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BhaktiSevak
07 October 2018, 10:37 PM
Pranam

I am seeking recommendations for books. My interests are varied but any 2-3 book recommendations would be appreciated on the following:

#) Vedas & Upanishads
#) Yoga (meditative and physical)
#) Tantra (for different types of siddhi, kamasutra, understanding sexual energy, etc.)
#) Mantras and meditation
#) Ayurvedic/Sattvik cooking
#) 10 Mahavidyas
#) 64 Yogini
#) 5 Elements
#) Any other general recommendations

Any recommendations are welcome. Feel free to PM me if you want.

Pranam!

markandeya 108 dasa
10 October 2018, 07:00 AM
Namaste Bhaktisevaka,

This will only be my own subjective suggestions. Book knowledge is ok but its important to try and meet people who follow the books and live it as part of their life. Whatever books you choose make sure they are practitioners or real followers of what they write about, and try to not get swerved by academics, intellectuals and Indologists. Most the books that I read I have had experience with those traditions or have contacts with practising devotees, it is the devotees and sangha that reveal the essence of any practice and is something that the Books cant always get across exactly.

For all the topics that you have listed if you want a one stop that will include most of the subjects within one source then Kashmir Shaivism as presented by swami laxmanjoo will cover most of the list.

Veda and Vedanta. Veda I am not to sure, I know very little about the 4 samhitas, these are not simple texts, but in terms of translation into English Sri Aurobindo is good. The Upanishads are considered as Vedanta, I am quite new to the Upanishads, only really starting to get a grasp of them in the recent years, what ever you study from the Upanishads its always worth keeping the Bhagavad Gita as the basis and essence of all Upanishads. Translation is also an issue but I like swami gambhirananda, I only have his svetasvatara upanishad. Lights on the Upanishads by t v kapali sastry is great

Yoga (meditative and physical) Iyengar is always a safe bet, Light On Yoga. Some of the works by Advaita Dasa on Patanjali are a good start, although I havent read his books in depth. You may want to take a look at this https://terebess.hu/english/HathaYogaPradipika2.pdf. Philosphy of Goraknath https://ocoy.org/wp-content/uploads/Philosophy-of-Guru-Gorakshanath.pdf the first part is pretty much essential to understand yoga.

Mantras and meditation, this may depend on what tradition you want to follow, whatever you choose when it comes to mantra and meditation you should be comfortable with. For meditation I havent found much which can compare to the Thai forest traditions of Ajahn Mun and his direct disciples. I wouldnt go much further down the line of that present tradition as that tradition has lost a big chunk of the essential parts of meditation and the dharma of pali suttas, although In Australia Ajahn Brahm is good for the lay people and general society. The sayadaw lineages of Mynamar are very good, Saya Gyi U Ba Khin is very good and was pioneering the Vipassana movement of Ledi Sayadaw which most people know now from Goenkas Vipassana. If its more Hindu you want then Vijnana Bhairava by Swami laxmanjoo, I have only read bits here and there. The book of secrets by Osho I heard is also good, Osho also is not afraid to speak and deal with sexual energy and how to ultimately transform it by not suppressing.

Ayurvedic/Sattvik cooking great cook book is the Higher Taste by ISKCON, its cheap too with some amazing recipes. Dr David Frawley books on Ayurveda are a good start.

i buy very few books, it can be an expensive game an often ends up just collecting dust. One of the last books I bought was vasistha's yoga, not to compare that to original. Somethings are good in it but translation is an issue and if there is not a good understanding of Vedanta or some basic understanding where there is an alternative translation in the mind it very easily falls into Neo Advaita or modern intellectual Advaita.

If there was only one book that really covers everything on every level then its Bhagavad Gita, the slokas should be recited and memorised carefully and translations compared and some study of the deeper meanings on the sanskrit to extract more clear meaning and help the mind evolve into transcendence, and commentaries should be associated with that teachers style and not be to concerned with comparative philosophy.


Hope this helps

Jai Guru Datta

BhaktiSevak
10 October 2018, 11:14 PM
Dear Markandeya 108 dasa

Thanks for your reply. As I said any recommendations are welcome.

I have known about Kashmir Shaivism, though only a little, for sometime now and also about Swami Laxmanjoo. I have wanted to read some of his work for a while and now that you have mentioned him I will give it a go.

With Bhagawad Gita there are so many interpretations that one gets totally confused which one to chose. I have read the GitaPress version and ISKCON version. Loved the GitaPress version. ISKCON version is more, or rather totally Bhakti focussed and lacks yogic context. ISKCON version kind of becomes a rant when in every second line the author tells us 'Krishna is the one and only supreme God and you have to accept this without any question', I mean we get it Krishna is God, we accept that but we want the interpretation of the actual conversation between Krishna and Arjun and not the author's biased opinion in every second line. Also, saying Shiva is a demi-God and lives in cemetary, Durga lives in Krishna's lotus feet, Krishna is superior to Vishnu, and degrading or looking down upon every other God or Goddess is quite very upsetting for me. ISKCON version is quite very gender biased too. The version of their Gita has changed over the years to omit Shiva bashing (or so I have been told) after much criticism so as to be a little bit more inclusive of people of other faiths; and easier bait to get more people to join their organisation. How can such be an 'As It Is' version of the Gita? I remember I went to an ISKCON temple about 5-6 years ago (I still do) and I was told at their book shop never to ask about any DemiGod related material when in their bookshop. Now for about 1-2 years they have been selling Shiva and may be Devi statues in their bookshop in Sydney. I love the food there though and the cleanliness. Their Eco Villages are great too, but they have achieved all that because ISKCON is run as a corporate. Going off the topic......

I don't know much about all the traditions out there, but one thing I know for sure is that the universe is not the work of one energy alone (as Krishnaites or Shaktas would believe), rather a union of two energies, masculine and feminine, so Shiva-Shakti (or any God with an equally powerful Goddess as counterpart: Vishnu-Lakshmi, Rudra-Kali, Bhairav-Bhairavi, etc.) is what interests me the most when I think of meditative or tantra yoga. For Bhakti Yoga I think about Krishna, or Shakta. Without a feminine counterpart masculine is only Vairagi.

As of now, I am only interested in the Hindu version of all the topics I have mentioned. As I get it OSHO's philosophy was everything that we do if we do it by being fully conscious of it is alright, doesn't really go well with me. One good writer that comes to mind regarding understanding sexual energy is Mantak Chia. Many people have said his books are very good. Though not Hindu version, I may try his books.

Pranam!