Sadhguru Answers Question About Who Was Patanjali, Significance Of Pilgrimage, and More

Sadhguru Answers Question About Who Was Patanjali, Significance Of Pilgrimage, and More

In his Ask Sadhguru column, the spiritual leader talks about intelligence being important to live life sensibly

SadhguruUpdated: Saturday, April 20, 2024, 11:34 PM IST
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Question: I would like to know about the origin of saint Patanjali and about his physical structure – why is he associated with a snake?

Sadhguru: Snakes are sensitive to certain types of energies. There is a connection between the vishuddhi chakra and snakes. If you create certain types of energies, snakes are the first creatures to get drawn to them.

The snake is a symbol for kundalini, the fundamental force within you. The depiction of Patanjali with a half-snake body symbolizes his intricate involvement with the fundamental life force. At least half of him is the fundamental force that can take you beyond your physical limitations to a sphere of enlightenment.

Wherever I go, snakes will not leave me. A lot of people have such a fear of snakes. How many people that you know died of a snake bite? Probably none. And how many people that you know died in a traffic accident? Probably many. The fear of snakes is unreasonable. The more you know about snakes, the less you fear them.

When I lived on a farm, there were over 20 large snakes around me – generally Russell’s vipers or cobras. When I slept in the night, they liked to snuggle up into the blanket. They could be anywhere. So I developed a way of sleeping where, before I moved, I would be very conscious of what was next to me, and I would roll over very slowly. Otherwise, if you move too suddenly, you might not get up at all.

If you keep yourself in a certain way, you can just take a snake in your hand, and it will not do anything to you. But if you just change your thought process, it could bite you. If you are meditative, it may just come and snuggle up with you. But if you are in a state of agitation, it will want to pull the plug for you.

Most snakes in India are nonvenomous and do not have fangs. Except for a few, they do not pose any threat to human beings. They are among the most beautiful creatures on the planet.

The symbolism of snakes is deeply intertwined with the spiritual process in India and other parts of the world where people recognized the sensitivity of snakes to a certain type of energy and meditativeness. The medical symbol of two snakes entwined around a staff has parallels in Yogic symbolism, where two snakes meeting in six places symbolize ida and pingala going through the sushumna.

Unfortunately, snakes have wrongly been given a lot of bad press for ages, but only those who perceive life itself as an evil process would consider a snake as an agent of the devil. Anyone who has some sense and a zest for life would naturally regard it as divine.

Question: What is the deeper significance of going on a pilgrimage?

Sadhguru: People go on tours and treks because they want to achieve something or enhance their life. But the purpose of a pilgrimage is to humble yourself.

A pilgrimage to Kailash or the Himalayas helps you realize how small you are. Human beings are just specks in this existence. But still, if we are willing, we can contain the whole existence within ourselves. If you know you are small, you become unlimited. That is the beauty of being human.

Everyone wants to become boundless, but they are looking in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, it takes most people lifetimes to realize that in dissolving yourself, you become boundless.

As the youngest mountain range on the planet, the Himalayas’ struggle to grow with their innumerable landslides, avalanches, and disturbances, is deeply symbolic of human life. Both are still struggling, evolving, and longing to reach their peaks, but it does not come easy.

The lives of those who are stagnant seem stable, but they are lifeless. Those who are striving to grow face an enormous amount of upheaval, but it is all worth the growth that could happen within a human being.

A pilgrimage is not to get anything. The point of a pilgrimage is to take every step of your life in gratitude. When you see how small you are, you will walk on this planet gently, like a pilgrim. This life could be your pilgrimage.

 Editor’s Note: Inner Engineering is an immersive 7 steps online program designed by Sadhguru. Currently offered at a 50% scholarship in English & 20% scholarship in other languages for a limited period to those between the ages of 15 and 24.

For details, visit: sadhguru.org/ie-under25

Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in Bharat, Sadhguru is a Yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of Bharat in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. He is also the founder of the world's largest people's movement, Conscious Planet – Save Soil, which has touched over 4 billion people.

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