Pushpam magazine - Issue 2
Publisher - Hamish Hendry
Editor - Genny Wilkinson Priest
Creative Direction - Emma Hetherington and Matt Roach
You may have caught my Review/Look Inside of the first edition of Pushpam Magazine published by Certified Ashtanga teacher Hamish Hendry' of Ashtanga Yoga London. The Pushpam team has done an even better job with issue two from the content, the articles and photos, the paper and right down to the goodies that come tucked inside the frount and back cover.
Don't expect to find any How to get into an asana articles, this magazine is more of a support for practice than a how to manual. It's concerned with philosophy, with the yama and niyamas (which include Svadhyaya - self-study, inquiry, self-examination, reflection) as well as how to make a good spring broth. That said there is a section on Ashtanga and ageing or perhaps rather maturing in the practice.
There is a really nice extended interview with Hamish and Genny on Daniel Simpson's Yoga beyond Asana, a peek in ot the creative process behind the magazine.
|Sanskrit chart tucked inside the frount cover|
|An origami Ganesha. Included are two sheets of paper because obviously you don't have a Ganesh to overcome the obstacle of making the first one and may make a hash of it.|
I should point out that this issue's Sharath section is a quote and photo of his feet, there's no interview.
|The In conversation - Two Certified teachers section is Hamish Hendry talking with Richard Freeman.|
In conversation - Two Certified teachers section is Hamish Hendry talking with Richard Freeman.
I wish this conversation with Richard was longer, the two teachers chatting is such a fine format. Much of the time they are talking about raising kids but at one point we get this wonderful exchange
RF: "There are a lot of students who aren't actually students...."
HH: "So you mean people often forget the reason why they are practicing?"
RF: " Oh I think all the time...."
As with the first issue, nice art and photographs throughout
|Curiously, a financial health check for Teachers.|
I particularly enjoyed this section on Ashtanga and the Autumn of Life, how practice matures ( I have my own page on this topic HERE). It's not just that you can perhaps no longer approach practice as you used to but that you begin to see it for the attachment it is (to advanced asana) and are more ready to let go. Joanne Darby was asked if she misses the practice she used to have ( She used to practice Primary, Intermediate and Advanced series in three hours every morning), no she says "I replace it with pranayama". Rolf Naujokat replies to the same question "Create a practice out of your understanding from what you have (already) learned in order to nourish your body-mind organism in a loving non-violent way" and remember he says "Everything comes and everything goes". The writer of the article and editor of the magazine, Genny Wilkinson Priest concludes the perfectly punctuated piece (in joke) with "For all these older practitioners, Ashtanga continues to support them and shape them they wouldn't dream of quitting and will go on practicing whatever form it takes". She quotes Pattabhi Jois: "Yoga is internal the rest is circus".
My only criticism here is that despite the ageing articles being about letting go of advanced asana the photos are of middle and advanced series asana. It was that reflection that made me realise I still had a fancy ankle grab Kapo as a blog header photo. Just as I've let go of my attachment to my Kapo it seemed a good time to promote the integrated approach to practice that has replaced somewhat the earlier asana madness.
There is a part 2 article on practice and ageing from Philippa Asher, I have a friend who is constantly mentioning what an excellent teacher Philippa is, she will be delighted to see this article from her teacher. here are a couple of quotes from Philipa's article.
"I now also know that the length of my practice in late thirties was too long. Before I was split between Advanced A And Advanced B, it took nearly three hours and i did not menstruate for three years. I should have told my teacher obviously. Ladies' holidays are important and if we women are not menstruating they need to explore why and then address the problem. The practice is all about finding optimum spiritual, physical and mental well-being".
"Growing older makes practice even more interesting."
"It may be possible to sustain my practice through my forties, but I'm guessing that with each subsequent decade I might be inclined to drop half a series".
The pushpam article is an abridgement of an article on Philippa's website
Note: Manju Jois mentions that his father Pattabhi Jois originally taught three series (Primary, Intermediate and Advanced based on Krishnamacharya's primary middle and proficient groups of asana - see Yogasanagalu 1941) later the Advanced series was split into Advanced A and Advanced B as we can see in the original syllabus given to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams in 1974 (http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/p/asana-lists.html), still later the Advanced series was split into 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.
"The Advanced C and Advanced D series in Ashtanga yoga was initially part of the Advanced series. The Advanced series was later renamed the Advanced A & B series. To make the Advanced series more accessible, it was further broken down into the four Advanced series.
The order of the asanas in Advanced C and D has been known to change depending on when it was taught." Matthew Sweeney
There are so many good articles here to get your teeth into, a powerful, moving and at times harrowing article from Matthew Green stood out. Matthew a Falklands veteran and Vippassana practitioner writes a piece called Machine gun Mind: Discovering Inner peace.
The articles are all (?) related in some way to the Gita or at least hang on the theme of the Gita. When I heard this was the idea for the issue I was afraid it would be a "We love the Gita" issue but rather the magazine engages with the Gita, challenges it, the only way to approach such a problematic text.
The Gita raises more questions than it answers. I still find it inexcusable in it's central premise, that Arjuna lays down his arms refusing to kill, friends and family but is persuaded to pick them up again by Krishna.... because it's his duty (Today is the 100th anniversary of The battle of Somme where a million died). No allegorical argument overcomes this sufficiently for me but oh the poetry, the cadence, I can forgive it everything.
I still haven't worked out how Tom's recipe for Broth relates to the Gita other than perhaps Krishna had a flask of it in the chariot to cheer up Arjuna.
Tom includes wakame in his broth, interesting.
|Ganesha across from Socrates|
I've only scratched the surface, I haven't mentioned the article on the Gunas by Zoe Slatoff-Ponte, I need to read it again (see my review post on her book Learn Sanskrit with Zoë Slatoff-Ponté's Yogavataranam - The Translation of yoga).
Shamila Desai (author of Yoga Sadhana for Mothers)has an article on Raising conscious children that I haven't read yet and I would want to read more closely the longer pieces by Mike Burley ( The Many faces of the Bhagavad Gita) and Ruth Westoby (Sacrificing ourselves).
Note to self: I was sent a copy of Shamilla Desai's Yoga Sadhana for Mothers to review a while back. I never did review it.
As with the first edition, along with shorter pithy pieces there are nice length articles in the magazines that will welcome second and third reading.
I hope it runs to twelve editions at least.
Pushpam is a quarterly (or so) yoga magazine. It is published by Hamish Hendry of Astanga Yoga London. Focusing on yoga beyond asana, regular contributors include Sharath Jois, Hamish Hendry, certified Astanga teachers, academics and practitioners from around the world.
available for order online and in UK, India (KPJAYI), US and Australia
and Europe ( or at least it was until my countrymen and women shot themselves in the foot and voted to leave the EU)
AYL Ashtanga Yoga London
The Gita and I have history. I put up a couple of posts on the 'original' Gita back in Sept 2011, Phulgenfa Sinhas's theory that much of the Gita, the theistic aspect, was added after 800AD in response to the Monotheisms that was making inroads to India at the time. Sinha decimates the Gita, reducing it down to pretty much the first three chapters.
You'd think that would put me into Krishna's bad graces but in feb 2012 this happened. I got home from work and for some bizarre reason my copy of the Gita had somehow popped out of my bookcase and was laying on the floor near my mat, inexplicable.
This is the Juan Mascaro penguin translation, my personal favourite just because I find it the most beautiful no doubt because Mascaro introduces something of the cadence of the King James Bible.
A highly readable Sankara treatment of the Gita
Realization of the Supreme Self: The Bhagavad Gita Yoga-s Paperback – January 1, 2002
by Trevor Leggett
3. Videos: The Gita section from Petter Brooks Mahabharata
Peter Brooks Mahabharata on Youtube
I have the best memory of sneaking into one of the classrooms at LMU on Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama TT to watch all three DVDs
I strongly recommend buying the DVD but if you mind it difficult to get hold of here so here it is on Youtube.
Appendix- The original Gita?
I strongly recommend buying the DVD but if you mind it difficult to get hold of here so here it is on Youtube.
Appendix- The original Gita?
from an earlier blog post 13 Sept 2011
The Gita Code : Phulgenda Sinha's 'The Gita as it was'
Sinha writes of the Samkha
'These interpolations are so evident that they should have been noticed by the many scholars who have written on Samkhy philosophy. Most interestingly, these interpolations betray themselves when Samkhy-karika is referred to as the shasti-tantra ( the science of sixty verses). Our suspicions are immediately aroused seeing that there are 73 verses, 13 too many' p121
Attempting to identify the original versions of these texts is not new. It's not so much a question of IF verses have been interpolated but rather WHICH verses, HOW MANY and WHY.
Sinha claims that what distinguishes his approach is that he is considering these texts together, rather than in isolation and out of their historical context. He argues that the Yoga Sutra is based on Samkhya philosophy and so cuts away anything not in keeping with that philosophy. The Gita, in turn, is based on Samkhy and Yoga and gets cut accordingly.
'(i) The basis of yoga as a discipline and as a system is known as Samkhya Darshan ( Samkhya philosophy). This philosophy was established by Kapila, who lived about 700 B. C.
(ii) Though yoga was practiced during the period of Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilisation (generally dated 3000 B.C), we do not have any deciphered writing on Yoga from that period. The first known and comprehensively discussed book on the Yoga is Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, dated about 400 B.C. In yoga Sutra, Patanjali accepted everything taught by Kapila in his Samkhya Philosophy, and added more to make a comprehensive system for achieving a healthy, happy and creative life.
(iii) Yoga reached it's highest and most glorious stage in the work of Vyasa in about 400 B.C. Vyasa wrote the Gita by incorporating all the basic theories and concepts of Kapila and Patanjali and by adding much original thought of his own. Thus by 400 B.C. India as a civilisation had produced a matchless philosophical work presented in the simple form of song, telling how dukha (sorrow) can be eliminated and how sukha (happiness) in life can be achieved. This philosophical work was the Gita.
(iv) In the post vedic period, up to 800 A.D., the thinkers and writers of India were men of a rational outlook. They did not accept the idea of a single, almighty deity. A close study of all the available records indicates that theistic concepts were non-existent in India prior to about 800 A.D.
(v) In a surprising way, the thought pattern of India changed after 800 A.D. Monotheism made sudden inroads into India.' p. xvi
Now this is were the book at times sounds like a classic conspiracy theory novel.
Sinha argues that India became more exposed to monotheism through some Christian colonies, trade relations with Alexandria particularly in the south of India and in 711 A.D. the arrival of Islam in Sindh, one of the four provinces of present day Pakistan.
However it was the revival of Brahmanism. and the Brahmin acceptance of Monotheism that ultimately resulted in the rewriting of the Gita, Samkhy karika and Yoga Sutra.
'Brhamins accepted monotheism and began interpreting the whole history of India, from Vedas to Upanishads, in a completely new way'. p 93
Shankaracharya, in particular, is named and shamed.
'Shankaracharya was the first Indian to openly accept, propagate and expound the concept of monotheism as a part of Hindu religion' p95
The Consequences for yoga
'In answer to a question raised by Arjuna as to who are better versed in yoga. Krishna says:
"Those who fix their mind on me, worship me, with highest faith are the best in yoga in my opinion" (XII,2)
"If you are unable to fix your mind on me, then seek to reach me by constant practice of Yoga, o Arjuna" (XII, 9)
" But, if you are unable to do even this, then, seek union with me and renounce the fruits of all actions while controlling your mind " (XII,11)
There is little wonder then that yoga could no longer remain a secular system. It could neither become popular with the masses not be taught in the academic institutions of India - until recently. Yoga became a system of practice mixed with religious, spiritual and cultic values, and it remained confined to ashrams (centres dedicated to religious values and practices).
The cult of guruism developed. Those learning and practicing Yoga in the ashrams became disciples of the guru (master of the centre) and worked as devout followers of the cult. being cultic, it thrived on secrecy, mysticism, rituals, superstitions and devotion. yoga became sectarian." p 114
What Sinha is really concerned with is the future of India. He is basically arguing that India took a wrong turn around 800AD, from rationalism to spiritualism and that this is why India has, despite it's wealth of resources, lagged behind other societies and civilisations ever since. A rediscovery of India's rationalist roots he seems to believe will revitalise India.
This is a highly readable textual study, at times it reads like a novel with good guys and bad guys, conspiracies galore. It's almost an Indian Da Vinci code. It had me running to google and the library to try and check facts and sources. He wears his motives on his sleeve a little too much for my liking, but they are noble motives. I don't think I swallow half of his story but then you don't have to.
The only thing to decide is if the Gita and the Yoga Sutra changed dramatically to incorporate monotheism or not.
The book is out of print but there are some used copies floating around Amazon. Get a copy while you still can and decide for yourself.
Below are my earlier posts with Sinha's 'original' Yoga Sutra ( the text in the post are the same verses but from an online source, not Sinha's translation) as well as the verses that get left out.
The original Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
and here's the my earlier post on the Gita ( again not Sinha's translation).
The Original Gita. No Surrender! ( Updated with the original Gita? )
Of course if you do manage to eliminate spiritualism and mysticism from the Gita and Yoga Sutra your left with Samkhya, dualism. A case of out of the frying pan and back into the proverbial fire.
And one possible response
So here it is, the supposed original Bhagavad Gita
Ch. I 28-34,37,40, 46-47.
Ch. II 3, 11-31, 34-36, 39-41, 48, 50, 53, 56-58, 60, 64-70.
Ch. III 1-9, 16-21, 23-29, 32-35, 38-40, 42-43.
Bhagavad gita, as it was?
Sinha's verses outlined above taken from the online edition HERE ( but remember this is not Sinha's own translation, still waiting for his book to arrive, this should give us a general idea however).
Arjuna was overcome with great compassion
And sorrowfully said:
O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing
With a desire to fight,
My limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry.
My body quivers
And my hairs stand on end.
The bow, Gaandeeva, slips from my hand
And my skin intensely burns.
My head turns,
I am unable to stand steady
And, O Krishna,
I see bad omens.
I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle.
I desire neither victory
Nor pleasure nor kingdom,
O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom,
Or enjoyment, or even life, O Krishna?
Because all those, for whom we desire kingdom,
Enjoyments, and pleasures,
Are standing here for the battle,
Giving up their lives and wealth.
Teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers,
Maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons,
Brothers-in-law, and other relatives.
Therefore, we should not kill our brothers,
The sons of Dhritaraashtra.
How can we be happy
After killing our kinsmen, O Krishna?
With the destruction of the family,
The eternal family traditions are destroyed,
And immorality prevails
Due to the destruction of family traditions.
It would be far better for me
If the sons of Dhritaraashtra should kill me
With their weapons in battle
While I am unarmed and unresisting.
Sanjaya said: Having said this in the battle field
And casting aside his bow and arrow,
Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot
with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow.
Do not become a coward, O Arjuna,
Because it does not befit you.
Shake off this weakness of your heart
And get up (for the battle), O Arjuna.
Krishna said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief,
And yet speak the words of wisdom.
The wise grieve neither
For the living nor for the dead.
There was never a time when I, you,
Or these kings did not exist;
Nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.
Just as the Atma acquires a childhood body,
A youth body, and an old age body during this life,
Similarly Atma acquires another body after death.
The wise are not deluded by this.
The contacts of the senses with the sense objects
Give rise to the feelings of heat and cold,
And pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent.
Therefore, endure them, O Arjuna.
Because the calm person,
Who is not afflicted by these feelings
And is steady in pain and pleasure,
Becomes fit for immortality, O Arjuna.
There is no nonexistence of the Sat And no existence of the Asat.
The reality of these two
Is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth.
Know That, by which all this is pervaded,
To be indestructible.
No one can destroy the indestructible.
Bodies of the eternal, imperishable,
And incomprehensible soul
Are said to be perishable.
Therefore, fight, O Arjuna.
The one who thinks that Atma is a slayer,
And the one who thinks that Atma is slain,
Both are ignorant,
Because Atma neither slays nor is slain.
The Atma is neither born
Nor does it die at any time,
nor having been it will cease to exist again. I
t is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval.
The Atma is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.
O Arjuna, how can a person
Who knows that the Atma is indestructible, eternal,
Unborn, and imperishable,
kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?
Just as a person puts on new garments
After discarding the old ones, Similarly Atma acquires new bodies
After casting away the old bodies.
Weapons do not cut this Atma,
Fire does not burn it,
Water does not make it wet,
And the wind does not make it dry.
This Atma cannot be cut, burned, wetted, or dried up.
It is eternal, all pervading,
Unchanging, immovable, and primeval.
The Atma is said to be unmanifest,
Unthinkable, and unchanging.
Knowing this Atma as such you should not grieve.
If you think that this (body) takes birth
And dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna,
You should not grieve like this.
Because, death is certain for the one who is born,
And birth is certain for the one who dies.
Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.
All beings, O Arjuna, are unmanifest
Before birth and after death.
They are manifest between birth and death only.
What is there to grieve about?
Some look upon this Atma as a wonder,
Another describes it as wonderful, And others hear of it as a wonder.
Even after hearing about it no one actually knows it.
O Arjuna, the Atma that dwells in the body of all (beings)
Is eternally indestructible.
Therefore, you should not mourn for any body.
Considering also your duty as a warrior
You should not waver.
Because there is nothing more auspicious
For a warrior than a righteous war.
People will talk about your disgrace forever.
To the honored, dishonor is worse than death.
The great warriors will think
That you have retreated from the battle out of fear.
Those who have greatly esteemed you
Will lose respect for you.
Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words
And scorn your ability.
What could be more painful than this?
The wisdom of Saamkhya
Has been imparted to you, O Arjuna.
Now listen to the wisdom of Karma-yoga
Endowed with which you will free yourself
From the bondage of Karma.
In Karma-yoga no effort is ever lost,
And there is no harm.
Even a little practice of this discipline
Protects one from great fear.
Those who are resolute
Have only one thought (of Self-realization),
But the thoughts of the irresolute
Are endless and many-branched, O Arjuna.
Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna,
With your mind attached to the Lord,
Abandoning (worry and) attachment to the results,
And remaining calm in both success and failure.
The equanimity of mind is called Karma-yoga.
A Karma-yogi gets freedom
From both vice and virtue in this life itself.
Therefore, strive for Karma-yoga.
Working to the best of one's abilities
Without getting attached to the fruits of work
Is called (Nishkaama) Karma-yoga.
When your intellect,
That is confused by the conflicting opinions
And the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas,
Shall stay steady and firm with the Self,
Then you shall attain Self-realization.
A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow,
Who does not crave pleasures, and who is free
From attachment, fear, and anger;
Such a person is called a sage of steady Prajna.
Those who are not attached to anything,
Who are neither elated by getting desired results
Nor troubled by undesired results,
Their Prajna is deemed steady.
When one can completely withdraw
The senses from the sense objects
As a tortoise withdraws its limbs,
Then the Prajna of such a person
Is considered steady.
Restless senses, O Arjuna,
Forcibly carry away the mind
Of even a wise person
Striving for perfection.
A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects
With senses that are under control
And free from likes and dislikes,
All sorrows are destroyed
Upon attainment of tranquillity.
The intellect of such a tranquil person
Soon becomes completely steady.
There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception
To those whose senses are not under control.
Without Self-perception there is no peace;
And without peace there can be no happiness.
The mind, when controlled by the roving senses,
Steals away the Prajna as a storm takes away a boat
On the sea from its destination, the spiritual shore.
Therefore, O Arjuna,
One's Prajna becomes steady
Whose senses are completely withdrawn
From the sense objects.
A yogi is aware of the thing (or Atma)
About which others are unaware.
A sage who sees is unaware
Of the experience (of sense objects)
About which others are aware.
One attains peace in whose mind
All desires enter without creating any disturbance,
As river waters enter the full ocean
Without creating a disturbance.
One who desires material objects is never peaceful.
If You consider that transcendental knowledge
is better than work
Then why do You want me to engage
in this horrible war, O Krishna?
You seem to confuse my mind by apparently conflicting words.
Tell me, decisively, one thing by which I may attain the Supreme.
In this world, O Arjuna, a twofold path of Sadhana has been stated by Me in the past.
The path of Self-knowledge (Jnana-yoga) for the contemplative,
And the path of unselfish work (Karma-yoga) for the active.
One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma
by merely abstaining from work.
No one attains perfection by merely giving up work.
Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment.
Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed,
by the Gunas of nature.
The deluded ones, who restrain their organs of action
but mentally dwell upon the sense enjoyment,
are called hypocrites.
The one who controls the senses by the mind and intellect,
and engages the organs of action to Nishkaama Karma-yoga,
is superior, O Arjuna.
Perform your obligatory duty,
because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body
would not be possible by inaction.
Human beings are bound by Karma
other than those done as Yajna (sacrifice).
Therefore, O Arjuna, do your duty efficiently
as a service or Seva to Me,
free from attachment to the fruits of work.
The one who does not help to keep the wheel of creation
in motion by sacrificial duty, and who rejoices in sense pleasures,
that sinful person lives in vain, O Arjuna.
The one who rejoices in the Self only,
who is satisfied with the Self,
who is content in the Self alone,
for such a (Self-realized) person there is no duty.
Such a person has no interest, whatsoever,
in what is done or what is not done.
A Self-realized person does not depend on anybody for anything.
Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently
and without attachment to the results,
because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme.
King Janaka and others attained perfection
by Karma-yoga alone.
You should perform your duty with a view to guide people
and for the universal welfare (of the society).
Because, whatever noble persons do, others follow.
Whatever standard they set up, the world follows.
Because, if I do not engage in action relentlessly,
O Arjuna, people would follow My path in every way.
These worlds would perish if I do not work,
and I shall be the cause of confusion and
destruction of all these people.
As the ignorant work, O Arjuna,
with attachment (to the fruits of work),
so the wise should work without attachment,
for the welfare of the society.
The wise should not unsettle the mind of the ignorant
who is attached to the fruits of work,
but the enlightened one should inspire others
by performing all works efficiently without attachment.
All works are being done by the Gunas of nature,
but due to delusion of ego
people assume themselves to be the doer.
The one who knows the truth, O Arjuna,
about the role of Guna and action
does not get attached to the work,
knowing that it is the Gunas that work
with their instruments, the organs.
Those who are deluded by the Gunas of nature
get attached to the works of the Gunas.
The wise should not disturb the mind of the ignorant
whose knowledge is imperfect.
But, those who carp at My teaching and do not practice it,
consider them as ignorant of all knowledge, senseless, and lost.
All beings follow their nature.
Even the wise act according to their own nature.
What, then, is the value of sense restraint?
Raga and Dvesha (or the attachments and aversions)
for the sense objects remain in the senses.
One should not come under the control of these two,
because they are two stumbling blocks, indeed,
on one's path of Self-realization.
One's inferior natural work is better
than superior unnatural work.
Death in carrying out one's natural work is useful.
Unnatural work produces too much stress.
Kama, the passionate desire
for all sensual and material pleasures,
becomes anger if it is unfulfilled. As the fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion,
similarly the Self-knowledge gets obscured by Kama.
O Arjuna, Jnana gets covered by this insatiable fire of Kaama,
the eternal enemy of Jnani.
The senses, the mind, and the intellect
are said to be the seat of Kaama.
Kama, with the help of the senses,
deludes a person by veiling Jnana.
The senses are said to be superior,
the mind is superior to the senses,
the intellect is superior to the mind,
and Atma is superior to the intellect.
Thus, knowing the Atma to be superior to the intellect,
and controlling the mind by the intellect,
one must kill this mighty enemy, Kama, O Arjuna.