May 11, 2001
Friday Meeting

It was asked, "When saints perform prayers or chant God's name, what is the significance of certain positions, such as looking up with arms and hands open?" Dinkar Uncle explained that there are various aasanas (postures) and mudraas (styles) practiced to please God. [Aasana and pranaayama are the third and fourth steps of ashtaanga-yoga, respectively; traditionally, they are a part of hatha-yoga, along with mudraa.]

Hindu scriptures describe 8.4 million different aasanas, matching the 8.4 million types of life forms. Of these, 84 are considered major, and according to the school, 4 are noted as the main aasanas. ['Shavaasana,' for example, is the resting posture.]

Several mudraas are explained in scriptures as well, one of which is chanting with open, raised hands. [Mudraas are typically thought of as hand gestures - e.g. the gnyaana mudraa is joining the tips of the index finger and the thumb while keeping the other three fingers outstretched. In general though, a mudraa is any style.]

Commonly, a certain style suggests being either in a sad or overjoyed state. Consider, for example, the style adapted when one is pleading or hugging. Spiritually, one employs different styles to express devotion to God. Also, when any position beyond the normal is assumed, one can harness internal energy. Scriptures also explain that in order to attain poonya (results of positive deeds) a position is held for a certain time period.

At the same time, when one cannot hold the energy developed, it shows up on one's physical expression. And, if not properly channeled, it could have disastrous effects too. For example, the mudraa of keeping the eyes wide open and expressing anger, could be misinterpreted!

A king's mudraa is comprised of his gait, etc. The person with this type of mudraa is quickly recognized, and differentiated from others, such as a saint. When elevated to the brahmaroopa level, the mudraa may provide a distinctive element to the identity. For example, with the gesture of carrying a flute in his hand, Krishna Bhagwan is unmistakably recognized.

Gunatitanand Swami's mudraa consists of service, humility, friendliness, etc. Thus, beyond the physical level, the styles are of qualities. In order to experience such qualities, we can practice different mudraas.

When a certain mudraa is practiced, one gains the associated feeling. For example, praying with folded hands brings a different feeling and understanding. But the essence of the different mudraas is the same: to elevate the self, using the body as a means or vehicle.



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