View Full Version : satsangaH: bhakti, jnAna, karma yoga

02 July 2009, 07:47 AM
In this thread we collect practical tips from our gurus for 'sAdhana' (efforts) along the three yoga paths.

bhakti bhAvam: mind-set in devotion
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.9-13)

The 'sahasranAma pAda pUja' was going on in the presence of AchAryAL (Jagadguru SriSri BharatItIrtha MahaSwamigaL, currently reigning and the 36th SankarAchArya of Sri ShAradA PITham) in the house of a disciple. A fan was kept near the AchAryAL. When the 'nivedanam' was brought, he slightly turned the fan away from him. Then he called the disciple by name and said:

"All the names that come in the 'LalitA SahasranAmam' have visheSha artha (distinct meanings). Let's take the name 'aparNA' for example. When she took avatar in the name of PArvati, daughter of HimavAn, AmbAL undertook intense 'tapas' in order to get back to her Lord Shiva. During that time she also observed a formidable 'vratam' (fast) that dictated eating nothing, even an edible leaf. Wondering at her act, the Devas called her 'aparNA'--'one who does not take even a leaf'. There is also another meaning for this name.

"If we divide the name into the roots 'apa' and 'RuNa', we would get a meaning, 'one who has no obligations or debts left to pay back'. If a person recites any of the names of AmbAL, she takes it as an obligation on her part; so in order to discharge her debt she immediately blesses the devotee with her grace. Thus the name 'aparNa'--'one who has no debts' becomes most suitable to her. If we thus remember the meanings of the names recited in a pUja, our happiness doubles."

Having said this, AchAryAL ordered the disciple to continue with the pUja and turned the fan back to its old position. After the pUja was over, he blessed the people present there and started off.

That particular disciple who went to have darshan of AchAryAL later that day, told the guru: "I had the fortune of knowing the two different meanings of JaganmAtA's name 'aparNA'. Specially the second meaning coined by AchAryAL, which became my favourite."

AchAryAL: No need to give that honour to me. I am not the reason for that.

Disciple: AchAryAL remains very humble and modest.

AchAryAL: This is not a matter of being humble and modest. I told what I said with complete probity. Both the meanings I explained are found in the commentary that BhAskaraRAyar wrote for the 'LalitA SahasranAmam'.

Disciple: I have learnt several rare lessons from AchAryAL today, which includes the importance of knowing the meaning of the names chanted in a puja and then being honest in our acts. My brother pointed out to me AchAryAL's turning the fan during the puja. As the 'nivedanam' brought for AmbAL was very hot, AchAryAL turned the fan towards it so it could cool down. Since at that very moment he started talking, the people around him did not particularly notice it. Not only the 'nivedanam' was prevented from being offered to AmbAL while it was still very hot, AchAryAL also graced me with his act so that specific mistake of ours did not get any frowns from the people present. Through this incident we learn that even ordinary acts of AchAryAL can teach us many things and we could also understand the extent of AchAryAL's compassion towards his devotees.

With absolutely no rejoice over such a heap of praise, the AchAryAL said:

"When we are sitting in a puja, we should not have the thought that we are sitting before an image of God, but feel that we are in the presence of God. We don't like food that is very hot or gone bad. We also don't give it to our chosen guests who visit us. We should behave in the same manner when it concerns God. Thus, we should keep withered flowers away and offer only fresh flowers to God."

*** *** ***

AchAryAL's sense of humour
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.13-15)

Once a devotee had taken upon himself the responsibility of conducting an important festival in Shringeri. Because of the constant worry that everything should go on well, he exerted himself in the task and suffered from intense mental pressure.

AchAryAL visited the place on the evening before the day of the festival. Although he noticed the mental suffering of this devotee, he displayed no expressions about it. The devotee took AchAryAL around and showed him the arrangements, as a part of which, both of them reached the bottom of a flight of wooden stairs. The devotee told the AchAryAL, "I pray that AchAryAL kindly go up these stairs and have a look at the arrangements done there."

That was it! AchAryAL's compassion-welling face changed into an expression of intense fear! Changing his tone to the voice of a boy in panic, AchAryAL said, "What? Should I first climb up these stairs? I am not ready for such 'sAhasa khela' (daredevil sports)! You first ascend the stairs. This SwAmigaL of yours would stand here and see if you reach up safely. Only then he would commence his efforts!"

As he looked at the facial expression of AchAryAL and his caution-filled words, the devotee couldn't help but have a hearty laugh! He first climbed up the stairs, and then the AchAryAL went up. When they reached the top, AchAryAL asked him, "How do you feel now, is your mental pressure subsided?" Only then the devotee understood AchAryAL's sport that was meant to assuage his mind. He said, "My mind has now come back to its natural level", his words filled with the feeling of gratitude. AchAryAL blessed him with the advice, "Don't give scope to any mental pressure; it is not only meaningless, but very harmful too."

*** *** ***

04 July 2009, 07:03 AM
Aren't a devotee's problems his god's?
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.20-21)

A devotee who came to have darshan of AchAryAL told him that he was at all times--without a gap--thinking about God as taught in the scriptures.

AchAryAL: Very happy. This is a good practice.

Devotee: For me who is thus always thinking about God, countless problems keep coming up at home and office. I could not at all cope with them. Isn't it God's duty to save one who is ever thinking about him? When his devotee, I, am in trouble, is it right for BhagavAn to keep silent?

AchAryAL: (smiling) Would it be possible for one who is always immersed in the thought of God to pay attention to such transitory, ordinary matters of the world? If that 'bhaktA' is thinking about God at all times, he should only see God in everything and everywhere.

Devotee: I now understand my mistake.

AchAryAL: (with compassion) Do not worry. Henceforth you believe with certainty that the problems that you encounter are only given by God and that God will also give you the necessary power to cope with them effectively. You would come to great gains by such a consideration.

*** *** ***

tRupti (satisfaction) and vairAgya (dispassion)
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.22-23)

So far as AchAryAL is concerned, 'tRupti' and 'vairAgya' have remained among his 'guNas' (virtues) right from his birth. Once during his 'brahmachArya parvan' (days of studenship) when Sri SItArAma Anjaneyalu (AchAryAL's 'pUrvAshrama' name) was studying under Sri MahAsannidhAnam, some devotees came to have darshan of Sri MahAsannidhAnam, and when they told him, "We have bought some 'vastra-s' (clothes--dhoti, uppercloth) for Sri SItArAma Anjaneyalu", that MahAguru told them back, "He does not accept such gifts. Alright, I shall call him and you see it for yourselves", and sent word for Sri SItArAma Anjaneyalu to be brought there.

When his student came, Sri MahAsannidhAnam told him, "These people have brought some 'vastra-s' for your use, and they want you to accept them." The student replied, "I already have enough 'vastra-s', so these are not necessary for me."

Smiling, Sri MahAsannidhAnam once again asked his student, "These people desire it much that you should accept these clothes, so why don't you accept them?"

Showing intense hesitation in his face, that young disciple replied, "Even if I have to accept them, I cannot wear them because of the 'jari' (silver thread) works seen on these clothes."

Those devotees were surprised at the mind control of that young 'brahmachAri'.

*** *** ***

AchAryAL's birthday
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.23-24)

It is the custom of his devotees to celebrate AchAryAL's 'vardhanti' (birthday) every year in a grand manner. To AchAryAL however, celebrating his birthday in this manner was not at all acceptable. But he never tried to stop those celebrations.

AchAryAL himself explained the reason for this: "There is no 'tAtparyam' (meaning, purpose) at all in such 'viShaya' (subject) as celebrating and feeling happy over my birthday, since I am a 'sannyAsi' (ascetic). No fruits are going to accrue for me by these things. Even then, a variety of 'homa-s' ('yajna', fire sacrifice) and special pujas are performed here on account of such celebrations. There is a chance of great good accruing to the world by these rituals. Also, an opportunity arises for those who participate and witness these celebrations to get God's grace. Only for this reason and not any other that I do not express any 'AkShepaNa' (objection) for my birthday celebrations."

*** *** ***

Seeking blessings for longevity
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.24-25)

Sometime after a devotee who did much 'sevA' (service) to the MaTham passed away, his daughter had come to Shringeri to have darshan of AchAryAL. In the course of their conversation she prayed to AchAryAL, "We have lost our father. Our mother too is now in bad health. AchAryAL should bless us for at least our mother to not depart from us."

AchAryAL: (with compassion) 'ammA', everyone who is born in this 'bhUmi' should one day give it up and go away. The one whose blessings you seek, that is I, am also bound by this law of Nature! So, instead of desiring for something that cannot be accomplished, if we spend the time given to us in this life in thinking about God and praying for no further births to us, that would give us a great benefit.

*** *** ***

04 July 2009, 09:37 AM
Aren't a devotee's problems his god's?
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.20-21)

A devotee who came to have darshan of AchAryAL told him that he was at all times--without a gap--thinking about God as taught in the scriptures.

AchAryAL: Very happy. This is a good practice.

Devotee: For me who is thus always thinking about God, countless problems keep coming up at home and office. I could not at all cope with them. Isn't it God's duty to save one who is ever thinking about him? When his devotee, I, am in trouble, is it right for BhagavAn to keep silent?

AchAryAL: (smiling) Would it be possible for one who is always immersed in the thought of God to pay attention to such transitory, ordinary matters of the world? If that 'bhaktA' is thinking about God at all times, he should only see God in everything and everywhere.

Devotee: I now understand my mistake.

AchAryAL: (with compassion) Do not worry. Henceforth you believe with certainty that the problems that you encounter are only given by God and that God will also give you the necessary power to cope with them effectively. You would come to great gains by such a consideration.

*** *** ***

tRupti (satisfaction) and vairAgya (dispassion)

Namaste saidevo ji,

Indeed, tripti (contentment), vairagya (dispassion) and absolute surrender are most difficult to attain because of numerous doubts raised by the ego self and propelled by preferences. For us it tends to vary also -- on some days certainty and faith overcome doubts and make the existence like honey, but on some other days, ego self defeats the certainty.

Thank you for the satsangh thread.

Om Namah Shivaya

05 July 2009, 10:50 PM
guru bhakti
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.28-30)

A devotee was listening to the 'satsang' of AchAryAL's highly respectable gurunAthar Sri MahAsannidhAnam, recorded in a cassette. Because of some defect in recording, a 'shloka' recited by Sri MahAsannidhAnam couldn't be heard properly by the devotee. So the devotee wrote to AchAryAL quoting the audible words of the 'shloka' he heard, requesting him to provide the full text as well as the 'mUlam' (source) of that 'shloka'.

In the reply received from AchAryAL, the full text of the 'shloka' was given, but no details about the 'mUlam' of the 'shloka' were there. Later when this devotee visited Shringeri and had darshan of AchAryAL, he thanked the sage for providing him with the text of the 'shloka'.

AchAryAL: (smiling) You had also asked about the 'mUlam' of that 'shlokam', hadn't you?

Bhakta: Yes.

AchAryAL: As I read your letter it seemed to me, "When Sri MahAsannidhAnam himself has chanted the 'shloka' for us, is the inquiry as to its 'mUlam' necessary?"

Understanding the lofty 'manobhAvam' (attitude) of his guru that it was an unnecessary act to probe from where from Sri MahAsannidhAnam got the verse instead of accepting his guru's words, the devotee considered it his fortune to have learnt a lesson of the attitude a disciple should have towards his guru.

When the devotee prostrated to the AchAryAL and started to move away, AchAryAL, the 'karuNAmUrti' that he is, called the devotee and gave him the name of the book where the 'shloka' is found.

*** *** ***

Everyone wants to be a guru!
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.34-36)

Once when the AchAryAL was conversing with his devotees, he said:

"I see a strange habit spreading and growing among people these days. That is, now people are more interested in giving 'upadesha' (advice) to others. Even where they don't have enough knowledge of the subject, without worrying about it, they start providing advice! It seems that people have a great desire to teach! Suppose the other person (who is given the teaching) asks this person, 'Sir, you are able to give me advice whenever I seek it; do you yourself observe them in your own life?' Without any bashfulness or hesitation, this man would reply, 'Why do you worry about me? It is not necessary for me to observe all the advice I give you. It is only you who wants the advice, not me, so you can freely come to me for whatever advice you want, and I shall happily provide it!'

"While everyone is possessed of the desire to become a guru, no one understands the truth, 'Only when I first train myself to be a good disciple, I can become a qualified guru.'"

*** *** ***

Who is a 'sAttvikan' (true and virtuous)?
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.36-38)

Once a student of the MaTham's 'pAThashAlA' (Vedic school) was possessed by a desire to witness a temple festival being held in his native place. So he sought his AchAryAL's permission to go to his native place. AchAryAL said, "Isn't God residing in your own heart? So it's not necessary that you should go all the way to your native place to have darshan of him." Disappointed and heartbroken, the student confined himself to his room, and neither took food nor attended the classes that day.

The next day, AchAryAL sent word for him.

AchAryAL: The whole of yesterday you were crying, weren't you?

Student: (startled as to how the AchAryAL came to know about it) Yes.

AchAryAL: Why?

Student: Since I couldn't get your permission, I was possessed of much disappointment, which gave me a heartbreak.

AchAryAL: From this it is known that you are one who does not have the 'sAttvika guNaM'.

Student: (confused) I don't understand.

AchAryAL: Only that man who listens to what his guru says and observes it is called a 'sAttvikan'. He would not have either 'santoSham' (happiness) or 'duHkham' (sorrow) on that score. Whereas you have given yourself to unbound sorrow. This only shows that you have 'rAjasa guNaM' (disposition towards passion).

Student: I realize my mistake. And I pray to AchAryAL to pardon me.

AchAryAL: It's alright. My intention is that you should understand what is involved. Now you can very well go to your native place and witness the temple festival. When it is over, come back immediately.

Student: I shall do as you tell me.

AchAryAL: Right, now go and eat. Don't spoil your health by hunger and fasting.

*** *** ***

11 July 2009, 12:32 AM
Reading without prerequisites
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.41-43)

AchAryAL once narrated a humourous story to explain what would result if one takes up a task without qualifying oneself properly.

Deciding that he could on his own read and understand the Upanishads, without worrying himself about becoming eligible for the task, a man took up the study of 'BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad' and started reading it himself. As he finished reading it, a friend came to see him.

Friend: What were you reading?
This man: I was reading the 'BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad'.

Friend: What did you know from it?
This man: I understood from it that YAjnavalkya Munivar had two wives.

Friend: What have you decided after reading this book?
This man: That I should seek two wives like the sage YAjnavalkya.

Narrating this story, AchAryAL said, "This is what would happen if a man reads the Upanishads without preparing himself for the task. If one has to understand the philosophy of the Upanishads, one should first acquire the prerequisites of 'viveka, vairAgya, sama, tama, uparati, titikSha, shraddha and samAdhi' (discremination, dispassion, equanimity, intensity, quietism, patience, faith, accomplishment of unity)." He further explained, "To a person having these prerequisites, the reality evidenced in the Upanishads would be known as such."

*** *** ***

The importance of learning SamskRutam
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.51-52)

AchAryAL is an expert in the art of correcting the wrong perceptions of people with a sense of humour and without harming their mind in any way.

Once some foreigners came to Shrigeri and had darshan of the AchAryAL. AchAryAL saw that each one of them had some work of Sri Sankara BhagavadpAda.

AchAryAL: All of you have learnt SamskRutam?

Foreigners: SamskRutam? No, no; first we should attain 'moKSha', only then learning SamskRutam and all that.

AchAryAL: (laughing) First 'moKsham' only then SamskRutam? After attaining 'moKsham' what there is for one to learn, including SamskRutam?

Foreigners: (very well understanding their mistake) We now understand our mistake. We pray for your pardon.

AchAryAL: (with compassion) You don't have to worry. First get the basic knowledge in SamskRutam. This would help you much in understanding Sankara's philosophy in the right perspective. If clarity is obtained, that would pave way for the 'moKSham' you wish to attain.

*** *** ***

The power of Sanatana Dharma
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.52-53)

AchAryAL had unshakable faith in the basic principles of Sanatana Dharma. During the conversation a devotee had with him, the following opinions were exchanged.

bhakta: These days other religions with principles that are contrary to those of Sanatana Dharma are becoming popular.

AchAryAL: So what can happen?

bhakta: Won't it result in the destruction of Sanatana Dharma?

AchAryAL: Can I ask you something?

bhakta: I am waiting to reply.

AchAryAL: Let us suppose we have a new religion. Do you think that this new religion can teach principles of life and conduct that are suprior to the two basic principles (of Sanatana Dharma)--'satyam vada' (speak truth) and 'dharmam chara' (live according to dharma)?

bhakta: No, it can't.

AchAryAL: Then give up your fear of other religions destroying Sanatana Dharma.

That the AchAryAL explained elegantly that other religions can only base their principles on those of Sanatana Dharma made surprised the devotee.

*** *** ***

14 July 2009, 12:12 AM

During his 'vijaya yAtrA' (noble tours), when he was camping in a specific place, AchAryAL on that day gave a lecture in blessing about the importance of SandhyAvandanam. When it was over, some devotees approached him.

Devotees: When we were all waiting with the expectation that today AchAryAL was going to talk about a lofty 'tattva viShayam' (philosophical subject), AchAryAL has finished his lecture with SandhyAvandanam, a 'sAdhAraNa viShayam' (ordinary subject).

AchAryAL: I would always wish to talk about something that is important, something that would be useful to the people. I have no intention of showing off my knowledge among the people assembled here today. As the current 'adhipati' (pontiff) of this PITham established by Sri Sankara BhagavadpAda, my primary task is to remind the people of their basic duties. The people should first realize that they are straying from the duties ordained in our ShAstras and correct themselves. It is for this reason that I decided to talk about SandhyAvandanam today.

*** *** ***

On one occasion a boy prostrated to AchAryAL with great 'bhakti shraddha' (sincere devotion) and got up. Happy at his 'shraddhA bhakti', the Jagadguru started conversing with him.

AchAryAL: Has the 'upanayanam' been held for you?
Boy: Has been held.
AchAryAL: Are you doing SandhyAvandanam?
Boy: No.
AchAryAL: (with 'karisanam', loving concern) Why are you not doing it?
Boy: It is my wish to do it, but then I don't know how to do it.

AchAryAL: (showing surprise) Why? Did you not learn it from your father?

Boy: I asked him, but since he did not know how to do Sandhyavandanam himself, he said that he could not teach me.

Later, when the boy's father came for darshan of AchAryAL, AchAryAL told him: "If you don't do your 'nitya karmas', your 'putra' would never do them. If you wish that your son should attain 'naRgati' (good spiritual benefits), you should necessarily do SandhyAvandanam daily and set an example for your son."

AchAryAL's advice that if the sons are to be proper, the parents should do their duties properly and set an example for them drove some sense into that man.

*** *** ***

A 'dampati' (couple) came with their 'putra' to Shringeri to have darshan of AchAryAL. Although the worry that their son was spending too much time sitting before the T.V. and watching the game of cricket without paying proper attention to his studies was consuming their mind, they remain hesistant to speak about it directly to AchAryAL. When he saw the boy during the darshan, AchAryAL called him near.

AchAryAL: Which class are you studying in?
Boy: In the ninth standard.
AchAryAL: You want to stand first in studies in the entire class?
Boy: (with zeal) Yes, yes. Only that is my aim.

AchAryAL: If you spend all your time sitting before the T.V. and watching cricket, how can you come first in the class?

Boy: (alarmed) I agree, yes I can't come first.
AchAryAL: You're going to spend your time in the same way even from now on?
Boy: No, no.

AchAryAL: (smiling) 'santoShaM' (I'm glad). Alright, you do your SandhyAvandanam properly (daily)?

Boy: Yes, I do it daily.

AchAryAL: 'santoShaM'. How many times do you chant the GAyatrI mantra?
Boy: 108 times.

AchAryAL: Good,henceforth chant it 308 times. Also pay attention to your studies. You would come first in the class.

*** *** ***

16 July 2009, 12:17 AM
A trendy wristwatch
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.63-64)

A devotee living abroad came to Shringeri to have darshan of AchAryAL. AchAryAL did anugraha of a shawl to him. While receiving it the devotee's fingers casually touched a button in his wristwatch. Forthwith a voice rose from the watch and told him the time.

AchAryAL: Wherefrom did this voice come?

Devotee: It came from my wristwatch. Now, if I press this button on the watch, a voice would announce the time.

AchAryAL: By having such a feature in your wristwatch, what use do you derive from it? Whenever you want to know the time you can straight away have a glance at the watch and know it.

Devotee: I have great use from this feature. As I go to sleep at night I would wear this watch on my wrist. When I am awakened during night, I would press this button and know the time to check if it is time for me to get up.

AchAryAL: Is that so? I have a watch with a one such feature. But then I use it in a different way.

Devotee: (confused) Would AchAryAL explain it a little?

AchAryAL: (smiling) However late I go to sleep at night, I would get up at 3:45 in the morning without fail. At that time I would press the button of the watch and check if it shows the right time.

*** *** ***

Reusing bilva leaves for puja
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.65-66)

AchAryAL has 'visheSha bhakti' towards God. His 'manobhAvam' could be a good lesson for others. The following incident can be taken as an example for this.

A devotee who approached AchAryAL once prayed to him to solve his doubt.

Devotee: I have heard some people say that the bilva leaves used in a Shiva puja for 'archanA' can be reused in successive pujas. Is this true?

AchAryAL: (reciting a 'shlokam') Of course it is mentioned in 'shlokas' like this one that the bilva leaves can be reused for 'ArAdhanam'. Still, should we offer an old and used item for God's puja which is very dear to us? So far as I am concerned, instead of offering used bilva leaves, they must be plucked afresh each time and used in 'archanAs'.

AchAryAL's 'manobhAvam' taught a good lesson to the devotee.

*** ***

Note: Here are some 'shAstra pramANa' (scriptural proof) for reusing bilva and other leaves:

from 'rudrakAmi archana vidhi':

pankajam pancha ratreshu saptaratreshu bilvakam |
tulasi dasharatreshu pujitaH parameshwaraH ||

"Lotus can be used for 5 nights, bilva for 7 nights, and tulasi for 10 nights, for worship in a puja to Parameshvara."

from 'smriti vAkyam':

suvarnam tulasibilvam tathaiva kamalani cha ete nirmAlyataMyanti punaH |
prakShalayet jalaiH pUjAM karoti chennunAm tasya doSho na vidyate ||

"Flowers made of gold, tulasi daLa, bilva patra, lotus flower if offered
once in siva worship, can be washed and reused for worship and no impurity would be present on account of it."

from 'shiva rahasya':

ratna svarNa vinirmitoru kusumaM ya drukcha sankShalitam |
purve dadyuh pratipaditam girisute saMyakpunaH pUjayet |
tat vakShalita bilvasugaje pankShyalitam pUjaye |
tatralabhavidhau shivarchanavidhau nirmAlyatanochita ||

"Flowers of gold, bilva patra once offered can be reused for worship after prakshalana (washing). There is no nirmAlya dosha for bilva patra. Hence, if bilva patra is difficult to procure, then this process of prakshalana can be used and the bilva patra can be used for worship again."

Again, Smriti vAkya and Shiva Rahasya warn this worship and advices us to adopt this procedure as 'Apath dharma', that is, when there is shortage of bilva and tulasi, only then this procedure should be adopted.

Hence, Parama Pujya BharatiTIrtha MahAswamigaL is correct.

My humble prostrations to the illustrious acharyas of Sringeri.

ajnAnAm jAhnavi tIrtham vidyAtIrtham vivEkinAm |
sarvEShAm sukhadam tIrtham bhAratI tIrtham AshrayE ||

with regs,

*** *** ***

22 July 2009, 07:25 AM
A miracle: healing an elephant
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.70-71)

'Everything is the act of God; there is no visheSha shakti (special power) possessed by us.'--AchAryAL had this lofty manobhAvam as part of his very nature. The following incident is an example.

Once when the MaTham elephant was taken by its mahout along the bridge laid across the Tungabhadra river, it suddenly suffered from some ailment and was totally unable to walk any further. However much the mahout and the other people around tried, no one could make the elephant move any further. When this was informed to AchAryAL he sent them his vibhUti prasAdam. As the vibhUti was smeared on the elephant it started walking as if it got some wondrous power from somewhere, surprising everyone. The chippantis (staff members) informed AchAryAL about this wonder and priased him: "Only because of AchAryAL's grace the ailment of the elephant was cured and it started walking." AchAryAL interrupted them and said, "This did not happen because of my grace. When you came earlier and informed me, I prayed to Sri Anjaneya to heal and save that speechless animal from its ailment and gave you the vibhUti. From what you say now I understand that BhagavAn Anjaneya has accepted my prayer. Therefore, it happened only because of Anjaneya's grace, not my grace." With these words he brought the discussion to a close.

*** *** ***

Only auspicious words
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru's Blessed Words of Nectar', pp.71-74)

One of the distinguishing traits of MahAns is that they would always speak auspicious words. That AchAryAL too possessed this lofty trait can be known by anyone even if they move with him just once.

A doctor once had such experience. After having dharshan of AchAryAL in Shringeri, he supplicated to the sage:

Doctor: I have recently opened my own clinic. I seek AchAryAL's blessings that my profession would progress with much financial gains for me.

AchAryAL: (smiling) I bless that everyone who come to you for vaidya-chikitsA (medical treatment) may go with pUrNa guNam (completely cured).

Sensing disappointment in the doctor's face at his words, AchAryAL continued:

AchAryAL: You are anxious that I have not blessed you directly, aren't you?

Doctor: Yes, SvAmiji.

AchAryAL: Your desire is that you get much income in your profession. That means more number of patients should come to you for treatment. If I bless you, "May your profession go on with financial gains to you" wouldn't it mean indirectly that I bless that more people might become sick? Isn't that a great sin? Which is why I blessed you in this manner.

The doctor was fascinated by AchAryAL's explanation. He realized the determination that was displayed in AchAryAL's opinion that even indirectly he should not talk inauspiciously. Further, by AchAryAL's blessings there is a chance of the gains expected by the doctor to come by. That is, there would be a chance that his medical skills might become popular and he might get the name as a fortunate doctor due to his patients getting cured completely, so more patients would come to him, and this would increase his income. Thus it is clear that although AchAryAL's blessings to him were not on the expected lines it was one that could bring the expected gains.

*** *** ***

02 August 2009, 12:32 AM
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru Answers', pp.8-12)
(Teachings of Jagadguru Srimat Abhinava VidyAtIrtha MahAsvAmigaL
35th Jagadguru of DakShiNAmya Shringagiri Sri ShAradA PITham)

shiShya: Some people doubt God because they can't see Ishvara. Why can't God show himself to them to foster shraddha (faith) in their minds?

AchAryAL: Seems God is in a dilemma. If he wants to show himself to a person he must obtain a form; and there is a chance that a doubtful person might reject him as God for the reason that he has a form so he can't be omnipresent. And if he doesn't give darshan with a form and stays formless, some other doubters might say that since they can't see God there is no God. Thus there would be people who don't believe in God whether he obtains a form or stays formless.

There are differences of opinions in the world, so there is this nAstika ghoShTi (atheist group) too. shraddha can be fostered within the people but then there is no use to force it into a person's mind. yuktis (reasons, arguments) can be given. Experiences of several devotees can be narrated. Several apUrva (rare) real-life incidents and examples can be given. Teachings in the ShAstras can also be advised. With all that if a person chooses to believe that there is no God, who can do what to him?

s: Can a devotee see God?
A: With a form you mean?
s: Yes.
A: Although God is formless, he can obtain a form for the sake of his devotees. So if we have limitless bhakti, we can certainly see the form God has taken for us, without a doubt.

s: You say that God in the form he has taken can be seen only with the mind or with the eyes too?
A: God is the sAmarthyam (ability) to appear in both ways.

s: That is, does AchAryAL say that God can be seen, talked to and touched?
A: Yes. If there is so much bhakti God would give darshan. If he gives darshan why can't he be talked to?

s: This can be done in this Kali Yuga too?
A: What is the relation between a devotee seeing God and the Kali Yuga?

s: Who can obtain the darshan of God?
A: One who wants nothing but God can have his darshan. Such limitless devotion makes God come to us.

s: How can a person who had a divine experience know if what he had experienced is real or not?
A: One who has had a real experience won't have such doubts.

s: But then there are other people who might say that this person who had the experience was mad or that the experience is only self-deceptive?

A: It would not matter to a person who has had a divine experience that others might accept or reject it. What loss is there for that person? The acceptance or rejection of others does not in any way affect the experience of the person.

Although this is the case, I shall answer your question directly. Suppose after darshan God leaves a fruit or some other item with the devotee. In that case the devotee can know that the experience is real. Such experience would transform the devotee's mind. Although the experience was for only a small amount of time, its fruits would be there for a long time. Further, those who have had experience with God would also acquire the ability to encourage others.

Suppose a God-experienced person is hale and healthy. Why should sudden madness come to him? And if someone wants to deceive himself, he can do it any time. And such special experiences are not had all the time. With such probing, one can know the difference between a real experience and one that is self-deceptive.

s: Why is there so much pain and suffering in this world? Since God created this world, would he not be responsible for the pain and suffering?

A: Everyone experiences the pain only because of the person's own acts. One's acts must always have effects. As the karma of an earlier birth frutifies in this birth, one experiences their pain and suffering. Since man has the choice and independence to follow or ignore the precepts of ShAstras, it is a mistake to blame God for the pain and sufferings. Man only gets the results of puNyam or pApam due to his own acts. And God only dispenses those fruits. That's all.

If the suffering in this birth is due to the acts done in the previous birth, it can be asked: what could be the reason for the suffering in the previous birth? The answer is the acts done in the penultimate birth. Since samsAra has no beginning, it won't be proper to ask about the first birth when a person started his life without any karma. God only brings out what was left over in the previous kalpa (one day of Brahma or one thousand Yugas) when he creates the world for the current kalpa; he doesn't create anything new.

s: It is said that God knows everything, all that happened, happens now and to happen henceforth. If this is so, what the people would do in future would also have been decided now. In such a case, man should only act according to the command of fate? If he can go beyond fate, then it would mean that God would not be capable of determining what man would do? So how can it be said that God knows everything?

A: This world is an outcome of Maya. God is one who rules Maya. Since everything happens only according to his will, everything submits to his will. Only his will appears as fate and people's individual preferences. If we consider it with this view, we can understand without confusion that God is one who has known everything and that everything need not happen as ordained by fate.

Suppose a student has not prepared at all for his examination. Can be it said with certainty that such a student would not pass the exam? If one can say that with certainty, would it mean that the student has no liberty to prepare or not prepare, before the exam? Certainly not. In the same way, even if a person considers that God has very well understood all that he has created, that person will have no difficulty in saying that God knows everything beforehand.

03 August 2009, 11:45 PM
GangA river
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru Answers', pp.16-17)
(Teachings of Jagadguru Srimat Abhinava VidyAtIrtha MahAsvAmigaL
35th Jagadguru of DakShiNAmya Shringagiri Sri ShAradA PITham)

shiShya: It is believed that the river GangA removes a person's sins. Does it happen so in reality?

AchAryAL: Yes. Why a doubt about it?

s: If GanGA removes the sins of a man, he can commit any sin, then take a bath in the river and get his sin removed!

A: The snAnam (bath) done in GangA would remove sins committed out of ignorance. It would also remove sins committed with knowledge for which the man repents. It is not just to expect GangA to remove sins committed with the intention 'I would get it removed by a bath in GangA'. When I say this, you needn't doubt the greatness of GangA. Crores of people go there travelling long distances with the tIvra shraddA (strong faith), 'GangA would make me sacred.' God would not wish to let their shraddhA go futile.

A story is told in relation to this. Once PArvati asked ParamaShiva, "Will GangA remove all sins?" Shiva took PArvati to the river bank, both of them in the disguise of an old couple. He told her that he would act as if he was drowning in the river and she would call the passers-by for help. PArvati who was in disguise screamed if anyone would come forward to rescue her husband. Some people came there to help. The Mother said, "Only the man who has no sins at all can touch my husband." Without any hesitation, one man in the crowd jumped into the river, swimmed over and saved the old man. PArvati asked the man with surprise, "You have so sins at all?" The man replied as he started to leave, "Before saving your husband, I sank deep in the waters of GangA and swam to him. That very moment my sins were washed away." ParamaShiva asked PArvati, "How can there be a doubt that GangA will wash away the sins of a person who has such strong faith?" GangA's greatness is such.

The right way to act
(From the Tamil book 'Jagadguru Answers', pp.19-20)
(Teachings of Jagadguru Srimat Abhinava VidyAtIrtha MahAsvAmigaL
35th Jagadguru of DakShiNAmya Shringagiri Sri ShAradA PITham)

shiShya: Many a time we don't know what to do in a circumstance. There is confusion too as to what is right and what is wrong. What should we do in such circumstances?

AchAryAL: On some occasions there would be confusion in the mind although one knows what is right and what is wrong. This is because the wrong way would seem easier and the right way hard. At such a time we should chose only the right way. Only the right way is good for us irrespective of whether it gets us saukaryam (comfort) or not. At other times, it would not be viroddha to (against) the ShAstras if we act in one way or another, contradictory way. At such times, it won't be wrong to follow either way.

We should know the opinions of our ShAstras to know the right and wrong. KrishNa ParamAtmA has said:

[तस्माच्चास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्य व्यवस्थितौ ।]
ज्ञात्वा शास्त्र-विधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुम् इहार्हसि ॥

[tasmAcchAstraM pramANaM te kAryAkArya vyavasthitau |]
j~jAtvA shAstra-vidhAnoktaM karma kartum ihArhasi ||
--Bhagavad Gita,16.24

"Therefore the scriptures decide what is to be done and what is not to be done. When one knows the rules of scripture one should act accordingly."

Where we don't have that much knowledge in the ShAstras, we should follow the path of our sages.

The (TaittIriya) Upanishad says:

यथ ते तत्र वर्तेरन् । तथ तत्र वर्तेथाः ।

yatha te tatra varteran | tatha tatra vartethAH |
--TaittIriya Upanishad

"Follow the sages in such circumstances."

If a man has a doubt he should go to his guru and get his doubt cleared. If he can't go to the guru-sannidhi, he should approach the sacred elders to know the right way. At some special circumstances a man might need to decide there and then the way to act. There could be confusion, and no one he could seek counsel from. At these times, one can pray to God and then do what seems right to his mind, taking care that the mind is not induced by desire and takes him along the wrong way.

07 August 2009, 09:24 AM
guru kripA vilAsam (On the Greatness of the Guru) Vol. 2
From: The Tamil Publications by the devotees of Shringeri Sri ShAradA PITham

Gracious Words

For SrImad AchAryAL (Sri Chandrasekhara BharatI MahAsvAmigaL), the mAtru bhAShA (mother tongue) was Telugu; desha bhAShA (regional language) was KannaDa; the language he was trained in, was Samskrutam; and the language he made parichayam (acquaintance) with for the sake of his shiShyas was Tamil. He would often say that he did not have a thorough parichayam in Tamil. Still, on some occasions it transpired that he had more knowledge in Tamil than many Tamilians.

AchAryAr: In Tamil, what is the difference between (the usages) 'piRavi (birth) and piRappu (taking birth)?

shiShya: Both are the same.

AchAryAr: If they are the same, whey then two words?

shiShya: There might be many words with the same meaning.

AchAryAr: It is not nyAyam (logical) to be so in any bhAShA. If a word is to denote a padArthaM (meaning), it would 'do pravRutti' (express activity) 'doing avalamba' (resting upon) of a visheSha aMsha (specific feature) of that padArthaM. They would call it pravRutti nimittam in SamskRutam.

Both agni and vahni might denote 'fire'. Still, he gets the name agni by the nimittam (sign, cause) that he 'carries forward' (in tortuous movement) and the name vahni by the nimittam that he 'reaches the havirbhAgas (shares of oblation) to the devatas (gods)'. In the same way, that same agni bears the name dahana since he burns everything, and anala since it swallows and digests everything demanding more.

Therefore, in this manner, although we don't find any difference between the words piRavi and piRappu in everyday usage, there must be distinct inner meanings for them; I asked you as to what those (meanings) are.

shiShya: It is not known to me.

AchAryAr: Can it be this way? The term jananam refers to the kriyA (action) of taking birth; janma refers to the sthiti (state) that ensues after the action of birth is over. That is, one is the action and the other the janya-phala (fruit of birth) of that action. Similarly, can we have it in Tamil that piRappu refers to the janana-kriyA and piRavi refers to the janma-rUpa-phala?

shiShya: Now it seems the same way to me too.

AchAryAr: Mostly, in all languages, if there is parichayam in that lipi (letter), the letters can be read as such. But the meaning would be known only if there is bhAShA jnAnam (knowledge about the language). That is, the shabda jnAnam (knowledge of words and sounds) would first arise and then the meaning has to be searched.

It seems that this krama (order) is different in Tamil. Here, only if the meaning is known first, the akSharas (letters) can be properly pronounced and the text read. For example, let us say that the word palam is written. Should it be read as palaM that refers to a measure of weight, phalaM that refers to a fruit, or balaM that refers to the sharIra shakti (bodily strength)? Only after knowing the meaning appropriate to the prakaraNa (occasion, treatment, context) of this word, it can be pronounced correctly? This seems to be a unique distinction for Tamil.

shiShya: It happens this way because we have only one akSharaM that denotes four sounds. There is only one letter 'ka' for 'ka, kha, ga' and 'gha'.

AchAryAr: Add 'ha' to that list.

shiShya: vAstavaM (true). One letter for five sounds.

AchAryAr: Why, isn't there one letter for seven sounds? Only 'cha' for all 'cha, Cha, ja, jha, sha, Sha' and 'sa'?

shiShya: Yes.

AchAryAr: Thus, if there is one letter for many sounds, there would be good avakAshaM (occasion, opportunity, room) for zleShas (puns) in Tamil?

shiShya: Yes, there is.

AchAryAr: The zleSha that arises due to differences in pronunciation would not be that much shuddha zleSha (clean pun). It is shlAghyaM (praiseworthy) only when there is pun without any pronunciation difference. There could be such puns in Tamil also? Tell me an example.

shiShya: Nothing occurs to me now.

AchAryAr: (considering it for a few moments and then with a smile) It is ordained in our Dharma ShAstras that while we pass through a street and a brAhmaNa is seen, we should cross/overtake him without showing our left profile to him. If that niyama (restraint) is expressed in Tamil, it would be satisfactory to some people in these times. "பார்ப்பானுக்கு இடம் கொடேல்"--"pArppAnukku iDam koDEl"--"Don't give left/room to a brahmin" is only good Tamil, right?

*** *** ***

AchAryAr: In Tamil Desham, if we ask a man "what are you doing?" he says, "வெறுமென இருக்கிறேன்"--"veRumena irukkiREn". Another man says, "தேமேனு இருக்கிறேன்"--"dEmEnu irukkiREn". A different other man says, "சும்மா இருக்கிறேன்"--"summA irukkiREn". What is the difference between these three (usages)?

shiShya: There is no difference at all. They are used only in the meaning, "I remain without doing any kAryaM (work, task)."

AchAryAr: The meaning might be the same. What is the reason for the difference in the shabda (words) in tAtparyaM (purport, aim)?

shiShya: The reason is only their habit (of saying it).

AchAryAr: This reason is not enough. That would give occasion to ask why the habit differs.

shiShya: It is not known to me.

AchAryAr: Can it be this way? If it is "veRumena irukkiREn", "veRum ena irukkiREn", that is, the meaning "I keep my mind empty without any saMkalpaM (wish, desire) therein" seems 'to be in dhvani' (echoed, hinted at) there.

shiShya: It might be so.

AchAryAr: What they say 'dEmEnu' seems to be a maru (Tamil 'maruvu', corruption) of 'deyvamE ena'. That is (for the usage "dEmEnu irukkiREn"), the meaning could become "I leave everything as daivAdhIna (subject to fate or God's will) and remain without myself having any saMkalpaM (wish, desire) or making any pravRutti (activity, exertion)." I have heard some people also say, "சிவனேனு இருக்கிறேன்"--"sivanEnu irukkiREn". Perhaps they too use "sivanE enRu" in the same tAtparyaM.

shiShya: It might be in that same way.

AchAryAr: Those who say "summA irukkiREn", I think, say it with the thought, "svayam Aha irukkiREn--I remain as my Self, that is, knowing my state I remain as my Self with the nishchaya buddhi (firm conviction) that there is no kAryam that need to be done by me."

shiShya: It is not known if at least one person speaks it knowing this much of its tAtparyaM.

AchAryAr: Not necessary that one should know it (the purport). Still, it is known that this knowledge is fixed basically in the people's mind in saMskAra rUpam (as an impression of knowledge). They say "brahmAnandaM" when they experience some visheSha sukhaM (distinct happiness, comfort). Do they say it only after experiencing brahmAnandaM? The saMskAra (impression of knowledge) that brahmAnandaM is the most uttama (lofty) sukham among those traditionally experienced, is fixed in mind.

Similarly, our ShAstras do ghoShaNam (proclammation) that is no kAryaM (task, act) is there to do for

• one who stands in yoga-niShTa (meditative union) doing nirodha (restraint, control, locking up) of all chitta-vRuddhi (expansion of mind);

• one who remains in bhakti-niShTa (meditative devotion) keeping no pravRutti (activity, exertion) for himself and 'doing arpaNa' (consigning) of all kinds of his aMshas (characteristics) and surrendering to BhagavAn (God); and

• one who is in laya (absorbed in dissolution) in jnAna-niShTa (meditative knowledge) as kevala-akhaNDa-chaitanya-rUpaM (abstract, unbroken form of knowledge) setting aside all his dehendriya manobuddhi (body, senses, mind and intelligence) as not his Self.

It seems that having heard this knowledge from the elders, the saMskAram has arisen in people, to describe their actionless state as "veRumena" as a yogi, "deyvamE ena" as a bhakta and as "svayam Aha" as a jnAni.

09 August 2009, 02:49 AM
Gracious Words

AchAryAr: Since rich people have money, they conduct themselves with the determination that they can experience all the pleasures of the world. Suppose we tell them that if they are to get even more sukham in paralokam (heaven) or janmAntaram (another birth or life), they need to spend the money they have in good things, they might consider, 'neither the paralokam nor the janmAntaram is visible before the eyes now; and what is told in the ShAstras might be true or not, so losing the bhoga-sAdhanas (means of enjoyment) on hand now and then if nothing is obtained later, both these two things would be losses?' and determine 'so it would be prudent to keep the sukha-sAdhanas on hand now and enjoy them ourselves' and thus remain without spending their money for dharma; it can be said that this (consideration) in a way is only just.

Some Astikas (God-believers) who have much attachment to money might even think, 'When Bhagavan has given us the sAdhanas to experience sukham, to say that I would not use them would only amount to ingratitude; would amount to having conducted myself against his saMkalpam (will). Apart from these, when Bhagavan himself has created a man as daridran (poor man), our giving him money in a bid to remove his poverty would also be virodha (in opposition) to bhagavat saMkalpam. Therefore, all dAna dharma would only be bhagavat apachAra (against God's ruling).

Let them be what they would. Some people are born in poverty and some have become poor due to lack of fortune. And there is thought among these poor people that they cannot experience sukham in this world? Would they get the thought, "Owing to the sins committed in earlier births we experience poverty now. At least from now on we should not commit sins"? Should they not get the thought, "We don't have any sukham in this birth. If there is going to be sukam for us, it could only be seen in paralokam or punar janmam (another birth). And to have that siddha (accomplished) for us we should now do dharmAnuShThAnam (perforance of dharmic acts) and do ArAdhanam (worship) of Bhagavan"? And these (poor) people too remain without shraddha (faith) in vaidika kAryas (Vedic acts)? Although they need to wander and strive a lot for their jIvanam (living), why should it be that they have no spare time for sandhyAvandanAdi karmas? They forget that the limit of their Ayus (lifetime) and the amount of the bhogas they would experience are predestined. They forget what is shreyas (excellent, superior) for them. If they are told to do japam (litany) of GayatrI (mantra) pratidinam (every day), the mantra that is capable of giving sakalavida (all kinds of) aihika (of this world) and AmuShmika (of the other world) sukhas (pleasures) as well as the mokShaM which is parama-puruShArtham (ultimate aim, accomplishment), their manas (mind) does not go towards it even by a small step. Any padArtham (material object) that we accumulate in the ihalokam (this world, this life) does not come with us (when we depart). Only dharma, adharma would accompany us. It would never be a mark of prudence not to pay attention to them.

*** *** ***

AchAryAr: If one has to acquire knowledge of Atma-tattvaM without any doubts it can be done in this bhU-lokaM (earth); or in brahma-lokaM (BrahmA's world). The Upanishad appeals to us that this knowledge can't be acquired with clarity in the middle worlds--gandharva-lokaM, pitru-lokaM, deva-lokaM (world of Gandharvas, ancestors, Devas). To reach the BrahmaLoka, the karma should be done with uttama upAsana (supreme worship). If the shrama (effort, exertion, weariness) in doing that is considered, it would seem that we don't need to go to BrahmaLokam after all. Even if one reaches BrahmaLoka undertaking all that shramaM, the videha-mukti would happen to the sAdhaka only after doing brahma-vichAraM (inquiry about Brahman), and living the life until the kalpAntaM (end of Kalpa) at which time BrahmA (himself) attains mukti. He should wait until such time. For those who do vedAnta vichAraM in the bhU-lokaM, if they don't need to go to any other Loka, there would be mukti for them here and now. Therefore, one who is a buddhimAn (wise man) should take up efforts to acquire knowledge that is the sAdhana for mukti here and now.

shiShya: Aren't the devAdi lokas puNya bhUmis (sacred lands)! What is the reason to say that jnAnam would not arise well in those worlds?

AchAryAr: The reason is that they are puNya bhUmi. They are not karma bhUmi. No kind of karmAnuShTanaM can be done there. They are only bhoga bhUmi (land of enjoyment). Once we reach there, our manas (mind) would only indulge in enjoying the bhogas there and not go to other vishayas.

This apart, there is no nyAyaM (logic, method) for vairAgyam (dispassion) which is the antaranga sAdhanaM (most essential technique) for jnAnam to arise there. As found here, there is nothing of jananam, vRuddhi, pariNamaM, jara, maraNam (birth, growth, change/evolution, old age/decrepitude, death) there. There only the same age, fit for bhogaM, right from the beginning to the end. Also, the duHkha hetus (reasons for suffering) vyAdhi, pasi, dAhaM (disease, hunger, thirst) are not there. Only if these are present, there is nimittaM (scope) for vairAgya to arise, seeing and experiencing them. Since none of these are there, they would always be indulged in vishaya sukhaM (pleasures of objects) with no thoughts of seeking the Atma sukhaM which is above that. Moreover, the brahma-niShTas (one absorbed in contemplating Brahman) who could teach brahma jnAnam won't be there. This is because if they become Atma jnAnis in bhU lokaM, there is no need for them to go to svarga lokaM (heavens). And once we reach those worlds, there is no sAdhyaM (possibility) to become jnAni.

shiShya: If due to puNya vashaM (the influence of good karma), those in the devAdhi lokas get the ichChA (wish, desire) to attain Atma jnAnam, are there no gurus to help them?

AchAryAr: If there is shakti to reach BrahmaLoka, they can approach BrahmA to have him as their guru; or they can approach the jIvan muktas who are employed in AdhikArika sthAnam (principal positions for universal administration) and are awaiting kalpAntaM along with BrahmA. If these two are not sAdhya, they needs must come back to the earth. In whatever way, there is no scope in the devAdhi lokas.

Additionally, we can know about another reason by inference. If the advaita brahma-jnAnam has to arise, there is no way unless it is known that the dvaita prapancham (universe of duality) is mithyA (untrue, illusory). We always say that mithyA is neither atyanta asat (infinite untruth) nor sat (truth). We say that since the jagat (world, universe) is apparent it is not asat and as it is not in jnAna dashA (domain/condition of knowledge) it is not sat. When the doubt arises if there can be a padArthaM which is neither sat nor asat, we give the dRuShTAntas (examples, instances) of rajju-sarpaM (the snake that appears in a rope), sthANu-puruSha (the man who appears in a pillar), marumarIchikA (the water that appears in intensely hot weather, mirage) and shukti-rajataM (the silver that appears in a shell, mother-of-pearl) and teach that just as these things although they are apparent are not the reality, this Jagat is also not the reality. These things will not appear in utter darkness or in complete brightness; there should be nimittas (grounds, causes) where they are mixed to form manda-andhakAram (weak/slight/soft darkness). As there are night, day, sunshine and shadow here, there is the possibility of such bhramas (confusions, dizziness, errors) arising. In the svargAdi lokas there is always brightness, no shadow, no darkness. In that circumstance, there is no prasakti (opportunity, connection) to manda-andhakAram. Thereby there is no nimitta for bramarUpa anubhavas (experiences of illusion). Therefore, even if someone is there in the svargAdi lokas to teach vedAnta pAThaM, no dRuShTAntas would be obtained that could make the shiShya absorb the reality.

To the ShiShya who in bhramitaM (amazement, confusion) as to how such a huge and vast Jagat is spoken of as mithyA, the Guru teaches, "Don't you see in your svapna (dream) during nidrA (sleep) countless large towns and palaces and people? Is anything among them is satyam (real, true)? When you have such shakti for sRuShTi (creation), why can't Bhagavan who is sarva-shakta (omnipotent) create this world? In the same way you realize that your svapna prapanchaM (dream universe) is only mithyA, determine it for yourself that this jAgrat prapanchaM (universe in the waking state) although it appears satyam is only mithyA."

To those in the svargAdi lokas, there is no nidrA (sleep). Even no blinking of eyes. So no scope at all for svapna. So there is no way to teach them using the svapna dRuShTAntaM (dream example). To us (in this world), (the state of existence of) suShupti (deep sleep) can be given as dRuShTAntaM to teach that there can be a sukham (happiness) that is not subject to the manas (mind) and the indrya (senses). For them, there is no suShupti at all. If the Brahmam that is not reachable by any sort of pramANaM (inference, evidence, means, standards) is to be taught about, only if some dRuShTAntaM that is known to us is given, we can somewhat absorb that knowledge. In such devAdi lokas where no dRuShTAntaM suitable for advaita bodham (teaching of Advaita) is available, how can the brahma-tattvaM be taught? By these reasons we can know that there is no sAdhya to acquire jnAnam in those worlds.

By some pUrva puNyam we have in this bhU-lokaM which is arha (deserving, eligible) for jnAna sambAdhanaM (acquirement of knowledge), and that in the BhArata Desham which is a karma bhUmi, got our birth in the kulam (lineage, family, race) of uttama maharishis (lofty great sages). Without wasting it, and using it well, and doing anuShTAnam of what is given in the ShAstras in sopAna krama (step by step order), it is our duty to keep endeavouring to attain the parama-puruShArtham (ultimate aim, accomplishment) without any further delay.

11 August 2009, 08:29 AM
guru kripA vilAsam (On the Greatness of the Guru) Vol. 2
From: The Tamil Publications by the devotees of Shringeri Sri ShAradA PITham

Even the Atma-jnAni should do anuShTAna (observe) of karma (rites and other external acts) for loka-sangraha (welfare of the world)--this is what GitAchArya (SrI KrishNa) has said; and our AchAryAr very well demonstrated it in his actions. During the time when he was bahir-mukham (externally conscious), he would conduct his nitya Ahnika karmas (diurnal activities) and ArAdhana (worship) of mUrtis with shraddhA (faith, sincerity).

A nobleman from the state of Bengal who had heard of the sage's mahimA (greatness) and Atma niShTha (mediation on Self) came over to Shringeri and observed his external religious activities and the shraddhA the sage showed in Ahnikas and SrI Chakra PUja. Perhaps he thought that the AchAryAr would always be in samAdhi, forgetful of the world. He doubted whether it was justified that a jnAni he thought would be in laya (dissolved) in nirguNa brahmaM (attributeless Brahman) to be, on the contrary, showing interest in external karma and upAsana (worship). When he thought of seeking an appropriate samAdhAnam (reconciliation) for this, he got an opportunity to speak about it to SrImad AchAryAr himself.

Prabhu: Is it justified that a man who has attained Atma-jnAnaM as prescribed in the VedAnta to indulge in karma or upAsana?

SrI.A: What do you expect him to do otherwise?

Prabhu (realizing that whatever reply he gave could be construed as a mistake): I don't say that he should do something. My doubt arose thus: Karma, IshvarAdhana or vedAnta vichAra--whatever it is, should there not be the thought of kartRutvaM (state of being performer), that "I do this act"? If it is Atma-jnAnaM, without the thought of "I do this act", there should be the state of akartA, "I am not the one who does it". Since both these bhAvanas (reflections) are in paraspara virodha (mutual opposition), how can they be with a person in samakAlaM (at the same time)?

SrI.A: vAstavaM (True). Two things that are in paraspara virodha cannot be with the same AsAmi (person) at the same samaya (time). Now, who is the akartA?

Prabhu: Only AtmA is the akartA.

SrI.A: sari (Right). You are well acquainted with our siddhAntaM (philosophy). Now tell me who is the kartA (doer)?

Prabhu: The sharIraM, indriya, manas, buddhi (body, senses, mind, intellect)--only these are the kartA.

SrI.A: So it becomes that AtmA is akartA, and the kartA is anAtmA, right?

Prabhu: Yes.

SrI.A: Now you observe it carefully. Where does the nyAya virodha occur? Although kartRuvaM and akartRuvaM are in paraspara virodhaM, they are not in the same place?

The Prabhu was overwhelmed with visheSha kRutajna (right attitude and gratitude) and bhakti towards the AchAryAr who cleared his doubt with such ease and facility.

*** *** ***

16 August 2009, 01:56 AM
guru kripA vilAsam (On the Greatness of the Guru) Vol. 2
From: The Tamil Publications by the devotees of Shringeri Sri ShAradA PITham

Let there be no needless debates

When a bhakta came to have darshan of SrImad AchAryAL (Sri Chandrasekhara BharatI MahAsvAmigaL), he did prastAvanA (begin to talk) about SrI RAmAnujAchArya.

bhakta: When SrI RAmAnujAchArya is explaining the meaning of some upanishad vAkyas (sayings), for the saying 'brahmaM nirguNaM' he gives the meaning, 'heya-guNa-rahita (wanting in bad characteristics) and therefore 'ananta-kalyANaguNa-vishiShTa', (distinguished by all good characteristics); would that be appropriate?

AchAryAr: Good, bad are all for us only; they are not in the Brahmam. The siddhAntaM (demonstrated conclusion) is only that he is of no guNa. If it is meant that "no bad guNas are there", it is enough to say 'nirdoSha' (with no deficiencies); there is no necessity at all to say 'nirguNa'.

bhakta: Like suvAsanA, durvAsanA (good and bad intentions), since there is prayogaM (usage) of suguNa, durguNa (good and bad characteristic), isn't the guNa-shabda (the word 'guNa') one that can 'do anvaya' (associate) with both?

AchAryAr: vAstavaM (True). When that is the case, if it is nirguNa, it would only mean that there is neither any good nor any bad characteristic?

bhakta: I don't say it that way. Since durguNa is contained in the guNa-shabda, what is the mistake in explaining the meaning of nirguNa as 'one without any bad characteristic'?

AchAryAr: There is no mistake. What is the pramANa (evidence, proof) to take that the general guNa-shabda only indicates durguNa?

bhakta: Don't we use the (Tamil) word nAtRam (smell) to mean only durnAtRam (bad smell) in general?

AchAryAr: vAstavaM. In the same way, is there any context where the shabda guNa is used to mean only 'bad characteristic'? When NAradA asked VAlmIki in Srimad RAmAyaNam guNavAn kashcha vIryavAn ("who is the one who is a 'guNavAn'--one with all good characterstics and a 'vIryavAn'--one capable of heroic deeds), did he mean "one with all bad characteristics?" In prayogam (usage) guNa would only mean 'good characteristic' in sAmAnya (commonly).

bhakta: Even if it is not there in prayogaM, since the guNa-shabda is common, it would also indicate 'bad characteristic', is it not so?

AchAryAr: It would also indicate 'good characteristic'. 'Doing alakShyaM' (ignoring) of prayogaM won't be nyAyaM (logical, justified) in any way. Suppose an elderly man comes when we are here. After he arrives, if I tell you "this man is an avidvAn", you would be startled, not knowing the meaning. If at that time I tell you, "My referring to this man as avidvAn was in the meaning 'heya-vidyA-rahita' (one who has no bad learning); the tAtparyaM (purport) of what I told was only that "this man is an ananta-kalyANa-vidvAn (one who has learnt all good disciplines of knowledge)", would that be of samAdhAnam (reconcilable) to you, you decide it for yourself.

bhakta: They say that NArAyaNamUrti who remains either in paLLi (bed) in the kShIrAbdhi (milky ocean) or sitting in the ratna siMhAsanaM (throne of precious stones) at VaikuNThaM is the paratattvaM (ultimate Brahman), do the Advaitins agree with it?

AchAryAr: What is the AkShepaM (objection) in agreeing with it? How can we, who say that the vyApti (pervasion) of ParaBrahmaM is in all the padArthAs (material objects) of the Jagad (world), say that those Divya MUrtis are not Paratattvam?

bhakta: If that be so, what is the difference between them and us?

AchAryAr: They say that only the Divya MUrtis in the VaikuNThaM are Paratattvam. We say that those MUrtis are the uttama vibhUtis (highest manifestations) of the Paratattvam.

bhakta: What is the pAdakaM (obstacle, loss) for us if we agree that those MUrtis are themselves Paratattvam? Can't we have it as: just as the Sun who is only present in the sky pervades the whole world with his shine and warmth, in the same way BhagavAn too remains in VaikuNThaM and pervades the whole world with his prabhA (shine) and shakti (power)?

AchAryAr: We can have. But then (in that case), that which pervades the world would only be shakti, not BhagavAn. Would it be nyAyam when the Vedas have mentioned BhagavAn himself as sarva-vyApaka (all-pervading), and that only Brahman is the greatest, to make that BhagavAn just a small parichChinna mUrti (divided, detached, confined image) residing in the VaikuNThaM and KailAsaM, giving the nature of his pervasion to only his shakti?

bhakta: Is it the tAtparyaM that to do kapana (create, imagine) of a form for BhagavAn would be a mistake?

AchAryAr: Not so. MUrti is necessarily required for the upAsaka (worshipper) to do dhyAna upAsanAdis (meditation and worship). Moreover, his UpAsanA-MUrti should be there and do anugraham to him for his lokAntaraM (worldly attachments) to go away, by his upAsanA bhAvam, and for him to experience sukham (bliss) thereafter. Therefore, in whatever way, a mUrti would only be a necessity.

bhakta: The UpAsaka who goes up to VaikuNThaM or KailAsaM would have already conquered all his sakala-vidha rAga-dveShAdi (all kinds of likes and dislikes). He would be desireless. So if he goes to those Uttama LokAs, he is not going to indulge in the vaiShiyika sukha (pleasures for the senses) there. He would not do apekShA (need or desire) of anything except remaining shAshvata (eternal, immortal), having darshan of the Divya MUrti there. What is the mistake to have that state as the state of MokShaM? What is the reason that the Advaitins say that there is a kaivalyaM (absolute unity) above this state?

AchAryAr: What you say is completely nyAyam (logical). But then only having darshan of the VaikuNThAdi MUrtis and experiencing its bliss is not sAdhyaM (feasible), and not uchitaM (proper) too. Since upAsana is only a mAnasIka karma (mental act) the vaikuNThAdi vAsaM (residence in VaikuNTham) that is attained by it would also be over with the puNya-kShaya (consumption of good karma). He would only need to return here.

bhakta: How is it not uchitaM?

AchAryAr: If the upAsakA remains in happiness having darshan of the VaikuNThAdi MUrtis, it would amount to the upAsakA becoming the bhoktA (one who experiences) and that MUrti becoming the bhogyaM (that which is experienced). The bhoktA is always AtmA, cetana (animate, intelligent, conscious); bhogyaM is always anAtmA, achetana (not the AtmA, inanimate/without consciousness). Therefore, if this man is having darshan of that Divya MUrti and experiencing happiness, it can only be that he makes that MUrti bhogyam and thereby anAtmA and jaDaM (inanimate). This is a great apachAraM (spiritual offence).

Advaitins would not give room to such apachAraM. They would only accept the kaivalya padavi (path to Unity) as MokShaM, where the bhedaM (difference, distinction) of bhoktA-bhogyaM ceases into a state of unity of both.

Apart from this, if it is a mUrti it could only be within limits. It would not be uchitaM to say that only it is the Paratattvam. As an udAharaNam (example), let us take MahAVishNu. It is seen in his mUrti as holding up a chakraM (disc) in the right hand and a shangkham (conch) in the left hand. But there would be space between his bhujaM (arm) and the hand that holds the disc, right? Would there be BhagavAn in that space? If he is not there, the sarva-vyapakatvaM for the Bhagavan would be gone. If he is there, the concept that the very MUrti with those limbs is BhagavAn would be gone? Does BhagavAn pervade only that space? He pervades the space of his stance, the VaikuNThaM he resides in, and all the fourteen worlds? Without creating the space in him where he is not there, how can a MUrti be created? Therefore, to think that what is with MUrti is only BhagavAn, since it 'does hAni to' (ruins) his sarva-vyApakatvaM, would only be apachAraM.

Therefore, for the Divya MUrtis in VaikuNThAdi, except that we can ascribe the vyavahArika satyam (practical, conditional reality) as done for all the padArthas (material objects) in the world, we cannot ascribe paramArthika satyam (absolute reality). Based on the tAratamyas (gradations, proportions) in the vyavahArika satyam we say that those LokAs are nityam (eternal) and satyam (real). So long as there is bheda-buddhi for us (tendency to distinguish) for us, all these worlds are only real.

In the stage we are in today, we need to only indulge in karma and upAsana as prescribed in the ShAstras, and since we are anarha (unworthy, unsuitable) to inquire into what the Paratattvam would be like in the stage of uttama jnAnaM (highest knowledge), it would only be a waste to debate about that--there is no doubt about it. When that state is reached, the Tattvam would be intelligible of its own. And there would be no time for arguments then.

17 August 2009, 05:08 AM
Pranams Sir.

I read your threads in this forum and at Kanchi forum most avidly. It is enjoyable to read about Maha sannidhanam here. Please continue this.

He is said to be a great yogi.If you can write on it in detail I will be most obliged , Sir .

Thank you,


17 August 2009, 10:06 AM
Namaste SrI Sringeri.

Since our forefathers were native of Tirunelveli district, Tamilnadu, we were told that our family MaTham was Shringeri, but unfortunately we had the fortune to have darshan of the Shrigeri AchAryAL only recently, in the month of last June. During that trip I bought the book 'Guru Kripa Vilasam' (3 vol.) plus some other books, all in Tamil, from the publications stall there.

I have also not had conversational darshan of Kanchi MahAperiyavAL, although our family has been fortunate to have a word or two spoken by the current AchAryALs of SrIMaTham, Kanchi during our darshans that were only few and far between.

However, I believe I am fortunate to have darshan of the Kanchi and Shrigeri AchAryALs when I read about them. I consider it a small guru sevA to have been given the opportunity to selectively translate from the Tamil publications on them. I am happy that this small service of mine is useful to many devotees and I pray to the Gurus to accept any praise my work happens to receive and free me from any ego of achievement.

Please do not address me as Sir, since I am only a humble, ordinary devotee of the PeriyavAs.

20 August 2009, 10:54 PM
Thank you sri saidevo. I really look forward to reading and knowing more on sri mahasannidhanam especially his yogic practice.

With pranams,