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1.29.2012

Divinity in the Aditya Hrudayam

It’s another peaceful morning, bright and airy giving the world a new life; life as we soak in this light, life as we soak in these rays, life that subconsciously controls our emotions, and life that we have so easily taken for granted. The sun, this golden ball of fire, has always risen and always set without fail giving us this precious life, the value of which we still don’t quite know. This very ball of fire has seen many years; it has defined what we call as time.

Centuries ago, in the earlier yugas, a distressed Rama stood on this earth, in a battle field facing the wrath of his opponent Ravana on one such brightly lit morning, just that the mood was entirely different. As Ravana continued to intimidate him, Rama was not very inclined towards war. It was at this very prime moment that Sage Agastya appeared before him and shared with him a few pearls of divine wisdom. The Aditya Hrudayam is a profound set of verses composed by the Great Sage Agastya and rendered by Rama in his search for the answer to his distress on the battle field.

The meaning of Aditya is synonymous with the Sun, the giver of energy that helps us enjoy all the experiences of life with our senses
Hrudayam relates to the one who shines or dwells in the heart. Hence the consciousness that resides in the heart of Aditya, pulsating with energy is the inner unchanging witness to all thought, words and deeds.

It is believed that by reciting the Aditya Hrudayam, one is blessed with pure thought, words and clean deeds carrying no karma forward and is ensured of moksha. The sun is universal, the brightest light of divinity visible to our consciousness and hence we bow to this light as a sacred form of the supreme for without it, there is no life, no consciousness.

The essence of the Aditya Hrudayam brings about all destruction to our fears and human inhibitions and prepares us for any calamity/unforeseen event in our lifetimes. The Aditya Hrudayam is a catalyst that helps control emotions while experiencing these events and bring them to moderation thereby seeking to achieve greater heights in our hunger for moksha.

The Aditya Hrudayam when literally translated describes the in detail the state of anxious Rama on the battle field when Sage Agastya appears before him. He teaches him the secrecy of divine worship of the sun which in our language translates to the Great Sun having warm rays with golden hues, nourishing and energizing the universe that rises and brightens up the horizon. It is an all encompassing bright light that is worshipped by both the Devas and Asuras. This light empowers Chandra and Agni and therefore is equal to worshiping the lord of the world. He is the embodiment of all the Gods, self luminous and the sustainer of life. He is Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Skanda, Prajapati, Indra, Kubera, Kala, Yama, Chandra, Soma and Varuna. He is the embodiment of the 8 vaasus, the Sandhyas, the twin Ashwins, the Maruts, Manu, Vayu, Agni, the maker of the seasons and the store house of divine light. He is the Son of Aditi, the inspirer of the senses, the nourished, the one with golden rays, the ever brilliant, the seed of the universe and the maker of the day. He is the master of 7 green horses, having thousand rays, the destroyer of darkness, the source of happiness, the one who mitigates suffering and the infuser of life into the cosmic egg. He is the store house of riches, like the hiranya garbhah - the one with a golden womb, the illuminator, the bearer of the divine fire, the ever blissful and the destroyer of "cold" [evil minded]. He is the master of the 3 vedas, Rig, Yajur, Sama, he is the sender of dawn, the one who blesses us with rain, the one who crosses the Vindhya range, and the one who sports in the Brahmanadi. He is the giver of heat, adorned with rays and reddish in appearance. He is the Lord of the stars and planets and constellations and the origin of everything in the universe. he is the Lord who appears in 12 forms through out the year [12 months]. Salutations to Him! He is the great lord who is the presiding deity of the eastern mountains and western mountains. He is the giver of victory, he is joy born out of victory, the golden one. He is the one who subdues the senses whose emergence makes the lotus bloom. The Sun is consciousness, that is seated in all those who live, in all created beings and he remains awake when all else sleeps. He is both the sacred fire as well as the fruits of such divine worship. Sage Agastya tells Lord Rama, Raghava, to sing the glories of the divine sun and conquer all the dangers that befall him; the Sun will not leave him. Concentrate on the Sun, recite this hymn 3 times and you will conquer all your fears and enemies.

Gazing at the supreme sun, Raghava recited this divine hymn and experienced the supreme joy of fearlessness and sipping water thrice; he purified himself and prepared for battle. Thus knowing the impending death of Ravana, Surya, and all the other great gods blessed Rama with victory.

The Aditya Hrudayam, in its divine words encapsulates energy into itself that spread divine vibrations around us as we recite these words. Over a period of time, this regular recital leads us to purify and conquer our inner thoughts and conquer our fears by discarding the desires that lead up to them. This profound knowledge is experienced everyday with the waking of the sun into our lives. It may also be described as the tiny drop of light we light for the Gods when we bow in reverence to them during our daily prayer. This fire is but a small speck, an extension of the larger ocean of flames that make up the great Sun.

To the great divine Sun God I pray for another bright day.

1.02.2012

The lost joy of being a Brahmin Priest

In the ancient days priesthood was a very prized position and was not earned merely by birth, it was earned by hard work and excellent education in the deep roots of ancient philosophy. But as all things change, this too changed for the worse.

Time, need and desire have changed the overall landscape of this divine profession. There doesn’t appear to be too much pride in this role any more as it is clouded by the deadly imagery of corruption, greed and complete disrespect for the divine. Incidentally these men are the keepers of the faith and sadly they had not lived up to divine or mortal expectations. I have had very sad experiences with current day Brahmin priests, and like every other person walking to the temples with some hope, my desires towards a drop of enlightenment have been massacred too within these ancient walls, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth towards my own faith. While most of us end up cursing the faith itself and search for our own warped inner peace, the only way I have known that works for my temperament is to believe extremely deeply in the faith but disqualify the current keeper of it. The bottom line being, I am the keeper of this faith at this time and it is my duty to learn it for myself and not depend on anyone for it. 

But I have wondered about the role itself and often felt the urge to want to learn the science of it. I have taken active interest to learn ritual to some degree to my personal satisfaction and have also fallen prey to the disease of "How things should be done" as compare to "What are these things and why are they done that way". I don’t have the answers to everything, but yes I have chosen not to question everything in order to believe it, because I know, if I wait for an answer and not practice in the mean time, I will just lose precious time and that is not good. Hence I am a believer, and I love the rule of discipline and orthodoxy consciously because I know, its the only way to reign my wandering mind back into my "divine" self. I have chosen this path.

And this decision has set my mind thinking many times. What if I was blessed to be a Brahmin priest in the ancient days... how would I have been?   

I would have considered myself the luckiest. The joy of this role speaks for itself. While in these times it is a job that reeks of corruption, deceit, and utter selfish motive with no adoration towards the Lord incarnate, the original purity of this role was well worth several lifetimes.

The moments of spiritual bliss, the pockets of joy dotting my day would be in the rigorous worship of the Lord from the early hours of the morning to the late hours of the evening. What a wonderful moment it would be to enter into the sacred garbha griha as if it was my own home and chant sweet words of adoration to his being that rests within these thick walls of time. The gabha griha otherwise is forbidden ground, for only the pure can enter. Its ironical that in these times, one has to be pure physically while the mind festers the darkest poisons within itself!

Lighting the lamps and pouring the oil to keep that divine flame alive, bathing the Lord in traditional abhishekam and dressing Him in his royal robes and decorating Him with beautifully woven garlands of flowers and vilva leaves...I would eagerly wait for this moment everyday and when it becomes the main task of my life to spend these living hours with Him, wouldn’t I be truly blessed?

To have a feeling of divine ownership, to be the ever present servant of the Lord during my living hours, to be the keeper of His home, to be the cook for his daily meal that He blesses as Prasadam, to sing to Him and pour sprinkles of Bhakti in these divine tunes, to hold up the divine light of Arti and see Him up close in all his grandeur, what more can I ask of life.

It would be joyous to share the divine light with any bhakta who came to His doorstep, it would be a pleasure to explain the divine doctrine and enlighten people to understand His presence within this idol and its significance. It would be inner happiness while I contribute to the community to teach this knowledge to all who are interested. How then can I ask for money blatantly when others would like to share this joy? How then can I be rude when a bhakta attempts to learn more about His divinity? How then can I sell my knowledge to perform rites for a few hundred bucks? How can I cheat people of their inner peace when they come to meet the Lord? And finally how can I ever face the Lord the next day when I come back into his chamber...until I have killed the life in him and consider him just a stone and my knowledge is just part of a text book and left me with no wisdom... when I have not spent my time doing my fair share of Vichara?

Priesthood is a definite path to heaven, if the path is chosen and lived well. While the path starts in the lines of religion, it slowly converts to spiritualism. My time and consciousness is always towards the Lord, my mind stops taking this as a regular job but starts working on the lines of contemplation i.e. Vichara. He is always there and yet not that close for me to feel Him, He plays with my mind, a silent game of hide and seek and leave me a whole lifetime to learn and understand him. He gives me all that is needed, the environment, the divine scriptures, and the constant time that I need to serve Him and its now my turn to realize the true value of what lies in front of me. My only magic portion is Bhakti and when I sing in its tunes, my spiritual path lights up before me... I am now a true bhakta. I am no longer a priest; I am Shiva, pure divine consciousness.