Yogi Maheshwar of France has received initiations from different lineages, in particular for khecari mudra. A researcher in Astrophysics and Cosmology his experiences in Yoga started 10 years ago, exactly to the date that Indica Yoga contacted him for interview - July 1, a co-incidence which is magical in itself.
He has shared some of these experiences taking place in his body in his papers and book and has set up the Khecari Devi Ashram, South of France, which is dedicated to celebrating the Divine.
Sporting matted hair, a seer by temperament, he speaks to Indica Yoga about his experiences which border on the esoteric and are of the highest Yogic order. Yogi Maheswara will be speaking on Khecari Mudra: When the Divine Goddess Takes Off in the Inner Space on July 16 at 7.00 pm. Register at: https://indicacademy.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2B5HVrDrQvqThOX-rUlHDQ
What brought you to Yoga?
To summarise, Prana brought me to yoga. I detail below.
It began EXACTLY 10 years ago, on July 1st 2010. Before that I had never had any yoga/meditation interests.
This morning, I woke up with my body fully covered by red spots. Soon after, I realise that if I place my hands one against the other and I feel a kind of magnetic resistance. Everything happens as though I had a powerful magnet in each hand; my fingers feel as if they had extensions, something like having very long nails which tend to move toward the sky. When passing my hands over some objects without touching them, like stones for example, I could feel their presence beyond their physical form.
So one day to another, without any preparation nor aspiration for that, I began to see Prana and to develop a strong sensitivity (according to some experts in this field) to Prana. In between the 5 senses are the ones of sight and touch that are intervening, which means that I see (even with closed eyes, I refer to the view as an interior sense) and touch (without necessarily using my physical hands) Prana.
Puzzled by these new sensations, I start experimenting as the scientist I am (I am a researcher in astrophysics, cosmology, signing my papers Marceau Limousin, Laboratoire dAstrophysique de Marseille); I define experimental protocols, act my experiences, reach conclusions. In particular if I let my hands go, they are guided, like magnets following a field which I cannot qualify as invisible since I am aware of it with both the sense of touch and the sense of sight. Later on I will hear descriptions of spontaneous chi gong. That is exactly what it is: I simply follow Pranas movement. During a part of that summer I play on a daily basis with those extensions of my hands in the forest where I am starting to build our future abode. Often, not always, after such playing, I come in contact with all kind of emotions: joyful, painful, all kind of things that were nearly unknown to me up to now (I thought I was going perfectly well!). At times totally different dimension opened up to me, unknown, but somehow endowed with a taste that recall to mind something already known: silence, a pacified mind, less mental fluctuations, unity...
With the lexicon I acquired since then I would now say that, in those days, the different koshas started to open. At a given moment I realise that if I turn my hands toward myself is produced a good influence on me.
Fairylike experiences, magical ones but also very chaotic ones surface in me; in particular the opening of the emotional body, very charged, pulls me into a painful spiral at times, sometimes very close to desperation.
I start to do some brief researches, realising that there are several millenaries sciences explaining my experiences, in particular the science of yoga (as a scientist, I consider yoga is a science, with thousands of years of going successful to experimentations of many women/men). At first I refused to read too much about the subject since I thought it might influence my experimental approach.
After three month since the opening of the koshas, I start to follow a yoga class proposed at the University close to the laboratory I am working in. This kind of traditional yoga which I would classify with the name of hatha yoga or kundalini yoga, allows me to have a theoretical frame to interpret the results of my experiences, to contain that energy that spreads from all over me, to help channelling it. At the same time I start an emotional psychotherapy which is very complementary of my yoga practice and that helps in speeding up the cleaning process of the mental and psychological impressions/conditionings. I continue today this psychotherapy work and do not plan to stop it. Since I see Prana, I could understand pretty well the yoga classes and often everything was happening as if my body already knew some techniques. Often I contacted intuitively some techniques that I was told later on at the yoga classes, just by looking at the movement of Prana inside and outside my body.
When did you first experience a shift in your Hata Yoga practice and you began to communicate with higher energies?
There have been several shifts so far, a few years ago, a few months ago, and it is very likely that there will be some in the near future and later, by the Grace of the Lord.
The first shift might be the opening to Prana I discuss above.
Another very important one was the merging/union of Prana and Apana and the awakening of Manipura.
This was summer 2012. Until that moment I had been steering my breath as I had been taught: during inhalation breath ascends inside the spine, during exhalation it descends.
All of a sudden, spontaneously, while breathing in sitting posture and being open to anything manifesting, I observe two currents: one between the base of the spine and the abdomen, the other between the abdomen and the throat. During inhalation, simultaneously, the higher stream ascends from the abdomen to the throat and the lower stream descends from the abdomen to the base of the spine. During exhalation the streams movements is inverted: the higher stream descends from the throat to the abdomen and the lower one ascends from the base to the abdomen. I observe this new phenomena with serenity, I go along with it, I experiment with it, I literally dive into it. I add pauses at full and at empty lungs (antara and baya kumbaka respectively) that increase the power of the process.
Next day I experiment once more, again those streams that ascend and descend at the same time manifest in the practice. Feeling confident, I decide to push it further; I increase the length of kumbakas. In particular, during baya kumbaka, all my attention is brought towards the abdomen, into the manipura region. The longer I breathe out the smaller that lotus tends to become and the thicker its associated Prana density. The longer I remain in baya kumbaka, the thicker that ball of energy becomes; I remain for a while titillating manipura through baya kumbaka. That energetical knot, that pranic plinth that I usually perceive in mooladhara is literally elevated into manipura; it is there that can be found the denser pranic point. That knot, that point, starts radiating in isotropic way; a kind of disc settle in there, it starts to turn as if I had a record player in my abdomen; it turns and turns faster and faster and denser and denser until it reaches a point of explosion in which Prana vayu and apana vayu unite and manipura awakens.
After the waking up of manipura I realise that while living difficult situations, my positioning is no longer the same; the difficult situations were still there and a part of me was preparing itself to fall into the hopelessness, that was my usual role; however now things were not automatically working anymore. The first time this was happening I remained prudent and thought to myself that nothing was gained yet.
However after six month of not falling into hopelessness I understood a big shift had happened.
For the first time in my life I felt guided and no longer alone. I did not know as yet where I was heading to but I was starting to feel a complete trust; the fading away of hopelessness had left enough space to activate something else.
Another big shift was when I began to really enter into Khecari Mudra. It is little by little that my tongue starts to pull towards the back without any conscient intervention from my side during practicing. The tension into my tongue increases with time and practice; it actually starts to hurt, more and more, especially at its base. The tongue seems to beg me: let me get higher, I have things to do higher, please set me free... During a long time I thought it was my tongue talking to me; later I understood something evident: it was Sakti expressing herself. At that point something dawn on me spontaneously, it is not a mental choice, a certainty imposes itself: my tongue must be freed of her frenum. I knew where I was heading to, without worries and just knowing that everything would unfold perfectly. At that point the only traditional text on hata yoga I possessed was the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This text gives details that used to be unclear to me in the past years but that were by now perfectly clear.
Traditionally it is advised to cut the frenums tongue progressively of an hairs thickness every time. Before going to buy a sterilised blade I decided to go to see which solutions a hospital could propose. My meeting with the doctor established the direction of my decision: I felt totally at ease and explained my situation sincerely to her. She had never heard of such a yogic situation however she listened to me without any judgement and she freed my tongue from its frenulum.
Freed from the frenulum my tongue slips behind the soft palate and I discover there the floor of the nasal cavity, the posterior edge of the nasal septum called nasal pharynx. In my view it is from this first level that we can say that a serious practice of Khecari is actually taking place. To this nasal floor corresponds lalana chakra. When amrita starts to percolate from bindu, it is first passing through lalana before reaching vishuddhi and continuing its way to be consumed in manipura. From a technical point of view, anatomically speaking, something becomes evident to me: the shape of my nasal floor is perfectly corresponding to that of my tongue that can drop into it naturally as if tailored just for that purpose. This is the way nature works: this place is done to welcome my tongue; we are naturally programmed to enter Khecari. The tongue naturally abides on the altar of bliss. The Khecari practice becomes much more stable with the tongue no longer slipping; no effort is now needed to pull it towards the back; it is actually as if a pranic magnetisation has been produced: the energetic flux passing through the tongue is so strong that it literally glues it towards the nasal floor. In other words to be able to pull back the tongue from the nasal floor it is now needed some small effort. It is like when one does a mudra with the fingers: the contact between two given fingers close an energetical circuit and is needed a little effort to undo the circuit.
So I spent a full day with the tongue on the nasal floor, alone at home without speaking. I devote myself totally to Khecari. Very soon the effect can be perceived. Actually it can be felt from that same night after about ten hours of continual practice. I go to sleep outside, on the terrace, in the middle of the forest ready to rest in view of a next long day to come.
However that night I will not sleep; impossible to fall asleep; I remain in full alertness the whole night, in pure euphoria, without worries about what will be my performance next day. A rich cocktail of sensations flows all through the night. On the physical level I feel at times a slight headache, the impression of some fever as well. On the level of Pranamaya kosha I experience a very strong awareness at the level of ajna few centimeters in front of the forehead. Many different and varying activities appear one after the other. In particular the knot of Rudra Granthi is very active, it turns, it works its way. I have the impression to integrate plenty of things which fall into place just like if I had been deeply reprogrammed. I welcome everything with serenity, I simply become open to anything manifesting, bathing in full trust. I contact a whole series of sounds vibrations, of unstuck sounds. Obviously the silences vibration is present as well and on top of it many subtle melodies are joining in. Beyond that I rest in a state of wellbeing, of euphoria, of complete bliss.
In short, after such a psychedelic night, I rise and shine in full strength, rush to my laboratory ready for a very dense work day (had some visiting foreigners, a conference at the laboratory to which I do participate and all the usual routines). As in my habits I put water to boil for my usual black tea but now it becomes impossible to drink it; too strong, no desire whatsoever for tea, a glass of water is enough. Later on I try to eat an apricot; cannot finish it, I feel like having eaten a cassoulet (heavy winter French dish), nothing seems to pass through. I spend around ten days without food. It is not a fast, I am feeling satisfied, the reservoir is full, nothing at all can fit in. During those days my family is traveling and I am alone. Several times I try to feed myself but simply it does not pass. I sleep minimally during that period but I feel bursting with energy; I remember starting building works under mid-day heat of the Provencal summer sun. After ten days I start again to feed myself physically with pleasure. To be able to install myself comfortably at this first level of khecari has been a determining step. Before this moment the energetical reservoir, the starting place of the pranic ascension had clearly been the base. From this khecari degree onward the energetical reservoir express itself from the lalana chakra region. Sushumna nadi seems to be caught in a vice in between mooladhara and lalana region however slowly but surely is the lalana region that becomes prominent, that vacuums up the energy towards higher regions; my practice of moolabhanda becomes redundant, becomes less relevant since there is no longer energetical downward haemorrhage to prevent: energy now cannot descend any more, the only way is up. For sometimes I slowly abandon moolabhanda unless I feel it to be necessary.
All along several years I was often keeping moolabhanda, now it is khecari that I am constantly keeping. It is from this new found energetical plinth that Kundalini continues its ascension, soon after Ajna opens. Then, for the first time, I perceive a new nadi: a pranic flow having its source in ajna then enters towards the middle of the skull and again modifying its flow further on towards the top of the skull. For the first time I can feel the thousand petals opening and closing: sahasrara chakra. I am constantly attracted to the top of the skull. I am filled with an unending gratitude... Very fast I dive into sahasrara, I turn the whole of my senses towards that awesome manifestation, I rest into that immersion longer and longer, there where time becomes irrelevant. The access to sahasrara allows me to approach the very first degrees of meditative states, dhyana. Actually no conscious effort is necessary now as into dharanas; I simply observe the lotus activity, at times that observing disappears...
This was the first step in going into Khecari Mudra, other initiations came as I discuss in my book and in the associated paper I wrote in 2019. And since 2019 other Khecari initiations came that I did not share in a written form. Some initiations I do not share for two reasons: either they are not stable enough in my body and therefore I need to integrate them further before sharing; either they tend to be intimate and sharing them could be misleading.
How does one reach a point when one feels connected to a world beyond the physical one?
This is indeed a question I asked myself in the beginning and until pretty recently (a few years), until it became clear: Whatever is happening in the Sadhana and in the connections with the realms which are beyond the physical one is THANKS TO THE GRACE OF THE LORD, of the Guru or whatever u might want to call this. The yogi can and should, even must put some efforts in the process of course, but at the end only the Lord can give initiation, only the Lord has the final word, therefore surrender and Bhakti is the key to any progress along this path. This is of course my highly biased point of view on this subject.
How has your Yoga practice changed over the years?
It is becoming less and less physical (I do a bit of asanas to maintain the body but as less as possible) and is going towards sitting in silence for longer and longer period of time and doing some devotional practices (chanting mantra, performing puja, giving thanks and praises to the Lord.)
You have written about long and matted hair and its significance. Could you please tell us how these things matter to you?
This is discussed in some details in this paper:http://khecaridevi.com/the-pilous-system-a-yogic-tool/
To summarise: I had a dream pushing me not to cut my hair any longer neither to brush them. It had been two years that I had not cut my hair but they did not grow, and a lot of it was falling. However after that dream my hairs started to grow and mingle.
Two years later, after the opening of sahasrara, I become aware of another anchoring point: I observe that if I position my hairs on top of the skull it is helping the energetic flux to go that way. The hair knot share information with moolabhanda, khecari and shambavi. It is one of the reasons to use hair conductivity in yogic pursuits. I had already observed since some time that hairs define some specific nadis. I had realised that the more the hair locks and get mingled and thickens, the bigger is going to be the quantity of Prana that pass through them. If I pick up a lock between my fingers I can clearly feel that that lock brings energy from my hand to my skull. I then understand why two years earlier my hairs started to grow and to mingle: a device was starting to set up!
From that time my head knot pulls sushumna nadi towards the crown. About two years later, my beard begins to grow; I welcome this and investigate its pranic dimension. This appears clear to me: hairs of the beard are also defining nadis. The image of the Pharaohs of Egypt comes to my mind, with their false beard, considered as a Divine attribute. I can observe that the beard generates kind of a descending pranic flow; this flow then in turn generates an ascending flow, sushumna nadi rises. To summarise, the hair knot and the beard appears to me as tools for my verticality. I experience then why many yogis have long hairs dressed in top head knots and long beards. On the other hand many shave their heads and beard regularly with yogic purposes. Once more there are several ways to follow depending on our sensitivity and inclinations. Different and equivalent ways, no one is superior to another.
What are your thoughts on Tantra rituals as a means to access the Divine Mother?
Tantra is something so large and deep that is used in many different ways, which is sometimes misleading.
I do believe in rituals in yoga and I do celebrate pujas, at the ashram but also this is something I am sometimes asked to organise in other places/festivals since it is pretty universal and I believe we are fundamentally wired for ritualistic experiences. My way of celebrating is pretty intuitive though and might be not the correct traditional way of doing it, but I think if there is Bhakti then the form does not matter that much, even though I have profound respect for the correct traditional ways.
More than believing in rituals, I observe they are powerful means of reaching higher state of consciousness and to connect with the Self.
Regarding accessing the Divine Mother, I experienced more the fact that She came to pick me up and drive me where She considers worth driving me. I should say that I have a profound respect and devotion for women in general and that I fully worship my partner. I can also testify that interactions with my partner, which includes all levels, is a way to trigger and kindle blessing and teachings.
What was your aim in setting up your yogashaala?
I do accompany the development of a place in south of France dedicated to worship and open to different traditions, even though the yogic one is very present since it is the one which came into this body intuitively. Christian tradition, as well as Native American traditions are also present and the place is open to any tradition.
It is not a yogashaala, even if we practice yoga in a rigorous and traditional way, yoga is a mean to prepare the body to connect with spiritual and mystical experiences of direct connection with the Divine.
This is why the idea of an Ashram, a Church fits better with my feelings and aspirations.
My aim is to serve the Lord by performing celebrations, either alone or in groups. This is a Service: for example a 4 days/night celebration was planned during lockdown: nobody could come, so I did the celebration alone.
What is your daily practice like?
It really depends and it is very intuitive; some days I am busy with work, kids and find little time to practice formally.
I tend to consider that I do practice 24 hours a day since any activity can be considered as a practice (taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, cooking ). The good thing with Khecari Mudra is that whatever I do, my tongue is located up there which give a particular flavour to all activities. Some people said that this esoteric technique is for the recluse living out of the world, I consider it is the other way around in my case: it allows me to do the mundane activities with a yogic perspective; doing things normally, nobody knows that my tongue is up there.
Back to your question, considering the formal practice, i.e. on the mat; a typical daily practice these days is (roughly) the following:
5h30 - 7h30: sitting in silence, doing some internal practices without any breath control (typically making Prana flow in my body with dedicated mantras). Sometimes around the sacred fire at the ashram. At the end chanting.
7h30 - 8h: having tea in silence
8h - 9h30: Lingam puja at Lingam mandir at the ashram, chanting and sitting in silence.
9h30-10h30: simple asanas to stretch the body and make the sitting posture more comfortable.
10h30-11h30: Sirsasana (head stand posture)
Then doing other activities (house, work for the laboratory, family duties ). Sometimes at night having one hour to stay in silence. Sometimes taking time to read about yoga. Sometimes there are some interruptions, for example to help the kids having breakfast or preparing for school.
Some days when alone without any duties I like to spend longer time doing the sadhana, e.g. 10 hours without any real Interruption.
One practitioner has said that earlier Yoga was for the recluse...now it's for the ultra-social. What are your thoughts on this?
This does not correspond to my experience. I live in the world, work as an academic researcher, put the family as a priority in my sadhana. However I really enjoy spending days without having any interactions with anybody and just focus on the practice and the contemplation. Recently I decided to leave marital life which was not adapted anymore with my engagement. I take care of my children half time, therefore when not with the children I have more time to focus on the sadhana.
In particular I received special experiences when travelling in India (a country where I spent very little time). They are described in my papers Arunachala Siva (http://khecaridevi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/en_ArunachalaSiva.pdf) and Khecari Mudra, Beyond the Pituitary where I speak about experiences in Varanasi.
An excerpt from the Arunachala experience: The ashram opens around 4/5 am; I greet the guardians that showed me in and enter in the ashram. Very soon the doors leading to Ramanas samadhi open up. I enter and see a lot of Ramanas portraits on the walls, his gaze is everywhere; I start to feel very weird, unsteady; my state of consciousness is modifying. I walk towards the samadhi. At the very moment I touch with my hand the barrier surrounding the samadhi, my body starts to tremble, in a short time the trembling transforms into convulsions; I kneel on the marble ?oor, tears ?ow down my cheeks and I feel totally shaken up: a detonating cocktail, a mix of a powerful grace descent and a rush of emotional catharsis; a kind of deep cleaning as well as a deep mending and a powerful spiritual opening... The room is nearly empty at that time and the few pilgrims dont care about me; I can let myself live peacefully what I have to live. I ignore how long I remain on the ?oor in front of the samadhi. Ive just received the darshan of Sri Bhagavan...