Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, His message of Dharma, His social works are a byword in every part of the world..!!!

Two Moments of Wonder
November 20, 2010, 7:01 pm

by Raji Ratnam

I have lived many years in Prashanti Nilayam. I long to add my voice to the chorus that would arise on the eve of His 85th birthday but what, I wondered, shall I write about? Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, His message of Dharma, His social works are a byword in every part of the world. The only thing that could be new would be of my private life. I will write then of two most precious times in human experience when, not my hands but my inner being touched the feet of God.

My first visit was not a pilgrimage to Bhagavan for we had no interest in Him, we had only gone to meet an uncle who had had a serious accident while living in the Caribbean and had heard of Bhagvan's miraculous cures. Bhagavan glided out of the gates of Brindhavan (His Ashram in Bangalore). Many have been transfixed by their first sight of that unearthly grace, many deeply shaken by the first impact of Divinity. I only thought, "Gosh, how small He is!"

But it was to me that He first came that day-and proffered a card.

"What Swami?"

"Summer Course Guest Card," he murmured.

I had never heard of the Summer Course. "Swami we will not be staying that long."

"How long will you be staying?" "Three days."

"Oh!", He said, eyebrows raised a faint smile. Only He knew how long I would be staying soon. Ever after.

It was just six months later that I was back for the second time. On my return from India, Anuradhapura where my home then was exploded in riots and I had to return to Colombo. While moping around my family made the comforting suggestion that I spend my Christmas holidays with my uncle and aunt who were staying on at Prashanti Nilayam for a while.

That first visit had been prosaic – the second so dramatic. In May I had swirled into the Ashram in profuse handloom skirts when a volunteer fluttered that I had to 'cover up'. "Tell me, please tell me, what inch is there left of me uncovered?" I snapped. But now, shapelessly smothered in a thick shawl I had learnt was compulsory, with a heart full of the fires that have burst out in my life with eyes pouring tears (my contact lenses had bestowed a cut) I was led by the hand while my unseen sight gropingly held out a letter to Swami whom I had to be told was standing before me.

Well, days went by and a holiday visit was growing into a tense vigil, the tension creeping into me from the hundreds around who were all desperately awaiting that Call for a private interview. And how could it be otherwise? Bhagwan doesn't just walk by you at darshan day after day. There is a magical response given to every concentrated mind and eye.

Here is one such time. He was not taking a letter of mine, He deliberately avoided seeing it outstretched every day. Finally, without hope I stuck it before a small picture of His in our room, though I kept reminding Him of it every now and then.

It was twilight one evening and bhajans were going on with Swami sauntering around. He stopped right in front of me but a few yards away from the edge of the crowd and gazed enraptured at the first stars coming out. He began talking, apparently to Himself. His words were audible but indistinct and every one began calling out "Who Swami?, What Swami? Who Swami? What Swami?" (Our relationship with Him in those days was so easy and free).

Everyone was puzzled but I. I was in the 4th row hidden by someone's tall tower of hair, but I was peeping from the side and squarely met His eye that had now brought it’s gaze down from the skies and penetrated into the crowd. Only I had heard His mumble listing all my demands in that letter now in the room, the one He had declined to touch for days. His look met mine and unheard by all the others through the general clamour, unseen through the falling night and that pile of hair, He said, to me, "You know who!" and drifted away.

No one thing I had asked for in that letter was ever given, but what I did get a hidden word, a hidden look, a secret shared.... I was filled with tears.

How could such a fugitive relationship, of enchantment, of uncertainty, not built to a violent longing in me for a few minutes of tangible reality too, a few minutes of a private interview? Those were the days when the queues to go in for early morning darshan began at midnight and for evening darshan at noon. We grimly sat on and on.

My last days came, and all my pleas, "Swami, interview, please," at every darshan remained unheard. Seeing my trembling face my anxious aunt said, "Why don't we try a little more? Stay on another week."

But that week came to an end too. On that last evening, I was the last one at the very end of the last line. From this point Swami would turn and go back to the Mandir, darshan over for the day. At five o' clock the next morning I would be on my way to Bangalore.

Swami came up to me now. "Swami, please, interview." He did not hear me as always, and stern, distant, turned away. Then He - swung back!

"How many?"

"F-f-four," I stammered.

"GO!" (for the interview)

The very last day, the very last darshan, the very last moment that I could speak to him. My very last chance. "Swami, how did you know, how did you know?" A boneless mass of sobbing had to be dragged to its feet and to the Mandir verandah, where everyone gaped at this sodden heap of wild emotion. Everyone, except Swami. He saw nothing, heard nothing, only came up to us a few minutes later and briskly motioned us inside His room.

But once that door closed, "Don’t cry! Don't cry! Don't cry!" The figure I had looked upon with such awe was now someone who begged "Don’t cry!" He had eyes only for me (so it seemed) in those first moments and He was liquid with love. Oh yes, such a platitude-liquid love. I had never imagined it could be true. Bringing me back to earth He casually said, "Something is wrong with your left eye. It was the eye that had been cut by my lenses exactly six weeks ago!

He was talking more and it was all about me. In my bewitched mind there was only He and I in those few minutes. No other, no other, then. This is the eternal mystery of Bhakthi, the reason the Formless takes Form, this relationship between the Divine and the individual, of He and I, alone - which one day, in some supreme moment is given a man to experience-experience what is his own mystery.

Swami went on talking a long time about my problems, my grievances, even before we uttered a single word. I accepted His omniscience then without question but late that night I jerked up to realise why His language had seemed so formal, so literary. He had been repeating, word by word, the carefully written letter I had given that first day of darshan when my eyes had been streaming and I could not even see Him as He stood before me!

Here in the interview room He suddenly, abruptly, crossed the little distance between us and with a look so intense, gave a blessing I never in my wildest hopes believed could be - and it still remains wordless, ever unspoken, within me.

The private interview was over for the family. We came out of the small inner room into the outer one. When we had gone in, I had been the last of the group and I had held the curtain open for Him to step through. Coming out, I was again the last and He held the curtain open for me! Even that even that, the smallest gesture I had made for Hima.... radiant smile broke out on His face as I gasped.

We trickled out, not into the world beyond, but into heavenly realms! Everyone it seemed friends and strangers, were beaming, hugging, bursting with their own joy too. What had happened to the quite considerable number of foes I had made in our struggles to get into the front places for darshan? No one could find a flaw in me, I could see no speck of fault in another. And through all that overwhelming warmth I was seeing the world through a faint golden mist. This was literally true. The harsh clear outlines of things and people were now a fluid golden beauty.

Years later I learned that such golden translucence, like a light veil of gold dust, is an indication of a higher state of consciousness than the normal one we live in. I had had a moment of closeness to God, hadn't I?

These are His miracles. Swift flashes when a person realises that his whole lifetime past was - such a triviality.

The next day dawned - and that golden mist over my eyes had now become a curious unbelievable certainty that nothing in the course of the day could go wrong for me. Whatever I wanted to door wished to happen would be - and yet, through that strength of sureness what could I want so very much? In that certainty was completion too. When everything could be mine, what could I wish? What a contradiction, but what a glorious contradiction.

Now I was boarding the plane. Clutching Samuel Sandweiss' book, 'The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist', I was boring into the picture on the cover for it had that exact dark hard hard look with which Bhagawan had suddenly come up to me in the interview with that blessing beyond all telling even now. I stared at that picture while tripping and stumbling over every step of the plane's ladder and uttered the most fervent words of my life. "I am leaving you now Swami, - but don't you-leave-me-ever."

Back home I became an instant vegetarian and thoughts of the many opportunities possible in life gradually melted away. The Centre of Gravity of my life had utterly changed.

A little more than a year later there was another visit, another interview, by which time I knew just what to say.

"Swami, can I come to stay here?"

Part II

My eyes were like stars

In the early 1980s'the crowds at Prashanti Nilayam were still limited and the ashram roads deserted once darshan was over. I was wandering down to the post office at about 11AM one morning and no one was in sight. A tinny rattle behind made me step on to the side of the road expecting a truck with building materials to pass on. But what came by was the well-used Benz of Bhagawan's and He was there at the back. No guests or officials were accompanying Him today. He was alone, all alone. As I stared unbelievingly at such unexpected darshan, He turned His head and gave me a look. A long, long almost fierce stare.

That look crazed me. I began to race behind it in defiance of the strictest orders against indiscipline. The car reached the last of the West Block of apartments and taking a wide turn continued right to the back of the ashram where some small tin–roofed sheds stood.

Between the West Blocks and the sheds was a broad empty patch on which construction was going on for what is today the row of Round Houses. Right now building had just begun and that stretch of uneven stone - filled ground was thickly littered with broken bits of concrete and barbed wire. I was barefoot, yet that stretch of rocky soil was softest sea sand for me. I ran as I never had before. I had to go behind that car no matter what, no matter where it was going. And as it was obviously curving round to reach the road that went past the sheds, the building site in between was going to be no obstacle to me.

Mindless, I went over barbed wire and jagged chunks of concrete. By now the car had stopped at one of the sheds and Swami had gone in. I reached there with almost my last breath. There was a window. Swami was just four or five feet away from it, in front of a crowd of less than a hundred seated on the floor. Later I learnt that they were a group from a Sai Samiti in Madras and the meeting with Swami was being kept strictly secret.

Swami started on His discourse. He talked for more than half an hour, probably in Telugu which I do not understand but anyway I never heard a thing. All I was aware of was what I was seeing. Was it really possible that He was only a few feet away from me and standing unmoving for so long?

In the meantime, some passing person walking by must have seen His car, come up, and then joined me at the window. And little by little so did others. By the time Swami had finished His discourse there were twenty or more of us piled one on top of the other in a pyramid by that one window for it was the closest to where He stood. There was no thought of being men or women among us. We were welded into just a mass of palpitating anxiety that not an instant of this unbelievable darshan should escape our eyes.

It was not just darshan. It was that He was so near for so long and in absolutely no hurry to move away while at regular darshan His nearness is only for a few seconds or a minute at the most.

Not another thought stirred in us and Swami did not stir to glance at us either, at this terrible breach of the strictest of all ashram rules, that male and female remain a clear distance apart. For, we were not men and women then nor even human beings, but eyes eyes eyes. That sight of unbroken darshan had done what lifetimes of effort could never do. We were not an "I" anymore, only eyes and its sight.

The discourse ended. Swami began to give padanamaskar, walking down each row of the crowd. At one point He was within inches of us as He came upto the nearest lines. In all that while His glance never once flickered our way. When Swami had gone on down the lines those who had received padlanamaskar began to stand to see Him better. We at the window pulled them down with ferocious hands and yells. Not even this was noticed by Swami today, that strictest of disciplinarians at all other times.

Padanamaskar over, He came out of the hall. In those days no sevadal or security men accompanied Him. He was unimaginably alone as He slowly got into the car, His glance never seeing this milling heap hovering by either. Ecstatic, still virtually unconscious of each other, we drifted away one by one.

My mother's first words to me as I came into our room were," What has happened to you? Your eyes look like stars!" I sat down to relate it all and only at the end did I remember my bare feet. While running over that construction site it was as if I had been running on air and when I examined my soles now there was not the slightest scratch. They were muddy and dirty of course but not the least of a prick, a wound.

The Divine Magnet of His eyes. That one piercing look He had given from the car had lifted me above the world for that while. Not only had I gone over rusty iron and blocks of concrete but I had not been conscious of anyone else around me just when I was being smothered by a mass of humanity. In that pile of mankind on my shoulders, there had only been one, my own self.

To be 'philosophical', was it a moment of mystery when multifarious Creation proved its ultimate Truth, that of Advaita, the One Source, alone? In simpler English, there had been a moment when there was neither I nor the crowd around me. When the 'Many 'that we were lost our minds completely and were drowned in the nearness of the Lord, there was left only Drishti, Sight. No more Srishti, (Creation, the Many). It was a flash of understanding every single one of us in that crowd shared.

How they explained it to themselves I do not of course know. As for me, I knew it was because of that moment when I had lost my earth-bound humanness and literally flew behind His car, pulled, magnetised, by one deep look of His.'

Nayana Diksha maybe – the word of our scriptures that describes the Guru's teaching given only through a mere look of His eyes.

Copyright © Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 1, 2010





The Tirumantiram, considered the final authority on subtle matters of philosophy and theology in Saiva Siddhanta. In fact, it is said to contain the whole of Saiva Siddhanta. Saint Tirumular is a theologian of our faith, but not merely a theologian. He is also a siddhar, an accomplished yogi. Our saiva scriptures come from such great men, men who have attained to the deepest realizations through their sadhana and their devotion. When their awareness dwells in the super conscious states resident in all men but penetrated intentionally by only a few, and when they speak out from that state, we consider that it is not man himself who has thus spoken but the Divine through man. Saint Tirumular was such a siddhar, and his words are valued as a divine message for mankind.

Those of you who have been on San Marga here on Kauai have seen the beautiful life-size granite statue of Saint Tirumular that arrived here along with the statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar, the author of the Tirukural. In India during Tiruvalluvar's time there was neither paper nor pens, so writing was accomplished with a stylus, the characters being scraped or scratched into a specially prepared leaf, called an Ola leaf. Many ancient scriptures and literature were produced in this manner, and it is amazing that some of the original writings so made still exist today. Certainly no modern day paper would have withstood the centuries so well! The statue of Saint Tirumular shows him sitting in the lotus posture, deep in meditation, while Saint Tiruvalluvar is seated with a small writing table on his lap composing his sacred verses with stylus in hand. His Tirukural speaks on virtuous living. It gives us the keys to happy and harmonious life in the world, but it doesn't give any insights into the nature of God, whereas, the Tirumantiram delves into the nature of God, man and the universe in its depths. Taken together, they speak to all man kind and offer guidance for every aspect of spiritual life, the first addressing itself to the achievement of virtue, wealth and love, while the second concerns itself with attainment of moksha or liberation. The Tirumantiram is a mystical book and a difficult book. The original text is written in metered verse, composed in the ancient Tamil language. Saint Tirumular is the first one to codify Saiva Siddhanta, the final conclusions, and the first one to use the term "Saiva Siddhanta." It is a document upon which the entire saivam could stand, if it had to. It is one of the oldest scriptures known to man.

It takes a bit of meditation to understand the Tirumantiram because you have to know occultism and scripture to catch the meaning. It is composed in rhyme and cloaked in code-when the Five become Six and the Seven become Twelve and so on, all talking about the petals of the chakras and the esoteric bodies of man or the material world components known as tattvas.

Like all mystical writings one can only understand this scripture by close study with a teacher. Why is that? Because mystics are cautious, protective of their special knowledge that it does not get into the wrong hands. They therefore present their work minus a few important keys that the preceptor or Sat Guru has to fill in for the disciple who has proven himself worthy. It is something like a great chef who might write down all his finest recipes but leave out one or two crucial ingredients to preserve his reputation. Thus, many of the mantras or yantras spoken of in this or other texts are correct as far as they go, but usually leave out a necessary key which makes them work. That does not mean they are useless. It does mean, however, that the fullest use cannot be realized by merely reading or studying from the books.

There is a timeless quality about Saivism. Saivism is so very ancient that it appears among the first civilizations unearthed by archeologists. It is our belief that Saivism is as old as man himself, the original or seed religion from which all others have sprung forth; and since they are the offspring of Saivism we look upon them as parents look upon their children, with a deep love and a hope that they will do well and a look askance when they don't. There never was a time when Saivism, the Sanatana Dharma, did not exist on the planet. Other religions trace their lineage to a man, to a founder, to a messiah or a theologian. Saivism does not. It has no founder because it was not founded by man. It is coexistent with man. That makes Saivism unique, different from all the religions and sects that followed it. Look into history and you will see the saivism only without a beginning, without a founder and a date it was founded. Now one of the oldest of the preserved theologies of Saivism available to us today is that of Saint Tirumular. Of course, his was not the first theology, just one of the oldest to be preserved. He did not start anything new. He codified Saivism as he knew it. He recorded its tenets in concise and precise verse form, drawing upon his own realizations of the truths it contained. His work is not an intellectual construction, and it is not strictly a devotional canon either. It is based in yoga. It exalts and explains yoga as the kingly science leading man to knowledge of himself. Yet it contains theological doctrine and devotional hymns. It is the full expression of man's search, encompassing the soul, the intellect and the emotions.

Saint Tirumular's story begins more than three thousand years ago in the Himalayas where the great rishis had gathered in conclave apart from the rest of the world holding fast to the Sanatana Dharma as they pursued their own meditations to ever deeper strata. From time to time these ashram communities would send out members in response to the needs of the world, pilgrims who would travel by foot, taking the Eternal Truths to be taught and reestablished where perhaps superstition or alien religions had gained a foothold. These rishis traveled throughout the known world in those early days, spreading the Sanatana Dharma, Saivism, far and wide. It was a one teaching, but people adapted it to their own understanding and culture and local conditions, and thus the various religions of the world arose. Saint Tirumular was such a Himalayan rishi, a siddhar sent on mission to South India to spread the purest teachings of Saivism to the people there. Saint Tirumular's mission was to summarize and thereby renew and reaffirm at one point in time the final conclusions of the Sanatana Dharma, the purest Saiva path, Saiva Siddhanta.

Rishi Sundaranatha, which was his name before he was sent to the South, had to walk all the way. Along the way he halted near the village of Tiruvavaduthurai where he found the body of a cowherd who had died in the fields. The milk cows were wandering around aimlessly, lamenting the death of their master whom they clearly loved. The sight moved Rishi Sundaranatha deeply, inspiring him to relieve the anguish of the cows. An extraordinary miracle occurred, a boon from Lord Siva to help the cows and also to assist the sage in his task. Leaving his physical body hidden in a hollow log, Rishi Sundaranatha used his siddhis or yogic powers to enter and revive the lifeless body of Mulan-that was the cowherd's name. He comforted and cared for the cattle and led them back to the village. Returning to the fields he was unable to find his original physical body! He searched and searched, but it was not to be found. It had simply vanished! The Rishi was deeply perplexed, and he sat in meditation to come to some understanding of these strange happenings. Through his spiritual insight he discerned that it was Lord Siva Himself who had taken his body, leaving him to live thereafter in the body of the Tamil cowherd. He took this to be Siva's message that he should keep the South Indian body and serve in that way. He accepted it all as Siva's will and was thereafter known as Tirumular, or the holy Mular, for everyone realized that some extraordinary change had taken place in their village cowherd. Of course, there were certain advantages. For one thing, he could now fluently speak the language and knew the customs of the South. He stayed there and recorded the wisdom of the Upanishads and Saiva Agamas in the local language, Tamil.

Saint Tirumular began his mission of establishing the purity of the Saivite path soon thereafter when he settled down near Chidambaram, an ancient temple of Lord Siva as Nataraja, the King of Dancers. There he worshipped near a Banyan tree where there was a Swayambhu Lingam. That Lingam is revered by Saivites even today in a small shrine within the Chidambaram walls, and you can worship there on pilgrimage just as he did so long ago. It was there that he began composing the Tirumantiram. Legend has it that the sage retired to a cave where he would sit in samadhi for a full year without moving. At the end of each year he would break his meditation long enough to speak out a single Tamil verse giving the substance of that year's meditations. Each verse composed in this manner was just four lines long, but the wisdom each contained was boundless. He wrote over 3,000 verses in all. This may not be accurate by the calendar, but it is true to the spirit and quality of the Tirumantiram, which has within it the wisdom of three thousand years of meditation. It is without a doubt the most complete and authoritative scripture ever written. There are few before or since his time qualified to understand all the Tirumantiram says, much less to improve upon it. It is that perfect and that complete.

Today we hear the term "Siddhanta" and various meanings of the word may come to mind. For some perhaps their immediate thought would be Meykanda Devar and his interpretation of Saiva Siddhanta. For others some concept of a philosophy halfway between Advaita-Vedanta and Dvaita, a vague area of unclarity, and for others various literal translations of the word such as "true end," "final end" or "true conclusion." The term "Siddhanta" appears for the first time in the Tirumantiram. The word anta carries the connotation of goal conclusion, as does the English word "end." Tirumular's specific use of the word was "the teachings and the true conclusions of the Saiva Agamas." And these he felt were identical with Vedanta or "the conclusions of the Upanishads." In fact, he makes it very clear that pure Saiva Siddhanta must be based on Vedanta. Siddhanta is specific, giving the sadhanas and practical disciplines which bring one to the final Truth. Vedanta is general, simply declaring in broad terms the final Truth that is the goal of all paths. There are those who would intellectually divide Siddhanta from Vedanta, thus cutting off the goal from the means to that goal. But our Guru Paramparai holds them to be not different. How can we consider the mountain path less important than the summit to which it leads us? Both are one. Siddhanta and Vedanta are one also, and both are contained in Saiva Siddhanta. That is the conclusion of scripture and the conclusion of my own experiences as well. The Suddha Siddhanta of Saiva Siddhanta is Vedanta. Vedanta was never meant to stand alone, apart from worship, apart from religious tradition. It has only been taken in that way since Swami Vivekananda brought it to the West. The Western man and Western-educated Eastern man have tried in modern Vedanta to secularize traditional Sanatana Dharma, to take the philosophical conclusions of the saivism and set them apart from the religion itself, apart from Chariya and Kriya-service and devotion. Vedantists who are members of other religions have unintentionally sought to adopt only the highest philosophy of saivism to the exclusion of the rich customs, observances and temple worship. They have not fully realized that these must precede yoga for yoga to be truly successful. Orthodox saivaties understand these things in a larger perspective. These same problems of misinterpretation must have existed even in Saint Tirumular's time, for he writes that "Vedanta is Suddha (pure) Saiva Siddhanta." (Verse 1422). "The faultless Jnani is the Lord of endless wisdom in whom has dawned the final Truth of Siddhantam, the cream of pure Vedantam." (Verse 1428).

It may be that Saint Tirumular pioneered the reconciliation of Vedanta and Siddhanta. But what is the Vedanta that Tirumular was referring to? Sankara, with his exposition of Vedanta, was not to come for many centuries. Thus, concepts such as Nirguna and Saguna Brahman being two separate realities rather than one transcendent}immanent God, the absolute unreality of the world, and the so-called differences between the jnana path and the previous stages had not yet been tied into Vedanta. The Vedanta Tirumular knew was the direct teachings of the Upanishads. If there is one thing the Upanishads are categorical in declaring it is Advaita, "Tat Tvam Asi-Thou art That," "Aham Bramasmi-I am Brahman." And when Saint Tirumular says that Siddhanta is based on Vedanta he is using Vedanta to refer to this Advaita, which according to him must be the basis of Siddhanta. This is perhaps one of the most important essentials of Tirumular's Siddhanta to be brought forward into the Siddhanta of today, for it did, in fact, stray from the Rishi's postulations.

That is why we occasionally use the term "Advaita Saiva Siddhanta." It conveys our belief in the Siddhanta which has as its ultimate objective the Vedanta. It sets us apart from the Dvaita Saiva Siddhanta school of interpretation begun by Meykanda Devar which sees God and the soul as eternally separate, never completely unified. It is not unusual to find two schools, similar in most ways, yet differing on matters of theology. In fact, this has been true throughout history. It has its source in the approach to God. On the one hand you have the rishi, the yogi, the sage or siddhar who is immersed in his sadhana, deep into yoga which brings forth direct experience. His conclusions will always tend toward Advaita, toward a fully non-dual perception. It isn't even a belief. It is the philosophical aftermath of experience. Most Sat Gurus and those who follow the monastic path will hold firmly to the precepts of Advaita Saiva Siddhanta. On the other hand there are the philosophers, the scholars, the pundits. Relying not on experience and ignoring yoga, they must surmise, postulate, arrange and rearrange concepts through an intricate intellectual process in an effort to reason out what God must be like. These are not infrequently the Grahastras and their reasoning leads them to one or another form of Dvaita Saiva Siddhanta. These are both valid schools. They are both traditional schools, and comparisons are odious. But they are very different one from the other, and it is good that we understand those differences.

Of course, we don't believe in controversy between the various theologies of Saivism. Contention, argument and dispute never brought a single person closer to Sivajnana. These kinds of quarrelsome discussions are interesting to the intellect, but have a negative influence on spiritual unfoldment. They should be avoided by every sincere devotee. In their place we must find a common ground. We must work together for the benefit of Saivism as a whole. If differences persist, let them be. Hold to the unifying elements and let Saivism surge forward.

The verses of the Tirumantiram are understandable if you learn how to study them and meditate within yourself. They are important because they tell about what our believes about inner spiritual matters about the soul and the world and their relationship to Siva. It is very important to remember that what a person is taught to believe creates his or her attitudes toward others and toward the world and stimulates or suppresses desire. Beliefs create attitudes. We base our values and attachments upon what we were taught to believe, and yet those beliefs may not be precisely known to us though they are the compass of our destiny in this life. As our beliefs guide our spiritual evolution, it behooves us to know what those beliefs are. For example, when the belief is held that God and the soul are coexistent and that God did not create the soul and the two will never merge as one, this causes a certain attitude of indifference toward the practice of yoga and the realization of God. When on the other hand the belief is held that Lord Siva did create the individual soul, the attitude of striving for union through Chariya, Kriya and Yoga persists. I call these philosophies which believe that God is eternally separate from the soul "terminal philosophies."

It has been asked, "If Siva created the soul, then is not the soul different from Siva?" For our answer let us look at nature. When a tree "creates" a fruit, that fruit is not a "something else." It is not different from the tree. The Western idea of creation is a flash of lightening and the world appears as an entity different from the Creator. The truth is more like the example of the tree, though that analogy is only a partial analogy and does not explain how the soul merges with the Absolute. All of creation is the manifestation of Siva's own Being, like the fruit is the natural manifestation of the tree. Thus souls and the world are Siva. My beloved Gurudeva, Yogaswami of Columbuthurai, said some wonderful things about this. He said, "It will not be an overstatement if I say that man is God." He also said, "Nothing exists except the Lord. Everything is His action. Nothing exists apart from God. It is like the waves and the ocean." This is my belief, too.

People who hold to the belief in an eternal Hell where souls burn forever for their sins will have attitudes of a more or less fearful nature. But for those who believe that God created the soul with form and with a super conscious intelligence and that the two will ultimately merge in non-dualistic union, spirituality has meaning. They want to convert others to it and have the power to do so as a boon from Lord Siva, God of all the realms.

God Siva created the soul. How did he do this? It was more like the tree. In order to create another tree, the tree sends out its branches and the fruit grows on the branches and the seed grows within the fruit. The fruit drops off and the seed sprouts and a shoot comes out; that shoot becomes a twig, then a sapling, then a small tree, and then a large tree. Finally, the tree is fully matured and sends out its fruits and begins the process all over again. In a similar way Lord Siva has created individual souls. Saint Tirumular assures us of this in one of his many statements about Siva the Creator Of yore He created the worlds seven, Of yore He created celestials countless, Of yore He created souls without number, Of yore He created all-Himself, As Primal Param, uncreated. TANTRA TWO VERSE 446

We must understand the difference between the Self-God, Parasivam, and the soul. Many people think that the Self is something that you get. You pursue it and after a while you get it, like you get something in the world. But the Self is not separated from you by even the tiniest amount. You cannot go someplace and get it and bring it back. The formless, transcendent Self is never separate from you. It is closer than your heartbeat. God Siva is called the Primal Soul because He is the perfect form, the original soul who then created individual souls. The individual soul has a beginning, and it has an end, merging with God. It has form as well. All form has a beginning and an end. The Absolute Self, Parasivam, is formless, timeless, endless and beginningless. All things are in the Self, and the Self is in all things. Many people think of the Self as an object to be sought. You start here and you go there, and you get the Self. You pursue it today; and if you don't get it today, you try again tomorrow. It's different than that. It comes from within you more as a becoming of your whole being than something that you pursue and get. And yet you seem to pursue it, and seem to get it. It is very difficult to explain.

The individual soul is different. The soul has a form. The soul is form, a very refined and subtle form, to be sure, but still a form and form obeys the laws of form. The soul has a beginning in Lord Siva and an end in union with Him. The purpose of life is to know God, you’re very Self. This is the end of all religions, of all religious effort. This is why we say that religion is this process of lifting ourselves up, attuning our minds to the laws of life so that we become stronger and more mature beings. We become higher beings, living in the higher chakras, and we come closer and closer to God. God doesn't come closer to us. How will God come any closer? He is closer to you right now than your own thoughts. He is nearer than breathing, closer than hands and feet.

I shall explain the soul in yet another way for I see a questioning look in some of your faces. Man has five bodies, each more subtle than the last. Visualize the soul of man as a lightbulb and his various bodies or sheaths as colored fabrics covering the pure white light. The physical body is the outermost body. Next comes the pranic body, then the physical body's subtle duplicate, the astral body. Then there is the mental or intellectual body in which one can travel instantaneously anywhere. Then comes the body of the soul, which I term the actinodic body. This is the body that evolves from birth to birth, that reincarnates into new outer sheaths and does not die when the physical body returns its elements to the earth. This body eventually evolves as the actinic body, the body of light, the Golden Body of the soul. This soul body in its final evolution is the most perfect form, the prototype of human form. Once physical births have ceased, this soul body still continues to evolve in subtle realms of existence. This effulgent, actinic body of the illumined soul, even after Nirvakalpa Samadhi, God-Realization, continues to evolve in the inner worlds until the final merger with Siva.

I like to say,"God, God, God." There is one God only, but man's comprehension of That is helped by consciously exploring the three aspects of the one Divine Being: the Absolute, Pure Consciousness or the Self flowing through all form, and the Creator of all that is.

Lord Siva is the Absolute Self, Parasivam, the timeless, formless, spaceless Reality beyond the mind, beyond all form, beyond our subtlest understanding. Parasivam can only be experienced to be known, and then it cannot be explained. Lord Siva is pure consciousness, the substratum, or Primal Substance of all that exists. He is the Energy within all existence. He is Satchidananda, or Truth, Consciousness and Bliss, the Self that flows through all form. Lord Siva is the Primal Soul, Mahesvara, the Original and most perfect Being. He is the Source and the Creator, having never been created. He is the Lord of all beings. He created all souls out of Himself, and He is ever creating, preserving and destroying forms in an endless Divine Dance. Lord Siva is God-God the Creator, God the Preserver, and God the Destroyer. To this day I know and believe that Siva is all of these, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. These are the final conclusions of Saivism, the Sanatana Dharma. The Upanishads state it in this way: He is the one God, the Creator.He enters into all wombs.The One Absolute Eternal Existence,Together with His inscrutable maya,Appears as the Divine Lord, and Personal GodEndowed with manifest forms.With His Divine Sakti He holds dominionOver all the worlds.At the time of the CreationAnd Dissolution of the UniverseHe alone exists.Our Lord is One without a second.With His Divine SaktiHe reigns over all the worlds.Within man He dwells,And within all other beings.He projects the universe, He maintains it,And He withdraws it into Himself.He is the Origin and the SupportOf all the Gods; He is Lord to all.He sees all and knows all.Thou doth pervade the universe,Thou art consciousness itself,Thou art Creator of Time,Thou art the Primal Being.

Whether He manifests existence out of Himself or withdraws it entirely into His Being, existence is all of Himself, all is of Siva, the Auspicious One. Existence is indeed eternal, yet manifesting and dissolving in natural cycles of time and space. When the scriptures speak of the world or the soul as being eternal, we must understand that it is not any particular part of the world or any single soul that exists forever. Rather it is the existence of that which we call world. When this world ends, worlds and worlds will continue their existence in other parts of this universe. And when a great soul merges forever into Siva, there will be other souls working their way through their karma toward moksha.

So, here it is. Proceed with confidence. Enjoy it. Study it. Meditate upon it. Let it become a part of your inner life, of your understanding of God, man and world.

Seeking happiness through meditation...!!!

Seeking happiness through meditation

Daya Hewapathirane(Based on Dr.Mark Epstein’s remarkable insights on Buddhist meditation)

One reason we have so much trouble attaining happiness is that we don’t even know what it is. We keep trying to get rid of or annihilate troubled states of mind such as anxiety or feelings of uneasiness, worry, fear and apprehension and other mental disturbances which bring about unhappiness. Mark Epstein, a ground-breaking psychiatrist who blends Western and Eastern thinking, says that happiness has more to do with broadening your perspective and that Buddhism holds

Meditation disciplines the mind

the promise of more than just common unhappiness in life, it sees the pursuit of happiness as our life goal and teaches techniques of mental development to achieve it.

The Holy Dalai Lama insists that “the purpose of life is to be happy”and “no amount of technological development can lead to lasting happiness.What is almost always missing is a corresponding inner development.” By inner development? the Holy Dalai Lama means something other than mastering the latest version of a full-featured word processing program for computers.

He is talking about cleaning up our mental environment so that real happiness can be both uncovered and sustained.

Most of us, especially those of us who have been exposed to or influenced by the Western world, tend to have a peculiar relationship to happiness. We do everything in our power to try to possess it, most particularly in materialistic form. Materialistic comforts by themselves have not led to lasting happiness. Although many of us are well aware of that conclusion, we do not often see another way, and therefore, return or retreat into our material comforts, barricading ourselves from what appears to be a hostile and threatening world. Acquiring and protecting, we continue to crave a happiness that we think we deserve but out of reach.

Buddhism tells us that the very ways we seek happiness actually block us from finding it.

Our first mistake is in trying to wipe out all sources of ispleasure and search for a perennial state of well-being that, for most of us in our deepest fantasies, resembles nothing so much as a prolonged erotic reverie or day-dreaming.

Even as adults we rarely come to terms with the fact that good and bad are two sides of the same coin, that those who make pleasures possible are also the source of our misery.

The Buddha showed the way

In Western society, without its extended family structure and rabid pursuit of individualism, people often find themselves with nowhere to turn for support in dealing with these feelings.

In more traditional Eastern societies, there is a much greater social and family support system that helps people contains their anguish or the agonizing physical or mental pain, torment, and regrets.

Sense of well-being
However much we, as adults, think we have come to terms with the fact that no one can be all good or all bad, we are still intolerant of frustrations to our own pleasure.

We continue to grasp at the very objects that have previously disappointed us. The Buddha’s point about happiness is that as long as we continue trying to eliminate all displeasure and preserve only pleasure for a prolonged sense of well-being, no lasting happiness is possible. Disturbing thoughts and situations of rage, envy, and the desire for revenge will always interfere. Real life and its complications inevitably trickle in. The root cause of our unhappiness is our inability to observe ourselves properly. We are caught in our own perspective, unable to appreciate the many perspectives of those around us.

And we are unaware of how stubbornly or insistently this way of perceiving drives us. Only through the uprooting of our own self-centeredness can we find the key to happiness. Buddhist meditation practice is one way to catch hold of this me-first perspective and begin to examine it.

The first step to inner development is to find and hold the sense of single, one-point perspective. When a person is able to do that successfully, there is often a sense of freedom. In meditation, as the

tendency to view the world self-referentially or from our self-centred approach and perspective loses its hold, we begin to appreciate the Einsteinian world in which all realities are relative and all points of view subjective.

Meditation calms anxiety

Then a happiness that has more to do with acceptance than gratification becomes available to us. Happiness is the ability to take all of the insults of life as a vehicle for awakening. In pursuing a study of Buddhism and psychotherapy, I am convinced that a method of mental development exists that enables a person to hold feelings of injury without reacting destructively.

Rather than immediately responding to rage or anxiety, a person can use feelings of injury to focus on the core sense of self that will prove illusive and nonexistent.

If there is no self to protect, there is no need to react in rage or anger. Pleasure and displeasure can then be appreciated for the ways in which they are inextricably linked. Well-being becomes understood as an inseparable part of a larger whole that also encompasses catastrophe.

Happiness, then, is the confidence that pain and disappointment can be tolerated, that love will prove stronger than aggression.

It is release from the attachment to pleasant feelings, and faith in the capacity of awareness to guide us through the inevitable insults to our own narcissism or excessive love or admiration of oneself, the psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem. It is the realization that we do not have to be so self-obsessed, that within our own minds lies the capacity for a kind of acceptance we had only dreamed of. This happiness rarely comes without effort. To accomplish this we must first discover just how narrow our vision usually is. This is the function of meditation.

Mark Epsteinis an American Psychiatrist and a Professor of Psychology. He has written extensively on Buddhism and psychotherapy. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. He has been a practicing Buddhist since his early twenties. He is one of the editors of TRICYCLE: A Buddhist Review.


HINDUISM:Deepavali: Light of wisdom, peace and unity..!!!

Deepavali: Light of wisdom, peace and unity
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

Deepavali or the festival of lights which is celebrated by Hindus all over the world, on November 05, is a variable pointer to our sacred calling. It brings to the fore the tremendous potential in man and his ability to fight his lower nature with all its base instincts and sordid cravings. Deepavali symbolizes the shedding of light and retreat of darkness.

Deepavali signifies emergence from ignorance into knowledge

Deepavali stands for the triumphant entry of the resplendent light of peace, unity and understanding among men and the dramatic defeat of evil. It also signifies the emergence of the soul from the darkness of Avidya to the light of Vidya or awakening. In other words the awakening of knowledge in an ignorant man indicates light being brought into the lives of silently suffering people immersed in utter misery and gloom.

It is exactly to depict this truth, the Deepavali festival is celebrated with a row of lights in Hindu households. According to Hindu calendar in the month of November (Karthikai) bright and beautiful lamps and candles are lit in Hindu homes like a garland of lamps offered in dedication to the deities. This shows the annihilation of sorrow of the people who are overpowered by the forces of darkness and later inspired with the hopes and aspirations for better times ahead.

Certain people believe that Deepavali is associated with the popular legend of Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura who by the practice of austerity had gained strength to drive the Gods out of the celestial kingdom but Lord Krishna with his power killed him and saved mankind.

In another instance Lord Krishna was designed to free the world from the deprivation of the Demon King Hiranyakasa who forbade the worship of Lord Vishnu and substituted the worship of himself. But his son Prahalad refused to give up his worship of Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyaksa was enraged and resolved to kill his son whereupon Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Narasinha and tore Hiranyaksa to pieces.

Among some Hindus there is a belief that this festival day marks the day of rejoicing when Lord Skanda triumphed over the evil regime of Suraparman. Some even say that on this Deepavali day Sri Rama’s grand coronation took place after his long exile in the jungle.

Indeed Deepavali is a festival of freedom, peace, unity and compassion crystallised in the last hymn in unity and peace in the Indian spiritual hymn Ria Veda.

“Let your aim be one and single, let your heart be joined in one, the mind at rest in unison at peace with all, so may you be.”

“Love and peace are the central theme of Deepavali. Peace is a by-product of love. Hatred will never cease by hatred, but will cease only by love alone.”

A Hindu family adorns their doorstep with Kolam on Deepavali

We have the brilliant light of the sun and the mellow light of the moon and stars, but in everyday’s heart and mind, a different light burns the light of knowledge and warmth of love and compassion which will strengthen ourselves for sacrifice and service and gradually dispel the gloom of poverty, ignorance and egoistic arrogance.

Let our light of knowledge and wisdom shine far and wide scattering the soft but brilliant beams to bring peace, wisdom and the splendour of light. Even the Atharva Veda pronounces Peace be to the earth and to the air, peace be to the heaven, peace to the waters. By this invocations of peace, may peace bring peace.

As the ancients have said “whatever you have, you are its master, whatever you hate you are its slave.” The Deepavali Festival reminds us that when senseless hatred and killings reign on earth and men hide their faces from one another then Heaven to hide its face. But, when Love, Peace and Wisdom come to rule on earth and men reveal their faces to one another, then the splendour of God will be revealed.

Deepavali is a festival which confirms a new beginning - the beginning of reconciliation and peace between communities. Indeed Deepavali festival reminds us that “where there is Dharma peace, righteousness, justice and fair play, there victory shall be.”

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, where words come out from the depth of truth, where tireless striving trenches its arms towards perfection, where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreamy desert sand of dead habitat, where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action, into the heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake,” said the great poet Rabindranath Tagore.


Kali Ma:

Hindu Goddess of Destruction
As one of the most widely recognized Hindu goddesses Kali or Kali Ma (mother Kali) is said to destroy ignorance and liberate those devoted to God. Kali’s name is

Goddess Kali has a frightening appearance and a fearsome countenance

derived from the Sanskrit word ‘kala,’ which means ‘time’ and also means ‘the black one.’ She appears in many Vedic texts and is sometimes described as an expansion of the goddess Durga.

Hindu Scriptures and Goddess Kali
Shakta Hindus and Tantric believers worship Kali as Brahman (the ultimate reality.) Most Hindus pray to Kali as a benevolent mother goddess and the consort of Lord Shiva. Kali is associated with many other Hindu goddesses like Durga, Parvati and Chamunda, and is the foremost among the Dasa Mahavidyas (ten Tantric goddesses.)

According to David Kinsley, Kali is first mentioned in Hinduism around 600 CE, and “In the Agni- and Garuda-puranas she is mentioned in invocations that aim at success in war and against one’s enemies.” In the Bhagavata-purana Kali is the deity worshipped by a band of thieves who are annihilated by the goddess herself when they attempt to offer a saintly Brahman for a blood sacrifice.

Kali destroys Demon Raktabija
The Devi Mahatmyam describes Kali’s most famous myth where she springs out from Durga’s frown and destroys the demon Raktabija. Fighting Raktabija was creating problems as the demon reproduces a clone of himself with every drop of blood that falls on the battlefield. The Devas (gods) could not kill the demon Raktabija. Within a few minutes of attacking him the battlefield was covered with millions of demons. In despair, the gods turned to Shiva. But Shiva was in Samadhi (deep meditation), so they asked his consort Durga for help.

The goddess set out for battle and the form of Kali arose from her anger. Kali drank the demon’s blood to prevent any of Raktabija’s blood from falling to the ground and reproducing. Becoming intoxicated on Raktabija’s blood; Kali raged across the world killing anyone in her path and adorned herself with the dismembered parts of her victims. Shiva threw himself under her feet to pacify the goddess and Kali returned to the benevolent form of Durga.

The appearance of Kali
The Goddess Kali has a frightening appearance and has a fearsome countenance with a gaping mouth, tongue lolling out and deep reddish eyes. Most texts describe Kali as dark, naked with long nails and dishevelled hair. Armed with a sword, noose and Khatvanga (skull-topped staff) the goddess is decorated with a garland of skulls and only wears a tiger’s skin.

The skulls, limbs and entrails decorating Kali represent the temporary nature of the material world. Kali’s fierce appearance has a deeper meaning and shows the importance of destroying the ego’s attachment to the body.

Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva
Her form when depicted standing on Shiva’s form is revered as Bhavatarini or the saviour of the universe. In the book Hindu Goddesses David Kinsley states that many texts “treat Kali as an independent deity, unassociated with any male deity. When she is associated with a god, however it is almost always Shiva.”

Bengali devotional hymns often describe Kali and Shiva as possessing similar chaotic habits and are regarded to inhabit cremation grounds – reminding us that the body is only temporary.

Kinsley also emphasizes the dominant nature of Kali in relation to Shiva: “She is usually standing or dancing on Siva’s body, and when the two are depicted in sexual intercourse, she is shown above him.

Although Siva is said to have tamed Kali in the myth of the dance contest, it seems clear that she was never finally subdued by him and is most popularly represented as a being who is uncontrollable and more apt to provoke Shiva to dangerous activity than to be controlled by him.”

Kali Pooja: Praying to Mother Kali
Kali Pooja is celebrated on the new day of the Hindu month Ashwin in Bengal and other parts of India. This celebration coincides with Lakshmi Pooja during the five day festivities of Diwali. Kali’s most well known temples are in Kalighat and Dakshineshvara in India.

Kali Pooja aims to invoke the help of the goddess in destroying evil. The worship takes place at midnight with Tantric rites and mantras. Some devotees offer red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice and even meat.


2012 apocalypse in Hinduism
Facts about Kalki, Planet X and end of Kaliyugam:


Year 2012 will bring incessant rain and flood according to Hindu predictions

‘2012’ has become a buzzword these days, thanks to the incessant end of days programs on History Channel and the movie. People are freaking everywhere and want to know the predictions in every civilisation from Mayans to Hopis to Aztecs, from the Book of Revelations to I-Ching and Nostradamus Quatrains and of late the end of world connections to the world’s oldest religion Hinduism.

The four Yugas or ages described in the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam are Satya or Krita Yuga that will span the first 100,000 years, Treta Yuga next 1,296 million years and Dvapara Yuga 864, 000 years and the last Kali Yuga 432, 000 years. In Kali Yuga people will live for up to 100 years and will be engaged in irreligious practices solely for sense gratification/Kama. People in the age of Kali will be lazy, quarrelsome, greedy and deceitful.

The end of Kali Yuga is marked by the arrival of ‘Kalki’ the last incarnation of Vishnu. The 10th avatar of God.

Also it is interesting to note that coincidentally the 10th planet of the solar system or planet X was named Kalki.

The last avatar of God, Kalki will ride a white horse and would punish all the people who were sinful. Bhavishya Purana , literal meaning ‘story about the future’, is a book of predictions written by Vyasa who also wrote Mahabharatha has predicted the birth of Jesus, Allah and many other religious leaders.

The year 2012 will bring incessant rain and flooding according to the predictions.

According to Puranas the city Dwaraka, where Lord Krishna was born, was under the sea. This ‘underwater city of Dwarka’ was discovered in 1994 and it lies in the Arabian sea in the coast of Gujarat in close proximity to the present Dwarka temple in Saurashtra.

According to archaeologists this underwater city where the real Dwarka where Lord Krishna lived, has stunning golden pillars and remnants of a palace.


Thiruvalluvar’s wisdom
Elaiya Sivayoganathan

The Thirukkural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature and one of the highest and purest of expressions of human thought, says scholar M Ariel. Kural is a treasure of wisdom that dates over 2000 years. St Thiruvalluvar produced this masterpiece dealing with virtue, wealth and love which has immediate impact on human

Thiruvalluvar Statue in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

activities. This has more practicability than any other piece of Hindu literature.

Thiruvalluvar’s message is not only for his period but for all times and for all mankind. Learned scholars thought that this masterpiece deserved wider attention and began to translate it. Dr GU Pope translated it in to English, followed by few other scholars. Thirukkural is an outstanding thinker who showed mankind a greater way of life.

The specialty of this great work is above all cults and religions.

The utterance of pleasant words
Pleasant words are those that flow from the mouth of virtuous. Spoken with love and free from guile. Sweet speech with cheerfulness is better than a gift made with joyous mind. Speaking from the heart with a cheerful look and happy face is true virtue. Poverty provoking sorrow will not be there to those who speak pleasant words to all.

Humility with pleasant speech are the ornaments of man. If a man speaks good words his sins will diminish and his virtue increases. Pleasing words of good effect give righteousness in this world and merit for the next. Good speech free from meanness will give happiness both in this world and next.

What is the use in using harsh words when one sees the pleasure which sweet words yield? Using unpleasant words when pleasant words are available is like eating unripe fruit when ripe fruit is available.

Avoid pointless speech
He who speaks senseless words to the disgust of many will be despised by all.

Speaking useless words in the presence of wise is a greater evil than speaking unkind words among friends.

Speech of useless words proclaims man who has no righteous wisdom. The words devoid of sense for a man deprives him of virtue, removes him from goodness.