By Roozbeh Gazdar
Life mission, near vadodara, is a flourishing spiritual organisation committed to promoting a global spiritual resurgence as commanded by lord lakulish, 28th avatar of shiva. uniquely, the organisation believes that liberation is through the attainment of the divine body. Here, a sketch of the organisation and an exclusive interview with its present head, swami rajarshi muni.
The scorching, dry, May gust was like the blast from a furnace. We were perpetually chasing the shimmering mirages that appeared on the baking asphalt, only to vaporise into thin air as our jeep sped upon them. There were hardly any trees—a distinctive feature of this water-starved Saurashtra region of Gujarat, and the flat, scrub dotted landscape was desolate, if strangely alluring.
Hours later, we arrived at Jakhan village, near Limbdi, in Surendranagar district. Here, 50 acres of land is being developed for the establishment of‘Rajrajeshwardham’, the international headquarters of Lakulish International Fellowship’s Enlightenment (LIFE) Mission. Water has already transformed this land, a donation from the local community, into a life-attracting oasis. As freshly watered young trees swayed in the breeze, squirrels gamboled about, doves gurgled and an egret fussed about in a puddle.
Under the busy hands of skilled sculptors, an impressive ‘trimurti’ complex of three temples, one each devoted to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, is fast taking shape. Closely supervised by a Sompura, temple builder, all rules governing temple building have been stringently followed. Thus, no iron has been used, even for reinforcement; instead, different sections ‘the male and female components’, have been individually carved, designed to fit snugly into each other to ensure a strong edifice in this earthquake prone region.
Craftsmen from Orissa have just finished carving the 50 stone apsaras to support the massive roof of the temple. In keeping with scriptural prescriptions, a massive bathing tank has been excavated. ‘Sudha Sarovar’, which will have separate sections for men and women, is fed with water from the Bhogavo river, an undertaking that will also improve water supply in the region. In the pipeline are a yoga institute, high school, charitable hospital, technical school, vocational training centre, library, gardens and fountains, besides accommodation facilities for visitors.
Aimed at mankind’s spiritual emancipation, this ambitious project, is, infact, the fulfillment of a divine commandment received by Swami Kripalvanand from Lord Lakulish, the 28th Avatar of Lord Shiva. Lakulish, who preached the Sanatan Dharma about 5,000 years ago, has, I am informed, reappeared on earth for the re-institution of this divine knowledge in our age.
It started in 1913, when Swami Pranavanand was initiated by Lord Lakulish in the Divine Yoga. Practising in seclusion, he became a highly attained yogi, conquering hunger and thirst. In 1931, he initiated Swami Kripalvanand, who immersed himself in sadhana for almost 40 years.
In 1956, Lord Lakulish appeared before Kripalvanand, commanding him to work for a global renaissance of Indian philosophy and spiritual culture. After him, this task fell upon his disciple, Swami Rajarshi Muni, the present head of the Lakulish spiritual lineage. Life Mission is the outcome of his commitment to the execution of Lakulish’s wish.
Currently based in Kayavarohan, near Vadodara, Life Mission boasts an outstanding record of service in the social, cultural and spiritual spheres. Through the Lakulish Institute of Yoga, thousands of students over the world have been trained in this discipline. Awards won by them in yoga competitions worldwide, including the recent Yoga Olympics at Argentina, testify to the level of excellence of the teaching. R.J. Jadeja, who heads the Lakulish Institiute of Yoga, explains its role in popularising yoga. “Through our camps held all over the country, we aim to make the immense benefits of yoga available to all. Besides, our efforts have helped to bring academic recognition to Yoga and also pioneered its inclusion among competitive sports. Besides, it is the only institute of its kind that conducts its activities almost completely free of cost”, he says.
At a typical residential workshop at Kayavarohan, students learn asanas and pranayam techniques. Evaluated at the end of the workshop, they return for progressively advanced seminars. At the successful completion of each level, a certificate is awarded.
Besides the yoga workshops, Life Mission has also established more than 17,000 culture centres to promote spiritual values worldwide.
Yogesh Shah was a disciple of Kripalvanand since his childhood days in Malav. Today, a successful businessman settled in Mumbai, he feels graced to be involved with Life Mission. “Working for the spread of spiritual values and universal brotherhood gives me peace and is satisfying. Truly, it is my life and whatever I do for it still doesn’t seem enough,” he says.
Spiritually, an important belief of the spiritual lineage of Lakulish is the concept of the divya deha, divine body. Considered the highest attainment of yoga sadhana, it confers upon the sadhak, immortality and eternal freedom from the cycle of life and death. The path to its attainment is encapsulated in the secret yoga, handed down by Lakulish himself, to be passed down from guru to student.
In an exclusive interview, Swami Rajarshi Muni talked about Life Mission, yoga and the divine body. Excerpts:
Can you tell us something about Life Mission?
The task of enabling a rebirth of Bhartiya sanskriti was given to my Guru, Kripalvanand, who initiated this work, but died before it was completed. As social transformation on this scale is not easy to effect, initially I continued to concentrate on my own sadhana in seclusion. However, when I myself received the darshan of Lakulish commanding me to continue the work, I got more involved. Life Mission was started as a means to fulfill this task.
We work on two fronts. Firstly, by propagating our spiritual culture the world over. This is achieved through our various Sanskar kendras, being opened all over the country and abroad.
Secondly, we concentrate on seva and public welfare, by providing drinking water, education and professional training, medical services, etc. We are supported by local communities, and not just Hindus, but even Christians and Muslims are actively involved in our movement.
Spiritually, what is the major aspect of the Lakulish lineage all about?
The most important spiritual aspect of the Lakulish spiritual lineage is the attainment of the ‘divine body’. You can find scriptural reference to this in a shloka from the Shvetashvatar Upanishad, which says: “One who has attained a body baked in the fire of yoga is free from disease and death.” It means here that the body gains immortality. This is true freedom from the cycle of life and death, not liberation as a state after death.
If ‘moksh’ means liberation from rebirth and death, then you are only liberated if you do not die! Only through the attainment of the divine body are you truly liberated from the constraints of time and space with the power to assume any form, anywhere in existence.
Has anybody managed to attain this Divine body yet?
(Laughs) Several people have attained the ‘divine body’. Sant Kabir, who took samadhi by covering himself with a cloth, was assumed dead by his disciples. However, when they opened the shroud there was no body, just a pile of flowers! Similarly, Meerabai’s mortal remains were never recovered; she left behind only some articles of clothing.
Sant Dnyaneshwar took samadhi in an underground cave, which was sealed. 250 years later, on hearing voices inside, people opened it, only to see the Dnyaneshwar still meditating inside. He asked them to cut off the roots of a nearby tree that were choking him. These are only few instances of the immortality of the divine body.
Another point. Old age is the degeneration of the body, which takes over when active growth stops. As part of the process of attainment of the divine body, a reversal of ageing takes place. This is why Dnyaneshwar is popularly believed to have composed his Dnyaneshwari at the age of 15 years. The whole point has been missed here, because, due to the reversal of ageing, he only resembled a youth without facial hair and other signs of age.
(He refers to his book Divine Body through Yoga, available in Gujarati and Hindi, where various spiritual personalities from different religions who have attained this state are mentioned.)
We have always considered the body to be impermanent and unimportant, while it is the soul that remains eternal.
What is the soul? The atman is only a smaller spark of the Paramatman, the universal soul. This Paramatman cannot be extinguished, though individual sparks may cease to be.
The normal body, as we all know, is composed of the five elements, tatvas. Through yoga, it is possible to combine and fuse these together to form energy—Shakti Tatva.
As the universe was created from energy, so, to go back, we need to transcend to this energy, called Ishwar Tatva, or Paramatman, which never dies. This energy can assume any and as many forms as it desires.
However, this is beyond human language and understanding. Being impossible to understood without experience, the scriptures described it as “Neti! Neti! Neti!”
How can one attain a divine body?
This state is the result of intense yoga sadhana. Call it, karma yoga, gyan yoga or bhakti yoga, all these teach the way to God. The word ‘yoga’ stands for ‘unison’—of the individual soul with the cosmic soul.’ It is not without reason therefore, that each chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is also called yoga.
Yoga teaches us that whatever we are—is also the universe. The cell is the smallest unit of our bodies and each cell has a nucleus. All the stars of our cosmos are like the nuclei of our cells. Therefore yoga instructs us to know the body in order to understand the universe.
Science may teach otherwise, but in reality we have three bodies. The gross body of flesh and bone is the outer third layer, besides we have the subtle and causal bodies.
While in our waking state, our oneness is with the gross body. However while dreaming in sleep, our consciousness is one with the subtle body. The third phase, that of dreamless sleep is the causal state when consciousness is completely withdrawn. Yoga teaches that even the universe has three bodies. Our state of consciousness connects with the corresponding state of the universe
It is in the fourth state, beyond even that of the dreamlessness known as Turiya, that one merges into the blissful totality of the Self, which is essential for the attainment of the divine body.
In a nutshell, yoga enables you to transcend these lower levels of consciousness and attain direct contact with the soul, known as atman sakshaatkar or Paramatman
Can you elaborate more on the role of Yoga?
Ashtanga yoga consists of yam, niyam, asana, pranayam, dhyan, pratyahar, dharna and samadhi.
Yam and niyam increase the satvic gunas in a seeker. The asanas, done with pranayam, help to experience the subtle body, which culminates in the keval kumbhak or the complete cessation of respiration. Dhyan is total concentration and pratyahar is pulling the mind inward. Dharana, focus, draws up consciousness from the lower realms and bringing it up to the 18th point, which leads to samadhi, where thought ceases completely.
Intense sadhana while in nirvikalp samadhi, or the permanent stage of samadhi leads to the attainment of the divine body.
To reach this stage, you need a guru, who gives the ‘key’ to sadhana only when the student is ready. I got the ‘key’ from my guru, who got it from his. Only a guru parampara whose spiritual head holds this ‘key’ is a valid one. This knowedge is always originally handed down by God himself, Lord Lakulish in the case of my tradition.
Can any human being aspire to a divine body? Unlike all other forms of knowledge, the Vedas are not an intellectual creation of man. There are no credits to any authors, because the sages simply wrote down what came from God Himself. That is why we call it Sanatan Dharma or Eternal Truth. I call it Sanatan Dharma, not Hindu Dharma. If a person from another religion also follows it what problem can anyone have? You can be a Christian, Muslim or Zoroastrian and still follow this religion. By yoga sadhana under a teacher anyone can aspire to the final state of the divine body. This is God’s knowledge and there can be no copyright.
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