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9.03.2014

Sacred Map to the Secret Door of Heaven

Ganesha, Devi, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma... we believe in them deeply, our lives are dotted with their repeated presence and we have grown up listening to stories about them and we have been taught that if we need help they are the ones who will give it abundantly. But do they really exist?

A faith so old and a population so vast have little to show for their real existence. Unlike Christianity and Islam which take their principles of faith from prophets and saints who once walked the earth and laid their philosophies for the world to follow, Hinduism has been backed by strange experiences of individuals who sang in praise of these divine beings who gave an audience to a lucky few. Our faith doesn’t make Gods out of saints but tries to look at the Gods in totality through the eyes of our great saints. And weirdly so, they nearly had the same experience. Whether it was Kalidasa or Shivaji or Ramakrishna or some wayside aghori or tantric, the explanation of Ma Kali's form has been rather consistent. Even more strange is that even the ancient Egyptians may have had a sneak peek of her divine form and called it Anubis the Jackal in their eagerness rather than wait it out through the experience to realize that its a Goddess they were looking for. 

All said and done, no matter how much we praise Science, given its shade bit easier to comprehend, we cannot write away ancient mythology that so richly describe these beings with super human strength from another realm who have invaded our hearts for generations and left us surrendering willfully to their divine needs with some hope of a blessing towards a more comfortable life which is off course very relative. 

So, do they really exist... I strongly believe they do and our ancients and even the artists today in their own shabby way have tried to maintain and represent their iconography as closely as possible. We have various treatise that describe in depth, not just their nature imbibed in various names associated with them but also the way they look and the way they behave and their skillful capabilities that is beyond human nature of what you and i possess. And yet they have been strongly depicted in near human forms, though they don’t carry the name "manusha" against them. They go more along the lines of "Deva".

There is a beautiful line on Lord Shiva... a description of him in his bija mantra:

Divyaya devaya digambaraya Shiva. 
The divine celestial who is white and pure, such is the beauty of Lord Shiva himself.  

Agreed... but where do we look? Clearly Lord Shiva doesn’t belong to this perceptive world of ours where what I envision is completely different from what you read as the workings of this universe. And yet, in this maze of illusion and clashing perceptions that make up our lives and entangle us so deep that we cant clear our heads of these cobwebs of stale thoughts of "rightful existence", there were still a handful of people who got lucky and described strange beings of divine beauty very consistently with no difference in anyone's perception. And from that they penned down their divine visions in words which took life in form and color and today we have these divine being turning into a breathing reality in our Puja rooms and in our temples. 

Clearly there is truth in it. When the Gods said "I am the divine truth" they meant that they exist beyond this perceptive world of ours. Its another story that we blame them for dumping us in it with no accountability that the pathetic way we lead our lives right now doesn’t call for any greater experience...but that is not the point. 

The point is we have established through our great saints that they didn’t proclaim themselves as Gods but tried to tell us about who the Gods really are and how we can reach out to them. But they didn’t give it easy... they set us a riddle. A deep thought provoking riddle. The riddle is to find the door that leads to that zone or world which lies beyond this earthly world of illusion. Our only hint is the pancha bhootas or the five elements that are integral to our worship of these great Gods. 

And so, let’s collect them all and see what we get. We worship the five elements through a complex set of activity which involves the offering of light, sound, water, fruit and flower. Fruit symbolizes earth while flower symbolizes wind [vayu]. Light symbolizes fire, water is clear and sound symbolizes ether. But this is not about symbolism as much as it is about the "real truth" embedded in the puja. 

Where does fire go when the flame dies? Where does sound go when it can’t be heard any more? Where does light go when we can’t see it anymore? Where does the human soul go when it leaves the dead body behind? They disappear and transcend into another realm but they don’t die. They may reappear in another form in another place but they don't die. What is that zone where they cheat us off our senses? Is that the gateway to the other world where our divine beings reside, silent and vigilant watching us searching around blind folded with no idea? 

It just increases the mystery of Hinduism tenfold, and it’s really our business to dig deep and read into the individual experiences of each of these great saints to understand who they experienced and what they felt. In their vision lies the key to that invisible door way where all these elements disappear, the secret map to which is given in our sacred pujas, our great rituals of worship that we take such pride in turning down as superstition. If we have Bhakti, we will find that secret door really fast... but if we consider the Gods as wish fulfilling trees, there is little chance of finding the invisible door to heaven anytime soon.

8.21.2014

In The Presence Of Kamakshi Amman.

It was a bright Saturday morning and the crowd had begun to gather at the Kamakshi Amman temple, Kanchipuram. We waited patiently for our turn while I inquired about the best darshan possible. Once the negotiations were done we were moved to another queue behind the sacred shrine. 



Our turn soon came and we walked through the door that led to Her shrine. It was a good darshan for about fifteen minutes and we got a close(I should say very close) view of the Goddess. My mind just went blank, my thoughts ceased and I stared at Her, at Her shrine, at the peetham that cradled the Sri Chakra. I stared at it all and my eyes took in everything that my consciousness would allow. There was silence in my mind, no thought even dared to float by and none of the audience around me spoke. I appreciated the brilliance that silence can produce inside a packed garbha griha, oil lamps lit up Her beautiful face. There was peace between her brow, like She knew all and she had finally called me to visit her. It was the very same sacred spot from where the great Shankaracharya had given up His earthly existence. It was beyond time, the curtain of Maya hung thick between them and us, a curtain so heavy that it is not easy to remove. 

And then the spell broke, in the din a group of people were being moved out and the next batch had been readied. It was high on business as the priests ushered all of us out of the tiny room with no respect for the elderly folk. These were the blessed attendants of the Goddess and I would do anything to get their job, to be with Her and worship Her, like the great Shankaracharya did. It baffled me that this power center that I could see so clearly given its supreme effect on me, was completely lost on them. 

Here were two stark worlds, inter-spaced by noise and silence, by a thick invisible curtain of illusion that reflected the moment, when the brutal whip of Maya came striking down on us. How unfortunate we are that we carry the curse around our necks and dont want to let go towards that freedom, which is just a step away. The noise killed my ears, the people were as good as sheep being chased around by a group of ignorant shepherds who for some reason believed that they were the keepers of the faith. 

But I noticed one thing. Strangely, I had changed. I smiled at the Brahmin priest and thanked him for helping us get this darshan and he smiled back in acknowledgment. I felt no anger, no sorrow, no resignation towards the sad fate of Hindy temples, I felt at peace with myself as I carried Her smile in my mind. I was her temple and she had taken residence in my heart, in my mind, and transformed me. No brahmin priest belonged here, it was my temple and I was Her soul keeper. 

To the Goddess of love, who has taken residence in my heart, who has shown promise to raise this curtain of illusion, I am silent to the world but I carry your image, your smile, your love in my heart every day. 

What a brilliant Darshan that was! 

7.27.2014

The Mystical Lord of Obstacles - Ganesha

Over time we have made Ganesha look like such a domestic, homely God who is ever pleased with our little to no prayer. We believe he removes obstacles from our path and grants us boons and prosperity. In kaliyuga terms this would amount to a very happy Ganesha living in the middle of civilized society and granting us all our greed for materialism. And to add to the glamour he shows up everywhere, in a high degree of abstraction and schematic art, yet he is expected to perform his duties of bestowing us with what we call - boons and reward. 

Let’s step back a bit and read again, who is the real Ganesha... and we do have a few surprizes. The Ganesha Namavali throws some awesome insights into the nature of this mysterious Lord. 

Om Ganeshvaraya Namaha
Ganesha's name comes from the term Gana or Bhootagana, meaning he is an attendant of Lord Shiva and he is the leader of all the Ganas, Ganadhipati. Their primary place of residence is the cremation ground, the home of all Ganas, Bhootaganas, ghosts, spirits and ghouls apart from Mount Kailasa. 

Om Vighnarajaya Namaha
He is the ruler of obstacles i.e. he can create them as well as destroy them. He is known to be the great remover of obstacles, those which fall in our path of spiritual understanding. He helps us get closer to our spiritual state, which in other words means, he helps us get far away from our material greed. 

Om Avyayaya Namaha
He is the unchanging, the unshakable, the inexhaustible one. He is associated with the earth and to please him is to move mountains. 

Om Dakshaya Namaha, Om Gunatitaya Namaha
He is the skillful one, the talented and the expert. He can solve every problem as well as create the best obstacles. In him lies the essence of perfection. He transcends all great qualities. 

Om Agnigarbhachide Namaha
He is the one who holds fire within himself. This is almost the picture of the molten fires within the deep belly of the earth. 

Om Vanipradaya Namaha, Om Vagishaya Namaha
He is the bestower of good speech, sweet voice to the seeker. He is the Lord of good speech, the controller of words. It makes so much sense for most of our future is governed by the words we use in our present. If we are kind in our words and respectful there is little chance of facing trouble in the future. He automatically kills that obstacle. 

Om Sarvasiddhipradaya Namaha
He is the bestower of all powers, Ashtasiddhi Vinayaka as he is more warmly known. He is the greatest Sidha himself also known as Svayamsiddhaya - Om Svayamsiddhaya Namaha

Om Bhaktavighnavinasanaya Namaha
He removes obstacles from the path of his devotees, obstacles from the path of those who are deep in devotion towards worship.

Om Chaturaya Namaha, Om Buddhipriyaya Namaha
He is the intelligent one, the ingenious one who is worshipped by all the sages. 

Om Grahapataye Namaha
He is the Lord of the planets; he is greater than the mortals, the grahas, the rishis, a true worshipper of Lord Shiva. If we worship him with devotion, then the planets will be at bay, he will indeed remove the obstacles from our path towards spiritualism. 

Om Vitabhayaya Namaha
He is the great one who has surpassed fear; he has conquered fear for a great Shiva bhakta knows no such thing. He lives in Kailasa as much as he lives in the cremation ground. He has conquered death for he is the greatest Sidha himself. 

He is a brahmachari with great self control who has conquered all temptations and knows no fear. He lives in the open and he is a perfectionist, the divine voice of Lord Shiva, his own son. He is the wise one, the intelligent one who controls our destiny. 

Om Pramatta daityabhayadaya Namaha
He is feared by those men who greed for power and intoxication. In another explanation it says he is feared by Asuras. So it makes me wonder whether manushas are beginning to take up Asura like qualities in our age... Kaliyuga?

Om Nagarajayajnopavitavate Namaha
He is the great one who wears a cobra as a sacred thread! 

Om Mayine Namaha
He is the source of illusory power, or he who has an illusory form. It appears more like he is the controller of this great Maya we live in, he sets the rules and he grants us boons that will help us get out of this illusion towards a more pure, clean spiritual path. 

Ganesha just makes way so much sense now... a lot more sense than just a destroyer of obstacles on our path. He guides us in our spiritual quest towards a higher realm. 

Om Vinayakaya Namaha, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
 

7.08.2014

Conquest of the Astha Siddhis

It has been cooking for a while in the mind and I am taking my time to connect the dots. Spiritualism is great fun when it comes with puzzles that make the grey cells work harder. I have had the general idea that the offering of aarti, dhoop and naivedya are connected to the conquest of the great Siddhis, a thought that once popped up in my mind may be after reading about it somewhere but the truth of it is that it refuses to go. 

A small puzzle fell into my path when I chanced upon a book that was a biography of the Mahaperivar of Sringeri, who sows the seeds of this quest in his composition of the Pancopacara Puja. In his prayer, he offers fire, water, sandal wood, flowers, and incense to the supreme in the form of the five great elements. This sounds like regular puja, but for some reason I didnt feel like stopping at it. 

Each offering is initiated by a sacred syllable followed by the object of offering towards the supreme power as it manifests in nature. At the same time each syllable in isolation didn’t make any sense until it struck me that the puja essentially starts with Lam - which is the bija mantra of Muladhara Chakra. And there started the next quest. Each syllable personifies the chakras within our being through which the Kundalini rises. 

It soon became clear that the passage to conquer the elements of nature was through the process of offering with the recitation of the divine syllables with bhakti. I cannot explain this but for some reason it made sense that the conquest of the elements was linked to the conquest of the siddhis as a result of the rise of the Kundalini within oneself. And why is that? Let’s take each siddhis and study it. 

Anima: The power to reduce to the size of an atom
Mahima: The power to expand to an infinitely large size
Garima: The power to be infinitely heavy
Laghima: The power to be almost weightless
Prapti: The power to have unrestricted access to any place
Prakamya: The power to realize what one desires
Istva: The power to conquer
Vastva: The power to subjugate all.

If we look at each of these attributes, the 5 great elements of water, space, earth, fire, and air have exactly these qualities - one or more if not all. Could this be the sacred spell that the great Shankaracharyas tried to tell the masses towards spiritual growth? 

Further to this is the other form of worship which is the Panchayatana puja, popularized by the Shankaras where an aspirant could worship all the 5 sacred Gods within a framework, they being Ganesha - representing the water element, Vishnu - representing the space element, Siva - representing the earth element, Devi - representing the fire element and Surya - representing the air element. 

The great Shankaracharyas tried to convey to the lesser mortals a far greater truth that can only be realized by the experience of puja - panchayatana or pancopacara puja, with devotion and love. How amazing is this truth that with the help of a sacred act of ritual worship we can offer certain offerings of divine acceptance to access certain chakras within ourselves and render us capable of realizing the great elements that at some point we will be able to move/live/experience them when we have attained the capability of the great siddhis that allow us to move from one element to the other with ease, in short conquering them. 

Does the performance of the sacred ritual of puja with deep devotion enable us to conquer these elements and therefore enable us to move up the spiritual ladder... it’s a good thought to think about. The discovery of this thought is baffling and will keep me excited for a good time to come but I wonder about the "how". Will I ever get the success of seeing it work on myself in this lifetime... no idea. 

4.23.2014

When Blind Men Discovered The Elephant

It’s been a while now, having gone through books, having visited temples, having done my own dig to find out everything I can possibly know about Lord Shiva and the mysterious being He is. And yet He defies me, every time when I wonder what really defines Shivahood. There are not too many takers for this faith, not after people start to find out that the rules of this game are way more difficult than they originally thought. 

Shiva is not a person, He is not a father of two kids parked in Kailasa, no I don’t believe He is all of that. Shiva is a state, a state that if we achieve, we become like Shiva Himself, we achieve Shivahood. And this state is not easy to become for it asks of us the unthinkable. Now am not talking about giving up Maya or related desires and asking for advaita or renunciation. No, not that directly but yes at some point of maturity we will come to that automatically. The unthinkable is something far more precious than all the material comforts and love we have around us. It’s a disease, a virus that once taken root is completely impossible to remove - its Bias that stems out of Perception. 

Why have we formed so many religious groups and why does each religious group believe they are superior to the other mortal without even getting a glimpse of the Lord - In any form! Isn’t this the outcome of a disease plaguing us right at the conscience? We are like a group of blind men touching the parts of an elephant and calling it different names, worse still we believe that the part we are familiar with is way better and superior to others with absolutely no clue of the fact that these parts actually lead up to a greater wholesome truth, the complete elephant. 

Few great souls walked this earth and they were blessed by the divine to have characteristics of the Lord or blessed with divine vision to actually see and witness the nature of the Supreme. And these few great souls shared their experiences with us and pushed off. Now we are left with a set of simply divine experiences, layered by a whole set of complex man made rules and put into a hard shell of perception that cannot be broken. How do we ever crack this nut? 

How do we differentiate between that which is an illusion and that which is super real? We need to break the shell of perception that covers our mind. But we seem to be aiding it, now isn’t that the sign of complete ignorance. Where is our beloved God and where are we, when we have this deep gorge of ignorance gaping at us in the middle? Will we ever make it to the other side? 

Look at what we have brought ourselves to, apparently we are the most evolved species on this planet. Yes, it’s true, all evolved species head towards their own disaster and we are surely sticking by that rule. We don’t need a catastrophes for this, we are the catastrophe. Our bias is the catastrophe. Look what we made of ourselves, we are ready to fight, ready to kill, and ready to wage war and ready to be groomed as terrorists to fight for a school of thought by folks who have barely set eyes on the supreme. Seriously, what are their credentials? 

Has anyone in recent times seen God, then how can anyone stake claim to a school of thought, mine included! Let’s do what the holy texts say, let’s do what the supreme wanted us to do, let just try to be good people. I speak for Shivahood because I know it best. Shivahood simply says, be fearless and surrender and the Lord will take care of everything else. Do you know how difficult that is, to be fearless and surrender? 

We need to first know that we are fearful and that perception is the problem. We then need to identify which perception is an illusion because all the thoughts we have in our head are perceptions! So we need to stop thinking too much and start contemplating. Contemplation is the art of killing perceptions and replacing it with truth. 

Here are some examples:
I am going to die one day- is a truth.
I am going to live a long life - clear perception and wishful thinking. 
I am going to become rich - perception
I am going to have a happy family - perception
My faith is the best - perception. 

But between now and death, I have some time so what do I do with myself. I can build more perceptions or I can stick with the truth and work to make that final experience better. Building perceptions is a castle in the air with people pampering our ego and our constant fight to get recognition from everyone. So somewhere in all this noise we forgot the elephant and we decided we are the greatest. And we have politics and diplomacy to tighten every nut and bolt to make that perception so totally real!! Remember when we die, which could be tomorrow, we are history. We are not even going to be remembered like that speck of dust you couldn’t remove. 

Lord Shiva dances in the cremation ground for a reason, he is the Lord of destruction for a reason. He walks with the supremely learned and the ghosts for a reason. He is a final truth for a reason. 

The reason quite simply is - He trains us and tests us for that final moment, that moment of death. To be fearless and to surrender, to give up this body with grace and not hold on to it. To let go and accept the final Truth and celebrate it rather that cry about it. To be free in the world of the unknown. Shivahood is that strength that guides us through.

2.24.2014

When The Divine Guru Guides Us

Srinivasan looked around the room; the odor of sandal wood and incense was strong and a little lamp stood by the pictures of many Gods who smiled down at him. He sat back at the astrologer's office, observing a small room that had many mysteries enveloped in the stacks of papers and books that lay there gathering dust. It felt like he was at the office of Chitragupta, waiting to know his intermediate fate... in bits to make any amends before the final call. 

In front of him sat the astrologer, rolling his fingers over his horoscope, looking up books and adjusting his spectacles. Srinivasan wondered about this mysterious diagram that the astrologer looked through, these magic squares that could transform his life for good or for bad. 

He reflected on his life this far, on the various situations and circumstances that it was built up of, about the kinds of people who were part of it and had an impact on him to be the way he had turned out today. Were they all incidental or were they all part of a larger phenomenon... a science whose interpretation was currently being done by a man who he didn’t know but for some reason trusted that he would get his math right. 

The man looked up, through his glasses and uttered a few words. His answers were short and his predictions clear. 

"This year is not good for you, there will be trouble, in fact it has already started and it will get over next year about the same time..."

Srinivasan's heart sank again, on one side were his emotions asking all the Gods present in the room on what wrong he had done. And then his mind took over, it must have been something really nasty he had done in his previous birth, maybe that is why they say "Be good, if you can’t do better than that". Yet, he had to prepare himself for all the eventualities that would hit him in the days to come whether he was responsible for them or not. 

Srinivas felt pain in his heart, to think that he would have to put up with any calamities that he would face given that plenty of such events had already passed by in his life and he had not felt very good about them. Yet he knew that cursing the Gods or the lesser stars or his fate was not the method to tide over these difficult times. He had to find himself a better solution. Fate always had its way, and the planets always seemed to have theirs, and people will be people... In fact he often laughed at how the events unfolded as they set him up for a human trial, how totally strange and yet logical were these twists and turns that he had by now begun to understand not just how the world around him works, but how the superior world of greater beings make use of the world around him and forces a different perception. How weirdly strange and yet so creative were the events that had made an impact on him to change himself just a bit into being either someone else or just made him a lot more defensive. 

Srinivasan breathed hard and long, staring at the little paper that had a scribble of the squares of his horoscope that made up his universe. This little diagram was leading him up a dance, a difficult one where he soon realized that the people he interacted with were just a bunch of worthless pawns whose default temperaments were being made use of to create deeper, complex circumstances through which he had to wade... wisely... to save himself through lesser impact. 

The ancient rule of fate, is a far more serious affair back home in India, and much as he adapted to the changing world, somethings were too far deep to throw away. The only path left for him was to turn to his divine Guru to lead him through this jungle of messed up temperaments. 

-*-*-

It had been 8 months, things were not looking up for Srinivas and as he pushed back a few really deep pitfalls, he decided to still hold strong. He learned hard and well with time, there were two things he was going to do. 

One was never to curse the Gods or his Guru, instead he remembered that moment of deep anguish when he hid away from all humanity for half an hour and cried his heart out in pain as he waded through one gruesome event that hit his conscience real hard, a strong wakeup call on how men had fallen in conscience and how the world had so drastically changed around him, and yet he was strong in the head that he would not blame anyone for it. He cried out to Lord Shiva, to his Guru, to help him through this pain... he cried like a baby, waiting for his Supreme Lord to pick him up and help him walk again. 

The second thing he learned to do was be silent through the bad time. He waited in silence, not ruffling anyone's feathers, not opinionating, no showing his anger or frustration, not reacting to anything... and he felt it was half the battle won. But he also realized that it killed his confidence when he had to react to situation and he didn’t have the wisdom to detect how much and how far he could go without getting a hit in return. But yet, he chose the wisdom to keep silent and aloof from the world till these horrible times were gone. 

It was difficult because he decided he wouldn't be like them, he wouldn’t succumb. He would not be diplomatic to please the worthless, or lie or be political and try to please the world around him. This was him and he was not going to change that. He only sensed deep aversion towards the world of people outside... around him... 

It was mentally tiring, it sapped most of his energy, he almost began to look at everyone as a potential suspect who had come into his world to mess with him and upset his tranquility. He realized his worst fear, he now almost trusted no one, he stood so alone that anyone who came by, appeared more like a potential problem than a person he would love to be happy with. While he didn’t choose to please or upset any, he also realized a strong sense of being a complete misfit in the middle of these people, he almost felt they were a different species, built with a temperament totally different from his. He hastily retreated back into his safe haven, his land where only his Great Lord Shiva reigned, and his Guru showed him the path to the divine. 

Was this detachment he wondered, when he was mentally forsaking the world outside and going inwards because he trusted no one else except these two superior beings, who were now not just his Teacher, they were his everything... every role applied on this... parent, friend... everything. 

-*-*-

Srinivas realized that being himself was not helping him too much at this time, being someone else was not something he could pull off with ease and he detested the very idea. But he felt safe, when he looked at the larger picture, with love, patience, and most of all Bhakti and undivided, complete surrender to the Lord and his Master, to deliver him from this mesh of illusions and perceptions within which he was locked - this samsara. He wanted the ultimate freedom, he was ready for the ultimate surrender and these troubled times were a journey for him to learn the art of spiritual progress. 

He reflected on the line, "Forgive them Lord, for they don’t know what they are doing". It just made so much sense. He learned the art of compassion, of forgiveness. He learned to let go.  

12.31.2013

Bhuvaneshwari, in the abstraction of space

Simply put, the concept of Bhuvaneshwari is a little hard to understand. In order to understand the meaning of Bhuvaneshwari, be it the version of the Vedas, Puranas or that which the Tantrik's believe; we need to first relate to her abstraction. And for this we need to drop our world, our noise, our petty problems and look a little further. 

As we now dive deeper into a slightly more difficult subject I would like to state first that Goddess Bhuvaneshwari looks like anything but a human being. She is Akasa, the vastness of space entwined with the glow of light that merges into it seamlessly. She is the extent of our perception of space and given that that is a variable, she translates to being the very illusion that is built by the limitation of our sight. 

In the larger scheme of spiritual knowledge, the great Vedic sears describe the Supreme in three distinct parts. 

Satyam Rtam Brhat

Satyam is the essential truth of the supreme. Its the core of the supreme.
Rtam is that state when this core truth translates to active creation.
Brhat is the vast consciousness that it requires to translate satyam to creation - the source of energy, the charge that is needed for this transition.
And Bhuvaneshwari is the form of this energy. 

In the Puranas, she is known as Aditi, the wife of Sage Kasyapa who is the mother of all the Gods. She is the Shakti of sage Kasyapa. And this brings a vast infinite concept into a finite realm, measurable in our world. 

Another beautiful example of this translation of the immeasurable to the measurable is the story of Vishnu in the Vamana avatar. He measures the immeasurable, creating almost an illusion out of the vastness of space in his three strides. The Tantriks call her Maya, the great mother who has the ability to clothe her infinite vastness into finite form. Maya is the measure to comprehend the vastness of the Supreme and that is why Maya becomes a breathing reality. 

Now look at this beautiful picture, Bhuvaneshwari is the vastness of the space while Kali is the time that measures it. Bhuvaneshwari orders the events and the circumstances while kali orders the timing and the sequence. Bhuvaneshwari is the space i.e. akasa while kali is the sound vibration entwined within it. Bhuvaneshwari sets the stage for the cosmic dance of Kali with the great Lord Nataraja and they dance to the beat of time in the stage of space-consciousness and all the worlds are assembled here to witness this play of time and consciousness in our lives. 

Bhuvaneshwari echoes the breathing reality of creation that is a manifestation of the space we see around us and we are a minuscule part of it. We are the tiny droplets of the supreme consciousness who believe we are individual and not part of the larger whole, the great supreme consciousness. Such is the power of super consciousness. 

11.10.2013

Tripurasundari - Divine Love, the Perfect Union

Is love that simple? Love is probably the highest level of emotional intensity that we can reach and strangely it is also the most misunderstood. We cannot forget that the animal instinct within us is what converts that high intensity emotion into an uncontrollable physical need. But lets leave aside the physical need for a while and concentrate on the aspect and the depth of intense love. What is its nature? When do we know that we really feel it?

The Brahma Vidya actually reveals strange aspects of the world around us which is completely getting missed out in our race towards "apparent development". I mean, did you know that love manifests in animals, birds, plants and even a stone at various intensities? Do we even understand this poetry? The very emotion of love is that of no clinging, no possessiveness, no desire, it is pure union. The ancient sages define love as a divine delight, that we mortals are capable of and when Bhakti kicks in, it flows unadulterated and  unstoppable. It nudges the emotions of compassion, kindness, good will, affection in our hearts towards others, be it plant, animal or just stone. 

It makes sense because it triggers this emotion towards a higher form of Bhakti when we move towards image worship which is the basest form of divine love. Yes we are certainly capable of more, but image worship and the trigger to love without being possessive starts here. Its probably an introduction to a different kind of love, one that we are totally capable of and also one that we have least knowledge of. 

They say love is blind, yes it is because that high intensity emotion gets felt by just that one person when they experience it and no one else is subjected to that experience. Its unique to that individual. When they feel it, they experience beauty and grace, they experience Tripurasundari. 

The great Tantrik seers gave this experience a name, they gave it a form so that we could relate to this abstraction better. She is Kameshwari, the essence of love, she is Lalita, the graceful one, and she is Sundari, the gorgeous one. She is beauty par excellence. Remember, at any point, She is not a mere beautiful woman, She is the experience of love, metaphorically described as the most beautiful woman. When we experience that state of love even for a moment, we are in the state of bliss, Sat, chit, ananda - Truth, consciousness, bliss and we are affected completely in the physical, vital[breath] and mental world within our being. And given this experience is a combination of 3 experiences that elevate us into the three worlds or planes that exist beyond our earthly presence, she is described as the inverted triangle, the connection of these 3 potent desires given a mathematical form. Yes, very strange but Love and Math as far more intertwined than you and I can ever understand. 

The three fold state can be described as the three states of waking/dream/deep sleep, as iccha shakti/gyana shakti/kriya shakti*, her three personalities of Bala Tripurasundari [daughter], Tripurasundari [beautiful one], Tripurabhairavi [terrific one]*. Here is whats even more interesting about her iconography. She defines love as we see it, and she also defines love as it should be seen. The iconography of Tripurasundari depicts her carrying in her four hands, the noose, the goad, the sugarcane and 5 flower arrows. 

Lets dwell in the symbolism; the noose signifies Pasam, the desire leading to being bound to the people and things around one self. Once we are liberated from all those around us, we are truly free*. The goad describes the negative aspect of love, one that we are familiar with like wrath and possessiveness which forces us to act - karma. The sugarcane bow is the mind of man and the 5 flower arrows are the senses/tanmantras of sound, touch, form, relish, and flavor. The secret of this whole depiction is that all these aspects of ours need to surrender to her will. Hence she holds them in her hands and controls them while she is seated on the lap of Kameshwara. 

Just as the sun is depicted in all its brilliance as the light and symbolizes gyana, fire is depicted as energizing activity that is kriya. The moon is the symbol of desire, the sap of life, the basic bliss. The sahasrara chakra represents the seat of the mystic moon, the place of the illumined mind. It is the place where the mystic moon illumines the mind, where Kameshwari and Kameshwara are seated, in union, where the potency of pure love can be experienced. 


* Lalita sahasranam - iccha shakti gyana shakti kriyana shakti swarupini 

* Here Tripura Bhairavi is an interesting way of looking at it. If I feel divine love for you, I don't just love all the good things about you, I adour even the terrible side of you, all your inadequacies, all your imperfections, all your anger, I feel divine love for you in entirety.  Am not picking the good things and discarding the not so good things about you. I take your embodiment as a whole. 

* Like the Hanuman Chalisa quotes, "chootahi bandhi maha sukha hoye"

6.26.2013

2013 Kedarnath deluge - When the Lord of Destruction speaks

I have been watching the news for a while, looking at the world scampering around to rescue people stuck in the mountains with no help to get away from the great deluge. I heard the news anchors asking those responsible to account for their inaction, questioning whether this catastrophe was man made, whether we had plundered the great Himalayan foothills and not thought hard enough about the consequences. I thought about all the staunch temple rules that get thrown on devotees when they trek so long to see a glimpse of the Great Lord. 

It brought in a few thoughts... few serious thoughts about how we the people, Hindus  view our faith. I am no one to teach it, but I am an observer...and as an observer I speak. 

The story of Baghirathi wishing for the Ganges to come down to earth and give us life giving water almost came to life here. She came down roaring, crashing through the mountains, bringing to life the power of this mythology but with a difference. Lord Shiva didn't stand in the way to hold down her power in his matted locks. This is the power of the river, brilliant, intense, wrecking every little piece of man made atrocity in its path sending home the powerful message, YOU are a miserable small entity of life on this planet so stay that way.

It strangely reminded me of the Titanic, a grand ship that was built to defy nature and and nature consumed it in minutes with no survivors. We dug into the very foundation of the mountains and hoped to have things standing when they actually fell into the storming river like a bunch of miserable unstable pack of cards. 

Then came the picture of Bhairava in my mind, the fierce form of Lord Shiva. As I watched the Times Now correspondent walk through the Kedarnath temple with his shoes on, flashing the camera at the main shrine which is strictly forbidden these days and closing his nose to the stench of decaying bodies around him, all I could visualize was Ughra Tandava. 
Clearly the Ughra Tandava is not a pretty dance, its energetic in a stage littered with the dead, displaying the wrath of the God, expressing his fury when we miserable creatures hinder the ways of nature. I almost heard his cackling laughter. I wondered, I could feel the pulse of his fury, I could realize the intensity of the picture of truth, I could see the face of death as strongly as I saw the face of life and I could relate to the true meaning of the Kala Bhairava. How many of us have the capacity to withstand and love and worship this form? Isn't he so much better within the cage of a picture frame rather than as a demonstration of his capability!

And then came the horror of another possible truth that the people are probably totally unaware of and don't have the time to worry about. Amarnath Linga has disappeared into the waters, and the Kedarnath Linga is neck deep inside a pile of quick sand to a depth of 9 feet [Times Now coverage]. Was this an attempt of the great God to disappear into the earth leaving us to perish in this world that is slowly getting cheated off the sacred emblems that protect it? Are the great Gods leaving us to our peril? Is this the start of the ending of the great Kali Yuga? We have evolved too and our instincts yell out about such a fate a little too loudly these days.

If this is the beginning of the end, its a grand picture to watch, to observe the power of nature as it unfolds. The common thought is why kill the innocent people? I have not lost anyone personally but my heart sinks in sorrow for those who perished. And yet, I wonder that if I had to die, wouldn't it be a great place and a great way to die, at the shrine of the Lord of Kedarnath? I rather die overnight in the deluge next to the sacred emblem and hope for salvation from this existence rather than lie rotting like a vegetable in some god forsaken hospital looking at people waiting for me to die. And if the people were washed away by the great deluge, maybe it was Karma that applied on them. End of the day, no one is innocent and everyone who lives today is a sinner small or big. And of course, the truth is inevitable... we are born and therefore we will die.  

And yet through all this hardship and survival, those who have been air lifted are just thanking their stars that while they went to Kedarnath and wished for petty things, the Lord of Destruction actually granted them another life. The only hope visible in this whole tragedy are the two sacred fresh Vilva leaves that continue to hold fort on the head of the sacred Linga of Kedarnath. Isn't it strange that the lightest and easily damageable Vilva leaf remains protected over the Lord's head while people lie dead around Him. 

The Lord has spoken, expressing his discontent and wiping off those who had to go. The great army of Yama swept through the Himalayan valley picking up all those who perished along with the waters. The Great Mother Ganges, blessed the parched earth with her life giving waters to those who survived. To the great Gods I bow and thank them for this powerful message, for this great spectacle of life and death playing on the stage of the Himalayan foot hills. 

Har Har Mahadev. 

6.09.2013

Tara - Power of Sound, Navigator of My Ship

Salvation, super philosophies and renunciation are lovely concepts, but what do we mortals do when we are tied down mercilessly by problems that surround us and plague our minds such that concentrating on attaining salvation appears like a distant dream. This is the struggle of life, this is the hard truth of existence and we suffer it every moment with no sign of peace in our hearts. 

The Dasa Mahavidhyas step in to transform this painful grueling existence into a far simpler and peaceful one if we try to understand and realize their presence better. The Goddess who steps up at this hour of need among the great Mahavidhyas is Tara, the Mother who is known to transport us from the powerful shackles of trouble to a higher realm of peace. 

Mythology describes that during the churning of the ocean, when the Halahala overflowed and threatened to destroy the world, Lord Shiva had the presence of mind to consume the deadly poison that turned his throat blue. What is unknown is that Shakti in the form of Ma Tara calmed down his burning throat by feeding Him her life giving milk. This story gives a glimpse of the power of Lord Shiva to take control of the universal deluge into Himself to save all life and Ma Tara protects all living creatures from the ocean of poison through her power of creation. 

Here, the "ocean" or the "poison" or "halahala" can be interpreted as the depth of sorrow or fear our worldly problems bring with them, describing the nature of the problem to be humongous or as deep as the ocean or as noxious as poison. Ma Tara symbolizes that which saves us from all such harm. She takes up three forms, each of which symbolize a state of mind. 

She appears as Ughra Tara, in the fierce aspect similar to Kali who walks on corpses and collects all the ignorance of the three worlds into her cup made of the human cranium. Her vibrating war cries surge ahead and kill the pale noise of ignorance in one sweep. She appears as Nila Saraswati or the blue Goddess of sweet sound that flash bright as a lightening and destroy all the darkness around. She appears as Ekajata, representing the one who has channelized all her sound energies into one single goal of creation. Tara therefore is represented as the White Goddess, full of knowledge and full of purity who saves us from our own evils. 

Lets dive into the beauty of this representation. Tara is the Mother who is invoked to help one self reduce the noise within and better the quality of thought and purify the mind. Tara, represented as the guiding light who scales across the universe, is the protector who eases the dense cloud of illusion that surrounds the bhakta. She is the primordial sound Om, that which is necessary for creation and the one who purifies the sound that is generated from the being. Tara is the Goddess who is invoked when the bhakta has reached the lake of nectar and needs her boat, Tari, in order to cross the divine lake to reach the Seat of Lalita, the mansion of the Great Goddess who rules the Sri Chakra. 

The Dasa Mahavidhyas looks to be a step by step approach towards one's own spiritual progress where Tara represents the power to kill ignorance, and the power to purify the mind. Tara, turns into the navigator of universe within the spiritual mind when the bhakta completely surrenders to her. Bestowing the boon of sweet words, she helps the Bhakta to cross the lake of nectar to reach the Gates of the Goddess Lalita. Tara, the white Goddess, in her purity is the guiding principle that kills all ignorance and delivers us to a higher realm of peace.