Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Throbs within - Mantra 37

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
The thirty seventh mantra of the Thirumandiram where a description and comparision is made with the lunar orb of the body.

நானும்நின் றேத்துவன் நாள்தொறும் நந்தியைத்
தானும்நின் றான்தழல் தான்ஒக்கும் மேனியன்
வானில்நின் றார்மதி போல்உடல் உள்ளுவந்து
ஊனில்நின் றாங்கே உயிர்க்கின்ற வாறே. 37
37: Throbs Within
Daily I kneel and chant Nandi's holy Name;
Envisioned, He stands, the Fire-Hued One,
Flaming like the moon in sky; into me He comes,
And throbs and breathes through my mortal flesh.
Com - Daily I kneel and chant Nandi's holy Name Everyday I will worship Siva with a steadily fixed mind Envisioned, He stands, the Fire-Hued One and on doing so, I find that, the Lord reveals Himself to me in His form that has the colour and the glow of Fire. Flaming like the moon in sky; into me He comes He manifests in my body, shining beautifully, just as the moon, with its glowing digits/parts in the sky. And throbs and breathes through my mortal flesh He resides in my body, and is manifest as the Prana (life energy/breath) in the beautiful Sahasrara lotus (crown chakra).

* The sage describes the Lunar orb (Chandra mandalam) located in the body. Hence, he uses the words ‘Flaming like the moon in the sky, into me He comes’, to compare the similarity between the moon (that arises in the actual sky) and the Lunar orb (that arises in the Akaashaa of the body). Glowing light is emitted from the Chandra mandalam (lunar orb) which is located in the Sahasrara lotus, just as glowing light is emitted by the actual moon in the sky.

Praise and be blessed - Mantra 36.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
This is the thirty sixth mantra of the Thirumandiram.

அப்பனை நந்தியை ஆரா அமுதினை
ஒப்பிலி வள்ளலை ஊழி முதல்வனை
எப்பரி சாயினும் ஏத்துமின் ஏத்தினால்
அப்பரி சீசன் அருள்பெற லாமே. 36
36: Praise And Be Blessed
Oh, Heavenly Father, Nandi, the un surfeiting nectar sweet,
Oh, Bounteous One, Unequalled, First of Time!
Praise Him ever; and even as you praise,
So thine reward will also be.
Com - Nandi The Lord Nandi (Siva), Heavenly Father who is the origin of all life, the un surfeiting nectar sweet who is like the nourishing sweet nectar, that is never too much Unequalled who is unequalled in His splendour, Bounteous One who is ever generous in granting the wishes of those who wish, First of Time who is the primal Lord responsible for the dissolution of the world, Praise Him ever should always be praised through any method possible. and even as you praise And whichever method is employed in the worship of Siva, So thine reward will also be His grace shall be obtained, in accordance with the method followed, as the reward.

* The sage uses the words ‘any method possible’ to mean the following – That even if the Jgnayana yoga (the path of knowledge) which is considered as the best method, is not suitable to the individual, owing to its extremely subtle philosophies and difficult to attain states of mind, the seeker should employ the other methods to reach the goal. The other methods are: Charya (Order/vow), Kriya (path of right action), Yoga (path of union), Bhakti (path of devotion and surrender), etc. The methods above listed are different in their respective approach, and one among them will certainly be suitable to the seeker, depending on their individual level of accomplishment. He also makes clear that the rewards of the above methods also vary according to their disciplines.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eight petal lotus - Mantra 35

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The thirtyfifth mantra of the Thirumandiram - making up for lost time!

ஆற்றுகி லாவழி யாகும் இறைவனைப்
போற்றுமின் போற்றிப் புகழ்மின் புகழ்ந்திடில்
மேற்றிசைக் கும்கிழக் குத்திசை எட்டொடு
மாற்றுவன் அப்படி ஆட்டவு மாமே. 35.
35: Path Crossed
Even the Path impassable is foot-easy made,
If you the Lord praise and Him adore;
The East and West and directions all
He does transmute--and thus dances He the Lord.

ComEven the Path impassable is foot-easy made Siva, who is revealed by following the path called Sanmarga, which is not human in origin, should be praised and adored. If you the Lord praise and Him adore When so adored and praised by the devotee The East and West and directions all He does transmute--and thus dances He the Lord Siva aligns to the Isaana direction and causes the upward alignment (blooming) of the eight petal lotus (with a petal in each of the directions, viz. east, &c), which is normally facing downwards. Thus He transforms the individual - by revealing His Isaana face.

* Reference is made here to the eight petal lotus that is in the head. This lotus has eight petals (one petal radiating towards each of the eight directions) and is normally facing downwards. During this stage, the consciousness of the individual flows downwards (i.e. towards the world and sense experience). When this lotus is made to turn upwards (bloom) the consciousness of the individual flows upwards (towards subtler realms) leading to the realisation of Isaana as Light in the Sahasrara chakra.

Shivas thousand names - Mantra 34

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

After the pause in the flow of the commentary on the Thirumandiram, I feel ready to begin again. Hopefully the inspiration will keep flowing and the verses keep appearing.

சாந்து கமழுங் கவா஢யின் கந்தம்போல்
வேந்தன் அமரர்க்கு அருளிய மெய்ந்நெறி
ஆர்ந்த சுடரன்ன ஆயிர நாமமும்
போந்தும் இருந்தும் புகழுகின் றேனே. 34

34: Chant His Names Thousand
Like the fragrance of the musk the musk-deer constant emits,
Is the True Path which the Lord to Celestials imparts.
Sitting or moving, I chant the rich essence of His Name,
His thousand Names that are with spark divine.

Comthe True Path which the Lord to Celestials imparts The True Path that is imparted to the Devas (celestial beings), emits the fragrance of Siva from within, Is Like the fragrance of the musk the musk-deer constant emits just as the fragrance of musk comes out strongly from within the sandal paste (when the sandal is mixed with musk, as it is often done in India). I chant the rich essence of His Name His thousand Names And to help me travel that True Path of Siva, I chant His thousand names (sahasranamam) that are with spark divine Which is like a great glowing light, charged with the power to dispel the darkness of the mind. Sitting or moving I chant these thousand names constantly (sitting or moving) and repeatedly.

* The sage offers guidance to those trying to travel the True Path, by advising them to chant the thousand names (Sahasranamam) constantly as it helps to dispel the darkness enveloping the devotee in this world.
Each of the devatas (gods & goddesses) have their own set of thousand names and many times there are a few sets of thousand names for the same devata. Though differing in the mantras and their meanings and effects etc, a common underlying feature (that I observe) is that of the specific god or goddess being connected to the external and internal universe and is everything is seen to be a manifestation of the same. Thus through repeated chanting of the sahsranamas with awareness of their meaning and by being absorbed in those meanings (anusandhanam) the devotee gradually begins to perceive the thread that connects all the apparent diversity of this world. Seeing the devata in the planets, in time, beyond time, in seasons, stars, in other devatas, in places, rivers, chakras, worlds, animals, trees, etc (which are conveyed by the different names occurring in the set of 1000), is immensely empowering to the devotee in the sense that it projects the same (worshipped) principle onto everything visible or invisible. This in turn broadens the vision and paves the way for slow and steady chitta shuddi (purification of the mind intellect principle), which is the way forward for tattva vichara (the deep understanding and subsequent absorption into the tattvas, from the gross to the extremely subtle) to experience the undivided oneness of the atman. Here the author stresses the merit of the practise of chanting the thousand names to help one on the path, like a steady companion on the journey.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Sri gurubhyo namaha.

I have been thinking. And I have been thinking. Trying to put into words the overwhelmingly disconnected thought stream is a bit difficult to say the least - though even that I can suffer, the martyr that I am. But it is the thought of the misery that I will be inflicting on the 'herbally challenged' readers who will be out of breath trying to keep up with the speed and flow (or not) of thoughts that makes me wonder.
As usual, the Mooligaisidhan is here to convince you that something is quite different to what you thought that something to mean! That something is Maya and its evolutes (which is quite simply, everything).

We have all become quite used to the idea of Maya being a negative kind of energy. It is the Illusion, the Veil, the Shadow, the Game and all the other knee jerk references to it. She (Maya) has been used as the supreme 'air brush' in the philosophical/theosophical and religious contexts to sort of touch and taint everything. She hides, they say. She holds your inner self from realising his/her own supreme nature, they say. Maybe they are right. But that doesn't necessarily mean it is impossible for Her to do anything else.

I often think that if Maya is a veil, then She is one which reveals more than She hides! Imagine this - Maya is the power which through Her operation lets the infinite jivas experience and learn the lessons each of them need to learn individually and as a collective, through or from the same set of objective principals. In a more reduced example, the same piece of rope is perceived as different jivas at different times and utilised to serve different purposes at different times, though the rope (objective principal in this instance) remains always the same. When energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it is impossible to keep 'creating' new things to keep generating the new experiences that are needed for the never ending journey of the jivas. Then how are endless universes born and absorbed? How is it that each individual jiva perceives and reacts differently to the same set of things? Like the physics experiment where there is a box with its lid painted totally black. Try this at home! Take a cardboard box and paint its lid totally black. Make a hole the size of a two euro (ok, 2 rupee!) coin on the lid so that its possible to see through the lid into the inside of the box. The box on the inside is white (or cream). Now put the lid on the box and ask anyone to look at it and guess which is darker/blacker, the lid or the inside of the box?? When you look at it, the inside appears to be darker black than the lid (which is painted black), though it is actually white. Apart from the 'intellectual' aspect of this which will explain the reasons why in terms of the properties of light, and the fact that it is an optical illusion, think about it. Tell me, just because the inside is 'not really' black did it make the appearance of darkness inside any less 'real' to the perceiver? If it was an illusion just like in a dream, then the darkness inside should disappear once the 'awareness' of its 'real' white inside becomes clear. Like the gold coins that were given to us in a dream are of no use in the shop when we wake up from the dream - the illusion of blackness on the inside of the box should disappear when the real colour is seen. To the perceiver the blackness still exists (even on being informed of the actual inside colour), though collectively standing on the outside of the 'actual perception, perceiver, perceiving tangle' we can theoretically confirm that the apparent blackness is only an optical illusion.
Maya is like that. When the great sages and seers of yore like Shankara, Vyasa and others described this world appearance in terms like 'illusion', 'dream like', 'unreal', etc, we have to keep in mind that they were speaking from the transcendental aspect where they were outside the 'perceiver, perception, perceiving' triad. Their words that life in the world cycle is like a mega illusion should not be used by us on this side of the divide as a means to escape or disentangle from the above mentioned triad. Like words that describe food do not by themselves satisfy the hunger of the hungry man, like the word water does not by its mere mention quench the thirst of the thirsty, the terms 'illusion', 'dream' etc will not bring about the realisation of the same to be true personally. While within the operational radius of the super power called Maya, even mighty Gods and seers are confounded in an instant. All our stories in the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the stories of the puranas etc abound with examples of Gods and great beings having the same alternating experiences of joy and sorrow. Just maybe the joys and delights of Indra might appear to be much more magnified than our own (for my delight in a Latte, Indra delights in Soma! for my delight in pursuit of the pleasures of the body, Indra delights with countless divine radiant damsels). But be sure, Indras sorrows are equally magnified (for my little scuffle to get a seat in a busy bus or train, Indra battles deadly asuras! for my little reprimand, Indra suffers with his body covered in thousand yonis!). In the end, it is really the same story. Albeit in an altered scale.

Maya is the veil which hides when the subjective reality overwhelms the objective and when the opposite is true Maya is the veil that reveals. While She veils uncountable things through Her all encompassing grip, She simultaneously reveals infinite things (out of actually nothing or the 'one' thing) so that the show can go on.

To be continued.......

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Am I a Mayavadi? Really?

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

It is beginning to get tiring now to excuse the lack of regular updates to this page, so I wont go into that anymore. Perhaps it is the Vata predominance in my prakruti that is to be blamed for the erratic nature of all that I do (ayurvedic excuse) or maybe the moon in Gemini (astrological excuse) . Or maybe it might have something to do with the mystical herb, known as it is for altering the perception of time. I think only a few days have gone by and in reality its more than a month. Gone without a trace, sucked into itself like the camphor flame going out, leaving no residual light.

Never mind the month passing by unnoticed, I am so bad with time that it is legendary. The years roll by and I don't even notice it. Oh, the woes of being so preoccupied with the present! The arrival of the spring, of autumn and such seasonal events register somewhere deep. From shivaratri to navaratri, the passing of time is duly catalogued somewhere. But the overall vision of the cycle is totally lost on me. Some things though leave an imprint so strong that they don't pass me by.

Today is a special day in the year. It was this day eleven years ago (like I said, somethings leave strong imprints impossible to forget or ignore) that the journey of my life found its purpose. It was this day eleven years ago that I crossed ' The bridge across forever' and arrived 'home' to my soul. In a place most magical, beyond all time and space. This day eleven years ago saw me walking hand in hand, on the way to unparalleled bliss. And today, looking back, the events of this day ages ago feel as euphoric and tingly as they were then. Saturated as I am with those memories, I could be forgiven for assuming that bliss and exhilaration are my very nature. Which they are!
Now, coming closer to the point (of bliss & exhilaration being my very nature), I want to ask you something. A conversation yesterday touched on my perception of the world, life and everything. It seems that I (the famous or infamous, as you would have it), a staunch opponent of Mayavada (the argument which holds all things in this physical world are mere illusions/unreal, in short) have come across as one who does look on the world as illusory. The posts in this blog and most of what I say and do apparently seem to convey my belief that this world is merely dream like and that prayer and meditation etc are the only true things. I didn't think so. But, for the sake of being true to the debate and being impartial (as if!) I went over some of the posts from some time back to see if that could be true. And as I would have thought, it appears to me from my own words (through the eyes of an impersonal observer, mind you) that I am the diametric opposite of a mayavadi (a proponent of the Mayavada).

I would not for a second believe that the world out there is an illusion, nor would I have you believe that the world and its infinite experiences are insubstantial yourself. I take immense delight, every second of the day, in the incredible diversity and beauty that is this world. If this were a dream, it is certainly one of the best. Worth every bit the effort spent in 'not waking up' from it. I have always held that it is in embracing (and not divorcing) this world lies the easiest and the most enjoyable of all paths to the supreme. Life and living it is the 'sahaja' or the most natural path for us. Anything else is a contrived path. I have also always held that it is not the world and the world experiences that are unreal, but our perception of it (seen through the filter or lens of individuality or the ego sense) that is the illusion. Maya to me is the most supreme form of that Brahman. Maya as I see it is the devi's supreme gift to the infinite jivas and to Shiva, Her lord and slave!! The shakti or power through which the One being spontaneously appears as many, the power through which everything is made manifest from apparently nothing (like the magician pulling out yards and yards of silk from his (apparently) empty hands), is Maya. She is the mother of even the gods, the mother of universes vast and infinite. Certainly She is not false or illusory in the negative sense. I mean, Her Maya does not operate/initiate to delude the lost jivas. Rather, it is an outpouring of Her compassion and Love - a gift to the jivas who need a medium to experience actions and their fruits. Repeatedly, till they realise their oneness with Her and the manifold universes that are all the spontaneous product of the same Maya. Once again, it is not the world appearance that is false/illusory - it is their apparent diversity and multiplicity that is false.

It is like the one moon in the sky being reflected in a million puddles of water. The millions of moons seen in the puddles are all real reflections, it is not a dream or a mirage. But the perception of the million moons could not be constructed to be proof of the existence of a million moons. Similarly, the infinite beings (both sentient and otherwise) on earth and elsewhere, throughout the vast and endless universe(s) are all reflections of the One supreme being. Seen, understood and experienced in their context as reflections, this manifold creation is real in every sense of the word. But when taken out of context and seen as something real of its own accord, this becomes a world of never ending duality/multiplicity - and that is what is 'unreal'.
It is only the fool who is deluded by this apparent diversity and is lost when trying to find 'reality'. The wise one though takes delight in the diversity, as, for him there are as many methods to see and praise his maker as there are different things in the world!

Having said my piece, I would appreciate your comment on this one question -
Knowing me (if you are one of the readers who do) and/or going through the many posts in this blog, would you say I am one who perceives this world as a false appearance (and holds that prayer and meditation are the only true things), or would you say I belong to the opposite camp?
By the way, you can ignore the content of this post in making your mind up. It was not my intention to swing your vote this way or that! Just let me know, how I come across to you personally.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Navaratri wishes

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Sri maatre namaha.

Wishes to all readers across the world for a good Navaratri. May the supreme ParAmbA shine Her light and through that take each of you across this ocean of samsara.

May all your prayers and wishes be successful.

May the meditation / introspection be deep!

And I will see you all after the vrata period............

PS. Have uploaded some tracks on the player (on your right) for the Navaratri. Enjoy the song divine!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mantra 33 - Adore Him

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Now that I am on the site, I might as well spend a few minutes on the next post or two! A little something to tide you over the next period without updates (seeing as its nearly Navaratri time of the year now). Here is the next installment in the Thirumandiram series, the 33rd mantra.

பதிபல வாயது பண்டுஇவ் வுலகம்
விதிபல செய்தொன்றும் மெய்ம்மை உணரார்
துதிபல தோத்திரம் சொல்ல வல்லாரும்
மதியிலர் நெஞ்சினுள் வாடுகின் றாரே. 33.
Adore Him
Many the Gods this hoary world adores,
Many the rituals; many the songs they sing;
But knowing not the One Truth, of Wisdom bereft
Un illumined, they can but droop at heart. 33.
Com - Many the Gods this hoary world adores Since time immemorial there have been many Gods in this world, to whom the people direct their worship Many the rituals and many are the forms of worship (rituals) and many the rules that govern such worship But knowing not the One Truth and because of this they (the people of this world) do not understand the one truth which is Siva. many the songs they sing Even those that sing many songs in praise of the Lord, of Wisdom bereft Un illumined are bereft of the true wisdom, which can only be realised by being merged in Siva- and not obtained through the mere words of the songs. they can but droop at heart As a result; they suffer by being without peace in their minds.

* The sage expounds the Siddha view, which holds that all actions (rituals, prayers, worship etc) when performed without realisation of the one truth (the union with Siva) do not have the power to confer the wisdom or peace that is sought by the performer of such actions. Without wisdom, they are but mere words and as such are powerless. Here I have to note that this is not a view restricted to the siddhas alone - many sampradayas (spiritual traditions) hold the same view. Refer for example the words of the great Bhaskararaya in Varivasyarahasya where he notes that '' the utterance of the mantra without the full and complete understanding and absorption in it, is but like offering Havis (a sacrificial offering of cooked rice mixed with ghee) into the fire pit that has only the ash (and no fire)'' - meaning that such offering will not be consumed by the fire (as there is an absence of fire) and thus taken to the gods it is intended as an offering for. It is to be understood that the awareness and intelligence is what makes a sound of group of sounds into a mantra, or a stone or a piece of wood into a living deity - without that crucial awareness and absorption in that awareness (union) the sounds remain merely sounds and the idol merely stone or wood.

The Four Nandis - Mantra 70

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

In case the regular readers are wondering about why I have suddenly jumped to the 70th mantra of the Thirumandiram, it is not because the mantras in between will be skipped! This post with the commantary of the 70th mantra is in response to a mail from a reader as the version in her(or is it his?) possession does not have the first two lines of the verse. Even though the mantra has been posted here now, we will once again come to this mantra when slowly following along in the series of the Thirumandiram posts.

நால்வரும் நாலு திசைக்கொன்று நாதர்கள்

நால்வரும் நானா விதப்பொருள் கைக்கொண்டு

நால்வரும் யான்பெற்ற தெல்லாம் பெறுகென

நால்வரும் தேவராய் நாதர் ஆனார்களே. 70.

Four Nandis

The Four, each in his corner, as Master ruled,

The Four, each his diverse treasure held,

Each in his turn spoke, "Take all I've;"

And thus, Immortals and Masters became. 70.

Com - The Four, each in his corner, as Master ruled The four gurus namely Sanakar, Sanandhanar, Sanatanar and Sanatkumarar took to each of the four directions (of the earth). The Four, each his diverse treasure held Each of the above named four gurus gathered immensely varied and deep experience of the various tantras and other texts. Each in his turn spoke, "Take all I've;" And the knowledge that they gained through all their respective sadhanas, they freely shared with the people of the world by explaining the esoteric texts and by initiating disciples. And thus, Immortals and Masters became Thus the four, rose to the position of being Gurus of the world. (as a result of their deep wisdom and the compassion they had for the people of the world)

* Through the above mantra the sage explains the method through which the above named four were elevated to being teachers of the world. Note that the importance attached to personal experiences with regard to spiritual knowledge.

A quick note here as we are not following the mantras in order - the above mantra comes in the section detailing the guru parampara of Thirumular and traces the lineage from the Guru Nandi down. The four (Sanakar & c) are the four disciples who are evident in the image of Dhakshinamurthy (the guru of gurus) and are the mind born sons of Brahma. Another interesting (and unique aspect of the siddha masters) point that is evident in the above mantra is the siddha policy of sharing their wisdom for the betterment of humanity. (Yaan petra inbam peruga ivvayagam - let the universe obtain the bliss that I have obtained [through sadhana and intense spiritual practices] ) Like mentioned elsewhere in this blog, the siddha masters possesed extra ordinary social consciousness and never hesitated to use their tapas, magic, consciousness, wisdom etc for the upliftment of the 'common man'. Here the sage conveys that above and beyond the incredibile wisdom and enlightenment possesed by the four (sanakar & c), their compassion and love for mankind is instrumental in them being elevated to the seat of being the teachers of the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

From Sri Rudram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

From the Sri Rudram which occurs in the Krishna Yajur Veda and is the hymn to beat all hymns and the favourite of Shiva!

''Aayam me hastho bhagavaanayam me bhagavattara,
Ayam me viswa beshajo ayam shivaabhimarsana.''

This my hand is my God,
This is higher than God to me,
This is the medicine for all sickness to me.
For this touches Shiva and worships him.
''OM namo bhagavathe rudraaya vishnave mruturme paahi,
Praanaanaam grandhi rasi rudro vishaanthakaThenaa annena aapya swa.''
Om, my salutations to God,
Who is everywhere,
And to the Rudra
Let not death come near me.
You Rudra who lives in the junction of the soul and senses,
I pray to you who destroy everything, to be within me,
And due to that be satisfied,
With the food that I take as offering.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sing of Shiva - mantra 32

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Once again, a pause in the flow of the blog - this time a month's gap. My apologies to those of you who have logged on in the meantime to see if there has been any posts only to find no updates. Sometimes, I feel like there is really no point in me writing or commenting on anything really. What does it matter what I (a miniscule spiritual intellect) have to say about anything of relevance? And when such thoughts take hold, there is a gap in the frequency of the posts. Yet, sometime later an urge to continue with my rants take hold. Caught in this wheel of alternation, the blog has an erratic heartbeat!
Anyway, now its in the '' feel like saying something'' phase - so here's an update with the next mantra (the 32nd) in the Thirumandiram series. At this rate, it might take me five hundred years to comment on the entire text - hopefully some of the energies of the accomplished siddhars will rub off me and give me the required five hundred years of time to do it some justice. You never know, by then we might all have spontaneous awareness of all things and it might not be relevant anymore what this author has to say!

தேவர் பிரான்நம் பிரான்திசை பத்தையும்
மேவு பிரான்விரி நீருலகேழையும்
தாவு பிரான்தன்மை தானறி வாரில்லை
பாவு பிரான்அருட் பாடலு மாமே. 32.
Sing Of Him
The Lord of Gods, and of ours too,
The Lord who all space pervades,
And the seven Worlds, ocean-bound, transcends;
None do know His nature true,
How then may we sing His Grace Divine?

ComThe Lord of Gods Siva is the Lord of all the Devas (Gods), and of ours too He is also the Lord of all the human beings. The Lord who all space pervades He pervades all the ten directions (up, down, north, north east, east, south east, south, south west, west, North West) around the jivas (beings). And the seven Worlds, ocean-bound, transcends He is beyond (has transcended) the seven worlds that are separated from each other by the vast oceans. None do know His nature true And yet, there are none who are able to comprehend His true nature. How then may we sing His Grace Divine How then would it be possible for us to sing His divine grace.

* As Siva is all pervading and yet beyond the reach of all, it is impossible to adequately understand His true nature – which is necessary if we were to sing His grace in a comprehensive manner. It is impossible to adequately explain (through language) the all pervasive and yet, transcendental nature of Siva.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Guru Ashtakam - Octad to the Guru.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The Guru Ashtakam (Octad to the Guru) along with an english translation of the content. The first eight verses form the octet and the ninth verse is the Phalashruthi or the verse describing the merits of reading the Guru ashtakam.
The Guru Ashtakam is composed by the most revered Adi Shankaracharya himself and the english translation of the content is from an online source.

Sareeram suroopam thadha va kalathram,
Yasacharu chithram dhanam meru thulyam,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme,
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 1 .

One’s body may be handsome, wife
beautiful, fame excellent and varied, and
wealth like unto Mount Meru; but if one’s
mind be not attached to the lotus feet of the
Guru, what thence, what thence, what
thence, what thence?

Kalathram Dhanam puthrapothradhi sarvam,
Gruham Bandhavam Sarvamethadhi jatham,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 2.

Wife, wealth, sons, grandsons, etc., all
these; home, relations & the host of all these
there may be; but if one’s mind be not
attached to the lotus feet of the Guru, what
thence, what thence, what thence, what

Shadangadhi vedo Mukhe sasra vidhya ,
Kavithwadhi gadhyam , supadhyam karothi,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 3.

The Vedas with their six auxiliaries and
knowledge of sciences may be on one’s
lips; one may have the gift of poesy; and
may compose good prose and poetry; but if
one’s mind be not attached to the lotus feet
of the Guru, what thence, what thence,
what thence, what thence?

Videseshu manya, swadeseshu danya,
Sadachara vrutheshu matho na cha anya,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 4.

In other lands I am honored; in my
country I am fortunate; in the ways of good
conduct there is none that excels me - thus
one may think, but if one’s mind be not
attached to the lotus feet of the Guru, what
thence, what thence, what thence, what

Kshma mandale bhoopa bhoopala vrundai,
Sada sevitham yasya padaravindam,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 5.

One’s feet may be adored constantly by
hosts of emperors and kings of the world;
but if one’s mind be not attached to the
lotus feet of the Guru, what thence, what
thence, what thence, what thence?

Yaso me gatham bikshu dana prathapa,
Jagadwathu sarvam kare yah prasdath,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 6.

My fame has spread in all quarters by
virtue of generosity and prowess; all the
things of the world are in my hands as a
reward of these virtues; but if one’s mind
be not attached to the lotus feet of the
Guru, what thence, what thence, what
thence, what thence?

Na Bhoge, na yoge, Na vaa vajirajou,
Na kantha sukhe naiva vitheshu chitham,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 7.

Not in enjoyment, not in concentration,
not in the multitudes of horses; nor in the
face of the beloved, nor in wealth does the
mind dwell; but if that mind be not attached
to the lotus feet of the Guru, what thence,
what thence, what thence, what thence?

Aranye na vaa swasya gehe na karye,
Na dehe mano varthathemath vanarghye,
Manaschenna lagnam Gurorangri padme
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim. 8.

Not in the forest, nor even in one’s own
house, nor in what-is-to-be-accomplished,
nor in the body, nor in what is invaluable
does my mind dwell; but if my mind be not
attached to the lotus feet of the Guru, what
thence, what thence, what thence, what

Guror ashtakam ya padeth punya dehi,
Yathir bhoopathir , brahmacharee cha gehi,
Labeth vanchithartham padam brahma samgnam,
Guruor uktha vakye,mano yasya lagnam.

That virtuous person who reads this
octad on the Guru, and whose mind is
fixed on the sayings of the Guru - whether
he be an ascetic, king, student, or
householder, attains the desired goal, the
state which is called Brahman.

Om tat sat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thoughts on Guru - for Guru Purnima.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

' Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu

Gurur devo Maheshwarah

Gurur sakshAt Parabrahma

Tasmai shree gurave namaha.'

Within the context of hinduism, the word/term Guru is a very special one, one pregnant with innumerable layers of meaning. It means both the Jnana (knowledge) and the imparter of such knowledge. In todays world almost all of us are aware of the word guru, we are exposed to some or other interpretation of the term. More often than not, the word guru is used to describe a persons mastery of any particular subject. However, the term has traditionally been used in a different sense.

As much as it is a noun, the word Guru is also an adjective and as such it means, 'heavy' - the opposite of laghu or light/weightless. The 'heavy' here does not describe the physical charecteristic, rather the fact that the guru is 'heavy with knowledge' or 'heavy with spiritual knowledge' to be precise.

A more esoteric interpretation of the term Guru can be understood when we observe the root syllables that make up the word. The syllable 'gu' corresponds to darkness (the darkness of avidya or ignorance) and the syllable 'ru' corresponds to the one who takes away(that darkness of avidya). This beautifully shows us the interplay of darkness and light and conveys the meaning that because of his capacity to dispel the darkness and reveal the light, the guru is called guru.

Traditionally so much has been said about the guru in the various branches of Hindu thought. Much emphasis has been laid on the guru in all the systems, even to the extent that it is generally aggreed that a guru is indispensible in the path to enlightenment or self realisation. And, believe me, not an ounce of exaggeration is there in such a statement. The guru is the embodiment of the supreme Brahman himself. As the subject (guru) is mightier than the mightiest, the ramblings of someone like me means nothing. Still, I would like to mention a few things in connection to the guru here (with Guru Purnima only around the corner). In a dialogue between Shiva and Parvathi, we can see a very deep and thorough description of the various qualities, attributes etc of a guru. From that text we find another interpretation of the term guru - the syllable 'gu' is the root representing the gunas (inherent qualities) of rajas, sattva and tamas and in this context means one who is beyond the action of the three gunas. The syllable 'ru' is the root of rupa (form) and in this context is to be understood as beyond all form. Thus Guru is someone who is capable of giving the wisdom that takes one beyond the gunas; to that transcendental place deviod of all form.

An interesting thing to note is the attitude of Hinduism towards one without a guru. Infact the word 'anaatha'/'anadhai' which is used today to mean an orphan or one without any family, actually means ''one without a guru''!! That is how important the guru is to the Hindu: that one without a guru is percieved to be very unfortunate indeed. However, a cursory reading of the text will make it exceedingly clear that it is but the highest of fortunes to have found a guru. It is not everybodys fate or destiny to obtain the grace of a guru. As the grace of the guru marks the begenning of the journey towards oneness and perfection.

The guru is capable of transmitting knowledge to the sishya (disciple) through siksha (teaching) or through diksha (initiation). The process of diksha transmits some of the gurus own spiritual powers to the disciple which will then enable the sishya to progress further on the path of realisation. In some traditions like the Srividya tradition, the guru is both the begenning and the end of the path. The guru is himself the path and the result of the path. The devata or deity and the mantra and the other methods and the guru and non different from each other. The sishya is also non different from the guru - as the sishya is but a sesha (part) of the guru and as such is non different from him. Thus the guru reveals the underlying oneness of the mantra,yantra the process (tantra), the devata (divinity) and the guru and the essential non difference of the sishya to the above mentioned.

One need not be taught what is the knowledge within, because each one is his own Guru. The sharira (body) and manas (mind), of the unit, which is known as a human being, do not realize that they have all these powers. To make him understand this, a Guru is required. That is why the Supreme Power does not teach you, only a Guru teaches you. The Supreme Power makes you feel that He is within you, but the Guru shows it to you and proves to you that He dwells within. Only when the Guru makes you realize this, you can feel it. This realization can be brought to you only by the Guru, not by God. Guru is the manifested God, Guru demonstrates the path, HE illuminates the darkness, and thereby becomes the purest reflection of one's highest aspirations. He is not the aspiration; he is the reflector of the aspiration.

The highest form of Guru is Lord Shiva Himself (Adi Dakshinamurthy), the ultimate knowledge, and the Guru is the manifestation of that knowledge. From that original guru a whole unbroken lineage of gurus have ensured the continuity and the transmission of the knowledge of the supreme Brahman. That unbroken lineage of gurus is called the guru parampara or the guru mandala. The mantras Gurumurthih, Gurumandala rupini, Dakshinamurthyswarupini, etc from the Lalitha sahsranama also illustrate that Amba Herself is in the form of the guru and the entire mandala or lineage of the gurus.

A teacher has a student whereas a Guru has a disciple, or a sishya. A sishya differs from the vidyaarthi (student), who goes to a teacher to attain the artha of the vidya. A sishya's place is in the heart of the Guru whereas the vidyaarthi's place is in front of the Guru. A sishya is not different from the Guru. A student is one who studies. He does not study other than what is taught, he does not know himself, he does not study his own self, he studies something else. Who would want to study? Only one who does not know. Who is that who does not know? The manas and sharira, which do not know anything, keep studying. The aathma need not be a student, because it knows everything.

There is also a difference between a teacher and a Guru. A teacher is not a Guru. The one who teaches what is taught is called a teacher. His knowledge of the taught is teaching, he has not attained it as shruthi (noble words echoed by the Supreme), he has acquired it from some book or some person. A Guru is one who leads you from darkness to light and one who transmits shruthi.

I could carry on endlessly in this vein and quote from many more texts the exalted state of the Guru. But I would rather not - instead it would be my greatest pleasure if you, the reader, could be inspired by the few things in this post to ponder on the merits of the guru in your own inner being. Though, before finishing I would like to leave you with another interpretation of the famous sloka Gurur brahma........

gurur brahma

Guru is Brahma, the creator, He creates the disciple. If there were no Guru, there would be no disciple. Gods were there and Gods will remain, but unless there is a Guru, disciples cannot be created and no one can reach God. We look at Guru only as a creator, who can give pleasures, blessings and identify him as Brahma. Most people are stuck with Guru as Brahma. They only want the Guru to create new things, they look for materialistic and spiritual benefits, they find only the glitter, and as a result only their moha (delusion) increases. Guru creates awareness of knowledge in a disciple and leads him towards it. This is Gurur Brahma.

gurur vishnu

Guru creates a disciple, gives certain intimation, warnings, tests in some ways and then vanishes. The disciple keeps on searching for the Guru, he presumes that the Guru has disappeared, as he is not physically visible. The Guru is aware that since he has created you, he also has to protect you. The disciple looks for the Guru or the knowledge, which will liberate him from the cycle of births and deaths. He looks for the Supreme Divinity, which is by no means an easy task: going through the karma yoga, the dhyaana marga, the bhakthi and the jnaana marga. The Guru has created this thought within you and in order to search for him, he makes you walk the path, clears the path, makes you experience the life and throughout the experience, he protects you. You realize that he is not merely a giver, but when you are in trouble, when you are faced with diseases and difficulties, he protects you even at the cost of his life! When all doors are closed, when there is no way out, when even God does not listen to your call, Guru Vishnu protects you! Through all the struggles, the Guru is always with you. This is Gurur Vishnu.

gurur devo Maheshwara

Ultimately you come to Lord Shiva! Guru has all the three virtues within Him. The knowledge is implanted in your mind, you are asked to contemplate, made to struggle, made to work hard, made to realize and ultimately reach the transcendental. Once you reach there, he enables your transcendence totally, he removes the veil of ignorance from you. In order to make you see your own Divinity, in order to make you understand that you yourself are the Supreme, he destroys what is not required for you. He is a destroyer because he destroys the darkness, the ignorance, the avidya from within you.
Shiva is called the destroyer, but not in a negative sense. Without destruction, there cannot be construction. Unless the dirty water is thrown out, clean water cannot be filled in that place. New is neither an extension of old nor is it an addition; old has to be destroyed so that new can be created. If he did not transcend things, Brahma would not be able to create, Vishnu would not be able to protect. At the right time, transcendence has to take place. He does not destroy, He changes the bad to good, He balances. Knowledge alone can understand when a person finishes his karmas, and needs to be relieved. The place has to be vacated so that a new creation can take place. This is what Lord Shiva does! He has been entrusted with the responsibility of transcendence. He removes the obstacles in order to create and maintain dharma. This is Gurur Devo Maheswara

Guru saakshaat Parabrahma

Who is the Parabrahma? The one who has created the universe, who has created the Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, is Parabrahma. After passing through all the stages, after unconditional surrender, when he reaches the stage of HE AM I, the disciple suddenly finds saakshaat Parabrahma standing there! He immediately prostrates before the Parabrahma -- Guru saakshaat Parabrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha!Then you realize that the Guru is the saakshaat Parabrahma! When you reach the Brahma, then the Parabrahma is visible. Parabrahma is the Supreme Divinity. Brahma cannot create the Guru, Vishnu cannot create the Guru, Maheswara cannot create the Guru, it is only the Parabrahma who can create the Guru. All the three are merged in the Guru, enabling the powers of the Parabrahma to be transmitted to him and through him.

Guru is beyond gender, beyond form, and is the Supreme Divinity. Guru is in your heart, in the heart of all living beings.

This offering brings the radiance of illumination to a greater enhancement. We knock on many doors in search of a Guru and return disappointed, we search for eternal love but it eludes us, we hunt for money and fame but it is only a temporary quest and even after attaining it, we are still dissatisfied and discontented. All these create the fear of losing; association with the Guru removes all illusions and thereby the fear of losing. A quote from the Baja Govindam- '' Satsangatve Nissangatvam - Sat sangatve - through the company of the good (the guru), Nissangatvam - (there arises) non-attachment.Nissangatve Nirmohatvam- Nissangatve - through non-attachment, Nirmohatvam - (there arises) freedom from delusion.Nirmohatve Nischalatattvam - Nirmohatve - through the freedom from delusion, Nischala - Immutable, Tattvam - Reality. Nischalatattve Jeevanmuktih - Nischalatattve - through the Immutable Reality, Jeevanmuktih - (comes) the state of 'liberated-in-life'.'' We attain peace and moksha when we do not have desires, when we do not have the fear of losing.

Meditate on all that the Guru has given you, on all that he has revealed, on all that he has removed and on all that he lived for; this Guru Purnima. Give thanks (a hundred million of them!) for his immeasurable compassion and his boundless wisdom. Revere the entire lineage, the guru mandala, going up from your own guru through to his guru and then to the gurus gurus guru and so on till the original Guru Dakshinamurthy. It is only as a result of the unbroken tradition of these self realised masters that we the people of todays world have any connection at all to the 'reality' of the spirit. May the grace of the Guru and the great gurus of the past flow like a mountain river to you and through you to the world around you.

Shree guru padhukam dhyayami pujayami namaha.

To Be or not to Be??

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

It must be the deep mystical vibrations of the approaching Guru Purnima that has me like this. The last week or so has been quite a time for my unlettered mind - deep discussions, arguments and counter arguments, dialogue, metaphysical enquiry..... From the sounds of it you might think that I have been having many satsangs, but no, its all been in my mind. Diving head first in the pursuit of more and more subtle reasoning's, I came to a familiar thought pattern. That of the intrinsic differences between the system called Tantra and the rest of the Hindu systems (dominated for the most part by Brahmin orthodoxy). The differences are many, the similarities many too. Yet, in the perception of the hindu society or the individual hindu mind, the social and cultural taboos present a serious impediment in the thorough analysis of the philosophies behind the above mentioned systems. It is almost necessary to step outside the folds of ones own religious indoctrination to 'see' things for what they are.

Here I come back to a point originally touched in a previous post some time back (Women aren't dragons) - that of the precept ion of samsara as something to be greatly feared and avoided at all costs. Just yesterday I was speaking to someone about the fears that arise when we let go of the various things we hold so desperately onto and that conversation led to the content of this post.
Most of the Hindu philosophical and psychological systems (however varied and virulently disagreed they might be on other aspects) agree in asserting that our real world is but a meaningless illusion, that the mental play of various forms which we call our experience of life and the world are utterly without value. Further, they stress that entanglement in such 'play' is the sure way to go rapidly downhill. They show that all the experiences that we normally cherish, like the love for our lovers, family, children, food, sex, the joy of nature around us, why even the adoration we may feel for our ishta devata, are all traps. And the sole intent of the wise person should be to pry loose their grip on us. And according to such systems, when we finally manage to stay permanently in a state of undivided attention to the undivided whole (i.e. Supreme Brahman) and become totally absorbed in that abstract state, we obtain Release.

To achieve such insight and absorption, one needs to dwell on the misery of the human condition. To spur a feeling of detachment (when such a feeling is not 'natural') one needs to dwell on the agonies, despair and the crimes (of which there are plenty as we well know). Further one needs to focus ones mind on the distasteful and disgusting aspects of ones own body and those of others. Thinking and perceiving them to be nothing more than transient bags of phlegm and shit! When this sort of view takes hold, it becomes easy to say 'no' to the world and pleasures enjoyed by such a body. The self of such a one can deny the claims of all apparent (physical) but vanishing possessions. The most beautiful lover, thus dissolves into a temporary illusion. And slowly there comes a state where even though others might see a physical body moving about, there will be no man in it. It remains like an empty shell or an empty nest when the bird has flown. It will then continue to exist only till the last few remaining impulses are finished. This core perception has shaped almost all of the Brahminic philosophical systems and thus no matter where one is always given many words of caution as to the transient nature of this world reality. Thus, there is a feeling of utter disgust, repulsion and a constant undercurrent of fear and paranoia of the endless cycle of life and death.

Though tantra does not dispute the fundamental truth of this position, it has a particular wisdom of its own. It believes that the methods used are absurd (as mentioned above). Crucially, it declares that there is absolutely no need for such a desperate upstream (and unnatural) struggle to reach the shore. Further it notes that such an ideal of life produces a dreadful world for those as yet unreleased! In a complete contrast to the strenuous NO that the Brahmin traditions said to the world, Tantra proclaims an emphatic YES. It stresses that instead of suppressing pleasure,vision and ecstasy, they should be cultivated and used. The principle underlying this is the observation that sensation and emotion are the most powerful human emotive forces and that they should be harnessed to the goal rather than being crushed underfoot. When properly channeled, sensation and emotion can provide an inexhaustible source of energy and aid in bringing about plenty of benefits to society as a whole while constantly increasing ecstasy for the individual. For advancing this end the physical body needs to be cared for and cultivated and thus the kaya siddhi and kaya kalpa became intrinsic steps. Tantrikas understand the no sayers to be at worst ones with a dangerous self indulgence and at best to neglect their fellow creatures.

At its very heart, Tantra deals with Love and Love needs objects. It is self evident that one cannot love nothing as love means care. And care carried out to its highest limit is probably the ultimate social virtue. Having said that, it becomes very important to observe that the different tantras cultivated extremely elaborate frameworks of qualification and complex ritual procedure to make sure that its adherents did not fall into complacent ways of self indulgence as it is so easy to do so. Millions and millions of us do so, all the time - seek pleasure, even ecstasy and make nothing of it; apart from leaving them as dead experiences in ones own past. The tantrika perceives oneness even in the everyday love and life. However, it does draw sharp distinctions between the beast like man who lives in bondage to his appetites, who seeks pleasure only for the sake of experiencing the ecstasies it may offer and the committed tantrika who treats his senses and emotions as if they were prized assets to be used as spiritual currency. Though it does not deny that our fragmented experience of reality is intrinsically of no value, it does have the courage to see that our life does contain many positive experiences which can be put to use for the pursuit of the ultimate goal. Thus is perceives everything, including the disgusting and fearsome aspects of our life experience as the interplay (or love play) of the supreme Goddess and Her consort.

Thus it happens that tantra is primarily an experiential process, one of sadhana and one of constant experience. When the yantras and other mystical rituals and accessories are viewed within the context of tantra it becomes clear that they are rooted in the realities of experience. That is to say, even the most obliquely metaphysical iconography and ritual can only mean anything at all by virtue of its semantic reference to the realities of human experience. While a glib verbalism can flatter the sense of achievement without actually committing oneself to real effort. It is by virtue of this core difference in the world view of the two systems (while the ultimate transcendental reality is the same in both) there arise the different types of sadhana and the differences in world view. One leaves a void behind as a result of the pursuit of the ultimate void while the other leaves behind the experience of fullness as a result of the pursuit of the ultimate whole.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Seek Him through Love - mantra 31

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
The thirty first mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram speaks about the love and devotion that are sure methods to reach Shiva who is in the nature of nada.

மண்ணகத் தான்ஒக்கும் வானகத் தான்ஒக்கும்
விண்ணகத் தான்ஒக்கும் வேதகத் தான்ஒக்கும்
பண்ணகத்து இன்னிசை பாடலுற் றானுக்கே
கண்ணகத் தேநின்று காதலித் தேனே. 31.
31: Seek Him In Love
Of the Earth is He, of the sky is He! Well He be!
Of the Heaven is He, of truest Gold is He! Well He be!
Of sweetest song's inmost rapture is He!
Him my love besought, from heart's central core.
Com - Of the Earth is He The Lord manifests Himself in human form to grace the beings of this earth (Bhuloka) of the sky is He He manifests Himself as the Light shining in the Akaashaa mandala to grace the beings of the skies (Bhuvarloka) Of the Heaven is He He manifests Himself in His shining Godly form to grace the beings of the heavens (Suvarloka) of truest Gold is He He manifests Himself as a Siddha (fully accomplished being) to those that seek Siddhi’s (miraculous powers). Of sweetest song's inmost rapture is He In the contented mind which is in rapture, He manifests the Nada (sonic vibration, referred to here as the sweetest song). Him my love besought, from heart's central core To Him, I stand forever close, loving Him from the very core of my being, as if He were my very eyes (by the mind being in inseparable union with Siva – like the eyelid and the eye).

* The supreme Siva who is of the nature of Nada should always be kept very dear to the heart and be approached with love and devotion. The above mantra mentions the three worlds (bhu, buvah, suvah) that are manifest for the different kinds of beings and that Shiva is the one light that shines constant in all the worlds.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yearn for Him - Mantra 30

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

After the unintentional pause in the Thirumandiram commentary, we will begin once again. This is the thirtieth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

வான்நின்று அழைக்கும் மழைபோல் இறைவனும்

தானினறு அழைக்கும்கொல என்று தயங்குவார்

ஆன்நின்று அழைக்கு மதுபோல்என் நந்தியை

நான்நின்று அழைப்பது ஞானம் கருதியே. 30

30: Yearn For Him

As the Heavens draw the rains;

Even so will my Lord draw me to Him?

Thus, doubting, many ask.

But like to the mother-cow, for my Nandi I yearn

And all the world, all the world know it too!

Com - Thus, doubting, many ask Some hesitate to seek the Lord As the Heavens draw the rains by being of the opinion that, like the rain that gathers in the skies, and which, out of its own accord showers down upon the earth Even so will my Lord draw me to Him the Lord too comes out of His own accord to shower His grace on the beings of this world. But like to the mother-cow, for my Nandi I yearn But instead, I cry out to Siva (Nandi) like the calf would (when hungry and in need of milk) to attract the attention of its mother cow And all the world, all the world know it too and the reason for my calling Him so, is for right knowledge (wisdom/consciousness).

*The sage uses the words, ‘’like a calf that calls out to its mother cow’’ to illustrate that just as (upon being called by the hungry calf) the mother cow will call out to identify herself to the calf, Siva too will give a call (Nada- sound) to identify Himself to the seeker(the hungry calf). Through the above mantra it is clear that Siva reveals Himself to only those who seek Him – unlike the rain that sends down the showers out of its own accord (whether asked for or not).

This mantra takes on a good depth of meaning when you read it together with the post on the nature of faith and its importance. While on a deeper note the meanings contained herein with respect to the issuing forth of the Nada at the appropriate stage of sadhana, on a more obvious level we can understand that this process of sadhana/transformation calls for a good deal of dedication, effort and more importantly Bhakti. The yearning has to be constant, the separation unbearable. Much like the emotions evoked by the romantic poetry of the sufi mystics. It is interesting to note that the intensity of yearning is compared to the calf's need of its mother rather than the lovers need of his beloved. Perhaps it refers somehow to the fact that such yearning is instinctual and must be of intensity capable of affecting one like hunger would - deep and all encompassing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On the nature of Coal.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

A period of quiet and disconnection to persue a bit of sadhana, turned out to be a longer and quieter period than I originally assumed. Incase you are wondering, yes, it was lovely! A pleasure to internalise thoughts and energy. A pleasure to be devoted.

Like the siddhar Thirumular who revealed one mantra (of the Thirumandiram) at the end of each years meditation and samadhi, I will try to sum up the wisdom I gleaned from my wee meditations over the period -

'' Coal, my dear, has to be burnt. No amount of washing it will ever make it clean.''

Meditation reveals the nature of things, their true nature. The process is a slow one, one that unveils more than reveals if you ask me. The deeper and more internal the mind proceeds, the more the cobwebs that are dusted down. After a certain period the 'I' connectivity to the manifest universe dulls. In its place (for there is never a void or vaccum) a different perception takes root - one that percieves the world and everything in it for what it is. By that I do not mean the realisation that all is false or illusory. Not at all. The illusion dies when the identification of the self to the percieved universe dies. My take on the universe is what is false, not the universe itself! It is as though the various layers of self identification (done often quite involuntarily) over the years have become the many layers of cobwebs and dust covering the legendary diamond. When those layers are realised for what they really are, they sort of very gently fall apart. The process is not (not for me anyway) a fight, it is gentle and more importantly it is natural.

As I said, the dusting of the cobwebs reveals (or unveils) the diamond that lay underneath. The diamond that has always been there, and will always be there. Years of being under so thick a sheath of dust and cobwebs did not dim its lusture one bit. On the contrary, it seemed to me to be shining more gloriously than I ever imagined possible. That shine and lusture crept up quite unnoticeably in to the area of the mind where the manifest and unmanifest universe is percieved. And without realising it my take on the universe became one with the universe's real nature. Even though the awareness lasted but a few minutes, the residual vibrations linger on even now. And the message has been loud and clear

'' Coal, my dear, has to be burnt. No amount of washing it will ever make it clean.''

Ever at the feet of my Guru who is the very embodiment of the union of Shiva and Shakti.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tarka Sastra - the way of logic.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Following on the thread from before, lets see if we can explore the science of reasoning or logic as based on the vedic darshanas. As observed by one of our readers, this might come in handy during many a theological debate!

Among the shaddarshanas (or the 6 systems) that are part of the Hindu philosophy, there is one called Nyaya. This darshana called Nyaya, of which the author is the sage Gauthama, is also known as Tarka sastra - or the science dealing with the system of logic and reasoning. Its main objective is to establish through a step by step process of reasoning that the creator of this world(s) is the supreme Parameshwara. And as such, reasoning and logic play a very pivotal role in this sastra.

Quite contrary to what one might imagine, logic or reasoning is quite important in any kind of study - (the observant reader might notice that this is even quite contrary to what I said in my previous post, but such is the nature of things!). And before those of you rooting for logic shout 'whoopdidoo', I would like to mention that there are quite a few 'rules' that establish the method of application of such logic - that is the logic spoken of here and not the kind of logic invented by people to merely contradict the original argument, without keeping in line with the established method of applying such logic. The paramacharya gives an example here - like when we construct the pandal (the canopy) with bamboos during a wedding, we test the poles for strength and durability by shaking the poles and making sure that the entire thing doesn't collapse. Similarly, truths too (even when uttered by the Vedas) must be subject to the proper tests to make sure they are indeed truths. That is more or less the premise of Nyaya and it goes further by trying to establish the framework or ground rules for such logical reasoning. I am no expert in the nyaya sastra, but am familiar with some of the basics to draw a picture of it for you here.

It lays down that in such (theosophical and philosophical) debates, all logical reasoning must be accepted - but such logic must be rooted firmly in authority (read vedas). Moreover such arguments should not be made merely out of an urge to be contrary. Hence it becomes clear that one's arguments must not be captious in nature and that in order to deal properly with a question we must employ 'proper' reasoning keeping in line with the vedas. That is to say, without proper reasoning to guide us it is like wandering aimlessly in the jungle. Having said that it has to be understood that such reasoning must be founded on authority (of the pramanas). The darshana authored by the sage Kaanada called Vaisheshika is also another nyaya sastra, but its level of enquiry is sort of 'sub atomic' and goes to a microscopic level and examines the specialities or particularities of everything. Here in this thread related to logic and proper reasoning we will deal more with the tarka sastra or nyaya.

The Nyaya method of inquiry in to truth is through a triad of instruments of knowledge - some hold that there are four, but I will later on in the post establish that the four too fall under or can be effectively explained under the three 'group heads'. And these are - Pratyaksha, Anumana, and Sabda (there is a fourth category called Upamana according to some). Lets look into them a bit more in detail through one of the aphorisms of sankhya (yet another darshana and this time authored by the sage Kapila), which holds that there are three kinds of proof through which a truth (any truth) can be established.

Proof is of three kinds: there is no establishment of more; because, if these be established, then all [that is true] can be established [by one or other of these three proofs]. - 1.88.

Of the three kinds of proof the first is Pratyaksha - Pratyaksha means 'direct perception'. That which is perceived by the eyes, ears nose etc. The second is Anumana - anumana means 'inference' or the recognition of signs. The third is Sabda - sabda means 'testimony' or the words of authority. Here the authority does not mean a president or sect leader or any such thing, it refers to pramana (vedas & c) which really is the source of inference or anumana. Of the above three mentioned kinds of proof, nyaya focuses and discusses mainly using what is termed anumana or inference. And it is probably because, often (when discussing or trying to establish god etc) we cannot directly perceive it and also because the final kind of proof called sabda or testimony (namely the vedas) is true only because they are revealed by the Brahman, but in our case it is the very existence of Brahman that we are trying to prove! So, anumana or inference is the very core of the system.

Just a brief example with an illustration will shed more light here, and perhaps if interest in you the reader is tickled, we might be able to explore this in better detail in another post.
For example when we see a fire burning in front of us we can decide that there is in fact a fire and thus confirm that the occurrence of fire in such and such a spot is true. This is pratyaksha or direct perception of truth. In the second instance, let us imagine that there is a fire on a mountain some distance away. Now, we cannot from where we stand see the actual fire (perhaps its too far away or maybe hidden from view by a large rock or whatever). But we can see smoke rising in the air from there. By perceiving a sign (namely the smoke) of fire, we infer that there must be a fire there on the mountain as we can see the smoke. Note that this inference of fire based on the smoke, is made as it is established without doubt that smoke arises from fire always - the universality of the sign and its connection to the actual truth (in this case the fire) has already been established beyond doubt. So the perception of smoke is solid enough for us to decide that the occurrence of fire on the mountain is in fact true - based on the inference upon perception of the sign of fire (smoke) and logically understanding its connection to the fire itself. This method of enquiring and establishing truth is called anumana or inference. Now in the third instance to illustrate what was mentioned before as upamana let us see the following example : we go to a mountain temple. There we see that there is an old and unused room that has been used for long as a kitchen. Now, there is no fire burning there when we go so pratyaksha is out. There is also no smoke, in fact there is no coal, embers, fire pit, nothing at all there to directly infer the existence of a fire there now or before. But on closer examination we see that the walls and the roof of the room are covered in black smoke stains. The evident smoke stains lead us to infer (indirectly) that there was a fire in that place sometime in the past, as the smoke stains must be from smoke and that smoke must have been from the fire. This method of inference from another inference is upamana, and in the triad of instruments of knowledge mentioned originally, this falls under the bigger category of anumana (while others make this into a separate fourth category). Thus from the smoke stains we can prove that there was once a fire there.
In the fourth instance, we go to a mountain temple. There we see an old room. But that room is so ancient that it has all but crumbled - there are hardly any walls, no roof, in fact all that there is are only a few pieces of stone. We see no signs, direct or indirect, to infer the existence of a fire there. How are we then to confirm that there was a fire there once? In such cases we turn to sabda or testimony (of the vedas and pramanas). Since in plenty of instances it has been established beyond doubt that the words of the supreme brahman (as the veda) is the eternal truth, we look towards the testimony of the vedas to confirm that there was once a fire in this place. And if it is so mentioned in the sabda, it establishes the truth that there was a fire there - even if that fire cannot be perceived or inferred through the best of our ability. Note that the ultimate authority of the sabda is invoked only when all other instruments have failed to deliver the proof to every one's satisfaction.

Thus if the above mentioned structure and method was used in the exercise of deliberating the existence of God or any other such cosmic truth, a logical and scientific proof can be arrived at - most certainly. But the proponents of each view should be educated enough in the tarka sastra and its methodology to have some constructive result through reasoning. Merely contrary questioning and reverse arguments will only lend to more confusion than we began with. I do not (now for my two cents worth) for a second doubt that such clear and logical analysis will fail to deliver an insight into truth - after all, the entire darshana of Sankhya is based on such logic and through it the author has successively described and proven the existence of prakruti and purusha and the subsequent birth of the many tattvas and the subtle and gross universe(s) and all life.

I will finish this post now hoping that it will have shed some light on the subject in question and that it will have all of you thirsting for more!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The axle pin sustaining all. Mantra - 29.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
The twentyninth mantra of the Thirumandiram.

காணநில் லாய்அடி யேற்குஉறவுஆருளர்
நாணநில் லேன்உன்னை நான்தழு விக்கொளக்
கோணநில் லாத குணத்தடி யார்மனத்து
ஆணியன் ஆகி அமர்ந்துநின் றானே. 29.
29: Axle-Pin
Oh! You, the Unseen, only kin to this forlorn slave,
Let me not falter to embrace Your feet!
For to the heart of Your servant, pure and true
You ever stood even as the axle-pin.
Com - You ever stood even as the axle-pin Oh Lord, you stand as the axle pin, supporting all For to the heart of Your servant, pure and true in the heart (consciousness) of your devotee who has purged his mind of all thoughts except those of Siva (pure and true). You, the Unseen, only kin Apart from You, there is no one, as my kin, to help me on this journey through lifetimes. to this forlorn slave So, Lord, become manifest in the consciousness, of this your slave. Let me not falter to embrace Your feet For if you do, I will not hesitate (because of my being embarrassed) to accept you as my master and Lord (embrace your feet).

* Siva is the only real and eternal kin for the soul on its journey through many lifetimes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

For my Guru who has reached the Supreme.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Even if every drop in the seven oceans become the ink and the great oceans themselves the inkpot, even if the majestic mount Meru were the pen and the entire universe the writing leaf: and even if I was granted all eternity, I would still not be able to describe fully the innumerable virtues of my guru and his limitless grace.

Where can I begin and where can I end? What language, be it human or divine in origin, has the words I am looking for? Where can I find the adjectives of superlative strength that I will need to describe the strength of his upasana?

It has been said that the effort needed in sadhana is akin to what is needed to drain the entire ocean using a blade of grass. By dipping it in the water and shaking it off and then dipping it and shaking it again. And again, and again and again, until all the water is drained. If such intense effort and dedication had a physical form, it would be that of my Guru – Sri P.P. Krishna Iyer.

Adi Shankaracharya says, ‘’ The Vedic dharma is verily two fold, characterised by Pravritti (social action) and Nivritti (inward contemplation), designed to promote order in this world. This two fold dharma has in view the true social welfare and the spiritual emancipation of all beings’’.
My guru is the very personification of the Vedas and their essence and entirety. It is only fitting that the following verses are dedicated to those two fold aspects of the Light that He is.

Pravritti (From No-form to Form)

Sri Krishna incarnated (on earth) to dispel the darkness of Arjuna in the midst of the battle field of Kurukshetra,
Shining forth like countless Moons.
He expounded the Prapanja Rahasya (earthly secret) through the Gita,
And thus was Arjuna’s grief assuaged.

Sri Krishna incarnated (on earth) to dispel the darkness rooted deep in the battlefield of my mind,
Shining forth like innumerable Suns.
He expounded the Vidya, mysterious, shining and in the form of fifteen syllables,
And thus was my grief assuaged.

Confusion and darkness, and the accumulated grit of countless lives
Vanish like the morning mist on contact with the sun.
The tightly closed bud, my existence,
Blooms through the never ending stream, His grace.
He made no judgements nor did He order me about.
My Lord and my Master He was,
Yet, behaved always like a friend who knows.

Undeserving though I might be, He taught me the art of Being.
Blind though I might be, He taught me the secret of seeing.
Consumed eternally by a million passions,
Pulled forever into countless actions.
Such has been the journey of my soul in this world.
I stand back and see the shattered illusions,
As I tread the Vidya path so ancient, so old.
With each breath as with each step,
I give thanks and I sing His praise.

Even if I were able to drain the oceans
With nothing but a blade of grass.
Even if I were able to crush the Himalayas
With nothing more than a thought.
Even then, O friend, even then
My debt to Him would diminish by nought.

Nivritti (From Form to No-form)

On His way to undivided oneness,
To further perfect perfection itself.
Towards the peak of Sumeru, He goes,
Drawn to the waiting arms of the Devi.
Pure and steady, like a second Shiva
Surrounded on all sides by the glowing siddhis.
The devas, rishis, yoginis and the naathas,
Gather to welcome one of their own.

Far far away in the middle of the ocean of nectar
Stands the island of gems;
Waves of nectar gently lap at beaches of turquoise.
The gentle breezes are scented of sandal and jasmine.
There in the midst of the forest of immense lotus blooms,
Shaded by the sacred Kalpaka trees that grant all desires –
Stands a palace most exquisite, hewn from the finest Chintamani stones.
In the palace I see, a throne most magnificent; with lions decorating the legs.
Eyes squinting from the dazzling brilliance of that throne, I see
The throne is empty.
My heart whispers and wonders why?
And then quietens –
As a great sadness and immense joy fill it;

I see -
My guru, my light, my guide,
Seated there on the throne.
Beyond modifications, pure as crystal
Beyond the influence of gunas and time.

The Sun might set, but nothing can stop daybreak again.
The moon may wane, but who can stop it becoming full again?
Oh heart, do not grieve – He has reached perfection.
Oh heart, be still – He lives on for ever.
Is or Is not, matter no more,
This or that, matter no more.
Name or form, delude no more.
Sadness and joy, alternate no more,
Birth and death, no more, no more.

All that remains now –
Sat Chit Ananda!
Sat Chit Ananda!
Sat Chit Ananda!

Ishwaro Gururatmeti – Ishwara, Guru and the Self are identical.

May I realise that oneness through insight.
May that insight be the gift of grace of my Sadguru.
Though not capable of filling His shoes,
May His lotus feet be attainable to me. Om.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Do It Yourself Deity & the problem of suffering.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

I have got a few mails from readers wondering why my 'free' posts are being replaced by the commentary on the Thirumandiram. Actually, nothing has been replaced - just that the continuity of the Thirumandiram has been directing its own flow by directing my thoughts! If it will be of help, let it be known that I have also been thinking of putting up a couple of posts in the 'free' mode in the last while. So, no better time than now then!

A while back when I was in India with a few friends at a coffee shop, the conversation was dominated by lofty philosophical and theosophical discussions. As always, the latte and the Gold Flake (kings) persuaded us to believe we were in the process of setting right some major 'soul' bricks! A friend then mentioned a website where you could test the consistency and the cohesion (if any) of one's philosophical/religious make up. Sort of 'spiritual quotient' test! It was supposed to be a test designed to check how 'deeply' thought out your conception of God and the universe etc was. I should have known that it was a 'trick' quiz - but, being the gullible creature that I am, I envisaged this mega spiritual test and was looking forward to checking out how deeply thought out my conceptions of God were. I wont spoil the test for you (in case you decide to take it another time), so I will not go into anymore detail of it here than relevant and I will also not give out the web link for the test until the end of this post!

Anyway, I duly visited the site when I had some time on my hands- making sure that the callings of the world would not be heard for at least another hour. It was a test after all that supposedly goes very deep into the workings of my belief system! I need not have bothered to be so prepared. Regardless of the fact that the entire test was geared to be intellectually and logically clever and that it was meant to confuse you more than show you anything of relevance, it did still bring up a few points that sowed the seeds for this post and probably more to follow in a similar vein.
The first part of the test is something called (very American) the Do It Yourself Deity! First of all it sets out to find out '' What is God?'' (that is my conception of what God is supposed to mean) and in order to do that, I am given a set of answers, the multiple choice type. The list is of a set of attributes and I am supposed to select one or two or as many of them that I feel are attributes which describe my conception/belief of what God is. I give below the list of attributes as listed in the site and I imagine that you can figure out that I ticked each of the boxes as all these qualities can be attributed to my conception of what God is.

Omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything)
Omnibenevolent (all-loving)
Omniscient (all-knowing)
The Creator (of all that exists)
The Sustainer (if God ceased to exist, so would everything else)
Perfectly Free
Eternally Existing (will go on and on and on...)
A Personal God (a being with whom one can have a personal relationship).

Now lets go to the interesting part. The 'metaphysical engineers' then test my answer(s) to see if my conception of God is consistent with itself and if it is consistent with the universe we live in. The score then is given out from 0 to 1, where 1 means that my conception of God is consistent with itself and the external universe and 0 means that it is totally inconsistent to the 'real' world and to itself. My score was 0.2 - sorry, its not called the score but Plausibility Quotient, excuse me! Then the 'metaphysical engineers' give me the break up and show me the reasons why my conception is hardly plausible. This they do step by step, point by point; analysing logically why such attributes are not consistent with the universe we live in. And since I cannot discuss the reasons why the arguments don't make much sense (the metaphysical engineers are beyond the reach of a mere mortal) there on the site, I shall use this post to rant about them.

To make this more fair and neutral, I will present both sides of the argument - theirs and mine. The first part (in italics) is just cut and pasted from the site, the bits that follow (in regular font) are my replies to the former. So, here we go

The problem of suffering
Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving) and omniscient (all-knowing).
The metaphysical engineers have found it hard to model this God in a universe like our own. The problem is this: our universe contains vast amounts of suffering, much of which seems either entirely unnecessary or unnecessarily severe. Although some of this is the result of human action, and thus may be seen as an inevitable consequence of human free will, much is not. Plagues, floods and famines are not all the result of human action. Even the idea that human free will explains the existence of much suffering is hard to accept, since God, if all-powerful, could surely limit our capacity to harm others or suffer at their hands (after all, there are many other limits on what we are able to do).
So why is there all this suffering? If God cannot prevent it, it would seem she is not all-powerful. If God doesn't want to stop it, it would seem she is not all-loving. If God doesn't know about it, she can't be all-knowing.
The metaphysical engineers are continuing to study theodicies, which are attempts to resolve this difficulty, known as the problem of evil.

Now the above argument is interesting enough if you look at it logically and I can see how it might appeal to a lot of people. After all, I have heard plenty of such talk over plenty of cups of latte in plenty different places. But to be honest, I don't think it makes any sense (even logically) and it certainly doesn't make any sense at all if you happen to know a little bit about the universe we live in and the secrets behind its operation. Let me show you how - The 'metaphysical engineers' see that the universe we live has a lot of suffering and they believe that more often than not this much suffering is either unnecessary or too harsh. In reply I would say, where is the suffering? Who suffers? And what happens as a result of all these floods and famines and the people that supposedly 'die' or 'suffer' as a result of them? Countless have been the mystics who assert that nothing in effect happens here. Its all an illusion, like a dream. Just like you would not expect to move into the palace you built in your dream last night, (upon waking), there seems to be nothing left when I 'wake up'. The impressions of everything I thought 'happened' to me, simply vanish. The soul (atman) is ever the same. Nothing happens to it and nothing is gained or lost. Did not Krishna ask Arjuna the same thing in the midst of the Kurukshetra battlefield? If this 'high' and transcendental aspect does not make sense or appeal to you as the truth, lets just look at it in a more physical way.

If we imagine that God cannot be all powerful because He/She cant stop all this suffering or that God cannot be all loving if He/she doesn't want to end this suffering, it is a very childish reasoning. To illustrate this, I will use the example of a child growing up. We all know that in the process of growing up the bones will have to stretch (growth spurts), the teeth have to cut through the gums and make an appearance, etc. This is a painful process and any parent who has gone through sleepless nights with a screaming child in their arms will attest that. I love my children, more than myself. So would it be right for me to say, why should they suffer so much with the tooth cutting through, lets just put an end to it and do something that will make sure those teeth never come through? Some kind of chemical perhaps that would just burn the gum and make sure there will never be a tooth there poking its tiny pearly white head through? What then will I do about the various periods in their early life where their bones will have to stretch? God, that would be painful for my darling - why don't I just throw the child in some amino acid? That way I can make sure that there is no possibility of growth: preserved forever, no stretching bones, nothing of the sort! But I don't do that (and nor does any other parent for that matter). Why? Because I know that its part of natural growing up and that even though the child in my arms now is screaming as if the world was coming to end and is in terrible pain, in a couple of days the tooth would cut through and everything would be back to normal. The child would certainly be better able to deal with life in this world with that tooth (that caused him so much grief) than without it. And me? I would be over the moon, showing off his/her smiling face to every passer by on the street. Am I making sense?

I imagine that is how God feels about the suffering in the world. In fact I should say, the 'perception' of suffering in this world. Coming now to the all powerful aspect of God - I don't think that the wish or ability to interfere is a reflection of power or the lack of it. The supreme token or proof of the 'all loving' aspect of God is the thing called Free Will. If He/She did not give all creatures in this universe the gift of free will, the attribute of 'all loving ness' will become faulty - as then the element of bias will come in. God does not judge (deciding that such and such a thing is suffering or bad and has to stop or that such and such a thing is good and hence should continue etc), He/She merely IS. We perceive suffering in this world just as one perceives a snake in a rope (by not seeing it clearly for what it is). But in reality it is but rope (not a snake), so God does not come swooping down from heaven (or where ever the metaphysical engineers think He resides) at the first instance of suffering in this world. Like the snake moults and sheds its skin at the end of each cycle, so do we at different stages of life. The ultimate objective of this body mind complex which we call ourselves, is for it to realise its innate oneness to the Absolute - and the innumerable events that occur and the situations we find ourselves in have nothing more substantial (and real) in them than the imaginary snake in the rope. I think it takes great strength and power to 'not exercise' an influence on the free flow of things than the power that is needed to try and control things. But that is beyond the point as God is a state of being which is beyond the perception of duality (as this or that, me and him, pain and pleasure, etc). The world of such bias is but the domain of Man.

To the view that God can surely (if all powerful) do something to limit our capacity to harm others or suffer at their hands - I can only refer the wise reader to something called Conscience. Conscience is an invaluable tool that helps to limit our capacity to harm others and thus suffer at their hands. There are plenty other tools too for that, like the framework called Dharma (natural law) in which the playing field is set, and the principle of karma or cause and effect. Detailed discussion of that though for another day.

To successfully (and meaningfully) discuss or debate God, we would need to be armed with a bit more than just logic and trick answers. We need intuition, meditation, insight among many other qualities. More importantly, we need to know a bit more about ourselves and that we are more than just the body. A bit of awareness of the 'real' nature of this universe will also not be amiss! That is the bit about suffering (I can go on for days in this vein, but that will only bore you to death now that you have got the gist of what I am saying) done for now. I will try and discuss the next point, which is the problem of loving too much (God, really?!) in another post. In the meantime though, you might want to visit the battlefield of God yourself and check out the Do It Yourself Deity - if you so desire. You can do that by going here .