Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Garland of mantras - mantra 86

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Here we are at the eighty sixth mantra of the first tantra of the Thirumandiram. In this mantra the sage speaks about the mantras and the Thirumandiram also referred to as the garland of mantras.

பிறப்பிலி நாதனைப் பேர்நந்தி தன்னைச்
சிறப்பொடு வானவர் சென்றுகை கூப்பி
மறப்பிலர் நெஞ்சினுள் மந்திர மாலை
உறைப்பொடுங் கூடிநின்று ஓதலு மாமே. 14 .5.86.

Garland Of Mantras
The Heavenly Beings with folded hands approach
Nandi the Lord above and free of the bonds of Birth;
Deep in their hearts the Holy Hymns revolve
And, devoutly fixed, chant the immortal strains. 14.5.86.

ComNandi the Lord above and free of the bonds of Birth The supreme Lord who is beyond the cycle of birth and death, who is known by His name, Nandi, The Heavenly Beings with folded hands approach is approached with folded hands (humbly) by the heavenly beings endowed with superior virtues. Deep in their hearts the Holy Hymns revolve Keeping Him firmly fixed in their hearts (without pause) worship Him with this garland of mantras, And, devoutly fixed, chant the immortal strains chanting it by being deeply devoted.

* Through the above mantra the author reveals the nature of those who are fit to learn this text – Those who have received initiation (Upadesam) from their guru and who have realised the Siva who is manifest in the Sushumna nadi (as a result of the initiation and their practise), are the people who are fit to learn this text called Thirumandiram. (The above mantra does not however mean that those who have not been initiated are not eligible to study this text. It merely conveys that those who are initiated would be able to make the best use of this text – as this is a text that concerns itself with many of the practical applications of spirituality and the spiritual path, it helps to know the subject thoroughly and to have the guidance of a competent teacher/guide). Here the term 'garland of mantras' refers to many things simultaneously - first to the 3000 mantras of the Thirumandiram that are as it were 3000 beads strung in a peculiar sequence, next it alludes to the core tantric concept of mAtrukA mAlA or the garland of the (Sanskrit) alphabet which in itself forms the matrix from whence all the other 72 billion mantras originate from.

Here again, the definition of the suitable candidate for the study of this text is evidence of the fact that the Thirumandiram is a text with practise in mind. It is like most other works under the umbrella of tantra, of a very practical nature. So the upadesham or initiation by the guru which confers on the student the authority to pursue with the study of the ideas/concepts mentioned herein will have the capacity to transform the individual inside out. This is the main aim of the classical texts - to transform the knower by the deep rooted changes to the consciousness by the assimilation of the knowledge. Otherwise (as mentioned earlier) it fails to achieve its purpose and remains merely intellectual knowledge - which just sits like a lump of clay and as such is non different to the delusional knowledge of the world phenomena.

On the pointlessness of these posts?

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Firstly - I render my due apologies to the regular readers for the disappointment at your visits only to see no updates on the blog. As you may know, the incredibly introverted period also known as navaratri has just passed. And I was attempting to use this natural inward flow of tides to achieve just that - an inward flow. The anti social that I have been over the last month is due in part to the attempt to flow inward and to another fact - that I couldn't be bothered! Vocalising or intellectualising the teachings of the sages is all fine when one is involved in the 'play', but outside of the 'playing field' I am often unable to see any merit in the process of either hoarding or the dissemination of such knowledge. Time and again I come to the understanding that in as far as knowledge (any knowledge) does not produce a profound and holistic behavioural and attitudinal change (in the knower) there is simply no point in being in possession of such knowledge. One might be better off reading the Daily Mirror cover to cover than wasting time reading through the innumerable self help / new age /ready to go advaita / books that repeatedly rehash the same concepts in ever more marketable and glorified fonts and formats.

Knowledge that is 'known' through the faculties that are held in thrall by the attitude 'of being the body' is of no value and is by nature diffracted. Though the unifying truth at the ultimate Brahman level (if you will) is an exceptionally homogeneous and indistinguishable state, its expressions or manifestations (again, if you will) are as innumerable as the grains of sand in this earth. This is because the 'expressions' are something that is 'expressed' after filtering through the state or medium of the body mind complex of the individual in question. Though this is not my excuse for my laziness, I think that the idea of not wanting to contribute more to the clutter that already exists in the knowledge super market is a huge factor influencing the on - off nature of this blog (and my mind!). So please excuse me the inconsistencies - and know that such is the nature of things.

Preamble done with, lets get to the matter at hand. I hope that all of you had a wonderful Navaratri or at least a great September - October season. I had a great one - thank you very much!

There is much that I feel like saying now. So much in fact, that my tongue (and fingers) are preempting fatigue syndrome. The ideas, nay the visions, of di 'stilling' the erratic life force through the introduced boundaries of fasting and silence and sitting, is one that produces a distillate packing a mighty punch! But I am no drunk with a loose tongue and the distill in question does not bear any similarity to the Scottish variety (or Irish or Russian or whatever). This is the juice called Soma we are on about here - and no, it has nothing to do with a red mushroom or green leaves or what have you! This is the rasa or fluid that swells from within as the inner moon begins to wax and exert a steady and strong influence on the internal waters. Quaffing that Soma, draught after draught is a highly rewarding experience - though it slurrs the speech. Who cares when speech is the prime accused here in this case? Silence seems to contain within it all sounds, every sound, and even the soundless sound. There, my brother, my sister, retreat to the cave within and enjoy the experience of this silence. The secret of secrets it is and paradoxically it needs no words to express or experience. It is a secret mainly because it transcends all vocabulary. All attempts to 'define' this experience end only in limiting or dissecting this beyond imagination Whole.

I have tried. Again and again. And yet again. I have tried to define it, to explain it, to expand on it. And each time I have come to see that the 'experience' is beyond the scope of expression. Like a mad man trying to catch the flowing water with his bare hands, I fail in each attempt to succinctly express the experience. It may be that the muddy waters of my mind have not cleared sufficiently or it may be that the VagdevatAs (the goddesses of speech) and the effects of multiple kissing the Blarney Stone have failed to confer on me the power of clear speech. I reserve the right to change my mind on this one at a later stage if the need arises!

'Enough already! Give us the bite.' I hear you think. OK. Here you are then. In the very beginning stages of one's quest for what has always been in one's hand (The Self, I mean) a precise and carefully controlled path (a.k.a. SAdhanA) is extremely important. The repetitions of the different nAmAs or names of various gods and goddesses, the constant and continuous practise of japa (repetition) of mantras (I wont translate this as sacred/mystic formulae) until they take one eventually to a place of steady silence beyond the nAmAs or sounds themselves is crucial. This can and will produce holistic transformation in the individual. And until such time the wise individual will persist against all odds. This is power in your hands. This is expression of free will. This is a way.

The ever compassionate and all seeing siddha, the sage Thirumular, expertly defines and expresses the importance of mantra(s) in one's path. We will see what he has to say on that in the next post with the mantra 86 of the series we are slowly moving through in this blog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ayudha Puja - Changing trends.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Gone are the good old days of worshipping machines, spanners, spades, axes and office storage units on the holy day. The folk of today celebrate Ayudha Puja (part of the celebrations during Navaratri/Dussera) in a much more literal fashion.

Saw this in the Hindu today -