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 .

The supreme guide. Mantra -28

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentyeighth mantra of the Thirumandiram.

இணங்கிநின் றான் எங்கும் ஆகிநின் றானும்
பிணங்கிநின் றான்பின்முன் னாகிநின் றானும்
உணங்கிநின் றான்அம ராபதி நாதன்
வணங்கிநின் றார்க்கே வழித்துணை யாமே. 28.
28: Your Guide
Beckoning He stood, He, the All-pervading;
But they who, doubt-tossed, in self-contention lost,
They stood withered at the root;
To those who freely give themselves to the Lord on High,
To them is He the certain, immutable Guide.
Com - – the All-pervading The one who is everywhere (all pervading) Beckoning He stood is in fitting union with the Atman. But they who, doubt-tossed, in self-contention lost He is ever existing in all times (the quality of being older than the oldest (past) and being younger than the youngest (future)). the Lord on High He is the ruler and Lord of the heavens (Amaraapathi) They stood withered at the root yet He performs no actions for Himself , as He is pure consciousness. To them is He the certain, immutable Guide He is the companion, and permanent (eternal) Guide To those who freely give themselves to those who worship, pray and meditate on Him. Because He is everywhere and exists through all time, He is the perfect all knowing guide.

* As Siva knows all (by being existent through all time) and is all pervading (by being everywhere and beyond ‘everywhere’), He is the only eternal guide for the jivas.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Below the lotus of Union. Mantra-27

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twenty seventh mantra of the Thirumandiram.

சந்தி எனத்தக்க தாமரை வாண்முகத்து
அந்தமில் ஈசன் அருள்நமக் கேயென்று
நந்தியை நாளும் வணங்கப் படும்அவர்
புந்தியி னுள்ளே புகுந்துநின் றானே. 27
27: He Enters Into You
The Infinite of Lotus-Face, rivalling twilight ineffable,
May ours be His Grace Divine!
And they who thus Nandi daily beseech,
Into their Heart, creeping, He comes! He comes!
Com - The Infinite of Lotus-Face, rivalling twilight ineffable He is the one with the indescribable face that is radiant with pure light, who is below the lotus of union (physical union, namely Swadhisthana chakra) May ours be His Grace Divine He should be approached by the pure, who affirm and seek, His boundless and unending (infinite) Grace, by becoming fit recipients for it. And they who thus Nandi daily beseech, And to those who constantly meditate on Him thus, Into their Heart, creeping, He comes! He comes! He enters their mind and attaches Himself there firmly.

* The Tamil word ‘sandhi’ that is used in the original mantra means both twilight and union (the meaning intended to be conveyed here is that of physical union, in reference to the chakra connected to it, namely the Swadishtana or the sacral chakra which is associated with physical union). Thus it is clear that Siva saturates the mind of those who meditate on His form as Light that is revealed below the Swadhisthana lotus.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Transcendental yet intimate. Mantra-26

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentysixth mantra from the Thirumandiram discusses the transcendental and all pervading aspect of Shiva while being intimately connected to all.

தொடர்ந்துனின் றானைத் தொழுமின் தொழுதால்
படர்ந்துநின் றான்பரி பாரக முற்றும்
கடந்துநின் றாம்கம லம்மலர் மேலே
உடந்திருந் தான்அடிப் புண்ணிய மாமே. 26.
26: Attain Grace
Adore the Lord, who in unbroken continuity stood,
The Lord who protecting over all earth expanded,
Transcending all He stood; over the lotus bloom aloft,
In smiling glory He sat; Holy be His feet!
Com - Adore the Lord Adore (meditate and pray to) Siva, who in unbroken continuity stood who is always in constant communion and identification with the Atman. The Lord who protecting And to those who adore the Lord as prescribed over all earth expanded The all pervading Lord, who has filled this vast universe Transcending all He stood (and) further still who has transcended all this vast universe, over the lotus bloom aloft and as such resides in the Sahasrara lotus (crown chakra) In smiling glory He sat; Holy be His feet grants the state of unity with Him (often called ‘Obtaining the Holy Feet’- thiruvadiperu.)

* Through the above mantra the sage makes clear Siva’s qualities of being part of (pervading) and yet being beyond (transcending) this vast universe -while at the same time Siva is mingled with (by being of the nature of ) the Atman. He is beyond all, yet exceedingly intimate to all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Banish those Illusions. Mantra-25

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentyfifth mantra from the first part of the Thirumandiram.

பிறப்பிலி பிஞ்ஞகன் பேரரு ளாளன்
இறப்பிலி யாவர்க்கும் இன்பம் அருளும்
துறப்பிலி தன்னைத் தொழுமின் தொழுதால்
மறப்பிலி மாயா விருத்தமும் ஆமே. 25.
25: Illusions Vanish
The Birthless is He, the Divine Mad, of Compassion vast,
The Deathless is He, the Boundless One, Granter of Joys all,
To Him kneel, and, kneeling, shall find
Naught becomes Maya, the bond immemorial.
Com - The Birthless is He The one who is without beginning (as Siva is always there, ever present as consciousness, He is without birth) the Divine Mad the one who is the dissolver of everything into Himself of Compassion vast the one whose Compassion knows no bounds and is inextinguishable The Deathless is He He is deathless - without pause, however minute- and constant the Boundless One, Granter of Joys all He is the granter of Joys to all, by being in continuous communion with the soul, and is without boundaries- without bias. To Him kneel To that Siva one must direct all thought and prayer. and, kneeling, shall find And when one prays to Siva with a pure heart, it will be obvious (to the devotee) Naught becomes Maya that all ignorance (like the perception of difference between the object of devotion and the devotee) is instantly dispelled the bond immemorial and the state of constant unity with Siva is realised.

* The worship of Siva, who is beyond birth and death, and is exceedingly compassionate towards the jivas, is the sure way to rid oneself of ignorance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

He stands firm in firm minds. Mantra-24

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentyfourth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

போற்றிசைத் தும்புகழ்ந் தும்புனி தன்அடி
தேற்றுமின் என்றும் சிவனடிக் கேசெல்வம்
ஆற்றிய தென்று மயலுற்ற சிந்தையை
மாற்றிநின் றார்வழி மன்னிநின் றானே. 24.
24: Firm In Minds Firm
Sing His praise, Sing of His Holy Feet!
Pour all your treasures at Siva’s Sacred Feet!
And they who shake off the clouded eye and disturbed mind,
With them He ever stood, benignantly firm.
Com - Sing His praise By praising and by singing the glory of the stainless one (Nirmalan – one without any impurity) Sing of His Holy Feet one must hold firm, always, to the sacred feet of Siva as the only path. Pour all your treasures at Siva's Sacred Feet By thinking and becoming aware of the fact that all the precious possessions (treasures) belong only to Him, shake off the clouded eye and disturbed mind one should rein in the mind that is ever ready to flow outwards as a result of the distractions posed by the external sense objects. With them He ever stood, benignantly firm And, in such a one, who has cleared his mind of the disturbing influences, Siva stands (is present) firmly and eternally.

* The word treasure refers to the following – Pleasure, Wealth, Knowledge, Courage, Intellect, Luck, Will power. It goes without saying that, when one no longer identifies (falsely) with the above mentioned possessions, as belonging to oneself, the ahamkara (I ness) is dissolved. This in turn serves to clear the mind of its false attachments and expectations, for the firm establishment of pure consciousness. The sage conveys in precise and poetic terms the necessity of clearing the 'clouds' of false attachments and wrong conditioning of the mind body complex as a prerequisite for the firm establishment of the pure consciousness that is Shiva. Only the empty pot can be filled, filling an already full pot merely wastes what is being poured in.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Infinite Grace. Mantra-23

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twenty third mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

வல்லவன் வன்னிககு இறையிடை வாரணம்
நில்லென நிற்பித்த நீதியுள் ஈசனை
இல்லென வேண்டா இறையவர் தம்முதல்
அல்லும் பகலும் அருளுகின் றானே. 23
23: Infinite Grace
The Mighty Lord, the God of Fire, set amidst the seas,
Whom the comprehending souls never deny;
He, the Lord of the Heavenly Beings all,
Who , day and night, pours forth His Divine Grace.
Com - The Mighty Lord He who has all the powers (namely those of, creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and revealing) the God of Fire, set amidst the seas and the one (by being Just) who also stationed Agni (the God of Fire) in the middle of the ocean(s), Whom the comprehending souls never deny is not to be denied (continuing from the previous mantra) by the beings of this world. He, the Lord of the Heavenly Beings all Because, He is the Lord of even the host of Gods who are responsible for creation etc, viz. Brahma &c Who, day and night, pours forth His Divine Grace and He is constantly (throughout the day and night) showering His Grace, that is most divine, on all the beings (jivas) (as a result of the two acts detailed below).

* The stationing of the Fire in the middle of the oceans refers to the following – Siva, stationed the Agni (fire) called Vadavamugagni in the middle of the oceans for the purpose of ensuring that the oceans never (exceed) cross their boundary and swallow up this earth. Simultaneously, He also stationed the Agni called Shadaraagni in the middle of the body for the purpose of ensuring the health and well being of the body. As a result of these two acts of His grace (macrocosmic and microcosmic), the world and the beings in it continue to exist. Here, the sage speaks specifically to the atheists and the misinformed, who deny the existence of God.
It has to be understood here that the siddars themselves were very different (in mindset and belief systems) to the prevalent attitudes and were also very different to even each other. To the most part, the siddars themselves did not indulge in idolatory and worship of various dieties. In fact, most of their writings centered around the 'breaking' of such religious bigotry and conditioning. Even though they used the names of various gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon, they were merely symbolic (to the most part) and represented different energies and levels of consciousness rather than the 'god' or 'goddess'. Only the initiates knew what the terms represented. This anti religious attitude and their contempt for the brahmins (preistly class) and their courageous and often hands on approach to spirituality are the main reasons why a system so valid and potent as the siddha system was not accepted by the general public. Theirs was a system that enjoyed the same fate as the Tantras, due to their being 'unorthodox' and also as a result of their free thinking and sometimes vaama or left handed approach, they were mis represented as being demonic, vile and against the vedic dictate. So, here when the siddar refers to ''those who deny God'', he does'nt merely mean the athiest. Rather, he speaks of those whose actions do not reflect their awareness of the compassionate and all loving nature of the supreme Shiva. Those who, as a result of their mental conditioning and misunderstanding (perhaps created by the prevalent societies and cultures) live life without even a trace (let alone a thorough) understanding of the energetics of this incredibly beautiful and exceptionally complex universe. The act of placing the two agnis refer to the very delicate and perfect balance that is needed between the infinite variables to create a universe that is capable of sustaining life and serves as a karma bhumi or the medium in which the actions and their reactions can be expressed for the growth of the jivas. And what reason other than pure untainted compassion and grace could we assign for this action of the Lord?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Seek Him - He is your friend. Mantra-22

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentysecond mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

மனத்தில் எழுகின்ற மாயநன் நாடன்
நினைத்தது அறிவன் என்னில்தான் நினைக்கிலர்
எனக்குஇறை அன்பிலன் என்பர் இறைவன்
பிழைக்கநின் றார்பக்கம் பேணிநின் றானே. 22.
22: Seek Him, He Seeks You
This Lord of Maya-land that has its rise in the mind,
He, the Being without thought, knows yet all our thoughts;
Some be who groan, “God is not to me a friend'';
But, sure, God seeks those who seek their souls to save.
Com - This Lord of Maya-land Siva, the Lord of this body, which has its origin in Maya that has its rise in the mind who arises in the mind as a result of the practice of Dhyana (meditation) He knows yet all our thoughts knows all our thoughts, as He is in such immediate and intimate contact - by being the very life of the living, He experiences all what the jivas experience. Being without thought Even still, there are those who do not think about and praise this Siva, because of their ignorance. Some be who groan, “God is not to me a friend rather they feel, and say that God is not my friend and that He does not show His grace towards me. But, sure, God seeks those who seek their souls to save But, in reality, the God showers His infinite Grace and Love towards all beings, without bias - even towards those that do not seek Him and allege His non existence- eternally.

*How then can we adequately thank and praise His grace and compassion? We cannot – as Siva helps the jiva by being the life of the living.
In this mantra the body is understood have its origin in Maya as is the mind, the same mind in which He appears and stands firm as a result of dhyana. There is no point simply advocating no mind, mindless or any other such negative states. Rather, one must strive to tune the outward flowing mind inward and there we percieve the self, the supreme, in the nature of Shiva. We can also understand that Shiva (God) is unbiased and incapable of making distinctions between those who pray and those who dont (or any other such discrimination), and merely showers His infinite grace on all, without exception. Thus this supreme Shiva is like Sri Maata (Lalitha) who showers all jivas with Her love without exception, as a mother would to her children without prejudice. Another very interesting (and comforting) aspect of Shiva is that He is not someone who is 'way out there' and far away. Just because He stands above all, in that transcendental plane, He does not remain unaware of the jivas experiences. He stands forever with the jiva, as his inner most companion and experiences all what the jiva experiences! (by being the very life of the living). You and I, we are never alone. This seemingly complex and unending wheel of samsara cannot do anything to you or me (contrary to all what maybe said) - how can it, when all experiences, yours and mine are His experiences?? Can the delusion of samsara affect the equipoise of mind of the supreme yogi, Shiva? Surely not. Why then would I (or you) need to waste time and energy in worry and sorrow? By being verily my innermost being, the compassionate Shiva has already given me 'liberation' ! Nothing can tie me down. No bonds, however strong can keep me a prisoner. I am 'free'. You are 'free'. Is that not the best kept secret?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slaying of the wild elephant. Mantra-21

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentyfirst mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

வானப் பெருங்கொண்டல் மாலயன் வானவர்
ஊனப் பிறவி ஒழிக்கும் ஒருவனைக்
கானக் களிறு கதறப் பிளந்தனம்
கோனைப் புகழுமின் கூடலு மாமே. 21.
21: Comes Speeding
Sing His praise! Oh how quick He comes!
He, the Lord, who in one fell sweep the wild elephant slashed,
The Lord who ends this muddy vestures mortal coil,
Of the Heavenly Hosts, of Brahma Divine,
Of Mal, hued like the clouds rain-borne.
Com - The Lord who Siva, the Lord who ends this muddy vestures mortal coil, Of the Heavenly Hosts, of Brahma Divine, Of Mal, hued like the clouds rain-borne relieves the host of heavenly Devas like Brahma and Vishnu (whose colour is dark, like the rain laden clouds) by destroying their lowly bodies, that are corrupted by impurities. He, the Lord, who in one fell sweep the wild elephant slashed He is also the one who felled the wild elephant (i.e. the ahamkara or I’ ness is likened to the wild elephant, to illustrate the brute strength and the wild unpredictable behaviour of the ego) by slashing it. Sing His praise When one knows Him and thus sings His praises, Oh how quick He comes He comes instantly to their aid and grants them liberation from this mortal coil – the cycle of birth and death.

*The text called Suddha Sadhakam categorises the consciousness of the jivas into four groups: namely, Irul (ignorance/darkness), Therul (clarity), Pranavam (ego), and Arul (Grace). The clarified consciousness (2nd stage) before being transformed into consciousness saturated by Grace (4th stage) has to cross the hurdle represented by the ego (in the 3rd stage). And as long as the wild elephant, ahamkara (I ness) exists, the consciousness of the individual is unable to be transformed into the 4th and purest state. It is this transformation of the consciousness, achieved by the breakdown of the ego, which is indicated by the use of the words ‘slaying of the wild elephant’. There is also a legend regarding Shiva's slaying of Gajasura, the asura (demon) who assumed the form of the wild elephant, and it is also refered to through the above mantra. However, the inner meaning of the slaying of Gajasura is the same as mentioned above in connection to the ego.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mount Kailash. Mantra-20

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The twentieth mantra of the first part of the Thriumandiram. In this mantra, the siddar delves deeper into the different yogic feelings/sensations that occur in the head region when the dhyana or meditation of Shiva is firmly fixed. He also draws a parallel between the head of the sadhaka to Shiva's abode of mount Kailash.

முடிவும் பிறப்பையும் முன்னே படைத்த
அடிகள் உறையும் அறனெறி நாடில்
இடியும் முழக்கமும் ஈசர் உருவம்
கடிமலர்க் குன்ற மலையது தானே. 20.
20: In Mount Kailas
Seek the Abode of the Holy,
Who, of yore, created Birth and Death
A high hill it is, where thunders roar and lightnings flash,
Where fragrant flowers bud and bloom,
His mighty likeness it bears.

Com - Seek the Abode of the Holy When one attempts to seek and find the abode of the holy Siva Who, of yore, created Birth and Death who decides the birth and death of beings even before they (the beings) enter the womb A high hill it is it is found that it is a high place that is above Where fragrant flowers bud and bloom the eyes. That is to say it is in the head. where thunders roar and lightnings flash His mighty likeness it bears His form is that of Sound (thunder) and Light (Lightning)

* Siva, in His manifestation as Sadashiva is the Lord of Akaashaa (Ether). And when that subtle intelligence of the Akaashaa aspect begins to take firm root in the head region of the sadhaka, sound similar to the roaring sound of claps of thunder and flashes of intensely bright light, compared here to lightning, are heard and seen in the head region by the sadhaka, when immersed in meditation (dhyana). This phenomenon is an indication of the impending vision/realisation of Siva. [Further details on this will be given later in the text.]

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The meadows they are fragrant spiced. Mantra-19

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The nineteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram. (The rhyme and content continue from the previous mantra)

இதுபதி ஏலங் கமழ்பொழில் ஏழும்
முதுபதி செய்தவன் மூதறி வாளன்
விதுபதி செய்தவன் மெய்த்தவம் நோக்கி
அதுபதி யாக அமருகின் றானே. 19.
19: Created Universe
He, the Wisdom Primeval, He made the City Ancient
Of the seven meadows, fragrant-spiced;
He fixed the Moon, and to penance inclining,
He abides there, making that His seat.
Com - – making that His seat Siva is the Lord of the North. He took to the North, the direction of sacrifice (that will redeem one from sin). He made the City AncientOf the seven meadows, fragrant-spiced He destroyed and made into ruins (city ancient) the seven centres (meadows) that are the seats of the distracting influences (fragrant spiced) of the phenomenal world. the Wisdom Primeval He possesses the wisdom that is all encompassing and primeval (that is to say, Siva knows everything since before time). and to penance inclining Drawn by the pure penance performed by His devotees, He abides there He abides there (i.e. in those devotees who perform the pure penance) and through them shines.

* The principle (tattva) corresponding to each of the sense organs is located, in its essence aspect, in the seven chakras. The sense stimulations of the world leave impressions in these centres, which are then responsible for the birth of Vasanas (latent tendencies) leading to future births (and deaths). Siva helps in destroying these impressions at the root, so that the jiva is released from this repetitive cycle of Samsara. Note the reference to the northern direction (as in the previous mantra) and the reference to Shiva's inclination or His becoming pleased/drawn to those performing penance or tapas (refer to previous mantra for an explanation of the kind of penance). The sage draws a beautiful parallel here by terming the distracting influences of the world appearance as 'fragrant spiced' - that they (these sense impressions formed as a result of interaction with the phenomenal world) can be pleasurable as well as strong and pungent is to be intuitively understood. The destruction of the seven centres does not imply the actual disolution of these psychic energy centres, rather it hints at the destruction of the latencies or vasanaas that are in the form of impressions in these centres. As these impressions become the 'seed' for the future births and deaths, the eradication of these latencies at the very root (through the fire of knowledge/wisdom) leads the jiva into liberation or freedom from the cycle of samsara - much like how the parched (burnt) grain never gives rise to a sprout.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Stealing from the king of thieves!

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

In my last post I had mentioned a legend (or two) associated with Kubera's ascent into the mighty ones of the Hindu pantheon. There is yet another legend associated with this that I did not mention in my last post (for fear of losing your attention!) - but now, its a new post and I am sure you will have been invigorated in the meantime.

One of the accounts for Kubera's ascent you now know (his penance for 1000 years and the subsequent boon), the other is as follows -

Before becoming a deity and the lord of wealth, Kubera was the king of Yakshas. His appearance was deformed and dwarf like and like most of the yaksha clan he was associated to a lot of evil and darkness (of the elemental world). This was the view prevalent during the early vedic period. Once, Kubera the chief of such cunning and deviant beings, decided to go on a thieving spree. He stole from many a kingdom and many feared him and his cohort of yakshas as one would a group of dacoits. On one of his such missions, Kubera decided to go and plunder the riches of a temple. And it was a temple of Shiva!

Now, not many of you would know the import (or the irony) of this - but Shiva is known as the ''King of robbers/thieves''! One of his many names describes him as the king of robbers. This even gets a mention in a few very important Shiva scriptures and hymns, most notably the Rudram (also known as the Rudraprassna), where Shiva is praised as ''TaskarAnAm pataye'' - literally, the King or lord of thieves. Why Shiva the lord of all is called the king of thieves, I will explain later, suffice it for now that Shiva is the king of thieves. And our man, Kubera went to steal from Him!!

As he went into the temple premises after scaling the outer walls, the lighted torch (like a taper, not the battery operated ones of today) he had carried with him was extinguished. In the darkness inside the temple, Kubera did not give up or lose heart. He simply tried to relight the torch. But, no matter how hard he tried to the torch simply did'nt seem to light at all. Now anyone else would have taken this as a sign or omen of some sort (it being a Shiva temple and all that), but not Kubera. He persisted in his attempts to relight the torch and get on with his mission, evil and adharmic though it might be. In his tenth attempt, he succeeded in relighting the torch!

You might be forgiven for wondering how it was possible for him to relight the torch, for you dont really know Shiva. Those who know Shiva know his penchant for the devious, twisted, strange and downright illogical! Why, Shiva is pleased with the most twisted of efforts and instantly grants boons to the seeker. I cant count the number of times when asuras (demons) and completely undeserving (in our eyes) people( not to mention the spider and the elephant) have succeeded in obtaining his grace through the most illogical efforts. Anyway, Shiva was very pleased to note that Kubera the yaksha did not give up in his attempt to steal from the ''king of thieves'', but kept on with his persistant attempts till finally, he succeded. This continuous effort in the face of obvious difficulty and this total break from the 'norm' ( a rebellious attitude) won the grace of Shiva and He was very pleased by Kubera. As a result, He gave Kubera the boon of being the lord of wealth (which is what he went to rob the temple for) and elevated him into the vast array of the many deities of the hindu pantheon!! Makes quite a change to the other story involving an arduous penance spanning 1000 years, dont you think?!

Now that we are done with the legend regarding Kubera, I would like to tell you why Shiva has been called the ''King of thieves''. Actually, I dont know if this is the only reason for the name, but it quieted my mind that has been intent on finding out why Shiva the lord of this universe has to 'steal' anything. In many hymns and stotras for Shiva He is reffered to as the King of thieves or the lord of robbers etc (like the above mentioned name in the Rudram) and I have wondered what is there in this world that is not first of all a gift of this same Shiva? Everything in the manifest and unmanifest universe is His and His alone. Though He himself stands alone in the burning ghats as His abode, and has only the trishul (trident) and a damaru (drum) in His hands, the various Gods and beings obtain great riches from the mere mention of His name (see Shivamahimna stotram for a most beautiful verse describing the glory and riches Shiva bestows on the three worlds, while He himself has nothing). What then could He possibly steal, that is not His in the first place?

The Mahaperiyaval (Sri Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati Shankaracharya of the Kanchi mutt), one of the most amazing and enlightened beings ever to grace this world, shared his view about this epithet of Shiva. That has been the best reply to my own questions about it to date and here I will recount it to you in my own words. He says that of all the objects and possessions in this world, the most valuable is the heart. Not gold, gems or anything else like that, they will all perish or lose their value over time - the heart though is not the same. It remains forever the most prized possession. And the beautiful Shiva steals the hearts of His devotees with only a side wise glance! And, He steals them forever! You probably dont even know where your heart is (not the physical one that pumps blood), it is hidden so deeply and it is saturated with love and He steals it as easily as Krishna stole butter from the houses of the gopis in Vrindavan! No matter how high or how low or how deep it was hidden, it doesnt matter even if the owner of the heart himself knew not its existence - He could still steal it in an instant. It is for this reason that Shiva the Lord of all is called the '' King of thieves''.

A few verses from the third anuvaka (part or section) of the Rudram along with the english meaning I include below.

Kukubhaya nishangine sthenaanam pathaye namo nama. 3.1.2.
Salutations and salutations,
To him who is the best,
To him who holds the sword,
And to him who is the leader of the thieves.

Nishngina ishudhimathe thaskaraanam pathaye namo nama. 3.1.3.
Salutations and salutations,
To him who holds bows ready to shoot,
To him who has the quiver,
And to him who is the leader of the dacoits.

Vanchathe pari vanchathe sthayoonam pathaye namo nama 3.1.4.
Salutations and salutations,
To him who cheats,
To him who is the greatest cheat,
And to him who is leader of those who steal by cheating.

Nicherave paricharaayaaranyanam pathaye namo nama 3.1.5.
Salutations and salutations,
To him who goes inside to steal,
To him who goes outside to steal,
And to him who is the leader of thieves who steal in the forest.

You might ask that if He is the lord of all, He must own the heart too already, so why should He steal it? But perhaps you need to look a bit deeper into a thing called Free Will and find out for yourself if anyone but you owns your heart.

Whatever I know or dont know, one thing I know for sure is that the ''King of thieves'' certainly has stolen my heart! Many many moons ago too it was.


Kubera's Penance. Mantra-18

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
Here is the eighteenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

அதிபதி செய்து அளகை வேந்தனை
நிதிபதி செய்த நிறைதவம் நோக்கி
அதுபதி ஆதரித்து ஆக்கமது ஆக்கின்
இதுபதி கொள்என்ற எம்பெரு மானே. 18.

18: Munificent
The Supreme Lord saw Alagai King's penance devout,
Much pleased, He made the King Lord of all Riches;
Even so, approach the Lord, noble deeds performing;
For thus says the Lord, "Hold this lordship!"

Com - Much pleased, The Supreme Lord saw Alagai King's penance devout As Siva was much pleased with the pure tapas (penance) undertaken by Kubera in order to become the Lord of all riches He made the King Lord of all Riches The King of Alagapuri (Kubera) was installed as the regent of the Northern direction/quarter, and made the Lord of all riches. Even so Keeping that in mind, and orienting yourself to the Northern direction, approach the Lord, noble deeds performing if you began to cultivate that pure tapas (penance) by performing the noble deed – namely, the concentration of sperm by taking up celibacy For thus says the Lord, "Hold this lordship!” The Lord Siva says, here, you too hold this lordship and become the Lord of all riches, the Lord of the North.

* The word ‘pure tapas’ (penance) is used here as a secret reference to a particular type of Yoga. It is the process of concentration of the sperm and subsequently its transformation into light. Continuing from the previous mantra, the Vibration is sensed and felt in the lower northern part of the head (the Isaana direction near the left eye). This is the area called Speech Centre. Due to its being the place where the thought energy is expressed as its fruit (namely speech/sound), hence described as the Northern quarter to which the performer of this yoga is recommended to orient to. The author says that the performance of the yoga of conservation of the sperm (as Kubera did) will lead to the unfolding of the Light Mandala.(sphere of light) in the individual. [A more detailed description of this yogic process is given later in the text].

The above mantra is one of my personal favourites as it brings forth many stories and thoughts and meditating on them somehow gives me great clarity. Even though this mantra has a highly codefied and secret interpretation (like the one mentioned in my commentary above, regarding the conservation of sperm) it is not only about that. To get a better understanding of this, we have to first understand who Kubera is and what his connection to the north and to Alagapuri is - so, as usual, I will launch myself into the story that is not about this mantra but is quite connected to its essence.
Kubera is known to most Hindus (and others perhaps) as the Lord of riches or wealth. And most shops and houses in India (of late) would have a picture of him along with his wife and Lakshmi (or a form of her called Kubera Lakshmi), to fulfill their desire for wealth and grains. But this is a very simplistic understanding about one of the more puzzling deities of the hindu pantheon. In reality Kubera is of the Yaksha clan (the yakshas are a semi human and semi elemental beings) and not only is he of that clan, but he is the king of the Yaksha clan. The yakshas are often rude and dangerous beings (much like the european trolls) and often they are associated with nature spirits being of a more generous disposition. Either way, they are nowhere near the calibre of the other gods and deities who are almost always of a high birth and (with the exception of a few) are almost always stunning to behold. But Kubera is a dwarf in his physical form and is said to be very ugly and deformed. He is said to have three legs and only eight teeth!

Kubera is the son of the sage Vaishrava ( see how the mantra pushpam ends with a reference to Kuberaya vaishravanAya mahArAjayavai namaha) and so is a half brother to Ravana the legendary king of Lanka ( of Ramayana lore). And originally Kubera was the ruler of Lanka as the city (commonly associated with him) Alagapuri was then not yet created. There are various conflicting legends as to how this dwarf king of the yaksha clan suddenly became the Lord of wealth and a guardian of the quarters (i.e. directions) and here I will mention one that is connected to the above mantra.

The yaksha king Kubera (before he became the lord of wealth) once performed a very austere tapas or penance in the Himalayan mountains for a period of one thousand years. Pleased by the dedication and the austerity of his tapas Shiva (Brahma according to some legends) bestowed on him the boon of making him the lord of wealth and commanded him to be in charge of the distribution of wealth to the people of this world. Though the most common epics do not go into any great detail as to what constituted this great penance of Kubera, we can gather from the above mantra what it may have been about. Siddhar Thirumular is of the opinion that Kubera's penance was of an immense scale, in that he went against the flow of his natural state and reversed it by holding in the sperm for the duration of the tapas. Now, we all know that celibacy is often held in high regard (more than necessary if you ask me) in most religious texts, but hinduism and the system of yoga in particular have a special emphasis on this. There is a certain kind of yoga called Vajroli (of which Shiva the king of yogis is a master par excellence) and this yoga is about the reversal of the flow of the sperm in the male. I will not go into much detail about the process or what its merits are here in this post - however, the core view will be mentioned. When the sperm (that has a nature to be expelled out of the body) is kept without being spent over long periods of time, it undergoes a physiological change. The sperm is said to solidify (I say ''is said to'' as I have no experience of this technique myself) and condense into a glowing 'ball of light'. This then reveals the 'oli mandalam' or the sphere of Light to the sadhaka and increases ojas (life force) and thus impacts directly on the longevity of the sadhaka. This process is a highly difficult one and is perhaps accomplished only by the greatest masters.

As a result of Kubera's performance of this yoga (tapas) successfully for a period of 1000 years, he was elevated to the level of a god, the god of wealth. Personally, I think the 'wealth' that he is the lord of, is not to be understood in terms of gold and gems and money. The wealth is but a metaphor of the sperm or 'the currency of life' that he saved and saved until he had it in all abundance and became the lord of it. This is the 'pure tapas' the sage Thirumular refers to.

Like I mentioned before, this process awakens the sadhaka to the sphere of light, and this sphere of light is located in the head region which again is located in the north of the body! Thus he became the lord of the northern quarter (as he has become completely established in the sphere of light in the north). And it is to this direction (north) and this tapas or penance (that of withholding the sperm) that the sage points our understanding through the first two lines of the above mantra. In the last two lines of the same mantra, he explains (and urges) that on the sadhaka following such a path (tapas) he/she will reach the same end (the lordship over wealth and the northerly quarter). Meaning that Shiva will bestow on the sadhaka the boon of being established in the sphere of light in the north of the body (the head region) when the sadhaka practises the yoga of withholding the sperm and transmuting its essence into a glowing ball of light.

I dont want to draw this post out any longer as I fear your attention will no longer be held, but there are still a few thoughts that may be of some use. So, I hope that my recent addition of the music player( and the playlist) to this site will hold you a while longer!

Previously I mentioned in passing that Kubera's original kingdom was Lanka. But once Ravana (Kubera's half brother) attacked the kingdom and took control of Lanka and the many treasures that Kubera controled, most notably the Pushpaka vimana (a swan shaped craft of giant proportions, wrought in the finest gold, capable of taking the occupant anywhere in the three worlds by way of flying through space. Boeings and Jumbojets, stand aside!). Then, the displaced Kubera approached Vishvakarma the celestial architecht and requested him to create a new city. Vishvakarma conceded and built a beautiful and magical city in the majestic and tranquil setting of the Himalayas. This new city with its legendary gardens and perfumed breezes was named Alagapuri and Kubera became the king of this new city in the Himalayan mountains and still rules from there. The reason for me mentioning all this is to illustrate to you a chain of thought I often have when thinking of this mantra.

Kubera originally is a dwarf and is also ugly and deformed and is the lord of nothing, so at the first stage he is a metaphor of the unenlightened and primitive human being - that is, us : you and me and all of us who are still connected and stimulated by the more baser instincts (part animal, part goblin, part human and part divine). At that state/stage of being the kingdom of Kubera is Lanka : which if we observe, happens to be in the south or southerly direction (in context to India, not the world). In the context of the human body, this dwarf being of mixed origin rules the south or the bottom regions namely the muladhara and swadhisthana levels. This same Kubera, by the austerities and tapas performed (of holding in the sperm) acchieves the position of being the lord of wealth and also becomes the regent of the northern quarter. This is a metaphor for the enlightened and superconscious human being, very different to the primitive one (in terms of consciousness), one who is forever established in the sphere of light or the oli mandalam. In this higher state/stage the kingdom of Kubera is Alagapuri, set in the majestic and 'tranquil' realms of the Himalayas: which again, if we observe happens to be in the north or the northerly direction. In the context of the human body, this lord of wealth rules the north or the head region! The transmutation of the sperm (by the yoga of withholding it) into light that is then sublimated throughout the body to establish the sphere of light is closely connected to the tranformation of Kubera from a deformed dwarf into the lord of wealth. This in turn is closely connected to the movement of consciousness from the mooladhara to the sahasrara. From Lanka to Alagapuri, from death to immortality, from conscious to the superconscious! Alchemy in motion!

Monday, April 02, 2007

A love most profound. Mantra-17

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The seventeenth mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.

காயம் இரண்டுங் கலந்து கொதிக்கினும்
மாயங் கத்தூரி யதுமிகும் அவ்வழி
தேசங் கலந்தொரு தேவனென் றெண்ணினும்
ஈசன் உறவுக் கெதிரில்லை தானே. 17.
17: Love Profound
Howe'er well the two garlics and musk boil and mix,
Yet will musk's fragrance stand o'ertopping all,
So may all space mix and hold the God as One,
Yet, up welling, pours forth Isan's love profound.
Com - Howe'er well the two garlics and musk boil and mix Even though the two bodies, namely the gross body and the subtle body, are merged together in this life, Yet will musk's fragrance stand o'ertopping all the Vibrations (Spandam), are more pronounced in the body musk with association of Maya, which is the subtle body (as Nada). So may all space mix and hold the God as One And by the Manas (Mind) following that Nada (sonic vibration) and by delving deeply into it, eventually the Atman realises its real identity as Light. Yet, up welling, pours forth Isan's love profound But even still, it will not be as profound an experience as, the Oneness with Siva (Isan) the dweller of Akaashaa (space), in the realm that is beyond that of the body(s).
* The vibration that is spoken of here is generated by the sadhana (yogic practises) of the yogis and is felt in an increased state in the subtle body. The sage recommends the state of Union with Siva above all other devotional states. The word ‘garlic’ is probably used here because it is covered by an outer sheath – similar to the physical (gross) body that is covered over by the sheath, which is the etheric (subtle) body. Here again is an echo of the siddars core view that this gross/physical body is in itself a pathway to liberation and transcendence. The sage makes us observe that the accomplishment of various siddhis (by attuning to the nada or the sonic vibrations) or even the ultimate objective of the atman realising its real identity (as light) is still a lesser experience when compared to the experience of merging or accheiving oneness with the supreme Shiva (as it is an experience both inclusive of and beyond the scope of the bodies, both physical and subtle).