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The Meaning Behind the AHYMSIN Logo


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There are two ways to enter a psycho-spiritual-cosmological mandala diagram or a sigil. One way is to start from the outside border and go towards the centre. The other is to start from the interior centre and move towards the exterior. Here we shall not elaborate on this aspect of shri-vidya (the complex science from which, among other areas of knowledge, all mandalas originate). We shall, however, start from the exterior and go towards the centre of the logo.A mandala, a sigil, or a spiritual symbol, even more than the verbal language of the realized, contains in itself invisible layers of meaning. When we can ‘see’ all the layers at once, it is a level of enlightenment. Here we express few of the levels of our logo.


The Sarpa (Serpent)

The rim is a serpent with its tale in its mouth. This has been a very ancient symbol in the major spiritual cultures of the world. The Greeks called it ourobouros. It represents all the forces and spiritual energies that are timeless in such a way that they always return to their own origin.

It is the self turning unto itself in samadhi, self-complete, self-contented, self-fulfilled. It is a symbol of the consciousness of eternity and infinity.

The serpent is the kundalini (see Swami Rama’s writings on kundalini and this writer’s Thousand Names of Kundalini) that in the higher beyond-the-breath pranayamas returns unto herself instead of discharging herself through the outward openings of the gross body sense-windows.

Be wise as serpents   -- Jesus Matthew 10.16

The serpent also represents all the galaxies, which return unto the equilibrium (saamya) of their interior energies at the end of a cycle of creation and then lie coiled. On these coils Vishnu, the Creative Force of Divinity, rests during the eons of dissolution. So do the galaxies of our energies that lie coiled at the base of the spine.

The serpent has been a symbol of healing and medicine as seen in the cadeusius, the universal medical symbol in which the serpent wraps itself around a spine-like staff in a manner similar to the diagrams of ida and pingala crossing at different centres of consciousness, the chakras. Originally the cadeusius was a symbol of peace between opposing forces

If the serpent evokes images of a venomous creature, let us bear in mind the ayurvedic motto :

viShasya viSham auShahadham “Poison is the antidote to poison.”

A viSha-vaidya, physician specializing in handling poisons and poisonous creatures, uses the poison to cure and heal. So should we convert all the energies appearing to be venomous in life into healing powers

The Kalasha (Vessel)

In our logo, the serpent also forms the shape of kalasha, a round full goblet, used in all the rituals and expressions of loving and caring relationships in India as a symbol of fullness and completeness. For some more details see our Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, chapter 2.

The Two Hamsas (Swans)

We shall later publish our translation of the hamsa-mantra.

Also see our explanation of the meditational phrase ‘soham=hamso’ in our Mantra and Meditation book, pages 51-61.

The two swans represent the purity of our breath and its awareness as the free-winged prana.

The swans are the ‘visual words’ of what we have described above, the iconographic representation of these ideas.

Our logo has two symbols of the concept of ‘remaining in the world but not of the world’. The swan’s feathers are proverbial for dwelling in the water but not being impeded by it; the water does not cling to them but just slides off them. So should we live in the world but not be affected by it. The world should not adversely affect us by our clinging to it.

Thus will the ‘two’, the world of duality, be our step towards the unity of the breath, prana and the swan-soul.

Hamsa is also the ancient Vedic name for the Sun, the Sun-swan, the Sun-soul.

The Padma (Lotus)

The lotus is born in the mud at the bottom of a pool but rises above the waters, scattering beauty and fragrance. Its roots purify the water. It looks up into the light of the sky. It blooms at the sight of the sun. So may we, born in the earthly mud rise above it and come up to the surface to gaze at the Sun of the Highest Spirit and thereby bloom. May we scatter beauty and fragrance. May the waters of the world not cling to us but that we may learn detachment and freedom from adverse effects of attachments.

Though the lotus dwells in the water, water drops do not cling to it; they slide off it.

Because of all the above meanings, the ancient sages of India chose the lotus as the symbol of creation as well as renouncing while living in the world. It is one of the three major symbols of the Chinese civilization as well, with the same meaning.

The Face (dhyana-murti)

The meditative face is the face of all siddhas (accomplished adepts among the yogis), rishis (realized seers), and Buddhas (enlightened ones). This meditative face inspires our faces to become as clear, without exhibiting any mind-wrinkles but having an inward smile of purity, the reawakened pristine innocence of the soul.

The Flame (shikha)

On the head is seen a flame. It rises from a spot called brahma-randhra, Brahman’s hollow. It is the location of the highest chakra from which the spiritual energy emanates especially after this seventh centre is awakened. It radiates light of wisdom and compassion. It is also the spot through which the yogi departs from the body upon ‘death’ and the flame then represents the final mastery of the art of dying. This mystery is more lucidly explained in Swami Rama’s Sacred Journey.

In many statues of the Buddha also such a flame is seen rising from the same spot in the head. In many spiritual cultures worldwide this spot in the centre of the head held sacred in different ways.

On each symbol in the logo an entire book can be written but this brief explanation will suffice here.

Writing at the Base

The writing at the base is

योगः समाधिः  |  yogaḥ samādhiḥ  |  yogah samadhih  |  Yoga = samadhi  |  Yoga [is] samadhi.

This is a verbless sentence on the very first sutra of the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali (the codifier par excellence of yoga) in the commentary of the first commentator sage Vyasa . Please see this writer’s Commentary on the Yoga-sutras for further explanation.

The entire yoga science must be studied and practised on the basis of this definition of yoga. All other definitions are subservient to it and are to support this, our, goal in yoga.

 From “The Yogic and Meditative Meaning of Ahymsin Logo” © 2008 © ASSOCIATION OF HIMALAYAN YOGA MEDITATION SOCIETIES INTERNATIONAL (AHYMSIN), all rights reserved, by Swami Veda Bharati.

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