Divine Love, my encounter with the crazy world of Bhaktas

Are you a bhakta? How far does your Bhakti go? Will you take the leap, close your eyes and trust me and let go?

"No" would most likely be the answer. How then do we go on this path of faith, ahem blind faith. Blind faith which is not so blind that you take anything that’s given but blind faith that is informed on whom you take it from and what they have to offer. And yes, you had better know your faith better, way better because whoever you go to, won’t teach you that. 

Faith is what you make of it, it is not what you see in a group of people as to what they make of it. It is not a war of symbolism, it is not a war of numbers, it is not a war of belief (whether my belief is greater than yours or not). It is a STATE OF MIND. It is yours for you to manage, like your home, your work, your kids... faith is all about managing the creature called you. Why, because guess what ... you spent your whole life managing everyone and everything else around you but yourself. 

I belong in that world, the world where we think managing ourselves is way more important that managing others. We manage ourselves and define what principles and virtues we want to live up to and define who we really want to be...in the divine world. I discovered a handful of others who have tried as much to do the same thing with themselves and succeeded. And we have a common goal, the goal is to seek the divine, the goal is to exploit what we have in abundance - sheer love. 

Love - not the chemistry between a man and a woman, not a spark that defines a human relationship - but love that is free of human definition. You and I are capable of it. I discovered a man, I read his poetry and now I am deeply in love with his ideology, deeply in love with his craving for the Goddess, deeply in love with his purity towards the divine. And every line in his poetry just makes my heart cry out for him. Oh where is he, the great lover of the Goddess, who looks so dejected because he can’t find me. 

Alas, we are born in two different eras...we are born never to have ever met before. And as I scroll through his divine verses to the Goddess... I feel the pain of what he feels. We are simple people, we don’t know the ways of the world, and we just know one thing, deep love, just love for the divine Mother. 

He writes:

A Country Fair (Excerpts) 

Drive me out of my mind, O Mother
What use is esoteric knowledge
or philosophical knowledge
Transport me totally with the burning wine
Of your all-embracing love
Mother of mystery, who imbues with mystery
The heart of those who love you
Immerse me irretrievably
In the stormy ocean without boundary
Pure love Pure love Pure love

The Poet Stammers, 
Overcome with longing:
When? When? When?
When will I be granted companionship 
with her intense lovers. 
Their holy company is heavenly
A country fair for those mad with love
Where every distinction between master and disciple disappears

 - Ramprasad Sen (Shakta Poet, 18th Century, West Bengal)

Yes it’s a mad world when one true bhakta meets another, it’s a mad world of freedom from the hypocrisy of men. Out here there is truth, there is pure love and deep faith that pulsates, binding us together. We sing each other’s praise, we view each other as an extension of ourselves. We realize just what we need beyond the world of earthly human love and existence. And the divine mother drives us, like horses tied to her chariot as we run in directions of our own choice, of our own freedom. The harness of love keeps us steady and doesn’t let us stray away.

He taught me well. He taught me to love the Goddess. He taught me to look into the mirror and see him as a reflection of me. 

That is truly when the divine illusion of the Great Mother falls and she sees herself face to face with herself. We are but a figment of her imagination. Ma Kali meets Ma Kali, I am you seen through her eyes and this illusion too shall fall. 

At last... I have realized the meaning of true love.


The Search for Lord Shiva

We are a bunch of mad men fighting about who or what the great Lord really is, fighting about who or what that supreme experience is all about, fighting about who is higher in the rat race to spiritual enlightenment. Isn’t it sad that such a sacred path to attainment can go so horribly wrong when we decide to pump in our ego and intellect and greed into it!

It has made me stop and think. I have blogged and blogged for years, I have sat and worshipped for a duration of time (nothing to be proud of really) and I have gone back to the texts to verify the conservative way whether I am doing it right. I realized just how far away we have gone from it.

I have been at this for a while, spent most of my time on it and if you ask me who the great Lord Shiva really is, I still draw a blank. I have enough theory but when it comes to practise I am doing something wrong which is not helping and I don’t know what it is. But yes, the only thing I really learned over a period of time is just how much I fell in love with him - The Perfect One. The only one to whom I managed to surrender myself doubtlessly.

This run is costing me good, it’s keeping the vigour alive, its keeping the mind active, its keeping me sane in a mad world. But am dejected, a little tired but the perseverance will continue. HE will come, he will reveal and I will not settle for second best.

In this mad world everyone has an impression, everyone has an opinion, but no one has the luck or the grace. It’s so sickeningly human to fight ruthlessly despite knowing clearly within our half-baked understanding that we are just a useless mass of flesh if we don’t get this right! What’s the point in fighting over a bunch of opinions, end of the day its wasted sound waves that could be used better, its wasted energy that has no decent outcome and its wasted emotion that could been spent better of holding on to faith - Bhakti.  Yours verses mine, seriously does it help?

Everyone, you and I have potential, we are built that way naturally, and we just need to tap our own resources. We have learned well to steal the natural resources from this earth, now let’s apply the same greed on ourselves. I am not your enemy and if we do this together we can achieve the higher realm. They say spiritualism is a lonely path. I agree to some degree but then we can go our separate ways when we are confident that we have found the right path. Meanwhile, let’s help each other spiritually.

Love the Lord, read about Him, understand Him, and try to realize Him. He is just a breath away and all we need to do is feel that freedom. That freedom beyond ordered society, that freedom beyond rules, that freedom of the inner self, that freedom towards enlightenment.

Here are a few thoughts from the Shiva Purana that I really thought relevant for us today.

Mental sin is wiped off by meditation
Verbal sin is wiped off by japa
Physical sin/karma is wiped off by emaciation
Sins committed by wealth can be removed by daanam
Sprinkling of water over the head suppresses the idea of committing sins/karma

 - Shiva Purana

And its so true. When we meditate we arrest the wavering mind. When we do japa we condition the tongue to speak only sacred syllables, it forgets everything else. When we moderate the food intake, the body is light and manageable, we feel positive energy within us. When we learn the joy of giving, we kill our greed. And when we think of the Lord for those two precious minutes we forget to do the wrong deed!


O Parameshwara...Listen to my thoughts.

I am greatly confused today and the purpose of my existence has come back as a loud question within my mind once again. Why am I here and what am I expected to do apart from live until death...which is not too far away. This is largely the big question of the day but it stemmed from something else. 

There is a moron sitting somewhere, challenging another moron to war but his gun is pointing at my head... and why, for some really strange reason that he can't stand the fact that I love you so much and he is questioning your existence and wants to wipe off any traces of it by destroying me.

So now I come back to you, O Lord Shiva, O Devi Ma, O Parama Guru. I am in a situation, the gun is on my head and the trigger can get pulled anytime. My wealth is of no use to me and neither are my relationships. My network doesn't know am in this situation and even if they did they can't do much except post on FB and Twitter and yell on social media... which is quite a useless effort as it wont buy me my life. The government is deciding whether my life is valuable, and the police are far from equipped to handle this madness. There is a group of really scared people behind me who are also on their knees and I can hear some of them crying, though I cant quite dare to look behind... this gun kind of hurts and my forehead is bleeding. 

What is the best I can do O Lord? Why is logic failing me, why is sensibility failing me and am trying desperately hard to control my fear. You taught me not to be possessive about my body, I shall not and so am as ready to die as the man holding this gun. Is this the end of my road? Why did I even take birth, what good did I do to the world. Did I accomplish the task you gave me? I am not scared to let go of life but I cant quite handle the crying baby behind me. Why does that child have to go through this? There are three dead people already in this room, I have no idea what karma they come with but it certainly doesn't look good. Is this the price they pay for it. 

The dark ages of the Kali Yuga are loud in my head. The madness of human folly is echoing in the wailing cries within this room. Its a war zone, and for some reason I am the chosen one to be in it. What do you want me to do O Lord, please command me and I shall do it. Clearly you have nothing to do with these people but for that fact that they are puppets in your larger plan...of extinction of mankind gradually? Am fine with that, with little choice. 

Would I like to go back home, yes I would but I don't quite know what good use I am anymore... Would I like to stay here, not really because this is not the way I envisioned I would die. Would I go back to normal life, I don't think so but you know what, I don't know what to do otherwise until you give me divine guidance. Would I wait for you to come and take me in my final hour before this man pulls the trigger? Yes, that's a lovely thought and am quite hoping you will bail me out of this mess, in this life or in the afterlife. 

The scriptures are echoing in my head, the Ribhu Gita says look within. Trust me I am... and I see only darkness, the reality that I am nothing, without value haunts me even before I die. Am I worth this life? The Bhagavat Gita say surrender, I have done just that for I see total hopelessness in this situation. I don't know if I am resigning to fate or whether I am holding on to the shred of hope that you are still very real to me, the only reality that I want to see so close to death. The Tantras echo a higher state of existence, I would have loved to learn that art for I find myself limited to just being a mass of flesh pulsating with life, of no use to anyone, lying here waiting to die and for some reason I am called an Innocent Civilian. 

The cries are louder, there is death echoing in this room and someone is taking pride in the fact that they can take my life but do they remotely know that this life is hardly the point. The real point is that my faith will go on, it will pulsate with life and it will survive many more such ordeals. I am one drop in that larger ocean. 

I surrender to you completely, my life, my thoughts, my breath, my heart and all its worth is in your hands. If this man with the gun is a catalyst to my death, so be it. There is only one truth I want to know... Are you real... Can I see you one last time? Can you show them you exist so that we can end this madness once and for all. 

The Lord replied: "Your flesh is theirs, your heart and soul is mine. Come back to me, Child."

And the man pulled the trigger.


To Ma Kamakshi, Ma Tara

You sit there silently watching me make mistakes
You smile down at me when my pathetic self madly dances about
You emerge as a feeling within me when I cry out 
You hold me close when am about to fall

This silence around me, I nurture it for you
To listen close and catch the sound of your sweet anklets
I feel you sit on my shoulders as I walk through life
I cease to exist when you glow on my brow

Oh Sweet Mother, Oh beautiful Kamakshi
You have graced me with your presence twice. 
Am not fulfilled, never will be Oh Tara
Why do play such hide and seek

I stare at the Sri Chakra, mystical nature of yours
I wonder what abstraction of math are you built of
Can blind folded love and surrender unravel
The depth of your potency within this earthly form

Time has passed and yet I am lost
Can I define your form at all
Do you enjoy my struggle or can you help
To raise me from the world of the dead

I have been granted a second life
One of color, of success and prosperity
You gave me all but you didnt reveal
The secret door to your home

I walk the ash sprawled cremation ground
I watch miserable wrecks burn to dust
I will be there one day I know
Will you come to take me with you

This earthly prison I have abused much
Your heavenly abode looks a faint distance away
I feel its presence and yet I cant find my way
What am I missing, where am I going wrong

Many have come and many have gone
Most want to reach godhood but remain human
Interactions reveal how much our ego rises
Where are the wise and where is that divine light

I sink back into my silent world
No human has ever brought me that happiness
The kind I feel with you, everlasting
Why then am I here, searching for you...

I have felt the madness of Aghori
I have felt the craziness of Bhadrakali
I have sensed the profuse love of Tara
All on a bed of ashes. 

I shall dance on the pyre of life with you
I shall dress in red robes of the fires
Here take my soul, this severed head is yours
This child awaits, for you to behold

Come back O Mother, hold me close
Raise me from this noise
Reveal to me the depth of thy mystery
Make me a part of that puzzle beyond life. 


The Painful Three Days in the Month

Those three days in the month are all it takes to mark the difference of a woman's life from a man's. Its not an innocent 3 days that are done with and over, it comes with a host of issues that are morally disheartening to women, discriminating them through the ages and the sole reason for men to feel apparently superior. They have defined the restrictions of a woman's life and no matter how open we are in what ever era, when it comes to spiritualism we always seem to lose the battle...somethings just never change. Very few managed to stand up but we don't get to see a Mahadevi Akka or a Karaikkal Ammaiyar or a Mira Bai that easily anymore these days. What's really happening with woman power? And I of course went on my hunt trying to understand why there is such a level of discrimination and I stumbled upon the sacred scriptures and decided to roll my mind over them.

This was like opening a can of worms. Initial shock soon converted to anger which precipitated into a deep sense of need to understand what is in it for women. Hindu scriptures are predominantly addressed to men and they reduce women to either commodity or a different lesser species on this planet or that evil seductress who is going to ruin aspiring spiritual men. That was really the limit. Now I understand where male chauvinism stems from. Something is desperately wrong in the interpretation.

And so it became my journey to seek that truth, for I was certainly not in agreement with the resulting interpretation of the scriptures. Every scripture I picked (which isn't too many), but predominantly Vaishnavaite and the Vedas and Upanishads, for some reasons appear to be a rule book to men and very sparingly address women. Seriously, why wouldn't the male ego grow... though they don't do anything earth shattering when it comes to self-enlightenment!

It has bothered me forever now why women cannot go anywhere near the earthly form of the Supreme during those three days of the month. This further extends to the rules that having being born as women we are denied a lot of other spiritual perks that men are granted. Women never went to the Veda Patashala, they don't perform homams, they are not allowed into the sanctum even after they have crossed menopause for example... we are so restricted to home administration, procreation and being the symbol of pleasure to a man's desire. How fair is that?

It’s strange that I can hand pick less than 10 women who made it to Sainthood through known history. Were we suppressed so much that we couldn't ever rise, or were we brainwashed that such fate doesn't exist or did we never have the will to try hard enough?

My entire love for the Shiva cult and that of Devi rose from the basic realization that there is no such barrier for women in this realm. I have hardly come across a restriction, and much to my surprise I came to learn that women are considered superior and are worshiped, not suppressed. So who is misguiding us?

At some point, I decided no earthly Guru was pure enough, humble enough and wise enough to help me grow in my spiritual path without considering my gender. (I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I have an aversion towards self-made mortal Gurus – just doesn’t work for me). Hence this became a lonely journey of experiment, and I soon came to realize with the grace of the Divine Goddess what those three days really mean.

The reason why women have been suppressed and restricted over these past centuries is because in our world, spiritualism and child birth are opposite ends of the spectrum. If we move towards child birth, we have to give up spiritualism for that period of time. If we move towards spiritualism, we are likely to menopause sooner reducing our chances of child birth. Now imagine if we went down that lane, it would lead to the doom of humanity! And so the great wise men kept us a little away from it, though they granted us the miracle to deliver new life. And the mortal world made us believe that we are not "complete" without child birth. And we got locked down with a very well defined role - our sole purpose of existence turns out to be home administration and of course being the vehicle of reproduction. Is there really no more to this, is it really so blinding?

There is a far more potent reason as well as to why we are discouraged from venturing too far into spiritual activities. Have you ever wondered why some of our bodies break down when we go to powerful Shaiva or Devi shrines? Why do older women post menopause on a Kailash Yatra come back with a period? Why do women who go near Bhairava Shrines break down into period? Why are women not allowed to recite the Gayatri Mantra? Given our lack of training into deep spiritualism, our bodies are not accustomed to the powerful energies at these shrines. Had we been able to do regular intensive puja for a long duration, we would be able to handle the potent powers at these locations. But since we don’t, we are not able to handle it and the result is out of turn periods.

But here is the bright side. If we are regular with puja, if we recite sacred mantras and tune our minds and bodies, we are capable of enduring these powers because we have built up our physical reserves to withstand it, we are energized. And then if we come in contact with powerful shrines, there is a greater likelihood that the body doesn't break down into a period. While we succeed spiritually, and our body is evolving and energized we are likely to menopause sooner than expected.

But there is a silver lining to every cloud. Enjoy child birth, enjoy samsara, but along the way (sooner than 40 years) start the move into spiritualism once you have decided that you are not into child birth anymore. You can move into deep spiritualism. This is not about getting permission from the men, this is about seeking the divine for yourself. Once we have completed our earthly duties of procreation we are free to travel into the world of spiritualism and NO MAN can stop us then. From there divine grace will take us forward.

Our tryst with faith is in our hands. It’s in our hand to choose whether we want to hang in there and dedicate our whole lives to mortality or whether we want to consider the existence of the atman within us that wants to go home to the Supreme Mother. The choice is ours, the effort required is a lot more (since we lost time in child birth) and the results are amazingly fruitful. We need to realize that we can do it, we need to realize that our purpose is way more than what is taught to us, and we are more capable of handling our spiritual journeys because we DONT get seduced half as easily.

Bottom line: The scriptures are addressed to men because they just are the weaker ones in the head, be it in the unwavering persistence of principles which should not be twisted to convenience or be it the clear focus of purpose that they need to have. They need more attention and the scriptures are meant for those with less focus. I believe we crossed that bridge already.


At Home With Kamakshi Amman - Atithi Devo Bhava

I walked up to her home deep within the temple walls through the crowds of people gathering there. I was oblivious to the noise, of the chattering people, of the fuming priests who believed they owned her home more than she did. I was oblivious to the swelling savagery of uncouth human behavior as people were herded in and out of the temple. And ironically I was looking for my peace here, within this din somewhere. 

I wondered as I saw the mass of people sticking close like ants in a line, falling over each other trying to get a glimpse of her divine form. They converged at the door of the shrine like ants attack a half dead prey, trying to get their share of the divine rays of grace that emitted from the chamber within. And the Brahmin priest cracked his caustic verbal whip as he shooed the crowds away. 

I felt sad for these people, they were desperate for love, they were frustrated with their lives and that’s probably what brought them to her doorstep. But how would they seek her grace when they didn’t realize that all she asked in return was undivided love and faith from them through the passage of silence which was too much to give. Was just a glimpse of the divine mother enough before they went back to their hell holes?

I was certain I didn’t want to be part of this. I was certain I wanted to keep my mind on her form; I was excited deep down waiting for my glimpse as I had wade past the priests to get my turn. This ambiance was a cauldron of swelling emotions, of herded people asking for more, of priests who treated them with utmost disrespect. But I wondered...didn’t they really ask for it? How else were they supposed to control a seething crowd that just wouldn’t listen, just wouldn't move and wanted that extra moment with the Goddess? 

I waited my time till I was called, silent and calm for the one thing I didn’t want was a priest or a security guard yelling at me. I was here to meet her, not them, and I had to seek their permission to enter her home but when I approached the Mother with love, the whole ambiance transformed. 

She called me in, picked me from the noisy crowd and gave me a seat in front of her as the priest gestured me about. We sat face to face, our eyes met, she smiled at me and I melted in my love unable to hold my emotions for long. My heart yelled out, “Take me mother, when will you come to take me...how much longer do I wait?” The priest broke the conversation asking me to give my offerings, and I held out all that I had. I was jostling between two worlds, that of the din around me and this beautiful conversation we were having in silence.

The flames flickered wild as they lit up her dim room, wet in water as she prepared for her bath. She was bare, her pure self-unveiled for me to get a glimpse as she smiled back at me. I was treated like a guest; she was gentle and kind oozing love and beauty as I felt the energies envelop me. I let my emotions flow as my hands shook, closing my eyes for a few seconds as I felt my body energized with her presence. I said nothing, I thought nothing, I felt everything I could and I let my pent up emotions flow. It was a river of love, between her and me. I gave whatever I could, I gave my being, I gave my heart, I gave my thoughts, I gave my love... I gave everything that was humanly possible to give. And she took it all with grace. No priest came between us then, no Maya knocked back at me. I was in her silent world for a short while. 

It was time to leave, I had a desire to see them bathe her and she granted me that wish and more. What was supposed to have otherwise ended as a darshan, continued as she gave me a pomegranate tossed into my hand by the priest. She gave me a seat far away from the maddening crowd to sit and worship her. High on a platform, far from the herd, in isolation and silence... I watched her being bathed. I witnessed her many forms as the priest took the divine light around her.

Four forms remained etched in my mind, the first was her in her pure bare state being readied for her bath, the second was when she was ash clad and the whiteness pronounced her features, the third was when milk and curd rolled down her being pronouncing her curved body and the fourth was when she was dressed like a bride. Each form depicted a different facet of herself - stark consciousness, freedom from attachment, vibrant purity, divine love.

She filled my eyes with her form, she filled my heart with her love, she filled my mind with silence, she filled my consciousness with her beeja mantra and I filled her with my pent up emotions. We merged in silence, in divine embrace...maybe that is what I call grace. 

I was called back into the chamber, she asked for me again and I was only too glad to see her up close. She is life size, real and enigmatic. I presented her my gift for her to touch with her grace and I quietly wore it round my neck, her grace enveloping my heart like an armour of love. She blessed me with abundant kumkum that reddened my hands, and I realized one truth then. 

Tara Ma and Kamakshi Amman were one and the same form. They both treated me to abhishekam, she allowed me to bathe her ughra form, while I witnessed her soumya roopam getting bathed. She colored my hands in alta red when I touched her ughra form and in kumkum when I felt her soumya presence. She hugged me close in her ughra form and spoke to me in silence in her soumya form. She energized me as I shook emotionally almost breaking into tears in both forms. She gave me two hours in Tarapith, she gave me two hours in Kanchipuram. She made the priests call me in; she made them treat me with respect. She made both the priests at Tarapith and at Kanchipuram give me their visiting cards and an open invitation to come back any time, she opened the gates to unlimited access into her divine home. 

She sent me back into samsara fulfilled with love, she sent me back to the world, blessed. It was a fantastic year with the Goddess. 

I truly felt Atithi Devo Bhava. 


Through The Grace of Kamakshi Amman

Yesterday I was blessed with another year of life, another year of living within this human prison, and I felt there may just be more purpose to my existence. The yearning was back, the calling grew stronger and for some reason I had the strong urge to go to Kanchipuram to seek the divine Mother. 

I get crazy spiritual ideas, that may not make sense to anyone but they are paramount to me and I follow them more than any other rule ever written. I had the deep urge to wear rudraksha constantly, and sure enough quality thoughts flowed in during puja. It’s a time when I get instruction, it’s when I read every thought as divine grace, and it’s when I am conscious of which thoughts to kill and which ones to keep. During puja, I wait without expectation, without much wishing and seek the next steps as they pour in from the divine world into my little mind. And I just take what’s given, no arguments for the ego is dead at that moment. 

The calling was loud, the thought persisted and the steps unfolded in my mind. I was not very far from the day I was born years ago, and I had to do things really fast. I was advised to take the rudraksha that I had worshiped with the Lord for the past several years and string them into a strong chain. There was a need for haste and I rushed over to the jewelers shop with my little precious rudrakshas to get them strung. I was thankful they arrived well ahead of time. They were consecrated at the feet of Tara Ma and stayed there for three days being worshiped.

Finally the night arrived, and though I planned to get sleep early, I could barely catch a wink, it was the first time, and I had spent the week mustering up my courage and fears to hit the road to Kanchipuram on the highway alone, and now the time had come. Up fresh at 3:00am and ready to go, I hit the road at 4:00am. The night sky was gloomy, the winds were strong and the rain had wet the roads. I had to be careful with my speed and through the highway with occasional vehicles around me, it was a crazy drive into the darkness. It was amazing for not a thought of fear ever struck me on the road. I felt free, free of bondage, free of humankind, free of karma, free of everything... I was driving into oblivion and enjoying every moment of it. 

As I neared kanchipuram, I realized I might just make it in time for the Abhishkam of the great Mother. How lucky would I be! Armed with a gorgeous Saree, a garland of lotus flowers and some Archana offerings, I confidently walked in towards the sanctum. The crowds were huge and on this auspicious day of Chitra Pournami, I was just glad I was born on this day. I reached behind the main sanctum and placed my request to the security guard. While he couldn't promise me anything, he allowed me through to have an up-close darshan of the Mother. Seated in front of her, absorbing her divine presence, every anxiety to want to see her just flew off the mind. She was there, in front of me, in my heart and for now... my mind went blank. I shook in my seat, observing every bit of her form, her graceful body as she sat on her seat, getting ready for her bath. The shastris took the garland and the saree, while I held on to the silver chain that held my precious rudrakshas with me. I handed it over to the main priest, who was in silence right through the entire operation. He worked with gestures and the security guard deftly unfolded their meaning. (Reminded me of Karz for a brief moment, except that he didn't tap on a glass)

The rudrakshas lay on the Mother's lap absorbing all her divine grace while my heart worked hard to fill itself with love for the Mother, and my eyes worked even harder etching her form into my mind and I sat still for as long as I could, not disturbing any of the functions underway. In a short while, the head priest came back, returning the rudrakshas to me and having learned the strict aachaaram being followed I raised my hands but carefully didn't meet the eyes of the priest. He threw a pomegranate at me in typical Brahmin style, and I scrambled over the floor trying to catch it. (clearly I don’t play cricket yet with my kid) 

I rose up, thinking this was the end for I wasn't permitted to continue sitting there to watch the abhishekam. He gestured me to see the other forms of the Goddess on the other side of the inner sanctum wall. This was a blissful moment intellectually for I learned of Varahi, Annapurni, Lakshmi, Mahishasuramardhini, Bhairava and a lot of other Goddesses who sat within the niches of this great shrine. Clearly during the Chola time, this temple was not as large as it is today, it was way smaller. The Vijayanagar Kings had added the other prakaras to this temple over a period of centuries and now they had merged so well into each other... the difference could hardly be seen. But this is a tantrik strong hold, and I love every bit of this shrine. Adi Shankara had got it so perfectly right. 

I was ushered out of the chamber, and sent back to the guard. I was happy though I looked at him with a stray hope to get a glimpse of the abhishekam. He pointed me to another guard who took me to a seat directly in front of the mother, on a higher platform outside the sanctum. I was excited, I didn't ask for this, from here it was a bonus. I sat through the entire abhishekam, reciting Mrityunjaya swaying with the flow of the Mother being bathed inside the shrine. Every version of her looked gorgeous and Adi Shankarcharya was not exaggerating when he wrote the lines describing her form. They described her so well, I am tempted to go back again and read the Soundarya Lahari and map it to the etching in my mind.

She is straight backed, voluptuous, and slim. She follows the tenets of the making of a beautiful woman, she was the personification of that form. The curtains were drawn and the crowds went silent. I will never get enough of her, I knew that for sure. They drew the curtains again and this time she was ready, all her alankaram in place, she just looked every bit a bride, every bit a lover, every bit a damsel, every bit the great Mother, every bit ... 

We were asked to get up to leave, the security guard sent me back to the earlier one and I was ready to pay what every he wanted. I was just so thrilled. I stood at the back of the sanctum, as I watched the head priest gesture in his silence, frantically asking for me to come in. I quietly walked in, not knowing what to expect. I was quickly palmed off to another priest who I figured was his brother. He asked me about myself, my where about and placed a vcard into my hand. I was confused but took it anyway. He told me to mail him and render any help that I could towards their website. 

I was sent back into the sanctum, this time made to sit in front of the Mother again, and the whole thing played out once more, I saw her up close, this beautiful bride, this celestial being from heaven, this great Mother of Love. I quickly handed over the rudrakshas back to the priest and requested him to place it over the Sri Chakra. It was the only pending item in my divine list of activities. I was sent back to varahi and after bowing to all the Goddess around me, I returned back to the Great Mother. The chain was handed over, and the priest spoke with a lot of respect, considering he had been shouting at all the other folk, I was very lucky. As I turned to leave, the head priest broke his silence... all he said was "Call me when you get home". 

I nodded and walked out without paying anyone anything. The purity of Brahmin culture was visible for a few seconds thanks to the divine grace of the Mother, as I paid the security guard handsomely for his effort. I was fulfilled with the experience, fulfilled with the calling, fulfilled with the strong belief that the Divine Mother indeed communicates with me in her strange way. I walked out on to the streets of Kanchi, free from bondage, free from attachment, free into the world of divine love as the warm sun blessed me with its light. I felt I was finally home, and more than anything else, I felt deep down that Tara Ma had reappeared in the form of Kamakshi Amman. Divine grace had touched me again and I couldn't have asked for a better gift on my birthday.


The Mysterious One Who Protects Me

I met him finally, the mysterious one and as I inched closer I realized I was getting to know him even more... this bizarre side of him was completely a discovery. I have known him for a while as the pleasant one, as a great loyalist if you got on his good side, as a great lover if we understood where his deep love was headed, but with a temper that could burn a city down in his wrath.

He glows in orange when he is happy, when his mind is deep in divine love, when he displays his dasya bhava. But this time... he just looks very different. 

He was furious over how evil could challenge fate when he realized Mahiravana had abducted his one and only saviour and strung a web of powerful black magic spells around him. He turned dark in anger, his form paled into a deep black and he grew himself into the five headed fierce one each face flaring within its forehead an open third eye of fire. Yes, the five headed one, with fifteen fiery eyes was now on the hunt for the villain who challenged him. With the protruding teeth of a black monkey in sheer anger he faced east looking for his prey.

He shined in the brilliance of a million suns, looking south giving a wild roar of anger, shaking the earth with his force. The fearless one, the lion within glows in black as the great Narasimha looking south assuring those who loved him well, that he is there to protect them. Such anger stems from deep love, and such deep love gives intense capability to devour any evil, subdue any force and nullify the poisons of any enemy, be it deadly snakes or be it mad ghosts. He takes the form of the brilliant Garuda who will nail all evil at the tip of his sharp beak, and reduce them to insignificance as he looks west towards the setting sun.

He hunts like he has never hunted before, in all the worlds for his Master, his saviour. He appears black like the midnight sky, going into the underworld with the vigour of a fierce boar, trashing ghosts, lions, and any form of disease along the way. He displays such force, such intensity, such aggression, such anger as he digs down into the earth stopping at nothing. He rises up high into the sky like a triumphant horse destroying all evil, in the brilliance of gyana into the white sky in the form of Hayagriva as he destroys his enemy. 

He is merciful even when he is angry, the fierce one with ten hands, holding the power of jyana and protecting us all. He carries on himself the trident, the sword, the rope, the goad, the mountain, the tree and the water pot in his hands as he bestows love and blessings on lesser mortals. He is the black one, mysterious indeed, fragrant and dressed in divine garlands and seated on a corpse, defying death. 

He is the mysterious one, the five faced Anjaneya, dispelling all fears with his vishwarupa as he sniffs out all evil from all the worlds. I breathe in deeply, absorbing his form, absorbing his energy praying to the great form of Hanuman.

I offer my prayers to the son of Anjana through the thumb for he resides in my heart. 
I offer my prayers to the great Rudra through the fore finger for he resides in the fire of enlightenment, in its blue flames. 
I offer my prayers to the son of the wind God through the middle finger, Om Vashat 
I offer my prayers to the Lord who has Om Hoom, the armour for the fire within him through the fourth finger, 
I offer my prayers to the great Messenger of Rama through the little finger
And to the five faced great Lord I offer my prayers through my palm, Om Phat for the arrows of the five faced hanuman.  

Om asya Sri Pancha Hanuman maha manthrasya
Sri Ramachandra Rishi
Anushtup Chanda
Pancha Mukha veera Hanuman devatha
Hanumanithi bheejam 
Vayu puthra ithi shakthi
Anjani sutha ithi keelakam
Sri Rama dhootha hanumath prasada sidhyarthejape viniyoga. 
Ithi rishyadhika vinyaseth.

Om Anjani suthaya angushtabhyam nama
Om Rudhra murthaye Tharjaneebhyam nama
Om Vayu puthraya madhyamabhyam nama
Om Agni garbhaya Anamikabhyam nama
Om Rama Dhoothaya kanishtikabhyam nama
Om Pancha mukha hanumath kara thala kara prushtabhyam nama
Ithi Kara nyasa

Om Anjani suthaya hrudayaya nama
Om Rudhra murthaye Sirase Swaha
Om Vayu puthraya shikhaya vashat
Om Agni Garbhaya kavachaya hoom
Om Rama dhoothathaya nethraya Voushat
Om Pancha mukha hanumathe asthraya phat
Om Pancha mukha Hanumathe swaha
Ithi Hrudhayadhi nyasa


AIB Roaster - Pray what is Indian Culture?

Culture - Nice word, but I am losing touch with the meaning. In the Indian context, Culture is a difficult word to define given its religious and secular undertone. 

AIB says: 

"There’s a larger cultural conversation going on here, where we’re at the very edges of what it’s okay to say. And it’s a conversation we need to have now because the world we live in is entirely too complicated to be run by silences. We still stand by our belief in the right to absolute freedom of expression for us and for anyone who has anything to say about anything at all. We hope to be part of an environment that supports that sort of expression without fear of persecution, intimidation and most importantly, annoyance. As always, in our own AIB way we’ll continue to strive towards creating that very environment."

Seriously... in this age and time, AIB, do you really think you are making any sense? You sound short sighted and immature. It’s an ideal world you are looking for living in the perfect HELL. Get real.

The reason why AIB got roasted is because their humor and use of forbidden vulgar language was not behind closed doors, but it was being endorsed by celebrities who thought it was cool. Young blood, I understand their view point. But in a country where women get raped every few minutes and men continue to be chauvinists, how much of responsibility is the influential youth showing to the impressionable public? Ladies, please, you are encouraging the men... and that is not good. It’s not cool...

I didn’t get educated into this vulgarity until recently. If women were to speak this language it is also a freedom of expression, but AIB, would you appreciate it if they did say that to you with a straight face, meaning every word? You would abuse them in return, especially if you were driving on the road. 

In my world culture is way bigger than the freedom of expression alone, it is the freedom to be allowed to learn and understand and realize what true living is all about and live life based on that school of thought. It’s a different story that freedom of expression is being curbed more by political forces, don’t ask me why, but that is a misplaced ideology on culture. AIB, I think you are being a little short sighted. 

AIB Roaster was sad humor, a bunch of very expensive dirty jokes. The only shade of good humor was on Alia, which was clean and really funny. Am glad the girl took it well. But we shouldn't mix "I dare" with "its funny". Challenge is one thing and good humor is another. 

I am already aware of a deep generation gap between the kids on stage of AIB roaster and me, but would I like my son to use the same language publicly as a laugh... No, and would my son ever dare to do it in front of me - No. I didn’t bring him up that way you see and it’s not our culture to be disrespectful to the elders. Hence this language is best left within boys hostels and guy groups because we can’t really stop it, but we don't want to hear it. 

Culture in the west is defined by a certain decorum of possible pleasantness, politeness, friendliness and compassion to the next individual. It baffles me that we didn’t think of aping that part of their culture, we took all the garbage! 

Culture in the Indian context used to be the same thing, what I was taught is that it is a part of my faith because we define that by Dharma and Sampradaya - The law of good living and the discipline associated with it. What AIB showcased is cacophony in my rhythmic existence. We come from a past where even a curse uttered had an effect and speech was considered extremely sacred, hence it was used sparingly. 

We now live in an era, where the tongue wags and all that comes out is utter garbage and there is a crowd that loves to hear it. People are being applauded for the filth, when what they actually did was abuse people with the worst words possible. You know the Romans used to enjoy while gladiators killed people, it was entertainment. How different are you from them, except that you killed culture instead of people. But that is the culture that is going to go forward, your kids will learn it and that is not the culture we grew up with.  

So everybody, hold on for a minute. There is chaos all around, and the din is getting louder. Don’t waste this form of energy by exercising your vocal chords in the wrong direction. Every sound you emit, has an impact on you, the more you shout dirt, the worse it gets for you. Hold your voice. You will realize that silence is far more useful and healthy and when you speak, its way more powerful. 

Language is a beautiful thing and if used appropriately it can be complete music to the ears. I am not even venturing into the supernatural world of sound associated with beeja mantras and its amazing benefits, because that science is dead in this era. All am saying is, there is poetry in speech, why would you give it up for filth? Why are we degenerating from the power of sound to absolute crass noise? Does the youth of today even know the quality of ancient living they are currently missing because they believe its superstition or outdated? 

Silence is golden, look for gold, not garbage. Oh Lord, Bless our Youth.

As the Viveka-Cuda-Mani - The Crest Jewel of Wisdom by the great Shankara goes...

dur-labham trayam ev'aitad dev'anugraha-hetukam
manusyatvam mumuksutvam maha-purusa-samsrayah. 

These three things are hard to achieve, and are attained only by the grace of God - human nature, the desire for liberation, and finding refuge with a great sage. 

And therefore...use your nature well.

brahm'ananda-ras'anubhuti-kalitaih purtaih susitair yutaih
yusmad vak-kalasoj jhitaih sruti-sukhair vaky'amrtaih secaya
samtaptam bhava-tapa-dava-dahana-jval'abhir enam prabho
dhanyaste bhava-diksana-ksana-gateh patri-krtah svikrtah.

Pour upon me your sweet words, imbued with the taste of God's bliss. They spring from your lips as if poured out of a jug, and are pleasing to the ear. For I am tormented by samsara's afflictions, like the flames of a forest fire, Lord. Blessed are those who receive even a passing glance from your eyes. 


To My Fellow Countrymen

It hurts me to see this unrest, it hurts me to feel the pain and fear of insecurity that every man carries in his/her heart today. It hurts me to see people take rebellious steps when they feel their faith is being threatened. It hurts me to see us having such a myopic view of our spiritual future as compare to the intolerance brewing around this beautiful countryside. How did we end up here and why are we doing this to each other? This is the land of Dharma, of Ahimsa. 

To the VHP and RSS  

I am completely disappointed with you and given your discipline, your behavior is very unbecoming of you. I think you got it wrong, completely wrong. Whether it is about "Ghar vapsi" which I as a Hindu think is a really sick thing to do, or whether it is giving advice on having 4 kids or whether its about rebuilding the Ram temple... I think you seriously got it all wrong and you are not helping us or Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi who is crying himself hoarse to get you to focus on development.

The Hindu faith doesn't work by head count, it works by the potent power of bhakti of ONE potential head. If you tried to read the Bhagavat Gita and understand its meaning, you will know clearly that you are so not in sync with your Dharma. Making it a national book achieves nothing!! 

If you want to show Hindu mettle, then please do it with the heart(compassion) and do it with non violence, both of which you sadly lack. It doesn't matter how many people get converted to Christianity or how many Muslims are born in this country but if you have ONE able person who is spiritually uplifted and driven by spiritual protocol(and not a self styled Guru) to the likes of Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharishi, then a million other faiths will not match up. 

The power of Hinduism is in its Bhakti, its in the essence of divine scriptures both of which you have neither understood nor realized. So who are you really, to set the moral code of Hindu standards and teach the rest of us? If you knew even a morsel of what our great scriptures held you wouldnt even react this way. You would forgive rather than show the might of political power. 

Hit the problem at the root, not in the number of conversions. But for that you need to be educated in the spiritual spectrum to even understand where you are missing the point. Your insecurity comes from the deep fear that you dont understand your faith, and with the passing of time you are only losing it further. Your people are losing faith too and what you are stuck with are a dozen dos and don'ts but there is no reason why they are given that way. And people are bound to ask questions and when they dont get the answer, they are bound to move on... or convert. 

Blind faith rules all the faiths of today, be it the others or our very own Hinduism. Everyone is getting worried with your high handedness, including me because what you showcase is NOT WHAT HINDUISM REALLY IS, I beg to differ. Why dont we try something new. People are in desperate need to know the truth, but they are no where near capable to deal with it when it really shows up on the face. And that includes you too. So why are you barking up the wrong tree and fighting a non existent battle? 

How much have we progressed in History? We are supposed to evolve and not dive back into an archaic world of fears. Where is the maturity to be compassionate and tolerant. Isnt that what Lord Krishna taught in the Bhagavat Gita? If you really want to dive back into the archaic past and seek value out of it, then do it this way. Understand the core behind our rituals and our holy scriptures, realize it and live it, and dont worry about whether the next man got it right or whether he changed faith out of frustration. 

Bottom line - There are more sacred texts beyond the Bhagavat Gita, I hope you know that. I would be seriously disappointed if you didnt.You have no business to think that you are the keeper of the faith. And second, rule by Love and not by Fear so please grow up.  

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-mahadavagni-nirvapanam
sreyah kairava-candrikavitaranam vidyavadhujivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam pratipadam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

Glory to the Sri Krsna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

 - Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu