The story of the garden or Eden is in the first parts of the first book of the Bible. The swami Yukteswar, who practised kundalini yoga, voiced the opinion that the story of Eden is allegoric, and twisted and turned it to conform to his opinions. Interesting and informed as they are about kundalini yoga, his grasp of Bible material leaves much to be desired.
On this page is much evidence of that. Contrary to the facts is Yogananda's: "Sri Yukteswar was a peerless interpreter of the scriptures." (Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 12). If taken to mean "unmatched in giving bad interpretations," - maybe, as he was far from an excellent Bible interpreter. You may see for yourself if you read through this source page.
The yoga serpent. In the sort of yoga that Yukteswar had learnt by Lahiri Mahasaya, the serpent stands for something internal in man and woman, and not any outer, talking snake. [Spo; Kuo].
According to yogic traditions, much basic energy is stored around the base of the spine - lying "coiled" there - and represented as a sleeping serpent to be awakened: The energy may be intensified for the purpose of reaching Great Awakening, also called Enlightenment. Such awakening can bring enlightenment and bliss, we are told. The awakening is graded by the subtler fields of perceptions that are attained by that Force: there are partial awakenings and complete awakening. (cf. WP, "Kundalini")
Several books are written about the serpent of yoga. In tantra yoga it is called Kundalini. Kundalini yoga aims at rousing this 'snake' from where it lies dormant in the perineum area, and rise to the top of the head through yoga centres, padmas, chakras, in the sushumna vessel along the central spine and further. Gradual awakening accompanies the rising energy toward full yoga awakening.
In recent commentaries the activated energy is described as a quite electricity-like force.
In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, there are two amalgamated myths. In the oldest myth man and women are created on an equal footing. In the added myth, woman is taken out of the first man's rib by the Creator, but not so that man should lack any rib -
In his book The Holy Science from 1894, the swami Yukteswar (1855–1936) goes into the Genesis myth of creation (its two versons) from a tantra perspective (kundalini koga). In so doing he ignores many creation myths in Hinduism, and explains away large and significant parts of the Bible's old stories in Genesis 1 and 2. Details follow.
A glance aside: Buddhist tummo. The term Kundalini is of the Hindu tradition and refers to a power within us that once it is fitly awakened can facilitate attainment of several spiritual levels and even enlightenment. Tibetan Buddhists work with kundalini, too, calling the practice tummo, "inner fire". According to the Six Yogas of Naropa, it is the foundation of spiritual realisations and can bring bliss, wisdom and achievement prowess that we set our mind on. Teachers of kundalini/tummo practices agree that a student should be well prepared to cope with the powerful energy of the kundalini awakening. The psychotherapist Tara Springett (1960-) writes: "After my initial awakening it was not long before I started to harvest the enormous blessings of this extraordinary event . . ." Further: "The Tibetan Buddhist meditation of 'tummo' . . . is the Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of a kundalini awakening practice." (2014:Intro, passim.)
❋ The serpent of yoga, a part of the teachings of Hinduism, is identified with or akin with tummo in Buddhist teachings.
A creation myth is a quite simple-looking story of how the world began and how people first came to live here on earth. Creation myths deal with topics that concern those who share them. There are many creation myths, old and newer ones, and there are often many versions of them. Among the old ones, some are taken from myths of neighbouring areas, as the two versions of the Bible's myth of creation, for most part in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and another in Genesis 2:4-2:24. Both versions are adapted from Mesopotamian sources, say most Bible scholars today. We may say they intertwine.
There are many creation tales in Hinduism too. One of the oldest is in the Rigveda (RV 10.121). It tells we exist here on earth in and through a golden, cosmic egg, called hiranyagarbha, the "Only Lord of all created beings". "Giver of vital breath, of power and vigour, he whose commandments all the gods acknowledge -" There are very many profound and interesting tales in Hinduism. (Wikipedia, "Hindu mythology")
Creation Myths in Hinduism
In the book Classical Hindu Mythology by Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. C. van Buitenen, the first part is about origins [Clh 15-59].
A Story of Creation from an ancient Purana
Long ago when all things animate and inanimate were lost in one dreadful ocean there appeared a large egg. Lying in this egg, Brahma went to sleep. At the end of a thousand Ages [yugas] he awoke.
Awake and knowing creation to be lost in this flood, the lord broke open the egg. From it OM was born; then an embryo, called a bubble, became solid. It is known as the sustainer of all creatures. Brahma, Grandfather of the world, arose in the middle of the egg. The placenta is known as Mt. Meru, the afterbirth is the mountains, and the waters of the womb are the oceans and the thousand rivers. The water which surrounds the navel of Brahma is Mahat. In the middle of it a banyan tree [tree of life] stood like a pillar.
The lotus-born god poured forth all things, representatives of their realms. Having given forth the waters, fire and atmosphere, the sky, wind and earth, rivers, oceans, mountains and budded trees, instants, moments, minutes, hours, days and nights, fortnights and months, half-years, years, ages and so on, all delegates of their domains, again he poured forth the accomplished seers: Marici, Bhrigu, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. From his breath the god Brahma emitted Daksa, Marici from his eye, Angiras from his head, Bhrigu from his heart and the one named Atri from his ears. Dharma, having taken human form in these seers, was set in motion.
Brahma wished to create in those waters these four: gods, demons, Fathers and men, and he yoked his mind to this task. The demons, his sons, originated first from his buttocks.
The god took another form having the quality of sattva; thereupon gods were brought forth from his face.
He took still another form of sattva nature; to him, thinking like a father, were born the Fathers.
Then Brahma took another body, of the quality of rajas. Human beings arose from this as his passion-ridden sons.
Brahma poured forth many other beings after that. For example, he sent forth sheep from his breast, goats from his mouth, and he fashioned cows from his stomach and horses from his feet. Likewise from his limbs were formed donkeys and others. Herbs which have fruits and roots were born from his body hair. He devised poetic metres. From his limbs were engendered creatures of all kinds.
In this manner proceeded the pouring forth of beings from the creating Brahma Prajapati. [Clh, 32-34, abridged]
❋ Out from God the Creator (Brahma) goes beings of many kinds, is a part of the lore.
This story of creation is of the simplest form. Many details are left out. The myth is from Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas by Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen. There are many names in the story that make sense to some people and not all others. However, there is a glossary on the site (click on "Words" to the left), since the idea was to present a riveting story about God the Creator (Brahma) and his offspring.
The idea of an egg as the origin of creation or a very central part of it is common to very many ancient myths from many religions. Ancient Finns believed that the world was formed from an egg that was broken, for example.
The major themes are:
The series of creation myths in Hinduism form a complex web. [Clh 16-17]
The Creator formed humans and other living beings out of himself, is an interesting understanding. According to the hoary Rikveda, creation happened gradually. The universe in its primitive form was made up of Ishwar Tattva, which primarily spread homogeneously throughout the universe. From the complete equilibrium and homogeneity, when perturbed, developed an inhomogenous state of the primordial fluid, Ap. With the transformation of undifferentiated primordial fluid into differentiated fluid through polarization of opposites, the universe moved from a homogenous to inhomogenous state when particles were formed first.
But Rig Veda's "Hymn of Creation (No. 10:129" also contains room for an unsettled view, such as,
But, after all, who knows, and who can say from where it all came, and how creation happened.
Norse mythology says, by contrast, that at first there was a profound gap with icy frost on one side and flame and heat on the other. The interaction of ice and heat created a giant and a cow he could feed on. In time three brother gods came into being too, as a remote result of the cow licking boulders of salt. These gods killed the first giant, and from his body they made earth, sky, and sea. The bones became mountains and stones, the hair became trees and grass, the skull became the vault of heaven. The brain became clouds. The gods created celestial bodies too. The sun was drawn across the sky by two horses.
Three Norse gods made the first human pair, Ask and Embla, from two trees. Ask from an ash tree, and what tree Embla comes from is uncertain. The three gods gave the trees or logs breath, soul, understanding, bodily warmth and colour. From these two first humans sprang the entire race of men, says the Norse literature. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Ask and Embla"]
Hebrew and Mesopotamian creation myths
The Hebrew Bible is a collection of texts, most of them anonymous, and most of them the product of more or less extensive editing. There are many places in the Bible marked by inconsistencies and unfulfilled prophesies. Gospels contradict each other in various important respects and on various important details too.
In the first chapter of Genesis, "day" suggests "period. God called the first light "day" [Gen 1:5]. But the span of time that is termed "day" today, appears only on the fourth "day" in Genesis, when the sun and moon and stars were formed. There were no earth-related measuring references for "day" before the sun was formed. So what the first "days" mean, may not be earth-days. That goes for the rest of the "Genesis days" too. Scientists are into the ideas of long-range periods and the appearance of modern mankind in Africa.
As for the Bible myths of creation, civilizations of the Ancient Near East conceived the Earth as a flat disk with infinite water both above and below it, just as Genesis 1. Beneath the Earth was a fresh-water sea. The Genesis creation story parallels the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish, which talks of the mingling of two primeval waters, female saltwater and male freshwater. A recovered clay tablet from a ruined library of Niniveh begins like this:
When the sky above was not named,
Similarities between Genesis and the Enuma Elish are apparent, but there are also differences. Most notably, in Genesis there is no "divine combat" that secures a king's position. Gods were created from mother Tiamat, chaos, Niniveh tablets tell too. The Babylonians specified various gods and what they came from, then. The Bible does not, but contains "Let us create man in our image". Compare the editorial "we" -
It appears that the ancient Hebrew geography was identical with that of the Babylonians: a flat circular earth floating above a freshwater sea, surrounded by a saltwater sea, with a solid sky-dome above.
The meaning of man being made in the "image of God" has been much debated. Besides, many scholars today accept that the first five books of the Bible are a composite work, the product of many hands and periods.
[Wikipedia, s.v. "Criticism of the Bible," "Creation myth," "Creation according to Genesis," "Enuma Elis," and "Image of God," "The Bible and history," "Science and the Bible."]
God is like a woman too, according to Genesis. There are two creation myths in the first chapters of Genesis of the Bible. In the oldest God created man in his own image . . . male and female. It suggests God is behind a female too, and like her. Despite that, only about 1 out of 100 Americans think God is a woman, according to statistics.
God blessed them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." This was before the Fall of Man; sex was far from forbidden or shamed as a cause of Fall. What is more, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good - the sixth day." [Genesis 27-29]
Yukteswar interprets the figurative Fall in Genesis from a yoga angle. He lets the Bible myths serve yoga understanding of how man and woman were created, and is at fault in many places. You could count them if you care; it is quite easy if you ignore Yukteswar's disciple-given reputation of "unerring spiritual insight". [Hos v].
❋ The more disappointment, the more trust was probably once misplaced.
Six "days" after the beginning, God saw all that he had made, was very good. [Gen 1:31] Anyway, things took a nasty turn after that.
'Why not live forever? That is not explained very well in or around Genesis 3:22, etc. However, it is good to make streams of eternal life or eternity-life well up from inside, teach various gurus and Jesus too.
The Lord God had told the man, "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Many Bible translations have "die the same day" here. [Gen 2:17] [Adam lived on for quite a long time after that and reached a rather remarkable age - 850 years, it is written.] ⚴ 1.2.
Yukteswar's outlooks are from the last sections of his disciple Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, chap 16. There are notable differences between Yukteswar's and the Bible myths.
The human body was . . . not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced by an act of special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; the human being was uniquely given a tremendous mental capacitythe 'thousand-petalled lotus' of the brain [sahasrara]as well as acutely awakened occult centres in the spine. - Yukteswar
According to the Bible, man and woman were not "a result of evolution from beasts, but . . . produced by an act of special creation".
God, or the divine consciousness [mind] present within the first created pair, counselled them to enjoy all human sensibilities, but not to put their concentration on touch sensations.  These were banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs, which would enmesh humanity in the inferior animal method of propagation. The warning not to revive subconsciously-present bestial memories was not heeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man. - Yukteswar
No, touch sensations were surely not "banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs". The Bible takes you into this: having sex was not denied them, it was a certain knowledge of good and evil that was denied them then. That is different.
Reason and feeling remain in a heaven of cooperative joy so long as the human mind is not tricked by the serpentine energy of animal propensities.
As for the yogi's idea of the Creator "materialising the bodies of man and woman through the force of his will" and of couples bringing forth offspring by thinking it, and an immaculate manner, the Bible is not quite in line with such a scheme, as judged from what happened on the sixth "day" or so, when "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them [Gen 1:27]," as he had done with animals on the "day" before. The younger myth further says "the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. [Gen 2:7]." He also told the first man later on: "[Y]ou will eat your food till you return to the ground, since from it you were taken . . . to dust you will return." [Gen 3:19]."
Yukteswar's 'materialise' carry no connotations to making such "living pottery"; to me it doesn't. A farfetched story in place of another - is that what we have here?
❋ Yukteswar denies the old idea that sex organs were heavenly built and to be put to good use.
Crafty, but not crafty enough
[t]he 'serpent' represents the coiled-up spinal energy which stimulates the sex nerves. 'Adam' is reason, and 'Eve' is feeling. When the emotion or Eve-consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the sex impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs. - Yukteswar ◊
The Bible does not tell 'the serpent' represents any coiled-up spinal energy that stimulates the sex nerves. That is another story imposed on what Genesis tells about the birth of man and woman. Instead, the Bible says the serpent was a crafty, speaking, wild animal with a knowledge of fruits that exposed the Bible's God as a liar or something:
The serpent said to the woman, "Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden"?"
❋ Misrepresentations should go. We can thrive by what is good, and do not need evils - for evils can become dangerous.
2 - Some more points to this
How to increase in number: Humans were banished from Eden because God did not want them to live for ever, the Bible says. [Gen 3:22-23]
The Bible says God told man and woman to increase in number. Higher animals have sex for it. Men and women increase in number by sex too. That God made Adam and Eve to have sex and babies in the garden of Eden earlier than the fall, is in harmony with his "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing [Gen 3:16, emphasis added]" when he drove them out of there. "Increase, compared to what or whom and for how long?" is the question.
As a matter of fact, Yukteswar's rallying does not go well along with the Bible evidence. (1) Man and woman disobeyed a direct order (2) and got knowledge. (3) And God did not want them to get immortal also. That is what the Bible tells you, and it differs from from what Yukteswar reads into it.
The Bible teaches: "animated dust, not heightened animal": Yukteswar asserts that man and woman came from animals as a special creation. The Bible speaks of animated dust (consisting of elements), not of animals in such a context. [Genesis 2:5-7]
❋ Yukteswar and the Bible: He reads into the Bible things that are not there and are not fit there.
Divine consciousness, is that all? God is spoken of by Yukteswar as divine consciousness inside the first pair. And the Bible tells:
"The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord . . . But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you? [Genesis 3:8-9]"
God was walking, talking, sowing clothes of skin, [v. 21] and later, when Abraham lived, he had milk, bread, curd and veal as well. [Gen 18:6-8]. The bible's God: A walking, talking and eating Divine consciousness, or?
❋ The first humans did not sow skin clothes; God did it to help them, says the Bible
- but touch was not banned in the Bible: Touch sensations were not banned, contrary to the guru's claims.
❋ The couple in the garden were not driven out for having copious sex.
Adam and Eve: old, possible meanings: Adam and Eve are taken to represent reason and feeling by Yukteswar. In the Bible, Eden seems cognate with 'joy', Adam with 'ground": "The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be related to the Hebrew for ground (adamah); it is also the name Adam [see Gen. 2:20]." And Eve means possibly 'living' [Gen 3:20].
❋ If a human's life is not one of joy it is not straight out of Eden - not yet.
From beasts - materialised - : Yukteswar seems to be sitting on two chairs: On the one hand he says man and woman did not come solely from beasts [see above]. On the other he holds, "God created the human species by materialising the bodies of man and woman through the force of his will [see above]. It seems he says two things in the matter. Can he have it both ways? Or are there two kinds of humans on earth, some from above, and some from below? And some descending from both camps, so to speak, half goddesses, half humans, for example?
The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. [Gen 6:2]
Jesus too, speaks of some who are from above, and others who are not. "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world [John 8:23]." "None has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven [John 3:13]."
❋ The complication: "Sons of God" found many women worthy of mating with, and those unions created other beings than humans, alas. The nativity tale (Matthew 1 and 2) speaks of something much similar.
Tantra outlooks: The kriya yogi Yukteswar hoists some tantric outlooks. [Cf. Kuo, 53 ff]
If balancing work is needed, go deeper: The over-riding need is to plunge to a level of no pretence. In the common adaptations between husband and wife, coitus helps such plunging, deep, inner feelings at times, and forms the reasons for many things and outlets later. Otherwise, people do not have much of a choice in the long run; lots of emotions cannot be talked to deeply or hard enough by reasoning. One tends to get jaded from much reasoning and may reach flurries through lots of showed emotions: the jaded and the flurried do not seem to have much of a platform to build further on, and divorces are plentiful these days.
❋ If very common adaptations lead to lots of divorces in times ahead, much has got lower than what couplings meant for.
"Its 'tree of life' is the human body. The spinal cord is like an upturned tree, with man's hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches . . .
The fit man and woman manages to look at what is written in the source (Genesis), examine the correct content, and, treating the material fairly, behaves unlike Yukteswar and lots of followers of his disciple, Yogananda. Not to sustain misconceptions or persevere in them can even be called sweet and correct and fair.
Yukteswar says that the nervous system in man looks like a tree upside down, and that two animal souls were allowed to climb it (upward evolution) and continue to express polarities. And how are these two animal souls doing now? Are all in human bodies somehow like apes? That would be reductionist thinking. At any rate, the Bible evidence is different, much different (above).
Life often proceeds in such ways, if you read it right, although life does not always go on like that, or go on at all. The Bible tells about it in a language that does not allow for all of Yukteswar's assertions.
❋ Reason differently from Yukteswar, and things may go well.
Ask yourself who filial, wrong interpretations serve, the sooner the better. It is good not to feel any guru-filial obligations to faulty interpretations and a yogi discourse that maims Bible material.
"The tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of sex, the 'apple' at the centre of the bodily garden." - Yukteswar
Well, no, the apple is not sex, and not even by a long shot, the Bible sustains. The Old Testament presents man as made in the image of God, as a physical being that is not due to falls, but a climax of Creator pleasures.. God took pleasure in designing human life fit for sex and gardening, the Bible tells.
Jesus: "Truth shall make you free [Matt 12:50]" - also from misconceptions. Man and women were driven out of the Garden because God considered what they might attain to if they stayed [Gen 3:22]. Then they were kept busy with work and childbirths.
❋ One should indulge in gardening, the Bible supports.
"Genesis . . . cannot be grasped by a literal interpretation". - Yukteswar
Now if you do not stick to the text and base yourself on it, you are in danger of falling for tendentious and clownish interpretations. If you free yourself from the text that is present (Bible chapters given), you remove yourself from substantiation of your outlooks. A call for more or less wild faith could be next, and then being lorded over, regrettably. We should work against that, and futility too.
❋ Free yourself from being "lorded over" by lots and lots of ideas of others, and you help mental freedom. How to do it? Meditate well and reach your own conclusions, for example. And read furnished evidence also.
Don't take my word for anything . . . and find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online.
Clh: Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978.
Etk: Springett, Tara. Enlightenment Through the Path of Kundalini: A Guide to a Positive Spiritual Awakening and Overcoming Kundalini Syndrome. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2014.
Hos: Yukteswar, Swami: The Holy Science. 7th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), Los Angeles, 1972.
Kuo: Pandit, M. Kundalini Yoga. 5th ed. Madras: Ganesh, 1972. ⍽▢⍽ A simplified version of the next book in this list.
Spo: Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe). The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga. 7th ed. New York: Dover, 1974. ⍽▢⍽ Difficult matter to understand in depth.
WP: Wikipedia, "Kundalini".
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