Tag Archives: Sanyasa

Annaiyarumai ARidhal – அன்னையருமை அறிதல் ~ a special ‘exceptional’ dedication

7 Apr

Annaiyarumai ARidhal – அன்னையருமை அறிதல்

~ a special ‘exceptional’ dedication

I’ve never been someone who’ll do முகஸ்துதி anyone… on any occasion. Not my parents… better-half (she truly is)… child… family… boss… friends… political leaders… celebrities… This has ensured me being kept away from many ‘inner circles’, on purpose, pretty much all my life – in this lifetime. I’ve even missed awards at educations institutions and on-time promotions at the workplace, despite having all the necessary credentials in place. I’m now actually immune to exclusion and rejection.
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People love to pleased. That’s the norm in the society we’re part of. I’m someone who brazenly shows the middle finger to the norms of the society, while diligently remaining a law-abiding citizen and an ethical, kind (as much as it’s possible at my level) human being. I have never attempted to ‘please’ anyone, ever. And don’t see myself changing during the remaining part of this lifetime. But people haven’t gotten used to this in-your-face fact. Even those who (probably!) knew me for almost five decades now. Yep, it’s just a few more days folks… for yet another utterly pointless lifetime ‘milestone’ – a golden one at that! BAUHumbug.
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That kind of attitude hurts people. And I know it hurts. Despite the honesty of not having two faces – a fake one for the society and the real one that’s carefully masqueraded. And people remember only hurtful things. Kind things, however frequent (or infrequent) they are, don’t count. ‘Being nice’ is grossly overrated, while ‘Being kind’ is greatly underrated in this world. Aghast at seeing someone not even pretending to ‘be nice’, people carry the ‘hurtful’ load till they can’t carry it anymore, ahem, when they have to be carried away by others to you-know-where.
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Anyway, let me stop the rant here and get to the point (man, this is already four paragraphs long… when am I going to learn to write kural-long posts..!).
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Here’s a hymn (it’s different from a poem, even though it’s also a kind of poem) I’ve written sometime ago (October 2016). That was when the Dhinam Oru Pathigam hymns were flowing almost uncontrollably, racing towards the 2-ton mark, unpredictably (they’re somewhere near 240 now, as I redirected my attention to writing ArutkuRaL ~ Gnaanappaal couplets, which is at 111, so far). I’ve consciously flipped that hymn-flow switch now, so that I write hymns only when I really like to. Talk about ‘control’ – another fav topic loved by the herds in the society. Ha.. Ha.. (oops, I’m digressing once again).
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This hymn is obviously dedicated to mothers, though I would’ve never written any such thing for my own mother, not because she’s not special, but because to me that would be an attempt ‘to please’ her. But the hymn doesn’t care about my perspectives or preferences, just as the Corona virus doesn’t care about who it infects. So, it flowed from within anyway and I simply wrote it down. But when I wrote the explanation for it (that one’s always been in my ‘control’ ;), I had to pause for a moment and reflect. I simply couldn’t help it.
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The reflection flashed the images of illustrious seekers (and Spiritual Masters – needless to say) of the past such as Adi Shankaracharya, Pattinathar and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in my mind. What do all three have in common – they all performed the final rights of their mothers, despite being renunciates. A sanyasi has already given up everything – family included. All of them were sanyasis, without a doubt. Yet, they made an exception to their mothers. Adi Shankara came all the way from somewhere far in the north, all the way to the south, to perform his mother’s last rites. Pattinathar went one step ahead and sang a heart-wrenching hymn on her and performed the cremation with wet wood (or plant). Ramana Maharshi went further ahead and simply dissolved her and told everyone around him that ‘she’s gone for good!’
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Of course my mother is still reasonably healthy (thank you my Lord ‘Kudikaakkum Kumaramalayan’) and I’m just another nondescript seeker, who isn’t worthy of even dreaming about such stalwarts on the spiritual realm (despite having an awesome Guru who can simply walk into such company any day, without even trying). Wonder why then so much build-up for a mere re-publishing of a hymn (that’s as much a question to myself, as it is to you)? Because mothers are not just exceptions, but they are exceptional beings. They are the only ones who actually create Life – a brand new life – in this world, which automatically elevates them to the level of a SaguNa Brahmam, i.e. a God with form and guNaas (attributes, characteristics, quirks… you get the drift). Our problem is we’re stuck with the SaguNa part of everyone – including mother (and father as well, but which child has ever given a damn about father anyway). Mothers are human too and naturally are full of flaws like any other human being. But there’s no taking away the fact that they are special, despite their flaws. They are exceptions. Period.
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Anyway, so why am I writing such a long – obviously controversial & most likely to be debated, within the family at least – post and re-publishing this hymn on this auspicious Panguni Uththiram day? Today happens to be Swamy’s mother’s nakshatra (birth star) birthday (she doesn’t celebrate ‘english’ birthdays, btw, which I completely agree with – surprisingly). She was born on this star, a little over seven decades ago. And she absolutely deserves such a hymn to be dedicated to her.
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Not just her btw… I’m going one step ahead, despite the fact that this is me not being myself, at least for this moment, and dedicating this hymn to every single mother in my extended family – my better-half (who has always been a super-mom to my one child with two legs and the other two with four), all my sisters-in-law, every அத்தை, மாமி, சித்தி, உடன்-பிறவா-சகோதரி and other such அம்மாs that I know of. Well, having come this far from my முயலுக்கு மூணே கால் position about not pleasing anyone, come what may, why stop just there? The “Annaiyarumai ARidhal – அன்னையருமை அறிதல்” Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymn is dedicated to all mothers of this universe, including the mother of the universe Devi Parashakthi herself. Jai Mata Di!
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Hymn explanation (for those who need it, which is probably most of you):
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Dhinam Oru Padhigam – தினம் ஒரு பதிகம் ~ 138
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Annaiyarumai ARidhal – அன்னையருமை அறிதல் ~ a hymn on the magnanimous motherhood , which goes unnoticed until the end , without realising the Grace of the divine Mother, residing within any & every mother.
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Annaiyarumai ARidhal – அன்னையருமை அறிதல் (realising the value of Mother) ~ hymn explanation
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When I was within (your womb), you carried me for 10 months
After I slid out (of your womb), you hugged and kissed me and fed me with the milk from your soft breast (mother’s milk)
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In the clear light of the moon, you sang lullaby for me to fall asleep
When I played around merrily, you clapped your hands in joy and cherished
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When I was studying, you prayed for me to do well, all along
After offering another woman’s hand (in marriage) to hug / hold me, you moved aside / away
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Since my stupid mind was always focused on the thorn (the rough / sharper part of you – like harsh words)
I failed to see / realise the soft fragrant flower, where Mother Goddess UmA Devi’s magnificent kindness resides (divinity within each being – especially mother)
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As the silver hair spreads on your head, you look forlornly at the entrance and long (for me) O’ Mother
Will I realise your value only on the day of lighting the (your) funeral pyre, crying inconsolably.
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*Annaiyarumai ARidhal is a tribute to the selfless motherhood & mothers of all beings – not just humans – who are the manifestation of the divine Mother Goddess Shakthi.
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P.S.: After all this COVID-19 lockdown pressure is over and the roads open up, my first road-trip will most likely to be to see the two mothers – my biological one at Madurai and the universal Mother at the Ashram of my Master! May Grace make it happen. Shambo.
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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

30 Mar

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

~a SwamyView insight

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Lockdown Learning is a new series of articles, through which #SwamyView on all things about ‘Life, the way it is’ is shared as insights, based on Questions raised by fellow humans, either seeking to comprehend something or simply expand their knowing.
This is the first article of the series.

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Questioner: Why was Buddha not convinced with any of the existing religions at that time? He did not choose to find enlightenment through Hinduism or even Jainism. He went ahead and created his own path… What could have made him feel that other religions don’t offer? I tend to agree that he did not start his own cult for fame or personal benefits.

First of all, let’s sweep aside all the misconceptions about Gautama the Buddha (he isn’t the only Buddha btw, every Realised Master that has ever been is a Buddha). We’ll refer to the great Master as GB from now on, to conserve some screen space.

Gautama_the_Buddha1sGB didn’t start a new organised religion. And no, it wasn’t a cult either. In fact, none of the Realised Masters to whom an organised religion’s founding is attributed to, ever actually intended to seed / start a new religion. That mostly happened after their time.

Vardhamana Mahavira (also a prince and grihastha with a child, his father’s name is ‘Siddhartha’ – not known to be related to GB though) didn’t found Jainism – he is just one of the Thirthankaras (not too different from Guru or messiah or prophet) in that religion, albeit one who is revered as God incarnation by the jains.

Jesus Christ didn’t found Christianity. And why would a ‘son of God’ propagate his own path, instead of his father’s, anyway? Jesus was in fact a jew, which means his religion (by birth and practice) was Judaism. And he was persecuted and executed by the Romans, who had their own belief system, with many a God. Incidentally, many jews don’t consider Jesus – referred to as Yeshu – as a messiah, let alone son of God, in Judaism. The organised religion attributed to him was founded by his disciples / followers, who believed his teaching, and the path based on those teachings, could offer salvation to the people.

Mahavira1Whereas, later day Gurus like Arutprakasa Ramalinga Vallalar, Ayya Vaikundar and Meivazhichalai Andavar actually ended up founding their own organised belief system akin to existing religions – Samarasa Sanmarga Sangam, Ayya Vazhi and Meivazhichalai, respectively. But even their systems have their roots firmly entrenched in Sanatana Dharma, which has been the ‘way of life‘ for several millennia, in this ancient culture. Vallalar’s magnum opus Thiruvarutpa actually has many verses in praise of Lord Shiva. He is known to have worshipped and sung the Lord’s praise in Kandhakottam, a popular Murugan temple in Chennai. Post his realisation, Vallalar simplified God as ‘jyoti’ (light), perhaps with the objective of eliminating the confusion caused by the vivid imagination of various God forms by devotees.  

TeachingofBuddhaGB chose the path of sanyasa, i.e. seeking the Truth through renunciation – of all materialistic attachments and worldly connections. It’s very much a path in the ancient culture of Sanatana Dharma, even now. Having been around two-and-a-half millennia ago, he must’ve certainly tried the methods and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of that time, which must’ve included severe penance, aka தவம். But at some point in time, during his journey along the spiritual path, he realised – to his utter dismay, most likely – that none of the known processes were offering the answer to what he was looking for (we’ll get to that in a few moments).

Shri Bhagavat Ayya, a contemporary living Master (in Tamilnadu), says that contrary to popular belief, Gautama the Buddha didn’t attain enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree, but actually self-realisation happened to him when he sat under the tree in an almost despondent state, after realising that none of the sadhana he tried yielded the result he desired. This is not that different from the enlightenment experience shared by many other Gurus. Self-realisation, aka enlightenment, happens by its own volition, to/within a sadhaka. All sadhana is just preparing the sadhaka for that happening. 

GB did indeed show a different path to his followers, based on his experience of Reality. In fact, that’s exactly what any other Realised Master (Guru) too has done. Every single one of them offered a path that’s a variant of the original, where the tailoring or refinement is based on his/her own experience of realisation.

Sadhguru1For example, the core sadhana offered by Swamy’s Master Sadhguru is the Shambhavi Maha Mudra. It’s said to have originated from Adiyogi Shiva himself. Yet, Sadhguru’s version is tailored to eliminate the step(s) that will rekindle the sadhaka’s memories of past lifetimes, because most humans of this era simply aren’t ready to or capable of handling the stark facts about their past births. Sadhguru also emphasises the importance of knowing / realising the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al, or ‘Life, the way it is’ as he terms it) through intimate direct experience and not based on how the scriptures or preachers describe it, since that’s the way he himself attained self-realisation, in this lifetime.

Incidentally, GB’s teachings such as ahimsa, renunciation, non-attachment, etc. are all very much part of Sanatana Dharma as well, one way or another. For example, the ‘yama and niyama‘ of Ashtanga Yoga (they are the first two stages of the eight-stage yogic path to realisation) elucidated by Patanjali Maharishi’s Yoga Sutras are nothing but a list of dos and don’ts, in terms of virtues essential for a seeker. Similarities such as these can be found in Mahavira’s jainism teachings as well.

GB didn’t include any kind of Gods in his teaching, possibly due to two reasons. And that’s purely speculation, of course. First, he didn’t find any God helping him attain enlightenment. That probably sounds pretty trivial, but it’s also a fact that none of the trinity, nor Devi, actually appeared to offer him self-realisation or salvation. But that isn’t surprising at all, since the manifest forms, i.e. Saghuna Brahmam of creator is typically left to the seeker’s choice. There are paths to realisation, using any form of God as the Paramatma, i.e. the supreme soul, with which the jeevatma (the individual being) aspires to attain union. So, a Devi upasaka chooses the path of Devi Shakti (the path of Tantra); a Subrahmanya upasaka chooses the path of the six-faced Lord Shanmukha (the choice of Siddhars such as Boghar and Pamban Kumaragurudasa Swamigal); a Vishnu upasaka chooses the path of the preserver among the Trinity (such as the path of Bakthi, chosen by the Azhvars); and the sadhaka who considers Adiyogi Shiva as the supreme soul chooses Shaiva Sidhanta or Yoga abhyasa (not for nothing is Lord Shiva known as both Adiyogi and Adi Guru – he predates all Realised Masters in this ancient culture). Alternatively, one can choose the formless ‘unmanifest’ form, i.e. the Nirghuna Brahmam as well, if one has got the guts and iron will to choose the abstract path to realisation. Sidhartha Gautama probably chose the formless or abstract form for his meditation is my guess.

Jiddu-KrishnamurtiSecond, he realised that despite believing in various forms of Gods and performing rituals to all of them diligently, people were still suffering. So he must have decided – most likely after his enlightenment – that it’s quite possible for anyone to be liberated from suffering (not just in this lifetime, but also permanently from the birth-death cycle), without actually having to believe in a(ny) form of God. If so, that would be a truly revolutionary approach to mukti, even during his time, preached by someone who himself is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Mahavishnu. That’s like God himself telling devotees that they don’t have to believe in him, yet they can attain the ultimate state possible for human beings! In fact, a contemporary world teacher such as J Krishnamurti too has eliminated the need for a(ny) God (or Guru, for that matter), in the pursuit of realisation of the Truth. JK neither identifies himself with any religion nor likes being called a Guru, despite the fact that he most certainly is revered by millions as a Realised Master, who isn’t that different from Gautama the Buddha himself!

Also, it may be surprising to know that there are quite a few Gods, or devatas in Buddhism, especially in the Tantric variants. Tara, for example is an important Goddess in Tantric Buddhist versions such as Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra in Sanatana Dharma has always been closely associated with Shakti, i.e. the Mother Goddess, who is considered the foundation or source of creation, according to Devi Bhagavatam and Devi Mahatmiyam. It’s quite understandable as Mother remains the sole source of creation, even in this digital era (even in a family of same-sex couple of two males, none of them can actually conceive, despite one of them being called ‘wife’). Moreover, depiction of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara, the patron God or deity of Tibetan Buddhism with a thousand arms, quite possibly indicating the Sahasrara Chakra, (the opening, or blossoming rather – since it’s also referred to as the lotus with a 1000 petals – of which is an indication of self-realisation), also includes Sakhyamuni Buddha himself prominently. Oh btw, Buddhism hasn’t excluded karma either, and the reincarnation of beings due to that, unlike a few monotheistic religions. That idea has its roots in Sanatana Dharma goes without saying.

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GB is once said to have gone into a deep state of meditation – most likely Samadhi – and narrated who he is, by recalling all his past lifetimes, right from the single cell organism from which possibly all life forms in creation originated. This is in perfect alignment with the teachings of Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, which elucidate on the source of creation as a primordial energy, i.e. Nirghuna Brahmam, one without form or attributes, or the unmanifest stillness (aka Shiva – ‘that which is not’), which eventually manifested itself into all of creation, i.e. the manifest universe and the beings inhabiting its worlds. In his realised state, GB simply perceived himself as that source of creation itself, from the very beginning of creation, and all its manifestations, till himself. This is exactly what the mahavakyas from Upanishads, viz., ‘Aham Brahmasmi‘, ‘Ayam Atman Brahman‘, ‘Ta Twam Asi‘ and ‘Pragnanam Brahma‘ state. In essence, he was expounding none other than the fundamental idea of Advaita, i.e. non-duality, which itself doesn’t require any reference to a particular form of God or deity.

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So, there’s enough evidence to say convincingly that Gautama the Buddha’s findings and teachings weren’t so groundbreaking that they superceded every other religion or path that existed before. On the contrary, it’s quite easy to establish Buddhism as just another branch of the tree of Spirituality, that had been in existence long before GB came around. And that’s perhaps the primary reason why the religion whose founding is attributed to him, did not spread far and wide within Bharatavarsha itself, simply because most bharatvasis of that time must’ve been perplexed as to ‘what’s so new!‘ While he is certainly revered as a great Guru (Realised Master) in this culture, and even portrayed as one of Mahavishnu’s dasavatars (which directly links him to Sanatana Dharma), the fact remains that he is just one of the many Realised Masters who have treaded this land and guided thousands during and after their lifetime, to attain self-realisation and mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral). He just happens to be one of the popular Gurus.

Now to that part of the question regarding why he offered a different path to his followers. The primary reason for that is the fundamental problem for which he set out to find an answer. “Why is there so much suffering in this world?“, upon witnessing suffering in the forms of old age, illness, death, etc., for the first time in his life. Safely assuming that he belonged to some variant of Sanatana Dharma, before his quest to find that answer, he must’ve been familiar with the various religious practices (vedic chanting, homams or havan, elaborate rituals for various deities, learning & contemplation using scriptures, etc.). Though legend has it that his father carefully shielded him from knowing about ‘normal’ life (of human beings) and any form of scriptural learning (since it was predicted by scholars that he will become a renunciate and great teacher, at the time of his birth itself), GB was a prince after all and must’ve been part of, or at the least witnessed, many such rituals sponsored by his father. Even the epics Ramayana & Mahabharata must’ve existed in some form during his time, so he must’ve certainly been aware that even incarnations of Gods go through suffering in human form.

So when he eventually set out to know the Truth, his quest was probably not to ‘liberate’ humanity from the karmic cycle (which he may or may not have been aware of, at the beginning of his quest to realise the Truth), but to find a way to alleviate their suffering instead. Finally, post self-realisation, he concluded and proclaimed that “Attachment is the root cause of all suffering.” So his teaching was naturally tuned to eliminate attachment of all kinds, so that suffering too can be eliminated eventually. This is also why Buddhism is perceived as the path for renunciates, i.e. monks who have taken to sanyasa, choosing to renounce all worldly attachments, just as GB himself did. And it certainly seems to have worked, especially during his time (he did travel and preach his path for many decades post attaining enlightenment), when he had thousands of monks as disciples, including his own child Rahula. Incidentally Mahavira also did the same thing (walking out of a life of luxury and family of wife and child), though his path is inclusive of both sanyasa and grihasta ways of life.

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Intriguingly, the removal of attachment that is considered essential to alleviate suffering in humans, isn’t new either. If one goes back a few millennia before GB’s lifetime, to the time of the great Yogi Krishna Paramatma (an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, no less – the eighth one, preceding Gautama the Buddha), one of the most popular shlokhas of his teachings (enshrined in the eponymous Bhagavad Gita – considered the holiest of Sanatana Dharmic scriptures by many, even now) elaborates on how one must perform ‘actions’ without any attachment to either the actor or the outcome. It’s none other than the verse

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani.” 

Lord Krishna basically told Arjuna to get on with waging the war (of Mahabharata, at Kurukshetra), without being overtly concerned about the outcome. He also emphasised that not participating in the war was certainly not an option. Arjuna was hesitant to do so, since those who he had to face, and beat – most probably kill – were actually family. His decision making was obviously clouded by emotions and his subjective intellect was on overdrive, projecting a dreary future scenario, based on the vast repository of past information stored in the mind. In other words, he was ‘suffering’ due to the ‘intellectual thinking’ arising out of his mind, based on the past data, projecting a future scenario, preventing necessary action in the present. Krishna Paramatma’s way out for Arjuna’s ‘suffering‘ conundrum was to consciously ‘not getting attached to the doership and the outcome of the action.’ In essence, he told Arjuna to get rid of his attachment in order to alleviate his suffering. GB seems to have merely repackaged that teaching a bit, to suit the needs of people of his time.

In a letter to one of his disciples, Swami Vivekananda quotes the Bhagavad Gita verse and says,

‘Despair not; remember the Lord says in the Gita, “To work you have the right, but not to the result.‘ ‘To work‘ essentially means to perform an action. Actions can be performed effectively only if the actioner takes the responsibility to perform them. Both responsibility and performance are shaken when the actioner worries more about the outcome than the action. The cause for this is attachment. Objectivity requires detachment. And objectivity is essential for staying focused on the action, until completion. To put it differently, performing an action is akin to being in a state of meditation. Meditation, unsurprisingly, is one of the primary tenets of GB’s teaching as well.

1000349_10202443379629792_1133605306_n.jpgDuring his lifetime, GB’s followers seem to have comprised predominantly of monks (of both predominant genders), who have renounced material life and chose the path of sanyasa. This is known as the Sanga, one of the primary tenets of GB’s 3-fold teachings (the other two are Buddha and Dhamma). He is said to have had thousands of disciple monks around him, many of whom are said to have attained enlightenment as well.

Sanyasa isn’t an easy path to choose, yet it is very much present as a choice in Sanatana Dharma as well. Post the Brahmacharya stage, one can choose to be a Grihastha (life of householder) or Sanyasa (life of renunciate). Alternatively, even those who choose to be a Grihastha, can later choose Sanyasa, after completing their Grihastha duties and going through Vanaprastha. Therein also lies the clue to why GB’s path didn’t find many grihastha followers in Bharatavarsha. Interestingly, there have been many Gurus in this ancient culture who remained Grihasthas, even after their enlightenment, and continued to teach and guide seekers.

Lockdown_Migrants1Today, during the nationwide lockdown enforced to protect the masses from getting infected by the deadly virus pandemic known as COVID-19, we come across many a news article or visual crying out loud about thousands of migrant workers walking or transported back to their hometown, highlighting their misery and suffering all along. It’s quite obvious that they endure a lot of suffering during their existence – not just during pandemics or natural calamities. Yet, a significant portion of such poor population hold dearly on to their ancient belief system, passed on through many generations, i.e. Sanatana Dharma in one form or another, and not willingly shift en masse’ to a different faith such as Buddhism (for example), which was founded from the quest of a great Master who set out to find the cause of such suffering and alleviate it. It’s a fact that they do find solace in their favourite form of God and trust their faith to survive their existence filled with one form of suffering after another. One need to only witness the millions (literally!) of padayatris who walk hundreds of kilometres, year after year, to Rishikesh and Gangotri, chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev‘ fervently, to comprehend the sheer power of their belief.

Have GB’s teachings eradicated suffering from the world? Obviously not.

Were there not such teachings aimed at alleviating the suffering of people, either before or after the Buddha’s existence? Of course there were many – by many a Realised Master, not too different from GB himself (though many may not be that well known – limited to a certain region or even a particular place).

The reason why so many belief systems and paths of seeking coexist only in this nation is that all of them lead the seeker (or believer) to the realisation of the same / singular Truth (about the Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation (from the suffering of repetitive birth-death survival spiral). Gautama the Buddha’s path and preaching were based on his own quest (to find a way to eradicate suffering) and ways of attainment (renunciation, meditation, etc). So are all the paths that were and still are in existence. Each Master teaches differently, yet they all guide their followers – seekers and believers alike – towards the same end state, that of realisation and liberation. That hasn’t changed for several millennia that have come and gone, and isn’t expected to change for several more to come. Teachers come and go, but their teachings continue to resonate with newer generations of seekers and followers. That’s why Gautama the Buddha is as relevant today as he was two-and-a-half millennia ago. Yet, the suffering that he tried to alleviate still pervades all sections of humanity even today, for which he (or any other Master, for that matter) can’t be held responsible.

Before we conclude this learning, two incidents in GB’s life are worth recalling, in order to truly comprehend this long-form response.

Buddha_and_Widow_taleThe first is a famous, oft-quoted, tale of a widow who requested GB to bring her only child back to life. Buddha, the ever-compassionate yet pragmatic realist, told her it can be done, adding an ‘if’ clause. He told her “If you can fetch a handful of grain (till or something similar) from at least one family in this village/town, which hadn’t seen any death whatsoever, and bring it to me, your child shall be brought back to life.” That poor grief-stricken woman went around, from door to door, seeking a handful of grain, but was left empty handed by the end of her seeking. For, there was not a single household in that place (or anywhere else, for that matter) that hasn’t seen death of a beloved member of the family. Everybody dies. And everyone connected to them grieves. That’s the harsh reality of existence. The woman realised that and became a disciple – monk, of course – of GB himself. This tale highlights one noteworthy aspect of the great teacher – his teaching was direct, bereft of any hard-to-comprehend fantastic expositions of Truth (typical of scriptures, puranas and ithihasas), and based on direct perception / experience of reality. That’s the primary reason it was so effective.

Buddha_first_sermonThe second, less known tale, has been shared by Sri M, a contemporary living Master, of the Nath yogi order (founder of ‘The Sathsang Foundation’). In his autobiography (two volumes titled ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master’ & ‘The Journey Continues’ – highly recommended, even for non-seekers), while recalling his many past lifetimes, Sri M narrates his experience of being in the presence of Gautama the Buddha. This happens during GB’s now-famous first sermon at Saranath, when the world was about to hear from the new Realised Master, for the very first time. Sri M in that lifetime belonged to a lower caste and GB passes through his place. Sri M offers him water, which GB accepts and drinks. Then he invites Sri M to be part of his sermon. Sri M, being a lower caste person, sits away from the crowd of curious people who assembled for the sermon, and listens to the Master. The crowd for the epic first sermon of the Buddha was less than twenty people or so, apparently. And Sri M says, in all his lifetimes (which includes him being part of the epic Mahabharata battle at Kurukshetra, witnessing the great Yogi Lord Krishna himself in action, as a woman then) he has never seen a being that was as compassion personified as Gautama the Buddha, the great Master who taught his path to less than two dozen people in his first sermon. Swamy had tears rolling down his eyes, involuntarily of course, while reading this passage in that book. But GB certainly fared better than Adiyogi, who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy, had just 7 sages to transmit his teachings, which is the firm foundation of all spiritual seeking, till date. Yet, look at how much Adiyogi is revered, worshipped and fervently followed even now. Size doesn’t matter, after all, certainly not in the spiritual realm!

So, in conclusion (at last..;), there’s no question that Gautama the Buddha is one of the greatest Gurus (Realised Masters) of this ancient culture. The fact that his teachings still prevail is proof enough for their effectiveness. But there’s no denying the fact that his teaching, and thereby the path which is based on his teachings, have their roots in Sanatana Dharma. Just as there are many tributaries to the mighty Ganga Maa, there have always been many spiritual paths / organised belief systems that branched away from Sanatana Dharma. The beauty of this culture is its acceptance of all such tributaries as well, alongside the eternal mother river. That’s why teachers such as Gautama the Buddha and Mahavira were neither persecuted nor prosecuted here, but accepted and revered as a Gurus, and had scores of disciples who chose to follow their paths and put their teachings to practice. That in essence is the greatest aspect of our culture, highlighted in the saying ‘unity in diversity!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Template living vs Life template!

1 May

Template living vs Life template!

One of the SwamyPals (a motley group of humans who have studied along / worked with or for / acquainted Swamy during this lifetime and for some unfathomable strange reason chose to remain connected with him, via an exclusive WhatsApp group) recently shared an article on the mid-life crisis faced by people. It’s one of those plethora of well-articulated, number list articles that can be sighted all over the www, which usually ends with an elegant invite to buy the article author’s book (how come even nondescript authors publish only best-sellers!) or sign-up for a signature training program that guarantees to change your Life, just like a million other lives or subscribe to his/er YouTube channel or at least follow on Twitter

1474812015120The problem with such articles – typically by western thinkers, philosophers, preachers (did ya know many popular leadership pundits / authors / trainers are preachers belonging to the multitude of congregations of Christian faith), trainers, pundits, et al – is that they’re always focused on templatizing humans, who are so diverse as a species that it’s utterly pointless to fit them into a template, for pretty much anything. Anyone who has gone through or have / know children going through formal education knows how horribly this templatization has gone askew. 

And the silly beings with an extra 6th sense that humans are, we invariably fall for such so-called deeper insights into the human psyche, supported by reams of research data or colourful Infographics from bigdata, and sign up gleefully for human software upgrade programs (it’s the Matrix, stupid!), generously offered as training modules by corporates – especially to the mid-lifers, i.e. Damagers, err.. Managers aka Supervisors, to ensure they never manage to get out of the BAUHumbug Template Living.

IMG_20161221_083334In the once-great culture of SanAthana Dharma (which, thankfully, is seeing a welcome revival), every aspect of living has been observed, analysed, contemplated and codified, to enable not only better living for all but also to remain undistracted from worthy pursuits of Life, while living vibrantly.

The SanAthana DharmA Life Template is so well crafted that it’s well nigh impossible to get caught in ridiculous things like early, late or mid-life crisis, if one is sensible enough to comprehend the purpose (context) of Life and apply the processes (content) of living. 

The human lifetime is practically divided into stages known as AshramA, each comprising of 24 years, which can further be divided into 12-year phases to enable a seamless transition from one stage to another.

Stage 1: 0-24 years ~ Brahmacharya AshramA 

~ the learning / student stage 

Swamily_PP10-12 ~ BAla ParvA or BrahmacharyA phase 1 – be a child – play, explore, be curious, learn using the senses, question everything, etc (mostly denied to all children, in this supposedly modern age, filled with a plethora of tools and technologies).

The UpaNayanam is an important event performed during this period to bring not only discipline in living (daily austerities to be performed, such as SanthyAvandhanam) but also to initiate the inward focus (through chanting of slOkAs, singing prayers and dancing, i.e. using devotion as a tool) at such a young age itself.

Formal education may also start at this stage, depending on the ability of the child and readiness of parents to actively support it.

12-24 ~ BrahmacharyA phase 2 – Learn life skills and ancient wisdom offered by the scriptures, under the tutelage of a respected Guru, in the Gurukulam (the present day schools don’t teach life skills & the boarding school is light years apart from the sacred learning space of Gurukulam), covering both physical (Hatha YogA, KaLari, sports, service to Guru, etc) and mental faculties (prANAyAmA, Mantra JapA, dhAranA, etc). Opportunities to practice the skills and earn (primarily to offer Guru DakshiNA) were also offered, to enable the transition to family life.

Swamily_PP2The focus of this stage is on DharmA (righteousness, ethics, values) & MOkshA (spirituality, awareness and practice of ways to attaining self-realisation). Artha (material aspects such as wealth) & KAmA (emotional aspects including sex) are kept aside through diligent practice of austerities and celibacy (where the current generation of students stand on those two is better left unsaid). 

At the point of transition to the next stage, the individual is offered a choice to either become a GrihasthA (housholder) or SanyAsi (ascetic). Nobody is ever forced to choose either option and the individual’s choice is respected and supported. 

Stage 2: 24-48 years ~ Grihastha AshramA 

~ the family / housholder stage

24-36 ~ GrihasthA phase 1 – get married (this could happen in the previous phase too, for specific reasons), work or offer services using the skills acquired for a living, raise a family, practice austerities prescribed in the scriptures, sustain spiritual practices.(though the work part happens today as well, there’s no appropriate application of life skills, because none are taught. Married life too is in tatters, because there’s no practice of austerities, which are designed to keep one grounded, truthful, thankful, empathetic and humble).

Swamily_PP5PANigrahanam or KannikAdhAnam aka marriage / wedding is a key ceremony at this stage, followed by the ceremonies to celebrate various stages of family life such as pregnancy (Seemandham), child birth (PunyAhavAchanam), first anniversary of the child (Ayushhomam), etc.

Nuclear families or community living was encouraged to ensure a sense of belonging by offering required help and guidance to each other, utilising skills and knowledge and sharing material wealth.

The focus is on DharmA (through lawful citizenship and rightful delivery of services), Artha (essential to make a living), KAmA (essential to start & raise family) & MOkshA (performing daily and Thithi specific austerities and continuing spiritual practices).

36-48 ~ GrihasthA phase 2 – mentor / guide children, who by now will be already in the Gurukulam or getting ready to learn about Life, share knowledge acquired (though experience) and wisdom gained (through ongoing learning and contemplation) with others, take care of elders (who will be in the later part of Stage 3 or earlier part of Stage 4 by now),

Swamy_PP1The focus is on Dharma (not wavering from righteousness), Artha (to serve others), KAmA (to be compassionate) & MOkshA (preparation for self-realisation).

Serving others – in whatever way one can – is emphasised during this phase. Service can be offered using limbs (Karma yOgA – selfless action), mind (GnAna yOgA – opinionless contemplation), heart (Bakthi yOgA – egoless devotion) or energy (KriyA yOgA – lossless transformation). This is primarily to prepare oneself to let go of everything else.

Stage 3: 48-72 years ~ VAnaprastha AshramA 

~ the knowing / seeker stage

48-60 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 1 – pilgrimage to holy places, reading scriptures & listening to spiritual discourses, contemplation on the true purpose of Life (based on knowledge acquired and interpretation of scriptures), seeking the guidance of a Guru / Realised Master (for attaining self-realisation), serving the Guru, effectively utilising the experience to offer help / guidance / service to anyone in need, practice detachment from all attachments of Stage 2.

Swamily_PP7The focus is on DharmA & MOkshA. At the end of phase 1, the ceremony of Shastiapthapoorthy (60th anniversary of existence) is conducted, celebrating the lives of two individuals spent together as GrihasthAs and preparing / prepared to pursue the spiritual path to liberation / mukthi.

60-72 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 2 – Officially an elder now, one can continue to guide the expanded family by remaining a part of it (detached from the Artha and KAmA parts, obviously) and offer service to others, while remaining surrendered at the feet of the Master, to continue the progress along the spiritual path.

Alternatively, one can leave the household and become a member of the Guru’s Ashram or any active spiritual organisation – either as a resident (GrihasthA without material & emotional attachments) or as a renunciate (mendicant and full-time sAdhakA / practitioner of sAdhanAs in pursuit of Truth).

The focus is on DharmA and MOkshA with a judicious mix of all four paths – KarmA or action (seva / service), Bakthi or emotion (devotional practices), GnAnA or wisdom (tapping into intelligence by keeping aside the intellect) and KriyA / energy (inward journey & exploration).

Stage 4: 72-whenever ~ SanyAsa AshramA ~ the renunciate / self-realisation stage

This is practically the realm of ShivA… the supreme being… the omnipresent divinity known as the Parabrahmam.

In an ideal case, if one has passed through the previous 3 stages in the right way, then there won’t be anymore self or I or ego left.

Swamy_PP10Living is a joyful vibrant existence, moving from one moment to another, with utmost ease.

The physical and mental faculties are useful only for serving others.

Material aspects such as name, lineage, fame, social status, wealth all remain immaterial.

‘I am not the body, I am not even the mind’ awareness keeps identity facades away. 

Guru is experienced as ShivA, a magnificent presence, not person.

Guru’s place is the holiest of places, for the rest of living time.

Guru’s words are the only scriptures to be referred, shared and cherished.

Contemplation is only to realise the self and attain liberation.

Devotion is towards all beings, offered in the form of absolutely selfless service, using KarmA, Bakthi, GnAnA and KriyA seamlessly.

Silence is  the most preferred way of communication.

Being still is the most important sAdhanA.

If one lives like that, at this stage or even earlier, the creator will have no other choice but to descend and liberate the self. That’s the proven – time and again – outcome of the Life template

It has happened to innumerable number of beings in BhArat and it is a possibility, even to you and me, even in these modern template living times. 

facebook_1409910586On the other hand, 

Having sailed through mindless rote learning during BrahmacharyA… 

Having performed routine tasks and read & believed innumerable number list articles during GrihasthA…

Having indulged in more material pursuits during VAnaprasthA and getting further entangled with one more generation of progeny…

One may just be peering out of the barricaded window of an upscale old age home or a high-rise apartment where the neighbour remains a stranger… 

Still enjoying all material comforts that money can buy, pretending to be connected with the fellow senior citizens also living there, counting the number of days that have gone by after the last telephone call or email or WhatsApp chat of one’s child/ren, who is/are now a proud citizen/s of some other nation, where more such dime a dozen number list articles continue to be published.

Still remaining nostalgic about glories of a long gone past…

Still religiously visiting temples and praying for salvation…

Still reminiscing about the power and status one possessed once-upon-a-time…

Still debating the state of secularism in the world’s largest democracy…

Still complaining about the quality of food, compared to what one used to relish during the haydays…

Still yakking endlessly about countless mundane things…

Still getting religion and spirituality mixed up and confusing others too…

Still thinking one knows pretty much everything there is to know…

Still striving to live up to someone else’s expectations…

Still trying hard to be like someone else…

Still remaining ignorant about the real purpose of Life…

Still inching towards the inevitable death – only to be born again to continue carrying the burden of the humongous load of one’s own KarmA… and, in all probability… 

Still reading one more number list article by an intellectual about… whatever!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #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.

 

 

3

7 Apr

Life spans 3 stages. Actually 4 – Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa. But in the present day social context, it is better to keep last one aside and focus only on the remaining 3.

During Brahmacharya one studies. Play, Pre-Kg, Kindergarten, Primary, High & Higher secondary school, Diploma, Graduate & Post graduate college, Doctorate, Certification all are focused on studying. Well, maybe not diploma & doctorate, but other than that everything else pretty much is. Typically 20% of the lifespan, this is Life’s first act.

During Grihastha one learns. To work, earn, love, wed, procreate, grow, buy, build, switch jobs & career, plan kids’ education, welfare and retire. Learning happens when information accumulated while studying is applied. Application augments knowledge. Knowledge makes one wiser or wicked. Everyone has a chance to go from an unknown student to a well known learned person with an aura. About 60% of one’s life is spent around career & family, in Life’s second act.

During Vanaprastha one reflects. One is expected to explore Life away from career and family, beyond the self, to get ready for Sanyasa. Alone or with life partner. It is a pilgrimage that will get one ready to renounce, everything that was something, until then. This is the last 20% of one’s Life, the third – and possibly final – act, for most.

Cup of Life is either half full or half empty. And before you know, Present is Past in Future! During Life’s 3 acts, one must

  • Grow from curious to glorious to wise. But failing to learn will lead to dependency, mediocrity & blame. Arjuna learned, while others just studied – under the same Guru.
  • Mature from beginner to practitioner to specialist. But failing to apply will lead to preaching, boasting & stagnation. Sachin, Anand & Paes applied, scaled their sports’ Everest and shine as inimitable stars.
  • Expand from I to We to All. But failing to go beyond I will result in a bloated ego, clogged mind & insufferable pain. Living for all is not limited to Sadhguru, Medecins Sans Frontieres or Vidyasagar.

Life, well lived, should get 3 cheers and not jeers. 1 Life. 3 Acts. Start, Live and Conclude it well!

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