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Panch Dhuni - The Five Fires

It is the custom among a certain group of yogis, adherents of ascetic ideals, to meditate in the midst of a circle of five great fires and this they do in a country where the temperature often reaches 50 degrees celsius! These yogis consider this tapasya a great achievement.

The leader of one such group was Sri Jankidasji, an arrogant man who was obsessed with the idea that asceticism and harshness on oneself was the best and only true path to God. He once visited Mahaprabhuji with his followers, intending to persuade Mahaprabhuji to follow his way.

"Look at us! We are true ascetics who have renounced the world," he spoke impertinently to Mahaprabhuji. "In the middle of panch dhuni[1] we subject our bodies to difficult practices of penance. You had best follow us and practise this tapasya instead of giving useless speeches to your disciples!"

Mahaprabhuji just smiled at the opinion of these misdirected sadhus and sang to them the following bhajan:



O, you Yogis,
For what do you build fireplaces in the mountains and jungle?
My fire burns without wood, its smoke is invisible,
In its centre flows the Ganges and Yogis bathe in it,
The all-pervasive sound of their song is filled with
celestial harmony,
If you search for these Yogis you will not find them
But they are very near,
They dwell in every heart, even though they are far away,
Indescribable, pure, immortal, Liberated from the cycle of rebirth,
Exceeding the six Chakras, they remain in Siddhasan[2],
Mahaprabhuji says, only a few find this fire.


The sadhus listened attentively and then asked Maha­prabhuji to explain the meaning of the bhajan.

"The fire of which I sang is the Eternal Light of life which has its home in every heart. It needs no wood or any other fuel. The flowing of the Ganges refers to the nadis[3] which, when brought to life through the practice of yoga, leads one's consciousness to the state of medi­tation. The flowing of the Ganges also symbolises the river of love.

"The Divine Self, experienced in meditation, is eternal and infinite. Although it is always present in you, it seems far away and difficult to reach. Only by the sacrifice of your ego can it be found. Purifying yourself through meditation, you will obtain liberation from birth and death. This happens if you can give life to those latent powers within the chakras!"

The arrogance of the sadhus was swept away and with great attention they listened as Mahaprabhuji continued.

"Yogis! Where the spirit is constantly merged with the Supreme, there is fire, there is meditation[4]. Those who warm themselves at this fire burn all their karmas. A fire of burning wood can only drive away the sensation of cold, but the spiritual fire of meditation removes the frost of ignorance from the soul."

"Merciful Master," the sadhus respectfully requested, "please tell us where we can find this fire."

So Mahaprabhuji taught them to bring life to the inner, spiritual fire.

"To find this fire, close the ten doors[5] and direct your gaze toward your inner Self. In So Ham[6], prana and apana[7] are united and the inner space is opened. So you enter into samadhi[8]. Here is the fire. In this state the soul is happy, like the child who meets its mother after a long separation. The Self is soaked with Divine Consciousness. When prana and apana unite in the manipur chakra[9] the power of kundalini[10] is awakened. In agya chakra[11] there appears a silvery light shining like the full moon. The 'thousand petalled lotus', the seat of the true Self, opens in all its radiant splendour. Who comes there to turiya is Omniscient, past, present and future are revealed. Purusha is experienced, the true Self, the highest consciousness. This is granted through the blessing of the Master, who leads the aspirant to this insight and to perfection."

The sadhus were deeply moved.

"Holy Master, through meeting you we have received the key to the meaning of life. For the sake of this knowledge, which has now been granted to us from your lips, we became sadhus. However, until today this knowledge was kept from us. No-one had revealed to us the inner fire and therefore in our ignorance we strove to discover it externally."

Full of gratitude, the sadhus left the ashram having received the greatest gift — that of true insight which leads to enlightenment.


[1]panch = five, dhuni = fireplace

[2]siddhasan literally means "perfect seat", it is the classical posture for meditation.

[3]nadis are the pathways of energy that flow throughout the body. The three major nadis are ida, the moon system, pingala, the sun system and sushumna, the centre channel. The corresponding physiological functions are respectively, the sympathetic, parasympathetic and central nervous systems.

[4]The Sanskrit words for fireplace (dhuni) and meditation (dhyana) are linguistically closely related, hence the concepts are also closely related.

[5]The ten doors of the body are the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, the urinary and excretory systems, as well as the sahasrar chakra situated at the top of the head.

[6]So Ham = "I am That", i.e., "I am the Divine Self"

[7]prana = rising energy, also inhalation, apana = descending energy, also exhalation

[8]samadhi = state of highest consciousness, where knowledge, knower and the subject of knowledge become one

[9]manipur chakra = third chakra at the navel centre, the "navel lotus"

[10]kundalini = latent power or energy dormant at the base of the spine

[11]agya chakra = sixth chakra, located in the forehead between the eyebrows


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