It is easy to love God… you have just to remember how much He loves you…
God is not the Master that rewards you for your goodness and punishes you for your sins… It is you that deposits in your account and it is you that withdraws whatever you have put into it… God is the Master of Love… No matter how you are… no matter what good and wrong you have deposited, if you are ready to transform his divine light of love, shall bathe you and take you upon a journey of truth… love and… bliss…
There is no worldly gain without deceit of the Self… The moment you shall realize that you shall find before you the purpose of this life…
Every atom of you is divine… You are born with that knowledge… You are forgetful of that only because you question your Self and accept instead the Universe that shines as a reflection of that same Self…
Do not be confused… Do not run here and there to become pure… Become pure? That can never happen… In the attempt of becoming pure, you shall, in the ignorance, question the purity that you already are and come with… simply end the search by affirming to your Self its divine nature…
The Gaayatri Mantra is the most power mantra in this universe. I say it without any reservations. It is a praise, meditation and a prayer all combined into one all powerful mantra.
The mantra was presented to the world by Sage Viśvāmitra. It goes as.
Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt
Baba explains its meaning with each individual word as,
Om: The primeval sound
Bhur: the physical world
So it is understood as,
We contemplate the glory of Light illuminating the three worlds: gross, subtle, and causal.
I am that vivifying power, love, radiant illumination, and divine grace of universal intelligence.
We pray for the divine light to illumine our minds.
If you see this Mantra is beyond religion. It does not talk about a form of God for He is formless. It is a meditation and prayer toward the formless all pervading Being. It is an ernest prayer to see Unity in all apparent diversity. It is thus through constant contemplation on the meaning of Gayatri Mantra leads one toward Divine Consciousness.
Baba says, before undertaking any spiritual activity, understanding its significance and its purpose provides a platform for its acceptance. Swami Chinmayananda answers a few questions about the certain ritualistic practices that are followed when people in India visit a temple. These rituals have deep rooted spiritual meaning. Perhaps it would help us to follow them mindfully.
- Why do we ring the bell in a temple ?
In most temples there are one or more bells hung from the top, near the entrance. The devotee rings the bell as soon as he enters, thereafter proceeding for darshan of the Lord and prayers. Children love jumping up or being carried high in order to reach the bell. Is it to wake up the Lord ? But the Lord never sleeps. Is it to let the Lord know we have come? He does not need to be told, as He is all – knowing. Is it a form of seeking permission to enter His precinct? It is a homecoming and therefore entry needs no permission. The Lord welcomes us at all times. These why do we ring the bell ? The ringing of the bell produces what is regarded as an auspicious sound. It produces the sound Om, the universal name of the Lord. There should be auspiciousness within and without, to gain the vision of the Lord who is all-auspiciousness. Even while doing the ritualistic aarati, we ring the bell It is sometimes accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the conch and other musical instruments. An added significance of ringing bell, conch and other instruments is that they help drowned any inauspicious or irrelevant noises and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their devotional ardor, concentration and inner peace.
Also, some people ring the bell three times while entering the temple. It is a symbolic gesture to remind the body, mind and the intellect that it is in the abode of God.
- Why do we do pradakshina (circumambulate)? Why do people go around the idol in the temple?
We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of pradakshina.
Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the center. This means that wherever or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.
- Why is pradakshina done only in a clockwise manner?
The reason is not, as a person said, to avoid a traffic jam! As we do pradakshina, the Lord is always on our right. In India the right side symbolizes auspiciousness. So as we circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness, with the Lord who is the indispensable source of help and strength, as our guide – the “right hand”.
Indian scriptures enjoin – matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava. May you consider your parents and teachers as you would the Lord. With this in mind we also do pradakshina around our parents and divine personages.
After the completion of traditional worship (pooja), we customarily do pradakshina around ourselves. In this way we recognize and remember the supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside.
The messages of Baba are lucid explanations of the ancient text of the Hindu Philosophy. By analogy, example, stories or sometimes by personal experience, Baba, teaches to each one of us; eager to progress on the spiritual path. Contemplation and through it, detachment are the essentials for training the mind. So is, from what Baba explains above a company of pure tendencies. So that the mind always latches on to those and thus stays ever focused on the Self.
In Dhyana Vahini (http://vahini.org/downloads/dhyanavahini.html), Swami describes in the most unequivocal manner the meaning of the word dharma in every context. It is a text that needs some attention to read and requires considerable contemplation and honesty in practice. Here is an excerpt from the chapter 7. The meaning of Gayatri. It describes in terms of sanctifying one’s daily life what are the four essential duties of man when it comes to prayer and meditation.
What exactly is sandhya? San means well and dhya is derived from dhyana, so sandhya refers to proper or intense meditation (dhyana) on the Lord. It means concentration on the Godhead. To fix the mind on God, the activities have to be controlled. For success in that process of control, one should overcome the handicaps of the qualities (gunas), the pure, passionate, and dull (sathwa, rajas, and thamas). When these forces of natural impulse predominate and try to direct along their channels, one must pray to God to negate their pull. That is the first duty of the one who strives toward God. The rule of nature is that the morning is the period of pure (sathwic) quality, the noon of passionate (rajasic) quality, and the evening hour of dusk of dull (thamasic) quality. At dawn, the mind is awakened from the comfort of sleep liberated from agitations and depressions, so the mind is calm and clear. At that time, in that mental condition, meditation of the Lord is very fruitful, as everyone knows. This is why dawn worship (praathah-sandhya) is prescribed. But, ignorant of the significance, people continue doing the ritual in a blind mechanical way, simply because the ancients laid down the rule. The second duty is to perform the dawn worship, after realizing the inner and the deeper meaning of the same.
As day progresses, one is infused with the passionate quality (rajoguna), the active effortful nature, and one enters the field of daily work and toil. Before one takes the midday food, one is directed to meditate on the Lord again and to dedicate the work, as well as the fruit derived through it, to the Lord Himself. One can start eating only after this act of devotion and grateful remembrance. This is the meaning of the noontime (maadhyamika) worship. By observing this ritual, passion is kept in check and is overpowered by the pure (sathwa) nature. This is the third duty of all people.
Then, people are possessed by a third nature, the dull (thamas). When evening descends, one hurries home, eats one’s fill, and is overpowered by sleep. But a duty still remains. To eat and sleep is the fate of idlers and drones. When the worst of the qualities (gunas), the dull (thamas), threatens to rule, one must make a special effort to escape its coils by resorting to prayer in the company of those who extol the Lord, reading about the glory of God, the cultivation of good virtues, and the purposeful nursing of good rules of conduct. This is the prescribed evening worship (sandhyavandana).
Therefore, the mind that emerges from the vacancy of sleep has to be properly trained and counseled; it must be made to feel that the bliss of meditation and the joy of being unaware of the outer world are much grander and more lasting than the comfort one gets by means of the daily dose of physical sleep. This bliss, this joy, can be felt and realized by all; discrimination will bring this home to you. This is the fourth duty of people.
People who, as long as they have life in them, observe the thrice-a-day worship are indeed of the highest type; they are ever glorious and attain all that is desired. Above all, they are liberated, even while alive (jivan-muktha).
I wanted to share this. To sanctify one’s life is to sanctify one’s body and mind. Prayer is a meditation that provides a direct connection to God and effects in creating purifying tendencies. I remember in this moment, the practices in Islam. The context of Dharma as explained by Swami here, so perfectly falls into the daily practice by people following Islam. But Baba adds that a mere mechanical practice is of no use. Therein lies the fourth duty of man, to perform the prayer with an understanding of its purpose.
Last four months have been a roller coaster ride. It feels like yesterday that I landed in India. So much has happened and so much left as it is. My dad was diagnosed with a Grade – IV glioblastoma in Feb ’11. I have spent a majority of my year coming to terms with the emotional turmoil that came with it. At times, I have forgotten it in enjoying myself. But acceptance of a certain condition is easier said than done. On one hand, I watch my dad and his certain child-like idiosyncrasies bringing a smile on my face. On the other hand, it also brings pain to see a man so self-sufficient and independent, growing dependent against his desire.
My sister got married a few days back. After the entire function was finished, I could see a typically modest elation on my dad’s face. In his broken, yet, terse expression, that he has been communicating he said, “I am happy!”. For all that she is to him, one of the major responsibilities in his life is taken care of. Though being a joyous occasion, I am yet to come to terms with her absence. I have left dad to her care for over 8 months without worry. Over the last 4 months, I have grown accustomed to her being the receiving end for all my fears, small tasks and illogical discussions. Today, I don’t want to levy so much responsibility on her. I can however see the apprehension in my mom’s eyes due to the sudden loneliness in the house.
When I first saw my dad after 7 months of radiation therapy and chemo sessions, I felt that I should infuse my sense of spiritual learning into him. To bring contentment to him. But the more I tried the more I learnt that it cannot be given. That forced me to reflect on my own ways of life only to find deep roots of discomfort, desire and expectations from life. I leave in a few days to France for further studies. I leave my parents with the burden of taking care of each other. My dad who is on the edge of life. With the faith that Swami is taking care of them both. As I started cleaning up the room, it brought back a flood of memories of the past four months, the fights, the laughs, the sadness, the discussions, the introspective moments, the long afternoons i spent with piles of papers, the long skype conversations and of course the long nights with mosquitoes. Today none of that seems to matter for all are in the past and only the present seems to be of importance. There is much left undone. Some of that which i took up are yet incomplete. The only question that haunts me now is would i be back in time to tie those loose ends.
I can feel my absence would leave a void in the house. I feel like the most selfish man on earth as i leave as if unconcerned and unattached to leave matters to fate, for Providence. Yet seeking assurance from Him, that all will be well.
I have not been able to write these past few months. I don’t know when I will be able to write again for those occasional visitors to this blog. Tomorrow is the Shiva Ratri, the night of the supreme soul. It is a rare chance to have it come on a monday as it is considered very auspicious. I thank Baba, for allowing me to stay in India and atleast giving me the choice to spend that time in visiting the temple where they perform the vedic ritual of Rudra-abhishekham performed through the night.