About the Book:
Yogini: Unfolding the Goddess Within is a unique record of personal experiences that portray in its various fascinating episodes the secrets of the magical world of Tantra. It shows how the gods and goddesses can manifest themselves within our daily lives, taking us from the mundane to the sublime and making our days and nights a dance of wonder and delight.
About the Author :
Shambhavi has delved into the inner world of Tantra and yoga over the past 15 years. Her remarkable experiences and insights are woven into this, her first book, which is a veritable biography of the soul in its search for the Divine energy behind and beyond the Universe. Her inner encounters with gurus, gods and goddesses at various temples and holy places in India can be a source of great inspiration for the reader and the practitioner.
Excerpts From Review:
"Yogini will transform your idea of Tantra and allow you to experience its full flowering and effulgence woven in the tapestry of life. It will help awaken the yoga shakti within you, which will take you on an inner journey to realms unknown, unpredictable, magical and sublime." - Dr. David Frawley, author of Tantric Yoga and Yoga and the Sacred Fire
"The simple grace of Shambhavi's intense and intimately personal experiences narrated in this book are divine symbols of life. Her book is a rhythm that scintillates the inner steppes of the mind, brimming with light. Shambhavi's striving ripense as the heart-work of consciousness." - Prof. Lokesh Chandra
There are many books on Tantra published in the world today. Most play upon either Tantra as sex or Tantra as involving strange magical practices. Few address the deeper aspect of Tantra or Tantra as a sadhana or spiritual path. Those that attempt this, generally just repeat the same ideas found in old Tantric texts, missing out on the drama, beauty and play of living Tantra. There is very little through which real Tantra can come alive and communicate to us through our own life experience. Shambhavi has provided an alternative to this- a glowing presentation of the human, naturalistic and yogic sided of Tantra, all woven together into her fascinating life-journey of transformation.
My contact with Shambhavi proceeded through an unusual channel. I received a letter from the great Indian scholar, Lokesh Chandra in December 2004, requesting to meet me during my next trip to Delhi. I had seen him several times before and was always eager to hear his profound remarks, not only on Indian culture but also on the state of the world. Curiously the letter arrived though it was only marked – David Frawley, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA on the postmark! In it he mentioned a woman named Lorain Chopra, who also wanted to see me during my next trip to Delhi. He gave me her email as a means of Communicating with his as he had none of his own, and so our destinies crossed.
When I came to Delhi the following March, my host B.M. Thapar arranged a gathering and invited Lokesh, Lorain and a number of other friends for a visit. This was my first encounter with Shambhavi. She mentioned her interest in Tantra, specifically my book, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, and gave me some of her own writings to look at. We arranged to meet privately later on so that I could give her my ideas about them.
Reading her writing, I was quite surprised. Many people approach me with writing on various subjects, particularly in India, but the writing is often poorly done or the subject is rather abstruse and of limited interest. I try to be kind to them but it is not common that one meets with someone who has a deep and natural expression, as was her case, which one can really respond positively to.
Shambhavi’s writings were very fresh, direct, insightful and a joy to read. Her language was quite clear and modern and she could communicate well with a wide range of readers.
We met several times more during my stay in Delhi. Each time she brought me one or two other times. Clearly she had many of these articles. She mentioned she was writing a book, but I had no idea that it was already nearly complete.
After I returned to America, she continued to send more and more of her writings. She had not only an entire book but her very own style and cadence of expression that was unique and engaging. This was not the usual, dry, scholarly Tantra or the naive personal experiences that one often reads or hears about; it was a presentation of Tantra that was at once profound, personal, aesthetic and adventurous. It was not an imaginary novel but her own experiences that were often more interesting than what novelists write about. Naturally I was happy to write a foreword for her, when she made this request of me some time later.
A real experience of Tantra is not just a Tantric encounter group, or getting a Tantric guru to chant mantras to help one out with one’s difficulties in life. It consists of a direct contact with the Tantric deities and their energies as living powers, both within and around us. It requires working with the forces of Nature as powers of consciousness, discovering the shakti or spiritual energy in life behind all that we see and experience.
Tantric sadhana is a sadhana of life and Nature. It does not occur anywhere apart from one’s daily life or apart from the natural world around us. It is a blending of our own nature with the greater cosmic Nature. It is not a purely human experience but integrates the human experience into the greater comic dance.
The key to Tantra lies in the Tantric deities, the forms of Shiva and Shakti as the cosmic masculine and feminine forces. Yet these Tantric devatas are not simply gods and goddesses made in the human form. They are our own inner divinity in its universal expression, of which our human from is but a metaphor. They are not just psychological symbols, as many thinkers like to make them out today, but existential powers and presences that dwarf the human and put our entire psychology to rest.
Shiva is the mountain and shakti is the mountain stream as much as they are the human male and female. Yet these forces are one. We as human being are also the mountain and the mountain stream, the root of the tree (Shiva) and its leaves, flowers and fruit (shakti). Our humanity is a mask for our universality, in which exists our true being beyond birth and death.
Tantra discovers the Divine in life, in the rasas or essences of beauty and feeling that all our experiences are seeking. It is an alchemic process, a process of distilling the light out of darkness, which fills everything with colour. Tantra means the fabric of what life is woven of. It is these rasas that are the threads out of which our life experience is woven, and which link the outer word of our world of our experience to the inner realms of energy and awareness from which it arises, embracing all that is and is not.
Tantra is about awakening energy at a higher level, frequency and velocity. It is about balance; not as a cancelling out of forces, but as a profound union that produces a higher life, meaning and way of expression. In this Tantric process, different goddesses have their important roles. Kali unfolds the transformative forces of time and space, time as the creative flow of transformation and spaces as the womb or matrix of new energies. She sets our sadhana in motion and keeps it going with her relentless force that is at time almost overwhelming.
Tara takes us from one new level of experience to another, allowing us to ascend to higher and higher planes, breaking through obstacles and boundaries, and removing negative energies with her rudra force. Bhairavi raises the Kundalini or fire energy from the root chakra below, to rush impetuously upward with indomitable force. Sundari provides the bliss and the descending flow of soma from the crown chakra, the ananda that is the very rasa of our path, and which softens the ascending fire and allays all fears.
The goddesses are the mahavidyas or great forms of knowledge because they signify wisdom that arises through the cosmic energies of life, not the knowledge found in books. They are that knowledge which integrates and transforms, not which merely analyses and informs. Shambhavi relates her experiences with many of these great goddesses and show how they can work within us. She brings them alive for us and allows us to see them our human eyes.
Shiva is the ground of the experiencer who does not change but witnesses all changes. Shakti dances on the ground of Shiva, which is infinite space. Shambhavi weaves her experience of Shiva into those of the devis, showing how both interrelate and reinforce one another.
Of the two main great traditions of India, Tantra and Veda, both are one in nature and in mantra. The Veda reflects Jyotirmaya Deva, the God of Light like the Vedic deities of fire, lightning, sun and Moon (Agni, Indra, Surya and Soma). Tantra reflects the Shaktimaya Devi, the Goddess of Energy. But the shaktis are the powers of light, the electrical, magnetic, solar, lunar, lightning, dawn and fire forces. In the Tantric approach I work with, based upon the teachings of the great Yogi Ganapati Muni, Ramana Maharshi’s chief disciple, we see Tantra and Veda as one. I find this connection in Shambhavi’s work as well. She touches on the Vedic in her Tantric explorations quite naturally.
Yoga in the deeper sense is also inherently Tantra, an integration of the forces that weave the fabric of our lives. Similarly Tantra is inherently yoga or inner integration. Tantra provides a form and a vehicle for these powers of yoga, making them out of the dry field of mere techniques and personal, into tools of worship, adoration and exaltation beyond the mind and ago.
Shambhavi, as in the Shambhavi mudra in which one keeps one’s eyes open outwardly but directs one’s attention within – it is the inner gaze of Shiva as it opens new worlds within and turns the outer world into an inner experience. It is the open ‘third eye’ that when seeing nothing, sees all. From that inner eye, the shakti arises as the lightning of perception that energises all the forces of light from the fire within the Earth to the Sun in heaven above.
Shambhavi presents us the narrative of her inner experience in a direct and flowing manner. There is no division of life and sadhana, inner or outer experience, her personal and her spiritual life. This allows a magic to enter into her life that we can also access. Here is the story of a sadhaka who has her own inner voice, energy and unique path. She is not one seeking to mould her experience after some preconceived notion, according to a technique, or by following artificial rules. She has the energy that makes techniques works but does not depend upon them. Her human element is not excluded in an effort to sound spiritual. Her human element is including in a flow that embraces both Nature and the spirit.
This is her first book but her writings reflect a maturity of expression, a distillation of ideas, and an artistic grace that one more often sees among those who have already done a lot of writing. She is able to draw the reader into her quest, as if a part of herself, which few even mature writers are able to do.
Shakti dwells everywhere in Nature. Each temple and holy site has its own shakti or unique power and beauty. These places can arouse various experiences inside us and direct our sadhana along in a way unique to each seeker. Shambhavi has reflected her own inner experiences through some of the greatest temples and pilgrimage centres in India from Jawalamukhi and Kedarnath in the Himalayas to Kamakhya in Assam in the northeast. Her story unfolds its episodes throughout the land of India, revealing the presence of the goddess that is the soul of the country and Lord Shiva; its in-dwelling spirit.
Yogini will transform your idea of Tantra and allow you to experience its full flowering and effulgence woven in the tapestry of all life. It will help awaken the yoga shakti within you, which will take you on your own inner journey to such realms that are unknown, unpredictable, magical and sublime. No doubt we will hear father from Shambhavi in the years to come as her fascinating journey continues along with the compelling inner voice that can relate it for the benefit of all.
It was never my intention to write a book or to be a writer. These were originally very personal writings of my experiences with the play of Shakti, arising as inner impulses or inspirations. The current book was written during a short spell from the fall of 2004 to spring of 2005 and emerged as a single flow from my years of a deeper search and exploration and reflects several episodes from my earlier years. The inspiration to publish these came from Prof. Lokesh Chandra with whom I had shared some of my experiences.
The book follows an inner structure, order and orientation. The sequence of episodes is random in terms in terms of time but reflects a development of inner experiences on relates topics and levels. This book is not meant as an autobiography, though my life story weaves into it in various ways. The book reflects my interaction with various friends and gurus, but it is not meant as a comment on their lives or teachings. The story is about the inner life and only touches the outer life in passing as a canvas on which it can unfold.
Life doesn’t always rise to our expectations, situations unfold differently than otherwise wished, love goes all awry and trust takes a backseat in our relationship – my experience shed light on how to handle these and became an acceptance with an open heart. With this I learned to be open-minded and realised the perception that brings forth the serenity in knowing that every circumstance, individual or even disappointment, is unique in its own nature. Stepping aside from umpiring a situation, one acquires the art of understanding and accepting it with certain grace.
Tantra guided me to celebrate this fearless awareness, helping me to embrace life with a fervent passion and in freeing myself from the unconscious fears and forces of insecurity, boldly awakened my Shakti energies that in their most pure expression area from of universal enlightenment!
I never walked this path alone, for there were beautiful people who guided me down the years and gave me that push into the throes of wonderment. And my deep-felt gratitude reaches out to each of these light-beings as I call them, for each has their own guiding light.
• Arjun Chopra, who nurtured me form the young child-woman into the beautiful person I am today, has blessed me with two wonderful sons – Nikhil Arjun and Ishana Arjun who despite my failings as a perfect mother, love me for what I am today.
• My mother who watched the drama unfold in silent support.
• My spiritual masters who patiently moulded me with gentle care.
• Ashokaji, who taught me to enjoy the lila of the Mother goddesses.
• Prof. Lokesh Chandra, without whom there would be no book and who said, “Share you experiences with the world Shambhavi!”
• Vamadeva, for allowing Shambhavi to weave her spell.
• Shambu, who pulled me through my trying times in every way with unquestioning support.
• Joseph Dumas, who was the first person to give me a peek review of what was to unfold in my spiritual life.
• Renu Narual, my beautiful clairvoyant guide for connecting with me.
• Hari, for giving me a home away from home.
• Mahajanji who lovingly guided me through my sadhana.
• Come Carpentier de Gordon, for being a wonderful friend.
• Anu Narula, my lawyer who was always there for me.
• Rose, for being the gentle English rose in my life.
• My friends, who believed in me.
• Shobit, my publisher who gave me this opportunity of expression through the publishing world.
• My editor, for going through the manuscript and encouraging me to complete it in such a short time.
With deep shraddha to my Mevlana, fro unfolding the magic of it all…
I write this book for all those passionate souls who join in the heavenly lila of Shiva and Shakti.
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