A spider's way to salvation

It was a calm morning while Srinivasan sat down to offer his puja to Lord Shiva. Having organized every thing for a morning abhishekam, he lit the lamps and settled down to a routine rhythm of mantras that had been assigned for the worship.

In a little copper cup by his side he kept a dwi-mukhi rudraksha, submerged in water as instructed. The hymns began in rhythmic motion, one rhythm following another in gentle flow repeating each verse at least 18 times. It was during this moment that Srinivasan happened to notice the copper cup.

A small black spider had fallen in and stayed still sinking into the water, with absolutely no attempt to swim to safety. He wondered where it had come from. He hastily picked up the spoon from the "panchapaatra udrini"(a traditional container with a spoon that carries water, found in every household.) and helped the spider to dry ground.

Srinivasan, watched the spider, crawl around with trouble, trying to free a few of its legs from the heavy drops of water that covered its abdomen. He stared back at the Linga, with calm, smiling to himself that he had helped the creature to safety. Srinivasan’s mind went places as he recited the Rudram, to all the shrines of Lord Shiva he had visited, to all the Garbha Grihas he had stood in front of, watching the Lord in all His finery and the intoxicating ambience of those silent rocky interiors that had withstood time.

He stared back at the Spatika linga after he bathed it in abhishekam. It glowed from within the chamber of the puja room. Its glow was strange, brighter light than what he had otherwise seen. Was it the light refracting differently or was it something else? He wondered as he carried on the hymns, loosing himself yet again. Srinivasan moved the taambaalam(a brass plate) to the side carefully so as not to spill the water that had bathed the Linga. It was now holy, with mantra concentrate, every word, every breath captured in every drop of water that had fallen on the Lingam. Potent water, of which he had taken three sips, a blessing from the Gods, a portion of life for the plants when he finally poured it into their roots.

There was silence in the room yet again and Srinivasan bowed down, the final namaskaram(bow in adoration) as he prayed for peace of mind and turned to clear the place. The taambaalam contained a mirror of water, a deathbed to some and life giver to others. In the water floated the spider, now lifeless. It lay upside down, its life taken by the heavy words of worship as it departed from what we call the realm of the living. Srinivasan stared speechless, thinking hard. The spider had always wanted to die, it had looked for water, water that was potent with the power of the Lord Himself and finally guided itself to its final destination.

Srinivasan found it very strange, that the spider seemed to know what lay within the taambaalam, for its walls were high enough to contain a volume of water, that was more a sheet of death that enveloped its very life within its surface. Srinivasan was overwhelmed. While his plants grew exceptionally wilder, the power of the mantra being visible in every pore of their leaves, making them look ever so fresh, the same life giving water was now the path to salvation for a small spider that had insisted to end its life within it.

Srinivasan sat back, a tear rolling down his eyes, as he stared at the lifeless spider float in the water. He had no idea how spiders end their lives, but this one looked very strange. Srinivasan picked up the spider from the water, went to the plants, dug into the mud and buried it. He poured the water into every plant reciting the mantra praying this time, not for himself but for the spider that had shown him that there is a mind in every creature, big and small and that the path to salvation opens up in strange ways.


A moment with Lord Shiva within

A moment of stillness
All time stops,
the world freezes
I take a single breath
A fresh breath of life
As I look around me
People lost in their worlds
Of suffering, expectation and misery
Walk aimlessly through their lives

It’s a pause in time
A moment of awakening
When all else just sleeps
An enveloping calm
A cocoon of peace
As I walk through this forest of people
Careful not to disturb

To each his own
Clinging to anything
Familiar worlds
An escape from all fears
Of darkness, of loneliness, of lull
A fear so thick
Like a blanket it clouds
Their sense of reason to live free

An aimless life
Of meticulous effort
An endless desire to please
All those around
To suffer the pain of bondage
Seeking all around
A sense of approval
A sense of acceptance
Of their pathetic selves.

Oh wake up fair people
The world is a great place to be
If love be thy first mantra to see
To show all around
Nothing changes but the self
The world at large fails to see
The truth in these words
The silent path to peace

This moment of pause
My silent world beyond
all the madness around me
A world free from all
A world where the Gods reside
The heavens thrown open
The celestial dancers perform
A hall of glory and knowledge
A hall within me

A hall so bright with knowledge
A land so pure with the truth
A complete life of immortality
A complete world of potency
Where every moment is
A shining pearl of experience.

Life in my body,
fresh air in my breath
A shine to my skin
A twinkle in my eye
An ever-lasting smile
Sweetness grows in my heart
As nectar of love flows forth
Cleansing away all my misery

A body so pure, a mind so clean
A heart so free, for every one to see
Words in poetic motion flow
Give rhythm to my feet
The lord dances in
A world of pure energy
Such is the beauty within
Is it so tough to see?

A single moment of pause
A whole new world revealed
A moment of experience
To know and to believe.
While the darkness sets in
The light shines within me
Where all roads end
I am the path to Myself
Where all misery halts
I am the freedom within

The lord shines within me
The Lord speaks to me
The Lord dances in my heart
The Lord lives for all to see
That silent potency I finally touched
So unknowingly so carelessly
I feel so light and warm
I feel I have set myself free.

Photograph: Ekamukhalinga, Nepal.


A magical dance with Chidambaram Nataraja

The temple courtyard
my floor
The pillared halls
echo the rhythm
The calling, a beat
the mridangam
resounding into the air
The grand theater of Chidambaram
My dancing hall in gold.

The nature of dance
pure emotion
The art of Bharata
The expression in abhinaya
A language unknown
yet felt within
The lord awaits in silence
All i see are the birds
The sky, nothingness
pure space
Chidambaram Nataraja

I know no dance
no such expression
yet the body moves
in every action
every thought
every mudra
a natural so unborn
that i do not know
what is right from wrong
I just flow

The world around
appreciates the aesthetics
A high form of expression
felt but not understood
touched but not analysed
witnessed but not experienced
A natural am I
that even i do not know

The performer I am
in the dance of life
overflowing from within
unknown to myself
for I do not see
that which I emote
I just perform
the dance of life!

A call to the Lord
to dance with me
the twist in the hand
the wish fulfilled
He descends to the floor
for me to see
in silent space
the air moves
the vigor around
the dust shaken
the leaves fly
the flames dance
the mridangam in rhythm
gives the beat
the sound reverberates
the Lord touches the floor
the earth shakes

Together we move
Together the expression
Together the power of dance
Together the emotion
Together the abhinaya
Complete mano laya
Complete conciusness
The world stops
the air freezes
time halts
nothing moves
just two forms
displaying the beauty
of life within.

The meaning of Chidambaram

Chi- refers to the purifying of the consciousness,
dam – the rhythm of the Bharata Shastra, the basis of which is given by Patanjali here at this sthala
ba – the lifting of the leg in the rhythm of Tandava Nataraja in all 8 directions of the Ashtadikapalas,
ram – the Na Ma Shi Va Ya Panchakshara mantra as taught by Lord Shiva to the Sanahadimunivargal, the desciples of Dakshinamurthy Shiva.


The killing of Mahishasura on Vijayadasami.

We are all aware of the Great War where the demon King of Mahisha, Mahishasura was slain by the Goddess Durga. These days of war had a lot more going into it than just one complete slash of the buffalo demon’s head.
It is interesting to notice that two aspects of the female energy are worshipped during this time of 9 days. On one end its the fiercest form of the Goddess coming forth to slay one of the worst enemies of mankind and devas while on the other end she is worshipped as a coy little girl, yet to be married.

But lets get to the story of Mahishasura first. Kambasuran who later got the title of Mahishasura ruled the kingdom of Mahisha. After having performed tapasya, he asked Brahma for a boon which was granted. This rendered him almost immortal for no man could kill him. He would die only in the hands of a woman, one who had equal power as him. With this confidence, he plundered the common people off their wealth and disturbed the rhishis when they did their puja and constantly troubled the devas. This was done with the help of his sons Sumbhan and Nisumbhan and his brother Durgamanasura.

The first to die in the Great War is Durgamanasura who is slain by the Goddess on the first day of the war, in the form of Mahalakshmi. Durga takes on the forms of Nava Durga during the next 8 days to slay the buffalo demon.
During this time she takes the form of:

Vana durga (The goddess of the forests),
Chulighai Durga (Consort of Tripurantaka Shiva),
Jatavetaka Durga(she calms the fiery side(ughra) of Murugan when he was just born),
Jwala durga (she defeats another asura called Pandasura),
Shanti Durga (she calms Shiva when he is insulted by Daksha who performs the yajna without inviting him)
Sabari Durga (she advices Arjuna to surrender to Lord Shiva the hunter, in the story of Kiratarjuniya, and finally wins him the Pashupatastra in the Mahabharata)
Deepa Durga (she signifies the flame that is worshipped by all yogis when their kundalini fails to rise)
Asuri Durga (she brings out the Amrit from the churning ocean and gives it to Vishnu in the form of Mohini.)
Lavana Durga (She helps Rama get the astra that will kill Lavana, a general in the army of Ravana. The astra is an arrow with has a trishul at the end of it.)

During the time of Navaratri, Durga is worshipped to kill all evil, Lakshmi gives wealth to all the poor people Mahishasura had plundered and Saraswati gives knowledge to all so that they can start their lives again. The Goddess fought the battle during the day and went into tapasya during the night. Its during this time she receives the Shankha and chakra from Vishnu, the trishul from Shiva, The Vel(spear) from Murugan, and the sword and arrow from Chamunda. Its finally of Vijaya Dasami day that Durga finally slays Mahishasura and his two sons and vanquishes the asura army.

Markhandeya Rishi adds more to the 9 days of Navaratri. He directs women to worship the Goddess in various forms each day.

On day 1: as a 2-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Kumari.
On day 2: as a 3-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Thrimurti.
On day 3: as a 4-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Kalyani.
On day 4: as a 5-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Rohini.
On day 5: as a 6-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Kaligha.
On day 6: as a 7-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Chandika.
On day 7: as a 8-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Sambhavi.
On day 8: as a 9-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Durga devi.
On day 9: as a 10-year-old child the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Subhadra.

This is called Kanya Puja, which ensures that young girls will get married into good families. With this we come to the end of Navaratri celebrations.