cheapest, we went into that house and lived there.

Thus we went on for some years, in the meanwhile making excursions all over India, trying about the idea gradually. Ten years were spent without a ray of light [any hope]. A 1000 times despondency came; but there was one thing always to keep us hopeful – tremendous faithfulness to each other, the tremendous love between us…. That is a great blessing. In happiness, in misery, in famine, in pain, in the grave, in heaven or, in hell, who never gives me up is my friend. Is such friendship a joke? A man may have salvation through such friendship…. If we have that faithfulness, why, there is the essence of all concentration….And that was there with us all throughout that hard time. That made us go from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin[Kanyakumari], from the Indus to the Brahmaputra.

Swami Vivekananda swam to that rocky island and meditated, before going to the West. Later a temple was erected in his memory.

Swami Vivekananda swam to that rocky island and meditated, before going to the West. Later a temple was erected in his memory.

This band of boys began to travel about. Gradually we began to draw attention: 90% was antagonism, very little of it was helpful. For we had one fault: we were boys- in poverty and with all the roughness of boys. He who has to make his own way in life is a bit rough, he has not much time to be smooth and suave and polite- “my lady & my gentleman,” and all that. [a fashionable attire to be socially acceptable; and verbal smoothness and deliberately polished behavior] He is a rough diamond, he has not much polish, he is a jewel in an indifferent casket. “No compromise!” was the watchword. “That is the ideal, and this has got to be carried out. If we meet the king, though we die, we must give him a bit of our minds; if the peasant, the same.” Naturally, we met with antagonism.

But, mind you, this is life’s experience; If you really want the good of others, [bring a lofty ideal into life, by living it] the whole universe may stand against you and cannot hurt you. It must crumble before your power of the Lord Himself in you, if you are sincere and really unselfish. And those boys were that. They were as children, pure and fresh from the hands of nature. Said our Master [Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa]: “I want to offer at the alter of the Lord, only those flowers that have not even been smelled, fruits that have not been touched with the fingers.”… People used to laugh at him [Guru Sri Ramakrishna] when he said, “You will see – this boy, that boy, what he becomes.” His faith was unalterable: “Mother showed it to me. I may be weak, but when She says this is so – She can never make mistakes – it must be so.” [Sri Ramakrishna could see and talk to Ma Kali, the mother of all worlds.]

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, the perfect bhakta, Jnani, yogi and devotee of Ma Kali

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, the perfect bhakta, Jnani, yogi and devotee of Ma Kali

[Amitabha Chatterjee: Swami-Vivekananda was an adept in meditation and a perfect karma-yogi, he was an incarnation of Nara Rishi, an emanation of Narayana, much revered in the Puranas. This fact was witnessed by Sri Ramakrishna, in his samadhi. What Swami-ji accomplished in a single short life span of 39 years, cannot be attained by a thousand men put together. The words inside brackets are mine, put there to clarify the subject. The name of the book from which the above is cited is: Swami Vivekananda, on himself, ISBN 81-7505280-5. ]

Vatuka Bhairava Stotram in English

Vatuka Bhairava Apaduddhara Stotram consists of 108 names of Bhairava (Wrathful form of Shiva), which confers blessings and delivers the practitioner from danger. Kavacha, or, Kavacham means amulet or, armor. These verses or, hymns constitute a mantra armor. Apada (trouble / danger) + Uddhara means release from danger. After protracted practice, anyone is miraculously rescued  by Bhairava, once these 108 names are invoked. Whoever recites them is delivered from diseases, the malefic effects of planets, the evil influences of ghosts, demons and black-magic. The harmful entities flee from the spot on hearing the powerful invocation of the names of Bhairava.

Shiva-Nataraja and consort Parvati in dance posture.

Shiva-Nataraja and consort Parvati in dance posture.

The seer or, Rishi (who first realized this mantra in his trance) of these mantras is Brihadaranyaka; the rhythm (chhanda) in which this mantra must be uttered is Anustupa. The god appeased here is Vatuka Bhairava ; the viniyoga or, application is siddhi (Attainment of something), well-being and success in life. The principal mantra for Vatuka Bhairava, with Shakti Bija (root syllable) is this:

Om Hreem Vatukaya Apad-uddharanaya kuru kuru Vatukaya Hreem

As in all Tantras, the presentation of Apaduddhara Stotra begins as a dialogue between the supreme being Shiva and his consort, goddess Parvati. Parvati asks Shiva to tell her the 108 names of Vatuk Bhairava, such that, pious devotees may find a way to get rid of all problems and sorrows in life and find happiness.

Bhairavo Bhuta-Nath-ascha Bhutatma Bhuta-Bhavanah,
Kshetradah kshetrapal-ascha Kshetragya Kshatriyo Virat.

Bhairava is Bhutanath (lord of all living things), Bhuta-atman (soul of all life-forms), Bhuta-bhavana (always contemplates on the welfare of living beings). He is the giver (Kshetra-da) of Kshetra (physical body/Prakriti with 3 gunas) & it’s guardian (Kshetra-pala), the holder of Kshetra-wisdom ( Yogic wisdom ), Kshatrya (warrior), Virata (all pervading, gigantic).

Smashan-vasi Mangsashi Kharparashi-r Makhanta-krit.
Raktapah Pranapah Siddhah Siddhidah Siddha-sevitah.

He, being a form of Shiva, resides in Charnel grounds or, lonely cremation grounds (smashana), he accepts offerings of flesh (mangsa), his bowl is a skull (kharpar). He is the ender (or, he completes Makha = yajna) (fire-sacrifice) (meaning, an auspicious Tantric ritual is incomplete without him.) (also, destroyer, like Veerbhadra destroyed Dakhsa Yajna, on Shiva’s order.) He drinks blood and Prana (Vital force) [Bhairava bestows superior vital energy as blessing, or, diminishes vital power as a curse]. He is a Siddha (Complete Adept/Accomplished) himself, and a Giver of Siddhis (Power over some aspect of nature), and is worshipped by other Siddhas.

Karaalah Kaala-shamanah Kala-kastha-tanuh Kavih.
TriNetra BahuNetra_scha tatha Pingala-Lochanah.
Shula-panih Khadga-panih Kankali Dhumra-Lochanah.

Bhairava is Karaala (Terrible), Kaala(Death)-Shamana (Yama, God of death) [he is the Death of death, Kills death], Kala-kastha(units of measurement of time)-Tanu (body) [He is the embodiment of Time], Kavi (Poet, also means, he can see beyond the limits of Time). He has 3 eyes (Tri-Netra), bahu-netra (many eyes), his eyes are Pingala (honey-yellow in color) [Lochana=Netra=eye]. The weapons in his hands are Shula(Spear/Trident), Khadga (Sword), Kankala(Skeleton or, may imply Vajra, made from the indestructible bones of sage Dadhichi). His eyes are also smoke-grey (Dhumra).

Abhirur Bhairavo Bheemo Bhutapo Yogini-pati.
Dhana-do Dhana-hari cha Dhanadah Pratibhava-van.

Bhairava is utterly fearless (Abhiru), gigantic and powerful (Bheema), He is the master of the 5 basic elements that constitute the universe(Pancha Bhuta ), He is the master of Yoginis. (master/Lord=Pati). He is the bestow-er of riches (Dhana-daata; dhana=riches), and also the Taker (He takes them away= Dhana-haari); He is Talented, a genius, the master of all ingenuity (Pratibha).

In case, you are wondering what the hyphens – and _underscores are for, here’s the explanation. I have used them to separate meaningful words in Sanskrit, so that the reader can clearly understand and pronounce them. Tri Netra (meaning, tri=three, netra=eye). Ascha & tatha are grammar parts that join sentences… they mean “and”, or, “also”. Tatha also means “there /likewise”. But for now, don’t worry about grammar. Stick to the meaning of the individual names of Bhairava. For, its only a list of 108 names, remember?

Naga-haro Naga-kesho Vyomkesha Kapala-bhrith.

Kaalah Kapala-mali cha Kamaniyo Kala-Nidhih.

meaning: Naga= snake, hara=garland, Kapala = skull, mala= garland, Kesha=hair. Sri Bhairava is described as wearing a garland of snakes around his neck. Snakes are slithering among his matted locks of hair. He shares the Name Vyomkesha with Shiva, which means that his hair covers the whole span of the sky. Shiva outspread his matted locks all over the sky to catch and bind the celestial river Ganga, as she descended from heaven.He holds a skull in his hand and a garland of skulls adorns his chest.


Kapala-bhrith (Bhairava carries Brahma’s skull like a bowl): Puranic story:

The skull in his hand is that of Brahma-deva, the creator of this universe. Brahma, the creator, became egoistic, and lied about finding the upper end of the pillar of divine light.  This endless pillar is eternal knowledge and Shiva himself. While Brahma was boasting of his superiority to Vishnu, who was humble and quiet (for Vishnu accepted that he failed to find the bottom of the Pillar, even after searching for thousands of years), Shiva came out of the pillar. Shiva looked at Brahma with disapproval and suddenly Bhairava emerged from his contorted brows. Shiva ordered Bhairava to chop off Brahma’s head for lying. As Brahma stood trembling with fear, Bhairava produced a divine sword and chopped off Brahma’s fifth head, which uttered the untruth. As Bhairava proceeded to cut-off all the remaining heads of the creator, Lord Vishnu requested Shiva to forgive Brahma. Shiva praised Vishnu for being humble, truthful and courageous and forbade Bhairava to kill Brahma. Shiva blessed Vishnu that all his 10 avatars will be worshiped on earth and Vishnu will be the protector of the Universe. And cursed Brahma that he will not be worshiped, in spite of being the creator.

Shakti’s skull and immortality

The skulls in his garland are those of goddess Shakti as Sati (Sati= Parvati’s previous incarnation) from all her previous births. Shakti left Shiva many times in the past, casting off her mortal body. Immortal Shiva collected her skulls & made a garland; and from her bones, he made a rosary. Shakti’s avatars, before Parvati were mortals. Shiva made Parvati perform astounding austerities and yoga, before accepting her as his consort. Parvati attained immortality and her yogic feats enabled her to emanate the various wrathful forms to slay demons (Durga, Ambika, Kali, Chandi, Chamunda, Kaushiki, Bhadrakali, etc.).

He is Kaala, time itself (also, Kaala= death). He is extremely beautiful & handsome. He is the god of all art-forms. All the classical music, Raga, Raginis, Dance postures have evolved from Lord Shiva.(Kala=art, nidhi=gem/treasure).

Tri-lochan-Ujjvala-netras Tri-shikhi cha Tri-loka-path.
Tri-britto-Nayano Dimbhah Shantah Shanta-jana-praiyah.

Tri= three, nayana=lochana=eye, Loka=world. shanta=peaceful, priya=favourite.
Bhairava has three large bright eyes. His hair is arranged in 3 matted locks (tri-shikha). He is the lord of the 3 worlds, he nurtures (Patha= who nurtures, maintains) and sustains them. He is the embodiment of Peace and loved by all those who have attained peace of mind. Dimbha= child, Vatuka also means small child.

Vatuko Vatukeshas cha khatvanga-vara-dharaka.
Bhutadhyakshah Pahupatir Bhikshukah Paricharakah.

He is called by all these names : Vatuka, Vatukesh, Bhutadhyaksha, Pashupati (lord of all animals), Bhikshuka and Paricharaka. He holds the Vara (blessing) gesture and the Khatvanga weapon in his hands. Now, Bhuta Preta= elemental lifeforms like Ghosts, made of subtler panchabhutas.


(Bhairava is the master of all animals ) Pashu literally means Animal. But those human beings who are not liberated, are also considered as Pashu (animals) in Tantra. Pash means bondage. Whoever is bound by ignorance is a Pashu, or, animal.
Bhairava wanders in this world taking the disguise of a beggar (Bhikshuka), with the skull of Brahmadeva as his begging bowl. Paricharaka = He who takes care of the distressed/ needy. So, Bhairava is both a beggar and the giver of alms in the form of riches, boons and knowledge.

Dhurtto digambarah shaurir-harinah pandu-lochanah.
Prashantah shantidah suddhah shankarah priyabandhavah

Dhurtto { धूर्त } = clever; cunning.
digambara= naked, Dik-Ambara, The directions(Dik) are his cover(ambar अम्बर )(= unclad);
Shauri { शौरि }=means Vishnu;
Harina { हरिण } = Shiva, Vishnu, Hamsa and white-colored;
Pandu-lochana= eyes are yellowish-white in color;
Pashanta= He who has attained total peace; Shanti= peace; Shanti-da = Peace-giver;
Shuddha= Pure;
shankarah priyabandhava= it may be interpreted like:
1) Dear friend of Shiva Shankara
2) He is Shankara (shiva) and Close-Friend of the devotee.
Pra-Shanta= He who has attained total peace;


Digambara (Dik + Ambara)= naked, unclad. Shiva is all-pervading, infinite, so the directions (Dik) are unable to envelop him like a cloth(Ambara). He is naked, as he is infinite.
shaurir-harinah= Divine like Shiva or, Vishnu.
Shanti-Da, Shanti-data= He who Grants or, Bestows peace.

Asta-murtir-Nidhisha-scha Gyan-chakshus Tamomayah.
Astadharah Kaladharah Sarpayukta Shashi-shikhah.

Asta=8, murti=form, Nidhi=Treasure, Isha=master/Lord, Gyan=knowledge, Chakshu=eye, Tamo=Tamo-guna, Adhar=support, Kala=Art, Sarpa=snake, yukta=with (snake), Shashi=moon, Shikha=Top of the head/Jata.

Vatuka / Batuk Bhairav appears in 8 forms and lends his support in 8 ways (I think, something about the 8 directions, 4 cardinals, 4 in-between), He is the Lord of all treasures and art. Although he appears in Tamasic forms(Like drinking wine, eating flesh, accepting animal sacrifices, wandering in cremation grounds, etc.), he is totally enlightened. He can see everything at all times, past, present and future. He like Shiva, has snakes around his neck and a crescent moon emits pleasant light from his matted Jata. (Diseases and fatigue of devotees disappear by meditating on this moon)

Bhu-dharo Bhudhar-adhisho, Bhupatir-Bhudhar-atmakah.
Kankaal-dhari Mundi cha Naag-Yajnopabita-vaan.

Bhu=Earth, Pati=lord, Kankaal=skeleton, Munda=head, Naag=snake,
Yajnopabita=Holy threads that Brahmins hang from their left shoulder. {NOTE:- But in the past Brahmins, as well as ksatriyas/kinsmen/warriors and Vaisyas/trader-clans used to take part in fire sacrifices ( All the first 3 of the 4 castes of ancient India. Only the Sudras were left out ). In the beginning of the sacrifice, after the initiation ceremony, they were given this threads to wear. Some sacrifices could take several days to complete.}

Vatuk Bhairav is the Lord of this world, this earth and this soil. He is also master over those who hold this world (like the King of snakes named Vasuki), or over those who rule earth. He wears ornaments made from bones and also garlands of human heads around his neck (Belonging to Brahma, Sati, etc. as explained earlier). His sacred-thread is made from a coil of snakes, instead of string. This snake symbolism signifies the mastery over Kundalini energy.


Jrimbhano Mohanah Stambhi Maranah Kshobhanas-tatha.
Shuddha Neelanjana Prakkho-deho Munda-Vibhushitah.

Jrimbhan=Yawning, inducing a sleepy state; Mohana=Hypnosis, Stamnhan=Stupefy/Paralyze, Marana=to kill, Kshobhan=to induce restlessness. These are actually weapons/Astra-vidyas. Ancient yogis going back to the Vedic era possessed these powers. In the Puranic era, and the era where Tantra prevailed, these were coveted and feared. Deva-Guru Vrihaspati’s brother paralyzed Indra’s hand, as the latter raised his Vajra to attack (Indra=Zeus, king of heaven)… through a fire ritual (Stambhan); Again, Arjuna single-handedly, put the whole Kaurava army to sleep by a weapon called Jrimbhakastra, in Virata- war.

Yogi Jalandhar Nath (Jalandhari Pa, guru of Kanipa Nath) was annoyed with some gods (who disagreed and displayed insubordination ) and put them under hypnosis (Mohana). When they came to their senses, they were hanging upside-down from trees, pleading for release! Yogi Gorakhnath induced unhappiness (Kshobhan) in the marital life of King Bhartrihari to pull him out of his household and royal pleasures. Bhartrihari became a great Nath yogi called Vichar Nath. He is also the author of Vairagya-Shataka (100 verses on Dispassion) & Vakyapadiya (an original work of Sanskrit grammar, at par with Panini’s sutras.). Sage Kapilmuni burnt to ashes with his gaze (Marana), 1000 princes of Sagara dynasty. On the hands of unselfish Yogis, these powers were always applied for some greater good. Like the Sagara king Bhagirath, who brought down river Ganga from heaven to deliver his burnt ancestors. So, in a way, Kapil Muni’s action was the cause and the descent of Ganga was the result.

All the above powers are granted to the proper devotee of Bhairava, who will not try to use them for evil ends. These are called Abhichara kriya or, Krura-Karma (Cruel deeds) in Tantra. A Tamasic meditation is suggested here. Vatuk Bhairava’s body is dark (blue black) like the purest Kajal/ Netra-Anjana (Prepared from Lamp-soot), he is decorated with a garland of human skulls.


Balibhuk balibhutatma kami kama-parakrama.
sarvapat-tarako durgo dusta-bhuta-nishevitah.

He accepts sacrifices(balibhuk=eater of sacrifices), Himself being the soul of all his sacrifices (bali bhutatma); he is the pinnacle of all desires of here and here-after. He is the destroyer of Kama (Shiva burnt Kama-deva, the god of desire, to ashes with a gaze from his third eye.)

He is difficult to reach (Durgo)(cannot easily be found), He is the Rescuer from all misfortunes and troubles ( sarva= all. Apada= trouble; Taraka = Rescuer, Saviour ).

He (puts down by force) curbs evil-spirits and withholds them. Bhairava is an emanation of Shiva. He was given the responsibility to protect & preserve Deva-sthana-s, especially shrines of Shiva and the 51 Shakti-Pithas that sprang up from the 51 body parts of mother goddess Sati. Lord Bhairava, who could cut off Brahma’s head, is a supremely powerful being. So, all malefic spirits meekly serve him for fear of destruction. Hence Bhairava is dusta-bhuta-nishevitah.

Kaalah Kalanidhi Kantah Kamini-Vashakridvashi.

Sarva-siddhi-prado Vaidyah Prabhavishnu Prabhavabaan.

He is Mahakala, Kala (the supreme destroyer, also means Time).

Kalanidhi = great artist, bestower of artistic talent. Shiva is the Poet of the Veda, Vedanta; The singer of Ragas; the supreme dancer of Tandava, he is also called Nataraja. The Nada or, primal sound flows from his Damaru (hand drum), Shiva taught Rishi Panini, the formulas (Shiva Sutra) of Sanskrit grammar with 14 beats of his drum. He didn’t have to utter a word! We find in Nandikeshwara Karika, the famous and poetically rich verse,

Nrityavasane Nataraja Rajo Ananda Dhakkam Navapancha-varam.
Uddhartu-kamah Sanakadi-siddhadin etad-vimarshe Shiva-sutra-Jalam.

Meaning: Shiva taught the four first-born sons of Brahma, who thirsted for eternal knowledge, in a silent manner. He is called as Dakshinamurti, who imparted silent knowledge to the Sanaka-adi (Sanak, Sanadana, Sanatana & Sanatkumara) siddha sages. As the Sanakadi Rishi-s witnessed Shiva’s Nataraja Nritya (dance), pure knowledge began to radiate like light from Shiva. At the end of the dance, Nataraja played his drum 9+5 = 14 times, to bless the sages, who were also his students. The Shiva Sutra-s of Panini’s grammar were hidden in those damaru beats. Later, Nandinath, (Shiva’s bull, his ride or, Vahana, also visualized as a liberated sage) who took note of all his teachings, imparted those grammar sutras to Panini. Elsewhere, it has been said that Shiva himself appeared to Panini, who was performing rigorous penance to appease the lord and played his drum 14 times. Strange complex hymn like sounds came out of the percussion instrument, and the formulas of Sanskrit language appeared out of the blue and dawned on Panini’s heart in samadhi. Thus Panini became a Rishi (seer of a mantra) and spread the new knowledge far and wide.

Kanta= extremely beautiful, handsome. All women desire a husband with similar qualities. His devotees get their desires for a suitable companion fulfilled.
Siddhi= success/ miraculous powers. He grants all siddhis; He cures all ailments (vaidya= doctor, Healer); He is supremely powerful (Prabhavishnu Prabhavabaan).

Astottara shatam nama Bhairavasya mahatmana.
Maya-te kathitang devi rahasyam sarva-kamadam.

Thus, O Goddess, I have spoken to you of the 108 names of the Supreme God Bhairava. These names are filled with secret powers which can accomplish anything.

After this verse, Shiva explains the benefits of practicing this Kavacham to some length. Later, he gives us the description of Vatuka Bhairava, for meditation.

Dadyath stotram-idam punyam sarva kama-phala-pradam,
Dhyanam vakshyami Devasya yatha dhyatva pathennarah.

By meditating on Bhairava, it is possible to achieve anything. Also vast merit (Punya, the opposite of sin) is acquired by doing so. Now, I will tell you the dhyana description, which a devotee must recite.

Shuddha sphatika sankasham sahasraAditya varchasam.
Astavaahum Trinayanam Chaturvaahum Dwivaahukam.

This is the Sattvic or, purest form of meditation. Contemplate on Bhairava, who is like a transparent crystal. He is radiant, as if, a thousand suns have illuminated the sky. He has three eyes. You may think of him with eight, four or, two hands.

Bhujanga-mekhalam Devam Agnivarna Shiroruham.
Digambaram Kumareesham Vatuk-akhyam Mahabalam.

This is the second purest visualization. It is Rajasic in nature. The supremely powerful god Bhairava is like a nude boy (the real meaning of Digambara has been explained above), who is wearing a thong of poisonous snakes around his waist. He is called Vatuka, as he has appeared in the form of a male child. His hair is reddish yellow like fire (usually in a top knot, or, matted locks).

Khatvangam-Asi-pasham-cha Shoolam-chaiva tatha punah.
Damarum-cha kapalam-cha Varadam Bhujagam tatha.

This verse is applicable to all forms of meditations, pure, semi-pure or, otherwise. This is a description of the weapons wielded by Vatuka Bhairava in his eight hands. Traditionally, they are counted from lower right hand of the deity upwards, ending in the lower left. Khatvaga (a long staff decorated with severed heads, ending in a club.), Asi (sword), Pash (noose, a rope made of raw energy that looks like lightning, used to ensnare the opponent.), Shoola (Trishula or, Trident, the ultimate destructive weapon. Usually Shiva and Durga weild it, to denote mastery over Triguna-s, Sattva, Rajas, Tamas.), Damaru (a hand held double drum, originally used by Shiva), Kapala (Skull bowl, probably from Brahma’s severed head), Vara-mudra (boon granting hand gesture), Bhujaga (king of snakes. The snakes slithering over shiva’s matted locks and neck are unique and have names and presiding domains.).

Each of the above is a terrible weapon that causes havoc and widespread destruction. They are capable of killing demons as well as gods, or, can cause great good.

Neel-Jeemuta-samkasham Neelanjana samaprabham.
Dangstra Karaala-vadanam nupur-angada samkulam.

This is the Tamasic form of meditation. It all depends on the mental make-up of the devotee. Any of meditation may be picked for practice, that harmonises with personal taste. Bhairava is blue-black in color that resembles the Jeemuta gem, (dark like the Kaajal Anjana applied on eyelashes). He provokes fear among the most horrendous of demons. He is extremely terrible in his wrathful form and bares his fangs. Vatuka Bhairava wears nupur, or, payal, which is a tiny belled anklet, put on both legs by dancers. Nupur emits a sweet tinkling sound when one walks. Angad is the Sanskrit name for bracelet or, armlet, hand ornaments adorning the arms of Vatuka.

Atmavarna samopeta sarameya samanvitam.
Dyatva japeth susam hrishtah sarvaan kaman-vapnuyat.

shivaa-bhoga, feeding the fox or, dog in Tantra

shivaa-bhoga, feeding the fox or, dog in Tantra

Vatuka Bhairava is the only other god, apart from Mahayogi Dattatreya, who is followed by a pack of dogs. According to the meditations given above, the dogs are either white, or, red or, black, matching the complexion of Bhairava himself. According to myths, Shiva has four dogs running around him. These are the four Veda-s in disguise. Also, in Tantra, the Goddess, or, her retinue come to the yogi in the form of a fox, or, dog, or, wolf. This animal is summonsed with proper mantras and they appear mysteriously and eat the yogi’s sacred offerings. They reveal secret events by omens for the benefit of the Tantra practitioner. This is called Shivaa-bhoga in Tantric terminology.

By reciting the above 108 names of Bhairava with devotion and contemplation, anything can be achieved in this world.

Originally translated from Apaduddhara Kalpa of Viswasara Tantra by Amitabha Chatterjee.

Kuladananda Brahmachari and Ajapa

Sri Kuladananda Brahmachari was one of the principal disciples of Sadguru (Guru who liberates his disciples from the cycle of birth and death) Sri Bijoykrishna Goswami. He achieved siddhi in Brahmacharya and devotion to the Guru. He is said to have revived a dead man once, by the power of faith in his master. He is remembered one century after his death for his great work, Sri Sri Sadguru Sanga, his day to day spiritual experiences with his master, recorded in his diaries. His samadhi/ tomb is in Puri, just opposite to the tomb of his master.
Kuladananda Brahmachari in Shiva dress, Neelkantha Vesh

Kuladananda Brahmachari in Shiva dress, Neelkantha Vesh

Here, Kuladananda-ji is shown in his usual Neelkantha Vesh (special attire, or, getup that resembles Shiva), as he ordered by his master. 108 Rudraksha beads are worn in a specific order, like x numbers in a garland, y numbers as ear-rings, z numbers in arm-lets, etc. Ash from his daily havan kunda was to be applied on the forehead, behind the neck, etc. Ash smearing was one of his daily rituals, as was hawan, yajna, nyasa parts of his sadhana. He had to remain celibate, physically and mentally. He also practiced Ajapa sadhana very seriously. He practiced pranayama, as taught by his Guruji Sri Bijoykrishna Goswami. Kuladananda Baba had the great fortune of meeting great sadhu, mahatma and sages like Sri Gambhirnath, the Mahasiddha Yogi of Gorakhpur, Baba Lokenath the godlike yogi of Baradi, Bangladesh, Mahatma Siddha Lengababa, Sri Ramdas Kathia Baba of Vrindavan, Baba Bholananda Giri (Bhola Giri) of Haridwar and many others and he received their blessings. These sages and his own Guru were like pillars of wisdom and spiritual power.
The lineage is considered important among the sadhus of India. Sri Kuladananda Brahmachari’s lineage is as follows:
(1) Sri Brahmananda Paramhamsa of Gyangunj, or, Siddhashram, situated in Tibet –> (2) Sri Bijoykrishna Goswami, who is famous all over West and East Bengal. He established his main Asram in Gendariya, Dhaka, Bangladesh –> (3) Sri Kuladananda Brahmachari.
AJAPA Practice ( a few words about his sadhana and ajapa breathing)
Ajapa means to recite the mantra with breathing, instead of using a rosary. This method is more effective than mala, or, rosary. This japa continues even when one is not consciously repeating the holy name, or, even if one is asleep, or, dreaming. God’s name gets bound with the breath and continues throughout one’s life uninterruptedly. Obviously, Kuladananda Brahmachari had to put great effort and practice for many years.

Tantra is Practical Yoga – part 1

Tantra is the practical side of Yoga Theory. Yoga, as found in scriptures like Patanjali’s Astanga Yoga Sutras, Shiva Samhita, Goraksha Samhita, Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati of Gorakhnath, Gheranda Samhita, Hathayoga Pradipika of Svatmaram, etc give us the ideas of what can be achieved by the performing Yoga, what is the philosophy of Yoga. Just like in Veda, there are 2 sides like the Samhita for mantras, fire-rituals and Upanishads for theoretical meanings. But the actual practical side of yoga is found among the Tantrik Yogis. The Lotuses, or, Chakras in the central channel (Sushumna), the various other channels (nadi-s), Kundalini energy, Kula and Akula points, Kama-Kala, these things have been extensively discussed in the Tantras. But this knowledge is lying scattered among many Tantra and Yoga scriptures. The Tantra-practitioners for ages were the prominent heads of Shiva (Shaiva, Nath, Siddha, Pashupata) schools (who were either householders or, recluse yogi monks), or, Shakti (Kalikula, Yamala, Kaula, Kapalika, Sri-kula) clans (who were mostly householder yogis). They held the secrets of the innermost esoteric yogic practices, which were only handed down from the Guru (master / adept yogi) to the chosen disciples. Often the Guru-s gave this secret only to their sons/daughters, to keep the family in a position of esteem and power. The students who received these verbal instructions were venerated and begged from for revelations by multitudes of Tantriks.

Gradually, due to slackness and ignorance, deformed practices began to creep in among the lineages. Tantra is supposed to be the art and science of living in direct communion with God. But as the path of tantra began to lead away from the highest ideal of spirituality, the sincere Yogi Masters felt the need to put down their knowledge into codified text, or, Tantrik scriptures, for fear of the original knowledge getting lost with time. The main form of Tantra is almost always, the Supreme Yogi Shiva answering the questions of the Mother Goddess Parvati. Devi Parvati asks the various intricate hidden secrets of Tantric lore, from many angles, the yoga behind it, the secret syllables, or, Bija Mantras, Nyasa-s for sanctifying the human body, Kavachas (armors) to bind and protect it from malefic forces. In this way numerous Tantras came into being, containing in them the esoteric lore of the masters, in the traditional form of Shiva-Parvati dialog.

Shiva Parvati Tantra origin

Shiva Parvati Tantra origin

The main purpose of Tantra is to weave spirituality with chores and activities of daily life. Tantra doesn’t command the yogi to throw away his needs and yearnings of mundane life and go to the forest alone as a recluse. On the contrary, Tantra understands the daily human needs and sympathizes with people with lesser control over their senses. Everyone has a right to ascend the spiritual ladder, but not everyone is destined to lead a monk’s life. Tantra is more inclusive than exclusive. It envelopes a very wide range of human traits and mental structures. Hence Tantra allows one to lead a normal life and slowly include the subtleties of yogic discipline into their lives, in stages.

It should also be noted that Tantrik Masters codified the secrets with multiple layers of meaning. It means a different thing for the Yogi of a higher level, and something else for a Beginner Yogi and something crude or, unintelligible for the layman. This was done intentionally to ward off onlookers and keep the delicate things hidden. The other purpose of writing Tantra in a cryptic language was to avoid persecution and abuse of the system by unbelievers. If you don’t understand something, you cannot pin-point a technique or, call it a profanation. Tantrik yogis were severely criticized in the past centuries and sometimes punished due to their creepy behavior, or, abhorrent practices. There are several scriptural verses supporting this secretive trend. There are other verses banning, prohibiting or, cursing some Tantrik texts that were considered “not so good”.


In modern times, all kinds of ritual worship of most gods/ deities in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism are performed by following the edicts of Tantrik discipline. Some Purana-s (Myths, Legends and ancient Hindu history) admit the efficacy and validity of Tantra. It is surprising to note that the earliest masters of Yoga were also the earliest originators of Tantra. (Like Shiva, Nandinath, Parashurama, Dattatreya, Matsyendranath/ Machchendra-Nath, Goraksha/ Gorakhnath, Rishi Durvasa, Rishi Vishwamitra, Rishi Agastya, Rishi-Vyasa, Adi-Shankaracharya, etc.) As the Shiva-Shakti structure of Tantra took hold of the Hindu world of spiritual practices, and as Tantra began to yield astounding results in a very little time, it began to be copied among other clans. In this way, five principal of deities of Hindu faith had their own Tantra scriptures. Thus we have Tantras for Shiva, Shakti, Sun, Ganesha and Vishnu. Tantras created around more than 2000 years ago are lost now. The oldest among the Hindu Tantras are Bhairava and Yogini Tantras. Many of the original Hindu Tantras have been copied verse by verse into Vajrayana Buddhist pantheon. Before that, during the later Vedic stages, the Tantras were called Prayoga Shastra-s, meaning Practical Scriptures.

To be continued.(30/09/2014)

Khechari Mudra of Hatha Yoga

The Khechari Mudra as described in various disciplines of Hatha Yoga, is one of the highest accomplishments of Yoga-Mudra sadhana stage. It bestows the practitioner yogi with super-human powers like complete freedom from disease, halting old-age(rejuvenation, anti-aging), remaining without food and water for months, even immortality!

The principle of Khechari was adopted by the Yogis from snakes going in hibernation for long periods of time. Other animals that naturally perform Khechari mudra for hibernation are: certain mountain bears, bats, frogs, etc. The ancient yogi-s improved upon this natural phenomenon and came up with Khechari Mudra Yoga. Such is my personal belief.

I’m quoting directly from the  Hatha Yoga Pradipika chapter 3. (translation from Sanskrit by Amitabha Chatterjee)

Verse 32: Kechari Mudra is done by inserting the tongue into the hole in the soft palate at the roof of the mouth, by turning it backward.

33. In order to be successful, the tongue must lengthened into a Lambika (such as the long tongue of Goddess Kali). Sometimes cutting the frenulum (a mucous membrane extending from the floor of the mouth to the midline of the underside of the tongue) is necessary. Else, pull or move your tongue around constantly. When it gets long enough, to reach the point between the eyebrows, then Kechari becomes possible.

36. The frenulum is cut 1/2 millimeter each day and the wound is sealed. In 6 months, the tongue becomes free & quite long. (Note: Dont eat food or drink that are too hot like chilli or too sour. This will make the tongue thicker and interfere with Khechari.)

38. A Yogi adept in Khechari, who turns his tongue upward in his seat (usually Siddhasana), is impervious to poisons, disease, ageing and death.

Khechari Mudra anatomy & science

Khechari Mudra Yoga

39. He overcomes disease, death, sleep, laziness, hunger, thirst, and fainting.

43. NECTAR: If a Yogi can drink the Juice of Soma (Moon) by meditating in Khechari mudra, surely he subdues Death within 15 days!

44. The Khechari expert cannot be killed even if bitten by the most poisonous snake; because his body is imbued with nectar.

45. Death cannot enter a body which is full of Nectar secreted from Soma (The triangular Moon mandala inside Sahasrara, the 1000 petalled Lotus)

48. The Juice of Immortality is secreted by the moon.

49. Taste the nectar with the tip of the tongue. The Ambrosia may be salty, bitter, sour, milky, or, like ghee(clarified butter) or, honey. Be free from disease, old age, be thou immortal and pull astral beings by the magnetic force.

50. The nectar falls from the Moon in the brain to the 8 petalled lotus near the heart. He who catches it by balancing Prana and doing Khechari and meditates on the source of all Power (Kundalini or Mahashakti or Almighty or whatever you call it!) becomes free from all physical ailments and lives a very long life.

Note: If you try it unguided (without the help of an experienced yogi) and block the internal nares and stop the oxygen flow, you may be unconscious or even suffer terminal damage. Please be patient, this is not a magic pill, it may take years to accomplish. A surgeon might assist you in getting the frenulum of tongue cut. But even then you must practice everyday by turning the tongue back, pushing the top palate, etc. Yogi Gorakhnath said that yoga without knowledge and knowledge without yoga are both useless… like a bird with a single wing. It cannot fly like that. So, you must combine spiritual wisdom, meditation on one higher power with your physical yoga in order to make it a success. Otherwise, you will only gain a blackout state like a long deep sleep out of Khechari. Yoga, after all, is not just a gymnastic exercise, its practical spirituality.

In this respect, I must mention the name of a modern adept of Khechari Mudra, who is famous as Sri Prahlaad Jani Baba. He has demonstrated many times in the presence of scientists and doctors the science of remaining alive without food and water for days. He stays in perfect health in spite of doing away with food.

Yogi Prahlad Jani, siddha in Khechari Mudra

Yogi Prahlad Jani, siddha in Khechari Mudra

Good luck.
~ written by:
Amitabha Chatterjee (disciple of Sri Dayal Baba and Sri Lalbaba)

This article may also be found in my other blog here.