Saturday, July 31, 2010

Path to God - mantrA 99

srigurubhyO namahA
The sage discusses the total number of mantrAs in the thirumandiram and describes the divisions and the merits thereof in the following two mantrAs. These two mantrAs form a very short sub section titled -

7.. திருமந்திரத் தொகைச் சிறப்பு

மூலன் உரைசெய்த மூவா யிரந்தமிழ்
ஞாலம் அறியவே நந்தி அருளது
காலை எழுந்து கருத்தறிந் தோதிடின்
ஞாலத் தலைவனை நண்ணுவர் அன்றே. 1.7.99.


Three Thousand Holy Hymns, Mula in Tamil composed,
Did He, Nandi, reveal for all the world to know,
Wake early at dawn and pour forth the strains
Surely you'll win the splendid soft repose
Of the Bosom of the Lord. 1.7.99.
Com -Three Thousand Holy Hymns, Mula in Tamil composed, I, who am known by the name mUlan, have composed this garland of mantrAs known as the thirumandiram with three thousand mantrAs in tamil.Did, He, Nandi, reveal for all the world to know, These three thousand mantrAs, I have uttered due to the grace and inspiration of my guru, nandI, who instructed me to reveal this knowledge for the betterment and well being of the peoples of this world. Wake early at dawn and pour forth the strains If the people of this world, chant these mantrAs while fully comprehending the meaning of the mantrAs, in the early mornings on waking Surely you'll win the splendid soft repose of the Bosom of the Lord. will definitely reach the supreme lord, the enchanter of the universe(s) and thus reach the highest goal.

* This is a very well known and oft sung mantra and here the sage reveals his name and the fact that this text known as the thirumandiram has three thousand tamil mantrAs. The mantrAs are constructed in a specific order, like the flowers strung together to make a full garland. Legend has it that the siddar thirumUlar (the author of this text) would remain immersed in a state of samAdhI (absorptive meditation) in the hollow of a tree trunk. Once every year, he supposedly came out of the samAdhI state and uttered/composed one mantra. He then re entered the samAdhi! Thus the 3000 mantrAs were composed over 3000 years.

The sage mentions that it was the grace of nandI, his guru, which paved the way for him to reach such heights of understanding. He also mentions that it was due to the command of the same nandI that he began composing the thirumandiram. It was the will of the supreme siva that the sentient peoples of the world had some guidance to help them achieve the highest potential of the human birth and thus become liberated from the cycle of birth and death. And to fulfil this end, he commanded the sage to reach the southern Tamil land and reveal the sacred scripture of the thirumandiram.

After commenting on the number of mantrAs in this text and the reason for its revelation, the sage proceeds to instruct us in the manner in which he intends us to use this text. He mentions that the people of the world, who desire to reach siva and attain to liberation, should take to chanting the mantrAs in this text as a form of sAdhanA in itself. He instructs the seeker to rise from sleep early in the morning and upon completion of the morning observances and oblations and commence chanting the 3000 mantrAs herein. The sage uses the words ‘karutharindhu OdhuvAr’ to highlight that it is not enough to merely chant the mantrAs but one must thoroughly understand the meaning of the mantrAs they chant. It goes without saying that ‘understanding’ the mantrAs refers not just to the meaning of the verses, but it also includes the ‘living’ of the teachings contained in those verses. That is, the seeker must try to align his or her lifestyle to what is taught in the text.

The sage mAnikkavAsagar sings ‘’ solliya pAttin poruLunarndhu solluvAr, selvar sivapurathilullAr sivanaddikIzh ‘’ to illustrate the same - It is extremely important that the intoner understands the intrinsic wisdom behind the words he intones, otherwise they remain just powerless words. Incapable of producing transformation.

Here the sage’s words’ mUvAyiram tamizh’ conveys his intention that each of the 3000 verses must be understood as 3000 mantrAs – i.e each verse is a mantra, and the entire set of 3000 is constructed in the form of a mAlA mantra or unbroken garland of mantrAs. Thus we have the meaning that those who take to the practise of chanting the 3000 mantrAs (with full understanding of the meaning,both linguistic and practical) with devotion will definitely reach the supreme siva.

Friday, July 30, 2010

God's deep Mystery - mantrA 98

srigurubhyO namahA
The current sub section of the thirumandiram ends with the 98th mantrA - and here the sage reflects on the teaching of the supreme siva and asserts the finality of the advaitA (non dual) perspective in being the liberating knowledge.

தத்துவ ஞானம் உரைத்தது தாழ்வரை
முத்திக்கு இருந்த முனிவரும் தேவரும்
இத்துடன் வேறா இருந்து துதிசெயும்
பத்திமை யால் இப் பயனறி யாரே. 4.6.98.

God's Deep Mystery
At the foot of the Sacred Hills, the Rishis and Devas sat,
Seeking Liberation's endless Bliss,
Devoutly praising, yet knowing not,
So this deep Mystery I here expound.4.6.98.

Com - this deep Mystery I here expound the supreme lord siva out of His boundless compassion appeared in the form of the guru to reveal the secrets of the tattvAs At the foot of the Sacred Hills, in the foot hills of the great and lofty kailAsA peak. Seeking Liberation's endless Bliss, the Rishis and Devas sat, and the sacred heights of the holy kailAsA are populated with an array of sages and demi gods and celestial's, intent on the goal of mukthi or liberation Devoutly praising, they remain forever engaged in the various rites and rituals, devoutly worshipping the supreme siva as seperate and different to themselves yet knowing not (this deep Mystery) and as a result they are unable to obtain the highest merit of this secret knowledge of the tattvAs.

* Here the sage clearly points out the fruitlessness of upAsanA or sAdhanA of any kind performed with an attitude of difference/ duality. The sage echoes the words of the scriptures in revealing the truth that when the attitude of difference between the worshipper and the worshipped exists the highest peak of self state is as yet unattainable. It would be apt here for us to note that it is more or less common that we normally proceed from one to the other.

We start on the process of the sAdhanA (spiritual discipline/practise) with an attitude of utmost devotion to the object of our upAsanA. This chosen deity/god/goddess/principle is here described as siva. In the early stages, the devotee is aware of the many differences between himself and the deity and thus this whole worship of his is tainted by the perception of this difference. With the help of the various nyAsAs (ritual placements) and mantra japA (chanting of mantrAs as initiated) and other practises over time the devotee attempts (or rather, should attempt) to seek and understand the unity or oneness of the deity and his own self or Atman. This is a higher state of being and here the devotee perceives no difference between his self and siva - a state of shivOham (I am siva). This is an unbroken state of bliss, of pure awareness without modifications as specific objective 'knowledge'. This is the ultimate prize of the tattva j~nyAnA or the knowledge of the tattvAs.

The traditional style of the siddars where multiple layers of meaning are cloaked in apparently normal words is used here. The place which the sage reveals as the place where siva as the guru revealed the sacred knowledge of the tattvAs is the foot hills of the holy kailAsA. This could be interpreted as the physical region of kailAsA, the legendary abode of siva in the HimAlayAs. On the hand, it could be understood as the sahasrArA (the thousand petaled chakrA on the crown) for which kailAsA is a traditional metaphor. If we understand kailAsA to be the sahasrArA, the foot hills is obviously the region just beneath it. To those who are aware of the placements of the chakrAs along the sushumnA nAdI (central channel) the place will be known as the spot where the guru sthAnA (seat of the guru) is situated. Thus the fact that this supreme knowledge is one that is received only from a competent guru is conveyed through the use of the metaphor.

In the original the sage mentions 'இத்துடன் வேறா இருந்து துதிசெயும்' which refers to the attitude of difference between the worshipper and the worshipped. Due to the fact that the various sages (rishis) and celestial's (dEvAs) offer all manner of worship to siva with a feeling that He is different to themselves, they are unable to attain to the highest state of liberation. It goes without saying that due to the merits earned by such dualistic worship, the grace of the lord eventually will deliver them to a state where the above described duality is totally removed due to the dawn of real knowledge of the self.

So in the last two lines of this mantrA the sage reveals the truth in advaita bhAvanA or the attitude of non duality in the ultimate stages. He makes clear that unless one reaches the state where this perception of difference is dissolved in the knowledge of self, there is no liberation. Those readers who perform regular pUjA can bring to their mind the ''.......sO(a)ham bhAvEna pUjayEt' mantrA to highlight the same truth.

Here we reach the conclusion of the sub section titled 'avai adakkam' with its four mantrAs all spoken in tones of humility. The next post will bring us to the next sub section which serves to highlight some unique aspects of the text to come and provides accurate count details for the mantrAs.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Power of prayer - mantrA 97

SrigurubhyO namahA

After a wonderful guru pUrnimA, here I am. With the next mantrA in the thirumandiram. We were at the subsection where the sage speaks in humility with respect to the limits of knowledge in understanding the supreme.
So, here we are at mantrA 97.

மன்னிய வாய்மொழி யாலும் மதித்தவர்
இன்னிசை உள்ளே எழுகின்ற ஈசனைப்
பின்னை உலகம் படைத்த பிரமனும்
உன்னும் அவனை உணரலு மாமே. 3.6.97.

Power Of Prayer
By words spoken in Truth's luminous accents,
Rising on sweetest music's pious heights
Even Brahma who after Him created this our world,
All, all, seek His imperishable Light. 3.6.97.

Com - By words spoken in Truth's luminous accents, through the words of the vEdAs of everlasting fame Rising on sweetest music's pious heights the supreme IshA (lord) becomes manifest as nAdA in the sweet swarA (tone(s)) of the intoner. Even Brahma who after Him created this our world, even braHmA, the four faced creator who in the very distant past 'created' this phenomenal and gross (sthUla) world from the subtle (sUkshmA) principle, is ever meditating on the supreme siva All, all, seek His imperishable Light when such is the case, how then ;could it be possible that we as mere human beings (with all our limitations) can ever imagine comprehending this supreme? (Surely we never can).

* Here the words 'இன்னிசை உள்ளே எழுகின்ற' (translated as, Rising on sweetest music's pious heights) in the original refer to the fact that the supreme siva/IshA is manifest as the arising nAdA in the vEdic riks (the metered verses). That the vEdic mantrAs are resonant with precisely constructed sounds to produce specific energy patterns for specific ends is an accepted siddhAntA. Hence the import of the correct method for pronounciation and intonation for getting the swarA right with respect to the vEdic body.

The reference to braHmA ever meditating on this supreme is to highlight the fact that siva is ever existant as the supreme principle because of which everything else is. And it is due to the authority/instruction given by siva that the four faced braHmA (who only comes much later) is able to 'create' from the subtle essence this vast and varied phenomenal world.

Through the above verse the sage highlights the truth that though the supreme siva is manifest as nAdA in the vEdic corpus and can be 'felt' / 'experienced' through the various intonations, even the gods like braHmA who possess much higher intelligence and sattvic disposition than the average human being in our world, are still unable to fully understand the supreme and continue meditating on it ceaselessly (in a bid to finally reach Him). He finishes the verse by asking us a rhetorical question - If even the great gods are still unable to understand Him, then how would it be possible for a mere human to claim to understand the supreme?

Thus the sage sets out his position in humility by declaring right at the onset that it is not possible for us to ever completely understand this supreme as it is beyond All, while being verily the fabric of everything.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Poor qualifications - mantrA 96

SrigurubhyO namahA
The second mantrA of this section is the 96th mantrA of the invocation. Here the sage expresses his lack of qualifications with regard to attaining liberation.

பாடவல் லார்நெறி பாட அறிகிலேன்
ஆடவல் லார்நெறி ஆட அறிகிலேன்
நாடவல் லார்நெறி நாட அறிகிலேன்
தேடவல் லார்நெறி தேடகில் லேனே. 2.6.96.

Poor Qualifications
I know not the way singers sing,
I know not the way dancers dance,
I know not the way seekers seek,
I know not the way searchers search. 2.6.96.

Com I know not the way singers sing, I do not know to sing praises of siva as do those who follow the path of devotional singing, I know not the way dancers dance, neither do I know to dance in ecstasy(due to excessive devotion) as do those in the path of bhakti. I know not the way seekers seek, I do not know to seek after things as do those in the path of bhOga, I know not the way searchers search. And I do not know the way to enquire relentlessly as do those who due to g~nyAnA tread the path of tattva vichAranA.

* Here the sage speaks sadly of his inability to engage in any of the four methods/ paths to reach the supreme state of salvation. The first line refers to the path of japA (chanting) of mantrAs. The second speaks of the path of bhakti (bhakti yOgA) or devotion to the supreme. The third refers to the path of the karma yOgi who performs ordained actions desirous of fruit (karma phala) to finally reach salvation. And the fourth speaks of g~nyAna yOgA or the path of knowledge. All these are paths to the great goal of liberation or mukti and here the author laments his lack of qualifications to successfully engage in any of these paths and wonders how he will ever attain to liberation.

If such be the story for a perfected being like thirumUlar, I dread to even think of my own inabilities!

Here ends the 96th mantrA.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thoughts on guru purnima 2010.

srigurubhyO namahA

The guru pUrnimA this year is fast approaching (it falls on the 25th of this month) and I seem to be getting at least 20 hits to my blog daily with the search string '' thoughts on guru purnima''! So, I am regurgitating an old post of mine from 2007 here pertaining to the topic. The images that accompanied the original post have not been included here - those who want to see the full post please click here . Those who want just the text, please read on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gurur brahma

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

gurur vishnu

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

gurur devo Maheshwara

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

Guru saakshaat Parabrahma

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

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

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

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

Shree guru padhukam dhyayami pujayami namaha.

In humility - mantrA 95

SrigurubhyO namahA

With the next mantrA in the series, the sage begins a new sub section titled 'avai adakkam' - which in effect is a small section where the sage speaks of siva's powers while remaining in an attitude of humility.


ஆரறி வார் எங்கள் அண்ணல் பெருமையை
யாரறி வார்இந்த அகலமும் நீளமும்
பேரறி யாத பெருஞ்சுடர் ஒன்றதின்
வேரறி யாமை விளம்புகின் றேனே. 1. 6.95.


Infinite Greatness!
Who can know the greatness of our Lord!
Who can measure His length and breadth!
He is the mighty nameless Flame;
Whose unknown beginnings I venture to speak. 1.6.95.

ComWho can know the greatness of our Lord! Who can ever understand the glory and the greatness of my Lord siva? Who can measure His length and breadth! And who can there be who could encompass by mind or deed the vast expanse that is the body of siva? He is the mighty nameless Flame; He (siva) is like a mighty pillar of light that possesses no attributes (of name and form) for Himself Whose unknown beginnings I venture to speak. (And yet) without even knowing the root of this supreme I still venture to speak (i.e. reveal the rest of the body of the thirumandiram).

* This mantrA is the first of four in this subsection where the sage speaks of the supreme with humility. Though the sage is an enlightened siddhA who abides in the highest state of self realisation, he acknowledges in these four mantrAs the limits of his abilities while singing the glory of the supreme siva.

So when the sage raises the question of there being someone who understands the glory of siva, he is alluding to the idea of the supreme tattvA. The vEdAs speak of this principle as ‘braHmam’ or ‘parambraHmam’. The siva who is spoken as ‘Ekam’, ‘sat’, ‘chit’ ‘AnandA’, the one who is the medium where the world(s) seemingly arise, rest and dissolve in. This supreme is akin to the ocean in whose waters the waves are born, stay for a period and disappear back into. Thus the sage here rightly asserts that there is none who can understand the greatness of this supreme principle.And again in the next line where he declares that there could be none who can understand the length and breadth of siva, he is alluding to the same idea of braHmam. The Sanskrit word has its root in the dhAtu ‘br’ which connotes an incredible vastness. The ‘sarvavyApaka shaktI’ or the All pervading nature of this supreme tattvA means that it is impossible for one to understand its limits as there are none. Thus we see here, the essence of the advaita system of philosophy revealed. The sage speaks of the One, the undivided, the eternal - the parabraHmam. In the final line of this mantrA the sage uses the words ‘vErariyAmai’ in a superbly effective fashion. The Tamil word vEr means root (of plants, trees etc) and suggestively implies lower/under the ground regions.

According to Hindu thought there are 14 worlds/planes of existence within what is known as smasArA. Of these 14, seven are known as ‘lOkA’s’ or worlds and seven are known as ‘talA’s’ or planes. The 7 lOkA’s are worlds of higher sattvic composition (as they ascended from the earth plane to the satya lOkA) and the seven talA’s are descending deeper and deeper into tamas as they go down. These are the pAtAla’s/ under worlds. So when the sage declares that he is about to speak of this supreme principle through the thirumandiram, even though he does not understand Him perfectly (due to his not being aware of the root), he achieves two things at the same time –Firstly, he brings across the message of humility by acknowledging the limits of his knowledge with regard to siva and secondly he beautifully suggests that he is beyond the taint of any tamas! As the lower talA’s (which are what are implied by the word ‘vEr’) are realms of tamas and the sage, as has been revealed before, is a denizen of the highest realm of consciousness, his lack of familiarity with this region is only natural!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Night and day yearn for Him - mantrA 94

srigurubhyO namahA
The 94th mantrA is the last one in this section titled 'thirumUlar varalAru', where the sage reveals further about his state of being.

பிதற்றுகின் றேனென்றும் பேர்நந்தி தன்னை
இயற்றுவன் நெஞ்சத்து இரவும் பகலும்
முயற்றுவன் ஓங்கொளி வண்ணன்எம் மானை
இயற்றிகழ் சோதி இறைவனு மாமே. 22.5.94.

Night And Day Yearn For Him
Unceasing, I prattle daily Nandi's name,
By day praise Him in thought and ;by night as well,
Daily I yearn for my Master, the Light-Hued,
The Lord of the uncreated Radiant Flame. 22.5.94.

Com - Unceasing, I prattle daily Nandi's name I am ever involved in singing the praises of the One who goes by the name Nandi By day praise Him in thought and; by night as well, daily I remain in meditation, day and night keeping Him (nandi) in my heart. Daily I yearn for my Master, the Light - Hued, I strive constantly to reach/merge my Lord and master, the One who is self luminous (swayam prakAsha) The Lord of the uncreated Radiant Flame He is ever existent, naturally in the form of pure light.

* The word 'pidhatrudhal' in the tamil original translated as prattle signifies a state of Ecstasy born of deep devotion and communion with the supreme. In this state the experiencer speaks of things that are contextual and those that are totally out of context. A kind of a divine madness akin to the experiences described by the sufi mystics in wonderful poetry.

The above mantrA is fairly simple in that the words are not used with an intention to convey multiple layers of meaning. The simple message of the mantrA is that the sage remained always engaged in the thoughts of sivA, he spoke always (both when in context and when outside the context) of sivA, and remained ever immersed in the meditation of sivA as the supreme effulgence -i.e. jyOthi swarUpA .

This mantrA forms the close of the fifth sub division of the first tantrA of the thirumandiram. The next sub division is (the sixth) titled ' avai adakkam' which is a traditional style which speaks highly of all the virtues of the Lord while at all times bearing in mind one's own limitedness. It is an expression of humility.
Here ends the 94th mantrA of the invocation of the thirumandiram and with it the fifth sub division termed ' thirumUlar varalAru'.

nAdAntA - mantra 93

srigurubhyO namahA
The 21st mantrA in this section is the 93rd mantrA of the invocation. In this mantrA the sage reveals the nature of the state of consciousness that he is established in and in the process he awakens the reader to certain esoteric concepts pertaining to nAdA or sound/harmonics.

இருக்கில் இருக்கும் எண்ணிலி கோடி
அருக்கின்ற மூலத்துள் அங்கே இருக்கும்
அருக்கனும் சோமனும் ஆரழல் வீச
உருக்கிய ரோமம் ஒளிவிடுந் தானே. 21.5.93.

God Within Vedic Hymns
In the countless measures that are in Veda Rig,
He indwells with His radiant locks;
The Sun and Moon with their splendid argent rays,
In vain they melt the waxing lustre of His glowing locks.21.5.93.

Com - In the countless measures that are in Veda Rig, there exist countless mantrAs in the Rig vEdA In vain they melt waxing lustre of His glowing locks. and all of those countless mantrAs are dissolved (finally) into the subtle (sUkshma) essence known as the pranavA (om). The Sun and Moon with their splendid argent rays, and at the peak of the above said pranavA the Sun and the Moon reveal their respective lustre and light in the form of the Atma jyOthi (self light) He indwells with His radiant locks and in that highly subtle state, there exudes an effulgence of golden light rays.
* This mantrA has to be understood in light of sAdhanA involving the ascent of kundalini and gradually lifting the individual into ascending states of intelligence/consciousness. When the sivashaktI normally resident in the mUlAdhArA is focused upwards it will finally culminate in the experience of pranavA (om) and its peak state. The countless mantrAs that are mentioned here as being in the Rig vEdA have to be understood as metaphors for all mantrAs. When looked at separately, these mantrAs are set in various measures (chandas), they are dedicated to various dEvatAs (divinities), have different uses and applications, are articulated differently - there are many differences in them.
But in reality all the countless mantrAs that exist in this world are all nAdamayA - i.e. they are finally understandable as nAdA (I dont know whether to use the word sound or harmonic to describe nAdA). The final limit of the realm of nAdA is also the final limit of the pranavA (om). This is because the om is the seed nAdA for all else and all other sound/harmonic is finally absorbed into the pranavA. It is apt to note that the scriptures have unanimously declared that the essence of the vEdAs is the gAyatrI (mantrA) and the essence of gAyatrI is the pranavA (om) and thus the pranavA is the essence of all mantrAs.

The stage where the pranava nAdA ends is known as nAdAntA (the end or final limit of nAdA). The seers who have reached this height describe that at this stage, amidst the effulgence of the sOmA (moon) sUryA (sun) and agni (fire) mandalAs, the supreme Atma jyOthI (self effulgence) becomes manifest at the peak of the pranavA.
The pranavA (om) is itself composed of 5 separate entities / stages - a, u , ma, bindu (depicted as the dot on the crescent) and nAdA (depicted as the crescent). The tantrAs relate these five aspects to five different states of consciousness -
'a' - is connected to the jAgrat avasthA or the waking state of consciousness.
'u' - is connected to the swapna avasthA or the dream state of consciousness.
'ma' - is connected to the sushupti avasthA or the deep sleep state of consciousness.
'nAdA' - is connected to the turiyA avasthA or the transcendental fourth state of consciousness.
'bindu' - is the turiyAthItha avasthA or the state beyond even the fourth state.

I must also note here that the 'a' represents the agni mandalA or the orb of fire, the 'u' represents the sUrya mandalA or the solar orb and the 'ma' represents the sOma mandalA or the lunar orb. The exact location of these spheres in the human etheric body and their bIjAs and constituents need to be learnt from a competent guru.

Thus with the above information it becomes clear that the state known as nAdAntA is one which is effectively beyond/transcendent to all the above mentioned five aspects. At this state there is a lack of modulation, or flux in consciousness - there is simply a seamless state of being.

Through the above mantrA the sage reveals that he was ever established in this transcendental state of awareness (of nAdAntA) and he sort of describes the 'topography' of such a realm by indicating the atmic effulgence and the state where its perception becomes possible. So we know that the sage is well capable of fulfilling his role in bringing this tamizh marai (the thirumandiram) to the peoples of the world. It is also clear that prior to his descent from kailAs to the southern land, he was established in the abode of sivA as atma jyOthi in the supreme realm beyond the pranavA.
Here ends the 93rd mantrA of the invocation in the thirumandiram.

Friday, July 16, 2010

sadAsivA state - mantrA 92

srigurubhyO namahA
Continuing the series, we will now see the next mantrA which is the 20th in this section and is the 92nd mantrA since the start.

நந்தி அருளாலே மூலனை நாடிப்பின்
நந்தி அருளாலே சதாசிவன் ஆயினேன்
நந்தி அருளால்மெய்ஞானத்துள் நண்ணினேன்
நந்தி அருளாலே நானிருந் தேனே. 20.5.92.

Form-Formless: Sadasiva State
With Nandi's Grace I sought the Primal Cause,
With Nandi's Grace I Sadashiv became,
With Nandi's Grace Truth Divine attained,
With Nandi's Grace I so remained.20.5.92.

Com - With Nandi's Grace I sought the Primal Cause with the compassionate grace of nandi (the sage's guru) the siva guru I was able to seek and reach the rudran in the mUlAdhArA (root chakrA) With Nandi's Grace I Sadashiv became Then again with the grace of the guru I became the sadAshiva mUrthy With Nandi's Grace Truth Divine attained due to the supreme grace of the siva guru I attained the true knowledge (enlightenment) With Nandi's Grace I so remained and through the grace of the siva guru I remained so in the state of supreme attainment.

* Here the tamil word 'mUlan' refers to the form of sivA in the mUlAdhArA (root chakrA) known as rudran. This manifestation resides in the mUlAdhArA. The term 'sadAshivan' refers to the form of sivA in the ag~nyA chakrA or the third eye centre.

So, from the above mantrA it becomes clear that due to the grace and guidance of the sage's guru (nandI), he was able to attain the darshanA of the mUrthy (manifestation) in the mUlAdhArA and gradually through the steady path and the ever present guidance of the guru he was able to unite with the sadAshiva mUrthy, the manifestation in the third eye centre. The third eye centre is the realm of the real knowledge, that which is beyond duality and is thus unlimited by space or time.

Thus the sage makes clear that he remains established in the true centre of being, ever united to the higher self in the unwavering realm of intuitive awareness. The two reference points (the root and the third eye) given here are the bottom and the top of the scale thus clearly suggesting the gradual awakening due to the grace of the guru.

Here ends the 92nd mantrA of the invocation section of the thirumandiram.

From Kailas to Earth - Mantra 91.

sri gurubhyO namahA

The next mantrA in the thirumandiram series is the 91st mantrA.
Since it has been a while since the other mantrAs of this section were published on this blog, it might be of use to revisit the basics! The last 18 mantrAs, this and the few to follow are all from the initial invocation and belong to the section known as 'thirumoolar varalAru' (the history of thirumoolar, the sage who is the author of this text). Thus aptly this section deals with the history of thirumoolar, the reasons behind his composing this text, his spiritual lineage/ paramparA, the virtues of this text etc. In the last couple of mantrAs the sage reveals that he was initiated in the shaivA tradition through his guru (nandhI) and in mantrA 88 he clearly describes this in detail. In this mantrA the sage reveals that it is on the instruction of his guru that he undertook the task of composing this text.

விளக்கிப் பரமாகும் மெய்ஞ்ஞானச் சோதி
அளப்பில் பெருமையன் ஆனந்த நந்தி
துளக்கறும் ஆனந்தக் கூத்தன்சொற் போந்து
வளப்பில் கயிலை வழியில்வந் தேனே. 19.5.91

From Siva's Seat To Earth
Thus expounding I bore His Word
Down Kailas's unchanging path,
The Word of Him, the Eternal, the Truth Effulgence,
The Limitless Great, Nandi, the Joyous One,
He of the Blissful Dance that all impurity dispels. 19.5.91

Com - The Word of Him, the Eternal, the Truth Effulgence, if one were to begin describing the state of the unmanifest core ''agOchara vindhu'' then it has to be said that it is a state which is supreme (param) and one which is effulgent consciousness or chaitanyA The Limitless Great, Nandi, the Joyous One, such a supremely blissful nandi (state of consciousness) is possesed of limitless glory. He of the Blissful Dance that all impurity dispels. Thus expounding I bore His word due to the command of Him (sivA) who is the blissful dancer (natarAja mUrthy) remaining ever without motion Down Kailas's unchanging path I have come down from the glorious realm of Kailas to this earth.

* The word 'thulakkarudhal' in the original tamil refers to being without any motion/ activity. Thus the juxtaposition of the 'blissful dancer' next to 'remaining without activity' is to describe the state of unmanifest absolute (refer the previous mantrA). This is because the swarUpa shivA or shivA in self state is pure consciousness without any activity.
Here the sage makes clear that he used to live in the lofty realms of Kailas before his advent to the tamil land. And he also mentions that it was due to the command of shivA that the sage left his abode in Kailas to visit the southern land (in order that he may bequeath the world with the gem that is the thirumandiram).

Here ends the 91st mantrA of the invocation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Basic spiritual categories - Thirumandiram mantra 90

srigurubhyO namahA

Here we are! As prompted by a rush of pure spiritual inspiration, I return to the project started a long time back. The english commentary to the wonderful text called Thirumandiram. A bit more than a year back (april 2009 to be exact), for reasons too numerous to explain here I had to discontinue work on the english commentary of the text. I am afraid I might have lost the interest of quite a few regular readers in the meantime due to lack of activity in this blog. There were a good few readers who visited the blog frequently in the hope that there would be more of the mantrAs translated, but their hopes were in vain. A general lack of creativity and more particularly a taste for silence in the interim are to blame, if you must point the finger at something.

I begin from where I left off so abruptly - Just in case the passage of time has clogged your memory, we were on the 89th mantrA of the invocation (17.5.89) - as if it was only yesterday! Here below is the next mantrA in the series.

நேயத்தை ஞானத்தை ஞாதுரு வத்தினை
மாயத்தை மாமாயை தன்னில் வரும்பரை
ஆயத்தை யச்சிவன் தன்னை யாகோசர
வீயத்தை முற்றும் விளக்கியிட் டேனே. 18.5.90

Basic Spiritual Categories
So impelled, streamed out of me in measures full
The Jneya, the Jnana, and the Jnathuru,
The Maya, and the Parayaya that in Mamaya arise,
The Siva and the Agochara Veeya. 18.5.90

Com - The Jneya that which is known, the Jnana that intelligence which knows (i.e. the knowledge), and the Jnathuru the knower, The Maya the true nature of the power known as mAyA and the Parayaya that in Mamaya arise, and the multitude of the different shaktIs/powers that arise out of the shuddha (pure)mAyA mAmAyA The Siva and the sivA who is manifest in the above mentioned collective of shaktIs and the Agochara Veeya and the unmanifest sivA in His own self nature who is as a seed to all the later manifestations So impelled, streamed out of me in measures full have all been thoroughly detailed and explained by me in this book.

* mAyA here refers to that which is known as ashuddha mAyA or impure mAyA. To those who are familiar with the tattvAs as ennumerated in the sankhyA system or as followed by the srividyA traditions, this is the level of mAyA as kanchukA (cage bars) which due to its powers of veiling and distorting etc results in the delusion of multiplicity/duality etc when there is but one. Hence it is termed as ashuddha or impure mAyA.

The word agOchara vIyA refers to the unmanifest and untangible energy that is at the very root of all manifestation, like a tiny seed. This is otherwise known as swarUpa sivA - i.e. sivA in His own self state.

From the above mantrA it becomes clear that the sage intends to reveal to us the very essence of all knowledge - the tattvAs. These are the basic categories/ units and understanding and working through these is a must for spiritual progress. The knowledge of these tattvAs will eventually enable the distinction between the knower and the known to dissolve making knowledge free from any limitations. It can also be inferred from the context of this mantrA that the sage has himself recieved this knowledge in the appropriate manner (i.e. through dIkshA) and is thus capable of transmitting the same to his disciples through the medium of dIkshA and further instruction through this book.

Here ends the 90th mantrA of the invocation of the thirumandiram.


TuriyA state with rasamani gutikA

SrigurubhyO namahA
pArad/pAradA, also known in the south as rasamani is often spoken of as the 'seed of ShivA' in the alchemical writings and in the works of the tamil siddhAs. This rasamani is a strange substance - in as much as it is something from which its own intrinsic nature is taken away, and in its place a quality that is quite opposite to it is revealed. Rasamani is solidified mercury - yes, solidified mercury. As most of us know from our school lab level of chemistry, mercury is a liquid metal and by its nature flows wantonly. If the solidified mercury is the seed of shivA, then the plain elemental mercury is like the 'seed of men' - it flows incessantly, breaking itself into a million beads and corroding everything it comes in contact with along the way. pArad or rasamani on the other hand, is a mercury that has been first purified of its highly toxic nature through a series of samskArAs (ritual/alchemical steps) and finally 'gathered' together as a solid ball by the addition of some magical herbs or in some cases silver.

In the age of the internet, one would be forgiven in thinking that this pArad is a highly available substance as there are many websites that claim to sell 'real' solidified mercury in a multitude of forms - balls,bells,cups,lingams,statues, and even srichakrAs! Every astrologer in India has jumped on the pArad bandwagon and list off an array of pArad items to placate planets, gods and evil spirits. And dont even get me started on the many New age gurus who have supposedly made and installed huge 200 kilo lingams in solid mercury! I digress, so let me come back to the point. Anyway, if we go by the writings of the early alchemists themselves and observe texts such as the rasa siddhAntA, and that of the siddars of the bOgar lineage etc, it becomes evident that it is a herculean task to transform elemental mercury into pArad or rasamani.

The process involves many smaller process that are both chemical and metaphysical. The adept who is trying to accomplish this task must be one who is of the yOgic disposition and be blessed by the rasEshwarI vidyA to achieve the end result. Moreover he should be one who knows patience as the outer transformation of elemental mercury into rasamani is nothing more than an indicator of the inner transformation of the alchemist himself. Like the transformation of base metal/lead into gold is often times a metaphor for the inner transformation of the embodied soul into its higher self, the gathering together of mercury is a sign of the gathering together of the latent energies of the siddhA. Few are those who can really achieve this goal in the traditional way and they are perfected beings or siddhAs. With the advances we have made in the current age in the area of metallurgy it is now a commercially viable prospect to make crude amalgams of mercury with silver (this is much easier than solidifying mercury through the use of sacred herbs) which is what most of the marketed quality of pArad today is.

I have been lucky enough to have in my possession a siddha gutikA of rasamani - it is a small ball of solidified mercury that has been produced by the traditional siddha methods of yore by a devotee of rasEshwarI vidyA in Rajasthan. The rasamani is saturated with super natural powers and as a result there is much that it can accomplish. It is not my purpose here to list the various properties and virtues of rasamani, so I refrain from doing so. What I intend to tell you now though is about a curious incident that occur ed last night.

The said rasamani has been lying without use for nearly a year now in my pUja altar. Prompted by some unknown agency, I took it out of the box yesterday in the morning and after bathing the gutikA in some fresh water I proceeded to rub it with some vibUthy. After my morning pUja, I wore the gutikA as I have done before around my neck and went about my daily business. Nothing of note there and nothing else of note transpired through the day. But what happened in the night was different. Try as I might, I was unable to sleep when in bed. As usual I continued my japA mentally in bed and after a while realised I was still awake! The mind was still, fresh and wonderfully focused on the japA. There was no sense of fatigue or the need to sleep. It was a straight projection to a state of turiyA or transcendental awareness throughout the night for me. I was in a state where I was definitely not asleep and was fully aware of myself lying down and my immediate environment, yet I was aware of them only as an awareness and had no 'identification' with any of it. It was as if I was watching myself lying there but this watching had no effect on me. Thus I lay for a few hours until about 2am, mentally repeating the japA all the while. The sense of 'awakeness' heightened further and a feeling of lightness and what I can only describe as 'extreme awakeness' flooded me totally.

I got out of bed and went downstairs into the pUja room to try and make use of this sudden window into a state of deep mindfullness. Once there I remained seated on my AsanA for the rest of the night immersed in the same state of mind. I was fully aware of myself sitting and my body remained seated without any conscious effort on my part to keep it propped up. Even though the mind was awake, it was as if all the extensions (i.e. the senses and the cognitive faculties)were suspended. A mildly euphoric state. And one where the main noticeable feature was the lack of anything to notice. I remained so till about half five in the morning.

This morning I am inspired to start work on the thirumandiram commentary again! The last post on the text was more than a year ago, and it feels like the right time to start on that again now. Hopefully, I will continue for a bit this time!