Mount Kailasa, Divine Paradise on Earth

One of the greatest known in the Bhakti movement and better known as a follower of Vaishnavism was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who composed the Shivashtakam. An excerpt is given below:

Namo namasthe tridaseshwaraya
Bhoothadhinathaya mridaya nithyam|
Ganga tharangothida bala Chandra
Choodaya Gauri nayanothsavaya ||

Salutations and salutations to him,
Who is the Lord of the thirty gods,
Who is the Lord of all beings,
Who is perpetually gracious,
From whose head the waves of Ganga are born,
Who wears the crescent of moon
And who is the feast to the eyes of Gauri,

Sutaptha chamikara Chandra neela
Padma pravalambudha kanti vasthrai|
Sa nrutya rangetha vara pradhaya
Kaivalya nadhaya vrusha dwajaya ||

Salutations and salutations to Him,
Who is like the moon resembling the molten gold,
Who wears dress of the colour of blue lotus and rich cloud,
Who gives boons while he is dancing,
Who is the Lord of salvation,
And who has a bull in his flag.

His imagery of Lord Shiva as Kailasanatha who sports the moon on His head, from whom the Ganges flows and who is dressed in the color of a blue lotus and rich cloud brings alive the beauty of Mount Kailasa.

Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, is paradise on earth where the mridangam of Nandikeshwara can be heard around the rocky boulders. Its a cold snow capped world in ice that sings in praise of Kailashanatha, where Ravana meditated and chose to take this very Kailasa back to his country. This is that rocky and icy cold terrain that Karraikkal Ammaiyar chose to climb, with her hands, such devotion is unmatched!

With the strong chilling winds eating into the skin, and the harsh terrain testing our endurance while we attempt the parikrama of this great Peak with limited energy reserves, all theories of the Linga representing a phallic symbol depicting the great God quickly fade away into the books.

In this bleak climate, trekking through boulders and glaciers there is little room for stories. The first sight of Kailasa, built up on anticipation can bring emotions so strong that all else just fails to ring a bell. This IS paradise, land where the earthly winds bring in the song of the Gandharvas, land where stones reverberate echoing the sound of the mridangam, land where the clear night sky and the cloudy cloak on the Great Kailasa just stops the heart from beating. This is paradise, this is beauty, this is sublime.

The pure waters of the Manasarovar reveal just how untouched this land is, how clear and pure this land is, far away from human existence. Sweet water, shimmering drops of sunlight and rhythmic sounds embedded in every ripple give a glimpse of what the heavenly world is up ahead. Reflecting in these crystal clear waters far in the horizon stand the great Kailasa.

The holy dip in the sacred waters of the Manasarovar purify the mind and the thoughts, for now the peak of Kailasa doesnt feel any more like a mountain at all. No, this appears now like the very forehead of the Lord, the horizontal rocky contours form the patterns of lines on the forehead, and the snow capped sides appears like the three lines of white ash that cover the Linga's Shiva bhaga. The deep crevasse running vertically down its center looks far more than just a geographical coincidence. As the pure waters of the Manasarover trickle down my face that vertical split down the center of the mountain appears more like the half opened third eye of Lord Shiva himself.

In this earthly world that is, as the sun rises and falls, as the winds sing in my ears, I now stand small in front this great phenomenon. The three eyed Lord sits on an icy throne, in deep meditation as the snow laden earth hides this power of his third eye that lies dormant, unnoticed by all.

There are no words to express the workings of the supernatural world, there are no theories to prove, there is only time to realize how wasteful we have been with this consciousness called life, the only sign of which is in the air I breath as my heart pounds awaiting this phenomenon to descend on me.

Stark among low mountains, this imposing wall of heaven rises high in front of me. Robed in silken clouds the Lord silently meditates. The earth is pure, this air is pure and these waters are pure and as I freeze, my emotions well up in the form of tears and I wonder, is this the great Peak of Kailasa that resides deep in every temple sanctum scattered around the Indian country side?

As we scale across the terrain taking this path for three days, crossing every ridge on the way numbering 5, I am left to belief, this is Shiva himself, this is the beeja mantra, this is Panchakshara, this is Na Ma Shi Va Ya, oh this is the Lord of dance, of victory, of conquest over sin, of endurance, of peace, of music, of life, of breath, of emotions, I feel Him in every beat, i feel Him in every pulsating nerve, I feel Him in the chill, I feel Him wake my emotions, I feel Him in the silence of my mind.

My heart beats faster, I am so small in front of this majestic imposing peak and i have no thoughts left in my head, I have no feelings left for the world, I have no worry that awaits me in time, I am nothing but a speck of nature, created to witness this greater consciousness that flows down in the form of a pure stream of melting icy water.

Oh Lord Shiva, this mind is numb, its swoons to your presence, it wants to break the shackles of its limits, it feels the presence of you as I collapse over these stones on which I stand. My consciousness fades, as I stare up to your being, the great peak that pierces the night sky, so clear with stars as the moon glows, almost resting on your side. This is what I lived for, this is what I missed all these years, this is all i am capable of, as my vision is covered with heavy tears of overwhelming love. I dont want to go back, I dont want to leave, I dont want to move any more... I wish to lie here and witness your beauty in every breath.

O Lord hold me close, take me with you, grant me a vision of your sublime self, just once for me in this earthly dwelling of mine. Guide me into your world. Take me into your paradise, as I leave this earthly body behind. Help me up the steps to this celestial world of the Gods, my soul knows nothing else, my breath slowly starts to fade. The winds sing louder as the known world fast drifts away. I am nothing, I am not... I am another drifting soul that has merged into the heavenly world of the Lord.
Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya|


Reflections on the Trinity - Trimurti Shiva

I breathe in the fresh air, I feel the pure dew in my palm. I look up in Surya Namaskaram to the Sun God and my heart sings out the Aditya Hrudayam.

Esha brahma cha Vishnuscha shiva skanda prajapathi|
Mahendro, dhandha kalo yama somo hyapam pathi ||

The sun climbs the clear sky, the warmth bathes my soul. He is Brahma, He is Vishnu, He is Shiva and He is Skanda. He is the progenitor of the human race, He rules the celestials, He rules the devas, He is that which shines in the gold of Kubera, He rules life in all the worlds known. He is kala, He is time, He sets in our minds at the time of death, He rises again mirrored in the moon.

I see the presence of Trimurti, I breathe in this fresh air and I look up to the sun. In this bright light I see the Trimurti shining down on me.

I sit in silent meditation, lighting this lamp with its wick dipped in a pool of pure ghee. Lighting the match as I ignite this flame and hold it up, my mind is silent and I hear the sacred words.

Deepamjyothi Parabrahma|
Deepamjyothi Janardhana||

Deepo me hara tu paapam|

Deepaa Jyothir Namostute||

In this light I worship Lord Brahma, in this flame I worship Lord Vishnu (Janardhana), in this flame I burn my sins and to this flame I bow, to the great Lord Shiva.

I see the presence of Trimurti, I imbibe their essence present in this flame. I light this sacred fire in my heart before I commence my prayer to Lord Shiva. This flame I light every morning, this flame I light at sunset, with this flame I welcome, the Trimurti to reside in my home.


I look up at Lord Shiva, I look up at the Linga. The divine form remains etched in my mind as my heart worships the trinity.

I worship the Linga, this beautiful form at the Brahma Bhaga which I cannot see.
I worship the Linga, this grace present on earth as it rises in front of me as the Vishnu Bhaga
I worship this Linga, at its head where lies the essence of all energy that lies here capsuled, that controls this universe at the Rudra Bhaga.

I witness the presence of Trimurti Shiva in this form, that envelopes the three Great Gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - into the single form of Sadashiva.


This moment is sacred, this moment is pure and this moment is everlasting as I raise this Vivla to offer to the Lord in worship.

Moolatho brahma roopaya, madhyatho Vishnu roopini|
Agratha shiva roopaya, Eka bilwam shivarpanam||

I offer this leaf of Vivla to Lord Shiva, this leaf so pure and divine. I hold this leaf with Lord Brahma resides at its base, Lord Vishnu who resides in the stem and Lord Shiva who resides at its top. With my soul enveloped in this divine leaf, I offer this leaf without any flaw to the Lord and with this I pray for perfection.

Such a perfect leaf, with each left part denoting Surya, Chandra and Agni. How potent and pure is this leaf that has the trinity residing within it.


The Lord stands on apasmara, the Lord stands one legged crushing my ignorance. The Lord Ekapada Shiva stands as the Trinity, as Trimurti Shiva who rises with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu on his side.

Shivam Shantham jagnannatham|

Lokanugraha karakam||

Shivamekapadam nithyam|

Shikaraya namo nama||

This is the Panchakshara, a part of which is the letter Shi, To Lord Shiva who resides in its essence. Who is the keeper of peace and who preserves this world and all its creation. Who creates life in the form of Brahma, who preserves life in the form of Vishnu and who releases the soul in the form of Shiva. To the great Lord Trimurti Shiva I bow.

The all pervading Lord Shiva Trimurti echoes everywhere around me, in the morning sun, in the flame of the lamp I light, in the very form of the Linga worship, in the pure vilva leaves I offer in prayer. He resides deep within my intellect as Ekapada Shiva, crushing my ego to uplift my being.


Kalahasti, Where the Divine Lord Breathes

Lost among ancient hills, overpowered by the most popular shrine at Tirupati, the endless highway winds around low hills and the green countryside of Andhra Pradesh leading a seeking devotee straight to the temple gates of Lord Shiva at Kalahasti.

Among the noise and clatter, with vendors selling flowers to those selling Rahu Ketu puja to officials offering special darshan, Kalahasti has every sign of a living temple today. In the midst of all this noise, and wading through half of India’s moving population on foot, finding our way through the maze of metal walkway, the freedom of Kalahasti has long gone giving way to just “one way traffic”. Yet there is peace here, yet there silence if only we care to hear it. As people pay through to see the Lord, getting into occasional wars right in front of the shrine, shouting abuses in the interior halls of the sacred temple, this is the other India, the other Hinduism that clearly shows the lack of spiritualism among the ignorant masses who visit.

And yet, peace can be won. A trained mind that can concentrate is all one needs to switch off the sound of the madness and switch onto the sound of the Lord’s breath within his shrine chamber. Here it is a completely different world. The shrine chamber well decorated with silver plated exteriors flanked by two dwarapalas and two priests houses a spectacular concept within. The air here is pure, the experience is overwhelming and the emotions pour into a river of sacred syllables that flow over all the senses that cut out the worldly noise. This is the entrance to the divine presence of the Lord of Kailasa. The ardha manadapa (vestibule) is a room large enough to capture this essence that emanates from within, for what lies within is much more than just wind, just vayu… the Lord breathes here, he lives here, he is here.

Nandi, sits at his door and look up to him in silence, his breath in rhythmic patterns recites the Panchakshara as it cuts through the noise to reach the Lord, a divine dialog of which we are just “not” a part but also fail to understand that we should not even cross this sacred space. And here I stand right in the middle of it with no choice but to view the Lord within.

The air is still, the tiny lamps flicker making a halo of light around this extraordinary linga that is not made out of black stone. A narrower shaft rises out of the peetha, with the representations of a spider at its bottom and two stumps on it that give the feeling of gaja rupa, the form of an elephant. Rising straight up to cover the Lord’s head is the serpent power, a five hooded snake. These sacred emblems are not directly seen, as they are covered by the jeweled starry crown that the Lord wears to protect us, the Navagraha Kavacha. The navagrapha, the nine planets who adorn Him, are represented by nine strips of sacred metal, with three stars in each row representing a star. The whole kavacha invoked in one’s worship, with mantra recited thrice, one for each star brings the sacred count to 27, blessing the devotee with lesser pain through their karmic lives.

The Lord represents the universe, the living emblem within which we live, he is breath that pulsates within this chamber, the only witness being the hanging lamp whose flame never dies, never stops a dance, sways as he breaths to indicate to the world that he IS, he lives, he resides here. As the great moment arrives, devotees stand is queues, waiting for those sacred few seconds where they witness a picture, not too easy to catch.

This is the divine abhishekam, the only chance where we can see the Lord in his form, where the Navagraha Kavacha is removed and placed alongside. In the dimly lit interior, with priests silently pouring sacred water over the Lord, who towers within the center of his chamber, this view is breathtaking. He stands on a stark square peetha, made of stone and rises in the center of a lit up interior. The water flows down his sides, with a million lights flickering on its shaft as it flows down, covering his divine being. The lamp dances on, as the cool air within brings a strange peace a strange fragrance to the approaching devotees. The air is still and yet in all the noise one can hear the divine sound of Panchakshara, Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya resounding within the walls. In tune is the damaru, the sound of creation as one imagines Nandikeshwara play the mridangam. In these divine sounds, is embedded my breath, a rhythm that slows down to imbibe the beauty of this place.

The mind is silent, the sacred Mrityunjaya rhythmically rambles on in my mind, followed by the Rudram that plays music in my mind as the sounds of creation get louder. The breath of the Lord, sends ripples through the air, pulsates with my being as I leave everything in the known world behind. This is life, this is reality, this is being in the presence of creation, that which never ends. This is the world of Lord Shiva, one of silent energy, one of real truth, one that transforms an ever noisy temple seeped in corruption into a divine chariot that floats through the air, occasionally nudged by the divine breath of the Lord within the chamber.

As the bhakta walks out, with the heart floating in this divine chariot, the world in the outer hall way personifies divinity, through all the jailed illusion. Shiva lingas adorn the precincts, redefining the glory of the lord. As the sun penetrates through a small window in the west wall, and bathes a silent linga seated on its pedestal, it’s the only form I can touch and perform namaskaram to. Holding the peetha with my hands and placing my head at his divine feet, in complete surrender to the Lord, I pray for enlightenment. This moment is pure, he is near and he is listening to the feeble voice that comes out from within. I wish I could have hugged him, and stayed there to just talk to him. I move on as I am controlled by Kala, by time. Each corner is divine, graced by Kalabhairava who stands handsome with his dog and trishul, with a bowl in his hand. Near him sit the Sapta Matrika, or Sapta Kannigai elegantly seated displaying a certain wilderness in their posture. In the south corner lies the divine spatica, crystal clear and shining. This is the divine pantheon of surrounding Lord Shiva and his divine consort. This is the sacred beauty of Kalahasti, this is the heavenly world on earth. We are so close and yet in our minds we are so far.

All I can think of is praying to the Lord to ward away my troubles!

Grahanaam aadhi radhithyo Loka Rakshana Karaka |
Vishama sthana sambhootham Peedam harathu may ravi ||

Please steal away my problem O Sun, the first of all the planets that adorn the Lord’s chest. You are the cause of protecting the world and you are the cause of trouble by the position you hold at the time of my birth.

This prana feels trouble but isn’t it the essence of life, trouble IS because I am born, trouble IS because I don’t accept, trouble IS because I desire more and more. Isn’t it unfortunate that I don’t desire the presence of the Lord in my conscious life as much as I desire something that doesn’t exist? Doesn’t this make me look really miserable?

I stand here, an ignorant fool who thinks I know how to live. I stand here a coward because I cannot face life. I stand here a human because I am limited and inadequate. I stand here in this birth because I am still imperfect. I stand here with all my sorrows because I am Apasmara.


An ode to Lord Shiva with Vilva leaves

I am your humble servant
I want to be at your feet Lord
I am so lost in your love
I want to touch you Lord
I am so overwhelmed in your presence
I want to cry out Lord
I am so intoxicated with your thought
I am hopeless without you Lord
I am so still with satisfaction
I do not connect with this world any more O Lord

Vilva, a simple leaf yet swollen with divinity is one of the most sacred ingridients that enhance the presence of Lord Shiva in the heart of the Bhakta. Emotion that is so strong and exalted, becomes a song when the perfect offering of Vilva is made to the Lord. This excitement is triggered at the moment of picking fresh vivla for puja, while washing these sacred leaves and while offering them as one's own eyes at the divine feet of the Lord. At the moment of worship, with the Lord present at his seat, with the lamp light flickering and illuminating this moment and the incense that bring fragrance in the air. I offer my prayers...

Tridalam trigunakaaram trinethram cha triyayusham |
Trijanma papa samharam Eka bilwam shivarpanam. ||

The leaf, my humble offering that is like the three eyed Lord Shiva Trayambakeshwara, I bow to you to bestow in me three qualities. This leaf which has three leaves in it, is like the triad of weapons that destroys all the sins I have commited in my last 3 births.

Trishakhai bilwapathraischa hyachidrai komalai shubai |
Shiva poojam karishyami, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

I offer this leaf to you Lord, that has 3 shoots which have no holes, nor are they torn. Their freshness and their beauty, I hope my Lord, it will please you.

Aganda bilwa pathrena poojithe nandikeshware |
Shudhyanthi sarva papebhyo, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

I worship Lord Nandikeshwara with this uncut Vilva leaf. I pray to you O Nandikeshwara, the devine vehicle of the Lord, that my sins be destroyed forever. I offer you this leaf.

Salagrama shilamekaam vipranam jatha cha arpayeth |
Soma yagna maha punyam, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

In these times of ignorance and delusion, I offer you Lord, this sacred leaf with all my devotion. This offering I make is equal to making an offering of a Salagrama to a Brahmin or being blessed with the magnitude of virtues that one is blessed with by performing the Soma yagna.

Dandi koti sahasrani vajapeya sathani cha |
Koti kanya maha danam, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

I offer the tender shoots of this divine leaf to you O lord. I wish to make this offering with the same intensity that will equal the gifting of a thousand elephants to you or equals the strength in making a hundred fire sacrifices. I make this offering as profound as making an offering of a million young maidens who will serve you devotedly.

Lakshmyasthanutha uthpannam mahadevasya cha priyam |
Bilwa vruksham prayachami, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

This small offering I make to your O Lord Shiva, I hope, will have the same energy as that of a Vilva tree offered to you, that which has been born from the bossom of Goddess Lakhmi herself. Such a pure Vilva tree is very dear to Lord Shiva.

Darshanam bilwa vrukshasya, sparsanam papa nasanam |
Aghora papa samharam, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

I offer this leaf to you O Lord Shiva, this leaf that is so pure, that if I touch it I will become pure, or even seeing this leaf will rid me off all my Karmic sins.

Kasi kshethra nivasam cha kala bhairava darshanam |
Prayaga madhavam drushtwa, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

I consider myself blessed if I can live in the holy city of Kasi and worship Lord Shiva in the form of Kalabhairava and be blessed by him. I would be cleansed off all my sorrow if I visited and worshiped the Lord Madhava at Prayag (Allahabad).

Moolatho brahma roopaya, madhyatho Vishnu roopini |
Agratha shiva roopaya, Eka bilwam shivarpanam ||

This verse I sing, realizing the utmost beauty of this tender leaf I hold. For now I feel the presence of Brahma who resides at the lowest tip, and Vishnu who resides in the central shoot and Lord Shiva reigns supreme at the upper end of this leaf.

Bilwashtakam idham punyaam, padeth shiva sannidhou |
Sarva papa nirmuktha Shiva loka maapnuyath ||

Having worshiped Lord Shiva, I sing these divine verses that describe my being. To the Lord who saves my from my sins and at the end takes me with him to his abode at Mount Kailasa.