It is said that the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows…however, the learning experience with Dr. Subhash Kak was both a mirror and a window without having to choose between either of the two and still making a connection between the self as a mirror and a window to the world. My exploration of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad along with several tantric texts like the Mahamaya tantra have been revolving around the numerical puzzles and temple architecture of several Shaivite temples across India.
I have been able to take the questions deeper and quite ahead from my reflections from the retreat with Dr.Kak . There have been quite a few Aha moments! Dr. Kak facilitated a sublime learning experience through an open ended discussion and in-depth explanation of varied topics ranging from Upanishads to Vedic rituals to consciousness and ‘The gods within’.
The learning and interaction started with the nature of knowledge and Upanishads followed by the interconnections between Para(unity) and Apara(multiplicity). An in-depth understanding of Svadhyaya and the resulting unraveling inside struck a chord with me and resonated with my lived experience. The discussion on sanskaras and the nature of their masking of our consciousness was quite enlightening and captured my curiosity.
Dr.Kak was so eloquent and at ease that a flow was created in the description of darshana and the associated paradoxes. The balance between tapas (suffering) and goal was a very practical component of our retreat discussions. Learning to hold lightly and letting go emerged at the crux of insight! This component of the retreat was a very practical life tool that he helped us imbibe with great grace and felicity.
Of most delight was the flow created on discussion about sound! Dhwani and its various facets involving resonance resulting in unity as para, the importance of arts to experience para as well as the use of rituals to experience para was a quite invigorating thread. The connection between the outer yagna, the inner yagna and the vedic rituals was a revelation to me!
The next day, discussions went into understanding Shiva from the perspective of Yoga, Tantra as well as the Vedas. The nature and configuration of various deities like Indra, Rudra, Shiva, Vishnu was discussed in great detail and so were their respective manifestations. Dharma was outlined clearly as the domain of the female principle or the goddess. The various traps laid out in the form of rituals, traditions in dharmic traditions was elucidated by Dr. Kak very clearly. It was an eye opener to understand and connect to life as a process of growth and seeking to go beyond understanding that develops at every step.
A very eloquent narrative of the Shatapata Brahmana along with a brief outline of various rituals as stepping stones for further progress was elucidated by Dr.Kak. A very free flowing discussion on the nature of puranas and the poetic nature of compositions therein tied all the discussions with an element of lighter banter and camaraderie. Dr. Kak gave a very detailed explanation and interpretation of his book “ The gods within “ and the importance of the number 108 in astronomical calculations as in the external cosmos and its corresponding reflection in the inner cosmos within us!
All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience full of anecdotes, shared knowledge, great company and most of all engagement and interaction with the most gracious Dr. Subhash Kak and getting to know about his remarkable contributions to Dharma.
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