Was Shiva the Real Adiyogi or Is that Sadhguru’s Nonsense?

Recently, a 112 foot Adiyogi statue was unveiled in Isha Foundation, Coimbatore by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The beautiful statue was designed by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev as a credit to the first yogi and as an inspiration for the world. But who is the actual first yogi revered by yogic tradition? Was it really the mystical Lord Shiva or someone else? Sadly, the original Adi yogi has been forgotten and has been replaced by a carelessly spun story by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.

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Let me first quote the story as it is narrated by Sadhguru.

Story of AdiYogi as narrated by Sadhguru

“When we say “Shiva,” there are two fundamental aspects that we are referring to. The word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” On another level, when we say “Shiva,” we are referring to a certain yogi, the Adiyogi or the first yogi, and also the Adi Guru, the first Guru, who is the basis of what we know as the yogic science today.

In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a God. He was a being who walked this land and lived in the Himalayan region. As the very source of the yogic traditions, his contribution in the making of human consciousness is too phenomenal to be ignored. This predates all religion.

Over 15,000 years ago, Adiyogi appeared in the upper regions of the Himalayas. No one knew where he came from or what his origins were. He just came and went into intense ecstatic dance upon the mountains.

People saw that he was experiencing something that nobody had known before, something that they were unable to fathom. So they gathered around him wanting to know what it was. But no one had the courage to go near him because he was so intense, like a blazing flame of fire. So they waited, hoping something would happen. Some people waited for months and left and Only seven hardcore seekers stuck on. These seven were insistent that they must learn from him, but Shiva ignored them. They pleaded and begged him, “Please, we want to know what you know.”

At last after 84 years of intense sadhana,he decided to become a Guru. On a full moon day which is known as Guru Pournami because the Adiyogi transformed himself into the Adi Guru – the first Guru was born on that day. He took the seven disciples to Kantisarovar and started a systematic exposition of yoga in a scientific manner. He began propounding the whole mechanics of life to these seven people, not intellectually as a philosophy, but experientially. He explored every nut and bolt of creation with them. He brought forth yoga as a technology with which every human being can evolve himself.

The transmission went on for a long period of time. After many years, when it was complete and had produced seven fully enlightened beings, who are today celebrated as the Sapta Rishis, Adiyogi sent each one of them to different parts of the world. One went to Central Asia. Another went to North Africa and the Middle East, where certain schools exist even today. Another went to South America, and that is one culture that imbibed it in a deep way and made something big out of it. One went to East Asia.

One stayed right there with Adiyogi. Another one came to the lower regions of the Himalayas and started what is known as Kashmiri Shaivism. Another one went south into the Indian Peninsula. This one is very important for us because he is Agastya Muni. Of the seven Sapta Rishis, Agastya Muni has been the most effective in terms of bringing the spiritual process into practical life, not as a teaching, philosophy or a practice, but as life itself. It is the benefit of what he did that the Indian people are still enjoying because he produced hundreds of yogis who were like fireballs.” and it goes on.”

First, it looks like Sadhguru has mixed two different stories and made them into one story. I don’t mean that Sadhguru would have intentionally done that. Regardless of whether someone is enlightened or not, human memory has its limitations. Sadhguru probably heard these stories long time ago and due to memory errors, he might have made the two stories into one, which narrates something that never happened. I don’t blame Sadhguru, but the blind followers who simply take whatever Sadhguru says as correct.

I think it is important to make a few things clear. Let me first discuss who this Shiva is and a story from mythology that talks about Dakshinamurthy. Then I will talk about the real Adi yogi, who initiated 8 sages and sent them to different parts of the world.

Who is Shiva?

First, the word ‘Shiva’ doesn’t mean ‘that which is not’, as said by Sadhguru. I have no idea how he came up with such a meaning. The word ‘Shiva’ means ‘auspicious’, which has always been used as an adjective in Vedas. The word has been used for many deities, not just Rudra, the earliest form of Lord Shiva that we know today. It was just a word used to honour someone. Slowly, the word ‘Shiva’ got associated with the Vedic deity Rudra.

Second, mythology is not history. The stories in mythology might have been created for various reasons: to convey deep mystic teachings in the form of a story, to help people to develop devotion for a personified form of the ultimate truth as an aid towards self-realization, to entertain people etc. A puranic story always has multiple contradictory versions, each of them created by people to glorify their own favourite personal God.

Sadhguru has many times indicated that this Adiyogi is the same as Dakshinamoorthy. But the story of Dakshinamoorthy and the story of the Adiyogi who sent 8 rishis to different parts of the world are two entirely different stories.

Let me narrate a puranic story. When Lord Brahma was doing his work of creation, he created many sons from different parts of his body. Four of his sons named Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanatkumara were born from the mind of Brahma. These four people became Brahmacharis against the wish of their father. It is also said that Brahma became very angry because of that, and out of anger Rudra, the earliest form of Shiva was born.

But in Shaivite traditions, it is said that these four people approached Shiva who then assumed the form of Dakshinamoorthy to teach them. He taught them about Self-realization using chin mudra that symbolically shows how a person realizes the ultimate truth. That was all his teaching! According to the story, he just taught the essence of all the scriptures by a small gesture. Note that this applies to all traditions, not just Yoga. Most of the Indian schools of thought like Advaita, Yoga, and Samkya have the same essence even though they use different terminologies.

There are different stories associated with these four kumaras. Some of them are contradictory. Each purana has its own version. So, it is very clear that Dakshinamoorthy is a pure form created for devotion and sadhana, not a historical being who walked on the earth. And Dakshninamoorthy was not shown as teaching traditional Yoga at all. He is clearly not the Adiyogi of the yogic tradition. But this is not to deny the significance of Dakshinamoorthy in anyway. He is a great symbolic representation of enlightenment.

Who is the real Adiyogi?

During 200 BC or 300 BC, a great yogi called Nandhi natha lived in mount Kailash. He was a real human being who walked this planet and was the guru of the great Patanjali. He initiated 8 disciples (Sanatkumar, Sanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Shivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada, and Tirumular) and sent them to various parts of the world including central Asia to spread Advaita Shaivism. The whole Yogic tradition goes back to Patanjali whose Guru was Nandi natha. Nandi Natha also composed a poem with 26 verses called Nandikeshvara Kashika.

Even today, the Nandhi natha yogic tradition regards Nandi natha as the Adiyogi. A school of this lineage called Adi Natha does regard Shiva as the first yogi, but that was just a title given to Nandinatha, since Shiva means ‘auspicious’.

Tirumular, a well known Tamil saint and the disciple of Nandhinatha was actually the one sent by Adi yogi to south India to spread this school (not Agasthiya). Shiva sending sage Agasthiya to South India to balance the earth was just another puranic story and even that story doesn’t say that he was sent to south India to teach Yoga, as Sadhguru narrates.(Again, this is not to deny the significance of Agasthiya; He was a great Siddha who made great contribution to the world).

Vigyan Bhairav Tantra – 112 techniques for Yoga

Sadhguru also says that Adiyogi statue is 112 feet high and this is to represent the 112 techniques given by Lord Shiva. These 112 techniques are from Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, which is claimed to be a part of ancient Kashmir Shaivaite text called Rudrayamala. It was composed by an unknown author sometime around 8th century AD as a form of imaginary conversation between Shiva and Shakthi.

So, this Vigyan Bhairav Tantra is in no way related to the Adiyogi  Nandhi natha or a historical man called Shiva. The whole text of Vigyan Bhairav Tantra was actually popularized by Osho all over the world. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra is a very rare text which was translated to English by Paul Reps based on the commentary given by Swami Lakshman Joo Raina, a self-realized mystic of Kashmir Shaivism. The translation of Paul Reps was used by Osho to give his own commentaries.

The credit of popularizing Vigyan Bhairav Tantra goes to these three people:  Lakshman Joo, Paul Reps and Osho. Without them, not many people would have known about this valuable text.

As I already mentioned in my previous article ‘The Journey of a Seeker’, Sadhguru uses so many anecdotes, information, views and ideas given by Osho but never gives him credit. Osho was a honest and courageous man who created a great worldwide awareness about self-realization. He was the first man to popularize the fact that there is nothing wrong for a self-realized man to live a normal life with all the luxuries of the world. If Osho didn’t have the courage to own 92 Rolls Royces and still claim enlightenment, we wouldn’t be accepting Sadhguru owning a helicopter or playing golf. It is easier to accept Sadhguru now because we have already seen Osho like this. Osho did all the ground work but the poor man doesn’t get the credit.

The Adiyogi statue looks beautiful, there is no question. But he didn’t build this statue to give credit for whoever the adiyogi was. It is simply a statue of Lord Shiva built to attract crowds and tourists. If Sadhguru is the kind of man who gives credit to people, then he would have given credit to Nandhi Natha (the actual Adi yogi) and Osho already.

Sadhguru on Osho – The Two Diamonds to Discover your Inner Self!

When I first saw Sadhguru at the marina beach satsang (I think it was in 2003), I was in a great joy  to have seen a living enlightened master. I wanted to know more about him and Isha and I eventually fell in love with the whole thing. Everybody has seen many similarities between the two great gurus, especially in the clarity of speech and the way of putting things that are beyond the physical realm in beautiful words.

Osho always insisted on being with a living enlightened master, but he left his body in 1990.  Even though he said he would still exist outside the physical realm, understanding or feeling the presence of a master who is no longer in his body is not really possible for everyone.  Sadhguru not only fulfilled my desire to be in the presence of a living enlightened master but has also consecrated Dhyanalinga with all the seven chakras which graces the meditators with the same power that is radiated in the presence of a living enlightened master.  Sadhguru says that to be near Dhyanalinga and to be near an enlightened master is the same thing. To know more about Dhyanalinga, visit www.dhyanalinga.org/

I was always wondering if Sadhguru ever talked about Osho and finally came to know he has, in response to the question raised by a seeker, the same question that I had in my mind. Here is what he said:

“When a person is influenced by somebody and is in deep appreciation of someone he can see the same qualities in other people who he appreciates in a similar way. Many people come up to me and tell me I speak like Vivekananda, some say I speak like Krishnamurti, others think I speak like Rajneesh. I neither speak nor dress nor live like Rajneesh or anyone else. It’s the people’s love that makes them see things that way and that is fine. Its not that I have not spoken about Rajneesh-I have. It’s just that his approach was different than what we have taken so it is not necessary for me to speak about Rajneesh. I don’t speak of JK also because his approach is very different as well.

With all due respect to Rajneesh and all the phenomenal work he has done in his own way, some of the things they did was in reaction to the social situation in the world then. The society was at a certain stage at that time and he wanted to provoke people to change in a certain way. It is not my way because I don’t think it would produce the kind of result I want. You know my mission is to plant undercover yogis-there is a need to plant people who are at the peak of inner well being to work in society and change the society from within rather than provoking and creating a reaction.”

sadhguruosho

Also, for people who are skeptical about Osho due to the controversies around him, I would like to include some excerpts from various talks by Osho that matches what Sadhguru has said on the similar topics. If you have listened to Sadhguru’s discourses, you will immediately recognize it.  In fact, even though there are a few differences in the approach and the vision that both have had, I often feel that Sadhguru is the extension of Osho’s work.

(Updated on June 9th, 2017: I am pretty sure that Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has read or listened to many of the Osho’s talks but for some reason, never mentions him at all. I have given some obvious examples of how Osho has influenced Sadhguru in two of my other posts The Journey of a Seeker – My Story  and  Path of Samadhi and Pragna – Talks by Sadhguru and Osho )

Let us move on to the excerpts:

Osho about memories of previous lives

In this life, what we suffer today is forgotten the next day and what we suffer the next day is forgotten the day after. But the memories of your previous lives will break upon you in their entirety, not in fragments. Will you be able to bear it? You gain the capacity to bear the memories of past lives only. when you are able to bear the worst conditions of life. Whatsoever happens, nothing should make a difference to you. When no memory of this life can be a cause of anxiety to you, only then can you be led into the memories of past lives. Otherwise those memories may become great traumas for you, and the door to such traumas cannot be opened unless you have the capacity and worthiness to face them.

  • Dimensions Beyond the Known   CHAPTER 2

I told you earlier that after awaking from sleep your dream is remembered for about one hour. Similarly, after taking a new birth, for about six months, up to the age of six months, almost everything is remembered. Afterwards it slowly becomes lost. Those who are very imaginative or very sensitive may remember a little longer, but those who have made efforts and who have experimented with being aware during the previous life can remember for a long time.

  • Dimensions Beyond the Known   CHAPTER 3

About miracles

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER MIRACLES REPORTED IN THE BIBLE? FOR EXAMPLE, THE ONE WHERE JESUS FED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WITH TWO LOAVES OF BREAD AND FIVE FISH. CAN YOU EXPLAIN IT?

Many things are possible. Nothing is a miracle, nothing. Even materialization is not a miracle: it is a science. Materialization is possible. So are many other things. Something can be brought here by an unknown route. You are not aware of the route, but something suddenly appears here. That is not materialization.

  • The Great Challenge  CHAPTER 9

About Temples

Temples used to function as receptive instruments. Though godliness is everywhere and human beings are also present everywhere, only in some specific circumstances within us do we become attuned to that godliness. So temples served as centers of receptivity to enable us to feel the divine existence, godliness, spiritual elevation. The whole arrangement in temples was motivated with this end in view. Different types of people thought up various arrangements, but that is not of much consequence. It makes no difference if various manufacturers produce radios incorporating their own specialities, with different shapes and forms, as long as the ultimate purpose is the same.

  • Hidden Mysteries Chapter 1

On breathing and about Crucifixion of Jesus

Yoga divides man into two parts: the sun part and the moon part. The sun is symbolic of inner positivity and the moon is symbolic of inner negativity. Sun does not mean the outer sun nor does moon mean the outer moon. These words are used for the inner universe. There is even one breath that is known as the sun breath and another breath that is known as the moon breath. Every forty to sixty minutes, your breath changes from one nostril to the other. If you need more heat in the body, or if you suddenly grow angry, your sun breath starts functioning. Yoga says that if you use your moon breath when you are angry, then you cannot be angry at all, because the moon breath creates a deep coolness inside. The negative is cool, silent, still. The positive is hot, vibrant with energy, active. The sun is the active part in you and the moon is the inactive part in you. When one first becomes acquainted with the sun, the light is burning hot, like a flame. If you analyze the inner life of Buddha or of Jesus with this distinction in mind, many things which are ordinarily hidden will become apparent. For example, whenever an enlightened one like Buddha is born, his early life will be very revolutionary. The moment one enters the inner dimension, the first experience is of a fiery flame. But the older Buddha grows, the more an inner coolness is felt. The more perfect the moon stage becomes, the more the revolutionary fervor is lost. That is why Buddha’s words are not revolutionary. Jesus did not have this opportunity. He was crucified while he was still a revolutionary and he died, as far as Christianity is concerned, at the age of thirty-three. If you compare Buddha’s sayings with those of Jesus there is a clearcut difference. Jesus’ sayings look like those of a young man – hot. Buddha’s early sayings were also like this, but he was not crucified for them; he lived to be eighty. The reason he was not crucified is that India has always known that this happens. Whenever a person moves within, whenever a buddha enters into himself, his first expression is fiery, revolutionary, rebellious. He bursts open and explodes into fire. But then that phase disappears and ultimately there is only the moon: silent, without any fire, with only light. That is why India has never killed anyone; that is why India has never behaved the way the Greeks behaved with Socrates or the Jews with Jesus

  • The Great Challenge  CHAPTER 9

About sound and Sanskrit language

Western languages emphasize the linguistic rather than the phonetic, whereas the vedic view gives more importance not so much to the meaning of the written or spoken word as to the special sound it should produce, and the composition of that sound. Hence the Sanskrit language is phonetic, not linguistic; the emphasis is more on the sound than on the word. And so, for thousands of years it was felt that these valuable scriptures should not be written down, because it was natural that no sooner would it be written down than the emphasis on sound would be lost. The insistence was that the knowledge be passed on by word of mouth, rather than in writing, because in writing words down – they would be mere words, and the subtle sensations associated with the sound would be lost and so become meaningless. If we write down the word Rama, those who are reading it will say the word in many different ways. Someone will put more emphasis on ”r” and someone else, more emphasis on ”a,” and still somebody else will put more emphasis on ”m.” It will depend on the individual reader. So as soon as a word is written down, the effect of sound is destroyed. Now, to understand the effect of the sound of those words, a whole decoding exercise to pronounce the words correctly will have to be done. So for thousands of years there was a strong insistence on not writing down any scripture, because the ancient seers did not want the phonetic arrangement lost. The scripture had to be passed on to others directly by word of mouth, so scriptures were known as shrutis, meaning that which is learnt by listening. What was passed down in the form of written books was never accepted as scripture. It was all scientifically based on the arrangement of sound. At some places the sound had to be soft, and at others it had to be loud. It was very difficult to write these words in script form. The day the scriptures were reduced to writing, the essential, inherent, original, inner arrangement of sound was lost. It was no longer necessary to understand only through listening. You can read a scripture – it is available in the market. Now there is no relationship or relevance to sound. It is important to note that the emphasis of the scriptures was never on the meaning. The emphasis on meaning became relevant later, when we reduced those scriptures to writing. If some thing written down has no meaning it will look insane, so meaning has necessarily to be given to the written word. There are still some parts of vedic lore where no meaning could be deciphered – and these are the real parts, because they are totally phonetic. They do not convey any meaning.

  • Hidden Mysteries Chapter 1