Home / Articles / #1 January 2011 / Ganga (Natasha Rivera): Main spiritual text. Interview with Kali Ray

Ganga (Natasha Rivera): Main spiritual text. Interview with Kali Ray

“The main scripture to study is the mind and ultimately the Self”
Malibu, California, 2009

Questions and footnotes – Ilya Zhuravlev
Interview – Ganga (Natasha Rivera)
Editing – Katya Degtyar

Question. In India, they speak about Purna Yoga, complete yoga, which includes not only the practice of asanas, as it often happens in western yoga schools, but also the rest of the yoga sadhana. This may include shatkarma, pranayama, meditation, karma yoga, mantra yoga, reading of sacred scriptures, bhakti yoga. Among the yoga schools known in the West, only the schools of Shivananda and Satyananda maintain such approach. Can we speak of TriYoga as of Purna Yoga?

Kaliji. Yes, TriYoga is Purna Yoga. Under the umbrella of TriYoga the various branches of yoga sadhana are included. It includes systematized asana (posture), pranayama (breathing practices), and dharana (concentration techniques) from Basics to Level 7, and over 1000+ hasta mudras (hand gestures). With this preparation and support, along with the various expressions of nada yoga, meditation emerges.

Some seekers begin their journey with one aspect of yoga practice such as kirtan , asana, or jnana. They enter through one of the many doors. Once the involution begins, the seeker will explore the other paths for the integrated manifestation of one's being. I have students who first come only for asana or pranayama, but then discover yoga philosophy, chanting, nada yoga. Others come for philosophy first and then discover other aspects. TriYoga embraces all of them.

Prana is the fuel on the path to Sat Cit Ananda - truth, knowledge, bliss absolute. Pure consciousness, Purusha, and the three universal energies, gunas, are reflected throughout all yoga sadhana. In hatha yoga it is yogasana, pranayama, mudra. In mantra yoga it is sound, form, meaning. In japa yoga (mantras recitation) it is verbal, semi-verbal, mental. In pranayama it is inhalation, retention, exhalation. In yogasangit it is vocal, instrumental, dance.

In the Bhagavad Gita it is the triple yoga of jnana, bhakti, karma. There are numerous examples of the trinity at the core of traditional yoga paths. These various approaches are integrated in the purna yoga. There is an abhyasa for each of the trinity bodies: physical, subtle, causal. Only if there is a practice for each body the path can be called a Purna yoga. In the Bhagavad Gita, the triple yoga is known as Bhakti Yoga, path of devotion, Jnana Yoga, path of knowledge, and Karma Yoga, the path of selfless action. All three are necessary for the full experience. As one evolves along the chosen path, one will realize the need to express through all three: "love the Divine, know the Divine, serve the Divine". Purna yoga allows for the reflection of the macrocosms in the microcosms. The effulgent Self shines through the three bodies, reflecting the fullness of expression.

Q. We all know that Your method of asana practice was born spontaneously at the beginning of the 80s as a result of a Your mystical experience. Has the system changed since then? Sequencing, range of practices?

Kaliji: On January 5, 1980, Kriyavati siddhi began to manifest through this body/mind. These mystical experiences have continued to guide the evolution of TriYoga sadhana for the last 30 years. The essence of prana-activated abhyasa has always been present with emphasis on the precise yogaflow for asana, breath, mudra. This has been documented with in-depth and systematized teaching and practice yogasana manuals, and Prana Vidya (pranayama, dharana, dhyana ). In the early 90’s, hundreds of hasta mudras emerged in a 3-day period. New mudras and asana flows are being given through the grace of kriyavati siddhi.

There has been a continuous evolution of TriYoga over the 30 years. It is a ‘live’ yoga and will continue to bless with the various gifts of this kundalini-empowered yoga.

 Q. Within the TriYoga method, does one study spiritual yoga scriptures and other scriptures of India? For example, Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhagavat Gita? Which spiritual scriptures do You study yourself?

Kaliji: The main scripture to study is the mind and ultimately the Self. Self-inquiry is a must to progress on the spiritual journey. Svadhyaya is one of the five niyamas. To know the self, we must study the mind. When the mind is calm through self-inquiry, the ageless truth will be felt inside. The scriptures will come alive. They will speak from within. Yes, the inspired teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Sutras, as well as the teachings from the master yogis, are all included and are highly recommended.

 Q. Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, follows the tradition of Sri Vidya (which is one of the branches of shaktism ). Do You follow the same tradition? Do You do the sadhana of worshiping Goddess Lalita Tripurasundari ? Do Your students study this tradition?

Kaliji: One is blessed to witness the mastery of Sri Swamiji as he performs the ancient Vedic pujas and homas. Through the medium of CD and DVD one can listen to Swamiji chant the 1000 names of Lalita Sahasranama AND see these pujas performed. These are now seen online. Visit www.dattapeetham.com if you wish to know more about this tradition. In Sri Swamiji's words, TriYoga flows from Sri Vidya.

Sri Swamiji carries the energy of Dattatreya, the triple principal of Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara . This Datta Guru performs daily Sri Cakra puja. His Guru is Sri Jayalakshmi Mata , an incarnation of Rajarajeshwari Devi. We enjoy witnessing the puja mastery of Sri Swamiji.

In TriYoga, the name TRI represents the triangle at the centre of the Sri Yantra. TRI is the universal trinity of sat cit ananda. TRI is the Mother Goddess in Her Triple form: Kali, Sarasvati, and Lakshmi Mata.

I never studied TriYoga from anyone; it came from within, before I met Sri Swamiji physically. Yet, when we met I did not have to tell him about Kriayvati Siddhi, he knew all about it and described the essence of TriYoga as "merging into the Cosmic Energy". Through TriYoga abhyasa (practice), prana becomes balanced. This ultimately awakens the kundalini shakti. TriYoga was revealed to me from Mother Goddess. This is another sadhana to worship the Goddess Lalita Tripurasundari.

 Q. Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji is worshiped by his disciples as avatar of Dattatreya. What can You say about spiritual scriptures related to Dattatreya, such as Avadhuta Gita, Tripura Rahasya?

Kaliji: These classic texts are a balance of mythological stories and Vedanta. Dattatreya is the gift of the trinity - Sat Cit Ananda. Thus, the Datta Guru is called the original guru, the Adi guru. Our nature is this triple energy of existence, knowledge, bliss absolute.

The Avadhuta Gita and Tripura Rahasya expound advaita philosophy through insightful stories with great hidden meaning. If one understands through contemplating on the meaning of Lord Dattatreya, one will realize that classic yoga teachings are based on the trinity of sat cit ananda. Thus, all sacred teachings return one to the Datta Guru Tatva. The complimentary energy of Devi is eternally present. When asked what is the relationship to Dattatreya, Sri Swamiji says He is an instrument for this energy. At a soul level, we all resonate with the energy of Dattatreya. Sat Cit Ananda is our true state of being.

To learn about Datta tradition, Sri Swamiji has extolled the teachings of Dattatreya in the book “Datta Darshana”. If one enjoys the teaching medium of mythology then these forms of scriptures and books are a wonderful source. To realize the inner Datta Guru, follow the yoga disciplines then the triple principle will permeate and transform the seeker into Sat Cit Ananda - the Dattatreya tatva.

 Q. You live a sanyasa lifestyle, that is, to put in our western terms, a nun. What do You think about the possibilities of traditional sanyasa lifestyle in the West? How relevant is it for the western people who were brought up in the spirit of some freedom of lifestyle and cult of maximum satisfaction of one's desires? Will traditional sanyasa work in the West or is there a need for other forms of initiation of the teachers for sharing (preaching) Purna Yoga and Sanatana Dharma?

Kaliji: It is not a matter of East or West when this feeling inside is of a sanyasi. For a true sanyasi there is no question relating to this. It is as natural as breathing. It is not something I had to think about. The energy was being directed in meditation in a most blissful way.

As we witness in various spiritual paths, the sanyasi, or monastic, way is for the minority. Most will tread the path of a householder. In looking at the population explosion, it appears most are destined to have children in this birth.

For those wondering about a monastic lifestyle versus being a householder, they should contemplate this deeply before making a decision. The destiny will unfold as it is meant to be. Everyone needs to feel how they want to direct their energy. On the spiritual journey, energy must be valued and used wisely.

 Q. Have You come across the cases of Kundalini Shakti awakening among Your disciples or disciples of Your Guru, that were not just fantasies of those disciples (as it is often the case in new age movements), but were confirmed by You or Your Guru as real? Is Kundalini awakening equivalent to Self Realization?

Kaliji: The awakening of consciousness is the result of the flow of kundalini energy. Some seekers go through a stage of prana kriyas - spontaneous hatha yoga movements guided by prana based on their body/mind needs. Others will have no apparent sensation in the body but will experience the effects of increased prana flow in the mind. Naturally, a combination can take place.

There are two great aspects in creation: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (energy). We separate them to discuss it; however, Purusha and Prakriti are eternally together. When prana becomes balanced and kundalini begins to stir, simultaneously consciousness awakens. This is the essence of all paths; like when a child is born, the mother introduces the father to the child. In the same way, the awakening of kundalini (Universal Mother) reveals in the yogi ‘pure consciousness’ (Universal Father) - Sat Cit Ananda.