and.. I met an aghori

A Aghori sadhu in a cave near badrinath
Creative Commons License Archit Ratan

I just wrote my experience on the website of Haridwarcity. Here is the excerpt.(BTW thats not the aghori I met)

Kid, I have left my world, I do not live for the sake of living , I am living for sake of dying. Death is the one which gives meaning to the life. As Lord Shiva, lives at the uninhabitable Kailasa parvat , though if he could wish live in the Golden Lanka,So do I. To me Shiva is everything, he is in this sands, the flowing water, in the sky , in the living and in the dead. He is in the good and he is in the bad. He is perfect. Good and bad lies in the logic of humans, not in any substance. Everything is Shiva and Shiva is in everything.He is in this water and in the blood as well, so if you can drink this water, why cannot you drink the blood. You will say, blood is unhygienic to drink, but you consider it because you think yourself as the body. If you consider yourself as the atma, and the part of Shiva, will it matter, if blood is hygienic or not? So is the case with the shava (Corpse). What difference does it make , once its dead ? It is just like any other eatable.

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What are the basic lessons from Mahabharata?

Answer by Ashish Gupta:

The reason I like Mahabharata, because it has subtle learnings.

I was unable to find story online, so I typed on my own. Apologies for poor drafting, I was never good at story telling.

Once Arjuna asks Krishna why Yudhishthir is called Dharmaraj (Religion king) and Karna Daanveer (Donation king), as both never refused alms to anyone. Krishna says wait for some time I will let you know.

After a month when in whole kingdom was raining heavily, both (Krishna and Arjuna) in disguise of Brahmins (wise men/priests) first go the Yudhishthir that we are doing a Yagn and need 100Kg of Sandal wood. Yudhishthir immediately sent his servants across the kingdom, and later refused saying it is difficult to find dry Sandal wood anywhere. Let me know if I can arrange anything for you. Both brahmins said “no thanks” and left the place.

Then they went to Karna and made the same demand. Karna thought for a while and said it is raining heavily outside, it is least likeley to get dry Sandal wood. He takes out his bow and arrow and cuts all windows and doors of his palace and compiles them for the brahmins.

Later Krishna says to Arjuna, it is not that Yudhishthir would have refused if we would have asked for wood from his doors and windows. But this idea didn't strike Yudhishthir in first place. Yudhishthir donates because it is written in Dharma (religion), Karna donates because he likes to do it.

The message of the story is very subtle. So many times in office and other places we see people who just put superficial effort to show others and make themselve feel good about that they have done the effort. They don't put their heart and soul in it. Somewhere, getting things done is not in their mind, they do it just because they have to.

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What was the right strategy for Abhimanyu to defeat the Padmavyuha formation from the Mahabharata?

Answer by Navin Pai:

OK, I think I’ll give this one a shot, based off of the stories my  grandmother used to tell me, along with some (very basic) tactics  research.

First  off, it is difficult to imagine the scale of this formation. The  Mahabharat was one of the largest wars ever fought, and armies used a  scale of measure known as Akshauhini to measure strength. As single  Akshauhini consisted of  21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants; 65,610  cavalry and 109,350 infantry[1]. Now, it is said that over the course of  the war, 18-20 Akshauhini senas (armies) were killed. I do not have to  do the calculations for you to figure out how huge the armies actually  were. And this in a concentrated around the Kurukshetra, which is  roughly 48 x 128 Km in area[2]. That makes a very dense war.

So I imagine that there were enough men to spare for a formation like the  Chakravyuha, more so when:

  • It was designed by Drona, one of the smartest tactician on the side of the Kauravas
  • The prize was (originally) Yudhisthira, who was the leader of the Pandavas

The  formation was designed as a spinning wheel (hence the “chakra” in the  name) and a puzzle (hence the “vyuh”), with the formation in a constant  state of rotation…. the rotation may be seen as the motion of the  helix of a screw. The formation was also called Padmavyuh (or the Lotus  formation)[3]. Also, the inner layers were made of of soldiers, each  stronger than the ones on the immediate outer layer. Let us use a gaming  terminology and call the warriors as levels. Level 7 being the  strongest, and lower level warriors at the outside. Here is what would  happen to anyone entering through the mouth (now imagine the same thing  happening DURING WAR)….

And remember, this doesn’t mean the person who entered ran around the maze. The maze engulfed him.. yeah, imagine that:

Think  about it… the warrior is in a constant state of battle while the  formation circles around him. He keeps getting tired, while the further  inside he goes, the less worn out fighters he meets! Both physically and  mentally, this makes it difficult for the warrior who has entered.

Now,  the Chakravyuh was a brilliant military tactic. Basically it was a  juggernaut. The whole formation continuously spun across the  battlefield, continuously fighting, and the moment one member of the  formation was killed, there was a sliding motion that propagated from  the position held by the killed man, right upto the center of the  formation, thus ensuring that at all times, there existed a continuous  maze.

Now coming to the Abhimanyu bit of it. Let’s see the following points:

  • It  may seem logical to enter the Chakravyuh right when the mouth is right  in front of you. As can be seen, you only have to get through 3 circles  of soldiers to get through the center. However, herein lies the catch.  The moment anyone entered the formation through the mouth, the mouth  closed, effectively trapping the person within it…. and facing Level 4  warriors.
  • Also, the warrior  density was more at the center compared to the outside, so it would be  preferable to reduce the density by (basically) decreasing the strength  of the formation (i.e kill more people) to force them to increase the  gap between each other to keep the formation going.

Now, if you’ll excuse my pathetic diagrams , I’ll try explain how Abhimanyu broke in (and could (probably) have broken out).

BREAKING IN:
Now,  a method that unarguably most people would try would be to attack the  person right in front of them, as shown below. Now, what would happen is  that while the warrior may successfully manage to kill the man in front  of him, but his position is instantly taken over by the man to his  right, thereby making a breach impossible.

Now assuming the color blue indicates a neutralized enemy, here’s what happened:

So, here is the technique Abhimanyu used (apparently he learnt about it as a foetus. Mind blowing eh?):
Abhimanyu,  the son of the great archer Arjuna, took out, in quick succession the  people to the left and right instead of up front.

Now,  what this did was, create a movement of soldiers to cover up the gaps,  but for a brief period, left the position right in front of Abhimanyu  open

Now  by using this technique, one may assume that he managed to get through  the first few levels easily, but on the inside, as the density of  warriors increased, the gap created lasted for shorter and shorter  periods of time, making it more and more difficult. Also, no doubt, the  constant rotation would have started playing mind games, but Abhimanyu’s  strategy involved simply creating a path straight though the formation.

Now,  the original deal was that Abhimanyu creates gaps and storms in, and  other Pandavas follow him. But that plan backfired because (I guess) the  formation regained shape quickly enough to prevent people from  following Abhimanyu. Why they didn’t follow the same technique is  something I simply do not know. Perhaps it took a skilled archer to take  out 2 people quickly and get in through the gap, and very few people  (as Drona himself is said to have acknowledged) were as skilled as  Abhimanyu.

So, over time, Abhimanyu keeps going deeper and deeper, all alone.

ESCAPE:
Making  it to the center, Abhimanyu had to face a high density ring on the best  warriors on the Kaurava side, both physically and mentally exhausted. Perhaps, he could continue with this same technique to break out as well. If the  Pandavas had followed him in as planned, they would have more warriors  on the inside, and breaking out would be easier. If the breached the  centre, then the formation may have collapsed on itself. But it’s all  ifs and buts.

It  is said that upon the breach, the whole formation broke and converged  upon Abhimanyu, making it one man against a continuous onslaught of  others. It is difficult to see how long he could survive the attack with  nowhere to escape to.

And that is how it ended. Abhimanyu was killed, trapped in a maze that could, literally “screw” you!

UPDATE: People seem to be confused about the motion of the formation. It’s 2:40 AM here *yawns*, but I’ll try to quickly explain it out!

Let’s not view the formation as a single structure but a combination of 2 structures, a helix, and a multiply curved line. Here is the representation:

Now, for motion, only 2 soldiers become crucial… these are:

The soldier in the blue is responsible for starting the motion, say he takes a step diagonally forward to his left. This starts off a chain reaction, with each soldier taking the position of the soldier on his left, which over time (try to visualize this in your head). In other words, on his 2nd move, the guy to right of the man who starts the motion takes a diagonal step. which the guy on his right copies on his 3rd move. Now the point where the diagonal step is being taken, may be viewed as an exploitable weakness in the structure (I guess..) but this position changes fast enough to deceive the enemy.

The helix motion is initiated by the 2nd important soldier. It is his job to ensure no gaps are left between the 2 structures. So he moves accordingly to ensure the same, and that leads to the helix slowly spinning clockwise. (and forward). The helix is made up of the superior soldiers.

Now again, I’m not Drona, or a military tactician, so it’s difficult to predict if this indeed is how it operated, but in my opinion, this would make a pretty efficient labyrinth…. and all it takes is 2 long lines of soldiers

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akshauhini
[2] http://www.dharmakshetra.com/holy%20land/kurukshetra.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padmavyuha

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What is so special about the word ‘OM’?

Answer by Chris Peters:

Forget the philosophy, find out for yourself! Chant it correctly and you’ll instantly understand why every religion in the world uses the word (yes, even Christianity, more on that in a minute). Even atheists would find OM interesting as the sound has a very clear, physiological affect on the body.

  1. First, know that OM is actually 3 sounds, Aaaaa, Uuuuu, and Mmmmm.
  2. Aaaaa is chanted with the mouth wide open.  You don’t need to intentionally focus on making the vowel sound. Just open wide and the Aaaaa comes out naturally, like opening your mouth for the doctor.
  3. Uuuuu is chanted by forming a circle with your mouth. Again, don’t try to make a specific sound, just form the circle with your mouth and the sound happens naturally.
  4. Mmmmm is just that, making a sound with your mouth closed. Kinda like a bumblebee.
  5. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.  If your mind is super-chatty, try taking 10 deep breaths first. Then chant the 3 sounds, Aaaaa, Uuuuu, Mmmmm separately, with a silent pause in between.  You should feel the Aaaaa vibrate in your belly, Uuuuu vibrate in your chest, and Mmmmm vibrate your head.  Don’t force the vibration, it happens naturally.
  6. Then combine the 3 sounds.  Just start out with the mouth wide open, Aaaaa, and slowly close it to Uuuuu and finally completely closed to Mmmmm. One smooth, slow motion of your mouth from wide open to closed. You should feel a vibration start in your belly and move up your spine as your mouth closes.
  7. Repeat the sound 3 times and then notice how your environment sounds afterwards. Most people experience a distinct stillness in the air. Did you contact heaven or just settle your mind?  Who knows?  Who cares! It just works.

Most of the world’s major religions have a slight variation on OM.  In Christianity, it is AMen; in Islam it is AMin, and in Judaism it is ShalOM. Buddhism uses plain old OM.

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Why being imperfect rocks…

Imperfection is beautiful. Perfect never exist.

Everything is imperfect. Everything has some shortcomings.Even the almighty has some shortcomings, and this has been referenced many times in our scriptures.

Everything that has ever happened is God.
Everything that will never happen is God.
Everything has already happened,
but is also always happening.
It never ends and it never started.
Order and Chaos are the same thing.
Beauty and Ugliness are the same thing.
There is no mine and yours, no us and them.
Right and wrong are an invention of the mind.
Everything is always perfect.
You are perfect.
The beauty
is in the flaw.

The past, present and future, everything is part of God.Perfect is an imperfect form.Perfection is bound by metrics and metrics are imperfect on their own. Perfect never existed, and if does its in form of imperfection. It depends on your views., the glass is either half empty or half filled. Perfection / Imperfection is just an excuse of mind, to address whatever it cant explain.