Beginning at the End

यत्र योगेश्वर: कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनु्र्धर:।

तत्र श्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्ध्रुवा नीतिर्मतिर्मम।।७८।

Wherever is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Partha, the archer, there are prosperity, victory, happiness and firm (steady or sound) policy; this is my conviction.

Bhagawad Geeta 18:78

– Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda

Today is Geeta Jayanti, the day the Divine Song is said to have been given to us. The Institute had a talk organised on the occasion and it was a blessing to listen to Geetaji touch upon many aspects of yog as mentioned in the Geeta as well as the Yog Sutras.

She wound up on the significance of the title of the last chapter , Moksha Sanyasa Yoga after taking us through the paths of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana laid out through the entire 700 odd shlokas. That made me come back home and look up the last verse in my copy (mentioned above). Swami Chinmayananda breaks down each of the phrases to bring out its significance. One part of his interpretation in particular stood out and made me think of how seamlessly the last verse tied up with the opening verse. “… Yogeshwarah Krishna could have achieved nothing on the battlefield of Kurukshetra without the Pandava Prince, Arjuna, ARMED AND READY TO FIGHT.’

The opening verse of the Geeta commences with the words ‘ धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे ‘ and is where we are introduced to the array of mighty warriors on both sides. A battlefield. At the peak of Arjuna’s prowess as a powerful Kshatriya, he requests his Charioteer, Lord Krishna to draw his chariot between the two armies to see who he would be up against. He sees family, teachers and at the moment when he is to rise to his glory, falls into the depths of despair and despondency. It is a chapter that I come back to because I find myself in that state often. Despite the giving up of arms at the end of the chapter, he rises through his charioteer to fight the battle of his life.

In the symbolism of charioteer and warrior, I find similarities of our true selves and deluded selves. As warriors of the spirit, it is upto us to ride into the battle with absolute faith and surrender to the charioteer. Arjuna was at his peak when he was hit by depression. It could happen to us too. What do we do then? Trust the charioteer. Even the adepts are not spared. It is a theme that appears in the Yog Sutras too and the twin pillars of abhyasa and vairagya are the way through the struggles of sadhana.

This brings me back to the last lines of the Divine Song which talks about the presence of both the Supreme and the Human. It is only in this two legged embodiment that we can find our way in to the ‘Purusha‘. The realisation of the ‘tattva gyana‘ as Geetaji said and it is possible only through Prakriti. To use her words again, ‘words limit us’. It does, doesn’t it. How can I describe the joy that is an explosion or the dark despair of the heartin mere language?

In gratitude


  • 2 extra large belts
  • 6 regular sized belts
  • 4 small belts
  • 4 small steel rods
  • 4 slightly longer wooden rods
  • 3 foam bricks 
  • 1 thick mat
  • 1 blanket

It took all this skilfully rigged up by a kind teacher to allow me a sense of stability in my leg for a while. It’s been very long since I felt the energy course through my legs the way it did in remedial class last evening. Not to mention, the relief in my back too. The class ended and I could walk without the usual unstable feeling in the knee. It got shot again, a long drive back undid all the good but at least there is a course correction roadmap becoming clear. 

Ironically, I started this class wanting to dissolve into hopelessness and despairing of any real change happening. But, that cautious optimism I felt last week may be justified. There is a lot of hitherto unknown directions of explorations opening up and perhaps there is cure possible. I don’t need to be stoic and resigned. 

The teacher who fixed me up was someone I always thought of as very strict and she turned out to be compassion personified. I spent the bulk of my time in urdhva prasarita padasana tied up well and good against a column. She called the setup ‘engineering’ and it truly was so. The shape of my knees and shins took a different appearance and nature. And all this with just props, I did nothing. It’s very different to be passive in an asana after being used to being engaged all the time but healing requires surrender. It’s clear that if I would want a complete recovery, I would need to rest, rest and rest. The time for active work would come later. I guess it was the loss of a certain level of proficiency in asana that didn’t allow me to let time do it’s magic. It’s just very hard to relax, still.😊 How do you tell your legs to be still when the mind is whirring with thoughts and ideas? 

I remain awed when I see the brilliance of Guruji’s system and the healing power of asana without actually performing an asana. We’re truly lucky to have had such a giant who blazed a way for countless suffering souls.

In gratitude 


I haven’t been to regular class in a few weeks but a phrase from one of those has been simmering for a while. The spiral of practice. It’s a bit strange to think about practice when one is not ‘practising’ but this pause has been about letting go or rather letting the ‘letting go’ happen. 
Some of the things that troubled me along the way and prevented me from accepting the situation were
– How could I let this happen to me? I should have known better, after all I was practising. 

– How do I face the ‘I told you so’s’ from all those who said running is bad for the knees? And that too, when I vehemently protested and sang about the bliss of a run.

– How could I put my poor knees through so much violence? So much for the yamas. So much ego.

– I should have listened to all that thick and heavy feeling in the right side which was a constant during my running period. 

– Ageing with or without disease is scary. Imagine having to depend on others!

– I faulted on a regular discipline of many things that were built over a period of time. However will I get back?

All of it was about me and mine, not about how things actually are. So much self obsession. 😊

Some of the learnings from this experience has been to
– Reach out for help. Ask. And then ask again. (This was perhaps the hardest)

– A favourite quote still holds true, ‘Fall down 7 times, get up 8’

– There is always a silver lining.

– The most important is Guruji’s wisdom about enduring what cannot be cured and curing what need not be endured.

I’m happy despite an erosion of a lot of activities that I took for granted. They may come back or maybe not (the husband insists that I will run again 😊) but as long as a spirit of curiosity remains, life is beautiful. I missed the exploration of asana in a home practice and found a spark of that in yesterday’s remedial class. Now, there’s a general direction of action that I can try out. One of the interesting things about yesterday was the body’s initial resistance to trouble an irritated area and the response of the mind to surrender to the teacher’s touch or more like a strong prod. 😊In my head and heart, it’s a complete surrender and part of it also springs from the sureness of her touch. 
Coming back to the ‘spiral of practice’ as our teacher elaborated, it is about the change in perspective of a particular asana through the spiral of time and space. A coming back to the same central axis at a higher perspective. The pose at the beginning of a practice or as a novice and one at the end of a practice or with a few years of experience. Now, there’s a new dimension of a pose before, through and after injury/ chronic condition. Although, that might take a while. And the irony is it is not about asana at all! 
I found this visual image of a spiral to be true in many disciplines. The secrets reveal themselves as you go through a process of repetition and refinement. It makes me think of Sage Patanjali’s coiled tail rising upwards into the pinnacle of enlightenment and the galaxies. Much is to be said for the rich symbolism of our deities and the fathomless universe. 

I remain grateful for a tumultuous year that has churned many set notions and thrown up unexpected gifts. I did have my moments of doubt, sadness and fear but it’s hard to stay down for too long when life is beautiful. Perhaps, it’s just the airy, fairy vata that keeps me from getting too tethered.😊Today’s home practice was a throwback to early tentative attempts at mimicking what I would learn in class and it felt good to play once again. 
In gratitude to Guruji and his sadhana that made hope possible.
Hari Om