2.05.2015

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. 



1.29.2015

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

1.09.2015

PK - Faith and our identity on this planet.

And the repercussions of Faith as our identity on this planet

A French artist paid with his life, an Indian director got paid 200 crores. 

The various faces of religion are indeed interesting to see in terms of the way it has shaped us up through history. Our outlook has changed and we have moved away from the core concepts of schools of thought to just numbers in terms of followers to self proclaimed Gurus.

Satire is a humorous way of bringing reality to the fore, but most people really don't want to know it. That's the sad side of being human, specially in these times. An artist drew out Prophet Muhammad and he paid for it dearly with his life, why, because someone else couldn't tolerate the apparent blasphemy. Meanwhile back home, a director cracked a joke on the primordial truth, a concept way beyond our realm of understanding and we all laughed. Believe me I felt very sorry about the director's ignorance towards his faith and ours because we laughed rather than feel ashamed about it. 

We are a very emotional race and we identify our existence with our faith but if the same faith is not completely understood where are we headed? Chaos rules when anything spoken against our Gods is not taken to kindly though we realize that we are not in a position to explain why we believe our Gods exist. But here is the thing, if the director tried to go against any other faith apart from Hinduism, he would probably have met a similar fate in the future at some point. People don't forget when you hurt them you know. But with Hinduism, it shows two things about us, our tolerance and our ignorance. Whether its good or bad is debatable, but we live in an age where being Hindu in Hindustan is fast becoming a curse. 

A group figured out that it was wrong, and they chose to vandalize theaters, its definitely better than taking the gun and killing someone. The unfortunate thing is the group doesn't quite know what was wrong with the movie but for the fact that it did hurt sentiment. One argument is that its just a movie, see it and forget it. But another argument is that it made 200 crores which means many people may completely agree with it. If that is true, we are so doomed. 

Everything was right about PK, everything was beautifully stitched together but it clearly depicted the director's ignorance about why things are done they way they are specially in ritual. Oh MY God and PK both claim that milk should not be poured over the Shiva linga but fed to the poor. While am not against the thought of feeding the poor, I will explain why milk is necessary to pour over deities, not only Lord Shiva's emblem. 

Have you seen fairness cream commercials that shout out the presence of milk as an ingredient. Milk is important for it has the magical essence that can deliver a living thing to immortality. Anything/anyone bathed in milk regularly has a greater chance of survival in addition to remaining youthful. Similarly, at temples which are the super power centers of our deities made of specific stone and installed with prana pratishta, need to be consistently bathed in milk to keep the energies active and running, thus delivering these temples as living temples. And we visit temples to reach these sacred shrines and be graced by the power that surrounds them. That is the essential purpose of our temple visits. Alternatively we can also enshrine them at home and build our own little power centers at home. The concept works like fire, whether you light one lamp or several lamps, the first flame is as bright as the last frame lit. Similarly whether we have power centers at temples or in our homes, we are accumulating drops of supreme power around us to enhance our living environment. And milk is the essential ingredient to keep the power center active and therefore the giver of milk, the cow is a sacred animal. We DONT kill it or eat it. Ideally the milk should drain out to the river or the sea and should not go down the gutter. But it is not meant for consumption after use for it is empowered and the physical body will not withstand its energies. 

But who is going to explain this to us? At the same time it doesn't mean its a wasted ritual!

Unfortunately, we don't realize these truths and as we sink deeper into ignorance, we tend to laugh and pay 200 crores rather than cry and feel pathetic about ourselves. 

But there was on fantastic portrayal in the movie that made me really appreciate the director. The depiction of seeking God desperately and the sadness of failure because of our own inadequacy probably touches our hearts the closest for we all at some point have come face to face with this frustration. That emotion was true, honest and completely humble. 

We need to persist in our faith, we need to seek the truth and we need to give room in our minds to accept ritual for this discipline has an impact and it will show the way surely if we are true seekers without doubt and ready to surrender to the Lord. 


12.23.2014

Adventures of a Spiritual Vagabond



It was a regular day, seated at my seat with my wavering mind trying hard to come back to ground zero where my great Guru smiled through the walls of His photograph. Fate had not been to kind and my jumping mind needed some really serious answers to solve its problems and it was not going to rest till the solution percolated through the pores of my thoughts. It had been quite a few sessions of aggressive worship yielding no tangible results. 

"Go to Tarapith"

The thought struck me like a bolt from heaven. It was strong enough to vanquish all the other thoughts that played havoc within my poor mind. "Really?" I thought, "Now that’s a good idea but will it work?" My mind raged on as the worship for the day came to a close. Would it ever be possible? It wasn’t too long that I realized fate aligning with the divine words and I found myself heading down the highway to the small town of Tarapith, a week later against all odds. It was just unbelievable, this was for Real and something was bound to happen. But what... let’s keep an open mind. Anything can happen, and I have been instructed to go so nothing negative can really happen. With deep excitement and a tinge of doubt, the events unfolded almost orchestrated by the Lord Himself. 



"Come to me, Bathe Me"

I found myself within the sacred chamber early in the morning staring straight at the inner shrine. We took our places in front of the Goddess and looked at the priest waiting for him to perform his part. But little did I know that there was a change of plan. The priest ushered me closer to the Goddess and handed over the oils and rose water to me beckoning me to go ahead and perform the sacred rite of bathing her. I took to it like a fish to water, feeling the moment of being the temple priest [a job I would have loved to have], as I caringly washed her and anointed her. I almost heard Her call out telling me to bathe Her earthly form. What a divine role that was and how I completely enjoyed being the priest for those few minutes. My hands trembled as I touched Her form, my mind went blank and my words failed as I stammered through my sacred verses. He gave me all the time I wanted, as I gently wiped her clean and covered Her in a saree we had brought for Her and stared Her straight in the eye, thanking Her for this phenomenal experience. 

"Come to me, hug me"

The priests soon took over and continued the rituals while the crowd look on occasionally shouting her name "Joy Tara Ma" and I joined them with enthusiasm proclaiming her glories to the world. I was overwhelmed and I shook just staring at her form. After the rituals were through, the priests ushered out everybody from the tiny garbha griha within which she rested. We were told to stay back and when the crowd was cleared he told me to get closer to her again. This time I was not clear on what was coming next. He emptied a box of sindhur into my bright red hands and directed me to smear it over her third eye. It was the culmination of a divine experience as I placed my humble palm over her divine forehead and touched it. I shook in my knees as he pushed me to her, telling me to hug her tight. And what a lovely hug that was as I held her close to me with the only sound that came out of my mouth "Tara Ma" as I sank myself into her lap. 

"Visit my son in the cremation ground"

I walked out of the temple with my family, reeling out of the experience. Something had happened in there, something for real and something for good. I had transformed and Ma Tara had called me over to bless me and hug me tight to reassure me that all was really well. My mind was amazingly silent, no thought dared to even make its presence felt. I blankly asked my folks if they would like to come along to the cremation ground and I met very reluctant faces. It didn’t matter, I walked back alone to the temple and down to the cremation ground as I asked for directions. Bare feet over dusty earth, I probably was walking over some poor soul's bones that lay buried in the earth of the shamshan. The fresh air of the morning made it look green while the sacred pyres lay silent. 

"Am in your heart, always"

Bama Khepa rested in his Samadhi, and I walked up close to it. A couple of people charged at me asking for dakshina, but went silent in just as much as the same speed. I sat with him for a good while, reciting the sacred Mrityunjaya and then I circumambulated his shrine, bowing at all the four directions before I came to stand in front of him. Tears rolled down my eyes and I thanked him and the divine Mother for granting me this opportunity. Tara Ma had taken her seat in my heart, and it felt warm in there. My earthy problems looked small, like stray thoughts in the mind, like unwanted noise and it was so easy to throw them away. I was home, and my mother hugged me close. I had nothing else to fear. I looked at the cremation ground and it felt as much at home as any place else. I loved it there and I felt at peace. Ma Tara was with me and her warmth continues to keep the flame in my heart burning. 

I came back home, to the south of India, calm, complete, quiet. What an adventure that was! 

Tara Ma, Her beauty - unbeatable, Her grace - unmissable, Her presence - rejuvenating, Her brilliance - all embracing, Her home - Tarapith

Joy Ma Tara!!

11.24.2014

To My Great Guru, I Pray.

It has taken me a long time to realize just how much I have not understood your presence in my life. I have come to a point where I feel hopeless and insignificant, where I realize you had come to touch my heart twice before and I failed to catch those moments. And now I try again, to reach out to you in desperation, in shame, and with all humility. I have come to detest the very nature of the limitations within the realm of being born human and at the same time I look for any sign, any hope that can make me rise up to you again. 

Getting to be your disciple has been a blessing, its not achievable to many and I had the luck. I have seen you just once from a distance, when I was a little girl giggling around not realizing the moment I was going to miss. It was when you departed that I seriously felt, I wanted to just come away with you. I lost that moment then but you reappeared again in my life, this time with greater trust, with greater love, with greater teaching. You initiated me, and I learned, I fumbled but I believe with all my inadequacies and flippant attitude, you gave me a precious gift and I kept it close to myself. 

The time has come again and the echo for your divine grace grows within my heart. Time is running out and as I live, every passing breath just yells at me echoing how wasteful I have been. I have immersed myself into reading about great saints, about the divine grace that they have been blessed with and the more I sink into that world the more I realize just how far fetched it is to reach from where I am. And yet, this miserable self will try, try as much as I can, to make myself ready for you to reappear and shower your grace upon me. 

There is so much to say and yet words fail me. Am I ever capable of getting there, I dont know, but the hunger grows. I have begun to question my existence, my purpose, my being with respect to spiritual capability. I realize deep down how difficult it is to tread your path but do I have a chance? You taught me to have faith in you and yet I fear you. You taught me discipline and yet am flippant. You taught me humility and I felt I owned you. You taught me dignity but I can feel my worhtlessness grow. You taught me to surrender but I held on to my ego. 

Am back, a hopeless mortal, at your door step requesting you for another chance to teach me again, to shape my path of realization. I find no pleasure in other mortals, I find no pleasure in material gain. I am fast losing interest in the pleasures of life, I just seek your divine grace. I know there is still time, time for me to give up this lifestyle. But meanwhile is there a chance that I may be blessed with your grace again. 

To my Great Guru, I pray. 

11.06.2014

When Lord Jagannathan Entered My Life

I am not completely aware of Krishna consciousness, and neither have I spent too much time trying to understand Vaishnavism. Maybe its time to start. Krishna made his intriguing presence felt when I started to learn more about Kali and Tantra. Thanks to my son's die hard concentration and irresistible attraction to Little Krishna, Lord Jagannatha grew on me subconsciously while I sat through repeated serials of the Divine boy on television. I found myself falling for that child, for that little village of Brindavan and all his companions, Balarama, Madhu and Subhala. With my son's new found emotions gripped by these imaginary beings who ruled his head day in and day out, I came to realize subconsciously that they were as real to me as they were to him. 

The Lord sends his messages in strange ways and in each way, I found myself sinking into a pool of deep emotion of Love, call it Bhakti, call it what ever you like. An email fell into my mailbox, with a picture of Krishna/Kali and a question - Guess who this is? With that started my next hunt, what is the Krishna association with Kali. J C Joshi's innumerable comments came flashing back to me. His whole volume of belief left behind as pearls of wisdom with the comments of my various blogs echoed back in my head well after his physical body turned history. Who really is Jagannatha?

I penned my last paragraph of a book I plan to publish sometime in the near future and realized that I, who assumed herself to be a great follower of Shiva and Shakti, had given a lot of attention to Jagannatha unconsciously in my story. I sat back to think of all the temples I had visited, it was Tirupati that had overwhelmed me the most and make me weep profusely, every time without fail. The atmosphere, the energy, the silence inside the sanctum, and his form left me in a pool full of tears. The last visit of taking my son there had proved fatal in this divine love affair. But somehow, the form that stuck in my head as the divine Krishna is Jagannatha. From that little child I would love to cuddle to the divine lover, Krishna conquers my mind in every form. 

And then he played his divine trick again in a dream, and the Ras Lila enveloped my thoughts, divine love in the eyes of the "knower" can make the emotional doer do a lot of things. A line from Sri M's book echoed in my head, when it comes to Jagannatha, we take the form  of the divine lover, that's the only state of consciousness one can reach. And in the dream he came, as a singer of divine song, as the one who plays sweet notes in his flute. A face so gentle, so handsome and yet distant beckoning me to come forward and touch him, experience him. The intoxicating sounds of his beeja mantra echoed inside my head, his searching eyes oozed the emotion of warmth, the emotion of longing, the emotion that beckoned me to just accept everything he wanted, thoughtlessly, helplessly, completely emotionally. 

I stood on the floor, in our world, my thoughts caught in his web as the beeja mantra echoed on, I could feel the weakness in my knees. I could barely hold myself for a surge of energy just headed upwards towards my heart, towards my head and I felt myself swoon in sheer bliss as I felt my consciousness fade from the real world. I clung on crying out for help - Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya - O Vasudeva, O Shankara! Hold me, for I am unable to hold myself. 

I realized how difficult it was for me to come back to the real world that minute. 

10.17.2014

The Paradox in Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Everyone wants to reach the state of perfection, of course perfection at the moment continues to be a relative term and in the nuances of human behavior there is a very thin line separating one level of perfection from the other. 

The sacred doctrines describe the ultimate state of consciousness, the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi as the perfect state. This state describes the merging of the self with Atman such that there is no individual self left. With heightened bhakti and complete love for the supreme this state is very possible to achieve as proven by a few men who have walked the earth. 

But what is this state, how do we describe a person who has achieved it. The most popularly understood approach to reach this state is when the Bhakta doesn't connect with the world around them any more, be it in mind or in body. From the social perspective, they have traveled so far into themselves that the world outside, the maya as we may call it, hardly matters to them any more. From the physical sustenance perspective, the physical body becomes so perfect that its mortal desires are either addressed internally by the body or killed purely by the evolution of the being. 

Lets take the case of self sustenance, it is the ability of the physical body to secrete Amrit within the head region and taste it frequently thus killing any external desire or dependency on food and water. And any other desire be it of the body or mind automatically dies, because the energies have been successfully channelized towards the single source of all bliss - realization of the Atman. 

And so we toil and toil hard, to reach that level of perfection, may be if not in this life we take the next and the next to get it right. We often resort to resignation than try to realize whether this path is ever possible. And with every chance we take, divinity shows the passage in rather strange ways to keep us continuously believing that we are getting there. 

But no one really told us what the rule book holds when we achieve it, the perfect state. We would almost love to be immortal. live for as long as we wished and enjoyed the fruits of living with the associated powers to get us health, wealth and happiness. But did we ever know that when a person really reaches this state, they no longer crave for that human body within which they live! The very body that we have been trying to "perfect" for all these years, centuries and lives is now something we want to or more importantly need to discard in order to move to the next level of highest spiritual endeavor. 

How contradictory this turns out to be that we struggled so much on something we ultimately choose to discard. It is the liberation from the ultimate maya, this human state that we need to achieve and Nirvikalpa Samadhi is that unreachable state that we need to get to. The human state is that last physical thing that we have to give up before we move it to the realm of the supreme. 

The thought still blows my mind! What are the great Gods really trying to teach us!

9.03.2014

Sacred Map to the Secret Door of Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.21.2014

In The Presence Of Kamakshi Amman.

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



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

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

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

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

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

What a brilliant Darshan that was! 

7.27.2014

The Mystical Lord of Obstacles - Ganesha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om Vinayakaya Namaha, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha