Awakening at the Chit Sabha, Chidambaram

I have reached a strange feeling in my journey in Shiva realization. A series of thoughts just hit me one one after another. I feel a strange futility in writing. How can I explain my experience of the divine formless Lord in words when I realize I cant really communicate the intensity or its essence in entirety?

I have realized the different layers of learning. I am excited about my finds but I am unable to share it with anyone...not that they wont listen but they may not realize the real beauty in it. How do you tell a blind man the color of bright orange flowers that grows and blooms on the tree in front of him? I feel alone, I feel some where from here my journey is that of a lone one, and no amount of explaining is going to get my thought across to anyone. And yet for some strange reason... I write.

Oh Lord Shiva, I stand speechless again at the door of your divine hall. The Vishnudharmottara says that the Supreme Brahman is formless, yet Agastyar created Urvashi by drawing her form out of mango juice, redifining the essence of beauty to all in heaven. He brought life to her character, he brought power to her form by just drawing a few lines to describe her. Such was the beauty of the divine apsara, who danced her way into the hearts of all the devas at Indra's court. Such was the power of painting and art that it gave life to imagination. This is the real power of art in expression.

Even more mystifying is the divine hall of dance on earth, the chit sabha at Chidambaram. The Golden hall in which Lord Shiva performs. In this grand venue, the Natya Raja's presence is felt, his formless self takes life within the lines of grace at this power center and he lights up the floor that gave birth to the Akasha linga.

I stand here spell bound, staring at the hall, where no one stands, where nothing moves. I look on into the sanctum, far inside surrounded by a door of flickering lamps. No flowers adorn his being, but just pure jewellery covers his self. He is Lord Nataraja, the Lord of dance, of expression, of life.

This is divine illusion, this is divine reality as the Lord awakens the rhythm into the air and the bells resound. The lamps rise, various flames light up this interior as the priest performs Arti. This is a dream, where in this chamber he raises his leg with grace. Its a delight, its a heavy feeling in the heart as one breaks down to absorb this amazingly unique form of the lord.

Within his chamber, shrouded by the deep backness of ignorance, the flames of enlightenment are lit. Within the resounding echo of mantras that wash the floor, he steps on Apasmara purusha. As the divine light of Arti rise he blesses us in Abhaya. How expressive is he, how handsome his face, how lavish his appearance in the glow of gold, and how his presence lights up the floor of dark ignorance. Indeed what a divine illusion, brought so magneficiently to life, indeed the light of enlightenment appears to be a figment of Lord Shiva's imagination, one that he makes us want, while we suffer in the blackness of its ignorance.

Imagination is a talent, it is the power to imagine, to describe beauty and attributes, to describe form and color, to describe action and rules and give it life... isnt this world just Lord Natarja's imagination, one even greater than that of Agastya?

I am speechless, I realize why most of the adorations written are in poetry. There is no better form to explain or express HIM in any better way. Language is limited to those who dont know how to use it, sound is powerful to those who know how to. Its so beautiful when we realize that this post in English is all powerless while just a single word "Hrim" can encapsulate the very energy of the Goddess Durga. How hopeless I am, that I dont even know how to craft the beauty of the Lord that i see within my limited imagination.

I simply stare at his divine form dance, silhoutted by the rising flames that gracefully dance around him. Speechless, silent, awakened.

Courtesy: Raja Deekshitar A heartfelt thanks to him for granting me this divine vision at Chidambaram.

Stella Kramrisch - Vishnudharmpttara Part 3
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Significance of the Panchamukha Linga

When I am dormant
The energy lies within me
Atma lingaaya Nama Om

The flame of this energy
Rises into divine vision
Into Rudra, the divine self
The red glow, the hue
Shines forth with all divinity.

The raw form of Rudra, in his fiery matted hair has been depicted beautifully in the Ekamukha linga of Lord Shiva at Udayagiri in the 4th cen A.D. by the Guptas. The self, raw, alone, composed with wisdom is described here. Within a sacred rocky chamber that echoes his presence I come alive within the Eka Mukha linga.

The Prana rises within me
I grow, I am present
I reside everywhere
I engulf the universe
I cover all the directions
I am panchamukha linga
I am Sadashiva

Panchamukha, the rising Shiva grows in all directions. As I evolve He rises too within me. The self, Atma lingam is at the core - Isana*. Isana is the root of the self, the core that holds all the energy within. The power of Isana is to reveal the energy of the self, this is the power of enlightenment, this is space, this is consciousness, this is Shiva within me.

To its east rises Tatpurusha, that which I am, "Tat Tvam Asi". My being rises, awakens to the world, awakens to consciousness. This is the expression of the supreme soul, of Atman that rises and is the life within us, the very presence of Iswara, He is Surya the rays of life. He is the prana I breathe, He is light, He is air.

To the south rises Aghora, the fire, the flames of life, the raw heat and beauty of Rudra in his fiery presence. He signifies life, he signifies dissolution or re-absorption, he signifies the end. He signifies the equilibrium that lies beyond birth and death, he signifies eternal bliss in the living fire of Shiva Rudra*.

To the west rises Sadyojata, the power to create. This is the power to multiply beyond the self. This is the universal power of creation where the miracle of life is visible to us. I am alive, I am the self, I can create, I am represented by Sadayojata, I am the earth that flourishes with life, I am Brahma* the creator.

To the north rises Vamadeva. Vamadeva is the beauty of the self, the poetry and the aesthetics that makes us. Vamadeva is the epitome of all the grace that we have, the presence of our beautiful nature for the world to behold. Vamadeva is the personification of love, representing the feminine form of Shiva, warmth that makes us want to take care of what we create. Vamadeva represents the Vishnu* aspect of preservation within us. It represents sustenance with life giving waters.

Panchamukha Shiva Linga is a powerful symbolism, a reflection of a great reality that encompasses all supreme deities. This form represents the Universe and all its creation, its life and itself as a whole in all directions.

The beauty of the panchamukha linga explains apparently disconnected concepts -
1) why the other heads of the panchamukha linga at Eklingji temple near Udaipur alone are named differently,
2) the placement of other deities around the Bana linga in the Panchayatana puja
3) the connection with Trimurthy at Elephanta and Adbhutanath Shiva*
4) the meaning of panchamukha which is a supreme thought, much more than just the mere naming of 5 heads.

* Elephanta Trimurthy has the 3 heads named as Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra Shiva
* Adbhutanath Shiva has the 3 heads named as Vamadeva, Isana Shiva and Aghora Rudra

Related topics:

Eklingji town, Shiva temples near Udaipur, Rajasthan

Bana Lingas from the depths of the Narmada River
Adbhutanath Shiva and the miracle of living!
Mahasadashiva - Vishwaroopa darshanam

Photo courtesy: Unknown, flickr.com


Divinity of Lord Shiva

Srinivasan sat down to pray, he was tired, tired of life, its miseries, tired of people. He sat down to spend some time with the Lord, wishing he could give more time than he had to just thinking and being with the Lord. He thought back on his life, and remembered his frustration over not understand the root principle of his deepest desire that drew him close to these temples and yet he could not explain the intensity of that emotion to anyone.

It had costed him many sleepless nights, frustration of doing things he didn’t like and of not spending time where he really wanted to. He was exhausted with life, and failed to understand this uncanny thirst he suffered without reason. He wondered about the temples, the sheer rocks that made them, the echo and tune when hit upon the sharply chiseled sides and the hollows that reverberated with the music of the heavens. He wondered about the odors, the chill in the interiors, the play of light and darkness and the many forms that embraced him as he walked through the silent corridors. He thought about the elaborately carved pillars, the symbols of divinity sprinkled all over the walls and ceiling, and everything was so magical as they called out to his heart asking him to look a little closer but yet he found nothing, he didn’t understand the meaning. This ate into his mind; the deep desire to want to know these aspects had made him act on various impulses yet nothing answered the restlessness within his mind which continued to persist.

Srinivasan began his worship, looking at the Lord in complete adoration as his hymns gathered momentum and reached certain equilibrium. He had begun to sway; he had touched the feet of the Lord in his mind and offered flowers. He sang to the Lord praising him with gratitude for granting him this opportunity to clear his mind and worship him. He felt blessed that he was able to perform puja of a serious nature while the rest of the world shunned it and consumed itself looking for immediate benefits.

Srinivasan saw the temple in his minds eye again. Why was he so drawn to it? Why did he break down into tears when he walked around it? Why did he feel bliss in the scorching heat of the rocky floor in the hot sun as he walked around it? Why did his heart swoon to the Lord in the inner sanctum, why did his eyes well up with tears, why did he break into song of divine words and why was his heart so heavy that he couldn’t breathe anymore.

Srinivasan's voice broke as he forced the mantra strongly as he sang; he was overwhelmed as he sat facing the Lord. He was breaking down again when his mind woke up once more. He had felt the Lord within his heart, he had felt the power of the Lord within the temple sanctum, he had felt the force that draws only the pure hearts, he felt the Lord calling him every time. Srinivasan broke down. His quest about himself was ending and he was beginning to piece himself together. He was coming face to face with himself, as another entity, realizing what all he, Srinivasan, really wanted. As the mantras heightened, and the rhythm filled the air drowning every sound around it, Srinivasan just broke down. It took 15 years to answer one questions, it took 15 years to realize one aspect about himself, it took 15 years to let the temple talk to him and touch his heart, it took 15 years to realize the force, the power of the Lord call him, and make him realize he was able to even connect with them!

Srinivasan was exhausted, almost paralyzed in bliss as his body awakened to this new found knowledge within his mind. The world looked a distant reality, its troubles were trivial and its people were a lost herd of sheep waiting for their master to help them out of their aimless lives. He was awakening his mind and it was so fresh and open and so receptive to the tunes of heaven, he could barely believe he had made it to the doors of Kailasa within his mind. He prayed again, raising the lamp of enlightenment to the Lord. He thanked the Lord for this moment that he would keep as his own and explain it to no one for they wouldn’t understand what bliss is. This was a quest about himself that was answered, he was now a step closer to the Lord, he was Atman touched and realized again for a brief moment, and He is Shiva the moment of truth.


Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, Bhubhaneshwar

Amidst the entire fan fair that surrounds the mela of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, the three deities Krishna Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra make their way out of the shrine of Puri. Whether they go on vacation or to their aunt’s house or to Krishna Jagannatha’s birthplace is still a speculation on the original myth. What appears to be a complex mammoth wooden structure covered with cloth to almost look like the very temple on the move could hold far more significance than just a wooden structure that transports the Gods to their heavenly abode. It is unfortunate that the emphasis is put on the Rath Yatra or Rath Tana which starts in the afternoon and not on the invoking ceremony in the morning that is the Ratha Prathistha of the Rathas themselves.

The Rath is made to look like a temple, that which traditionally represents the original temple with a platform. The wooden platform has wheels embedded within it with ropes that get pulled by the devotees. This is no ordinary Rath, it is the very character of the Lord Jagannatha Krishna enshrined into the wood that makes up this giant structure.

What’s obvious about this Rath is the towering vimana(roof) that houses the deity within with horses that pull this chariot. What is not obvious is the shape of the floor of the Rath which is far more symbolic than a few logs of timber held together. The Rath Yatra may appear to be a joy ride for the Lord and his family on three Raths being pulled all the way for Puri Jagannath mandir with drum beats and song, with folk dance and color celebrating the journey of the Lord, but it is a little more than just all the fun.

The answer to this might be found in the Brihat Tantra Sara, a large compilation of Tantrik texts that suggest that Krishna appears as a full bloomed tantrik devata with his own yantra/mandala. This yantra has the Krishna Mantra in the center:

Krishnaya Govindaya Klim sadhya Gopijanavallabhaya Svaha|

This mantra which is the essence describing the potency of Lord Krishna Jagannatha is the epicenter of the mandala the form of which can also be the “naksha” or floor plan of the Rath. The Rath where the main idol of Lord Krishna is kept is within the center of the floor plan. Surrounding it is an imaginary six pointed star, where the beeja mantras of Krishna, i.e. Shreem and Hrim alternate each other thrice, as part of the design of the mandala symbolic in nature and embedded within the floor and could be given life to during the morning ceremony. Scattered in logical order around the points of the hexagonal star are the letters of Sri Krishna:

Klim Kri shna ya Na mah

Within the 8 petals of the yantra is the longer mantra of Shri Krishna:

Namah Kamadeva| ya Sarvajanapriya| ya Sarvajan| sammohana| ya Jvala Prajvala| Sarvajanasya Hri| dayamavamsham| Kurukura Svaha||

Surrounding the 8 petals are the Matrikas or the letters of the sanskrit alphabet and in the angles of the protecting walls are the beeja mantras Shreem and Hrim again.

The Rath is sacred; the floor of the Rath is of a peculiar shape, a shape that has approximately 12 pointed ends which form this protective wall resembling the Krishna Mandala, and also reflects the temple ground plan on which the wooden temple stands. The sacred space between the protective external walls and the hexagonal star in the center contains the very letters of praise to Lord Jagannatha, within the lotus flower with 8 petals around the circle of potency, but what we see are a crowd of priests who are seen all over this sacred space.

This is the character of Lord Krishna Jagannatha, this is His power, and this is Him represented by the entire Rath from the floor to the shikhara of the Rath. What we see is the schematic tribal version of the Lord within this sacred space, completely decorated and seated atop his Rath, and though this vision of the Lord sits at the epicenter of this mobile throne, the very essence of the Lord is symbolized all across the flood and in the air that surrounds Him.

The Rath is the very embodiment of Lord Krishna Jagannatha and his family, it is the very element of their presence as they sway through the air purifying it with sound and light. The Lord in all his prana, housed in this very Rath drives through the Indian countryside of Puri. This land is blessed, to see the very Lord mingle with his people.

Related topics:
Jagannathpur temple - Ranchi - anything but Juggernaut.


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