May 10: Greatness of Mahatmas – 3

10 May

Chanting the divine names of the lord blesses one with all kinds of goodness by removing our sins and cleaning the bad intentions in our heart and then true knowledge blossoms in the heart [chitham] . Taking part in a kathashravanam which is listening to the divine leelas and gunas of the lord and his devotees is a very significant part in Bhagavata Dharma. Sri Swamiji often says that Kathashravanam is one of the easiest means to attain liberation. People would speak of  various different yogas, aasanas and many different pranayama techniques etc which seemingly promise to bestow one with the infinite supreme truth. But there is no greater yoga than Shravana Yoga because it very easy to practice and bestows us with everything that other yoga margas confer. When one does Kathashravanam it leads one to control one’s breath, mind and Asanas.

Adi Shankara was born in this universe to resurrect the Vaidika Dharma and Sanatana Dharma by restoring the glory of the Vedas which was trampled by a group of people and establishing the truth that is present in the Vedas. Vedas have different ordinations for one to perform various karmas. When Adi Shankara gave an exposition of Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna says-’sarva dharaman partihyajya mamekam sharanam vraja aham tva  aham tvA sarva pApebhyO mokshayishyami maa shushaha’

‘Sarva dharman parithyajya’- Give up all the dharamas and surernder unto me!

The Vedas ordain everyone to follow the dharmas and  Lord Krishna in his advise to Arjuna  requests him to give up all dharmas and surrender unto him. Isn’t this a contradiction in itself? Adi Shankara says it is certainly not a contradiction and says one can carry on with his/her karmas as long one likes to lead a life in this universe. One is actually supposed to carry on with his/her duties prescribed in the scriptures and not embrace sanyasa, but the moment one desires to attain the supreme truth and attain Lord Krishna, give up all the dharmas and surrender unto his feet.

It is indeed a very hard decision to take for normal human beings. It is truly impossible for one to say that he/she desires for moksha and to give up everything. Srimad Bhagavatam has an easy way out. In eleventh canto Lord Krishna himself expounds in a better detail, where he tells Uddhava that one can let go of their duties [karma] if they have dispassion and determination[vairagya]

thavad karmani kurvitha na nirvidyetha yAvathA math katha shravana doUh vA shraddhAyA van na jAyathe  

He advises Uddhava to continue doing one’s duties until one develops dispassion. When one develops that eternal dispassion and comes to terms with the fact that the entire world is a cobweb of Maya and is just deceiving all the time and  develops dispassion and yearns to find the supreme truth, then one can leave all his duties. There is also a second way out if developing dispassion is difficult and Lord Krishna says-’math katha shravanAdouh vA’, where he says one can cut asunder their duties the moment one develops the interest and inclination to listen to the Lord’s stories and glories becoming very attached to Katha Shravanam.  They can take it as a signal that one truly as a quest for moksha  and the Lord has indeed turned his grace on that devotee and all that the devotee needs to do is to turn his vision away from the world and focus it on the Lord. Kathashravanam  doesn’t come by easily and it is only if the Lord desires to bestow his grace on someone, will one ever get it. That is indeed the greatness of Kathashravanam and Bhagavata Dharma where we do not have to relinquish anything but only asks to keep all the ears open so that the divine nectar of the Lord’s stories and glories can flow through the ears.

 

Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered the satsang lecture and delineated on the glory of Mahatmas. Is is by the infinite grace and compassion of Bhagavan, that he descends down as Mahatmas on this earth. Rudhra Geetham in Srimad Bhagavatam talks about the sons of Prachetas. The sons of Lord Brahma are known as the Prachetas who have been created to create the progeny on earth. Although they were created to take care of progeny, their minds were turned towards the Lord and refrained from the world. They thus went in search of the lord and in the process met a Guru, who was none other than the JagadGuru, Shankara who is verily Lord Shiva who came in front of the Prachetas and enquired about their whereabouts and where they were headed.  They replied that they were proceeding to do penance to see the lord. Shiva then advised them how to do meditate on the lord and also what to ask the Lord when he came in front of them. Rudra Gitam is the advise given to the Prachetas by Lord SHiva in the form of a geetham. The way Lord Shiva

jitam ta Atma vidh vrya svasthayE svasthir asthu mE

bhavatArAdhasA rhAddham sarvasmA Athmane namah [Srimad Bhagavatam 4.42.33]

Lord Shiva  begins by saying-’Victory unto you!’.  What is the Lord proclaiming victory for? Just like Azhwar says-’naavalittu uzhitarugindrom naman thavar thalaigal mItheE Avalippudaimai kandai arangamA nagarulAne ‘- nAval iduvadhu and Avalil are terms that indicate celebration of victory.  The victory that the Lord proclaims is between him and the souls. There is this constant fight between normal mortals [jeevas] and the Lord, and the normal mortals tend to go out in the world, running away from the Lord. He chases  the devotees and takes them unto his divine fold through his immense grace. At one point the lord thought that he was losing the jeevas  who were very powerful in convictions about the world and never bothered about the lord. He understood his limitations that the jeevas were too fast for him and so he bestowed with the divine names which is faster than him. When Draupadi called out ‘Govinde thi chukroshah’ which is Lord Krishna’s names Govinda, he knew that he couldn’t travel all the way to Indrapastha sabha where she was ill-treated. So he deputed his divine name to take care and it took care of Draupadi. The lord’s divine names are more faster and potent than the lord himself. The lord and his names can never be separated. Even after bestowing the divine names, it couldn’t reach to all of the normal mortals and so he started to send Sadhus down on the earth who mingle with normal mortals and come in the garb of normal human beings but very subtly inject the divine names into our heart and veins and thus make ourselves turn towards Bhagavan. The lord sent Mahatmas in various vantage positions  to make sure the mortals don’t escape from the Mahatmas. Even if the mortals were fast enough to escape from the Mahatmas, we will not be fast enough to escape from their  line of sight atleast. The lord had to come running to take the devotees unto his fold while the Mahatmas by their mere glance on the normal mortals can bestow that turning point in their lives not even by any exchange of words but by their divine love and grace in their eyes. That is verily the greatness of Mahatmas and the lord thus accomplished his mission through the Mahatmas. This is the victory that Lord Shiva refers to in the following verse-’jitam ta Atma vidh vrya svasthayE svasthir asthu mE’. Greatness of Jeevan Muktas who are down on the earth is that their very tendency and nature makes the mind come to a tranquil state.

When a devotee goes to the sanctum sanctorum of a Mahatma with so many different waves and thoughts  in his heart and mind, the mind becomes silent resonating with the frequency of the Mahatma who is devoid of any thoughts and the mind finally perishes.

There was a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharishi known as Paul Brenton. He had so many questions to pose unto Sri Ramana. When he went to the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Ramana, he was made to sit there all morning and then Sri Ramana insinuated him to have lunch. After lunch, Sri Ramana enquired about his well-being and then asked him to put forth his questions. Paul Brenton at that very moment told him that he had no questions because either his questions were all answered by himself  or he transcended to a state where the answers to the questions did not matter any more. That is verily the case one enters the sanctum sanctorum of a Mahatma.

Sabari was yet another example who had lots  of wavering and vilest thoughts.  When she came to the premises of Mathanga Maharaishi, she experienced a tranquil state and suddenly felt that killing animals is a sin and abstained from eating any meat. The transformation happened in her not by any exchange of words with the Mahatma but by being in the sanctity of a Mahatma. A Mahatma can transform one by being present as one among st us. It is rare to find  to find Mahatmas and even rare to find Mahatmas who are Jeevan Muktas, who attained Mukti in this very state. One cannot really understand the ways of these Mahatmas but by looking at how great saints have explained about it.

Adi Shankara in Viveka Choodamani goes to speak about the nature of Mahtmas.

kvachith mudo vidwaan kvachitapi maha raaja vibhavaha

kvachith brantha sowmyaha kvachith ajakaraha chaarakalithaha |

kvachith paatri bootahah kvachith avamataha kvaapi avidithaha

charad evam pragnyaha satata paramanada sukitaha  || [Viveka Choodamani sloka 542]

 

Sri YogaRamsuratKumar used to wander like a lunatic and was in the garb of a beggar. He was clad in a green turban, held a hand fan in his hand along with a broken coconut shell and wore a jute rope around his neck. He was once a school teacher in north India and was attracted to Thiruvanamalai. Once when became a realized soul, he travelled to his hometown, Varanasi in North India and his own relatives thought he had become mad and were about to give him shock treatment. But Mahatmas don’t worry about anything happening around them as they are in that elevated supreme state. It is only out of their divine grace that we eventually understand that it not they who are fools but indeed us in front of them.

 

There was once a time when Mahaperiva was camping in Satara in Maharashtra.  Many devotees thronged to have darshan of Mahaperiva. In the crowd was a Veena vidwan, who wanted to have the darshan of Maharpeiva and also play a piece of music in Veena in front of Mahaperiva.  After waiting for sometime, he managed to have the darshan of Mahaperiva and also requested if he can play a piece of music on his Veena. Mahaperiva consented and he played one of the most fascinating and rarest piece which was played by Ravana to please and appease Shiva. He was playing with a lot of pride and suddenly he forgot the middle portion of it. He thought no one would knew it and continued playing his veena.  He was not aware that Mahaperiva would realize that he made a mistake. To his surprise, Mahaperiva stopped him and told him that he wasn’t playing it in the right way. He instead played the Veena and showed him where he did the mistake.  No one in the crowd could spot the mistake but Mahaperiva instantly recognized it verily because he was a vidwan. He knew all kinds of arts and architecture. We can cite many examples of our own Guru Maharaj’s charithra to bring out his knowledge [vidwath].  Once a great Islamic cleric and he posed a few questions on Sanatana Dharma to Guru Maharaj which he consented and answered them beautifully. He inturn asked few questions from Quran which to some extent were very obscure which even the Islamic cleric couldn’t answer. Sri Swamiji went ahead and explained  the answers by citing quotes from Quran itself.  For those who have realized the Brahman and have experienced the supreme truth, there is nothing in this mundane world that they cannot decipher and that they don’t exhibit anything and are epitome of humility. A Jeevan Mukta is indeed a true Vidwan who has all the humility.   A Vidwan is not the one who possess all the knowledge, but the one who has the utmost humility even though he possesses knowledge. A true Vidwan is indeed a Jeevan Mukta.

 

Mahans are like Maharaja. If we see the definition of Maharaja, he is one who enforces the rules and regulations on his subjects and also on himself. In fact he  first enforces the rules on himself and then on his subjects. One can see how King Parikshit was a true ruler and when he had committed a  mistake,he wanted to find an expiation for his own sin and so he bequeathed the kingdom to his son and went to the banks of river Ganges in search for atonement for his sin which he committed to a brahmana, Samika. They are true to themselves and they are the first people adhering to their rules and Mahatmas are Maharajas in this perspective. Once there were a bunch of Vedic scholars who wanted to attend a Vedic Sadas in the northern part of India and they approached Kanchi Paramacharya to seek his permission to attend the Sadas . Paramacharya doesn’t  normally give permission to go to far away land and participate in Vedic Sadas but the scholars had requested him so much that he consented and asked them not to go anywhere else but to only attend the Sadas and return safely. The Vedic scholars booked the tickets and attended the Sadas . As they were about to return, one of them wanted to visit other holy places and decided to stay back and visit them while the rest of them returned. He disobeyed the ruling of Mahaperiyava and he was unfortunately struck with a calamity and died. The moment Mahaperiyava heard about this, he was the first person to be pained. He said that it was he who had taken the responsibility for the Vedic Scholars  and if one them hasn’t returned he told everyone that he was responsible as well. Everyone tried to placate Mahaperiyava that he was not responsible for any of the mishap in  any way but he never agreed. He imposed a punishment on himself. There is a town called Thenambakkam near Kanchipuram, and in that town there is a place called Shiva Stanam. At the entrance of this holy place is a beautiful deity of Ganesha, a favorite of Mahaperiyava.  One evening when Mahaperiyava wanted to have darshan of Mother Kamakshi who was taken out in procession, the disciples said that it was too late because by the time Mahaperiyava would reach Kanchipuram from Thenambakkam, the procession would have returned to the temple and gates closed.  Mahaperiyava was determined to go.  On His way, he stopped at Ganesha’s shrine and whispered something in the ear of Ganesha, and then proceeded.  To their surprise, when they had reached Kanchipuram, the procession was still there! On inquiry it was found that, suddenly the elephant in the procession would not budge.  It would stay put at the same place all of a sudden and hence the procession couldnt return.  The devotees carrying the procession did not know what to do.   Mahaperiyava smiled, had his darshan to his heart’s content and then patted on the trunk of the adamant elephant!  The elephant humbly moved away and the procession returned!  

In that Shivasthanam in Thenambakkam, is a small room with a well inside from which water could be drawn. Mahaperiyava imposed a punishment on himself that he wouldn’t come out of the room for years together. He lived in that very room and never stepped out from that room as a punishment for the sin that he thought had accrued for giving permission to the Vedic scholars to take part in the Sadas but not taking care of their well-being.

 

The satsang concluded with Namasankirtan.

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