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. 

5.27.2013

Brahma Vidhya - Kali, the First of the Dasa Mahavidyas.


I have been asked whether I have achieved mental peace with all my study and understanding of the faith. I probably have crossed that bridge and though I have not attained any greater spiritual height I have a very strong belief there is more to this path than just mental peace. In fact, the outside world doesn't really bother me as such... they are fine, ignorant and hopeless and cribbing about it is really no great help. Lets look at more interesting concepts. 

Lets assume we started out on the faith on the grounds of getting petty wishes fulfilled. Well, I have been there like everyone else but along the way I realized how inadequate my mind was to take on such a responsibility of wishing. I even got what I didn't want, things that I dreaded but thought of them unexpectantly not realizing it may just be granted. The Goddess fulfills every wish :) and therefore the bond with Her grows, not to receive boons which I have been careless about, but to understand Her build, Her make...respect Her, for She is the giver. 

Constant prayer [not like a parrot, or a mechanical habit but serious prayer] begins to make the mind think. Leaving aside all desires, all problems and all that potentially upsets my peace, I sat to wonder about who I really am and who She really is and what is this relationship really about. I came to realize that I had already defined my existance, within a limit of time, from when I started to get conscious about my surroundings to realizing the abstraction of the limitation of my life and the endless to do list I had created for myself. Now scrapping all that aside, I came to realize that fundamentally I am born, I will die and there is no changing that, it is inevitable. It made me wonder whether I had a greater purpose beyond this life, where this life was just a chapter and these people around me were just illusions tuning me towards a greater good by being themselves and providing related experiences. 

One truth is evident, "I" am the same mind with the same thought over so many years, but the body keeps changing and therefore I age creating an illusion of time. I, the abstract thinker is maturing with thought but that is not in sync with the abused body within which I live. And hence with the evolution of contemplation, with the discarding of unnecessary thoughts I come to realize that giving up this body and this existance in this apparent period in time will help me move to a higher realm of consciousness with greater realization towards my core purpose. I begin to agree with and accept death, I begin to realize what a fool I was sitting there and asking for petty things in my life, that just fed an illusionistic ego. I turned to prefer death for it just looked more challenging, more fun and more unknown. 

Death is not a denial of life, its a need to leave this one and proceed to the next. And as law of life would have it, experiences get enriched when I am reborn in another form, and not the same self that I am in currently. This weird cycle of discarding the body and constantly reappearing gives an illusion of endlessness of time, of the repeated devouring of the flesh which makes it appear terrible, painful and fearful. And this fear, that seems to follow us like a shadow makes us reduce to mere mortals. At some point we need to realize that death and fear should not go hand in hand in our realization, for thats what makes us mortal. When we accept death, fear dies, we have actually discarded the cycle of death itself.  

In Tantra, this earth with all its life and all its death, is the Maha Shamshan, the Great Cremation ground, where every living thing has to go through death. Hence, to realize the workings of this phenomenon is to embrace the form of Kali, the Goddess of change and time. With every death and every birth, Ma Kali dances, reverberating the time and change concept, drilling it into our ignorant heads. She is the one, who takes away that life ruthlessly [it appears] and presents us another one. She chops our lives, She grants us boons, She gives what ever we want, but She takes just our life... and we don't seem to realize that asking for boons is no big deal, but getting out of this noise of life and death, this tireless journey is what the soul purpose of our existance is. Every life of ours echoes that question back to us, "Did I achieve getting out of the cycle in this life or not"? The answer, inevitably is No, for I never asked for the boon to get out of this cycle in the first place. I feared even asking that boon for every boon has a repercussion and I was never sure what this one would be.  

She is not just called Ma Kali, She is also called Dakshina Kalika, for she is so skillful in not just devouring this life of mine, she grants me the next based on her judgment of what works for me keeping my current state of evolution and realization in mind. She transforms me into another being, full and ready to evolve again, better and more beautiful this time. She is that which stays with me always, the pranic force, the breath which is always granted to me every time I am born and leaves every time I die only to come back after I am transformed, promising a better quality of existance, every time.   

Reference: The Ten Great Cosmic Powers - Shankaranarayanan

5.15.2013

Remembering A Few Good Men


I intended to continue blogging on the Dasa Maha Vidhyas, but this is a small post to remember JC Joshi and Raja Deekshitar who have been a part of this blog and helped me continue with my contributions. I would like to pay homage to both of them, honor them and cherish their presence in my life.

--*--*--*--

We bank our entire existence n human relationships and the acceptance and approval we derive from them. We have a name for just about all the relationships we associate people with. Yet there is one other relationship which is yet to be defined.

This is a strange relationship, one where we don't know each other's past, future or present. One where we do not know their caste, language or family line. One where we do not know their standing in society, their profession or their presence on Facebook and Twitter. All these pieces of information or definitions that make up their earthly existence is not a key to build the relationship. In fact such information is better done without. What matters is their understanding of the faith, their understanding of the scriptures, their intellect and their level of realization of the supreme.

These relationships once set don't ever die for they are not fed by the human ego, instead they last longer because its mutual bhakti towards a single goal that binds the relationship together. I have had the luck to build such a relationship with a few people and am fortunate that I could relate to them in this way. The platform that brought us close is this blog and these thoughts that they agreed and disagreed with. It was also the base to help them think and write out their ideas of the supreme as well as their experiences.


J.C.Joshi [Joshi Uncle]

J. C. Joshi, as many would know him on this blog was a great writer and had a thought to add to almost all my posts. He has been a loyalist for the last 10+ years, and has religiously kept the blog alive even when i didnt post regularly. There have been occasions in the past where younger people have asked him to start his own blog, and have sometimes been rude to him and his comments. I realized at that point, how much Joshi uncle meant to me. He took the abuses with a smile though it left me mad with chilling anger. I have blocked such users, clearly indicating to them that they need to respect the elder folk on the site or they are not invited here. Joshi uncle attracted the likes of researchers from various American universities who was impressed with his knowledge on our faith. While his comments bloomed on the site blogs, I received several requests from lecturers wanting to touch base with him. A very endearing man, with simple love for his faith, Joshi uncle rode along this journey of making my blog worthwhile to other readers. I have had the good fortune to have been a part of his life in some form, affected his thought process and given a platform for him to display and share his intellect. Joshi uncle succumbed to cancer a few months back. We will never get to read more posts from him but his wealth of informaton in his comments on my blog will always be few good lessons that I shall cherish.


Raja Deekshitar

Raja Deekshitar chanced upon my blog and we got talking on email. A man, very well versed in scriptures and also part of the Deekshitar community that runs the Chidambaram temple, he has done a lot of research on the temple architecture and sculptural iconography. I have had the pleasure of visiting Chidambaram temple in his presence, and trust me it made a whole lot of difference. We were treated like family, allowed to view the Lord for as long as we wanted, the priests spoke to us like we knew them for years and darshan was fulfilling. What was even more fun was the conversations and discussions we had on the sculptures displaying Shiva iconography in the temple niches. Raja Deekshitar brought Chidambaram temple alive, giving a story and a purpose to every little carving on the wall and painting episodes from that past that now lie frozen in stone across the temple. A versatile man with a mind that wouldn't rest till it told the world that the concept of the Sphinx was as much a reality in Indian sculpture as it was in the Egyptian world. He took the trouble to educate people in the west and back home doing all he could to research, document and keep the faith alive. We lost Raja Deekshitar a year ago, but to say the least, his love for the temple and for Lord Shiva is everlasting.

I have wanted to share their achievements as people, to the world at large, to the world of intellects. I miss their presence on my blog.

4.22.2013

The Ten Sacred Brahma Vidhyas



Hinduism believes in a world of devatas who live in various strata of the visible atmosphere, the lower Kshudra devatas who reside closer to earth to the Uccha Devatas who live in higher planes. The vedas tell us how to live right and well so that we can ascend this ladder and move to higher levels in our own spirital progress post death if we are lucky. 

While leading our earthly existance these lower deities bless us with cheap wishes and so called benefits that we may look for but then we miss the real matter, the cardinal deities who are of higher spiritual discipline who actually help us in our progress and are not just mere wish fulfilling lower deities. 

In order to get the right direction, move towards the supreme higher deities and achieve Brahman as described in the Upanishads one must take the help of the Brahma Vidhyas, a spiritual discipline that leads up to this superior existance. Brahma Vidhyas are better known as Siddha vidhyas or Dasamahavidhyas are ten great disciplines that enable a person to progress spiritually. They are represented pictorially as ten great Goddesses/mothers whose worship and realization takes the aspirant to the next level. 

As an introduction, they are ten outstanding personalities of the divine mother and are represented in the following forms:

Kali
Tara
Tripurasundari
Bhuvaneshwari
Tripura Bhairavi
Chinnamasta
Dhumavati
Bagalamukhi
Matangi
Kamalatmika

Each of these Goddess describes a principle of life that we need to know, digest, accept, realize and fulfill in order to move on in our spiritual progress. 

Now the big question maybe what do each of these great mothers represent. This moved into the sphere of abstraction where we define a few things for our own understanding. The supreme energy is all enveloping, all encompassing and stitched into the process of creation. With this is born the idea of time and space. Space is vast and can be understood by bringing in divisions. 

Hence as an entity, as a sadhaka we need to understand and realize that the space is defined by the 8 directions that surround us - North, North East, East, South East, South, South West, West, North West, above and below. Time is defined by every breath we take during our life time. In order to understand and realize this knowledge we have been given ten senses to realize the true potential with our consciousness - Skin, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, mouth, foot, hands, anus and genitals. 

Its this combination of time, space, sense that we attribute to the dasa mahavidhyas at the beginning of our spiritual progress. All of these attributes that we are familiar with bring us closer to our own consciousness and sharpen it ten fold to reach a higher realm. 

While our initial journey may not be in the direction of attain supreme salvation and our sadhana may be tuned towards just one of the ten mahavidhyas, as we progress in this path, it opens our mind to the other great Vidhyas in this path. As the sadhaka keeps worshipping the great Mother and leaves all his worldly problems in her hands, this relationship between the aspirant and the divine mother grows, so much so that the aspirant depends and believes in the Divine Mother for solutions to every one of their problems, even the trivial ones. This leads to an intimate relationship between the seeker and the Goddess so much so that they forget the goal they originally started off with.  

The seeker realizes the presence of the Goddess, their attitude changes and its visible to everyone around them. This journey leads us to higher realms that the mind understands and digests. And the real truth lies in the fact that it cannot be explained to anyone, it can only be realized by one self. This is the fun in spiritualism, the real intoxication that keeps us going disconnecting us from our present birth and all its attractions. All the mind starts working on is how to go from one strata to the next and progress to reach the supreme with the blessings of the divine mother and not about how to get petty wishes coming true during our earthly life. 

Photo cortesy:
http://kamakhyamandir.org

4.02.2013

Ma Kali - Keeper of My Soul


A garland of skulls
A horror to the ignorant
An echo that death is the only truth
How do I find love in this gory picture

In the darkness of the night
She roams in a blue hue
Her anklets breath sweet music
The shaky skulls roar the rhythm of the damaru

Her cackling laughter
Spelling out my doom
I give up my last breath in love
I am hers to consume 

She holds my soul
Protects it from all evil
Guides me through the darkness of death
To the land of immortals

I leave behind my head
On the bed of smokey ashes
In a picture on your wall
In a memory forgotten

A skull cap with sacred letters
A capsule of the primordial seed sound
A garland she proudly wears
To teach you bliss unknown 

3.05.2013

Ma Kali - Consciousness of Time and Change


The sad story of Indian faith is largely influenced by the mimicing of the great acts of devotion by some superior soul mechanically and not emoting the same intensity of Bhakti that goes with the action. 

Many lambs, tender and young and scared, meet their peril at the foot of the Goddess at numerous shrines across Bengal and other states. It is the thoughtless murder of innocent animals that have nothing to do with the deep meaning of the embodiment of Kali Ma. Mythology says the Mother wants blood and in our world we know no better as to how to offer it. 

The Mother asks for our blood, now this doesn't mean we literally need to offer it. Ma Kali is an integral part of Brahma Vidya and she signifies the deep realization that life and death are just transition points. Her nature and terrific outlook defines the jolting presence of time, of change, and that to reincarnate into another form to progress in our spiritual journey, we need to discard this body. She brings the realization that death is nothing to be feared and that we as mortals need to get over that ignorance and realize the beauty of it. 

To attain higher spiritual realization we need to discard our fears. We need to get over our bias and perception. The shamshan ghat should look no different from a glamorous resort simply because it is so temporary. It doesn't take too long to convert a gorgeous resort into a burning ghat. Where is its permanence and why are we so enamoured by the apparent beauty of the location or why do we consider the cremation ground as forbidden land?

Ma Kali's presence is to teach us to get over our fear of death, not to drag an unwilling innocent lamb to its end. Now the fact that this is so not clear to anyone, uneducated or scholars alike, shows how ignorant we are capable of being. Are we waiting for someone to come and drag us to the book to learn it, or are we just happy living in some fool's paradise assuming we are doing a great job by cutting off the neck of an innocent lamb. 

Well if Bhakti would have it, its really not the lamb that would be out there. The true love for Ma Kali denotes that we want to get over the fear of death, we want to merge with her and that being a hanging skull on her garland is possibly a way of attaining salvation. Offering our own head to the goddess, is a greater and more daring offering to make, one out of love, one out of bhakti, one out of fearlessness. Now isnt that the true sign of getting over the fear of death by facing it head on? 

Unfortunately our outlook and our laws consider that suicide, but it just saddens me that killing a lesser being simply because its helpless is an act of spiritualism. How pathetic is it to draw a knife across a lambs neck when the texts actually describe the act of selflessness and high devotion to be the ultimate end of cutting off one's own neck. I am not propagating the act of cutting off one's own neck though historically that has really been the case and we have sculptural evidences all over the country to deliver that message.

Is it right or wrong, I dont know, but certainly killing an innocent lamb is not right. Ma Kali can be attained without killing, without the shedding of blood, Ramakrishna did it, Ramprasad Sen also did it. Why can't we take their examples and stop this slaughter, I mean somewhere we also need to do some thinking instead of just following the crowd. 

Kali is the significance of time and change and the reality of death marks that change. All we need to do is accept it and get over our fear of dying one day. I can't understand how it is related to killing a lamb in big numbers on a Saturday at the Ma Kali temple? The idea of Kali is spiritual and intellectual and is not related to the ghastly act of bloodshed. 

Buddha taught Ahimsa, so did Shankara. How can we see love when there is so much pain and horror in the eyes of the lamb?