Tag Archives: Sabarimala

Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n!

15 May
Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n
Informed Ignorance!

A few days ago

, one of the SwamyPals (the motley group of friends and acquaintances from the academic and corporate phase of this lifetime who are still connected to Swamy, for whatever strange inexplicable reason) wrote to Swamy thus…
“Recently i wanted to exlore on vel …as i read it can delete karma… wanted to know how they do vel prayer and what is the significance in case you know.”
Such sudden desire or interest to explore some unknown well-known is common in humans, because there’s no dearth of information on anything and everything (that’s the well-known part), which makes one want to know more about… well, pretty much anything and everything (the unknown part).
While “Informed Ignorance” isn’t harmful (there are many other horrible afflictions taunting humans at every blind turn on the survival expressway) to anyone – including the info-seeker – as long as it remains at information level (“I read / see / hear, therefore I am“), initiating action related to some unknown, solely based on information, as opposed to knowledge or wisdom, will most certainly be harmful, particularly for the person who performs the action, whatever it is. So, let’s look at how the widespread phenomenon of “Informed Ignorance” can be an obstacle on the path (to realise the Truth).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Disclaimer: Though Swamy is an actual practitioner of the processes mentioned in this post, he strongly advises you, the dear reader, against using any information to initiate actions on your own. All the processes mentioned below have to be initiated formally by someone with prior experience, i.e. a practitioner or sadhaka, who is qualified to initiate others.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In this ancient culture, many different ways of connecting with the divine, with the objective of dissolving the individual identity and merging with the omnipresent entity / energy known as NirghuNa ParaBrahmam (aka Mukti ~ ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle), were created. One of them is using the combination of 3 things known as Yantra, Tantra and Mantra.
YantrA is a device or machine. It has a specific form (depending on the divine form that it is associated with) and purpose (both material and spiritual). YantrA is physical and can be two (picture) or three dimensional (device). In its most simplified form, even the kOlam drawn in front of the home or inside the puja room can be a yantrA.
Tantra is the process or method to use the Yantra or device. It’s typically a ritual with very specific guidelines that need to be adhered to, in order for the process to be effective, i.e. yield the expected outcome. Tantra process can be very elaborate (including homam or havan, etc) or simple, but the guidelines cannot be tailored or modified by the user.
Mantra is the Chant used for the Tantra (process) to access the Yantra (device). It could be a single sound (Bija like Lum, Hrim, etc) or a Chant specific to the divine form (AUM Namah ShivAya for Lord ShivA) or a slOkha (like the GAyathri mantra) or even a sTothram (like VEl mARal or LalithA Thrishadi).
The combination of all three is used as a sAdhanA (spiritual process) to attain self-realisation and eventually liberation. It can also be used to attain specific siddhis (mystical powers) or benefits on the material plane of existence but that’s like misusing or grossly under-utilising a powerful device – like driving a Lamborghini Urus in the peak hour OMR traffic in Chennai (or anytime in Bengaluru)!

YantAs are of different forms and shapes, depending on the deity or divine forms that it is used to access. For Lord ShivA, it’s usually a Linga. For DEvi Shakthi, it’s the Sri ChakrA and MEru (3D form of Sri ChakrA) or something like the Linga Bhairavi YantrA that’s in SwamyHome. For Lord MahAVishNu, it’s a sALagrAmam. For Lord Murugan, it’s the mighty Vel (lance / spear). There are many others like this such as PanchAyudha (five different stones representing five aspects / forms of the divine), each with its own associated processes and chants.
Having a YantrA at home and accessing it (using it for any purpose – material or spiritual) requires formal initiation from either a Realised Master (Guru) or a sAdhakA (practitioner) who has attained mastery over the process and is qualified to instruct others. This is extremely important for the actual functioning of the device to yield specific outcomes. Though it’s very tempting (and obviously easy), one shouldn’t get any yantrA and start using it by oneself, as the yantrA is not an electric or electronic device that comes with DIY instructions.

At SwamyHome, we’ve a Linga Bhairavi YantrA, which was received from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru, an accomplished Yogi, Mystic and visionary founder of Isha Yoga. There is a daily process (TantrA) that needs to be done by both Mr and Mrs Swamy (this yantrA is usually received by partners – life or business; there’s also a slightly larger form known as Avigna yantrA, for larger spaces and organisations). The Chant (MantrA) is about 11 minutes long (duration of the process) and done in Sadhguru’s voice itself, so that it sounds exactly as it is supposed to be (chanting has to be always precise – both what and how are critical – that’s why those who Chant the vEdAs undergo rigorous practice for many years).
The sanctity of the space where the Linga Bhairavi YantrA is kept has to be maintained like a temple – always kept clean, with a ghee or oil lamp lit and no eating, drinking or sleeping is to be done for 10 sq ft around it. There are also specific guidelines for days such as PourNami (full moon) & GrahaNam (eclipse) and if both the practitioners are away for more than 3 days. In a way, our home is a temple now with DEvi established and very much present in the GarbhagrihA (the puja room). Since we know that by experience, we ensure that it’s maintained that way as well, to the best of our abilities (cleanliness, alankAram – decoration, arpaNam – offering, Aarti – lighting camphor).

As our home is a consecrated space now, we’re also expected to let as many people experience Devi’s Grace by inviting them to our home and let them participate by chanting slokhAs, performing Aarti or simply sit and get soaked in her fiercely compassionate Grace. There are many who have experienced this and turned speechless (or speak only about her glorious presence) or become teary-eyed.

We also have a vEl, the worship of which was initiated by Swamy’s SabarimalA Guruswamy Mohanji, who is a upAsakar of many divine forms, including DEvi, Murugan and Dharma SAsthA. According to his specific guidelines and instructions, it is established within the puja room (which is essentially DEvi Linga Bhairavi’s sanctum sanctorum) and a daily process (combination of chanting and offering) is performed for it. Abhishekham and AlankAram are performed either on Sashti or on Tuesdays and special puja is performed on KArthigai and Thai Poosam days.
During the annual visit to the Kuladeivam temple at Kumaramalai (near Pudukkottai), this vEl is taken and kept in the GarbagrihA of the temple and all abhishEkhams are performed by the archakar for this vEl as well, along with the main deity (Sri BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi).

After an year (typical time between two SabarimalA yAtrAs along the Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai route) of observance of the preliminary process, Swamy was initiated into a cleansing mantrA this year, which is in progress now. At some point in time, the formal mantrA initiation will happen and that’ll become the core JapA (chanting) process for Swamy’s spiritual pursuit (incidentally, Swamy also has been initiated into another JapA mantrA by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, but that doesn’t involve yantrA and tantrA).

Apart from this, there’s also a Sadhguru Sannidhi or PAdha yantrA at SwamyHome. It’s essentially the footprint of Sadhguru, filled with a special vibhUthi that’s available only at the Isha Ashram. This vibhUthi can be applied by anyone visiting our home. There’s a weekly Sannidhi Puja for this yantrA. Other than that, there are no restrictions on the space, unlike DEvi yantrA. There’s also a DhyAnalinga yantrA, which was received by Swamy Jr, during his ShAmbhavi MahAmudrA initiation, for which there’s no process at all.
Other than availing these yantrAs and practising the associated tantrA and mantrAs, as instructed by the initiators, Swamy isn’t really knowledgeable about the significance of each or even how they work. Strictly a user, with the sole purpose of attaining Enlightenment, leading to Mukti, Swamy has learned to simply trust Grace to guide him along the path, instead of resorting to the usage of his (usually very active and inquisitive) limited intellect to decipher the what, why, how, when, etc.

Swamily (Swamy+Family ~ Mr, Mrs & Jr) can however vouch for the effects of the usage, which have been experienced through many incidents, including dramatic physical manifestations that will raise the eyebrows of even firm believers (Swamy btw is not a blind believer but a serious seeker), events and changes in behavioral traits, both within and outside the home. Here are a few…
  • Elimination of a major surgery, which was initially thought to be unavoidable
  • A specific form of Devi (worshipped long ago in the past) demanding vastra arpanam
  • Reminder to start a specific aspect of spiritual sadhana, which was missing
  • Clarity about one’s own self through suya dharisanam, which is cathartic (seeing one’s own personality in all its gory glory – warts and all – is mortifying)
  • Unprecedented confidence in applying inherent talent and accomplishing significant milestones, almost effortlessly
  • Darshan of various forms, not associated with the yantrA deities
  • Sensing someone faraway physically, when that person underwent surgery
  • Quality and quantity of visitors
  • Stanzas for many Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns
  • Pleasant passing away (including the post-death rituals) of a family member
… the list of such experiences and happenings is only getting longer, many of which can only be experienced and not explained. All such experiences are very real and truly enchanting, but one must be cautious about not getting stuck with these happenings and remain conscious that all these are just indicators for one to continue treading the path, towards the only destination, the final and ultimate liberation (Mukti).

On the survival plane of existence (Swamy is still a GrihasthA – householder after all and continues to take care of his beloved family), Life in the presence of yantrAs is blissful indeed, even after quitting the well-paying corporate servitude willingly (may be, especially after quitting it – ha.. ha..). And living is only getting better, every single present moment.
Unfortunately, YantrAs are sold commercially nowadays and anyone can procure and keep them at home and even perform some form of worship / process daily. This is not advisable as many of these commercial spiritualists may not be really knowledgeable in this ancient process and won’t be able to help / rectify any challenges faced by the buyers. If one doesn’t know how to ride a super bike, one shouldn’t get it and stick to a humble commuter bike or trusted scooter instead. It’s as simple as that.

In a nutshell, the combination of YantrA + TantrA + MantrA works, without a doubt, when done the ancient way ~ initiated by a Master or one who has attained Mastery, and adhered to all the instructions exactly as they are. Oh btw, yantrAs ensure the practitioner’s ‘needs’ are taken care of, not the numerous (and obviously, pointless) ‘wants!’ So, getting a YantrA to beat someone in something or become filthy rich in someway may not really work out that way.
Since the thought about yantrA (the mighty vEl of Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan, in your case) has been seeded in you (trust me, you haven’t thought about it – that’s the folly of ‘informed ignorance’), it’s only natural that you’ll also receive the necessary guidance from someone qualified, in time. Trust the most benevolent creator to shine the light on those who seek sincerely. Just keep the fire of seeking burning brightly, within.
May Grace be with you to avail the amazing combination of YantrA+TantrA+MantrA in this lifetime itself, to attain the ultimate. Shambho.
~Swamy | @PrakahsSwamy

Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n!

15 May
Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n
Informed Ignorance!

A few days ago

, one of the SwamyPals (the motley group of friends and acquaintances from the academic and corporate phase of this lifetime who are still connected to Swamy, for whatever strange inexplicable reason) wrote to Swamy thus…
“Recently i wanted to exlore on vel …as i read it can delete karma… wanted to know how they do vel prayer and what is the significance in case you know.”
Such sudden desire or interest to explore some unknown well-known is common in humans, because there’s no dearth of information on anything and everything (that’s the well-known part), which makes one want to know more about… well, pretty much anything and everything (the unknown part).
While “Informed Ignorance” isn’t harmful (there are many other horrible afflictions taunting humans at every blind turn on the survival expressway) to anyone – including the info-seeker – as long as it remains at information level (“I read / see / hear, therefore I am“), initiating action related to some unknown, solely based on information, as opposed to knowledge or wisdom, will most certainly be harmful, particularly for the person who performs the action, whatever it is. So, let’s look at how the widespread phenomenon of “Informed Ignorance” can be an obstacle on the path (to realise the Truth).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Disclaimer: Though Swamy is an actual practitioner of the processes mentioned in this post, he strongly advises you, the dear reader, against using any information to initiate actions on your own. All the processes mentioned below have to be initiated formally by someone with prior experience, i.e. a practitioner or sadhaka, who is qualified to initiate others.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In this ancient culture, many different ways of connecting with the divine, with the objective of dissolving the individual identity and merging with the omnipresent entity / energy known as NirghuNa ParaBrahmam (aka Mukti ~ ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle), were created. One of them is using the combination of 3 things known as Yantra, Tantra and Mantra.
YantrA is a device or machine. It has a specific form (depending on the divine form that it is associated with) and purpose (both material and spiritual). YantrA is physical and can be two (picture) or three dimensional (device). In its most simplified form, even the kOlam drawn in front of the home or inside the puja room can be a yantrA.
Tantra is the process or method to use the Yantra or device. It’s typically a ritual with very specific guidelines that need to be adhered to, in order for the process to be effective, i.e. yield the expected outcome. Tantra process can be very elaborate (including homam or havan, etc) or simple, but the guidelines cannot be tailored or modified by the user.
Mantra is the Chant used for the Tantra (process) to access the Yantra (device). It could be a single sound (Bija like Lum, Hrim, etc) or a Chant specific to the divine form (AUM Namah ShivAya for Lord ShivA) or a slOkha (like the GAyathri mantra) or even a sTothram (like VEl mARal or LalithA Thrishadi).
The combination of all three is used as a sAdhanA (spiritual process) to attain self-realisation and eventually liberation. It can also be used to attain specific siddhis (mystical powers) or benefits on the material plane of existence but that’s like misusing or grossly under-utilising a powerful device – like driving a Lamborghini Urus in the peak hour OMR traffic in Chennai (or anytime in Bengaluru)!

YantAs are of different forms and shapes, depending on the deity or divine forms that it is used to access. For Lord ShivA, it’s usually a Linga. For DEvi Shakthi, it’s the Sri ChakrA and MEru (3D form of Sri ChakrA) or something like the Linga Bhairavi YantrA that’s in SwamyHome. For Lord MahAVishNu, it’s a sALagrAmam. For Lord Murugan, it’s the mighty Vel (lance / spear). There are many others like this such as PanchAyudha (five different stones representing five aspects / forms of the divine), each with its own associated processes and chants.
Having a YantrA at home and accessing it (using it for any purpose – material or spiritual) requires formal initiation from either a Realised Master (Guru) or a sAdhakA (practitioner) who has attained mastery over the process and is qualified to instruct others. This is extremely important for the actual functioning of the device to yield specific outcomes. Though it’s very tempting (and obviously easy), one shouldn’t get any yantrA and start using it by oneself, as the yantrA is not an electric or electronic device that comes with DIY instructions.

At SwamyHome, we’ve a Linga Bhairavi YantrA, which was received from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru, an accomplished Yogi, Mystic and visionary founder of Isha Yoga. There is a daily process (TantrA) that needs to be done by both Mr and Mrs Swamy (this yantrA is usually received by partners – life or business; there’s also a slightly larger form known as Avigna yantrA, for larger spaces and organisations). The Chant (MantrA) is about 11 minutes long (duration of the process) and done in Sadhguru’s voice itself, so that it sounds exactly as it is supposed to be (chanting has to be always precise – both what and how are critical – that’s why those who Chant the vEdAs undergo rigorous practice for many years).
The sanctity of the space where the Linga Bhairavi YantrA is kept has to be maintained like a temple – always kept clean, with a ghee or oil lamp lit and no eating, drinking or sleeping is to be done for 10 sq ft around it. There are also specific guidelines for days such as PourNami (full moon) & GrahaNam (eclipse) and if both the practitioners are away for more than 3 days. In a way, our home is a temple now with DEvi established and very much present in the GarbhagrihA (the puja room). Since we know that by experience, we ensure that it’s maintained that way as well, to the best of our abilities (cleanliness, alankAram – decoration, arpaNam – offering, Aarti – lighting camphor).

As our home is a consecrated space now, we’re also expected to let as many people experience Devi’s Grace by inviting them to our home and let them participate by chanting slokhAs, performing Aarti or simply sit and get soaked in her fiercely compassionate Grace. There are many who have experienced this and turned speechless (or speak only about her glorious presence) or become teary-eyed.

We also have a vEl, the worship of which was initiated by Swamy’s SabarimalA Guruswamy Mohanji, who is a upAsakar of many divine forms, including DEvi, Murugan and Dharma SAsthA. According to his specific guidelines and instructions, it is established within the puja room (which is essentially DEvi Linga Bhairavi’s sanctum sanctorum) and a daily process (combination of chanting and offering) is performed for it. Abhishekham and AlankAram are performed either on Sashti or on Tuesdays and special puja is performed on KArthigai and Thai Poosam days.
During the annual visit to the Kuladeivam temple at Kumaramalai (near Pudukkottai), this vEl is taken and kept in the GarbagrihA of the temple and all abhishEkhams are performed by the archakar for this vEl as well, along with the main deity (Sri BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi).

After an year (typical time between two SabarimalA yAtrAs along the Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai route) of observance of the preliminary process, Swamy was initiated into a cleansing mantrA this year, which is in progress now. At some point in time, the formal mantrA initiation will happen and that’ll become the core JapA (chanting) process for Swamy’s spiritual pursuit (incidentally, Swamy also has been initiated into another JapA mantrA by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, but that doesn’t involve yantrA and tantrA).

Apart from this, there’s also a Sadhguru Sannidhi or PAdha yantrA at SwamyHome. It’s essentially the footprint of Sadhguru, filled with a special vibhUthi that’s available only at the Isha Ashram. This vibhUthi can be applied by anyone visiting our home. There’s a weekly Sannidhi Puja for this yantrA. Other than that, there are no restrictions on the space, unlike DEvi yantrA. There’s also a DhyAnalinga yantrA, which was received by Swamy Jr, during his ShAmbhavi MahAmudrA initiation, for which there’s no process at all.
Other than availing these yantrAs and practising the associated tantrA and mantrAs, as instructed by the initiators, Swamy isn’t really knowledgeable about the significance of each or even how they work. Strictly a user, with the sole purpose of attaining Enlightenment, leading to Mukti, Swamy has learned to simply trust Grace to guide him along the path, instead of resorting to the usage of his (usually very active and inquisitive) limited intellect to decipher the what, why, how, when, etc.

Swamily (Swamy+Family ~ Mr, Mrs & Jr) can however vouch for the effects of the usage, which have been experienced through many incidents, including dramatic physical manifestations that will raise the eyebrows of even firm believers (Swamy btw is not a blind believer but a serious seeker), events and changes in behavioral traits, both within and outside the home. Here are a few…
  • Elimination of a major surgery, which was initially thought to be unavoidable
  • A specific form of Devi (worshipped long ago in the past) demanding vastra arpanam
  • Reminder to start a specific aspect of spiritual sadhana, which was missing
  • Clarity about one’s own self through suya dharisanam, which is cathartic (seeing one’s own personality in all its gory glory – warts and all – is mortifying)
  • Unprecedented confidence in applying inherent talent and accomplishing significant milestones, almost effortlessly
  • Darshan of various forms, not associated with the yantrA deities
  • Sensing someone faraway physically, when that person underwent surgery
  • Quality and quantity of visitors
  • Stanzas for many Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns
  • Pleasant passing away (including the post-death rituals) of a family member
… the list of such experiences and happenings is only getting longer, many of which can only be experienced and not explained. All such experiences are very real and truly enchanting, but one must be cautious about not getting stuck with these happenings and remain conscious that all these are just indicators for one to continue treading the path, towards the only destination, the final and ultimate liberation (Mukti).

On the survival plane of existence (Swamy is still a GrihasthA – householder after all and continues to take care of his beloved family), Life in the presence of yantrAs is blissful indeed, even after quitting the well-paying corporate servitude willingly (may be, especially after quitting it – ha.. ha..). And living is only getting better, every single present moment.
Unfortunately, YantrAs are sold commercially nowadays and anyone can procure and keep them at home and even perform some form of worship / process daily. This is not advisable as many of these commercial spiritualists may not be really knowledgeable in this ancient process and won’t be able to help / rectify any challenges faced by the buyers. If one doesn’t know how to ride a super bike, one shouldn’t get it and stick to a humble commuter bike or trusted scooter instead. It’s as simple as that.

In a nutshell, the combination of YantrA + TantrA + MantrA works, without a doubt, when done the ancient way ~ initiated by a Master or one who has attained Mastery, and adhered to all the instructions exactly as they are. Oh btw, yantrAs ensure the practitioner’s ‘needs’ are taken care of, not the numerous (and obviously, pointless) ‘wants!’ So, getting a YantrA to beat someone in something or become filthy rich in someway may not really work out that way.
Since the thought about yantrA (the mighty vEl of Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan, in your case) has been seeded in you (trust me, you haven’t thought about it – that’s the folly of ‘informed ignorance’), it’s only natural that you’ll also receive the necessary guidance from someone qualified, in time. Trust the most benevolent creator to shine the light on those who seek sincerely. Just keep the fire of seeking burning brightly, within.
May Grace be with you to avail the amazing combination of YantrA+TantrA+MantrA in this lifetime itself, to attain the ultimate. Shambho.
~Swamy | @PrakahsSwamy

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  

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18 Steps to Emancipation | Step 3 ~ The 3rd Dimension!

29 Jan

Step 3 ~ The 3rd Dimension

From the triumvirate of Gods known as ThrimUrthi, viz BrahmA, VishNu & RudrA (not ShivA, as it is usually misunderstood and stated – RudrA is an aspect of ShivA, not ShivA himself, who as MahAdEvA is the unmanifest that’s way beyond a mere role playing God) and God6desses Saraswati, Lakshmi & DurgA (all aspects or forms of Shakthi, the all-pervading, all-encompassing Mother Goddess of all creation, at a magnitude and scale that’s simply unimaginable by the limited human intellect), the number 3 has always been significant in SanAtana DharmA, which naturally reflects in many aspects of day-to-day living as well. Needless to say, there are countless upa dEvatAs or relatively lesser Gods, present around the sanctum sanctorum of Life, some of whom even have a specific role to play, during every being’s lifetime(s).

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ascend Step 1 ~ End or Beginning! here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/18-steps-to-emancipation-step-1-end-or-beginning/

ascend Step 2 ~ Past in the Present! here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/18-steps-to-emancipation-step-2-past-in-the-present/ 

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  • Mother, Father & Child(ren), in the family. The unlimited number of relatives that poke their nose into the family business are the upa dEvatAs, obviously

  • Teacher(s), Student, Parents(s), while studying (not to be confused with learning, which doesn’t usually happen within the school but mostly outside it). Lab assistant, Sports coach, unfriendly accountant diligently collecting the fee (and the fine), et al are the upa dEvatAs

  • Boss, Worker, Team, while toiling hard to make a living. Humourless HR, automaton Admin, funless Finance, sincere Security, clueless Quality, etc are some of the upa dEvatAs

  • Doctor, Patient and Insurance company at hospitals, with a zillion departments to perform quadrillion tests with imported equipments (gotta use em’ all), occasionally smiling nurses, always smirking attendants and the statuesque (read expressionless) billing clerk are the upa dEvatAs

  • Teams, Fans / spectators, Officials (including referees / umpires, organizers, etc) in sports

  • Actors who – supposedly – perform (and overrate themselves), Fans who adore them (consciously keeping the brain aside) and the Crew (including Director, producer, et al) that continues to churn one mindless dumb movie after another  

  • Shopkeeper (the one who sells), Shopper (the ones who buy) and Product makers (the one who make the ones that are being sold and bought) in shops – huge and tiny

  • Deity, Devotee and Priest (and the mysterious government department that merrily milks the devotion dry in the name of managing the temple administration) in places of worship

  • Trekker, SherpA and the Mountain, in mountaineering (not to be confused with the amateur day-trips – with tiny backpacks and shiny camera/phones, no less – called trekking, to the friendly neighbourhood hillocks)

  • Farmer, Cow/Bull and the Land / Crops…

  • Gardener, flowering Plants and Birds / bees / butterflies…


But when one starts the stroll down the spiritual path – accidentally, like Swamy, or otherwise – the 3rd dimension shines in an altogether different light. In fact, it is so in all the aforesaid examples too, if one is willing to set aside time to comprehend (which, humans hardly do).


For example, at home, the 3D is the actual upbringing of the child, which need not necessarily be all done by the parents themselves.

In sports, it’s the joy of being part of the action – actively or passively – where the team’s pursuit of excellence matters more than the talented bunch of chosen individuals.

In temples, it’s the devotion, which need not even be overtly expressed, of the devotee towards the divinity, not the deity per se’.

…keep comprehending (a better alternative to being a couch potato today, even as the epic, throwback to a glorious nostalgic past, Fedex-Rafa grand slam final plays out on your prized mega size UHD TV) the 3D of the rest of the examples…


The list of such 3s is as long as the utterly pointless conversations that humans have everyday as if their living is dependent on such small talk and not on the prANA that sustains Life. On the spiritual path, the 3Ds are the  Guru, Disciple and the Path itself (we’ll climb that next step together in “Step 4 ~ Four Paths of Pursuit).

In the context of SabarimalA yAtrA, the 3Ds are the GuruSwamy (an experienced, and in some ways authorised, guide to those seeking the Lord’s darshan – or an inner-darshan that’s encapsulated within the process of yAtrA), the YAtri (who is none other than the seeker, whether s/he realises it or not) and the yAtrA itself (leading to the final surrender at the lotus feet of Lord Dharma SAsthA, which represents shedding the last vestiges of the individual identity to become one with the supreme reality). And the upa dEvatAs in this soul search are innumerable, not just in number but also in variety and the numerous ways each one makes the journey absolutely enchanting.

The 3rd aspect or dimension of the yAtrA (pilgrimage) that is better experienced than explained, was revealed to Swamy, slowly but surely, in myriad ways (some even appearing to be mystical), through first-hand experience, as the yAtrA progressed.


Before the actual yAtrA itself commenced, while the vratham (preparatory sAdhanA for a mandalam) was in progress, Swamy’s Upa Guru (UG, from now on) told him something that captured the purpose of the yAtrA beautifully. The essence of that is (not necessarily verbatim),

“You can choose to be a driver or passenger in this yAtrA. You’ll see both types in this yAtrA (or any yAtrA for that matter). Neither is right or wrong. You get to be a driver, if you do sEvA (service, of any kind). The more sEvA you do, the more wonderful your yAtrA (experience) will be. It’s your choice, of course.”

In any journey, the passengers perform just what’s necessary for their journey. Exactly as they do while traveling from one place to another, during any time of the year. For many, it could well be the umpteenth journey, as a passenger. Mostly passive and occasionally active – in their areas of interest or zones of comfort – they chose to go with the flow. They too get to complete the journey, aiding its progress in doing a thing or two that they feel is sufficient. May be they don’t think the yAtrA as something very different from their daily routine, when one is usually served things, all through the day, without being expected to serve. 


It’s hard to read what goes on in a person’s mind, which has a way of its own. The passengers simply chose to ride along with this particular group and their ride probably wouldn’t be any different if it’s with any other group. From their perspective, may be it’s the right thing (or way, rather) to do – not hindering the progress by simply remaining a passenger. In any case, sEvA has to be offered by oneself and can’t be demanded from anyone.

The drivers perform what’s essential for the journey itself – not just theirs, irrespective of however many times they too have done it before. Right from purchasing to packing / unpacking / repacking to booking tickets to planning the itinerary to preparing food to performing pujAs to ensuring adherence to well-defined rituals to guiding the yAtris on well-practiced but hardly predictable treks to caring for every individual’s well-being to cleaning to leading teams to offering insights to what not… they’re the silent ones that keep the yAtra chugging along, as merrily as possible, while being a yAtri as well.


Swamy too had been a passenger before, in the life-altering yAtrA to the abode of Lord HariHaraSudhan’s illustrious father, the YakshaswarUpA who transmitted the ways and methods of liberation to the Saptharishis as Adi Guru (first Master) DakshiNamUrthy, i.e. KailAsh-MAnasarOvar, in 2013, when he first met his UG, who seemed to be everywhere, doing a multitude of things, all along the yAtrA.

But not being a stranger to volunteering – thanks to his many years with his Master Sadhguru’s magnificent spiritual organization called Isha Foundation, whose phenomenal global growth is rooted in volunteering – Swamy kept an open mind to what(ever) he could perform, in terms of sEvA, during this yAtrA. And the opportunities kept presenting themselves, sometimes one after another and at times without a break to even catch a breath or two.

May be it’s time for Swamy to follow his UG’s footsteps this time, being a part of the bus that aids the journey’s progress, in whatever little way he can. In hindsight, it appears that’s how the Lord has destined it to be – even if it’s just his maiden yAtrA to the powerful hill shrine of the PandaLa RAjakumAran, with limited knowledge of the yAtrA itself and pretty much no knowledge about what needs to be done during it.

The early signs of how the yAtrA would pan out could be seen at the very moment Swamy boarded the yAtrA bus that’ll take them from base camp at KalpAthi (near PalghAt), after the Irumudi ceremony (the most critical mandatory step for any yAtri, before the ascent begins) happened. Having done his bit at unpacking & repacking location-wise materials and a little bit of alankAram (floral decoration, which he immensely enjoys doing at DEvi Linga Bhairavi’s shrine in his humble abode) for the ceremony, Swamy boarded the bus after the customary coconut breaking in front Lord VignEswarA,  later that night, and faced a sea of strangers who have already occupied the many rows of seats with saha-yAtris who they’re already familiar with. May be they’ve been occupying those seats for several years, who knows.


None of them appeared too keen on befriending the strange looking KanniSwamy (Swamy’s appearance – an elderly looking man in saffron dhoti with a flowing white beard, which is invariably perceived as that of a seasoned SabarimalA veteran, if not a Guru Swamy, will lead to many hilarious situations, all through the journey :D, proving the age-old dictum that appearances can indeed be deceptive). Slowly making his way past all the rows of seats, he ended up in the very last row, where too there seemed to be no place for the new comer. As he can’t go any further (without breaking the rear window), Swamy made a little space in that seat where a few bags too were seated (the patented Indian way of reserving seats 😉 and sat down on that last row – notorious for guaranteeing a j/bumpy ride to any occupant, anywhere – expecting to be told by someone that that seat too was taken.

But his fear of standing through the journey was unfound (ah, the games that the devious mind loves to play ;), as a friendly gentleman who came minutes later, took off the bags that were on the seat, placed them on the floor and sat down at the corner, next to Swamy. He then let out a hoarse cry “bOlE bAbA,” that got an enthusiastic response “pAr karEgA” from many yAtris, followed by “TrishUl dhAri”, with an equally enthusiastic response of “pAr karEgA” from many.


In that moment – especially when he heard the name of AdiyOgi Lord ShivA – Swamy intuitively knew he was in good / right company. 80% of that last row occupants happened to be drivers in the yAtrA (there’s no escaping the 80-20 rule, even in the last row of a bus full of yAtris headed for an annual pilgrimage), i.e. full-time volunteers who were always in the thick of the action, not necessarily in the forefront but in the rear ranks that keeps fueling the yAtrA forward, making it easier for Swamy to get his hands dirty with sEvA, quite literally.

And at least one of them (obviously the remaining 20% part of the 80-20) was exceptionally silent, throughout the journey, something a serious seeker like Swamy immensely enjoys, even when he’s in the urban steel and concrete jungle that we hilariously call home. In short, Swamy felt at home in that last row, being exactly where he really belonged.

Just being open to possibilities led to Swamy getting a multitude of opportunities to perform different kinds of sEvA, all through the yAtrA. There were some he chose to be part of (sometimes simply to avoid getting embroiled in small talk going on in all directions) and quite a few where he was called to perform a specific task (and was kindly instructed how to go about it). As time passed (or paused, as it seemed – especially since there were no phones or calendars to check date and time), Swamy’s very first yAtrA to the abode of Lord YOga SAsthA simply went into autopilot mode, with even the miniscule contributions of his towards the many aspects of the yAtra driving his steps forward. One small step after another. All the way to the Lord’s sannidhAnam. Where the Lord who is always depicted as a child or youth gave darshan to Swamy as a yOgi with a beard!


… (at least) 15 more steps to be climbed…


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 

You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

18 Steps to Emancipation | Step 2 ~ Past in the Present!

22 Jan

18 Steps to Emancipation! ~ Swamys first SabarimalA yAtrA experience (January 2017)

Step 2 ~ Past in the Present

You may climb Step 1 ~ End or Beginning! here… 

Swamy consciously avoids dwelling in the past and speculating the future, trying to remain rooted in the present moment instead, following his Master Sadhgurus powerful saying This moment is inevitable. But as he sat on the wooden platform inside the viri (place of stay – there will be many all along the route to the holy shrine, while this one was specifically assigned to the group that Swamy belonged to) at SabarimalA, baked by the boiling sun, he couldnt help going back to how and when it all started.

When Swamy went to the Pancha BhUta Sthala* yAtrA with his UpaGuru^^ last year, there were many interesting conversations. During one of them, Swamy casually mentioned that he had never been to SabarimalA. Being a veteran of SabarimalA yAtrA (apart from many other such yAtrAs, needless to say), his Upa Guru immediately offered to take him along the next time. He promptly pinged Swamy in November 2016 and informed that he has to start the one mandalam Vratham (sAdhanA, to be observed by all yAtris to SabarimalA). Few other instructions and guidelines followed and on November 16, 2016, Swamy took the baby steps for his maiden yAtrA to the holy shrine of SabarimalA, which culminated in the darshan of the Lord of the Five Hills (AindhumalaivAsan) on January 15, 2017.

Though Swamy had witnessed the spectacle of grand pUjAs performed to Lord AyyappA at his maternal grandparents home in Madurai, while he was still in primary school (two of his maternal uncles have been regularly going to SabarimalA at that time, via the longer Periya PAdhai, as part of the famous Neelakanda Ayyappan group from Madurai), the thought of going there has never occurred to him. Later, one of his younger brothers also went a few time and even his father too undertook the yAtrA once. That makes it abundantly clear that SabarimalA yAtrA is more a calling of the Lord than a person’s choice. And the Lord must have decided that Swamy was ready only when he was 46 years old and completely free of survival related pressures.

The twice daily pUjA (floral offering while chanting the AshtOthram or 108 names of the Lord), followed by SharaNam (a series of 21 chants thats unique to the Lord, who is also known as SharaNa GOshappriyan, followed by prostrating on the floor, after each chant), NaivEdhyam (of a simple sweet liquid called PAnakham) and Aarthi (performed with Karpooram / camphor) happened beautifully without a break. Almost on all days, the Lord was also decorated with flowers. All austerities (that aren’t too different from the YamA & NiyamAs in the scriptures) to be followed along with the daily rituals were also adhered to, as prescribed.

Being a seeker on the spiritual path for a while now, guided by the boundless Grace of his Master Sadhguru, performing a sAdhanA for a mandalam or adhering to specific food consumption guidelines were a no brainer for Swamy (pretty much a given for any and every spiritual sAdhanA, which keep coming one after the other, year after year). But all that didn’t offer even a hint as to what the yAtrA itself would be like, which was both progressively exciting and excruciating, as the days rolled by.

Swamy was brought back to the present moment by a little bit of commotion within the viri. One of the Guru Swamys (referred to as GM from now on, for easy reference), a revered SabarimalA veteran of several decades, has just arrived, after having darshan of the Lord. Even before he rested after the long day out in the blazing sun, he was seen enquiring about the other Guru Swamy of the group (referred to as GJ from now on, for easy reference), who hasnt yet made it to the viri. He was also in the company of two more elderly veterans, which made the situation a bit worrisome, considering their physical wellbeing. So, it was time to find why was he delayed and where he was now.

Like any Guru Swamy who takes special care of the Kanni Swamys (first timers or rookies in the group), GM took Swamy along in his search of GJ, in the company of Swamy’s yAtrA Guru (leader of the smaller team of yAtris that Swamy was part of). Though they didnt succeed in locating GJ, Swamy ended up seeing the procession of MALigappuram^ DEvi, who was headed towards the Lords shrine to seek his hand in marriage, and also the spectacular procession of the AlanguLam** group, whose historic significance goes all the way back to when Lord AyyappA waged war against UdhayaNan, to reconstruct and restore the glory of the magnificent temple of Dharma SAsthA at Sabaripeetam. Though the 18 Steps can be climbed only once, and only by those yAtris with Irumudi, Swamy wished to at least see and bow down to it once more. That wish too was granted by GM, during the search for GJ. After returning to the viri, they found GJ seated there, obviously exhausted and not too thrilled at being left behind, though the graceful Lord ensured he too had his darshan by then.

As Swamy sat there wondering what’s next, his sexagenarian companion (a very busy wiry thin man, who was always on the move, defying his advanced age, pretty much always helping someone or other – especially the rookies, without expecting anything in return – a perfect portrait of Karma YOgi) transpired out of nowhere and offered to take him to the place of annadhAnam (good quality food offered free to all yAtris, all through the day, until the closure of the shrine at the conclusion of the mandalam) and then for another darshan of the Lord.

As the sun continued on his daily trip from east to west, the Lord would continue to shower his Grace on Swamy, with one enchanting darshan after another – 4 in all by the end of the day, each different from the previous one, and 5 in total before the descent began the next day. What more could Swamy – a staunch devotee of AdiYOgi Lord ShivA, not unlike any seeker on the yOgic path – ask for, as the number of darshans he had perfectly aligned with the PanchAkshara mUla mantrA of his blissed out Lord, the magnificent Lord of the Cosmic Dance, the first yOgi or AdiYOgi and first Guru or Adi Guru in the form of DakshiNAmurthy, the only PurushA and the father of all beings in creation, including Lord Sabarigireesan.

Hara Hara MahAdEvA!

*Pancha BhUta SthalAs are five significant shrines of Lord ShivA (& Devi Shakthi, of course), specifically consecrated to enhance (or moderate – depending on the yAtris disposition) that particular BhUtAs (elements – Agni / Fire, Jal or Appu / Water, VAyu / Air or Wind, Prithvi / Land or Earth and AkAsh / Space) attribute. By performing specific rituals / processes at each SthalA, one can observe / experience changes, both internally and externally. The sthalAs / temples are as follows:

VAyu sthalam (wind) ~ SriKALahasthi (KALathinhAdhar or KALahasthEswarar and GnAnaprasUnAmbikai amman), which is also known for RAhu-KEthu dOsha nivAraNam (relief) and the place where hunter-saint KaNNappar received the Lord’s Grace through his raw expression of pure bakthi (devotion). 

Prithvi sthalam (earth) ~ KAnchipuram (EkAmbaranhAdhar or EkAmbarEswarar and KAmAkshi amman, who is worshipped in a separate shrine), popularly known as the temple city that literally overflows with hundreds of temples.

Agni sthalam (fire) ~ ThiruvaNNAmalai (ANNAmalaiyAr and UNNAmulai amman). Also popular as the place from where BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi showered his grace for many decades, after his self-realisation, and guided scores of seekers thru the path of GnAna yOgA.

AkAsha sthalam (space) ~ Chidhambaram (SabApathy or NatarAjar and SivagAmi or SivakAmasundari amman). This is also one of the Nadana Sabhais (courts or halls of dance) of the dancing Lord, known as Ponnambalam or Golden SabhAi. Also considered the spiritual center of the universe, where the Lord eternally performs the cosmic dance of Anandha ThANdavA (dance of bliss).

Jala or Appu sthalam ~ ThiruvAnaikkAval (JambhukEswarar and AkhilANdEswari amman), near Srirangam, where the popular Dhivya DEsam of Lord MahAvishNu is also located. There is also a shrine for Sadhguru Sri BrahmA (Sadhguru in his previous birth), where he was in SamAdhi, buried in the earth, for a mandalam. Swamy’s small group of yAtris, led by his UpaGuru, were fortunate to conclude their Pancha BhUta Sthala yAtrA in Sadhguru’s shrine.  

^When UdhayaNan attacked the Lord while he was in meditation, MALigappuram DEvi, who was held captive by him, is said to have given her own life by taking the blow of the weapon . She wished to be married to him, but as a brahmachAri and yOgi, the Lord politely declined but assured her that he would indeed marry her, in the year when no new yAtri (Kanni Swamy) visits his shrine. Nurturing that hope, she visits the Lord’s shrine in an impressive procession (used to be on elephants, with regal decorations) every year, but she would eventually return to her abode, sadly disappointed, upon seeing the thousands of sarams / arrows placed at Sanguththi, by Kanni Swamys like Swamy, which means she wont be able to marry the Lord this year too.

**Kochu Kadutha Swamy of the AmbalappuzhA yOgam band of warriors is the one who finally slayed UdhayaNan, as Lord Ayyappan has already sat in deep meditation. Along with AmbalappuzhA yOgam, PandaLa yOgam led by Villan & Mallan and AlangAd yOgam led by VAvar formed Lord Ayyappan’s formidable army,  which earned them the special rights in SabarimalA worship. While PandaLa yOgam preserves the Lord’s ThiruvAbharaNam (ceremonial clothing, jewellery) & brings it to the shrine on the day of Makara JyOthi, AlangAd yOgam got the right to perform PEttai ThuLLal at Erumeli (a stone’s throw away from VAvar Swamy’s mosque shrine & also the right to ascend the sacred 18 steps, without the Irumudi, which is mandatory for everyone else.

^^UpaGuru is like the VP of a nation or Vice Captain of a team, in the spiritual space, a Guide with immense knowledge & Mentor with extensive experience, who is readily available – and approachable, needless to say – for a seeker who has a Guru but needs ongoing guidance and direction, for which s/he couldn’t reach out to her/is Guru for various practical reasons. 

(at least) 16 more Steps to be climbed…

~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 
You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

18 Steps to Emancipation! | Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

20 Jan

18 Steps to Emancipation! ~ Swamy’s first SabarimalA yAtrA experience (Jan 2017)

Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

The seemingly never ending march – one delicate step at a time – on the concrete pavement, came to an abrupt end in front of the 18 steep steps, adorned in glowing Gold. Looking at the fellow yAtris, Swamy also broke the coconut on his hand by throwing it against the black granite wall, beside the steps. The wiry thin sexagenarian veteran who was beside him signaled that it’s time to climb the steps. As Swamy bowed before and touched the first step with reverence, the body shook involuntarily and joy drops (aka tears of joy) started flowing. The journey to SabarimalA – Swamy’s first in his 46 years of existence in this lifetime – was about to conclude, with a few more steps, which still appeared incredulous. It’s over. Done. With the same surgically repaired knee that ascended KailAsh, Velliangiri (KailAsh of the South) and circumambulated the holy hill of ThiruvaNNAmalai. Hard to believe but absolutely certain.

Swamy climbed the 18 steps in a daze and was ushered towards the Lord, who as AbhishEgapriyan (one who loves being bathed or showered with various sacred offerings, such as Ghee, rose water, sandal, viboothi, flowers, etc), was showering his Grace nonstop during the Mandalam (40-42 days) period, on the millions of devotees from all over the world, who throng his hill shrine, after adhering to a strict vratham (sAdhanA that’s unique for the Lord) and climbing a long winding, strenuous forest route, up and down 4 different hills, to get a glimpse of the Lord for a few fleeting moments. Year after year.

As Swamy stood in front of Lord Dharma SAsthA (aka AyyappA / MaNikaNdA), there was no sense of elation. Nor was there any sense of accomplishment. The mind simply went blank and it was as if he stood in an empty void, facing the magnificent one, sitting in the unique HarivarAsanam (apparently one of the toughest AsanAs in Hatha Yoga), showing the Abhaya hasthA (one of the blessing mudrAs known as Chin MudrA) on his right arm and pointing to his lotus feet with his left (indicating surrender of the individual self / personality / identity / ego). No prayers came forth. No chants either. And in that fleeting moment, before being pushed by the police personnel (whose incredible effort ensures every single yAtri gets the darshan of the Lord without fail), Swamy noticed something different.


The Lord of the SabarimalA (literally, hill of Sabari), who is always seen as a child / teenager in pretty much all the pictures, appeared to Swamy as an elder, that too with a beard! Thinking that it must be an illusion caused by the fatigue induced by the strenuous climb up the hills, Swamy tightly closed and opened his eyes and looked at the Lord again. No, it wasn’t an illusion. He indeed had a beard. At least that’s how he was offering darshan to Swamy in that moment. He would eventually know about that form a few hours later.


With his sexagenarian partner showing the way with ease, Swamy simply went through the motion of circumambulating the few smaller shrines near or around the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Hariharasudhan (son of Hari aka MahAVishNu and HarA aka Lord ShivA) and descended to the resting place known as Viri. Upon seeing his yAtrA Guru there (another veteran of several decades, who was the leader of a smaller group of 7 or 8 yAtris that Swamy trekked with, which was one of the 5 or 6 groups that made the yAtrA together), he bowed & touched his feet, hugged him and cried uncontrollably. Collecting himself within a few moments, he sat on the wooden platform there and the mind that has just come out of the void, started w(p)ondering if this was the “End or Beginning!


to be climbed till the 18th


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 

You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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