Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

The Castle with Nothing Inside

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

Dr. Bettina Bäumer on Verse 48, the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra

The Setting

“The entire cosmos is the shining body of light of the Divine.”
- Dr. Bäumer on verse 16, Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra

Not far from Mā Ganga, the 17th of October marked an opening of whole worlds of mystery into the ordinary. It was the month of Kartikeya (aka Skanda), who is Śiva-Shakti’s firstborn son.

The subject was the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra taught by Dr. Bettina Bäumer, the noted Kashmir Śaivism scholar/author/practitioner, whom Swami Veda had long wanted to meet --- until one day a few years ago she appeared in the ashram. An eminent Indologist, she is also known for her work in art history and inter-religious dialogue. She had come to teach the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.

This was a gathering of students from around the world. Though we came from diverse cultures, old friends mingled with new and it truly felt like a family gathering. The gardens were in full force. The ubiquitous scent of the rātkirāni flower (Queen of the Night) blanketed the night in scented birdsong.

This is the first time that Dr. Bäumer has taught an entire course here. Many of Dr. Bäumer’s and Swami Veda Bharati’s students converged from around the world for the event. Because of ill health Swami Veda was not physically present except for evening meditations though many of us felt his presence throughout. Dr. Bäumer brought with her the light of devotion to her guru Swami Laxman Joo, the renowned master of Kashmir Śaivism who combined his scholarly knowledge with that of the jīvanmukta. His own words, as well as Dr. Bäumer’s and other scholars’ reflections held us all with rapt attention. All of that together with the Guru spirit drenched us in the force field of a nameless divine presence.

Dr. Bäumer has dedicated her life to the gifts of the master in her prolific writings and discourses and in meditation and daily life. This was evidenced by the way she taught with clarity, patience and humility, and by her sense of us as individuals from several language groups. In every session, there was a rustling of soft whispers in one corner that never disturbed the silence embedded in Bettina’s words, rich with a lifetime of spiritual and academic search. The lecture was being quietly translated into Hungarian.

It would be hard to say which language is interior to Bettina Bäumer. Born in Austria, she has lived decades in India, and has travelled widely in time and place to teach and do research. She continues all of that, but spends increasing amounts of time in retreat. She has written over 120 books and articles in several languages.

Like a Key in a Lock

The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra contains many lessons but how do we access them in such terse shlokas? Never mind translation from the Sanskrit. What about the lessons which sometimes seem vault-encased? One needs a guide for mere preliminary understanding. Even then, as the commentary on Verse 51 tells us, “[when] you are walking or talking or doing some household work or doing any other trivial act, just concentrate your mind on dvādaśānta in each and every act of your daily routine of life. But this must be held in continuity: pratikṣaņam. Then one is born anew--- in days, not in months.” (Vijñāna Bhairava: The Practice of Centring Awareness with Commentary by Swami Laxman Joo , p.73.)

One day, Dr. Bäumer quite pointedly but gently reminded one student of this during a malfunction of the sound system equipment. It was the perceived moment of chaos coming to spoil the otherwise perfect flow. She was undisturbed by the inconvenience. Rather, she deftly snatched up the interruption as an opportunity to teach us.

Although I believe (though I could be wrong) that we did not receive the master-disciple initiations into this text, the vault was opened by our skillful teacher. The intent of many a verse was considerably more clear than it was at reading the text on our own. I personally felt the obscurity of many verses lift with Dr. Bäumer’s elucidations. How fortunate we were to benefit from her guidance and that of the Guru presence in classes and in meditations.

At the end of the course, we were asked to share. Michaela Berger of Vienna, Austria said this: “This was my fourth course with Bettina and the same thing happens every time. I buy the book for the course, open it and think ‘Oh my God. It’s a little bit dry. It’s so short.’ And every time after one or two sessions, the text really comes alive….It’s just so relaxing. We don’t need to differentiate,” Michaela continued. “We can see Bhairava in everything! Bettina helps us to understand this text with our heart….Thank you very much for the whole group for sharing this, for doing this workshop together.” I believe that Michaela spoke for many of us in the course.

Source Materials for the Course

The meditations went hand in hand with the preparatory study materials and the lectures. Swami Veda recommended that we prepare for this course with his Meditations from the Tantras, the Śiva Sutras (2 audio course), his book Kundalini Stilled or Stirred and the recommended readings of Swami Rama and Swami Veda mentioned in the latter.

The chief text we used during the course was Vijñāna Bhairava: The Practice of Centring Awareness with Commentary by Swami Laxman Joo. The commentaries had been transcribed directly from Swami Laxman Joo’s talks on the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra.

Dr. Bäumer also used other texts and articles as references. For those of you who wish to pursue this study in your own language, Dr. Bäumer recommended these authors on the topic: Jaideva Singh (English), V.V. Dvivedi (Hindi), R. Gnoli (Italian) and Lilian Silburn (French). Dr. Bäumer said that Lilian Silburn’s was the best modern commentary.

Some who could not come were present in spirit. For example, I wrote Karuna (Caroline Thomazeau) about Lilian Silburn. Karuna lives in France. She wrote back “I feel very fortunate to have several of [Lilian Silburn’s] key works in French, each one a jewel. I miss so much being at the ashram at the moment to talk with Bettina and see everyone. My heart is all with you.”

The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra

“Who is that luminous person in the sun?”
Dr. Bettina Bäumer in the Vijñāna Bhairava course, SRSG, October, 2014

The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra is an ancient scripture. The word Vijñāna refers to knowledge based on direct experience, not to analytical knowledge. Bhairava is the form of Śiva in the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra.

Many Śaiva masters of Kashmir call this jewel “Vijñāna Bhairava, the Lord.” It is one of the most highly regarded texts in all of Kashmir Śaivism and in the whole of Indian philosophy.

Abhinavagupta honored it with the name the Śivavijñānopanishad, “The Secret Teaching (of the Mystical Knowledge) of Śiva.” Kṣemarāja, Abhinavagupta’s disciple, wrote a commentary but only the first 23 verses of that remain. The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra is the essence and part of the important text the Rudrayāmala Tantra, of which it is a part but can no longer be found.

Indian Philosophy, a Weave of Many Traditions

Both Bettina Bäumer and Swami Veda have spoken about how the many schools of Indian thought are deeply interwoven. People sometimes have the misconception that the various schools of thinking are exclusive unto themselves. This is not true. For centuries, on the Indian subcontinent, people gathered to debate and share ideas–even beyond Indian thought-- as exemplified in the court of Akbar when great thinkers came from beyond this side of the Indus to discuss the world’s religious traditions.

Though it is true that there are 6 Indian Brahmanic systems, for centuries even these schools of thought have mutually intertwined with schools beyond these 6 orthodox Systems. At a certain point in Indian history, many great rishis were spirited over the mountains into Tibet to keep their teachings alive during a time of invasions into India. And it has come back. Swami Rama’s grandmaster lived in Tibet and early preceptors of the Himalayan Tradition shared common ground between India and Tibet. Chinese masters of ancient times came to India and brought Sanskrit texts back to China.

The sharing has always gone back and forth beyond the artificiality of geographic boundaries. As Lama Doboom Tulku said when asked who Tara Devi was, “She has no address.” Swami Veda and Swami Rama have lived this truth as those who of us who have walked alongside them can confirm.

The very word “Hinduism” contains the name of that mighty river, the Indus, and “Hindu” once simply referred to those people on the other side of the Indus River. There was great variety in practices and beliefs even among them.

Have you heard of the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, the Heart Sūtra?

In Kashmir Śaivism, Śiva is the absolute—from every subatomic particle to galaxies within and “beyond the beyond”.

“Beyond the beyond” is one translation of a brief passage in the Heart Sūtra.

Though the words and practices differ, the Heart Sutra of Buddhism and the śūnya of the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra both reverberate “beyond the beyond.”

Lama Doboom Tulku was here and this was one of several Buddhist chants we heard from students and guest musicians after evening meditation with Swami Veda and Doboom Tulku shortly before his departure from SRSG.

“gate, gate pāragate Pārasamgate bodhi svāhā:
Go, Go, beyond the beyond to the perfected wisdom of no more learning.”

(variously translated from the Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya, the Heart Sūtra of Buddhism.)

This chant silently echos in the śūnya of many passages in the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra and indeed in many traditions in India and even beyond the Orient.

Nothing is outside of Śiva. Śiva and śūnya know each other well. As we see in the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra and in the Via Negativa of Christian mysticism, they simultaneously invoke and transcend religion like the mystics and mysteries of every great tradition. There is no contradiction.

Bhairava and Bhairavī: The Dialogue

“The state of Bhairava is free from the limitations of space, time and form.”
Dr. Bettina Bäumer in the Vijñāna Bhairava course, SRSG, October, 2014

The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra is a dialogue between Bhairava and Bhairavī. Bhairava is a form of Śiva, Pure Consciousness. Kṣemarāja, Abhinavagupta’s disciple, tells us in his commentary that the state of Bhairava cannot be described because it is beyond vaikarī (spoken word) and madhyama (thought).

It is important to note that while Śiva is indeed a Hindu name of God, we learn again and again that Śiva is a universal concept that goes beyond doctrine and denomination. From a leaf to a star to a thought to no thought, Śiva is the full reach of attributes and beyond attributes. It really does not matter what name one gives to God. The Divine simply is and, with or without a name, S/He infinitely permeates the multitude of universes known and unknown.

Dr. Bäumer held up a picture of a sculpture of Bhairava for us to see. His iconographic representation shows him with his mouth wide open—either in surprise or horror. Here, Śiva as Bhairava is the Death-killer. He destroys all fear and strips away all illusion—just as the guru does. Dr. Bäumer told us that sometimes crying out loud or howling is associated with Bhairava---“maybe the howling of the aspirant crying out for God consciousness,” she said.

Paradoxically Bhairava (Śiva) is absolute, irrevocable peace. Bhairavī is a form of Shakti, Energy, and is the eternal consort of Bhairava. He/She are a unified whole.

The dialogue of Bhairava and Bhairavī takes place in the first person, which Dr. Bäumer explained, puts you in the nondual mode. She said that from the highest level, between Śiva and Shakti, down to the human level, between guru and disciple, it is a dynamic nondualism. It begins with Bhairavī entreating her lord to remove all her doubts. She says in Verse 7 “Oh, Lord, grant me your grace and dispel my doubts entirely.”

Her words are reminiscent of a disciple before a master. Traditionally when a student approached a guru, the guru would ask “what have you studied?” The would-be disciple would list all the texts and practices s/he had studied.

Here Bhairavī lists the technical concepts of the Tantra which she has learned but says that she still has doubts. She has intellectually absorbed it all but she wants the direct experience (Vijñāna), not just the external knowledge.

The Devi asks “How is the transcendent energy connected with immanence [i.e., the divine as manifested in the physical world]?” Dr. Bäumer pointed out “This is an all important question because the supreme energy of Śiva is niṣkalā or partless.”

Bhairavī also asks about the mystic nature of sound (mantra and nāda). “The universe would not exist without The Word,” Dr. Bäumer continued. “Śiva is the collective sound--- śabda-rāshikalāmayam.”

The Devi has other questions too. She even asks about her own nature. But Shakti already knows the answers (answer) because she is forever united with Śiva. So why does Bhairavī (Shakti) ask these questions?

Dr. Bäumer explained that Bhairavī does this out of compassion for humanity in all its suffering. Otherwise Śiva would rest in his absolute silence. Then, in the next verse, [Lord Bhairava answers]:“O Blessed One! This (knowledge) is most esoteric, but I will reveal it to you.”

Śiva (Bhairava) must destroy all the Devi’s illusions and preconceptions just as a guru does with a disciple. Bhairava tells her that he will give her Shaktipāt. As we shall see, the tantra will end where it began --- in the union of Bhairava (Śiva) and Bhairavī (Shakti).

They are forever united though this Tantra arrives at its height in the end—in their Union—which is where they began. “If we place ourselves in the role of the disciple, we become the Devi,” Dr. Bäumer explained. “This is the neti, neti of the Upanishads and the Via Negativa….you must be ready to destroy all concepts, to ‘unmind your mind.’ We have to remove our conceptions.” Ultimately, the aspirant arrives at the state of Śiva ---knowing that by which there are no more questions.

Dr. Bäumer said that most tantras reveal a particular mantra but that the Vijñāna Bhairava does not.

Rather, it teaches you how to meditate with another mantra, your mantra, usually involving a bīja syllable, or with the praņava mantra Om, which is also a bīja mantra.

The Framework

“By meditating on the silence before and after the mantra, you can reach the state of Emptiness, of śūnya”.
— Dr. Bettina Bäumer in Vijñāna Bhairava course, SRSG, October, 2014

Dr. Bäumer did not lead us in guided meditations nor does she profess to give initiations. Yet she did open up the many and varied meanings of this all too terse text. She also sat with us in silent meditations beginning early each morning.

The Vijñāna Bhairava has many platforms, from absorption in the glory of God to the śūnya of Buddhism. Above all, its abode is meditation. There were 4 hours of silent meditation a day with Dr. Bäumer. The daily evening meditation graced us with both Swami Veda and Dr. Bäumer physically present. Swami Veda said that he would have liked to teach but that his health did not permit. I believe that many of us felt his presence even when he was not physically in the room with us.

Dr. Bäumer said that Kashmir Śaivism was rooted in initiation, practice and grace and that meditation was necessary to grasp it. She said that her understanding changed with time and that every time she taught the Vijñāna Bhairava she gained new insights.

She asked us to keep an inward silence between sessions until tea time just to live with the text and to let it sink in. She suggested that we sit or walk in the garden during afternoon tea time and discuss the text with others. Individuals went inward in varying degrees.

Each session began with the sanctifying sounds of ancient shlokas from the Nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, sometimes from a recording but usually led by Dr. Bäumer and her student Patricia Obermeier of Munich and Varanasi. Both she and Veronica Benjamin, another student of Dr. Bäumer, are doing their doctorates in Abhinavagupta who stands in the guru-disciple lineage of this text. It was inspiring and fun to be with them and with others who shared generously of themselves and what they were learning.

Veronica described the course as “a thoroughly enjoyable, an uplifting, an amazing experience.”  She said that “The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra is kind of like a trampoline for consciousness…. (laughing) You start to hear a bird and that bird is nice and it could be distracting but it can also throw you back into Bhairava consciousness. No matter what you encounter, you can always go back there. This text just gives you that support and structure because we’re not nirādhāra (supportless) yet.”


“Śiva is vyāpaka, the all pervasive sky of Consciousness. We can become pervasive. The aim is to become Śiva.”
Dr. Bettina Bäumer in Vijñāna Bhairava course, SRSG, October, 2014

The entire cosmos resounds in the small Sanskrit word aham, which means I am. The A is the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. Ha is the last. So to say aham, it is as if one is saying, I am---from alpha to omega---I, from A to Z--- That is who I am. Swami Veda spoke about this as early as 1970 and again in Meditations from the Tantras.

Tide Pooling in a Lagoon

“Every part is related to the whole.”
Dr. Bäumer in the Vijñāna Bhairava course, October, 2014

Have you ever been tide pooling at the edge of an ocean bed? The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra offers 112 methods (dhāraņās) for union with the Divine.

These dhāraņās are like the glittering gems of life that one can see by the shore in a lagoon of a great body of water. Like these many and varied life forms, each of us is quite different and yet each is a microcosm of the universe. Similarly, each dhāraņā is a potential gateway to infinity as all of life coalesces into light.

Vijñāna is mystical knowledge. At a very advanced stage, “you are not acting. Śiva acts,” said Dr. Bäumer.

112 Dhāraņās

“The highest upāya (method) is anupāya (no method).”
Dr. Bäumer in the Vijñāna Bhairava course, October, 2014

There are many ways to the Divine. This article only speaks of a few of those given in this text. The range is vast and explores prānāyāma, sushumna, mental/spiritual absorption, pain and fear as well as juxtapositions in nature, cognition and place. What is particularly interesting is that every aspect of our lives is a potential vortex into infinity. Verse 118 is one example of this:

“At the beginning of sneezing, in a state of fear or sorrow, (standing) on top of an abyss or while fleeing from a battlefield, at the moment of intense curiosity, at the beginning or end of hunger; such a state comes close to the reality of Brahman.”

Kashmir Śaivism does not use the term dhāraņā but later writers do in the text. It is not dhāraņā in the sense that we usually think of it in the Yoga Sutra ---as concentration. Dr. Bäumer explained that here dhāraņā means to carry something--- as in to carry something with you with absorption—every moment of every day and maybe for the rest of your life. The first part of each verse gives the practice. The last part gives its result.

Many of the verses were only 2 lines. Sometimes 1½ lines tells you the contemplation and a half line or a word tells its final result. It is always in one way or another Divine Consciousness. In the Kashmir Śaivism paradigm it is the union of Śiva and Shakti, though they are eternally inseparable.

Choose the Dhāraņā that is Natural to You

“For entering the Supreme Reality, that which is near to you should be accepted—because everything is Śiva.”
— Abhinavagupta

Śiva is Everywhere and Everything---so that any of the dhāraņās can lead you to the state of Pure Consciousness. The range is vast. There are verses on mantra, pranayama and pain. There is only one on bhakti. There are some that are natural for the musically inclined. Some are cognition-based and some on supportlessness. There are several on the Buddhist śūnya, the void. Dr. Bäumer said that śūnya is often misunderstood, that it is “nothing negative.”

Dr. Bäumer advised that we each pick one dhāraņā that feels natural to us and use it as a contemplation for many years---but not instead of our meditation practice. She said “This text can accompany you for your entire life….One dhāraņā is sufficient to reach the goal….Steps are not necessary. You may be flowing from the lowest to the very highest….[but] This tantra is famous for its brevity. You need a guide.” In her introduction to Vijñāna Bhairava: The Practice of Centring Awareness, she writes:

“The practice of even one of the dhāraņās can reveal the hidden connections and can lead to a perfect harmony (samatva) between the inner and the outer, oneself and the other, the body, the universe and the Divine.”

The Verse that Moved me the Most

“You can only worship Śiva by becoming Śiva.” – Verse 100
Dr. Bettina Bäumer in the Vijñāna Bhairava course, 2014

Sometimes when Patricia Obermeier chanted a verse, I, without knowing its meaning, would feel deeply moved. Verse 100 affected me this way.

Tears swept over me as we first chanted it. I didn’t even know what the Sanskrit words meant. I felt the deep, inner presence of the guru. Then after Dr. Bäumer said its translation she said “This is the fountainhead of compassion in the whole of the Vijñāna Bhairava. Compassion starts here. One [who has attained this dhāraņā] is without judgment of an ant or of any stupid person. Everything is full of that same Consciousness.”

I remembered the tremendous compassion I have so often felt from Swami Rama and Swami Veda that it is too easy to take for granted. No judging, just divine compassion seeing me as if I too was divine. Nothing can describe the feeling of being on the receiving end of that kind of Maitreya. Yes, I believe that all of life is one, is whole.

Here is Dr. Bäumer’s translation of Verse 100:

“The One which is characterized as Consciousness is residing in all the bodies; there is no differentiation in anything. Therefore, if a person realizes that everything is full of that (very Consciousness) he conquers the world of becoming.”

A Confluence of Streams

“Spirituality has its own logic.”
Dr. Bettina Bäumer

From early meetings with Swami Rama and Swami Veda, Kashmir Śaivism was present in philosophical discussions and interior meditations. As early as 1970, Swami Veda (then, Dr. Usharbudh Arya) spoke of spanda (pulsation, throb) and other Kashmir Śaivism concepts and practices.   He invited the guru presence into our lives with courses like the Meditations from the Tantras and the Śiva Sutras. Swami Veda has said that the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir is not new to the Himalayan Tradition. These traditions seem to flow together.

Indeed, at the end of every evening meditation at the October 2014 event, Swami Veda and Bettina Bäumer bowed deeply, warmly to one another. They understood. The mysteries that had transpired that day still lingered in the room and in all of us together. There are some things that go beyond the spoken word and beyond the domain of thought.

Both Shi Hong of Hong Kong and Ulrike Timmermann of Germany appreciated that the text spoke of internal ritual as the true ritual. In the Himalayan Tradition we call this manasa puja.

Ulrike added “There are important themes in the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra that remind me of practices we have received in the Himalayan Tradition. The Expanded Gayatri practice given by Swami Veda is a type of internal puja. It gave me increased access to the sushumna and to the subtle energies in the whole body.

Through that you can effortlessly expand to everything else because it is the same energy inside as outside….”

Dr. Bäumer said that the term madhya-nāḍī in the Vijñāna Bhairava refers to sushumna.

Silvia Baratta, longtime initiate from California, said “This seminar is amazing. The whole 30 years is there. Soham is there. Eliminate-the-pause-between-the-breaths is there. Sushumna is there. Bhutta shuddhi [purification of the elements] is there.  Atma Tattva Avalokanam is there.  Yoga-nidra is there. Guru-Disciple relationship is there….”

Kashmir Śaivism and the Revolution in Science

Tamás, a Hungarian astrophysicist, shared with us how the revolution in modern science reflects a central principle in Kashmir Śaivism. Later, after evening meditation I asked if he was referring to Robert Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. There was nothing to cause me to specify that particular theory. It just tumbled out of me in such a way that I did not really know what I was saying.

“Yes,” he said with characteristic enthusiasm. “In Kashmir Śaivism the whole universe exists in a constant state of multiple potentialities. Only one universe becomes actualized by the act of seeing by the observer. At any given time, there are countless potentialities and potential universes. To see something is to measure it. This is similar to the function of Māya which measures the immeasurable in such a way that a universe is born.”

A Sense of Oneness

Iris from Berlin, Germany said that “the combination of 4 hours of meditation per day with the silence acted as an incubator--along with the sense of oneness and the vastness of space inside and outside. These all combined to create an intensive experience.” She also commented on “the great variety of gateways given, from music to visualization to the juxtapositions in nature and in cognition, which led us to a state of oneness. There was an energy that held us and led to a sense of surrender,” she said.

Imola Holo of Hungary said that for her “it was a confluence of holy rivers, of 2 great traditions-- that of Swami Laxman Joo and of the Himalayan Tradition….Religions as systems of symbols and institutions… [can have artificial boundaries] but when we come to meditation, to science, to creative contemplation, when we come to the essence of it, it becomes unifying.”

Pushpa Amin of New Jersey said that each time Bettina entered the hall it felt as if “a representative of Ma Shakti had walked in…. it felt like the way a mother takes care of the children….[and] how Bettina observed when one person was missing, so  intimately connected with each of us like a Ma Shakti.”

Swami Prayagiri said that it was “the grace of Bhairava –I have absolutely no doubt—that brought Bettinaji here. And it is his anugraha He has been showering on us through her these last 8 or 9 days. One of the most important points that struck me was more and more, to become centered and from that center of inner divine consciousness to view the whole experience as the divine play of the great Bhaivara…. I also noticed—because I read this text before--…everything is blended [all Indian schools of thought] and comes under various dharanas. You are supposed to be in tune with the divine all the time, no matter what you are doing….for a long time so that we can ….have that ultimate omnipresent Bhairava consciousness. And I think this is a lifelong experience for all of us. So let us carry this with us all our lives so that we can become …divine consciousness. Thank you so much. God bless you.”

10 Days Later

The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra course had begun during the month of Kartikeya (Skanda). It was now Skanda-purnima, the full moon of that month. A new course on Pranayama had begun. We had just meditated with Swami Veda at the full moon meditation. Afterwards, some of us sat by Agni, the sacrificial fire, with Vamadeva Dr. David Frawley and chanted the Mahamrtunjaya Mantra for Swami Veda’s health.

Leaving the yajñashāla (fire hut), I asked Vāmadeva “Who is Kartikeya besides the God of War?”

He replied “In the south of India, many believe that Ramana Maharshi was an incarnation of Kartikeya, whose conception and birth is the subject of the Kumara-sambhavam, one of Kalidasa’s most celebrated works. He is also Agni, tapas and sadhu. Do you know who he is fighting? He is the 6-headed God of War who conquers all negativity.”

Then I remembered that Dr. Bäumer told us that the opening words of Kalidasa’s Kumara-sambhavam are “Word and meaning are as closely related as Śiva and Parvati.”

A Personal Note

When Swami Veda asked me to write this article I felt grateful. Very soon I realized I was in way over my head. This text has spurata (flashing light), the Great Rising, and the quiescence of the Supreme. How could I possibly know what I was doing?

My emotions ranged from anxiety and near terror to flaccid apathy to a sense of adventure, inspiration and awe. I wrote many versions and each time I knew that I had to throw it away and begin afresh. Had I not been able to discuss the text with other participants and been graced with the sheer compassion of the guru, it would have been impossible.

One day, I had a breakthrough and wrote through the night, finishing at 4:30AM. It was not complete but close. I sent it to a few friends to peruse for errors and the next day got this reply from Veronica in Varanasi: “Yesterday was Bhairava's birthday, Bhairavashtami (Bhairava's 8th [lunar day of the dark half of the month of mrgashirsha]). I went to my favorite Kaala Bhairava temple at 4:30 and it was beautifully decorated with innumerable flower malas. Wish you could have seen it, but at least you spent the day immersed in Bhairava consciousness working on the finishing touches of this lovely article!”

Happy Birthday, Bhairava! I had had no idea that it was Thy birthday.

Question: How is it that the article came into being on Bhairava’s birthday?

Answer:  Na ma ma (Not me, not mine)

Please forgive any errors or lack of insight in this article. I am a newcomer to the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra and share the profound gratitude of our whole group to the guru light and to Dr. Bettina Bäumer who, as one, lit up our lives in the passages of this ancient living, breathing being, whom many have called Vijñāna Bhairava, the Lord.

Editor's Note:

The Vijñāna Bhairava study with Dr. Bettina Bäumer was recorded. Those who attended the seminar may purchase the recordings; please write to AHYMSIN Publishers at [email protected]

Photos courtesy of Jay Prakash Bahuguna.



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