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I Love Light

Kadambari e-Magazine of Devipuram

Guru Purnima 2006 Devipuram, A.P. India


Editor’s Note
With the grace and encouragement of Guruji, it is my quite long, we’ve also made an attempt to “mix them up,”
pleasure to introduce this special “Guru Poornima 2006” and thereby avoid an overwhelming and monotonous
edition of Kadambari. reading experience.

As most readers will already be aware, this year’s obser- The issue begins, of course, with a brand-new essay from
vances mark an important transitional milestone in the his- Guruji himself, contemplating the true meaning of Infinity
tory of Devipuram. For on this occasion our beloved Guruji and coaxing new depths from the old axiom that the jour-
will entrust his great work to a new generation, as Sri ney is ultimately more important than the destination.
Kompella Subba Rao – himself a devoted Sri Vidya upasaka This powerful opening is followed by an exposition on the
and disciple of Guruji for some 25 years, as well as long- esoteric meanings of Sri Chakra, penned by no less a per-
time leader of the Soundarya Lahari satsangh in Boston – sonage than Guruji’s “spiritual son,” Sri Chaitanyananda
takes his place as Guruji’s hand-picked successor; the new Natha Saraswathi (Aiya) of the Sri Rajarajeswari Temple in
“pontiff” of Devipuram. Rush, N.Y. A further essay concentrates even more closely
on Sri Chakra, elaborating specifically on the Maha-Bindu
I know that we all join in enthusiastically welcoming Sri at its center.
Subba Rao into this vital role, for which he is so qualified
on so many levels; and in offering him our prayers and Some articles in these pages advise us on how to develop
best wishes (as well as our personal and material support) more attentive understandings of the prayers and
as he works to consolidate Guruji’s extraordinary achieve- mantras we recite; others instruct us in specific practices
ments – while simultaneously steering Devipuram onward with a wealth of detail and explanation that generations of
to new heights. (On a personal note, I would add that it was sadhakas would have spent lifetimes seeking in vain.
in Sri Subba Rao’s welcoming home that I first received Elsewhere you’ll explore the unimaginably ancient roots of
diksa from Guruji during another Guru Poornima season the Shakta faith; sit at the feet of an accomplished
past.) Srividya master as he instructs; and learn from a Carnatic
maestro of the ways in which music can enhance both our
And while we are all saddened by Guruji’s decision to step everyday lives and our sadhana. Not just Shakta view-
down from his active leadership position, let us also cele- points, but also Shaiva and Vaishnava perspectives may be
brate his liberation from everyday temple, administrative found herein – and a Buddhist view as well: The Dalai Lama
and organizational duties, so that he may now concen- himself provides some simple guidelines to help you begin
trate more fully on the writing and educational projects improving your life today!
that are closest to his heart. “Hopefully,” he told me a few
months ago, “by August much of what is tying me down And of course – in keeping with the spirit of Guru
should be clear.” Indeed, we have reason to believe that Poornima – you will find at the heart of Kadambari sever-
great things are in store. al powerful meditations on the nature of the Guru; again,
beginning with broader philosophical reflections, and then
On that note, I humbly present this new issue of gradually focusing in on the specific – in this case, our own
Kadambari: Having been given the honor of editing and Guruji and Guruji Amma, at home at Devipuram.
preparing its contents for publication, I must apologize at
the outset for any and all imperfections and overlooked All of this and much, much more awaits you in the pages
line-edits (for I am sure they exist in abundance). A partic- that follow. I think you will be amazed by the wealth of wis-
ular area of concern for me is the irregularity of Sanskrit dom and erudition assembled here, and inspired by the
transliteration: This issue contains contributions by 18 dis- devotional depth of the work. I have studied all of these
tinct authors, each having their own transliteration style – articles very closely, and I respectfully encourage you to
and so, in most cases, we’ve simply let the variations try and do the same. Spend some time with this issue; read
stand. And while earnest attempts were made to stan- it; reflect upon it; save it and pass copies along to others
dardize presentation and usage throughout the issue, we – I feel sure that you will come away a better sadhaka, and
obviously lacked the time, resources, proofreaders and I daresay a better person, whatever your path may be.
fact-checkers that large-circulation magazines employ to
produce a totally polished final product. On the other Thank you for your interest in our publication, and in
hand, you may be assured that we made the very most of Devipuram.
the resources we did have; it is our sincere hope that you
will find the issue to be surprisingly tight and clean. MMB
Editor
The articles are arranged roughly in order from philosophy
to practice, and from “big picture” overviews to specific
instructions. Since they range in length from very brief to
Kadambari

index

An Infinity of Infinities 04
The Meaning of Sri Chakra 09
False Knowledge & True Knowledge 13
Maha-Bindu 15
The Seven Acaras 19
Prayer With Full Understanding 22
Conversations About Devi 26
The Primordial Mother 29
I Love Light
Lotus Feet, Holy Dust 35
The Living Shakti 40
The Guru, Guruji, and Devipuram 42
KADAMBARI The Magic of Music 46
The E-Magazine of Devipuram

© 2006 Published by Hanuman & Srividya 48


Sri Vidya Trust,
Devipuram,
Ammulapalem Post (via)
Anakapalle - 531 001
Sandhya: A Brief Study 50
Andhra Pradesh
India.

Phone : +91-8924-237742
Email : seva@devipuram.com
Tripura Siddhanta 53
Web : http://www.devipuram.com

EDITOR
Michael M. Bowden
Sri Mahaganapati Meditation 56
DESIGNED BY
Designmouse@rediffmail.com
Instructions For Life 59
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
INCHI Technologies, www.in-chi.com
A discourse by Guruji Sri Amritananda Natha May 2006, at Devipuram
email : devipuram@yahoo.com
Seven crore (70 million) mantras – sapta koti maha mantrah Parashurama, the recitation of these mantras is enough. They
– are said to have emanated from the five faces of Shiva (i.e., cover all the amnayas.
sadyojata, vamadeva, aghora, tatpurusha, and ishana) – plus
urdhvamnaya (meaning, “the one above”) and anuttaramnaya Amnaya means a chakra, a wheel, a parampara – that set of
(meaning “there is no reply;” laa jawab in Hindi; i.e., it is so teachings and practices passed down through a given guru lin-
supreme that you can’t conceive of anything beyond it; it is eage. Dakshinamnaya, for example, is followed by the temples
past description, beyond question or argument). at Sringeri and Kanchi; Urdhwamnaya is followed by
Badrikashramam; Poorvamnaya by Poori Jagannath, and
Obviously, it would be difficult to recite or do sadhana of all Paschimamnaya at Sourashtra peetam. Although all of these
these mantras. So the great sages grouped them into several peetams (holy sites) were established by Shankaracharya, they
basic categories, corresponding to the seven chakras – and each follow different amnayas. And for each amnaya, a partic-
yes, there are some people who practice them all! But the ular set of mantras is given.
Parashurama Kalpa Sutra does not refer to all of them; it sim-
ply picks up a few mantras from each chakra, and collectively Fortunately, however, it is not necessary to practice all of
they are called the Rashmi Mala Mantras – literally a “garland of them. Why complicate your life? Simplify it! How much can you
rays” shining from the Mother Goddess. In the tradition of achieve in a 100-year lifetime anyway? A hundred years isn’t

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Kadambari

one seer with that of another; to say, “If they both reached the
same spot, then they should both be seeing the same thing.”
But that’s simply not correct. Different people see different
things at the peak, just as they had different experiences in
reaching the peak. You too would have a different set of expe-
riences if you’d chosen another path. Because it’s the path
that defines the experience, not the goal. Experience is a word
we use to signify a flow in time – a set of pictures or feelings;
things of that sort. These experiences are all subsumed in the
goal, and at the same time they are not individually experi-
enced. Different path, different experience.

even a given yet; at best, you can probably start off at age 15 Different regions of Infinity can be totally different as well.
and keep going until you’re 60 or 70. So you have maybe 50 There is just no comparison. You can’t say that one experience
years to work with. And in those 50 years, how many mantras is greater or lesser than another – the question of comparison
can you get the siddhis (results, fruits) of? Every one of them is just totally invalid in the domain of Infinity. You can compare
works; all of the Dasha Mahavidyas (the Ten Wisdom Goddesses finite domains using size or location or some other quantifiable
and their respective sadhanas) work – so pick one path and factor as your basis. But on what basis could you ever compare
stick to it. What’s the point in reaching the same destination Infinite domains? What possible criteria could you employ? And
from all different directions? Each path offers its own unique unless you draw such limitations, you have no basis for com-
experiences along the way, yes; but the goal remains the same. parison. Therefore, since you cannot draw limits around
Infinities, it follows that you cannot compare them. Concepts
It’s like this: There is a hill and there is a peak. And there are of comparison – such as larger, better, best, supreme, etc. –
many ways to climb that hill and reach that peak. And once apply only to finite domains.
you’ve reached the peak, then you’ve got a 360-degree vista
– you can see all around; you can see all of the paths that are So if you follow, say, the path of Sufism, you’ll gain a particu-
there. Yet, this bird’s-eye view is different from the view of lar sort of experience. But will it be identical to the experience
the person who is still traveling below. one gained by Shankaracharya or by a Vamachari? No, they’ll be
totally different. Just as the experience gained by a plant in
Or suppose you take a plane and travel from here to the U.S.A. meditating and in reaching God will be totally different from
– you can do it in 24 hours. But is that the same thing as walk- that of a human being, which is in turn totally different from
ing to the U.S.A. over a period of 12 years – or is it different? that of a sage or a Deity.
In the same way, we’ve got to realize that the Infinite can be
reached in any number of ways. And once we’ve reached it, we The Infinite Destination
see the nature of all the paths. But that doesn’t mean you’ve
got to experience every path, laboriously going through the What about once you’ve reached your goal of choice – ascend-
whole sequence again and again. ed to the peak, reached God? Is it then a simple matter to go
back down and experience the journey again via another path?
To put it differently, let’s say you want to generate a picture That’s difficult to say. Experience, once again, is something
by raster scan (i.e., by displaying or capturing a video image line that flows in Time. A Time-less state is something altogether
by line, as on a computer monitor or television screen). You can different – a different set of rules applies. So you might reach
complete that scan horizontally – line after line after line – or full realization on that path a little faster; but, then again, you
vertically, or diagonally at any angle; there’s an infinite number might not.
of approaches. But if you record the value of each pixel – the
sequence of which produces the picture – each type of scan Suppose you’ve spoken Telugu since childhood, done your
will generate a completely different history and evolutionary graduate work in English, and now you’ve decided to learn
process. They are all equally valid; in the end you see the total- another language. It may well take you a much shorter time
ity of the picture, which is in a sense sum of all its parts. And than it did when you were starting afresh on a new language
yet the “music” generated by each of these raster scans is for the first time. Because once you’ve learned one language,
totally different. it can become easier to learn additional languages.

We’ve got to recognize that when we say “God is Infinite,” we But I don’t see any similar shortcut whereby we can hope to
mean that He-She-It is an Infinity of Infinities. Thus, the expe- speed up the process of “reaching Infinity.” The very concept
rience gained by any one person in reaching God need not tally of speed is predicated upon a domain of distances and Time –
with another person’s experience in reaching God – because we divide distance by Time to get speed. But in a domain
they are each accessing a different region of these Infinities. where Time itself is not moving, how can we talk of speed at
all? How can we talk of any experience at all in a realm where
It is a common mistake to try and compare the experience of there is no Time and no Space?

July 2006 5
Kadambari

An example I commonly give involves the experience of watch- Seriously, though, I don’t think there is any end to the journey.
ing a movie on CD on your computer screen. What exactly is If there is an end, then why does Shankaracharya say, “na
happening in this scenario? Are we seeing the movie in the CD? bandhO na mOkshaH” – there is no bondage, and there is no
Not really. We’re looking at the computer, not at the CD direct- release. Only if there is bondage to begin with can you have
ly. So are we looking at a program inside the computer? No, it’s release. If there is no bondage, then what release can there
not really that either – we know the programs inside there are be? If you’re in a prison cell, then you can be set free. But if
total nonsense to us; just vast tracts of binary code, nothing there’s no prison, what is there to escape from? If something
readily recognizable at all. At yet, when all of that data is run is not true, how can you make it true?
through a particular sequence, the experience becomes total-
ly different – and suddenly we are enjoying a movie. Truth is Experience
So the idea of “speeding up the learning process” on other So there’s no point at which we can say, “This is it. I’ve reached
spiritual paths by first reaching God via one of them isn’t real- the destination.” There’s just no such thing. How could there
ly an applicable concept. Once again, the experience might help be? What is the point, for example, at which the number Pi (π)
– because perhaps you’ve learned something. Learning is an ends? After you cut a circle into three parts, Pi times the diam-
associative process, and the more links you’ve forged to a par- eter gives you the circumference of the circle. You’ve meas-
ticular concept, the easier it will be to establish additional links. ured off the three units and what remains is Pi; 3.14159 … at
So the learning process can be speeded up by creating an what point does that number end? It never ends. That is why
increasingly dense network of links. it’s called Sesha Naga (the Infinite Serpent, or Infinite Wave); it
is the unending remainder. The three units are finite, but the
But the basic issue remains: The laws that govern experience reminder is infinite. Thus it’s called the Infinite Wave – unend-
in Time and Space simply do not apply to the Time-less realm. ing waves of numbers. If you calculate Pi to 5 billion numbers,
After all, what does it mean to “reach your goal” when the des- can you say you’ve reached the destination? What about the 5
tination you’re referring to is Infinity; when it’s completely billion and first number? You can always add another 1. You can
beyond definition? How do you even know when you’ve always add another billion. There is no end. You never reach the
reached such a destination? How far do you have to go before destination.
you reach the “end” of Infinity? When do you stop and where?
The question of reaching a destination simply does not arise in In this regard, I’ve been asked, “If there is an Infinity of
Infinity; it’s a false assumption. When I called it “an Infinity of Infinities, a journey without end, then why do the Vedas refer
Infinities” just now, I only happened to stop at iteration num- to the Sarvajnatvam (the Knower of Everything)? Just what is
ber two. I could have said it’s an Infinity of Infinities of Infinities that Everything? And what about the states that Buddha and
of Infinities of Infinities … why stop at all? You never reach the Mahavira reached? Is that only the beginning?” Well, who am I
destination. to know what states they have or haven’t reached? But it’s
precisely the question I was addressing earlier, isn’t it? One
Suppose an ant is crawling on a ball. It can keep moving for an sage tells us one thing about Infinity and then another turns
infinite amount of time and its journey will never end. It can around and tells us something completely different. Who’s
travel on and on – for eons and eons and ages and ages – and right, the first seer or the second one? Both are right and both
the end will never come, even though the journey takes place are speaking the Truth. Truth is Experience. And different peo-
entirely within the finite domain. Keep going around the Earth ple can have different experiences – what’s wrong with that?
in an airplane and you’ll come to the same point over and over Problems only arise when you start saying, “My Truth is the
again, like a never-ending cycle – like a sine wave; where does it only Truth, and nobody else’s is true.” That’s where things go
begin and where does it end? Even though Space and Time are wrong. Infinity is a domain in which even opposites can be true.
finite, you’ll never reach the end as long as you keep going.
Thus we can have one fellow who comes away from his expe-
And if this is true of what is finite, then what of the Infinite, rience feeling, “Wow, now I know everything!” and another who
when the destination is Brahma Jnana (experiential knowledge feels, “Wow, I don’t know anything.” Both views are true in the
of the impersonal Supreme Divine)? Where is that? Can you realm of Infinities, along with every shade in between. So when
say that if I follow a certain set of instructions, I’ll attain the Vedas refer to reaching that “by knowing which I know
Brahma Jnana? I’m afraid not. What is Brahma Jnana, after all? everything” – that’s fine; that’s correct. I’ve no argument with
It’s creativity; a way to manufacture, to create new things. And it. But what about those others who say, “I don’t know any-
is there any end to creativity? Is it a reachable goal or destina- thing”? Are they not also correct? What I’m saying is that the
tion? Of course it’s not. That’s why I say moksha (spiritual lib- first sage has – like all other realized souls – seen up to a point,
eration) is like a carrot dangling in front of your eyes. It can has seen a certain region of Infinity – but only believed and
enhance your creativity and that’s about it. Every religion is a declared that he saw everything. In actuality, it is not possible
carrot; the cult of Devi is also a carrot – but at least it’s a love- to reach any point like that.
able carrot. If you are a hare, you’ll love it!

July 2006 6
Kadambari

|| Yato vacha nivartante apraapya manasa saha ||


“Whence words return saying, ‘Oh, I’m not able to describe it
anymore! All descriptions fall short of the experience!’” Indeed,
how can you describe such an experience?

We must keep in mind that the subject of Infinity is not


amenable to our normal conceptions. Our everyday ideas and
understandings don’t apply there at all. In general, when we
attempt to translate the experience of Infinity into concepts
that make sense in our finite domain, we fail miserably. They
just don’t apply here.

We’re struggling to find some order; trying to understand the Take the number 1, for example – where is it located? At what
unknowable in terms of the known. But I don’t think the Vedas point in Space and Time is the number 1 to be found? Is the
– which were codified in a certain region of Time and Space – concept of numbers bound by Space and Time? Or Life itself –
are telling me how to reconcile my bank accounts. There is where is Life located in Space and Time? Is Life a constant
much, much more beyond that. There is much, much more determined in terms of Space and Time?
beyond all the religions in the world.
Life as we know it – life as we experience it – is a concept. The
Beyond Space and Time Totality of Life being explored via a limited Time scan – that’s
the experience we typically refer to as Life. That limited con-
Can we somehow remove these limitations on our ability to ception of Life is what we’re exploring in our present state via
completely explore the Infinity of Infinities? Only by dying; only this scanning process. But it’s not the Totality of Life; it’s a nar-
by Death – the process by which we lose our individuality and rowly bounded peek at a tiny sliver of Life. To get beyond that,
our egos. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us much – because you’ve got to get beyond Space and Time. They are the barri-
we cannot die. ers.

Look at your own body – it’s a river of life! Whose life are you Into the Fourth Dimension
living? There are billions of living cells within you. Millions are
dying and millions more are being born with every passing sec- || Yonistu vaishnavi Shaktihi / Lingo Sadashivaha ||
ond. But “you” are continuing through it all, right? The conti-
nuity of your life flows on through all of those deaths, can’t Space we can call Vishnu, or Yoni, or Shakti. Time we call Linga,
you see it? How can life die? It just is! It’s not possible to live or Shiva. The Shiva Linga governs at four levels: (1) Fear and
and it’s not possible to die. We simply are. Sex; (2) Power and Love; (3) Space and Time; and (4) Bindu, the
point into which everything implodes. The explosion of Bindu is
|| AjA kshaya vinirmukta || the Universe of Space and Time and Matter. But why should
the Universe be limited to Space and Time? What about spin?
Aja means “who is not born.” Kshaya vinirmukta means “She What about strangeness? Our present understanding is that
cannot die.” Kshaya suggests reduction; She cannot be dimin- the Universe is made up of seven dimensions. We’re confined
ished or reduced. You can not reduce Her, you cannot increase to three of them – and what we’re trying to do here is focus
Her. Because increase and decrease are concepts applicable on a fourth.
only to the finite realms. Infinity cannot be decreased or
increased. The concept of measurement does not apply to But what is this fourth dimension? To get some idea of it, let’s
Infinities. Time is not a parameter, nor is Space. do a thought experiment: Think of a cube – one centimeter
deep, across and high. And now, let’s add a fourth dimension –
Just as you cannot go beyond thought via thought, you also the width, depth and height remains the same, but now we
cannot go beyond Space via Space or beyond Time via Time. add “one second” of Time to the description. And imagine that
“Beyond,” in the sense we’re using here, means “overcoming in this one second, the cube becomes twice as big. Say that
limits.” every corner is connected to its corresponding corner by a line
– a total of eight corners and hence eight diagonals, all of
Remember our ant, crawling endlessly over the finite surface them parallel. They appear to be non-parallel when projected
of a ball? He will never get beyond that ball by means of crawl- into Space, but they are parallel in the direction of Time.
ing on it, no matter how long he crawls. He’s got to leave that
plane of existence. In the same way, you and I will never reach Now suppose that, in the process of growing, this cube has
Infinity using means that are limited by Space and Time. We also moved sideways. How does our four-dimensional object
have to leave the realms of Space and Time, and enter into look now? It’s one second long and it’s growing and moving in
strangeness. We must enter into the domain of constants, space, pulling outward simultaneously in all directions. Or let’s
unbound by Space or Time. say it’s not moving linearly, but in a curved trajectory, so that

July 2006 7
Kadambari

the curves connecting the corresponding corners are curving


parallel to one another – parallel, that is, to their direction in Unifying “the experiences of lives” – people are always quite
Time; but perpendicular to their direction in space! And now interested in this concept. They ask me, “When you go beyond
let’s add another layer of variables; let’s say that time does not Space and Time, do others’ experiences become your own?”
move linearly but cyclically, from 0 to 1 second and back to 0 Well, yes, in a sense – the very concept of “other” disappears
over and over, behaving like a sine wave … then. But all the same, that “experience” is not the same as or
even similar to the idea of “experience” as we know it in the
Okay? Do you see the complexity of the Space-Time descrip- finite domain – that’s what I’m trying to say. You can’t really
tion? There is a tremendous amount of complication in a four- even call it experience because it is not flowing in time. Is there
dimensional structure. All of these configurations can be rep- life in a constant? Does the number 3.14 have life?
resented in three dimensions by some strange-looking pictures
– a virtually infinite number of representations, all depending And what about a statue? Is there life in a statue? A statue is
on how you scan them in Time. an unchanging constant, right? That’s why statues can repre-
sent God – better than movies or animations can, for example.
Life is like that, too. With a statue, the scanning stops and the image before you
becomes a constant. Just as when you take a photograph, its
The Blade of Time stops time and everything in that particular moment in Space
and Time fills the film.
Try to imagine Universal Consciousness (or Universal Change is induced by the movement of Time – and if Time is
Awareness, if you like) as a ball of thread – a single thread
wound into a large ball. This Awareness – that is, the thread –
both constitutes and permeates the entire ball. The thread
knows itself at all points. It is all one Unified Consciousness. But
now let’s say we bisect that ball across a given plane. What
happens? Each of the individual points of thread we see in the
cross-section becomes a unique awareness. How many aware-
nesses are there? A vast number of them – countless points
of awareness.
not flowing, there cannot be change. “Happen” is a verb, verbs
Looking at any single one of these tiny little awarenesses, need action, and action needs Time in which to unfold. So in a
you’re seeing only a part of the Totality of Awareness. Each realm beyond Time, there can be no action, no force, no
point of partial awareness observes the others (since it is the speed, no acceleration. And when you are able to transcend
nature of awareness to observe). Each awareness thinks that it your “scanning” view of this world – when you learn to stop fil-
is different from all the others. I’m one dot of awareness, tering it through Space and Time – your “world photograph”
you’re another. I think you’re different from me, and that too becomes a constant. It becomes an invariant and does not
you’re different from him. You think she’s different from me, change.
and I’m different from you. What happened? The Unified
Consciousness of the thread of Awareness has been shattered Is this state of constancy itself a limitation? Not really, I’d say.
into a huge assembly of substructures, each looking around When you overcome the limitation of Time, you arrive at a
and observing its Self – while thinking that it is observing richer representation of Time. Suppose you project a picture
something different. These perceived differences were of an object into two dimensions. If you then take each point
induced by the process of sectioning the ball. within those two dimensions and project them outward to
Infinity, associating a different value with each, is that a richer
What is the blade that thus divides Total Awareness into sepa- or poorer representation? Now take the picture and collapse it
rate individuals? That blade is called Time. And if Time is a vertically, so that the whole thing becomes a single line. Again:
blade, then so is Space. Infinity is continually being sectioned in Is it a richer representation, or poorer? Now collapse the line
an infinite number of ways. The evolutionary history of the into a point – so it becomes a Zero or a One. How is that, bet-
Cosmos consists of Unified Awareness splitting itself into vari- ter or worse?
ous awarenesses and then seeing itself as all of those many
different awarenesses. Hindu philosophy tells us that it’s a richer representation;
Buddhist philosophy tells us that it’s a Zero because nothing is
But Time and Space are both relative concepts; there is no there – no Time; no experience. We say it is not nothing, but
absoluteness of Space or Time. And that is why the Infinity of everything – not empty, but full! They call it shoonyam – we
Infinities and the experience of lives – though they appear dif- call it poornam.
ferent – can be unified by moving beyond, to a point that is
beyond Space and Time. When the scanning effect of Time is
removed, then all of these points of partial awareness become
merged once again into a single Unified Awareness.

July 2006 8
The Meaning of

By Chaitanyanandanatha Saraswaty, Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam, Rush, N.Y.


email : aiya@frontiernet.net

Aiya became one of the Guruji's disciples when they verse. The mandala forms utilized in the Shakta movement –
met in Zambia in the late 1970s. Since then, the Sri Lanka invoking certain aspects of the Supreme Consciousness – are
native has moved to Rochester, New York, where he pictorial representations of the process of the descent or
constructed the Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam in 1998. The devolution of the One Supreme Consciousness – step by step,
layer by layer – into this creation of the multitudinous forms.
temple has since been noted by important figures in
Hinduism as "one of the most important temples in the
world," and has since spawned more than 150 branch According to the Tantraraja Tantra there are 960 yantras. Sri
peetams. Yantra, the most celebrated one, projects a very important
philosophical segment of Tantric thought. is known by various
The power of the form-pattern that manifests the embodied names – Sri Chakram, Chakrarajam, Siva Shaktiaikya Chakram;
deity is called the Yantra. It is an instrument, a machine, a ver- and its history is shrouded in antiquity. It is difficult to deter-
itable storehouse of power. It limits the limitless by giving it mine the exact date of its conception and construction,
form and its crisscrossing lines bind and channel the Deity – though it must have been conceived very early and has been
the vast Ocean of Consciousness – into a cognizable form. It transmitted through the centuries. Many Tantric texts, such as
also represents the wheel of constant movement in the uni- the Kamakalavilasa, have explained the nature, significance,

July 2006 9
Kadambari

construction and application of Sri Yantra, and a description of condensed energy, the seed of the ultimate Sound, and the
its basic form can also be found in the Soundarya Lahari, tra- dynamic and static aspects of the Two (Siva-Shakti) in One. It
ditionally ascribed to Sankara (8th century C.E.). contains all of the possibilities of becoming; it transforms into
Apara Bindu when creation begins: The essential point in the
Sri Yantra represents both the macro and microcosms, estab- middle of the Yantra is the Supreme Shakti; when it swells its
lishing the sadhaka’s identity with the All-Pervading Power and evolves into the form of a triangle (kamakalavilasa). The point
the self. Intense meditation on the Sri Chakra thus becomes an assumes a radius, the polarization of Siva-Shakti takes place,
equally intense self-analysis. Sri Ramana Maharishi’s “Who am the dynamic and static energies interact, and two more points
I?” self-analysis and inquiry is the meditation on the Sri Yantra emerge to form a triad of points – the primary triangle or the
dehayantra – that is, internalized as one's own body, and con- Mula-trikona.
sequently as Rajarajeswari. The three points are represented by Sanskrit syllables and the
three basic vibrations emanate from one primal sound sub-
The Sri Chakra – a perfect mapping of the Cosmic Magnetic stratum. The triangle with its apex down represents the first
fields – is the Mother of all other chakras in existence. It is the form pattern of primordial desire in the process of creation. It
concentrated power of the presiding deity distilled into geo- indicates the sign of evolution and represents the zone or
metric form. The Chakra represents the different planes of kinetic principle of creation. The static principle predominates
consciousness rising over a tier of awareness in serried in the Para Bindu, so it represents the male principle. All of cre-
sequence. ation is the outcome of these two
principles, the point and triangle, and
The Sri Chakra, by its very pres- the bliss of their union. Hence the Sri
ence, invokes the highest con- Yantra is the one body of the Siva
sciousness in man; it is a raksha couple (Yamala).
or protection when worn by
someone. Its presence in the The primary triangle stands for three
home brings in all events auspi- aspects of Shakti: Trividhabala, the
cious and channels the minds liv- young one, Tripura-Sundari, the
ing there toward the Supreme beautiful one, and Tripura-Bhairavi,
Deity. The Chakra leads one to the terrifying one. It also represents
experience directly the divine the threefold process of creation
form of the Empress Supreme, (sristi), preservation (sthiti) and disso-
Sri Rajarajeswari. Worship of the lution (samhara).
Chakra is therefore given much
importance in Tantric lore. The expansion of space and time,
sound and energy, continue in the
The Structure of process of creation, and the primary
Sri Yantra triangle is transformed into a series of lines, triangles, circles
and squares to form the Sri Yantra. The various patterns are
The Sri Yantra is a configuration of nine interlacing triangles, the modifications of an original primal vibration; and at each
centered on the bindu and drawn by the superimposition of stage they contain the interplay of the static and kinetic ener-
five downward-pointing triangles, representing Shakti; and gies in varying degrees of concentration.
four upright triangles, representing Siva. Because it is a com-
position of nine (nava) triangles (yoni), it is often called The Nine Circuits
Navayoni Chakra.
The Sri Yantra is called ‘Nava Chakra’ since it is composed of
The Sri Yantra is a symbolic pattern of Shakti’s own form nine circuits, counting from the outer plane to the bindu.
(svarupa), Her powers and emanations, and the form of the Through contemplation on the Sri Yantra, the adept can redis-
Universe (visvarupa), symbolizing the various stages of Shakti’s cover his or her primordial sources. The nine circuits symboli-
descent in manifestation. It is a pictorial illustration of the cos- cally indicate the successive phases in the process of becom-
mic field in creation. ing. They begin from the earthly plane and rise slowly in rank,
step by step, to the final point, the state of supreme joy. By
Like creation itself, the Sri Yantra came into being through the entering into the élan vital of the yantra, the adept reinte-
force of primordial desire. The impulse of desire (kamakala), grates with it. The nine circuits within Sri Yantra move from
born of the inherent nature of Prakriti, creates a throb (span- the gross and tangible to the sublime and subtle realms.
da) which vibrates as sound (nada). This manifestation is rep-
resented by a point, or bindu. In the first state of manifesta- The outermost periphery consists of a square, with four
tion the bindu is called Para Bindu, which is the nucleus of the gates, colored white, red and yellow. This is the Bhupara, the

July 2006 10
Kadambari

ground-plan of the Sri Yantra. Inside the square are three con- bliss (yogini Hridaya). Bearing witness to the truth of Andre
centric circles, girdles (mekhala). The space between the Malraux’s saying that “every masterpiece is a purification of
square and three girdles is the Trailokyamohana, or the the world,” the Sri Yantra, in its formal content, is a visual mas-
Enchantress of the Triple World, chakra; at this stage the
adept is infatuated by aspirations and desires.

Next are two concentric rings of 16 and eight-petaled lotuses,


respectively. They are called Sarva-saparipuraka Chakra and
Sarvasankshobana Chakra, indicating fulfilment of desire.

The fourth chakra, Sarva-soubhagyadayaka, or Giver of


Auspiciousness, projects the realm of possibilities in spiritual
ascent; it consists of the 14 triangles forming the outer rim of
the complex interlocking of triangles.

The next two chakras are each constructed of 10 triangles.


Called Sarvartha-sadhaka and Sarvarakshakara, Accomplisher
of All Purpose and Giver of Protection, they indicate a stage
when inner realization begins to dawn.

The seventh chakra, consisting of eight triangles, is called


Sarvarogahara, Remover of All Desires and Ills, and represents
the stage when the adept is free from earthly bonds and is at
the threshold of the inner circle of realization.

An inverted triangle is the eighth chakra, Giver of All


Accomplishments, of Sarva-siddhiprada; it denotes a stage terpiece of abstraction, and must have been created through
before the consummation of realization. All the triangular revelation rather than by human ingenuity and craft.
chakras are colored red, to represent radiant energy or the
dynamic and fiery element of the cosmos. Worship of Sri Yantra
The last chakra, the Bindu, is known as Sarva-anandamaya, Full Worship of the Sri Yantra – contemplation on the Sri Yantra
of Bliss. It is the sanctum sanctorum, abounding in joy, in which itself – confers immense benefits on the sadhaka. It is said that
the adept participates in union. The point is light itself, beyond the prescribed worship of the Sri Yantra, the Navavarana Puja,
all colors, and is therefore represented as colorless. once performed, is equivalent to conducting 1,000
Asvamedha yajnas or horse sacrifices (these used to be per-
The nine circuits of the Sri Yantra are also associated with 43 formed by emperors).
presiding deities, nine classes of yoginis (female yogis), sound
syllables or mantras, and gestures or mudras, each having a The outer worship of the Sri Yantra is deemed by Tantra to be
distinct characteristic and explicit symbolic function. During complete only by worship of the Devata’s material body – in
the performance of rituals, identity is sought between these this case the Sri Yantra. Inner worship leads one in the path of
various aspects in order to create a cosmic link through a visu- Yoga and knowledge; but for full development – for a mastery
al equivalent, which project the whole existence. over material nature – outer worship is necessary. It is power-
ful and effective, intensifies devotion and stabilizes the inner
Most yantras, if not all, have a similar symbolic meaning, realization in outer conditions. These days it is fashionable in
though some are specifically applied to a particular creative many quarters to condemn outer worship as a waste of time
force portrayed in a particular deity or mantra. The Sri Yantra and energy; as a method meant for novices. But it is better to
is distinguished from the rest since it projects “All.” Its diverse walk on crutches than not to walk at all. No doubt outer wor-
symbolism may be understood conceptually by careful analy- ship done as just an empty, lifeless ritual is only a waste of
sis, and its kine-visual aesthetic of symmetry and proportion time. But if it is done with the true consciousness it can bring
may be experienced at once – but its subtle meaning and the the greatest possible completeness, by allowing the body and
power it manifests cannot be grasped instantly. the most external consciousness to share in the spirit of the
Instead, its understanding grows gradually, until one identifies worship.
and enters into its circumference to grasp the wholeness it
enshrines. For this reason, perhaps, it has been accurately Once the Chakra – the form-pattern of the Goddess, and the
described as the vast, dense mass of consciousness leading to locus upon which all the rays of the great radiance are focused

July 2006 11
Kadambari

– is worshiped in the prescribed Navavarana ritual, the sadhaka It is said in the Tantras that outer, ritualistic worship should be
soon begins to feel this emblem of Rajarajeswari as a part of replaced by inner worship of the Devi. However, it is very difficult
him- or herself. He or she begins to look to the Chakra for every- for the aspirant accustomed to external worship to suddenly
thing and always gets the needed response guiding him or her abandon it and take to meditation. There has to be an interme-
through the labyrinths of the Sadhana. diate stage where the aspirant follows a slow, sure path of imag-
ining the details of external worship being done inside of him or
The puja is a systematic worship of the deities situated in the her. Continued practice of this leads one to Dhyanam and to
nine Chakras of Sri Chakra; the worship is described in Bhairava Samadhi.
Yamala. The divine mother conjoined with Kameshwara is sta-
tioned in the Bindu in the form of great effulgence and from her In mental worship of the Sri Chakra, one follows the great
body emanate thousands, lakhs, and crores and myriads of rays Krodha Bhattaraka, Durvasa, whose work, the Lalitha Stavaratna,
which are the various Gods, Goddesses, beings, human beings, describes the Chakra as a great walled city with gardens, lakes
animals, insects, trees, flowers, and plants that pervade the uni- and avenues, through which one is gradually led to the center in
verse in all planes of existence, in all the dimensions of time which the Devi is seated with Her Lord. There are similar descrip-
known to man – as well as those not yet perceived by the tions given in Rudra Yamala. The true Tantric proceeds to unrav-
human intellect. el the secret of traversing through mythology, transcending
from the grossest to the subtlest; and from there to the causal,
Tantra is for all who aspire. Normally, the worship of the Sri and the causal of all causals, Maha Karana.
Chakra and Navavarana Puja are solely for the initiated in the Sri
Vidya mantra. But even if they are not initiated, some people Thus in the process of inner worship ones realizes that the Sri
earnestly seek the Mother – so there should be a way for them Chakra – as described in the Bhavanopanishad – is one’s own
to approach her. One of the gems in the Carnatic music tradition, body; that the Supreme Deity is one’s own unfettered, unclut-
the great composer Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar was moved by tered, pure consciousness. And thus one comes to identify the
this truly High Tantric impulse of catholicity, and under its influ- Chakra with the subtle centers in the body and mentally perform
ence set to music the cardinal principles of Navavarana worship the worship there. This is exactly what followers of the
in “kritis,” or hymns, thus opening the treasures of the Samayachara do. They do not perform outer puja; they install
Navavarana Puja to all those who are moved to approach the the Sri Chakra in all the Adhara Chakras (or basic centers) and
Deity through devotional music. When tese compositions are conduct the worship of the Devi there.
sung with true devotion, the melodious music makes effective
the presence of the Goddesses, who are the waves of vibrations This inner worship is an advancement over the mental worship
of the infinite ocean of cosmic bliss. of Sri Pura, as here mental activity constantly dwells in the sub-
tle body’s centers of consciousness. These conscious centers are
Apart from Navavarana Puja, there is the worship of the Sri the sources of all the dynamic powers of our being, organizing
Chakra by reciting the 1,000 occult names of Lalitha – the Lalitha their action through the plexuses and arranged in an ascending
Sahasranama. It is said that the Royal Goddess is immediately series from the lowest-physical to the highest-mind center, and
pleased when archana is performed with kumkum or lotus, Bilva culminating in the spiritual center called the Thousand-Petaled
or Tulsi leaves. It is enough for the devotee to do worship of the Lotus, where Ascending Nature – the serpent power of the
Sri Chakra, to do japam of Sri Vidya, and to recite the 1,000 Tantrics – meets the Brahman and is liberated into the Divine
names. Being. These centers are closed or half-closed within us and have
to be opened before their full potential can be manifested in our
Tantra places great importance on the worship of the yantra on physical nature. But once they are open and active, no limit can
full-moon nights. The Brahmanda Purana says those who wor- be set to their development and total transformation becomes
ship Her every full moon night with the 1000 names become one possible.
with Her form and She becomes one with theirs. ***
This short essay was written with a view to introducing the Great
Outer Worship and Inner Worship Yantra of the Ages to those who are living in the West and/or
who are interested in the worship of the Sri Devi. It would not be
In the worship of this Yantra, outer worship can only succeed
complete without offering a brief, specific example of a medita-
where there is the duality between the worshiper and the wor-
tion on Sri Yantra: One meditates upon the Chakra, visualizing
shiped. The culmination of the Tantra is to reach the stage of
the blazing globe of the Earth inside it, with all its hills, dales,
non-duality, where the worshiper, the worshiped, and the act of
forests, and oceans. Continuous meditation upon this image by
worship are one and the same. It is written in the various inter-
aspirants will lead the turbulent Earth to everlasting peace at the
pretations of the great Soundarya Lahari by various devotees
lotus feet of the all-pervading Guru Moorthy, who is
that prayoga – or use of the Sri Chakra with certain stanzas of
Rajarajeswari Devi in human form.
the Soundarya Lahari to achieve certain goals – is to be prac-
ticed. But to do this is to reduce the Great Empress to the level
of mundane, day-to-day human activities and should not be the
aim of the true seeker.

July 2006 12
False Knowledge and
True Knowledge

By Jaldhar H. Vyas
email : jaldhar@braincells.com

Jaldhar, a Software Consultant and a Perl Programmer, helps run


the Advaita Vedanta mailing list and www.advaita-vedanta.org, a
site covering one of the oldest and most philosophical religions of
India. The site has won many awards and Encyclopedia Britannica
refers to this site for Advaita Vedanta.

I was recently reading a book about the devel- totally beyond the pale of Vedic Dharma, whose
opment of our religion through the ages, as practices are indeed nothing more than super-
written by a Western historian. In it he was talk- stition. But is this the whole picture? We who
ing about the history of Goddess worship and have studied the Shastras and done upasana
his opinion was that it was essentially a mass of under the guidance of enlightened Gurus know
superstition that arose after Vedic religion had it is not.
become degenerate.
The problem is that the historian had no first-
Now it is true that there are varieties of Tantra hand experience and was relying on what he had
which are to be shunned by Astikas as being read in books written by other people – people

July 2006 13
Kadambari

who were often more interested in sensationalism than truth. Yaksha placed a straw in front of him – but try as he might, Vayu
Thus even though the research was scientific and the intent was was unable to move it. And Vayu too returned to the Devas in
sincere, the conclusion was wrong. defeat.

Even the Devas – who are powerful beyond human imagining – Finally Indra, the king of the Devas himself, went to see the
can be misled by false knowledge. An example of how Mataji Yaksha. Indra is called Maghavan because he possesses great
humbled the pride of the arrogant Devas and taught them the strength. As king of the Devas he can compel any of his sub-
truth can be found in the Kenopanishad 3-4. (A note to our his- jects, no matter how powerful, to appear before him. But the
torian, this Upanishad is part of the Talavakara Shakha of the Yaksha disappeared without even talking to Indra, so that his
Sama Veda.) arrogance and pride in his strength and kingship might be extin-
guished. Try as he might, Indra was unable to make the Yaksha
In the ceaseless struggle between the Devas and Asuras, appear.
Brahman had secured victory for the Devas –but the foolish
Devas became drunk with power and assumed that the battle It was then that Indra realized this was all due to the Maya of
had been won by their own prowess. So Brahman decided to Brahman and humbled himself. Pleased, Brahman revealed
teach them a lesson and appeared in the form of a Yaksha, Herself in Her true form as Uma, the daughter of Himalaya. Her
strange and wonderful to behold. form was bewitchingly beautiful, because to know Brahman is to
know eternal bliss. Bhagavati Uma then taught Indra that all vic-
The Devas could not understand where this strange Yaksha had tories, indeed all actions, have in truth only Brahman as their
come from, or who it was, so they deputed Agni to find out. The cause
Yaksha asked, “Who are you?” and Agni replied, “I am Agni called
Jataveda.” Agni is called Jataveda because he knows (veda) all We too get puffed up with pride and ahamkara at times, think-
that is born (jata) i.e. all living things as he is the life force in all ing, “I know this” and “I have done that” – when in fact all that we
of them. The Yaksha asked, “What power do you have?” and Agni know and all that we do happens only through the grace of
replied, “I can burn up anything.” So the Yaksha placed a straw in Parameshwari. Luckily for us, She has favored us with the gift of
front of him – but, try as he might, Agni was unable to burn it. viveka, by which we can learn to move beyond falsehood and
And Agni returned to the Devas in defeat. ascend to the truth; and She has provided us with guides along
the path. On this occasion of Guru Purnima, let us remember our
So next the Devas sent Vayu to investigate. Again the Yaksha own Gurus, the Guru parampara, and She who is the Adiguru of
asked, “Who are you?” Vayu replied, “I am Vayu called the entire Universe.
Matarishvan.” Vayu is called Matarishvan because he pervades
(shvayati) all spaces (matari.) The Yaksha asked, “What power do || Bhagavati Jagadambe Mata Ki Jaya ||
you have?” and Vayu replied, “I can blow away anything.” So the

July 2006 14
Maha-Bindu

By Sri Vimarshananda
email : vimarshananda@hotmail.com

Sri Vimarshananda manages the MSN Group, “SriVidya,” which has about 80 members, and where this article
originally appeared in slightly different form. Vimarshananda is a “mathematician by education and a risk ana-
lyst by profession,” and works for “one of the largest banks in India in a senior position.” He belongs to “the
same Guru Mandalam of Sri Jayaraman – Hamsa Charnalaya,” and bases his writings on “talks I have had with
many saints, Tantrics, scholars and, above all, the inspiration I received (and am still receiving!) from my late
Guruji Sri Amruteshananda Bhattaraka and the Guru Mandalam! I, therefore, do not claim any originality to my
writings.”

1. The Meaning of Bindu


Bindu in Sanskrit means a point or center. Bindu in Sanskrit One can understand the adjective “Great,” but why Eternal?
also refers to a Drop. A Drop has forces, which emanate It is because this Great Point is in the Unmanifest. In Tantra,
from a center and keep it in a spherical shape. Thus, the con- the Word ‘Maha’ is invariably used for referring to the states
cept of Bindu not only encompasses the center but also the in the Unmanifest. Bindu and Maha-Bindu are Tantric con-
thing encompassed. Maha means Great or Eternal. Thus by cepts, which have to be understood carefully. Let us use
Maha-Bindu is meant the Great or Eternal Point. Point as the closest meaning for Bindu.

July 2006 15
Kadambari

2 A Mathematical View · The Absolute, which is beyond Space and Time, must
express itself through the Bindu (Point) in the realm of
2.1 In an earlier article on Bindu, I explored the well-known Space and the Kshana (Moment) in the realm of Time!
mathematical conception of the point, an entity which:
4 The Bindu, Space and Time
·Has no dimensions (neither length nor breadth nor
height); 4.1 The word Bindu, when used as a Center of
·Is the basis of Space (a moving point develops a line; a Consciousness of the Microcosm (Manifest), is known as
moving line develops a surface; and a moving surface simply Bindu; and, when used as a Center of
develops a three-dimensional solid); Consciousness of the Macrocosm (Unmanifest), is
·Is a meeting ground for any number of points, lines or known as Maha-Bindu. Similarly, the word Kala when
planes (any number of points, lines or planes can inter- used as a Center of Consciousness of the Microcosm
sect one another in a given point). (Manifest) is known as simply Kala; and, when used as a
Center of Consciousness of the Macrocosm
2.2 Since a point has no dimension, any number of points (Unmanifest), is known as Maha Kala. Since Space
could coexist within one another. In other words, any (Akasha) and Time (Kala) are related in the realm of the
single point can contain within itself an infinite number Manifest, Maha-Bindu, Maha-Akasha and Maha-Kala are
of points! related in the realm of the Unmanifest and share a
unique relationship.
3. The Role of Bindu
5 The Bindu as Basis of the Manifest
3.1 Since a point has neither length nor breadth nor height,
it has no dimension and hence occupies no Space! 5.1 The Bindu has Zero (0) Dimension. We know that a line
However, since a moving point develops a line; a moving has one dimension; a plane has two dimensions; and a
line develops a surface; and a moving surface develops solid has three dimensions. Each of these (line, plane and
a three-dimensional solid, all of which require Space, the solid) has a Center (Bindu). A little bit of thinking would
point is the basis of Space! Thus, if Space were to be convince us that when a point develops into a line; a line
shrunk or regressed, it would necessarily be reduced to into a plane; and a plane into a solid, the Center (Bindu)
a Point (Bindu)! remains the same! Even if the developments were to go
on ad infinitum, the Center (Bindu) would remain the
3.2 This means that a point is independent of Space and yet same! Thus, from the Bindu, one should be in a position
is the basis of Space! Thus, the point can be considered to see, energize and control all planes and dimensions!
as existing on the border between Space (the Manifest)
and Non-Space (the Unmanifest)! 5.2 Zero (0) is an intriguing entity in mathematics! Its behav-
ior is mysterious and unpredictable! In mathematics,
3.3 Consciousness (Chit), being independent of Space and zero can represent anything from nothing to everything
being subtle, can go through the point any number of except Infinity! Thus, Zero and Infinity are bipolar or are
times (ad infinitum)! polar opposites! While Zero is potential and static (in
equilibrium), Infinity is kinetic and dynamic! This Zero of
3.4 Space and Time must coexist! If there is no Space, there mathematics is nothing but the Bindu of the Tantra.
is no Time and vice versa. Thus, when Space is reduced
to a Point (Bindu), Time also has to reduce to a Moment We have already explained that Space in the Manifest origi-
(Kshana)! Anything that is beyond Space and Time must nates from the Bindu (0). So then what is Infinity? It is
pass through a point or a moment in order to enter the nothing but boundless Space! What happens when this
realm of Space and Time! boundless Space regresses? It regresses into Bindu (0)!
During Pralaya (Dissolution), even boundless Space has
3.5 Thus we get a vague idea on the following Tantric to merge into Bindu (0). Hence, Tantra says that Zero
beliefs underlying the role of Bindu (Point) and Kshana subsumes Infinity! As may be seen from in the following
(Moment): number sequence, Zero balances Infinity on both sides:

· All Space is ultimately reduced to Bindu, a Point in the ∞ … -9, -8, -7, -6, -5, -4, -3, -2, -1 (0) +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6,
realm of Space. +7, +8, +9 … ∞
· Bindu is the meeting ground between the Unmanifest
and the Manifest. 5.3 As many people think, Zero is not only void; it is also
· Chit (Consciousness), because of its subtle nature, can plenum! The state of being both void and plenum, the
penetrate through Bindu ad infinitum. state of being in equilibrium, is also called Purna (Whole)
· All Time is ultimately reduced to Kshana (Moment), in Sanskrit. Though this conception strictly applies only
which is a Point in the realm of Time. to the Absolute, it also applies to ‘Bindu,’ which is an

July 2006 16
Kadambari

extension or the primary differentiate of the Absolute. form pattern which kick-starts Creation in the actual
This ‘Bindu’ is known as Maha-Bindu in Tantric Literature. sense! This is the innermost triangle of the Sri Chakra,
This conception is beautifully depicted by the Purna with the unipolar Saguna Maha Bindu at the center. The
Ahuti Mantra: Three Bindus are in the border between the Unmanifest
and the Manifest. Whatever happens hereafter happens
Purnamadaha-Purnamidam-Purnat-Purnam-Udachyate in the Manifest! In Srividya tradition, Lalita
Purnasya-Purnamadaya-Purnameva-Vashishyate Tripurasundari (Pancha-Dashi) is worshiped as Saguna
Maha Bindu and Maha Tripurasundari Parabhattarika
Meaning thereby: “This is Purna! That is Purna! Purna has (Maha Shodashi) is worshiped as Nirguna Maha Bindu.
come out of Purna! If Purna is removed from Purna,
what remains is Purna!” Or to put to mathematically, 6.5 Thus it can be conceptualized that:
“This is Zero (or Infinity)! That is Zero! Zero has come out
of Zero! If Zero is removed from Zero, what remains is · Nirguna Maha Bindu (Shiva and Shakti - Unipolar) are
Zero!” positioned in the Shiva-Shakti Tattva;
· Saguna Maha Bindu (Shiva and Shakti – Unipolar, but
6. Emergence of the Manifest tending towards Polarization) are positioned in the
Sadashiva Tattva;
6.1 As per Tantra, Parama Shiva (the Absolute) is Prakasha · Karana Bindu (Shiva and Shakti - Bipolar) are positioned
(Consciousness, in its subtlest state). It has Vimarsha in the Ishwara Tattva;
(Will Power, in its subtlest state), but in a quiescent · Karya Bindu (Shiva and Shakti - Bipolar) are positioned in
mode. When it (the Absolute) wants to manifest some- the Shuddha Vidya Tattva; and
thing out of itself, for itself, there is a self-moved will or · Mishra Bindu (Shiva and Shakti - Bipolar) are positioned in
deliberation or reflection acting upon itself, which is the Maya Tattva
called Vimarsha. The Tantra calls Prakasha the Adi Shiva
(or Original Shiva) and Vimarsha as the Adi Shakti 6.6 We can now vaguely understand the concept that as
(Original Shakti). long as Shiva and Shakti are unipolar, the states are in
the Unmanifest. We can also vaguely understand the
This Will or Vimarsha creates a Stress (Spanda), which concept that when Shiva and Shakti are bipolar, the
vibrates and concentrates itself into a point called states are in the Manifest. This would mean that any
Maha-Bindu (the Great Point). In Maha-Bindu, both Shiva state below Saguna Maha Bindu should be in the
and Shakti are in a unipolar state. The Maha-Bindu is Manifest! Is that true? Yes and no, because
Nirguna (without characteristics) and Samashti (com- Manifestation happens at two levels – Shukshma
bined). It combines, in its subtlest form, the seeds of (Subtle) and Sthula (Gross)!
Shrishti (Creation), Stithi (Preservation), and Samhara
(Dissolution), Tirodhana (Concealment) and Anugraha
(Grace). These are known as the Pancha Krityas (the Five
Acts), as represented by Pancha Vaktra Shiva, or the
Five-Faced Shiva.

6.2 The Maha-Bindu Nirguna (without characteristics) has a


Saguna (with characteristics) orientation, which is also
known as Maha-Bindu. Here again both Shiva and Shakti
are in a unipolar state, but tending towards polarization.
This differentiates into Karana Bindu (Causal Point) as it
is still in Maha-Karana (the Great Causal). From this
Karana Bindu emanates Nada, containing within itself
the subtlest form of Sound (Shiva) and Light (Shakti).
The Nada then concentrates itself into a Bindu known as
the Karya Bindu (Action Point). Here Shiva and Shakti
become polarized and are thenceforth in a bipolar state.
The Karya Bindu has predominance of Shakti character-
istics (Rajas or Activity). Thereafter, the Karana-Karya
Bindu Samarasya (congress) occurs – leading to the
emergence of the Bija (Seed). The Three Bindus
–Karana, Karya and Bija – are also referred to as the
Sveta (White), Rakta (Red) and Mishra (Mixed) Bindu, 7. The Two Levels of Manifestation
respectively.
7.1 Strictly speaking, only the Parama Shiva (Absolute),
6.4 It is the interrelationship between last Three Bindus – Shiva-Shakti Tattva and Sadashiva (or Sadakhya Tattva)
Karana, Karya and Bija – that causes the emergence of are said to be in the Unmanifest. Because up to this
the Mula Trikona (Root, or Base Triangle, Inverted) – the stage Shiva and Shakti, though tending towards polar-

July 2006 17
Kadambari

ization still remain unipolar. However, during subsequent Triad and the Atma with the Divine Triad. See “TABLE B:
differentiation, the polarization of the Shiva-Shakti rela- Individuality Triad and Divine Triad” to make this amply
tionship actualizes and the Tattva becomes bipolar. Seen clear.
in this context, the Shiva- Shakti and Sadashiva Tattvas
are in the Unmanifest and from Ishwara Tattva onwards 7.5 Thus, everything at the lower or grosser level is derived
all the Tattvas are in the Manifest. from the higher or subtler levels. This derivation is
known as Manifestation. It is enabled by certain
7.2 It is here that the Tantra draws a fine distinction: Again, Facilitators, or Prisms, which differentiate the subtler
according to Tantra, Manifestation happens at two lev- tattvas into grosser tattvas. At the subtlest level, these
els – Shukshma (Subtle) and Sthula (Gross). The Facilitators – being almost in the Unmanifest – carry the
Manifestation at the Shukshma level begins from the prefix Maha; i.e., Maha Kala (Great Time), Maha Akasha
Ishwara Tattva, and the Manifestation at the Sthula level (Great Space), Maha Bindu (Great Point) and Maha Maya
begins after Maya Tattva. Henceforth, whenever we (Great Veil). The Maha Bindu referred to here is the
use the word “Manifestation” it must be qualified as Saguna Maha Bindu. At the grosser levels, the
either Shukshma or Sthula. Facilitators – being almost in the Manifest – do not carry
any prefix, and are simply known, e.g., as Kala (Time),
7.3 To get a clearer idea of the concept, we have to tabu- Akasha (Space), Bindu (Point) and Maya (Veil). The Bindu
late the various stages or levels of Consciousness (Chit) (Point) referred to here is the Mishra Bindu (Mixed
vis-à-vis the Principles (Tattvas) and understand the Point).
movement from the Subtle (Shuksma) to Gross (Sthula).
(see TABLE A: “Levels of Consciousness vis-à-vis 7.6 In the Shukshma Shrishti (Subtle Manifestation), all of
Tattvas”). There It will be seen that Manifestation actu- the higher-level Facilitators enable differentiation
ally happens at two levels and in three stages – the through the Saguna (with characteristics) Maha Bindu.
Divine (emergence of Atma through the Divine Triad: While, in the Sthula Shrishti (Gross Manifestation), all the
Mahesh, Vishnu and Brahma), the Spiritual (emergence lower-level Facilitators enable differentiation through
of Jivatma through the Individuality Triad) and the the Mishra Bindu. This is how the Infinite finitizes itself;
Temporal (emergence of Jiva through the Personality the Limitless limits itself; and the Unmanifest manifests
Triad). itself!

7.4 In this regard we cannot fail to note the correspon- May God Bless You in All Your Endeavors!
dence between the Personality Triad, the Individuality

July 2006 18
The Seven Ācāras
By Arjuna Tārānandanātha Kaulāvadhūta
email : arjunanandanatha@gmail.com

Tantrism basically is the particular system of spirituality Tantric tradition includes these main schools: Kula (Kaula),
expressed in Tantras or Āgamas. Though there are many Trika, Krama, Tripurā (Śrīvidyā), Kubjikā. Geographically
schools of Tantrism, all of them are essentially Śakta. Tantric Śrīvidyā is currently spread in South India, Kālī-Kula (and Tārā-
doctrine encompasses all darśanas and it is the summit of all kula, its part) is prevalent mostly in Bengal and Assam,
Hindu traditions. Tantrism is based upon divine revelation, Kubjikā is extant in Nepa l only; Trika and Krama in their pure
Āgama, which complements Nigama (Veda). Both Āgama and form didn’t survive, but few paramparās are still alive in
Nigama are considered to be Śruti, Apauru eya-jñāna. But Kar ā aka and some other places.
while Vedas represent ordinary knowledge (sāmānya-jñāna),
Āgamas stand for specific knowledge (viśe a-jñāna) and are Tantras (Kulārṇava, Yoni etc.) provide a complete scheme of
the inner and most sacred part of Śruti. Historically the ear- spiritual progress of an individual — the sequence of seven
liest Tantric sects were Vedic Vrātya and Somasiddhānta, a stages (ācāra). These are:
subdivision of Pāśupata-śaivism. But tradition current nowa-
days can be traced to 5th-6th century C.E., when the first · Vedācāra · Vaiṣṇavācāra
Āgamas were written down. · Śaivācāra · Dakṣiṇācāra
· Vāmācāra · Siddhāntācāra
· Kaulācāra

July 2006 19
Kadambari

The first four ācāras come under a name of Dakṣiṇācāra or amounts to simply being a good human). This is karma-yoga.
Samayācāra, while last three are known as Vāmācāra or The keyword of this ācāra is viśvāsa, faith in God. As it is said
Kaulācāra. The Tantras recognize three levels (bhāva) of sād- in Yoni-tantra (VI.22), “it is only through faith that Siddhi and
hakas: paśu, vīra and divya. Samayācāra, a path of regula- Mokṣa are acquired.”
tions, is meant for paśu-sādhakas, i.e. those who are bound
by conventional mind and social rules of conduct. Kaulācāra The second step of spiritual path is Vaiṣṇavācāra, which is a
is a path of vīras (heroes) and it culminates in divya-bhāva, level of bhakti. Here bhakti stands for emotional devotion to
which is a level of God. While on the previous
Siddha. level God was simply Īśvara,
the Lord, here He becomes
Here two important both Father and Mother. The
points should be noted: attitude toward Him-Her
First, Vāmācāra is only becomes more personal.
possible for those whom Sādhana of this ācāra is
a qualified Kula-guru has Nāma-smaraṇa, bhajana and
considered to be quali- kīrtana. An example of this
fied (adhikārin) and who stage is the popular form of
are thus initiated. That Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇavism.
is, one cannot merely
decide to be a Kaula and The third stage is Śaivācāra,
start practicing rituals a level of jñāna. At this stage
taken from books. the primary practice is med-
Without a Kula-guru and itation and svādhyāya. Here
dīkṣā there is no paśu-bhāva reaches its com-
Kaulācāra. However, the pletion. It is well represented
preceding ācāras do not by such traditions like
require specific initia- Pāśupata (Vedic Śaivism),
tions and can be fol- Advaita-vedānta, Śivādvaita,
lowed by anyone who Śaiva-siddhānta, Śrīvaiṣṇava.
wills to do so. Second,
Samaya is a necessary Next comes Dakṣiṇācāra,
base for any kind of advanced practice, and cannot be which synthesizes all three preceding stages. Though jñāna
ignored or jumped over. As Kālivilāsa-tantra puts it, “without remains predominant, bhakti and karma are important as
siddhi in the great paśu-bhāva there is no siddhi in any well. It is also known as Samayācāra, from “samaya” which
bhāva.” means “rule, prescription.” Followers of this path are known
as sāmayins.
One must also keep in mind that all seven ācāras are spiritu-
al stages and not sectarian denominations. Thus the mean- Samayācāra is a stage of yoga, but it isn’t a complete yoga
ings of terms such as “vaiṣṇava,” “śaiva,” etc., are technical (pūrṇa-yoga or rāja-yoga) of the higher three stages. The
and not strictly connected with the sects bearing these yoga of Samaya is predominantly mental, and certain exter-
titles. nal rituals may also be included. According to Śrī Amṛtānanda
(a commentator on the Yoginī-hṛdaya), Samayācāra means a
Seven Stages, Three Levels worship of Guru-pādukā. In this sense, Samaya may be cate-
gorized with the previous three levels. Tantras condemn
Let us examine this scheme of seven ācāras and three bhā- those “who are devoid of Samaya”; this stage is a turning
vas. According to Rudra-yāmala, the aim of paśu-bhāva is point from Pravṛtti to Nivṛtti-mārga, from paśu to vīra-
jñāna, right knowledge. But paśu-bhāva starts from bhāva. The higher part of Dakṣiṇācāra is described by Śrī
Vedācāra, which stands for Yama-Niyama regulations and Sarvānanda:
observance of Varṇāśrama-dharma. Traditionally Vedācāra
was followed by everyone; however times have changed and svadharmanirato bhūtvā pañcatattvaiḥ prapūjayet
nowadays it isn’t strictly followed anymore. And while sa eva dakṣiṇācāraḥ śivo bhūtvā yajetparām
Varṇāśrama, in its traditional form, may indeed be rejected (Sarvollāsa, XVIII.10)
as a mere social institution (and Tantra does reject the caste As examples of Dakṣiṇācāra we may name the external tra-
system and acknowledge only two āśrama, Gṛhastha and dition of Śrīvidyā and Vīra-śaivism. In its main features
Avadhūta), the Yama-Niyama base is essential for any spiri- Dakṣiṇācāra is synonymous to the Tantra-prakriyā of
tual endeavor. Thus, the beginning is Yama-Niyama (which Kāshmīr Śaivism.

July 2006 20
Kadambari

After that we come to the Vāmācāra, which is subdivided As the Devī-rahasya of Rudra-yāmala states:
into three levels. This stage is directly connected with Śakti-
jñāna. Knowledge here is not merely mental, but practical ānandarasapūjāyāṁ tuṣyate parameśvarī
and direct (pratyakṣa). The word “vāmācāra” is formed by (Uttarakhaṇḍa, LVIII.11).
“vāmā” or “vāma” and “ācāra.” Vāmā means a “beautiful
woman,” or shakti; vāma means “happiness,” “beautiful” and Vāmācāra stands at the very heart of Śāktism as such, be it
“left.” the Trika of Abhinavagupta or the Śrīvidyā of our time. In
fact, the Tantras prohibit any kind of Śakti-worship without
The essential principle of this stage is formulated in Vāmācāra (as examples see Śyāmā-rahasya V.85, Tārā-
Vātūlanātha-sūtra (№.5), siddha-yoginī-saṅghaṭṭān- rahasya III.8-9 and Mahānirvāṇa-tantra V.22-23).
mahāmelāpodayaḥ. “Saṅghaṭṭa” means sexual contact, and
refers not only to physical contact with a woman, but to any The two higher ācāras, Siddhānta and Kaula, are advanced
contact and ultimately to any perceptive act (for the very levels of Vāmācāra. Siddhāntācāra is a stage of Avadhūta,
process of cognition is essentially sexual; it is the interaction and Kaula is a stage of perfection, or Siddhi: The Kaula is a
of Śiva and Śakti or Prakāśa and Vimarśa). This kind of sexu- Siddha-yogī and jīvanmukta. The three higher ācāras corre-
al contact is the true knowledge, which is non-verbalized. It spond to the Kula-prakriyā of Kāshmīr Śaivism.
is to this knowledge that Śruti refers, saying “prajñānam
brahma.” In Śrīvidyā, Vāmācāra comes under the name of It can be said that Veda, Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva represent dvai-
Kāmakalā-dhyāna. Its ritual expression is Strīpūjā and ta, viśiṣṭādvaita and advaita in theory; while Dakṣiṇa, Vāmā
Yonipūjā, the worship of women, who possess the divine and Siddhāntācāra represent the same three in actual expe-
nature of Devī. rience. And Kaula is Samarasa, which is beyond everything
and incorporates all doctrines as its parts. Thus Śiva says, “as
As stated in Vijñānabhairava-tantra (Vr. 69) and Jñānārṇava I know, there is no religion higher than the religion of the
(XXII.66-70), the sexual act itself is a pūjā and dhyāna, and Kula” (Mahānirvāṇa-tantra IV.43).
about it Kulārṇava says “there is no worship higher than the
union.” Here it is necessary to note that sex in Tantra is OM namaḥ paramadevatāyai
based on pure love and is never merely a physical act. Thus, śrī gurubhyo namaḥ
Meru-tantra (X.67) clearly states that only “the one whose
bhakti is firm achieves Siddhi on the Vāma-path.” This path
leads to the realization of Pūrṇa-brahman, the perfect Unity
of Sāmarasya, via so-called “5M’s,” which represent the
order of Śākta-yoga. The essence of this Yoga is Bliss,
Ānanda (which is identical with Vimarśa).

July 2006 21
Prayer With Full
Understanding
By Dr. K. Sadananda,
email : kuntimaddisada@yahoo.com

A retired material scientist and a disciple of H.H. Swami Chinmayanandaji,


who is “teaching and writing on Vedanta as part of my nidhidhyAsana.”

from the Lord. But we need to understand clearly (1) what


AsatOmA sadgamaya| exactly it is we are asking the Lord to do (that is, the goals we
tamasOmA jyotirgamaya| are seeking), and (2) how we expect Him to accomplish these
mRityOrmA amRitaM gamaya| tasks (that is, the means for accomplishing these goals).

A good initial question is whether the Real, Knowledge and


Lead us from the unreal to the real.
Immortality – the three things that we are requesting – are
Lead us from ignorance to knowledge. really separate goals (since we are making three separate
Lead us from mortality to immortality. petitions), or actually one and the same goal – and only
appearing different when viewed from three different
angles. If they are all the same, then why request them in
These mantras, which we all chant at the end of our prayers, three different ways – unless we are confused, not knowing
are from the Brihadarnyaka Upanishad. By the chanting of exactly what we want? Or is it that we want to insure that
these mantras, we are requesting certain specific things the Lord hears our prayers, one way or the other?

July 2006 22
Kadambari

Another important question at the outset is we want these kasminno bhaghavo vijnaate sarvam idam vijnaatam bhavati
three particular goals – instead of, say, moksa (liberation) or
freedom from samsaara (suffering)? What is the use of hav- “Hai! Bhagavan, please teach me that, by knowing which I will
ing these three boons and still suffering due to samsaara? have knowledge of everything!” Now that is really a pretty
Why not pray directly for moksa? tall request. Is that what we are requesting in our prayer,
tamasOma jyotirgamaya?
In other words, we need to have a clear understanding of
what our prayer really means. So let us examine the Vedic When we say “I have knowledge,” or “He is a knowledgeable
mantras more closely. person,” we only mean “knowledge of x.” That is, “knowl-
edge” always refers to a particular area or object – it is
· The Real: AsatOmA sadgamaya| objective knowledge; it is qualified knowledge.
Epistemologically, knowledge without qualification is indefin-
The first prayer says, “Lead us from asat to sat – that is, able. So in asking the Lord to lead us from ignorance to
from the unreal to the real.” In fact, the terms asat and sat knowledge, we are using two unqualified and therefore inde-
are normally translated as nonexistence and existence, finable terms. We are requesting something that we our-
respectively. So we are asking the Lord to lead us from selves are unable to properly define.
nonexistence to existence.
· Immortality: mRityOrmA amRitaM gamaya|
Closer examination of this meaning reveals an inherent con-
tradiction: If we are nonexistent to begin with, then our The third part of the prayer says, “Lead us from mortality to
request for existence has some validity. However, since we immortality.” And there is a problem here too. The very
must exist if we are reciting the prayer, does not the prayer request assumes that we are mortal, since we were born at
itself presuppose our existence? And if that is so, doesn’t such and such a time and place. The whole Gitopadesham
that make it a useless prayer – since we are asking Him to do started because of Arjuna’s apprehension that he was going
that which is already an accomplished fact? to kill his own teachers and grandsires, in whose lap he grew
up:
It will be a waste of His time and ours unless asat has some
other meaning than non-existence. Some darshanikas argue gurUnahatvA hi mahAnubhAvaan shreyobhOktum bhaixya
that the terms are mutually exclusive; i.e., that which is not mapIha loke|
asat must be sat, and that which is not sat must be asat. If
so, then we are asking the Lord to do something impossible. “It would be better to beg alms and live, rather than kill these
Lord Krishna declared thousands of years ago in the great teachers and noble souls.”
Bhagavad Gita that, “naasato vidyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidy-
ate sataH” (2-16) – “nonexistence can never come into exis- Hence, like us, Arjuna is aware of our mortality. Krishna con-
tence and existence can never become nonexistent.” It is an firms this by stating the Law of Eternal Recycle, which fol-
absolute Law of Conservation that applies not only to matter lows from the Law of Conservation: That which is born has to
and energy, but to subtler entities like jiivas (individual souls). die, and that which dies has to be reborn:
Krishna says:
jAtasyahi dRivo mRituH, dRivam janma mRitasya ca|
natvevAhum jAtu nAsam, na tvam nEmE janAdhipAH|
na caiva nabhavshAmaH sarvE yayaH mataH param|| Hence, if one considers himself as mortal, he can never be
immortal. On the other hand, if he knows he is immortal –
“There was never a time when I was not; there was never a because of the above statement of Krishana (na tve vaaham
time you were not, nor all these kings arrayed before us. ...) – then the request to “lead us from mortality to immor-
There will never be a time when they are absent. Hence, that tality” is either impossible, since anything that is born has to
which exists can never cease to exist.” die; or useless, since it is already an accomplished fact – exis-
tence can never cease to exist.
Based on this, the first part of our prayer appears to be in
vain. Based on this analysis, the third part of the prayer,
“mRityOrmA amRitaM gamaya,” also appears to be in vain. In
· Knowledge: tamasOmA jyotirgamaya| the scriptures, a sage calls us shRinvantu vishve amRitasya
putrAH – the sons of immortality. Immortality is our
Now let us examine the second prayer, “Lead us from igno- birthright.
rance to knowledge.” We do not specify here exactly what
ignorance we are referring to – is it ignorance of chemistry, Thus, all three requests that we’ve made in our prayer
physics, biology, the world; or ignorance of everything? In appear to be in vain. If we just repeat the mantras without
the Mundakopanishad the student approaches his teacher understanding, like a parrot, then we have no way of know-
and asks: ing even if the Lord grants us our request – because we have
no idea what we asked for!

July 2006 23
Kadambari

In addition, we are making these requests without even whereas a conscious entity exists independently of the
knowing whether we are qualified to receive that which we world. The world “out there” is a dependent, whereas “I,” i.e.,
are asking for. It’s as if a child were to go to a university pro- the conscious entity, is an independent entity. In fact, the
fessor and asking him for knowledge of quantum mechanics, self-conscious entity alone is a self-existent entity, while the
without knowing even what the term means, and without inert entity must always depend on a self-conscious entity
knowing whether he is qualified to receive that knowledge or for its existence.
not.
The most important point to note here is that the senses can
But since these are Upanishadic mantras, there must be a grasp only the attributes of an object, but not its substan-
deeper meaning involved. tive essence. Hence, knowledge of all objects “out there” is
only attributive knowledge; never substantive knowledge.
The Nature of Knowledge The reason is that the substantive for all objects is nothing
but Brahman, since according to our scriptures Brahman is
Knowledge, prama, can be known through pramaaNa (a the material cause for the Universe. The Taittireya
means of knowledge) when there is a pramaata (knower) and Upanishad says “yatova imaani bhuutani jaayante …” – “That
prameya (object of knowledge). Normally, I can only have from which the whole Universe arose, by which it is sustained
objective knowledge. The means of knowledge are basically and into which it returns is Brahman.”
three: (1) pratyaxa (percep-
tual); (2) anumaana (infer- Brahman cannot be known
ential); and shabda (scrip- by the senses. From the
tural). The first two are above analysis too, we can-
related to loukika prameyas not independently establish
(worldly objective knowl- that there is a chair material-
edge), while the third is ly “out there.” For if we look
shruti praamaana (revelato- at, say, a wooden chair close-
ry knowledge) – that is, it is ly, we find that there is no
for aloukika prameyas (the such essentially substantive
knowledge of dharma, thing as a “chair” – it is only a
swarga, naraka, etc.). name given to a certain form
of wood. What is actually
Any prameya, or object of “there” is only wood.
knowledge, can be known Moreover, if we then exam-
only through its attributes ine the wood closely, we find
or qualities. In fact, the that there is really no wood
definition of an object is there. It is just an assem-
based on its attributes, blage of organic fibers,
which differ from those of which are in turn are made
other objects in the up of molecular chains, which
Universe. The senses can are in turn but assemblages
only measure these attrib- of various atoms.
utes and feed that data to the mind. The mind, in turn, inte-
grates the inputs from the senses and provides an image – And we can keep going: Atoms are themselves an assemblage
superimposing on that image the gathered attributes. The of electrons, protons and neutrons, which are in turn an
result is expressed as a thought in the mind. assemblage of more fundamental matter. We soon come to
a quantum level where we cannot precisely analyze the sys-
Thus, a chair “out there” is recognized by its form, color, and tem, since the very act of examining the fundamental mat-
other properties as perceived by the senses; and the image ter affects the system observed. So we cannot say with cer-
of that chair is formed in the mind with these attributes. So tainty what is “out there” at the fundamental level. We can
the cognitive process involves perception, volition and cogni- only say that, at each relative level (vyavahaara), that “a chair
tion. The cognized image with the perceived attributes is is out there,” or “wood is out there” or organic fibers, or mol-
next compared with the images stored in our memory. When ecules or atoms, and so on. The knowledge changes as we
there is a reasonable match, we “recognize” that this thing shift our reference.
out there is a chair. In reality, however – from the mind’s The Real and the Apparent
point of view – the chair out there is only a “chair-thought”
in the mind’. So if there is no mind (i.e., if we are asleep or lost In short, the knowledge of any object is only relative knowl-
in our dreams, etc.), there is no chair out there. Out of mind edge and not absolute knowledge. The scriptures correctly
is out of sight! point out that what is there is only Brahman, with different
names and forms. Bhagavan Shankara says in Drikdrisya
In fact, very existence of a chair – or any object for that Viveka:
matter; even the entire world “out there” – cannot be estab-
lished without the mind, supported by the conscious entity asti bhaati priyam ruupam naamam chaityanca pancakam|
present. The existence of the world has to be proved or adhyatrayam brahma ruupam, jagat ruupam tathaa dvayam
established by a conscious entity, since it is jadam, or inert;

July 2006 24
Kadambari

Every object has as its five aspects Brahman is nothing but the Self that I am. Hence, in the
Existence, illumination, desirability, form and name. prayer “astOma sadgamaya,” we are asking the Lord to lead
Of these five, the first three belong to Brahman while the us to the realization that “I am that Brahman” – the real enti-
other two, name and form, belong to the world. This means ty. That is liberation, or moksha, since the realization that “I
that the manifest world we live in is nothing but an assem- am Brahman” means becoming that Brahman – the limitless
blage of objects with names and forms (all are attributive), “That I am.” Brahma vit brahmaiva bhavati – the knower of
which are superficial since they do not have any substantial- Brahman becomes Brahman, say the scriptures.
ity of their own. – the underlying substance of everything is
Brahman alone. Hence the Upanishads declare, A finite “I” cannot become the infinite Brahman; that would
be mathematically illogical. However, if I am already infinite
sarvam khalvidam brahma; neha naanaasti kincana and only think that I am finite – and thus suffer the conse-
quences of that thinking – then I am simply ignorant of my
All of ‘this’ is nothing but Brahman; there is nothing other true Self. All I need is a convincing teaching that I am not
than Brahman. what I think I am; that, rather, I am the totality, the substan-
tive essence and being of the entire Universe. Hence, in the
What there is, is only Brahman – and we cannot gain sub- prayer “tamasoma jyotirgamaya,” I am asking the Lord to
stantive experience of Brahman by any means of knowledge help me to know myself.
alone. It is like a ring, a bangle, a bracelet, and a necklace
made of gold. Each one is different, with their own attrib- This self-knowledge is not the kind of objective or attributive
utes (guna) and purpose, each differing from that of others. knowledge that we discussed above; the knowledge of one’s
Yet those attributes (such as i.d. or o.d., or thickness, size, own self cannot be objectified and therefore cannot be
shape, etc.) do not belong to the gold, the substance of all defined. It is recognition of one’s self, with Vedanta as pra-
these ornaments. maana, as expounded by the teacher. Here Vedanta acts like
a mirror, a darashana, in the hands of a teacher – reflecting
Although we say, from the point of vyavahaara, that the my true nature in contrast to what I think I am. Hence, the
ring, or the bangle, etc., arises from gold, is sustained by gold prayer, “Oh Lord, lead me from ignorance to knowledge.”
and returns into gold – the truth is they are all just gold in Here, the process is one of knowing the identity of the self
different forms and names. The process of gold becoming with Brahman (ayam aatma brahma); and that is moksa, or
jewelry or ornamentation is a “transformation-less transfor- liberation, too. Bondage is only notional; it is not real – and
mation,” since the gold remains gold throughout the trans- therefore it can be removed by knowledge.
formation. In the same vein, the Ch. Upanishad declares:
Finally, once I recognize that I am that eternal, all-pervading
vaachaarambhanam vikaaro naama dheyam Brahman – which is of the nature of sat, existence that
never ceases to exist – I recognize myself as eternal and
“Creation is nothing but an apparent transformation” – just immortal. Death is only notional, since there is neither birth
like gold becoming ornaments. Is the ring, bangle, bracelet, nor death; as when a ring is destroyed to form a bangle, the
etc., real or unreal? They appear to be real, but in reality they gold itself remains unaffected. Hence, in the prayer
are nothing but gold and gold alone. What must I do to see “mRityormaa amRitam gamaya,” I am only praying for the
the gold in the ring? I don’t have to destroy the ring. Rather, knowledge to recognize myself as the immortal entity that I
like a goldsmith, I must learn to see gold in and through the already am.
ring – by paying more attention, not to the object’s superfi-
cial name and form but to its substance. So now we can understand that all three of these prayers are
for the realization of our own true nature – a realization that
That which appears to be real, but can be negated, is called can happen only when we drop the notions that “I am this
mithya, which Shankara defines as sat asat vilaxanam. One body-mind-intellect complex.” By identifying with the body, I
cannot say that the ring does not exist, since one can obvi- consider myself to be mortal – hence the prayer, “Lead me
ously decorate oneself with it. But at the same time one can- from mortality to immortality.” By identifying with limited
not say the ring really exists either, since what actually exists intellect, I consider myself to be ignorant – hence the prayer,
“out there” is only gold. Hence, it is called mithya. “Lead me from ignorance to knowledge.” By identifying
myself as this jiiva with its limited body-mind complex, I con-
Accessing the Deeper Meaning sider the unreal world to be real, and I suffer the conse-
quences of this misunderstanding. And so I pray, “Lead me
Scripture sometimes uses the word “asat” for mithya. Hence from unreality to reality.”
the first prayer – “Lead me from the unreal to the real” – is
essentially a request for the discriminative power to see All three prayers involve seeking the knowledge that “I am
Brahman, the substantive of the world. that Satyam-Jnaanam-Anantam;” that I am Brahman, from
which the whole world arises, by which it is sustained, and
Here “seeing” means understanding, since Brahman cannot into which it is finally reabsorbed.
be an object by any pramaana (aprameyam). The Mandukya
Upanishad starts with the declaration that “Om” is nothing So let us now pray with full understanding:
but all “this”; that all “this” is nothing but Brahman; and that

July 2006 25
Conversations
About Devi
By Sri Bhasuranandanatha
email : bhasuranandanatha@shaktisadhana.50megs.com
Following are some brief excerpts from a longer series of conversations between
Sri Bhasuranandanatha, an experienced Srividya adept based in Kerala
(and author of “Shakta Tantra: an Introduction” in the last issue of Kadambari),
and a less experienced aspirant on that path (in this transcript, the questioner).

AsatOmA sadgamaya| Q: If they are One, then why do you say “with the Shakti prin-
tamasOmA jyotirgamaya| ciple predominating”?
mRityOrmA amRitaM gamaya|
A: Because that’s the way it is. That’s why it is said, shakti
On Shakti and Shiva vinaa shiva shava: “Without Shakti, Shiva is a corpse.” If you’ve
noticed, in all the depictions Devi is on top. Even in coitus
Aspirant: Is Shiva always the end goal of sadhana, even when with Shiva. That is what it means: The Shakti principle pre-
Devi is the focus of one’s worship? dominates.

Bhasurananda: No. At the end Shiva and Shakti are One, with Q: So what is Shakti without Shiva?
the Shakti principle predominating. That’s why at Guru
Paduka [the chakra above Sahasrara], it’s Ardhanareshwara A: She is Energy, satchidananda. She can create another Shiva
[the deity who is half Shiva and half Devi]. at Her will.

July 2006 26
Kadambari

Q: She can?! Q: What is the role of Mathangi, or Meenakshi, in Srividya


upasana?
A: She can. At Guru Paduka level, She is Ardhanareshwara;
then at the Mahaa-Bindu level She is formless, attributeless, A: Mathangi, or Meenakshi, is the Supreme Advisor to Lalitha,
pure Bliss; in permanent orgasm – that’s the only way that just as Vaaraahi is her Supreme Commander.
level of bliss can be explained in mundane terms.
Q: The military parallel is interesting, don’t you think?
Q: But so much of what one hears and reads ends with Shiva.
Devi is conceived as something like a taxicab, and Shiva is A: I would say it’s a political rather than a military structure.
where She drops you off. The political leader governs. Likewise, we have to rule our-
selves with discipline and fight our enemies – both within us,
A: Okay, then I will have to explain in detail. The Urdhwamnaya and at times outside us. And so part of what She sends Her
Dhyana will solve a lot of problems for you. Tell me, how devotees is the discipline we need to move closer to Her.
many faces has Shiva?
Q: But the military implication is still there, wouldn’t you
Q: Normally, Sadashiva is said to have five faces. agree? To have a “Supreme Commander” implies that you
have a large army.
A: Yes, but really it is six. Each face has a name, and from
each of the faces a group of mantras emanated, numbering A: Yes. Her army consists of the innumerable shaktis.
in the millions. The mantras of the four groups are the
mantras of East, West, North, South. They are normally Q: And if you need a “Supreme Advisor,” that assumes you
called the Amnaya Mantras. are a leader with certain tasks to carry out and interests to
satisfy – some of which may conflict with the tasks and
So the six faces are the four facing the four cardinal points, interests of other leaders?
and a fifth looking up – that is Urdhwamnaya, the “upper”
one; and a sixth that is ever hidden – that one is called A: She is a leader with interests of humanity as Her goal, for
Anuttaramnaaya; or that which is above the upper one! They which She may require advice – for example, on how to make
are accessible only by upasakas of the Mahaa Shodashakshari. humanity progress faster and better.

But for now, let’s concentrate on the Urdhwamnaya Dhyana, Q: I am sorry if I am asking the wrong sorts of questions. But
which says: I find them intriguing: Leader of whom? Or of what? Advisor
on what? Commander of whom? To do what? And why?
“On the most enchanting golden island, in the middle of the
Ocean of Nectar, in a grove of kalpavriksha trees, in a nine- A: No, they are the right sorts of questions. They make you
pillared ruby hall, on a throne studded with precious gems think. Indeed, a person should know all of these things to be
and having the effulgence of an infinite number of Suns and a sadhaka …
Moons, the Urdhwamnaya aspect of Shiva sits, half being
Ambika [Devi], appropriately ornamented. She is ever 16 On the Lalita Sahasranama Stotram
years old, with a smiling face, three eyes and the crescent,
wearing otherworldly, divine ornaments and clothes. With Q: Why was the Sri Lalita Sahasranama composed – simply as
Her four hands, She holds a drinking vessel (perhaps filled a glorification hymn?
with brandy!); a trishoola; a book; and displays the chin
mudra. She is attended to by all the Devas, including A: What do you think?
Mahaashoda. So shall one meditate upon the Shiva who is
Ardhanareshwara.” Q: I assume it reflects various attributes the sages discovered
upon contemplating Her?
Okay, have you got it? But here is the important part. Look
back at the last line: “So shall one meditate upon the Shiva A: No. Think again. Start looking at the structure. Go further.
who is Ardhanareshwara.” Okay? So that dhyana was of Shiva What is the first name?
as Ardhanareshwara! But the next line continues: pum
roopam vaa smareddevI strIroopam vaa vicintayet – “Devi Q: shrI mAtA. The Mother.
can be meditated upon as a man or woman.” And then: adha-
va nishkalam dhyaayetsachidaananda lakshanam -- “or She A: But why the Mother? Whose Mother? For that you must
can be meditated upon as attributeless; as a sign of Absolute refer back to Lalitopakhyana [i.e., The Story of the Goddess
Bliss.” And finally: sarwa tejomayam dhyAyet sa caraacara Lalita], which tells us of how Lalita manifested Herself.
vigraham: “She shall be meditated upon as the quintessence
of all Energy and of all Living and Non-Living Beings” … When the Devas were running away from the asura Bhanda,
they reached a hopeless situation, and they decided to do
On the Army of Lalita the mahaa yaga, which is sacrificing oneself part by part and,
at last, completely. And they did it. And thus were all the

July 2006 27
Kadambari

Devas consumed by the sacrificial fire. And from that fire A: No need for thanks. Just read the Lalitopakhyana if you
arose a power – formless; attributeless – that coalesced into haven’t already. And the Tripura Rahasya, too. Those are the
Lalita, the Ever-Playful One. And what did she do first? She primary texts you should know: Lalita Sahasranama,
recreated the Devas, thus becoming the Mother of all Gods. Lalitopakhyana and Tripura Rahasya.
Hence the name shrI mAtA.
Q: Between the three of those texts, there is an ocean of
Q: I see ... knowledge.

A: So now lets take the second name, shrI mahArAjnI, the A: Yes, and we are still just standing by the shore of that
Great Empress. How did She become that? Well, upon being ocean and barely dipping our hands in – and even for that,
recreated the Devas decided that, in the coming battle, they we are the lucky few in the world! And there are still greater
needed a leader composed of all their powers – and that was treasures out there to discover. Unimaginable treasures!
manifest as Lalita in front of them. So they crowned Her as
the Great Empress.

Now as the Empress, Lalita needed a consort; so Shiva


became a male Lalita – like a twin to Her in every respect,
except that He was a male. He was called Kameshwara, and
He was married to Her. And they ascended the throne, and
She became the third name – srImatsimhAsaneshwarI – on
being seated on the throne. Thus the early part of
Lalitopakhyana is compressed into the first three names of
the Sri Lalita Sahasranama.

Q: And so it goes from there?

A: Yes, and so on from there. Lalitopakhyana is the story of


Lalita and her acts, and the entire Lalita Sahasrama refers
only to Lalitopakhyana. Because that is the summum bonum
of Lalita’s story. And it goes on, answering in turn all of our
questions about Her. We wonder, “Where did She manifest
from?” – and the fourth name reminds us, chidagnikunda
sambhootA, She was born out of the chidagni, the fire of the
mind.

Why was She born? The fifth name tells us, Devakaarya
samudbhavaa; for the benefit of the devas. What does She
look like? See the sixth name: udyat bhaanu sahasraabhaa;
like the light of a thousand rising suns. What are Her physical
attributes? The seventh name, caturbAhu samanwitaa; with
four arms. Do you see?

Q: Yes; so it is correct to say that these are descriptives


rather than actual names?

A: Yes, that is what I am saying. When you understand the


Lalitopakhyana, and then stop at each name in Lalita
Sahasranama and reflect on the relevant part of
Lalitopakhyana, it becomes a meditation. You visualize the
birth and acts of Lalita – She comes alive! She manifests
Herself. She appears before you. The descriptive names help
you to visualize and relive Her acts. It becomes a powerful
meditation. It makes you one with Her! And that’s the whole
purpose of upasana. Understanding and doing it is an
upasana by itself. Hence it is called the greatest sahasrana-
ma. Well, there is another rahasya sahasranama, but I do not
know that one. I just know it is there.

Q: Wow, what an explanation! Thank you.

July 2006 28
The Primordial
Mother

By Devi Bhakta
email : devi_bhakta@yahoo.com

“Devi Bhakta” is the nom de plume of a New England-based attorney, editor/publisher,


and freelance contributor to many popular periodicals. A disciple of Sri Amritananda
Natha Saraswati, he is also a founder of the website ShaktiSadhana.org as well as the
“Shakti Sadhana” online discussion forum. With more than 2,100 members and nearing its
25,000th post, SS is among the top three Yahoo Groups in the Hinduism category.

Most of the world’s great religious systems can be assigned Hinduism too could be said to date back to that time; that is,
a “start date” – at least approximately. For example, Islam around 1,800 to 1,500 BCE – but only if the starting point
was founded circa 600 CE by Mohammed; Christianity circa for what we’re calling “Hinduism” is that moment when schol-
30 CE by Jesus of Nazareth; and Buddhism stretches back to ars say the rishis first orally formulated the earliest revela-
the historical Buddha of circa 500 BCE. Judaism is much older tions of the Rig Veda. And that’s a pretty big if, is it not?
than these others – its “founding” can be traced to between
1,800 and 1,500 BCE, based on the patriarch Abraham’s For starters, such a reckoning fails to take into account the
birth. mysterious Saraswati River or Harappan culture of c. 3,300-

July 2006 29
Kadambari

1,600 BCE. Current evidence suggests that this civilization That is to say, the conceptions that eventually evolved into
was recognizably “Hindu” in flavor and motif, whatever its Tantra had essentially emerged and evolved together with
religious system might have been called at the time. And the earliest reflections and inner explorations of the modern
although theories vary widely, modern scholarship has essen- human mind itself. Certainly, in these earliest incarnations,
tially reached a consensus that that there was never any the basics of “proto-Tantric physiology” had not yet fully
“Aryan invasion” per se – that so-called Vedic culture was formed into the precise and intricate system described by
pretty much an organically Indian development, fed by Plato, much less the dazzlingly complex, elegantly refined
Saraswati culture at least as much as any Indo-European, sophistication of the Hindu Tantric system that has come
tribal or other influences. down to us today as Srividya.

Needless to say, one of the most pervasive of these “other But the base concepts were there, and they spread – along
influences” is the amorphous, nearly indefinable body of rit- with prehistoric human migrations; seemingly as ingrained as
uals and practices collectively known as “Tantra” – which in our very DNA; through millennia and cultures, throughout
turn is believed to have evolved largely out of the Goddess the ancient world, the concepts spread and evolved. And
cults of early prehistory. Thus, as Srividya upasakas – that is, then, over time, they faded and, in culture after culture,
as the present stewards of the world’s most sophisticated were eventually lost (though the primordial power of these
living religious tradition centered on the Divine Mother – we concepts caused them to persist even where their original
can truly consider ourselves the direct heirs of the oldest liv- meanings are long forgotten: Take, for example, the
ing religion of humankind; a tradition that, more palpably caduceus, symbol of the medical profession – still stylized as
than any other, “directs our gaze into the darkest depths of part of the American Medical Association’s registered trade-
human prehistory,” as historian Thomas McEvilley wrote in mark – two serpents, intertwined up a central staff; the ida,
2002. the pingala and the susumna).

By way of context, McEvilley was attempting to trace the But the full import of these primal symbols and concepts
history of the concepts of chakras, kundalini, and other early were not lost everywhere; they were not forgotten by all.
“Tantric” concepts of the subtle anatomy. His search began One civilization continued to preserve and expand upon the
when he found a fascinating passage in Plato’s Timaeus (c. ancient precepts. Among the world’s great religions,
360 BCE), in which the Greek philosopher described a mysti- Hinduism alone maintained – primarily in its Shakta branches
cal system of human physiology that was virtually identical and particularly in its Srividya schools – a living and appar-
to the earliest Hindu formulations – kundalini, chakras, ently uninterrupted (dare we say umbilical?) connection back
susumna, ida and pingala, and so on; it was all there! The ter- to the dawn of human history; to some of the very first spir-
minology was Greek, of course, but the ideas described were itual revelations and expressions of our earliest ancestors.
almost exactly the same. The obvious initial conclusion was
that early contacts between ancient Greece and ancient India And so it has come to pass that we – here in the high-tech,
had facilitated this transfer of knowledge – except that, in Web-connected, satellite-linked, instant-communication
the course of his dialogue, Plato cites another Greek source world of the 21st Century – find ourselves at the feet of a
(now lost) from some 1,500 years earlier; i.e., long before any great soul such as Guruji. A no-nonsense nuclear physicist, a
known contact between Greek and Indian culture. scientist and educator of the highest caliber, and a fully real-
ized spiritual master on this most ancient of paths – he is
So, McEvilley reasoned, there must have been a common truly a worthy inheritor of this unimaginably vast body of
ancestor – but who was it? Bronze Age Sumer, perhaps? The ancient wisdom. Like those who came before him, Guruji
archeological evidence does suggest significant cultural today explains to us those same primordial concepts of the
exchanges between the Harappan civilization and ancient Devi, of kundalini and Tantric physiology – but nowadays it’s
Mesopotamia. But as he dug deeper and deeper, McEvilley in terms of current technologies, the latest book and movies,
realized that Sumer, too, had inherited these concepts from cutting-edge discoveries of quantum physics. But amazingly,
some earlier source. Tracing tantalizing leads through ancient it still makes perfect sense! And even more importantly, it
China, ancient Eurasia, eventually even as far afield as still works! Can you imagine the sheer honor of being part of
ancient Africa and aboriginal Australia – he finally concluded such a history?
that “Tantric physiology is not exclusively an Asian element;”
that it seemed, in fact, to be “extremely ancient and [to] Since we are already speaking of ancient connections, let us
have been diffused widely at an early level of human culture inquire a bit further into our “roots.” For just as the essential
– perhaps even by that hypothetical wave of migration that concepts of the subtle body retain their vital role in Srividya
brought the ancestors of the proto-Australoid people out of practice to this day, so does the central role of our Divine
Africa.” Mother.

July 2006 30
Kadambari

The Primordial Mother Across the Eurasian landmass, these female figures are
numerous and ubiquitous: “Ivory and soft stone sculptures
Anatomically modern humans – that is, people with essen- representing women were excavated from the Atlantic coast
tially the same physical appearance and intelligence as our of France to the Bering Straits of Siberia, with the largest
own – first appeared on Earth between 40,000 and 35,000 numbers being found on the Russian plain,” White explains.
years ago. As “pre-human” levels of sentience and self- “While it may be true that dead men don’t talk, these women
awareness brightened into full-blown, abstract human con- who had been in the ground for 20,000 years spoke volumes
sciousness, the expression of this consciousness almost to archaeologists. Like the cave paintings, these evocative
immediately blossomed forth in a myriad of tangible expres- artifacts immediately stirred debate among scholars and
sions – a phenomenon that is technically known as the Early raised questions as to their meanings.” (To learn more about
Upper Paleolithic Explosion. the details and implications of these discoveries, N. N.
Bhattacharyya’s The Indian Mother Goddess is a great place
Why “explosion”? Well, at first the archaeological record to start.)
shows nothing; then perhaps a few crude tools; and then –
suddenly; as if out of nowhere – the most wonderful prolif- For purposes of this essay, we need not linger over the mod-
eration of human art and artifacts. (For those who may be ern Near and Middle East, where the ancient Goddess cults
interested, the South African anthropologist and archaeolo- have been abundantly studied and documented. Instead, let
gist David Lewis Williams explores this development in depth us proceed directly into India, where we find a similar histor-
in his brilliant 2002 study entitled, The Mind in the Cave: ical record – but also an utterly unique circumstance in that
Consciousness and the Origins of Art.) this ancient inheritance remains a living tradition.

These early human artists were not the grunting, heavy- “Shakta Tantrism has its roots in prehistoric concepts of a
browed, club-wielding troglodytes of the popular imagina- fertile Mother Goddess and ancient systems for Her wor-
tion; on the contrary, their work shows astonishing delicacy ship,” explains M.C. Joshi, former Director General of the
and sophistication. For example, the ancient cave paintings Archaeological Survey of India in New Delhi. Joshi notes that
at Lascaux and Chauvet are not primitive, cartoonish stick the earliest example so far of an Indian mother goddess fig-
figures. In fact, they are magnificent in their execution, urine was found near modern-day Allahabad; She belongs to
nuance and attention to detail; the cave walls were painstak- the Upper Paleolithic era, as we might expect – carbon 14
ingly prepared, sized and primed prior to painting (which is determinations date Her to somewhere between 24,000 BCE
largely why the paintings have survived so vividly to this day); and 18,000 BCE. Also found in that stratum, this time near
rock contours were incorporated into the imagery; the Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, are “colorful stones marked with
paints were carefully blended and tempered over heat; natural triangles” – nearly identical to similar stones still
motion, shadowing and three-dimensional effects were ren- under worship in the area “as Argarimai or Mother Fire.”
dered through multiple overlays of images, for an effect
that is almost modern in its impact. G.R. Sharma, the late archaeologist who discovered all of
these pieces, related them to “a primitive Mother Goddess”
The great Spanish painter Pablo Picasso – awestruck upon cult, even suggesting that the stones with triangles (demon-
examining the Lascaux paintings shortly after their discovery strating once again what White referred to as a “geometry
in 1940 – quietly remarked: “We have invented nothing.” leaving much to the imagination”) “may demonstrate con-
nections to the later Tantric use of yantras, in which triangles
And so it is with the worship of Devi. Archaeological excava- manifest a vital symbolism connected with fertility.”
tions of prehistoric sites yield, at the earliest strata, “hun-
dreds of human [figures], almost always pregnant women If, as this data suggests, the roots of Shaktism stretch back
with only rare examples of males.” The frequent arrange- some 40,000 years, to the very dawn of human conscious-
ment of these figures in astronomically oriented firepits and ness, it follows that approximately 99 percent of the history
so on strongly suggests a religious function. Most of the fig- of the human consciousness and mind belongs to the Devi.
urines are faceless, or extremely stylized. “Only essential By comparison, the Christian era occupies a mere .05 percent
qualities are defined, and what appears to be deliberate of that span; Islam barely half that. And using even the earli-
ambiguity and implied geometry leave much to the imagina- est estimations – let’s say 4,000 years ago – the period since
tion: nudes without arms and feet, breasts without nipples, the composition of the Vedas, “modern” Vedic Hinduism
pubic triangles without sexual details,” according to Randall spans a mere 10 percent of humanity’s spiritual develop-
White in his survey, Prehistoric Art: The Symbolic Journey of ment. The remaining 90 percent belongs, once again, to Devi
Humankind. “Curves and swellings evoke female reproductive – a fact of which the seers of the Vedas were very much
states and anatomical qualities, but are not constrained by aware.
any degree of specific detail.”

July 2006 31
Kadambari

The Mysterious Aditi Bolon agrees that the “form of the Goddess most widely
known today as Lajja Gauri fits the Vedic descriptions of the
There is an iconographically striking form of the Devi whose Mother of the Gods, Aditi,” adding that Her images were wor-
images can be found distributed almost evenly throughout shiped by medieval royalty and aristocracy – but that the
India. This mysterious, lotus-headed Goddess – who is almost unlettered artisans who carved Her images and many of the
always portrayed with Her legs open and raised in a manner humbler devotees who worshiped Her were probably
suggesting either birthing, self-display, or sexual receptivity unaware of this formidable pedigree.
– is most frequently referred to today as Lajja Gauri, though
She is also known as Adya Shakti, Matangi, Renuka, and many In this case, however, ignorance of elite interpretations was
other names. probably not much of a handicap: Lajja’s visual connotations
are abundantly clear. Her frequent juxtaposition with the
“The abundance of names may be due to regional replace- Shiva linga, as well as Her recurrent association with both lion
ments of a lost original name,” suggests Carol Radcliffe vahanas and Ganapati, suggest beyond a doubt that She was
Bolon, assistant curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at considered a manifestation of the Supreme Devi, specifically
the Sackler and Freer Galleries in Washington, D.C. in Her form as Parvati, or Gauri. Her size (always equal to
Shiva’s), and the prominent display of Her full breasts (sug-
I have asked a few experienced upasakas whether they knew gesting life-giving nurture and sustenance) and yoni (sug-
of any mantric or yantric representations of Lajja Gauri – gesting generative, creative power) indicate that She proba-
they did not. “You see,” one of them told me, “Lajja is Aditi, bly served as the Feminine counterpart to the Masculine
the primordial mother. She is unimaginably ancient.” Aditi! linga.
Now we are getting somewhere! Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-
English Dictionary assigns to the name Aditi the concepts of Bhattacharyya, in his History of the Sakta Religion, refers to
“boundlessness, immensity, inexhaustible abundance, unim- “a seal unearthed at Harappa [a Saraswati Culture site], show-
paired condition, perfection, creative power”; as a proper ing a nude female figure, head downwards and legs
noun, it defines Her as “one of the most ancient of the Indian stretched upwards, with a plant issuing out of Her womb,”
goddesses ([her name implying] ‘Infinity’ or the ‘Eternal and which may be a proto-Aditi/Lajja Gauri figure. Similar images,
Infinite Expanse’).” some sculpted as recently as the 19th century, can still be
found in Rajasthan, part of the region where the Saraswati
This same Aditi is referenced in the Rig Veda in terms that Civilization once flourished.
perfectly express Lajja Gauri’s iconography – and since the
Vedas are said to be entirely composed of mantras, perhaps In discussing the Harappan seal, Bhattacharyya posits that “in
we have found a suitable one for Her in the following pas- the pre-Vedic religion of India, a great Mother Goddess, the
sage: personification of all the reproductive energies of nature,
was worshiped. ... The Harappan Magna Mater [Great Mother]
devAnAm yuge prathame.asataH sadajAyata | was probably reflected in the [later, Vedic] conception of
tadAśA anvajAyanta taduttAnapadas pari || Aditi, the mother of the gods, thought to be a goddess of
bhUrjajNa uttAnapado bhuva AśA ajAyanta | yore even in the Rig Veda itself.” And here is where we find
aditerdakSHoajAyata dakSHAd vaditiH pari || the Vedic rishis’ understanding of this Goddess, who was
apparently as old as human consciousness itself:
In the first age of the gods, existence was born from non-
existence. aditirdyaur aditirantarikSHam aditirmAtA sa pitA sa putraH |
The quarters of the sky were born from Her who crouched viśve devA aditiH paNca janA aditirjAtam aditirjanitvam ||
with legs spread.
The Earth was born from Her who crouched with legs Aditi is the sky
spread, Aditi is the air
And from the Earth the quarters of the sky were born. Aditi is all the gods...
(Rg Veda, X.72.3-4) Aditi is the Mother, the Father, and Son
Aditi is whatever shall be born.
The Sanskrit scholar Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty identifies
Aditi as “the female principle of creation or infinity,” whose (Rg Veda, I.89.10)
designation uttAnapad refers to “a position associated both
with yoga and with a woman giving birth, as the Mother “Aditi,” Bhattacharyya concludes, “was the most ancient
Goddess is often depicted in early sculpture: literally, with Mother of the Gods, whose original features [had become]
feet stretched forward, more particularly with knees drawn obscure even in the Vedic age.” Despite Her extreme antiqui-
up and legs spread wide.” ty, Lajja Gauri is still actively worshiped even today as a “fer-

July 2006 32
Kadambari

tility goddess” in some remote, rural locales. But we mustn’t ativity, and abundance. Her images are almost always associ-
let that obscure the totality of Her original (and eternal) sig- ated with springs, waterfalls and other sources of running
nificance. water – vivid symbols of life-giving sustenance. Her belly usu-
ally protrudes, suggesting fullness and/or pregnancy; in ear-
During the 6th to 12th centuries CE – a period in which lier renderings, Her torso was often portrayed as an actual
“Tantric kingdoms” flourished across India (as detailed by pUrna kumbha (brimming pot), another ancient symbol of
David Gordon White in his 2003 study, The Kiss of the Yogini) wealth and abundance. Lajja Gauri’s head is usually a lotus
– the cult of Aditi/Lajja Gauri grew prodigiously. Her images flower, an extremely powerful, elemental symbol of both
proliferated, especially in central India – both in small terra material and spiritual well-being. (Interestingly, today’s
cotta figures for use in home shrines, and in large (even life- images of Lakshmi – patroness of wealth and material fulfill-
size) stone sculptures for richly endowed temples. ment – are also rife with water, pots and lotuses.)

By the 13th century, however, She had begun a long slide into The often vine-like portrayal of Lajja Gauri’s limbs suggests a
obscurity. Scholars partially attribute the decline to India’s further creative association – the life-giving sap of the plant
Muslim and later British Christian rulers and their intolerance world; She is vegetative as well as human abundance. Her
toward portrayals of human (and particularly female) nudity images are virtually always prone, laying at or below floor
and sexuality. Another possible factor was the continued level in Her characteristic uttAnapad posture, as though ris-
evolution of the Tantric systems, which developed ever more ing from the Earth itself, a manifestation of the primordial
subtle and abstract ways of depicting the primal, creative Yoni from which all life springs. Indeed, Her birthing/sexual
force of the Divine Feminine. posture unambiguously denotes fertility and reproductive
power. This is Devi as the Creator, as Mother of the Universe,
Lajja Gauri and Her Symbolism as the Life-Giving Force of Nature. The late scholar David
Kinsley, author of several respected studies of the Goddess
Several myths exist concerning Lajja Gauri, but most scholars in India, noted:
consider them to be inauthentic, late attempts to replace
the Goddess’s original, forgotten lore. Many of these tales “Some very ancient examples have been discovered in India
involve a dominant Lord Shiva testing his wife’s modesty by of nude goddesses squatting or with their thighs spread ...
publicly disrobing Her, whereupon Her head either falls off or The arresting iconographic feature of these images is their
sinks into Her body from shame, thereby proving Her purity sexual organs, which are openly displayed. These figures
– and providing a more Shiva-centric explanation of how often have their arms raised above their bodies and are
such a boldly self-displaying Goddess got a name like Lajja headless or faceless. Most likely, the headlessness of the fig-
Gauri; literally, “Modest Parvati” or “Ashamed Parvati.” ures [is intended to] focus attention on their physiology,
[placing the] emphasis on sexual vigor, life, and nourishment
More useful clues to Lajja’s actual meaning may be found in [rather than an individual persona].”
the oral folktales that still circulate about Her in rural India.
For example, as noted above, She is sometimes referred to Joshi has even drawn some tentative lines of association with
as Matangi, the “outcaste” form of Parvati, who is known for the later Tantric Mahavidya (Wisdom Goddess) known as
ignoring and flaunting society’s rules, hierarchies and con- Chinnamasta, the self-decapitating Goddess. Bolon, for her
ventions. Elsewhere, She is called Renuka – another outcaste part, judges that the artistically finest Lajja Gauri sculpture
woman, beheaded by a high-caste man. Rather than dying, still in existence is a life-sized c. 650-700 CE murthi, original-
Renuka grew a lotus in place of Her head and became a ly worshiped at the Naganatha Temple in Naganathakolla,
Goddess. These stories – both involving the deification of an Bijapur District, Karnataka. That sculpture (see accompanying
outcaste woman – seem, among many other implications of illustration) is now housed at the Badami Museum. Of Her
course, to suggest the irrepressibility of the Feminine image, Bolon writes:
Principle. And lest we underestimate the primal persistence
and importance of this archetype to the human psyche, “The modeling of the female figure is supple and sensitive.
recall (in keeping with our discussion above) that the oldest The suggestion of soft, sagging stomach flesh, like the slack-
known sculpture made by a human being – the so-called ening of a woman’s abdomen after childbirth, is masterly.
Willendorf Goddess or “Venus,” created some 30,000 to The breasts are firm with folds of flesh beneath them. The
40,000 years ago – also depicts a nude female deity with a arms and shoulders are delicate and feminine. The legs, in
flower for a head. uttanapad, are spread more naturally than in other [Lajja
Gauri] images; with the knees up, the feet are flexed with
Whatever Lajja Gauri’s ultimate origins, She is clearly a very soles up, and the toes are tensed. The nude body is orna-
auspicious Goddess. Everything about Her suggests life, cre- mented with necklace, channavira [body-encompassing jew-

July 2006 33
Kadambari

elry that hangs from the neck, crosses between the breasts,
passes around the waist and up the back], girdle, bracelets,
and armlets that are like a vine tendril wrapping around the
arms and actually ending in a leaf. Tassels of the anklets also
seem plantlike. There is a cloth woven through the thighs.”

In place of a head, a “half-open lotus flower, sits like a ruff on


[Her] shoulders, … turned three-quarters toward the viewer.
The goddess holds, to either side of Her lotus head, a half-
open, smaller lotus flower, the stalk of which winds around
Her hand. The fingers themselves have a tentril-like quality.
The fingers of the right hand seem to form a svastika, sym-
bol of fortune and well-being. No doubt, the suggestion of
Her relation to vegetation is intended. ... This image is a mas-
terpiece of fluid modeling and conscious symbol-making.”

As with the first artistic expressions of human consciousness


in the Upper Paleolithic era, the primordial antiquity of the
image does nothing to diminish the subtle elegance and
refinement of Her beauty – both in the conception and in
the physical representation. For those of us on the path of
Srividya, She is a reminder of both the ultimate simplicity and
the overwhelming antiquity of the teachings that we follow.

July 2006 34
Lotus Feet,
Holy Dust, Divine
Sandals...

Padma-pAda-dhUli-pAdukA
By Prof. V. Krishnamurthy,
email : profvk@yahoo.com

Retired Professor of Mathematics, BITS, Pilani, India.


Educated from boyhood on scriptural literature by his own father,
Professor Krishnamurthy is the author of several books on Hinduism,
and a regular contributor of articles to the Yahoo Group, “Advaitin.”

There are four words in the title of this article: Padma is Feet constitute the ultimate solace for all sorrows.
Lotus. PAda stands for the (Divine) Feet. DhUli means dust; Nammalwar, the soul of the twelve great Vaishnava Alwars,
that is, dust from the Divine Feet. PAdukA is sandal. right in the very first line of his immortal work, glorifies the
Accordingly, in this article we shall talk about the Lotus Feet Divine Feet, saying tuyarvaru chuDar aDi; that is, “the glow-
of God, the Dust of the Divine Feet and Sandals of Divinity. ing feet of the Lord, which blast away all gloom and grief.” He
And in talking about them we shall go through a vast spec- adds uyarvaRa uyarnalam uDayavan: “The Lord’s glories and
trum of Hindu religious thought. qualities are of a superlative kind; there is nothing greater
than this.” According to Vaishnava tradition, it is the Lord’s
Mystics, Saints and Acharyas all through the centuries have feet that have incarnated as Nammalwar. The vertical line or
gone into raptures over precisely these concepts: The Divine lines worn by orthodox devotees of Vishnu on their forehead

July 2006 35
Kadambari

is the symbol of the Lord’s Divine Foot. The lotus feet of the hand sign proclaiming “Have no fear”] with their right hand,
Divine are ageless and faultless; they eradicate all our mis- and the vara-mudrA [the hand sign granting desired boons]
deeds – so goes one Vedic mantra: caraNaM pavitraM vitataM with their left hand. But You are holding four different
purANaM yena pUtas-tarati dushhkRtAni. This is the mantra objects in your hands, and thus they do not show the
customarily used when we ritually wash the feet of elders, mudras. Does it not mean that not only these but more will
mystics and Acharyas. all be granted by your divine feet themselves?”

Divine Feet & Their Dust The Vedas themselves prostrate at the feet of the Divine
Mother of the Universe. The Lalita Sahasranama contains a
Whenever we refer to the Divine Feet, it is customary to name describing this in a poetically enjoyable way. The word
refer to them as Lotus Feet. The lotus flower is an ancient ‘Shruti,’ which stands for the Vedas, is grammatically femi-
divine symbol, its unfolding petals suggesting the expansion nine. When Shruti falls at the feet of the Mother, her head
of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of touches the Divine Feet. The dust of the Divine Feet is crim-
its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. Despite the fact son in colour because the Feet of the Mother are always
that though it grows amidst mud and slime, it does not carry painted that way – and also to remind us of the fact that mil-
even an iota of its unclean surroundings – an indication of lions of devotees have constantly been doing archanA to Her
how pure the Lord’s feet are in spite of the fact that they feet with Kumkum. The crimson dust sticks to the head of
are ever being touched by all and sundry in the entire world. Lady Shruti exactly at the parting of the hair. And thus aris-
Recall that the Creator Brahma and the Goddess Lakshmi – es the name: Shruti-sImanta-sindhUrI-kRta-pAdAbja-dhUlikA,
divinities of potency and wealth – are both associated exclu- meaning, “the dust of whose lotus feet has crimson-coloured
sively with the lotus symbol. the parting of the hair on the head of Shruti.” The dust of
the divine feet on the head of Shruti is also an indication that
The steps that the Lord’s Divine Feet take are so great that even though Shruti may be of vast content and knowledge,
He is known as “the Great One who measured or spanned the Her knowledge of the Divine Mother is only a speck!
entire Universe;” ulagalanda-perumAL in Tamil. He is amita-
vikramaH, the One who has an unlimited span of stride. He is In the second verse of Soundarya Lahari, Shankara glorifies
also tri-vikramaH, “the One Who spanned the three worlds by this dust of the Mother’s Divine Feet, saying, “Oh Mother of
His strides”; trivikrama also meaning that He pervades the the Cosmos! I don’t need even Your Feet themselves; just a
three Vedas by His Power – a hint, incidentally, that His Power speck of dust from Your Divine Feet is enough. Even Brahma
to shower Grace resides in His Feet! The Vishnu-Sahasranama creates the Fourteen Worlds using only the strength of the
gives eka-pAd as one of His names, and this glorifies the Divine Dust that He collects from under Your Feet.
Divine Feet even further, for it means that the entire Mahavishnu likewise sustains the whole world only due of the
Universe is part of his one foot. strength of the Dust of Your Divine Feet; and Lord Shiva
wears it on His forehead as sacred vibhUti.” When this is the
This idea resonates again with the statement in the case with the Lords of the Trinity, where are we poor mor-
Purushha-sUkta (which recurs in both the Rig Veda and the tals?!
Yajur Veda), pado’sya vishvA bhUtAni, meaning, “All these
beings emanated from His Divine Foot.” This concept that He The great DurgA Saptashati prescribes the worshiping of
pervades, permeates and generates the whole Universe is young girls as manifestations of the Divine Mother, and wear-
one of the fountainhead concepts of Hinduism. It actually ing the dust under their feet after worship. In the Shri
distinguishes the Hindu religion from every other. In the Gita Vaishnava tradition, to purify oneself with the dust of the
also this thought is reproduced in the same language by the devotees’ feet, by washing their feet with water and sprin-
Lord – vishhTabhyAham-idam kRtsnaM ekAmshena sthito kling that holy water on one’s head, is considered such a
jagat: “This whole Universe is supported by just one infinites- sacred act that one of the twelve Alwars got his name,
imal part of Me.” toNDar-aDip-poDi-Alwar, precisely from this act of his, which
became a habit and routine with him once he transformed
The Divine Mother’s Divine Feet are similarly glorified in the his earlier sinful life into one of supreme devotion to the Lord
Lalita Sahasranama. nakha-dIdhiti-samchinna-namaj-jana- and His devotees.
tamo-guNA – “the bright rays emanating from Her toenails
dispel the darkness of Her devotees.” In other words, medi- The Power of the Sudarshana Chakra
tation on Her feet dispels ignorance – the ignorance that
causes our bondage to the transmigratory cycle of births Shankara himself is but a manifestation of Lord Shiva. The
and deaths. In a similar vein, Shankara, in the fourth verse of great Cosmic Dance of Shiva, in the holy place of
his Soundarya Lahari, praises the Divine Feet in superlative Chidambaram, includes in its esoteric interpretations distinct
terms: “Oh Mother of the Universe, Deities other than You meanings for the “raised foot of the Divine” – tUkkiya
reveal their divine form by showing the abhaya-mudrA [the tiruvaDi in Tamil; and “held foot of the Divine,” or UnRiya

July 2006 36
Kadambari

tiruvaDi. The former grants the ultimate boon, namely from the feet of Lord Shiva, says the Shiva Purana. It is Lord
Moksha; while the latter performs what is called obliteration Shiva who gave the Sudarshana chakra to Lord Vishnu. Let us
or tirodhAna; that is, disappearance, or vanishing – one of note a disclaimer here imbedded in our shastras, particularly
the five divine functions of creation, sustenance, dissolution, the advaitic tradition: The above statement implies no hier-
grace, and obliteration. archy between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is simply a con-
firmation, if one be needed, that between the various mani-
Without this fifth function of obliteration, our sins can never festations of Divinity no distinction in status is meant or
be exhausted. Only by exhausting our karma can we hope to intended just because one hand of the Godhead gives to
cross the ocean of the birth-death cycle. And to exhaust our another hand of the same Godhead.
karma, we need God’s Grace, through his fifth function, to
operate. The dissolution function of God does extinguish the The power and fame of the Sudarshana Disc are well-known:
created world and the entire Universe; but the VasanAs – It saved the elephant-devotee Gajendra from extinction by
which we have accumulated through our sins of past lives, by the giant crocodile who grabbed him from under the water,
ourselves and for ourselves – can never be extinguished by and thus arose the famous Gajendra-mokshha chapter of the
the dissolution function. Even after the deluge they all Bhagavatam. And it is this same Sudarshana disc that dis-
remain in latent form, waiting for the next Day of Brahma to posed of Sishupala, archenemy of the Lord in His manifesta-
sprout again in our new lives. Only by God’s willing exercise of tion as Krishna. Again, at a crucial moment near the end of
his obliteration function will the latent VasanAs in us be over- the Mahabharata War, when the consecrated arrow of
come. The only way therefore to obliterate all of our sins of Ashwattama – the sole survivor among the heroes of the
the past is to surrender to His ‘held foot’ unconditionally. We Kaurava army – was aimed at all the progenies of the
must be able to surrender not only ourselves but also our Pandavas, with the aim of totally annihilating the entire
ego at that foot of His. Then He will certainly release us from Pandava dynasty – including even children in the wombs of
all obligations and bondage – or thus we are assured by the Pandava wives – it was the Sudarshana Disc that entered the
Lord in the charma shloka (Ch.18 – Verse 66) of the Gita. womb of the mother to protect the yet-unborn Parikshit,
The famous divine disc called Sudarshana chakra emanated who later survived the Pandavas as their only successor.

July 2006 37
Kadambari

This was the same Disc given to King Ambarisha by the Lord The Sandals of Divine Feet
in appreciation of his devotion. King Ambarisha was the
great-grandson of Vaivasvata Manu, the seventh Lord of the Great indeed are the Divine Feet; greater still is the dust
entire Earth in the present Cosmic Day of Brahma. Neither under the Divine Feet – but greatest of all is the pair of san-
his kingship nor the wealth that goes with it could enchant dals worn by the Divine Feet – known as PAdukA. That is why,
him away from his constant and intense devotion to the in the Ramayana, Bharata asks for Rama’s Divine Sandals
Lord. It was Sage Durvasa (known for his short temper, fierce from he fails to convince Rama Himself him to return to
anger and renowned spirituality) who came to test his devo- Ayodhya and resume his kingship. The sandals take the place
tion. Ambarisha once performed a year-long dvAdashi-vrata, of the Lord for fourteen years as the symbolic King, under
which enjoined on him a complete fast on every ekAdashi whose banner Bharata serves and discharges the royal
day (the 11th day of the lunar fortnight), to be broken exact- duties.
ly at a specific time on the next day (dvAdashi = the 12th
day). When he reluctantly takes leave of Rama in the forest where
he has gone to plead for his return – coming away with only
On one such occasion, on the morning of dvAdashi day, the the Sandals of the Divine, instead of the Divine Himself –
sage Durvasa came as guest, along with his disciples, at the Bharata puts the sandals on his head and carries them back
doors of King Ambarisha. The latter was about to break his to the capital with all reverence. The joining together of
fast but, seeing the esteemed guest, was ready to play host these two extremities – the Feet of the Divine with the head
to the sage. But Durvasa wanted time to go to the river and of the devotee – is what is symbolized in the joining of the
perform his morning rituals before he partook of palms when one worships or bows in reverence. The right
Ambarisha’s hospitality. Ambarisha agreed to wait, hoping palm denotes the feet of the Divine and the left palm
that Durvasa would respect his Vrata and come back before denotes the head of the devotee. This is the esoteric princi-
the time of his breaking the fast, which, again, was to be bro- ple behind the joining of the palms.
ken not later than a specific time. But he waited and waited;
Durvasa did not turn up before the specific time. When it The greatness of the Divine Sandals has been sung by a long
was no more possible to wait, the king’s advisors advised him succession of poets over the centuries. But the heights of
to sip a little water in the form of an Acamanam by chanting such rapturous ecstasy can be seen in the work called
the names of God. That, they said, would be equivalent to PAdukA SahasraM (One Thousand Verses on the Divine
breaking one’s fast, and would satisfy the rules of the Vrata Sandals), composed by Vedanta Desika in the 14th century.
as well as the protocol by which he would not have eaten He wrote it in fulfillment of a competition, a challenge that
before his notable guest. his disciples committed to when they were provoked by
members of another school. Full of beautiful poetry, superb
But Durvasa, when he appeared, would not agree to this. He devotion, conceptually dense philosophy and mythology,
felt that protocol had been broken and that he had been poetic gymnastics, lilting rhyme and majestic language, these
insulted; and in no time he created a demon from one of his thousand verses were all composed by Desika in a single night
hairs to attack and kill the King. The King did not move an – as he put it, by the grace of the Divine PadukA.
inch – but the Lord’s Disc, which was protecting him, not only
burnt the demon by its fiery power but afterward, in its The Sandals of the Purushhottama (the Supreme Person; the
turn, attacked Durvasa himself! The sage, in sheer fright, ran Supreme Divine) are known as the ShaThAri. The ShaThAri is
for his life! The Disc of the Lord pursued Durvasa wherever like a crown placed reverentially on the heads of devotees
he went, through all the Three Worlds, until finally Durvasa (for instance, in a Vaishnava temple), who receive it with
went to the Creator Brahma for help. But even Brahma great humility. As discussed above, the classic instance of
pleaded inability to defend him against the Disc. this act was first performed by Bharata when he received
the sandals of Rama. Before he received them, he requested
Durvasa then went to Lord Shiva, who said, “The whole world the Lord to wear the sandals once and remove them – that
is engulfed in VishNu-mAyA. None of us can help you in this is, to step on the sandals and step down (this is described in
matter. You may try going to Lord VishNu Himself.” So the Valmiki Ramayana) – and Rama obliged accordingly.
Durvasa came to Lord VishNu’s abode and fell at His feet. And
Vishnu said: “My devotee is greater than Myself, so you have Now imagine this scene in your mind. What esoteric signifi-
to go back to him and apologize.” And finally that is what was cance does it suggest to you? The obvious guess is that
done. Ambarisha prayed to the Disc to stop attacking Rama is asked to step on the sandals and step down so that
Durvasa, the prayer was heard and thus was the great sage the PAdukA may receive the Lord’s spiritual vibrations and
saved from ignominy and extinction. thereby become so sacred as to be venerated and be able to
receive the honor of Bharata’s worship from for the entire
Such is the power of Sudarshana Chakra. And the fact that period of Rama’s exile. This is what the great Acharya,
such a chakra emanated from the Divine Feet of Lord Shiva Vedanta Desika, also thinks and weaves into his verse No. 113.
only adds glory to His already glorified Divine Feet. But three verses later he eulogizes the PAdukA to such

July 2006 38
Kadambari

heights that this dramatic scene gains an enormous significance, – or needs to tell us – from within the dream that the dream
such as could be revealed only by the great intuition of a super- experience is unreal. But the beauty of the Guru-concept and
devotee like Vedanta Desika. The argument goes like this: the greatness of the Guru stem from the fact that a Guru does
exactly this for us in respect of our waking state. From the
The PAdukAs of the Divine are more powerful than the Divine Absolute standpoint, this waking state itself is dream-like. The
itself. So when the Lord was on the point of embarking on a Guru, being a jIvan-mukta (i.e., liberated even while living), knows
commitment to wander the forests of the country for the next this as a fact of experience. He is not only a jIvan-mukta who is
fourteen years, he was relying on the power of the PAdukA to in that absolute state of awareness all the time, but he can also
protect him and his feet. But once Bharata asks for the PAdukAs, descend to the level of our ordinary, mundane, worldly “waking
that means Rama will be separated from them. Thus, Rama steps state” and tell us – from within our “world-dream” – that this
onto and off the sandals not to give them spiritual vibrations, world is indeed a dream and that we must wake up to Reality
but to receive these vibrations – and thereby obtain the energy from this “dream” of ours.
that will sustain him through the challenge of walking barefoot
through the entire forest. So the poet concludes, “If Rama had It is the Guru who thus destroys the ignorance of the disciple. He
not performed this act, how could he have walked barefoot may do it by actual teaching; he may do it by a mere blessing; or
through the rough ground and dense shrubbery of the Dandaka he may do it by a spiritual fiat. That is why, in the thirty verses
forest for so long?” Is that not the height of devotion toward of the Bhaja-Govindam, Shankara ends by referring us to the
the Divine PadukA on the part of Desika? power of the Lotus Feet of the Guru to take us upward on the
ladder of evolution. Guru-charaNAmbuja-nirbhara-bhaktaH, the
The Upanishads say, tad-vishhNoH paramaM padaM, punning on verse goes. Remember, the Guru is himself the Divine Feet of
the word padaM to yield the meaning, “The Divine Feet are the God, and it is his Divine Feet that are praised now, in strict con-
Supreme.” Desika’s work continues in that strain, saying Lord formity with tradition (as we saw earlier in the story of
Vishnu’s Divine Feet are the origin of the sacred Ganga (the river Ambarisha – namely, that the devotee of the Lord is more sig-
Ganges). And since Divine PadukAs are under the Divine Feet of nificant than the Lord Himself).
the Lord, the Ganga has this constant communion with the
Divine Feet. That is perhaps why, the poet muses, the Lord Shiva The Guru stands for certain principles of behavior as well as of
has always Ganga on His head – because He feels that, in this wisdom. In fact, he not only stands for them but on them – in
way, He is actually keeping the Divine Sacred Feet of Lord Vishnu the sense that the Guru’s greatness goes back to the values that
there. he lived and preached all his life. So both his sandals and the feet
on which he stands represent the values for which he stood! And
The Grace of the Guru therefore devotion to those feet and to those sandals of the
Divine Guru will certainly confer upon one the strength to
The inner meaning of every verse in the PAdukA-Sahasram has respect and reverberate with the same values. The Lord’s “held
something to do with the glory of the Guru. In fact, the Divine foot” is the ideal for us – to cling close to his ideals and values.
PAdukA is actually equated to the Guru or Acharya. The Grace of
the Guru is considered to be even more powerful than the Grace The stories and complex mythology all go to show that it is the
of the Lord Himself. Because we realize that, even if we surren- Ultimate Divine that we are speaking of – albeit in terms of its
der to God, we are not automatically able to ingratiate ourselves manifestations, names and forms. When we worship the Sun as
into the Lord’s favor. A Guru actually pleads with the Lord on our Sun-God, we are worshiping the Absolute Supreme. A Shiva
behalf. In fact, there is a saying – Shive rushte gurus-trAtA, purana may extol Shiva as the highest Transcendental Supreme;
gurau rushte na kaScana, meaning, “When the Lord is angered, and a Vishnu purana may say the same thing about Vishnu. The
the Guru becomes our savior; but when the Guru is angered, Rama Sahasranama says that Rama is worshiped by Shiva and all
nobody can save us.” We need the Guru for this role. other deities. The Shiva Sahasranama says that Rama is Shiva’s
devotee.
Indeed the Guru’s Grace can bestow a double benefit. It can ful-
fill our desires as well as taking us toward the Lord. The scrip- There is no contradiction meant, implied or slurred over. When
tures draw an analogy of the dream state to our real, waking Hinduism says that all names and forms are those of God, it
state. Just as all dream-experience is only a passing show from means it. It is this catholicity of the culture and tradition of
the point of view of one’s waking state, so is the waking state Hinduism that welcomes other religions as so many varied paths
itself, according to the scriptures, a passing show from the to God and consequently does not find anything contradictory
standpoint of the Absolute. or harmful in the coexistence of several Faiths. The external mul-
But this declaration does not carry conviction with us, because tiplicity is only an expression of the underlying truth of advaitic
most of us have never had the experience of that Absolute (non-dualistic) unity. Multiplicity and plurality are secondary; One-
standpoint. On the other hand, we do understand that the ness is primary.
dream-state is not absolutely real, because we do have the expe-
rience of the waking state of awareness. Nobody is able to tell us Om ShAntiH ShantiH Shanti.

July 2006 39
The Living
S H A K T I

By Kiran Mishra, diksha nama Parvati Devi


email : parvathi9@gmail.com

Parvati Devi, a Spiritual Adept, whose Gurus were


direct lineage holders of Bhairavi Maha Yoga,
is teaching Saraswathy River Yoga in the USA
- an ancient and timeless Tradition
that is intrinsically in harmony with Nature.

Om shree gurubhyo namaha known only by its effect. And yet, when she cut through my
Ya devi sarva bhuteshu matre rupena samsthitha mind swiftly like an expert swordswoman and unknotted my
Namastasyay namastasyay namastasyay namo namaha tangled body of hope, expectation and memories – at that
moment, there was clear form and a master’s attention to
She was like the wind. Her visage was luminous, her eyes matter, substance, and detail.
transparent and vast with the unsettling gaze that conveyed
her intrinsic ability to see right through us – not only the My guru was a yogini from an unbroken lineage of female
mind and its play but even the body, as if form had no hold masters. She was one of those obscure beings who, though
on her. She was formless, like the wind, whose presence is perhaps unknown to the world, possessed a harmony and

July 2006 40
Kadambari

resonance that was reflective of and embodied in the world’s you there.” And 23 years later I met that living Shakti in Sri
beauty and wisdom. This is the world of the Goddess’ con- Amritananda Saraswati.
sciousness. She had many names, as no one name could
express the fullness of the matrix of her awareness. She was Some love does not die. It is not worn out through repetition
Lalita Devi to the few disciples she took in the hills of of its freshness; it is not cemented in expectations, nor cov-
Northern India. To me, she was mother, teacher and Goddess. ered in a mantle of manipulation. Some love reverberates
She was every materiality of form, every element – but eternally in space – and this is too much for our mind.
mostly the wind. Looking for an anchor it seeks the known, familiar ground of
anxiety, fear and loss. But it need not be like that. It is possi-
She lived the path of the yoginis – and it therefore unfolded ble to find a place closer to the space, not the ground – more
from her effortlessly in her teaching. Mysterious, broad, like the wind, like movement in space; a tremoring ground of
unclassifiable, frustrating the mind’s craving for certainty – vibration – Her body as mantra, Her mind as beauty, Her love
a path of absolute beauty. She taught the true sensorial as a space that is eternal, unadorned and forever free.
nature of being alive; the simple tattvas of a life in relation-
ship to others – not in consuming and objectifying others. Om hreem tat sat.
For me, she adapted her teaching of non-duality to mantras,
as she sensed my love and affinity for them.

But she would not impose them on me. I was to gain this
knowledge as a reflection of the intrinsic wisdom of sonic
space – not as something to be codified, memorized and
then replayed. I went into nature and heard the sounds of a
living stream of water, the pulsations of the night sky; even
the planets and stars. Slowly, I felt how the whole world was
alive – not merely an object, an appendage to my thinking
mind. And that Consciousness did not exist in things, but
rather things existed in Consciousness, and were therefore
never devoid of Consciousness – the Goddess’ Shakti. And
then she did teach me formally some mantras.

The Sanskrit language is not technically a language in the


usual sense. It’s a living matrix of Consciousness, where
sound becomes form. The intelligence and beauty of Shiva
and Shakti uniting to form – and from this matrix, we arise.
We are always appearing and disappearing in this living pulsa-
tion of sound and energy.

Human language, ordinary words reflect the human made


world, which is increasingly mechanical, and our vernacular
tongues change to reflect this. Mantras, however, cannot be
decoded as regular words, because they signify something
vaster and cannot be reduced to the constrictions of the lin-
ear mind. They give reference to a world beyond mere
human thought, which flattens the spherical nature of the
Consciousness of Space into a linearity of thoughts, in the
process both robbing them of power and falsely adorning
them with concepts.

Words talk to each other, like sound bouncing in a chamber;


mantras speak to the spatiality of Consciousness, a sonic pul-
sation resonating through the universe. Mantras are in sen-
suous communication with the Goddess’ body. They are her
incarnated resonance; sonic pulsations of her knowledge, will
and action. What grace She has for us! The Srividya upsaka
has this in a living relationship – the mantra of Tripura
Sundari, in which our life is held, not the other way around.

When Lalita left me – because, truly, I would never have left


her – she said, “There is one more realm, one more place of
the Goddess’ Consciousness in which she desires you to trav-
el – and that is Srividya. Though I have shown you some
things about this realm, there is a living master who will take

July 2006 41
THE GURU, GURUJI
and DEVIPURAM :
SAAKSHAAT PARA BRAHMA
By a Disciple of Guruji

Shankara Bhagavatpada in Vivekachudamani once inspired a This is the reason why Guru comes into our life – to help us
mumukshu, a seeker, by saying that discipleship under a Maha become that Zero. Only when you, the limited being, become
Purusha (Great Personage) is the rarest thing; so if you’ve Zero; only when your small mind dies and the Super-Mind
been blessed with that, you must realize that it is the high- takes over, only then you realize that you have always been
est blessing one can receive on Earth. that Supreme Intelligence, which is – as Guruji writes in this
issue of Kadambari – not just Infinity, but an Infinity of
This Maha Purusha – the Guru – gives you a spiritual birth, Infinities.
nourishes you with the knowledge of Self, and completes
your spiritual practice by bestowing the realization that The Guru’s Work
there was never a single moment when you were unrealized.
A realized saint does this for His every disciple without fail. Guru makes you that Infinity. After initiation, he helps you
This is the most inspiring aspect of taking refuge in Guru. He learn at a rapid pace and, more importantly, helps you
incessantly makes us progress, every single minute, ruthless- unlearn simultaneously. You don’t unlearn the whole gamut
ly hunting down our beastly limitations and making us evolve of impressions that have been imprinted in your little brain in
to become nobody; a big Zero – at which point Brahma Jnana this birth; but, rather, whatever subtle impressions have
blooms. been piling up over your past eight-million-plus births
through different Yonis. This process of unlearning helps you
become that Super-Zero.

July 2006 42
Kadambari

It is a long process, spanning across births. But Guru does it It is a blessing indeed if your Guru is a realized saint, a seer
silently, as Lord Dakshina Murthy. You’ll have no clue as to who has already experienced and become that Infinity of
whether any such unlearning is happening within you. Having Infinities. If your time is ripe, this life at the feet of such a
come to the feet of Guru, you don’t have to be bothered if Guru becomes the last leg of that longest, most timeless
you find no trace or tangible milestones of spiritual progress. journey as a being – the journey back to the source; the
Don’t be worried if you have no divine experience. If you’ve source of no-return and no-limitations; the nameless, form-
longed for Devi’s darshan, and if it has never happened to less Para-Brahma. This seer, your Guru, is the pushpaka
you, it does not matter. Your Guru silently takes you there all vimana, the celestial chariot of the highest order, descended
the way; all the way to the top, where he gives you that all- on this Earth to fly you back to Kaivalya, the state from
time big experience – the direct knowledge that You and He which you came before Maya’s imposed ignorance of your
were never any different from Shiva or from each other – original identity – that of ever being that all-pervading
neither now nor before nor later nor ever. Not just from the Narayana. Surrendering to this Seer, the Brahma Jnani, hence
latest Big Bang that occurred a few billion years ago, but means to have a struggle-free cakewalk, a single big jump to
from the billions of Big Bangs in the past and all of those to regaining our original identity. This is what the Upanishads
come in the future as well. And this makes you realize that herald. This is what the Guru Gita professes. This is Krishna’s
your Guru is very much Lord Shiva, who has descended to message in Bhagavad Gita, sloka 18.66:
make you realize that you’re no different from Him, the
Supreme Intelligence, the entity who dwells beyond time and sarva dharmaan parityajya.....
space and name and form.
You don’t have to visit Kashi, Madurai or Kamakhya; it’s all
Guru is a trickster too, a supreme trickster – often taking you there at your Guru’s feet. You don’t have to do day-long
off roller-coaster rides until you almost want to run away pujas, crores of mantra japa, or practice difficult pranayama.
from him; rides of freefall and unprecedented ups and Just be there at His feet and serve Him. That is enough. This
downs, to slowly wash away the even thickest layers of dirty service beats the power of anything else in this world. He’ll
ignorance that has accumulated upon from ages of yore. He make you perfect, perfect to the core. If He makes you work,
never warns that the ride will to be rough; he seems to enjoy He’ll make sure that you perform like a lion. The highest qual-
pushing you into “washing machines” of various kinds. What ities of all kinds, the sharpest intellectual powers, will bur-
comes out the other end is a newer you, crystal clear with no geon out of nowhere to bloom and spread their fragrance in
adjuncts; untarnished by any dirt. all directions. What you’ve tried for decades to accomplish
will suddenly come to you in a jiffy. The thing that never
When that happens, you’ll silently admit that those roller worked will start working instantaneously.
coaster rides were worthwhile; you’ll realize that unless those
rides were there the dirt of ignorance would not have fallen Being the maintainer of passion and feeder of confidence in
off of your back. So never forget that the tricks your Guru you, Guru acts as your backbone, taking care of you even
plays on you cannot be for anything but your highest good; more so than he would his own child. And He does all these
to help you merge you with Himself. by just silently sitting under a tree; or probably nowadays in
front of a computer, as if he had not a care in the wood. He
If you have no Guru and the weather in your life has been is an Avadhoota; he makes you an Avadhoota. As he has seen
way too stormy, it’s probably nearing the time for your Guru and experienced that nameless, formless entity, he takes you
to reveal Himself to you. Unless you’ve been mentally beaten and lets you sit on his shoulder – so you can see even farther
up to the extreme, your attention will not turn toward God. than he saw, experience even more than he experienced. He
Getting pushed to the maximum is the surest sign that always is interested in expanding your awareness to the size
you’re about to be reborn spiritually. And if you do have a of this whole Universe. So if you are blessed with this realized
Guru, and you’re still having stormy weather, have no doubt: saint as your Guru, just hold onto his feet. The place where
It is that nonstop trickster in action, silently working on you, such a seer resides is Mathura or Ayodhya.
silently crushing your ego mercilessly. Silently enjoy those
storms, even if they happen again and again. Don’t complain. Guruji at Devipuram
Just go through them. It will all be perfect in the end. These
stormy rides are His secret ways of elevating your awareness. What about spending a day at Devipuram, a small village
housing the world’s largest Srichakra, built under the guid-
At Guru’s Feet ance of the Divine Mother by a Seer – Sri Annapoornamba
Sameta Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathy. People call him
There are different kinds of Gurus, of course. There are even “Guruji.”
Gurus who have not yet transcended their own limitations,
who have not realized that they are that Existence, Who is Guruji? He is a scientist, a perfectionist of the first
Consciousness and Bliss. They are only on the path to that order, a walking encyclopedia, an authority on Srividya and
spiritual peak. Such Gurus cannot take you “there.” After tak- Tantra and, above all, a brahma nishta, carrying those who
ing you to the farthest that they too have visited, you’ll take refuge at his feet to that great source, the Sarva Yoni.
know that they are not established in, but still on, their path If you ask him how a aircraft’s landing gear works, and you’ll
to nirvikalpa. get an answer detailed down to the last nut and bolt. If you
ask him about the practical application of the Fourier

July 2006 43
Kadambari

Transform in mathematics, he’ll explain it to you. If you ask If a spiritual leader visits Devipuram, he will make them sit on
him about the deepest significance of Maha Shodashi the chair while he sits on the ground and listens to them. If
Mantra, he’ll draw a few diagrams and explain it to you, as if Devipuram staff members try to hold that huge, traditional
you were kid in first grade and he was your mother teaching umbrella over him during any function, he’ll chase them away
you addition and subtraction – only now the subject con- with a few blasts, silently explaining that “the whole akasa
cerns the Universes and Galaxies. (Space) is my umbrella”. If any disciple showers him with
undue extra respect, he’ll ignore them totally. He won’t even
Guruji is silent. He speaks hardly at all. His face reflects that look at them. He never appeals to anyone’s ego nor com-
silence within – an unfathomable depth. When he speaks, it is plains about anything. He eats a simple diet without com-
for a purpose – the words slowly and gently flow out, and plaining for salt and spice. He attends calls on the Devipuram
soon the silence reigns supreme again. Disciples find him phone himself. He never avoids a call from one of his disciples
answering their questions with more silence than words. The or anyone who wants to talk to him. He sometimes fields
very pauses he makes between sentences and words often close to 50 calls a day without any expression on his face. He
suffice to convey what you sought him for. But he claims is simple.
nothing – not for the spiritual progress of his disciples; not
for his being an extremely knowledgeable Guru. He simply On the other hand, he encourages people to live the life they
says it is Universal Mother who is doing everything, and want without any second thoughts. He assures them that
requests that we not unnecessarily bring his name into pic- they don’t have to forego anything to gain liberation. He says
ture. that the whole of Devipuram stands for that: Creativity,
Adoration and Beauty. He suggests the latest tattoos that
His spiritual discourses are quite scientific, mixing both sci- replace mehndi to women who visit Devipuram. He advises
ence and spirituality to give everyone a good grasp of vari- people to decorate Devi to their fullest satisfaction, howev-
ous aspects of how God’s rules work scientifically in the er they want. He is a mix of traditional values and modernism.
world. Goddess Lalita is “anEka kOti brahmAnda jananI”, and He has a passion for creativity and inventiveness. He
since Guru is no one else but Her, you’ll learn to create approaches his work like a scientist, meticulously attending
Universes and destroy them, thus becoming a Godly disciple; to details, whether it’s writing down the title on a freshly
even a super-Einstein. No one would ever come to know that burnt CD or constructing of a complex, 54-foot-high Sri
somewhere in space, Universes are being created. If you’re Chakra temple.
able to create Universes having become Him, then what is
He? Though Guruji’s discourses deeply involve Sastra and Guruji Amma at Devipuram
many unrevealed aspects of Mantra Sastra, they always end
in making us contemplate the Maha Vakyas and realize our If Guruji is the life-force of Devipuram, then Guruji Amma –
true self. Guruji’s wife – is the spinal cord. The whole of Devipuram
functions effectively because of her – Srimati
He has a decent HP computer with the latest Intel processor Annapoornamba. She is the most loveable, friendly of moth-
and he works on it for at least eight hours a day. He himself ers and a highly disciplined taskmaster. If Guruji takes things
designs animation presentations – from jotting down the easy, Amma makes sure that everything is spic-and-span, and
storyboard, to splitting it into different scenes, and all the attended to by all with the utmost care. She often gives
way up to coding them in MX-Director software. His produc- every staff member a bag full of guavas or mangoes to carry
tions have the strength of a rich aesthetic sense. It is not home for their kids – but she also makes sure they discharge
uncommon that, over time, people who work with him grad- their duties without fail. She is a project manager and admin-
ually get the same aesthetic sense themselves and start istrator of high caliber, and efficiently handles both jobs and
developing a richer taste in every aspect of life. If you drive people of all different kinds.
a stick-shift car for him, he’ll make you a better driver, teach-
ing you how a good driver effectively utilizes gears com- She attends to the needs of Guruji throughout the day.
pared to brakes. If he hands over a job to you, he expects you Whatever she may be doing, if Guruji calls her she comes run-
to work on it with 200 percent effort and blesses you with ning to him. Let Guruji ask for whatever documents or
the strength and passion to perform. records – even if they are ten years old – and Amma will go
into the storage room and be back with the requested mate-
What about Guruji the man? How does he look? He wears the rials within 10 minutes. She maintains accounts of the daily
simplest white clothes – white dhoti with half sleeves; an sales of different photos, CDs, books and maintenance tick-
unpressed cotton kurta; no pomp whatsoever. Guruji does ets. She needs no calculators or fancy organizers – for her,
not care about his dress. Amma makes sure that he dresses her brain is enough.
comfortably and decently. After his bath, he puts on what-
ever clothes are placed on the table near the bathroom by Amma decides the daily menu in the canteen, measures the
Amma. For the many functions that he must preside over, ingredients and gives them to the cook. Things are very sys-
he’ll simply get up from the bed in the evening after his two tematic and streamlined; if there is a surprise delicacy each
hours nap, wash his face, have a small cup of sugarless tea day, it is due to Amma. She is an expert in making different
and get into the car with the same simple clothes – some- Pachadis, the ones that need careful preparation to last for
times a crumpled kurta speckled with a few drops of dried a year. She decides when the harvest of Mangoes will be. She
sambar spilt while taking lunch. directs “Ammatalli” to shake the gooseberries and tamarinds

July 2006 44
Kadambari

in Devipuram only after they’ve been there in the tree for at But Guruji is difficult to understand. There is way of defining
least two months. She knows the techniques of preserving him into any particular category. Even longtime disciples
the invaluable resources of Devipuram throughout the year. struggle to cope with the enigma, to thoroughly understand
him. It appears as though it is the Super-Mind itself that is
Whereas Guruji distributes his seven hours of sleep into working through him; a mind that is difficult if not impossi-
three short naps at periodic gaps, Amma sleeps for a solid six ble to comprehend.
hours during one stretch in the night. She never sleeps in the
daytime – she works for 16 to 18 hours a day without ever Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra speaks of realized souls being able to
getting bored or upset. Even today, at age 67, she is there in momentarily create minds for themselves on an as-needed
the canteen at 5.30 a.m. sharp, boiling milk for everyone’s basis and destroy them soon after – well, we can experience
tea. You have to see it to believe it! Even while watching TV that here at Devipuram. For it appears as if the mind Guruji
occasionally, she’ll also be silently making small wicks from creates for himself in one situation does not bear any rela-
cotton wool. And if she makes a trip to the Vizag house, she’ll tion to the mind he creates for himself in another. Every
carry a ball of cotton wool to continue this wick-making mind seems freshly minted. Still, you will never fail to per-
there. Once she has made enough wicks, she’ll switch to mak- ceive his unconditional love and the assurance that you’re
ing broomsticks from dry coconut leaves herself, taking hun- progressing steadfastly in your spiritual sadhana.
dreds of sticks patiently off the leafs.
No one knows whether Guruji abides in some other world,
One day, the wireless phone in Devipuram started ringing quickly descending to ours to talk with us and then returning
with its distinctive musical ring tone. Amma quickly told a dis- whence he came, somewhere else in Universe. Devi revealed
ciple in Telugu, mocking that ringing tone in her own funny one more of his names:
way, “Occhindi, Babu! Vellu! Ngoyyong ... Ngoyyong (Go friend!
It has come! Ngoyyong ... Ngoyyong)!” The disciple, surprised | nirvikalpAnanda sAgara hamsAya namah |
at her spot-on imitation of the ring, had to laugh out loud
before picking up the call. If she opens a squeaky door, she’ll “The swan that ever swims in the ocean of nirvikalpa.”
also mock that sound immediately, making everyone around
giggle silently. One early morning in Devipuram, Guruji silently allowed a dis-
ciple to place a few vilva patras (bilva leaves) on his head
When a senior seeker came to Devipuram to discuss a instead of directing him to go to Shivalaya and pay homage
depressive disorder he was suffering from, Amma told him, to Shiva. Anakapalle Gurugaru, Guruji’s Guru – an avadhoota,
“What is the use of sadhana? You should be able to see your an adept in 42 of 64 tantras – said of Guruji in one of his
depressions as if they were happening to a third person. speeches that for his tapas on brahma jnana, he should have
Because you are that observing Atma always.” Even today, been in samadhi forever – but because of Devi’s will, He came
she never misses her daily pujas. She has been chanting to build this temple at Devipuram.
Durga Saptasathi for the last 20-plus years – every single
day, without fail. If you have always entertained thoughts of visiting
Devipuram, but have never made it, don’t delay. Time is tick-
Amma divides the flowers everyday for different shrines, ing. The mere darshan of such a seer destroys sins commit-
sends kumkum to the temple as it is required, prepares the ted in thousands of previous births – and elevates you to
samagri required for homas on Tuesdays, and makes sure Liberation.
Guruji has his food and medicines on time. She assigns eight
hours of work to staff members. She attends to Guruji If you’ve never made it to Devipuram, come. You’ll meet
whenever he calls. She attends to phone calls patiently. She these two souls who have incessantly served society for
makes those delicious long-asting Avakaais and other decades together. If you think you should come and serve
pachadis. She maintains the accounts. She knows where them, do not delay. It is the rarest blessing you can get. If
everything is. It’s plain to see that the whole of Devipuram you’re in search of your Guru, come to Devipuram. However
depends upon her for so much of its everyday, normal func- tight your schedule may be, however big a business magnate
tioning. She is usually awake until 10.30 or 11:00 p.m. every you may be, however knowledgeable an upasaka you are –
night. She works and works and works, without a break, with- come! Come to Devipuram! This is a place that will help you
out wasting a minute. expand your consciousness to the entire Universe!

Come to Devipuram

There is an aStottara Sata nAmavali (Hymn of One Hundred


and Eight Names) of Guruji, revealed by Devi to Sri Haran Aiya
of the Rajarajeshwari Peetam in Rush, New York, which
includes a shloka for meditating on his form. The sloka has a
line “sakala vidyAlankAriNIm” – the one who is decorated with
varieties of knowledge. You can experience this line if you
spend a few days in Devipuram.

July 2006 45
THE
MAGIC
of
MUSIC
in Everyday Life

By Dr. Dwaram Thiagaraju, Ph.D.


Music is mathematics made audible. emaill : dwaramthyagaraj@yahoo.com
– George Santayana
Dr. Thiagaraju holds a Ph.D in Carnatic Music and has
If music be the food of love, play on. performed in various esteemed venues.
– William Shakespeare He works for Kendriya Vidyalaya as a music teacher.

Music is a beautiful expression that transports people


to a different world of total bliss. Music – and espe-
cially Carnatic music – is a medium through which
both the performer’s and the listener’s minds are In its original Sanskrit, that last proverb above goes like this:
deeply engrossed in the nadham that soothes the “sisureveethi pasurveethi – veethi gaanarasam phanih.” It is a
mind and fills the heart. Carnatic Music has bhakti as famous saying which means that toddlers, animals and even
its prime bhavam, so it is the equivalent to having serpents are captivated by the magic of music.
darshan in a temple or a holy dip in the Ganga to wash
away our sins. Music is capable of taking people to a Music casts its magical spell over the daily routine of every-
world of ecstasy and divinity. one’s life. From time immemorial music has influenced peo-
– Nithyasree Mahadevan, Carnatic vocalist ple from different crosssections of life with telling effect.
Music has been viewed by the Indian people just not only as
Music washes away the dust of everyday life. an art form but also as a branch of science. It is studied with
– Sanskrit Proverb reverence and passed down through the generations.

July 2006 46
Kadambari

A 24-hour day is broadly divided into six parts by the Carnatic folklore surrounding the same. We are told of the supernat-
system of Indian classical music, and into four parts by the ural miracles that occurred with the help of appropriate
Hindustani system. Human psychological and physiological compositions being rendered by various saints, court musi-
states at different times of a day were carefully studied and, cians and composers of India. Also well known are more
accordingly, certain suitable sets of ragas with meaningful recent reports of higher crop yields when the plants are
frequencies were suggested by our ancestors, who believed exposed to the symphonies and certain other compositions
that exposure to such music would enable them to bring of all-time great composers such as Bach, Beethoven and
about their best performance at these various times. Mozart. These events are testimonies to the fact that music

Music in India is also viewed as a way to attain salvation. is indeed divine and can influence the human (and vegetable!)
Hence it must be understood that these divisions of the day body and mind.
and fixations of ragas therein are part of an attempt to min-
imize the negative effects of life and enhance the positive The spiritual aspects of music are immense. The very pur-
circles of energy. pose of music is to attain salvation or moksa, according to
Hindu philosophy. The musicians of yore were looked upon
In the early hours of the day, for example, people tend to with great reverence and people thronged to listen to their
have a half-sleepy mood and drowsy feeling, which is why music filling the air with melody. Composer-saints led their
early morning ragas in both systems of Indian classical music life by high ideals and remained as idols for the generations
are those which shake off laziness and urge the human mind who followed. Their birth and death anniversaries are cele-
to awaken and forge ahead with a definite purpose. Later, in brated and observed with reverence around the world.
the heat of the midday, we find another set of ragas, which
encourage us to relax a bit and pace ourselves. Evening and Indeed, the magic of music is spread all around the Universe.
night ragas, in their turn, are exactly what we need after a The very existence of the Universe is based upon those same
hard day’s work. vital fundamentals of physics that also form the basis of
music; that is, vibrations. This universal language of music is
The impact of music was recognized by the intellectuals of best understood, however, when it is produced in its required
yesteryears, who scaled great heights in developing a “music form with devotion, dedication and discipline.
therapy” designed to be subtly imbibed into the daily routine Parama-Siva is the Adi-Guru of Srividya. Hanuman is the
of Indian life. It is with regret, however, that we must observe Eleventh Rudramsa, and so He is Siva Himself. When Vishnu
how very few of these principles are practiced with the came forth in the Avatara of Sri Rama, Siva assumed the
degree of dedication and discipline originally intended. form of Hanuman to assist him in his purpose of the Avatara.

Music therapy, as it is popularly known today, was practiced In one peculiar context, Sri Rama once asked Hanuman, “Who
much earlier in India, and there is a considerable amount of are you?”

July 2006 47
HANUMAN AND
SRIVIDYA
By Prof. P. A. Seshan,
A postgraduate in English literature, Prof. Seshan is an All India First in IAS, etc., examination
and a University orator gold medalist. He has held prestigious assignments at the Accountant
General and Director level in both the public and private sector. The world-renowned
Prof. K. Swaminathan described Seshan as a great devotee of Sri Hanuman, and Seshan has
been traditionally initiated into Hanuman worship by the Venerable Janakirama Sastry of
Nagarjunasagar. In Srividya, Seshan was given the deeksha name Amrithapadanada by
Devipuram Guruji Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswati. Seshan is currently teaching Sri.Hanuman
worship and Srividya to aspirants.

Hanuman replied, “From the point of view of this body, I am Hanuman’s reply, Sri Rama embraced Hanuman with affec-
your servant. From the point of view of life energy within tion and respect. Hanuman and Sri Rama are indeed one and
me, I am infinitesimal particle of you. But realistically speak- the same. We have the dictum, “Sri Ramo Lalithambika, Sri
ing, You and I are one and the same.” Krishna Syamalatmika.”

This same high philosophy is echoed in Adi Shankaracharya’s There is an interesting anecdote in the form of a dialogue
Advaita epiphany, Manisha Panchakam. Upon hearing between Siva and Parvathy. When Siva proposed to incarnate

July 2006 48
Kadambari

as Hanuman, Parvathy asked Him, “What is my role?” Siva Realize that you, the Self, your Guru, the entire Universe, the
smilingly replied that Parvathy would be his tail. Therefore, Divine Feet, and Sri Chakra are all one and indivisible. This
Hanuman’s tail is Parvathy and Hanuman is Siva. Hanuman is “abheda bhavanam” is Sri Chakra Poojanam; and it is also the
thus the combination of Siva and Shakti. He is the embodi- greatest meditation.
ment of Sivashakthiaikyam.
May All be blessed by Sri Amrita Anandanatha Saraswathy –
Once, by tearing open his chest, Hanuman demonstrated the who is the Divine Mother Herself – with good health, long life,
presence of Sri Rama and Sri Sita is his Daharakasa. Hanuman enough wealth, prosperity, and wisdom.
is the rarest of that rare combination of FAITH, DEVOTION,
and SURRENDER. JAI HANUMAN!

There is a beautiful prayer of Hanuman, addressing the


Divine Mother Para Bhatarika Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari.
Hanuman prays thus:

“Amba, be pleased with me. I am a small child lying in your lap.


I don’t know how to speak. And even if I did know how to
speak, I could not now because my mouth is busy drinking
milk from your breast.”

Can any surrender be greater than this?

Meditate on Hanuman in your Chidakasa. Let Hanuman be


slowly transformed into Sri Rama and Sri Sita, who after
some time get transfigured as Siva and Shakti. One can start
this meditation with one’s Guru in the Chidakasa; and then
Hanuman. In due course, Siva and Sakti change into two
Divine Feet which, in turn, become SRI CHAKRA.

July 2006 49
S A N D H YA
- A Brief Study

By Advaitananda, a Disciple of Guruji


email : advaitAnandanAtha@gmail.com
tvameva sandhya sAvitrI tvaM vedajananI parA
O Devi! You are the one termed as sandhya,
You are Savitri , the mother of Vedas and Para.

(Devimahatmya Stuti)

The 422nd name of the Lalita Sahasranama gives Devi’s name yA sandhya saiva gAyatrI dvidhAbhUtA vyavasthitA
as “Sandhya.” The term sandhya – denoting the three pass- gAyatrI nAma pUrvAhne sAvitrI maddhyame dine
ing phases of the Sun in a day – has been given its own spir- sarasvatI ca sAyAhne saiva sandhya trishhu smr^itA|
itual significance at each such phase, along with separate
shaktikendras (energy centers) and places to be meditated That which is sandhya is verily Gayatri Herself.
upon. Sandhya-vandanas and sadhanas related to the day’s The sandhya in morning is Gayatri, in afternoon Savitri
three sandhyas can play an important role in the day-to-day and in the evening Saraswati.
life of a sadhaka. Most visualizations connected to Devi can
be seen as tied with the Sun, perhaps because the Sun is the (Yajnavalkya Smriti)
most brilliant object in the human being’s experience. Chapters 16-19 of the 11th skanda of Devi Bhagavata give
Generally sandhya-vandanas are related to Gayatri upasana – details of Gayatri upasana as the three sandhyas. Apart from
which again is nothing but Sridevi Herself: the connection to the phases of the Sun, we can discern fur-
ther inferences to the meaning of the term, e.g.:

July 2006 50
Kadambari

AtmaparamAtmanorekatvaGYAnena Thus Your form is like that of the day – with creation, pro-
tayorbheda eva vibhagnaH sA sandhya | tection and destruction corresponding with the karma, bhak-
ti and jnana of the Vedas.

The perception that they are two is broken by the realisation (Samba Panchashika)
that atma and paramatma are one; and this is sandhya.
The three different meditations of Gayatri used in the three
(Paramahamsopanishad) sandhyas can be seen as parallel to those of the Sun here. If
Gayatri Devi needs a form or symbol, the closest we can
come to is that of the Sun. Thus the three sandhyas symbol-
This is the dharana that the sadhaka should have while doing ize the universal power represented by the Vedas with satva,
sandhyopasana. And again: rajas and tamo gunas.

bhrUvor ghrANasya ca yassandhiH sa eshha All meditations of Gayatri are done in the eyebrow center.
dyolokasya paralokasya ca The same is taught in the yoga schools as the meditation
sandhiH bhavatIti etadvai sandhIM sandhyAM brah- point. It is by the sadhana done at this chakra that we release
mavida upAsata iti | the unity of jiva and ishvara, athma and paramathma, brah-
man and parabrahman, shiva and shakti, naada and bindu.
The point where the nose meets the eyebrow center Here they all join (sandhi) and become sandhya. This is where
Is where the dhyoloka and paraloka meet. advaita is experienced.
This place of joining (sandhi) is that, which the wise worship
as ‘sandhya’ – “Time resides at the Ajna Chakra: Without crossing it,
This is the center in which to meditate. you cannot reach the Timeless domain.”

(Ramotharatapini Upanishad) (Guruji Amritananda Natha Saraswati)

This is the manastana of Ajna Chakra: Sandhya, or that eyebrow center, essentially denotes the
transition point. The morning sandhya denotes the starting
nAdarUpaM bhruvormaddhye of dhyana as Gayatri, in the afternoon the completion of
manaso maNDalaM viduH, dhyana as Savitri and the evening sandhya, the fulfillment of
sa vai nAdaH bindustadvai cittaM prakIrttitaM | dhyana as Saraswati.

The mandala of the mind, located at the eyebrow center, is In Srividya tradition, the meditation of each deity is done in
nadarupa. the respective chakras of the human body: MahaGanapati in
And this nAdam is verily ‘Bindu,’ which again is nothing but Muladhara, Lalitha Mahatripurasundari in Swadishtana, Raja
Consciousness. Shyamala in Anahata, MahaVarahi in Ajna and Para in
Sahasrara Chakra.
(Yogashika Upanishad)
This completes a cycle. If the position of the chakras is com-
The meaning of the term sandhya is “samyak dhyAyati pared to the movement of Sun with respect to the sadhaka,
sarvAn” – the one in which everything is meditated is sand- it will yield the approximate time in which each sadhana is to
hya! The only point in which we meditate entirely is the eye- be done: MahaGanapati in the dawn, Lalita in the morning,
brow center. That point, which combines vyaShTi (singleness Shyama in the afternoon. Sandhya points to the center
and individuality) and samaShTi (wholeness and totality), is where the Sun is setting and the meditations on chakras
sandhya. after this are done after the Sun has set. Maybe it is because
of this that Parashurama explicitly puts “na diva smareth
prAtassandhyAruNakiraNabhAgR^i~NmayaM rAjasa varthalim.” Meditation and sadhana of Mahavarahi comes
M yanmaddhye cApi jvaladiva yajUH shukLabhAH after the sandhya position, the eyebrow centre, and so
sAtvikaM vA should only be done after sunset, i.e. at the night. Para sad-
sAyaM sAma stimitakiraNaM yattamollAsirUpaM hana, which is done on the Sahasrara, denotes the time after
sAhnaH sargasthitilayavidhAvAkR^itiste trayIva || this; so all upasana of Para is and should be done around or
after midnight. After sandhya there is no feeling of duality in
In the morning Your (the Sun’s) form is that of sandhya with the sadhaka. Mahavarahi Herself symbolizes the conquering
red rays, rajasa guna and Rigveda svarupa. of pride and ego – the “I” feeling in the sadhaka. And while
doing ParA sadhana, the sadhaka IS Devi.
In the afternoon it is like that of the brilliant Yajurveda, white
and satvika. In the evening, the form is that of Samaveda, like Like the tireless Sun, which never fails to rise or set, so the
stagnant rays and dark-formed. sadhaka repeats the cycle over and over, till he or she no
longer has a sandhya.

July 2006 51
Kadambari

hR^idayAkAshe cidAdityaH sadA bhAsati bhAsati should remember and meditate on all the above – and that,
nAstameti na codeti kathaM sandhyAmupAsmahe. by itself, will lead to the shining of the cidaaditya in the
cidaakaasha. Thus doing manana on this name alone will lead
When the Sun of Consciousness is shining all the time in the to siddhi and liberation. We become swatantras, which is
sky of heart, there is no more rising or setting. Then where the very aim of sadhana.
is sandhya – and how can we do upasana of sandhya?

(Maitreyi Upanishad)

Thus once we have attained that unity, even for a moment,


then there are no sandhyas; there is no rise or fall. If we are
lucky enough to be able to maintain this state, then we shall
indeed become Devi, who is the Universe – and so the three
kalas – the past, the present and the future; and the three
gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas – fuse into unity and one
lives in Sat-chid-ananda. All this is implied in the name sand-
hya; and when we reach this naama in the Sahasranama, we

July 2006 52
TRIPURA SIDDHANTHA

By Dr. Goda Venkateswara Sastry


email : godasastry@gmail.com

Dr. Goda Venkateswara Sastry is a traditional scholar in the Vedas and


Sastras, with an equal proficiency in Western philosophy.
He has taught the Sastras to many students at advanced levels, and has also
authored many books and articles. He is a great Srividya Upasaka, guiding
many disciples by giving diksha.

The Vedas are the primal source of all spiritual knowledge in The term “Tantra” has a wide range of connotations.
India. They are four in number – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Originally it signified any sastra or text relating to a particu-
Veda and Atharva Veda. The last Veda is viewed by many as lar system. Later it came to signify a particular body of reli-
the precursor of the Tantras, because of its magical ele- gious texts belonging to the different theistic systems such
ments and its widespread popularity for serving the pressing as Saiva, Sakta and Vaishnava. Thus the term Tantra con-
needs of everyday life. But Tantra really means knowledge, notes a system, which elaborates something of great import
or a kind of teaching that was widespread: Tantrya te connected with mantras and tattwas, which in their turn lead
Vistartate gnanam anena. to emancipation or liberation.

July 2006 53
Kadambari

The Sakta system is based on various Tantras. There are 64 After this, the disciple dons new clothes and, adorned with
main tantras but the Swatantra Tantra or Tantra raja tantra flower garlands, is instructed to sit near while the Matruka
is the main tantra of the system. The Parasurama Kalpa Sutra Nyasa with 51 letters is performed on his body. Then a cloth
is essentially the manual of the Sakta system; accompanied is tied over his eyes, and holy water is sprinkled over him as
by Rameswara Suri’s commentary on these sutras. There is the Pancha-panchika Mantra is uttered. And then the Tripura
another manual, written by Umananda Natha, called the Siddhanta is taught to him. After this three ginger bits
Nityotsava. These works are authoritative and are scrupu- soaked in Vishesha Arghya and sandal paste are placed in the
lously followed by Saktas, who accordingly are benefited by hands of the disciple, along with some flowers. The disciple is
the same. instrructed to consume the same, uttering the tattwa
mantras. Guru then recites the Gurupaduka mantra into the
As one enters the arena of Srividya or Sakta worship, Diksha right ear of the disciple. Only at this time are the Mula
is the first Samskara. At the time of Diksha, The Guru cleans- mantras of Bala and other deities initiated.
es the subtle body of the disciple and kindles the kundalani
dormant within that disciple. Then, by the various sadhanas Thus, Tripura Siddhanta forms an important part of the
given by the Guru and followed by the disciple with sincerity, Diksha. Although this is taught to everyone at the time of
improvement occurs and finally liberation results. Thus Diksha, it is not remembered by all. Hence it is given here so
Diksha is the first step in the Sadhana. that upasakas may benefit by it.

Diksha is important, as this knowledge is very secret and is Tripura Siddhanta


imparted only to qualified persons. It is not available to all, like
the Vedas. Three kinds of Dikshas were given in these manu- The basic elements are five; namely, (1) the Earth, (2) water,
als: They are (1) Sambhavi Diksha, (2) Sakthi Diksha and (3) (3) fire, (4) air and (5) space. The subtle forms of these five
Mantri Diksha. elements are smell, taste, color, touch and sound. The five
action-oriented sense organs are the mouth, hands, feet,
The first, Sambhavi Diksha, consists of mentally performing organs of excreta and urination. The five knowledge-orient-
the Raktha Sukla nyasa of Kameswari and Kameswara on the ed sense organs are the skin, eyes, ears, tongue and nose.
head of the Disciple. All the impurities of the Disciple, both Ahankara, Intellect, and mind – made up of the three gunas;
internal and external, are thereby removed. This is called the Rajas, Satwa and Tamas – are the three forms of the inner
Sambhavi Diksha in the form of Charana Vinyasa. instrument. Prakruti is the form produced when all of the
gunas stated above are in equal proportion.
The next Diksha is Sakthi Diksha, in which the Guru, by his
yogic powers, forms a light of consciousness extending from Chitta is the person called Purusha or Jiva. The various prop-
the Muladhara up to the Brahmarandhra in the body of the erties existing in the Lord Iswara – such as independence,
disciple; and, by the rays of that Consciousness, all impurities eternality, ever-satisfied, total “doer”-ship, and omniscience –
in the body of disciple are burnt away. This is called the Sakthi are reduced in Jivas, becoming known as Niyathi, Kaala, Raga,
Diksha in the form of the Entry of Sakthi. Kalaa and Avidya. Maya is knowledge of the difference
between Jiva and Paratman. Suddhavidya is knowledge of
Mantri Diksha is the third Diksha. In this stage, 13 herbs as the identity between them. Iswara is the same Paratman
enumerated in the Nithyostava are first powdered, and then when he sees the world as “that.” When the world is cog-
seven kinds of earth are collected, i.e., nized as “I,” He is known as Sadasiva.

1. earth from a place where an elephant was tied, Sakti is the wish of the Paratman to create the worlds. He
2. earth from a place where horses were tied, who possesses this Sakthi is the first tattwa, namely Siva.
3. earth from a place where four roads meet, These are the 36 tattwas, which are the subject of this
4. earth from a bush Sastra. The world, comprising these 36 tattwas, is the body
5. earth from a place where a river meets the Sea, of the Paramasiva. The Jiva is nothing but Iswara covered, by
6. earth from the tank; and His own free will, with the “jacket” of the five tattwas, start-
7. earth from the place where cows are tied are brought. ing from Niyathi. When this jacket is removed, He becomes
Iswara. Liberation is attained by the knowledge of His own
Over these a kumbha, a pot, is set; scented water is poured Swarupa.
into it, and then all of the 13 herbs are placed inside. A new
cloth is wrapped around the pot and on all sides of the pot Mantra Upasana
puja is performed with Bala shadanga mantras. Then the
chakras of Lalitha, Syama and Varahi are placed in the anoint- All sounds in the form of the alphabet are eternal. The
ed water. Avarana Pujas of the above three deities are per- mantras have a potency which cannot be expressed. All sid-
formed to the kumbha, then it is once again purified with the dhis will result – by strong belief in the Guru, Deity and sas-
Astra mantra. Next the Dhenu and Yoni mudras are shown to tra – in the form of sampradaya, as upadesa from his Guru,
it. Then, in a pure place, the Matruka yantra is drawn with Paramaguru, etc. The pramanya of this Sastra is achieved
sandal paste and the Disciple is asked to sit over it. Uttering only placing one’s full trust and confidence in Guru, Deity and
the Mula Mantras of Lalitha, Syama and Varahi, the disciple is Sastra. The knowledge of the Pratyagatman, the sole cause
then bathed by the holy waters in the pot.

July 2006 54
Kadambari

of liberation, is obtained by meditation upon the identity of Essential Points to Remember


the Guru, Mantra, Deity and one’s own Self, as shown by
one’s Guru, and by controlling the mind and pranas by singu- -- Everything known is an offering to the Deity;
lar effort. If one is in privacy, one may perform worship with -- The sensory organs are the ladles by which the offerings
the Five M’s. One will go to hell if one advertises it. One will are given to the Deity;
achieve the capability of vanquishing and helping by one’s -- All properties residing in the upasaka in minute form –
own Will Power. such as the Omniscience of Lord, etc. – are the flames of
holy fires;
Some Guidelines for Upasakas -- One’s own Consciousness is the holy fire;
-- He Himself is the person offering;
-- One should not abuse other Darsanas or forms of worship; -- The fruit of worship is the immediate perception of
-- Barring the Deity one worships, one should not possess Paramatman, devoid of any gunas;
utmost trust on other deities; · There is nothing greater than the attainment of one’s
-- One should teach all the secrets of the upasana to the original, permanent nature.
qualified disciple;
-- One should constantly remember, or meditate upon, the This in short is the summum bonum of this Sastra. The
Deity one has taken for Upasana. knowledge of this Tripura Siddantha is secret and should be
-- One should always think as, “I am Siva.” divulged only to the qualified disciple. May all the disciples
-- One should be devoid of six doshas – the emotions such as obtain the grace of Gurumandala and the Lalita Parameswari
desire, anger, miserliness, delusion, arrogance and jeal- and be blessed with liberation.
ousy. One should also avoid hurting others unless it is
ordained in the Vedas. One should not entertain hating -- OM --
women in general.
-- One should worship and do service to one Guru, who is
Omniscient.
-- One should not entertain any doubt on the words of one’s
Sastra or Guru.
-- One should not earn money for one’s own enjoyment;
-- One should always do one’s duties without seeking the
fruits of the same;
-- One’s duties – as ordained to on account of one’s birth or
position – should not be avoided.
-- One should perform daily worship even if one does not
have all the ingredients.
-- One should cultivate fearlessness from everything, in per-
forming the duties ordained.

July 2006 55
SRI MAHAGANAPATI MEDITATION
A N I N - D E P T H G U I D E

By Sri Atmananda
email : maakash@md4.vsnl.net.in

Let us pray to the lineage of Gurus from Lord Dakshinamurti to (one’s


own Guru), to dispel the clouds of darkness by the winds of grace.

In the usual procedure of imparting mantras during initiation, holding a lotus in the other. The weapons in the Lord’s arms
it is typically the Mahaganapathy mantra that is first given to are (sequentially clockwise, from the right lowermost arm to
the seeker by the Guru, along with the Gurupaduka and Bala the left) the pomegranate, mace, sugarcane, trident, and
mantras. discus; and (descending now from the left uppermost arm)
lotus, noose, blue lily, paddy and a broken tusk. In His trunk is
The process of meditation begins with imagining the form of a jewel-studded ornamental pot filled with nectar.
the deity as described in the meditation verse, called the
dhyana sloka. The dhyana sloka of Mahaganapathy describes What follows is a method to help us to visualize
His ten-armed form (eleven including His trunk), with His Mahaganapathy’s form while chanting His mantra, which con-
Shakti (wife), Siddhalakshmi, seated on His left lap. She wears sists of 28 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet:
lustrous ornaments, and embraces Him with one hand while

July 2006 56
Kadambari

Om SrIm HrIm KlIm glaum gam 7. Ganapataye is the form for invoking the Lord. Imagine
ganapataye varavarada sarvajanam me vasamAnaya svAhA your head resting upon His feet. This implies a continuance
of the above-noted state of Samadhi.
1. First, while repeating Om, mentally imagine the beautiful
elephant face of the Lord. 8. varavarada is a prayer to the Lord to bestow upon us the
best boons and blessings. Meditate here upon the ornamen-
2. SrIm indicates the divine couple, Lakshmi and Narayana. tal pot of nectar held by His trunk. Imagine that He is show-
Imagine in Mahaganapathy’s right uppermost arm the discus ering it over you and you are drenched. The best of boons is
of Narayana and in the left uppermost arm the lotus of the experience of the Unlimited Bliss that leads to immortal-
Laksmi. They represent Time and the Earth (in its gross ity; amruta. This may represent the sahaja state, wherein the
aspect), respectively. This appears to us as the Time-Space realized one goes about his daily chores but remains aware of
continuum (the sthiti), which prevents an individual from his blissful state always. (The dhyana sloka ends with a prayer
experiencing the eternal. We can here interpret this as relat- to the Lord – who is the creator, sustainer and annihilator of
ing to an individual in the world and his seeking of a Guru to the world – to bestow our cherished boons.)
him experience the unlimited.
9. sarvajanam me vasamAnaya means “let all people be sub-
3. HrIm indicates the divine couple, Gauri and Sankara. jugated to me.” We find the clue for our meditation in the
Imagine in the second-from-the-top right arm the trident of word “people,” which indicates the Universe. The embrace of
Sankara, and in the corresponding left arm the noose of Siddalakshmi can be interpreted as the creative urge and the
Gauri. They represent the removal of triputi (the three lotus in the other hand as the manifest (gross) Earth (the last
stages of experience- the seen, the seer and the act of see- subtle element; the result by default of mixing the other
ing) and of desires respectively. This is the annihilation ( four previous subtle elements). Hence we meditate on
samhara), which is the removal of the individual ego by the Siddhalakshmi – the Creatrix of the Universe, seated on the
grace of a compassionate Guru. left lap of the Lord – with a firm conviction that the world,
the divine couple and the self are One.
4. KlIm indicates the divine couple, Rati and Manmatha.
Imagine in the third-from-top right arm the sugarcane bow 10. Finally, svAhA indicates an offering into the fire (here we
of Manmatha, and in the corresponding left arm the blue lily are also reminded of the fire sacrifice, ganapathy homam).
of Rati. They represent pure mind and secret spiritual knowl- Since whatever is offered into the fire becomes one with it,
edge, respectively. This may be likened to creation (srusti) of meditate upon the above truth and try to be in that experi-
a new field of experience for the blessed aspirant by the ence for a moment.
Guru, in directing him to follow a given path (sadhana) to
attain a constant experience of the eternal. Sri Ganesa Aids Sri Lalita Devi in Battle

5. Glaum indicates the divine couple, Bhumi (Earth) and Bhandasura, overcome with grief at the slaying of his 30
Varaha (the boar-faced avatar of Vishnu). Imagine in the sons by Sri Balambika, commanded his Prime Minister,
fourth-from-top right arm the mace of Varaha, and in the Vishanga, to destroy the enemy by any means. So Vishanga
corresponding left arm the paddy, indicative of Earth’s fer- threw a vigna yantra (a mystical diagram that causes obsta-
tility. They represent action and cycle of life (cyclic in the cles to arise) into the fire-walled fortress; and this caused the
sense of sowing, reaping, and again sowing), respectively. entire army of Sri Devi Lalita to grow lazy and tired. You see,
Though this may be likened to veiling of the universal experi- this vigna yantra had eight powers installed in it – Alsa (lazi-
ence (tirodhana), for an aspirant it is more akin to being led ness), krpaNa (miserliness), dIna (fear), nidrA (sleep), tandrA
by the Guru to complete detachment, in renouncing all fruits (tiredness), pramIlikA (inability to rest; persistent wakeful-
of his actions. ness), klIbA (impotency) and nirahamkAra (feigned humility;
lack of self-confidence).
6. Gam indicates the divine couple, Siddhalaksmi and
Mahganapathy. Imagine in the right-lowermost arm the Only Sri Lalita Devi-Kameswari, Her Prime Minister Sri Matangi,
pomegranate, representing different universes stacked like and Her Commander-in-Chief Sri Varahi were unaffected by
pomegranate seeds; and in the corresponding left arm the the yantra’s power. On request of Matangi and Varahi, Sri
tusk which represents the fruit of all sadhana, Ekam sat, the Lalita Devi glanced lovingly at Her Lord Kamesvara. The
One Truth, which is the experience of unqualified, undivided mighty Ganesa, with ten arms and his Sakti on His left lap,
Brahman as Bliss. This verily is the grace (anugraha) whereby emerged from the union of the divine couple’s glance. He
the seeker dives into a deep state of samadhi upon constant searched inside the fort, found the vighna yantra buried
practice and the grace of the Guru, who merges into him. deep in the soil, wrenched it out and destroyed it.

July 2006 57
Kadambari

He then created six couples like Himself – named rddhi- represent the ego) was caused by the actions of the ten
Amoda, samruddhi-pramoda, kAnti-sumukha , madanAvati- indiryas in the three states of waking, sleep and deep sleep
durmukha, madadravA-avighna, and draviNI-vighnakart – and (i.e., 10 x 3 = 30) by Balambika (who represents the constant
seven lakh (700,000) troops in His form to engage in the bat- awareness of the identity of self with Divine), creating doubt
tle. Viewing the mighty forces arrayed before him, Vishanga of the jivabhava (individual ego). The word jiva means the
sent Gajaasura, an elephant-faced asura, along with seven individual self possessed of the idea that he commands the
akshauhini armies, but they were completely vanquished by above puryastaka. When these ideas are destroyed by the
Mahaganapathy. Highly pleased with these heroic deeds, Sri True Knowledge of the Lord of puryastaka (which is the
Lalita conferred upon Ganesa (Mahaganapathy) the boon of knowledge created by ascertaining the true nature of the
the right to be worshiped before all other deities. self), then there are no qualities left to be qualified.

The Philosophical Meaning of the Battle Let us offer our most humble salutations to the
feet of the Guru, who has guided us in this med-
The Lalita Sahasranama describes the emergence and valor itation.
of Ganesa in two names (77 & 78). In his commentary,
Bhaskararaya identifies Ganesa as Lord of the Gana, which
are the puryastaka: (1) five karmendriyas; (2) five gnanen-
driyas; (3) mana with bhuddi, ahamkara; (4) five pranas; (5)
five bhutas; (6) kaama (desire); (7) karma (action); and (8)
avidya (ignorance). The destruction of Bhanda’s 30 sons (who

July 2006 58
GOOD
KARMA

By His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

This was the Dalai Lama’s advice at the dawn of this new millennium.
It is nice reading, and short. All it takes is a few seconds to read and think
over. So enjoy! But do not keep this message to yourself; share it! You will
get a very pleasant surprise. This is true for all, of whatever religious belief,
and even if you are not superstitious. Faith!

Instructions For Life 4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes
a wonderful stroke of luck.
1. Take into account that great love and great achieve-
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them proper-
ments involve great risk.
ly.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
3. Follow the three R's: Respect for self, Respect for oth-
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate
ers, and Responsibility for all your actions.
steps to correct it.

July 2006 59
Kadambari

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your val-


ues.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older
and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation


for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the


current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the Earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which


your love for each other exceeds your need for each
other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in


order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

July 2006 60
Kadambari

Something to
Cherish and Own

MAHAMERUS OF DEVIPURAM Dear Friend,


Mahameru, also called the Sri Chakra, is said to be the
mother of all Mandalas. It is said to have
originated from the Himalayan masters who
Blessings from Sahasrakshi !
practice Mandala meditations. Its sacred geometrical form
is revered in all Eastern traditions. Devipuram is fast becoming a Global Resource for Goddess worship. You
It integrates the essence of Chinese Feng Shui, may have heard about our ambitious project Manideepam. My vision and
Indian Mother worship, Egyptian Pyramids and the Christian dream is that, when complete, Manidweepam will be a place where all of
Eleusian Mysteries.
Mother’s children can experience beauty, peace, love and the power to
The Mahameru radiates an aura of Love and Orderliness, transform their own and others lives around them, for the better.
and creates a sacred space around it. Its mere presence is
said to cleanse the home of Vaastu and Feng Shui defects, Let me tell you a story. In 1984, before the Sri Meru temple was built at
ward off the evil eye, protect against
Devipuram, there was a small hillock where I would often spend time in
unfavorable planetary
influences and bring about healing, meditation. On the slopes of the hillock, I noticed a formation very simi-
prosperity and peace of mind. lar to that of the Kamakhya Peetam in Assam. One day, while in medita-
tion, I had the experience of lying on the peetam, while four others per-
The Mahameru does not require any formal prayers or
formed a Homam with flames emanating from my body. And during pur-
worship, or vegetarianism, to keep in the home;
only a reverential attitude. Its effects are enhanced by the nahuthi, I felt a heavy object being placed on my heart. Awakening from
playing of soft music in the home. People of all beliefs, my meditative state, I was prompted to dig at that site, and unearthed
religions and sects may reap the benefits of peace, from that very spot, a Yantra resembling a Mahameru of a unique design
healing and prosperity, by installing the Mandala
like no other that I had seen. I later discovered through meditations and
of Mahameru in their homes, offices,
shrines and places of worship, hospitals, healing centers, circumstances that a magnificent yagna had been performed at that
prayer halls and wedding centers. very location more than 250 years ago. This Mahameru was the inspira-
It is a great corporate gift to employees, tion for building the Sri Meru temple, which at 108’ wide, 54’ high,
empowering them in every possible way.
remains the largest Mahameru in the world.
This Mahameru comes to you from
Devipuram, India Today, I am very happy to announce that a unique new Mahameru has
the Global Resource for Goddess Worship and the site of been recently designed and created, inspired by the design of the origi-
the largest and most unique Mahameru in the world.
nal. The Meru has been precisely crafted with the greatest attention to
Exquisitely crafted out of pure bronze with
great and loving attention to detail, detail, and embellished with the symbols of the Chaturayatana deities -
the Mahameru comes in two sizes: Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu and Shiva.
10” x 10” x 5” and 5" x 5" x 2.5".
Each Mahameru comes with a Certificate of I pray that the Mahameru will bring lasting peace and prosperity to your
Authenticity from Devipuram. home.
Only a limited number of these Merus will be created.
To place an advance order for a Meru for your own home With love,
or office, kindly log on to our website and send us the
order form, quoting your requirements. Amritananda

July 2006 61
Kadambari

Function hall for 150


Devipuram Dining hall for 150
Ammulapalem BPO(Via)
Anakapalle - 531 001 3 dorms for 72
6 suits (a/c)
www.devipuram.com 30 double rooms
devipuram@yahoo.com Garden
+91 08924-237742 Car Parking

Sri Villa at Devipuram


Devipuram is fast becoming a Global Resource for Goddess Worship. Now,
Anakapally
a villa named Sri to fulfill your dreams is coming up with an affordable
timeshare concept which allows you or your nominees to stay free for 37
days every year.
1km
What people are saying about Devipuram today:
Sabbavaram
I have traveled the length and breadth of India, but nowhere have I seen
such a geometric design for a temple- the whole temple is a magnificent
towards
Sri Yantra – Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati, All the Khadgamala
Anakapally deities are here – An inspiring Pyramid structure exhibiting the adorable
passions of Nature – Any facilities for over night stay in this Maha Shakti
Airport Kshetra?

I would like to do workshops here - Arrange cultural events – Conduct


group rituals – Nice if some dorms are here – Can we get delicious food
and rest in a cool place in hot afternoons? - Find true soul mates – Get
Pendurthi
healed – Get Reiki, Sauna - Well maintained Gardens and parking will make
this place a heaven – Like to stay here all time, but what about my job?
Rly Station
– Can I spend a few days here every year? - Any affordable suites for
NH-5 people who like to serve Goddess here and spend time in peace? - Like to
give my near and dear a lasting gift of staying here………

Sri villa will have: a function hall for 150, a dining area for 150, dorms for
72, 6 a/c suites and 30 rooms for couples. The rooms are on offer as
timeshares at Rs 1,08,000, entitling 7 days free stay in season-October to
RTC Complex January, and 30 days off season. Adequate parking, toilets are provided.
If you want relatives to stay in an old age home, they can use the facili-
towards ties here by paying for 5 timeshares.
Culcutta

Location Plan

July 2006 62
Kadambari

Walkable distance
from famous
SRICHAKRA
temple of Devipuram,
the first of its
kind in the world.

Frequently asked questions about timeshares:

Can two or more people buy jointly?


Sure. They share the cost and time allotted.

Can we accumulate unused time?


Sure. An e-card will track records.

Any club arrangement?


We are working on Kondakarla Lotus pond, Buddhist monuments of
Bojjanna Konda, Simhachalam, Annavaram, Araku valley, Borra caves, and
Vizag beach resorts.

Volunteer opportunities?
Yes, many. Rural schools. Medical outreach. Temple services and much,
much more
Function and Dining Halls
Located amidst serene and
How can I help?
picturesque Devipuram hills.
Please make copies, circulate to friends, give a lasting, loving gift to near
and dear.
Function hall and dining area are
1700 sqft. adequate for 150 people.
How do I buy a time share?
Please fill in the enclosed form with a cheque or DD favouring N Annapurna
Adequate car and scooter parking and
@ Rs 54,000 / share and mail it to Guruji, 18-74-38, Kothasalipeta,
rest rooms provided.
530001, India. Phone 0891 3294371 or email to devipuram@yahoo.com

I am requesting you to make Devipuram a "Global Resource for Goddess


Worship. How?
1. Gift yourself a time share in Sri villa at Devipuram. It redefines every year a
Timeshare cottages purpose and zeal, and relaxes you into peace. It is a small price you pay
Each time share costs for helping yourself and helping Devipuram: by creating a beautiful facil-
Rs. 10,8,000 payable two installments; ity for all seekers.
Rs. 54,000 on booking and another 54,000
within four months of booking. 2. Circulate the attached information, phone, forward this email to your mail-
Each time share holder in entitled to free ing list of friends. The attachments give details about Sri villa. Let me
accommodation every year one week know if any one is interested. I will follow up.
in season (Oct to Jan) and 3. Think of this as an old age home, seminar hall, marriage hall, a place for
one month in off season. enterprising young minds to work and play. Gift a timeshare or a perma-
Block booking by phone or email to nent stay to your aged relatives. Give a holiday to your younger family
devipuram@yahoo.com; it is not confirmed back at home. Put your thinking cap, magnifying glass, and compass
till the first payment is made. ready for exploration!
Each time share holder gets a card. Anyone
who shows the card gets accommodation
Love, Guruji

July 2006 63

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