Thunderous drums signaled the curtain opening. The grand maroon drapes opened to reveal an unfamiliar stage setting. Swamiji sat on his simhasan, or throne, at a slight angle, and on his right, an older man was seated on a white couch. Jnanathma Swami introduced him as Hindu intellectual kshatriya, a warrior. His name is Rajiv Malhotra. Based in New Jersey, United States, he is a proud defender of Hinduism through his written and spoken word. Rajiv Malhotra visited us today in Varanasi during satsang to conduct a live interview with Swamiji.
After sincerely expressing how happy he was to be here, Rajivji began the interview by asking about the Kumbh Mela. The Kumbh Mela is the largest and longest standing celebration of Hinduism. Recently, Swamiji set up a campus and gathered over 5,000 people for Simhasth Kumbh Mela that took place in Ujjain. His grandiose presence made him the face of the festival all over India.
Rajivji first requested Swamiji to explain its history. In response, he explained that the festival predates history. There is no known beginning of the Kumbh Mela because the scriptures always speak about it as a tradition. Swamiji confirmed that Kumbh Mela was never disconnected even during the Moghul or British invasion, thanks to our sadhus who protected it.
Knowing this made my own experience at Kumbh Mela even more sacred than it was before. I attended the oldest festival on the planet. Even through brutal attacks against us, this tradition withstood. At that moment, an indescribable pride settled in me. The DNA that formed the building blocks of those who protected this religion with their life was running through my own veins.
The interview continued. Rajivji brought up the attacks against Kumbh Mela and the efforts to dismantle it under the guise of human rights and social work. In response to this, Swamiji called out the unawareness that pervades gurus about the kurukshetra, or world war, against Hinduism that is going on currently. As he sat on his throne, hands stretched out on the sculpted golden lions on either side of his seat, Swamiji wore his leadership like armor in this war. After living in the west for most of my life with my parents, I understood the drastic extremes that the world has come to. Where I went to school, every student knew at least one person who committed suicide. Nearly everyone lived under a guise of happiness that covered festering wound inside of them. On top of that, Hinduism- the only way we can save this world- was under attack. Swamiji explained that documentaries and books were being produced to defame naga sadhus, the epitome of Kumbh Mela. These sadhus have the audacity to give every social law for the sake of their spiritual seeking but now they are given a bad name for it. Instead of admiring their courage, we belittle what they are doing.
A call to action was made. To protect the secularization of the Kumbh Mela and maintain the sanctity of it, there should be laws made to ban non-vegetarian food, alcohol and unnecessary commercializing. We cannot tolerate anyone diminishing our tradition. Swamiji insisted, once again, that the teachings gurus share with the world must be acid washed by the sashtras. If they don’t, it will cause severe, unanticipated side effects in the practice that they share with the world. The sashtras cannot be pushed aside as “cultural frills”. Swamiji gave the example of yoga where the parts of yoga are organized into “angas”. The eight parts of yoga are called “ashtaanga yoga”. This is commonly misinterpreted as steps of yoga instead of parts of yoga. One part cannot be without the other. “Sadashiva” Swamiji said, ” is brilliant enough to make a system which keeps itself pure forever-which has self-purification method. Even Ganga is able to purify herself”
From there, the conversation moved to siddhis and the powers that Swamiji’s devotees are able to express. Rajivji explained that to him, siddhis are a science that people have not discovered or acknowledged yet. Swamiji expanded on this idea. He illuminated on another yogic science, the Yoga Padha by Sadashiva, where powers manifest out of a space of oneness. This differs from Patanjali’s aashtanga yoga structure where on the way to enlightenment, siddhis manifest. The powers described by Sadashiva are “shaktis” organized in sashtaanga, or six part, yoga. Swamiji declared that what he is initiating his disciples into are shaktis not siddhis. Shaktis are a sign that the seeker is in rooted in oneness.
For this revelation, the audience applauded loudly and drums rumbled once again. This explanation broke through our understanding of the powers that were expressing among us. I recalled my own practice of third eye reading. I realized that the way I approached powers was wrong. I have always been thinking that on my way to enlightenment, I can manifest powers but, as Swamiji said, for me to manifest powers I have to be in the state of oneness already.
Swamiji confirmed this by telling us, “You do not need to have the worries generated by Patanjalas, the followers of Patanjali. You are Adi Shaivas [followers of Shiva]”.
The crowd roared once more. A reminder of our identity, of our loyalty to Mahadeva, is all it takes for us cheer loudly. In conclusion, Swamiji promised that he is responsible for the enlightenment of his disciples. He would never do anything to jeopardize that. With that, the intoxication of being Shiva, shiva bodha, awakened within all of us once again. Like a beautiful perfume, we inhaled it through our noses and it seeped into our the cells of our body, exciting each one. This was the feeling we were left with as the interview between these two powerful figures of the world
Watch the video of the interview here!