Monday, June 26, 2017

Desani's Paper on Civil Disobedience

     Todd Katz has today posted a link at to Desani's paper on Civil Disobedience delivered at a Colloquium at the Philosophy Department, University of Texas, Austin in 1979. Direct link here. The paper details, from Desani's unique point of view, Mahatma Ghandi's political struggles in South Africa and India.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Desani on Pananjali Yoga Sutras

     Heavy Karma is in the mind. Unseen karma consists of innumerable past lives, deeds, words.

     The desiring of an object is animalistic. Clinging to an object is equivalent to fear of loosing same. If one tends to animalism one eventually falls into violent experiences, employment, etc. He associates the proliferation of armaments.

     A sanskara is an unaccountable karmasaya.

     To have a spiritual mentor is a fixed destiny.

     Attachment is associated with revulsion.

     A selfless action is a virtuous action, duty, without intention, with love, with compassion.

     Desani recounts spending a year learning to walk without intention - it is extremely difficult.

     Restraints must be imposed on things that are easily overindulged in, e.g., sex.

     When Satva rises to its highest level illumination is produced (in a situation).

The Science of Yoga

     Sutra means aphorism. Yoga is to control the vriti of citta, consciouosness.

     The Bhagavad Gita notes there are many yogas. The sage Patanjali's yoga is a precursor of these. 

       Raja yoga
       Dhyana/Zen yoga
       Karma yoga - - yoga of action without desire
       Bhakti yoga - - of devotion, like a practicing Christian's love for his god 
       Hatha yoga - - physical yoga
       Kundaline yoga

     Samkhya is the theoretical basis of yoga.

     The yogi seeks quiescence in order to attain samadhi/satori.

           PURUSHA                                                                                                      PRAKRITI
               spirit                                                                           substance of universe-nature-existential mass 
cosmic intelligence
(I Am) principle of individuality
cosmic mind
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                                    INDRIYAS                                                    TANMATRAS
                                                    powers of the senses                                                                            subtle elements
                                                            hearing                                                                                                 sound
                                                            smelling                                                                                                odor
                                                            seeing                                                                                                    sight
                                                            touching                                                                                                texture
                                                            tasting                                                                                                   flavor

     With reservations there are three elements in Prakriti, the Gunas. They are sattva, rajas, tamas.

     The first product of the union of the Purusha and Prakriti is Mahat. It is from Mahat that Patanjali intellectualized his compilation. It is also the Mahat that westerners allude to when they speak of Universal Mind., etc.

     Consciousness is made of, consists of, the three Gunas. A rose is made of the Gunas. The image of a rose in one's mind is made of the Gunas. The difference is, with reservations, a matter of quantity.

     a. Satva - The most subtle substance in nature - mental substance. On the moral level it is goodness and on the aesthetic level, the most beautiful.

     b. Rajas - Animating element

     c. Tamas - Passive element. The tendency to procrastinate is tied in with Tamas. It is the steadying element, pulls toward sleep.

     Yoga has to do with the second Guna, Rajas, with stopping the animating element so that Satva can shine forth. This is the quieting of consciousness.

     Samadhi grants Mokhti, freedom.

     Patanjali's first sutra is that Yoga is the inhibition of the citta vritis (modifications of the mind).

     Five kinds of citta vritis
       1. A person feels full of lethargy, sleepy. a. and b. are conquored by c. He notes that the gods never sleep and recounts that as a monk he went ten or so days without sleep stating that during this time Satva reigns.
       2. A person is full of anger - c. dominates
       3. A person is full of restlessness - b. dominates
       4. A person is full of good works - a. dominates
       5. The highest Samadhi is the one that grants knowledge though it is still a modification of the mind.

     So, Purusha, spirit, and Prakriti, cosmic substance are foundational.

     Yoga means union (yoke).

     The first result of the union (yoking) of spirit and cosmic substance is cosmic intelligence.

     He mentions the Nadi Shastras speaking of foreknowledge. Two centuries ago a palm leaf refers to Desani by name, gives date of birth, place, and so forth.

     Qualities of Purusha - It is the lord, it is not material, it is conscious.

     Qualities of Prakriti -  Satva - mental substance, Raja - activating element, Tama - inertia.

     He says that a 2500 year old commentary says that space and time are schemes for the understanding.

     In Mahat Satva dominates. Mahat is the source of wisdom. Mahat is the first evolute.

     Literally Mahat means the great.

     When Purusha and Prakriti are joined and the first evolute arises it is Purusha who sees this. It is Purusha that sees all.

     Ahamkara is the precondition for the mind's ability to discriminate. At Mahat there is no discrimination but just one ocean of light. He gives thought that most people evolve to Ahamkara and stop, especially Westerners.

     Yoga is the stilling of citta (consciousness)  vritis (modifications of consciousness).

     Consciousness is material so what we think effects others.

     Thought impinges on its object. If I think of a person as dead that person will find his death. If I think good thoughts about a person that person will find good. Of course, this applies only if there are certain yogic attainments. Desani has see this in action.)

     Thought is substance. Think Satva will increase and it will. Think Raja as increasing, it will. Think Tama as increasing, it will.

     He gives example of a teacher at Cambridge (Desmond) hitting a student who questioned whether thought could be proved to be a substance, in the stomach with a visualized - by thought - heavy object. Desmond turned, whirled to face student. Student fell, was hospitalized, almost died. Desani says this is a "petty trick".

     Also relates that a man worked ten years to perfect a trick whereby he could not be moved by five men (from a train when he refused to pay for a ticket). He thought a heavy object into existence at the base of his spine - he cultivated Tama at the base of his spine.

     Four states of consciousness - Awake, sleep, profound sleep, Samadhi.

     One must practice and practice detachment.

     The intellect is material. If it is mirror like, superior material, it is comprised mostly of Satva.

     Purusha is masculine, the divine father. Prakriti is femine, the divine mother.


     This is from my actual notes of the first two classes from the spring of 1973 at the University of Texas, Department of Philosophy, Austin, Texas. The department chairman was Irwin Lieb. The dean of Arts and Sciences was John Silber. Raja Rao also taught there at this time. I took his course on Mahayana Buddhism. Desani also taught a course on Theravada Buddhism.

     Rao's class was, as I recall 200 or more students. Desani's class on Patanjali, about 20, maybe 30, no more. This class was a couple of years after I first made his acquaintenance

     I don't apologize that my class notes rendered here are somewhat crude, those of a neophyte. I've not edited them. But I recognized Desani - my notes say - as a composer, a maestro, a conductor. He draws words, ideas into a beautifully rendered mosaic. The Nadi Texts, I was to learn later, name him as an incarnation of the Lord. As far as I was concerned he was certainly in the model of Jesus Christ or Buddha, fully self realized, actualized. He, of course, would never call himself that, and claimed not to have a "yogi franchise'. All in all he was a very modest man and stove mightily to live a quiet life.

     My affection for the material presented has filled my life and led me to other sources. I found Kelly Ross who received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Texas' philosophy department a few years after my matriculation there. See here, and here (scroll down to the Mandukya Upanisad), for instance. But I was fortunate indeed to have the 'fixed destiny' of finding a spiritual mentor in the person of Professor Desani.

     My old textbook:


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Desani's Indian Affairs piece and the Nadi texts

Todd Katz ( has made available Desani's piece on Indian Affairs, An Appraisal, originally published in the Illustrated Weekly of India in 1964. I have previously written about his Nadi texts here and am including Desani's comment which gives the reader the benefit of his personal thoughts on these texts in his own words.


It was about nine years ago that I was told of the faculty in some persons to foresee. A few of those were professional astrologers. I consulted them, at a considerable cost in time and money, and although one or two surprised me, I was disappointed. The results reported from Europe and America seemed better. (Mr. Nehru obviously has not the leisure to read such reports or to notice that the subject of precognition and foreknowledge is not beneath the active attention of a research fellow at the University of Oxford.) My inquiries, in the course of years, led me to the samhitas of the rishis Bhrigu, Vashistha, and Kaśyapa. I allow for greed, and fraud: apart from the laudable enterprise of the Madras Government – so I have been told – who have published some Nadi books, these samhitas are in the possession of the people who sell information. Well. If, in a work written on palm-leaf, absolutely at the most guarded of estimates a few centuries ago, I found my name, my parents’ name, and the names and exact description of the women with whom I have been in love, and all the details about the state of my health, my gurus’ names – including non-Indian names – and the precise details of my mantra dikshas – secret communications known only to myself and my teachers (absolutely regardless of any other prophecies concerning the span of years following the date of consulting the samhitas) and all this information within the framework, the precise terminology of Indian astrology, I think such a discovery is an occasion for humility and reduction of one’s ego.
.... to prophecy that I, G.V. Desani, shall, at a certain age, exactly so many years and months and days past the date of my birth, on a certain day, at such and such hour, call and consult the Samhita of Kausika, is a special faculty, you see.