Swami Muktananda was the founder of the Siddha Yoga sect.
The sort of things that go on in Siddha Yoga, and especially nowdays that Muktananda is no longer its living head, are rather embarresing: a leadership battle several years back, and a mediocre, watered down, religious teaching, with experience that does not seem to go beyond the psychic level (well, it's the same for all these groups; and all religions for that matter). But Swami Muktananda's autobiographical book, Play of Consciousness, is something else entirely. A record of his yogic and spiritual development in India, Play of Consciousness is an astonishing but also a very readable book, which captures very well the spirit of the one-on-one guru-tradition and long yogic discipline in India, quite different to the New Age type mass-following gurus of the West.
The following selection of course represents only a very small part of Muktananda's account, and, in keeping with the orientation of the present book, I have concentrated on those of his experiences which indicate his ascent through different stages of consciousness. He followed a basically Vedantic, four-fold ontology, a development of the basic scheme we have already seen in the Mandukya Upanishad, with some extra symbolism added on. This particular interpretation is from the late medieval Indian saint Jnaneshwar Mahraj, who says:
"The whole body is like a lotus which has four petals of four kinds, colours, and sizes....The first is the gross body, its colour is red. The second petal is the subtle body, in which we sleep and experience dreams. It is the size of a thumb, and its colour is white. The third petal is the causal body. It is the size of the tip of third finger, and its colour is black. The fourth petal is the supracausal body, which is as small as a sesame seed. Its colour is blue....It is very brilliant; it is the foundation of sadhana; it is the highest inner vision."[Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness, p.85]
The idea of a four-fold soul of four colours also appears in Sufism, in western alchemy, and in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra as well, where the phenomenology of yogic colours is important. And the modern adept Da Free John, and American who follows a basic Tantric-Vedantic-Mahayanist line, also has something to say on this matter.
So, recognising that we are dealing here with a universal phenomenon, in which the details may vary but the basic principles remain pretty much the same, let us listen to what Muktananda has to tell us about his own experiences in this regard.
"Gradually my meditation left the gross body and entered the subtle body; it left Rakteshwari, the goddess of the red aura, for Shveteshwari, the goddess of the white flame, and this thumb-sized white flame was always before me....Without the experience of this white flame, Vedanta is a lame and second-hand philosophy: darvi pakarasam yatha - "It is like a ladle that does not know the taste of the food it serves."[Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness, pp.117-119, 130, 135-7, (1978, Harper & Row)]
"My meditation on the subtle oplane deepened....I began to have visions of future happenings - a fire breaking out somewhere, or a motor accident. A day or two after I had the seen such things, I would hear about them as events that had happened...
One day as I began to meditate, I saw a beautiful baby boy swinging on a cradle...(H)e wore a pearl necklace and a golden crown. I had never seen anyone so beautifully adorned. His cradle was also of gold and studded with the nine jewels....He was turned toward me, laughing ecstatically and beckoning me with his tiny eyes....Yjay day I went beyond Tandraloka and saw nothing for a long time - only a pure untainted state....I was convinced that the baby was Sri Hari. After seeing him, my sadhana got even better, especially for the two or three days that followed....
...Some of the things I saw were so captivating that I began to be addicted to my meditation. Afterward I would go over my visions again and again....Thus most of my days and nights were spent in meditation and in recollection of my visions.
My white mediattaion was followed by a black meditation....A black light the size of a fingertip appeared...My mind would spontaneously focus on my heart, or on the space between the eyebrows.....I would see the white flame within the red aura, and the black light within the white flame....During this period I would see in meditation a deep and terrifying darkness such as I had never seen in the outside world. This darkness made me frightened of meditating, but even so, I would remain in it for long periods at a time. Then suddenly the scene would change and the familiar red, white, and black lights would come. I rejoiced in their radiance again and again. During all thjis I began to feel a strong pain between the eyebrows, and for several days the chakras situated there...continued to ache....(M)y eyes rolled around continuously, causing me great pain....I smelled many different sweet odours, I don't know whether or not they can be found in this world of ours. Sometimes other people would smell a fragrance floating around me...
....As soon as I sat, I passed into meditation. The presiding deity of each sense organ would come and stand before me. I would see a very special kind of light made up of many colours flashing through the 72,000 nadis like lightning. Then would come the red, white, and black lights, and, for a second, the Blue Light. These lights appeared one within the other, the smaller within the larger, the one being subtle cause of the other.
...The blue akasha, an expansion of blue colour, began to appear in meditationand with it, the neela bindu, the Pearl of infinite power....(A)s I passed into meditation, Kundalini Mahamaya would appear before me in many different forms. Whatever form She took, I regarded in the same way - as the supreme Shakti, the Goddess Chiti. The blue light came and went, came and went. My eyes rolled up so that they were a little above the eyebrows....Something important was happening in the cranial region. There are some chakras there, and this process was happening to purify them.
...As soon as I sat down to meditate, there would be gentle movement in my body, and then a rsh of new energy through the nadis.....(S)ometimes I would pass into a deep....trance and would travel to other worlds....Every day I had some new experience. My body was becoming light, slim, agile, healthy and strong. I could see the central nadi, the sushumna, which is silver-coloured tinged with gold. It stands like a pillar, and all the nadis receive vibrations of power from it....Sometimes I would have a new movement in the heart, in which an egg-shaped ball of radiance would come into view...
Next, I saw a light that was different from the red, white, black and Blue lights, and as it came into view, I saw many, many worlds within it. It was a soft safron colour, and in the middle of it were thousands of soft blue sparks and a soft golden radiance....It arose within the series of four lights that I had already experienced. I saw many clairvoyant visions in this new light....Just as I had habitually passed into Tandraloka in meditation, so now I entered the place of radiant light. I shall call it Sarvajnaloka, the world of omniscience....When my mind became stabilised in Sarvajnaloka I could see far away into many different worlds. Everything I saw there was perfectly genuine. Sometimes I would see some accident in the outside world....and these things always actually happened...
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