Journey to the Center of Supreme Consciousness - Part 1

At the moment of death, experienced doctors say, there is rarely a chance that a person is going to be aware or has the consciousness to realize this experience of death that they are going through. Physically, the person displays a lot of changes at the time of death depending on where the soul leaves the body from; i.e. the kabalam, the nabhi or the genitals...

The scriptures say the "most sinful Pretas" continue to experience the insensibility of death like a stone. They are awakened into consciousness after a duration of time (up to 1 year in human terms) based on the amount of sin committed during that life time. They are described to be as inert as a stone, or similar to an immovable tree towards the sensibility of this experience of death.

Kama Loka is the world of desire, the after life which is an illusion that the souls go through before they awaken. My assumption is this is the illusion they go through in the "stone" state. This is a state of consciousness where an illusory world is created to match the desires closest to the recently departed souls. This is an illusion the dead wake out of when they first arrive here. [Muslims believe they have reached paradise, ancient Egyptians filled the tomb with desired objects for the journey of the departed into this illusory world, Christians possibly believe they see Christ in this state] In a very short time these errors of perception are corrected.

Virtuous souls too don't have an inkling of death. While some of us might feel safe that we don't even have consciousness towards the state of dying, I personally wonder what it really is to pass from one state to another. In the case of virtuous souls, death passes them by in the same inertness which is short lived, but at the end of that they are promised an experience of the world of Gods. They are subsequently reborn into the world in richer families, in comfort.

Ordinary virtuous souls face a different experience after they have tided over the insensibility of death. They experience being carried away by the winds and are turned into plants and herbs. Subsequently they are taken as food for the expectant mother aiding the birth of another soul into the world.

Is there life after death?

Hindu scriptures give elaborate descriptions of other worlds that seem to exist in parallel to us. These are what they call as Lokas. I am not sure whether the word "Life after death" holds good any more. There are various states of consciousness and in the human state, we have this level of consciousness that mostly depends on our senses. Yet we are blessed with the sense of "thought" which when tuned and polished can reach a higher state of consciousness and help us graduate to the next level of consciousness.

Under normal circumstances, the souls of the departed either make it to Swarga Loka or Naraka Loka which is the next state of consciousness, for the experience of which one has to discard the current human body. Once the human material body has been discarded, the soul takes 13 days to rebuild its next body in the intermittent world (Garuda Purana). In these 13 days, if this soul is blessed, the children of the departed will perform ritual to deliver the food it so desires through the channels of feeding birds as well as feeding brahmins. At this stage, the soul departed can either bless or curse the living - leading to pithrigal shrap (ancestral curse, or curse of the departed) should the departed be left suffering in hunger, being denied the essence of food which is their only source to build this new "body".

Swarga Loka, is defined by a temporary place where the soul enjoys the fruits of its actions on earth and Moksha is the supreme salvation the soul can still aspire towards. Swarga is inhabited by the Devas who are believed to be children of the Rishis, and masters of the elements. Indra heads this division of consciousness and others who reside here are Varuna, Agni, Kubera, Kamadeva, Ganga, Bhumi, Surya, Soma and Yamaraja or Dharma (Lord of faith and death). Other inhabitants of this state of consciousness include Gandharvas, Apsaras and celestial sages.

Naraka Loka, on the other hand is ruled by Yama with a band of emissaries called Yamadutas, who bring the souls of the departed should they have committed grave sins during their earthly existence. The Garuda Purana gives in depth description of the torture they go through in this world of consciousness. Chitragupta, the karmic accountant is the deciding factor on whether the souls will go to Swarga or be consigned to Naraka to undergo pain to atone for their sins.


It doesn't end here. The word Loka originates from the syllable Loc which means "to shine, be bright and visible." This is a dimension of manifested existence, say a cosmic region. Every Loka reflects a particular range of consciousness. The primary Lokas are Bhuloka, Antarloka and Siva Loka.

The Bhuloka, is the world we live in and our current sense of consciousness is perceived mostly through the 5 senses, this is the most dense world.

Bhuvar Loka is the plane of the atmosphere, this is the second of the seven upper worlds. Bhuvar Loka is closely associated with the physical plane of Pithriloka (ancestors) and Pretaloka (world of the departed souls). Bhuvar Loka is often spoken of in Hindu literature as the middle region (referring to the triad of ethereal dwellings name bhur, bhuvas, and svar) and as the abode of the munis.

Mahar Loka is that state of consciousness where the munis or rishis dwell at the time of pralaya according to the Puranas. It is the abode of Bhriga Prajapati and one of the 7 who co-exists with Brahma. This is a state of consciousness that is even higher than the state of Indra Loka or Swarga Loka. Interestingly, in this state of consciousness, they have not renounced family life.

Jana Loka is a state of consciousness where Rishi Munis dwell after their corporeal death. This is a terrestrial locality as described by the Puranas.

Tapo Loka is that state of consciousness which is ruled by the five devatas named Vairajas. This is the world of seven sages and also the realm of great penance.

Soma Loka is the lunar world, the region of the moon. This is closely associated with the Pithri Loka, the realm of the lunar pithris. Possibly also called Chandra Loka.

Patala Loka is the lowest of the seven worlds and is inhabited by nagas or great serpents.

In our current state of consciousness, isn't it so clear that we are limited, inadequate and in this state quite imprisoned within the walls of the human body?

To be continued...


Sri Rudram - Divine Verses to Lord Rudra

The literal translation of the RUDRAM as follows:

A call to the Great Lord Aghora Rudra, who should not reveal himself in a form that scares us, who should keep away my enemies from me, who should grant us happiness in this world and in heaven, all material dear to us here and in heaven, endearing relations, prosperity, comfort, name, fame, fortune, enormous riches, proper guidance from elders, palatial mansions, support from the family, undaunted courage, chivalry and valour, command obedience from our progeny, circumvent untimely death, be free from ailments, ensure longevity, assure bountiful sleep, a very successful glamorous day, wealth and fame derived by me, longed and valued by others, increase my worldly possessions, give me attractiveness and personal charm, feeling pride of the body, with excellent and harmonious resorts for my stay and recreation as diversion, secure well guarded paths for my movements of coming and going, gold, silver and the sacred navaratna stones... and so the Rudram goes on into a never ending wish list of everything we can wish for...

Is this the real Rudram - To keep asking Lord Shiva for things, endlessly including the condition that we would prefer to see his soumya rupa instead of his aghora rupa?

Or is this the real Rudram?

Into the depths of heaven

Does my soul fly
Into the intensity of the element
Does my heart rule
At the feet of the Great Lord Rudra
Do I wish to live

The ever flowing Ganges
Those ancient verses
The depth in the waters of nature
The excitement to be in the audience of the learned
That which completely engages my mind
That chill in the air
The purity in untouched nature
Thar which is left behind in ancient temples
The potency in the stone idol that remains
The holiness of the water in my hand
The warmth in the fire
The energy that is the Goddess
She who describes him as his power
Decorated in vilva and flowers
The great Lord meditates...
The world churns
I churn
And you cease to understand me anymore...


To the ignorant who dont care to know, THE RUDRAM is a series of verses sung in a meter, rhythmic and monotonous making no immediate difference to their lives

To the bhakta who still craves to live, THE RUDRAM is a long list of wishes to the great lord Aghora Rudra Shiva to keep away enemies, to grant great wealth, to ward away decease, to deliver healthy progeny who will be rich and charming and learned and prosperous, to grant land and gold and silver...the list goes on (refer above)

To the intellect who wants to discover, THE RUDRAM is a intriguing tale of secret medicine and alchemy that is hidden in the sacred syllables as they fall out as divine notes.

To the pure soul, the undefined person who neither looks for intellectual stimulation nor do they look to decipher secret code within these verses nor are they attempting to be immortal or wishing for a longer life nor do they find any great happiness in riches feeding a never ending greed... to the pure soul it seems to be pure love, pure rhythmic love, unadulterated pure rhythmic love.

The primordial sound of Om, the calling for Ganesha, the adoration of Aghora Rishi, the prayer to Parama Purusha RUDRA Devata, the recitation of the sacred beejam of Na Ma Shi Va Ya, invoking the Shivataraye Shakti. I call you, in a language that has lived, that has been defined and practiced through the centuries, a tried and tested method of ritual, to come down into this world and reveal yourself to me.

Your Rudraksha mala is my protection, the rhythm in the verses that brings alive the sound of creation is the beat of my heart, and as I live on I realize you are my focus, and once I set eyes on you this life in this state has completed its purpose. I have no more purpose, no more need, no more desire to want to live. I have nothing more to do here, my task is complete.

And so I wait, wait for you to reveal yourself to me, be it your beauty as the consort of Parvati, or be it the charming Bhikshatana, or be it the enchanting Nataraja or be it the fierce Lord Kalabhairava...I wait for you.

I wait for you as a human in this form, I wait for you as a ghost or a ghoul after I leave this body, I wait for you as a deva if I have been honest and pure and have not sinned as much, I wait for you to come and reveal yourself.

I wait, and while I wait I contemplate on you as I play my role within this maya as a child, as an adult, as a wife, as a mother, as a dauther in law, as a boss, as an employee, as a citizen, as a compassionate human being in this state.

I simply wait, I contemplate and while I immerse myself in your thoughts, I worship you...

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To the Great Trees I bow.

The green leaves
The blissful shade
Cutting out the strong heat
This pure air
The gentle breeze
Singing in my ears
As I sit here
Below this tree
Smelling the moisture
In the air
Far away in this remote temple
Peace reigns supreme
Deep within

I am here
On this sacred floor
Dotted with light
A spot lit stage
I look up to him
He gently smiles
His form envelopes
This peace around
He rules here
He rules my heart
He stands near here
Waiting for me
To awaken from my dream

These sacred verses of beauty sing through my mind as I look up to the idol of Lord Shiva standing next to me. Its a small chamber, walled by the thick roots of the banyan, pure and clean hanging down like a curtain cutting the world out.

This is the divine world of the celestials, a world of extra ordinary power and bliss. In this world the rules are different, money has no power and neither does status or ego have any value. Here principles matter and the given word. There is power in the thought and in the spoken word. Here the truth matters and the real person within me matters.

What appears like a silent atmosphere, otherwise is a world so secretive that it can go simply unnoticed if the imagination of the mind is not tuned to receive its feeble but significant signals. With practice the mind learns to dim the noise within it and starts to tune into the celestial world. In the depths of silence, in the voice of the wind and in the fragrance in the air one gets to feel the truth that surrounds oneself.

The all pervading Lord Shiva continues to stand center stage as the various celestial, the Gandharvas and Apsaras fly around offering flowers and leaves to him. Flowers, leaves and food, a constitute of milk products from the cow bring back strong affinity towards the purity in these very natural offerings. The Lord doesnt ask for anything else for he is present in the fragrance, he is present in the bright color pigment and he is present in the very tree under which I lie watching his form, wondering just how simple he is to not want gems and gold and precious stones.

He is in the flowers, he is in the sacred vilva leaf I hold, he is in this tree under whose shade I sit and contemplate. His nature is to be silent, his nature is to be stone cold, his nature is to test my endurance to see if will snap or make it back to his heart. As I hold this sacred leaf I look up to his divine form, I hold up the vilva leaf and with bhakti, I place my self, my ego at his divine feet as the sacred verses run within my mind.

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

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
For it is equal to giving a tree of Bilwa,
Which was born from the breast of Lakshmi,
And which is very dear to the Lord Shiva.

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

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
As Brahma resides at its bottom,
Lord Vishnu lives in its middle,
And Lord Shiva lives in its tip.

I hold this sacred leaf at your feet O Lord, that which possesses the very nature of Brahma at its root, of Vishnu in its stem and of You at its head. How lucky is this leaf that you reside within itself, how lucky would I be if I realized you reside within me.

I look up to the banyan tree and its strong roots cover me. I worship this great tree for within it resides He.

Aswatha vruksha sthuthi (I pray to this banyan tree)

Moolatho Brahma roopaya, madhyatho Vishnu roopine|
Agratha Shiva roopaya, vruksha rajaya the nama||

My salutations to the king of trees.
Whose root is the form of Brahma,
Middle is the form of Lord Vishnu,
And top is the form of Lord Shiva.

Aswatha sarva papani satha janma arjithanicha|
Nudhaswa mama vrakshendra, sarva aiswarya pradho bhava||
The holy fig (banyan) tree pushes away, all sins earned,
In several hundred births, and Oh king of trees,
Please grant me all different types of wealth.

To the king of trees I pray, to the Lord of the jungles I bow for within your root lies the great Lord Brahma, within your branches resides Lord Vishnu and surrounding me atop your great self, Lord Shiva envelopes my soul. I sit here holding my hands together in adoration, praying to this great tree whose strengths are so unknown, for worshiping you is like vanquishing my sins, of this birth and the past, of this life and hoping never to be born in this form again. I pray to thee O great banyan tree, to grant me wealth of a different kind, wealth in the form of knowledge, wealth in the form of divine fruit, wealth in the form of divine vision to be able to see the Lord residing within you.

As I get up to go, my heart aches to leave you behind, my feet shiver to walk back to that world of chaos from where I come. I walk through the silent walls of the temple to look back outside, into that divine world, at the center of which you stand in the sunlight calling me to take rest under your divine shade.

I stare on, looking close into your lap for within your shade lies the divine Tulasi whose fragrance enveloped the air around me. Tulasi, small and tender, yet so powerful and so divine.

Thulasi shree sakhi shubhe , papa haarini punyade|
Namasthe Naradanuthe , Namo Narayana priye||
Oh, Holy Thulasi,
Bosom friend of Lakshmi,
Destroyer of sins,
Bestower of blessings,
Salutations to thee,
Who is praised by sage Narada,
And is the darling of Lord Narayana

To the trees that take root in this earth,
To the trees that stand testimony to the times that have gone,
To the trees that hold the very form of the Lord within them...
To the trees under whose branches the Lord has taken form as a Linga
I feel so small in front of you for you stand here, unchanged, unmoved like a permanent home to the Lord within.

Related posts:

Tulsi, at the seat of Samadhi
Reflections on the Trinity - Trimurti Shiva

An ode to Lord Shiva with Vilva leaves

Photo courtesy:
Flickr.com: Palmer Digital Studio | Tilak Haria's photostream


The Art of Shiva Manasa Puja

Lost in his world of devotion to the Lord, the divine verses fell out of the great Shankaracharya 's mind:

Aaradhayami mani sannibham athma lingam|
Maayapuri hrudaya pankaja sannivishtam||
Sradha nadhi vimala chitha jalabishegai|
Nithyam samadhi kusmaira punarbhavai||

I worship the Linga which is a part of my soul, which resides as an illusory lotus within my heart. I worship the Linga which is bathed by the clear waters of my devotion which flows like a river through me. I worship this Linga with a lotus everyday, so that I am not born again in another birth.

Rathnai Kalpitham asanam, Himajalai snanam cha divyambaram|
Naana rathna vibhooshitham mruga madha modhanvitham Chandanam||
Jathi champaka bilwa pathra rachitham, pushpam cha deepam Thada|
Deepam deva dayanithe pasupathe, hrud kalpyatham gruhyatham||

I offer you an imaginary throne made of precious stones, I offer you a bath in the melted waters of the Himalayan snow. I
drape you in sacred silks and adorn you with precious jewels. I offer you sandal and musk and make offerings of vivla and champaka flowers to you. I offer you this holy lamp and all these offerings i make in the portal of my mind. Please O merciful Lord, bless me with your grace.

- * - * -

These words of love that the Shankara sang in praise of the Lord bring a sense of overwhelming peace in lesser mortals like me. To believe in Lord Shiva is one thing, to worship regularly is another but to feel the presence of Lord Shiva deep within the emotions rooted in the hrudaya kamalam is something else. To recite songs to the Lord is one thing, to understand the meaning is another but to realize the beauty of his presence within the self is a completely overwhelming experience.

Hrudaya kamalam, is the blooming lotus in the heart chakra and the presence of the Lord is felt when these divine verses stop time, stop activity, trivialize worry, discard greed and vanquish destructive thought. That is when the Bhakta knows that the Lord has descended into his being and he then proclaims himself as the Athma Linga.

I feel blessed to have been granted the sensibility to worship the Lord, I feel blessed to have been given the consciousness to realize his presence. I feel blessed to be able to offer vilva leaves and lotus to the Lord during worship. I feel blessed that my mind dwells deep into Lord Shiva and with every passing breath, with every passing thought I feel him, his reality, his presence.

My heart is his throne,
My mind is his home
The lotus of my heart is his bed
My thoughts are music to him
My breath is the beat in his steps
My body is his fortress
My speech is a song to him
My actions are his will
My eyes are an offering of the three leafed vilva
My self is his beauty
My life is his prana
My soul is but a part of him
I am but He

As I offer these sacred leaves and as I place my mind on his thoughts, I realize there is no great happiness in this world. Events come and go, people come and go, feelings come and go but all that is there to stay is my mind, my thoughts and the Lord who resides deep within the lotus of my heart.

Aathma thwam Girija Mathi sahacharaa prana sarreram gruham|
Pooja theey vishayopa bhoga rachana nidhra samadhi sthithi||
Sanchara padayo pradakshina vidhi sthothrani sarva giraa|
Yadyath karma karomi thathad akhilam shambho thavaradhanam||

My soul is your temple O Lord, my activities are your attendants. My body is your home and my acts to please my senses are but in worship of you. My act of sleep is but in deep meditation on you, and my walks are all in circumambulation of you. All my actions are but in your worship and all that falls out of my mind are sacred verses in praise of you.

When the mind rests on the Lord, and all actions are but attributes of his presence, how then does it matter who or what I am?

Other topics of interest:

A journey from Pictures to Temples to Yantras to Nirvana.
Bhakti, pulse in the dance of Lord Nataraja

Lord Shiva Nataraja, the rhythm of life
Hrudaya Kamalam, the lotus of my heart blooms