Friday, July 20, 2012

Guru's role in Soul's illumination - mantrA 139

srigurubhyO namahA |
A very popular and oft quoted mantrA, the 139th verse speaks about the importance of the guru in the life of spiritual aspirant. The mantrA has two levels of meaning - one on a personal level and the other on a level relating siva as the guru. The sage stresses on the necessity of a preceptor or an authentic guru from a sadsampradAyA or a valid and proper spiritual lineage, to enable the aspirant to progress further on the spiritual path.

தெளிவு குருவின் திருமேனி காண்டல்
தெளிவு குருவின் திருநாமஞ் செப்பல்
தெளிவு குருவின் திருவார்த்தை கேட்டல்
தெளிவு குருவுரு சிந்தித்தல் தானே. I.1.27.139


It is but to see the Guru's Holy Form,
It is but to chant the Guru's Holy Name,
It is but to hear the Guru's Holy Word,
It is but to muse the Guru's Holy Being
--Thus it is the soul its illume receives. I.1.27.139

Com - It is but to see the Guru's Holy Form, (--Thus it is the soul its illume receives.) The practise of visualising the presence of the siva guru on the crown of one’s head, in his effulgent form, will result in attaining clarity. It is but to chant the Guru's Holy Name, (--Thus it is the soul its illume receives.) The practise of chanting or repeating continually the holy name of the siva guru, (the auspicious panchAkshara mantra of siva) will result in attaining clarity. It is but to hear the Guru's Holy Word, (--Thus it is the soul its illume receives.) The practise of listening to the words of upadEshA of the siva guru and contemplating it, will result in attaining clarity. It is but to muse the Guru's Holy Being, (--Thus it is the soul its illume receives.) And finally, the practise of contemplating the radiant light, that is the divine form of the siva guru continually, will result in attaining great clarity.

*The word in the Tamil original ‘thelivu’ referring to clarity is present at the start of each line of the verse – however, in the English translation of the verse it is rendered as a fifth separate line. So in my translation above, I have added the fifth line in brackets ( ) to each of the other lines to provide the context correctly. Though the verse above has the word ‘thelivu’ at the start of each line, it is meant to be read at the end of each line to get the correct meaning. The term ‘guru’ in the original refers to one’s own guru in the path of upAsanA and also to the guru of gurus – siva. Following on from the mantrAs before, it becomes clear that the sage is urging the disciple to cultivate the practise of being immersed in the light, which is the form of siva that is present in the guru chakra in the crown of the head. This mystic seat of the guru tattvA is in a downward triangle that is within the pericarp of the thousand petalled lotus or sahasrAra kamala on the crown of the head. To be aware of the presence of the guru tattvA here and to revel in its radiance is an important practise as it cultivates the light body of the adept and is capable of endowing right thought, right vision etc. The guru tattvA will guide the life of the adept from there. This light that is also elsewhere in the text referred to as Grace or Holy feet is the form of siva which will pervade the adept when the right level of spiritual maturity is attained. As described in previous mantrAs, the siva yOgi remains immersed in this light and after some time learns to experience the sensations/vibrations that emanate from this light. The idea of vibrations turning into light fields or quasi energetic fields in and around the body is a concept well defined in the yOga manuals and in much of the siddha and tAntric texts.

Chanting the guru’s name continually is a reference to being immersed in the japA of the panchAkshara mahAmantrA of siva. Meditation on the form of siva as pure effulgence while being immersed in the chanting of the panchAksharA will produce clarity – this is chitta shuddi or internal purification. More on this will follow later in the text. Listening to the words of upadEshA of the guru (on the crown of the head) and contemplating that is a reference to shravana, and mananA. The words of the guru is nAdA and the contemplation of it refers to be being immersed in nAdAntA (refer mantra 128) in the state of silence as siva is beyond words. And finally being ever immersed in the contemplation of light (form of the guru) refers to the final state of nidhidhyAsanA.Thus the sage makes clear through the grace of the siva guru one is able to attain clarity of being. His words or upadEshA when taken to heart and put to practise will yield the result.

thirucchitrambalam |


Anonymous said...

About the Siva Panchakshara which you mention above, is it ok to just read it, its available everywhere in the internet or should it be initiated to us by a guruji?


mooligai sidhan said...

srigurubhyO namahA |

Hello Ram,
The siva panchAksharA as a mantrA must be only undertaken after upadEsha by a guru. The guru would (and often does)take away some bIjA (like the shuddha pranavA at the start)or add/substitute other bIjAs in its place based on the eligiblity of the sishyA.
It is true that the panchAksharA and various other mantrAs are available all over the internet, but they lack the necessary 'power' that will awaken the energies in the practitioner. Moreover, other elements like rishi and anga nyAsAs, dhyAnA, hrdayA etc are necessary if one was to take this up as mantra upAsanA which need instruction from a suitable guru.
However, the mantrA namasivaya (na ma si vA ya)-i.e. without pranavA can be chanted by anyone. This occurs in the vEdA (in the rudraprashnA of the yajur vEdA)and is suitable to all. nAmasankIrtanA or singing/chanting the names of the lord is a form of devotion that is well suited to kali yugA.
The siva panchAkshara stOtrA is also a good practise for those who are not duly initiated into the mantrA by a guru. The bIjAs of the mantrA occur in the verses and singing the verses will confer the merits of the chanting of the mantrA itself.
Hope this helps.