Sep 16: Nama Vaibhavam – The Purifier – Ganga

16 Sep

A few years ago Chaitanya Kuteeram was established under the guidance of HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji in Govindapuram in view of having a dedicated sanctum for Mahamantra Kirtan.   The divine village of Govindapuram houses the Jiva Samadhi of Sri Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Swamigal. 

Mahatmas do not associate themselves with the physical body, but the physical body they take during their descend on this Earth is very significant.    Adi Sankara was born in Kaladi but Sankara may have spent only a trivial part of his early life there, and yet is a ‘punya thirtha’ because of Sankara’s birth there.  If the place where Mahatmas reside for a few days/years gains so much sanctity, imagine the sanctity of their physical body, in which they reside throughout their jaunt on Earth!  That is the greatness of the Samadhi / Adhishtanam of a Mahatma.  Prayers are fulfilled in that sanctified spot.

Mahatmas are born the same way, but they shed their mortal coils differently – through ‘jala samadhi’ or merging with the Lord.  Some shed their lives like any other mortal.  The Jiva Samadhi is when they enter into a Samadhi even as they breathe, and they remain so for ever.  Raghavendra’s Samadhi in Mantralayam is an example; akin to it is Bhagavan Nama Bodendral’s Adhishtanam.  One can hear Bodendral’s Ram Nam chant when one stays here for a long time and chants the Ram Nam.  Such is the greatness of Govindapuram. 

Bodendral performed his first Nama Siddhanta in Puri Jagannath.  Chaitanya Kuteer depicts this interesting connection between Bodendral and Puri Jagannath by housing the shrines of Jagannatha-Balabadra-Subadra and Gaur-Nitayi.  Continuous Mahamantra Kirtan happens here.

Of all the Dharmas, only Bhagavata Dharma can be practiced anywhere, anytime – ‘digdesha kaala nirapeksha’ says Narayana Thirtha.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states that one will ascend the 8-fold path and realize the Supreme, only if he has ‘Ishwara Krupa’ (God’s grace) and he defines ‘Ishwara’  as the One that has Pranava as His Name.  Such is the greatness of Pranva and it is said that a Sanyasi should only perform Pranava Japa all the time, and reminisce the Mandukya Upanishad at his last moment.

Narayana Thirtha was a Sanyasi and used to live in Varagur.  When he visited Govindapuram, Bodendra Swamigal imparted to him, the greatness of the the Divine Name, and at once, he performed the Tharangam (‘a wave’ of kirtans mostly done on Krishna in Yashoda Bhava)– ‘Rama Krishna Govindeti…’ .

In that Kirtan he says, Rama Nama is the Ganges, Krishna Nama is the Yamuna river and Govinda is verily Sarasvati and chanting ‘Rama Krishna Govinda’ yields the same benefit as going to Prayag!

He further goes to say that the greatest benefit of chanting the Divine Name is that one will be put into a satsang of a Sadguru easily.  The Sadguru comes at the right moment in one’s life – just lik Narada came to Vyasa, Dhruva, Kayadhu, Valmiki at the right moment.  Until that moment comes, one goes through all trials and tribulations in life.  And, the Divine Name brings the Sadguru easily (‘sadguru krupa samudra sanga hetu sulabhe’) – and the moment the Sadguru has taken charge of our our lives, there is nothing to worry.  One should perform Nama Sankirtan beyond that point as a ‘kaalakshepa’ –  spending our life in bliss chanting the Divine Names.  That is the greatness of Bhagavata Dharma.

Bhagavan Ramana’s work – Aksharamanamalai starts and ends with Bhagavata Dharma!  The first verse says ‘ Arunachalamena aghame ninaippavar aghatthai veraruppai ArunAchala’ – By verily reminiscing the Divine Name of Arunachala will destroy one’s ego.

In the middle of this work, he says, ‘peyar ninaithidave pidithizhithanai un perumai yaar arivaar arunaachala’ – the moment I thought of your Divine Name, you pulled me unto you, who dare speak of the greatness of the Divine Name.

Towards the end, as a prarthana (prayer) – he says, ‘anbodu un naamam kel anbar tham anbarkku anbanaai aakidu arunaachala’ – make me a devotee of the devotee of the devotees who listen to your Divine Names!

Everyone has 5 debts – Pitru Runas – can be eliminated by chanting the Divine Names as Jnaneshwar Maharaj says).  The Rishi Runas are removed by listening to Ramayana and Mahabharata.  The ‘Deva Runa’ – is repaid by performing Yagnas and Yagas.  Bhagavatam, at the end of the Nava Yogi Charitra says ‘devarshi bhUtAtma nruNAM pitrunAm na kinkaro nAya vruNItha rAjan’ – as long as one performs Nama Sankirtan, every ‘runa’ (debt) is taken care of automatically!

The greatness of the Bhagavata Dharma is that even the Lord likes ‘Katha Shravana’.  In Ramayana, Sage Viswamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana for the destruction of Subahu and Maricha and with the secretive intention of getting them married, takes them to Mithila.  Throughout the way, Rama is excited to listen to the stories of his ancestors, the birth of Subrahmanya etc.  It is now that he recounts the birth of the Ganges.

Adi Sankara, in his Gangashtakam speaks out his heart on Bhakti to Krishna:

Bhagavati tavateere neeramaatraa sanoham
vigatavishaya trushna krishnamaaraadhayaami
sakalakalusha bhange swarga sopaana sange
taralatara tarange devigange praseeda ||

Oh Gange, he says, ‘May I live ever on your banks renouncing all my other worldly desires and worship my favorite Lord Krishna!  May I sustain my life simply drinking your water!  Oh Gange! You obliterate all the sins and the waves that you beautifully adorn are indeed the stairs for one to reach the Supreme!’

In another Gangashtakam, he gives the story of how the Ganges was born:  The otherwise dark Brahma Loka suddenly lighted up and Brahmaji was delighted to find that it was the Lord’s feet (who incarnated as Trivikrama) and rushed with his ‘kamandalu’ to wash the holy foot – and the water from the Lord’s feet came down as the Ganges.  She touches the Saptarishi Mandala, and goes to Dhruva Mandala as ‘Vishnupadi’, where Dhruva proudly takes bath in her thrice a day.  She flows down to Swarga where the ‘devata stree’s take bath.  Back on the Earth, Sagara performed an Ashwameda Yagna and Indra hid his horse in the caves of Kapila Muni.  The sixty-thousand sons of Sagara abused the latter for mistakenly assuming that he stole the horse and Kapila Muni’s anger burned them to ashes. Amshuman from his lineage, with the intention of completing the Yaga, went in search of the horse, found it in Kapilaashram, and humbly requested for the same.  He retrieved the horse and completed the Yaga.  He was also told that he could liberate his sixty thousand ancestors by immersing their ashes in the Ganges.  Amshumaan, in his lifetime couldn’t bring the Ganges down to Earth.  Bhagirata in his lineage, was determined to liberate his ancestors and performed intense penance to Brahma to bring Ganga Devi down.  Ganga Devi wouldn’t descend because of her force and Lord Shiva happily agreed to bear her on his forehead.  She came down as Mandakini and enters the earth at Haridwaar.  Bhagirata brought the playful young Ganges along with him and on the way, the playful little girl played havoc in the ashram of Janhu rishi, who drank her up in a fit of rage!   Bhagirata pleaded with the Rishi and the Rishi shook his head, and Ganges came out of his ears as Janhavi.    The Ganges liberated all the ancestors of Bhagirata, and continues to pour her grace on everyone till date.

Vishwamitra narrated this story to Lord Rama and Bhagavatam also narrates this in various places.  Thus, Ganges makes everyone pure, not by taking a dip in her, but by her mere Smarana, ‘Gangai Gangai endra vaasagathaal…’.

And our Narayana Thirtha makes it even more simple, saying that the Rama Nama is indeed that very Ganges!

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