Goddess Tripurasundari, Oh Goddess of Love

Oh Sweet Mother
Who is seated on the lap of the Lord
Who is seated in this divine realm
Who has won his mind and heart
Who rises out of the lotus of HIs divine navel
Who resides in the warmth of his arms

In the silence of this moonlit night
As the crescent moon dances on her fore 
Reflecting his potency in her eyes
Oh this elixir of life 
That shines as bright as His third eye
Oh Goddess of love
Oh Kamakshi, lover of the great Kameshwara
You are the swan that swims
In the Manasa lake, in the minds of great saints
You hold this sugarcane that represents my mind
You are the form of pure consciousness
You who are the essence of the Hamsa Mantra
Dancing to the tune of every reverberating breath
Composed of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Iswara and  Sadashiva
You are that beauty transcending both good and evil

Oh great goddess of love
Oh heavenly goddess of purity
Oh graceful maiden who walks 
in the shallows of my dreams
Oh consort of the great Lord Shiva
Your beauty is beyond words
Your love so overwhelming
Your feminity so divine
Your form so sacred
Sweet music dissolves my soul 
Tingling bells of your girdle sing
As you walk your graceful gait
Your enveloping beauty in shining gold
Your elegance that blankets your power
Oh Sweet mother, daughter of this earth

Oh Red hued Goddess
Dressed in garments of yellow gold
I place this yellow flower on your brow
I apply this kumkum on your being
I worship this form, the sacred Sri Chakra 
Oh divine goddess studded in precious stones
Awaken me to your super consciousness

Remore this veil of dense Maya
Bathe me in your divine Love
Free me from this bondage of Karma
Bless my soul to reach the elixir of Soma 
That resides on your crown
This sacred ambrozia forever be mine.

Inspired from the Lalitha Sahasranamam


Tungnath, highest abode of the great Lord Shiva

Chilling winds blow through the mountains as the fog descends on to sacred land. There in the horizon, high up overhanging the cliff stands a small temple, with a character so profound, my feet remain stuck in the earth as I look up to this splendor, this beauty that feels like a divine gift from heaven. 

Brass bells hang down inviting me into this mystical world of beauty and power that I wonder as why I am wasting my life in this mundane reality when my heart yearns out to be with the Lord, here in his heavenly abode. 

Lost in a world of its own, inaccessible to all those who either dont know or dont care, cradled in the lap of mother nature, with a few ancient stones put together to sanctify a presence of the Lord who once graced this planet, here stands the small and quaint temple of Lord Tungnath Shiva. 

The Garhwal Himalayas tower around as a protective cover to this splendid workmanship once meticulously put together in stone. Such is the poetry that mystically covers this land, this earth, this temple, the sacred hands that once fell to the earth when Lord Shiva tried to escape from the Pancha Pandavas. 

The bells ring, reverberating sounds pierce the air as the fog clears to let the bright sunlight through. White clad, ice laiden, transforming this beauty into a mystical maiden, Tungnath temple leaves anyone breathless over how beautiful the world can really be. The red flag of the Gods flies hight up into the air, the eroded rock wake up to another day of chilling weather, and the white snow gleams in the sunlight describing the untouched beauty of Tungnath. 

My feet penetrate the snow that blankets this earth as the sunlight directs me to the open doors of heaven. My heart melts, my emotions sink, my eyes are frozen staring into this clear silence in the wind. Nandi sits in divine presence, the sound of OM becoming even more clearer as he sits at the doorstep of Lord Shiva in silent meditation.

In this chill, I sit for a while, closing my eyes, feeling my breath as I descend into meditating on the sacred verses of Trayambaka Shiva. There is nothing here, simple void, just the stark presence of the Lord makes one feel in union. The chill in the air, the clear blue sky, the constant sound of the bells, the sweet verses that roll out of my self and the deep breath that gathers momentum after repeating the sacred syllables. This is meditation, this is dhyanam, this is what the world looks like when we give up all materialism and desire. 

The belief that great souls once walked this earth, the faith that there is power and purity in this land, the living power of sacred meditation now housed within stone walls of a small quaint temple, built centuries ago to preserve the truth that divinity still rules, love still exists, surrender is the only path and enlightenment is the only way forward to the next life. What a different thought, what a different feeling to live this profound worship.


The Eternal Dream of Bliss

I sit here swinging between two worlds. I met her, a practicing tantric and what a wonderful woman she turned out to be. She unraveled her life, a life that appeared to be a part of me. She sang her way through, she is the ultimate romantic. Just watching her is a pleasure. Just listening to her sweet words is an experience. Being with her brings me this uncanny joy and excitement I have never felt before. She once knew the real meaning of Bhairava, she once practiced Tantra.

With her presence my whole imaginary world of the Gods sprung back to life. The Lord reappeared into this intoxicating space. He lured me to this world of magic, of divinity and of such amazing charm that one could lie there swollen with love, paralyzed and drowning in bliss.

He breaks out of his stony shackles; he dances the wild dance of love. He awakens in me this strange frenzy that is waiting to just burst out of my contained human self. I am wild, I am free. I am that which you do not see. I am the eternal Bhairavi locked in this human temple for this life.

In this mystical realm, where all the Gods and celestial beings live, where charm and beauty are beyond the unthinkable, where intellect is pure and of superior nature, where the language of speech is that within the mind and where the essence of life is pure energy and love. There are no secrets, there is no good or bad, this is my world, the
celestial land of the dancing Gods.

Nataraja dances gracefully, his long locks sway in gentle waves in the wind. Parvati seated in divine charm, a golden glow that surrounds her envelopes my heart. Chamunda and Kali bring out their wilderness, such depth in their beauty, such warmth in their eyes, such power in their being I have never seen or felt.

Is this the real worship in my heart, are these the silent depths I ache to see, is this that mystical world I want to be a part of... O Divine Lord, how much longer do I wait to have a glimpse of your divine feet? To be a part of divine land, to take a dip every day at the Ganges, to feel the cold of the mountains, to breathe the silence of the cave, to bathe in the tranquility of life and to view the very Lord every day...Ah! What a life, what an eternal moment of joy.

My eternal home, by a small shrine made for the Lord, by a small kund that holds water so pure, by the walls of towering mountains. To live on sacred ground surrounded by Shiva lingams, to live under the shadow of the divine Trishula, to be a part of that charming archaic world in stone, to smell the pure air and listen to the reverberation of the temple bell echo around the hill side... what a life.

Photo courtesy:
James G. Lochtefeld


The essence of Shiva Bhairava

Look up to the bright sky and train your eyes to see the brightness in it, you will notice the faint clouds that glow even brighter in that light. Look up to the sun for a few seconds and maintain the gaze even in the brightness, you will notice it is round and glowing even more. Keep silent and close all your sense faculties and kill all the noise around you and you will realize the primordial sound OM grows within you.
This is Bhairava, This is Shiva, This is prana.

Prana, as beautifully described in the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, is not the breath that goes in and out, but the eternal space that can be felt between any two breaths. Prana is not the air we breathe but it is the energy or life that is generated by the constant vibration between any two breaths. This is where OM is felt.
This is defined as Bhairava, This is defined as Shiva, This is Prana.

The human self is described most poetically; we are but a lotus plant, whose stem is blue on the outside and red on the inside. We are but a lotus plant whose stem is the channel through which Shakti flows upwards to meet her Shiva at the seat of consciousness. We are but a lotus plant immersed in the waters of Maya but enlightened at the epitome of our consciousness - the thousand petal form.
This consciousness is Bhairava, this feeling of bliss is Shiva.

When your senses shiver and your mind becomes still, and when you quiver, feel this bliss. When you practice love in the ritual of union feel the quivering of your senses like the wind in the leaves. You will feel ecstatic love. At the start of this union, be in the fire of this energy released by intimate sensual pleasure. Merge into Shakti, burn in this space but avoid the ashes in the end. Feel your substance, your bones, your flesh and your blood saturated with cosmic energy.
This is Bhairavam this is Shiva, this is supreme bliss

There is beauty in the emptiness of space devoid of trees, hills or dwellings. There is poetry in the fire of life that burns all illusion to death. I see the entire world burn as a blazing inferno and when all turns to ash, I feel this space that envelopes me, I feel the entire universe dissolving into subtler form until it merges into pure consciousness.
This is Bhairava, Thihs is Shiva, This is prana.

Waves are born in the ocean and dissolve in the ocean itself, flames are born out of fire and dissolve in this fire of life. The sun appears in the sky and fades into the sky itself. The self rises in the realm of knowledge and energy and slowly being deprived of it, dissolves into itself revealing to us our true being.
This essence of subtle life is Bhairava, is Shiva, is Prana.


The character of Maya

Adi Shankaracharya has composed 5 stanzas of excellence that describe Maya.

Three Stanzas that really made me smile are:

Stanza 2: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, makes even those who have mastered the Vedas and Upanishads behave no better than a four legged animal by tempting them with wealth and possessions. What a pity!

Stanza 4: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, creates in the pure bliss-consciousness which is devoid of attributes such as caste, creed and the like, the notion of "I"-ness, of looking upon oneself as Brahmana, Vaisya etc. as well as attachment to son, wife and home

Stanza 5: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, creates in Brahman which is homogeneous, without any parts, distinctions such as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and thereby perplexes even the learned by making them look upon Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as different from one another.


When we see a movie we get emotionally involved in the story, we feel we are a part and we emote with the actors and have opinions of good and bad, right and wrong, funny and smart etc as the characters unfold. As the plot thickens, and the movie gets gripping, we forget the outside world and once the movie is over we snap out of this illusory world of which we were a part for the last 3 hours.

Life as you and I know is quite something like that. Here the plot appears much more real, the players are real, the problems appear real and we come with a preconditioned mindset that doesn’t allow us to see beyond. This is the world of Maya. There is nothing new about it. The only thing we tend to forget is that the movie reel is generated in the mind.

Through each day we wake up to, through each sun rise we see in our lives, the mind sets itself to a set of tasks that need to be done, people who need to be dealt with, moments that need to be lived. The mind works within a framework of thought and emotion, thought that creates the perception and related emotion that makes a person experience it. And so, we get so sucked into it that we fail to see that our perception of the event is a working of our mind and not the actual event in itself.

Once that distinction is made a few questions can come forward. Few questions that are dared not mentioned in a social environment because perception reigns supreme, and collective perception is very dangerous to deal with. Therefore, everyone wants to be perceived the right way irrespective of whether they are that way or not. And it’s amazing; our entire life just goes off in this perception building contest, with a never ending list of events to support. What a waste of time and live and energy!

Spiritualism addresses this illusion, this perception contest that we are in, all the time, at home, at work and among friends. To most this Maya appears like the only thing life has to offer, but to some this is the most claustrophobic environment to live in. The nature of Maya is that of a thick cloud that envelops us, and its presence as an illusion that cages us, becomes even more apparent when we begin to want out of this illusionary drama we are forced to play every moment. But when does one get this feeling of suffocation?

If we have it in us, the thought should arise in itself and question what the word illusion is in the scriptures. It’s a widely used term with no explanation that draws a parallel in our real life. So let’s take a real life situation. Living in a corporate world can be one of the most energy sapping experiences since we want to do things our way and at the same time dance to the whim and fancy of others. We can have a missile coming at us anytime so we work hard enough to make this perception work in our favor, much more harder than we actually work on the job given! There are only 2 ways out of this long endless journey, either we get sucked into it or we want out. If we get sucked into it, there is no way we are ever going to realize the density of this cloud but when we begin to want out, is when the suffocation can really hit.

On one side is the materialism we are used to, on another the greed for that monthly income that sustains our world, and on the third side we have a jumping mind that doesn’t quite know which way to go and we are so controlled by it.

The best example I can think of to describe Maya or illusion is like its a radio channel. The best time to experience it is when we are coming out of anesthesia. Doctors advice that the patient will mumble things which should not be paid heed to as they largely "don’t make sense". The "don’t make sense" describes the presence of the subconscious and that apparent reality of which we feel we are a complete part before we come back into this world. It’s the only time the subconscious and the conscious world are in equal footing for a few hours before we tune back into this world. We live in two places, and if we look close enough the subconscious takes over as dream by night. Its another real world we belong to in a different state. How then can we dismiss it?

Given that our conscious state is far stronger than the subconscious state, we tend to believe we belong to only one world. But when we wake up from a dream or come out of anesthesia we realize we belonged to another world far more strong in emotions and intensity but far more subtle at the same time. What a fantastic world to be in. If the subconscious were that real, we would be of a different nature. Our intensity would be of a much more superior nature, our presence would be much more overpowering and there would be no room for superficial living. The power of the mind is amazing, and God alone knows how different the real world would look then.

Sweet people wake up, for if we thought we were awake and living... we are in deep sleep right now for the subconscious calls and that road is defined as spiritualism.


Mysticism in the Sri Chakra Puja

Mysticism is an ocean of unexplainable phenomenon... well what can I say about it, except that the ingredients are different, the rules are different, the results are different and the acceptance of it makes the world look very different.

Rahasya is a beautiful word. It describes the law of the divine system of the Gods, and the inner meaning and powers and the benefits there of. The power of the Sri Chakra is one such rahasya. Puja is a beautiful system which defines the rules of adoration with the elements of sound, divine geometry that is interwoven with the very being of the worshiper. The art of Yantra Puja, brings a balance between the energies that surround the outer world around the devotee and that of the inner world within them.

Once the association of the devotee starts with the Sri Chakra, the central Bindu of the Yantra maps with the center of the devotee's own inner being. The center of the Universe that are centered around this mandala represent the energies of the psycho physical constitution of the devotee concentrated within. This is the journey of all the forces that are currently diffused to be concentrated towards the center of the being. From here on, with little or no attachment they begin their journey to the center of their own universe. This universe is defined by the same concept that pronounces the journey one makes from the entrance of the temple right up to its main sanctum in its structure, or the movement from the outskirts of a great ancient kingdom to its inner palaces or from the outside world of Maya to the inner realm that lies dormant within oneself.

In this realm, two things play a strong role, that of consciousness and that of energy, both of which are available to the devotee in abundance. Consciousness is the "Shiva" element within the mind of the devotee while energy is the "Shakti" element. When a devotee settles down to Yantra Puja, and gets into the state of divine dialog with the Sri Chakra, they begin to give up the external world around them and start to drift towards the realm of the inside. From here on, what appears to the outside world as "peace of mind" actually is the starting of a whole new life that is defined by the very Yantra that they worship, within which divinity has been brought to reside.

The Yantra is the very nature of the worshiper and breathes life giving energy into the realm of the worshiper thereby bringing harmony and wealth and prosperity as perceived by the outer world. But in the mind of the devotee what matters is the mysterious world of which they have now become a part. Here the rules are different. There is no transaction, there is just divine love, faith, surrender, cause and effect. Here there are just states to be in and each state has its own characteristics. Here society and order have no room. This is the inner realm of the being, of the self where only divine reality matters.

In this world, the Yantra becomes and active player, the life giving source of all energy and with every passing worship it makes the devotee stronger in their zest for life and for death. Life and death appear like two parts of the same reality, life being one state that transits into another that is death. The mind experiences a lot more magic, unexplained and yet spectacular. The signs are all over the devotee's mind. Its a moment of awakening when the devotee realizes that ancient symbolism was not really a creation of man's imagination, it was a gift of the Gods that got left behind as visual proof, the source and logic of which is still being rediscovered. In this state Lord Shiva and Goddess Tripura Sundari are more real that the people who are part of one's external reality.

The Sri Chakra begins to breathe life into the devotee's world. The gates to heaven open in all the four cardinal directions, the 16 petals of time bloom and all the stars begin to let go their clutches, their influence on the devotee's life. The great guardians open their inner gates and the attendant yoginis come alive to dance and worship the great goddess within. The inner world awakens, each divine being in their respective Koshas, display the extravaganza of their nature, waking up this inner world, of beauty and divinity to the devotee. This is the divine realm, of silence and pure sound, of light and powerful energy that awaken within the physical mass of the human mind. At last, the inner world comes into divine reality, the four great pillars of life, of direction signified by Brahma[North East], Vishnu [South East], Rudra [South West] and Isana [North West].

This journey is powerful, different and once its started there is no going back. In the language of spiritualism this is termed as realization, an irreversible process within the mind. At the center of this experience is the Anugraha form of the Goddess, that of Sadashiva and Kameshwari represented by the color white and that of color red. This is believed to be at the peak of Mount Meru, at the sacred uppermost peak within the human being at the Sahasrara Chakra. This world is illumined by the subtle beauty of the crescent moon, by the brilliance of the sun and by the burning desire of agni within the mind of the devotee. This is divine union a smaller representation of which in the outer world is the miracle of child birth in our reality.

To the divine parent I pray
Who reside on my fore
Who awaken the crescent moon of my being
Who are at the epicenter of my Bindu
Who breathe life into me
And produce the sacred sounds of divine life at the Nada
I pray to you, O divine parent,
Bless me with a life
Complete with my earthly duties fulfilled
And lead me back home
To the divine realm of your world
In this hope I continue to live
To catch a glimpse of thee
From within the limits of my finite self.

Related Posts:
Bindu Visarga - A drop of moon on the crown of Tripura Sundari
Maya, an Integral part of Shakti

Sri Chakra Yantra - From Sri Nagar to Ujjain
Chandra Yoga - The moon light, a drop of immortality


Ritual - A science more than just a superstition

Sound, stone, darkness, light, water, flowers, incense, and most importantly the very sacred shrine that resides deep within the temple brings a glimpse of that mystical world that is fast leaving us.

Mysticism, is in that energy that we believe we derive our peace of mind from.
Mysticism is in that energy that we cannot explain even if we feel it.

Mysticism is in that energy that is charged when we mix sound with fire and water on material like stone and metal with a drop of color.
Mysticism is in that change in the environment that takes place after the ritual is performed.

Is there any equation in current day science that we are so strong in believing that can define this theory:

Sound + fire + water + stone/metal[prescribed] + fragrance + oil/ghee[natural extracts] = energy unknown but profound!

The constant in this equation is line + conductor of electricity[veins/nerves] + mind [Bhakti/concentration/meditation].

The catalyst in this equation is mollusks + color + fruit + cow + location

The result is the generation of an energy of such a kind whose nature cannot be defined by language as we commonly know it.


Sound - as defined by beeja mantra, small capsuled syllables that have been predefined and are not part of regular spoken language.

Fire - as defined by the oil that holds the flame in a lamp or as defined by the fire that is worshiped during sacrifice [homam/havan]

Water - as defined by an integral methodology of bathing the concerned element that holds the energy

Stone/metal/mud/wood - as defined by the stone [marble/stone from riverbed/black stone] or metal [gold/silver/copper/brass/iron - panchaloham idol] or [yantras of deities on metal plates] or mud/wooden idols

Fragrance - as defined by flowers and fruit and other offerings like incense

Extracts - as defined by oil/ghee/honey


Lines - As defined by the mystical diagram representing a deity, encompassing their nature within it

Conductor of electricity/charge - As defined by the wiring within us [veins/nerves/blood]

Mind - The machine that keeps this experiment running constantly, should it have enough input in terms of Bhakti/concentration.


Mollusks - Offering of water through sacred shells taken from the depths of the ocean

Color - The color depicted in matter like kumkum, ash, sandalwood, the dress color of the idol in worship [Devi is red]

Fruit - The essence derived from natural bodies for this experiment to sustain

Cow - A strong catalyst that delivers greater results with offerings of milk/ghee/curd/urine/excreta in certain prescribed ways.

Grass - As represented by Kusha or Darbha, to keep the purity of the location

Location - should be ideally remote/hill top/river side/lap of nature.


Result of the experiment if performed continuously in the form of "ritual" or prescribed methodology has a good chance of rendering the human being energized, peaceful. If performed at certain times[Purnima/pradosham/Ammavasya] in long duration can charge the body further to be able to evolve into a greater realm of states that are yet to be discovered.

Seat of the experiment in material form - Divinity within a shrine
Seat of the actual experiment in the formless world - In the Mind of the person performing

Should we agree to accept this process as a scientific theory yet to be realized[by us of course] we might just respect our ancient system a little more than what we do mechanically at the moment.

This is serious methodology and not a superstition whose results are yet to be gathered and believed in. The methodology is called Puja in lay man language.


Maya, an Integral part of Shakti

Vaishno Devi Shrine

The Thirumanthiram quotes:

"From thence evoluted Maya
Latent in Shakti like lustre in crystal
Mighty its power
Beyond power of speech to recount."

There is such beauty in this line. Isn't it our perception that rules us more than what really exists in reality?

This is a small example of how our own perception can imprison us into this web of Maya that we make judgments based on our own futile ignorance. I visited the doctor recently for a minor checkup. As I discussed about my ailment to the doctor, I noticed a skull kept high up on the wall that immediately took my fascination. I requested the doctor to allow me to hold the skull in my hand. It was an amazing feeling, to hold something so remote, so feared, and so repulsed. I looked closely at it and imagined myself at a shamshan ghat holding the same thing by night, near the fire and sprinkling mantras to the air calling the Goddess Kali to my doorstep. I smiled and kept it back.

When we reached home later, I raised this subject with my mother, who had also visited the clinic with me. She seemed very comfortable with me holding this skull in my hand at the clinic, but she had no idea about my thoughts :). I asked her the question again. It was so peaceful, and so harmless to hold this skull in the doctor's office. But if I had worn an orange or red outfit, smeared large amounts of Kumkum on my forehead, held this very same skull in my hand in the darkest of nights at a different location, a shamshan ghat for example, and done nothing else, how would she have reacted to it? It was equally harmless there too, and I am calling no Goddess or indulging in any malevolent practice and yet I would have looked deadly, scary and mystically more powerful than ever.

Isn't this perception? Isn't this the description of a mind working overtime, with biased information already fed in; that anyone in this attire in this time of the night holding such objects is "evil" or "scary" and better off left alone? But should I walk into a doctor's office and wear simple clothes and a much smaller Kumkum, in light, I would appear so much more friendly! And yet... the "I" is missing in both these perceptions.

None of these two perceptions describes my personality. None of these two perceptions looks at me the human being and my nature of what I am, but both focus entirely on the exterior of what I wear and how I appear. In short both the perceptions are deceived by my "luster" and none really look at the quality of the "crystal" within me.

Similarly, in this beautiful poetic verse described by the great sage Tirumular, Maya is described as the perception we have of the Goddess and not the Goddess herself. Maya, with all its complications is but a figment of our imagination. It’s an illusion we simply love, are too familiar with and do not want to get out of, so much so that we make it difficult for those who want to try.

Maya, is such a thick cloud of illusion that it doesn't let our mind, or senses even seek that which is in our subconscious. It is so full of deceptive action that we spend our waking hours, our concentration, our time, and our energy trying to live in that illusion without even realizing we have spent so much wasted effort in the wrong place. Maya is that barrier that exists between our consciousness and the world that lives in our subconscious and that glimpse is best found in its purity when we try to seek it within ourselves.

If we were to live this verse as sung in the Thirumanthiram, then we need to be aware of the conscious world, and not let it affect us, making it insignificant enough that it has little or no value in the world that lies within us in our subconscious. The Goddess to whom we have given form and color and power, is that inner energy that we still fail to realize is lying buried within us, unknown and we still remain enamored by the luster of life, of Maya.

Shakti is that which is beyond the Maya as we know it, Shakti is described as that which is beyond the life as we define it and Shakti is that which we experience when we attempt to take a dip into the subconscious world we have built within ourselves. We still remain blindly disposed to the luster of life, we barely even know where the crystal is to be found. The real beauty is within and we so don't have the power to conquer it for we fall to its luster, to its Maya, to its glitter, to our perception of it.

In the darkness of the subconscious, beyond the illusive light of this luster, lies the power of Mata, of the Goddess that remains untouched. She sits there silent, in darkness, in her reddish sheen so subtle that we do not know how to define and perceive her beauty. She is pure, sacred, and formless but her presence is experienced in her warmth as a beautiful Goddess, shining bright as her golden halo radiant with life, the crescent moon glows like a drop of amrita that rests on her all divine self. This is her all encompassing self that is so beautiful to experience, that even words fail to break the barrier of speech to describe her.

She is silence, She is void, She is light, She is beauty.

The only way to reach her is to bring the mind under control, with repeated thoughts focused on her such that we breath, think and live with thoughts only about the Mother and nothing else really matters. At the end of some time, the conscious state tunes itself to the same depth in thought to the subconscious so much that there is really no difference between both the worlds. This is when a thick cloud of illusion becomes a thin line and perception is now as pure are real.


Elements at the shrine of Lord Shiva

In this chaotic world
You have come to reside in my home
In this noisy jungle
You have brought silence to my mind
In this blind rush for wealth
You have given me the greatest gift of all
In this illusion of life
You light the fire of enlightenment.

I have often wondered what is it I am looking for when I visit a shrine. I have wondered what is it I feel when I come close to sacred altars. I have sat back to think, how does a person feel the presence of the Lord residing there?

The darkness within a shrine brings a mysterious world to light that is magical and exclusive. There are no words to describe what the heart and mind can feel when the sanctity of the shrine is preserved, and preservation is described such.

Darkness describes the void beyond this illusion of life, it is the darkness in the realm of nothingness. It is the space, the air where nothing exists. And in this darkness, there is a drop of light, that lights up the form of that who is formless. Fire, the beautiful path of enlightenment brings back to our real world a sacred truth that can only be imagined. The fire, is a path that illuminates the chamber inside, fire is the purity that enlightens one and blesses us with divine vision. Fire is so bright that it blinds the eye from all its illusion. Fire is the heat that reduces the ego to ash. Fire is the formless that gives us a glimpse of the form of the Lord. Fire can neither be created nor destroyed by us. That which is ever present, that which just appears and disappears, that which has the power to sustain us as well as destroy us, that which glows brighter than anything else within the chamber... isn't that the very Lord Himself giving us a small example of how vast and limitless he is, like the fire, he can be a drop of light or grow within seconds into a deadly forest fire? He can give warmth and scrotch us to death at the same time. Isn't this duality the very nature of the Lord Himself?

In these flames does one notice the silence deep within, the darkness now cut away as the light bathes the sacred shrine. The wet floor shimmers as the tiny waves of water come flowing down from the idol in mystical elegance. These are the waters of life, freely falling into the abyss of darkness below. These are the sacred drops that cover his form in purity as they drape his being as they flow down. Crystal clear waters form ripples of a thousand suns embedded in its various reflections. What a beautiful sight it is to see the Lord enveloped in such divinity. The formless, the shapeless, that takes the shape of anything its put into, like the atman that resides in any given body and gives it life, and yet it is so pure and crystal clear even if the container is flawed... Isn't this the very nature of the Lord we define in water?

The air is fragrant, the space is so pure. There is a rush of emotion as the eyes are set in a gaze to look up to this life beauty within these walls. The air is thick with the fragrance of flowers and incense. It is everywhere at the same time, all enveloping, and pure, unmoved and stable. It fills the space in this chamber, covers the ether with its presence and one can feel the gradual flowing waves of the sound that carries the rhythm of the sacred mantras spoken. It echoes within the shrine wall, and one syllable fades into the other rhythmically bringing alive the mystical presence of the Lord. How then cant the heart melt as such beauty overflows within the mind of the bhakta?

He is, He shall be, as he stands in the emblem of stone. He is the unshakable, He is that which has never changed. He is the definition of the eternal, that or equilibrium, that of silence and stability. He is and will always be there, through the world around may perish in its chaos. He stays there unmoved, untouched, unhurt...He is and will always be.

The shrine chamber presents to us the Lord, present in all the elements that adorn him, surround him in this miniature grandeur. This is pure life energy that empowers us to go back and face the world again. This is the power that is subtle and yet makes its presence felt if one has to reach its doors in complete humility. How then can we desecrate it with noise and corruption? How then can a priest have absolutely no faith while they utter the sacred verses? How can we tolerate this utter disrespect to the very shrine that protects our well being?

He is the formless, like the fire, He is bright and wonderful like its flame. He is pure as in its whiteness. He appears like the fire and He disappears all the same, but like the fire, he destroys all that has to die but doesnt perish in its flames. He shines in its glow, as the waters of offering reflect His being. He bathes in its pure light as the drops of water rhythmically wash his feet. He is like the water that takes the form of the vessel he resides within. He is always present like the unshaken stone alive and breathing within this chamber in small grandeur as the incense covers His little room. He is real, alive and silent watching the gradual decline of pure faith at his doorstep.


Intricacy of the Shiva Beeja Mantra

Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya

Attainment of spiritual bliss has its various levels. To the totally ignorant just the mention of these syllables is a great feeling of achievement, since they are unable to control their fleeting mind racing from one thought to another. To the more inquisitive kind, these sacred syllables make their presence felt more often by constant recitation yet the significance of it does not awaken them yet. To the connoisseur the skill of pronunciation is of maximum importance, and clarity in each word matters the most. To the lover of Lord Shiva these syllables are pure music, so sacred and divine that even the utterance of these syllables makes them feel supremely blessed.

This is not just about having devotion but it takes us one step further towards the intensity of it. With every level of contemplation on this mantra crossed, there is a new high to be reached.

Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya, does not end here. It extends into a series of verses each starting with a sacred syllable assigned to this summary:

This is the Panchakshara Mantra



Nagendraharaya Trilochanaya|
Basmangaharaya maheswaraya||
Nithyaya shudhaya digambaraya|
Tasmai nakaraya namashivaya||


Mandakini salila chandana charchithaya|
Nandeeswara pramadhanadha maheswaraya||
Mandra pushpa bahupushpa supoojithaya|
Tasmai makaraya namashivaya||


Shivaaya gowri vadanara vrinda|
Sooryaya dakshadwaranaasakaya||
Sri neelakantaya vrishadwajaya|

Tasmai sikaraya namashivaya||


Vasishta kumbhodhbhava gowthamadhi|
Munendra devarchitha shekaraya||
Chandrarka vaiswanara lochanaya|
Tasmai vakaraya namashivaya||


Yaksha swaroopaya jada dharaya|
Pinaka hasthathaya sanathanaya||
Divyaya devaaya digambaraya|
Tasmai yakaraya namashivaya||

To the beginner, this is hard to pronounce. It requires skill and regular practice to twist the tongue around to recite each syllable properly. To the intellect, meaning of each word matters. Each word stitched into these verses either describes Lord Shiva in name or describes His actions in praise. For example, Trilochanaya is the 3 eyed Lord Shiva and Bhasmangaharaya is the ash clad Lord Shiva. Pinaka Hastaya is the one who holds the bow and dakshadwaranaasakaya is He who destroyed the sacrifice of Daksha.

At this level of intellect one would like to believe that the recitation of this mantra results in praising the Lord even by mere recitation. It is a time consuming art to remember the meaning of every word that is recited in this mantra. Having got the skill or correct pronunciation and having learned the meaning of each word recited one would like to believe one has done the best and has achieved all that there is to achieve in this.

But is this where it stops?

What we most often omit, which is beyond the realm of the intellectual mind clouded by ego, is that of hard core devotion and in that state we get to experience something else, something that is very different.

There is subtle truth in this mantra, and this goes far deeper. The secrecy in the magnitude of energy embedded in this mantra in not just in the realization of the meaning of what is being recited, but in identifying the rhythm of recitation. Stress and clarity of words matter, but what matters even more is the rhythm and the music it falls into. There is a difference between mechanical recitation and devoted recitation.

Each word in each verse has been selectively chosen to impart a rhythm of a particular nature. Similar words with similar stress level that need to be recited properly in exactly the same rhythm with adequate knowledge of where to stop and where to start with nuances of change in minor rhythmic pattern are strung together in a single verse.

Therefore the collection of words in each verse varies from that of the previous verse giving that beeja mantra its character. The sound emitted when the bhakta recites the first verse gives the bhakta the experience of the rhythmic flow of the Lord’s Sacred damaru beat in that order which is described by "Na". Similarly the character of the sacred syllable "Ma" "Shi" "Va" "Ya" is described by the words of praise painstakingly strung together giving a feel of alterations in sound for each verse. None of the verses appear to have the same rhythm, but the flow of sound elaborated the real meaning of the syllables that compose the summary of Lord Shiva's Beeja Mantra.

Language in its restrictive nature, allows me to explain just this much of the experience. To those who are inquisitive it is a good exercise to keep reciting and listening to one self, to identify this subtle underlying beat in each verse. A level of bliss is felt when we realize the pattern of this beat and start to sing it and make it a part of us, a part of our rhythmic breath. When the excitement of subtle beauty in realizing and appreciating the nature of sound touches us, bliss is felt in its own small way.

The experience of realization is undoubtedly most amazing and hard to leave once it has been started. At the end it is an overwhelming feeling to realize that this is just the tip of the larger iceberg.

[Please note:

There might be textual flaws in this mantra as I have come across 2 versions of it with minor variations.
This post in entirely my personal interpretation of the most sacred verse that describes Lord Shiva, and this interpretation has just started.]


A Tribute to Kalika Devi

From the darkness there rises
A power of superior nature
That thinks not before destroying evil
That leaves only blood and ashes to spare

She is feared for her power
She is feared for her appearance
Yet she protects us from evil
In the dead of the darkest night

The gentleness in her eyes
Appears fiery in the night light
The blue sheen in her subtle glow
Appears mystical in the moonless night
The wrath to destroy
Is bright in her red eyes
She rises now to rule
Kalika Mata at Kalighat.

Its the best moment in time to test one's endurance, Kalighat has everything, the true display of corruption, the disgust on the priest's face, the sheer lack of devotion, the noisy mob of which I am a part, the absence of peace, the dirtiest shrine that has never been cleaned, and of course in the middle of it She stands in her silent fury - Kalika Mata. It is silent fury... that expression that stays locked on her face painting her so coy and yet so fiery and beautiful.

This temple appeared a lot different in the earlier days. The river flowed much closer giving Kalighat its name. Surrounded by forests, with a river flowing by and the burning of the dead near the shrine bring the mysticism of the moonless night to the fore. In the dark night one can listen closely to her presence, the sound of anklets as they walk around the floor, stamping it with a trishul. And then the rhythmic sound floods the air with resounding beats of a dancer so crisp in her movement.

And when we look up to her shrine, she sits there almost ready to charge forward, colored in vermilion, a bright orange that glows over her forehead. Its gleams in the light of the lamp, casting shadows of her form on the floor. She is so beautiful. She has this calm around her and yet there is wrath on her face. She is so gentle and coy and yet she yields sharp weapons. She stays static atop the body of Lord Shiva but she is shakti, the dynamic movement that destroys all life, all evil.

कालिकायै विद्महे श्मशानवासिन्यै धीमहि
तन्नो घोरा प्रचोदयात्।

She is the Mother of the moonless night. She is the jingling of anklets in the darkness. She is the flaming eyes of purity that vanquish all that is impure. Why do we fear her?

She took form to destroy the demons of the night, she took blood to destroy evil. Why then do we fear her now, why then do we offer blood of innocent animals when that of evil men should be at the altar?

She walks in nakedness into the blue hued sky. She knows no shame when she is so pure. Why then do we remain silent over her nature and yet not follow her footsteps to discard our vanity?

She walks wild with flowing hair, with an appearance of darkness that envelopes her. Why do we fear her when she sports her brilliance in her awakened third eye?

She is the light that is beyond life, she is the light that guides us to enlightenment. Why then do we fear death and not want to live near her home, the sacred place of the cremation ground?

She is the truth, she is that which burns in fury, she is the divine light that rules us. Why then do we hide in our ignorance and not want to take this path more seriously?

Are we scared of death, of unfamiliarity, of unpleasantness, of unlearning, of that path which we will tread alone, of silence, of the unknown?


Mukti, the art of renunciation

I sit in front of His sacred shrine,
My emotions flow like a river of love
My mind fights back with an army of thoughts
My vision keeps my thoughts at bay

My senses focus on that single point
My eyes rest on His form
My voice recites the sacred words
My ears listen to the sweet rhythm

Few moments of concentration is called for when one sits to worship the Lord at home and yet it is difficult to achieve. It is a war within the mind when emotions that stem from deep rooted devotion get challenged by worldly thoughts. It is a fight with the self to discard the world and its people around. It is the biggest challenge to be comfortable alone while one sits to pray at home.

When the world and all its people is but a stray piece of illusion, when the thoughts within the head are but a figment of my imagination, when my mind is put to rest and nothing exists anymore, this is my first renunciation.

It is hard to find peace at a crowded temple, it is hard to ignore the corruption of the priests who is trying to make his ends meet. It is even tougher to forget the world when one is surrounded by a crowd of jabbering devotees.

Yet in this chaos there is peace to be found when I near the sanctum, when I set eyes on the beauty of divinity within these walls. There is sacredness to be felt when I realize this is about me and Him and nothing else really matters. This is my second renunciation.

It is hard to let go off the ego when my knowledge controls me. It is a deadly feeling of superiority when I realize I understand the root principle hidden in scriptures. It is a poison of egoism when I feel I own my thought and wisdom.

Humility is that which is invoked when the Lord gives me a harsh moment to learn this lesson. Praise and song is what comes out of me when I realize my focus is the Lord and not the knowledge I seek. Awakening of the soul happens when I realize the path to divine wisdom is pure love and not accumulated knowledge through books. It is my wish to see the Lord more than being granted my earthly wishes. This is my third renunciation.

The path through spiritualism brings surprises as well as benefits. It can draw the serious devotee to be very powerful and it can reveal its amazing secrets that the world can only imagine. It can transform the devotee into a person who knows little suffering and fear.

In all these enchanting experiences one is left with few to share their feelings with. In this wild ride to heaven there is little to explain that this is Real and everything else is just an illusion. It is even tougher to express oneself when the world doesn't want to listen anymore. This is when one leaves the world behind and follows their own path, with little or nothing to share anymore with anyone, this is my next renunciation.

Peace is when I detach from all, people and things, desires and aspirations. Calm is what I achieve when I realize the purpose of my existence, the value of this life given to me. Desire is what I give up when I realize this is an illusion I am stuck in and its time to let go.

The path of spiritualism has taught me well, showed me the way to an enchanting world that cannot be defined but can only be experienced. The Lord is Real and not just a figment of my imagination. I dream of Him, I talk to Him and I only wish he comes to me and reveals Himself to me. These tests of endurance are just a play of life now, these problems He creates are just a tease to see how I react, these miseries that present themselves are but a way of life. When nothing seems to affect me anymore except that last glimpse of Him before I part, this is my last renunciation.


The nature and composition of divinity

Srinivasan stood contemplating over the beauty of the monument that lay silent in front of him. In the cool breeze, he could hear the wind echo through the rocks, bringing with it the messages of hard work and toil, passion and love, the call of war and bloodshed, hatred and fear, and a host of supremely high emotions that fell to dust with the collapse of this little world in stone.

He sat down and looked up to the remaining bricks and stone that made up this temple, as they still held on together a mystical stage that still had exquisit dansels dancing on its walls. The mesmerising beauty still enveloped him, the mysticism of the past still whispered in his ears and the ground plan echoed profound mysterious elements of truth that were now almost brought down to dust.

He wondered, to himself that this land in some era long ago was lush green and blooming. The air was pure and the earth rich with life. The waters were crystal clear with the sunlight shimmering in its waves and there in the middle of this silence and serenity would have been a rishi in deep meditation in a quest to attain higher bliss. Srinivasan imagined him sitting still, motionless in severe penance till at last the Lord appeared before him and asked him for a boon...

This was documented; his penance, the sacred syllables and the moment of awakening to the supreme, the experience and the boon all wrapped into sacred syllables that described it in the form of a simple scriptural verse.


Centuries past by, eras passed and a young man happened to walk this path and came upon this place. He lay under a tree enjoying the environment and decided to worship the lord here right under the tree. He installed a linga made out of the earth and offered it flowers and fruits for a while and then disappeared into the darkness of time.


Time shrouded this emblem of the Lord, this symbol of life till there came upon it a King who had been out hunting. He came by this place and decided to take some rest. As he settled for the afternoon he noticed a linga under the tree and went closer to observe this icon, or rather what remained of it. He decided to build a temple around it and give it proper ritual and worship. Soon there came up an exquisit temple that housed a linga that replaced what was uprooted and consecrated the newer version to the shrine chamber. But his happiness was short lived. War engulfed the land and the enemy was far too strong and the kingdom fell to the oncoming forces. The temple was ravaged and demolished and the shrine chamber was unrecognizable with the icon destroyed.


Years later another king happened to come in search of rich land and came upon this location. He decided to have a temple built around the same place. Within this extravagant temple he installed a much more larger and flamboyant linga in its shrine a little farther away. The temple grew with riches and was prosperous till it fell to invaders. Subsequently, newer temples came up and several "pranaprathisthas" took place to install newer versions of the linga within the main walls of the sanctum. And yet they fell to enemies.


It is NOW and Srinivasan was staring up at this delapidated structure that cried its past. A more recent version of this shrine was built a little farther away but by now the original location of the shrine was lost and so was the original shrine. Srinivasan looked up wondering what was left of the sanctity of this shrine. Srinivasan sat back thinking deeply...

What made this place get its sanctity? What, in this whole story actually defines the supreme?

Was it the effort that the Rishi took to worship and go into severe penance to have the Lord descend into this world and bless him?

Was it the mythology that surrounds this place and its reference in the sacred scriptures?
Was it the spot where the Lord had appeared?
Was it the earth or the air that was so sacred?
Or was it the era where everything was so pure that it wouldnt really matter whether he appeared here or 10 feet away.
Or was it the Linga that was kept here by a devotee who took to worshiping the Lord?
Was it the temple that was built to house this linga or any of the subsequent versions of the temples that were built?
Or was it the newer version of the idol that was consecrated by means of ritual and not by severe penance?
Or was it the very structure that protected it?
What is it that attracts us to temples? or Shrines?

Or is it pure Bhakti? That what ever it is this land is sacred and therefore even if there is a mosque standing in its place today it should not matter... Bhakti knows no form or designation of religion.

When we look up to this delapidated temple why does it hurt? Is it...

This exquisit structure in stone so paintakingly put together now destroyed by some heartless soul? The sanctity of this structure, but is it the structure that is sanctified or the earth on which it stands or the young man or the rishi...
The shrine that has been vandalized?
The feeling that the Lord has left us behind on this earth to face our peril?
Or the feeling that the purity of this earth has been vandalized by men and now there is nothing left of it but pure impending death in the form of slow pralaya...

Think about it... the original shrines of Somnath, Kashi Vishwanath, and many more temples are long gone... I really dont have a clue on what we are worshiping. What is the composition of divinity and why is it that in the middle of a mad crowd and a threat of a stampede, I still felt 3 seconds of absolute bliss and void at Thirupati... What is it we feel in these places... its far more than vibration... its something else...


The Iconography of Divine Wisdom

How do we define knowledge? How do we define the difference between academically gained knowledge and that of divine wisdom? How do we comprehend the supreme nature of that wisdom where its nature is to be realized and not to be put to material use?

The ancient scriptures present to us the nature of this divine wisdom and the realization of it in the worship of three forms of the supreme. Each form represents one aspect of the Trinity and the iconography of this form seldom changed through the times. It is therefore very evident that supreme wisdom is of a different kind and in this yuga we have been given the nature of it possibly in the form of sound, in the form of Vak(or the spoken word).

Hence, being blessed with divine wisdom renders us the all knowing, where we just know the answer to every question and our life is in the purest intellectual form where even illusion of the people or life around us falls meaninglessly in front of our realm. This is one definition of enlightenment.

The second form of being blessed, is with words of sweetness that take form when we express ourselves using the sacred form of sound in producing Vakya. The spoken word is so sweet as honey and so potent in energy that it can transform even stone to gold. This comes with the talent of stitching sound into a beautiful garland of words with wit and overpowering intellect that the world is silent and speechless over its composition.

The third form of blessing is when the self swoons to the higher level of awakening where everything is music and words spoken stem from thoughts so pure that there is no malice, there is no hurt in the sweetness of the chosen word to the world around us. And therefore sound matters, the given word matters, truth matters, and possibly pleasant delivery matters. Most pray for one of few things, to be either blessed with Goddess Saraswati seated on our tongue such that what ever comes out is honey sweet. Other pray for better concentration and improved intellect for a longer duration of time to Lord Vishnu in the form of Hayagriva and lastly those who have gone beyond the maya of living, and really want to know whats beyond in the unknown choose to worship Shiva Dakshinamurti to be blessed with supreme enlightenment.

And this is when iconography echoes all around us, the vision of divine wisdom takes shape.

Saraswati: Goddess of learning

Ya Devi Stuyate Nityam Vibhuhairvedaparagaih|
Same Vasatu Jihvagre Brahmarupa Saraswat

O Goddess of great wisdom, who is praised by the intelligent, who has mastered the shastras, the consort of the creator himself, May you continue to reside on my tongue.

Shrii Saraswatii Namahstubhyam Varade Kaama Ruupini|
Twaam Aham Praarthane Devii Vidyaadaanam Cha Dehi Me||

To the Goddess Saraswati, who grants all the wishes of her devotees, I pray to you to bless me with enlightenment.

Sarasvathi Namastubhyam, Varade Kaamaroopini|
Vidyaarambham Karishyaami Siddhir Bhavatu Mey Sada||

Oh Mother, who blesses the world, I worship you at the start of my education. I bow to you to help me make this experience fruitful and bring success to my efforts.

Goddess Saraswati is depicted dressed all in white, on a lotus seat that symbolizes supreme pure wisdom and her vahana is a swan. She is occasionally associated with the color yellow, the color of the mustard flower that blooms in spring. She is depicted 4 armed which represents the four aspects of the human personality: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She holds the veena, the scriptures in the form of a book, a garland of crystals or akshamala, and a kamandalu of water. She depicts not just the perfection of the arts but also the higher powers of meditation, creative energy and the rhythm in sound.

Hayagriva: God of learning and concentration

jnAna-Ananda-mayam devam nirmala-sphaTikAkRtim|
AdhAram sarvavidyAnAm hayagrIvam upAsmahe||

Hayagriva is a lesser known form of Lord Vishnu who is draped completely in white, horse headed and seated with his hand in vyakhyana mudra. He holds an akshamala and a book that depicts his form as a teacher. His face is always serene and peaceful.

He blesses his devotees with the power of remembrance and concentration to realize supreme wisdom.

Lord Shiva Dakshinamurti - The Supreme Teacher

Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu | Gurur Devo Mahesh Varaha||

Guru Shakshat Para Brahma|Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha||
Guruve sarva lokaanaam Bhishaje bhava roginaam|

Nithyai sarvadhiyaanam Dakshinamurthaye namo namaha||

Lord Shiva is depicted teaching the Vedas to the Sanahadimunivars, the 6 great sages among whom Hayagriva is also seated. Lord Shiva is seen seated under a banyan tree facing south and draped in yellow. His right foot rests on the mythical form of apasmara purusha who signifies ego and ignorance and his left foot is folded on his lap. He holds a snake or a rosary in his hand and is sometimes depicted holding a bowl of fire in the other hand. He is either depicted in vyakhyana mudra or abhaya mudra or gyana mudra while the other hand holds a bundle of kusha grass indicating the sacred scriptures. Alternatively, he holds a veena, and is known as Veena Dakshinamurti.

Cutting across the entire pantheon of Gods that are housed in Hindu iconography, three forms of the supreme echo the iconography of divine wisdom. The purity in it, the evolution of the self through the experience of enlightenment and the sweetness of the words that come forth give us a brief hint of what potent powers lie deep within our being. Learning is one aspect which can be undone with time and can be forgotten, but divine wisdom once achieved is a state where there is no going back.

Photo courtesy:
Hayagreevar - Copyright © trsiyengar.com 2004-2005
Creative commons, Wikipedia


To Lord Venkateshwara, I pray

Where the void meets chaos
Where diversity meets unity
Where noise meets silence
Where the self is and isn't

This is the moment of truth at the shrine of Sri Venkateshwara, Tirupati. It is one of the most popular shrines of India that has millions coming to meet the Lord, to have a glimpse of him and leave with a heavy heart, with deep emotion to have been blessed.

Getting to the foothills of Tirupati means we have been granted this divine vision, the experience of which is not easy to get. We are tuned into it from childhood to bear, to endure and to be patient till we make it to the inner shrine. This was a trip, of a different nature, of a profound kind for it was as eventful as one could have it. With a minor bus accident delaying us by 45 mins and waiting endlessly before the temple for our guide to emerge from the crowds, we were
finally guided towards the entrance of the temple.

This was a test of sheer endurance, with the harsh sunlight burning the stone and cement flooring that led to the temple, it was no easy walk to make it remotely close to the shrine. After 10 minutes of walk with blisters and heat eating into our feet that resisted the harsh treatment we made it to cooler ground. Then began the next ordeal, that of being a caged animal pushed among people and loving it as the only other echo among the chatter is the sound of the Lord's name. There were people everywhere, the pulse of India's population is truly felt here. We can insulate ourself from public transport, unreserved coaches, Mumbai locals but we cannot escape the queue of Tirupati darshan if we want to feel the real pulse of India.

Here caste doesn't matter, maybe even faith doesn't matter for one could be a foreigner subjected to the same ordeal. Here Bhakti matters for its the real test of facing the most powerful force in raw form. The gathering momentum of India's brute force, the raw power of the moving crowd that for some strange reason is racing towards the inner shrine and what's worse, we are in it. In the midst of this chaos lay a family within the caged queue, a helpless man holding his child who peacefully slept in his arms, with two other children staring at their mother who was not keeping well. She seemed to be in severe pain, sweating and gasping, seated on the floor, letting the world go by in all its insensitivity.

We were India's raw population and not a single soul among us even got down to asking what the problem was... and like a river in flood we moved on leaving the family to fend for itself. It was further down in the queue that I noticed a few Devasthanam personnel appearing like scouts with ID cards giving us water from outside the cage. I stepped close to the cage wall trying to hold on while the river of people waded by, speaking in Hindi and then reverting to broken Tamil on request. I tried in all my limited vocabulary to pass the message that there was a distressed family further down in the queue that needed medical attention and they had no way out except be part of this flood. Having gathered some attention and trying to explain the problem to them, I had quite lost my place in the flowing river with my husband patiently waiting and trying to figure out what I was trying to do. This was all I could do, limited within my cage, and braving the river flowing at me, the only good thing I possibly did was raise the alarm of someone in pain and helpless inside.

And then the madness increased, this was not just a river in flood, it was worse for it was reaching levels of stampede as I was being advised to stay in the center of the crowd and never make it to the corners for if I did, I would probably never make it in one piece should I fall or not endure this oncoming force.

We had now entered the temple, the Mecca of the Hindus lay in front of us in all its grandeur. This brings a mixed feeling no matter how many times we get this darshan, its always different, and its never enough. But this time we were here with a purpose, of having made a promise to return to visit the Lord and it had not been very easy fulfilling it. We felt the stress in every inch we covered, He didn't make it easy for us or for anyone else. And now we were racing into the sanctum.

And then we neared the main shrine, deafened by the din surrounding us, blinded by the gold that blankets the shrine roof, numbed by the eloquence of the atmosphere, feeling the fragrance and the essence of the temple shrine and holding on to dear life as we were given a push into the main mandapa. And then we made that crucial turn we saw all heaven descend on us.

Where the void meets chaos
Where diversity meets unity
Where noise meets silence
Where the self is and isn't

Lord Venkateshwara stood there in silence as if He had descended into real life to bless all of us. There was no one inside the sanctum, not a soul and the darkness inside enveloped in the cool air had just Lord Venkateshwara standing at peace with a few lamps burning around Him. He looked simply divine and warm and yet so far away from this chaos that completely surrounded Him. The mind went blank, the feet stopped to move, the breath stopped flowing, I ceased to exist and all that there was in front of me was the VOID.

This is what void is, void is where there is supreme bliss, where there is no sound, nor movement, nor breath, nor mind, but extreme emotion. Void is where the body doesn't matter but soul is completely awake, void is where senses cease to exist but consciousness is in complete power. Void is what happens to us for a few seconds when we are transported to the other world that appears in front of us in the form of Lord Venkateshwara. Void is that feeling of deep emotion where we can neither explain or prove but can only feel and emote.

In this drama of real and pure bliss that bathed us for a few seconds the heart felt overwhelmed and the tears rolled down in complete helplessness. We were rudely woken out of this bliss by a strong hand that pulled us away from that glimpse. We stepped out, emoting and overwhelmed, blessed, exhausted and at peace, in silence, in tranquility staring at the mass of people racing in for their moment of bliss.

We walked out, after having prasadam towards the main door with a bit of irritation towards the crowd that still continued to push. And then there was a scream from inside. We were told to move and a few men came racing out with a stretcher. We moved close against the wall as an army of men with walkies yelled asking for way. We watched as they carried a lady on the stretcher, the same lady who I had seen sometime back suffering in the corner as the queue passed by. She lay lifeless in the stretcher as it raced out of the temple door. My heart stopped as we watched her being carried out towards the ambulance. We wondered, had she just fainted or was it more serious than that, did our raising the alarm in broken Tamil help her get her medical aid sooner? What were the other million insensitive Indians doing instead of calling for help!

In this drama of life, where the single thought in the mind is to fulfill that desire of Darshan, maybe we can do better as compassionate human beings. If we find anyone suffering in the queue for Tirupati darshan or anywhere else, we can call for help and raise the alarm. The Devastanam has ambulances and medical personnel will come to the aid of the suffering person. All we need to do is inform the personnel in uniform that someone is in trouble. The queue will move on, and darshan is inevitable for we cannot and will not get out of it until Darshan is over. For those who collapse on the way, let the heart speak and let compassion flow. I was close to turning a blind eye like the others, I am not sure whether she would have survived without help from the masses - from us.

Where silence meets noise
Where life meets the gloom of death
Where blind purpose meets compassion

Let the heart flow, let the consciousness awaken
This probably is true worship, and the perfect endurance test.