The Andes are like the spinal column along the west coast of South America. Reaching Colombia, the Andes divide into three mountain ranges stretching from the south to the north of Colombia. At the northern tip, at the Caribbean coast, is a pyramid-shaped mountain range separated from the three mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada. It stands alone and is the highest coastal mountain range in the world with its highest peaks of 5,500 metres. According to their beliefs, the Koguis and Arhuacos are the guardians of the Sierra Nevada and of the planet Earth. The purpose of their existence is to maintain balance on the planet by keeping balance on Sierra Nevada, the representation of the whole planet. Everything in their life exists for that purpose alone, their lifestyle, their actions, their thoughts. They are born to keep balance on the earth, nothing else. They call themselves the ’elder brothers’ and the people outside of the Sierra are the ’younger brothers’. They have the responsibility to look after the younger brothers, teach them what is right and what is wrong, and how to live.
According to their beliefs and experience, everything comes from Aluna, she created the world. She created humans to protect and care for the earth, for the mountains, rivers, lakes, animals, plants and for other human beings. The Kogui believe that Aluna is the creator principle as well as the mysterious powers of human beings and nature, similar to Hiranyagarbha and Mahat in Indian thought.
Prana is the manifestation of Prakriti, nature. The gross prana is breath, the subtle prana is vital force. The sum total of all pranas is Hiranyagarbha or Lord Brahma. Brahmaloka is the world of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha. It is also known by the name Satyaloka. Those who perform meritorious actions without expectation of fruits, who lead the life of purity and righteousness, who worship Hiranyagarbha and all realized bhaktas will go to this realm.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati
In the Rig Veda, the source of the creation of the whole universe or cosmos is Hiranyagarbha. The Sanskrit word means golden womb or golden egg. In the Shiva Maha Purana, Brahma was given the duty to create. However, he had no idea about how and from which point he should start creation. Lord Shiva sent a cosmic egg to Brahma to help him in starting creation. That cosmic egg is said to be Hiranyagarbha. The Hiranyagarbha floated around in water in the emptiness and darkness of non-existence. Brahma realized that in order to start creation, he had to split the egg in half. From the two halves he created the spiritual realm, heaven or swarga, and the physical realm, the Earth or prithvi. Mahat is the great principle, and the first product of evolution of Prakriti or matter.
Where does the idea of earth come from? Where do we get the idea of water? Why do we have a word for it? These things were conceived in the beginning. Before the dawn of time, water and earth were ideas, we can only have ideas of things that have already been conceived in Aluna, before the dawning, before there was anything, we were conceived in the water of Aluna. So were the trees, the mountains, everything.
Mamo Ramon Gil
What is concrete is only a symbol while true value and essence exist in Aluna. For example, in the ancient city, the lost city, there are mystical map-stones which show the paths of the city. However, these maps have no correlation with the physical paths. They are symbols for paths that exist in Aluna. The act of ‘thinking’ happens in Aluna. The moment of concentration or meditation which is expressed in rites and songs is to be in Aluna and to be attuned to the forces that are invoked for the benefit of the community. In humans, desires, wishes and love come from Aluna and carry something supernatural within.
We worship the eternal Mother who has no particular form, but is in every form. We should not say that She is formless. She has no particular form, even as clay has no particular form, but every pot is a form of clay. It is Her glory we see in the sun and the moon, in all forms of life. We worship the Mother whom yogis know as kundalini shakti, Vaishnavas as Lakshmi, Shaivas as Gauri and Amba, and Christians as Mary. Worship of the Cosmic Mother is a very ancient culture. Who can the original creator have been but the Mother? The Mother is the preserver and also the destroyer. It is by Her command that the celestial beings, human beings and all of creation moves.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati
The Mamos want to teach how the world was made. They say that we mutilate the world because we do not remember the great mother. She is not a distant god. She is the mind inside nature. Alan Ereira quotes the Mamos describing the presence of the great mother among them and the purpose of human life: ‘The Mother bled. She had her period. She was fertile. And the world was fertile. Her blood is gold. It remains in the earth. It is fertility. Gold and water. Blood and water are necessary for all things. Human beings were made to care for the living things, the plants, the animals. This is why people were made’.
Yoga has been preserved in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years and since the late 19th century has again been exposed to society by the great gurus and masters of India, such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda and in recent years our paramguru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, and Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. Yoga has also been preserved in Latin America for thousands of years and in recent years it has been revived by the spiritual masters, the Mamos and elders of the existing indigenous cultures.
The reason for the global revival of yoga and the revival of the yogic spiritual traditions in South America are the same – society today is in great need of yoga. The Koguis and Arhuacos have lived in complete isolation without any interference from the outside world and modern society until the early 1990s. In those years, Aluna, the Great Mother, told them that the world was in a crisis and that it was time for the elder brothers to teach the younger brothers how to look after Mother Earth by changing and mending their destructive ways.
In Colombia the Mamos of the Sierra Nevada, the shamans of the Amazon and the elders of the Mhyuscas are facing the same problem as the true masters of yoga are facing today in keeping the tradition and the teachings pure. The practices, ceremonies and rituals have become a fashion and are used without spiritual intent or spiritual guidance, often for commercial gain or entertainment.
In 2018, Aluna gave the Mamos the mandate to spread all over the world the message that the most important teaching in this precarious time is to be positive and happy. This echoes the teaching of yoga which makes happiness a positive attitude, and positive behaviour the foundation of change and transformation of the individual, society and Mother Earth.
Published in Yoga in Pre-Columbian Cultures 1