The new moon – the darkest night of the month. The planetary positions of the earth and moon have long been made use of by spiritual seekers in India to enhance their spiritual practices.
Amavasya – Journey from Untruth to Truth
Sadhguru, what is the significance of the Amavasya or new moon day?
Sadhguru: Amavasya means no moon day or new moon day. Whenever something or somebody becomes absent, through that absence, their presence always becomes more powerful. If you had a friend or a loved one who was with you, you never felt their presence so much. But the moment they disappear, you feel their presence so much – it is so powerful, isn’t it? Even on the emotional level, it is true. You do not really feel their presence when they are around. Only when they are gone, the vacuum that they have left behind has become more powerful than their presence itself. Similarly with the moon, her absence makes her more present than ever before. On any other day, even the Pournami, she is there, but on Amavasya, the presence is felt even more – that quality is even more.
The earth broods on Amavasya; the life process is slowed down on the planet and it is a great opportunity because the integration of life happens much better on this day. When a certain slow down happens, that is when you notice your body. When everything is going well and you are busy, you do not know what is happening with the body; the body is just you. But if a little ailment comes, suddenly the body is an issue and it is something that you have to pay attention to. Only when it does not do well, you know, ‘This is not me. This is just my body giving me troubles.’ Very clearly a distance arises.
Amavasya is a day when one can become easily aware of, ‘What is me and what is not me,’ and from there on, the journey from untruth to truth begins.
So that is the significance of Amavasya. On that day, because a certain integration of the elements is happening, there is a slowdown of everything. If you are seeking wellbeing, Pournami is sacred. If you are seeking liberation, Amavasya is sacred. Accordingly, there are different kinds of practices and sadhanas for those two dimensions of life. It is a day when one can become easily aware of, ‘What is me and what is not me,’ and from there on, the journey from untruth to truth begins. From Amavasya to Pournami, every month the opportunity is created naturally. Even for those who are completely unaware, there is a natural opportunity available beginning every Amavasya and moving on.
The nature of Pournami is more of the Idaa or the feminine. Amavasya is very raw. One day before Amavasya is known as Shivarathri because it is Shiva’s night. It is primordial in nature. When everything is pitch dark, it is like the creation is dissolved. There is a tinge of the destroyer in Amavasya. Generally, on the night of Amavasya a very feminine energy would either be disturbed because it causes certain fear and disturbance in her, or it could turn roguish and man-like.
Pournami is more conducive for a feminine energy. So Pournami is made use of by the women. For a man, the Pournami night is not very good if he is seeking dissolution. If he is seeking wellbeing, man can also make use of Pournami, but if he is seeking liberation or dissolution, Amavasya is better. For all those who are seeking absolute dissolution, Amavasya is great.
You may have heard that if people are a little mentally imbalanced, on Pournamis and Amavasyas they become more imbalanced. Why this is so is, the gravitational impact of the moon is working on our planet. So it is pulling everything up. Whole oceans are trying to rise. Similarly, your own blood is trying to rise to the moon’s gravitation. Because of this, if you are mentally little imbalanced, because of excessive circulation in your brain on that day, you will become more imbalanced. If you are happy, you will become more happy; if you are unhappy, you will become more unhappy. Whatever is your quality, it gets a little enhanced on those days because the blood is being pulled upward. So the whole energy is being pulled upward in some way. For a spiritual sadhaka who is always using every means possible to move his energies upward, these two days are like a boon from nature.
What is the Difference Between Pournami and Amavasya?
Traditionally, Indian spirituality has attached a great deal of significance to the phases of the moon. What exactly is the significance of Pournami (the full moon) and Amavasya (the no-moon)?
Sadhguru: Between a Pournami night and another night, there is a lot of difference. People who are a little mad know the difference very well! Let’s look at why this happens.
It is like turning up the volume on the microphone. The talk remains the same, but suddenly, it is a louder and clearer. Similarly, if there was a little madness earlier, when you give it a little extra energy or increase the flow of energy, everything seems to be magnified. The energy is a little higher on the full moon day. It is not just madness that is magnified. If you are peaceful, you become more peaceful. If you are joyous, you become more joyous. Whatever is your quality, it gets pushed up. People only noticed madness because most people are in that state! But even if you are a very loving person, your love will overflow on Pournami.
What makes the energy a little higher? One factor is that there is a certain aesthetic quality. Anything that you look at, if it is beautiful, your receptivity to that object suddenly becomes greater. Anything that you consider ugly, the moment you look at it, your receptivity comes down. The full moon has a certain aesthetic quality which definitely improves your receptivity.
Another aspect is that the planet has moved into a certain position in relation with its satellite, which makes the vibrations very direct and forceful. The tides rise on this day because of the gravitational pull of the moon. The water is spilling over and trying to “jump” up. Similarly, your blood is also trying to “jump”. When the circulation of blood increases in your brain, whatever is your quality gets enhanced.
Subtle Energies or Powerful?
Coming to Amavasya, there is a lot of difference in the quality of meditation on Pournami and Amavasya. For a meditative person, Pournami is better. But Amavasya is a good day to do certain rituals and processes. On Amavasya nights, your energies are supposed to be roguish. Like a rogue elephant, your energies run amok. That is why Amavasya nights are used by tantrics. It gets the energies moving. Pournami nights have a more subdued quality, which is more subtle, pleasant and beautiful – more like love. Amavasya is a baser energy. If you want to compare the two, you can say Amavasya is more sex-oriented and Pournami is more love-oriented. Amavasya has a grosser nature and is more powerful. Pournami has a subtler nature. You cannot feel the power, it is so subtle. The kundalini also behaves like this: on Pournami, it moves very gently and on Amavasya it moves in great bursts and thrusts. There is more violence about it on Amavasya.If you have some mastery over your sun and moon – the Pingala and Ida – the beauty of Pournami remains within you even in hot sunlight.
Pournami is a tremendous presence. The presence of the moon is so clear that wherever you look, everything becomes translucent. The vibration and light have a quality where everything gains a new kind of aura. The vibration and feel of the full moon is very different from the moon in other states. The Ida and Pingala within you also function in a different way. The prana, or vital energy, flows in a different way. You whole energy flows in a different way because the vibrations have changed.
It is not that you cannot remain in Pournami every day. You can. If you have some mastery over your sun and moon – the Pingala and Ida – the beauty of Pournami remains within you even in hot sunlight. If you have a certain mastery and control, you can choose to have Pournami every day. Or you can choose Amavasya every day. Or you don’t choose at all: whatever is happening in nature, you enjoy all the stages of life as they are.
Presence vs Absence
While Pournami is a tremendous presence, Amavasya is an absence. A logical mind always thinks presence is powerful and absence means nothing. But it is not so. As light has power, the absence of light – or darkness ‒ has its own power. In fact, it is more overpowering than light, isn’t it? Night is more overpowering than day because darkness is just absence. It is wrong to say that darkness exists. Light is absent and that absence has an overpowering presence. The same can happen here.In terms of qualities, Pournami is love, and Amavasya is aggression.
Even in your own consciousness, when you become meditative, it means you have become absent. When you become absent, your presence is tremendous. When you try to be present, you have no presence at all. An ego has no presence. But when you become absent, there is tremendous presence. The same is true with Amavasya. Gradually, the moon has disappeared, and that absence has created a certain power. This is why Amavasya is held as important.
For a hardworking, tough, aggressive person, Amavasya is definitely an important aspect. For a person who is very sensitive and subtle, Pournami is a very important aspect. Both have their own power. In terms of qualities, Pournami is love, and Amavasya is aggression. But we can make use of both. Both are energy.
Amavasya & Purnima Days at Isha Yoga Center
▵ Amavasya and Purnima Offerings
There is a natural upsurge of energies in the human body on the days of Amavasya (new moon) and Purnima (full moon). As a result, they are held as days of significance for the spiritual seeker. On these two days, one can have the rare privilege and honor of personally making an offering of ksheera (milk) or jala(water) upon the Dhyanalinga. Ksheera is offered from 6am to 12:30pm and jala from 12:30pm to 8pm.
▵ Pournami Abhishekam & Maha Arati
Every Pournami an elaborate Abhishekam is celebrated with a vibrant offering of dance and music in the magnificent Pournami Pooja. One has the opportunity to offer this sacred Pournami Abhishekam for the good health, success, prosperity and overall wellbeing of one’s family.
The Pooja is followed by a grand procession of the Linga Bhairavi Utsavamurti (a consecrated form of Devi). Devi embarks on a majestic journey to the Dhyanalinga. Here, a powerful Maha Arati is offered as well as a spectacular fire dance. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this unforgettable event to soak in Devi’s grace.
▵ Mahalaya Amavasya
Of all the Amavasyas, the most powerful is the Mahalaya Amavasya. This day marks the beginning of Devi Pada (a certain phase of the year considered favorable to access the Devi).The annual Kalabhairava Shanti process is conducted during the midnight sandhya, for the wellbeing of one’s deceased ancestors and relatives.