Friday, March 30, 2007

Shiva confers wisdom on Gods. Mantra-16

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The sixteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

கோது குலாவிய கொன்றைக் குழற்சடை
மாது குலாவிய வாள்நுதல் பாகனை
யாது குலாவி அமரரும் தேவரும்
கோது குலாவிக் குணம்பயில் வாரே. 16.
16: Confers Wisdom On Gods
He, of the matted locks, the odorous Konrai clustering,
He, of the Divine Consort with forehead divinely gleaming,
He, whom the Immortals and Devas sought,
Wisdom to learn, Ignorance to dispel.
Com - He, of the matted locks Siva, with His matted locks Konrai clustering decorated with clusters of, the much veined, Konrai flower, He, of the Divine Consort with forehead divinely gleaming has for one half of His body ,that of His divine consort Uma- the Goddess, most beautiful and one whose forehead glows soft and pure. He, whom the Immortals and Devas sought The immortals and the Devas who know not this beautiful Siva (and Uma), odorous due to their being impure, as a result of their addiction to the pleasures of heaven and by being under the influence of their ego (ahamkara) .Wisdom to learn, Ignorance to dispel. How then, can they sing praises of this Siva, without knowing of His beautiful form, in order to seek the wisdom that would dispel their ignorance?

* The author is of the opinion that the Devas & c will not be able to see and sing praises of the beautiful Shiva and Uma, due to their(Devas& c) being tainted. The last line of the verse sounds a note of irony and sarcasm. The double meaning of the words used in the mantra also convey the meaning that the impure Devas will be purified (of their defects) if they keep Siva on their heads (i.e. worship purely, by realising that He is above all), much like the Konrai flower, that becomes divine (even though by nature it is highly veined, i.e. not very pure and beautiful) by virtue of being the decoration on Siva’s matted locks.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Shiva - He blossoms as All. Mantra-15

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The fifteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

ஆதியு மாய்அர னாய்உட லுள்நின்ற
வேதியு மாய்விரிந்துஆர்ந்துஇருந் தான்அருள்
சோதியு மாய்ச்சுருங் காததோர் தன்மையுள்
நீதியு மாய்நித்த மாகிநின் றானே. 15.
15: Blossoms As All
Into Brahma did He expand, into Hara did He,
And into the soul of the body He pervades
As the Effulgence Divine, the Dharmic law limitless,
The Eternal and the Everlasting.
Com - Into Brahma did He expand Siva creates the world, by being manifest as Brahma into Hara did He He destroys the world, by His manifestation as Hara or Rudra, And into the soul of the body while it is again He, who preserves (protects and transforms) the body( as Vishnu) , He pervades while also simultaneously transcending all the above mentioned manifestations, He is all pervading. As the Effulgence Divine He is Light (divine light). the Dharmic law limitless He is the limitless, unbiased and eternal, universal natural law (Dharma), awarding the just fruit for efforts. The Eternal and the Everlasting And it is only He who is eternal and everlasting.

* Siva is the supporter of the continued existence of the worlds, by being the creator, preserver and the destroyer of infinite world systems. He oversees the continuity of the world, by being the Dharma or Universal natural law, which enables the awarding of the right fruit (effect) to the right effort (cause). Note the intrinsic connection between Dharma and Karma and their direct bearing on the continuity of this eternal and never ending cycle of the creation and the dissolution of the world systems.
The word (expand) suggests the 'modifications' or vrittis in the undifferentiated consciousness (Parashiva), as the modifications themselves are the cause of the (expansion) multiplication of attributes, which then becomes the cause of creation itself (the universe is full of attributes). These modifications are always continuing (constantly transforming) in their own dynamic which then becomes the cause of the preservation (of the modifications and thus this universe). Finally, these modifications dissolve to leave us at the begenning - the pure and undifferentiated consciousness, this then becomes the cause of the dissolution of the universe. And simultaneously, it becomes the seed of the universe to begin all over again. The laws of Dharma and Karma (cause and effort) govern the appearance and the subsequent disappearance of the modifications in the one and pure consciousness. And so, it keeps going - the tail of this serpent is in its own mouth; its infinite. And as the modifications or changes are themselves temporary, the transcendental state of parashiva alone is eternal and limitless. That is what the vedas describe as the Brahman.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Transcending all to be in the sahasrara. Mantra-14

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The fourteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

கடந்துநினின் றான்கம லம்மல ராதி
கடந்துநின் றான்கடல் வண்ணம்எம் மாயன்
கடந்துநின் றான்அவர்க்கு அப்புறம் ஈசன்
கடந்துநின் றான்எங்கும் கண்டுநின் றானே. 14.
14: Transcends All
Transcended He Brahma on the lotus-seat,
Transcended Mayan, the ocean-hued,
Transcended He, Isan, who transcends all,
Transcended He space infinite, witnessing all.
Com - Transcended He Brahma on the lotus-seat Siva, He stands above (transcended) the Swadhisthana lotus (sacral chakra), which is the seat of the creative principle (Brahma). Transcended Mayan, the ocean-hued He stands above the Manipura lotus (solar plexus chakra) which is the seat of the preservative principle (Vishnu, the ocean hued Lord of Maya) Transcended He, Isan He stands above even the Anahata lotus (heart chakra) which is the seat of the dissolution principle (Rudra) . who transcends all He has transcended even the Vishudhi lotus (throat chakra) the seat of Maheshwara and the Ajnya lotus (third eye chakra) the seat of Sadashiva. Transcended He space infinite, witnessing all And transcending all, He stands in the Sahasrara lotus (crown chakra), the highest seat, being a witness to all (i.e. As pure consciousness, being the observer).

* The highest Siva resides in the Sahasrara as pure consciousness, being the silent witness, while the 5 Beings (Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheshwara and Sadashiva) have been given the authority to perform the 5 functions (viz. creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and revealing) and have been stationed at their respective centres. The above mantra makes the location or the seats of the different Purushas/ Beings explicit, along with an indication of the functional aspect of each of the above mentioned 5 Beings. By the term ''witnessing all'' associated with the Supreme Shiva, the sage makes clear that the Parashiva or Supreme Shiva is bereft of actions and their results. He is pure, undifferentiated, taintless consciousness - the witness of all, but not the participant (though the 5 beings are but manifestations of the Supreme). Like the impurities mixed in a glass of water sink to the bottom leaving the clear and sediment free water to rise up, the various modifications (vrittis) and differentiation in consciousness are located in the lower realms of the chakra system leaving the pure crystal consciousness to stand freely at the crown of the head (sahasrara).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Shiva - The Immeasurable. Mantra-13

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The thirteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

மண்ணளந் தான்மல ரோன்முதல் தேவர்கள்
எண்ணளந் தின்னும் நினைக்கிலார் ஈசனை
விண்ணளந் தாந்தன்னை மேலளந் தாரில்லை
கண்ணளந் தெங்குங் கடந்துநின் றானே. 13.
13: Immeasurable

Mal who spanned the earth and Brahma the Lotus seated one,
And others of the Gods fathomed Him not;
There be none to measure Him that measured the Heav'ns
And thus He stood, all visions transcending.
Com - The Devas, (including) Mal who spanned the earth Vishnu who spanned the whole earth (in His Vamana (Dwarf) incarnation) and Brahma the Lotus seated one and Brahma, who was born from the navel lotus of Vishnu, And others of the Gods fathomed Him not and many other Gods who abide in the heavens, do not practise the meditation of holding Siva firm in the mind’s eye always. Hence, they are unable to fathom Him. There be none to measure Him that measured the Heav'ns Siva, in His immensely expansive form permeates all of the Akaashaa (heavens) and so there are none here in the earth below, who have been able to transcend to that level to understand Siva. And thus He stood, all visions transcending But Siva is present (stands) always, merged in the light of the eyes, while at the same time He transcends all.

* The word play of the original text in Tamil for this mantra points to the following understanding – As the Devas are forever indulgent in their heavenly kingdoms, constantly given to the pursuit of and experiencing pleasure (sensory), they are unable (to find the time) to ‘think’ about Siva. While at the same time those down in the earth, are unable to ‘measure’ Siva (due to their gross level of consciousness) as He resides in the highly subtle realm of Akaashaa (ether/heavens). The last line of the verse also makes clear that Siva is so close (by being manifest as the light in the eyes) and yet so unreachable (by virtue of His transcending all).

* For those of you who might not know of the incaration of Vishnu as Vaamana or the dwarf, I have presented a very short version below, of the story to give you an idea.

yadA yadA hi dharmasya gLAnirbhavati bhArata
abhyutthAnamadharmasya tathAtmAnam s.rjAmyaham
paritrANAya sAdhUnAM vinAshAya ca duSk.rtAm
dharmasaMsthApanArthAya saMbhavAmi yuge yuge
(bhagavad gIta, 4, 7--8)
(Whenever righteousness is on the decline, and unrighteousness is on the ascent, Oh arjuna!, then I embody myself on earth. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil, and for the fulfillment of the kingdom of righteousness, I am born on this earth, age after age)

As Lord Krishna says in the battlefield to Arjuna, Vishnu himself assumes various incarnations to protect the good and uphold the Dharma during times on the earth when righteousness and good is on the decline. And the tradition of the puranas have preserved the legends and morals of innumerable such incarnations throughout the various epochs or yugas. In among the countless incarnations and part manifestations (amsa) however, there are ten incarnations that are great and are held in very high esteem. Together they are known of as the DashAvatar (ten incarnations) of Vishnu. Even a brief description of the various avatars will lead us astray from the present post, so I will mention the Vamana legend only at this point.

The incarnation of Vishnu as Vaamana took place in the treta yuga. The asura (demonic) king Mahabali ruled much of the earth then. He was a very pious and righteous king though born in the asura clan and there was order and peace during his rule. However, the great king Mahabali had performed one hundred Ashwamedha sacrifices (a very powerful and complicated procedure capable of bestowing immense power) and thus had accquired the might of Indra himself. Why, he would have even surpassed Indra in his power! This greatly disturbed Indra (much like the rise of an independant candidate would disturb the established party back benchers) and he sought the help of Vishnu. Before any of you question why Vishnu would aggree to use his might against a pious and virtueous king, it has to be mentioned that Mahabali's pride was immense (after the many Ashwamedhas performed) and this brought about his downfall. (Personally, I feel that the story has been tweaked as the moral code of the hindu society changed down through the ages, but anyway, Mahabali's increased pride and arrogance were his downfall as far as the story is concerned.)

Vishnu then was born to the sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi (the parents of Indra himself, becoming his younger brother). He was born as a dwarf and so was known as Vamana ( who has a small body). In the form of a vatuh (or a young brahmin boy in his gurukula vasa or training period with the guru), Vishnu went to the place where the king Mahabali was in the process of conducting a sacrifice. There he approached the king and begged him for a gift of some land - land as wide as three of his footsteps!! It is generally the custom for a king (or anyone conducting sacrifices) to fulfill every request made during the time great sacrifices were being performed. And when Mahabali heard the request for three steps of land and that too three steps of a 'dwarf', he readily aggreed. Thus Mahabali made a solemn promise to give away three steps of land to the vatuh Vamana (Vishnu) using the priests officiating in the sacrifice.

As everyone gathered there were waiting for the dwarf to measure out his three feet of land, Vishnu suddenly assumed his Vishwarupa or cosmic form, huge and immense. Then with the first step he covered the earth and the netherworld. With the second step he covered the heavens. Now there was nowhere in existence for the third step. The ever righteous Mahabali came to his senses and bowed before Vishnu and gave his own head for the third step to rest on! Thus in three steps, Vishnu as the Vamana, deprived Mahabali of his supremacy over the three worlds and the gods. Mahabali then requested Vishnu to refrain from slaying him and further requested that he be allowed to visit his beloved subjects and his kingdom once every year for ten days. The festival of Onam celebrated in Kerala still bears testimony to this incident and people celebrate the ten days where their king Mahabali visits them each year, by decorating the streets and public places with beautiful and elaborate floral motifs and designs to signal their welcome to their erstwhile king.
The word Vamana when looked into etymologically also conveys the meaning - Because Vishnu arrested or checked (vamayati) the increasing pride of possession in the heart of Mahabali, he is known as Vaamana.

It goes without saying that Indra and the other gods regained their positions (however undeserving they maybe). This is made evident from the lines that even gods as powerful as Vishnu (even though the entire universe was measured by his three steps, Vishnu is unable to 'measure' Shiva) or Brahma or Indra and the host of other Gods living in the heavens are unable to fathom the supreme and all transcendental Shiva. Those of us who are dwellers of the earthly realm, we too cannot transcend the limitations of our every day burdens and faults to reach the supreme Shiva who is manifest as Aakashaa or ether. Shivas nature of being extremely near yet so far away highlights His ability/nature to transcend all and our nature to be unable to transcend to that inner and most subtle self who is Shiva - present forever, merged in the light of the seeing.

Together Alone.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

A self penned Haiku!

'' Atleast in being
Alone, we are together.
You and me, my Soul. ''


'' Atleast in Being
alone, we are together.
You and me, my Soul. ''

Friday, March 23, 2007

Siva is beyond comprehension. Mantra-12

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twelveth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

கண்ணுத லான்ஒரு காதலின் நிற்கவும்
எண்ணிலி தேவர் இறந்தார் எனப்பலர்
மண்ணுறு வார்களும் வானுறு வார்களும்
அண்ணல் இவன் என்றுஅறியகி லார்களே. 12.
12: Beyond Comprehension
The One of the fore-head eye, in Love Supreme, unmoved,
Dead were the countless Devas,
Born were the myriads on earth;
Upward they climbed to lives beyond count,
Yet none did know the Lord was He.
Com - The One of the fore-head eye, in Love Supreme, unmoved While Siva, the One with the third eye(on the forehead), remains motionless and steady submerged in the state of Supreme Love (eternally) Dead were the countless Devas countless Devas were born and subsequently perished in the heavenly realms Born were the myriads on earth; Upward they climbed to lives beyond count while at the same time millions of jivas were born and progressed through countless lifetime’s on this Earth Yet none did know the Lord was He. And still (in all this time) no one, neither the Devas (the dwellers of the sky) nor the people (the dwellers of the earth) are able to understand that Siva is the only eternal being capable of bestowing immortality/kaivalya (the state of absoluteness). What a pity?

*This mantra highlights the (pitiful) reality where no one (apart from very few) is able to comprehend fully, the eternal glory of the Supreme Siva – as it is only He that remains steady throughout countless pralayas (dissolution) during which the entire world system is absorbed back into its cause (Siva).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Effort and fruit (or) cause and effect. Mantra-11

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The eleventh mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

அயலும் புடையும்எம் ஆதியை நோக்கில்
இயலும் பெருந்தெய்வம் யாதுமொன் றில்லை
முயலும் முயலில் முடிவும் மற் றாங்கே
பெயலும் மழைமுகிற் பேர்நந்தி தானே. 11.
11: Effort And Fruit
Near and far I look; but around the Being First,
No other God, I see, mightier than He;
Himself the effort, and Himself, too, effort's end;
Himself the rains, Himself the clouds rain-laden,
The Nandi named.
Com - Near and far I look; but around the Being First From close by and from afar, when one thinks of the greatness of the First Being (Siva), No other God, I see, mightier than He it can be understood that there is no other God superior in nature to Him (Siva). Himself the effort, and Himself, too, effort's end He is Himself the effort (sadhana) and again, He is Himself the fruit (siddhi) of the effort. Himself the rains, Himself the clouds rain-laden He is Himself the rains (the shower of Grace) and again, He is Himself the rain bearing clouds (the meditation, worship etc of Siva). The Nandi named His name in Nandi.

*It is clear from this mantra that Siva rewards (the fruit, called Grace – compared here to rains) as a result of the effort (namely, the tapas and sadhana of Siva – compared here to the rain bearing clouds). The principle of cause and effect. This mantra can be seen to be a continuation of the principle of cause and effect that has also been discussed in the eighth mantra. As He is all, it is mentioned here that Siva is the effort as He is himself the fruit of the effort. This can again be compared to that supreme and transcendental state where the triad of knower, known and the knowledge merge into the one (gnayana,gnayatru,gneya).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

He is as all. Mantra-10

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The tenth verse of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

தானே இருநிலம் தாங்கிவிண் ணாய்நிற்கும்
தானே சுடும்அங்கி ஞாயிறும் திங்களும்
தானே மழைபொழி தையலு மாய்நிற்கும்
தானே தடவரை தண்கட லாமே. 10.
10: Omnium Gatherum
Holding the worlds apart, as the Heavens high He spreads;
Himself the scorching Fire, Sun and Moon,
Himself the Mother that sends down the rains
Himself the mountains strong and oceans cold.
Com - Holding the worlds apart Siva Himself is the sole support of the world (earth) as the Heavens high He spreads and He spreads everywhere as Ether (Akaashaa) even into the highest of the Heavens. Himself the scorching Fire, Sun and Moon It is He who is manifest as the scorching fire, the sun and the moon. Himself the Mother that sends down the rains He is manifest also as the Truth that showers Grace, like rain from the sky. Himself the mountains strong and oceans cold He is great, strong and immovable (firm) as the mountains and it is He who is cool like the oceans.

*The verse points out that Siva is manifest in all forms.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nandi - He of the golden matted locks.Mantra-9

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The ninth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

பொன்னால் புரிந்திட்ட பொற்சடை யென்ன
ப்பின்னாற் பிறங்க இருந்தவன் பேர்நந்தி
என்னால் தொழப்படும் எம்இறை மற்றவன்
தன்னால் தொழப்படு வாரில்லை தானே. 9.
All Worship Him
Gold-be wrought, His matted locks fall back and gleam;
Nandi, His name,
My Lord is He, ever by me worshiped;
But none there be whom He worships.
Com - Gold-be wrought, His matted locks fall His matted locks appear to shine as if they were wrought out of pure gold (it is His infinite Grace that appears as many golden rays entwined in His matted locks) . back (appears) and gleam He appears gleaming in the back Nandi, His name That Siva’s name is Nandi. My Lord is He; ever by me worshiped He is always adored and worshiped by me as He is the Lord of me and all life. But none there be whom He worships But there are none whom He worships, as He is unequalled and is the Lord of all.

* The word ‘back’ here signifies the back portion of the brain, more specifically the Pineal gland. This is considered to be the seat of life. It is the bridge that connects the gross body and the subtle body to the intelligence. This truth is also conveyed through the Lingothbhavar, who is always depicted as being behind (in the back of) the Siva Lingam (emblem). The above mantra shows that Siva is superior to all other Gods (who are based in the lower chakras) and resides at the highest place (head) in the body.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kinder than a mother. Mantra-8

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The eighth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

தீயினும் வெய்யன் புனலினும் தண்ணியன்
ஆயினும் ஈசன் அருளறி வாரில்லை
சேயினும் நல்லன் அணியன்நல் அன்பர்க்குத்
தாயினும் நல்லன் தாழ்சடை யோனே. 8.
8: Kinder Than Mother
Hotter is He than fire, cooler than water;
And yet none knows of His Grace abounding;
Purer than the child, kinder by far than the mother,
Nearest to Love is He, of the flowing matted locks.
Com - He, of the flowing matted locks Siva, who sports thick, flowing matted locks Hotter is He than fire is hotter than even Fire to the un devout cooler than water to the devoted, He is cooler and more refreshing than even water. Purer than the child He is purer (signifies the innocence of thought, word and deed) than even the child. Nearest He is so close to everybody, as He is the very life of the living. to Love (he is) kinder by far than the mother To those who love Him, He becomes kinder even than the mother (signifies His compassion). Even still no one knows of His infinite Grace that is ever flowing towards all.

*How unfortunate we are, in not being aware of this Love? The above mantra shows that Siva is full of grace to His devotees and is punishing in nature to (with a view to correct) the un devout.Even though His very nature is possesed of compasion that is more than even that of a mother to her child, us, the people of this world spend our lives unaware of His love and compassion towards us.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

From the Rudram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

A verse from the very end of the Rudra Prassnam, one of the most beautiful hymns ever.

''OM namo bhagavathe rudraaya vishnave mruturme paahi,
Praanaanaam grandhi rasi rudro vishaanthaka
Thenaa 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.

Om. Shanti shanti shantihi. May peace prevail in the three worlds.

Shiva - Father of . Mantra-7

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The seventh mantra of the first part of Thirumandiram.

முன்னைஒப் பாயுள்ள மூவர்க்கும் மூத்தவன்
தன்னைஒப் பாய்ஒன்றும் இல்லாத் தலைமகன்
தன்னைஅப் பாயெனில் அப்பனு மாயுளன்
பொன்னைஒப் பாகின்ற போதகத் தானே. 7.
7: Divine Father
Primal First is He, older than the Co-equal Three
But the Lord is He peerless, unequalled;
Call Him "Father," and Father He to thee,
Inside you He flames in the Lotus of golden hue.
Com - Inside you He flames in the Lotus of golden hue Siva, who dwells in the form of light (flame)in the incomparable Sahasrara lotus, of a beautiful golden hue Primal First is He, older than the Co-equal Three is of far more antiquity (primal) having existed as Isaana long before even the Co equal Three(viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra, who are already as old as time and are conceived of as being equals since antiquity).But the Lord is He peerless, unequalled He exists, as the Lord of all, as there is none who is equal to or superior to Him. Call Him "Father," and Father He to thee (Yet) If anyone calls out to Him ‘Father’, He comes at once to their aid and as a father would, will love and protect them.

* It will be of interest to note that the Atarvasira Upanishad of the Atharva Veda comments that Siva’s manifestation as Isaana, is ever constant – having existed prior to the appearance of the world and continuing to exist even after the dissolution of the world. The Agamas support this view and also assert that the Isaana murthy exists in the form of light (flame) that is within life (inside you). Siva, who resides in the Sahasrara lotus as Light , is ever compassionate and attentive to the needs of the jivas – like the father is, out of his love towards his offspring.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shiva - The all competent. Mantra -6

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The sixth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

அவனை ஒழிய அமரரும் இல்லை

அவனன்றிச் செய்யும் அருந்தவம் இல்லை

அவனன்றி மூவரால் ஆவதொன் றில்லை

அவனன்றி ஊர்புகு மாறு அறியேனே. 6.

6: Omni-Competent

Without Him, there be Celestials none,

Without Him, penance is not,

Without Him, naught the Three accomplish,

Without Him, I know not the City's Gate.

Com - Without Him, there be Celestials none There are no Devas (celestial ‘shining’ beings) who are equal to or superior to Siva. Without Him, penance is not There is no tapas (austerity/penance) that is as complete or as rare or as beautiful, as one that is of Him. Without Him, naught the Three accomplish The Three (viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra) are incapable of delivering on their respective functions of creation, preservation and destruction, without (Him) His explicit consent and support. Without Him, I know not the City's Gate Apart from Siva, I do not know of any other means to arrive at the City (Liberation -Mukti, is meant here by the word City).

* This last line can be understood in 2 ways – That there is no other way to Liberation apart from Siva, is the obvious meaning. But a siddhar of the calibre of Thriumular who has attained to great spiritual heights and an unbiased awareness of perfect oneness, we have to assume, will not be caught up in denying that there are other ways to liberation/freedom. So, my interpretation of the last line is in looking a bit beyond the obvious. It can mean (more subtly) that all the means to Liberation become one in Siva (meaning that there is nothing that can be not Him) as it has been and will be established (later throught the text to follow) beyond doubt that Shiva is All pervading.

Note that the Christ also said '' I am the way'' and that this saying has been later twisted and interpreted by lesser people as meaning that Christ and His way (Christianity) is the only way. But anyone with half a head will understand that there is no truth in that and similarly we have to assume a higher intent and meaning with respect to Thirumulars words that ''without Him I know not the City's gate ''.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

None can equal Shiva. Mantra-5

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The fifth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

சிவனொடுஒக் கும்தெய்வம் தேடினும் இல்லை
அவனொடுஒப் பார் இங்கு யாவரும் இல்லை
புவனம் கடந்தன்று பொன்னொளி மின்னும்
தவனச் சடைமுடித் தாமரை யானே. 5.
5: Siva Is Nonpareil
Search where ye will, there's no God like Siva,
None here below to equal Him in glory;
Lotus like, He, of gleaming matted locks,
Golden in splendour, beyond the worlds, apart.
Com - Search where ye will, there's no God like Siva Even after searching throughout this vast external (manifest) universe, one will not be able to find another God to equal Siva. None here below to equal Him in glory And searching thoroughly throughout this (equally vast) internal universe (the body), one will realise that none can match Siva in His glory. Golden in splendour, beyond the worlds, apart When in His transcendental state (beyond all worlds), He stands apart, golden in splendour, shining like pure gold, with tawny matted locks. Lotus like, He, of gleaming matted locks He resides in the upward Sahasrara lotus (top of the head) tinged with the colour red.

*Here, the sage makes clear the location of the supreme Siva, who is unequalled, as the upward pointing Sahasrara, the chakra of thousand petals.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The secret of dispelling gloom. Mantra-4

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The fourth mantra in Thirumandiram.

அகலிடத் தார்மெய்யை அண்டத்து வித்தைப்
புகலிடத்து என்றனைப் போதவிட் டானைப்
பகலிடத் தும்இர வும்பணிந் தேத்தி
இகலிடத் தேஇருள் நீங்கிநின் றேனே. 4.
4: Dispells Gloom
The Truth of Spaces Vast, Seed of the Universe orb,
Our Haven of Refuge, He bade me seek and find,
Him I praised by night and day,
And praising thus, gloom{-}dispelled,
I held firm in this world of strife’s.
Com - The Truth of Spaces Vast He is the only Truth/ Reality for the jivas of (spaces vast) all worlds. Seed of the Universe orb He is like a seed (cause) for the Universe (Ether orb or Akaashaa mandala). Our Haven of Refuge, He bade me seek and find He allowed me (out of His boundless compassion) to (seek and find) exist through infinite life cycles, in this incomparable haven of Refuge (The Earth being a sanctuary) called Earth. Him I praised by night and day Him I praised constantly (by night and day). And praising thus, gloom {-} dispelled and as a result of such (constant) worship, my gloom (the darkness of ignorance and wrong knowledge) was dispelled. I held firm in this world of strife’s Thus enabling me to hold firm, in this world of duality and ignorance (strife), to the one true Reality.

*A more secret meaning of this verse is that Siva is to be meditated through the Lunar and Solar nadis (Ida and Pingala) corresponding to the opposing polarities like night and day, which characterise the dual nature of this world. And by neutralising the above mentioned currents, the devotee is able to ascend to a non dual and firm realm of Reality that corresponds to the Haven of Refuge. In this context, the word ‘Haven of Refuge’ implies the Sushumna Nadi or the central channel, into which the consciousness of the sadhaka should be focussed. Note the word 'haven of refuge' used to describe life on Earth and the earth reality itself. Not for the siddars the view that this world is a miserable place full of sin - they percieve the earth as it really is, a haven of refuge, total sanctuary here in this world. Nothing can ever happen to the jiva inside, it merely exists as it always has - untouched and silent.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Immortals adore Him. Mantra-3

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The third mantra in the first part of Thirumandiram.

ஒக்கநின் றானை உலப்பிலி தேவர்கள்
நக்கனென்று ஏத்திடும் நாதனை நாள்தொறும்
பக்கநின் றார்அறி யாத பரமனைப்
புக்குநின்று உன்னியான் போற்றிசெய் வேனே. 3.
3: Immortals Adore
He who stands the same to all,
The Pure One, whom immortal Gods adore,
Whom, even they, that daily stand beside, know not,
Him I seek, praise, and meditate.
Com - He who stands the same to all He who is the constant companion to all, without bias. The Pure One, whom immortal Gods adore whom the immortal Devas adore and praise as the Naked One (the Pure one, without blemish). [Siva is conceived of as without clothes (naked) as He wears the quarters (four directions) as His clothing in His universal aspect- Sky clad or digambaram] Whom, even they, that daily stand beside, know not Who is beyond the grasp of even the great Gods like Vishnu, Brahma etc, – even though they are of very high consciousness and inhabit highly subtle realms (that daily stand beside Him), they do not understand Siva fully. Him I seek, praise, and meditate Him I seek (in order to get closer to Him) so that I may (intimately, through meditation) praise and worship Him.

* The above mantra makes it clear that the best way to worship Siva (who is the closest friend to all) is by keeping Him extremely close to the heart (intimate) through Love.

Shiva - He defies Death. Mantra 2

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The second mantra in the first section of the Thirumandiram -

போற்றிசைத்து இன்னுயிர் மன்னும் புனிதனை
நாற்றிசைக் கும்நல்ல மாதுக்கும் நாதனை
மேற்றிசைக் குள்தென் திசைக்கொரு வேந்தனாம்
கூற்றுதைத் தானையான் கூறுகின் றேனே. 2.
2: Defies Death
The Holy One who all life sustains,
Lord of Her, beloved of all the world,
He who spurned Yama, the Southern Quarter's King
Of Him I sing, His glory and praise.
Com - The Holy One who all life sustains The Pure Siva who is the very essence and basis of all life, Lord of Her, beloved of all the world He is the Lord of the four directions namely East, West, South and North, He is also the Lord of Parashakti, the beloved of all. He who spurned Yama, the Southern Quarter's King Of the quarters (directions) named above, He spurned Yama (The god of Death) the ruler of the South. Of Him I sing, His glory and praise His glory and praise I sing forever.

(*) The four quarters are to be conceived of in the head region in the front (east) , back (west) , right (south) and left (north) sides respectively.
[Spurned Yama – Refers to the incident mentioned in the puranas, where Siva came to the aid of His devotee, the sage Markandeya. Markandeya was fated to die when he turned sixteen years of age. But the much troubled youth was initiated by great sages into the mantra called Maha mrityunjaya mantra, which is capable of bestowing immortality to the sadhaka. Markandeya left all his worldly desires and when the time came for his death, went into a temple of Siva and there chanted the Mahamrityunjaya mantra, while hugging the Lingam of Siva tightly with his arms. And when Yama, the God of Death, came there to collect the soul of Markandeya, he saw that the youth was deep in prayer. Just as he threw his noose to bind the soul, Siva appeared out of the Lingam and out of His love for His devotee; He fought with Yama and defeated him by finally kicking him with His left leg. Thus He succeeded in sending him away without the soul of Markandeya, His devotee.]

The journey begins - Thirumandiram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The text begins like all others with an invocation to Ganesha, the god of all begennings. This invocation is also a dhyanam and contains the aspects of Ganapathy that have to be meditated on at the start.

Following the invocation, the verses from one to one hundred and twelve ( 01 - 112) is set in what is called Payiram or proem. It deals largely with the description of the gods, particularly Shiva and details His glory and the merits of the shaiva path. It also describes the guru parampara or the spiritual lineage of which the author (Siddhar Thirumular) is a part of and gives details of his contemporaries as well. The parts of the text in bold are the actual verses translated into english by Dr. B. Natarajan and the smaller (regular) text is my commentary. Additional notes are provided enclosed in brackets.

ஐந்து கரத்தனை யானை முகத்தனை
இந்தின் இளம்பிறை போலும் எயிற்றனை
நந்தி மகன்தனை ஞானக் கொழுந்தினைப்
புந்தியில் வைத்தடி போற்றுகின் றேனே.

He who has the five hands and the elephant's face,
Whose tusk is even as the crescent moon,
The son of Nandi, the Flower of Wisdom,
Him I cherish in thought, His feet adore.
PAYIRAM - PROEM (verses 1 - 112)
01. In praise of God
ஒன்றவன் தானே இரண்டவன் இன்னருள்
நின்றனன் மூன்றினுள் நான்குணர்ந் தான்ஐந்து
வென்றனன் ஆறு விரிந்தனன் ஏழும்பர்ச்
சென்றனன் தானிருந் தான்உணர்ந் தெட்டே. 1.
1: One Is Many
The One is He, the Two His sweet Grace,
In Three He stood, in all the Four witnessed,
The Five He conquered, the Six He filled,
The Seven Worlds pervades, manifests the Eight
And so remains.
Com - The One is He Siva, who is in essence One, the Two His sweet Grace (out of compassion towards the jivas) manifests as Twofold along with Shakti (in order to initiate the creation of the worlds). In Three He stood It is the same Siva who (stands) firmly as the Three – namely, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra, and performs the threefold actions of creation, preservation and destruction of the world system. in all the Four witnessed He (witnessed) and thus acquired the Four Purushaartha’s- (the Purushaartha’s are the four main goals of this human birth , namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). Another understanding of the same line can be that, through the Four (namely the four Vedas) He made Truth/ Reality perceptible (to be witnessed, i.e. experienced by the devotee). The Five He conquered He has conquered (transcended the distracting influence of) the Five organs of Sense perception (Indriya) namely Mouth, Eyes, Nose, Ears and Skin. the Six He filled He filled (expanded and permeated) the Six – The six Chakras namely Muladhara, Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudhi and Ajnya (which correspond to locations at the base of the spine, sacral cavity, just below the solar plexus, heart, throat and the spot in the middle of the 2 eyebrows respectively). The Seven Worlds pervades And after filling the six centres, He permeates the Seventh chakra, namely, Sahasrara (located on the top of the head) thus pervading the seven worlds. manifests the Eight And so remains And there he remains merged in the Eight manifestations (which are to be understood as Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether[which together are the 5 elements or ‘panchaboothas’] Sun, Moon and Atman (Soul).
* The above mantra describes beautifully that the One (Siva), through union with Shakti becomes two to initiate the birth of the world system. He is Himself manifest as the Three (Brahma &c) for the purpose of accomplishing the three functions (creation &c) and through the four Vedas He made the Truth be realised. He bestows the power to conquer the five sense organs (i.e. to transcend) and in His expansive form has saturated the six chakras and is present always in the seventh chakra (Sahasrara) and is externalised through His eight manifestations (see above).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A commentary on the Thirumandiram.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
Om namashivaya.

I live outside of India and have also travelled a bit. One of the first things that someone from the south of India would notice (when outside the country) is that almost everything that people elsewhere know about India is relative to the northern part of the country. Whether it is in the area of linguistics or in terms of cusine, in terms of festivals and observances, in terms of traditions and culture - the focus is almost always on Punjab and the areas around there. I am sure there are many factors why this is so, and it is not my intention to debate that or any other geo political issue here. I just want to set the context for the observation to follow - that even when it comes to the general hindu thought and in particular with the various mystical traditions that have existed for thousands of years in India, the focus is entirely on the north of the country. Most people (at least those interested in Indian sprituality and mysticism) are familiar with the epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana, they even know of the existence of the Yoga sutras of Patanjali and the Shiva sutras etc, but this wholesale export of Indian thought and philosophy has often entirely overlooked the siddha tradition and other philosophical/ yogic systems that existed in the south of India (particularly Tamilnadu). There is no doubt as to the originality and the depth of understanding and wisdom of the traditional systems of the Tamil people (make that the southern people if you will) and in some cases it becomes clear that the subject matter and the language used is very old and is probably more suitable to one 'searching' for the truth as there has been lesser erosion of ideas and language there.

This exclusion of the siddha and other native southern mystical traditions from reaching a wider audience is actually quite surprising, as the siddars themselves are a very unusual bunch of enlightened people, when compared to the mystics and sadhakas of other sampradayas or traditions. If you ask me, I will describe the siddars as 'conscious rebels'! And therein probably lies the reason why their works and thoughts have not gained popularity among a wider group of people. The enlightened masters of the siddha tradition often went 'against' other established traditions - dont get me wrong, this going against tradition is not the reason for their enlightenment (or is it?), but the fact remains for all to see that they did go against established tradition and dogma. For example, even though the siddars have often used a language termed by scholars as 'sandhya basha' or twilight language (where the word often means one thing explicitly but the 'real' meaning intended is obvious only to those who have the capacity to look beyond) ; most of their works have been composed in a fairly straightforward language. This is very unusual as mysteries of such a high order have not been discussed so openly by other traditions - infact, most other systems have gone out of their way to develop a very complicated system of symbols and codes to deter all but the most dedicated seekers.

When we look deeper into the writings of the siddars and see them in context to the lives they lived, we can begin to see some patterns emerge. The siddars were beyond the usual boundaries of caste, sex and other such restrictions. Their writings make it very clear that they had hearts of gold - they wanted all humanity to acchieve the bliss and super consciousness that they themselves had attained. They were very socially minded and considered us (the 'regular' folk) with empathy and not through the taint of pride of having acchieved such a high level of consciousness. They shattered the prevalent moral attitudes and social codes, and initiation into such high mysteries of this universe was made available to all - not just the Brahmins and their lineages. They practised a lot of healing and developed medicines for all human illness (whether of the body or mind or those born socially) and developed a code of ethics and morality that was way ahead of their times. Rather than be venerated and worshipped by the common people while they sat in seats of high power (like many other saints from various traditions) they never forgot their origin. They lived and mingled among the masses, trying to slowly change attitudes by way of examples in their own lives. Their wisdom and mysticism is applicable globally, not just to brahmins or hindus or Indians, but to all everywhere. They spoke of the essence of all things and of the secrets that would empower each one of us (if we paid attention and had the discipline to follow) to acchieve super human bodies - immortal bodies, always in state of pure samadhi, forever aware of the one thread connecting us all. Nor did they stop with just super human bodies, they have laid out a clear path to acchieve many siddhis that defy common sense and the world as we know it now.

With this and many things that I have not touched in the couple of paragraphs above, it becomes clear that it is all the more puzzling that such universally applicable systems havent become universal. Why, they have not even been understood and practised by even those from the same or similar geographical coordinates. Perhaps the fact that the siddars did not actively participate in idol worship (like most of their other hindu brothers) or the fact that they did not adhere much to religious or social dogma, is a reason for their words not gaining mass acceptance. But like I have said before, their words are worth their weight in gold. Now that the world is a much smaller place than even a hundred years ago and with many people from many places and different attitudes to life trying to arrive at a more 'grown up' level of consciousness, it feels like now is a more receptive time for the immortal words of the immortal masters to reach a wider audience. I have no doubt that those who come into contact with the various aspects of siddha tradition will only benefit from that contact. And perhaps slowly we will reach an eventual state of harmony and happiness as a result of it - the import of this truly strikes home when you consider that this harmony and happiness is but our natural state and birth right!

Emulating the siddars themselves (yaan petra inbam peruga ivvayyagam - let the world share in and obtain the bliss that I have obtained), I have been working on a commentary in English on the Thirumandiram over the past few years, so that the truths and methods contained there can satisfy the thirst of a bigger group of seekers. Before I go any further with this, I would like to make it clear that I am no siddar (I am probably about a hundred thousand lifetimes from becoming one!), nor am I an expert in tamil. Why then, you might protest, do I feel like I have any right to comment on the Thirumandiram? And such a question from you would be quite right - I indeed have no authority, nor the reserves of knowledge that such a task demands, and I make no untrue claims in that respect. What I do have is a passable understanding of the various tantras and mystical systems that are discussed by Thirumular in his magnum opus. And I have a good grasp of the english language. Mostly, I have an unstoppable urge to present the metaphysics of the siddars to those who are interested. And in the process, I imagine that I will sharpen my own understanding of the system. I want to learn with you, all of you readers from various parts of this world who visit this page and I want to share with you the inexplicable joy and the high that each of the verses inspire in me. I also want to invite those of you who are scholars in tamil and the siddha tradition to participate in this journey with me. Those of you out there who are more advanced sadhakas and siddhas, it is my humble request to you that you forgive me my mistakes (both in word and interpretation) and it is my heartfelt prayer that you will come forward to enlighten both me and the other readers of those mistakes. What I really want to share is the pure consciousness of the siddars and their methodology and not 'my' version or view of it - and it goes without saying that I would love the participation of a bigger group of devotees.

A core aspect of the siddhars and their tradition lies in their attitude towards life on this earth. As I mentioned earlier, they were extremely socially minded. From their enlightened stand point they were able to clearly percieve the ills of this world, but rather than moan about it endlessly or fear or loathe those ills (like the scholars of many traditions I can name) they were moved to seek reform! They tried a whole host of methods to address the imbalance in the world and through their own lives and actions set an active example for many thousands of future siddhas. They did not blame destiny or give you long drawn out stories about your past life sins (as being the hurdle in your way to acchieve wisdom), instead they tested and developed precise methods and medicines to 'transform' your very existence. Much like the sacred and immensely amazing science of alchemy the siddars are renowned for, their lives were spent trying to transform the base metal of our confused existence into the gold of higher knowledge and inner wisdom. The siddha system is not one of passive deliberation (not for the armchair mystic) but one of active participation. The key aspect here to take note is the fact that the siddars have always '' participated'' in life here. Not just participate, their writings make it clear that they 'enjoyed' their life here to the fullest! What a contrast when set against other spiritual systems that advice distancing oneself from the external reality and to remain as detached as possible. It is because of this crucial difference in perception that the siddars have taken a lot of pride and joy in their earthly bodies and have developed many methods to make the physical body into a body of light. One that cannot be destroyed, hard as diamond and equally lusturous. Capable of remaining in ecstacy and merged in itself till the end of time...

And as for the followers of this path, it leaves one free from guilt and other such self inflicted pain while they seek to attain perfection!OM! They see joy and they acchieve joy, while some see only untold pain and hardship in this life and sure enough attain to only that. With the context now set, let me just mention one last thing, please. Siddar Thirumular is an enlightened master from the nandhinatha sampradaya and his text the Thirumandiram contains in it practically everything an induvidual needs to know to begin and continue his or her journey to perfection. It is a great tantra in itself and echoes the truths of the Vedas throughout. Moreoever, it is a practical text with the required details (technical and otherwise) that enable the 'transformation' to happen. It is a text through which we can 'experience' or have an 'anubhavam' the various states of consciousness and the tattvas or principles, rather than just be told about them. It is personal.

Regarding the commentary to follow in english - Many years ago, I tried to translate the beautiful poetic verses of the Thirumandiram into English and I failed - quite miserably. There is such light and purity in each of the words in the verses that I could not transfer on to their english equivalent. So, I began focus on the actual commentary of the verses in english and left the actual verses for another day or for some poetic inspiration. But as luck would have it, I came across a translation (of the verses) rendered by Dr. B. Natarajan with a foreword by Sri. Sivaya Subramuni swami of the Hawai adhinam. I am sure anyone can appreciate the hard work and dedication that has gone into producing the translation of all the verses. Dr. Natarajan has somehow managed to fit in much of the poetic beauty into his translation while at the same time being true to the inner meaning of the words themselves. So, I began to use his translation of the verses to set the poetry to the readers who cannot read the original tamil text. I have to admit here that I have not requested the permission of the author or his legal representatives to use the translated verses in my blog. I sincerely hope that they would not mind. The commentary on the verses have been provided by me along with additional relevant notes where needed. And for this I have relied heavily on the merits of the beautiful tamil commentary on the text by Sri.Varadarajan, for which I am thankful. I am also planning to include footnotes in the future for the benefit of those readers who are not exposed to the many puranic and upanishadic stories (which are often used in the Thirumandiram to provide context and similies) so it can be a complete and holistic path with nothing missing.

Finally, I would like to thank the great siddha masters themselves for being compassionate enough to show the way forward and I am eternally indebted to the grace of my guru for showing me the way, undeserving though I might be. May the elephant faced god, MahaGanapathy clear the way forward for this attempt. May Subramanya bring the spark of wisdom to all our hearts. May Nandhi set the divine rhythm. May the adhi guru Shiva Himself be pleased with this humble offering at his lotus feet. And May my mother, the most beautiful in the three worlds, the supremely transcendental MahaTripurasundari keep us in Her heart, eternally.

Om Namasivaya potri.
Nandhi emperuman potri.
Gurumandalame potri potri.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

DhairyavAn labhate siddhim.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

It feels strange to be back blogging after the pause of the last couple of months. Why, I couldnt even sign in to blogger in the effortless fashion of the days of yore. To think about it, it does indeed feel quite strange to be back again. Many things have happened in the last couple of months and my life is not what it used to be - will never be again, either. The previous sentence is meant to read in a very 'positive' tone. That my life is not what it used to be is not a lament, but an affirmation of change, a proclamation of joy. In my mind, I am saying that from the top of the gopuram of a temple in the highest reaches of the lofty Himalayas! Yes, my life will never be the same again.

The principle of change, which in essense is the only constant, is one of the greatest gifts bestowed on the sentient beings. I know, many people out there are hell bent on resisting change. They are focussed on the one absolute and unchanging being, and fair play to them. But personally, I cannot but relish the power of change. Many a time in my life, I have held on to what is 'mine' with the grip of one holding to save himself from sinking deeper. I have attempted to utilise the power of my sadhana to keep things still and as I know them. The fear of 'what if' was always present and was an enormous obstacle to appreciating the spontaneous and infinite rhythm of life itself. Then at some point, due in absolute certainty to the grace of my Guru and Maha Tripurasundari Herself, I developed courage. I am no warrior and I certainly dont plan on becoming one (if I can help it, that is) and the courage I speak of is not in the usual context. It is the courage that develops as the faith in the Guru and the devata matures. It is the state of mind where not only fear, but doubts and contradictions cease to matter. It is the state where the eternal and unchanging love and compassion of the supreme Devi became perceptible to me. When I clearly and without doubt realised that She is compassion incarnate, and that Her heart is (and always has been and will forever continue to be) full of love towards the multitude of universes - I understood that nothing can ever happen to 'me'. Whatever incidents and events happen(ed) to me in my life are Her own paths to Herself. She sets the tests and She clears them through Her own effort. I am forever held in Her heart and have never spent time away from there. And once I was able to hold on to that feeling, fears and doubts vanished as does the early morning mist on contact with the sun. I have since been able to continue and progress in my sadhana and have been able to be 'totally' open to the change in and around me that is a result of the sadhana.

A guru and scholar who I greatly admire (secretly, as he seems to be impervious to my approaches) puts it beautifully - '' The power of Amba by which she veils herself and causes unity to appear as diversity is called 'Maya'. It is the principle of change, and its beauty and significance will only be caught by one whose vision is pure enough to sense the rhythm of infinity.'' Great words and very aptly put. I hope that someday I will be able to meet him and convey my deepest regard for him. And as the title of this post says it in a few precise words '' dhairyavAn labhate siddhim'' - only those who bravely deal with the obstacles and changes in the path acchieve 'siddhi' or success in the path. Courage alone wont be enough for this inner transformation, the grace of the guru and the entire guru mandala, and a lot of effort; conscious effort is needed too. And about the nature and intensity of that effort, there will be plenty in my next post!

om sri gurumandalarupinyai namaha.