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The death within

Murli Shukla – Merger into the Cosmic

Today 1.20.2020, marks an year, that my father, Shri Murli Mohan Shukla, passed away. Naturally it has been time for me to reflect.

While my philosophical bent of mind and yogic training has afforded me the luxury of remaining immune to bodily attachment, to cause sorrow for someone’s passing away.

I can say that while I had no sorrow for the inevitability of his death, but I do find myself feeling sad for my family members as well as those who are close to him, who were overtaken with emotions. I have spent time to reflect on what is it that causes a person to mourn and feel a sense of loss, when each person knows death is inevitable.

It is not that my father suffered from any long medical ailment or had a sudden death by accident, rather he was going to be 85 in a few months and he was  not bedridden, but for 2 days of hospitalization for pneumonia, is what he had to go through at the end.

One would have thought that as his worldly duties were long over and with his age one could have been better prepared to deal with the inevitability at some time, which was bound to happen.

The person who has gone, he is definitely not part of this physical world, but those who are close to him who are left behind are still in the same world.

On my reflection, I find that the death is not for the person who has passed away but it is for those who are left behind.
Typically human consciousness of the world has an element of the past interactions with someone, awareness of the present of that person and anticipation of future interactions with the same person.

When a person passes away, the only consciousness, of him from those left behind is that of the the past.  There is no consciousness possible of the present because that person has passed away. His body is not there. There is no possibility of any anticipation of future interactions.

So the death actually is within those who are left behind. Death of the consciousness in the mind space, which makes the awareness of the deceased person’s presence not possible, neither the  possibility of any future interactions and that is what causes the pain for those were attached.

So in reality it is the death within those who have been left bereft of the present awareness and future interactions  of the person who passed away, causing the death within.

How does one deal with this absence of a person, whose lack of presence and impossibility of future interactions, leave such a void?
The vacuum is essentially in the mind space and it is that vacuum which causes the sadness.

We know that nature abhors a vacuum and so to fill it, events, people, activities etc, tend to take over the vacuum space if one allows it to be.
However the sense of vacuum, which one experiences, affords us an indulgence to the ‘rasa of karuna’, emotions of sorrow. One of the nine ‘rasa’, emotions to experience as per Indian philosophy.

In a world, where most people are constantly chasing gratification of senses, of ego pandering, possibly rare are the opportunities for one to experience and continue to stay in sorrow.

Each person who chooses to be in sorrow on the demise of a near one, should be allowed to experience it fully, but sorrow being a negative emotion and like all negative things, when over indulged,  sucks one in a whirlpool. Thus it is incumbent on the grieving person to take hold of the sorrow emotion and allow the vacuum be filled with their choice of events, activities, people etc.

The choice is of the grieving individual concerned, whether to put life back into the void or continue savouring the ‘karuna rasa’ and allow to continue the death within.

Pitaaji, Ma and I -May 2016 at Hairakhand Kailash

Clarity on tantra

I have been asked the following question consistently by westerners.
“In the west Tantra is viewed as some kind of exotic erotic engagement between a couple and also exotic erotic massages. But what is the actual understanding in India?”

I am aware that tantra in the west is associated with exotic errotic form of engagement and massages.
Just as yoga has become a much distorted version of itself, outside India, similarly the understanding of tantra is also highly distorted.

Tantra is a practice of strict discipline, with an objective to expansion of consciousness.
It has two approaches, a right path and a left path.

The right path of tantra is the more popular form and is practiced in most households in India, as puja done at their home altars.
It involves engaging the senses through various offerings to a chosen deity. Oil or ghee lamp, incense, water, food, ringing of bell and blowing of conch, being part and parcel of the connect with the deity.
Mantra chanting and other ceremonies are part of this process too.

Then there are multifarious practices under Kundalini yoga, from meditation on chakras to other yogic practices, aimed at self realisation through facilitating ascent of Kundalini (the coiled up spiritual potential) to merge with supreme consciousness. These are also called Tantra.

In the left path of tantra, there is varying levels of engagement between a couple, at satvik, rajisk or tamsik way, under a guru’s advice.

A guru to emphasize is not just someone who has mastered a yogic technique or tantra technique, but who has seen the culmination of his practices and reached the highest consciousness.

For this only those people are selected by the guru, who have undergone strict discipline and have full control of their senses and conquered the lust within.

The beautiful idea behind it is that instead of worshipping a statue of a deity, a couple can worship each other as Shiv and Shakti manifest and invoke the Shiv and Shakti in each other.

If there is a sexual engagement in the couple, it is not sexual activity as commonly known, but a motionless coitus, resulting from each participant offering totally of themselves to the other, taking such an engagement as means to remain in a meditative state and become one with the invoked highest consciousness.

The confusion of mistaking this intense strict discipline spiritual practice to some exotic erotic engagement/ massage, stems from presuming Kama Sutra or Kama Shastra instructions to be one and sane as tantra.

Kama Sutra / Shastra is considered a scripture and its author venerated as a rishi. Rishi Vatsyayan. It is essentially a manual for householders and to be householders. Some of its verses recited as part of a Hindu Vedic wedding ceremony as well.

Kama Sutra/ Shastra deals with art of dating, courtship, marital responsibilities as well as love making techniques. Rishi Vatsyayan did a lot of research, travelling across various lands and much interactions with a great cross section of people to present this work.
It is difficult to say whether the famous sculptures on the temples of India, in love making poses, were inspired by Kama Sutra / Shastra or vice versa.

Thus there is no correlation between the various exotic erotic engagement/ massages, which are essentially a take off from Kama Sutra/ Shastra and Tantra.

While the right path of Tantra can be fairly easily accessible to the seekers from long time practitioners or priests , the left path remains well hidden and rightfully so, as it would be surely dangerous to reveal it to those lacking the training and practice of arduous discipline, needed to be prepared for it and that too under the direct guidance of the master in the left path.


I have been asked this question many times and recently in FB group, Satsang Shukl’acharya , I was asked -“how do you know you have reached or found your guru ?? Do you meet many gurus on your life’s path at different stages each teaching you something or taking you a step forward or guru is only one ? How do you recognise him or her”

The question is how do you know you’ve reached or found your guru . This is followed by another question, do you meet many guru’s on your life’s path at different stages or is there a single guru and how do you recognize him or her.

Before I answer this, and I can answer this right away, but then this needs explanation to the question, how do you know if you have reached or found your guru?

The answer is – the one, who is able to answer your queries show you the path and guide you. So, are there many gurus on the path? No, there is only one guru. There can be many people guiding you to the guru, or being teachers of various life skills, but there is only one spiritual Guru in your life.

How do you recognize him or her? You recognize the guru by not only the ability of him/her to draw you towards him, he or she will also be the one who has the ability to inspire you to surrender to him or her.

However this above requires a larger explanation, the one just given is too simple an explanation. Without understanding the background it would make no sense, or limited or misleading sense. The first thing is to know is, who is a guru? A guru is one to whom you are drawn. For each person his guru is the one to whom he is drawn. If one’s mind space is dominantly occupied by a guru, that person is your guru. So now you can understand in the following analogy – For a child a five-year-old child you give him money and tell him to go to the market what would he do? He is drawn to chocolates, he will go to a chocolate shop and buy chocolates or cake and be happy spending the money there. So the chocolate seller is the guru or draw for him. A 10-year-old boy has money and you send him to the market, he will be drawn possibility to comics or some toys maybe and he will spend money on that. His drawing is to the comics or toys. Now coming to an older boy, a 15-year-old boy who has money and gone to the market, he’ll possibly be buying clothes, burgers or possibly something for a friend, girl or boy as the case may be, and that would be the draw for him. Does it mean that the chocolate of the comics or the clothes are the guru or that the one who is providing them is the guru? No, just because you are drawn to something does not mean that is the guru. What it means is that, that is the level you are in at a time and that you are drawn to something at that time.

If you are at a level where worldly charms of popularity and huge wealth attract you, sure enough you will find yourself chasing saintly figures, who enjoy, popularity and wealth.

Here we are talking about the word guru in a spiritual sense, or one who can give a reply and address your calling for higher consciousness and the pull of your soul. There is only one guru for each person that can do that.

The analogy that shows that is –
If someone is on the top of the hill and he can see someone who is climbing the hill and he from the top can direct you, he can see the various paths around and which path is a suitable path for you, he can advise you, turn this way, come this way. Or he can even go down a little bit in order to say come this way, walk a little across the hill and then come up, that will be suitable for you, that’s the path which is easier for you. Because there are many paths, but before even one thinks of approaching a guru, there is the question of whether one has the receptivity and the humility which is required to be in front of a guru. unless the receptivity and the humility is there the guru can be right in front of you but will not manifest. He will not draw you towards him because you do not have the receptivity and the humility to face the guru or to be guided by him. Only when in the same hill analogy, when the guru sees someone looking for guidance will he come forward. If he sees you are playing around the hill, running around the bushes, jumping off the trees on the hill, he will not be interested in guiding you.

Now, that being addressed comes the other point of how do you develop this receptivity and humility? This comes from the right kind of work, the right kind of service, doing whatever kriya has to be done. How does one know about it? It comes from wisdom. Unless one has wisdom, one does not know the right approach or how to develop the receptivity.

How does wisdom come? Wisdom comes from satsang – to participate, to listen to, to respond and actively participate in a conversation interaction on the subject of higher consciousness. Having the wisdom, humility and receptivity, and when you have that gasping like urge for breathing, when the urge is strong enough as that when you cannot breath, like you need oxygen to breath and you are struggling or gasping for oxygen, when that is the strength of the urge that you have for the pull to higher consciousness, that is when you will see the guru and be able to work towards reaching the guru and are drawn towards your guru.

How do you recognize your guru? He is one, firstly who can draw you. When you are in a stage of receptivity and humility, then you are drawn to the guru. Not like a five year old child running to a chocolate shop, but when you are not running after, here and there, but higher consciousness is the only thing which is the draw, then that guru who is drawing you towards them is your guru and you know you have reached him when he is able to satisfy your queries with answers, whether spoken or unspoken.

There has been a popular concept or stereotype for many years now, that a guru has to be somehow cut away from the world, living like a celibate or monk, something along those lines, in order for people be drawn to him as a guru.

I would like to state that such is not the case. In fact when seeking guidance, it is preferable if the person giving the guidance is living, and has lived an active world life with an active married life as well. Because such a person can see and relate to the issues you will have in a worldly life. To be at higher consciousness does not mean you should be cut off from the world or family life. This has been demonstrated time and again.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna showed Arjun how to gain his spiritual progress through warfare, in the middle of the battlefield Arjun was instructed to carry on with the battle. And that became the place for Arjun to carry out his spiritual path through karma yoga, as advised by Krishna. Arjun was shown how he could dispassionately fight and reach the level of higher consciousness through karma yog

There may be saintly people who are popular and famous, who appear frequently on television and functions or gatherings and have mass followings through vast exposure. Will that make them the right guru for someone? The answer is, it depends on whether the person who is looking for higher consciousness is satisfied with going to a group program, as in organized religion for example and wants to participate in a general program intended for everyone. That is a choice. Organized religion and the one coat fits all, methods have not been conducive to spiritual advancement. .One can go to someone who is popular or not popular. The direct method for spiritual advancement is that in which one seeks a guru that can give him or her the individual guidance up the hill that is necessary to reach the top, the right and easy approach as seen by the guru.

Unless you have picked up your daughter at a bus stop from her school, or a railway station when she’s coming back after a trip, in the heat of summer, at a busy station, and have felt the anxiety that may be there, how would you empathize or understand or be able to help someone cope with that anxiety. It’s important that the person you are seeking higher consciousness from is aware and can guide you through similar understanding. Unless someone is on the hill you are walking up on how would he be able to guide you there?

I remember a time many years ago, a man from a nearby town came, he was twenty five years of age and he had been learning, and going to camps, watching on television from a popular tv guru who would teach camps on yogic krias. This young man, having followed those krias and postures, had come to a state where he found that it would not be possible for him to consummate his marriage because he felt that somewhere in the process he had lost the ability to perform sexually.
I asked him what he had done, exactly. He explained to me those kriyas, and this particular tv guru is a celibate monk, and the monk did not take into consideration, that certain things would be ill advised for a man who wanted to get into a matrimonial alliance. And so that follower was in a particular state, unlike a medicine that can be taken and the effects of it can be go away after a time, some of the kriyas have effects that cannot be reversed easily, it takes a long time for that to happen, or it may not reverse.

Another man, a senior govt officer, had come to me, who too was following kriyas from a tv show. He had difficulty retaining any food. I asked him to stop some of such kriyas, which he was religiously doing. That corrected it.

Another man, a dermatologist, in his fifties who was diligently practicing kriyas as learnt in a popular group, found suffering from pain in his body. When he demonstrated the kriya he was doing in that group, I made him realise, how inappropriate that kriya was for him and how he had to modify his practice.

Thus, if you were to go to a guru, who is not on the same hill you intend on going up, be prepared then to walk to a different hill. If you want to go up the hill of being a worldly man, with family, then go to that hill on which a man from a worldly background and experience is sitting on top.

Shiv auspiciousness

Shiv means auspiciousness.

Unkempt, smeared with ash from funeral pyres, having poisonous snakes crawling on body, scorpions as ear rings, walking alone in deserted lonely forests n mountains, ghosts n wild animals as company, but still epitomizes auspiciousness and is lord of all three worlds, because Parvati desired Him as Her husband n wed Him.

Oh there is no end to Maiyya’s glories. A mere sweet glance of Hers can make one surrounded by inauspicuosness , into Mahadeva, god of god’s n Shiv, auspiciousness Himself.
Bhagwan is but a creation of bhakths.
God is but a creation of devotees.

God exists because of devotees only.
When a devotee goes, or devotion goes, then so does God.
Har har Parvati.

Freedom From Fear

Shukl’acharya your guide to ancient yoga, vedic philosophy, tantra, recognized and counted amongst the top spiritual leaders in contemporary India, addressed Boulderites on Sunday 4th December at Arapahoe Room, Main Boulder Library from 4:30 to 6 pm.

Here is the YouTube link

The topic was how to gain freedom from fear. To know, recognize, accept our fears – be it fear of concerns regarding healthcare, terror attacks, job loss or loss of a relationship- and gain freedom from such fears.

Yoga defined and origin

Yoga defined and origin

Q.1) What is the definition of yoga?

Before I state my definition of yoga, I would like readers to know that there are two authoritative definitions of yoga in public domain.
One from Maharishi’s Paatanjali’ Yoga sutra and another from Shree Krishna in Bhagwad Geeta.

The philosophically rich one from Maharishi  Paatanjali defines yoga as that state, where the consciousness overcomes its inherent tendency to project manifestations.
In these few words the entire secret or mechanism of the creation is brought forth.
That the creation with all its distinctions and multitude manifestations springs from the one single indivisible consciousness, through its tendency  to experience its creation.
That there are no two, leave multiple entities, but just one entity in this cosmos.
That what we see as so many creatures are but one consciousness experiencing its own creation through all the creatures it created.

Thus when consciousness stops its tendency to ‘play’ the world, then being one with itself and undeluded, it achieves yoga.

The matter of factly  definition of yoga from Shree Krishna, states (verse 48 of chapter two Bhagwad Geeta) The state of equanimity, unperturbed in success and failure and opposites, is called yoga.

By this definition a yogi is one who remains even minded in the various swings of life and is equally at peace in a busy market as in a solitary place.

I accept both the above definitions as conveying the same and to be a true definition of yoga. I would further elaborate that yoga is but being one with one’s reality. The reality beyond what is perceived through the senses. The reality experienced, which is beyond the cognition of mind. To be in that state while living in the world is called being established in yoga.

There may be various processes, techniques employed by different aspirants based on their temperament and the practitioners of such techniques are also referred as yogis. For example the man who is trying to control the restless of his mind and preparing for meditation and is doing yogasana is also called a yogi. Just as a man pursuing spiritual knowledge or path of devotion or service is also called yogi. This is as they all are working to reach the same state. That of yoga.

Q.2) How do you trace the origin of yoga?

Shree Krishna mentions in the 4th chapter of Bhagwad Geeta that He had Himself given this knowledge to Sun god and when the chain of knowledge got disturbed over time, He conveyed the same to Arjuna during the course of Bhagwad Geeta.

As far as the tracing the origin of the now hugely popular yogasnas, then that is traced to Lord Shiva. Once finding Shiva alone at a deserted island, His wife Parvati asked Him, as the material influences are increasing and people’s minds being restless find it difficult to concentrate, how would they meditate?  So wouldn’t the path of yoga through meditation disappear ?

Lord Shiva then mentioned that how bodily postures and techniques can be used to overcome the restlessness of the mind and this knowledge of hatha yoga would come to aid of those who otherwise would find it difficult to still their mind to meditate.

A fish near the shore heard this dialogue and by its power transformed instantly to a yogi and was called Matsyendranath by Lord Shiva.

Matysedranath after perfecting all the yogic techniques and becoming the master, asked Lord Shiva for a disciple who can promote this hatha yoga. Lord Shiva said that as there is no worthy recipient for this work, He Himself would materialize as the disciple of Matsyendranath. Accordingly in due course from sacred ash given by Lord Shiva to Matsyendranath, a boy called Gorakshanath materialized. He was thus named as he was in the protection of cows in a cow shed till early childhood.

Together these great masters Matsyendranath and Guru Goarakshanath made 7 more great masters from ordinary mortals and they all set up a chain of yogis and the same continues till now.

Shukl’acharya, is the founder of Shuklacharya’s Retreat & Spiritual Centre in Bhimtal Uttarakhand Indian Himalayas. Now with about 40 years of yogic pursuits,  Shuklacharya- has been a guide to many westerners in ancient yoga and vedic philosophy, He was recognized and honoured at Guru Sangamam in April 2012’  amongst the 108 spiritual leaders in contemporary India.

Alert message to yoga seekers

Yoga is not meant as an exercise or group activity done in mass, or for body sculpting or to be competitive.  In fact it is the opposite of competition. The word for competition in Sanskrit is ‘pratiyoga’, opposite of yoga.

It’s Indian origins proposed it  as a method to quiet the mind and body to prepare one for meditation, to enhance ones spiritual progress and understanding of one’s higher self.

While it is true that it benefits a person taking even a limited take, eg. yogasana and can make a significant difference in quality of life, this process can only be achieved on an  individual basis. Though, it may be done in a classroom setting, each person has to work their own practice,  taking into consideration a persons specific body type, temperament, diet,  position in life, age,  environment, lifestyle etc.

Specific techniques are taught by a teacher who understands these things on a comprehensive level. It is done in alignment with one’s nature and to achieve a balance that promotes health and well being to open the person who practices to higher levels of consciousness.

It reaches far beyond a series of random asanas to a general audience and should be taken only under the direct guidance of one who understands what importance each step has in a person’s development.

Yogic techniques literally manipulate the pranic energy of its practitioner. It is dangerous to be practiced as an exercise, without understanding the impact it has on us. The purpose of yogic techniques is to increase our equipoise and establish us in equanimity. While some postures and techniques can help in that, provided they are modified to the individual, many can actually harm, without the individual even knowing so.

Unless a teacher knows which posture to choose for the student, modify it to that person, set the frequency / duration, the focus point and associated mantra, the student is playing with fire.

This has been Shukl’acharya’s  unwavering message and what he has taught to those who seek the true meaning of yoga.

Ceremony for a yogashala in Arvada Denver Sandalwood and Red dot blessing by Shukl’acharya for kids   Sandalwood and Red dot blessing by Shukl’acharya for yoga community greater Denver area Guru honouring mantra by Shukl’acharya Ganesh and divine mother mantra by Shukl’acharya A brief history of hatha yoga beginning by Shukl’acharya Aum namaha shivai mantra chanting  by Shukl’acharya

Bhakti concept

Welcome to Bhakti yoga


The various spiritual endeavours of a being, can be broadly classified  as :

Dhyan (Raja) Yoga

Gyan (Knowledge) Yoga

Bhakti ( Devotion) Yoga

Karma (Work) Yoga

Bhakti Yoga – This is not going to be just my interpretation but what is the undisputable knowledge about bhakti concept.

Those of us who are inclined to pursue devotion as our spiritual path, first of all need to figure out our object of devotion.

Is it the formless, abstract, undefinable supreme consciousness, or the divine who has a form and name? The former is very tough and long path while the latter has been successfully pursued for ages by many.

In India there is no dearth of choices. 330 million deities to choose from!! And one is always welcome to add new personal choices! From earlier ages or even a contemporary living deity!!

Normally a guru would advise an aspirant to pursue devotion to that deity, to whom the aspirant is in tune, temperamentally. Or a deity whose attributes would have a spiritually advancing effect on the aspirant.

Like all light bulbs are connected to the one single electricity source, all deities are one with the supreme consciousness. For the human mind’s limited understanding to come to terms with the formless, attribute less, divine, this approach of choice of deities has been presented.  A devotee is at liberty and in fact encouraged to place his chosen deity on the highest pedestal amongst other deities.

Having chosen the deity, or more likely the deity pulled the aspirant towards itself, comes the next step.

A deity lives in a name, a form, an abode and leela (stories of deity’s deeds). The devotee has to understand which of the deity’s names, he can choose and repeat as mantra. He has to further visualize the form, from the description of the deity. He can make efforts of visiting the deity’s abode. He has to read, listen and share with interested fellow devotees, of the deity’s leela.

Now comes the next step. finding a relationship with the deity. There is lot of choice here. Some common ones are that of a child to parents, or vice versa, a sibling, a friend, a spouse, a partner, a lover or  an extra marital lover, a servant, or an enemy.

The purpose being, any relationship which can help, draw out the strongest emotions in the devotee. This need not necessarily be disclosed to anyone. There is no competition in bhakti. The deity is capable of having exclusive all fulfilling relationships with each devotee. Thus there is no need for any jealousy.

The stronger the bhaav (attitude, feelings) of a devotee, the greater would be his progress. The bhaav is always reciprocated by the chosen deity. Whether a deity from ancient times or a contemporary living deity, there are umpteen stories of how out of nowhere the deity manifests to help, be with or interact with the devotee, on a strong bhaav from devotee.

Towards developing this bhaav, the following, known as Navadda bhakti (nine techniques are employed)

1). Hearing about God (Shravana)

2). Chanting His Name and Glory (Kirtana)

3). Remembering Him (Smarana)

4). Serving His Lotus Feet (Pada Sevana)

5). Worshipping Him as per the Scriptures (Archana)

6). Prostrating before Him (Vandana)

7). Being His Servant (Dasya)

8). Befriending Him (Sakhya)

9). Offering Oneself to Him (Atma Nivedana)

Now interestingly, unlike raja, gyan or karma yoga, liberation is not the goal in bhakti yoga. Instead of dissolving one’s ego totally and submerging in the supreme consciousness, the devotee wishes to hold on the separation between himself and the deity, so that he can continue to enjoy the bliss of devotion to his deity.

There are four final stages in bhakti yoga.

Sayujya – when the devotee submerges in the deity.

Sarupya – when devotee gets the form of the divine.

Samipya –when the devotee gets to be in proximity to the deity.

Salokya – when the devotee gets to be in the same abode that of the deity.

Of these, the Sayujya one, devotees do not aspire for, as they compare even liberation to worse than hell. This is as they cannot and don’t ever want a state where they cannot enjoy their deity and remain devoted to the deity.

Now for one to have sessions with others in Bhakti yoga, one has to be sure that the others have the same deity as oneself and chant the same deity’s names / mantra. Listen to that deity’s leela and keep the same deity’s image in front of them.

Then their devotion would grow.

No mix and match should be done, as that would dilute the bhaav and even raise  doubts of his own deity’s greatness in devotee’s mind.

In advanced stages of bhakti yoga, the devotee starts seeing the same deity in all deities and others too. At that time, all names and forms are to the devotee, of his deity only. Initially it is strongly advised to hold on to one single deity and one mantra.