The sixteenth of October satsang was an auspicious one indeed as it was the day of Deepavali, the festival of lights. In the southern part of India, Deepavali is celebrated to commemorate the death of the demon Narakasura. In the northern part of India Deepavali is celebrated as a festival to welcome Lord Rama back to Ayodhya. All our festivals have a direct connection to our legends either from Lord Rama or Lord Krishna’s life-history.
If we delve into the story of Narakasura, the Mother Earth was not able to bear the atrocities committed by Narakasura and she went and prostrated to the Lord and confided her suffering to the Lord. So the Lord came down as Lord Krishna. Narakasura’s slaughter was one of the agenda for Lord Krishna’s avatar. If we look at the problems faced by the Mother Earth, one of the main suffering was that she was unable to bear the weight of the people. The weight of the people she refers to is the people who don’t revel in the bliss of the glories of the Lord and who don’t chant the Divine Names of the Lord. So Lord Krishna destroyed such people to name a few Kamsa, various kinds of Asuras and Narakasura. Mother Earth heaved a sigh of relief hearing the death of Naraksura. Asura is not a physical form. In philosophical view, Asura is a quality that tends to keep people away from chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to the glories of the Lord. Lord Krishna destroyed these Asuras and the very destruction of these Asuras is celebrated as Deepavali. But Mother Earth was still unhappy as there were still people who refrained from being part of satsang and hence Lord Krishna started sending great saints [avatars] down to the earth to dispel all the negative forces and make everyone enjoy the bliss of satsang and chant the divine names of the Lord in this Kali Yuga.
Our Guru Maharaj’s avatar is also on the day of Deepavali and this incarnation removes all the detrimental forces in us and takes us closer to the Lord through chanting the Divine Name of the Lord. Our Guru Maharaj’s incarnation marks another significance of Deepavali.
Followed by introductions, Nishaji from Houston aptly talked about the life-history of our Guru Maharaj and the significance of Deepavali.
Indra sought Lord Krishna’s help because Narakasura had preempted his throne and also expropriated his mother Aditi’s earings. So Lord Krishna went to the capital of Narakasura along with his wife Sathyabama. His capital was shielded and defended by several barricades and Lord Krishna easily entered his capital by saying “Abirae” and killed Narakasura. Mother Earth who was Narakasura’s mother was overjoyed hearing the news about the death of her son and she came to see Lord Krishna with rich presents.
She also brought Narakasura’s son Bhagadatta along with her to meet Lord Krishna. With palms together she sang hymns on praise of Lord Krishna. He gave refugee to Bhagadatta and also released all the sixteen thousand princess who had been held captive by Narakasura in his city and he himself married all of them in order to protect them. So the slaying of Narakasura is celebrated by lighting of lamps to signify the removal of darkness and ignorance and to commemorate the victory of good over evil.
While Deepavali is celebrated to remember the slaying of Narakasura by Lord Krishna by everyone, we the devotees of Sri Muralidhara Swamiji celebrate Deepavali as the birth of the light. Our Guru Maharaj was born on the day of Deepavali. It was the ‘Pilava’ year as per the Hindu Calendar, on the ‘Aipassi’ month and the ‘Swati’ star was on the ascent and it was a Amavasya (new moon) day. According to the English calendar it was the eight of November, 1961. He was born to a very pious couple Sri Rajagopala Iyer and Smt Savitri in a village called Manjakuppam in Cuddalore in South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. The eighth of November being Deepavali, there was merriment all around , with people bursting crackers and lighting of lamps. The child who was born amidst such celebration was named Muralidharan.
Cuddalore is a holy place and it is located between two rivers, the Pennayaru and the Garuda river. Is is in Cuddalore that Lord Shiva blessed Appar with his darshan who was among the major four devotees of the sixty three Nayanmars. Cuddalore carries the name “Thirupadiripodiyur” which is its original name. The ruling deity of Cuddalore is Padaleshwarar and his consort is Periyananyaki. About three kilometers from Cuddalore is a Vaishnavite temple called Thiruvahindrapuram.
Muralidharan was born as the fourth and youngest child to his parents. He lost his pious mother when he was six years old. It was then his sister Vijayalakshmi who helped her father to bring up this extraordinary child. Muralidharan’s father once stumbled upon a big trunk and when he opened it, he found sheets and sheets of with the Divine Name of Lord Rama. It was only then he realized that, his wife had been meditating on the Divine Name of Lord Rama. It is no wonder that for Muralidharan who had incarnated to spread the glory of the divine names of the Lord, was born to a mother who was doing meditation on the divine names of the Lord. Muralidhara’s mother knew the day she was going to die, and she woke him a little early and initiated him on a sloka.
Unlike children of his age, he spent a lot of time playing with the pictures of Lord Srinivasa and was attracted to that Lord and spent a lot of time performing abhisheka and pooja to Lord Srinivasa. Over the weekend, he would bring all his friends and perform Radha Kalyanam to the Lord. Situated in the proximity of his house, was a Ganesh temple. He used to go to the temple along with his eldest brother to attend discourses.
Sri Rajagopala Iyer being a very devout person would invite to his home any great mahan who was visiting Cuddalore then. Our Guru who was a child strongly desired to become one like them. As he grew up, he used to frequent to the Padaleshwarar temple. He also used to visit a Hanuman temple on the banks of the river Gatilla and Lord Devanathaswamy temple in Thiruvahindrapuram and Sri Aurobindho ashram in Pondicherry which was not very far from Cuddalore.
When he was ten years old and was visiting his aunt’s village, he accompanied some of his relatives to a place called Govindapuram which now houses the famous Chaitanya Kuteeram. Govindapuram has the Brindavan [Jiva Samadhi] of Sri Bhagawan Nama Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal who is the immediate successor to Atma Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal. When the young Muralidharan first stepped into Govindapuram, he was so attracted to that place. Bodendral, at the behest of his Guru had actually spread the power and glory of chanting the Divine Name of Lord Rama. He himself was always chanting the divine names of Lord Rama. Our young guru did Nama sankirtan for some time and when it was time for him to take leave he left with a heavy heart. But later whenever he used to visit his aunt’s place, he used to visit Govindapuram.
Many years passed by and during the late eighties when he visited Govindapuram, a Bhgavatha who was also visiting that place on seeing our Guru Maharaj requested him to discourse on Bodendral. He was initially hesitant to do the discourse but later got the courage and spoke a few lines about Bodendral. People who listened to his lecture were dumb-founded and compelled him to lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam that very night itself. This is how Our Guru maharaj started doing discourses. Even today Govindapuram holds a special place in His heart.
Vadambalam is the brindavan for Atma bodendra swamigal who was Sri Bodendral’s guru. Amidst such spiritual fervor, the young Muralidharan completed his graduation in Mathematics and moved to Chennai to purse his CA degree. Now we all know that he was not to be charted accountant but to be a Guru and spread the glory of Nama Sankirtan so that we can all experience peace at the lotus feet of the Lord.
Unto this guru we prostrate who acts ceaselessly day in and day out for the worldly and spiritual welfare of those who have sought refuge in him
Unto this guru we prostrate whose grace has no parallel and can never be returned even if served for janma fourteen
Unto this guru we prostrate whose love changes not even when those belong to him sin
Unto this guru we prostrate Thinking of whose grace we cannot but weep in solitude
The uchistam of our guru for his devotees is verily his upadesa. Our Guru maharaj lucidly explains the definition of a Bhakta. He is verily the one who is thinking of his Guru and the Lord eternally. His utmost important duty according to him is to attend satsangs and attends to other compelling worldly matters only on days when there is no satsang [divine communion] . On the other hand, a samsari [one who is reveling in the mundane world] has no time for satsang and his priority is only family, friends and relatives. The word Satsang means the company of a guru. The word “Sat” means Guru, the essence and he is the only company. So a Guru’s company is indeed satsang.
In one of His compositions, He extorts everyone to offer an eight petal flower to the holy feet of the Lord. The eight petals that he refers to are
- Kshama [forgiveness]
- Sathyam [truth]
- Dhaya [compassion]
- Santhi [peace]
- Bhakti [devotion]
- Virakti [dispassion]
- Premai [love]
- Jananam [knowledge]
Ashta thala poo kondu seithuduvom poojayai Sishtargalae nam ishtapadi
“Oh! Virtuous ones! Let us do pooja with the eight petals.”
Kshamai sathyam daya santhi bhakthi virakthi |
Premai jnanam enum dalangal kondu ||
He defines the eight petals which are kshama, sathya,m, daya, santhi, bhakthi, virakthi, premai and jnanam.
Paramanuk ugnadadu Paril aridanadu
Kasuku kidaikadoru masil adhadhu
Dasargal ugapadu nichargal verupadu
Nesamigu muralidharani vasigaripathu
The eight petals that he mentioned [kshama, sathya,m, daya, santhi, bhakthi, virakthi, premai and jnanam ] is what the Lord truly likes the best and it is very rare indeed. One cannot procure them for money and it is blemishless. The eight petal flower is indeed liked by the devotees of the Lord [dasrgal] and the worldly people mock at it. It is verily these eight qualities that captivate our beloved Muralidharan.
On this holy occasion, let us all offer this eight petal flower to the lotus feet of our Sadguru maharaj and let us seek the blessings of our Guru Maharaj through divine name chanting of the Lord to destroy the Narakasura of pride, avarice, hatred, jealousy and forgetful of god and guru so that this Narakasura can be defeated and we can be placed in the throne of divinity.
The satsang concluded with Nama Sankirtan.