Inscrutable Shiva And Shaiva Siddhanta 

As the curtain is pulled back to reveal the inner sanctum, one is drawn into the world of Nirakara Shiva, beyond even the physical symbolism of a Linga, where the vast expanse of the sky above and the ether zone are mirrored in the `Akasha Linga’ of Chidambaram. Shiva takes his devotees into an interiorised world of consciousness, mapping out the Akasha or sky-ether of the mind, beyond the noumenal world of names and forms.

But is it as abstract as it seems, I wonder, for the Thillai (mangrove) forest ground of the Chidambaram temple is witness to the ananda tandava dance of Shiva, in one of his most beautiful forms as Nataraja, the fountainhead of the creative impulse. Traditional lore views Chidambaram as the site of the original Cosmic Linga, an ellipsoid around which the rest of the universe rotates. This dance of creative bliss is said to have been performed by Shiva for the two sages, Vyghrapada and Patanjali, who had asked for the boon to witness the dance.

Which one is the more seminal attribute of Shiva, I wonder ­ is it the ascetic yogic aspect of Shiva characterised by dispassionate withdrawal and penance, or is it the creatively pulsating energy of Shiva, which calls for an active engagement with the world, in the realisation that the outer embodied universe reflects the disembodied One, that the materiality is also actually spiritual only? As I move into the main dance hall of the Chidambaram complex, I marvel at the persona of Shiva, where different attributes complement each other, not contradict. His all-encompassing compassion and love for devas and asuras alike, without discriminating between the two, reveals a Being in love with creation, not a destroyer. Perhaps what he seeks to destroy is the negativity and the baser elements of our nature.

John Marshall saw a Proto-Shiva in the famous Pashupati seal of Mohenjodaro where four wild animals ­ tiger, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros ­ surround the yogi-God sitting in the meditation pose, the three faces representing Time in its past, present and future dimensions.

The Mahakal, Controller of Time, the Rudra, God of wild beasts and Yogeswara, the Supreme Yogi aspects of Shiva appear to coalesce in this Indus seal. Other traditions like the Tevaram hymns and the Tirumurai compendium of songs in Tamil eulogise the Ashutosh svarupa of Shiva the God who melts at the call of a sincere prayer.

The Tirumurai tradition maps out the philosophy of Shaiva Siddhanta , with its formulation of three eternal entities of God, soul and bondage ­ Pati, pasu and pasam. The Shaiva Siddhanta states that God is One, souls are many and bondage happens because of the three impurities of anava which causes the negativity of soul ­ karma, the law of action-reaction and Maya the cause of all materiality . Maya is real in Shaiva Siddhanta and not an illusion as in Vedanta. Shiva’s Grace alone can help in breaking this bondage and evolution of the Soul to an understanding of the relationship between the Nirakara aspect of the Self and the dynamic aspect of the Self ‘s energy as it manifests .

They say that Shiva is finally within only . But the inscrutable and beautiful outer form of Shiva gives as much solace.

Om Namah Shivay

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Are You Disconnected From Your Power Source?

When we play a game, we often become so engrossed in it that we forget everything else. Similarly, we become so engrossed in our daily lives that we forget who we really are. That forgetfulness cuts us off from our true power.
In a parable, the vine provides nutrients and life to a branch without which the branch can’t produce fruit.

A branch without its vine is merely a dead twig. We, too, must connect to a flow of energy from a power greater than our own.

For those of us connected to a spiritual path, the guru is the vine, the source of the power that sustains us.

When we cut ourselves off from the source that sustains us, we are left with only the power of ego. The ego has its realm, mainly in a small area of human activity involving will power, intellect, choice and the ability to function in society. But if we consider the many basic bodily processes that aren’t under our conscious control, such as breathing, circulation, digestion, and the beating of the heart, we see that there is a deeper power sustaining us. God does nearly everything, leaving only the tiniest part to us.

It reminds me of my granddaughter when she was three years old. We’d assemble all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle except the last one. She would then turn that final piece many different ways and eventually , with a sense of great accomplishment, put it in place and say, “I’ve done the puzzle!“ We’re like that. God does 999 pieces of the puzzle, and when we put the last piece in place we say , “I did it all myself.“

Our egos are like little jets of flame on a gas burner: each one has the appearance of individuality; each is, in fact, but a spurt of the unifying gas underneath. As our consciousness expands, we become more and more aware of our connection to the Divine Source. Real spiritual growth begins when we recognise that true source.

To open ourselves more fully to that source, we need to realise first that we have much more inner strength when we realise ­ that the energy , intelligence and will we’re using come from an infinite ocean. Our will power is like a faucet. As we open up the valve, more and more water flows through.

Second, we have to connect to the deeper, more expansive parts of ourselves. This we can do by overcoming the delusion that we alone are the doer. God is the Doer through us. Third, we need to attune our consciousness to the guru who could help us realise our divinity . By attuning to his consciousness, we draw his grace.

Fourth, we need devotion. It is through the love of our hearts that we open a channel to that sustaining power. Grace then comes in, like sunlight through a window, and changes our consciousness.

Finally , we need to meditate deeply .In meditation we can experience God’s energy as the sound of Aum or as light. We expand not only by contacting that power, but also by offering ourselves into it. It’s like the branch and its leaves offering energy back to the vine that sustains it.

As we deepen our connection with the Divine, finally , we learn that there is no “I and Thou“. There is only the one Source. Then, with a flood of love, we re-establish our union with God and find our true power.

Om Namah Shivay

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Swadharma

Q: Guruji, what is Swadharma, and how do I know what is my Swadharma?

Guruji: Swadharma is that action which is in accordance with your nature. It is acting in accordance with your skills and talents, your own nature (svabhava), and that which you are responsible for (karma) . Any action that does not make you feel afraid or restless is Swadharma. That action which you feel compelled to do, without which you feel restless is swadharma. Now do not misunderstand this and say, ‘I feel restless if I do not drink alcohol’. No! Not at all. Every time you feel restless, it not always because of Swadharma. But at the same time not following your swadharma always makes you feel restless.

That is why it is said in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah’ (3.35). When we do something without authenticity, just to show off to another person, that is when we feel fear because such action is not genuine, it does not come from the heart. But when we do something that is authentic and from the heart, then there is no fear. When someone speaks lies, they definitely feel scared somewhere inside. But someone who speaks the truth does not feel scared at all. In fact speaking the truth and abiding by it brings so much strength to you, isn’t it? This is what Swadharma is.

When we follow that which comes naturally to us in our life, then it brings abundance and prosperity to us. When we flow in accordance with our nature, we grow from within. Any action that uplifts us is our Swadharma. Dharma is that which holds the mind, intellect, memory and our inner soul together in harmony. Growth comes when we follow our swadharma

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Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t question your devotion. I would say we should never doubt our devotion. Take it for granted that you are devoted.

No child ever asks the mother, ‘do you love me?’ The mother never asks the child, ‘do you love me?’

The baby has no choice but to love the mother and neither the mother has any choice but to love the baby. Similarly devotion is inbuilt in every one of us.

Sometimes it is covered with ignorance, hesitation, doubts and insecurity. One’s own insecurity covers one’s devotion. It is only a matter of time for that strip of ignorance and ego to give way and then the inner devotee will shine up.

Om Namah Shivay

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All About Love, Aesthetics and Ecstasy

What is love? It is the expressed form of devotion. When does this expressed form occur?

When there is seed, only then it will sprout; that seed is devotion. So, only that one can make oneself great, who one can take the correct ideation of Parama Purusha, who has the seed of devotion within … How can you surrender without bhakti, devotion? Therefore, from ancient times aesthetic science existed and there was devotion. While one remains in aesthetic science, one does not get entry into supra-aesthetic science. One feels, “I am serving Parama Purusha, I like Him, because I get pleasure in serving Him, by taking His ideation I get joy .“ If you ask artists or architects why they do what they do ­ why do they create works of art ­ they will say, “We get pleasure from it.“ This is aesthetic science. A poet composes a poem, because he gets pleasure.

Parents love their child very much.Do they love for the sake of their child?

No! They love their child because they get pleasure for themselves. If their child turns into a vagabond, or becomes cruel, and he does not even utter the parents’ names, then parents do not get pleasure.

After that what happens? By taking the ideation of Parama Purusha, when the quantity of pleasure increases, a person loses the self first. He feels “I take the ideation of Parama Purusha not for my sake. I love Parama Purusha so that, because of my love, He gets pleasure. I may or may not get it.“ When this stage is attained, it is called Ragatmika Bhakti, when one feels, “I love Parama Purusha, I do not care whether He loves me or not.“ When this Ragatmika Bhakti is attained, in that stage one is also called Gopa as described in scriptures.

Gopa here does not mean the cowherd. Gopayate means to give pleasure ­ “Gopayate yah sah gopah.“

One whose nature is to give pleasure to Parama Purusha or Paramatma is Gopa. When one is established in Ragatmika Bhakti, from Raganuga one enters the arena of Mohana ijnana when one is fascinated and charmed, and in that state, art, architecture, all come to an end; one’s verbosity stops, one becomes mute. This is Ragatmika Bhakti.

So long as human beings are in the sphere of Raganuga Bhakti they are in domestic life; they create arts, architecture, literature and painting, and get pleasure in them. They are within the scope of aesthetic science ­ Nandana Vijnana.

And what happens when they are established in supra-aesthetic science ­ Ati Nandana Vijnana? All their worldly music is finished. All the Ragas and Raginis and the art of dancing, whatever they be, they come to an end.In that condition, there remains only an ecstatic state, Bhavibhora. The music of that state is called kirtana.

If you want to be established in Dharma Sadhana, then in any case do not forget the importance and greatness of kirtana, and also the greatness of devotion. Always remember that the devotion begins with aesthetic science and its ultimate domain ends where supra-aesthetic science ­ Mohana Vijnana ­ begins.

Om Namah Shivay

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Can Mantra Chanting Bestow Siddhi (God-Realization)?-3

Returning to Gurudev Shriram Sharma’s discourse: “Bhagiratha rishi also performed immense penance but it was all for social welfare. He abandoned everything for the public good and only then was he able to bring Mother Ganga to earth and quench the thirst of humanity. Had Bhasmasura nurtured a similarly noble objective, he too would have been able to help many people.”

“He could have asked Lord Shiva for such a boon that would have allowed him to cure any person simply by placing his hand on their head. But he could not think of performing such virtuous acts because he had not refined his inner self. So long as there is lurking greed, attachment and sensuality within a person, he/she cannot rise in their Sadhana (spiritual practice). These demonic tendencies pull a Sadhak (spiritual aspirant) downwards.“

“Only after passing the preliminary goal of self refinement can a person steadily climb up the ladder of spirituality. I lived on jowar roti (bread of millet) and buttermilk for 24 years. I did not take any salt, sweets or spicy food. I brought the tongue under control; only then could I control the mind. If the taste buds are controlled, all the 10 senses and the mind are easily controlled. Once mental control is achieved, realization of the Self becomes easy whether the sadhak is Jain, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.”

Note: In Vedanta a tremendous emphasis is laid upon controlling of the tongue (the organ of taste and speech). Once the sense of taste is brought under-control, the sexual instinct is also automatically conquered. It is a yogic observation that the two are intimately linked. The desire to enjoy tasty food is always accompanied by an increase in lustful tendencies in the mind and vice versa. Moreover since the tongue is the organ of taste and speech therefore, controlling the sense of taste also leads to a control of one’s speech, which in turn leads to a control of one’s thoughts, emotions and desires. In this way once the mind is brought under control the realization of the Self becomes easy.

Once Shriram Sharma Acharya visited the continent of Africa. There a disciple showed him a pet parrot, who had been trained to chant the Gayatri Mantra in perfect Sanskrit. Later Shriram Sharma Acharya would often use the example of this parrot to emphasize that a mere outward repetition of the Gayatri Mantra (similar to the parrot), is not sufficient to take us to the doors of God-realization. If this was the case then even that parrot could have attained to Samadhi.

Instead chanting of the Gayatri Mantra (or any Mantra for that matter) is successful only when its true meaning is permanently inscribed in the heart, through the transformation of each and every thought and action. We must become living embodiments of the Mantra. Only then can we truly become Siddha (Enlightened, God-realized).

Om Namah Shivay

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Can Mantra Chanting Bestow Siddhi (God-Realization)?-1

Portions of the following post have been taken from an article published in the Akhand Jyoti, a magazine of the Gayatri Pariwar, founded by Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya. In this excerpted conversation Shriram Sharma Acharya explains in a wonderfully simple way, why a mere verbal repetition of mantras (like a parrot) is not sufficient to take us to God-realization. Instead the mind and heart must also synchronize with the outward chanting. This inner synchronization is possible only if we grasp the true meaning of the mantra and accordingly work hard to transform all our thoughts and actions. Without such a purification of the mind and heart no amount of outward chanting will bear fruit.

 “Today people mistakenly believe that spirituality consists in parroting mantras, or blindly performing rituals, or bribing the idols in temples with offerings of food or gold.

People never put the effort to transform their thoughts, characters and attitudes in the light of the indwelling Spirit, which is what constitutes genuine spirituality.”

– Shriram Sharma Acharya

One day a disciple of Gurudev Shriram Sharma Acharya asked him: “Gurudev! You have chanted the Gayatri mantra millions of times. I know many others who have chanted the Gayatri mantra similarly, but why could they not attain Siddhi (God-realization) like you?”

Gurudev smiled and said: “My son, I have chanted the Gayatri mantra, but along with it I have worked hard to refine my inner self (my mind and its bad tendencies). Without doing this no spiritual powers can be attained. All attempts are futile.”

“I have washed my mind like a washerman scrubs dirty clothes. How can a person attain to God-realization by outwardly chanting mantras alone?”

 

Om Namah Shivay

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Nirvana Shatakam

Nirvana Shatakam
mano buddhi ahankara chittani naaham
na cha shrotravjihve na cha ghraana netre
na cha vyoma bhumir na tejo na vaayuhu
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am not the mind, the intellect, the ego or the memory,
I am not the ears, the skin, the nose or the eyes,
I am not space, not earth, not fire, water or wind,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na cha prana sangyo na vai pancha vayuhu
na va sapta dhatur na va pancha koshah
na vak pani-padam na chopastha payu
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am not the breath, nor the five elements,
I am not matter, nor the 5 sheaths of conciousness
Nor am I the speech, the hands, or the feet,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na me dvesha ragau na me lobha mohau
na me vai mado naiva matsarya bhavaha
na dharmo na chartho na kamo na mokshaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

There is no like or dislike in me, no greed or delusion,
I know not pride or jealousy,
I have no duty, no desire for wealth, lust or liberation,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na punyam na papam na saukhyam na duhkham
na mantro na tirtham na veda na yajnah
aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

No virtue or vice, no pleasure or pain,
I need no mantras, no pilgrimage, no scriptures or rituals,
I am not the experienced, nor the experience itself,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na me mrtyu shanka na mejati bhedaha
pita naiva me naiva mataa na janmaha
na bandhur na mitram gurur naiva shishyaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I have no fear of death, no caste or creed,
I have no father, no mother, for I was never born,
I am not a relative, nor a friend, nor a teacher nor a student,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

aham nirvikalpo nirakara rupo
vibhut vatcha sarvatra sarvendriyanam
na cha sangatham naiva muktir na meyaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am devoid of duality, my form is formlessness,
I exist everywhere, pervading all senses,
I am neither attached, neither free nor captive,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

Om Namah Shivay

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