Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana- 18 - Guru Vandana


To celebrate, acknowledge and honour all the Gurus

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima



Rendering compositions on Guru


Mangala Subrahmanya, Vijayashree Rao, Manasa Gireesh, Madhuri K.V, Thejaswini, Nagashree Narayan, Vaishnavi Mayya, Manasa K.S and Pavani Kashinath.

Guests of Honour

Keerthanacharya Shri Lakshmandas Velankar

Vidushi Sudha V Murthy

Vidushi Rohini Manjunath

 Dr. B
M Jayashree

Vidushi Kamala Balaji

Guru Darshana  

Guru is the
primordial entity who helps the aspirant to seek the absolute supreme. Guru’s
grace is the benevolence of the almighty himself. Sanaatana Dharma has always
given importance to Guru, and the Guru is seen with great reverence by the
shishya. Indian music which dates back to the Vedic period, follows this
tradition and many compositions were composed by composers on their respective

Guru Darshana is conceived on this theme. Guru has been portrayed by
different composers in different ways. This presentation comprises compositions
of Tyagaraja, Muttuswami Dikshitar, Mysore Vasudevacharya, Maharaja
Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, Meera Bai, Havina Haalakallaya, Chenna Basavanna and
Rajaram who have portrayed Guru in a unique style.

Date and Time: 25th August 2019, 10AM (please be seated by 9.45AM)

Venue: Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy

Shop No. 36,
9th Main, B V Karanth Road, Near Post Office,

9th Main Road,
Banashankari Stage II,

Karnataka 560070

Ph No: +91 98455 14661, +91 99867 99652


About Vanamala Center for Art and Culture

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, the brainchild of Dr. Meera
Rajaram Pranesh, traces its origin to 1995 when it was first instituted as
Vanamala Art Foundation. Over the years it evolved into an organization for
promoting Indian art and culture. Vanamala Center for Art and Culture provides
an environment for learning, through expert guidance, to preserve, promote and
propagate Indian Art and Culture for posterity.

Our Publications:


  • Musical Composers during Wodeyar Dynasty (1638-1947 AD)– Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh- Rs.150/-
  • Harikeshanallur Dr L Mutthaih Bhagavatar- A Biography- Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh Rs:400/-
  • Journal- with 51 articles on various art forms authored by research scholars all over India, released during National Seminar on Katha Keertan conducted by the Center.
  • Kannada Suladis of Haridasas- Rs:250/-


  • DVD- Documentary Sri Chakra Darshana in English and Kannada through Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis Script and Direction- Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh and Dr A Pranesh – Rs 400/-
  • Kannada Suladis of
    - Rs:250/-


  • Bhakti Yaana- Bhaktiyaana- Songs depicting the daily
    upacharas from Suprabhata to Laali to Lord Lakshmi Narayana –Rs 50/-
  • Sarvam Brahmamayam- Collection of devotional songs- Vidushi H K
    Kamala Balaji- Rs:100/-

The latest offering of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture includes
Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana a series of lecture demonstrations which touches
upon various facets of Indian art and culture. It has conducted more than 17
lecture demonstrations by scholars in various fields under this series.

For more details about the Center log on to

Yoga Classes

Private Classes
Therapy: One on one session 

Yoga therapy is derived from the Yoga tradition and refers to the application
of Yoga techniques and practice to help individuals facing health challenges
and manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance in their
The objective of the Private Yoga sessions is to provide therapy focusing on
certain disorders or it can be generic for the overall improvement of health
and maintaining fitness. The sessions are designed in such a way that they will
enable the person practicing to continue the same without the supervision of
the therapists in due time. 
The private sessions are individualized according to the requirements of the
client and it involves specialized techniques by the therapists. The Yoga
intervention designed by our therapists work on all five layers of the
individual – physical, pranic, mental, intellectual and bliss. The Yoga
therapists’ team in VCAC has specialization in different fields. The private
sessions are conducted at the convenience of the client. 

Yoga for Infertility 

Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after 2 years of unprotected
intercourse. Sindhoora, our therapist has a specialization in treating patients
with infertility and has treated many patients into positive outcome through
Yoga therapy. Yoga for Infertility offers a specific sequence of reclining,
inverted and standing postures, Pranayama and relaxation techniques. This
combination improves the blood circulation to the pelvis and reduces the stress
levels in couples undergoing either fertility treatment or trying to conceive
naturally. Asanas together with Pranayama have a positive impact on stress and
infertility. Yogasanas influence the chemical balance of the brain which in turn
improves the mental state of being. The Asanas activate glands and vital organs
by supplying blood to brain. 
The Yoga therapy for infertility has been designed with elements from Haṭha
Yoga, Patañjali Yoga and Garbhopaniṣad. Having a calm mind at the time of
conception has a huge impact on the development of baby. Yoga helps in
developing a positive environment for the conception and treatment. 

Pre-natal Yoga 

Having a positive environment is very important for the development of baby.
Pre-natal Yoga is a structured program for pregnant women. The sequence of
Asanas has been structured to accommodate to different trimesters. The sequence
also includes Pranayama and relaxation techniques which creates a positive
environment for the development of the baby. 

Yoga for Women 

There are three important milestones in a woman. They are menarche, pregnancy
and menopause. Practicing Yoga can help in preventing any ailments that affect
women during these phases. Yoga can help in correcting degeneration of bones.
It also helps in regulating menstrual disorders, osteoporosis and the side
effects of Menopause. We, at VCAC offer therapy and general classes exclusively
for women with different menstrual problems and problems related

Yoga Therapy for Orthopedic

Poor posture and lack of exercises leads to stiffness in the joints causing
different types of back pain, arthritis etc. Yoga therapy strengthens the
bones, improves co-ordination of the muscles, and reduces physical exhaustion
and fatigue. 

Yoga Therapy for
Cardiac Ailments 

Heart is a very important organ which pumps blood and the arteries, veins,
capillaries help in circulating blood throughout the body. The common ailments
related heart include blockage in arteries, Hypertension, varicose veins etc.
Yoga helps in improving circulation throughout the body. It increases
sensitivity to the circulation of the Prana. 

Yoga Therapy to reduce
Stress Related Issues 

Stress plays a very important role in our life and health. Stress is very
common these days with the change in lifestyle. Stress aggrevates the health
issues which is already present in us and they become what are called as the
psychosomatic ailments. Yoga is a boon for stress as it reduces the thought
process by reducing the stress levels. Headaches, Migraine and other Cognitive

Therapy classes are conducted on a one to one basis and they can be scheduled
based on your convenient time. All classes are conducted at our Center 

General classes: 

General classes are conducted in a group. They are mainly to help one to
maintain general health and well-being. The general Yoga classes are conducted
during week-days and weekends at convenient times that suit the busy schedules
of working professionals, home-makers and students. The classes are for both
men and women and involve Suryanamaskars, Vinyasa Kriyas, Shat-Kriyas,
Yogasanas, Pranayama, Relaxation techniques and Meditation. The Yogasanas act
as the stimulative exercises. Yogasanas penetrate each and every layer of the
body and keeps the body and mind in a relaxed state. Yogasanas involves
exertion equally on all parts of the body and does not put strain on one
particular part of the body. 

Yoga for Children 

Yoga can be practiced by everyone irrespective of the age. And that is why VCAC
offers Yoga for children. A program which incorporates different stages of Yoga
in a fun way with stories from different Puranas and Yoga helps to improve
concentration and memory power in children. 


General classes are conducted on all weekdays and weekends:

*Yoga Therapy/Yoga for Infertility schedule is a 1-on-1 session dependent on your convenience as per the schedule. However, Yoga need to be practiced with an empty stomach. Please contact the therapist for further details regarding convenient time slots, scheduling and availability of the therapists.

-Sindhoora S

Introduction to Yoga

Yoga comes from the root word Yuj meaning to
 or union. It means to unite the Jivātma with
the Paramātma – in other words the individual consciousness
with the supreme consciousness.

The union of the individual
consciousness with the supreme consciousness could be achieved through various
paths as suited to the practitioner or Sadhaka. The different paths of Yoga are
Jnāna (the path of knowledge), Bhakti (the path of worship), Karma (the path of
work), Laya (the path of music), Raja (the path of mind) and Haṭha Yoga (the
path of will power). The paths to approach Yoga could be different according to
the individual, but Yoga is one, just like India which is one with so much

There are many definitions of Yoga.
Patanjali defines Yoga as Yogaścitta vritti nirodhaḥ (Patanjali
Yoga Sūtrās 1.2) meaning Yoga is to remove the disturbances that occur in the
mind. The Haṭha Yoga Pradipikadefines Yoga as Prāṇa vritti
nirodha meaning Yoga is to still the fluctuations of the breath. Through
controlling the breath, one can gain control over the consciousness and by
controlling the consciousness, one can have the control over the breath. Thus,
there is no difference between the Haṭha Yoga and the Raja Yoga, Yoga is one.

The Raja Yoga is also called as the
Aṣtānga Yoga and Patanjali Yoga. The Aṣtānga Yoga is written by the great sage
Patanjali in the form of 196 aphorisms or sūtrās and is one of the Śat
Darṣanas. It is called so because it involves 8 limbs or steps to attain the
union with the supreme consciousness. Thus, by following these steps one can
unite the body, mind, and intellect with the soul.

Patanjali was amongst the greatest
sages of all time. He was believed to be the incarnation of Ᾱdiśeṣa. There is a
conflict of interest in regarding the time of Patanjali. He is believed to have
lived in 5th and 2nd century BC and some believe he was Govindapada who was the
guru of Śankaracārya. Patanjali was well versed in many fields. He chose to
write the commentary for Pānini’s Vyākarṇa Śāstra (Grammar), Caraka’s Śarira
Śāstra (Ᾱyurveda). He then wrote Yoga Śāstra for which he became very popular
among scholars. His last work focuses on human’s physical, mental and spiritual
evolution. Patanjali’s works collectively deals with the development of speech,
human body and mind. This is the reason, one salutes Patanjali before studying
the sūtrās written by him with the following prayer Manovākhya doṣnam hantre
adhipathiye namaḥa.

The eight limbs of Aṣtānga Yoga are
Yama, Niyama, Ᾱsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyahāra, Dhāraṇa, Dhyāna and Samādhi. These
eight limbs are further classified into three groups for better understanding.
The Yamas and Niyama are socio-ethical norms to be followed by the individual which
disciplines the individual and puts them into the right path towards Yoga. The
Ᾱsana, Prāṇāyāma and Pratyahāra makes the individual gain control over the
consciousness through body, breath and the sense organs. The Dhāraṇa, Dhyāna
and Samādhi put the individual in the spiritual path. Patanjali defines them as
the Samyama meaning the last three limbs are merged together and the difference
between are very minute.

The Yamas and Niyamas discipline the
individual control the emotions and makes the individual to bring a balance in
the emotions and passions. Ᾱsana helps the individual to be healthy and strong.
These three steps together form the Bahiranga Yoga. Prāṇāyāma and Pratyahāra
help the individual to control the mind by regulating the breath and to restraining
the sense organs from their objects of desire respectively. These two steps
together form the Antaranga Yoga. The Dhāraṇa, Dhyāna and Samādhi takes the
individual to the inner self which is the Antaratma and in this stage the
individual is in complete harmony with the supreme consciousness. These stages
are called as the Antarātma Sādhana. At this stage, the individual realises one
true nature and realises the supreme consciousness.

Yoga liberates the mind from the bondage of the body and unites with the soul. Once the mind reaches the soul, one is at peace; this is achieved through the eight steps.

Sindhoora S

Hatḥa Yoga

Hatḥa Yoga is a form of the Indian Serology which aims at salvation;
liberation; to achieve freedom for its practioners. Ha and Tḥa are the
combination of two Beeja mantras. In Hatḥa Yoga, Ha means he Prāṇa and Tḥa
means the mind. Hence, Hatḥa Yoga means the union of the Prāṇic and the mental
forces. These two forces are the most fundamental forces. On another level, Ha
means Sun and Tḥa means Moon; hence, Hatha Yoga means union of the Sun and the

On one level, Hatḥa Yoga is an
adjective for forceful, strenuous, aggressive and hence the literal meaning of
Hatḥa Yoga is Forceful Yoga. This is because; the discipline uses many
strenuous and difficult techniques.

There are many texts which have
contributed to the field of Hatḥa Yoga and they are Hatḥa Yoga Pradipika by
Swami Swatmarama, Ghoraksha Samhita by Ghorakha nath, Gheranda Samhita by sage
Gheranda, Hatḥaratnavali by Srinivasabhatta Mahayogindra and Śiva Samhita which
is considered to be given directly by Lord Śiva. All these texts must be
written between the 6th and the 15th century AD

There have been many references about
Hatha Yoga in various cultures such as Colombia in South America. There have
been references about Hatḥa Yoga in Upaniṣads and Śri Bhagwatam. But the sects
from India, Nepal and Tibet form the basis for Hatḥa Yoga.

The Hatḥa Yoga started developing
much later to Buddhism and Jainism. The Buddhism gave the eight fold path for
salvation which included meditation. They believed that one can start doing
meditation at any point of time. They also included the Yama and the Niyama
which are the morals and the ethics. The more stringent way was called as the
Hināyana and the liberal path was called as the Mahayāna. The Mahayāna path
included the tantric aspects which were misinterpreted by the orthodox people.

After about 500 years, sages like
Matsyendranath and Ghorakshanath structured the Hatḥa Yoga by separating the
Hatha Yoga and the Raja Yoga from the Tantra. They picked up the practices
useful from the Tantra.

Principles of Hatha Yoga:

Swami Swatmarama compiled Hatha Yoga
Pradipika, a text which illuminates the multitudes of physical, mental,
spiritual aspects of the aspirants. He has completely eliminated the Yama and
Niyama which forms the first steps in the Buddhism and even the Patanjali Yoga
Sutras. He believed that one has to have self-discipline, self control to
practice Yama and Niyama. He also believed that they were more a part of
religion than being spiritual.

Swatmarama starts Hatha Yoga
Pradipika by saying that one should purify the whole body first – neti, dhouti,
basti, trataka, kapalabhati and nauli. After this come the Asana and Prāṇayāma.
He said that self-control and self-discipline should start with the body. Be
disciplining the body first, the subtle elements, the energy channels within
the body get purified. The Prana, the nervous system and various other vital
organs get purified. The body will be properly maintained and harmonized.

The main objective of Hatha Yoga is
to create a balance of the interacting activities of the physical body, and
energy. When this balance is created, the impulses created stimulate the
Sushmana nadi which is responsible for the awakening of the Kundalini. The Ha
means Surya Nādi and Tha means the Chandra Nādi. Hatha Yoga is to bring harmony
between the two as they are one. When this union takes place, the Mūlādhāra
Chakra is awakened at the base of the spine. This awakens the Kundalini which
manisfests itself in the higher forms and finally gets established in the
Sahasrara Chakra.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika:

It is important to understand the
theory of Hatha Yoga, but it is the practical aspect which has been emphasized
in the Hatḥa treatises.

Haṭḥa Yoga was to be practiced solely
to awaken the kundalini and to reach the highest state of Raja Yoga i.e. the
Samadhi. As one practices Haṭḥa Yoga techniques, one’s physical and mental
potentials begin to unfold. This is regarded as the grand achievement by some
practitioners but they are only temporary manifestations and hinder the further
spiritual progress.

Śriādināthāya namo’stu tasmai
yenopadiṣṭā haṭhayogavidyā /
Vibhrājate pronnatarājayogam āroḍhum icchor adhirohiṇiva //

Salutation to Ᾱdinātha (Śiva) who
expounded the knowledge of Haṭha Yoga, which is like a staircase leading the
aspirant to the high pinnacle Rāja Yoga.

Aśeṣatāpataptānāṁ samāśrayamaṭho
haṭhah /
Aśeṣayogayuktānām ādhārakamaṭho haṭhah //

Like a house protecting from the heat
of the sun, Haṭḥa Yoga protects it’s practitioners from the burning heat of the
three types of suffering; and similarly, it is the supporting tortoise, as if
it were for those who are constantly devoted to the practice of Yoga.

The three types of suffering are:
Ᾱdhyātmika – it is the spiritual suffering meaning this is the one which passes
on from the previous lives. Ᾱdhidaivika – it is the natural/environmental
suffering and it is caused because of the environmental conditions such as the
earthquake, hurricanes etc which cannot be avoided. Ᾱdhibhautika – it is the
physical suffering which happens to the body because of the diseases which
cannot be avoided caused due to bacteria, viruses etc.

Haṭhavidyā paraṁ gopyā yoginā siddhim
Bhaved viryavati guptā nirviryā tu prakāśita //

A Haṭha Yogi should keep the
knowledge of Haṭḥa Yoga a secret who is desirous of success; for it becomes
potent when it is kept a secret and when revealed, it becomes powerless.

Most of the great saints and Siddhas
who had great powers rarely revealed them. Only the people who lived very close
to them knew their greatness. The main reason for this to do is not to develop
Ahamkārā or the ego in the Siddhas/Practitioners.

Surājye dhārmike deśe subhikṣe
Dhanuḥ pramāṇaparyantaṁ śilāgnijanavarjite/
Ekānte maṭhikāmadhye sthātavyaṁ haṭhayoginā//

A Yogi should practice Haṭḥa Yoga in
a small room situated in a solitary place, measuring four cubic squares and
free from stones, fire, water, disturbances of all kinds, and in a country
where justice is properly administered, where good people live, and food can be
obtained easily and plentiful.

It is recommended in the śloka to
practice in an area of one and a half meters, where there are no surrounding
objects which may cause physical affliction. One should also practice in the
same place every day in order to build up the spiritual vibrations. These are
the various recommendations stated by the Yogis.

Alpadvāram arandhragartavivraṁ
Samyoggamayasāndraliptam amalaṁ niḥśeṣajaṁtūjjhitam//
Bāhye maṇḍapavedikūparuciraṁ prākārasaṁveṣtitam/
Proktaṁ yogamaṭhasya lakṣaṇam idaṁ siddhair haṭhābhyāsibhiḥ//

The room should have a small door, be
free from holes, hallows, room should be situated on neither too high nor too
low platform, well plastered with cow dung and free from dirt, filth and
insects. On its outside there should be a raised compound. These are the
characteristics of the room in which Haṭḥa Yoga has to be practiced as it is
described by the adepts in the practice of Haṭḥa Yoga.

These recommendations have been given
to give a structure to the Sādhaka. The mind has to be protected from outside
influenced and the body should have a good defense mechanism. If the mind and
body are kept pure, simple and modest; then they will cultivate spiritual
vibrations, and conditions will be conducive for the soul (Ᾱtma) to manifest
itself. The Sādhaka’s possessions should be kept to a minimum and the
surroundings should always remain clean. This has to be carried out so that
there will be fewer mental distractions and worries and therefore all the
energy can be directed towards spiritual development.

Utsāhāt sāhasād dhariyāt tattvajnānāc
ca niścayāt/
janasaṅgaparityāgāt ṣaḍbhir yogaḥ prasiddhyati//

The following six bring success faster for a Haṭha Yogi and they are enthusiasm, courage/daring, perseverance, correct understanding, determination and aloofness from company of people.

-Sindhoora S

Aṣtānga Yoga Part 3

In the previous article on Aṣtānga
Yoga, the importance of Ᾱsanas was understood. Prāṇāyāma is like the leaves in
a tree, which nourishes the tree; Prāṇāyāma nourishes the cells, organs,
intelligence and even consciousness.

It is very difficult to define or describe Prāṇa. It can only be understood by
the Sādhaka. It is the energy through which the entire universe upholds. It is
in different forms and is used to fullest extent when required. 
According to Praśnopaniṣad, Prāṇa is considered to be the principle of life and

Prāṇasyedam vaśe sarvam Tridiveyat
Māteva pūtrān rakśasva Śrica prajnān ca videhina iti. (Praśnopaniṣad)

According to the mantra, Oh Prāṇa,
who govern the entire universe; please protect us like how a mother protects
her child.

Prāṇa is broadly understood as breath
but it is just one of the many manifestations. It is co-related as breath
because once there is no Prāṇa, there is no life as one stops breathing, one
stops living.

The Prāṇa and the citta are in
constant association. The relationship between Prāṇa and citta is understood
breathing. When the breathing is controlled, relaxed then the desires are controlled
and the senses are in the right path and the mind is like a calm ocean.
Similarly, if the desire is forced, the breathing is uneven and the mind is
agitated like an ocean with waves.

Prāṇa classifies itself into five
categories: Prāṇa, Apāna, Udāna, Samāna and Vyāna. They are classified so just
for the better understanding of the functions of Prāṇa. Prāṇa prevails in the
respiratory system and is responsible for respiration. Apāna moves in lower
abdomen and is responsible for excretion. Samāna is responsible for digestion
by invoking the gastric juices. Udāna moves in upward direction and is
responsible for vocal cords and intake of food and air. Vyāna moves throughout
the body and is responsible for circulation and the sthāna of Vyāna is said to
be Hrudaya.

Prāṇa then further sub categorises as
Upa Prāṇas. They are Nāga, Kūrma, Kṛikara, Devadatta and Dhananjaya. Nāga is
responsible for relieving of pressure from abdomen through belching. Kūrma is
responsible for preventing foreign matter enter the body through the movement
of eye-lids. Kṛikara is responsible for prevention of unwanted substances
entering the body through sneezing and coughing. Devadatta is responsible for
inducing sleep through yawning. Dhananjaya is responsible for production of phlegm
and nourishment of the body.

Prāṇāyāma: Prāṇa is the life force
and āyāma means expansion, extension, stretch, length, restraint or even
control. Hence, Prāṇāyāma means expansion or restraining of Prāṇa. B.K.S.
Iyengar describes Prāṇāyāma as the science of breath, which leads to the
creation, distribution and maintenance of vital energy.

Patanjali in his sūtras describe
Prāṇāyāma as –

śvāsapraśvāsayorgativicchedaḥ prāṇāyāmaḥ (Patanjali Yoga Sūtrās 2.49)

The above sūtra means: Prāṇāyāma is
the controlled intake and outflow of Prāṇa with retention in a firmly
established posture.

Before starting Prāṇāyāma, the
practitioner has to understand the process of breathing. Breathing is an
involuntary process which takes place in every living form from a single celled
organism to humans. By Prāṇāyāma, the practitioner can increase the rate and
depth of breathing. The process of breathing consists of three facets namely
inhalation (pūraka), exhalation (recaka) and retention of breath (kumbhaka). In
Prāṇāyāma, there are no sudden movements during inhalation and exhalation but
complete awareness of gradual expansion of the lungs. During exhalation, when
done gradually, there is sufficient time for the cells to reabsorb the Prāṇa
for the maximum extent. The retention of breath should not be done initially,
instead one should master the breathing smoothly. Once this is established, one
should attempt at Kumbhaka and this can be practiced by counts which can be
increased gradually.

The retention of breath is again
divided into 2 types namely the Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya
 depending on when one is holding the breath. In Antar
Kumbhaka, one holds the breath after inhalation and in Bahya Kumbhaka, one
holds the breath after exhalation. There is another type called as the Kevala
Kumbhaka. This is the objective of performing Prānayāma. This type of Kumbhaka
happens automatically after the Prānayāma is performed for a few seconds and
the time duration of the Kumbhaka should be increased during regular practice. In
Kumbhaka, the self is united with body and this is achieved because of the
union of body and mind in inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.
Inhalation is receiving energy in the form of breath and exhalation is removal
of toxins from the system.

Prānayāma is a bridge between the physical and spiritual. Prānayāma can be mastered only through practice and when Prānayāma is effortless. Patanjali describes the benefits of Prānayāma in the sūtra tataḥ kṣiyate prakāśa āvaraṇam (PYS 2.52) according to which the practice of Prānayāma destroys illusion, ignorance desire, and delusion and allows the inner light of wisdom to shine.

- Sindhoora S

Aṣtānga Yoga Part 2

In a tree, roots and the trunk form
the foundation. Similarly, in the path of Yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas form the
foundation. Further, the trunk divides itself into branches, likewise in the
Aṣtānga Yoga, Asana is the branches.

Ᾱsana simply means posture. A posture becomes a āsana when one is comfortable,
stable and in the posture for a long time.

Patanjali never really emphasis much
on the Ᾱsanas; Patanjali defines Ᾱsana as Sthiramsukhamāsanam (PYS 2.46)
meaning Ᾱsana is a posture in which one is comfortable, stable for a long time.
In Haṭha Yoga, before performing or practicing postures, one has worship to
Ᾱdinath (he instructs the knowledge of Yoga). Ᾱsanas are majorly described in
the Haṭha Yoga Pradipika, Śiva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita.

Ᾱsanas are not merely gymnastic
exercises. They are specific postures which open up the energy levels and
produces mental equilibrium. When Ᾱsanas are practiced, steadiness is developed
ensuring the free flow of the Prāṇa. When Prāṇa flows freely in the body, there
are no blockages and toxins are removed from the body.

Ᾱsanas are very important as they
make the body fit for the practitioner in the path of Sādhana. By practicing
Ᾱsanas, the mind is also activated as one has to keep the body in alignment and
this can be achieved only when the practitioner concentrates on the posture,
body alignment and the breathing all at once. Any Ᾱsana before performing
should be studied in the different aspects like distribution of weight, the
geometry and this should be presented in the posture. The whole body, senses,
mind and even consciousness are i nvolved in the process hence, ensuring the
union of body with mind.

Ᾱsanas are an imitation of the
nature. There is a saying that the number of Ᾱsanas is equivalent to the forms
of life. Some of the Asanas are named after the plant kingdom, such as
vrkśāsana and Padmāsana; named after tree and the flower respectively. Asanas
are also named after animal kingdom; they include Asanas such as Makarāsana and
Bhujangāsana named after the animals crocodile and cobra respectively. Ᾱsanas
have also been inspired by great sages who have attained liberation in specific
postures; they include Asanas such as Bhardwajāsana named after the sage
Baradwaj and Ardha Matsyendrāsana named after Mastyendranath. Asanas are also
named after gods e.g. Hanumāsana named after the lord Hanuma. Not all Ᾱsanas
are described in Haṭha Yoga. Swami Swatmarama (the author of Haṭha Yoga
Pradipika) carefully picks and describes a few of the Ᾱsanas which gives
maximum effect in bringing a balance and preventing the fickleness of the mind.
Ᾱsanas have also been inspired by great sages who have attained liberation in
specific postures.

Lord Krishna gives a clear description
in Bhagwad Gita about the way a Ᾱsana should be performed:

Śucou deśe pratiṣṭhāpya
Nātyucitam nātinicam cylājinakuṣottaram. (Bhagwad Gita)

The meaning of the above verse is
“the place to perform a Ᾱsana has to be clean, the seat neither too low nor too
high. Then spread a white cotton cloth on kuśa grass and this becomes the
preparation for Ᾱsana”. After the preparation is done, the Ᾱsana should be
performed with ease and comfort but without any movement in the pose.

Patanjali says how one can master a
Ᾱsana in the sūtra “Prayatnaśaithilyām anantasamāpattibhyām (PYS 2.47).
According to which, the effort to perform the Ᾱsana becomes effortless, then
one can perfect the Ᾱsana and one unite with the Supreme Being. Patanjali also
gives the importance of Ᾱsanas by saying that when a Ᾱsana is correctly
performed, the dualities of nature of body and mind, mind and soul seize to
exist. When the Ᾱsanas are performed in this manner, the body cells are kept
healthy and the physiological body is brought closer to the soul.

Ᾱsanas have immense therapeutic
benefits. They tone the muscles, tissues, ligaments, joints and nerves and
maintain a smooth functioning of all systems in the body. They bring a balance
between sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems. They increase the
metabolism and bring harmony in the endocrine system. They improve blood and
lymphatic circulation.

Lastly, Ᾱsanas should be performed with Bhakti and not as just mere form of exercise to attain a fit body, as this nurtures and tunes our body in turn our mind in the path of Yoga and as B.K.S Iyengar quotes “True Ᾱsana is that in which the thought of Brahman flows effortlessly and instantly through the mind of a Sādhaka”.

-Sindhoora S

Aṣtānga Yoga Part 1

The Aṣtānga Yoga is written by the
great sage Patanjali in the form of 196 aphorisms or sutras and is one of the
Śat Darṣanas. It is called so because it involves 8 limbs or steps to attain
the union with the supreme consciousness. Patanjali defines the first five
steps of Aṣtānga Yoga in the second chapter - Sādhana Pāda and also named it as
Kriya Yoga.

Yama is the first limb in the Aṣtānga Yoga. As Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar
defines Yama to be the roots in a tree, it forms the foundation for an
individual who is in the path of Yoga. Patanjali defines Yamas as follows
Ahimsāsatyāsteyabramhacharyāparigrahā yamāha. (Patanjali Yoga Sūtrās 2.30). The
Yamas are five disciplinary principles which one needs to practice with the
society. The five principles are Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya and

Ahimsa:  is to practice non violence
through our thoughts, actions and words. Violence is lack of love. Without
enmity, no act of violence can be performed. Only love can make the society
cohesive. Violence is the outcome of fear, selfishness, anger and lack of

The classic example would be Buddha
who practiced non violence throughout his life and attained mokśa through it.
Patanjali says that anyone who comes in contact with a person who is devoid of
violent thoughts is bound to cast off feelings of enmity.

The next is Satya: meaning
to tell the truth. One has to tell the truth in any situation and under any
circumstances. One has to speak the truth, that which is pleasing but not which
is unpleasing and neither the untruth which is unpleasing as said by the
Mahabhārata. Satya Hariśchandra told truth at the sacrifice of his own wife and

Asteya:  is not stealing. Not stealing
has to be practiced even through our thoughts. One should not even think of
having someone else’s possessions as this is considered to be stealing.

Aparigraha:  is non covetousness. That means
not to be very materialistic in our lives. What is required, only so much one
should possess.

Brahmacarya:  means celibacy. The senses
should not be distracted from being focused on the supreme consciousness;
otherwise one is deviating from the path of Yoga

The second limb in the Aṣtānga Yoga is Niyama and it forms the
trunk of the tree. The Niyamas are five principles which is to self discipline
oneself who is in the path of Yoga. Patanjali defines Niyama as follows:
Śouchasantoṣatapah svādhyāyeśvaraprańidhānāni niyamāh. ( Patanjali Yoga Sūtrās
2.32). The five Niyamas are Śouca, Santoṣa, Svādhyāya, Tapas and

Śouca  means cleanliness and it is of
two categories, external and internal. Cleanliness is to have a clean body and
as well a clean mind. This is by having bath daily to keep our body clean and
by having positive thoughts, not thinking ill of others to have a clean mind.
One can have clean mind by showing compassion to others who are in need of it.

Santoṣa  is to be happy. One has to be
happy in any situation of life. This can be achieved only if the person is
contented with his life. Contentment should be with respect to everything to
start from having contentment with materialism.

Svādhyāya  means self study. That means
to study all the ancient scriptures such as the Vedas and the Upanishads. This
gives one all the knowledge as to how one has to lead a life. Svādhyāya also
means to study our self i.e. to analyze the mistakes which we commit and try
not to repeat them.

Tapas  come from the word Tapa
meaning the burning desire to practice. It purifies the body, mind and senses.
Any kind of task should be performed with determination and commitment.

Īśvaraprańidhāna  is to surrender ourselves
completely to god. One has to surrender all the actions to the will of supreme
consciousness. This forms Bhakti Yoga.

Yamas and Niyamas form the firm foundation for the individual towards spiritual experience.

- Sindhoora S

Workshop on Suladis Vidushi -Daya Narayanan

The 6-week long music workshop on
Suladis conducted by Vanamala Center for Art and Culture was indeed an
enchanting experience for all the participants. At the onset, we would like to
thank Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh to take the initiative and conduct this workshop
to revive a very ancient musical form of Carnatic music – the Suladis. Dr Meera
Rajaram Pranesh is the founder of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, an
organization primarily focused at promoting the Indian culture. She is also a
visiting professor at Bangalore and Jain Universities and a Guide to many
research scholars. Behind all her endeavors is the invisible hand of her
husband Dr Pranesh.

The Suladis were taught by none other
than Vidushi T Sharada, prominently known as one of the Tirumalai sisters. The
contribution of Tirumalai sisters – Vidushi T Sharada and Dr T Shachi devi to
the world of Carnatic music has been significant. In an era where the
originality of Carnatic music is diminishing, the works of Tirumalai sisters in
maintaining the rich heritage of Carnatic music needs special mention. The
books published by the Tirumalai sisters “The Karnataka Sangeetha Darpana” has
helped many aspiring musicians pass the junior/senior exams conducted by KSEEB
in flying colors. Getting a chance to learn the Suladis from a very senior
musician like Guru Sharada has indeed been a very divine experience for the

Suladis are compositions in Kannada.
Each section is independent by itself and is in different talas. As a result,
the pallavi usually is not sung at the end. The Suladis were composed by
Haridasas in the 14th century and one of the ancient compositional forms of
Karnataka. The original musical notations are rarely found and there are very
few musicians who can sing Suladis in the original format. The notations of few
Suladis are available in the grantha Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini by Sri
Subbarama Dikshitar and few are in the archives of Sarswati Mahal library,
Tanjavore. Given that these forms are rare, the participants were indeed very
fortunate to learn six Suladis from the renowned musician Vidushi T Sharada
during this workshop organized by Vanamala Center for Art and Culture.

Below is a recap of the workshop that
was conducted over a period of 6 Saturdays (July 19th through August 23rd 2014)

After a brief introduction of the objectives of the workshop and the guru, Vid
Sharada taught the first Suladi by Saint Vyasaraya Thandeyagi Thayagi. This
Suladi was in raga Bhupala and a talamalika. The intricacies of the raga
Bhupala was explained by the guru in detail and she also explained the rare
talas used in the composition like Ragaṇa maṭya tala. Vid Sharada was also kind
enough to share the original lyrics of the Suladi which was copied and
distributed to all participants in Kannada and English.

Day-2: The session started with a revision of the Bhupala Suladi taught in the
earlier class followed by teaching of the second Suladi in raga Naṭa The second
Suladi Harinade was a composition of Saint Purandaradasa and again a
talamalika. The participants were amazed by the beautiful rendering and
teaching by Guru Sharada.

As in the previous sessions, the Suladis taught in the earlier classes were
revised and guru Sharada taught her students the third Suladi in raga
Devagandhari. This Suladi Hasugala kareva was a beautiful composition of Saint
Purandaradasa. In addition to teaching the Suladi, guru Sharada also taught the
participants the famous Kriti Sri Varalakshmi in Shree raga by Saint Muttuswamy
Dikshitar. This kriti was taught on the occasion of Varalakshmi pooja that was
to be celebrated the following week. This kriti was taught with such devotion
and beauty that the participants felt as if Goddess Lakshmi herself appeared
before them and blessed them in the form of the renowned guru Vid Sharada.

During the fourth session, Vid Sharada taught us the very amazing Suladi of
Purandaradasa Acchyuthananda in raga Kashiramakriya. Arathi, a Ph D research
scholar shared her thoughts on Suladis with the rest of the participants and
distributed hand-outs. This shows the extent to which the participants enjoyed
attending these workshops and the knowledge gained by them during these

The next Suladi was of Saint Purandara dasa’s. The composition Tayi Lakshumi
was a beautiful one in raga Varali. As in previous workshops, Vid Sharada
taught the students the intricacies of raga Varali. Also, a revision of the
Suladi kritis taught in previous classes helped the students to gain a better
understanding of the Suladis

Guru Sharada taught the Suladi Manimoulimalle of Saint Purandaradasa in raga
Gowla. The workshop concluded with the distribution of the certificates to the
participants. On behalf of the participants, Ms Rathi Ramesh shared her
experience and thanked Guru Sharada and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh for organizing
this amazing workshop.

The six day workshop was an eye-opener to many participants – an insight into these beautiful and rare Suladi compositions. The participants committed to perform where they would be rendering the six Suladi taught by guru Sharada. This concert would be a dedication to Vid Sharada and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh (a guru dakshina) for their efforts in reviving these traditional and very ancient musical compositions.

Sri Chakra Darshana - The Journey So Far

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture
presented Sri Chakra Darshana - The Journey So Far to celebrate the documentary
Sri Chakra Darshana being selected for International Online Film Festival-
Spirit enlightened hosted by Culture Unplugged. This was arranged at Manorama
Hall, Indian Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi Bangalore on 18th January

Sri Chakra Darshana is a documentary,
which aims at explaining the intricate relationship between the Sri chakra and
Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis. It invites its viewer
on a spiritual journey by offering a tour of the Sri Chakra, through music as a

Sri Chakra is a matrix of nine
enclosures juxtaposed one upon another. It has a square, lotus petals,
triangles, and a bindu or point, each denoting a deity and Maha Tripura Sundari
residing in the bindu. The documentary also features some of the many Shakti
peetas which are spread across the sub continent.

Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar of 18th
century was a great Composer of Karnatak music, a Philosopher and Sri Vidya
practitioner. He composed Kamalamba Navavarana kritis on each of the nine
enclosures, after perceiving the deities in his trance. These kritis which are
in the principles of Sri Chakra worship, when rendered in their original form,
can lead a person to an experience of bliss.

The documentary showcases the union
of music and spirituality by presenting the kritis in their original form and a
commentary which explains them along with the Sri chakra.

Sri Katte Ramachandra the technical
director of the documentary, Karnatak Musician and Musicologist vidushi M S
Vidya, H R professional Smt Kavitha Nandakishore were the speakers of the day.
Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh the Co Script writer and Director shared her
experiences she went through during making of the film. She also thanked the
co-sponsors, musicians and technicians team for making the documentary

Among the dignitaries Prof. R L Kashyap, Vidushi Prof. T Sharada, Vidushi Sudha V Murthy, Vidushi Rohini Manjunath, Prof. B M Jayashree, Dr S N Susheela, Dr Uma Gopalaswamy, Dr Gayathri Rajapur Cassebaum, Natya Vidushi B K Vasasanthalakshmi, Dr Anasuya kulkarni, Vidushi Usha Ramamurthy, Vidushi Rupa Sridhar and connoisseurs were present.

Sant Bhadragiri Achutdas Memorial National Seminar On Katha Keertana --Report by Narayanan Iyer

The art of Katha Keerthana came to
life on 23-10-2016 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, where a unique day long national
seminar was held. Katha Keerthana, also called Harikatha or Kathakalakshepam,
is a pristine art form in which music, literature, storytelling and to some
extent dance converge to create a divine experience. The seminar was jointly
organized by the Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, and the Shadja Kala
Kendra Trust. The seminar was conducted in honour of the great Harikatha
exponent Santa Bhadragiri Achyutdas. The goal of the seminar was to sow the
seeds of revival of this divine but diminishing art form.

With eminent experts in the field
slated to take the stage, the hall was packed from the word go. The event began
with an invocation by Ananya Bhagat a Ph D research scholar in Music from Jain
University followed by the lighting of the lamp. A journal published by the
Vanamala Center for Art and Culture featuring 51 research articles on various
art forms authored by scholars from all over the country was released by the
honorary guests and speakers. Renowned Gamaka artist and Chairperson, Karnataka
Sangeetha Nritya Academy, Smt Gangamma Keshavamurthy, Keertanacharya Shri
Lakshmandas Velankar, renowned musician and musicologist Dr B M Sundaram and
renowned musician, Dr Choodamani Nandagopal, Art Historian and former Dean
Faculty of Humanities and Social sciences, Jain University, Musicologist and
Managing trustee of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, Dr Meera Rajaram
Pranesh were among the dignitaries on the dais.

Shri Keerthanacharya Lakshmandas
Velankar was the first presenter. Clad in the traditional Harikatha attire,
Lakshmandasji’s presence illuminated the stage with a divine glow. He gave a
very nice overview of the contribution of the Haridasa Keerthankars. He said
that that the origin of Katha Keerthana could be traced to the Vedic times.
After the Vedic rituals, the sages would engage in a lively discussion of the
scriptures. Perhaps this was the initial form of Katha Keerthana to which music
and side stories were added subsequently. Lakshmandasji also mentioned that
Sage Narada was the foremost Katha Keerthankar as he used to narrate the latest
happenings in the three worlds and also served as the carrier of these news
across the three worlds in the form of Keerthans and stories. Lakshmandasji
also highlighted that the word Hari in Harikatha refers to the eternal

Dr B M Sundaram, renowned musician
and musicologist, was the next speaker. He explained the evolution and essence
of Kathakeerthan in a very subtle manner. He explained the evolution of this
form across various regions in India, in a very lucid manner. He mentioned the
influence of Maratha rule on the development of the Harikatha form in the
South. Shri Krishna Bhagavathar was the pioneer of this art form and Smt
Saraswati Bai was the first lady pioneer. She broke the monopoly of Brahmin men
over this art form. He said that Santa Bhadragiri Achyutdasji gave Harikatha
its modern form. Dr B M Sundaram elaborated the form, structure and evolution
of Harikatha beautifully.

After a short tea break, it was time
for some engaging music. Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh and her group rendered the
Katha Keerthana compositions of Harikesanallur Dr L Muthaiah Bhagavathar. The
selections were from Valli Parinayam. These included Valli Nayakane in
Shanmukhapriya and Nive Ituparaku in Kharaharapriya. Melody filled the air and
kept the audience glued to their seats as Dr Meera Rajaram took the audience on
a Katha Keerthana musical voyage with an apt brief explanation before each
Keerthana. Dr Meera was supported by her students Sandhya Ram, Charumathi, Soumya
Anil and Shivashankari on vocal; Vidwan Anantha Satyam on Violin, Vidwan Renuka
Prasad on Mridangam, Vidwan A S N Swamy on Khanjira and Madhuvanthi on Tambura.

The atmosphere had already been
positively charged with all the presentations so far, but the musical treat was
far from over.

Pandit Prashant Pandav, a renowned
Marathi Keerthanakar, gave a Katha Keerthana presentation where he engaged the
audience nicely. All the facets of a Marathi Katha Keerthana were beautifully
portrayed in a nutshell, with wisdom and wit. The elements of a Marathi
Kathakeerthan like Ovi and Dindi were explained with respect to metre and
melody. Prashant Pandav was ably supported by Pandit Gurumurthy Vaidya on Tabla
and Sri Madhusudan Bhat on Harmonium. People were so engaged that no one seemed
to mind the slight creep of the session into lunch time.

The afternoon session matched the
aura created by the previous sessions. Surmani Dattatreya Velankar, a renowned
Hindustani Classical Vocalist and Katha Keerthankar, presented a Katha
Keerthana on the life of the great Haridasa composer Shri Purandaradasaru. The
performance was as beautifully laden with bhava as it was with the pure Nada.
The description of Purandaradasa as a suspicious and miserly being and his
transformation through Godly experience into a spiritually profound being was
beautifully essayed on stage. The seamless and enchanting blend of narration,
music and accompaniment was enthralling. The support of Pandit Gurumurthy
Vaidya on Pakhawaj, Pandit Prashant Pandav on Tabla, Dr Ravindra Katoti on leg
Harmonium added flavour to the program.

Renowned Yakshagana scholar Dr
Prabhakar Joshi followed this with a very profound and witty presentation of
Katha Keerthana as an ideal communicating form. He raised several important
issues that are highlighted via Katha Keerthanas. He highlighted Harikatha as a
means of the democratization of the scriptures, and an extension of religious
freedom. He said that Harikatha communicated the complex principles of Vedanta
in a simple and effective manner. It should be performed effectively as Santa
Bhadragiri Achyutdasji did. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

Post tea break, Dr Purnima Pande, a
renowned Kathak dancer, intrigued the audience with a presentation on the
Kathakar tradition in Kathak. She showed a video on a unique informal regional
Kathakar performance at a temple in Ayodhya. Ramya Nagaraj and Keerti Kumar,
Students of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography gave a brilliant
performance of Tulsidasji’s ‘Shri Ramachandra Krupalu Bhajamana’. This was done
in Kathakar style and was a unique display of graceful storytelling through

Last but not the least, the final
presentation was by Katha Keertanakar Dr Lakshmandas from Tumkur. He spoke on
drama compositions and portray of modern personalities in Katha Keerthan

The valedictory function was graced
by Sri H N Suresh, Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Sri Chandrashekar,
Program Officer, Southern Regional Centre, Indira Gandhi National Centre for
the Arts. Mementos were presented to all the guests and organizers.
Participation certificates were given to all those who participated and author
certificates were given to those who published articles in the journal.

This brought us to the close of the seminar which also saw the presence of eminent experts like Pandit Vinayak Torvi, M A Jayarama Rao, Dr Gayatri Kassebaum, Vidwan R N Thyagarajan, Prof. Vijaya Marthanda, Vidushi T Sharada, Vidushi Sudha V Murthy, Vidushi Rohini Manjunath, Vidushi Rupa Sridhar, and all the other honourable scholars/musicians/ dancers/katha keertan artists/ research scholars/ students/ connoisseurs from all over the country. The entire gamut of Katha Keerthana was captured and presented beautifully in a day. There was an aura of satisfaction and happiness. More importantly, the presenters, organizers and the audience went back in an introspective mood with a lot of excitement over this divine art form. The seminar truly lived up to its goal of sowing the seeds of revival of the Katha Keertana tradition.