Kumbh Mela: The Science & Significance

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Indian Culture


Sadhguru explains the science and significance of the Kumbh Mela. Why does it happens only at specific places, and after every 12 and a quarter years. Some scientific studies have shown that, phenomenal physiological changes have happened in people, who stayed for 40 days at the Kumbh mela, and took a dip in the water everyday.


Duration: 20 min


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12 min read

Kumbh Mela: The Science & Significance

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

If you.. how many of you been to places like Kumbh Mela and things like that? Been to Kumbh Mela? The big one that happened in Allahabad, have you been to that? After a hundred and forty-four years it comes.

If you go and see there, you must go – you will see India, okay! An India of another dimension which today the educated population in the country are completely missing. It’s incredible, incredible, I’m telling you.

People are putting their last penny and travelling from somewhere, just to be there for 2 days and go. I’m saying it’s that level of people, where hundred rupees would mean like what a million would mean to you, that’s how much a hundred rupees will mean. That kind of people – putting everything that they have, they come with their families just to be there, because somebody has told them, on that day if you take a dip you will attain Mukti. Not that you will see God. Not that God will come and give you a heap of gold. You will attain mukti.

Still eight hundred million people in this country are actively seeking liberation, knowingly or unknowingly. It’s an incredible thing. Nowhere else on the planet, there is such a phenomena happening, that there are human beings, longing to go beyond their present level of existence, consciously. Nowhere else such a thing has happened.

This is a profound understanding of the twelve-and-a-quarter-year cycles of the sun. Who we are, the way we are, why we got shaped like this, is fundamentally because of the various forces that function upon us, solar system being the main thing. In a way the solar system is functioning like a potter’s wheel. It functions like the potter’s wheel and while you the pot, somebody wants to empty their pot [someone wants to go to the toilet]!

If only – if for example, the planet decides to rotate a little faster than the way it is right now, all organisms on this planet will have to go through a dramatic change in the way they are. Probably the presently existing organisms including us would not survive a two time speed of rotation. We are like this, because we are a product of this system. Understanding the power of these cycles upon the human system, they identify places and situations which would be of maximum benefit to human well-being.

So, particularly they chose places where there is confluence of rivers because where two rivers meet, there is a non-stop force. And our bodies of the five elements – dominated by water, over seventy-two percent of our body is water. So if you are in a place where there are churning waters, at certain times, considering the latitude and at that time of the year or at that time of this twelve-year cycles, the relationship between the planet and the sun, it creates a powerful situation where one can transform themselves.

Lot of studies have been made on the previous Kumbh, and they found phenomenal physiological changes in people who stayed there for over forty days, and every day they were in that water.

About transforming or about reviving this Maha Kumbh as a knowledge base, as a place and a time that people – large number of people – will seek as a source of inspiration, healing and transformation which is what it has been for thousands of years. Maybe in the last five, six or ten decades in a century, it could have to some extent lost its relevance and its significance, simply because… well, the nation has not been in our own hands.

So reviving this, what this means, why is this, what is so significant about taking a bath once in twelve years! It’s not about that – this comes from a fundamental dimension of yoga which is referred to as Bhuta Shuddhi, which means to cleanse the five elements in our system. Everything in the universe – this body, this planet, the solar system, the universe and the cosmos – everything is just a play of five elements. The entire universe is just a mischief of five elements, not five million, just five. This shows the brilliance behind creation. The trillions and trillions of forms that life has taken – all this only with five ingredients.

So, the yogic system, the fundamental form of yoga is Bhuta Shuddhi where it is understood that, if you gain some mastery over these five elements – your health, well-being, prosperity, access to the universe, all these dimensions are taken care of, if only you take charge of these fundamental ingredients which make you, who you are right now and make which makes everything what it is right now.

This body – the elemental composition of this body is such that seventy-two percent of this body is water, twelve percent is earth, six percent is air, four percent is fire, the remaining is akash. For one to live well here water plays the most important role, because seventy-two percent of this body is water; seventy-two percent of the planet is water.

So, the Kumbh or this science of making use of the confluence of rivers at certain latitudes came, not because of belief, not because of some blind faith, this came because of keen observation of how life and the different forces around us function and how we can ride that, how we can make use of that.

The modern science is beginning to open its eyes to this, that between equator that is the zero degrees latitude to thirty-three degrees latitude, the centrifugal force that the planet generates because of its spin, largely works in a vertical manner. As you go further north it becomes tangential but here it works in a vertical manner. Eleven degrees centigrade is one place where it is perfectly vertical. So, after much search within myself, we established the Isha Yoga Center at eleven degrees latitude, because if one is doing sadhana the maximum benefit happens here, because the earth’s centrifugal force is pushing everything upward in a vertical manner rather than in a tangential manner.

So from zero to thirty-three degrees this was known as the sacred land on the planet, because spiritual sadhana found utmost results or maximum results happened in this region, for whatever sadhana that an individual person does. So within this latitude, we identified many spots where at different times of the year and different times of the solar year which lasts for twelve and a quarter years, there the forces are working in a certain way, and those places were identified as places to be on that particular day or that particular period.

Wherever two water bodies are meeting with a certain force, it creates a certain churning of water. This body being over seventy-two percent water, being there at that particular time, when it is on a particular nakshatra in the solar cycle, the maximum benefit happens to the body. In the ancient times everybody understood that, this mandala of forty-eight days if you stay at the Kumbh and every day you are in that water with the appropriate sadhana attached to it, you could transform your physical body, your psychological framework, your energy framework and above all find enormous spiritual growth within you, within a span of one mandala which is forty-eight days.

But today slowly it has become more… just a quick visit, a half a day visit where you take a simple one dip and you’re out. Well, maybe in today’s world, we can’t get all of you for forty-eight days at the Kumbh, but I was talking to the Chief Minister and said it’s important that we set at least forty days of sadhana for everybody. Wherever they may be, everyday ten to twelve minutes of sadhana in their own homes for forty days then come and take a dip. This will make a huge difference because the importance of it is, at a certain place if a certain volume of energy is happening, do you have the ability to receive it, do you have the ability to perceive it? If you cannot perceive no matter where you are, everything will go waste.

So, the whole science of why the Kumbh, why at certain latitudes, why were the confluence of water bodies are happening, there’s an elaborate science about it – I don’t want to go into the entire process now, but essentially this is what it is, because if the water within you does not respond to the water outside of you.

Now the water that is here [in the water pot], how this water behaves within you will determine the nature of your health and well-being in a big way. How will it behave? It will behave the way you treat it. In the sense, today modern science has come to this and recorded various series of experiments they have come to this – that water has enormous memory within itself. They are calling water as fluid computer, because the volume of memory and intelligence which is there in the water is so phenomenal. This is something we need to understand, water is not a commodity, it’s a life-making material.

The water that you drink is not just going whichever way; it is taking the form of a human being. It has the necessary memory and intelligence – only if you treat it well, it tends to behave well, if you treat it badly it tends to behave badly. So, there’s a whole science culturally established in this country as to how to treat the water that you drink. So these aspects have been largely lost because we are becoming a very economy driven cultures. Economics is only about our survival, about procurement of this and that, what we need. Economics is not the guide point of our lives.

The interest of mystical dimensions or the spiritual sciences have always been what are the laws which govern the inner nature? So, towards this goal many things were created, many, many dimensions, many, many aspects, many, many tools and many, many methods as to how to get there. Among all these things Bhuta Shuddhi is one of the most powerful processes. The Kumbh Mela is an offshoot of this Bhuta Shuddhi process. It’s my intention and my wish that this Kumbh Mela should not become just one more ritual, where huge number of people gather, this should become a transformative process.

A Khumba Mela is supposed to be for forty-eight days. That is people should stay there for forty-eight days, every day in the river along with that sadhana. This is part of the Bhuta Shuddhi tradition, where the fundamental process is to cleanse the elements of the system. And water being a major part of it – water is considered very important for health, well-being, prosperity, whatever we are seeking in our lives. So this forty-eight days has particular specific sadhanas where people stayed there and went through this process and came out fully transformed because they made use of the natural forces to transform the quality of oneself, not just physiologically, even spiritually.

But today people are going just one quick dip and out. That’s a different game. There may be some benefit, we don’t know. But it’s too brief. When I watch people, they just in and out in three minutes, that is too brief to have any kind of major impact, except maybe an emotional involvement. I know you can’t take off, maybe right now make up your mind and forty-eight days, but if you are planning your Kumbh trip, at least plan minimum three to seven days. So that you are there, do some sadhana and benefit from that process, rather than make a ritual out of it. It is not a ritual, it’s a scientific process. It’s just that science has been lost and practice has been carried on. That’s all that’s happened. It’s time to put back the science because only then we will benefit. It’s time we approach these things with little more understanding and meaning to it, so that one can really benefit rather than simply making a ritual out of it.

For those of you who are thinking what is it got to do with me, because I live in an air-conditioned home – well, to put it in a very fundamental way, if our mother’s bodies were not in sync with the cycles of the moon, we wouldn’t be born. Yes, we wouldn’t be born. So the cycles of the moon and the sun has a profound impact in the way we are. Acknowledging this, celebrating this, and finding ways to go beyond this, is what Kumbh is, is what Yoga is in many ways, to break the cycles of life.

When I say cycles, anything that cyclical is bound to be repetitive. If something is repetitive, that means it’s not getting anywhere. This most people realize, when they’re close to their deathbed, that when they look back and see, what looked like great things when they were doing it, when they look back and see it doesn’t mean a thing. Those who look back and see are those who die and regret. But if you look ahead and see what you may do tomorrow, what you are very passionately waiting to do tomorrow actually doesn’t mean a thing, then you would look at life much more profoundly.

The problem is not passion, the problem is not in involvement. The problem is entanglement. The nature of entanglement is always cyclical. So these cycles are determining everything about the human being. If you’re living in a physically, mentally very healthy state, your system will go through twelve-and-a-quarter-year cycles.

Just for example, if it falls to a six-year cycle, that means you may still be successful in the world, but you will not know any peace or joy in your life you’re always [shaky]. If it falls to three year cycles, you will have a hard time with the world around you and yourself. If you fall into eighteen-month cycles you’re on antidepressants. If you fall into nine months, three months, six months cycles, you’re in serious conditions of mental and physiological struggles.

Now, the kumbh comes from this understanding that you are trying to regularize your cycle to a twelve-year cycle. If you carefully observe your life, the psychological situations, emotional situations, and also life situations, you will see a certain pattern to the cycles. If you look, you don’t have to share this with anybody, this is not a confession. If you sit down and write down different things that have happened in your life, you will see a certain pattern. If it is falling into a twelve-year cycle, you’re in a reasonably good place. Health and being peaceful is not a issue. Now it’s time to work for freedom. Time to work for mukti, that’s what it means.

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