It is said that of all the spiritual austerities that one performs to reach Bhagawan, the only aim for all these practices is to destroy the mind and offer ourselves to the Lord. “Sarve Mano Nigraha lakshanantah” says Bikshu Gita in Srimad Bhagavatam.
Our Mahans have clearly outlined that the easiest way to destroy the mind is meditation, and specifically meditation in the form of Shravana [listening to the glories of the Lord and his devotees]. Very often we become bored after listening to some stories or after watching a movie for more than one time. But one does not become fatigued and inattentive when he repeatedly listens to the glories of the Lord. In fact every time we listen to the divine stories of the Lord, we all encounter an unique experience. King Parikshit before requesting sage Shuka to expound on the Rukmini Kalyanam says “Bhagavan Strotum ichami” – “I have tremendous desire to listen to Rukmini kalyanam and every time I listen to it I am blessed with new experience every time [nitya noothanah]”. This happens only for Bhagavat Gunas. It is a fact that the inclination to listen to the Divine glories of the Lord doesn’t happen just like that. It needs a lot of merits accrued in our previous births.
In Dhruva chaithra, we see that Dhruva’s step mother chastised him and asked him to go to the forest to do penance to be born in her womb in order to sit in his father’s lap akin to his brother Uttaman. On his way to the forest, Dhruva met his Guru, Sage Narada. He gave an updaesha to Dhruva with the highest and secretive mantra [dwadashakshari] and also blessed him that the Lord will definitely come in front of him and bestow him with Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dhruva went to Madhuvana in Brindavan and performs meditation on the Lord. Finally when the Lord came in front of him, Dhruva was oblivious of this scene and did not open his eyes and was immersed in meditation. So the Lord removed his form from Dhruva’s heart and he immediately opened his eyes and there the Lord stood in front of Dhruva who was only five years old. At that instant of time, he did a beautiful stuthi. He calls out to the Lord, “Oh Lord! It is you who entered into my body and made me do this stuthi.”
When Bhagawan came and stood in front of Dhruva, he told Dhruva to ask Him for a boon. But Lord Dhruva being a smart kid did not ask for any boon and instead asked for His holy feet. He further says, ”the easiest way to attain your holy feet is listening to your divine glories”. It is verily a satsang that can interest one to listen to the divine glories of the Lord and so asked the Lord to bless him with satsangs.
It is said very beautifully in one of his slokas, –
“Bhaktim muhu pravahataam tvayime prasango
buyath anantha mahatham amalsayaanam
enancha solbanam uru vyasanam bhavabtim
neshye bhavat guna kathamrita panamathah”
What is the panacea for the misery from mundane cycle of existence? It is verily listening to the Divine glories of the Lord. It alone will alleviate the souls from the suffering in the mundane world. By listening to the stories of the Lord, we become intoxicated by drinking the nectar of the Lord’s divine glories. To get that intoxication, one needs to be in the abode of a Sadguru. The Sadguru is always immersed in and reminisces the divine glories of the Lord and are incessantly chants the Divine Names of the Lord.
Following this introduction, Ramya from San Jose talked about the greatness of Mahans.
“Brahmeti paramathmeti bhagawan iti shabdayae” says Srimad Bhagavatam. Very oftern we hear the three sounds [sabdas] “Brahmam”, “Paramatma” and “Bhagavan”. The word Brahmam is used by people who discourse on Upaishads and by people who listen to these discourses. The word Paramatma is widely used by the yogi’s. People who perform bhakti and devotion to the Lord use the word Bhagavan. All the three words only differ in the sounds but they connote the same. They refer to the Supreme Being says Srimad Bhagavatam. This fact has been ratified by great Mahans who are in constant communion with the Lord [Brahma Shatshatkara]. What is the clear indication for a great Mahan to be in constant communion with the Lord? It is verily from the life-history [charithra] of the Mahans.
Let’s take some of the life-history of some great Mahans to substantiate this. Adi Shaknkara Bhagavatpada was a great saint. Everyone revered him as a great saint not because of his great treatises on the Dasopanishad and Bhagavath Gita, but it was solely due to the fact that he had the Darshan of the Lord [Brahma Shatshatkara], which is clearly depicted in his life-history [charithra]. One day some ruthless and crude men came and approached Adi Shankrara to give up his human body [shariram] which they wanted to offer to their deity in order to acquire some supernatural power. Hearing this Adi Shankara was overjoyed. He said, “Up until now, I was thinking that this body was of no use to me. Please go ahead and take away my body”. He did not call out to the Lord to save him. One of the ardent devotees of Adi Shankara, Padmapada who was witnessing this scene, became very agitated. Lord Narasimha showed his ferocity through Padmapada and slaughtered all of them. At that instant of time, he composed verses [stotras] on Lord Narasimha. In those verses, he didn’t praise the Lord for saving his life, instead he questioned the Lord as to why he saved him. The point to be noted is that Adi Shankara did not hesitate to give his human body.
Another classic example is from Srimad Bhagavatam, in the life-history of Jadabharata. When the devotees of Lord kali were about to sever his head, Jadabharata was calm and composed as he would always be and never perturbed. Even though he was calm, the Mother Kali for whom he was going to be given as a sacrifice became angry and she killed her devotees who were going to slaughter Jadabharata. The take away point here is that even the Lord respects a great saint [Mahan].
There was another great saint, Sadasiva Brahmendra. Contemporary to this saint was another great saint Paramasivendra. He was the then pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt. Sadasiva Brahmendra was born in Tiruvisaiinalur in Tamil Nadu. This village was also the birth place of another great saint Marudanallur Sadguru Swamigal. The great Mahan from Karnataka, Sridhar Ayyaval and Rama Subba Dikshidar also stayed in Thiruvasinallur for some time. It is to be said that not only great saints were born in this blessed village but was also the dwelling place for many great pundits. Sadasiva Brahmendra used to clarify his vedantic questions with the pundits. But the pundits were not able to answer some of his questions and advised him to go and meet Paramasivendra. Even today the Brindavan of Paramasivendra can be found in Thirivengadu. We have heard about Lalitha Shahasarnamam, Siva and Vishnu Sahasranama. Paramasivendra had composed the Brahma Shahasarnamam. The thousand and eight names of the Brahman.
“Nirgunam, Nirvikaram, Sattaamatram”.. to name a few.
Per the advice of the pundits, Sadasiva Brahmendra went and approached Paramasivendra. Paramsivendra looked at Brahmendra with awe at his countenance and he took him as his disciple. In due course of time, Brahmendra was blessed with the Darshan of the Lord [Brahma Shatshatkara].
While referring to the state of the saints, Srimad Bhagvatam says, “Unnmata mookha jadavath”. Some jnanis behave like a mad person. We can see this to be true in the case of Seshadri Swamigal. There was another great saint by name Nithyananda Maharaj in Ganeshpuri. He used to dwell only in the drainages. There was another great saint Vittobha in Polur. He was akin to a log of wood.
These saints are called as “Dikambara Sanyasi”. They don’t wear any clothes to cover their body. The four directions [east, west, north and south ] are indeed their clothing.
Sadasiva Brahmendra was once walking in the streets of a village. He was not clad in any clothing and this sight agitated many of the village folks. One villager went out and cut Brahmendra’s hand. Brahmendra was oblivious to what was happening and he continued walking along the street. But the person who cut his hand on seeing Brahmendra, became petrified and told him that he had cut his hand. It was only then that Brahmendra saw that his hand out cut out. He immediately took his broken arm and placed it in its original spot and continued walking. This incident made the villagers realize that he was indeed a great saint and they all fell at his feet. This is another example to show the affinity great saints had for their human body.
Another classic example is Bhagawan Ramana. He was afflicted with cancer. He was a Self-realized Saint. When he was undergoing the surgery, he was not given any anesthesia to numb the pain. He witnessed the whole surgery and it was because he had no affinity towards his body.
Sadasiva Brahmendra’s brindavan is in Nerur. He has composed several songs.
A song contains three parts – Pallavi, Anupallavi, Charanam. Scriptures concerning music clearly elucidate how a “Pallavi” should be composed –
“Padam thanakkoru paa, layam thanak oru la, vinyasam thanak oru vee, Idhuvae kaanum paalavi”
A Pallavi should contain Padam[concept], Layam [rhythm] and Vinyasam[composition/disposition].
One very popular song composed by Sadasiva Brahmendra is –
“Manasa Sancharare Brahmani Manasa Sancharare”
In this verse, he says “Oh Mind! Wander on the thought of that Brahman!”
He further says – “Mathasikhi pincha alankritha chikorae”
He explains who that Brahman is. He has a peacock feather on his head. Oh Mind! Wander on that Brahman.
“Paramahamsa mukha chandrachakorae”
Chakora pakshi is a bird.. A very blessed bird since great saints imagine them to be chakorapakshi when they sing praises of the Lord. In the mornings, the bird looks at the sky and yearns to see the moon. In the night, it feels very excited on seeing the moon.
Meera and Raidas call themselves as the chakorapakshi bird and they sing beautifully that they wait all long their lives to see the Lord who in this case is the moon. The devotees of the highest order have only two states of mind. They are very happy when they have the darshan of the Lord. The other state is they are in state of depression when they don’t get the darshan of the Lord. Sadasiva Brahmendra calls out to the Lord saying that he is the moon and Lord Krishna is the chakorapakshi. He says, “Oh Lord You must have the desire to see a devotee like me!”
Why should do saints perform bhakti? They don’t pray for any mundane desires as they don’t have any affiliation in this world. They don’t ask for liberation [moksha] as they have already attained it. The reason they want to do bhakti is because they want to reminisce the glories of the Lord. They always wait to hear the glories of the Lord.
“Srinchan Srinchan Ashrudhaara Deerga nishvaasa poorvakam”
“Kada Baveyam Magnoham bhavatha prema saagarae”
They listen to the stories of the Lord with rapt attention and listen to the same stories over and over again. They become immersed in the stories and imagine themselves to be the characters in that story. Kulasekhara Azhwar was a great devotee of the Lord. He was also a king. One day there was a discourse on Ramayana in his courtyard. He was listening to the lecture and when he heard that “Lord Rama was going to Lanka to wage a war”, Kulasegara Azwar immediately summoned his troops and ordered them to go to Lanka to help out Lord Rama. He totally forgot that it was a story that had happened in the past. The ministers then told him that Lord Rama had won the battle against Ravana and that pacified the great king. That’s how great saints listen to the stories of the Lord.
We have heard about Dhyana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti and Raja yoga. There is another Yoga called Shravana Yoga. It is verily listening to the glories of the Lord. King Parikshit listened to the Srimad Bhagvatam with rapt attention and attained Mukti. Shravana Yoga is one of the easiest means to attain the holy feet of the Lord. By listening to the stories, and is the panacea [oushadam] for the disease called Bavam [samsaram/worldly life]. The medicine is verily listening to the stories of Lord Krishna.
“Bhava oushadaat strotra manobiramath” , Bhagavatam says.
If you start listening to the stories of the Lord, you will want to listen to it again and again.
Other than listening to the stories to the Lord, the saints sing praises of the Lord [gaayanthi].
Since great Mahans and devotees of the highest order are incessantly chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to the glories without any boredom, Sadasiva Brahmendra compares such devotees to the moon and Lord Krishna as the chakorapakshi.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.