In ancient times yoga was passed down from teacher to student throughout the generations. Eventually, the wisdom found itself being written down. The Vedas, a set of four books, were the original teachings of Yoga. It is through the study of these books where we find our main character, Bharadvaja.
Bharadvaja was a wise soul. During his first birth here on Earth, Bharadvaja knew that his dharma was to learn and study the Vedas to find the truth behind his existence. He was a very spiritual being and put all his time and effort into learning the Vedas., reading, writing, memorizing and then starting all over again.
By the end of his first life he had learned more than anyone on Earth. And yet his body wore out and he passed on. During his second life, his aim was once again high. He went back to the Vedas and studied, studied, and studied. Due to his unparalleled knowledge of the Vedas, word began to spread of his wisdom. But, he was a recluse who wouldn’t be bothered by anyone seeking his wisdom. He preferred to stay out of the public eye and study. And so he spent his second life the same way as the first.
Being born for a third time, Bharadvaja was certain of his dharma once again. He spent every waking moment deep in study. Word of his knowledge of the Vedas spread. But, he again didn’t have time for teaching what he knew. He wanted to understand more and more from the Vedas so he spent his time in seclusion filling his desire for knowledge.
At the end of his third life, Bharadvaja was near death when Shiva appeared by his bedside. He knew that this must be the moment that he reaches liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Sounding like a disappointed father, Shiva said, “Bharadvaja. You have not yet reached liberation.” Bharadvaja’s heart sank and continued to listen.
Shiva continued, “ There is no doubt you know more about the Vedas than anyone else.” At this moment, Shiva reached his hand out the window for a pile of dirt from a nearby mountain and placed it on his night stand. He did this two times more, placing the piles of dirt from the two mountains next to the first pile on the night stand. “What you have learned is in all your studies amounts to but three handfuls of dirt compared to the mountain of information and wisdom that is left to be learned. While you may know the Vedas, you do not understand them because you have never bothered to share their grace and joy with others. It is through teaching and sharing this wisdom that it will truly come alive and live inside you.”
At this, Shiva offered Bharadvaja one more opportunity to fulfill his dharma and get closer to his presence through the Vedas. If he succeeded then he would be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
Bharadvaja was born for a fourth time. This life he also was connected to his dharma but it came out through teaching and sharing the Vedas, no longer studying them. Bharadvaja found great joy in sharing his wisdom and elevating others through the Vedic wisdom. He dedicated himself to sharing the deep wisdom and heart of the Vedas to many aspirants in the ways of the spiritual path.
At the end of this life Shiva returned to Bharadvaja. He was pleased with this great soul for the work he had done giving the gift of yoga to the world. With an open heart, Shiva offered to fulfill his promise of liberation. Bharadvaja respectfully declined the offer. “I now know that I can never be more close to you than when I share moments of joy with others by connecting them through these sacred texts. I have discovered the true meaning of the Vedas and they are now truly a a part of my heart and soul. Living this great wisdom is more of a heaven than I could ask for.
And so this great pose with one leg in half lotus and the hips off to the side, twisting toward the leg in half lotus, reminds us that the journey of yoga and wisdom isn’t always easy. It takes persistence and dedication to find the greatness of our own soul and the highest purpose of our lives. Yet when we do we find that this world can be the heaven we were always searching for.
In loving kindness I salute each of you who read this and every soul that is walking on the path of spirituality and connection.
To learn more stories such as these, please register for the upcoming Storytelling for Yogis workshop on July 14. Mindy will be sharing stories such as these that will help us connect with ourselves and learn from the myths of the past. Click the image below to learn more and register.