In the manner of a tribe, we’ve formulated a common language. Outsiders who come to stay a few nights look around the dinner table (no chairs – we sit Indian-style), smiling blankly.
Concepts like the vrittis from Patanjali’s Sutras (the five types of mind content that are blocked by constant practice in order to achieve Pure Mind) are tossed about over dinner. Dozed off during satsang? That’s your sleep vritti acting up. Keep fantasizing about Wolverine during meditation? Hugh Jackman vritti.
Snuck off to your caravan to wolf down half a chocolate bar between sessions? Chocolate vritti. Editor’s Note: Thank god for your black market chocolate supplier, or you’d be forced to light a fire behind Shanti’s shed, sneak a few eggs from the chooks (New Zealand term for chickens), and boil them when the two meals in 15 hours system isn’t working for you. This would be risky because the winds have been approximately 90 miles an hour, so it’s possible you could set the whole swamp behind the shed ablaze and end your yoga teacher training six days early. Oops, maybe your escapism vritti has just activated.
Somehow, our common language seems to encompass all the evil and bothersome ideas we learn about. Although, we do equate chocolate with samadhi (incomparable bliss). But, mostly it’s the mischief that pervades daily conversation.
For example – Papa Perusha. Let’s start at the beginning, by explaining that Shanti doesn’t hold back. Whatever weird or esoteric practice he’s witnessed or experienced, he shares. We love it- mostly. Let’s see – oh yes. Balding? Here’s the tantric Indian version of Rogaine:
- Gather urine in a vial (presumably yours).
- Let it sit (presumably for a while).
- Mix with tumeric (quantity unspecified).
- Apply to area lacking hair. Let the mixture sit (presumably not long enough that you have to go out in public.)
- Wash off.
See what I am learning in yoga school?
We’ve also discussed the Three Faces of Shiva, which led to an account of Shanti’s dealings with the Aghoris, who worship the Divine Consciousness in everything…and eat human flesh. Apparently the skin of the Aghoris is often covered in ash, and this image leads Shanti into the subject of Papa Perusha.
One of the most endearing qualities of Ashram Yoga is the four generations of the family that live here. This blog has contained a lot of description of three of the four men in the family – Laszlo (age 2), Shantimurti and Karmatmurti. In fact, Laszlo’s father, Shanti’s son and Karmamurti’s grandson, lives here as well – Prasad. Prasad doesn’t like yoga much. He has an office near the entrance to the property, where according to Shanti, he smokes cigarettes, drinks beer and sleeps. (He also seems to be constantly fixing things and cooking amazing food, as far as I can tell.)
Anyway, in Prasad’s “man-cave”, Shanti says, there is an image of Papa Perusha willed to him by Bhaktimurti, his grandmother. “If you are brave enough,” Shanti says, “you can go take a look.” (I was brave enough – see below.)
Papa Perusha is apparently the embodiment of all the worst kinds of sin. Shanti looks around and says, “For example, the sin of hiding chocolate in your rooms or talking in your rooms when you are in silence.” Sometimes it feels like Shanti can see deep into my soul. But that is silly, right?
“So how do you overcome Papa Perusha?” I ask.
The answer is complicated. If you really want to know, here’s a link. The process is called Tattwa Shuddhi and it involves a lot more ash.
I prefer to focus on the tattwas themselves, which are actually what our session that day with Shanti was about. Tattwas are the five elements that make up the created element – the ingredients inside everything that exists. By understanding them and their roles a bit, you have the potential to restore balance in many areas of the body.
Here are the Tattwas:
- Earth – Grounded, Connected
- Water – Emotions
- Fire – Creative, Transforming
- Air – Subtle, Spiritual
- Ether – Purifying, Clear
So, despite all the talk of urine, cannibalism and ash, I am still learning amazing methods every day to teach better yoga! And, in the process, maybe shed some vrittis, throw them at Papa Perusha.