Ganapati Muni’s Science of Mantra: Part Three

by the fire '94 j&d11

CONTINUED FROM PART TWO – the “Guru Mantra Commentary” by Ganapati Muni (see previous post.)

Mantric language is cyclic, rhythmic, primordial. Whether we know any Sanskrit or not, the vibration grows through a commitment of the syllables to archetypal visual images. This passage develops the ASTRAGNI or weapon within the mantra.  In my understanding, only a pure intention may access the metaphysical power of the Word:  otherwise it rebounds.

In Part Two, we bowed to Guru in the heart’s cave. Here in Part Three, the repeated sounding of vacadhbu,  agni, sara, sastra encircle and warm up my path of awe.  I do not know.  Unconfined to the mind, the resonance is received afresh;  I begin again to ascend the mountain at dawn.

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Second Chapter: The Enunciation of the Second Mantra

The Muni continues:
In this second chapter, we shall comment on another Tantric mantra of Bhagavan. Here is its verse of enunciation: (No English translation available)

“Sukham krsanuh kilalam
murdhanyascanunasikah
Nidra vari ca vikhyato
Namo mantro vadadbhuvah.”

The letter sa, Sukham happiness;   the letter ra krsanuh, fire; the letter na kilalam, water; the letter va murdhanyah anunasikah;   the letter na nidra, cerebral nasal;   the letter bha vari, sleep;   the letter va, water.(**)

1. Happiness sa
2. Fire ra
3. Water va
4. Cerebral nasal  na
5. Sleep bha
6. Water va

6 point star cube

When these six letters are read together they become sa ra va na bha wa. – “One who is born from the forest of sara”. As there are six letters in this Mantra also, like before, we understand by this the six faces of Skanda. (*)

FOOTNOTES - 
**- Sri Sankaranarayanan’s translation of this paragraph 
was ambiguous, and K.Natesan apparently overlooked my query 
about it. I have arranged it as best I can, and would welcome the 
advice of an educated Sanskrit reader. J.A.
*- The child Skanda (Kumara)- seed of Agni in the wives of Seven 
Rishis who warmed themselves by the fire - could not be carried 
by wives (goddesses of Krttika the Pleiades constellation) or 
Himalaya mountain or Ganga river, so it fell in a bed of reeds 
(grass). Six parts of the seed joined in this birthplace as one
six headed child; Siva's wife Parvati filled with milk and the 
universe rejoiced - for this child of Siva (through the inter-
mediary of Agni) was destined to defeat the demon of the 
reactive mind, Taraka. 
Skanda's older brother was Ganapati.

Note from Wendy O’Flaherty: ‘Siva the Erotic Ascetic’

ramana embryo

ramana embryo

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THE MEANING OF THE SECOND MANTRA:    Saravanabhawa

“One who is born from the forest of sara, a kind of grass”. ASTRAGNI : (astra, missile or weapon invoked with a mantra, agni, sacred fire) – this means “fire of guided missile”. Here, a physical fire born from igniting grass, is not what is meant. If it were, it would not be vacadbhu – born out of the sound vibration (energy). 

The story that the effulgent seed of Rudra placed in the stalk of grass became Kumara, has some deep truth behind it:   Rudra is full of sound. His effulgent seed is the fire born by focussing the perfected astra mantra of a great yogi accomplished in the lore of the astras. It acquires the form of sara, grows, and slays its enemies.

“Vidma sarasya pitaram parjanyam – “We know the father of the SARA,
bhuridhayasam   – Parjanya, liberal nourisher,
Vidmo svasya mataram – we know his mother Prithvi,
prthivim bhurivarpasam. – earth with her manifold designs.

Jyake pari nona masmanam tonvan krdhi – O, Bowstring, bend thyself around us,
Virur variyo ratirapa dvesarasya krdhi.” – make my body stone.
Firm in thy strength, drive far away malignities and hateful things.”    

Aghawa Samkita II. 1. 2.

poppy and wild oat

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visual reference, bow-arrow

Sara described in the above two Mantras is a special kind of grass, not an arrow made of bamboo or metal.   This is indicated by saying that its mother and father are the earth and the rain God.   If we say that bamboo also, being a tree, can deserve to be the son of the earth and the rain God, the fourth Mantra in that same chapter, removes any doubt :

Yatha dyam ca prthivim cantas tiethati tejanam
evarogam casravam cantas tisthatu munja it. 

Just as the sharp point stands
between earth and heaven, 

let the munja grass stand between wellbeing and illness.

For the Rose and the Fire are One

Breaking through – For the Rose and the Fire are One

Here by the word munja he deduces the aforesaid sara.   Munja is a type of grass and not bamboo. How could fragile grass be capable of killing enemies without relating to astra, the fire warming the word which an accomplished Mantra fills ? (15)

“Isikam jaratim stva
tilpinjam dandanam nadam
Tamindra idhmam
krtva yamasyagvim niradadhan

He sought the grass, Isika
tilpinja, nada and dandana.
He enriched Indra’s fuel
and the fire of Yama.

Athawa Samhita XII.2.54.

sphere of arrows ja

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Isika, Tilpivja, nada are types of grass. Dandanum might be of bamboo. Amongst them isika is a synonym for the sara grass.   Here by the word Indra, the Jiva is meant. As the Veda says: “Rupam Rupam pratirupo babhuva.”16.  He, the perfected Person knows the astra. He bound the isika grass into faggots, and nourished the sages around the fire of Yama, Kala, Time.   This means he expanded and increased that which stood in the sky as the fire of Time.

Time is not different from sound. The sound resonates subtly in the sky and cultures everything.

FOOTNOTES 
15- ASTRA from the root AS - to throw; a missile, usually of grass
or any fragile material backed up by a powerful Mantra, 
though astra is loosely translated as an arrow.
Sastra(scriptures) is an arrow, while astra is a weapon backed up 
by the Mantra. 
Here the Mantra is significant, and not the material used as a 
weapon.

16- "He put his image in every form."
Frank Humphries, Ramana and the Muni

Frank Humphries, Ramana and the Muni

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That is why we have said in our Indra Gita:

“Sadvyapakasaktim pranam kathayanti
Vyaktetarasabdam kalam ganayanti.” (17) 

“The pervading force of Existence they call Prana ;
and they reckon as Time the unmanifest Sound.”

FOOTNOTE -
17- Indra Gita is one of the compositions of Ganapati Muni
and is included in Gitamala.

 photo of the muni copy

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There itself it has been said that Kala, Time, is known by the name of Yama and Rudra.

“Rudram vidureka netarbahulilam
Prahur yamam anye kayam tava kalam.”

“O, Leader, some know you as Rudra of many sports ;
Others call thy body Time, Yama.”

Rudra who is the Sabda Brahman and Time factor pervades the sky. His effulgence impelled by the fire of Mantra becomes the Agni, named astra in the form of sara. This Agni is the Lord, the Commander-in-Chief of the armies, the destroyer of Asuras, the accomplisher of the Divine Purpose. The word isu is formed only from the word isika. The ancients employ the word isvastra to denote astra.

“Isvastram esam devatvam paritranam satamiva
Bhayam vai manuso bhavah parivado satamiva.”       

“Their astra denoted divinity.
It bore divine protection to good people.
Fear is their human aspect to the wicked.”

SITA ace arrows Bhishma blocks the Ganga - Version 4

By esam (*) the Kshatriyas (warriors) are covered. Also the primary name for astra is only isikastra. (See Ramayana and Mahabharata). Though the word sara meant astra, later on by derivative significance, it came to denote the arrow. The word sara is a pointer to the other “faggot bundles” (weapons) of astra.   Principally, the usage is the form “from out of the forest of sara”, saravanabhava.

FOOTNOTE - 
* esam, a Sanskrit word for prowess (footnote supplied by 
K.Natesan)

Bhagavan coaxes a devotee

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THE APPROPRIATENESS OF SKANDA AS THE GURU?

If “Skanda” had these attributes alone, he would be a War God, not the Guru Causal. Yet being the God of war does not deter him from being the Guru Causal. In fact, it helps. The one who manifests the fire of astra, destroying foes, is our inner illumination. He burns away the ties that bind, and reveals the shore beyond darkness.

An effulgence  of sound is inner knowing. By this alone, the Brahmin attains a vision of the Divine.

By the effulgence alone, the Kshatriya (warrior) masters the divine astra. The effulgence is the Brahmanhood of Brahman;  the kingship of the Warrior caste.

And thus ends the Second Chapter.

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**

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Ganapati Muni’s Science of Mantra – Part Two

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elephant story copy

My blog includes my “landmarks”, which I archive within the creative process.  As a  western sadhak searching to become more focused, and to plug in to the “dimension”, I am inspired again by Ganapati Muni’s Guru Mantra Bhashyam – it helps to ‘hold my feet on the Path.’

My elder Indian roots go very deep:  the light is in the well.

Adapting the Muni’s mantric analysis (translated from sanskrit by K Natesan) to my understanding, was a landmark about 14 years ago.  It is rather technical; here is (see previous post) the second of four parts – a few readers (including dancing yetis) may find this curious treasure a-musing to mull over.  But if you incline more to neti-neti … then enjoy the pictures!

I am no scholar; but I spent many a lifetime scribing the thoughts of scholars, which I love doing.  My heart caught fire and now dances around it. I found this second part difficult to understand, especially at the beginning, but worth persevering with, as it elucidates the living entities in Mantra, and the salutation to God.  The footnotes include a precise definition of Maya, and Sanskrit “keys” for meditation to nourish the soul.

For some of the Skanda background mythology, search “Puranas” on this blog.

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Ramana and the Muni.  A devotee enquired if it were a fact that they used to swim in Pandava tank.  Bhagavan replied, "Yes.  That also was only in those days" (i.e.the Virupaksha Cave period).  We used to try to excel each other in swimming.  That was great fun." (From Suri Nagamma's Letters from Ramanasramam no.59)

Ramana and the Muni. A devotee enquired if it were a fact that they used to swim in Pandava tank. Bhagavan replied, “Yes. That also was only in those days” (i.e.the Virupaksha Cave period). We used to try to excel each other in swimming. That was great fun.” (From Suri Nagamma’s Letters from Ramanasramam no.59)

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            HOW THE GODHEAD IS OF THE FORM OF BRAHMAN by Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni

The Mantra’s general meaning has been stated. (see Part One).  Now we enquire into its specific meanings.   If Skanda is a distinct Godhead, how can he be of the form of Brahman? for Brahman is That Supreme which transcends all Gods.

Ramana as Skanda Siva's son - Sacred India Tarot Knight of Staves

Ramana as Skanda Siva’s son – Sacred India Tarot Knight of Staves

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(Scroll down a little way for footnotes )

Well then, if we say Brahman is the all, his form as ascribed to Skanda is no contradiction, and the sense of it clarifies.   But this, in worship, is wrong. In worship we should reflect on the object as representing the superior – not confer inferior status onto a superior Subject. That is why Badarayana (7) saysBrahma drstir utkarsat”.  

If you worship Guha(*) in the form of Brahman, you will limit, in the all pervading Brahman, your vision of the pervaded Guha. The misrepresentation will be removed if the following meaning is given: vacadbhuve Om namah “Salutation to Brahman in the form of Guha.” However, it will then be the mantra of Brahman, not of Guha; and this goes against what we set out to establish.

FOOTNOTES -
7- Badarayana is the author of the Brahma Sutras. This Sutra 
1V.1.5 says that symbols are to be regarded as Brahman, and not 
vice versa. An inferior object has to be looked upon as 
symbolic of the superior.
*- "Guha means literally the cave of the divine, the secret place, 
Heart cavern. However the Guha mentioned here is in the sense of 
personal God, another name of Skanda"- K.Natesan

5 butterlamp - Version 2

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When doubt assails us on both sides, we should clarify the overall meaning as: “Salutation to Guha who in the form of Brahman is Brahmasvarupa”. (i.e. as an image of the immanent and formless Brahman).

Notions of inferior and superior belong to the realm of attributes. In Brahman without attributes or qualities, whence superior or inferior? The notion depends for its existence upon attributes, as also upon differences. If Brahman is the integral Wholeness, then relative to what is His superiority? If He is the all Self, to whom is he superior?   His superior state is experienced through His worldly manifestations, and His inferiority through the ignorant jiva’s limitation (8) .  

Just as Brahman becomes superior by upadhi (9) , so is he also inferior. In the present context, Guha is worshipped, and the worshipper is the jiva. If there is no upadhi, then both (worshipper and worshipped) are of the form of Brahman: therefore they are one. In this undifferentiated reflection, a doubt may arise in the worship as to whether we picture ourself in Guha or Guha in our Self?   It appears logical “to see Guha in our Self”.   The chapter on Worship in the Sutra Brahmadrstir utskarsat (**) relates to Saguna, the God with attributes. There is then no conflict.

FOOTNOTES -
8- Jiva - the soul or strand of ego that experiences incarnations
as "its own" memory base in vasanas (Karmic tendencies).

9- Upadhi, conditioning. "A superimposed thing or attribute that 
veils and gives a coloured view of the substance beneath it;
Or - a limiting adjunct, instrument, vehicle, body, a technical 
term used in Vedanta philosophy for any superimposition that gives 
a limited view of the Absolute and makes it appear as the 
relative.  Jiva's Upadhi is Avidya or ignorance.  Isvara's 
Upadhi is Maya or divine hypnosis."     
(Definition from Yoga Vedanta Dictionary/Swami Sivananda)

**- "Brahmadrstir - the view of Brahman. Utskarsat - on account 
of superiority, i.e. being exalted, all should be seen as the 
Supreme Self" - K.Natesan

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wei wu wei vi

It is established then, that with and through the Mantra, Guha (as a personal god) in the form of Brahman is worshipped. As Brahman is the universal Self, the Guha image in Brahman emerges.

Here another doubt arises.   It is said that a portion of Guha’s effulgent form which is of the Gods, and is gracious to devotees, may enter well deserving individual souls who have destroyed their erratic tendencies.

Is this an image of Brahman (the formless) with attributes? Or a perfected Person of divine origin?   What distinguishes the two?

The former is the Lord whose body is the entire universe, and who, to favour the devotee, took a divine body by his maya. (10) The latter is an exceptional being who individuated amongst the crores of jivas, and attained a divine body by the excellence of his virtues.

If we say ‘let the Lord himself be Skanda’, we will be faced with the postulate of several other Gods, with nothing to mark out Skanda from among their great and glorious galaxy.   And if we say ‘let him be an exceptional being amongst the jivas’, then the problem of inferiority will crop up. Let it then be said: the Lord alone is Skanda – not an exclusive being amongst the crores of jivas. Thus, we do not postulate several Gods. For the sake of the world’s work, Brahman takes forms by maya in the world, and thus conducts the universe. If mere perfected souls have the capacity to take many forms by maya, what can we say about the all powerful God?

FOOTNOTES -
10- MAYA, from ma, to measure, the skill of measuring the
immeasurable, therefore an impossible feat, the intrinsic 
power of the Lord, the marvel.  Later in Vedanta, this word 
came to mean"illusion".  From the same root comes the Mother 
or birthgiver - and also the French word la mer - the ocean.

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Click on image and again on ‘view full size’ in gallery

Amongst those forms of God taken by maya for the sake of the world’s work, Skanda’s form pertaining to the Gods is unique. We shall touch on such authoritative forms taken by God through maya.

The votaries of Vishnu claim that “Narayana alone is the form of the Lord pertaining to the Gods”: “the Supreme Shiva alone”, say the Saivites: “none but Ganapati”, proclaim the followers of Ganesh: “Savitr (the sun as creative godhead) is All”, say the worshippers of the sun. Men of Indra say “He alone”;  and “Jesus alone”, claim the Christians:  Allah is One, say the Mohammadans.  Then “he alone is Subrahmanya”, say followers of Skanda.

Furthermore, if one sees the usages in the Veda, like tam i mahe purustutam yahvam pratnabhir utibhih (11) it looks as if another name of Indra is yahva, the Judaeo-Christian Jehovah.  Perhaps ahla da (12) – Allah – is another name for the Person in the orb of the moon.

When such dispute arises among the votaries of various religions, what is the truth? On investigation, the Vedas give us no unanimous answer. Here, as we have hitherto said, we must reconcile distinctions in an overall harmony.

FOOTNOTES -
11- "We praise through new hymns, Him (JahveH) 
Who is hymned by all creatures."

12- Ahlada, delight. Moon is the source of delight.
young ramana

young ramana

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In this context, here is the Vedic Rik:

“Indram mitram varunam agnim ahur         “They call Him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni atho divyah sa suparno garutman.  and he is the divinely beautiful plumed Garutman Ekam sadvipra bahudha vadant –    One Alone existent; sages speak of it differently. Yagnim yamam matarisvanam ahuh”          They call it Agni, Yama and Matarisvan.”  

                                                                                                          Rig Veda 1.164.46  

On enquiry into the meaning of this mantra, some say these are alternative Names for the One God. Others point out that as the forms taken through maya are diverse, different Names are conceived. The latter view is better. Then only will it harmonise with that of other sages. Here even, the view of the followers of Nirukta that there are just three Godheads, is preferable.(13)

FOOTNOTE - 
13- Nirukta, the work of Yaska on Vedic etymology.  The three 
Godheads are Agni, Vayu and Aditya

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Agni - the sacred fire

Agni – the sacred fire

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WHO IS AGNI, THE PRODUCER OF SKANDA?

It is established that Guha’s form, pertaining to the Gods, is specific, amongst the forms taken through maya by Brahman with attributes.

Now in the mantra, the father of Skanda, Agni, is mentioned as vacadbhuh. Who is this? We shall enquire. There are five energies in the world – solar, lunar, electricity, physical fire, and the sound. Sound is not a quality but an energized substance, with the action of movement and the attribute of resonance.

A quality by itself is without action or attribute. The sound caught in a recording instrument is understood as a substance.   When sound is transmitted through an instrument to a great distance, it appears first as energy and then manifests as sound. This illustrates that sound is a vibration, or energized substance. Many Vedic Riks support this view. We shall cite only two mantras as example:

wood grain & cosmic egg

wood grain & cosmic egg

“Ima abhiprano numo vipamagresu dhitayah
Agney socir na didyutah.”
 

“Here we put forth loudly the words,  
in front of illuminations 
luminous like the blaze of fire.”

(Rig Veda VIII.6.7.) (14)

Here dhitayah are said to be luminous like Agni’s flame. Dhitayah are the words.

FOOTNOTE - 
14- Alternative translation by Sri K.Natesan for this Mantra: 
"We bow to the syllables, effulgent as Agni, foremost among
those who protect themselves, and others."

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trinosofia 2 Lions

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“Tam tva marutvati paribhuvadvani sayavari
Naksumana saha dyubhih.”
          

Sound, the divine Omnipresence
is One in Name 
with the Divine splendours”

            (Rig Veda VII.31.8)

Here vani – the word – is said to have a Name (naksamana)through dyubhih, energies.

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Rudra Immerses

Rudra Immerses

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This vibration of pervasive sound is also named as Sabda Brahman; the form pertaining to the physicality of the supreme Siva. Its Vedic name is Rudra. Yaska gives the etymology as one who cries, Rudra.   This same sound vibration known as Rudra is mentioned as vacat in the Mantra. When the sense of speech is spiritualised it becomes the manifestation of Sabda Brahman. Thus there is no difference between this vocalisation and Sabda Brahman.

In this manner, Kumara the young one is born from Agni. Here Agni pertains to sound and not to physical matter. The Mantra does not say agnibhuve but precisely, vacadbhuve in order to clearly indicate the truth. Though the word Agni is used in connection with physical fire, it also denotes any form of subtle energy.

Therefore, in the Name, the ordinary meaning flashes. The word vacadbhuva … flashes forth specifically the meaning of energised sound or Agni.

 

ganapati gives mantra

ganapati gives mantra – into his devotee’s hairy ear, he whispered sabda brahman – the unforgettable sound which never ends

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THE MEANING OF SALUTATION Now we shall touch on the salutation itself, and what it signifies in the course of the japa.

There is a doubt here. Should we when repeating the Mantra imagine some divine form of Guha, to contemplate as our prayer?   or is the meaning of the salutation a simple notion that: “you are superior, I am inferior”?   Neither are proper. In both methods, we would with each repetition of the Mantra, resort to the idea that we are different, and imagine some form which is false and of little glory to the Godhead. The nature of our Self would be lost.

There is however, another, third meaning: the salutation is not to the gross body, but to the subtle body. The subtle body is the mind, its place the head. It bows.

trinosofia inner cave of light

trinosofia inner cave of light

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Bhagavan the Master has said:

“Kirtyate hrdayam pinde             The Heart is said to be in the microcosm
yathande bhanumandalam         as the orb of the Sun in the macrocosm.
Mavah sahasraragatam bimbam           Like Moon’s disk is mind
candramasam Yatha”                 in the thousand petalled Centre.

                                                                                           Ramana Gita Chapter V.verse 13

When the mind bows down to seek the form of Self placed in the Heart, or to plunge itself into the effulgence of its own form placed in the Heart, this is bowing down, salutation. In both cases, we should not forget to see Skanda as the Self.

The japa of the Mantra thus performed, will seek our own realised Truth. It will not be polluted by any diversity.

Brahmana

Brahmana

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Maharshi revealed the whole truth of these two forms of worship in a foot of this verse:  “Hrdi visa manasa svam
cinvata majjata va”           

“Enter into the Heart by the mind which seeks Self 
or which wants to take a plunge.”

                                                                                             Ramana Gita, Chapter II verse 2

trinosofia bird lamp

trinosofia bird lamp

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Thus is revealed the meaning of the Mantra:

Om Vacadbhuve Namah

 “I enter or plunge into Bhagavan the Master,
who is the descent of Skanda,
as the true form of my Self”.

 Thus ends the First Chapter.

Sacred India Tarot - Parvati begins spiritual practice

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**

  My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom. This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/