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Two Switches!

6 Jan

Two Switches!

~a Swamystery Blog


Every being that’s alive has two switches within ~ the self-start and the self-destruct

The beings with supposedly lesser senses, i.e. all the beings other than humans,  naturally know how to access and use the self-start switch, as and when required, since they are aware of its necessity for their very existence.

They are certainly aware of the actions they need to take, on a day-to-day basis, such as fetching food, finding a reasonably safe place to rest and avoid skirmishes with beings that aren’t known to be kind to them (Homo Sapiens feature at the top of their ‘unkind list,’ unsurprisingly). Despite the dangers lurking in every corner (including but obviously not limited to being hit by a speeding vehicle driven or ridden madly by a human, who is always in a hurry, for no particular reason or worse – getting shot or maimed by them), threatening their survival, such beings seem to live a content life, quite joyfully, and then leave peacefully, when their time’s up.

Human beings who simply can’t stop boasting about their extra – ahem, sixth – sense, apparently don’t know how to use that unique faculty wisely, to access the self-start switch to live joyfully and seek liberation. Instead, they are easily seduced beyond redemption by the self-destruct switch (may be it’s in shiny red colour that’s simply irresistible, a la the one baby Groot tries to press repeatedly, simply driving Rocket mad), considering how tragically hilarious their survival has turned out to be.

Two Switches! ~a Swamystery blog

We compete for every damn thing, day in and day out, yet we forgot how fun and enjoyable competition can be. Why should all competitors be bitter rivals, always trying to cut each other’s throat, at the earliest available opportunity, is something race horse would never be able to comprehend.

We are obsessively focused on pleasing fellow humans by being nice to them, believing how others perceive us is the most important thing for our survival. But the ever-rising flame of desire to please others that continues to devour any semblance of kindness left in us, like the raging Australian bushfire, is something even the billions of animals affected by that fire won’t understand.

We imagine information as knowledge and consider ourselves to be wise, with ready access to the trove of information, thanks to big G (no, not that hard-to-find heavenly G, i.e. Godji, but the easy-to-access internet G, aka Googleji). Pretty much any other species that’s cursed to cross our paths will most certainly shake their heads, shrug and scramble away in a tearing hurry, when they discover first-hand our educated stupidity.

We keep acquiring things during the entire, albeit brief, lifetime – including different versions of things we may already have. A broken bucket or utensil certainly needs to be replaced. But why are people so crazy to keep replacing a cellphone or tv or car that’s still working fine is something that would confound even the Creator!

We have concluded that ours is the only inhabitable planet in the entire vast, still expanding, universe (despite the known fact that we don’t even have the means to check out the notional periphery of our own galaxy – which happens to be just one among possibly billions) and anointed ourselves as the smartest species in existence. Whenever we actually manage to do interstellar travel and reach another inhabitable planet in a galaxy far far away, and explain to beings like Leia, Luke or Rey that we had to come there because we practically destroyed the only tiny planet we ever inhabited, they will be well within their galactic rights to annihilate us – the aliens – then and there, in order to preserve their own existence.

Yeah, we actually turned out to be a despicable species, despite the fact that we happen to be only one of the millions of species inhabiting this single tiny planet in some nondescript corner of one galaxy. We are a threat to not only our own existence, but also to those other millions of species that are content with what they have got on this planet and don’t nurture purposeless daydreams about finding another green planet a few million nautical miles away, because they haven’t really done anything stupid to destroy their home. And they certainly don’t deserve to perish along with this planet, because of a single species’ immeasurable and incomprehensible self-destructive nature.

Here’s a question that’s worth pondering ~ “When was the last time you actually read the contents of the printed material that are stuffed within the package of any thingamajig you’ve ever bought?” The answer from six-sigma of human population that has bought something or other in their lifetime that comes packaged will be “Never!” Go on and ask yourself that question and ask everyone you know the same. The answer will invariably be the same.

All of those unread printed material require trees to be cut, to make the paper on which they are printed. Now take a moment and think how many billions of tress we would’ve cut so far, for this utterly useless stupidity. The cartons in which that product was packaged and the labels too consume trees. So are all the wooden furniture that we cherish possessing for generations and the copious amounts of wood used in all kinds of construction. And toothpicks, chopsticks, matchsticks, notebooks, nonsensical fiction, newspapers, magazines… The list of things that use murdered trees as their source is seemingly endless.

And that’s just the tip of the titanic iceberg of our wanton destruction of the precious natural resources that we obviously didn’t create, but chose to use anyway, without a break, from time immemorial. Oh yeah, we are a despicable species… we don’t need a PhD in any science to figure that out

You’re supposed to observe 2 minutes of silence, repenting for the inexcusable sin of cutting billions of trees so far, even though you may not have done so personally

There’s some hope for redemption though, even in this bleak scenario, which of course is self-created by the shenanigans of the beings with a sixth-sense. Saving the planet and restoring it to its original glorious state is clearly beyond our ability, but limiting our flagrant robbery of the natural resources this planet is endowed with is certainly within our ability.

If we can start with something as simple as not cutting any more trees, for any kind of needs, then the planet is quite capable of self-restoration. In fact, as consumers, we should force all manufacturers who create any goods for our consumption to take a pledge to offer all product information – manuals, installation guide, warranty and safety information, etc. – only digitally, from this year onwards. That would be a worthy start to preserve the green cover that’s so critical for the sustenance of life in this planet.

There are obviously other things all of us can do… Not buying new gadgets to replace those that are still functional would be on the top of the list (YouTube reviewers be damned). If your cell phone still does all the things that you ‘need’ (not ‘want’) it to do, then you actually don’t need another one with the latest and greatest processor. Same goes for your headphones, speakers, tv, motorcycle, car, shoes, watches, clothing, etc. It’s as simple as that.

Practice this restraint, i.e. not buying something new that you may want but don’t really need, at least for a few months. Then suddenly you’ll realise that you’ve a substantial amount of money in your savings bank account. And real money is always useful, isn’t it – irrespective of whether you’re someone stuck in the survival plane of existence or seeker on the spiritual path.

Now that you’re less needy, and hence not so greedy, you may also realise that you’re a little bit more gentler and kinder than before. This happens when you stop chasing things to acquire for yourself all the time and instead start observing life that’s vibrantly happening all around you. This is when you start to unknowingly expand the boundary of your kindness by doing simpler things such as feeding a stray or two, offering clean drinking water for birds, simply listening to fellow human beings without any prejudiced judgement, volunteering at some place – orphanage, old-age home, ashrams doing worthy charitable activities for human well being, schools for people with limited physical abilities, animal shelters, and so on – where kinder hearts, minds and limbs are always required, and useful. The trickle of kindness will eventually turn into a pond of compassion that you never realised was always within you, waiting for meaningful expression.

Along this journey of self-discovery, which could turn out to be life-altering for some, you may also discover the long suppressed desire to know the Truth – about the Creator, creation, existence, et al. For many humans, this desire would’ve been suppressed for many lifetimes, due to the nature of their karma (accumulated actions of the past and the present). When this desire to know becomes a seemingly unquenchable thirst, and you start to silently scream for some kind of guidance, a Guru (Realised Master) will appear to guide you, towards self-realisation, aka enlightenment or knowing the Truth as an intimate direct experience. S/he will not only show the path towards realisation but also Mukti, i.e. the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of being born as a human being. Not showing off the umpteenth iteration of a particular model of uber-expensive cellphone, every time a new model is launched!

Since many of us lack the innate wisdom to choose the self-start switch within and end up choosing the self-destruct switch instead, inadvertently or otherwise, the Guru performs the role of the kick-start (remember those things in your first motorcycle, which was most probably a humble functional model), to restart the engine (our life energy, which is the source of our existence) and steer us along the right path (towards the destination of mukti). Receiving the guidance of a Guru (Realised Master) in any given lifetime itself is a blessing. With Grace (of Guru and the Creator, who are in essence one and the same), may the purpose of your birth as a human being be realised in this lifetime itself. Shambho! 

Be joyful & spread the cheer…
~Swamy | ‘@PrakashSwamy

P.S: I could’ve published this post on New Year’s eve, making it a worthy New Year Resolution for a few readers (only a handful read such posts regularly anyway.. heh.. heh..) and garnered a bunch of likes and even a few comments. But, with my Guru’s Grace, I’ve realised that the purpose of my writing is to simply share ideas, insights and inputs, without getting attached to the outcome of publishing. In essence, he has taught me how to transform karma (action) into Karma Yoga (purposeful action performed with total involvement, while remaining absolutely detached from the outcomes). Shri GurubyO Namaha.

Thank you Bee!

29 Dec

Thank you Bee! ~a Swamystery nano blog

Why should one thank a bee for stinging him/er!”
(“கேள்வியும் நானே, பதிலும் நானே”ன்னு ஒரு புது blog series ஆரம்பிக்கலாம் போல இருக்கே..!


The two hands in this picture belong to the same person.
One easy conclusion anyone can arrive at is that the person certainly has two hands. ✌Hmmm… Now that you’ve figured that out quickly, let’s dig up some more details…

The left hand is how both hands look, almost bereft of any fat, pretty much any day.(oh, have you ever noticed that almost 95% of hand emojis depict the right hand )!
The right one isn’t infected by any யானைக்கால் வியாதி type disease and will return to its fat-free original state, probably in a day. Oh yeah, I can clearly hear your big sigh of relief!

If at all one has any morbid thoughts about how one may look while being obese (we all do, at some point in time, so you aren’t alone ), then there’s an easier way to find that out, instead of indulging in food.
*Just get stung by a tiny bee.*
Yep, it’s actually that simple!


The tiny (in comparison to our 6 feet mighty form, to which we inadvertently end up comparing every damn being we see ) bee one insect which shoots first and then asks  questions, a la the lone Clint Eastwood type weary (& wiry) westerner’s adversary. (is that a ‘toy gun’ emoji, ‘coz, I couldn’t find a real one, which is actually a wonderful thing – not just for emojis).
Okay, it stings first & then buzzes to issue a warning.☝


The bee is a live example of the dictum *மூர்த்தி சிறிது, கீர்த்தி பெரிது*, quite literally. The sting hurts terribly far a minute or two, starting with a burning sensation. There’s no a stung person can simply ignore it and continue the ‘ignorance is bliss’ (it isn’t, btw) BAUHumbug routine, since it’s fast and furious like a missile, actively seeking more skin surface targets to bombard, ummm… sting!


But the swelling and numbness stay for hours, to remind one about the folly of one’s misadventures, in no uncertain terms – such as clearing the dead leaves and branches in the home garden (even if the said garden is just a patch of green in the balcony), without checking for the presence of – stinging – insects, and perhaps snakes (one slithery being did end up somehow in our 4th floor apartment, a few years ago, which even the expert who came to catch & release it found hard to explain – especially since it was a young one, though at nearly 2 feet it was quite a grown up young snake).


Someone did exactly that today and got the message loud and clear!
That bee was probably annoyed at its home, a honeycomb few square inches in size, being disturbed and instantly stung the disturbing object – happens to be a hand of a silly human – to express its feelings, which obviously wasn’t that jubilant, on this particular Sunday morning. Phew…

Getting stung despite knowing the presence of a bunch of them, hidden away in the foliage, was a stupid thing to do. So, no complaints there… Really.

Anyway, the silver lining in the Sunday stinging episode is, the stung person now knows how he might be, if he were obese. That’s always a good thing to know, since it’ll keep him even more aware of the need for diligence and discipline in his Sadhana (spiritual practices) and sticking to the moderate intake of healthy food. And add a few kms of walking or cycling too to the stay-healthy daily to-do list, perhaps. A healthy body and clutter-free mind are as useful to a seeker as it is to a survivor.

So, the conclusion is *Thank you bee*… I guess..!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

17 Nov

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

Most music aficionados stick to known types of music. Their daily commute, long drives out of town and private listening hours (if any) pretty much overflow with the same kind of music, if not the same performers too.

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Some are open to listening to different kinds of music. They explore and discover the odd gems, but still predominantly listen to the familiar ones.
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Few actually explore various genres of music and expand their sound scape, continuously…

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As a typical born-and-brought-up Madrasi (all South Indian people – from 4 vastly different states and a UT – are madrasis to the rest of India 🤣, all of which the madrasis simply refer to as North India, irrespective of whether it’s located in the east, north or west 🙄), Swamy’s terra firma in music is carnatic, naturally – both vocal & instrumental. But because of his slightly pronounced inclination towards instrumental music (thanks to legends such as Kunnakkudi, Kadri, Umayalpuram, etc.) 🎺🎻, simply due to his lack of multilingual skills (to comprehend the meaning of hymns, songs, bhajans) he also warmed up easily to western (yep, the videshi west) instrumental music as well (Kenny G, Yanni, Miles Davis, Joshua Bell, the Orchestras, Lindsey Sterling, etc.). 🎼🎹🎧
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Surprisingly, despite choosing to remain in his motherland after spending only a few years outside (unlike many of his pals who chose to settle down on the supposedly ‘developed’ side of the world 🤦‍♀️), his exposure to Hindustani music remained limited to the occasional sitar, santoor or flute album, mostly accompanied by Zakhir Hussein on the Tabla 😂. And then there’s Hariharan’s ghazals, of course (Hariharan is not only well known in the southern movie industry, but he himself happens to be a Madrasi, just like Shankar Mahadevan).

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All that changed, with his exploration – albeit a cautious one – into the hi-res audio space. While looking for hi-res / lossless audio to test his audio gadgets, Swamy ended up discovering quite a lot of musicians, from both sides of the world.

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Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

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Here are a few (ex)samples…
Swamy has never heard about Lorde, until listening to and getting instantly enchanted by her voice, on a song included in an audiophile music playlist, on YouTube (of all places)! She’s like Adele, yet different.
Madrasana was familiar territory but with a twist – a performer on his/her own, sans accompaniments, in a well organised setup. And this channel creator / patron is a former hotshot executive in the IT services industry, where Swamy too spent his entire career span.
And then there’s Darbar, which is the perfect gateway for someone like Swamy to explore the vast (and obviously enchanting) Hindustani music terrain. Filled with fantastic single tracks by a plethora of astoundingly talented performers (many of whom Swamy hasn’t even heard of until now), it’s a channel worth a watch, ummm… Listen (both, actually)!

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

22 Oct

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

One of (many, needless to say.. heh.. heh.. 😂) Swamy’s interests is music, of pretty much all kinds. Classical music (of the Bharat kind) & instrumental music (of the global kind) have always been a big draw, though an occasional new ARR movie composition or vocals such as Adele too are listened to with equal joy.🎧

SwamyDP-2019-2

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Despite all that, Swamy hasn’t ventured into audiophile territory for a long time, even when he was earning a reasonable amount of pay, primarily due to the cost (of listening equipment) and secondarily due to lack of awareness. Lately though, some (sizable, considering the limited financial inflow of an early retiree, but certainly not outrageous 👀) investment went into personal hi-res audio equipment.

Swamy’s entry-level audiophile equipment – all sourced through Amazon India, mostly during the innumerable number of sale events they keep hosting – consists of hi-res certified 1More Triple Driver earphones, the மூர்த்தி சிறிது கீர்த்தி பெரிது kind of KZ ES4 earphones, the uber popular AudioTechnica M50x headphones and a hi-res audio music player + DAC – the FiiO M3K. And of course, there’s the punching-way-above-its-size Signature Acoustics Phoenix Hi-res Bluetooth audio transmitter/receiver (yep, I’m fully aware of the jargon dropping here 🤷🏻‍♀🤪). Oh yeah, couple of Bose speakers are in the mix as well, though one of them is constantly on strike (one of those rare CD players) a la public sector bank employees and the other one suffers from the typical portable speaker limitations (how about one from Marshall sir – umm, frankly, the endless Amazon sales keep tempting me for a while)!

Audiophile1

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Equipment aside, the sad fact about hi-res audio is its availability & affordability, especially in MeraBharatMahan! 😳🤐 Tidal is a well-known streaming source but both availability & cost will be like those forbidden fruit company iThings. Also it may not have much of desi music selections. Locally available services such as Amazon Prime Music, Jio Saavn, Ghaana, et al don’t overtly specify the quality of audio, so one can never be sure.

The other choice is to be ultra patient and rip all the original audio CDs (remember those – like any true-blue music lover, Swamy too has plenty of originals!) at higher bit rates and create one’s own collection, which will obviously take a lot of time, considering the tremendous amount of manual intervention required and the not-so-fast speed of the USB connection to the external CD drive (many of the new laptops have entirely eliminated internal CD drives, a la the fast vanishing 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones). Let’s take a breather here… 😵

 

HiRes Equipment2

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So, Swamy was obviously delighted, when he came across a notable hi-res collection of well known (‘heard’ would be more apt) musicians such as AR Rehman, Ilayaraja & such, while looking for hi-res audio files to test the new USB DAC, the FiiO K3, connected to the Obage OE-2425 stereo speakers & of course the head/earphones, on… wait for it… YouTube! 😌🎼🎧

Here’s the channel that does something audio enthusiasts on this side of the world only dream about – a sizable hi-res collection of popular Indian music (no carnatic music yet… ah, man 🙄😖). There may be others, but this is a good place to begin the hi-res journey. Try it – preferably with a good quality head/earphone or pair of speakers & you’ll know what is being elucidated here.😌🤙

The Mastering Project – Hi-Res Indian Music

HiRes Audio Channel YouTubeC

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Oh btw, Swamy is practically an illiterate, when it comes to the nuances of music (despite much of the Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns being musical, by flow).🙏But when has that ever stopped an enthusiast from exploration anyway! 🎧😌🤘

SwamyDP-2019-4

Swamy listening on 1More Triple Driver earphones

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

உயிர்மெய் (தமிழ் பதிவுகள்) | SwamyQuote | Swamystery | QuorAnswers by Swamy | Quoraவிடை by ஸ்வாமி | BeenThere, SeenThat  

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy!

6 Sep

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy! 🤔👴🏻🙃

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Nearly five years (well, it’s a month shy of 4.5 years, to be precise) after his planned retirement👣, Swamy is now officially a pensioner, joining the league of his father, f-i-l & their ilk 👴🏻👵🏼, many of whom are still very much around, most certainly drawing a much better monthly pension (அரசாங்கம் வாழ்க). 🤣

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On this normal occasion (what, you were expecting some hyped up adjective like ‘momentous’ there, eh! 🙄), Swamy would like to express his sincere gratitude to his long term financial consultant Mr.E.Lakshminarayanan, for enabling the planned retirement to actually happen, and continuing to ensure Swamy stays retired, as desired. 💐🙏
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Needless to say, gratitude is also owed to Swamily 👪, who took his (earlier than) planned retirement, at a tender age of 45, in their stride, and for letting him do whatever he does 📚✍😌 (ahem, that would be ‘Read-Write-Meditate in mugglespeak), even though they aren’t quite sure as to what he does 🤷🏻‍♀, or if he does anything at all! 🤔😂🤘

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Anyway, here’s a piece of practical advise, for those of you who still nurture the dream of retirement, sometime in this lifetime…
☝If you don’t have a financial adviser/consultant yet, find one right away. Alternatively, you may simply call / text / WhatsApp Lakshminarayanan @ +918754468343 (don’t worry, he doesn’t pay any commission to me, at all).
✌️If you don’t have any of these among your existing financial products, viz. term insurance, health insurance and pension plan, start all three right away. Of course, all of them will fetch you some income tax deduction as well.
🖖 If you have not ventured into the markets yet (no sir/ma’ am, not the vegetable/fruit market that you frequent, but the equity market 🤦‍♀️), you shall forever remain unsure of your peaceful retirement. So get started right away with investment in mutual funds (the safer way for those who aren’t confident enough to directly invest in stocks), ideally through the SIP (systematic investment plan) route.
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You may have a well-paying job today and probably aren’t bothered much about your (and your family’s) future, which is the case with many professionals – including Swamy’s former colleagues. But there simply is no guarantee about a safer future, considering how outdated one can become so quickly, in terms of knowledge and skills, and how loyalty is a big sad joke, when it comes to organisations reciprocating that towards their employees. It’s imperative that you actively plan today, for a secure tomorrow, irrespective of however great yesterday was.

Just so you know, Swamy did all of the aforementioned investments (and then some), only during the later stages of his corporate career, starting from 2003/04, shortly after his decisive return from overseas. During the earlier stages of his budding career in the booming (at that time) IT services industry, he was routinely chided by his well-wisher boss (who eventually became his – only – mentor) about not investing a portion of his earnings, keeping the future in mind. Heeding to such sound advise then would have probably helped Swamy become financially safer much earlier in this lifetime, but one (hopefully) learns from experience and does necessary course corrections. As a matter of fact, a few SIPs are still continuing, long after Swamy has actually retired from his reasonably successful corporate career.

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Swamy isn’t rich by any stretch of imagination, and that was never his objective any way. But he is a content being, who isn’t unduly worried about the market fluctuations derailing his planned retirement, which is secure and stable, until this point in time. Of course, it helps that the indulgences of Swamily are very few and far between, which results in negligible discretionary expenses. But that doesn’t mean they live like misers. 4K TV, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and YouTube videos streaming via ACT Broadband, Airtel and Jio mobile subscriptions, occasional sweets & savouries from the likes of ‘The Grand Sweets & Snacks,’ automobiles with 2 and 4 wheels (with associated running & maintenance costs), a pet daughter (who is pushing 80s), donations to charity, frequent travel for Jr’s sports pursuit, feeding strays and birds, regular celebrations of festivals, seasonal online sale binges (mostly the gadget kind), unexpected (but rare, thankfully) medical expenses… all these and more are very much there at SwamyHome as well!

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A content way of living, with occasional indulgences but almost no impulsive expenses, simply helps stretch the safety net of one’s financial kitty, without having to start censoring the basic necessities for a decent urban standard of living. And that’s exactly what Swamily has been doing, from well before Swamy’s retirement. It certainly helps that all of us – the human beings in the family, that is – also happen to be meditators, following the guidance of our Guru, though only Swamy remains the serious seeker treading the spiritual path.

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Early or Planned Retirement is no black magic. It’s a possibility for anyone stuck in the survival plane of existence, provided there’s a focused financial plan, which gets implemented diligently, over a period of time, preferably with the guidance of a professional.

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If you aren’t even planning to retire at some point in time, in this lifetime, then when will you start doing what needs to be done to realise the real purpose of your life, as a human being… So, please Stop dreaming & just Start doing… Now!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy
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Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

20 Jul

Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

~a Swamusings post by @PrakashSwamy

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Recently someone pinged Swamy and asked… 

Swamy have you written a blog on when people give trouble to you how can you keep meditating without reaction?” 

The honest response is “No” since Swamy isn’t a qualified Yoga / Meditation teacher and Swamy’s Guru has been very particular about his disciples not speaking / sharing about anything that’s not in their own experience, especially when it comes to teaching something to others. That’s why there has been no Swamystery or உயிர்மெய் blog post on yoga or meditation methods, techniques, etc. They may happen eventually (or not!), as and when Swamy is experientially qualified to share them.

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In that case, it’s quite natural for anyone to instantly question, “then how come you write so much about death, enlightenment, etc?” A valid question indeed, since neither has been directly experienced by Swamy, certainly not in this lifetime, so far! But there’s a logical explanation for that, even though logic isn’t necessarily as popular (or essential, for that matter) in spirituality as it is in social existence.

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As a seeker, particularly one who is blessed with the guidance of a living Guru (Realised Master), one is privileged to know about the intricacies and nuances of ‘Life, the way it is,’ aka Reality, which aren’t in the intellectual knowledge realm of those immersed in the survival plane of existence. This includes experiences such as death, enlightenment, etc., which are obviously not in the seeker’s own experience, but aren’t incredulous or alien to the seeker either, since the knowing happens through the sharing of Realised Beings and Masters, including one’s own Guru. 

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In the info-centric existence of the present day, those seekers who are digital migrants (there are quite a few ‘digital natives’ seekers as well, of course) and are endowed with the ability to communicate ideas and insights, feel comfortable sharing whatever little they know, primarily on social media, based on their learning from the many Masters that have graced this tiny planet, though they aren’t under any compulsion to do so. Swamy just happens to be a seeker whose thirst to know from many a Master remains unquenchable and is also willing and capable (hopefully!) of sharing such wisdom (acquired, mostly) that’s usually beyond the sensory perception based intellectual comprehension. With that context, we can certainly talk about meditation as well. 

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Here’s a revelation that may be a surprise to long term Swamy readers – Swamy doesn’t really practice any kind of formal meditation process, at least not on a regular basis! There can be many logical explanations for this, but they’ll all be irrelevant to you, the reader, since everyone’s quest for the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) is unique, though all seekers are seeking to realise the same Truth. But be assured that some additional light shall be shined on this later in this post itself. 

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In the yogic tradition, meditation isn’t considered as a process or method to follow but as a state of being. That means, one can become meditative but not really do meditation. While a seeker, over a period of time, may perform various kinds of sadhana (spiritual practices), including but not limited to meditation, which may continue as-is for long or change after a while, the objective is never to achieve perfection in a particular sadhana itself, but to use all of them effectively to attain a state of equanimity or balance, aka SamAdhi (சமாதி). This is a state of tranquil stillness, which isn’t affected in any way by anything happening around them. This is the non-expressive state of ShivA, whenever he’s not doing the other extreme, i.e. the ThANdava, which is nothing but exuberant motion / movement, an expression of the ecstatic state of eternal bliss (which, in essence, is Shakthi).

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All Realised Masters (Guru) remain in the state of Sahaja Samadhi (சஹஜ சமாதி) inward, all the time, though they may still be involved in worldly activities just like the rest of us, either actively or passively. This is the self-realised state, where the Master perceives everything in creation or the entire creation as a singular presence*, which is normally referred to as the Divine or God. Attaining this state is essential for a seeker to progress towards Mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle). Hence, most of the sadhana offered by a Guru to a(ny) disciple will be to make this happen. Each sadhana by itself may result in one or many outcomes (such as Siddhis or activation of a Chakra), but none of them are the ultimate destination by themselves.

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*This is the essence of the famous saying by BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “There are no others!“, which was his response to a questioner who asked him, “When everyone in the Ashram is busy doing something or other, why are you always simply sitting or lying down (without seemingly doing anything)?” Since BhagavAn always remained in the state of Sahaja SamAdhi, there was no differentiation between himself and everyone else around him, at least not in his experience of oneness (with the Creator). 

Having said that, there are various dimensions of yoga, which include meditation techniques as well, which are useful to attain a sense of stable or still mind, leading to clarity in thinking, resulting in purposeful action. But all meditation techniques are essentially aimed at enabling the seeker to be a mere observer, of oneself, i.e. the amalgam of the body (physical dimension) and the mind (psychological dimension) that’s attached to many identities, such as name, religion, educational qualifications, wealth, social status, etc. The ultimate state of realisation is experiencing  the oneness of oneself and the supreme Self, when all the identities drop and there is no more duality (caused by ignorance, arising out of the limited intellect).

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When one becomes meditative, i.e. learns how to remain in a state of stillness*, the flow of thoughts in / from the mind may still happen, but one won’t do anything to either resist, stop or change them. Instead thoughts will simply flow** at will, as it is their nature, uninterrupted, like a stream. If and when deemed necessary, one can pick and choose from the flow of thoughts, any that are useful for purposeful action. Otherwise, one can simply observe their flow, without any re/action. 

*Attaining this state of stillness is the actual purpose of Asanas in yoga. “Sukham Sthiram Asanam” stated by Patanjali Maharishi in his Yoga SutrAs indicates this.

**This free flow of thoughts is what is referred to as PravAham (பிரவாகம்) by Sri Bhagavath (ஸ்ரீ பகவத்). 

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So, in summary, the answer to the question is, a seeker (or ‘meditator’ as per the question) should focus on the meditation itself, i.e. the process of meditation (technique can be any, as they differ from teacher to teacher) instead of getting distracted by any kind of interruption. Since human nature is to be easily distracted by the environment and its various components, distraction-free meditation needs a tremendous amount of practice. That’s why pretty much all the Masters emphasise the need for daily practices. Also, humans inherently believe that they are so unique, even though in reality they aren’t. That’s why there are four distinct paths in yoga known as Karma, Bakthi, Kriya and Gnana, though they are used as a blend, complementing each other. Only a Guru (Realised Master) knows and prescribes the right blend of the four paths*, to each seeker, based on one’s karmic structure and individual characteristics in the present lifetime.

*One of the best examples of this is Swami ChinmayAnanda, who is a renowned Master. The Chinmaya Foundation founded by him is a thriving global organisation, guiding thousands of seekers, even now. When he, who was an avowed atheist (in his youth), reached out to Swami SivAnanda at RishikEsh (he had been in the presence of BhagavAn RamaNa Maharshi as well, before this happened), he was directed by Swami SivAnanda to Swami TapOvan at UttarKAshi. It was Swami SiVAnanda, a Realised Master with his own vast yoga organisation and many ordained monks, who initiated Swami ChinmayAnanda into the ascetic monk order (including giving his new name). But he right away knew that the new disciple isn’t cut out for his path of Karma Yoga (selfless service) and directed him to Swami TapOvan, who is a Master on the path of GnAna Yoga. The rest, as they say, is history. Such is the power of perception of Realised Masters.

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An important thing to keep in mind (pun obviously intended) is “Meditation isn’t meant for control of mind.” At all. On the contrary, meditation is an aid to remain dissociated from the mind and letting it go about its own business. In a way, it’s about one not minding the mind minding it’s own business, however convoluted it may sound. As a result, the mind will either quieten and become still or won’t be a distraction anymore, even if it continues its nature of churning out wave after ceaseless wave of thoughts. This isn’t too different from the state of an ocean, which is still deep within, but perceived as restless with ceaseless waves on its surface.

Also, when a seeker is in meditation, the focus must be inward. So, even if there’s an obvious distraction outward*, sensed by one or more of the five senses, it’s limited to the external environment only and has no bearing on the inner nature of the being. Without this conscious detachment, no amount of meditation, nor any number of techniques, will help one attain stillness, ever.

*Sadhguru used to tell his disciples that they should be able to do the “ShoonyA meditation,” uninterrupted, even when they are in a crowded bus terminus with all kinds of distractions including loud noises. That’s essentially the state of total detachment from external influences to remain steadily focused inward.

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As you may recall (if not, you can certainly go back to the top of the post and start re-reading, heh.. heh..), Swamy doesn’t do any kind of meditation per se’ in particular, at least not regularly. The reason for this is the practical realisation of his Guru’s teaching that any activity one performs can be a sadhana (and a meditation technique). So right from drying clothes on a clothesline to mopping the floor to preparing food (occasionally, of course) to reading books and articles (often, needless to say) to relishing the hot morning cuppa to decorating Devi in the puja room to writing and publishing content such as ArutkuRaL ~ GnAnappAl or DhinamOruPadhigam hymns or SwamyQuote or even blog posts such as this one, every single action performed during the day by itself can be meditative. And they actually are, if one learns to remain alert and aware*, while performing them with absolute involvement but remaining consciously detached from the outcome (and benefits, if any). That is nothing but Karma yoga in practice.

*As an example, there were – at least – three interruptions, while writing this post, in response to a question by an acquaintance. Despite the interruptions causing some distraction and delay (and irritable interruption to the ‘flow’), this post did get written in full, as intended, within the same day. And as soon as this gets published, it’s a thing of the past and it’s time to move on to be in the present moment, again and again. This is the experiential reality of this writer, time and time again.

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As Swamy’s Master Sadhguru‘s vibrant voice guides the meditator with the chant “I’m not the body; I’m not even the mind” during the simple guided meditation practice of Isha KriyA (available free online), the stage is set for the being within to become still, i.e. to attain a state of meditativeness, aka Sahaja SamAdhi. The location, environment, people, noise, etc. that are always present during the process are all immaterial and exist only externally, while meditation is the state of being attained internally. That’s the objective, for a serious seeker. Everything else is simply a distraction. Shambho! 

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamystery | SwamyQuote | உயிர்மெய் | Swamy on Facebook & Twitter

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).

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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”…
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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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.

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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…

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~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). .
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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.

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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?‘ 

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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/
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