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Showing posts with label vilva. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vilva. Show all posts


The perfect art of meditation.

The noise just kills, the list of things to do is ever increasing, and the number of people we would love to please doesn’t seem to reduce. This is the joy of living in the middle of society, Maya as the great ancient masters call it. And in this din I am trying to look for my peace.

Peace, as they say is acquired by constant meditation and meditation is one of the most difficult exercises to do. While we look for the silence and the stillness, its presence brings in a strange restlessness. The mind is jumping from one thought to the next forming a wall of a million thoughts.

The great masters have recommended Japa as a stepping stone in this direction. The need of the hour is to do something and yet, not to do anything and Japa solves this problem remarkably. Japa is the art of reciting a given sacred verse like a parrot initially, bringing discipline into our lives to set the rhythm. As the mantra grows on us, the mind dwells on the meaning of the sacred syllables and from here starts the journey towards the occult.

The world of ancient scriptures coupled with the constant awareness of the Japa brings advancements to the mind of a fascinating nature. The mystic world grows larger in size, turning more real as the mind journeys through the deeper aspects of our faith. Meditation takes on various meanings, various forms, various practices which are stomach churning to the common folk out there, but when divine understanding sets in, in the form of a capsule, the belief in the occult turns that much more real.

The great books have sacred wisdom, wisdom that is read by all but understood by only a few. It shakes the apple cart; it turns mindless rituals into a living science and opens the doors to the unthinkable. Spiritualism is a journey; the travel is the fulcrum while the goal is the hunger that keeps us balanced all the time.

Spiritualism hits us at some point; it’s tougher than holding a rotten job or having a nagging wife. It shakes our thoughts and mind and forces us to contemplate and think. And if we have to move forward, it is a path that makes us face our fears, adjust with the unfamiliarity and accept the uncertainty of life beyond with comfort. It brings us face to face with our irrational bias, with our thoughts that have been influenced through childhood, and with our lack of understanding of simple philosophy.

When we have shown signs of getting over fear, where bias has no room, when we don’t make a choice of what is good and bad just because we have been taught to do so, the mind is now ready to delve into the faith with more readiness and acceptance, the mind is now ready to meditate on the self and detach from the world around us. There is room for emptiness, the quality of thought has improved with constant Japa, and now the stillness has more meaning.

While the inner self is ready to go the Great ancients have devised a way to make the environment just as conducive. The most powerful and sacred spot where the air is purer and the ambience is much more powerful is the area [sthala] beneath a cluster of 5 trees like Banyan, Vilva, Peepal, Amla, and Fig trees known as the Panchavati, which works like a pranashala and capture the energy and houses it within the shade of this cluster. With a combination of a clearer mind, the need to contemplate and the purer air surrounding the aspirant, these are greater chances of reaching supreme bliss.

Clearly, Lord Rama lived in the perfect environment in the forest; the land where he stayed is now called Panchavati, while the original area is just the cluster of trees near his dwelling.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took this a step further in terms of the perfect location for worship. Deep within the grove of Dakshineswar, near the Kali temple, Ramakrishna not only found himself a Panchavati, but was instructed by Bhairavi Brahmani to be seated on the sacred panchmundi aasan made of 5 skulls, following the practices of Tantra.

Meditation is not just the practice of being seated in silence, it is the art of contemplation and stilling the mind with deep and stable breathing to convert the physical body into a pranashala, a house of life.


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: 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