Adventures of a Spiritual Vagabond

It was a regular day, seated at my seat with my wavering mind trying hard to come back to ground zero where my great Guru smiled through the walls of His photograph. Fate had not been to kind and my jumping mind needed some really serious answers to solve its problems and it was not going to rest till the solution percolated through the pores of my thoughts. It had been quite a few sessions of aggressive worship yielding no tangible results. 

"Go to Tarapith"

The thought struck me like a bolt from heaven. It was strong enough to vanquish all the other thoughts that played havoc within my poor mind. "Really?" I thought, "Now that’s a good idea but will it work?" My mind raged on as the worship for the day came to a close. Would it ever be possible? It wasn’t too long that I realized fate aligning with the divine words and I found myself heading down the highway to the small town of Tarapith, a week later against all odds. It was just unbelievable, this was for Real and something was bound to happen. But what... let’s keep an open mind. Anything can happen, and I have been instructed to go so nothing negative can really happen. With deep excitement and a tinge of doubt, the events unfolded almost orchestrated by the Lord Himself. 

"Come to me, Bathe Me"

I found myself within the sacred chamber early in the morning staring straight at the inner shrine. We took our places in front of the Goddess and looked at the priest waiting for him to perform his part. But little did I know that there was a change of plan. The priest ushered me closer to the Goddess and handed over the oils and rose water to me beckoning me to go ahead and perform the sacred rite of bathing her. I took to it like a fish to water, feeling the moment of being the temple priest [a job I would have loved to have], as I caringly washed her and anointed her. I almost heard Her call out telling me to bathe Her earthly form. What a divine role that was and how I completely enjoyed being the priest for those few minutes. My hands trembled as I touched Her form, my mind went blank and my words failed as I stammered through my sacred verses. He gave me all the time I wanted, as I gently wiped her clean and covered Her in a saree we had brought for Her and stared Her straight in the eye, thanking Her for this phenomenal experience. 

"Come to me, hug me"

The priests soon took over and continued the rituals while the crowd look on occasionally shouting her name "Joy Tara Ma" and I joined them with enthusiasm proclaiming her glories to the world. I was overwhelmed and I shook just staring at her form. After the rituals were through, the priests ushered out everybody from the tiny garbha griha within which she rested. We were told to stay back and when the crowd was cleared he told me to get closer to her again. This time I was not clear on what was coming next. He emptied a box of sindhur into my bright red hands and directed me to smear it over her third eye. It was the culmination of a divine experience as I placed my humble palm over her divine forehead and touched it. I shook in my knees as he pushed me to her, telling me to hug her tight. And what a lovely hug that was as I held her close to me with the only sound that came out of my mouth "Tara Ma" as I sank myself into her lap. 

"Visit my son in the cremation ground"

I walked out of the temple with my family, reeling out of the experience. Something had happened in there, something for real and something for good. I had transformed and Ma Tara had called me over to bless me and hug me tight to reassure me that all was really well. My mind was amazingly silent, no thought dared to even make its presence felt. I blankly asked my folks if they would like to come along to the cremation ground and I met very reluctant faces. It didn’t matter, I walked back alone to the temple and down to the cremation ground as I asked for directions. Bare feet over dusty earth, I probably was walking over some poor soul's bones that lay buried in the earth of the shamshan. The fresh air of the morning made it look green while the sacred pyres lay silent. 

"Am in your heart, always"

Bama Khepa rested in his Samadhi, and I walked up close to it. A couple of people charged at me asking for dakshina, but went silent in just as much as the same speed. I sat with him for a good while, reciting the sacred Mrityunjaya and then I circumambulated his shrine, bowing at all the four directions before I came to stand in front of him. Tears rolled down my eyes and I thanked him and the divine Mother for granting me this opportunity. Tara Ma had taken her seat in my heart, and it felt warm in there. My earthy problems looked small, like stray thoughts in the mind, like unwanted noise and it was so easy to throw them away. I was home, and my mother hugged me close. I had nothing else to fear. I looked at the cremation ground and it felt as much at home as any place else. I loved it there and I felt at peace. Ma Tara was with me and her warmth continues to keep the flame in my heart burning. 

I came back home, to the south of India, calm, complete, quiet. What an adventure that was! 

Tara Ma, Her beauty - unbeatable, Her grace - unmissable, Her presence - rejuvenating, Her brilliance - all embracing, Her home - Tarapith

Joy Ma Tara!!


To My Great Guru, I Pray.

It has taken me a long time to realize just how much I have not understood your presence in my life. I have come to a point where I feel hopeless and insignificant, where I realize you had come to touch my heart twice before and I failed to catch those moments. And now I try again, to reach out to you in desperation, in shame, and with all humility. I have come to detest the very nature of the limitations within the realm of being born human and at the same time I look for any sign, any hope that can make me rise up to you again. 

Getting to be your disciple has been a blessing, its not achievable to many and I had the luck. I have seen you just once from a distance, when I was a little girl giggling around not realizing the moment I was going to miss. It was when you departed that I seriously felt, I wanted to just come away with you. I lost that moment then but you reappeared again in my life, this time with greater trust, with greater love, with greater teaching. You initiated me, and I learned, I fumbled but I believe with all my inadequacies and flippant attitude, you gave me a precious gift and I kept it close to myself. 

The time has come again and the echo for your divine grace grows within my heart. Time is running out and as I live, every passing breath just yells at me echoing how wasteful I have been. I have immersed myself into reading about great saints, about the divine grace that they have been blessed with and the more I sink into that world the more I realize just how far fetched it is to reach from where I am. And yet, this miserable self will try, try as much as I can, to make myself ready for you to reappear and shower your grace upon me. 

There is so much to say and yet words fail me. Am I ever capable of getting there, I dont know, but the hunger grows. I have begun to question my existence, my purpose, my being with respect to spiritual capability. I realize deep down how difficult it is to tread your path but do I have a chance? You taught me to have faith in you and yet I fear you. You taught me discipline and yet am flippant. You taught me humility and I felt I owned you. You taught me dignity but I can feel my worhtlessness grow. You taught me to surrender but I held on to my ego. 

Am back, a hopeless mortal, at your door step requesting you for another chance to teach me again, to shape my path of realization. I find no pleasure in other mortals, I find no pleasure in material gain. I am fast losing interest in the pleasures of life, I just seek your divine grace. I know there is still time, time for me to give up this lifestyle. But meanwhile is there a chance that I may be blessed with your grace again. 

To my Great Guru, I pray. 


When Lord Jagannathan Entered My Life

I am not completely aware of Krishna consciousness, and neither have I spent too much time trying to understand Vaishnavism. Maybe its time to start. Krishna made his intriguing presence felt when I started to learn more about Kali and Tantra. Thanks to my son's die hard concentration and irresistible attraction to Little Krishna, Lord Jagannatha grew on me subconsciously while I sat through repeated serials of the Divine boy on television. I found myself falling for that child, for that little village of Brindavan and all his companions, Balarama, Madhu and Subhala. With my son's new found emotions gripped by these imaginary beings who ruled his head day in and day out, I came to realize subconsciously that they were as real to me as they were to him. 

The Lord sends his messages in strange ways and in each way, I found myself sinking into a pool of deep emotion of Love, call it Bhakti, call it what ever you like. An email fell into my mailbox, with a picture of Krishna/Kali and a question - Guess who this is? With that started my next hunt, what is the Krishna association with Kali. J C Joshi's innumerable comments came flashing back to me. His whole volume of belief left behind as pearls of wisdom with the comments of my various blogs echoed back in my head well after his physical body turned history. Who really is Jagannatha?

I penned my last paragraph of a book I plan to publish sometime in the near future and realized that I, who assumed herself to be a great follower of Shiva and Shakti, had given a lot of attention to Jagannatha unconsciously in my story. I sat back to think of all the temples I had visited, it was Tirupati that had overwhelmed me the most and make me weep profusely, every time without fail. The atmosphere, the energy, the silence inside the sanctum, and his form left me in a pool full of tears. The last visit of taking my son there had proved fatal in this divine love affair. But somehow, the form that stuck in my head as the divine Krishna is Jagannatha. From that little child I would love to cuddle to the divine lover, Krishna conquers my mind in every form. 

And then he played his divine trick again in a dream, and the Ras Lila enveloped my thoughts, divine love in the eyes of the "knower" can make the emotional doer do a lot of things. A line from Sri M's book echoed in my head, when it comes to Jagannatha, we take the form  of the divine lover, that's the only state of consciousness one can reach. And in the dream he came, as a singer of divine song, as the one who plays sweet notes in his flute. A face so gentle, so handsome and yet distant beckoning me to come forward and touch him, experience him. The intoxicating sounds of his beeja mantra echoed inside my head, his searching eyes oozed the emotion of warmth, the emotion of longing, the emotion that beckoned me to just accept everything he wanted, thoughtlessly, helplessly, completely emotionally. 

I stood on the floor, in our world, my thoughts caught in his web as the beeja mantra echoed on, I could feel the weakness in my knees. I could barely hold myself for a surge of energy just headed upwards towards my heart, towards my head and I felt myself swoon in sheer bliss as I felt my consciousness fade from the real world. I clung on crying out for help - Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya - O Vasudeva, O Shankara! Hold me, for I am unable to hold myself. 

I realized how difficult it was for me to come back to the real world that minute. 


The Paradox in Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Everyone wants to reach the state of perfection, of course perfection at the moment continues to be a relative term and in the nuances of human behavior there is a very thin line separating one level of perfection from the other. 

The sacred doctrines describe the ultimate state of consciousness, the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi as the perfect state. This state describes the merging of the self with Atman such that there is no individual self left. With heightened bhakti and complete love for the supreme this state is very possible to achieve as proven by a few men who have walked the earth. 

But what is this state, how do we describe a person who has achieved it. The most popularly understood approach to reach this state is when the Bhakta doesn't connect with the world around them any more, be it in mind or in body. From the social perspective, they have traveled so far into themselves that the world outside, the maya as we may call it, hardly matters to them any more. From the physical sustenance perspective, the physical body becomes so perfect that its mortal desires are either addressed internally by the body or killed purely by the evolution of the being. 

Lets take the case of self sustenance, it is the ability of the physical body to secrete Amrit within the head region and taste it frequently thus killing any external desire or dependency on food and water. And any other desire be it of the body or mind automatically dies, because the energies have been successfully channelized towards the single source of all bliss - realization of the Atman. 

And so we toil and toil hard, to reach that level of perfection, may be if not in this life we take the next and the next to get it right. We often resort to resignation than try to realize whether this path is ever possible. And with every chance we take, divinity shows the passage in rather strange ways to keep us continuously believing that we are getting there. 

But no one really told us what the rule book holds when we achieve it, the perfect state. We would almost love to be immortal. live for as long as we wished and enjoyed the fruits of living with the associated powers to get us health, wealth and happiness. But did we ever know that when a person really reaches this state, they no longer crave for that human body within which they live! The very body that we have been trying to "perfect" for all these years, centuries and lives is now something we want to or more importantly need to discard in order to move to the next level of highest spiritual endeavor. 

How contradictory this turns out to be that we struggled so much on something we ultimately choose to discard. It is the liberation from the ultimate maya, this human state that we need to achieve and Nirvikalpa Samadhi is that unreachable state that we need to get to. The human state is that last physical thing that we have to give up before we move it to the realm of the supreme. 

The thought still blows my mind! What are the great Gods really trying to teach us!


Sacred Map to the Secret Door of Heaven

Ganesha, Devi, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma... we believe in them deeply, our lives are dotted with their repeated presence and we have grown up listening to stories about them and we have been taught that if we need help they are the ones who will give it abundantly. But do they really exist?

A faith so old and a population so vast have little to show for their real existence. Unlike Christianity and Islam which take their principles of faith from prophets and saints who once walked the earth and laid their philosophies for the world to follow, Hinduism has been backed by strange experiences of individuals who sang in praise of these divine beings who gave an audience to a lucky few. Our faith doesn’t make Gods out of saints but tries to look at the Gods in totality through the eyes of our great saints. And weirdly so, they nearly had the same experience. Whether it was Kalidasa or Shivaji or Ramakrishna or some wayside aghori or tantric, the explanation of Ma Kali's form has been rather consistent. Even more strange is that even the ancient Egyptians may have had a sneak peek of her divine form and called it Anubis the Jackal in their eagerness rather than wait it out through the experience to realize that its a Goddess they were looking for. 

All said and done, no matter how much we praise Science, given its shade bit easier to comprehend, we cannot write away ancient mythology that so richly describe these beings with super human strength from another realm who have invaded our hearts for generations and left us surrendering willfully to their divine needs with some hope of a blessing towards a more comfortable life which is off course very relative. 

So, do they really exist... I strongly believe they do and our ancients and even the artists today in their own shabby way have tried to maintain and represent their iconography as closely as possible. We have various treatise that describe in depth, not just their nature imbibed in various names associated with them but also the way they look and the way they behave and their skillful capabilities that is beyond human nature of what you and i possess. And yet they have been strongly depicted in near human forms, though they don’t carry the name "manusha" against them. They go more along the lines of "Deva".

There is a beautiful line on Lord Shiva... a description of him in his bija mantra:

Divyaya devaya digambaraya Shiva. 
The divine celestial who is white and pure, such is the beauty of Lord Shiva himself.  

Agreed... but where do we look? Clearly Lord Shiva doesn’t belong to this perceptive world of ours where what I envision is completely different from what you read as the workings of this universe. And yet, in this maze of illusion and clashing perceptions that make up our lives and entangle us so deep that we cant clear our heads of these cobwebs of stale thoughts of "rightful existence", there were still a handful of people who got lucky and described strange beings of divine beauty very consistently with no difference in anyone's perception. And from that they penned down their divine visions in words which took life in form and color and today we have these divine being turning into a breathing reality in our Puja rooms and in our temples. 

Clearly there is truth in it. When the Gods said "I am the divine truth" they meant that they exist beyond this perceptive world of ours. Its another story that we blame them for dumping us in it with no accountability that the pathetic way we lead our lives right now doesn’t call for any greater experience...but that is not the point. 

The point is we have established through our great saints that they didn’t proclaim themselves as Gods but tried to tell us about who the Gods really are and how we can reach out to them. But they didn’t give it easy... they set us a riddle. A deep thought provoking riddle. The riddle is to find the door that leads to that zone or world which lies beyond this earthly world of illusion. Our only hint is the pancha bhootas or the five elements that are integral to our worship of these great Gods. 

And so, let’s collect them all and see what we get. We worship the five elements through a complex set of activity which involves the offering of light, sound, water, fruit and flower. Fruit symbolizes earth while flower symbolizes wind [vayu]. Light symbolizes fire, water is clear and sound symbolizes ether. But this is not about symbolism as much as it is about the "real truth" embedded in the puja. 

Where does fire go when the flame dies? Where does sound go when it can’t be heard any more? Where does light go when we can’t see it anymore? Where does the human soul go when it leaves the dead body behind? They disappear and transcend into another realm but they don’t die. They may reappear in another form in another place but they don't die. What is that zone where they cheat us off our senses? Is that the gateway to the other world where our divine beings reside, silent and vigilant watching us searching around blind folded with no idea? 

It just increases the mystery of Hinduism tenfold, and it’s really our business to dig deep and read into the individual experiences of each of these great saints to understand who they experienced and what they felt. In their vision lies the key to that invisible door way where all these elements disappear, the secret map to which is given in our sacred pujas, our great rituals of worship that we take such pride in turning down as superstition. If we have Bhakti, we will find that secret door really fast... but if we consider the Gods as wish fulfilling trees, there is little chance of finding the invisible door to heaven anytime soon.


In The Presence Of Kamakshi Amman.

It was a bright Saturday morning and the crowd had begun to gather at the Kamakshi Amman temple, Kanchipuram. We waited patiently for our turn while I inquired about the best darshan possible. Once the negotiations were done we were moved to another queue behind the sacred shrine. 

Our turn soon came and we walked through the door that led to Her shrine. It was a good darshan for about fifteen minutes and we got a close(I should say very close) view of the Goddess. My mind just went blank, my thoughts ceased and I stared at Her, at Her shrine, at the peetham that cradled the Sri Chakra. I stared at it all and my eyes took in everything that my consciousness would allow. There was silence in my mind, no thought even dared to float by and none of the audience around me spoke. I appreciated the brilliance that silence can produce inside a packed garbha griha, oil lamps lit up Her beautiful face. There was peace between her brow, like She knew all and she had finally called me to visit her. It was the very same sacred spot from where the great Shankaracharya had given up His earthly existence. It was beyond time, the curtain of Maya hung thick between them and us, a curtain so heavy that it is not easy to remove. 

And then the spell broke, in the din a group of people were being moved out and the next batch had been readied. It was high on business as the priests ushered all of us out of the tiny room with no respect for the elderly folk. These were the blessed attendants of the Goddess and I would do anything to get their job, to be with Her and worship Her, like the great Shankaracharya did. It baffled me that this power center that I could see so clearly given its supreme effect on me, was completely lost on them. 

Here were two stark worlds, inter-spaced by noise and silence, by a thick invisible curtain of illusion that reflected the moment, when the brutal whip of Maya came striking down on us. How unfortunate we are that we carry the curse around our necks and dont want to let go towards that freedom, which is just a step away. The noise killed my ears, the people were as good as sheep being chased around by a group of ignorant shepherds who for some reason believed that they were the keepers of the faith. 

But I noticed one thing. Strangely, I had changed. I smiled at the Brahmin priest and thanked him for helping us get this darshan and he smiled back in acknowledgment. I felt no anger, no sorrow, no resignation towards the sad fate of Hindy temples, I felt at peace with myself as I carried Her smile in my mind. I was her temple and she had taken residence in my heart, in my mind, and transformed me. No brahmin priest belonged here, it was my temple and I was Her soul keeper. 

To the Goddess of love, who has taken residence in my heart, who has shown promise to raise this curtain of illusion, I am silent to the world but I carry your image, your smile, your love in my heart every day. 

What a brilliant Darshan that was! 


The Mystical Lord of Obstacles - Ganesha

Over time we have made Ganesha look like such a domestic, homely God who is ever pleased with our little to no prayer. We believe he removes obstacles from our path and grants us boons and prosperity. In kaliyuga terms this would amount to a very happy Ganesha living in the middle of civilized society and granting us all our greed for materialism. And to add to the glamour he shows up everywhere, in a high degree of abstraction and schematic art, yet he is expected to perform his duties of bestowing us with what we call - boons and reward. 

Let’s step back a bit and read again, who is the real Ganesha... and we do have a few surprizes. The Ganesha Namavali throws some awesome insights into the nature of this mysterious Lord. 

Om Ganeshvaraya Namaha
Ganesha's name comes from the term Gana or Bhootagana, meaning he is an attendant of Lord Shiva and he is the leader of all the Ganas, Ganadhipati. Their primary place of residence is the cremation ground, the home of all Ganas, Bhootaganas, ghosts, spirits and ghouls apart from Mount Kailasa. 

Om Vighnarajaya Namaha
He is the ruler of obstacles i.e. he can create them as well as destroy them. He is known to be the great remover of obstacles, those which fall in our path of spiritual understanding. He helps us get closer to our spiritual state, which in other words means, he helps us get far away from our material greed. 

Om Avyayaya Namaha
He is the unchanging, the unshakable, the inexhaustible one. He is associated with the earth and to please him is to move mountains. 

Om Dakshaya Namaha, Om Gunatitaya Namaha
He is the skillful one, the talented and the expert. He can solve every problem as well as create the best obstacles. In him lies the essence of perfection. He transcends all great qualities. 

Om Agnigarbhachide Namaha
He is the one who holds fire within himself. This is almost the picture of the molten fires within the deep belly of the earth. 

Om Vanipradaya Namaha, Om Vagishaya Namaha
He is the bestower of good speech, sweet voice to the seeker. He is the Lord of good speech, the controller of words. It makes so much sense for most of our future is governed by the words we use in our present. If we are kind in our words and respectful there is little chance of facing trouble in the future. He automatically kills that obstacle. 

Om Sarvasiddhipradaya Namaha
He is the bestower of all powers, Ashtasiddhi Vinayaka as he is more warmly known. He is the greatest Sidha himself also known as Svayamsiddhaya - Om Svayamsiddhaya Namaha

Om Bhaktavighnavinasanaya Namaha
He removes obstacles from the path of his devotees, obstacles from the path of those who are deep in devotion towards worship.

Om Chaturaya Namaha, Om Buddhipriyaya Namaha
He is the intelligent one, the ingenious one who is worshipped by all the sages. 

Om Grahapataye Namaha
He is the Lord of the planets; he is greater than the mortals, the grahas, the rishis, a true worshipper of Lord Shiva. If we worship him with devotion, then the planets will be at bay, he will indeed remove the obstacles from our path towards spiritualism. 

Om Vitabhayaya Namaha
He is the great one who has surpassed fear; he has conquered fear for a great Shiva bhakta knows no such thing. He lives in Kailasa as much as he lives in the cremation ground. He has conquered death for he is the greatest Sidha himself. 

He is a brahmachari with great self control who has conquered all temptations and knows no fear. He lives in the open and he is a perfectionist, the divine voice of Lord Shiva, his own son. He is the wise one, the intelligent one who controls our destiny. 

Om Pramatta daityabhayadaya Namaha
He is feared by those men who greed for power and intoxication. In another explanation it says he is feared by Asuras. So it makes me wonder whether manushas are beginning to take up Asura like qualities in our age... Kaliyuga?

Om Nagarajayajnopavitavate Namaha
He is the great one who wears a cobra as a sacred thread! 

Om Mayine Namaha
He is the source of illusory power, or he who has an illusory form. It appears more like he is the controller of this great Maya we live in, he sets the rules and he grants us boons that will help us get out of this illusion towards a more pure, clean spiritual path. 

Ganesha just makes way so much sense now... a lot more sense than just a destroyer of obstacles on our path. He guides us in our spiritual quest towards a higher realm. 

Om Vinayakaya Namaha, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha


Conquest of the Astha Siddhis

It has been cooking for a while in the mind and I am taking my time to connect the dots. Spiritualism is great fun when it comes with puzzles that make the grey cells work harder. I have had the general idea that the offering of aarti, dhoop and naivedya are connected to the conquest of the great Siddhis, a thought that once popped up in my mind may be after reading about it somewhere but the truth of it is that it refuses to go. 

A small puzzle fell into my path when I chanced upon a book that was a biography of the Mahaperivar of Sringeri, who sows the seeds of this quest in his composition of the Pancopacara Puja. In his prayer, he offers fire, water, sandal wood, flowers, and incense to the supreme in the form of the five great elements. This sounds like regular puja, but for some reason I didnt feel like stopping at it. 

Each offering is initiated by a sacred syllable followed by the object of offering towards the supreme power as it manifests in nature. At the same time each syllable in isolation didn’t make any sense until it struck me that the puja essentially starts with Lam - which is the bija mantra of Muladhara Chakra. And there started the next quest. Each syllable personifies the chakras within our being through which the Kundalini rises. 

It soon became clear that the passage to conquer the elements of nature was through the process of offering with the recitation of the divine syllables with bhakti. I cannot explain this but for some reason it made sense that the conquest of the elements was linked to the conquest of the siddhis as a result of the rise of the Kundalini within oneself. And why is that? Let’s take each siddhis and study it. 

Anima: The power to reduce to the size of an atom
Mahima: The power to expand to an infinitely large size
Garima: The power to be infinitely heavy
Laghima: The power to be almost weightless
Prapti: The power to have unrestricted access to any place
Prakamya: The power to realize what one desires
Istva: The power to conquer
Vastva: The power to subjugate all.

If we look at each of these attributes, the 5 great elements of water, space, earth, fire, and air have exactly these qualities - one or more if not all. Could this be the sacred spell that the great Shankaracharyas tried to tell the masses towards spiritual growth? 

Further to this is the other form of worship which is the Panchayatana puja, popularized by the Shankaras where an aspirant could worship all the 5 sacred Gods within a framework, they being Ganesha - representing the water element, Vishnu - representing the space element, Siva - representing the earth element, Devi - representing the fire element and Surya - representing the air element. 

The great Shankaracharyas tried to convey to the lesser mortals a far greater truth that can only be realized by the experience of puja - panchayatana or pancopacara puja, with devotion and love. How amazing is this truth that with the help of a sacred act of ritual worship we can offer certain offerings of divine acceptance to access certain chakras within ourselves and render us capable of realizing the great elements that at some point we will be able to move/live/experience them when we have attained the capability of the great siddhis that allow us to move from one element to the other with ease, in short conquering them. 

Does the performance of the sacred ritual of puja with deep devotion enable us to conquer these elements and therefore enable us to move up the spiritual ladder... it’s a good thought to think about. The discovery of this thought is baffling and will keep me excited for a good time to come but I wonder about the "how". Will I ever get the success of seeing it work on myself in this lifetime... no idea. 


When Blind Men Discovered The Elephant

It’s been a while now, having gone through books, having visited temples, having done my own dig to find out everything I can possibly know about Lord Shiva and the mysterious being He is. And yet He defies me, every time when I wonder what really defines Shivahood. There are not too many takers for this faith, not after people start to find out that the rules of this game are way more difficult than they originally thought. 

Shiva is not a person, He is not a father of two kids parked in Kailasa, no I don’t believe He is all of that. Shiva is a state, a state that if we achieve, we become like Shiva Himself, we achieve Shivahood. And this state is not easy to become for it asks of us the unthinkable. Now am not talking about giving up Maya or related desires and asking for advaita or renunciation. No, not that directly but yes at some point of maturity we will come to that automatically. The unthinkable is something far more precious than all the material comforts and love we have around us. It’s a disease, a virus that once taken root is completely impossible to remove - its Bias that stems out of Perception. 

Why have we formed so many religious groups and why does each religious group believe they are superior to the other mortal without even getting a glimpse of the Lord - In any form! Isn’t this the outcome of a disease plaguing us right at the conscience? We are like a group of blind men touching the parts of an elephant and calling it different names, worse still we believe that the part we are familiar with is way better and superior to others with absolutely no clue of the fact that these parts actually lead up to a greater wholesome truth, the complete elephant. 

Few great souls walked this earth and they were blessed by the divine to have characteristics of the Lord or blessed with divine vision to actually see and witness the nature of the Supreme. And these few great souls shared their experiences with us and pushed off. Now we are left with a set of simply divine experiences, layered by a whole set of complex man made rules and put into a hard shell of perception that cannot be broken. How do we ever crack this nut? 

How do we differentiate between that which is an illusion and that which is super real? We need to break the shell of perception that covers our mind. But we seem to be aiding it, now isn’t that the sign of complete ignorance. Where is our beloved God and where are we, when we have this deep gorge of ignorance gaping at us in the middle? Will we ever make it to the other side? 

Look at what we have brought ourselves to, apparently we are the most evolved species on this planet. Yes, it’s true, all evolved species head towards their own disaster and we are surely sticking by that rule. We don’t need a catastrophes for this, we are the catastrophe. Our bias is the catastrophe. Look what we made of ourselves, we are ready to fight, ready to kill, and ready to wage war and ready to be groomed as terrorists to fight for a school of thought by folks who have barely set eyes on the supreme. Seriously, what are their credentials? 

Has anyone in recent times seen God, then how can anyone stake claim to a school of thought, mine included! Let’s do what the holy texts say, let’s do what the supreme wanted us to do, let just try to be good people. I speak for Shivahood because I know it best. Shivahood simply says, be fearless and surrender and the Lord will take care of everything else. Do you know how difficult that is, to be fearless and surrender? 

We need to first know that we are fearful and that perception is the problem. We then need to identify which perception is an illusion because all the thoughts we have in our head are perceptions! So we need to stop thinking too much and start contemplating. Contemplation is the art of killing perceptions and replacing it with truth. 

Here are some examples:
I am going to die one day- is a truth.
I am going to live a long life - clear perception and wishful thinking. 
I am going to become rich - perception
I am going to have a happy family - perception
My faith is the best - perception. 

But between now and death, I have some time so what do I do with myself. I can build more perceptions or I can stick with the truth and work to make that final experience better. Building perceptions is a castle in the air with people pampering our ego and our constant fight to get recognition from everyone. So somewhere in all this noise we forgot the elephant and we decided we are the greatest. And we have politics and diplomacy to tighten every nut and bolt to make that perception so totally real!! Remember when we die, which could be tomorrow, we are history. We are not even going to be remembered like that speck of dust you couldn’t remove. 

Lord Shiva dances in the cremation ground for a reason, he is the Lord of destruction for a reason. He walks with the supremely learned and the ghosts for a reason. He is a final truth for a reason. 

The reason quite simply is - He trains us and tests us for that final moment, that moment of death. To be fearless and to surrender, to give up this body with grace and not hold on to it. To let go and accept the final Truth and celebrate it rather that cry about it. To be free in the world of the unknown. Shivahood is that strength that guides us through.


When The Divine Guru Guides Us

Srinivasan looked around the room; the odor of sandal wood and incense was strong and a little lamp stood by the pictures of many Gods who smiled down at him. He sat back at the astrologer's office, observing a small room that had many mysteries enveloped in the stacks of papers and books that lay there gathering dust. It felt like he was at the office of Chitragupta, waiting to know his intermediate fate... in bits to make any amends before the final call. 

In front of him sat the astrologer, rolling his fingers over his horoscope, looking up books and adjusting his spectacles. Srinivasan wondered about this mysterious diagram that the astrologer looked through, these magic squares that could transform his life for good or for bad. 

He reflected on his life this far, on the various situations and circumstances that it was built up of, about the kinds of people who were part of it and had an impact on him to be the way he had turned out today. Were they all incidental or were they all part of a larger phenomenon... a science whose interpretation was currently being done by a man who he didn’t know but for some reason trusted that he would get his math right. 

The man looked up, through his glasses and uttered a few words. His answers were short and his predictions clear. 

"This year is not good for you, there will be trouble, in fact it has already started and it will get over next year about the same time..."

Srinivasan's heart sank again, on one side were his emotions asking all the Gods present in the room on what wrong he had done. And then his mind took over, it must have been something really nasty he had done in his previous birth, maybe that is why they say "Be good, if you can’t do better than that". Yet, he had to prepare himself for all the eventualities that would hit him in the days to come whether he was responsible for them or not. 

Srinivas felt pain in his heart, to think that he would have to put up with any calamities that he would face given that plenty of such events had already passed by in his life and he had not felt very good about them. Yet he knew that cursing the Gods or the lesser stars or his fate was not the method to tide over these difficult times. He had to find himself a better solution. Fate always had its way, and the planets always seemed to have theirs, and people will be people... In fact he often laughed at how the events unfolded as they set him up for a human trial, how totally strange and yet logical were these twists and turns that he had by now begun to understand not just how the world around him works, but how the superior world of greater beings make use of the world around him and forces a different perception. How weirdly strange and yet so creative were the events that had made an impact on him to change himself just a bit into being either someone else or just made him a lot more defensive. 

Srinivasan breathed hard and long, staring at the little paper that had a scribble of the squares of his horoscope that made up his universe. This little diagram was leading him up a dance, a difficult one where he soon realized that the people he interacted with were just a bunch of worthless pawns whose default temperaments were being made use of to create deeper, complex circumstances through which he had to wade... wisely... to save himself through lesser impact. 

The ancient rule of fate, is a far more serious affair back home in India, and much as he adapted to the changing world, somethings were too far deep to throw away. The only path left for him was to turn to his divine Guru to lead him through this jungle of messed up temperaments. 


It had been 8 months, things were not looking up for Srinivas and as he pushed back a few really deep pitfalls, he decided to still hold strong. He learned hard and well with time, there were two things he was going to do. 

One was never to curse the Gods or his Guru, instead he remembered that moment of deep anguish when he hid away from all humanity for half an hour and cried his heart out in pain as he waded through one gruesome event that hit his conscience real hard, a strong wakeup call on how men had fallen in conscience and how the world had so drastically changed around him, and yet he was strong in the head that he would not blame anyone for it. He cried out to Lord Shiva, to his Guru, to help him through this pain... he cried like a baby, waiting for his Supreme Lord to pick him up and help him walk again. 

The second thing he learned to do was be silent through the bad time. He waited in silence, not ruffling anyone's feathers, not opinionating, no showing his anger or frustration, not reacting to anything... and he felt it was half the battle won. But he also realized that it killed his confidence when he had to react to situation and he didn’t have the wisdom to detect how much and how far he could go without getting a hit in return. But yet, he chose the wisdom to keep silent and aloof from the world till these horrible times were gone. 

It was difficult because he decided he wouldn't be like them, he wouldn’t succumb. He would not be diplomatic to please the worthless, or lie or be political and try to please the world around him. This was him and he was not going to change that. He only sensed deep aversion towards the world of people outside... around him... 

It was mentally tiring, it sapped most of his energy, he almost began to look at everyone as a potential suspect who had come into his world to mess with him and upset his tranquility. He realized his worst fear, he now almost trusted no one, he stood so alone that anyone who came by, appeared more like a potential problem than a person he would love to be happy with. While he didn’t choose to please or upset any, he also realized a strong sense of being a complete misfit in the middle of these people, he almost felt they were a different species, built with a temperament totally different from his. He hastily retreated back into his safe haven, his land where only his Great Lord Shiva reigned, and his Guru showed him the path to the divine. 

Was this detachment he wondered, when he was mentally forsaking the world outside and going inwards because he trusted no one else except these two superior beings, who were now not just his Teacher, they were his everything... every role applied on this... parent, friend... everything. 


Srinivas realized that being himself was not helping him too much at this time, being someone else was not something he could pull off with ease and he detested the very idea. But he felt safe, when he looked at the larger picture, with love, patience, and most of all Bhakti and undivided, complete surrender to the Lord and his Master, to deliver him from this mesh of illusions and perceptions within which he was locked - this samsara. He wanted the ultimate freedom, he was ready for the ultimate surrender and these troubled times were a journey for him to learn the art of spiritual progress. 

He reflected on the line, "Forgive them Lord, for they don’t know what they are doing". It just made so much sense. He learned the art of compassion, of forgiveness. He learned to let go.