I recently finished reading a very interesting book, ‘Aghora – At the Left Hand of God’ by Robert E.Svoboda. It was a very compelling read and so many aspects of it fascinated me.
While I would like to write about what this book is about, the prospect overwhelms me. I don’t know how to put it all together. Now, this is interesting because while I was reading it, I was so centered on what the author had to say. However, now it just seems to have disintegrated – like candy floss on the tongue.
Anyway, here goes:
The author has written about his guru, Vimlananda, who was an Aghori. Aghoris are people who follow the Aghora discipline – the most distilled and concentrated form of Tantra.
Now, this is where I slip up because there are so many isolated components and theories and so many interrelations that I can’t seem to get on top of things. I’ll try.
In Hinduism, the main ideal, the purpose of life so to speak, is the realization of God. In essence, this means that you shatter the notion of duality – that you are separate from anyone or anything else, including the Cosmos or God itself. The origin for this whole Universe was the light and the sound. Everything has therefore been born out of that. This notion is evident in many meditation techniques that involve focusing on the point between the eyebrows and reciting ‘Om’. The point between the eyebrows is considered to be the seat of the soul and ‘Om’ is the original chant of cosmic energy.
Now, there are various ways to achieve the state of oneness. There is the right hand path that involves the karma yoga, raja yoga, etc. Then, there is the left hand path – which is Tantra. The first step of yoga is to understand the connection of the causal body (that is the body you are born with – as opposed to your astral body) to your world. Every situation that happens in life is an opportunity for the causal body to work through its karmas. (The book has an interesting take on when the first karma took place. This happened when Shiva and Shakti, equivalents of yin and yang, were separated.) Now, typically, it takes millions of births in various wombs to get sufficiently rid of the karmas. However, if you follow the tantric or the Aghori discipline, this process is accelerated. It is a potent, extreme journey that can rip the soul from the causal body so that it unites with the divine consciousness.
There are several misconceptions about Aghoris..or rather, not so much misconceptions, but facts that float around isolated from their contexts. For example, it is generally believed that Aghoris are debauched because they propagate free sex (with impossible dimensions – foreplay that can go on for weeks, and orgasms that can last up to months.) The thing is Aghoris deem themselves to be dead and consider the world to be a shamshaan. So, the ordinary limitations of time and space do not apply to them. Their idea of sex is basically this – when your body is totally devoid of ego, it is a vessel for the energy of Shiva to enter it. Similarly, the partner is then the carrier of the energy of Shakti. When such entities unite sexually, it is akin to the union of the two aspects of divine consciousness.
Now, here’s the twister about this discipline – the reasons why any lascivious person may get attracted to it is exactly the reason why such a person will be unsuccessful at it. To be capable of such sex, one should be completely devoid of any interest for fornication. To be able to live for 500 years, one should be totally unafraid of death. To be able to have wealth in the blink of an eye, you shouldn’t hanker even a little bit for money. It’s contradictory, but to be able to follow this path, you should have renounced whatever this path will bring you when you follow its course. The ultimate aim is, of course, realization of God and if you succumb to any of the temptations midway, then you have to start all over again.
Aghori Vimlananda has a very amusing, petulant take on some matters. He scoffs at people who believe that Westerners can’t get suitably oriented to spirituality. Westerners (and he is partial to Americans and Germans here) are so meticulous that they will take care to do all the meditations properly and not look for shortcuts. As opposed to some Indians who will take half-baked knowledge and become scoundrel ‘gurus’ in the West. He himself does his sadhana listening to Jim Reeves. When he explains the sexual kinship, he makes statements like: “With base people, sex is only about oozing, and sweating, and panting. When the method of sex is so inferior, the progeny of such sex will also be brats.” This is quite cute, considering you will never look at a tot throwing a tantrum in the same way again.
The best part about this book is the way portions of it get stuck to your head and you keep chewing on those ideas like a stick of gum. Like, what would it really mean to transcend time and space. And how is it possible to ever stop thinking of yourself as your body. The best, of course, are the theories on sex and karma. Apparently, all karmic relations are the result of some debts. And sex is the most persistent, insistent form of debt. There are whole systems of sexual behaviors and proclivities in Tantra. It’s pretty impressive – to think that at some time in history, sex was actually studied with the scholarly meditativeness that is supposed to be reserved for astronomy or geology.
Also, there are a million little things that are such a challenge to grasp – leave alone, agree or disagree with. For example, the notion of Maya. How can you reasonably dispute your 5 senses and state that this world is not real. How strong is the extent of delusion then?
This book is definitely a juicy read. It’s amazing when you understand it, and it’s awesome when you don’t.