Verse 1 of Shri Guru Gita begins in Sanskrit with the word Kailasha, and is translated as:
Knowing that Lord Shiva
held the secret of Guru Yoga,
the Goddess Parvati
bowed to him with reverence
on the summit of Mount Kailash…
It is often said that everything is contained in its beginning. So it is certainly worth our while to contemplate the very first word with whichthe Guru Gita begins.
The significance of Kailash is wonderful…
First, it sets up the discourse in a physical setting, so as you read it you have an invitation to picture yourself there too – as though you are also seated on the mountain top as a participant in this conversation between Shiva and Parvati – which is what the entire Guru Gita is. If there were not a physical setting given to it, it would seem more abstract. This helps the mind engage with the teaching. Picture yourself there.
Second, the imagery itself instructs us that a powerful teaching like this is rare – as rarified as the air on top of this Himalayan peak. To attain it, we must put ourselves out and climb the mountain top, as Parvati has done, to sit at the feet of Lord Shiva and be taught by him. This is a common theme we see often – even movies like “Batman Begins” portray Bruce Wayne climbing the mountain for his training. Whether our personal mountain is the effort it takes us to get to a weekly meeting with Mark, to arrange to stream a Hard Light session, or to simply go sit for our daily meditation, holding the image of Mount Kailash reminds us of the sadhana involved in waking up. It is a pilgimage we engage in over and over.
Third, of course the mountain top is a perfect metaphor that this teaching on Guru Yoga is the pinnacle of all knowledge. As the Gita itself says (v. 58) ‘There is nothing worth knowing that is more important than this.‘
Fourth, Kailash represents the pillar of the divine touching down upon earth. This mountain is held to be the abode of Shiva. It is a holy site in four world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon. In fact, it is off-limits to modern-day rock-climbing expeditions because it is sacred. Not all places on earth are created equal. As we know, there are places that are particular power vortices or portals for the divine, such as Nimboli/Ganeshpuri – the home of Fire Mountatin Retreat where Hard Light holds its annual yatras, and where Bhagawan Nityananda lived for many years. Kailash is such a place, and the Guru Gita was born there.
Fifth, the mountain is an image of that which is at once grounded to the earth and pointing to the heavens. In this way it continually points to the link between our earthly existence and our simultaneous divine existence. Like the sushumna, linking us from the base element of earth at the root chakra to the unmanifest infinite ocean of consciousness at the sahasrara.
Sixth, looking at photos of Kailash we are struck by its shape and how closely it resembles a triangle. The importance of this triangular shape is mentioned in verse 47 of the Guru Gita, which describes the A-Ka-Tha triangle at the crown of the head as the gateway for the Guru’s energy. (If you are interested in learning more about this, check out the guided meditation Tune In To The Guru Radar.
Seventh, the mountain itself carries the message of sadhana – the ascent of the human spirit. It is symbolic of rising up, of evolution and growth. It inspires us to reach for the attainment of our highest nature – to strive for enlightenment.
By the way ~ Kailash is located in Tibet, near Lake Manasarowar. In Sanskrit, Kailasa translates as ‘crystal’; the four faces of the mountain are thought to be made of crystal, ruby, gold and lapis lazuli. It is at the heart of six major mountain ranges, symbolizing a lotus. Four major rivers flow from it: the Indus, the Sutlej, the Brahmaputra and the Karnali.