Sunday, 22 of October of 2017

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.

Viewing changes

It seem that most people would prefer not to see the construction covering a portion of the bottom right view and would rather the camera were zoomed just enough to avoid it. We have now done that. The unsightly distraction is no longer visible. Many thanks for your responses.

Change to the view of Arunachala

     Unfortunately our neighbor has decided to construct a tall building in the view of our camera over our objections to the excessive height. We had previously narrowed the view to avoid seeing it but now he has continued to raise the building height. We have no recourse but to accept this intrusion into the natural view of Arunachala as it is done on his property. However, we can zoom the camera closer to eliminate the view of this unsightly construction or leave it in the view in order to have a wider image. We would like to hear from devotees their opinion. For now, we will leave the full view of Arunachala including the building.
The Arunachala-Live team

muthu's new building

Girivalam shrines – Adhi Parashakthi siddhar kovil

sakti1In the year 1966, during a cyclonic storm at Melmarvathur, a neem tree secreting sweet medicinal milk uprooted to reveal the Swayambu (an oval stone- like emanation). Legend has it that the power above revealed itself in the form of the Swayambu and proclaimed that It had transmigrated into this form and would give Oracles through the form to save the World. Thus was established the Arulmigu Adhiparasakthi Siddhar Peetam. This Peetam is situated at Melmaruvathur, 92 km south of Madras in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu.

This is believed to be the place where 21 Siddhars(saints) men as well as women from different religion, had their Jeeva-Samadhis (meaning, where the Siddhars left their human forms behind, while they are still alive as holy spirits).

parasakti2The basic tenet of the Melmaruvathur Adhi Parashakthi Siddhar Peetam is “One Mother, One Humanity”, meaning that the whole human race is one and all the human beings who inhabit this vast earth are children of the Divine Mother sakti4and therefore there is no distinction amongst the human beings on any basis, be it religion, race, creed, community, caste or even gender.

The main objective for which the Siddhar Peetam strives is “the cult of Sakthi”. The principle being that the whole human race is born of one omnipotent Mother and hence the whole of mankind is one. This Shakthi cult has become increasingly popular in recent years and has led to the building of special Parashakthi temples perpetrating the principles of this cult in many major hindu religious places all over Tamilnadu. The Adhiparashakthi siddhar kovil situated on the outer girivalam Chengam road is one such temple.

sakti5The temple is located on the Chengam road in front of the Palakottu area and opposite the Shantimalai handicrafts centre. It was consecrated about two years ago. It is built over a fairly large area and boasts of a large mandapam with beautiful mandalas sculpted over the ceiling. The Parashakthi deity is represented as a graceful panchaloha idol in bronze set in a modern shrine. The walls are painted in hues of red and pink.

The Shakthi cult worship takes place twice a month at full moon and new moon during whichsakti8 times the temple is fairly packed with devotees mostly women all dressed in red and chanting loudly the praise of the Divine Mother. At other times the temple is almost deserted except at meal times when the sadhus line up to receive the free prasad that is distributed. The most attractive feature of this temple is the gentle view of Arunachala with which one is greeted as one traverses the portals of the temple..




The meaning of Pradakshina

Talk 212.    Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Maharshi observed: Pradakshina (the Hindu rite of going round the object of  worship) is “All is within me.” The true significance of the act of going round  Arunachala is said to be as effective as circuit round the world. That means that  the whole world is condensed into this Hill. The circuit round the temple of  Arunachala is equally good; and self-circuit (i.e., turning round and round) is as  good as the last. So all are contained in the Self. Says the Ribhu Gita: “I remain  fixed, whereas innumerable universes becoming concepts within my mind, rotate  within me. This meditation is the highest circuit (pradakshina).'”

Girivalam shrines – Gautama Rishi kovil

The shrine of Sage Gautama can be found on the outer girivalam road, on the left side, a few metres before one comes to the Surya lingam shrine. What used to be a derelict shrine falling to ruins has now been renovated in  a fairly correct manner, keeping intact many of the ancient aspects. After the renovation, the Kumbhaabhishekam ceremony to reconsecrate the shrine in all its sacred elements was performed on a grand scale a few months ago.

The foyer of the temple is an ancient classic mandapam with sculpted stone pillars and statues of some lesser deities. Leading from this, a small ante-chamber opens to the main shrine where-in stands the deity of Gautma Maharshi in the form of an ancient stone sculpted figure with a very fine, venerable head seeing which one feels obliged to bow and pay obeisance to this great saint of yore.

Indeed Gautama Maharishi is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages) and one of the Maharishis of Vedic times. He is revered as the inventor of the Mantras — ‘Mantra-drashtaa’, in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda has several suktas (Sanskrit: ‘hymns’) that chant with his name. He was the son of Rahugana, belonging to the line of Angiras. There is even a legend that the river Godavari is thus named because of its connection with Gautama. He had two sons by name Vamadeva and Nodhas. His wife isAhalya, the ‘mind born daughter’ (Sanskrit: manasa putri) of Brahma. The puranas contain the story wherein it is described how Gautama won the hand of Ahalya by circumambulating the divine cow in order to fulfill the stipulation of Brahma that whoever first goes round the whole Earth would win the hand of Ahalya. The ‘chief priest’ of King Janaka by name Shatananda was the son of Gautama and Ahalya. Gautama’s sixty-year long penance is mentioned in the Mahabharatha. Among the renowned deeds of Gautama there is one in the Narada purana which describes the story of the 12-year famine during which Gautama fed all the Rishis and saved them from starvation!

The Puranas also say that sage Gautama came and worshipped Arunachala at one time and Ramana speaks of this in his Aksharamana maalai verse 26 “Gautamar potrum karunai maamalaiye kadaikannil thaalvai Arunachala” – “Arunachala, compassion incarnate in the form of a glorious mighty hill, praised and worshipped by the Sage Gautama of great penance, turn thy gracious glance of grace upon me, shower me with thy grace and govern me !”

Samadhi – Kevala and Nirvikalpa

Disciple : I maintain that the physical body of the man sunk in samadhi as a result of unbroken contemplation of the Self becomes motionless for that reason. It may be active or inactive. The mind fixed in such contemplation will not be affected by the body or the senses being restless. A disturbance of the mind is not always the fore-runner of physical activity. Another man asserts that physical unrest certainly prevents activity. Another man asserts that physical unrest certainly prevents Nirvikalpa Samadhi or unbroken contemplation. What is your opinion? You are the standing proof of my statement.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Both of you are right, you refer to Sahaja Nirvikalpa and the other refers to Kevala Nirvikalpa. In the one case, the mind lies immersed in the Light of the Self (whereas the same lies in the darkness of ignorance in deep sleep). The subject discriminates one from the other, – Samadhi, stirring up from Samadhi, and activity thereafter, unrest of the body, of the sight, of the vital force and of the mind, the cognization of objects and activity, are all obstructions to him.

In Sahaja, however, the mind has resolved itself into the Self and has been lost. Differences and obstructions mentioned above do not therefore exist here. The activitiies of such a being are like the feeding of a somnolent boy, perceptible to the onlooker (but not to the subject). The driver sleeping on his moving cart is not aware of the motion of the cart, because his mind is sunk in darkness. Similarly the Sahaja Jnani remains unaware of his bodily activities because his mind is dead – having been resolved in the ecstasy of Chid Ananda (Self).

The two words contemplation and samadhi have been used loosely in the question. Contemplation is a forced mental process, whereas Samadhi lies beyond effort.

from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, 13th March 1936

The Mahakumbaabhishekam of Adi Annamalai temple

The Mahakumbaabhishekam ceremony was performed for the Adi Annamalai temple after 16 years. The last one was in 1996. The events leading upto the grand ceremony were begun on Tuesday, 10th July and the actual pouring of the holy waters on the gopurams took place on Sunday, 15th July. On Thursday, the splendidly decorated yaga salas were inaugurated and 108 sacrificial fires or yagnas were kindled in a spectacular manner during which the waters in thousands of pots or kumbhas were consecrated in preparation for the grand abhishekam.

It was indeed an awesome spectacle to witness the crescendo of the vedic chants, the exotic rituals surrounding the fires and the divine energy which seemed to pervade and rise with the passage of each day. More than 300 venerable brahmin priests hailing from the four vedic traditions of  Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana took part with great devotion and expertise in all the ceremonies and devotees were treated to a sumptuous feast of religious extravaganza during all the 6 days.

The word Mahakumbaabhishekam literally means ritualistic pouring of sacred water from the great vessel. This type of ritualistic pouring of water dates back to hundreds of years to post-vedic times when temple rituals were formalized. During the vedic period, deities were invoked and propitiated in great rituals of fire sacrifices such as yagnas and homas, which were performed in the open. After this period, when temples were built for different deities, the divine energy/spirit was invoked by appropriate homas and transferred into kumbhas — brass or mud vessels containing the water of the holy rivers of Bharatavarsha — by chanting mantras derived from the Vedas and Samhitas. These mantras consisted of prayers to different deities for the well-being of mankind, guidance in performing religious duties properly, and instruction in following the four-fold duties of  Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. After the vigrahas of the deities were installed, the energy in the water in the kumbhas was transferred to the vigraha in the temple by pouring the water on the gopuram (top of the temple tower) and on the vigraha of the deity. This pouring from the Kumbhas was accompanied by the chanting of appropriate mantras derived from the Vedas, considered to be of divine origin.

According to the tenets of Vedanta , the living being is a part of the supreme consciousness which embodies the origin, sustenance and annihilation of the universe as we know it. It is beyond our human ability to comprehend this ultimate reality. The enlightened ones sometimes glimpse the Ultimate through meditation. The ordinary human offers obeisance and worship to the best of his ability to the personification of this supreme being in the form of the deity in the temples. He consecrates the Vigraha sculpted by the best artisan, and installs it in the temple built in the best architectural tradition. Divine energy is endowed on the vigraha by single-minded performance of worship in the best ritualistic tradition. Through the continued performance of worship by numerous people over generations, the divine energy in each vigraha builds up, and the temple as a whole grows in spiritual status.

And thus,on Sunday morning, July 15th, millions of devotees thronged the area around the Adi annamalai temple from 4 am. The previous night there had been an utter deluge of rain and people had to wade through oceans of water even inside the temple. The lucky few were admitted to the roof tops of the temple where they waited eagerly for the Kumbhas of holy water to be brought up. And sure enough around 9 am the pots arrived borne on the heads of brahmin priests to the loud chanting of the Rudrams. And then they were carried up by the stately Sivacharyas and finally, the waters were poured slowly over the spires of each gopuram hailed by cries of devotional fervour from the crowds below “Annamalaiyarukku haroharaa” !

The Tirumanjanam of Aani

Mid June to mid July is the tamil month of Aani. During this month there takes place the first of the two important festivals dedicated to Lord Nataraja, the Aani Thirumanjanam festival. Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers is the cosmic form of Lord Shiva  (In Sanskrit, Nata means dance and raja means Lord). The ring of fire and light, which circumscribes the entire figure, identifies the field of the Lord’s cosmic dance encompassing the whole universe. The lotus pedestal on which the Lord rests, locates the universe in the heart or consciousness of each person.

In the temple of Lord Arunachaleswara, the celebration of the Aani Thirumanjanam festival takes place with the following ceremonies: The deities of Lord Nataraja and his consort Goddess Shivakami are worshipped and brought outside of their altar in the main shrine, they are then borne in procession around the first courtyard and then installed amidst great fanfare in another temporary altar inside the thousand-pillared of the temple. Here the deities are venerated, over the course of the week, with a series of elaborate abhishekams or sacred ablutions followed by karpoora aarathi (waving of camphor flames) and deepaaradhana (waving of lighted lamps).

Simultaneously, there takes place another ritual which is called the Arakattu Utsavam. During this ceremony, the three great tamil Saivaite saints namely Appar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar, are worshipped in their altar which is the one directly opposite the altar of Lord Nataraja in the main shrine. Devotees crane their necks back and forth in order to get darshan of both the ceremonies as they take place at the same time and the priests rush from one altar to the other to do the honours correctly to all the deities. It is quite a sight ! The end of the festival is celebrated at night with a grand Abhishekam and Aarathi to the deities after which they are borne back in procession to their altar inside the main shrine.

Interestingly, this festival is believed to correspond to the period of ‘between two’ which highlights the transition from day to night, the ‘pradosha’ moment. From this point of view, it would signify the coming of a period of longer nights and shorter days. And thus the end of the hot summer!

Manickavasagar Utsavam

Thiru Manickavasagar, author of the ‘Thiruvasagam’ an important scriptural work in the tamil saivaite scriptures, is one of the most revered among the tamil saivaite saints known as the Nayanmargal. He was born at Thiruvathavoor near Madurai in a Brahmin (Amattiya) family. He completed learning religious works and the agamas of the Saivaite order very early in life. Impressed by his intellect, the Pandya king Arimarttanar employed him as his prime minister. Although he was a loyal aide to the king and a “brilliant courtier” enjoying all the luxuries attached to his honoured position, his mind was always immersed in sacred writings on the Saivaite faith. His soul was filled with infinite pity for the sufferings of the people who, he felt, passed through the cycle of births and deaths only to suffer irremediable woes.

His soul longed for Siva and “he yearned to meet a guru who  would teach him the way of release”. So, it was not surprising that, even when he was sent by the king to purchase horses for the kingdom, his mind continued its search for the guru. He did meet the guru (Siva), as the legends go, on the way. Manickavasagar spent all the king’s money on the guru’s disciples and assistants. Learning of this, the king brought him back. According to the legends, when the king ordered punishment to be meted out to Manickavasagar, Siva intervened on behalf of his devotee and performed some miracles. Ultimately, Siva ordained that Manickavasagar should visit temples, sing songs and spread Saivism, the legends say.

In Tiruvannamalai, Manickavasagar is believed to have stayed in the village of Adi Annamalai and here the Lord appeared to him and granted him the divine outpourings of the Tiruvempavai, the sacred chants of Lord Siva which are sung till today in all Siva temples during the month of Karthigai. At the place where the Lord actually granted him dharshan, there now stands a temple known as the Manickavasagar temple. The outside walls of the temple contain frescoes of the 63 Nayanmars and hindu gods and goddesses notably one of Lord Shiva-Nataraja.

Recently, a festival was celebrated here in honour of the saints’ birth anniversary. The whole external structure of the temple was decorated splendidly with golden lights and inside the shrine, abhishekams were performed to the shivalingam and to the statue of the saint himself depicted in the position of playing a veena (since he was known for his musical talents in vocal singing and the playing of musical instruments). After the religious ceremony, the temple authorities had also organised a live instrumental and vocal music concert with compositions of the saints’ works played and sung by local musicians. This was quite pleasant and made a fine change from the usual blaring of loudspeakers with recorded music which is often the practice at small temple festivals.