Journey to Kedarnath
Kumbh Mela 2010
A Walk in the Clouds
Into the Gnar
Tales from the Gnar
Close Encounters of the Hiker Kind
The Copper Plate Man
In my world predictions talks, of the past several years, I have been describing how, even though I believe that our long term direction is toward the growth of consciousness and positive evolution, the world seems to be temporarily moving in a direction of chaos and ignorance. This opinion has been shared by one of India’s greatest sages, Swami Sivanandamurty, who has told me on several occasions that he sees the world degenerating into a state of adharma (the absence of cosmic law and truth) between 2012 to 2020. He feels that this degeneration will culminate in 2020, at the time of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. As we approach that time, and especially for a few years before and after that date, he feels that the world may experience the resultant effects of a kind of cosmic disconnect. A dramatic example of how nature reacts, when Dharma is abandoned, occurred on June 16th, when someone took the statue from the Dhari Devi temple in the Himalayas near Rudrapryag, India.
As many of you know, I have spent a good deal of time in India and have traveled extensively in the Himalayas, visiting the many shrines and temples there. India is a land of temples, and the Hindu religion is a religion of gods and goddesses. Many westerners look upon the intense devotion that most Indians have towards various gods and goddesses as superstition. They don’t understand how, if “God is one”, there can also be multiple gods. Hinduism explains this conundrum elegantly by saying that, even though there is an ultimate, absolute non dual God, the Divine expresses itself in many forms. It is also true that individual people are unique. It is the differences in our individual karmas, and therefore our individual horoscopes, that makes each of us different. So it is natural for different people to worship god in different ways. As a result, each devoted Hindu worships the form of god that matches his unique individual needs.
To this end, India has an ancient and rich tradition of building temples to various deities, representing various aspects of the divine. Over thousands of years, millions of people have visited these shrines and temples, offering their fervent prayers and devotion. In some of these temples, this constant expression of devotion has resulted in what is thought to be an awakening of the deity represented by the statue in the temple. These “awakened” temples become places of power, attracting pilgrims from all over India, many of whom experience miraculous events and deep transformation when they visit such sites.
One such “power center” has been the temple of Dhari Devi, located in Sirinigar, along the Ganges river. Dhari Devi is the presiding deity of that temple, and she is said to be the protector of the Char Dhams which are four great temples that are worshiped in that area. I have personally visited three out of these four pilgrimage sites and found them all to possess a rare and profound spiritual energy. The Dhari Devi Temple is one of India’s 108 Shakti Peeths. These are places where the energy of Shakti, who is the expression of the divine female principal, has manifested in a particularly powerful way.
According to Hindu Mythology, Siva’s (the god of destruction) wife, Sati, cast herself into a sacrificial fire when her father insulted Siva. Siva took her burnt, dead body and used it in a ritual dance of destruction throughout the universe. Then Vishnu threw his discus to cut Sati’s body in order to stop the destructive ritual. The various parts of the Sati’s cut up body fell in various parts of India, producing the various power points that are now called the Shakti Peeths.
During my many journeys to this part of the Himalayas, I have often been saddened by the careless devastation of the environment caused by the many hydroelectric projects that have sprung up in the last few decades. In the name of material progress, corrupt Indian government officials have allowed big corporations to rape and pillage the natural beauty of many areas along the Ganges. It is a real tragedy.
One big hydroelectric project recently became the apparent trigger of the tragedy at Dhara Devi, which many people believe to be a divine reaction by nature. A large company was developing yet another dam along the Ganges, and the Dhara Devi temple became the source of controversy. The company who was running the project felt that the temple was inconveniently placed, and they wanted to move it. In spite of resistance by thousands of devout Hindus, the company pressed on with their project and with the political pressure to move the temple. On June 16th, about 6:30 p.m., someone forcibly removed the deity from the temple. Within minutes, a violent lightning and thunder storm began, and extremely heavy rain began to fall. The entire area was inundated with water. The resulting flooding and mud slides killed thousands of people. Kedarnath, the great temple to Shiva, located at 14,000 feet, was also completely devastated. Huge flash floods swept away the small village below the temple. The mud-slides caused a huge boulder to roll off the mountain, coming to rest just behind the temple. That boulder diverted the raging waters protecting the temple itself and, amazingly, the temple was the only thing in Kedarnath that remained unharmed.
The last time I visited Kedarnath temple, I spent an evening sitting with Kedaranath Baba, a Sadhu (monk) who keeps a Dhuni (sacred fire) going in his hut just behind the Kedarnath temple. The purpose of the hut and the Dhuni is to provide a safe, warm, place for other sadhus who come to visit Kedarnath. The snow was just starting to fall, and there were about five other people sitting around the fire. At about 9 p.m., an old Sadhu, possibly 70 years old, entered the hut and sat down to warm himself in front of the fire. I couldn’t help but wonder at the fact that he had just hiked 14 miles up the mountain, dressed in nothing but a dhoti (cotton cloth) and a thin wool blanket around his shoulders. He moved slowly as he sat down, obviously feeling both his age and the cold, yet he did not seem to have any signs of hypothermia. Kedarnath Baba immediately gave the sadhu a hot cup of tea and some food. He has been feeding Sadhus like this for many years as a form of spiritual service.
Last night I gave a lecture at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram here in Grass Valley. I spoke to Pandit Sharma, a Vedic pundit who has a house near that part of the Himalayas. He told me that no one has heard from Kedarnath baba since the time of the flash floods. “Thousands of people have simply disappeared," he said. "Many of my friends and neighbors have relatives that have simply gone missing."
In 1882, a similar event occurred when a local King attempted to move the Dhara Devi Temple. The result was an identical violent storm that caused landslides and devastated the area, including Kedarnath. In this instance, however, the wayward King quickly realized his mistake and immediately replaced the statue in the temple. Interestingly, the storm abated, and the damage was not as great as in the current case.
Astrologically, it is interesting to look at the positions of the planets at the time that the statue was removed. There is a powerful Kalasarpa yoga (some call this version Kalaamrita yoga) in the chart. This yoga (combination of planets) focuses on the Rahu/Saturn conjunction. This conjunction is taking place in the twelfth house, the house of retreats and pilgrimage sites. The tremendous power of the goddess Dharadevi is shown by a four-planet conjunction in the 8th house, the house of Shakti (spiritual power). This placement, as well as the Scorpio (a water sign) ascendant, shows the tremendous upheaval and change that resulted. It is also interesting to note that in 1882, the Dhari Devi event took place when Saturn was conjuncting Ketu. The 2013 Dhari Devi event took place while Saturn was conjuncting Rahu. Both conjunctions suggest a build up of collective karma.
The planet that represents the goddess in this horoscope is Jupiter. Jupiter is placed in the sign of Gemini in Mrigashira nakshatra. Mrigashira is symbolized by the head of a deer and it is associated with the following story: Lord Brahma, the creator, had a daughter, and she was very beautiful. He became attracted to his own daughter, so he started to chase her. She became afraid, so she took the form of a doe, jumped into the sky, and ran across the heavens. He took the form of a stag and chased after her. Then Siva saw what was happening, so he cut off the head of the stag, and severed head took its place in the heavens as the constellation of Mrigashira.
Even though I have done thousands of horoscopes, the way in which these astrological myths are played out in real life never ceases to amaze me. In this case, the raping of the environment by big corporations and the Indian government, is represented by the incestuous desire of Brahma as he chased after his own daughter. The massive flooding that resulted is symbolized by Siva's retribution as he cuts off the head of the stag.
Historically, this type of event is not confined to India. In several ancient civilizations there are stories that have a similar tone. In response to the wholesale abandonment of righteousness, for example, there was a flood in Noah’s time. Swami Sivanandamurty has frequently told me that when mankind loses its way and right action is abandoned, nature sometimes reacts with violent events. He has also said that this type of event is likely to increase as we get closer to 2020.
On the karmic lever, however, Sivanandamurty said, “Even though this event may have been a karmic reaction by nature, the reaction had been building up for a very long time and was not caused by the simple stealing of a statue. Thousands of innocent people were killed in the flooding. There is no such thing as divine retribution caused by an 'angry god'.”
This event was simply a natural coincidence to the collective karma of the nation, and of the world. We do not live in isolation from nature, we are part of it. Sometimes our collective karmas are played out with nature being the “nimitta karan”, the instrumental cause. A nimitta, or instrumental cause, simply coincides with an event, but doesn’t really cause it. It is the expression of individual and collective karma that is the real cause. Nimittas are usually pregnant with symbolism, however, so they are frequently mistaken for the actual cause. This is why nearly all cultures have tended to anthropomorphize such cataclysmic events in the past, and it is how many of the myths about the gods are born.
The gods are simply personifications of various real aspects of nature. For example, in the Vedic tradition, one of Siva’s expressions is called Rudra, the wrathful form that shows Siva in his spiritual state of righteous indignation. In the puranas it says, “When Rudra was born, he cried. His father, lord Brahma, said, why are you crying? Rudra replied, “Because I don’t have a name.” His father said, “then I will call you Rudra”, which means “to cry”. It is interesting to note that the Dhari Devi temple is located very near the town of Rudrapryag, a town devoted to Rudra. Here again the symbolism is striking. On the surface it seems that when dharma is abandoned and replaced by corporate greed and governmental corruption, Rudra is moved to tears and then wrathful retribution. In this case his tears filled the entire environment in a dramatic display of divine power. On a deeper level, however, the event was only a nimitta, a sign in the natural environment that dharma, in general, is beginning to wane.
Whether you take this event as a dramatic expression of the wrath of god, or simply as a nimitta karan, it is clear that chaos and confusion seems to be increasing in our world. Events, such as the stealing of the Dhari Devi statue, only serve to remind us of how wholesale greed and corruption breeds a sort of arrogant disrespect for nature and its divine laws. While there may not be any such thing as a wrathful god, doling out divine punishment, it is hard to witness such an event without being moved, and like Rudra, shedding a few tears.