Whirling: Vigyana Bhairava Tantra

Nov 11, 2019

Vigyana Bhairava Tantra

Vigyana Bhairava Tantra is part of the ancient Hindu Agama literature, on meditation related practices for awakening deeper levels of consciousness and awareness. This is a conversation between the male and female half of the creative source, Shiva and Shakti, on how by using the mind body senses one can move to the energy beyond mind and body that integrates our male and female selves, into that Oneness Shiva and Shakti are.

The 112 practices outlined in this scripture are sense focused exercises called ‘dharana’ in Yoga, which can then evolve into thought based meditation ‘dhyana’, and then into the final Fourth State of Mindless witnessing awareness ‘samadhi’.

Coacharya finds these practices useful in creation of a disengaged, non judgmental, mindless mind state in a coach that is essential for mastery.  Written as blog posts many years ago, these are now formatted as coaching aids, in no particular order.

Vigyana Bhairava Tantra (86th dharana & 111 verse)

Shiva says, “Whirl around, fall down. Let agitation end. Reach Shiva state.”

Is this the fabled Shiva tandava, dance of Shiva, that Shiva refers to? Of course, in what we read about as his dance of creation or destruction, we are not told about him falling down and resting, though in his other aspects, Shiva can be completely at rest and meditative.

Lakshman Joo talks about a walking trip, in his example to Amarnath shrine. Walking for hours, and then resting completely exhausted. In that state of rest, when the body is exhausted and the mind just wants to rest, one can reach a powerful state of relaxation, rest, peace and self-realization.

To me, this verse brings up a far more vivid picture of a dancer, not a walker. I can visualize a dancer, in ballet, bharatanatyam and any other form, modern or classic, whirling, swirling, moving, with the body continuously in motion till exhaustion, unable to move any further, not even one step, the dancer then falling down and resting. Or it can be a marathon runner or sprinter moving till the body and mind give up, going far beyond the ‘wall’ that runners experience. My most vivid picture comes from the Sufi dancers, the whirling dervishes. In real life, the dervish falls down exhausted in a state of complete surrender, which I believe to be the purpose of the whirl.

Shiva’s dharana is about movement. It is about moving the body as much as it can take, and when it cannot take any more, to rest both body and mind. Anyone who has indulged in active physical effort knows that it is not the body that gives up; it is the mind that surrenders. The exhaustion that hits one at some point in the body movement is the cry of the mind saying it cannot take any more. It is a cry of surrender.


Ironically, when we believe that we are resting and that our body rests, our mind wanders. In this meditation, the body moves, while mind is centered. When the body tires and gives up, the mind does not give up. It moves to the next plane of energy through resting of both, mind and body. Shiva says that by resting the body and mind completely, surrendering totally to whatever may then arise, one reaches that powerful Shiva energy state.

Try this if your body is willing. Whirl with your arms raised skywards or outstretched, in larger and larger circles, with your eyes on a fixed spot of one of your hands, falling down when your body cannot move anymore. Practice on a soft floor with someone by your side to help if needed.

I have trained marathon runners with this dharana and found it effective in helping them relax and find new limits of endurance, when they reach the Wall. Shiva’s purpose is running life’s marathon, and helping us find new levels of potential and performance when all seems lost.

For the coach learning to master the self, this helps to center.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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