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Ushas, Ratri and the Cosmic Purusha.

 By Yogi Baba Prem

At times, the Devas may seem foreign to us, especially to those of us born in the west.  Our karmic challenge is to recognize that the Devas have relevance in our yoga practice, meditative practice and generally manifest within many aspects of our life. 

 

Those who know me personally are somewhat aware of my intense love for Ushas--the dawn.  While it would be true that Ushas is somewhat foreign to most modern readers, the reality is that this is true for a variety of Devas, especially those of the Vedas.  I would like to take our understanding of Ushas to a deeper level and briefly explore the relationship between Ushas, Ratri (her sister) and Purusha.

Our brief examination will start with Ushas and Ratri, the sisters of the dawn and night.  On a most fundamental level, Ushas represents the dawn and Ratri represents the night.  For a literal reader, the day and night would suffice. On a slightly deeper level, Ushas represents not only the dawn, a time of awakening but, more importantly, our awakening to knowledge, and Ratri represents ignorance, an absence of light.  At this level of understanding, they represent duality and polarity.  While it is true both can be viewed in this way; we lose much of the richness that can be gained through understanding them on deeper levels. 

Ushas as the dawn represents the beginning of our day, a period of activity, accomplishment, investigation and work.  For many, Ratri as the night is a time of relaxation, a winding down from the activities of the day.  The night is also a time for reflection, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we should take time to reflect on our day or even our life at some point in the evening.  The dawn and pre-dawn are an important time of meditation.  It is a juncture of cosmic energies.  In fact, the predawn and dawn are one of the most auspicious times to meditate.  But for the majority of westerners, the evening is often the best time for them to meditate based upon their work schedule. Sunset, the beginning of the time overseen by Ratri is another important juncture in the cosmological flow of energy.  Ratri and the night is a time for spiritual rest and renewal.  Through these few examples, hopefully, we see that Ushas and Ratri both are important for our spiritual growth and and represent important times or junctures for our meditative practice. So how are these two important Devas intertwined with the cosmic Purusha?

While the body is the vehicle for consciousness, the Cosmic Purusha is more reflective of our true essence. I say more reflective due to the fact that different philosophical systems view the Purusha with some variations. The movement of consciousness in the physical world follows cycles, though our mundane mind is often not aware of them on a subtle level.  On a more gross level, our lives follow cycles such as birth, middle age and old age.  We have morning, noon and night.  There is the cycle of the seasons and a yearly cycle measuring the earth orbiting around the sun.  There is the equinox and solstice periods.  The moon appears to cycle to the senses.  In reality, there is a dizzying number of cycles that occur.  Traditionally, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, these cycles are considered important and represent spiritual opportunity as previously noted in the example of Ushas and Ratri. 

While we have identified that the movement of conscious energy follows cycles; there is a complex matrix of cycles in which Ushas and Ratri is only one, and their relationship with the Purusha is yet another.  The cosmic Purusha inhales in a sense late at night, as we drift off to sleep.  We are pulling our outward flowing energy inward.  The outward flow of our senses stops, and we enter into the world of sleep, losing conscious awareness of the world.  During this time, the Purusha or consciousness and prana, work to heal the mind and body (which is one reason why one sleeps so much when they are sick.)  With the dawn, the morning hours or upon awakening, the Purusha exhales as we awaken, hopefully, renewed and ready to begin the day. The Purushas does not literally inhale and exhale as we do physically but the inhalation and exhalation illustrate a movement or flow of energy, and as they can be observed in the physical world, they would have their subtle manifestation as well.  Upon waking, each activity of the day consumes prana or life-force energy that was stored by the previous night.  Each movement, each thought, talking, daydreaming during the day, these and all activities consume prana.

Ushas and Ratri not only mark cycles in the conscious flow of Purusha, they are also energies that nurture the process.  For example, if Ratri’s energy is weak or the mind is overtly disturbed, it is difficult to get to sleep indicating a resistance or difficulty opening to and receiving the flow represented by Ratri.  In other words, the mind being disturbed does not allow Ratri’s energies to fully manifest as we often feel uptight or stressed.  If our sleep is disharmonious, fragmented or incomplete, we often feel devitalized in the morning when we awaken; illustrating the importance of the relationship of Ushas, Ratri and the Cosmic Purusha in our daily activities of living.  

Of course, this subject is much more complex than can be examined in a short article.  But this should be an excellent start for further exploration.  My book on Ushas can provide a strong foundation for study.  Through these few examples, one can easily see the relevance of Ushas and Ratri within our lives.  Ideally, it is more likely that one can see the benefit of investigating the Devas more deeply; and through this process a much deeper understanding is revealed of ourselves and the world we have incarnated into.

This article is inspired by the work of David Frawley (Acharya Vamadeva Shastri)

To learn more about Ushas, kindly see my book on “Ushas the Divine Dawn”

Copyright 2018.  All Rights Reserved. 

 

Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 

 

  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.