Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Mauni Amavasya & the Purpose of Silence

by Ahimsa Ishaya

Here at SRSG we recently observed a day of silence, a traditional event here in India known as Mauni Amavasya. The word mauni means silence, while amavasya refers to the new moon.

This particular new moon, the last one before Shivaratri, has long been observed in silence. It has been explained to me that this is in response to the experience of shifting and intensifying energy that moves through nature at this time of the year. Plant growth slows as nature holds energy within, preparing for the coming season of further expansion and growth. It was therefore natural for people, as a conscious aspect of creation, to feel drawn to follow the Divine Mother's lead by focusing within.

For those of us here in the Gurukulam, it was followed by a lecture series by Swami Veda that gives a further understanding of the deeper, inner process of this silent response to the cycles of nature.

In these recordings, Swami Veda addresses what he calls “the four levels of depth in language.” He outlines an elegant philosophical thesis that encompasses the full range of human experience. A very short sketch of the process he described is as follows:

There are four steps or levels along the way from the transcendent reality (i.e., Brahman) to spoken language.  They are known as para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari.

Para is the level of Atman, the transcendent, containing divine knowledge “as God knows ... everything.”

From this level, Atman moves to unite the buddhi of an individual with meaning and purpose (artha). When this happens, we have moved to the next level, known as...

Pashyanti. This is the level “where the knowledge of Atman comes into buddhi ... (and) that is called spiritual revelation.”

At this junction, “buddhiappoints the mind with intention (sankalpa – i.e., purpose moving into action towards form).” Which brings us to...

Madhyamadefined as the level of mind, “primarily the speech of the mind.”

Here the mind initiates the physical system into action in order to express its intent through the spoken word. And that then results in...

*Vaikhari. This is the level of physical speech. The body follows through on the intent transmitted by the mind, sending energy and air (prana and vayu) through the throat and mouth where it is shaped into the many different sounds of the alphabet that result in speech.

And the point of all of this is ... what?

As I listened to this description of how divine purpose comes into physical expression I began to view it as a series of breadcrumbs, so to speak. Breadcrumbs that could be followed from physical speech back to that divine Source. And as we follow them, we can retrace our journey away from Source to gain understanding of the gifts that the journey has brought us, as we come towards direct experience of that ultimate Source in present awareness.  Swami Veda explains this as the understanding that underlies all of mantra science.

To enter into true Silence is to go beyond all outer expressions of sound to the soundless, to go beyond duality towards the one, unchanging reality.  To go home.

Or, as it is portrayed in the philosophy of the Sanskrit language, to go from the cacophony of braying donkeys (metaphorically), to the direct experience of Sat-Chit-Ananda. And to remember that I really am That. And so are you. So are we all.

Hari Om

*Humorous aside: The word vaikhari literally means “the sounds of many different kinds of unruly donkeys.” Apparently the ancient Seers had a good sense of humor as well as a depth of wisdom!

N.B.: Sanskrit words in this article are in Italics. All quotations here are from Swami Veda Bharati's recorded lectures. All parenthetical remarks are my own.

For further information about this topic, please contact Ahymsin Publishers [[email protected]] about the availability of the lecture series referred to in the article.

Editor’s Note:

Photo courtesy of Jay Prakash Bahuguna.



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