Swami Nityananda's penance in a ring of fire has fuelled a huge smoke of controversy. Blue coloured kerosene was used to keep the fire burning around Nityananda. The religions text says that cow ghee should be used and not kerosene, says a media report.
Hindu purists have raised serious objections to the way Nityananda is conducting the Pancha Tapas Yoga where he sits cross-legged in the centre of a ring of fire and chants the Omkara mantra in a move to purify himself.
Vedic scholars and pundits point out that the fire around the person is kept ablaze using cow ghee.
But Nityananda's ashram uses kerosene to keep the flames up. To make matters worse, the kerosene is blue in colour. This kerosene is usually given to the poor through government run fair price shops.
Nityananda is doing the 'pancha tapas' yoga to purify himself. But the yoga is usually done by sinners.
Pundits point out that Pancha Tapas is done only by `worst sinners.' So, is Nityananda admitting that he is indeed a sinner?
The ordeal, like the Pancha Tapas Yoga is undertaken by sinners as an act of great penance and purification. The modern version is where people walk over hot burning coal. Ancient texts also speak of another ordeal by fire where one walks through fire in an act to prove one's purity.
The best example is the ordeal by fire undertaken by Sita in Ramayan.
Another issue raised by pundits is that the material used for the ring of fire is the husk of paddy fuelled by cow ghee. This generates more heat and smoke, putting the person doing the penance in a great hardship. But Nityananda's ring of controversy looks easy on the body and soul, point out scholars.
It is reported that kerosene distributed by fair price shops was used in the rim of fire.
But the unpardonable `sin' is the use of kerosene when the religious texts specifically say that fresh ghee (not even stored) is to be used as fuel for the fire. It may be recalled that after he was caught on video with a Tamil actress on bed and spending 50 days behind bars, Nityananda was granted bail and returned to a rousing welcome to his ashram at Bidadi on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Days later, he started the `Pancha Tapas Yoga.' Sitting eyes closed, legs clamped across, the swami spends most part of the day surrounded by a semi-burning ring of fire.
This yoga, according to him, was to purify himself from the past deeds and emerge fresh from all the fire, smoke and ash.
Nityananda did the 'pancha tapas' yoga with a select band of disciples
Nithyananda and some of the ashramites jointly did the Pancha Tapas Yoga, described by the ashram as "an intense, traditional and authentic yoga practice which involves sitting within a circle of fire and entering into meditation, to the accompaniment of the Omkara mantra.
Panchatapas yoga draws its name from pancha agni or five fires, because participants will sit with fire in the four cardinal directions as well as the sun above."
Pancha Tapas yoga cleanses and heals the entire system at every level. At the physical level, it promotes immunity to many kinds of diseases and creates a healthy and strong body.
At the spiritual level, the intense cleansing energy of Pancha Tapas Yoga can heal the collective negativity of the planet and bring about peace and healing, the ashram said in a posting on its official site.