Thursday, 27 of April of 2017

Category » Sri Ramanashram

God is beyond words

Ramana_Maharshi-18
God is beyond words. No words would ever be able to describe Him. He can only be felt. How? The test is simple. One would feel total peace an indescribable peace, by being with Him. In His presence, no questions, doubts and thoughts would distract one’s mind. Further, the peace secured is beyond words and makes one fulfilled and consumed. In that situation one feels kritkritya, there being no need for any thing more to be achieved in life. Here are a few statements about the Godhood of Sri Ramana, made by those who had the good fortune of being in His presence, according to their capacity to find words to record their experiences:
Paul Brunton: The Maharshi emanates the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals The peace overwhelms me. I know that there is nothing further that I shall ask from life ¦In the extraordinary peace, I find a sense of exaltation and lightness. Time seems to stand still. My heart is released from the burden of care.
Justice Sundaram Chettiar: His very presence generates an atmosphere of peace.
Grant Duff: The moment he looked at me, I felt he was the Truth and the Light. I was in direct contact with one who has passed beyond the boundaries of senses and was merged in the Absolute.
Justice Chandrasekhar Aiyar: The Maharshi was the veritable storehouse of spiritual energy. He radiates shanti or peace. To be in his presence is by itself a stirring experience in the elevation of the soul.
Eleanor Pauline Noye: When He smiled it was as though the gets of Heaven were thrown open ¦At His feet happiness garlanded me.
Ella Maillart: He implants a lasting peace in the centre of every heart He is a link between the unknowable ultimate and man.
Duncan Greenlees: My mind was caught and held in that peace in a blissfulness it had never known before. He is greatness incarnate.
Balarama Reddy: Just to think of him or sit in his presence used to rouse us to higher levels of blessedness The Divine power of his presence was something remarkable, entirely outstanding.
S.S. Cohen: Joy and peace suffused my being. Never before had I such a delightful feeling of purity Ramana_Maharshi-19and well-being at the mere proximity of a man. He was a beacon light in an impenetrable darkness.
K.K.Nambiar: I felt an indescribable sense of calmness settling over me He was a mighty spiritual magnet, Divinity in human form.
Arthur Osborne: The Maharshi was Divine Grace in human form. For the first time in my life I understood what the grace and blessings of a guru could mean.
Prof. G.V. Subbaramayya: As our eyes met, there was a miraculous effect on my mind and I felt as if I had plunged into a pool of peace. I sat in a state of ecstasy for nearly an hour.
Major Chadwick: It is impossible to describe or even believe what the Maharshi was, unless you have seen it yourself.
Prof. K. Swaminathan: The pure happiness I enjoyed was that of a child when it sits securely in its mother’s lap.
Akilandamma: The gracious power that prevailed in that holy place numbed the mind so effectively that the visitors to Bhagavan’s room were automatically silenced.
Swami Madhavatirtha: While in the presence of the Maharshi, my breath seemed to stop for a while and my mind was elevated into some spiritual realm of unutterable peace and happiness.
Kunju Swami: As Bhagavan’s gracious look was fixed on me, all my confusions ceased and I experienced a peace and bliss, I had never experienced before.
Chhaganlal V. Yogi: The light of the Maharshi’s eyes was suffusing my consciousness. Even without being aware of it, his silent gaze brought about a subtle but definite transformation in me.
Viswanatha Swami: In the Maharshi’s presence the unique bliss of peace was directly experienced.
Walter Keers: The light radiating from the Maharshi filled my being, sweeping away all my darkness in one stroke. His presence alone was enough to evaporate the usual mental flow of thoughts, ideas and problems.
Mouni Sadhu: Being near the Maharshi one feels the presence of God as a matter of course, no arguments or proofs are necessary.
Pascaline Mallet: To look into his eyes was to be caught up into bliss that is beyond understanding.
M.A. Piggot: When he smiled I felt as if all the flowers in the world had poured their fragrance into our midst.
Ramanadasa Sadananda: Contagious was his bliss! He sends forth beams of light of jnana by his mere proximity and fills even the unhappy with joy and peace by his very presence.
F.H. Humphreys: The Maharshi’s body was not of man; it was an instrument of God from which God was radiating terrifically.
Dr. P.V. Karamchandani: The vibrations which emanated from the Maharshi were heavenly. His spirituality completely enveloped us and our minds attained a state of blissful meditation.
V.Kameshwar Rao: When I sat before the Maharshi, I felt that I was in the presence of God.
T.K.Sundaresa Iyer: A life-giving current flowed from the Maharshi, charging all those nearby.
N.O.Mehta: In the presence of the Maharshi, we were in a world totally different from the one we had left behind.
Santha Rangachary: There was an irresistible and indefinable spiritual power about the Maharshi, which completely overwhelmed me.
Srimat Puragara Parampanthi: The Maharshi’s spiritual presence was dynamic and clearly perceptible. It touched me and I felt suddenly the presence of a spiritual power taking me to a higher plane.
RONA019PN. Ponniah: Nothing seemed more enjoyable in this world than to sit in silence in the holy presence of the Maharshi. I felt a sort of electric charge an unusual vibrating sensation.
Morarji Desai: One gets transformed by his very presence.
T.S. Anantha Murthy: Sri Ramana was Brahman in human form. Spiritual illumination was enshrined in him.
Suzanne Alexandra: The Maharshi is a king of yogis. The splendour of his Realisation radiates like a sun. He lifts you far above the world.
K. Vithoba Kamath: The Maharshi radiated spiritual splendour through sublime silence.
Atmakuri Govindacharyulu: The Maharshi is an ocean of peace. He rules all through silence.
Shanti: In the Maharshi’s presence, the mind becomes calm and tranquil of its own accord. Doubts and questions become few and finally vanished.
Words would fail to grasp the greatness of Sri Ramana the Supreme incarnate in human form, who always kept an appearance of a humble and run-of-the-mill person. Grant Duff, a British scholar, noted in 1935: “Never in world history was the Supreme Truth placed within such easy reach of so vast a multitude. We bow to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.”
Source: Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, a publication of Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad)

 


Maha Rudra Yagnam in Ramanashram

maharud7The word “Yajna” (Sanskrit root “yaj”) means ‘an act of pious and devotional worship’. It entails the performance of a Vedic rite with absolute devotion to the ParamAtman (Supreme Being). The Vedic Hindu tradition prescribes that ishtapoorta, which implies praying for the welfare of all through the conduct of yajnas as the highest of services. The Mahanarayana Upanishad categorizes eleven items in the discussion of moksha sadhana (the path of liberation) and speaks highly of yajnam (sacrifice) in this regard:

yajna itiyajno hi devAnAm yajnena hi devA divam gata …. yajnena dvishanto mitrA bhavanti yajne sarvam pratishThitam tasmat yajnam paramam vadanti

(Sacrifice is the means of liberation; sacrifice is indeed dear to devas. The devas attained heaven by sacrifices; by sacrifice even the unfriendly become friendly; everything is supported by sacrifice and so they say that it is the supreme means of liberation.)

The Sri Rudram hymn is an invocation to Lord Shiva. It consists of two parts, namely the Namakam and the Chamakam.maharud8 The Namakam sings the glory of Lord Shiva and the Chamakam consists of prayers to the Lord asking Him to grant the devotee material and spiritual grace.. maharud10Now each of the Namakam and Chamakam consists of eleven chapters called as ‘Anuvakams’.

– Routine chanting of Sri Rudram is called ‘Roopam’ and consists of chanting the Namakam once and the Chamakam once.

– Eleven recitations of Namakam followed by one recitation of Chamakam are called ‘Ekadasa Rudram’.

– Eleven rounds of Ekadasa Rudram chanting constitute a ‘Laghu Rudram’.

– Eleven rounds of Laghu Rudram chanting constitute a ‘Maha Rudram’.

– Eleven rounds of Maha Rudram chanting constitute an ‘Athi Rudram’.

If eleven Ritviks chant the Ekadasa Rudram simultaneously, that would result in completing a Laghu Rudram. If 121 Ritviksmaharud9 chant the Ekadasa Rudram simultaneously that would result in completing a Maha Rudram. Typically, a Maha Rudram is completed in one day resulting in the chanting of the Rudram 1331 (121×11) times.

Recently, devotees were enthralled by an awesome Maha Rudra yagnam that was conducted in the Ramanashram. It went on for three days. On the final day, the culminating yagnam was performed in the new hall of the ashram with sacred energy and vedic excellence. The fires of the havan leaped upwards and seemed to dance with delight as the Rudram was chanted with great fervour by the venerable Agnihotras and the other brahmin priests assembled around. As is the tradition, the consecrated waters were then carried to the shrines of Ramana and the Mother and Abhishekam was performed over the deities. With such an auspicious beginning, we can look forward to a clement summer this year…

 


Arunachala Akshara Manamaalai – the Marital Garland of Letters

 
Of flowers many, flowers rare
Are garlands woven, garlands fair
But these, Thy holy ones declare
Delight not Thee
Delight Thee more garlands strung
Of Syllables of Praises sung
By those who sing with heart and tongue of piety
Self Knowers they so can sing

                                          –  Thaayumanavar (Tamil Saivaite Saint)

“Arunachala Shiva Arunachala Shiva, Thou dost uproot and annihilate the ego of those who meditate on09aruna 11 Thee in their hearts, O Arunachala” so begins the classic Arunachala Akshara Manamaalai hymn composed by Bhagavan Ramana in 1914 and sung almost every day by Him and devotees from then onwards right upto the last moments of his earthly manifestation. These sublime 108 verses brilliantlly combine the strengths of Jnana (knowledge) and Bhakthi (devotion) and thus appeal universally to every spiritual seeker and devotee of the Eternal Absolute Truth, call it God, call it the Self..

For what is Arunachala but the Heart of every being! The garland that weds us to the Akshara (the indestructible)is called Akshara manamaalai. There is a subtle word play on the word akshara as it means both letters and the indestructible.

Sri Muruganar composed a prelude to this hymn which says, “Getting rid of the mind that mistakes this perishable, insentient body as ‘I’ and turning it inwards to merge firmly in the Heart, realize the effulgence within as the Truth of non-dual pure awareness. This is the truth of Arunachala, the Heart-centre of the universe”.

Here is the story of how the Akshara Manamaalai came to be composed:

RONA019P“During the early years of Sri Bhagavan’s abode at Virupaksha, Palaniswami and others used to go into town to beg food for the small group of devotees, and oneakshara2 day they asked Sri Bhagavan for a devotional song to sing as they went. He replied that there were plenty of devotional songs composed by the Saints, many of them neglected, so there was no need to compose a new one. However, they continued to urge him and some days later he set out on Pradakshina round the Hill, taking a pencil and paper with him, and, on the way, composed the hundred and eight verses. Tears of ecstasy streamed down his face as he wrote, sometimes blinding his eyes and choking his voice. This hymn then became the great devotional inspiration of the devotees. The pain of separation and the bliss of union are mirrored in its glowing symbolism. It is composed inakshara3 Shringara Bhava (in the mood of a bride writing to her groom). The perfection of Knowledge is combined with the ecstasy of devotion. And yet this most heartfelt of poems was composed from the standpoint of the devotee, of one who is still seeking. It is also an acrostic, its hundred and eight verses beginning with the successive letters of the Tamil alphabet. Nevertheless, no poem could be more authentic. Some devotees asked Sri Bhagavan the interpretation of some of the verses and he replied: “You think it out and I will too. I didn’t think while I was composing it; I just wrote as it came.”

aksharaThe centenary day of the Arunachala Aksharamana malai was celebrated in Ramanashram on Monday 30th December. The Arunachala Akshara Manamaalai hymn was chanted non-stop by devotees from 6 am to 6 pm in the New hall. A very special atmosphere of devotion and spiritual fervour prevailed here during the chanting and one could feel the presence of Ramana singing with us and making us realise the Truth of Arunachala in our own hearts…

 

 


Sat Darshanam (Vision of Reality)

“Kartur ajnaya prapyate phalam. Karma kim param karma tajjadam”

RONA019PAmong all the literary works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, if one were to be chosen as the gospel of the sadhaka on the path of knowledge, it would no doubt be the Upadesa Saram, or the 30 verses on Reality. For, in these thirty brilliant verses set in beautiful poetry, Sri Ramana has compounded the entire truth of Advaita Vedanta as well as laid out the steps to be followed by the jnana marga sadhaka to reach the highest state of Realisation or, in Sri Ramanas words, the True state of Being, the ‘Sat’.

The title speaks for itself for it means the Essence of Teaching and is verily so. It would be no exaggeration to say that the profound study of the Upadesa Saaram would give theramanashram reader a clear understanding of the Truth and the concentrated practice of its Teachings would certainly lead  him to Realisation. The Upadesa Saram is chanted by Brahmin vedic scholars daily in the Ramanashram at 5.30 p.m. at the end of the Yajur Vedaparayanam consisting of Sri Rudram – Chamakam, Namakam, Sri Shuktham and Purusha Shuktham.

The story of how the Upadesa Saram came to be composed is quite interesting. The devotee-poet, Sri Muruganar  wanted to write 100 verses in praise of Ramana, identifying Him with Lord Shiva. The purpose was to sing the glory of Ramana by drawing a parallel with the legends around Shiva. After Muruganar had composed 70 verses, he wrote about the legend of the sages of  Daruka forest. When he came to the point where Shiva had to impart spiritual instruction to the sages, Muruganar cleverly asked Ramana to complete the final 30 verses. Of course he would not accept a no and so Ramana composed thirty succinct verses containing the Upadesa or the Teachings that Shiva imparted to the sages.

09aruna 11Now these 30 verses in Tamil are called Upadesa Undiyar. Ramana himself composed them individually in Telugu, Sanskrit and Malayalam under the title ‘Upadesa Saram’ or Essence of Teachings. The Upadesa Saram seems to have two distinct parts. The first half deals with Karma, Bhakthi and Yoga or Action, Devotion and Union respectively. The second half deals with the straight path of self enquiry, an enquiry into the nature of the mind of the individual, the tools and methods to be used in the process leading one thus to the Ultimate Realisation or Self-Knowledge which is ‘here and now’. To quote Ramana’s words “The one who is aware of his divinity, while in the body, is in a state of bliss beyond description, transcending bondage and liberation. This is here and now.” – verse 29

“Bandhamuktyat’itam param sukham. Vindat’iha jivastu daivikaha”

 

 


Na Karmana slokam

images-15The Na Karmana slokam from the Upanishad is chanted in Ramanashram every evening after the Sri Rudram vedaparayana.

 Na karmana na prajaya dhanena

tyagenaike amrta tvamanasuh

parena nakam nihitam guhayam

vibhrajate yadyatayo visanti

Neither by actions, nor by (aquiring) progeny and wealth, but by renunciation alone is immortality attained. (That Supreme State ) is far beyond the highest heaven, and the sages perceive it, hidden in the cave of the heart, shining brilliantly therein.

Vedanta vijnana suniscitarthah

samnyasa yogadyataya suddha sattvah

te brahma lokesu paranta kale

paramratah parimucyanti sarve

(Those) sages, who have a clear understanding of the principles of Vedanta, who have purified themselves by means of the yoga of renunciation,and who are (thus) established in the state of supreme beatitude, are totally liberated in Brahman at the time of dissolution of the body.

Dharam vipapam paramesma bhutam

yad pundarikam puramadhya sagastham

tatrapi dahram gaganam visokam

tasmin ya dantastatu pasidavyam

Located in the center of the city of the body is the subtle lotus of theheart, pure and untainted, which is the abode of the supreme. Meditate on the supreme being residing in that inner expanse, which is subtle and free from sorrow.

Yo vedadau svara proktah vedante ca pratistitaha

tasya prakriti linasya yah parahssa mahesvaraha

That which is described as the primal sound (om) in the beginning of the vedas, has been fully established as the supreme truth at the end of the Vedas ( the Upanishads) . The one who realizes that Supreme Principle is beyond the pale of those totally immersed in physical realities. Indeed, He is none other than the supreme Lord !

Na tatra suryo bhati na candra tarakam

nema vidyuto bhanti kutoyam agnihi

tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam

tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati

There the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and the stars. These streaks of lightning do not shine there either, (so) what to speak of this fire? That, shining, makes all others shine. By virtue of its luminosity, all these (manifestations) are illuminated.

Sri Ramana Maharshi also revered this sloka and explained it as follows:Ramana_Maharshi-18
 Brahmaloka may be interpreted subjectively or objectively. The latter meaning requires faith in sastras which speak of such lokas, whereas the former is purely of experience and requires no external authority,. Brahmaloka means Brahma Jnana or Atma Sakshatkara.
The whole passage means:
Deathlessness is not obtained through action or begetting offspring or wealth. Some attain that state through renunciation.
The Sages that have conquered senses, attain that Sat which is more supreme than Heaven and shining all alone in the Heart.
The adepts who by renunciation and one-pointedness are pure in heart and have known for certainty of Truth by the special knowledge proclaimed by Vedanta, get fully released in the Brahmaloka from the causal Maya at the dissolution of the body.
That alone which shines as the tiny akasa void of sorrow, in the lotus heart, the tiny seat of the spotless Supreme in the inner core of the body is worthy of worship.
He alone is the Supreme Lord, who is beyond the Primal Word which is the beginning and end of the Vedas and in which merges the creative Cause.
 


Maha Puja

Mahapuja is the anniversary of the Mahasamadhi day of  Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Mother. It is celebrated every year in the Ramanashram inside the Mathrabhutheswara shrine where the Mother’s mortal frame was buried. This year it took place on !3th June.

At the time of his mother’s passing away, Bhagavan recounted, “Mother said she would not leave me and go anywhere else. If she went anywhere she was afraid that she might die there. She was particular that she should die in my hands. She used to say, “even if you throw away my dead body in these thorny bushes i would not mind but i must end this life in your arms”.

Here is an account of the Mother’s death by Suri Nagamma in Letters: In 1922 mother’s health broke down. On the festival of Bahula Navami, which fell that year on May 19th, it was obvious her end was near. After his usual morning walk Bhagavan entered mother’s room and waited on her the whole day, even taking his afternoon meal in the room. About sunset the evening meal was prepared and Bhagavan asked the others to eat, but he himself did not. In the evening the devotees sat beside mother in 3 separate groups singing the marital garland of letters. For a further 2 hours she lay there, her chest heaving and her breath coming in loud gasps; all this while Bhagavan sat beside her, and during the last hour he laid his right hand on her heart and his left on her head. There was no question of prolonging life but only of quieting the mind so that death could be Mahasamadhi, absorption in the Self. Later Bhagavan explained, “innate tendencies (vasanas) and the subtle memory of past experiences leading to future possibilities became very active. Scene after scene rolled before her in the subtle consciousness, the outer senses having already gone. The soul was passing through a series of experiences, thus avoiding the need for rebirth and so effecting union with Supreme Spirit. The prana was absorbed in the heart and the soul was at last disrobed of the subtle sheaths before it reached the final destination, the Supreme Peace of Liberation from which there is no return to ignorance”.


Sri Vidya Havan

Every year in the month of March, Sri Vidya Havan is conducted in Ramanashram with great devotion and sacred energy. The Sri Chakra inside the Mathra Bhutheswara temple which was installed and consecrated by Sri Bhagavan himself is thus re-consecrated. During the Havan, Saraswathi the goddess of knowledge is invoked and worshipped with rituals and chanting according to ancient vedic doctrines. Towards the culmination, silk saris, gold ornaments, money, coconuts and lotus flowers are offered into the sacrificial fire.

The fires of the homam then leap up with greater vigour and one can almost see the divine mother dancing out of the flames and blessing all the devotees with her power. There is a tremendous wave of energy which arises around and one is well rewarded for having braved the summer heat and partaken in this hot and firy event. The many kalasams of holy water which are consecrated during the homam are then taken into the shrine through an elaborate procession and later abhishekam is performed on the Sri Chakra and the deities inside the sanctum sanctorum with these waters.

This afternoon, during a conversation regarding old Sankara Vijayam, Bhagavan asked one devotee whether it was not a fact amongst all books on the life of Sankara, Sankara Vijayam of Vidyaranya was the best. Bhagavan said with a smile, “Yes, his mental powers were very great. He was a great votary of Sri Vidya, you see. He therefore wanted to create a city in the shape of Sri Chakra and started doing it in Hampi but could not complete it. So he said that an emperor in future would rule the country and would be able to build a city in the shape of a Sri Chakra. When I told Nayana about this while i was on the hill, he made a peculiar comment, namely: ” Sri Chakrariti sona saila vapurusham, sri shodasarnatmakam occurs in Arunachala Ashtaka Stotram written by Sri Sankara. Besides this in Arunachala Purana, it is stated that this hill is reputed to be in the shape of Sri Chakra. Hence without searching for it, we have been lucky in getting this place which is in the shape of Sri Chakra. Bhagavan is the Chakravarthi (Emperor) ! If about ten houses are built around the hill, this itself is a great empire. Sankara must have intended this only …Letters from Ramanasramam


Maattu Pongal in Ramanashram

Maattu Pongal the third day of the Pongal or Harvest festival is the day consecrated to the cows. Everywhere, on this day, cows are bathed and decorated with flower garlands and then puja is performed to them with offerings of sweet pongal and fruits. In Ramanashram too, it has always been the tradition right from the time of Bhagavan to celebrate Cow Pongal in a graceful way. Devotees will remember that Sri Ramana was very fond of the cow Lakshmi and He used to feed sweet pongal to Lakshmi with his own hands on Cow Pongal day.

The Maatu Pongal celebrations in the Ramanashram consist of 3 different ceremonies. First the Nandi (bull mount of Shiva)  in the Mother’s shrine is decorated in a spectacular way. He is adorned with garlands of vegetables, fruits, sugarcane, grass, flowers. Vadais and other tasty sweetmeats. Then an elaborate Aarathi puja is performed by the priests with devotees looking on with rapt admiration. The next event takes place at the Samadhi (tomb) of the cow Lakshmi which is located outside in the open courtyard beside the dining hall. A group of devotees  are assembled here and the statue of Lakshmi is bathed with milk abhishekam and then a puja is performed with the photo of Bhagavan fondling Lakshmi placed in front. The ashram ladies sing many beautiful hymns in praise of Lakshmi describing her devotion to Bhagavan and other touching episodes in her life like how she used to give birth to a calf every year right on Bhagavan’s birthday. This creates a wave of devotion among the group and many devotees are moved to tears to listen to the words about the cow Lakshmi’s unusual and rare bhakthi to her Master and how, even though she was in the body of an animal she behaved like a deeply spiritual human being .

The third event takes place in the cow shed of the ashram, called ‘Goshalai’. Inside, it is nicely cleaned and beautifully decorated with flower garlands and sugar cane and turmeric plants. In the centre, a lovely white cow (believed to be the descendant of Lakshmi) and her calf are decorated and honoured. A puja is performed to them by the ashram priests with the same respect and energy as they would to a deity in the temple. The president  and his wife feed the white cow with sweet pongal from their own hands and the cow and calf eat it with quiet relish. It is an enchanting scene and one feels transported to times of yore when cows were considered as godly beings and people treated them with respect and devotion. Let us follow the example of Bhagavan Ramana and recognize and respect the Divine Being in every fellow creature on this earth.


Ramana Jayanti

The birth anniversary of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is celebrated as Ramana Jayanthi in the Ramanashramam every year. The date is calculated according to the Hindu almanac and thus takes place on the Punarvasu star day in the month of Maargali or Dhanur (Dec-Jan). This year it took place on Monday 9th January. The main puja of the day is the Maha Ekadasa Rudhrabhishekam and it is performed on a grand scale in the shrine of Sri Ramana’s Samadhi. Apart from this,  the ashram had a number of other special events like bhakthi chantings, music concerts and spiritual discourses on the life of Sri Ramana.

The highlights of this year’s Jayanthi celebrations were the splendid floral decorations over the samadhi shrine and in front of Ramana’s statue in the new hall. They were made with real flowers and had been arranged very beautifully, thus drawing the eye of every devotee who entered the hall. It must have taken a lot of painstaking work for many hours and one cannot but exclaim in praise of the wondrous beauty of these flower festoons and kolams which transformed the plain hall into a place of splendid celebration.

The music concert in the evening was held in the fantastic new auditorium and this was yet another pleasant surprise for devotees. Built in the style of a roman amphitheatre, this auditorium is cool and airy, has great accoustics and seems well equipped in lighting and sound systems. So it was really enjoyable to sit inside and listen to the lovely, melodious songs in praise of Ramana rendered by the troupe from the Ramana Maharshi centre for Learning in Bangalore. Thank you Ramanashram for this wonderful Jayanti and  thank you Ramana for lighting the light of Truth in all our hearts !


Atma Pradakshina

Devotees of Arunachala are well aware of Giri Pradakshina but what is Atma Pradakshina? To find out let us go back to  a certain day in May 1946 when Bhagavan was still present physically in the ashram. On that day, Sundaresa Iyer, a devotee who used to bring food for Bhagavan came and bowed before him. Bhagavan asked him, “Did you go around the hill by way of pradakshina ?” “No,  said the devotee.” To this Bhagavan said, “last night when people were going out for giri pradakshina because of the moonlight, he also started to go. But he felt he could not complete the round. When they were starting out after telling me, he went around me quickly. When I asked him why he did so, he said, I am afraid I cannot go round the hill. So I have gone around Bhagavan.” “Go round yourself. That will be Atma pradakshina”, so saying Bhagavan began laughing.

Here Bhagavan narrated a relevant story: “Once upon a time, Lord Shiva wanted to teach a lesson to his son Subramanya who fancied himself to be a great sage; so Lord Shiva sat on the top of Mount Kailasam with Parvathi, holding a wonderful fruit in his hand. Seeing the fruit, both the sons of Lord Shiva, Ganesh and Subramanya each asked their father Shiva to give it to him. To this Shiva said that he would give the fruit to whoever of them got back first after going round the whole world. With confidence and pride that he would win the race, Subramanya started immediately riding on his favorite mount, the peacock and began going at a fast pace, frequently looking behind to assure himself that his elder brother Ganesh was not following. What could poor Ganesh do, with his huge belly? His mount was after all a mouse. So he thought it was no good competing with Subramania in the race around the world, and instead went around his parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, bowed before them and claimed the reward. When they asked him to justify his action he replied, “All the worlds are contained within you; so if I go around you, it is as good as going round the whole world.” Pleased with his reply, Shiva gave him the fruit and Ganesh started eating it with pleasure.

In full confidence that he would be the winner, Subramanya completed his world tour very fast and flew back to Kailash to claim his reward, the fruit from Shiva. To his consternation he found Ganesh sitting there and calmly eating it. Enraged he shouted and asked how that could be, it was unfair and he never saw Ganesh going around before him. So Lord Shiva patiently explained to Subramanya what had happened and how Ganesh came to claim the reward. After hearing this, Subramanya felt ashamed and and realised how full of vanity and pride he was. He bowed humbly before his parents and asked to be pardoned. That is the story.

The significance of this tale is that the ego which goes round like a whirlwind must get destroyed, and must get absorbed in Atma. That is the meaning of Atma Pradakshina”  finished Bhagavan.