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Wellknown… Unknowns..! ~ AruNAchala Tales #0

25 Jun

Wellknown… Unknowns..!

AruNAchala Tales #0

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ThiruvaNNAmalai aka AruNAchala needs no introduction. Known as the “நினைத்தாலே முக்தி தரும்” sthalam (holy place that offers mukti to the one who simply thinks about it), it’s an ancient place of pilgrimage whose antiquity dates back to the age before that of Gods (33 million of ’em, no less) and demons (aka asurAs), which remains well known through history due to the innumerable saints, yogis & siddhars who lived and attained mukti there and the eponymous Girivalam (circumambulation of the holy hill, barefooted, covering approximately 14 kms, in one go) that brings lakhs of devotees from all over to this quaint little town, every PourNami (full moon).

.

Ask anyone who had either been to AruNAchala or knows someone who had, about AruNAchala, and they will unfailingly tell you an enchanting tale or two about the Adiyogi & Adi Guru Lord ShivA himself who is worshipped there as AruNAchalEswarar, BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi (the great Realised Master of the GnAna yoga path needs no introduction either), Saint-Poet ArunagirinAdhar (the famed Saint-Poet who is associated with the illustrious warrior son of Lord ShivA, who is celebrated in this part of the world as தமிழ்க் கடவுள், i.e. the God of Tamil people), siddhars like IdaikkAdar and SEshAdri Swamigal, devotees like AmmaNi AmmAL, Realised Beings & Masters like Yogi Ramsurathkumar aka விசிறி சாமியார் (the saint with the handheld fan), about the holy hill itself and seemingly miraculous experiences that keep happening to those who undertake the Girivalam (circumambulation of the holy hill), diligently with piety. But there are amazing facts about this ancient holy space that even a dyed-in-the-wool Shiva bakthA may not know. So, here goes the “AruNAchala Tales”…
~~~~~~~~~~

ArunAchala Tales #0

Every enchanting tale has a beginning. In the age before Gods & demons, possibly during the early stages of creation itself, VishNu and BrahmA wondered who is the greater among them, since they seem to be the only two beings around in the vast emptiness. While they were debating to establish their superiority, a blindingly brilliant column (pillar / tower) of fiery light appeared, whose beginning or end couldn’t be seen. Dumbfounded by the magnificence of that light, the debating duo set out to know more about it. While BrahmA took the form of a swan and flew upwards towards the top of the column of fiery light, VishNu took the form of a wild boar and started digging into the earth towards the bottom of the same.

.

They went on seemingly forever and simply couldn’t get to either the top or bottom. While VishNu gave up his quest and humbly bowed before the light, BrahmA conjured up a yarn of how he had actually seen the top, while all he did was to see a flower falling from the top somewhere along and persuaded (coerced!) it to vouch for the completion of his quest.

.

There was a mighty roar and the SarvEswara revealed himself to be the column of endless fiery light. He praised VishNu for his honesty and humility, reminded him about his purpose, i.e. to nurture + preserve all creation and offered him the right to worship that’s almost like his own. This is why wherever there’s a Shiva temple, a VishNu temple could also be found somewhere nearby, even in nondescript villages and tiny towns. Lord MahAVishNu not only remains a popular God through the yugAs, but eventually also became related to the MahAdEva (God of Gods) by offering his sister Devi Shakthi in marriage to Lord ShivA.
.
Then the mighty RudrA turned his fiery gaze towards the shivering BrahmA and simply plucked away one of his five heads and thrown it away, which was like a rap in the knuckles for his blatant lie. He also cursed BrahmA that he won’t be worshipped by humans henceforth. This is why there’s hardly any temple for BrahmA, the God of creation.

.

Despite being very knowledgeable, BrahmA obviously wasn’t very smart to learn from this event, which cost him a head and the right to worship, no less. At a later point in time, he got another rap in the knuckles from the illustrious Son of ShivA, aka KArthikEya alias ShANmukhA, the greatest warrior in the history of Godkind who was anointed the commander-in-chief of the Deva armed forces, who incarcerated BrahmA and stripped him of his power of creation, for not knowing the meaning of AUM, the praNava mantrA, which is the primordial sound of creation itself. Lord Subrahmanya, incidentally, is the manifest form of PraNavA itself. But that’s another enchanting tale for a different time.

.

Finally, the TriambakA turned to the pitiful flower that was forced to vouch for BrahmA’s lie and banished it from his worship. This is why, thAzhampoo (தாழம்பூ / ketaki flower) isn’t used for ShivA worship, till date.

.

Moral of the story…

  • Be humble and truthful, in order to be receptive to Grace
  • Lying is easy but the consequences will be unimaginably hard
  • Intellectual (acquired / accumulated) knowledge is grossly overrated. Acceptance of “I don’t know” is the beginning of really knowing the Truth
  • And last but certainly not the least ~ don’t even think about messing with the all-knowing, omnipresent and omnipotent almighty ShivA, ever!
.

The symbolic representation of this ancient event can be found in pretty much all ShivA temples, right behind the garbhagrihA, in the form of LingOdhbhavar (லிங்கோத்பவர்). In a few temples – including AruNAchala – a form of Lord VishNu (VenugOpAla Swamy in ThiruvaNNAmalai) can be found facing LingOdhbhavar.

.

Now to the AruNAchala connect of this ancient tale…
  • The place where the Lord appeared as the seemingly endless column of fiery light is none other than AruNAchala, aka the holy hill at ThiruvaNNAmalai, making it possibly one of, if not the earliest known geographical location of Lord ShivA’s physical presence, on this tiny planet.
  • The popular KArthigai Deepam festival, when a huge light is lit atop the holy hill, is symbolic of this ancient tale, though the festival itself is associated with Lord KArthikEya, the Son of ShivA, who is considered to be an aspect (அம்சம்) of ShivA himself.
  • As a proof of the fiery nature of the magnificent light form of the Lord, intense heat emanates from the GarbhaGrihA (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple, where the மூலவர் (primary deity) of Lord ANNAmalayAr aka AruNAchalEswarar is worshipped, even today. One can experience this directly, while worshipping the Lord in close quarters (guided by a GurukkaL certainly helps and many are willing to offer this service, informally, for an fee, of course). The heat is always on and anyone in the fiery presence of the Lord will start to profusely sweat, instantaneously. Is it any wonder that among the Pancha BhUtha kshEtras of Lord ShivA, dedicated to the five primary elements of creation, AruNAchala is the kshEtra for Agni / Fire (பஞ்சபூத ஸ்தலங்களில் அருணாசலா எனு‌ம் திருவண்ணாமலை அக்னி ஸ்தலமாகும்)
  • Since the Dancing Lord appeared as the tower of light sans beginning or end (அடி முடி காணா ஜோதி ஸ்வரூபம்) on the hill of AruNAchala, the hill itself is worshipped as ShivA here. That’s why the pradakshiNam (பிரதக்ஷிணம் / circumambulation) is done around the hill itself, in the form of Girivalam (கிரிவலம்). .
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With the Lord’s boundless Grace, AruNAchala Tales will continue…

.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Wellknown… Unknowns..! ~ AruNAchala Tales #0

25 Jun

Wellknown… Unknowns..!

AruNAchala Tales #0

.

ThiruvaNNAmalai aka AruNAchala needs no introduction. Known as the “நினைத்தாலே முக்தி தரும்” sthalam (holy place that offers mukti to the one who simply thinks about it), it’s an ancient place of pilgrimage whose antiquity dates back to the age before that of Gods (33 million of ’em, no less) and demons (aka asurAs), which remains well known through history due to the innumerable saints, yogis & siddhars who lived and attained mukti there and the eponymous Girivalam (circumambulation of the holy hill, barefooted, covering approximately 14 kms, in one go) that brings lakhs of devotees from all over to this quaint little town, every PourNami (full moon).

.

Ask anyone who had either been to AruNAchala or knows someone who had, about AruNAchala, and they will unfailingly tell you an enchanting tale or two about the Adiyogi & Adi Guru Lord ShivA himself who is worshipped there as AruNAchalEswarar, BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi (the great Realised Master of the GnAna yoga path needs no introduction either), Saint-Poet ArunagirinAdhar (the famed Saint-Poet who is associated with the illustrious warrior son of Lord ShivA, who is celebrated in this part of the world as தமிழ்க் கடவுள், i.e. the God of Tamil people), siddhars like IdaikkAdar and SEshAdri Swamigal, devotees like AmmaNi AmmAL, Realised Beings & Masters like Yogi Ramsurathkumar aka விசிறி சாமியார் (the saint with the handheld fan), about the holy hill itself and seemingly miraculous experiences that keep happening to those who undertake the Girivalam (circumambulation of the holy hill), diligently with piety. But there are amazing facts about this ancient holy space that even a dyed-in-the-wool Shiva bakthA may not know. So, here goes the “AruNAchala Tales”…
~~~~~~~~~~

ArunAchala Tales #0

Every enchanting tale has a beginning. In the age before Gods & demons, possibly during the early stages of creation itself, VishNu and BrahmA wondered who is the greater among them, since they seem to be the only two beings around in the vast emptiness. While they were debating to establish their superiority, a blindingly brilliant column (pillar / tower) of fiery light appeared, whose beginning or end couldn’t be seen. Dumbfounded by the magnificence of that light, the debating duo set out to know more about it. While BrahmA took the form of a swan and flew upwards towards the top of the column of fiery light, VishNu took the form of a wild boar and started digging into the earth towards the bottom of the same.

.

They went on seemingly forever and simply couldn’t get to either the top or bottom. While VishNu gave up his quest and humbly bowed before the light, BrahmA conjured up a yarn of how he had actually seen the top, while all he did was to see a flower falling from the top somewhere along and persuaded (coerced!) it to vouch for the completion of his quest.

.

There was a mighty roar and the SarvEswara revealed himself to be the column of endless fiery light. He praised VishNu for his honesty and humility, reminded him about his purpose, i.e. to nurture + preserve all creation and offered him the right to worship that’s almost like his own. This is why wherever there’s a Shiva temple, a VishNu temple could also be found somewhere nearby, even in nondescript villages and tiny towns. Lord MahAVishNu not only remains a popular God through the yugAs, but eventually also became related to the MahAdEva (God of Gods) by offering his sister Devi Shakthi in marriage to Lord ShivA.
.
Then the mighty RudrA turned his fiery gaze towards the shivering BrahmA and simply plucked away one of his five heads and thrown it away, which was like a rap in the knuckles for his blatant lie. He also cursed BrahmA that he won’t be worshipped by humans henceforth. This is why there’s hardly any temple for BrahmA, the God of creation.

.

Despite being very knowledgeable, BrahmA obviously wasn’t very smart to learn from this event, which cost him a head and the right to worship, no less. At a later point in time, he got another rap in the knuckles from the illustrious Son of ShivA, aka KArthikEya alias ShANmukhA, the greatest warrior in the history of Godkind who was anointed the commander-in-chief of the Deva armed forces, who incarcerated BrahmA and stripped him of his power of creation, for not knowing the meaning of AUM, the praNava mantrA, which is the primordial sound of creation itself. Lord Subrahmanya, incidentally, is the manifest form of PraNavA itself. But that’s another enchanting tale for a different time.

.

Finally, the TriambakA turned to the pitiful flower that was forced to vouch for BrahmA’s lie and banished it from his worship. This is why, thAzhampoo (தாழம்பூ / ketaki flower) isn’t used for ShivA worship, till date.

.

Moral of the story…

  • Be humble and truthful, in order to be receptive to Grace
  • Lying is easy but the consequences will be unimaginably hard
  • Intellectual (acquired / accumulated) knowledge is grossly overrated. Acceptance of “I don’t know” is the beginning of really knowing the Truth
  • And last but certainly not the least ~ don’t even think about messing with the all-knowing, omnipresent and omnipotent almighty ShivA, ever!
.

The symbolic representation of this ancient event can be found in pretty much all ShivA temples, right behind the garbhagrihA, in the form of LingOdhbhavar (லிங்கோத்பவர்). In a few temples – including AruNAchala – a form of Lord VishNu (VenugOpAla Swamy in ThiruvaNNAmalai) can be found facing LingOdhbhavar.

.

Now to the AruNAchala connect of this ancient tale…
  • The place where the Lord appeared as the seemingly endless column of fiery light is none other than AruNAchala, aka the holy hill at ThiruvaNNAmalai, making it possibly one of, if not the earliest known geographical location of Lord ShivA’s physical presence, on this tiny planet.
  • The popular KArthigai Deepam festival, when a huge light is lit atop the holy hill, is symbolic of this ancient tale, though the festival itself is associated with Lord KArthikEya, the Son of ShivA, who is considered to be an aspect (அம்சம்) of ShivA himself.
  • As a proof of the fiery nature of the magnificent light form of the Lord, intense heat emanates from the GarbhaGrihA (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple, where the மூலவர் (primary deity) of Lord ANNAmalayAr aka AruNAchalEswarar is worshipped, even today. One can experience this directly, while worshipping the Lord in close quarters (guided by a GurukkaL certainly helps and many are willing to offer this service, informally, for an fee, of course). The heat is always on and anyone in the fiery presence of the Lord will start to profusely sweat, instantaneously. Is it any wonder that among the Pancha BhUtha kshEtras of Lord ShivA, dedicated to the five primary elements of creation, AruNAchala is the kshEtra for Agni / Fire (பஞ்சபூத ஸ்தலங்களில் அருணாசலா எனு‌ம் திருவண்ணாமலை அக்னி ஸ்தலமாகும்)
  • Since the Dancing Lord appeared as the tower of light sans beginning or end (அடி முடி காணா ஜோதி ஸ்வரூபம்) on the hill of AruNAchala, the hill itself is worshipped as ShivA here. That’s why the pradakshiNam (பிரதக்ஷிணம் / circumambulation) is done around the hill itself, in the form of Girivalam (கிரிவலம்). .
.
With the Lord’s boundless Grace, AruNAchala Tales will continue…

.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

12 Apr

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

~ insights on nhAdha (chants and mantras)

 

🙏 Namaskaram. Recently Swamy came across a WhatsApp share (forwarded, of course!) that went gaga about the ‘mathematical insights’ of Vedas. Here’s an excerpt…

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Till I came across this posting, I was unaware of the significance of Rudram, Chamakam. High school students will greatly benefit from memorising  these, to help them in their study of Mathematics. If we  take a look at this excerpt from Chamakam of the Rudra Namaka Chamaka, we will get to know the mathematical genius in the Vedas.

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By now, it’s quite obvious to anyone other than the exclusive (and downright abusive, needless to say, especially when it comes to any aspect of this very ancient culture) non-pseudo-secular pretentious intellectual blabbermouths that there are many dimensions and layers to pretty much anything in this ancient culture, which manages to thrive even after several destructive invasions and even more destructive rule by cringe-worthy politicos, post a hard fought and won (with nary a bloodshed – especially on the invaders’ side) independence.  Even the common citizens who weren’t privileged enough to go to branded scholastic institutions and work really hard daily to eke out a living in this unforgiving ultra-competitive success obsessed society know this, though they don’t get screen time on any media to speak about it. 

Swamy is no vedic expert, but as a voracious (at least once upon a time, reignited again recently, but more like carbureted than fuel-injected) reader, reasonably prolific writer (no formally published work yet, but plenty of 100% agmark original content on various social media platforms – including this one) and seeker (of Truth, not anything connected with mere survival, at least not anymore), he sure knows a thing or two about the breadth and depth of this culture (we never aspired for the height of greatness, hence no invasions by us to spread our culture anywhere else). So, here’s some insight that might be helpful in comprehending the essence of this newfound vedic insight (one of the many, obviously), than merely going gaga over it (which itself is a fundamental problem, as such marvelling and social sharing is so superficial that the same person will end up sharing in the same groups the same thing, sooner than later, without actually gaining any insight whatsoever)…

VedicChanting

Vedas are essentially ‘sounds that were/are heard,‘ referred to as Sruti or Shruthi in SanAthana DharmA. Here’s a simple explanation from the ISKCON website. 

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Hinduism has no single scripture but many. They include the Vedas and their corollaries sometimes called collectively “the Vedic scriptures.”

There are two main divisions:

shruti – that which is heard (revealed truth)

smriti – that which is remembered (realised truth)

Sanskrit is the language of most canonical texts, but many subsidiary texts are written in the vernacular.

Shruti is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves.

Smriti is supplementary and may change over time. It is authoritative only to the extent that it conforms to the bedrock of shruti.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In a certain state of meditation, the sages / yogis of ancient times simply heard these sounds – most probably within themselves, than from anywhere outside. 

Then they started chanting those sounds, as they heard them (without any intellectual interpretation), observed certain outcomes and then started teaching the chanting of Shruthi to others. That’s why, even today, in this so-called digital yuga, students learn vedas through repetitive recitals and not by reading books and vomiting what’s read in exams (though printed and digital versions are certainly available now for reference – primarily for the armchair scholars and SoMe sharers).

In SanAtana Dharma (not to be confused with Hinduism, which is categorised as a religion – something done on purpose by the invaders), which is the core spiritual foundation of the ancient BhArath / Sindhu civilization, the Creator had been defined in many ways. While ancient scriptures such as the Upanishads (which too are part of the Vedas, but were crafted by humans, thereby belonging to the Smriti category) define the Creator aka God as Nirghuna Brahmam ~ நிர்குண பிரம்மம், i.e., an entity without form or attributes / characteristics. The same entity is worshipped in many forms as well, which is known as Saguna brahmam ~ சகுண பிரம்மம். 

Dhyanalinga2.jpgSince this is a Mukthi focused culture, anything and everything that aids one towards the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle, were effectively utilised by the seekers. This includes devices (YantrA), chants (MantrA), methods or techniques (TantrA), processes (KriyA, for example) and even Gods. This is quite possibly the only culture where the technology to craft one’s own version of God was in practice, which is known as PratishthA aka consecration. There are a few practitioners of this ancient God-making craft even now, such as Swamy’s Guru Sadhguru, who has created divine forms such as the DhyAnalinga and Devi Linga Bhairavi. This is the reason why everything from a plain-looking uncarved stone to tree to cow to many a phenomenally intrinsic idols being worshipped as God here, even today. The divine is also defined as pure light (exemplified by historical Realised Masters such as VaLLaLAr ~ வள்ளலார்) and also as pure Sound, i.e. NhAdha Brahmam ~ நாத பிரம்மம். 

In essence, the internal comprehension of everything in existence as a manifest form of the unmanifest divine by many a yogi / siddha / saint has led to that realisation being reflected in the various means and paths towards self-realisation. The fortunate people of BhArathavarsha never had any qualms about following one path or another, knowing full well that all of them lead to the realisation of the same Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation. Heck, we even had many a non-believer amidst the sea of believers, from time to time, whose philosophy too is available for anyone interested. And the best part is, they weren’t hunted or annihilated but simply allowed to co-exist in the same society!

Recently, scientists have arrived at conclusion (though in reality, nothing is ever conclusive – especially when it comes to science) that the entire existence is nothing but sound. Or vibrations / reverberation, to be precise. This is essentially science acknowledging what spirituality said a loooooong time ago. Anyway, when we say the entire existence is just sound, the essential question that will arise in our intellectual mind is, ‘then how come there are so many different forms – including humans, each of which is so vastly different from everything else in existence?‘ 

JBD_09M17-1.jpg

Now, each sound is said to have a form associated with it. This is the fundamental principle of NhAdha Yoga & Mantra Yoga. By reciting a certain sound, at a certain time, for a certain number of times, one can realise the form associated with that sound. This is why Devi UpAsakars ~ தேவி உபாஸகர் get darshan of Devi by chanting her Mantra, while devotees of Adiyogi Shiva get darshan of MahAdEva by chanting his moola mantra, and so on. Lord SubrahmaNya (or Muruga, ShaNmukha, KArthikEya, etc) in the form of BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi (பால தண்டாயுதபாணி) at Kumaramalai (குமரமலை) is Swamy’s kula dheivam (குல தெய்வம்). Created by Lord ShivA for the specific purpose of leading the Deva army (as it’s General) to annihilate the AsurAs, he is considered and worshipped as the form of the moola mantrA of creation itself, i.e. AUM, the supreme sound of all sounds.  

Since there are various mantrAs (a mantrA is essentially a collection or sequence of sounds, organised for a specific purpose, and associated with a specific divine form) for each deity, the darshans of the deity by the individuals who perform Mantra yoga or NhAdha yoga also vary accordingly. 

Om Swami, a young contemporary – living – Realised Master, has written about how the diligent practice of Mantra yoga led him to the actual darshan of Devi, in his autobiography “If Truth Be Told.” He now teaches the ancient practice of Mantra yOga to seekers. Swamy’s master Sadhguru had got the experience of the divine as NhAdha Brahmam at KAnti SarOvar, a lake located above (and beyond) KEdhArnAth, which is where Adiyogi Shiva is said to have transmitted his yogic Wisdom to Devi Shakthi, in absolute intimacy (the 112 ways to Realisation taught by him are available in ‘VignAna Bhairava TantrA). This experience happened much later than his actual enlightenment experience at ChAmundi Hills near Mysuru. 

Vedas, which are essentially a very structured way of chanting pure sound, the way it is in nature, and thereby resonating with the reverberations in creation in a certain way, can be considered as a method to define the nature of the divine, which is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. So when someone chants Sri Rudram ~ ஸ்ரீ ருத்ரம், what’s actually happening is the definition of the form of the divine as RudrA, in all its glory. 

And there’s a specific reason why vedas are in Sanskrit and not any other ancient language (e.g. Thamizh, which happens to be Swamy’s mother tongue, in which he writes classical hymns / poetry). Sanskrit is a language that’s entirely based on, and – needless to say – crafted from, sound. The syllables of Sanskrit are said to have emerged from Lord ShivA’s Damaru ~ உடுக்கை, which was listened to by his ever present companion NandhikEswara. This too has been mentioned by another contemporary Master Swami SukhabOdhAnanda (of ‘மனசே ரிலாக்ஸ் ப்ளீஸ்’ fame – he’s a disciple of Swami ChinmayAnanda) in one of his books. 

Anyway, the point is, both vedas and mantrAs being in Sanskrit is quite simply because the foundation of all of these is sound – in a multitude of variations, of course. Oh btw, there’s another very ancient language that’s spoken by rishis, yogis and Siddhars of yore, known as SandhyA bAsha ~ ஸந்த்யா பாஷை, which could even be dated before the advent of sanskrit or possibly a contemporary one to sanskrit. This language was quite possibly much closer in tune with the vibrations in nature and doesn’t seem to have a script. Without any active practitioners – at least in the limited field of perception of contemporary humans – it is not known to be known to anyone now. 

ClassicalMusicThose who follow any form of classical music know about the various precise measurements that make sound enchanting, and even purposeful beyond mere enchantment (e.g.: Music therapy). With this context, if one looks at the mathematical precision / definitions in vedas, it’s quite easy to comprehend that it is simply yet another way / method to define the form of the divine, and thereby the Creator, creation, existence, et al, through precise measurements, expressed as sound. 

From now on, whenever you chant a mantrA such as AUM Namah ShivAya or GAyathri, you may inherently be aware that it’s nothing but a nondescript creation’s (ahem, that would be you – on a cosmic scale!) feeble attempt to depict the form that’s associated with that mantrA, i.e. NhAdha / Sound. Just keep aside whatever you think you know, i.e. the intellectual aspect or acquired knowledge, and simply resonate with the sound of the mantrA, so you may realise the real purpose of that mantrA, whatever it is that you’ve been initiated into or have learnt to chant.

Fun Fact 1: In either Nhamakham ~ நமகம் or Chamakham ~ ச்சமகம் (as mentioned in the beginning, Swamy is a vedic illiterate, so his lack of knowledge in such nuances of vedas may kindly be forgiven), pretty much each chant or stanza will end with a mEh ~ மே. There’s an enchanting background tale about this (all ancient tales in this culture are not only enchanting, but have a deeper aspect of the Truth, well hidden beneath the superficial sheath if the tale itself). When Daksha PrajApathi was annihilated by VeerabadhrA (a fierce form created by Lord ShivA, with a single hair from his matted locks, for the sole purpose of destroying DakshA and his acolytes), post his insult of Lord ShivA (by refusing to invite him to his yagnA and refusing to offer the Ahuthi that’s due to him, which resulted in Devi Shakthi, in the form of of Sati – DakshA’s daughter, committing Atma hathyA and leaving her mortal form), he was beheaded by Lord VeerabadhrA. When he realised his unforgivable mortal error and surrendered to the Lord seeking salvation, he was revived back to life by Lord MahEswara who is the ocean of benevolent Grace, but with a goat’s head. Since goats are known to communicate with the sound mEh (மே), it’s believed that in this particular chant by him, worshipping the MahAdEva (God of Gods), every stanza ends with the basic sound of a goat! 

Fun Fact 2: Swamy has written and published (on Social Media, naturally) more than 230 hymns written in classical Thamizh, collectively known as Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ தினம் ஒரு பதிகம், so far. In his experience, these hymns are written through him than by him. And invariably all of them come with a tune as well. Neither a trained musician nor a qualified poet, it’s truly an enchanting experience for Swamy to not just write these hymns down but also to sing them without having any idea about their musical nuances, i.e. rAga, thALa, et al. In a way, that too is an experience of being in resonance with sound, i.e. NhAdhabrahmA, without actually realising the nuances of it!

May the Grace of NhAdhabrahmA be with you for a purposeful Life, overflowing with resonant Joy. ShambhO. 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

உயிர்மெய் (Tamil posts by Swamy) https://swamyuyirmei.wordpress.com/
Swamystery (#ThinkOpposite blog posts by Swamy) https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/
SwamyQuote (quotes by Swamy) https://swamyray.wordpress.com/

What’s In A 1000 Names ~ musings on Sahasranamam!

2 Mar
What’s In A 1000 Names!

~ musings on Sahasranamam (LalithA & VishNu)

A recent share by a family member on conducting ‘VishNu SahasranhAmam PArAyaNam‘ session at their home triggered an interesting discussion thread. Sharing it here, which hopefully offers some enchanting insights into two of the most popular Sahasranhamam sthothrams, i.e. LalithA SahasranhAmam (1000 sacred names of DEvi LalithA ParamEswari) and VishNu SahasrahAmam (1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu).
‘Vishnu SahasranhAmam’ (விஷ்ணு சஹஸ்ரநாமம் ~ 1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu) chanting for Swamy was initiated by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, during the ChAr DhAm yAtrA (YamunOtri-GangOtri-KEdArnAth-BadhrinAth). 👣

A daily practice at many Vaishnavite households (along with the ubiquitous SuprabhAtham), Vishnnu SahasranhAmam chanting continues to happen at SwamyHome, which, per religious / social norms (and spiritual practices, needless to say) is a Shaivite household (with the help of ‘பெரிய எழுத்து’ ~ bold letters edition by Giri Trading Agency, of course) every Saturday, after the daily chanting for Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan (Swamy’s Kuladheivam [குலதெய்வம்] ~ worshipped in the form of VEl [வேல்]). 😌 On Fridays, it’s the turn of Sri LalithA Sahasranhamam (ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்), needless to say 🔥🙏

Incidentally, ‘ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்’ (Sri LalithA SahasranhAmam) is said to have been chanted by Lord Hayagreevar (ஹயக்ரீவர் ~ Horse-faced Lord), who is an amsam or manifestation of Lord VishNu (not an avatAr, like Sri RAmA or Sri KrishNA). So it’s essentially a sthOthram by the elder brother praising younger sister (who was given away in marriage to Adiyogi ShivA)🙌, which is practically unheard of, but truly awesome. For those on the path of ShAktham (சாக்தம் [அ] சக்தி வழிபாடு [அ] தேவி உபாசனை ~ worship of the supreme reality as Shakthi, i.e. Mother or DEvi), it’s the child praising its mother, as all three primary Gods (and their consorts as well) are said to be created by the Divine Mother, for the sake of creation, with specific responsibilities, viz. Creation (Lord BrahmA), Sustenance (Lord MahAVishNu) and Transformation / Salvation (Lord ShivA).

The place where Lord Hayagreevar is believed to have chanted LalithA Sahasranhamam is enroute to Mount KailAsh, along the trekking path from the base camp. 👣

Swamy’s Upa Guru Sohamanandaji is a DEvi upAsakar (the form worshipped by him is DEvi ChinnaMasthA ~ தேவி சின்னமஸ்தா), so he has naturally started chanting LalithA Sahasranhamam during the trek to KailAsh (he was part of the same Isha SacredWalks group as Swamy, but hasn’t yet become Swamy’s Upa Guru, then), while crossing a particular spot. A Buddhist Monk who was going the other way stopped for a moment and told him “Horse face God chanted it here,” and pointed to some form of identification at that spot. 🙌 ShambhO 🙏

However, the origin of LalithA Sahasranhamam is said to be DEvi herself 🔥, since it’s practically impossible for any other being in creation to express Adi ParAshakthi’s (ஆதி பராசக்தி) magnificence in full🙏. With the possible exception of her other half, of course! 😂

Naturally, there’s an enchanting sthOthram on DEvi by none other than Lord ShivA himself, which is known as ‘Soundharyalahari’ (சௌந்தர்யலஹரி), which is essentially a husband’s praise of the enchanting beauty and virtues of his wife, with intimate details about her physique, mind, nature, etc.

The version of Soundharyalahari sthOthram that we’ve now is said to be an abridged edition, offered to us by Jagadguru Adi ShankarAchArya ✍

According to mythical lore, when the Jagadguru had the privilege of listening to the entire hymn (while having the darshan of அம்மையப்பன், obviously), he wanted to naturally share it with humanity. But when he was leaving KailAsh with the entire hymn (in which form is unknown, but that’s just a trivial detail), NandhikEswara (நந்திகேஸ்வரர்) apparently intercepted him and removed a whole bunch of verses that are considered too privy to be shared with anyone else. That makes Lord Nandhi the first censor board official! 😂🙏🙌
Here’s an(other) enchanting tale about VishNu Sahasranamam…

A lot of devotees know that VishNu Sahasranamam was chanted by Bheeshma PithAmah (பீஷ்ம பிதாமஹர்) while waiting to leave his body at an auspicious time (there’s a tale related to the actual event – of his inability to leave, despite his boon – which is covered well in the insightful Ratha Sapthami video by ஆலயம் செல்வீர் ~ Aalayam Selveer YouTube channel).
But only after the chanting was completed by Bheeshmar, everyone present there realised the significance of the hymn and regretted that no one recorded it for posterity. So, Lord KrishNa himself offered them the solution.
The Lord, the eighth avatAr (incarnation) of MahAVishNu, pointed out that since SahAdEvA (or NakulA, not sure which one, but most likely the former, who is an expert in many ShAstrAs, including Astrology, which alludes to him being the chosen one) is the one wearing a Spatikha mAla (ஸ்படிக மணிமாலை), he should be able to recall the hymn, in its entirety.

Spatikha apparently has memory that enables it to absorb nhAdha (sound / vibrations), which is the insight one can gain from this. 😇 Our limited knowledge is only about the cooling property of the gem. That’s how we ended up getting the enchanting VishNu Sahasranamam sthOthram. 🙏
So, is it any surprise that most (all!) those who do Vedic chanting and chanting of hymns regularly wear Spatikha mAla, in addition to RudrAksha mAla (whose purpose is vastly different)! 🤔🤘

Disclaimer: Swamy is just a seeker on the spiritual path, blessed to be guided by the Grace of a Guru (Realised Master) and experiential wisdom of a Upa Guru, and never claimed to be an expert on SanAthana Dharma. So, if you know more about these Sahasranamam chants, kindly share as comment and Swamy would be glad to learn.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

The Idea of Belief!

30 May

Even after the greatest loss in life, would one still believe in God?

That was one of those rare profound questions (a lot of questions belong to the usual BAUHumbug “I’ll ask because I can” type) asked to Swamy on Quora. Here’s his response!

This is the fundamental conundrum in any kind of belief system, of which the most prominent is religion, which is built on the foundation known as God. Without the foundation, there can’t be a strong building, hence pretty much all Religions are heavily invested in the grand idea of an omnipotent and omnipresent entity called God. Of course, each of them have their own definition of God and are absolutely certain that only their version of God is authentic and the rest are heretic!

If one believes in God (or the source of creation – for those who are uncomfortable with the very idea of an almighty supreme being that’s Creator / Preserver / Transformer all rolled into one), faith in the divine has to be absolute, no matter what. Otherwise, it’s just a selective-belief, which is very subjective, varying from one situation to another, rooted in the binary existence (good/bad, right/wrong, superior/inferior, beaty/ugly, rich/poor, etc) of humans.

If a believer is like “I’ll believe when things work out well for me and I’ll be doubtful when things don’t work out the way I expected,” then there is really no need for any kind of belief at all. Which, in a tangential way, is actually liberating, because,

In the absence of belief, one will be true to oneself, holding oneself accountable for one’s own actions, instead of passing the buck to God.

Oh well, now we’ve inadvertently started treading on the spiritual path. And here’s what Spirituality (not to be confused with Religion) says about the Source of Creation aka Parabrahmam aka God/dess.

The source of creation is present in every single piece of creation, i.e. all beings in existence – including, but not limited to, humans. All creations are nothing but manifestations or manifest forms of the singular unmanifest energy. So, Creation / birth and Cremation / death are nothing but transformation of the same energy into different forms (Shout out to scientists – “you’re not in conflict with seekers”). And this manifestation happens incessantly, forever, until it ceases for good (known as MahAPraLayA aka Armageddon), and then starts all over again (Rudra’s roar aka the Big Bang). Those on the Spiritual path believe (pun intended) we’re in the 84th such cycle of creation, while those on the survival road are still trying hard to believe this single big bang itself!

In the grand – beyond the puny limited imagination of humans – scale of cosmos, creation or cremation of a single piece of creation, however famous or great that being may’ve been, is really an insignificant happening.

A flower bud on a plant blossoms, whithers and falls – without any complaints about the creator’s partiality.

A lion gets delivered in the forest, learns to walk and hunt, grows, hunts to feed, creates and nurtures cubs, ages and dies – without ever blaming a higher power for any of that.

A river originates from the mountain glacier, flows merrily with pure water down to the plains, gets used and abused by humans, and empties itself into the ocean – not for a moment pondering if its pure mountain joy or polluted plains suffering is because of God.

Every single piece of creation – animals, birds, critters, flora, fauna, land, mountain, ocean, valley, river, sun, moon, planets, galaxies, etc. etc. etc… – goes on, through the cycle of creation, many times over, without a belief system and without an iota of doubt, by experiencing “Life, the way it is!

Only a single species, in this vast still-expanding universe, known as humans, endowed with the rare ability to observe, contemplate and conclude, is simultaneously too proud of the superiority of its kind (as it wields destructive power over everything else on this – so far only inhabitable planet) and too silly to blame God for its woes, instead of marvelling at the intricate and complex process of colourful Life, happening all around, all the time and remaining grateful to be a part of this grand Creation.

In that context, loss in life is an independent event in an individual being’s insignificant existence. It’s just another event, in the self-preservation focused survival. This too shall pass. Irrespective of whether an individual recovers from grief soon or not, without waiting for that individual to renew her/his faith in the divine or not, ‘Life, the way it is,’ simply goes on… and on… and on… In other words, the dance of the divine (Dance of Shiva, if you will) keeps happening, without depending on any individual creation’s tune, while remaining in sync with all kinds of tunes in existence.

The Creator has everything to do with all of Creation, but nothing to do with any one creation’s self-created beliefs!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Obstacles on the Path ~ 1 of n!

3 May
A pal (surprise… there are still a few left 🤓 and, no they aren’t the faceless friends – of the Facebook kind) recently asked this question to Swamy…
When your loved ones in the family misunderstand and the saga continues what do we do? Say a beloved son thinks father as enemy… wife thinks the husband as pshycho and there are people who dont understand you… how to react? While you know you are ok… and they are in dofferent plane

!

Every seeker faces this dilemma, irrespective of whether they’re a serious seeker on the spiritual path, striving for mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle) or a survivalist who is testing the waters of the spiritual ocean, before taking the plunge (which might even take a few lifetimes). Presuming the questioner is a seeker at some level, let’s look at the situation. 👣

The confusion and/or conflict arises when either side sees the other side (person) only from their perspective. Incidentally, this is what most humans do – look at everything (and everyone) from their perspective only and expect others to behave, act, perform according to their expectations.
In the child’s or spouse’s perspective, the seeker is still their version of the person and expected to fit into the template of a father or husband, just like the millions of householders out there.
Expectations like this, however silly they may appear to be for a seeker, are the glue holding the social fabric together. So, if the seeker is to at least meet their expectations (known as MA in the annual performance appraisal process of Swamy’s last employer – read about that challenge in The Bucket List here – highly recommended by cardiologists), one must wear the facades of the template father and husband, as long as one remains an active member of the social setup that one is part of – family, community, religion, etc.
Seeker or not, one’s family, relatives & friends always get jittery, when they see even a slight variation in the socially accepted template for an ideal father or spouse or friend or even colleague, for that matter. So, the onus is on the individual to balance one’s religious / spiritual pursuits and the expectations of those who are dependent on or connected to one.
Until one reaches a stage where the facade wearing role (father, son, husband, manager, etc) can be eliminated, without disturbing the balance of the householder’s expectations and seeker’s necessities, playing the assigned role(s) in this dramedy is inevitable. But instead of looking at this role play as a punishment and suffer through it, one can learn to simply enjoy playing the role, because it has a template after all. Simply sticking to a standard template, with a little bit of inoffensive variations that reflect one’s personality (another social trap), is all it takes to sail through conflict-free (or at least limited conflict) social survival.
Also, since this is a BAUHumbug routine, which will repeat every single day of existence, it is important not to ‘react’ to such situations and instead respond. This is an essential behavioral trait a seeker must cultivate and nurture, so that the pursuit of Truth doesn’t come to a grinding halt but continues, even when one is still within the social trap.
In order to not react but respond to situations, one must learn to not ride on the back of the trotting mind all the time. The mind is the fuel that keeps the ego fire burning. Ego is the foundation of one’s individual identity. So, if one goes by whichever path the mind chooses to (it can and will trot along a million different directions, in random) traverse, one must at least be aware that any path chosen by the mind is to protect the individual identity. In other words, mind focuses solely on self-preservation.
Interestingly (or intriguingly) that’s exactly what’s happening in the other person(s) as well. So, when one’s child, spouse, friend, colleague or partner expects one to be in a certain way (remember ‘role play‘), they do so simply because it is essential for their own self-preservation.
If everyone involved in any situation is a seeker, who has treaded the spiritual path for a while and thereby is aware of this mind game (pun intended), then all of them will simply respond to the situation, with purposeful action focused on a meaningful outcome, not bothering about how the action or outcome will impact their identity / ego. But neither is everyone a seeker nor or they all guided by a Guru’s (Realised Master) Grace. So, it is essential for the seeker, at the least, to be fully aware of this, to ensure the response from their side effectively douses the reaction fire from others, in any situation.
When the seeker remains a pleasant being, at all times, only responding with appropriate (and necessary, needless to emphasise) action, in any situation, those who are connected to the seeker will start observing the change, eventually. They will also see that the seeker remains not only unperturbed by their shenanigans, however hilarious or horrendous they may be, but also doesn’t hold any malice towards them at all. Observing this behaviour over a period of time and realising that this is no facade, has the potential to change even those around the seeker. But then again, the seeker isn’t supposed to have any such expectations about others anyway!
If the seeker is firm on the pursuit of Truth, then with Grace, one will naturally attain that balance (of social expectations vs spiritual aspirations), until one is free to pursue one’s journey, without all the bondages. 🙌

Be Joyful 😌 & Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Life Math!

23 Mar

Math is fun only for a select few, historically. Even for the great BhArathi, the MahAkavi, it was “கணக்கு, பிணக்கு, ஆமணக்கு,” something that was not just a struggle but even bitter. So, it isn’t that hard to imagine how Math is for lesser mortals. If it’s that complex a subject in the academic syllabus, then how complicated it should be in Life? Is it any wonder the species that never tires of boasting about it’s extra 6th sense, keeps on failing to score even the bare minimum pass score in “Life Math!”

1+1 is never equal to 1.
That’s why lovers who marry, even after several years of being in love, are shocked to find they are still 2 distinct individuals and can’t merge into 1 being, as they’ve imagined. Nor can business or any kind of partners. When neither is willing to let go of one’s distinct sense of identity, the individual will remain as 1 and 1+1 will always be 2.

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

Lord ShivA, aka the One (he’s Mahadeva, i.e. God of Gods, after all) knew this (obviously) and was prudent to merge his spouse (kind of hard to say who is the better half among the PurushA & Prakriti) into himself and become ArdhanhAreeswarA (part ShivA & part Shakthi), when it comes to walking the talk, i.e. offering an experiential learning opportunity on how the Life Math is done (he happens to be DakshiNAmUrthy, the Adi Guru, as well), but the Homo Sapiens aren’t capable learners, apparently.

But even if we take a few lifetimes to elevate ourselves to contemplate & comprehend the Adiyogi’s teachings, t

here are a couple of ways the life math can be made to work

, in this lifetime itself.

1×1 = 1.

But for this math to work in life, both the 1s have to collaborate & work together to create the force multiplier effect. Unfortunately, the individual 1s mostly stop with the force and keep multiplying it.

This works well, at least for a while, in business partnerships, since partners usually bring different skill sets and capabilities to the table. Remember the 2 Steves who created the fruit company (ahem, that would be Apple).

1/1 is also =1.

But for this equation to happen in life, either of the two 1s should be willing to go down, i.e. let go of their individual identity or ego. Every husband & wife knows – by experience, obviously – that’s just a fantasy or fantastic dream.

This is how a Guru-sishyA relationship works though. Neither does a real Guru (Realised Master) show of his Allness, ever, disseminating all that s/he knows to any sincere seeker, nor does the disciple mind getting chiselled pertinently, until s/he loses any sense of individual identity left.

1+0 is always equal to one.
The 1 is the individual, with many an identity, including but not limited to, name, education, status, title, religion, region, etc. S/he imagines being unique & distinct. That’s the mind trap, but it’s a very attractive & deceptive trap, in which the individual is willing to remain, for lifetimes.

Tonnes of Karma keeps piling up and the repetitive birth-death cycle goes on and on…

The 0 is the divine that’s within the individual, not a digit without any value, but one that’s absolute. That’s exactly why the 0 added after any numeral increases its value manifold.

That 0 waits patiently for the 1 to first realise it & then merge with it or dissolve into it. When that happens, when the realisation dawns upon the individual self, when the creation realises the magnificent presence of the creator glowing silently within the creation, every single being in existence – not just the individual, then the 1 becomes the 0. That’s also when, 1 and 0, which were 2 before, transform into 1, i.e. The One!

😇

AUM PUrNam-adah PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

😇

AUM That (divine / creator / real Self) is complete / whole; This (individual / creation / non-real self) self is complete / whole; Everything (in existence) manifests from that which is complete / whole (all of creation are manifest forms of the unmanifest divine or NhirguNa Parabrahmam).
(even) When (this – individual) whole is taken from (that – divine) whole, that which remains is (still) whole (omnipresent divine that is infinite & all pervading in nature).
AUM peace.. peace.. peace..

Be Joyful 😌& Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Stop before you Start!

18 Aug

Stop before you Start! 

~ the amber light for all spiritual aspirants, to pause before they start the journey

So you’re bitten by the proverbial spiritual bug. As soon as you’ve listened to a mesmerising Master eloquently explaining what enlightenment is, on YouTube, and soothingly assuring it’s a possibility for everyone – that includes, ahem, you! Or when you’ve seen your BFF lose weight miraculously, a mere month after s/he started a new yOgA practice, which s/he learned in your workplace itself. Or when you simply couldn’t put down the book on the methods for self-realisation that you picked up at the airport (at double the cost of Amazon, no less) during one of those pointless business trips. Or when your fav celebrity – one of the many, obviously, since there are one too many now – gushed about how her recent initiation into mindfulness has transformed her as a person overnight (though there is no proof of any such transformation, other than her own assurance to famished fans like you)!

Anyway, one or all of the above happened to you within the last fortnight and you’re all fired up to start the journey to know. Umm, you don’t know yet what you really want to know, but who cares about such nuances anyway. If your fav celebrity got transformed, you, her die-hard fan, too will most certainly get the transformation. And how could the bestselling book be wrong, you ask yourself. And the weight-loss too is a dangling carrot that’s hard to ignore. And, if in doubt, you can always check with the YouTube Guru, who seems to know about everything under the sun! So you can hardly wait and are all set to press the ignition button.

Wait… wait… wait… Hold on for one moment please. Consider this the amber light that may actually prevent you from wrecking not only your #MakeInIndia superbike by jumping the Red, but also potentially wrecking those around you – on the road or at home or even at work, for that matter. Please Stop, just for a moment, before you Start that journey, which might be inevitable, who knows.

The long journey to self-realisation is a lonely pursuit. And a very selfish one!

What the h#!!?,” you may baulk. “Aren’t there millions of seekers, like me, who are on the path, being part of so many spiritual organisations!,” you might marvel. Yes, but…

IMG_20170712_093824There may be many fellow seekers along the path, or on a different path, to the same destination. They may even be part of the same spiritual organisation that you chose to be a part of and may do all the same programs that you do and do all the daily practices that you are supposed to do.

But, rest assured, each journey is different and every seeker has to pursue the journey alone, even if s/he is part of a group of seekers. And because you are aligned with a group of seekers who are all guided by the same Guru doesn’t mean you are all going to work together for everyone’s enlightenment. Tsk.. tsk.. Self-realisation is such a self-explanatory term that one should never get lost in any imagination about it’s self-centered nature. There is no getting around the hard-to-swallow fact that it’s about you and you alone.

sp1.jpgIf I become a better person, as a result of my spiritual practices, won’t the people connected with me be thrilled?,” you may wonder. Indeed, they will be. And the weight loss would certainly earn a few more admirers as well. But…

There will be many spectators along the path – loving family, caring friends, acerbic critics, unqualified self-proclaimed masters, et al. All of them are but mere spectators, who haven’t started (or concluded – especially the half-baked masters) their own journey yet. In fact, many of them won’t even have a clue about the existence of such a journey. They are so entangled in survival that they may not even be interesting in knowing about it, let alone support you in pursuing it. So, don’t be surprised if the beloved ones end up being the befuddled ones, not being able to comprehend what’s going on with you, i.e. the person they thought they knew all along!

I’ve got a fantastic Guru guiding me man… someone so popular that everyone from politicians to celebrities to industrialists line up to be at his events that happen all over the nation!,” you may protest. Well…

Guru_Swamy3

If you’re blessed, you may actually have a Guru (Spiritual Master, not the head of some religious establishment), with boundless compassion to guide seekers like you, shining the light along the path. But even s/he isn’t going to literally hold hands, till you reach the destination.

Not only that, the Guru will strip you clean of all the pretensions of your very existence, including the facade of personality that you’re hiding behind, in order to eke out a living in this man-eat-dog mad mad world that’s hell-bent on self-destructing the only planet it has got to live, so far, in this vast, still expanding, universe. Be assured, it won’t be a pretty sight, when you’ve no other choice but to look at yourself, in all your true-self g(l)ory… eeew! And that’s exactly what a real Guru does to you, because Guru is the light that annihilates the darkness of your hilarious ignorance, which you presumed to be intelligence, until the tables are turned, upside down.

adiyogi41s.jpgAll right, now that your iMax sized imaginary world of spirituality is shaken a bit with shattering Dolby Atmos sound, you better pause for a moment at this Amber sign (umm, Amber is the warning sign, in case you routinely fail to notice or jump at the sight of it on the roads), before speeding away into the unknown, but not uncharted, long winding path of spirituality.

Oh hey, you’re totally free to proceed on the well-known path of religion, which is the always available alternative, which most humans find very comfortable to tread, during any part of their existence. But that’s not going to take you to where you may actually want to go, since, most unfortunately, all the savvy preachers, heavy tomes and slick videos and impressive social media posts won’t bother differentiating one from the other, i.e. religion from spirituality. They are distinct and almost diametrically opposite.

The journey to realise the Truth isn’t a fun tourist trip that anyone curious can undertake. It’s a challenging yAtrA (pilgrimage) that not many get to complete, within a lifetime.

Yet, it’s been diligently undertaken by many, willingly, from time immemorial. And most of them did (and still do) have a Guru to guide them along.

Of course, anyone can start it. Even you, who loves whistle-worthy silly dialogues like “ரிஸ்க்ன்னா எனக்கு ரஸ்க் சாப்பிடற மாதிரி!” (“Taking risk is just like eating rusk for me!”) can. No one’s going to stop you from starting. And no one’s going to be there to ensure you sustain it. Or even complete it. You’ll be on your own. All the way, from start to finish. Hard to swallow but hey, that’s how Truth is.

Fun fact: The spiritual journey neither has a fixed schedule nor predetermined levels of difficulty.

RealizationBoth the length and difficulty of the journey is determined by you, not anyone else. So, if at all you don’t make it all the way, or you take a very long time to make it – may be a few lifetimes, the only being you can blame is yourself. And the “I told you so!” spectators will still be around to rub some salt on your wounded ego.

Along the path, there will be…

  • a number of tempting side attractions that will distract you from continuing the journey.
  • many a roadblock that will test your resolve to continue the journey.
  • a multitude of moments when you will be so exasperated that you just want to drop everything and run all the way back to where you started.

Naturally, there will be a number of fellow seekers too, who will pat you on the back, saying “Well, we’re on the same boat sis (or bro)!” hoping to cheer you up.

With plethora of content and myriad media to consume it, there are any number of aids available to a seeker, who should know how to utilise them, to progress further, along the path. The YouTube video that ignited the fire in you is one of them. That overpriced book full of practical methods is another. And it’s quite possible to be so enamoured by such aides that you may be stuck right where you are, without even realising it. After all, more videos and books are getting published every day. From everyone who thinks s/he has figured it all out!

CDD9-3And, if and when you make it to the destination, in this birth or another, you may be utterly baffled to realise that the journey is indeed the destination and you didn’t even have to undertake the gruelling journey in the first place, to realise what has always been there, right within you. Bummer!

Yet, upon the conclusion of the journey, you will end up immersed in the state of eternal bliss, overflowing with compassion, just like those who have attained self-realisation, before you. From time immemorial. And here’s the best part. There’s absolutely no obligation whatsoever for you to even share the experience with anyone, let alone shine the light of your hard-earned gnAnA (wisdom).

For every Agasthya Muni or Adi ShankarA or RamaNa Maharishi or Sadhguru, there have been thousands of other realised beings who simply chose to remain in the state of bliss, finding no compelling need to share it with anyone else. It’s certainly possible for you to be like one of them. Seems like a very tempting bargain, eh!

GuruPurnima1All said and done, there is a reason why there have been and are only a handful of realised beings and Masters, even as the human population kept on growing relentlessly. They are the only ones who walked the path all alone, all the way, consciously avoiding the distractions, and reached the ultimate destination, with or without the guidance of a Guru. They are the ones who have seen the glorious light of Truth, shining forever, within themselves. They are the truly blessed ones who had the glorious darshan of the Ananda ThANdavA (dance of bliss or ecstacy), with their eyes closed. And only a few of them, in an outpouring of compassion, chose to guide others along the path, as Guru.

So, before you choose to get on the path of spirituality, which btw – just to reiterate, because it’s extremely important to know – has nothing to do with religion, simply because someone known to you has done so or some social media post has fired you up, do take a moment to assess yourself. And be honest with yourself in accepting the fact that you may not be ready yet.

20120625_143222The humility to accept your lack of readiness to even begin the spiritual journey in pursuit of Truth, is indeed the starting point of the enchanting journey to everlasting realisation of the Self! Your humble acknowledgement of “I don’t know,” will eventually become such an unbearable thirst that it can be quenched only by the one(s) who has been there and seen that. Who knows, s/he may happen to you in this lifetime itself (don’t ever try going around shopping for a Guru – it just doesn’t work that way), to nudge you along the path.

Well, the Green light is on. It’s up to you now to Pause your Start or Continue unwaveringly. Happy journey fellow seeker!

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life overflowing with Joy.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

SG1

Swamy aka @PrakashSwamy is a seeker (full-time may sound funny, but that’s a fact) whose seeking was on-and-off from his teens (when a maternal uncle took him to a Transcendental Meditation program) and switched gears upward in 2009, when his Master Sadhguru (Mystic, Yogi and visionary founder of Isha Foundation, awarded the Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government in 2017 for the remarkable social endevours of his spiritual organisation) initiated him into the ancient Kriya of Shambhavi Maha Mudra. A few more advanced Isha Yoga programs followed, culminating in Samyama, the 7-day Silence program, in 2013. With Shivanga, the yatra to Velliangiri Mountains, aka Kailash of the south and the yatra to Kailash itself (in Tibet) happening in the same year (2013), Life, as he knew it until then, took a decisive turn. Swamy eventually bid farewell to his lucrative, and reasonably successful, corporate career in 2015, which he assures is a planned retirement, to pursue the VAnaprastha phase and experience Life, the way it is, with a definitive purpose – of attaining self-realisation.

UpaGuru1Swamy considers himself twice-blessed, since, apart from being guide by the boundless Grace of his Master, from within, his ongoing journey is also being actively guided now by his Upa Guru Shri Sohamanandaji (the other bearded one, in the above pics), who is kind enough to not only to dispel his ignorant assumptions about spirituality from time to time, but also to take him along on the life-altering yatras to spiritually charged spaces such as Pancha Bhuta Sthalas (sacred spaces of Lord Shiva, associated with the five elements) & Sabarimala (both in South India) and Char Dham, comprising of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedharnath and Bhadrinath (on the mighty Himalayas). These days, in his own words, Swamy’s existence – one day at a time -is focused only on “Read, Write, Meditate!,” not necessarily in that order.

Oh, in case you are curious, Swamy hasn’t attained self-realisation, yet.. ha.. ha.!

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou may enjoy knowing more about Swamy‘s spiritual journey and experience of Life the way it is in his poetry (Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns – 218 and counting…), blogs, quotes and social media posts (links to all given below).

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Upa Guru ~ demystifying the valuable but unknown Guide’s role

3 Aug

Upa Guru ~ demystifying the valuable but unknown Guide’s role

It’s always amusing to see the perplexed look on people’s faces – seekers or not – whenever Swamy mentions Upa Guru! Oh btw, it’s not a fancy spiritual term that Swamy has invented, but has been there in active usage from time immemorial, in the magnificent culture of SanAthana DharmA.

Most people know (or at least pretend to) the oft used terms in spirituality such as Guru, Sadhguru, Sathguru, Satguru, GurunhAthar, Master, GnAni, et al. This, despite the fact that Guru being one of most abused (trust me, it’s gone way beyond misuse) terms that’s been made synonymous with expert today, which is downright ridiculous, considering the exalted position the term Guru occupies in SanAthana DharmA!

Guru_Swamy3

Just the way there is yOgA, i.e. the ultimate union of individual self with the divine or supreme self (not to be misunderstood with mere AsanAs, which is but a mere wave in the vast ocean of yOgA) and Upa yOgA, i.e. preparatory or sub-yOgA (which is usually done before starting the regular yOgA practices), there’s also Guru or Sathguru aka a Realised Master / Spiritual Teacher (one who has experienced the union with the divine, having realised the Truth of existence through direct perception of reality and chose to guide seekers on the spiritual path*) and Upa Guru or Upaguru aka spiritual guide (consciously not using the term ‘secondary’ or ‘assistant’ as English has acute limitations when it comes to accurately reflecting the meaning of many magnificent Sanskrit terms) who can be a stepping stone or guidepost or user-manual (who is like a Guru – sometimes even an apprentice / disciple of a Sathguru, but need not necessarily be a realised one and typically more accessible as well).

* There have always been many self-realised beings who didn’t choose to actively guide others. Though enlightened, they are not Masters. Seekers may still benefit by merely being in their presence. To guide others or not is a choice of any realised being and there’s nothing right or wrong about either, as Spirituality clearly is beyond the binaries of materialistic living.

Does one really need a Guru on the spiritual path? Yes, without a doubt, unless you’re a once-in-a-generation/century exception like Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi.

Does one really need one or more Upa Gurus? Not really, but an(y) additional guidance (that’s more accessible, needless to say) on the pursuit of Truth doesn’t hurt, isn’t it!

While the Guru-sishyA (Master-disciple) relationship is pretty much always one-to-one (even if a seeker happens to be part of larger group of disciples of the same Guru), the UpaGuru-follower / disciple relationship can be many-to-one, i.e. it’s possible for a seeker to have more than one Upa Guru.

SQ0Now, if you haven’t even got a Guru yet (remember to not confuse Guru with Expert, though s/he is most certainly, in a different dimension of existence), you may be utterly perplexed, which is perfectly understandable. And be assured that it’s not up to you to search for and find a Guru, because s/he isn’t someone you get to choose, like a gadget you compare and buy on Amazon (or Flipkart, if you’re an overt patriot and are extremely patient to bear with their annoying adamant insistence on installing their app on any mobile device). All you can do is, provided you’ve decided to test the waters of the vast (and, needless to say, extremely deep) ocean called spirituality (not to be confused with religion, at all), is to start pondering your existence and long for the answers for a few (or many) Whys that may spring forth, from such pondering.

When that longing becomes unbearable (trust me, it will, eventually – even if it doesn’t happen in this lifetime), i.e. when your thirst to know the Truth reaches a point where you must get it quenched, then a Guru will happen (in your Life, obviously). And then, inevitably, you’ll start wondering why the heck you’ve longed for him/her to happen, in first place, as you begin to comprehend the real role of a Guru, in a seeker’s Life… ha.. ha..!

Anyway, before you get scared and choose to lock your desire to know deeper inside the mind locker, let me throw some more light on this – spiritually speaking, of course.

SG1Sadhguru (yep, that’s his name, which incidentally resonates with the spiritual term used to define anyone like him), YOgi, Mystic & visionary Founder of Isha Foundation, is Swamy’s Guru. A realised Master, he “happened, as Guru” in Swamy’s Life, who never really sought a Master, until the moment. When his Master happened, on a typical traffic-choked sultry evening in Chennai (inside the safe confines of an air-conditioned training room, of course – through an introductory video, not in person), Prakash Ramaswamy, Director (in a global IT organisation), as he was known to many at that time, who happened to be a successful professional filled with the self-assured arrogance of any such successful professional, simply fell like a tree that got uprooted in a flash flood! Today, more than 8 years after his “Guru happened,” humbled beyond belief (especially to those who’ve been with / known him during his corporate career), he simply refers to himself as Swamy, a non-descript name that can be anybody. Or nobody!

Confounding matters further, Sadhguru never made any claims to being Swamy’s Guru (or for any of the millions of Isha meditators like him worldwide, for that matter). Despite having been initiated into the ancient KriyA yOgA practice of ShAmbhavi MahAmudrA by his Master in 2009 (in a corporate program conducted in his office itself), Swamy has been in his Guru’s close proximity only thrice (during the 7-day SamyamA or Silence program in 2013, YantrA ceremony to receive DEvi Linga Bhairavi yantrA in 2016 (the first anniversary of Devi’s arrival at SwamyHome is celebrated on 04-Aug-2017, Friday & you’re most welcome to join the celebrations) and the Sathsang during KailAsh-MAnasarOvar yatrA in 2013, when he received prasAdham directly from the Master) during all these years. And he hasn’t directly interacted or spoken with his Master even once! At least, not yet.

AnandaAlai-SadhguruSpot-20thJune2014-2From the moment Sadhguru, his Master, has “happened” in his Life, till this very inevitable moment, Swamy never had any doubts about who his Guru is. Such is the clarity of a seeker, whose Master has found him/her (it’s never the other way around)!
You may cherish reading all that Swamy has written about his Master here…

Guru DEvO MahEswarA
http://swamyverse.blogspot.in/2013/07/guru-devo-maheswara.html

SOhamAnandAji, aka Samir Parekh anna, a person like you and Swamy, is Swamy’s Upa Guru (only one, as of now). An elite corporate consultant & trainer by profession, he’s a GrihasthA (householder) with a wonderful spouse (she must be, it can’t be any other way) and two children.

PBY4A deeply spiritual soul that’s been blessed by many Masters, including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru (& ParamAchaAryA Sri ChandrasEkarEndra Saraswathi of KAnchi KAmakOti Peetam & Swami ChinmayAnandA, the founder of the ChinmayA mission, who he considers as his Guru & Swami AthmapriyAnandA of Ramakrishna Mission & Guruswamy NatarAjan of Akhila Bharata Ayyappa Seva Sangham & probably a few more Masters as well…). He’s a DEvi upAsakar (worship of DEvi Shakthi as the ultimate reality) and an ardent SabarimalA yAtri for several decades. Well-versed in the sacred scriptures and rituals of SanAtana DharmA, he guides a group of seekers such as Swamy on their spiritual pursuit.

UpaGuru1Though Swamy & his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji were part of the KailAsh-MAnasarOvar yAtrA (organised by Isha Sacred Walks) in 2013, their spiritual connect didn’t get activated until a few years later. Eventually, SOhamAnandAji took Swamy on yAtrAs (Pancha BhUtha Sthalams, SabarimalA & ChAr DhAm), guided him on DEvi worship (for NavarAtri pUjA) and gave him Mantra DeekshA / UpadEsA as well. Swamy, being an intellectual (yep, yet to get around that enchanting mind trap!), always had a zillion questions about everything and his Upa Guru, until now, seems to not only have the appropriate answers for all but also doesn’t mind sharing them from time to time. And, to the grey-haired millennial Swamy’s delight, his Upa Guru is accessible even on WhatsApp!

upaguru2.jpgNeither is SOhamAnandAji Swamy’s Guru, nor does he even bother to claim to be Swamy’s Upa Guru. But his role in enabling Swamy’s progress on the spiritual path, in pursuit of self-realisation is so valuable that Swamy has to elevate his spiritual practices to an entirely different dimension / level, if he has to get such ongoing guidance from his own Master (which is obviously Swamy’s limitation, not his most benevolent Guru’s)! And the Upa Guru too happened in Swamy’s Life, just in time, only with the Grace of Swamy’s Guru!

With that luminosity shredding the wraps of ignorance a bit to seep some light into the dark cavern of your all-knowing mind, on this sublime subject, let’s also look at how the Upa Guru’s role is perceived / defined by a few others, who too were blessed to have one or more, in their Life.

Here’s an insight by Ram Dass, who is a disciple of the world famous Realised Master Neem KarOli Baba, known popularly as MaharAjji, on “Sathgurus and Upagurus.

NeemKaroliBabaThe Sat Guru is somebody who beckons from beyond. He’s somebody who’s all finished. The Upa Guru is anybody or anything along the way that points to the path that helps you along a little. So that even your enemies are often your Upa Gurus because they wake you up to a place you’re not, which helps you to get free of that place, which helps you get on with it.

You may read the entire article on “The Need for a Guru” by Ram Dass here…
https://www.ramdass.org/need-guru/

Here’s what Thakur RAmakrishNa ParamahamsA said about Upaguru

Ramakrishna_ParamahamsaThe Guru is only one, but Upa-gurus (secondary gurus) may be many. He is an Upa-guru from whom anything whatsoever is learned. It is mentioned in the Bhagavata that the great Avadhuta (a great yogi) had twenty four such Upa-Gurus.

You may read about the “THE AVADHUTA AND HIS UPA-GURUS” by RAmakrishNa ParamahamsA here…
http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/parables/1_files/1-169.html

Here’s the perspective on Upaguru by a seeker named Elizabeth (who, incidentally quotes Ram Dass, in the article) that certainly resonated with Swamy…

Sometimes the upagurus come from the past.  They are seeing you through the filter of their own past and have reappeared for something on their own journey.   In such people, we perhaps get a teaching that reminds us why we are seeking to better align, why we have sought to shift and change old patterns.  We might also meet in an upaguru who has been part of our past someone who has shifted and grown and inspires us to go further on the path, sharing it for a while.  Those who are parts of our life for a long time, I think generally serve as both teachers and teachings, and we are the same for them.

You may read the entire article “Sathgurus and Upagurus, Teachers and Teachings” here…
https://rosegardenyoga.com/2011/01/satgurus-and-upagurus-teachers-and-teachings/

GuruPurnima1By now, hopefully, you should have a fair idea of the role of the Upa Guru, who is like a catalyst that’ll potentially accelerate the seeker’s progress on the spiritual path, that could become a reality in a seeker’s search for Truth. Sometimes, even before a Guru happens. Or it could be the other way around, like in Swamy’s spiritual journey, when the Upa Guru happened, with the Guru’s boundless benevolent grace.

Either way, there’s no denying the fact that it’s an immensely valuable role, to lead / guide a seeker’s progress on the long-winding spiritual path. Like a teacher in the academic space, who teaches you how to learn (not just study) something effectively. Or a mentor in the cut-throat corporate world of survival, who helps you navigate the career maze. Or an all-knowing uncle (or aunt) in the family, who inadvertently became your role-model, by sharing the secret recipe for circumventing / avoiding marital disharmony. Or a friend, who just knew how to wriggle out of any seemingly impossible situation and doesn’t mind sharing that knowledge. Or a D-I-Y expert who showed you the ways to do something better and swifter…

IMG_20170704_111911Now that you know who an Upa Guru is, it shouldn’t be that hard – hopefully – to be open to getting guidance from one (or more) who had been there and done that and willing to share the pearls of wisdom for your own progress. The key to finding, one or more, is for you to be open and humble, keeping aside your limited intellect (it is & will remain so) and presumptions about Life (you’ve no idea what “Life the way it is”, is). Happy journey – on the spiritual path that is!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy  

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

19 Jul

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

In the mountain abode of the Lord of Gods!

At 4.44 pm on 8th July 2017, the tower of the temple came into Swamy’s view. It was exactly as seen in the countless photos that pop up from a Google search for that exalted place. The 16 km uphill trek that took a little over 7 hours was about to conclude. But unlike in KailAsh, the floodgates held strong. Until an hour or so! 

When Swamy inched his way to the ancient temple that millions dream of going to, but only a few thousands actually manage to do every year, most only once in a lifetime, and had darshan of the Lord, the floodgates blasted open… washing away the wrongs – known & unknown – committed over several births, including this one. They weren’t tears of toil or torment, but those of pure joy. 

Through teary eyes, Swamy drank to his heart’s content, the magnificently decorated Swayambhu form of Lord KEdArnAth, the Lord of the Gods, MahAdEvA, glittering in beautiful alankAram, that’s more like his brother-in-law’s. It reminded Swamy about Lord AruNAchalA at ThiruvaNNAmalai, literally in the other corner of this culturally rich, complex nation called BhArat.

The wavering mind that usually wanders all around, simply seemed to stand still. The legs that were begging for rest, after the slow & steady uphill trek for over 7 hours, weren’t complaining anymore. Every acquired thing that was considered something in this lifetime, suddenly appeared insignificant. The mantrA that was being chanted inward almost non-stop till then too has chosen to remain silent. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore – other than just being in the presence of Lord KEdhAr, encompassed by his absolute stillness… immersed in his boundless Grace… 

The darshans of Adi Guru will continue to happen, all through the next day, Guru PUrNimA, a very significant day of the year for spiritual seekers. Some of the darshans were so intimate that Swamy, along with the fellow yAtris, would perform abhishEkam and arpaNam to the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum, which is unimaginable in his state, where the Lord & DEvi can only be worshipped from a significant distance, especially in popular temples. One has to pay a hefty fee to get a closer darshan of the divine. Getting inside the Garbhagriham is entirely out of question. But in KEdhAr, the most benevolent Lord would let anyone – irrespective of caste, creed, status, wealth, fame, et al – to not only see him up close, but also to touch his Swayambhu form and offer worship directly. 

Two incredible happenings, within the short duration of a couple of days, would change Swamy’s perception of ancient consecrated spaces, forever. Experientially, of course, not philosophically. His inner experience at KEdArnAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for the followers, believers & devotees of Lord ShivA, would incredulously repeat at BhadhrinAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for followers, believers & devotees of Lord VishNu, in exactly the same way. 

The experience would quite literally show Swamy that 

அரியும் அரனும் ஒண்ணு, அதை

அறியாதவர் வாயில மண்ணு!”

“Hari (Lord VishNu) & HarA (Lord ShivA) are one & the same. 

Those who don’t realise that (Truth) will simply persish (to be born again)!” 

… next in GangA Nhadhi DheerEy … 

“Step 1 ~ DEvi delays Swamy’s yAtrA!”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

🙏👣😌🙌🌻

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy” is a step-by-step retelling (well, almost) of Swamy’s absolutely enchanting ChAr DhAm yAtrA experience, which happened with his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji’s able guidance, in July 2017, along with a small group of fellow seekers.

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