Tag Archives: ramana

Apr 9: Incidents from Mahans’ lives

9 Apr

It is said that any thing in this world has a percentage of the three qualities: the Rajas, the Tamas and the Sattva. There is one state beyond these three qualities. That is Nirguna. That state of Nirguna is no different from our Lord Sri Hari’s state. Sri Ramakrishna says that there are three things in this world that can be equated to Nirguna, even though they exist in this earth. The first one is the Ganges water. The second is the Rajas of Brindavan and the third is the Prasad of Puri Kshetra Kshera.

Srimad Bhagavatam goes one step further…

Let’s substantiate this with an example. Spicy food can be termed as rajasika. Any food that induces laziness and drowsiness is tamasika. Healthy food is rajasika. The Lord says that any food that is being offered to him is Nirguna!

Any place that is filled with heated and animated discussions is filled with Rajo guna. A place where there is gambling exhibits tamo guna. A place where there are healthy discussions has saatvik guna. The Lord says, “maa mandiram nirgunam” – The place where I am worshipped is Nirguna.

The Lord in the Eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam enlists things that have these qualities, and states how, when they get connected to Him, they become Nirguna.

Our Uddhava Swami says that he is not affected by any of the three qualities since he partakes the Prasad of the lord and hence is not deluded by Maya.

‘Ucchishta bhojino daasaam tava maaya jayemahi’.

Offering everything to the Lord and perceiving everything as the Lord’s Lila is the easiest way to not get trapped in Maya says Uddhava in Srimad Bhagavatam. The easiest way to accomplish this is by believing that everything happens per the Lord’s will and that all the jivas are characters of a play that is being directed by the Lord.

After the introductions, Sri Narayanaswamyji from Seatlle shared some interesting incidents from the life-history of Mahatmas.

In the life of Shirdi Sai Baba, there was a disciple of Shirdi Sai, by name Radhe Krishna Maayi who used to cook food for her Guru. She used to cook the food in a vaada and then bring it to the mosque. One day when she was cooking, she was not able to be on time to feed her Guru since she was preparing a lot of delicious dishes. A dog came and stood in front of her. She threw a piece of bread on the starving dog and he ate it with relish. After she finished cooking the food, she brought the food to the mosque to serve Baba. She requested everyone to come and have lunch. As soon as she made this request, she saw Baba belching and he told her that he was not hungry since he just finished eating. She was taken aback since she normally serves lunch to Baba. Upon enquiry, he told her that few minutes ago he was very hungry and that he stopped at her home and ate the bread that she threw at the ‘him’. He told her that he indeed came in the guise of the dog. Hearing that, she fell at his feet and asked to pardon him for her act. She pleaded to him that she didn’t realize that he had come in the guise of a dog.

Another wonderful incident occurred at Shirdi. There came a country-cart and stopped in front of the mosque. A tiger was on the cart, fastened with chains and its keepers were taking it from place to place and earned money by exhibiting it. It was the means of their sustenance. The cart finally stopped at the mosque. When both Baba and the tiger saw each other, it got on the step and looked at Baba with affection. Immediately it moved the tuft of its tail and dashed it four times against the ground and then fell down senseless. Seeing it dead its keepers were first much dejected and enquired about the tiger’s death to Baba. Baba told them that tiger was a human in its previous birth and cheated everyone. Baba continued that the tiger was the keepers’ debtor as well in the previous birth and that the debt was paid off to them in this birth. The last chunk of dues was cleared off in Shirdi and the tiger who was a human in his previous birth desired to die in front of a Mahatma in his next birth. His wish came true and in this birth the tiger met its end at Shirdi Baba’s Feet.

One day Baba and his devotee were taking a stroll on the banks of a rivulet. An unusual sight caught their eyes. A frog was croaking in the mouth of a snake which was ready to devour the frog. Shirdi Baba on seeing this, immediately called out, “Oh Veerabadra, please leave Besappa. Do not fight with him in this birth as well.” On hearing this, the snake dropped the frog from its mouth and both of them left that place. The devotee spellbound after witnessing this incident enquired about Veerabadra and Besappa to Baba. Baba clarified that those were the names of the frog and the snake in their past birth. They were enemies in their last birth and that continued in this birth as well!

Let’s take another incident from the Kanchi Mahaperiava Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal’s life history. There was a dog that lived in the Kanchi mutt and the dog would take part in the Chandramoulishwara pooja that Maha Periyavaal performed daily. After the pooja was over, he would partake the Prasad that was offered. He used to follow the Sage’s palanquin and He would fondly enquire his devotees about the dog.

There was once an elephant, by name Keshava who used to accompany Maha Periyavaal and his entourage. One night when Maha Periyavaal and his devotees were camping in a place called Bokkai near Nagari in Tamil Nadu. Keshava was tied to a hut. That night the hut caught fire and the elephant somehow managed to escape and immediately went and quenched his fire burns in a nearby river. The retinue of Maha Periyavaal tried to find Keshava and pleaded him to come out of the pond but he refused. They informed Maha Periyavaal about this and he himself decided to go to the pond to bring Keshava. When he reached the pond, he called out ‘Keshava’ and the elephant came out of the pond and showed the fire burns to Maha Periyavaal. Maha Periyavaal told him that the fire burns were due to the demerits in his previous birth!

If we take the life-history of Ramana Maharishi, there was a cow, by name Lakshmi who lived in the ashram of Bhagavan Ramana. It was a practice that only Ramana would feed the cow daily. One day, the devotees caught sight where Ramana and the cow were together, with both their faces touching each other and with their eyes closed. Their eyes were closed for about an hour and a half. Once Ramana opened their eyes, the devotees enquired as to why both of them closed their eyes. Ramana replied that both of them were in Samadhi!

The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.

Oct 9: Glory of the Saints

9 Oct
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.


Jul 10: Greatness of a Guru

10 Jul

The Nama Sankirtan was lead by Sankarji’s  family from Bay Area California.

Narayananji from Boston talked about the significance of satsang and the importance of Guru Krupa. We have learnt the fact from various discourses that human birth is indeed very rare. The main of human birth is to attain liberation. Our Guru Maharaj very beautifully says that realization is pure and pristine Krishna Bhakti. When one performs Krishna Bhakti for the sake of Bhakti which is devoid of any condition or cause then that is verily Mukti.

“Nija bhakthargalae jivan mukthargalae”

True devotees of the Lord are indeed Jivan Muktas. And true Krishna Bhakti is indeed Mukti.  We can see such a Krishna Bhakti in the life-history of Prahalada,  the Gopis of Brindavan. Our Guru Maharaj says that it is very difficult for the people in the age of Kali to develop that intense Krishna Bhakti.  So he preaches the steps that one should follow to develop that pure Bhakti for Lord Krishna which is untainted with any desires. How is Krishna Bhakti attained?   It happens only through Nama Sankirtan. So how does one develop conviction to Nama Sankirtan? It is verily through satsangs. We all know that it is very rare to get a satsang. One would need abundant Guru Krupa to be blessed with a satsang. When being part of satsang, he would get the flair of Nama Sanakirtan. By chanting the Divine Names of the Lord would instill Krishna Bhakti and when that Bhakti is untainted, it is verily Mukti.

Knowing the fact that Guru Krupa is causeless and has no time factor attached to it. It only comes by His sheer will and wish. It is due to the good merits accrued over so many births that one may be blessed with Guru Krupa. But we are all truly blessed to be in the abode of our Guru Maharaj.

Our Friday satsang is an endeavor to chant the Divine Names of the lord and to reminisce his glories.

Following this, Ramyaji from San Jose spoke on Guru Mahima thus,

Guroh anugraihivena puman purnaha prashantayae

Says Srimad Bhagavatham. A man attains the state of completeness only by the grace of his guru’s grace and blessings.

“Gurvilla viththai pazh” goes a saying in tamil.

“Sthothriyam brahma nishtam” says the Upanishadas. A guru is  the one who is very knowledgeable in all the Shastras and has well understood its essence and follows the path shown by the Shastras and it is he who has attained Brahmanubhuti.

The Upanishads preach the path of Sharanagathi to one such guru. So how do we  attain a Uttama Guru. We very well know that our efforts will be futile if we try to find a Guru ourselves. Instead of searching for a Guru, if we instead search for the Lord, we will get a Guru.

Well it is not very easy for everyone to attain a Guru just like that and it is to be said that the Lord also has certain guidelines to direct a soul to a Uttama Guru. A devotee of the highest order and for one the Lord thinks of showering his grace, for whom he decided to break the transmigration of births and deaths and having them attain Moksha, he doesn’t take those devotees to His holy Feet directly but only through a Guru. This is the Lord’s way.

If we perform the Bhakti from the bottom of our heart by abiding to the path shown by dharma, and if that unconditional Bhakti is directed towards the lord, then the Lord Himself will lead him to a Guru. We cannot find a Guru by our means. We cannot go and experiment gurus after gurus to see if he is indeed a Uttama Guru.  When one gets cheated even in worldly affairs, what to talk of spiritual life? We do a business with a dear friend of ours, but we develop some ill-feelings and we develop enmity and we stop doing business.  When one attains a Guru who is indeed not a true Guru, then what he loses is not just money or anything but he has wasted his entire birth.  When the Guru doesn’t possess Jnana, how can he impart Jnana to his disciples? Can a blind man show another blind man the way? When that Guru itself is not going to attain moksha, how can he show the path of moksha to his disciple?

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa very beautifully once said that a small snake once desired to eat a big frog. So the snake tries to swallow a little portion of the big frog, but, that snake is not capable enough to swallow the whole frog and so after some time, both of them die. Akin to this is that fact that if one attains a guru who is not a Jivan Mukta then not only the devotee will not reach the heavenly abode but also that Guru as well.

So who is a Uttama Guru? A sadguru is one who bestows you with Gnana and Bhakti and throws you unto the Holy Feet of the Lord without your knowledge.

If you go and ask a devotee as to what his Guru was doing when he went to see Him. He would say,
Srihari charana dyana paarayanam

He was meditating on the Holy Feet of Lord Sri Hari.

Sritha jana taapa trayasam haranam

The devotee would say “I had some worries in my mind and decided to talk to him about that to find some solace. But since he was meditating on Lord Hari,  and when I went and sat in front of him my mind was filled with peace”.

Aananda Bhaashpa poortitha netram

If you look at his eyes, you can experience the tears of joy in his eyes.
Since he is constantly meditating on the beautiful Lord, the Guru becomes

Adbudha roopam poolagangitha gathram

His body is so beautiful and experiences horripliation in ecstasy.
So what do we, as devotees of Sadguru do?  Meditate upon this uttama guru

Sri gurum eva sadaa bhavayae… hrudayae

At another instant of time, when you ask a devotee as to what he was doing he would say

Bhagavthamrutha rasikam sumukam
Bhava bhaya banchana charitham lalaitham

He expounds Srimad Bhagavatam with great vigor. We all know that by listening to Srimad Bhagavatam the disease called samsara will be cured.

And how was he explaining Srimad Bhagavatam?  The devotee says “Oh I don’t know whether it is hundredth time he is preaching Bhagavatam to his disciples.”. But every time he says, it looks like it is the first time he is discoursing on Srimad Bhagavatam and he is filled with joy and vigor when he expounds on it. He explains in a manner akin to how a teacher teaches a small child. He doesn’t show off his knowledge and only tells the essence of Srimad Bhagavatam .

After Bhagavatam what did your guru do? He would say

Srihari keerthana chaturam susvaram
Sripaduka kruta  nardanam sugunam

He was singing the glories of the Lordm dancing softly.
So who is fortunate to be blessed with such a Uttama Guru

“Pratipadam ha Krishna Krishneti gayantham”

It is only for that devotee who is immersed in the thought of Lord Krishna.

Prasanna mukham bhaktha hridi nivasantham

Once you have seen such a Sadguru, you don’t have to take efforts to meditate upon this Guru. His ‘Prasanna mukham’ [pleasing face] will bring His dyana into your heart.

What does he bless his devotees who come to have his darshan
Krishna Prema vitarana seelam

His very nature is to bestow the love for Krishna which he possess to his devotees. And

Kruthartha jana gana mangala moolam

If you are fortunate enough, then you will be blessed with such a Sadguru.

Thirumoolar in thirumandiram says the darshan of a sadguru will lead the mind into a peaceful state.

“Thelivu guruvin thirumeni kanthal
Thelivu guruvin thirunamam sepal
Thelivu guruvin thirvarthai kettal
Thelivu gurvarul chinthithal dhaane”

Guru’s darshan, meditating on the guru, abiding by the guru’s words and always thinking about the guru will purify you and bestow you with Jnana,

If we take the life-history Ramana Maharishi. Ramana once had a question about death and that question in turn gripped him with fear. Through self-inquiry, he attained the Supreme State and yet came to Thiruvannamlai.

He has composed several songs on Lord Arunachaleshwara. The most popular is the Aksharamanamalai [a series of 108 songs]. His Guru was none other than Lord Arunachala –

“kuttramuttraruthennai gunamaai panithaal guruvuruvaai olir arunaachalaa’

He enjoys calling that Arunachaleshwara as guru and not as Lord!

Akin to Ramana is Arungirnathar. He also did not have a Guru. He was also ordained by Lord Muruga. Of the numerous compositions on Lord Muruga, he says,

Santhatham bandham thodaralae….
Japamalai thantha sadgurunatha

Even though it was Lord Mwho gave him the Japamala, he calls Lord Muruga as the Sadgurunatha.

Uruvai Aruvaai Ulathaai Ilathaai
Maruvaai Malaraai Maniyaai Oliyaai
Karuvaai Uyiraai Gathiyaai Vithiyaai
Guruvaai Varuvaai Arulvaai Guhane

Just like how we all have a family doctor, family deity, it is very important to have a guru.

Sant kabirdas in one of his dohas very beautifully says that “If at all both the Lord and the Guru come and stand in front of him, he would first prostrate to his Guru and then to the Lord.” There is a beautiful reason as to why he says this. A mother takes every step to bring up the child right from the first day of her pregnancy till the child becomes independent. When the child grows up and becomes very learned and earns a very respectable position in the society, the father proudly tells everybody that it is his son.

Similarly a guru, takes everyone unto his feet and bestows them with Jnana, Bhakti and Vairagya and eventually throws them unto the feet of the Lord even without their knowledge.

Koorathaazhwaar was a great devotee of Sri Ramanuja.  He hailed from a place called ‘Kooram’.  He used to feed a huge number of devotees everyday. His Guru Bhakti was unique.  He knew no other God other than Sri Ramanuja.

Once, Lord Sri Varadaraja (of Kanchi) told Kacchiappanambi, “Why don’t you fan us in the ‘sayana gruha’, where we are locked up every night?”  and Kachiappa Nambi instantly agreed.  One such night,  it was past midnight when the Divine couple heard a clinging noise.  The Mother asked the Lord, ‘What is the noise at such a late hour?’

The Lord explained, “Our devotee Koorathaazhwaar is closing the door of his home after offering food to all the pilgrims. It is verily the sound of his doors being closed.”

At once, Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth) remarked, “Is there any dearth of Koorathaazhwar’s wealth?”

Kacchiappanambi who was listening to the divine conversation as he was fanning the Divine couple, couldn’t wait for dawn. He wanted to share this exciting news with Koorathazhwar an expected that the latter will jump in joy on learning that the Goddess of wealth had blessed him in this manner.

In the morning he rushed to Koorathaazhwaar’s home and with much joy said, “Last night the Lord and His Consort spoke about you.”

With excitement writ large on his face, Koorathaazhwaar asked, “What did they speak about me?”

When Kachiappa Nambi spoke about the Divine Mother’s remark about Koorathaazhwar’s wealth, a shadow of sorrow covered Koorathaazhwaar’s face.

He lamented, “Oh, Did they speak only this about me? Did not allude to me as a speck of dust at Sri Ramanuja’s feet?  Did they speak only about my wealth? And, you have come rushing to me to tell this?” He was extremely dejected. He at once walked out of his ouse renouncing everything. Such was Koorathaazhwar’s Guru Bhakti!

The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.

Jun 19: Guru – The Sorcerer’s Stone?

19 Jun

The Nama Sankirtan was led by Nainar Mohamed and family from Mountain View, California.
This was followed by a talk by Narayanan from Boston.

We have been starting our satsangs by talking about the glory of satsang over the past few weeks and hence I thought we will talk about that, today too.
In Srimad Ramayana we see people with different characteristics. One is Sugreeva who is terror stricken at the thought of his brother Vaali. His life is in danger as Vaali can kill him any moment and he hides to save himself. He had lost all his materialistic possessions [his share of the kingdom] On the other side of the spectrum is Ravana. He was one of the most learned person, adept in shastras and a very powerful ruler indeed. This is at the beginning of Ramayana. However at the end of Ramayana, we see that Sugreeva is the ruler of Kishkinda and he leads a happy life. On the other hand, Ravana dies a miserable death. The main difference to note is that Sugreeva had Hanuman has his pal and that bought all the fortune for him, whereas Ravana set fire to Hanuman’s tail, thereby insulting the Bhagavatottama. He got rid of all the satsangs that he had destroyed Vibishana’s kingdom. These acts verily lead to the downfall of Ravana. The company of Sadhus and taking a refuge in the holy feet of Sadguru and not insulting any Bhagavatottama will keep one happy in this life and beyond.

Then, who is a Guru?  Anyone who shows us the Lord is verily the Guru. There are many different Gurus illustrated in our scriptures.
It would be surprising to note that even Kamsa and Sukracharya were Gurus?  How?  It was Kamsa who showed the place of Lord Krishna to Akrura and created an opportunity for Akrura to meet Lord Krishna, although his intent was to slay Krishna.  That way, Kamsa becomes Akrura’s Guru.  During Vamana Avatara, when Lord Vamana comes to the place of King Bali’s sacrifice, Sukracharya, the preceptor of King Mahabali, warns the King ‘Hey Vairochana! this young lad is none other than Hari. Beware!’.  By showing the Lord to King Bali, Sukracharya becomes a Guru.

But who is a Uttama Guru?  Some say that the Uttama Guru is like a sorcerer’s stone.  A sorcerer’s stone is one that when brought into contact with any object turns that object into gold.  But Mahans beg to differ.  The object may turn into gold. However that very object cannot be used to turn other objects into gold.  Whereas in the case of a Uttama Guru, by a mere touch, a Uttama Guru can turn his disciples into Jnanis and the chain does not stop there.  The disciples can turn other disciples into Jnanis by their touch.  Now, do we see why a Uttama Guru cannot be compared to a sorcerrer’s stone?

There was a pious brahmin couple who lived in the state of Andhra Pradesh, whose family had been continuously doing ‘Soma Yaga’ (Soma Yaga is a particular sacrifice that has been advocated in our scriptures for all brahmin householders).  It was said that when he had completed a hundred soma yagas, the Lord Himself will be born to them.

This couple had shifted to Varanasi to earn their living, for he was a Vedic scholar and Varanasi was the seat of Vedic education during that time.  It was the time of Muslim invasions in India and often dacoits and looters came in horses and scared the lives out of the residents.  During one such attack, fearing for life, the couple moved into a forest.  The wife was bearing the aforesaid god-child in her womb as they made their way into the forest.  One night, in the middle of the forest, the wife gave birth to a beautiful boy.  There was no help to reach out to, and it is said that the animals and other natural forces verily guarded the child after it was born.   They named the child “Vaishvanara” (Vaishvanara is the name of Agni – the God of Fire, which was their primary deity worship).

Vaishvanara grew up to be a great scholar in his later life and came to be called by everyone as Sri Vallabhacharya.  Sri Vallabhacharya has written commentaries on the Upanishads and various other scriptures.  His commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam – called as “Subhodini” is till date, considered as one of the best commentaries of Srimad Bhagavatam till date.  He propounded the path of worship known as “Pushti Marg” and had temple establishments in various places, including Allahabad and Brindavan.

Krishnadas was one of the disciples of Sri Vallabha.  Sri Vallabha had appointed Krishnadas as the Manager of the Srinathji temple in Mathura he founded.  Sri Vallabha instructed Krishnadas that only the best of the best products be offered to the deity.  This, Krishnadas, took as the initiation of the Guru and followed it in word and spirit.  Even today, the betel leaves for the deity come from Vellore in Tamilnadu (which is known to produce the best betel leaves in the country), water from the Yamuna is brought to this place daily and saffron from Kashmir is flown to the temple on a daily basis!

Once Krishnadas was going on a horse carriage to Mathura to get groceries for the temple when he heard a melodious music coming from somewhere.  He was so much drawn to the music that he asked the carriage driver to halt. Later, he asked that the carriage be driven towards the source of the music and finally, he reached a place where a beautiful maiden was singing in a melodious voice and dancing in front of a few rich people.

Krishnadas sat mesmerized by the elegance of the maiden’s dance and the melody of her voice.  He felt there could not be a greater vocalist and dancer than her in the whole world.  He approached her after the dance and learned that her name was Ranjani.

He remembered his Guru’s instruction and told Ranjani, ‘Ranjani! will you dance in front of my Master?’

Ranjani immediately turned down Krishnadas’ request – ‘I don’t come outside to dance. Ask your Master to come here!’

‘My master wouldn’t come. But I assure you, you will be very satisfied after having danced in his presence.’

Ranjani, ‘Well!  Will your master pay me enough? I demand a large sum when I perform outside.’

‘Don’t every worry about it. My Master is extremely affluent. No one in this world is as rich as him, so much so that, the Goddess of wealth herself is at his feet!’

Ranjani said, ‘I don’t dance in front of oldaged people. Is your master handsome enough?’

Krishnadas said, ‘My master is the most handsome person on earth! He is like a million cupids put together, and he is ever a young man in his sweet-sixteen.’

Ranjani asked, ‘Is your master a rasika (conneisseur)? I will be really upset if my audience cannot appreciate and enjoy my music and dance and hence will not perform if he is not a rasika.’

Krishnadas immedately said, ‘My master is the greatest conneisseur of music and dance. He is ‘akhilakalaadi guru’ – the master of all arts!

Having convinced Ranjani, Krishnadas took her along with him to the temple.   When Ranjani asked him to take her to his master, Krishnadas pulled open the screen that kept the deity of Lord Krishna from her… and lo! Ranjani was speechless when she gazed at the divine beauty of the Lord.

She immediately started singing and dancing.  Her performance for the ‘Master’ was extra-ordinary that particular day and went on for a long time. With bhaava filled in her dance and music, her performance reached a cresendo. Eventually, as she finished her performance, in a lightning flash, she went into the sanctum and merged into Lord Krishna.

Within a single performance in front of the Lord, that very state that Mirabai had attained, by merging into the Lord of Dwaraka; that very state that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had attained by merging into Lord Jagannath of Puri, Ranjani had attained, inspite of the fact that Ranjani did not even perform a fraction of the devotion that the Mirabai and Mahaprabhu had performed all their lives! – The only reason being the fact that she was shown the Lord by Krishnadas, who as the disciple at the feet of the Uttama Guru Sri Vallabhacharya.

Vallabhacharya had many such disciples who have delivered so many souls by their mere presence and touch.

Poojya Poornimaji surprised the satsang by her presence and talked about the path of complete surrender to god. She is currently visiting Australia for satsangs.

We all have numerous questions that we want to have cleared when we have our Guru Maharaj’s darshan, don’t we? I happened to read a nice incident in the life of Bhagavan Ramana in this connection, which I am happy to share in this satsang.

Muruganaar is the disciple of Ramana who, today, is the person behind bringing out all of Bhagavan Ramana’s works to light.  Once, Muruganaar when in the presence of Bhagavan Ramana, put forth a bunch of questions to Bhagavan.  ‘How come I have so many doubts’, asked Muruganaar. Bhagavan replied that it was common to have doubts even if one is in the abode of the Sadguru and that is because of the fact that one has not reached the point of complete surrender.

In this context, Bhagavan Ramana narrates the story of Sanatkumaras.  This is slightly different from the one we find in Srimad Bhagavatam, but nevertheless, conveys the idea very well.

‘Once Sanatkumaras had numerous doubts which they wanted to get clarified. Firstly they reached Vaikunta, the abode of Vishnu. Seeing Vishnu along with His divine consort Lakshmi, they felt that being a householder, Vishnu would not be the right person to answer their questions.  So they moved on and decided to meet Lord Shiva to pose their questions.

Knowing beforehand that the Kumaras would turn Him down if he was with Goddess Parvati, Shiva took the form of a young man and penance under a banyan tree.  The Kumaras approached Dakshinamurthy and decided to stay there until their doubts were cleared.  They sat in front of Lord Dakshinamurthy and started firing their questions.  Patient as he was, Lord Dakshinamurthy answered their questions one by one, and this went on for about a year.  Although time passed by, there was no sign  of cessation of doubts and questions.  Sanatkumaras kept volleying their doubts.  A year passed and Lord Shiva decided, ‘There is not going to be an end for this. Let me go into meditation.’.  Thinking so, He went into deep meditation and enquiry.  This very dynamic silence created peace and bliss in the Sanatkumaras.!

When Bhagavan  Ramana completed the anecdote, Muruganaar looked extremely addled. He said, ‘But Bhagavan, I have never heard of a story that Lord Dakshinamurthy spoke volumes to Sanatkumaras! I have heard of Lord Dakshinamurty as a guru in silence always! This story sounds so new to me!’

Bhagavan Ramana smiled at Muruganaar and exclaimed, ‘True! It is not found in the Puranas, But that is what happened!’

Having narrated this incident from Bhagavan Ramana’s life, Poornimaji added,

The very silence of the Guru explains it all. ‘Gurostu Maunam Vyaakhyaanam’.  Seeing this in conjunction with the story in Srimad Bhagavatam reveals a very interesting fact…

What is the story in Bhagavatam?  The Sanatkumaras long to cherish and behold the beauty and bliss of the Almighty Lord Vishnu and reach the gates of Vaikunta.  At the entrance, they are stopped by the gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya, and they are cursed. The story goes on…

Now, what do we see?  Initially, when the Sanatkuamaras saw Lord Vishnu, although He was the Lord Almighty, they saw Him only as a householder!

Then after they acquired the supreme knowledge at the feet of their Guru Lord Dakshinamurthy and have been recipients of the Guru’s grace they longed to behold the beauty and cherish the bliss of the same Lord Vishnu, whom they considered a mere householder earlier!

Without the grace of the Guru, even if you meet God face to face, you will not realize the grace and Glory of the Lord.  It is only with the Guru’s grace that you can realize God.

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.

Bhagavan Ramana: Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni

7 Nov

Kavya Kanta Ganapati Muni who had a great regard for Bhagavan and was in Tiruvannamalai for a long time. In later days, he moved to Nimpura, Kharagpur and spent his last days there.  On one particular day, Bhagavan Ramana came to know that it was Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni’s last day and since morning Bhagavan neither partook of any food nor allowed anyone else to eat. At about 5.00 PM that day he at last told everyone that Ganapati Muni is no longer in this world. Right after that, the news came from Nimpura that Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni has attained Siddhi.

Oct 31: The Lord’s Compassion

31 Oct

The Satsang on October 31st started off with Nama Kirtan by Sri Ramani Rajaraman and his family. This was followed by Ms. Chitra’s beautiful speech on the compassion of the Lord.

All of us know that the Lord is an embodiment of Compassion.  All of us are the children of that one Supreme Lord.  The Lord treats everyone of us equally.  Although all of us are His kids, he favors some of them.  A mom has 10 kids. Although she loves every one of them, she showers more love to the one who obeys it and does as per her bidding.

This is the Age of Kali.  Everything is corrupted.  The minds are evil.  However, it is in this Age that the Lord can be pleased by Nama Kirtan.
Innumerable sages and saints have shown us this path.   We have been led by these great Mahans and a great Guru. And they have taught us this easy path of Nama Kirtan.

Human mind always looks for shortcuts.  If that is the case, then what is the easiest way to receive the Lord’s grace? Nama Kirtan is the shortcut.  We have heard about Shyamantaka Mani, Kamadenu and the Kalpaka Vruksha which can grant us anything.  Similarly, Nama is that precious thing that can give us anything both spiritually and materially.   We read in Nama Dwaar, so many devotees whose wishes have come true because of Nama Kirtan.

Today, let us see the life of one such great devotee:

In Pandharpur there lived a devotee called Senanayi.  He was a barber by profession.  He constantly performed Nama Kirtan.  He was very honest.
It was a royal practice that the king’s hair had to be dressed before he came to the court everyday.  He was searching for the right person to do the job.  The citizens unanimously proposed Senanayi’s name owing to his devotion to God, calmness and guileless disposition.  The king gave Senanayi the job.
There was a rule that someone who does royal service cannot work elsewhere.  So the king provided him with all the necessities for life.  Senanayi would spend sometime in hair-dressing for the king and the rest of the time in Nama Kirtan.
One day, when Senanayi got ready to go for his work, a group of Sadhus passed by singing “Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare”  He saw that there was still time to go to the palace.  He joined them and lost himself in the Nama Kirtan.
Those who were envious of him went to the palace and told the already restless king that Senanayi would not come. The king asked for the reason.
They said, “Senanayi has joined with ten other people singing the glory of the Lord.  When we reminded him of his duties, he said that he did not care!’

The king was red with fury.  He decided that he will have his hair dressed some other day and rushed to the well to get a quick bath.”
There was Senanayi standing humbly with the kit in his hand. The king was pleasantly surprised as he had just heard that Senanayi was performing Bhajan elsewhere. Senanayi gently said that he had been waiting there for a long time.
‘Anyway’, the king said, ‘Quick! Make my hair up. It is getting late.’
Senanayi took water in his hand and applied it on the king’s head. Immediately, the king’s body had a shiver. He had a wonderful experience.
He asked, ‘Senanayi. What is happening? I am having a divine experience today.’ Saying so, the king continued to take Senanayi’s hand and repeatedly place it on his own head.
Suddenly the king saw a divine sight. The astonishingly beautiful form of Sri Krishna, cross-legged, adorned with peacock feathers in the head and garland on the neck, playing the flute, (just like we sing ‘murali manditha kara kamalam munijana mohanam, vyatyasta padam vanamala dharniam’) came in front of him for an instant and disappeared.
Back in the court, he kept recounting the beautiful divine form he saw and talking to himself about it The ministers suspected that the king had become lunatic and decided that he had to be treated.  Just then, the actual Senanayi arrived.
Immediately, the king requested him to show him the divine form again. Senanayi was confused. He admitted he had not turned up that morning as he was in the Bhajan.
The king said, “No! You came this morning! You touched me and I experienced that wonderful bliss!”.
It was then that Senanayi realized that the Lord Himself had come and done his job that morning.
The Almighty will do anything for us when we perform Nama Kirtan.

Ramana Paatti (who was mentioned about in the “Satsang wired! Week-1” article)  was present in the satsang!  Sri Ramaniji introduced Ramana Patti and shared a few incidents about Ramana Maharshi that she had shared with them on Sri Swamiji’s Jayanti day.
Bhagavan Ramana: What belongs to me?

Bhagavan Ramana: Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni

Bhagavan Ramana: Bhagavan’s culinary

This was followed by announcements about Poornimaji’s satsang programs.

The program then ended with a 5-minute Nama Kirtan by Ramaniji and Aparnaji.