Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum.
Distinguished scholars, foreign visitors, lovers of Tamil and of Yoga Siddhantham,
It is indeed an honor for me to welcome you to this auspicious function. I never dreamed that such an event might occur when Neelakantan and myself began our search for Tamil scholars of Yoga Siddhantham, back in January 1999. We had come across a book review in the Hindu, for Professor Annamalai's new Tamil language edition of the Tirumandiram, and traced out its publisher in Adyar. There, Dr. S.P. Sabarathanam, agreed to work with us according to a Research Plan which I submitted to him shortly thereafter. This plan included the following four studies:
The first study, "An Inventory and Preservation in Magnetic Format of the Manuscripts Associated with Yoga contained in Libraries and Private Collections of Tamil Nadu", is referred to hereafter as "Study number 1". And Dr. Ganapathy has described to you its results, and our ongoing efforts.
The second study, "Translation into English with Commentary and Publication of Selected Manuscripts related to the Tamil Yoga Siddhas", is referred to hereafter as "Study number 2" This study has resulted in one of the publications today: "The Yoga of Siddha Avvai." Much more is expected from this study as we identify and select the "gems" among the manuscripts copied and transcribed in Study number 1.
The third study, "Translation with Commentary of an Anthology of Selected Works of the 18 Siddhas," is referred to as "Study number 3", and was originally the subject of a separate contract dated February 15, 2000, between the YREC and BKYOA and Dr. S.P. Sabharathanam, who I am pleased to see, is here today. It was originally intended to be our first publication. However, because of the magnitude and difficulty of this study, responsibility for it was passed to Dr. T.N. Ganapathy in January, 2001, and with the collaboration of several scholars and yogis, it has been completed today, with the release of "The Yoga of the 18 Siddhas: An Anthology."
The fourth study, "Translation with Commentary of Selected Poems on Yoga by Siddhar Boganathar", is referred to as "Study number 4". It resulted in the publication, in July 2003, of volume 1 of "The Yoga of Siddha Boganathar," and today, with the publication of volume 2. At a later date, we hope to publish Boganathar's poem of 7,000 verses, and other works by him, in subsequent volumes.
As you can see today, we have, over the past six years, remained faithful to this Study Plan, which like many things in my life, came in a stroke of inspiration from my guru, Kriya Babaji Nagaraj, in early 1999. I am happy to say that all of the collaborators in this project have also remained faithful to this dream, including my wife Smt Durga Ahlund, our ashram director in Bangalore, Sri Neelakantan, and above all Dr. Ganapathy and his deputy director, Dr. Arumugam.
I would like to remove from your minds any doubts or wonder as to why you are being addressed by a Canadian. How is it that such a meeting has been sponsored by foreigners? It goes back to the solemn task which my satguru, Kriya Babaji Nagaraj gave to Yogi S.A. A. Ramaiah, my guru, nearly 50 years ago. He asked him to gather the palm leaf manuscripts of the 18 Tamil Yoga Siddhas, and to preserve, transcribe and publish them. During the 1960's he wandered all over Tamil Nadu collecting and carefully preserving them against the white ants. From 1972, when I began to spend some years in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Kanadukathan at his ashram, I assisted him in this task, and in the late 1970's we printed the first volumes of the complete works of Boganathar, in Tamil, in more than 1800 pages, in Chidambaram.. I spent many days in the printers overseeing the typesetting and adminstration of those early publications. The volumes one and two of "The Yoga of Boganathar," which you see here today, are based upon these works. Throughout the 18 years I studied with Yogi Ramaiah, his favorite activity was to teach us to sing and meditate on these verses. He taught us a powerful meditation technique which has enabled us to understand much of the hidden meaning locked in them. My wife Durga and I have use this method to contribute to the commentaries in the works released today. As predicted by him many years ago, only an multi-disciplinary team of scholars and yogis would be able to bring out these works adequately. It has indeed been a team effort, and I am happy that as sponsors, we have been able to serve as a catalyst, bringing the right people together.
In 1981, I had a vision of the Siddha Avvai, who told me: "If you remain faithful to us, we will work through you." In 1988, I was inspired to establish a publishing company, Babaji's Kriya Yoga and Publications, which would specialize in the publication of the works of the Yoga Siddhas. In 1991, it published "Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition," now in its 7th edition, and in 13 foreign languages; in 1992, the first International edition of an english translation of : the "Tirumandiram," and in 2000, "The Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas.," now in 5 foreign languages. These books have attracted many persons to this field. Not as many scholars perhaps as I would like, but students: from 1990 to present I have initiated nearly 10,000 persons in more than 20 countries, into the practice of Babaji's Kriya Yoga, which is a scientific art of God Truth union, which crystallizes the wisdom of the Tamil Yoga siddhas. Many of these persons have contributed financially to this project, through our charitable organizations registered in Canada, the USA and in Bangalore, India: Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, Inc.
In February 1999, I invited Dr. Georg Feuerstein, who unfortunately, is not here today, perhaps the leading scholar in the field of Yoga, in the West, to co-sponsor the Research plan which I outlined above. He was the founder and President of the Yoga Research and Education Center, a non-profit organization, based in California, which is dedicated to research in the field of Yoga. However, what we can accomplish is to some extent limited by our funding. So, I would like to urge all of you, in the audience, to support the Yoga Siddha Research Centre's future work by not only purchasing the publications here today, but also by making a charitable contribution to Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas Trust, in Bangalore. To do so, please see one of our representatives at the bookstall. Your contribution will ensure the future preservation and publication in many languages, of this great heritage, the works of the Tamil Yoga Siddhas.
You may still be wondering why would I have dedicated so many years, so much of effort to such a task? To quote Swami Hariharananda Aranya, the commentator of the Yoga Sutras: "If the purpose of human knowledge is the elimination of human suffering, then that knowledge which removes it completely is the greatest knowledge." My study of Yoga has taught me that "swadhya" or self-study, is an essential part of yogic sadhana. One may have the best methods or kriyas, but if one does not a access to the texts of the yogic adepts, it is like I driver without a road map, or a person without a mirror. However, as you know, scholars with a few exceptions, like Dr. Ganapathy have avoided the works of the Yoga siddhas, because of their difficulty. At the Tamil conferences which I attended, for example in Madurai, over 20 years ago, for example, many scholars told me this. By working closely with translators and scholar philosophers like Dr. Ganapathy and his team, however, we have been able to discover much of their meaning hidden in the twilight language. These works have been a great source of inspiration for me, and I believe they will be so for future generations.
Babaji's Kriya Yoga is a crystallized or condensed form of Yoga Siddhantham, the teachings of the 18 Siddha tradition. Babaji was a disciple of two of its most illustrious members, Agastyar and Boganathar. When students of Kriya Yoga read their verses, they recognize many descriptions of kundalini yoga which coincide with what they are taught in their initiations in Babaji's Kriya Yoga. It is informed and inspired however, by the teachings of the Yoga Siddhas. Yoga is enjoying world wide popularity today, mostly as a form of physical development, but a growing number of its practioners are seeking to understand its spiritual origins. I can assure you that sincere students of Yoga, all over the world, will read and apply the teachings found in these works with enthusiasm and in increasing numbers. By returning to its roots, as presented in these works today, many lives will be transformed.
The world is living in a time of unprecedented challenges and fear. I believe that Yoga is our greatest defense against terrorism. We live in a period of history wherein the interdependence of everyone on the planet has never been so great. This social crisis, wherein a flu epidemic or an act of suicide in one part of the world, can instantly affect the economy and political stability of society on the other side of the planet, requires nothing less than the discipline of Yoga by millions of inspired practitioners. The media has become the greatest tool of those who would seek to terrorize society. The greatest defense against terrorism is Yoga, for it strikes down at its source the fear which permits terrorism to be effective This requires mental discipline, courage, the practice of detachment, and the calm clear thinking, which Yoga inspires. Furthermore, the societal effect of one Yogi's positive thinking or blessing, is much more powerful than the dispersed negative thinking of a thousand ordinary folk. Such a person can and will act as a powerful agent for the Good, solving the problems of this world in a spirit of compassion and wisdom.
Yoga is a social movement, for it seeks to awaken and to transform one human being at a time from the ordinary egoistic state. Our modern pluralistic culture is largely inspired by the principles of individualism, materialism and consumerism, which amount to a recipe for egoism. To the extent that one practices Yoga, beginning with the restraints or yamas (non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity and greedlessness) and observances, the niyamas (purity, contentment, self-study, intense practice, and devotion to the Lord) one is engaged in a revolution against the prevailing culture. The word "culture" is derived from the Latin word "culte" which means "worship." So, in our modern materialistic, consumer, individualistic culture, most members of society worship or value, above all, those things which are material, which can be consumed and which enhance their feeling of being special.
A Yogi on the other hand values or worships the Lord, the Absolute Reality, and this is found within, in the spiritual plane of existence, initially, until, in the enlightened state, one begins to perceive it in everything transcendentally. He does not feel that he is anything special, and does not even see himself as the "doer." The Yogi recognizes the hand of the Lord guiding and empowering at every stage.
While most persons begin the practice of Yoga merely as a physical exercise, this does not mean that the influence of Yoga is limited only to the fields of health or physical fitness. If one continues to practice Yoga, the effects begin to include the nervous system and the mind, and consequently there is an expansion of consciousness into the spiritual dimension. What begins as a physical need, or a means to control the effects of stress, eventually becomes a very personal spiritual path. A spiritual path leads one to increasing levels of personal freedom from the round of habitual tendencies fostered by our social conditioning. As we begin the constant practice of detachment (vairagya) we begin to let go of what we are not, including our social conditioning, and experience who we truly are. The experience of Self-realization replaces the confusion of egoism, the habit of identifying with what we are not: thoughts, emotions, memories, habits, sensations. As our consciousness expands we become a witness, and perhaps the Witness. "I am a man, a professional, black, white or Asian" says the ego. "I am That I am" says the awakened Yogi. The social implications of such a change in consciousness is profound and wide-ranging. Not only does the Yogi become a source of peace and well-being for those who enjoy his or her company, but a dynamo of energy, guided by unusual clarity and insight.
May Yoga practitioners all come to recognize the power that they have to bring peace and enlightened solutions to the world's diverse problems, in every moment and every situation. The Yoga Siddhas had a great social concern, which they referred to as "arrupadai.," or "showing the path to others." This included teaching people what not to do, through moral precepts, as in the case of Avvai, as well as how to practice such esoteric arts as kundalini yoga, which brings absolute bliss and Self-realization.
This has been my experience over the past 36 years of intensive practice of Babaji's Kriya Yoga, and it is why as the co-sponsor of the Yoga Siddha Research Centre, I am pleased to recommend it to you this day, as we celebrate the publication of these works of the Yoga Siddhas. I am deeply grateful to Satguru Kriya Babaji Nagaraj for allowing me to be instrumental in supportiing the work of these scholars, and for his grace in bringing out these great works for the benefit of all lovers of Yoga and seekers of Truth. Om Tat Sat. Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum.
Marshall Govindan Satchidananda.