Tuesday, September 14, 2010

He descended from heaven and filled me with Grace - mantrA 113

srigurubhyO namahA
May the regular reader excuse me the two week delay in getting this post out! As I mentioned in the last post, with the 112nd mantrA we came to the conclusion of the preface like pAyiram or introductory section of the thirumandiram and from this mantrA we begin the first tantrA.

Like with any other subject and like a good author, the sage set out in the first section to provide a summary of sorts of the subject material of the text and also to paint a picture that will entice the seeker into making up his or her mind that this a worthy path. With that done, the sage wastes no further time in preambles and proceeds straight into the core instructions of the shaivA school. This core wisdom of the AgamAs, he divides into nine sections titled tantrAs and gradually guides the reader to perfection. As we will be marking our entry into the first tantrA with the mantrA below, I had wanted to publish the first mantrA of this section either on the ganEsha chaturthy or following it. Obviously, I have not been able to publish it on the day! So, with the chaturthy vratAs being completed now and with the supreme mahAganapathy firmly established in my heart, I beseech Him on behalf of all of us to remove all the obstacles that stand in our way to attaining perfection. May He shower on us His wisdom and grace and fill our hearts with His radiance that we may be able to really grasp the teachings of the sage to attain to the shivOham state.

Now coming to the text - The first stage in the life of a spiritual seeker is approaching a master/ guru and being accepted by the guru as a disciple. After such acceptance, the guru then conducts the dIkshA or the initiation ceremony and renders the disciple pure and fit for the path of sAdhanA. This two fold activity of transmission of shakti and cleansing of the accumulated taint/sins in the disciple is acutely important and without it, the path becomes impossible to tread and perhaps even futile.

So here too, at the very start of the first tantrA, the sage proceeds to conduct the dIkshA of sorts by revealing the merits of a real guru who is ever established in the truth and by giving the upadEshA or divine instructions to the disciple/reader to enable them to be fit to make the journey to siva. From now onward till the very end of the text, there will be plenty of mantrAs which are possessed of multiple meanings where they are all simultaneously true. There are also plenty of mantrAs which discuss deeply subtle and highly esoteric topics and reveal the deep secret gems of the shaiva tantrAs. Let it be known that I will not be able to discuss some of those advanced topics or sampradAya rahasyAs (secrets of the lineage) on this public space as they are to be revealed to the initiates at different stages of their spiritual progress. I will however try my very best to explain the mantrAs so most of us can understand the intent of the sage. If at points, my commentary does not do a good job of explaining things properly, please feel free to email me regarding your doubts and I will try my best to explain them privately through mail to those who need to understand them better.

I also request you, the reader, to proceed now with great care and devotion; paying plenty of attention to what is actually being said as they are all great revelations. Once again, may ganapathy remove the obstacles that stand in the way of our perfection. May my guru, whose holy pAdukAs are my sole refuge guide me in this endeavour. OM.

முதல் தந்திரம்

.1.. உபதேசம்

விண்ணின்று இழிந்து வினைக்கீடாய் மெய்க்கொண்டு
தண்ணின்ற தாளைத் தலைக்காவல் முன்வைத்து
உண்ணின்று உருக்கியோர் ஒப்பிலா ஆனந்தக்
கண்ணின்று காட்டிக் களிம்பறுத் தானே. I.1.1.113.


He Descended From Heaven and Filled Me With Grace

He come down from Heaven, clothed in body,
Karma to match, stretched forth His cool Feet of Grace, planting them firm
On my head; and lo! inside me He stood, melting my yielding heart;
And filled my eyes with peerless bliss, past all compare,
All impurity dispelled. I.1.1.113.

Com - He come down from heaven, lord siva descends from the paramAkAshA (subtle ether), clothed in body Karma to match, and manifests with a form (body) that is according to the fruit of one’s past lives (i.e. according to karma).stretched forth His cool Feet of Grace, planting them firm On my head; and He (siva) plants His holy feet, full of the sweetest grace, and cooling in nature, firmly on the crown of the head to provide sanctuary for the jIvA. And lo! Inside me He stood, melting my yielding heart; (then) abiding within the innermost cave of ones being, He melts the hearts (body) and minds of the jIvA. And filled my eyes with peerless bliss, past all compare, and standing within the eye (third eye) He reveals a state of bliss that is beyond compare. All impurity dispelled. And (thus) He tore asunder the pAsA (tie/tether/ attachment/bondage) that binds the jIvA to the endless cycle of birth and death.

# This mantra as we saw above is the first mantra of the first tantrA. The section that this opens is titled ‘ upadEshA’. This term ‘upadEshA’ can be understood as initiation or transmission of knowledge. The words that are spoken by the guru to the disciple are known as upadEshA. Through this section and the teachings contained within, the sage highlights the truth that the inner eye / spiritual eye of the disciple opens only as a result of the grace of a satguru. The first and most important stage in the life of a spiritual seeker is obtaining the grace of the guru.

The tantrAs speak volumes about the importance of a guru in the path of spiritual awakening and they declare unanimously the truth that the guru is at the core of any sAdhanA. The kaplasUtrA declares ‘ sri guru sarvakArana Shakti:’ – Ones guru is All competent power and is the root cause of everything. The words of the guru to the disciple that will enable him/her to walk the arduous path of sAdhanA and provide the disciple the faculty of discrimination is what is presented in this first section.

In this and the mantrAs to follow, the sage discusses the merits of a guru and deals with the detailed description of the shaiva siddhAntA (the shaiva philosophy) and the qualities of the jIvA, his weaknesses etc. These concepts will form the back bone of the teachings and hence it is necessary that we devote ample time to fully understand and absorb these truths. They will be of great value as we proceed further along the path to attain to shiva hood.

The words ‘ clothed in body, karma to match’ refer to the truth that it is the supreme siva who manifests in the physical plane as the guru to suit the tendencies of the individual. The tendencies of the individual are a product of his/her previous lives and the fruits of the actions performed therein. Thus, based on the karmic results/ fruits of the individuals previous lives, they are born with certain strengths and weaknesses. Thus they are eligible for different methods/paths based on their character (which again is based on karma). The sage here reveals that one’s guru is non different to siva, even though he/she may be walking this world in a physical body. That body is simply to be in the same level as the disciple so that it would be possible to transmit the Grace to the disciple.

The words ‘ planting His feet firmly on my head’ refer to the act known as dIkshA or initiation. It is through this process that the wisdom/knowledge is transmitted as energy from the master to the disciple. Here the words refer to the attainment of the Grace of siva.

The reference to ‘standing within and melting the heart and mind’ is to convey the truth that once the initiation has happened, the siva/guru energy abides within the inner core of the disciple where it slowly and gradually works on the emotional, mental and physical body of the disciple. Over time, when the disciple is following the words and teachings of his guru, the sAdhanA produces certain responses in the physical and mental spheres of the sAdhakA and melts away the avidyA (misapprehension/delusion), anger, greed etc and changes the state of being of the sAdhakA.
The word ‘kaLimbu’(translated here as impurity) in tamil refers to pAsam or the taints of attachment. This is variously called, bondage, tether, tie, bind etc. In classical texts, it is also known as malA or impurity. It is apt to note here that the malA or impurity that clings to the jIvA is classified into three kinds.

Anava malA or the taint of the ego principle.
kArmika malA or the taint of karma (action) and
mAyika malA or the taint due to mAyA (illusion).

The above three are all collectively known as pAsA and it is these that tie/tether the siva to thinking and feeling that he is jIvA (embodied). So, the combined meaning of the above mantra reveals that siva manifests in the physical plane as the guru in accordance to the fruits of the individuals karma and through his grace and compassion is able to transmit the Grace of the supreme. Moreover, guiding from within, He gently takes the individual on a path that gradually cleanses the impurities of countless births that have become lodged deeply in their psyche to elevate the individual to a state of everlasting bliss. The state of Self – which is beyond compare. This state of being, is the best antidote to the impurities that bind the jIvA to the trans migratory cycle. Eventually, being freed from the bondage of the impurities the jIvA realises his true state as sivA – which is really the very purpose of the path being shown by the guru.



Venkat said...


Does Diksha vary depending on traditions ?

My apartment-mate and his family are followers of Gavipuram Gangadareshwara temple in Karnataka. As per their tradition, Diksha is given to the unborn child on the occasion of seemandham.