Psychology Of Infertility

The Psychology of Infertility

Having battled with infertility for close to 14 years, of which 4 years were a passive battle, and 10 years an active battle where I had more or less declared war on the condition. Even after a spirited fight, I lost, then laid down my arms, waved a white flag, declared defeat and bought peace with the very same condition that haunted me for about a decade and a half.

While I was in the condition and when I was out of it, all through, I spent a lot of time churning the psychological aspects that impact fertility, the psychology of the partners while they are dealing with it, and the psychology that happens when you have dealt with it and come out from under the proverbial cloud, so to say.

Over the years, I have had numerous occasions to meet and interact with women who dealt with similar conditions, and somewhere I can say I found a common strand.

Infertility can be completely physical, these are rare and sad cases, but most often it is not. It is a lot of physical combined with a lot psychological. The psychology preceding infertility often impacts it and aggravates it.

Being a woman, this write is penned in a woman’s perspective; it is a woman’s understanding of herself and of women around her in similar circumstances.

Women often take the brunt of an infertility condition. That’s a myth. Reality is that men are as affected and as shaken by an infertility condition as a woman. Women are vocal and expressive. They share their thoughts and feelings, they communicate, they seek support, they are visible sufferers of a situation. So naturally, they often appear to be carrying the cross solely on their shoulders. But flip the coin and look closer, and you will spot the male half suffering as intensely but with the silence that comes with male ego.

If infertility hurts women on a physical level by depriving them the experience of carrying and birthing another life form from their body, infertility destroys men on a psychological level by hammering the message that they have been incapable of proving “being-a-man” to the world. Children, to men, even if only initially till the emotions take over, are an assertion of their manliness; when they come into this world, a man feels reassured of his gender. If one can imagine the stress of a man being hit in his most sensitive region, and not being able to talk about it because it would further demean his self-esteem in the same area, and yet continue with his accepted role of primary provider – that stress would be n-number of times higher than a woman’s stress of not being able to bear a child and become a mother. Women communicate, men can’t. if women are likened to a volcano in eruption, it also follows that some day they will cool down and regain their calm; men are an active, simmering volcano that will never erupt, that can never erupt, and hence in an infinitely more dangerous situation stress-wise.

But coming to my earlier point which I set out to make – is there a common psychology in the temperament of a woman that may lead to possible conditions of infertility? I believe so, yes. There may be views here that sound anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-science or too spiritual, but this is merely a collection of fine-tuned observations, over many long years, and each observation is open to counter-opinions and counter-views.

Conception was designed by God; so were man and woman. The physical body of a man or woman was supplemented by certain psychological and emotional characteristics that went with the body form. Staying true to the characteristics defined by God helped in his ultimate goal of human multiplication and reproduction.

A woman needs a man she can submit to, someone who can take control of her body, mind and soul; someone whom she can look up to as superior but who does not make her feel inferior; someone who can understand her inner angst and make her feel loved. That’s not a tall order. Men are designed to fulfill these needs in a woman. So when this equation more or less matches, even for a brief period, it prepares the ground for the birthing process. Men give, women receive and a child is conceived. It is not merely the physical exchange but the mental and emotional giving and receiving that completes the process. The point I am stressing here is that, even if for a brief period, the woman must be completely devoid of `ego’ to conceive. Ego restricts. Humility enables.

Barring women with genuine physical conditions that restrict fertility – my observation over the years has been that women with an infertility condition often exhibit traits of high self-centeredness, ego, rigidity in views and opinions, a distinct feeling of superiority over the male partner, an inability to let go of individuality, an inability to adjust and compromise to a bigger scheme of things, fear of responsibility and a high social esteem with a need for high social recognition. Their subconscious inability to “let go” of “control” conditions the body to create a barrier against sperms during intercourse and thus effectively preventing conception, and allowing the woman “to remain in control of happenings” so to say. The psychological rules the physical; and subconscious intentions will overpower conscious intentions.

Maybe the above analysis was too absolute; maybe there is always an open door for exceptions; but my above theory also explains the concept of “secondary-infertility”. If primary infertility is having no children, secondary infertility is not being able to conceive after one child. Usually, marital equations change few years after marriage; the earlier dominant partner turns submissive and vice-versa. So perhaps, a woman who allowed her man the upper hand in an equation early in the relationship may develop ego issues at a later stage; this then hampers further fertility.

Having a child is the most ego-crushing and liberating experience for a woman. Women who have been unable to conceive and have opted for adoption usually experience a humbleness they have never felt before once a child enters their life. This transforms the psyche of the woman to become more accepting and more giving, and usually it has been observed, that fertility sets in and woman conceives naturally even in exceptional cases. Same theory applies – motherhood requires an attitude of humility, and more importantly, an attitude to allow your man to feel superior and take control.

In cases of rape, usually the woman conceives; but then this crime, this heinous animalistic act of self-gratification is by far the most ego-crushing experience for any woman; the scars of which may last over several lifetimes.

In astrology, matrimonial horoscope matching in terms of nakshatra, lagna, the placement of mars etc. are all skewed towards establishing male superiority of horoscopes. To a liberated mind, this comes across as archaic and chauvinistic – but astrology evolved as a science over many long ages and was penned by sages who dedicated lifetimes to researching planets, planetary influences on body and mind, and the effect of those influences on human relationships.

All said and done, it is an undeniable fact that women have a place of equality and a place of pride on society; they have their unique worth and are entitled to their necessary dues; it is an equally undeniable fact the every woman secretly yearns for that special man who can tame her wild spirit, imprint himself upon her consciousness, and take control of her body; when that happens, a woman comes into contact with her softer, feminine side and then she will rediscover the essence of the vedic tenets of “man and woman”, “man and wife”, “male and female”, “yin and yang”, “shiv and shakti”. Conception and birthing then becomes an automatic by-product of an equation that has touched equilibrium, even if for a brief moment.

4/28/2012 8:08:53 PM

Psychology Of Group Dynamics

The Psychology of Group Dynamics

Many months back, sometime around early November last year, I had a spat with a close friend of mine. It was actually more than a spat; we kind of completely fell off talking terms. It escalated to a point where we more or less presumed we wouldn’t be crossing paths again. It wasn’t an easy place to be. Being in the same building, we meticulously timed our entry and exit into elevators so that we could avoid facing each other. Being on family terms, the spouses too did a good job of not accidentally bumping into each other, perhaps because they would not know what to say to each other. The tension was tangible, palpable.

This disturbed equation must have lasted close to 4 months; that is a really long time when you live in such close proximity. But coming to the point of this narration – it completely destroyed and threw out of gear, a circle of friends that I had so meticulously cultivated over 3 long years. The communication disruption touched all concerned. No one initiated a meeting for fear that either one of us wouldn’t turn up. We lost many holidays and weekends, which otherwise as a group we would never have missed. On a 1-to-1 personal discussion with friends, everyone wanted to know what happened, and everyone was updated from both ends separately.  Then loyalties came into play, and those who felt closer to me and thicker with me chose to take sides. This meant reflecting an attitude of reserve and coldness with my enemy of the moment.

That was when I realized that group dynamics had come into play. I stepped in and stopped it before it could even start. I have seen enough disruptions of human equations, both in my own experiences and all around me over the years. One common dynamic always emerges towards the end…

When 2 who are part of a bigger group fight -> people in the group take sides -> group gets disrupted -> factions are formed -> subtle battle lines are drawn -> egos accelerate and the fight takes bigger proportions than it ought to -> then the 2 warring factions remember the good old times and yearn for each other again ->then they look for ways to patch up (in my case retiming elevator entries and exits so that we did bump into each other) -> egos start descending -> both sides look for opportunities to put the past behind and restart (check on kids’ exam schedules, ask for a recipe) -> seek and you shall find, says the Bible, so one fine day they chance upon the perfect God-sent opportunity to hug and patch-up (in my case it was the Holi celebrations which allowed us to color each other’s faces and thankfully hide the color of our own embarrassment) -> having gone through a rough patch, they vow to be extra careful with each other’s feelings ->they are sensitized -> and then…

…the one common dynamic that always emerges towards the end… is that those who blatantly chose to take sides are shortchanged. They don’t now know where they stand. The will now have to bear the ire of those whom they chose not to side with. They live in guilt of having taken sides on an issue that was never theirs to begin with. There begins the degeneration of the group and the group’s inter-personal relationships.

So when I stepped in and nipped the loyalty attempts in the bud, I automatically saved my group from future complications; because I knew somewhere deep down, that sooner or later an attempt to reunite would begin from either end. It had to happen. I was willing it, though my ego prevented me from forgiving so easily. This was the friend that had stood up in strongest support of me in a time of my deepest personal crisis. How could I have let her go so easily?

What I consciously did do, was that I discouraged all group activity till the time both of us were ready for a face-off. It would have been easiest to boycott my enemy of the moment; there were numerous occasions when I could have brought it to pass; but boycotting is a very serious offence, and when someone is at the receiving end of it, they usually do not forget the act; I guess my patience to-hold-on-for-a-bit-longer paid off, and the reunification was not only worth it but totally without guilt on anyone’s shoulders.

Rewind to a couple of years back and there comes to mind, another incident that happened with me. Different time, different people, different faces, same group dynamics, but here I was at the receiving end of a social trauma that I still cannot seem to erase from the subconscious layers of my mind.

Best friends -> over many long years -> we reconnect in Bombay after about 17 odd years -> delighted -> I initiate an all inclusive group gathering -> then the dynamics change from the other end -> maybe there were external influences that stole the show -> maybe there were hidden reasons which were never vocalized -> but what resulted was not just a break-off but a total boycott -> the boycott was not just by the friend in question, but by an entire group that chose to take sides on an issue that was never theirs to begin with. Unfortunately, it happened at a time when I was going through a personal crisis and my need to reach out to people was greatest. Friends about whom I had warm memories in my mind, friends with whom I had made a more than fair share of human effort, all chose to take sides. There were meetings, gatherings, house-warming, house-parties, picnics, holidays – to none of which I was invited. It was a humiliating and humbling experience.

Then the inevitable happened. Best friend apologizes, best friend accepts, best friends patch-up. So what then happens to the earlier group that chose to line up in support of the other? The guilt factor sets in, then the anger that they perhaps compromised on human values -> then the invites begin -> invitations to catch-up over coffee, invitations to come home, invites to parties, invites with family. I concede when I’m in the mood, I refuse when I’m not. If the effort required from my end is minimal, curiosity gets the better of me, and I oblige, I’m curious to know what people have to say to me; where I sense that I may have step outside my existing comfort zone and make that extra effort to blend in, I refuse.

There is no guilt or pressure from my end to accept or refuse an invite. When people had a chance to call the shots, they called it the way they chose to. I have come to terms with that, and I hold no grudges. Today, I’m in a peaceful space, I have overcome the trauma of my personal crisis, I have no emotional need to connect with families or the need to ask for a share in the joy of being with children. If I had been welcomed at a moment I had been reaching out for a hand to hold, today I could have multiplied that gesture manifold and returned it with gratitude.

I have asked the most uncomfortable questions to myself and have answered my own questions with unflattering answers. I have swayed to both extreme ends of the pendulum and have found my own inner equilibrium. Maybe it’s time others did the same.

4/29/2012 7:17:10 PM

Story Of Rishi Chyawan And Ayurveda’s Most Important Concoctions

The Story of Chyawan Rishi and Ayurveda’s Most Important Concoctions (quoted from Padma Purana & Bhavishya Purana)

Chyawan Rishi was the son of Rishi Bhrigu and his wife Puloma. After imbibing the necessary teachings from his father Bhrigu, Chyawan ventures into the forest to embark upon a penance (tap) for further enlightenment. Many decades pass in this penance; the Rishi remains rooted to his spot, unmoving, in a state of super-consciousness. A tall, conical anthill forms around the Rishi enveloping him completely; all that is visible is an anthill with 2 holes in the exact spots of the Rishi’s 2 eyes. The energy and glow of penance radiate through his closed eyes thus preventing any obstruction forming before his eyes.

Into this same forest comes Princess Sukanya with her entourage. Sukanya is 16 years old, and is the daughter of King Sharyaati and has come for a ride through this ancient forest with her group of friends. Walking along the forest tracks, Sukanya chances upon the anthill that has formed over Chyawan Rishi; she is fascinated by the size of the anthill, and the glowing rays that are emitting from 2 holes towards the top. After scrutinizing the anthill from all angles, curiosity gets the better of her, and she picks up a stick and probes it into the 2 holes to try and gauge the source of the light rays. Little does she know that she has probed the stick into the Rishi’s eyes; blood starts oozing from the eye holes, the penance of Rishi Chyawan is broken, and he emerges from the anhill with a blood curdling shriek.

The Rishi breaks the anthill and rises to stand to his full height; blood is oozing from his eyes, and he realizes he has been blinded. Sukanya realizes what she has done and faints in fear. Her father, King Sharyaati is hurried to the forest to take control of the situation. When Sharyaati arrives in the forest, and is face to face with Chyawan Rishi, he realizes that this is no mean situation; the Rishi has just awakened with the full power of his decades-long penance and is just about to unleash the wrath of his curses on the King, his daughter and his kingdom. Sharyaati goes down on his knees, confesses his daughter’s crime, begs forgiveness and in a final bid to appease the angry sage, he offers his erring daughter, Sukanya’s hand in marriage to Chyawan Rishi. The sage accepts and forgives.

Sukanya begins her married life with Chyawan, and serves him with acceptance and dedication. Chyawan is pleased with her commitment to him, and requests a son from her. Sukanya agrees, but voices her reluctance to make love to an aged Rishi with all bodily signs of old age from graying hair to wrinkled skin to creaking joints, while she herself is only in the youth of 16 years. The blind sage understands and asks her for a year’s time.

Chyawan takes to penance again and propitiates the celestial physicians/doctors, the Ashwini Kumar(s) – [always in plural, as they are the twin sons of Surya***]. The Ashwini Kumar(s) descend to earth and urge the sage to ask for a boon. Rishi Chyawan asks for a prescription to restore youth to the human body. The Ashwini Kumar(s) relent, grant the sage his youth and his eyesight, and also leave behind the requested prescription along with a seed, for the benefit of all humanity in the ages to come.

Rishi Chyawan, in all his youthful splendor, returns to wife Sukanya. Then, he plants the seed received from the Ashwini Kumar(s) and vows to spend the rest of his life in research of Ayurveda so that he can restore health and youth to humanity.

The seed takes root, blossoms into a tree, flowers and delivers its divine fruits. This divine fruit documented in the Ayurveda is the Indian Gooseberry or Amla. Working on the various permutations and combinations of the usage of the Amla fruit, Chyawan Rishi pens the most intricate and sought after chapters in Ayurveda – the chapters dedicated to youth and health. Chyawan’s most famous invention the `Chyawanprash’, in its undistorted prescription is said to comprise 80% of the extract, juices and pulp of the Amla fruit in addition to other additives.

Chyawan Rishi also formulated and documented the benefits of Ayurveda’s most favored prescriptions – Amla choorna (dried amla in powdered form) and Triphala choorna (an equal proportion of the 3 fruits of Amla, Haritaki (Harad), Bibhitaki/Vibhitaka (Baheda) in powdered form.

In the Yauvan (youth) Samhita chapters of Ayurveda, Chyawan Rishi mentions in his treatise that youth is recognized from the “backward arch of its back, and the inward arch of its abdomen…”; he also states that when both these arches begin to lose their defined shape, then one can presume that aging has set in. When bones become porous and lose their density, the shape of spine and joints change; and when vata, pitha and kapha are disturbed from their natural balance, gastric imbalances set in, and increase the girth of the abdomen. These disturbances then lead to sagging skin and graying hair, thus completing the onset of the aging process.

Chyawan Muni’s prescription for youth and health/Triphala:-

Chyawan Rishi’s prescription of Triphala choorna entails taking Triphala in its powdered form, whipped in a little bit of water, and swallowed. Triphala by no means has an acceptable taste, but that is the least of all mentions. In Ayurvedic texts, it is a divine concoction, and taste is not an important parameter.

  1. Triphala is recommended for:- toning of the gastro-intestinal tract, toning of the colon, curing constipation, and systematic removal of residual waste matter and toxins, intestinal cleansing, digestive balance, better food assimilation, serum cholesterol balance, better blood circulation, bile duct opening, sluggish peristalsis reduction, headaches reduction, uterine health, respiratory health, kidney health, liver health, cardio vascular health and hemorrhoids.
  2. Triphala starts its regeneration process by purging the system of toxins, beginning with intestinal toxins. Triphala’s most immediate effect will be to induce evacuation of toxins from the system. The accumulation of toxins in the body will determine the number of evacuations the body makes, after every dosage of Triphala.
  3. Sometimes, when the intestinal tract is clogged with toxins, and Triphala cannot push the toxins further down the tract, then it induces vomiting. Vomiting purges the body of excess phlegm and acids, and this will automatically loosen the intestinal tract muscles (phlegm/acids constrict muscles) for evacuation with the next round of Triphala powder.
  4. The after-effects of Triphala are an indicator of the level of body toxins. The higher the after-effects, the higher the toxins. As the body cleanses itself of accumulated toxins, the after-effects of Triphala will periodically reduce to the point that finally the body will absorb all the components in Triphala with no side-effects. That is the physician’s benchmark that your body is relatively toxins-free.
  5. A continued dosage of Triphala after you have reached the point of no side-effects, then Triphala will divert its components to work on excess body fat starting with the intestines; the visible effect will be on the abdomen and stomach region. Burning excess body fat with Triphala is not an instant process, but it is as sure as the process of Triphala’s detoxification. Triphala will have to enter the body’s fat cells, agitate and aggravate the layers of accumulated fat to open up, break the fat into smaller portions, and then burn them systematically. Slow but sure. The Amla component of Triphala nourishes bones, hair and skin. This will systematically restore strength to bones and joints; luster and glow to skin and hair; and the texts promise that the Amla component can actually reverse grey to black in hair cells. Maybe the Vedic texts did not account for modern day pollution, pollutants and free radical cell damage, but rest assured, that if started at an early age, the graying process will not occur or at least greatly delayed to a ripe old age.

Chyawan Muni’s prescription for youth and health/Amla:- 

  1. Triphala is known for its agitating, aggravating and purgative effect on body cells and tissues. Till the body gets used to and accepts the inputs, Triphala can have a disturbing effect on both the taste buds and the body, with its detoxification properties. So, for those who would like to start off on a milder prescription, with more or less same effects and minus the drastic after-effects of Triphala, it is recommended to start with pure powdered Amla. Amla is tastier, milder, with same effects but shows its effect over a slightly longer duration period than Triphala.
  2. To emphasize the regenerative effect of Amla, I will need to quote my personal usage experience and results following the use.
  3. Roughly between 2000 to 2006, which can be described as the most intense phase of my infertility treatment, I suffered from multiple ailments: Multiple allergic conditions like asthma, rhinitis, sensitive skin; ENT and lung conditions like recurring inflammations of the ear passage, complete blockage of the nasal passage, inflammation of the throat and upper respiratory tract, reduced lung function; stomach conditions like inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract, erosion of stomach tissues. Added to this, constant pressure on abdominal muscles on account of recurring asthmatic and gastric attacks led to weakening of bladder muscles leading to attacks of incontinence and severe backaches in the lower-middle back region. Add to this an ongoing process of fertility treatment, procedures and medications (as doctors were not willing to compromise on time) – and I think the system headed for a complete breakdown. The permutations and combinations of medications (for every detailed ailment + infertility) to be taken, so that one prescription did not hamper the effects of another lead to a monstrosity of research that turned me into part-medical practitioner in my own right.
  4. Every research, every experiment, more or less led to a similar conclusion – that almost every possible drug for any possible ailment will hamper the effectiveness of specialized fertility medications. That pushed me to a wall every time. If I gave up on other medications, the system would collapse and fertility treatment would automatically be rendered impossible. If I continued with other medications, the doctors would take no guarantee for success of fertility treatment. And doctors and medical science pretty much failed to come up with alternatives in my case; try and balance both was all they had to say.
  5. Somewhere in the midst, or perhaps towards the end of this trying period, I started my self-prescribed experiments with alternate therapies. I got to the root of Homeopathy and Ayurveda. Going to practitioners was not an option with me, I tried all of that, but their miniscule non-existent drug dosages and the long time frame that went with it pushed me back by several months after each visit. So I got the texts and studied them. I managed to get hold of old volumes of homeopathic texts from an equally old, customer-friendly shop of Dr.Reckeweg’s German formulations in Bangalore. I would study, make notes, go back and ask for formulations and tinctures; combine them according to my ailments and consume them. I confirmed beyond doubt that unless taken in disastrous quantities, homeopathic prescriptions are incapable of causing serious side-effects.
  6. There was one thing I discovered about my body during allopathic treatment, that my body needs and only responds to much higher doses than the prescribed normal. I observed doctors upping the doses of my inhalers, my antibiotics, my antacids, and practically every other drug (including specialized fertility drugs) that I was taking; then the results would show. I used that information and sometimes doubled, tripled and even quadrupled the doses of my homeopathic drugs than what was suggested in volumes. It worked. I saw visible reductions in the symptoms of my various ailments, and noticeable reduction in the use of allopathic drugs; body was also responding better to fertility drugs. Then I encountered a new roadblock – the cost of homeopathic formulations, and especially those imported from Germany which I preferred for their potency and efficacy, was monumental. On a household that runs on 1 salary, the monthly cost of medical experiments was almost equal to the monthly cost of specialized fertility treatment. That was neither practical nor acceptable.
  7. That was when I shifted gears to Ayurveda. Ayurveda was definitely more affordable but infinitely more cumbersome. Compared to the small vials of Homeopathic formulations that I could pop into my handbag, carrying sachets of different powders and tablets of Ayurveda to be taken at different intervals was depressing and more so, impractical. Ayurveda was also a series of self-induced experiments as practitioners now bored me. I saw results, good results, but working on a body that is high on internal toxins meant that very often the body would reject the taste and texture of the medicine and throw up. It wore my patience out. Then somewhere towards the fag end of my patience, and just before I gave, I chanced upon an old volume dedicated exclusively to Amla, given to me by a benevolent shopkeeper. The text was in Hindi; if reading the fine printed text was tiresome then translating the language’s nuances, description of anatomy and its varied explanations was utterly draining. Google bailed me out. Finally, I decided to give Amla a try.
  8. I formulated my dosage and consumed a tablespoon of Amla powder whipped into a glass of hot water every 1 hours. Ridiculously high dosage people warned me but I persisted. After 3 months and 3 kilograms of consumed Amla powder, my ailments were down to half their intensity; another 2 months and 2 kilograms of Amla, doctors were amazed with my new test reports. Stomach ulcers healed, stomach lining regenerated with fresh tissue, no inflammation anywhere in the gastro-intestinal tract, no backaches, reductions in inches around the stomach that made my gynos very happy, I came down to 2 inhalers from 4, and no inflammations in the ear-nose-throat region. What remained were asthma, rhinitis and infertility. It made the perusal of the remainder of my fertility treatment fairly manageable. I made a slight mistake though; had I persisted with my obsession for Amla for a while longer, I may have succeeded in naturally regenerating my uterine tissues also, who knows. But my urge to make up for lost time made me choose specialized fertility treatment and there I was strictly advised to do away with every other alternate therapy till the complete duration of the treatment; which I did. Well, I gave it my best shot, but as they say, God always holds the final results.
  9. But to close the point I set out to make – Chyawan Rishi’s Amla therapy works. And how!

*** The story of Ashwini Kumar(s), twin sons of Surya – maybe next time.

5/1/2012 11:12:14 PM

Story Of Surya (Sun God), Sanjana, Sandhya, Chhaya, Shani, Yama, Yamuna & Ashwini Kumars(s) – (Twin Sons Of Surya)

The Story of Ashwini Kumar(s) – twin sons of Surya – Part I

Sanjana was the daughter of Vishwakarma (the celestial engineer and architect). As Sanjana grew to a marriageable age, Vishwakarma sought out for a suitable groom, and approached Surya, the Sun God to accept his daughter’s hand in marriage. Surya accepts and the marriage is solemnized.

A little while into the marriage and Sanjana is troubled, she can take it no more, the glare and heat emitted from Surya’s golden aura have darkened her complexion and sapped her energy; she no longer feels any love for her husband. Her color now resembles the energies of evening/dusk and the Gods bestow her with a new name – Sandhya.

Sanjana plots a plan for her escape. She creates a clone (perhaps one of the first documented instances of cloning). She calls her clone “Chhaya” (shadow). She installs Chhaya in her place and instructs her not to leave Surya’s presence under any circumstances, and to dutifully remain there till her return. Sanjana then returns to her father’s house for some respite. Surya does not notice the difference. He takes Chhaya to be his wife; he initiates marital relations; Chhaya conceives and delivers a son – Shani (Saturn). Shani is born of dark complexion like his mother, and also inherits Chhaya’s serious and somber countenance.

Vishwakarma hears news of Shani’s birth and he is deeply troubled. He confronts Sanjana and ask for the truth. Sanjana confesses having left behind a clone. Vishwakarma immediately orders his daughter to return to her rightful position in Surya’s house. Sanjana returns to Surya’s house but is livid with Chhaya for having violated the scope of her orders. Sanjana destroys Chhaya’s tangible body and reduces her to a mere illusion in Surya’s light and glare.

Surya once again does not notice the exchange of wives. Sanjana gives birth to 2 children from Surya – son Yama and daughter Yamuna. As the children grow older, Sanjana’s animosity towards Shani grows stronger and she does everything in her power to distance him from Surya. Devoid of motherly love and fatherly attention, Shani is distraught, depressed, lazy and utterly directionless.

The 3 children come of age, and time comes to bestow them with responsibilities. Surya announces the same to his children; hearing this, Sanjana quickly poisons Surya’s mind against the capabilities of Shani and requests him to divide his responsibilities between Yama and Yamuna. Surya relents.

So on the appointed day, Shani (the elder son) is ignored and Yama (the younger son) is given the title of “Dharmaraj” or “king of dharma” and is given the responsibility of upholding truth in humanity. Yama though popularly known as “God of death” is not literally so; he merely appears at the appointed time of death so that he can cart away the soul and present the updated karmic balance sheet of the life just gone by, to the soul; and explain with compassion, righteousness and an unwavering approach – the good and bad deeds of the soul and the likely implications of same in this after-life.

Yamuna is given the status of a holy river, and is given the responsibility of washing away the sins of those who bathe in her or partake of her waters. She is also given the responsibility of generating a spark of good thought in all those who touch her waters.

Yama and Yamuna accept their responsibilities and leave. Shani is left standing all alone. As a son and older brother, he feels humiliated and insulted. Unable to break the barriers of communication with his father; unable to invoke love from his mother; unable to express authority over his younger brother and sister, and unable to prove the capability that he believes he has – a rage builds up in Shani.

To vent his anger, he seeks out mother Sanjana and delivers a well aimed kick in her womb believing that she is an insult to the womb that she birthed him from. Shocked at this act, Sanjana retaliates by cursing Shani to lose the leg that he kicked her with. Maimed and helpless, Shani lies on the ground. The scene is witnessed by Surya. Though he can forgive Shani’s behavior as he act of an unruly son, he is unable to understand the curse of mother Sanjana. Surya then confronts Sanjana for the truth.

Sanjana confesses to her folly, apologises, and narrates about her clone Chhaya and the birth of Shani before her return to Surya’s home. Surya is livid with rage and glows brighter and hotter than before. He accepts Shani as his legitimate older son, restores his lost leg though a limp still remains to honor the word of his mother’s curse, and then makes amends by bestowing upon him the honor of a place in the solar system. Shani is installed as the planet that will govern “karma” and “dharma” in a horoscope. He will enter your horoscope as your karmic guru, your harshest teacher, and will ensure that you learn your lessons and pass your tests, so that you can rise higher up the karmic ladder.  Like his brother Yama, Shani will brook no concessions in the house that he will appear in, and will force you like a hard taskmaster to confront and deal with your toughest karmic issues – and bestow you with his own traits of patience, seriousness and diligence to help you learn your lessons in the appointed house.

True to his own life experiences, the house that Shani appears in, will first experience – insults, depression, prejudice, laziness and a sense of being directionless before you can invoke his powers of patience, perseverance and hard-work to deal with your tests.

Astrologically also, the placement of Shani and Surya in the same house is not considered good. The old Vedic animosity will resurface and the native will always feel the pressure of “wanting to glow with the pride of Surya” but being “subdued with the restrictions of Shani”. It is a balance that the native will seek to find in his life. (Incidentally, my own horoscope has this conjunction, but more when I write about the significance of Saturn in a Vedic horoscope chart.)

After Shani’s installation into the solar system as a planet, the Gods gathered around him and chanted an invocation to restore his lost honor; that chant is used even today used as a prayer to propitiate Shani:-

Neelaanjana samaabhaasam (To the color of brilliant dark blue)

Ravi-putram Yama-agrajam (Son of Surya, elder brother, agraj, of Yama)

Chhaya-Maartanda sambhootam (Son of Chhaya and Surya)

Tam namaami Shanaishcharam (We offer our obeisance)

The Story of Ashwini Kumar(s) – twin sons of Surya – Part II

Sanjana, after being admonished by Surya in the presence of Shani, and being further unable to bear the glow and heat of an angered Surya, leaves his abode once again. She now cannot return to her father’s house, so she disappears into a Himalayan forest to cool herself; there she takes on the disguise of a mare to prevent herself from being discovered and sent back home. She spends many long years in the forest, as a mare.

When Surya’s anger cools down, he begins to miss his wife and he goes in search of her to Vishwakarma’s house. Vishwakarma informs him of Sanjana’s whereabouts but also has as humble request – he asks Surya to reduce his glare so that daughter Sanjana is not discomfited. Surya says he is helpless as it is part of his nature; Vishwakarma then offers to help. Vishwakarma, the celestial engineer and architect, puts his skills to use and scrapes the glow away from Surya’s face and body, thus giving him, what they would say in modern day parlance – a matt-finish. Surya in his new look ventures into the Himalayan forest in search of Sanjana. He spots her grazing the grass in the form of a mare. To entice her, he takes the form of a young stallion and approaches her. Sanjana recognizes her husband and is pleasantly surprised at his efforts to woo her. She concedes, they mate, and out of this mating are born the Ashwini Kumar(s) – the twin sons of Surya. The name “Ashwini” is derived from the root “ashwa” meaning “horse”.

The Ashwini Kumar(s) are given the responsibility of healing; keeping with this order, they pursue the field of medicine and emerge as the celestial physicians/doctors of Gods. The Ashwini Kumar(s) true to the horse form in which they were conceived, also hold the prime reigns amongst the 7 horses that drive Surya’s chariot. Every sunrise, they come forth as the first rising rays of Sun, and are also known as “Surya-kiran”.

Being the celestial physicians/healers of Gods and humanity, facing their rays during sunrise bestows good health. This is done, as per prescribed Vedic customs, by honoring their mother Sanjana or Sandhya as the Gods called her – hence we welcome the first rays of morning Sun with “Sandhya-vandanam” or “Sandhya-vandan” by offering “arghyam” or water from our palms to the rising Sun. The Sandhya-vandan is often accompanied by a chant of Gayatri mantam.

There is another analogy which I read about the Gayatri mantram – that the original Gayatri has been hidden by Gods because of its potency. But more on that – maybe next time.

5/3/2012 4:28:41 PM

Apropos Earlier Narrative: Surya, Vishwakarma, Lord Vishnu, Sudarshan Chakra, Sudarshan Mantra

Apropos to my narration of “The Story of Ashwini Kumar(s)….”

Apropos to my narration of “The Story of Ashwini Kumar(s) – twin sons of Surya”, an interesting piece of information that I forgot to mention:-

Surya leaves the abode of Vishwakarma after being given a matt-finish to his golden glare, so that he can now attempt to woo back his wife Sandhya. After Surya’s exit, Vishwakarma is left with a heap of golden dust in his workshop; they are the gold particles that were scraped of Surya’s face and body to lessen the glow and glare of gold.

Vishwakarma experiences a moment of confusion. One, because this is the residue from the face and body of his son-in-law, and hence it must be accorded the same respect as Surya; so it cannot be just left lying there or disposed off indiscriminately. Two, it is the residue from Sun God Surya hence it possesses unique powers of healing, cleansing and enlightenment; so it must be put to discretionary use.

Vishwakarma then strikes upon an idea that he believes will do justice to both, Surya’s status as his son-in-law and the divine powers ingrained in the gold dust. He brings his engineering and architectural skills to the forefront, and crafts a small wheel – a “chakra”. When he is done, he is impressed with his own creation; he feels his creation deserves a better owner; Vishwakarma then makes his way to Vaikuntham, the abode of Lord Vishnu; there he humbly narrates the story of Surya, and presents him with the beautiful golden chakra (wheel) that he crafted from the golden dust and particles that were scraped off Surya’s body. Vishnu is pleased and honored to receive this gift.

As soon as Vishnu beholds this chakra, the chakra aligns itself to the energies of Vishnu and becomes what modern day Reiki masters refer to as “being aligned”, “being activated” or “being energized”. The touch of Vishnu has bestowed the chakra with powers of divine vision and discretion. The chakra develops an identity of its own and is now an entity. The chakra, in tune with its lineage of Surya (and the divine roles and responsibilities of his many sons), is able to distinguish “dharma” from “adharma” with its divine vision. Vishnu christens it “Su-darshan” – that which has clarity and discretion of vision. He installs the Sudarshan chakra on his right fore-finger and the chakra goes down in Vedic history as Vishnu’s prime weapon which is used to protect dharma and destroy adharma.

In a lighter sense, the Sudarshan chakra can be explained in modern day parlance also. The Sudarshan chakra is the master CD of the good and bad deeds (dharma and adharma) of all humanity. It is the master file of records to which Vishnu has access when he needs to process a request from your personal file. Depending on the debit or credit balance in our file records, Vishnu may either accept or reject an application. He is depicted in pictorial form with Sudarshan chakra in full view, as a reminder to mortals that he holds our records, this is to keep us in constant awareness of our deeds. If at any point, any one of us crosses the acceptable karmic threshold of bad deeds, it implies that there is a severe virus in our program file, and we run the risk of corrupting all other files in the CD; Vishnu will then have to intervene and ruthlessly delete our individual file from the CD – this means, we no longer exit – the end.

The narrative of the Sudarshan chakra brings me to another chapter in the Vedas – the Sudarshan mantra. The Sudarshan mantra (in addition to all other benefic effects) has been especially described and prescribed for nullifying and fighting the effects of “black magic”. The Sudarshan mantra destroys negativity and black energies.

Volumes have been detailed in Vedas on “black magic”. The “tantra-shastra” in Vedas is dedicated to dissecting, understanding and dealing with black magic. Black magic was formulated by Gods to deal with the severity of negativities dealt by asuras (demons). The demons did not succumb to simple weapons; hence something had to be formulated to suit the aggression and negativity inherent in asuras. That was the basis behind the research and formulation of tantra-shastra.

On a human level, tantra-shastra is meant to be used by seasoned practitioners who have dedicated their lives to God, divinity and good of all mankind. In such hands, it is safe. Tantra-shastra was received by sages from Gods, and passed on by sages with utmost discretion, to selected humans. It was meant to be used by practitioners to fight the “asuras” (demons) in humans, and save mankind from destruction. But today, every run-of-the-mill-street-side “astrologers” and “god-men” proclaim to be practitioners of tantra-shastra; proclaim that they can use this divine science to solve your petty day-to-day problems; and most dangerously, proclaim that it can be used to extract revenge, subdue others, control others etc.

Here, the question that would interest most people is “can tantra-shastra really be practiced by half-baked tantric professionals? does it work?” My answer: yes, it can be used and yes, it does work. Tantra-shastra is a science; once you learn the principles, anyone can use it. The karmic and earthly repercussions of such uses are a different discussion; but yes it can be used to wreck havoc in the lives of people.

Do I believe that black-magic really exists? Yes I do. Have I experienced black-magic at close quarters? Yes I have. Is it capable of wrecking havoc as it claims? Most certainly yes. Is God more powerful than black-magic? Definitely yes. An explanation will require that l dive again into my personal experiences (me, my 1st family, esp my sibling).  Maybe next time.

A special mention about Rahu and Ketu in astrology and horoscopes will have to be made when discussing black magic. In Vedas, snakes have often been interpreted to have a connection to black-magic. Rahu-ketu in a horoscope represent the proverbial head and tail of the celestial snake. Hence, when an astrologer is nagged with the doubt that the native of a horoscope maybe experiencing malefic effects of black magic, then he will study the placements of Rahu and Ketu of that horoscope in finer detail. Special scrutiny will be required if the native also happens to be born in the nakshatras of Ashlesha, Rohini and Mrigasira which – the 3 primary snake nakshtras in astrology.

The nakshatras of Ashlesha, Rohini, Mrigasira DO NOT indicate that black magic will touch the natives of the horoscopes – BUT in case of exceptional disturbances, beyond the scope of what may be indicated in a normal horoscope – the moon stars (star in which moon is placed at time of birth) of Ashlesha, Rohini, Mrigasira are more susceptible to be at the receiving end as compared to other nakshatras.

More on astrology’s snake nakshatras when I write about Sudarshan mantram; Rahu-ketu in horoscopes; and especially about Ashlesha nakshatra in Vedic Astrology.

I should know. I’m Ashlesha. My moon falls in the asterism of Ashlesha in the zodiac sign of Cancer (karka-raashi). More on this, maybe next time.

5/4/2012 3:26:33 PM

Kaal-Sarpa Dosham & Pitru-Dosham (Anniversaries of Ancestors)

Anniversaries of Ancestors

Ancestors is a Hindu term of reference used for those higher up in your family lineage, and with special emphasis on those who have passed away from this world.

Ancestors have a special place in the life of ordinary mortals. When they pass over from this world to the other, they acquire special powers, and they also have a special urge to watch over their descendants. If we harness ourselves to these powers, our life on earth can be fairly easier than what it normally is.

In Pune, I am having the occasion to have some insightful discussions on philosophy, religion and other-worldly things with an elder of mine; actually the elder brother of my father-in-law whom we all address as Tauji.

Tauji is a lot different from my father-in-law; he encourages talks and discussions; he is open to views and counter-views; he believes in sharing wisdom and knowledge like a true elder; and he appreciates information from any source and especially those seeking it. Tauji having spent 8 long and illustrious decades in this world already has his own brand of traditionalism and conservatism. He believes in the concept of a family tree and how the tree must expand with male progeny etc. But that apart, Tauji is an immense storehouse of information.

In a post-dinner nightly discussion with Tauji, he spoke a lot about the lineage of his family; our family tree; pitru-dosham, sarpa-dosham (both of which are reflected in horoscopes of descendants); and the significance of anniversaries of ancestors. The points of discussion which caught my attention were:- 

  1. The combination of certain planetary placements in a horoscope can result in pitru-dosham.
  2. Pitru-dosham can be determined by studying the placements of Sun, Moon, Saturn, Rahu, Ketu and the 2nd and 9th houses in a horoscopes.
  3. Especially Rahu, Ketu and Saturn will be the prime indicators of pitru-dosham in a horoscope.
  4. Pitru-dosham occurs or results if an ancestor has either died unsatisfied and angry – and nothing has been done to appease the soul of that ancestor, or if…
  5. An ancestor has committed acts or deeds of crime, and has died without having had a chance to rectify his mistakes, and that burden or debt falls on his descendants, and they do nothing to rectify his misdeeds.
  6. More often, in most horoscopes, it is the former rather than latter; many ancestors die with a feeling of having been cheated and wronged rather than having wronged someone themselves. To get a fair idea of this, it is important to study the nature and life of the deceased ancestor.
  7. Since Rahu, Ketu and Saturn are the prime indicators of pitru-dosham; and since Rahu, Ketu and Saturn are also the prime indicators of sarpa-dosham, it is seems somewhat destined and coincidental that both pitru-dosham and sarpa-dosham appear together in a horoscope.
  8. Sarpa-dosham is vaguely termed as curses of snakes which reflect in horoscopes. This is slightly too simplistic. Sarpa-dosham is a reflection of abnormalities in genes or chromosomes. The shape of our DNA is like 2 snakes coiled together. Any abnormality in our DNA is an abnormality in our chromosomes, and this is reflected in our horoscope at birth. All poojas and rituals directed at removing Sarpa-dosham are rituals are meant to alter the bio-magnetic energies of our auric field, thus rectifying our DNA, removing the defect in our chromosomes and cleansing the energy fields.
  9. Pitru-dosham and sarpa-dosham are often linked and have been noticed to appear together in a horoscope, probably because the constant anger of ancestors from heavens seems to have some effect on the auric field of the descendants; and this may be causing disturbances in the bio-magnetic energies of our DNA and chromosomes.

But coming back to what interested me: Ancestors’ anniversaries:- 

  1. The anniversaries of ancestors are dates that can be used to harness our energies to our ancestors; connect with them in a positive way; ask forgiveness; and take remedial actions to pacify the causes of their anger.
  2. Doing this will effectively clear out the clutter in the lives of those lower down the order than us; and pave the way for a happier, healthier lineage.
  3. For eg. if an act of ours has hurt our ancestors; or if we may have done something important without their blessings, then we can re-do this act once again, correctly, on their death anniversary after offering appropriate poojas, and this time around seeking their blessings and forgiveness.
  4. For eg. if we have married against their wishes (which Tauji says is usually one of the foremost causes of anger in ancestors because marriage implies further lineage, and this was very important to older ancestors) – then, we can re-celebrate the occasion of our marriage on the death anniversary of an angry ancestor, but this time explicitly seeking their blessings.
  5. Same remedy can be replicated for other smaller acts which may have led to differences; the examples given by Tauji are many, but too long to pen in a single sitting.
  6. Tauji says the results are almost instantaneous. He gives his own example. Tauji married a sindhi lady by way of love marriage and created quite a scandal in his times. His father broke all ties with him. When Tauji bought his own small place in Benaras after marriage, his father never graced his home. Soon after his father passed away. Tauji says the house never brought him luck. Then some years back, he moved from Benaras to Pune and bought another small house here; this time Tauji did a small house-warming on the anniversary of his father’s death; he did the required pooja in the morning and in the evening he initiated a dinner gathering for all near and dear ones. He acknowledged that he was doing this to seek the blessings of his later father. Tauji says the house has proved extremely lucky for him; he feels he has made peace with his father; things happen more easily now; and there is lot more peace and prosperity than before. That’s just an example but I think the reader would have got the point.

Maybe more when I’m back home in Bombay.

5/10/2012 5:45:58 PM