3.31.2009

Tulsi, at the seat of Samadhi

Far away in the ancient country side of Andhra Pradesh, along the silent ripples of the Tungabhadra that toss around the stony sides of this great river course, lies the Samadhi of Sri Raghavendra and 8 other great saints of the 16th cen. AD. There is peace and tranquility all around, and the air is so pure within this strange compound of rocky stones. Its a divine world of silence, of intellect and of superior life that lies buried deep within, under these stones.

What a magical picture it paints in this spectacular moment when the silver rays of the moon toss around the gentle waves of the Tungabhadra and shimmer in the pure waters as it bathes the stone slabs of ancient Samadhis in its silvery presence.

Sri Ragavendra's Samadhi brings alive the presence of divine potency to our existence, one that we would love to strive towards but simply lack the drive, courage and enthusiasm to do so. All that is left to echo back the ancient superior sense of living, are a few boulders of stone uniquely designed and put together to form a structure that resembles the potted Tulsi plant back in our courtyards, the Tulsi Vrindavan.


The original meaning of Samadhi, was not just a burial place of great beings, but a sacred and pure spot that continues to house their mortal remains "mummified" in holy sacred ash within a chamber, purified with worship, sacred mantra and ingredients of worship of centuries long gone. The belief then was that they could return to this mortal body if they chose to come back to our world. The human body buried deep was symbolized more as a vehicle that would house the returning Aatma if it so willed. The purity of sadhana, the evolved sense of living, the divine grace constantly surrounding them, the Samadhis have since grown into places of not just worship but of a silent serene ambiance where herbal purity is felt at its best.

Tulsi, the herbal plant of purity and longevity that wards off disease of any kind is typically housed in today's households within a pot that has a very unique design. The plant is worshiped and considered sacred and has the lady of the house light a lamp at its foot every evening, with a belief that this lamp of divinity will spread the purity of this plant and the superior energy that rises from it around her home and bless the inmates with a more prosperous life. But this light also makes me believe that its original intention was probably to revere the great soul buried beneath in the original prototype of such a structure - the Samadhi.

The shape of the Tulsi pot in the house strangely looks very similar to the traditional design used to make a Samadhi for the departed. This is a small example of purity, a small example of fragrance in the air that will attract all the celestials and siddhars to come and reside within. The much larger example of a great samadhi that hosts a whole forest of herbal plants both tulsi and vilva is that of the great hill of Thiruvannamalai. Here is the living mountain of Lord Shiva that is the home of many siddhas, that is the home of many herbal plants and that which is the home of the great parent Shiva and Parvati. Myths hold that many Siddhas reside here, worshiping the Lord and his consort within this divine hill. The potency of this hill, and the divinity it spreads around itself is beyond words to express.

There is silence within, there is tranquility, and the mind remains blank without thoughts trespassing and rests on the idea of this symbolism in this beautiful plant of unique life promising purity and longevity that grows out of a structure that houses deep within, the most pure form of the human body. A body that is preserved in sacred ash, seated in meditation, lost in eternal bliss. This is the definition of the ultimate form of preservation, of sustenance represented by Lord Ranganatha himself who lies in Ananthasayana, as the world churns around him.


With this saturation in symbolism that echos within the mind the very presence of the Lord Preserver, the silence in the mind begins to submerge into this great realm of calm and tranquility, of peace and harmony, of clarity and depth. Let the waters of life role over me, let the stones of every janma fade, let the tree of life take deep root and release me from this misery of living this haphazard meaningless life. I merge with this tree, my soul departs, what remains is a stony presence whose fading memories get washed away by the flowing waters of time.


Picture courtesy: Flickr.com | Copyright©pasulla

11 comments:

JC said...

Hi Kavitha, Hindu mythological stories are all symbolic. For example, Dhruva is believed to be reflected by the immobile or fixed star, Pole Star...'Samadhi' means an attempt to attain the state of immobility or 'stithpragya' that is 'zero thoughts', believably like the 'nirguna', or detached, Creator', to merge one's soul with Him, or Her, or It (like in the game of football/ hockey etc., the 'goalkeeper', perhaps as a reflection of the goal in human life, ideally never allows a 'goal' scored against his team by the rival or 'opposing' team!)

In the Gita - that is addressed to the entire cross section of the terrestrials, and not 'Hindus' alone, (although, if one knew its significance 'in reality' all are, and it has attracted attention of 'foreigners' also as it is apparently translated into various languages also) - yogis have hinted how 'Krishna' the 'Black' is responsible for the 'Maya' as the one, who started as Vishnu, already the immortal and eventually became Shiva the experienced immortal (that is graphically depicted by a pyramid in which the square base rests on the datum for 'life' on earth, the surface of earth, that has its known to all 'actual base' at its centre. Whereas, although the apex is also a point like earth's centre, it appears to touch the 'sky' that believably, however, is ruled by Sun, during the day and by Moon during the dark night (like the dark space)...And therefore perhaps the 'better half' of earth...

And the mythological stories similarly indicate Himalayas, the 'abode of elevated souls', having supreme soul's, Shiva-Parvati's, abode in Mt. Kailash, to have emerged from the belly of the earth, and therefore is likely to return to its original location even, or maybe not (?)...Historians/ Philosophers however have indicated even whole continents also to have submerged in the 'past', or sent to 'patal' (underground) as indicated in the story related with Bamanavatar of Vishnu and Raja Bali...and also new islands (like Moore island) reportedly keep popping up or getting submerged...

Oh yes, the medicinal plant of Tulsi, similarly helps one to regulate one's routine life, so that despite TV channels painting only gloomy pictures, one could have hope of a better future:)

JC said...

Hi Kavitha, In the message box the following comment is found.
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sury: re article on Tulis, so nice; but Raghavendra samadhi is in Mantralayam?? pl clarify
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'I' too checked up on the internet and found it mentioned that the said Samadhi is located in Mantralayam in Andhra Pradesh on the border of Karnataka. This, however, perhaps shouldn't cause much disturbance in a seeker's mind...Maybe one would need to also consult some atlas of 'India' pertaining to the said period (16th. cen.?)...(for your information, Virgoans, just as 'I' also am, reportedly are very particular about use of correct data!)...

JC said...

As 'I' indicated in 'my' earlier comment, 'Krishna' is indicated as a link between 'zero Vishnu' and 'Shiva' also zero but with a difference, that is it believably holds infinite knowledge at the end of Satyuga compared to zero at the base, (and could perhaps thus be represented by the Tangent theta curve)...and in terms of the globe, or 'Gangadhar earth', by the South and North Pole respectively...that in human form are represented by essences of Moon and Mars respectively as 'sahasrara', and 'mooladhar'...thus one could believe human being as model of ardhanarishwar Shiva, the original earth-moon...but is born on earth after it got separated from Jagadamba, that is, Moon, for providing protection to earth as also 'amrit' that is immortality to the members of the solar system for protection to earth from all 10 directions...not only North and South...and therefore humans appear imperfect as ardhanarishwar Shiva might also have been to start with...but He had the advantage of being alone in the universe (just as Adam also is reported to have been)!

JC said...

Kavitha, Although 'I' had already recorded it earlier, 'I' would recall with reference to 'samadhi', 'my' small experiment in this regard.

It was after our return to New Delhi, when 'I' used to travel by city transport bus for some time. 'I' used to close 'my' eyes for most part of 'my' journey whenever 'I had managed a seat. It generally used to be the one on the aisle side.

'I' tried focussing on the 'third eye' location...primarily to keep 'my' mind away from the crowd that virtually rested on 'my' left shoulder!

One day in such a crowded bus 'I' heard a woman's voice singing. I opened my eyes as 'I' was surprised, for 'I' had never heard any lady singing in a public bus!

However, there was no lady in the close vicinity. But then 'I' noticed the colour of the shawl the man standing close to me was using - it was magenta, which is generally called 'Rani colour' (in Delhi), and is mostly used by ladies. 'I' therefore immediately thought perhaps it once belonged to a lady who had ceased to exist by then!

'I' wanted to know if that was the case, but 'I' couldn't think of a proper question to be posed to a stranger regarding the original owner of the shawl. And before 'I' could choose the right sentence, to my disappointment he got down the bus!

Although while 'I' was at Guwahati, 'I' had earlier also heard one word spoken by some unseen close to 'my left ear', ie., 'Koni' which in Assamese means egg. And, that was the item 'I' was wanting to recall for the last 30 minutes! In Delhi it was a song as if one was casually singing it while engaged in some other work, such as cooking...

JC said...

Whether one beleves in a Supreme Soul as the three-in-one God or not and maybe, therefore, takes for granted the phenomenon related with appearance of dreams even in 'inferior animals' and also unwanted thoughts when one would prefer to switch them off like one switches off her radio or TV, it logically indicates man as a receiver of messages as 'projected images' or 'thoughts' over which animals have no control and therefore even on one's 'actions'...and, therefore, in 'my loud thoughts', 'I' have believed that going into 'samadhi' is virtually impossible for humans (without His will), whereas a buffalo can sit even in a muddy place for hours, doing nothing, except perhaps for chewing the cud (perhaps thanks to 'Krishna' the Black, the same skin as the said animal!

YOSEE said...

In the gentler days when people lived in companionship with all creation, plants were treated with dignity and reverence. I remember every house having a garden in the backyard which supplied ingredients for home remedies : tulsi,Amla,brahmi,neem,bilva,
karpuravalli etc. And the towns had the "sacred groves" attached to the temples. (Even today, i know a lady who utters a Kshamaapana hymn to the tulasi, before plucking its leaves.)It all made much ecological sense.As with everything, such culture is also on decline. :-(
Of the innumerable curative and therauptic qualities Tulasi has, one is immunoboosting and another, its calming effect on the brain. Its proven that it promotes serenity, clear thinking and relaxation. And thats most useful for meditation .
BTW: i believe even in ancient Egypt and Iran,the Basil was planted on graves.

YOSEE said...

Kavitha, Manthralaya has now become a commercial establishment, drowning out the tranquility of the guru's Brindavanam. To experience the real serenity of "samadhi" and derive spiritual inspiration from a mahan's samadhi, go to Govindapuram, about 8kms. from Kumbhakonam. Go at godhuli time, when the lamps are lit. sit before the brindavanam of sri Bodhendraswamigal , who attained jeevasamadhi here. They say if you forget the world for a while and surrender yourself to the silence, you will hear the "inner song". i did.
It was not the naama sankirtanam chanted by the swamigal, as claimed by the sthalapuranam. But it was a "naadam" i can vouch for it. And it was beautiful.

Kavitha said...

Hi Yosee

Lost you there on the inner song...

I am trying to understand your experience of listening to the inner song, i am tempted to draw a parallel with the sound within the big shankha i have back home, a soft reverberating Om that doesnt fade at all... its strange people call it the sound of the sea and the waves... but no, its the constant sound of Om that vibrates within this natural work of art

YOSEE said...

Kavitha, i know you cannot understand because i cannot explain it properly ! You hear it within your head and it sort of pulsates upto the chest. It is definitely a musical note, somewhat like the OM in the shankh but with a soft ascending scale. Of course , an accompanying relative ( who heard no music) dismissed it as the acoustic effect of the cavernous little shrine deflecting the hum of highway traffic beyond the grove. Whatever,let it even be a case of incipient tinnitus :-) but the experience was sublime and i will treasure it.

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

"The shape of the Tulsi pot in the house strangely looks very similar to the traditional design used to make a Samadhi for the departed....."
According to mythology Tulasi Vrindawan is indeed a samadhi of "Vrinda" who was deceived by Vishnu to conquer her husband the demon king Jalandar.

JC said...

Hi all, "Hari annta/ Hari katha ananta", perhaps explains best how different people at different times have expressed their own 'truth' as they received it in their heads...

You ask, say a Tibetan herbal medicine practitioner, and would perhas learn how they at intervals visit the Himalayas and collect medicinal plants, which they use for preparing medicines...Thus one would find that every herb has some usefulness, and similarly perhaps every human character too!