Tag Archives: Shiva

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

20 Jul

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

~a Swamusings post by @PrakashSwamy

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Recently someone pinged Swamy and asked… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamystery | SwamyQuote | உயிர்மெய் | Swamy on Facebook & Twitter

Wellknown… Unknowns..! ~ AruNAchala Tales #0

25 Jun

Wellknown… Unknowns..!

AruNAchala Tales #0

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

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Ask anyone who had either been to AruNAchala or knows someone who had, about AruNAchala, and they will unfailingly tell you an enchanting tale or two about the Adiyogi & Adi Guru Lord ShivA himself who is worshipped there as AruNAchalEswarar, BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi (the great Realised Master of the GnAna yoga path needs no introduction either), Saint-Poet ArunagirinAdhar (the famed Saint-Poet who is associated with the illustrious warrior son of Lord ShivA, who is celebrated in this part of the world as தமிழ்க் கடவுள், i.e. the God of Tamil people), siddhars like IdaikkAdar and SEshAdri Swamigal, devotees like AmmaNi AmmAL, Realised Beings & Masters like Yogi Ramsurathkumar aka விசிறி சாமியார் (the saint with the handheld fan), about the holy hill itself and seemingly miraculous experiences that keep happening to those who undertake the Girivalam (circumambulation of the holy hill), diligently with piety. But there are amazing facts about this ancient holy space that even a dyed-in-the-wool Shiva bakthA may not know. So, here goes the “AruNAchala Tales”…
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ArunAchala Tales #0

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

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

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

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

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

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Moral of the story…

  • Be humble and truthful, in order to be receptive to Grace
  • Lying is easy but the consequences will be unimaginably hard
  • Intellectual (acquired / accumulated) knowledge is grossly overrated. Acceptance of “I don’t know” is the beginning of really knowing the Truth
  • And last but certainly not the least ~ don’t even think about messing with the all-knowing, omnipresent and omnipotent almighty ShivA, ever!
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The symbolic representation of this ancient event can be found in pretty much all ShivA temples, right behind the garbhagrihA, in the form of LingOdhbhavar (லிங்கோத்பவர்). In a few temples – including AruNAchala – a form of Lord VishNu (VenugOpAla Swamy in ThiruvaNNAmalai) can be found facing LingOdhbhavar.

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

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~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Wellknown… Unknowns..! ~ AruNAchala Tales #0

25 Jun

Wellknown… Unknowns..!

AruNAchala Tales #0

.

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

.

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

ArunAchala Tales #0

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

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

Moral of the story…

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

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

.

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

.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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

2 Mar
What’s In A 1000 Names!

~ musings on Sahasranamam (LalithA & VishNu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

The Idea of Belief!

30 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

19 Jul

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

In the mountain abode of the Lord of Gods!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The experience would quite literally show Swamy that 

அரியும் அரனும் ஒண்ணு, அதை

அறியாதவர் வாயில மண்ணு!”

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

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

… next in GangA Nhadhi DheerEy … 

“Step 1 ~ DEvi delays Swamy’s yAtrA!”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

🙏👣😌🙌🌻

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

Dhinam Oru Padhigam – The Big Ws!

18 Mar

Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ the Big Ws!

Both for regular readers and occasionally curious (+ new) browsers, Dhinam Oru Padhigam (தினம் ஒரு பதிகம்) hymns remain an enchanting enigma. That includes the SwamyPals (there’s a WhatsApp group for this tribe who have either studied, worked, volunteered or interacted with Swamy at some point in this lifetime and got acquainted to this intriguing being and for whatever baffling reason want to remain connected with him – the group is administered by Swamy himself and new members are included from time to time) & relatives who have known Swamy long enough to know his dabbling with poetry (one of his many varied pursuits, none of which are pursued for economical purpose) in both Thamizh (தமிழ்) & English.

First of all, Swamy doesn’t sit down in a particular place, at a particular time of the day, to write any of these hymns. ✍️ He isn’t a professional Writer (or published Author, for that matter, at least not yet, except for twice, in the ’90s), though he has been writing – poetry, stories, blogs, quotes, reviews, et al – for a long time (from the ’80s).

The Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns always simply flow. Anytime of the day (he has woken up from sleep 😴 late at night to write down a hymn). Anywhere (temples, ashram, his den / cave, train…). So, all Swamy does is to write them down, as and when they flow. He’s merely an instrument that’s useful for some definitive purpose.

At times, the flow is such a torrent that he had to recall parts of the hymn (or the whole hymn, in case more than one flow at the same time – which happened a few days ago at Thiru UttharakOsamangai திருஉத்தரகோசமங்கை, while having the darshan of AbhishEkam for the Dancing Lord) later.

Oh btw, they’re actually hymns with a tune (most are) and Swamy actually sings them while writing them down (he can instantly recall the tune as well), though Swamy has absolutely no knowledge of the nuances of music, in terms of RAgA or ThALA!

In a way, these enchanting hymns in classical Thamizh are written by an illiterate (who isn’t a qualified Poet) and sung by a musically challenged person (who isn’t a trained Musician). Howzatt for the boundless Grace of the most benevolent creator!😂

So, it’s natural for everyone – Seeker or not – to have the Big Ws (What, Why, When, Where, Which, WTF,  etc) fluttering in their minds, while enjoying these hymns, with the help of the explanation in English, of course – there aren’t many who comprehend these classical Thamizh (தொல் தமிழ் – well, almost) hymns by simply reading them. In fact, Mrs Swamy got so intrigued by this incomprehensible phenomenon (in the earlier days, Swamy used to wake her up from her deep slumber to share the new hymn that has just flowed – her reaction is left to your imagination 😒), that she started dragging Swamy to one Jeeva SamAdhi (of Siddhars) after another, seeking answers for the Big ?s! 👣

Padhiga Padhigam (a hymn about the hymns)

Essentially a conversation between Swamy’s mind and Swamy (whether the individual or the universal self is itself a big W, which we arent trying to unravel now), where the mind takes different forms – unreal / MAyA, of course – such as male, female, bird, mirror, wave, poet, garden and net and praise the hymns as one thing or another (trying the trick of praise that had even the mighty ones falling for it unfailingly, for eons), which Swamy steadfastly refutes and clarifies as an outcome of the Grace of Lord ShivA, Mother Goddess DEvi, their illustrious YOgi son Murugan, etc (signifying the 8 broad categories of hymns).

ENmaNi MAlai (8 garlands of gems / hymns)

There were obviously many questions even for Swamily, including but not limited to, Why is Swamy the chosen one (to write hymns, that’s all)?; How long will this go on?, etc. Swamy Sr even tried doing some genetic research to dig out an ancestral connection (no, there arent any – at least none poetically inclined, so far).

Part of the answer came one fine day (aren’t they all – until we make them not so, with our screwed up intellect!), around noon, before brunch (both Mr & Mrs Swamy eat only twice a day, that too PrANic food, as much as practically feasible), when Swamy was in the midst of one of his daily meditations. 8 titles flashed past swiftly and he knew instinctively that they’re nothing but the logical grouping of the hymns that flow through him. Here they are… 👇


Shiva MaNimAlai (சிவ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on Lord ShivA. This could potentially be more than one book, going by the rate at which the Dancing Lord is showering his Grace through hymn after enchanting hymn. Its quite normal for Joy drops to flow, either while writing or singing Shiva MaNimAlai (சிவ மணிமாலை) hymns (பதிகங்கள்), which gives one the taste of – in terms of direct experience – the state of devotion that Saints like NhAyanmArs (நாயன்மார்கள்), ThAyumAnavar (தாயுமானவர்), Kumaragurubarar (குமரகுருபரர்), Adi ShankarA (ஆதி சங்கரர்) and ArutprakAsa VaLLalAr (அருட்பிரகாச வள்ளலார்) must have experienced.😇


Shakthi MaNimAlai (சக்தி மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on Mother Goddess DEvi. She took her own sweet time to let her Grace flow through the hymns, but whenever she chooses to flow, its always a torrential downpour that will immerse and envelop one in her unconditionally Universal Motherly Love thats fiercely compassionate – the same torrent that must’ve drenched AbirAmi Bhattar (அபிராமி பட்டர்), Adi ShankarA (ஆதி சங்கரர்), KALidAsA (காளிதாசர்) and many such DEvi upAsakAs (தேவி உபாசகர்கள்). 😂

Guha MaNimAlai (குஹ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the Lord & Devi’s illustrious YOgi (+ warrior, created for the sole purpose of annihilation of evil) son Lord Murugan (Karthikeyan, Kumaran, Skandan…), who is also very special for Thamizh people worldwide (தமிழ்க் கடவுள்) and also happens to be Swamily’s family deity (ஸ்வாமி குடும்பத்தாரின் குலதெய்வம்). Those who are familiar with ancient Thamizh hymns (like Mrs Swamys maternal aunt) say, these hymns resemble the magnificent (& still very popular) ones sung by the Saint Poet AruNagirinhAdhar (அருணகிரிநாதர்). Swamy eventually realised this connect (which was clearly indicated during the advanced YOgA program called SamyamA, which Swamy did in his Master Sadhgurus presence in 2013) and prostrated at the incomparable poets Jeeva SamAdhi (ஜீவ சமாதி) at ThiruvaNNAmalai (திருவண்ணாமலை), during the Pancha BhUtha Sthala YAtrA (பஞ்சபூத ஸ்தல யாத்திரை), requesting him to guide Swamy as a MAnaseeka Guru (மானசீக குருநாதர்).

Iha MaNimAlai (இக அல்லது அக மணிமாலை

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the vast (and deep) Internal Space (within every being), where the Lord resides, active but dormant, until the seeking for Truth starts. As Swamy’s Master Sadhguru says “The only way out is In!” (வெளியேற ஒரே வழி உள்ளேதான் இருக்கிறது). 


Para MaNimAlai (பர அல்லது புற மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the perceived External Space (by every being), which isnt real, until one realises the trap in which one is entangled (for many lifetimes) and the thirst to know the way out becomes so unbearable (like a painful scream within), when a Guru happens (to guide the Seeker along the path to liberation). That’s how Sadhguru happened for Swamy (who he didn’t even know) and turned his Life outside-in! 🙃😌

Thava MaNimAlai (தவ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the Spiritual process / pursuit, in the form of SAdhanA, on any (or many or all) of the four paths, viz KriyA, KarmA, Bakthi & GnAnA, (க்ரியா யோகா, கர்ம யோகா, பக்தி யோகா, ஞான யோகா) and the experiences related to such SAdhanA (ஆன்மீக சாதனை அல்லது பயிற்சி). Since the proportion or mix of these four well-treaded paths varies from seeker to seeker, the need for a Guru has always been emphasised as essential in this liberation focused culture, in order to progress towards mukthi (முக்தி அல்லது வீடுபேறு). 

Pugazh MaNimAlai (புகழ் மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns, in praise of the innumerable Saints, Masters, Devotees and Seekers, who have walked the spiritual path before us, and chose to share their (at least quite a few of them) experiences and methods with the ones who may eventually walk along the same path leading to the Truth. This liberation focused (not God focused, as widely misunderstood, because of the innumerable number of Gods & Goddesses we worship) culture always had many eminent spiritual beings (ஆன்மீக சாதகர்கள்) and Masters (குருமார்கள்), who not only attained self-realization (தன்னை அறிதல்), but were always willing to guide others along the path to liberation. 🙏

GnAna MaNimAlai (ஞான மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the experience of self-realisation and ultimate liberation (mukthi). As of now, Swamy isnt qualified to write these (as he isn’t a realised being, yet). But as and when they’re written down, they will certainly resonate with (& possibly resemble) the enchanting hymns written by many realised beings (ஞானோதயம் அடைந்தோர்), who had experienced the direct perception of reality / ultimate Truth (மெய்ஞானம்), before him. 

Of course, being a gray haired Millennial, Swamy uses digital devices (smartphone & tablet – both Android) & tools (Google Docs, Evernote, 2 different Photo Editor apps) to write down and publish these hymns, on social media, so that fellow seekers (and followers who aren’t yet seekers) too can get drenched in the boundless Grace of the creator.

All the Dhinam Oru Padhigam (தினம் ஒரு பதிகம்) hymns are freely available for anyone who seeks (at least some answers about this seemingly pointless existence) and will continue to remain free on social media (FacebookGoogle+TwitterWhatsApp, Pinterest, Swamyem / DhinamOruPadhigam blog). 

There are plans for a dedicated blog / website (http://www.dhinamorupadhigam.net or .org or https://DhinamOruPadhigam.wordpress.com) that’ll have the hymns (logically grouped in the Eight ManimAlai categories), with explanations in English & Thamizh (requested by many, who are conversant with the language but unable to comprehend the nuances in the hymns fully), and in audio form as well (in Swamy’s voice). An YouTube channel too is a possibility, in the future.

With Grace, these collections of Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns might even be in the hands of Seekers like you, in the form of published books, someday – hopefully sooner than later! Hopefully you won’t mind paying for them, as and when they’re published – in both analog & digital formats 😜 And share them with your near & dear, as a gift for starting their own seeking.👍

May Grace be with you 🙌 for a purposeful Life 🌻 overflowing with Joy 😌

Be Joyful 😌 & Spread the Cheer 🌻


ShambhO 🙏

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

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 🙂

B’I’nary ‘i’nsight!

31 Dec

The single letter word I pretty much summarises why humans are such a screwed up species.

Always written in capitals, anywhere in a sentence, it symbolises the every rising ego, by standing tall, like a sore thumb.

That’s why, it’s so hard to contemplate the simplest – and needless to say very elegant and exceptionally eloquent – essential question thay may lead one to eternal wisdom, offered by the Sage of AruNAchalA BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “Who am I?”

It’s so hard to get past one’s simple name, when one asks the question him/erself isn’t it!

Equally intriguing is it’s nondescript non-capital form “i”, which can come to the rescue of the increasingly frustrated ones who struggle to get over its towering capital big brother. Since the much humbler “i” is probably the solution to all the misery caused by the ignorant arrogance of it’s irritable big brother, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Unlike the adamant tall “I”, the humbler “i” is actually made of two parts, which may even be considered as the two states of binary “1” & “0”, which has been interpreted in a million different ways in different cultures such as “Shakthi” & “ShivA”, “Yang” & “Yin”, “On” & “Off”, “Ecstasy” & “Stillness”, “PrAkrithi” & “PurushA”, “Individual Self” & “Supreme Self”, “Pashu” & “Pathi”, “Everything” & “Nothing”, “AgnAna” & “GnAna”, “Thing” & “No-Thing”, “PingalA” & “IdA”, “Thought” & “Silence”, “AvidhyA” & “VidhyA”, “Intellect” & “Intelligence”, “MAyA” & “Reality”, “Manifest” & “Unmanifest”, “Oneness” & “Allness”, “Exclusion” & “Inclusion”, “Incomplete” & “Complete”, “Partial” & “Whole”, “Knowledge” & “Knowing”, “Darkness” & “Light”, and so on and on and on.

Going from the never ending quest of being the “1” in everything one does for mere survival, to the state of acceptance that all that one does is utterly pointless unless one realises the true purpose of Life, i.e. becoming the “0”, is the journey called Life. Since realising this Truth is the purpose – not a Goal, which is what hilarious humans are driven to, in anything & everything – the emphasis in Spirituality is always on the journey and not the destination, because there isn’t any.

And the possibility for that realisation opens up only when the head full if “I”, i.e. the “0” on top of the “1” is chopped off and rolls away, so that this “1” being realises that it isn’t an individual being at all – despite all the name, fame, religion, caste, social status, wealth, power, etc.  but just another being in the vast myriad creation, all of which is a part of the whole of “0”.

Time to pick up the gnAna axe and swing your way up above the mighty looking ignorant “I” mountain, with the newly gained Binary “i”nsight as your climbing guide, and proceed towards the self-realisation summit, eh! 

~@PrakashSwamy

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