I am slowly coming out of silence. I don't really know if I still am or not. The actual vrata was to stay in silence until I finished a particular project, which is still not finished. So it feels a bit like an incomplete vrata and I will probably have to plunge again. It has been and is being a very interesting experience overall.
I tried so many times to do a perfect vrata in my life, especially when I was younger. In ISKCON and as a babaji I started to do very strict Chaturmasyas on at least three occasions. Even eating plain kitcherie for weeks in yoga mudra and so on. But it never lasted to the fullest extent.
Once, when I was a babaji in Nabadwip, I did a vrata in Agrahayan, the Katyayani vrata. This is in around 1984. I tried to keep it simple. I went at 2 a.m. every night to Porama Tala (Paurnamasi Tala) and meditated for two hours, chanting japa. It was only to be for a month.
It was a very interesting experience, because Pora Ma is a very powerful Shakta and Tantric center. People forget that Nabadwip is also an important Shakti peeth, with Krishnananda Vagisha, one of the major Bengali tantrics of the 15th century, a contemporary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, living there. Going there in the middle of the night with no one at all around (though sometimes a Tantric would show up and do some midnight puja) was a new kind of experience for me.
But it was still not perfect. At the end, on Purnima, I went and begged in the market until my bag was full, and I went to see Jiva Goswami Prabhupada at Shrivas Angan and I gave him all that I had collected as guru dakshina, he being a respected member of the Nityananda vamsha.
I told him what I had done and asked for his blessing. He said, "Did you do it perfectly?" I had to admit that I hadn't. Then he said, "You won't get the results right away."
It is not that no results come. There is no loss or diminution. But we don't always get what we want, and we rarely get it directly. The most important thing that happens during a vrata is that your own desires are revealed to you. You begin with a purpose, a desire, and in your interiority, you focus on that desire in relation to your True Being. The result of the vrata is the interaction of those two things. The extent of the benefit is the result of the intensity of that interaction.
But it rarely takes an external form, though it can. Indeed, if it only takes an external form, it really shows that you did not get the mercy you were truly seeking. The gods see many levels deeper than you can even imagine. They know what you really want. Your vrata pushes your human adventure into unforeseen directions. Which is really what makes life interesting. And what makes the vrata worthwhile.
We have desires. As long as we do, we are captured in the drama of life. It can be fun, but it is totally unpredictable.
I have to finish this translation. I had a little partial sense of accomplishment by completing the Sanskrit critical text (i.e., where the different manuscripts are compared and the best reading for the text is established and the variant readings are catalogued). So I suppose that this milestone led to a softening of my resolve. But I still have to translate quite a bit.
The text is not all that difficult, but I always make things more difficult for myself. The Goraksha Shataka is a difficult text to pin down. But let us say that it is the "original" Hatha Yoga. Quite different from what we know as hatha yoga today. So you could say that the practices are the basic practices that led to the expansion of hatha yoga into the forms that we see today, but which have practically been pushed aside entirely for the sake of physical culture.
Goraksha precedes even the Hatha-yoga-pradipika, which like many of the later Hatha Yoga texts tries to harmonize with Patanjali and Advaita-vada. Nevertheless, the value of these practices has been more or less accepted on one level or another in the pan-Indian kaleidoscope of spirituality.
So my slow style of translating is based on realization. I cannot translate about Maha Mudra or Nadi Shodhana or any of these other practices without at least a fairly good idea of what they entail.
To some extent, because I have now been involved with this Himalayan Tradition through Swami Veda Bharati for nearly six years, staying altogether about four of them here in Rishikesh, I have gotten a little bit of an idea. It has taken a while, but I have assimilated most of the practices in Goraksha Shataka already... some even from before coming here. This ashram has given me the opportunity to be silent and to go deeply into meditational states.
Currently Swami Veda, who is now 80, is in complete silence. He has told me several times that he never wants to speak again. He carries a tablet with him and interacts through writing when it is necessary. So evening meditations at 5.45 are pretty intense. More so than they ever were before in all the previous years. Swamiji has stopped traveling, which also means that his intensity is accumulating in that way also.
So there has been great value in this experience, and it is still not finished. Just thought I would let my friends know.
Probably the hardest sacrifice was not writing my own ideas here on this blog, where about two months has gone by without any new posts. But that has probably been the most deliberate and important part of this vrata. To take myself out of the "wisdom game" for a minute and reboot the computer a little, allow new, fresh ideas to enter and percolate in solitude... not perfect solitude, not perfect silence, but pretty intense overall.
I am certainly blessed.