Mercury Day Poetry: From the Rig Veda

How old? Really, really old.

Get ready to have your mind blown. I’m taking a course in the Rig Veda, and our text is Wendy Doniger’s elegant translation (Doniger is also the author of another excellent book, The Hindus). The Rig Veda is the oldest of the Vedas, and it’s full of poetry.

I’m learning how important poetry and poets are in the Vedas, and I’m getting a very puffed up image of myself as a result (my being a poet and all).

This selection is a Creation Hymn (“Nasadiya”), a famous one. There are a number of reasons why I picked it: I love paradoxes and contradictions, rhetorical questions; but most of all I like the use of “that” in it, and of the incredibly useful word “whence” (fallen out of fashion now, and that’s too bad).

Wondering how it all got started? Answers below. Fasten your mental seat belts.

Rgveda 10.129

  1. There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep?
  2. There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
  3. Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.
  4. Desire came upon that one in the beginning; that was the first seed of mind. Poets seeking in their hear with wisdom found the bond of existence in non-existence.
  5. Their cord was extended across. Was there below? Was there above? There were seed-placers; there were powers. There was impulse beneath; there was giving forth above.
  6. Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
  7. Whence this creation has arisen—perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not—the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows—or perhaps he does not know.

Posted by Bobbie

Taking yoga from enlightenment to just health

A few days ago, I suggested one very good reason not to do Ashtanga: It will mess with your insides. (The “insides” you can’t really find unless you use your imagination or expand your consciousness.)

'The Beauty of Enlightenment,' via

That, of course, is the point to yoga, if you boil it down to its overly nitty-gritty.

But we all also know that a lot of the yoga classes and yoga teachers in America aren’t focused much, if at all, on the subtle body. It’s all asana, all the time. (Yes, as Tim Miller might say, that gives us plenty of times to make asanas of ourselves.) It’s about sculpted abs, a taunt butt and lean muscles.

In other words, in America yoga pretty much equals asana (stretches, poses, maybe some movement). How else would you explain what “paddleboard yoga” or “anti-gravity yoga” are? Any chance those get toward Dhyana? (Don’t believe they exist? Internet search, my friend.)

The question this focus poses is: Is yoga in America, in the West, losing part of its core?

That’s the subject of yet another Huffington Post piece (I promise we aren’t going to link to HuffPo every day, and the last one was for a good cause!), this one by Philip Goldberg, author of “America Veda.” In it, he writes:

That yoga might become permanently identified with asana alone troubles many practitioners and teachers. It concerns me too, but I think it is unlikely to happen. For one thing, yoga’s deeper, more profound purpose is so compelling, so enticing, so embedded in the core of our being, that a large percentage of practitioners find their way to it, regardless of their initial motivation. For another, leaders in the yoga community are taking steps to ensure that the full array of yogic teachings remains in the forefront, even while accommodating the immediate needs and desires of beginning students.

He goes on to suggest that some people (i.e. Yoga Alliance) are considering a two-step sort of accreditation (let’s save the argument about that subject for another day): one is for people specializing in the physical side of yoga and another for those who have a mastery of all eight limbs of yoga.

He actually writes “those with a firm grasp of all eight limbs of classical yoga.” So, quick digression. I know the intent of this. But, then I think: Wait, who is going to judge that? What’s the test for having a “firm grasp” of Samadhi, let alone Dhyana? Would some of the celebrity yogis get this, shall we say, “higher” level of accreditation? What if Seane Corn gets it, but Shiva Rea doesn’t?

And: Who judges?

OK, I know that’s not the real intent; we are talking practicality here, we’re talking capitalism. If you’ve studied Patanjali and are able to discuss the Vedas and maybe the symbolic meaning of the Ramayana, you’ll probably be eligible for the “eight-limb OK.”

My point is: Would that really address the issue? Who would the audience be for this accreditation? And would it really define “true yoga” for “asana yoga”?

Posted by Steve