February 2015 

A Journey Through Indian History,

Part Three


The next morning, we wake early to explore the old Moghul fort at Daulatabad. The Muslim invasions of India began in the tenth century. These conquerors from central Asia certainly expected that all of India would be converted to Islam in the same way that the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, and Afghanistan had all been converted. India, however, has a special way of embracing and peacefully conquering all that enters it. By the time of the greatest Moghul emperor, Akbar, the Muslim empire of India had become decidedly multi-cultural and gurus and sages of all the religions of the sub-continent served as counselors in his royal court. 


The Moghuls were great architects and used their wealth to promote art and literature, which included the translation of Hindu scriptures into Persian. Akbar was the grandfather of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. The fort we are about to explore is named after Aurangzeb who ruled from 1658 to his death in 1707. Aurangzeb was Shah Jahan's son and the last of the rulers of a strong and consolidated Moghul empire. The Moghul reign ended amidst violent infighting between different Muslim factions and pressure from the remaining Hindu monarchs. Colonial powers, including England, Portugal, and France were already incorporating coastal areas into their global empires.

The fort is positioned on a steep hill with high thick walls and seven distinct lines of defense. The seven hundred steps that lead to the top of the fortress pass through each of these defenses, making this fortress virtually unconquerable. 


The whole approach to life symbolized by this fort stands in sharp contrast to the Ellora caves just a few miles away. At the caves, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain monks and scholars worked together at the same site, each respecting the other's religion as complementary reflections of a single truth. As our guide explained, "At that time, the three religions were simply seen as upholding different facets of one dharma: Hinduism focused on the importance of the community and the family, Buddhism focused on the ultimate freedom that could only come from release of desire, while Jainism focused on absolute nonviolence as the foundation of both communal harmony and personal freedom. 

 In comparison, this fort can be seen as a symbol of the ego, possessing all it can and then building successive layers of defense, creating the impression of safety. In fact, we are fortifying the walls of our own prison. As I climb the mountain, through each of the seven layers of the fortress, I have an intuitive sense of moving upward through the seven energy centers of my own being, releasing the self created barriers that keep me from awakening. 

At the first level, the main gate, the walls are five meters thick with a huge solid wooden portal armored with spikes that would deter an elephant. As I pass through this portal, I reflect on my own need to create walls of protection and security in order to have a sense of basic safety. I now see clearly how this need has no connection to my essential being, but is a reflection of the lack of support and an overriding sense of fear that were part of my upbringing. I now experience clearly the security that is a natural reflection of my true being, forming the foundation of my spiritual journey. I also recognize that the very nature of the universe is support and sustenance. The second line of defense is just twenty yards beyond the first, creating a narrow area where attackers who manage to make it beyond the first wall are trapped between two steep walls with no room to move. 


I stop here to reflect on the second chakra, recognizing how my own early experience with family and relationship had been so fragmented that I had only one lens for looking at the world, an overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness. There was a feeling of being trapped between my own limiting emotions and my need for love and closeness, with no room to move either forward or backward. I take several breaths to reflect on what a long and challenging journey it has been to release those feelings of loneliness by gradually recognizing my own essential wholeness, allowing me to open to my own feelings and finally experience genuine intimacy.


Invaders who manage to pass through the second gate enter a plane with a maze of walls and portals where the defending army could lie in wait. This uncertainty creates a sense of reluctance and confusion within the invaders, slowing their pace since they do not know exactly where or when the enemy will be engaged. I stop here to reflect on the third chakra, and how many times in life I have blocked my own progress and lost vital energy through a lack of a clear sense of direction. I also reflect on the times I have moved forward before clearly defining my purpose and mission. Without clear direction, I invested my energy into projects that, on the surface, appear to be spiritually oriented, but were actually ways to compensate for my lack of self-esteem. I stop and take several breaths to reflect on how a growing sense of my own inherent self-worth allows me to see my life purpose more clearly. With clarity, I invest my energy in plans and projects that both support my unfolding and are also for the benefit of all beings. 


Passing through the third gate, I encounter a moat, deeper, wider, and more formidable than anything I had seen in medieval castles in Europe. In fact, the entire side of the mountain has been sheared off to solid stone at a height of at least 50 meters, so that even if invaders were to make it across the moat, there would be nothing to attach scaffolding to in order to scale the wall. The only way across the moat is by one small swaying bridge that defenders could withdraw quickly. I stop here to reflect on the heart chakra, the fourth gateway. I recognize how all of my judgments and expectations had armored my heart so that I could neither let people in, nor touch and feel the world around me. I also see how this self-created moat was the product of years of pain and isolation. The water in this moat is a symbol of the many years and the ocean of tears and sorrow that come from living a life distant from the nurturing embrace of the true Self. The bridge across the moat represents the opening of the heart. It may seem narrow and intimidating at first, but in the words of Ana´s Nin, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Once across the moat, the next obstacle is a maze of tunnels in pitch darkness. These are designed to confuse the enemy by leading in various directions. Some lead to dead ends, some to pits where a defending army can cast hot oil from above. One tunnel leads to a false exit where invaders fall into the moat far below. Of course, steps and lighting have now been provided for visitors coming. Even with this, there is an intensity within these tunnels as they wind mysteriously up and down, taking sudden shifts and turns. I sense this tunnel as a symbol for the throat chakra, a reminder of all the twists and turns, the ups and downs along my spiritual journey. I reflect on how many times I felt I was walking surely toward the light, only to fall back into darkness. I also reflect on how each twist and turn has been a necessary part of my journey. As we come closer to the tunnel's end, there is a momentary power outage (an extremely common occurrence in India). We stand in complete darkness, just as invaders must have experienced in times past. I find Lilian's hand and know that she has been the light that has helped guide my journey toward clarity, even at the most critical moments.



Emerging from the tunnel, there is a steep climb and then a long gently sloping pathway, shaded from the intense mid-morning sun. The path is lined with trees and there are chipmunks playing among the branches. This smooth, easy part of my ascent brings to mind the wisdom of the third eye. Attuned to my true being, a growing sense of balance, comfort, and ease now accompany me, both in seated meditation and in daily living. I take a moment to reflect on how all the walls and obstacles have been a necessary part of my journey. I inhale deeply, taking in all that I have done and been. As I exhale, I release all that stands between me and awakening. 


Finally, I arrive at the great hall, a symbol for the seventh chakra, a place of command and worship that looks out endlessly over the Indian plain. I rest, embracing the clarity of natural being and reflecting on the different life paths we can choose. We can build an empire of possessions, concepts, and ideas and then guard them with fortifications of belief and judgment. We also have the possibility to meet all challenges along our journey as vehicles for releasing limiting beliefs, allowing us to see the infinite horizons of our true being. 


On our way back to the hotel, we complete our journey through Indian history by passing through an old British cantonment. This is now an Indian army base, but during British rule, which lasted over two hundred years, this was the place where British troops were garrisoned. At that time, India was a collection of five hundred and fifty princely states. The British coerced each of these rulers into giving up their arms and accepting colonial authority in exchange for maintaining nominal rule. Various attempts at revolt were smothered harshly and violently. It was only with Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent Swadeshi movement to restore Indian pride, culture and freedom that India finally achieved independence in 1948. Gandhi's movement was a major factor in the Yoga renaissance of 1920's. This renaissance also marks the birth of modern Yoga Therapy, but this is a story for another update.



Visiting sites, like Ellora and the Daulatabad Fort, have the power to transform us because the Kings, Queens, monks, and sages from history are archetypes of our own being. Their history with all their desires, fears, and quests for freedom, both internal, and external, resonate within our own bodies. As we experience and explore their stories, we open ourselves to the world and simultaneously to our own being, showing us our entire evolutionary journey.


~Joseph Le Page


Read more....

A Journey Through Indian History, Part Two

A Journey Through Indian History, Part One
Return to S-VYASA, Jan. 2015

Soukya International Holistic Healing Center, Jan. 2015


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