16 Oct 2014

Shirdi Sai Baba - a Dear Friend of Sri Swami Vishwananda

Celebrations of Shirdi Sai Baba Mahasamadhi, 2014
Every year, on 15th October, we celebrate the Mahasamadhi of Shirdi Sai Baba. Yesterday, we all rejoiced with the surprise special announcement that Sri Swami Vishwananda would grace us with his physical presence during evening prayers, at Shree Peetha Nilaya. During this last week, Swamiji had a very busy schedule, which included giving Darshan to several thousands of people in Portugal and Spain, so we didn't expect to see him physically around Shree Peetha Nilaya. However, He came and personally performed the evening puja and the Abishekam on the Shirdi Sai Baba murti.
Sri Swami Vishwananda performs Abishekam on the Shirdi Sai Baba murti
Then, he sang a few Shirdi Sai Baba bhajans with so much devotion and in such a sweet way, that one could melt a heart of stone.
Sri Swami Vishwananda singing Shirdi Sai Baba bhajans
At the end of prayers, everybody had the opportunity to venerate the relics of Shirdi Sai Baba.

Sri Swami Vishwananda does the Arati on the relics of Shirdi Sai Baba
Once during a Satsang someone asked Sri Swami Vishwananda, ‘What kind of connection do you have with Shirdi Sai Baba?’ His answer was: “Shirdi Sai is a very dear friend. You see, like Shirdi Sai there are many great souls. He was a very close friend of God. And whoever is a close friend of God, is also my close friend. Furthermore, Shirdi Sai was the first Realised Soul that came to me, of course, Mahavatar Babaji was also there. The first encounter I had with Shirdi Sai was when I was eight-years-old, so I have a deep connection to him.”
Celebrations of Shirdi Sai Baba Mahasamadhi, 2009
During the Celebrations of Shirdi Sai Baba Mahasamadhi in 2009, Sri Swami Vishwananda told us about his first encounter with Shirdi Sai: “Actually, it’s funny. I will tell you now how I encountered him...I remember one time before the New Year. I was then in the fourth class, in the primary school and there was this one girl who had a shop. For the New Year she always gave calendars. So, this time she brought to the school a bunch of calendars and was distributing them. She had Durga, Venkateshwara, Maha Vishnu, Shiva, all this. There was also one with Shirdi Sai. First she gave me the Maha Vishnu calendar. I was not feeling happy, because I knew that if I would go home my auntie would take this calendar from me, so I was really not feeling at ease at all. I knew that she would take it from me, so I was feeling bad at the same time. Then, it was around lunchtime, the girl who gave the calendars came to me and said, ‘You are not so happy with this picture, are you?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am not so happy about it. Can I have something else?’ By that time she had already distributed everything and there was only one left, which was the one of Shirdi. She asked, ‘Do you want this one?’ Then, I still remember how I could see my grandmother’s face saying, ‘Oh, my God, a Muslim God. What you want to do with this?’ I remember how I was thinking of that and I said, ‘Yes! I want this one!’ So, I returned the Vishnu and took the calendar of Shirdi Sai... This was our first encounter. But the funny thing was, when this picture came things started to change in the house. My auntie, my father’s little sister, started to go to one of the main temples of Shirdi Sai every Thursday...Then my family really opened up and there were pictures of Shirdi everywhere (JL3, p. 246-248).

According to Ravi, a cousin of Sri Swami Vishwananda, Shirdi Sai Baba appeared to both of them, later on, in Vacoas, Mauritius. The whole experience was already posted in this blog.

9 Oct 2014

Meerabai - a model of devotion and surrender

Yesterday (Wednesday) bhaktas commemorate Meerabai Jayanthi. Meerabai was a great saint of the Vaishnava bhakti movement, who lived in the 15-16th century.
Sri Swami Vishwananda singing a Meerabai bhajan
Sri Swami Vishwananda always refers to Meerabai as “a model of bhakti; a model of devotion and surrender” to Lord Krishna. He said, “One of the most beautiful aspects of bhakti is Meerabai. She was so much into it that she forgot about herself. She forgot about her body. She forgot about her mind. That state is only Eternal Bliss. This is the soul itself.”

“When Meerabai was singing for Krishna, people would say, ‘She’s crazy’, but this didn’t change her faith, this didn’t change her Love. She was so concentrated; her mind was so focused and one-pointed towards the Lord that nothing could move her. It is said that devotion has another name: one single-pointed mind. If your mind is completely focused on God, you will have Him.”
Murti of Krishna into which Meerabai merged with her physical body.
“She was a princess who loved Krishna with all her heart. There was not even a single cell in her that was not in Love with Krishna.

"One day she was sitting in the temple and was singing for Krishna; whenever she would sing for Krishna, people would see Krishna, standing next to her. The King disguised himself. He was a Muslim king, Akbar, so he disguised himself and he was so touched by the devotion of Meerabai, that he gave his pearl necklace to the temple. Of course, Meerabai didn’t take anything.

"However, because of that, her father-in-law got very angry. As she was a princess, the father-in-Law was a king; so he said, ‘Because you have sung in the temple and the enemy has come, we accuse you of treachery.’ Meera said, ‘Well, in the temple everybody is equal. Whether the person is Muslim, Christian, Hindu; everybody is allowed in the temple. The Lord is for everybody.’

"For that they said, ‘We command you to drink poison.’ She said, ‘Okay, if you have condemned me for that, I accept it.’ So they brought the cup with the poison for her. As she was drinking it, she thought of Krishna, she thought that Krishna was giving her Divine nectar – amrit – to drink. She drank this poison, and she walked to the nearby temple of Krishna. Everybody followed her. She entered the temple and as she had the effect of the amrit, she became one with her Lord. She disappeared physically into the deity in the temple.

"Even the poison didn’t stop her. How did she view the poison? She accepted it. The same way is with how we see the outside; if we learn to accept the outside, we will change it and we ourselves are going to change as a result of that.“
Sri Swami Vishwwananda visiting the Krishna temple where he found the Murti of Krishna into which Meerabai merged 
This year, in May, during the 9 Goddesses ' Pilgrimage (North India), Sri Swami Vishwananda visited a Krishna temple, where unexpectedly he found the Krishna murti into which Meerabai herself merged with her physical body.

The whole story can be found in this blog ( http://swamivishwananda-info.blogspot.de/2014/05/9-goddesses-tour-day-3-4.html ). The priest responsible for that temple offered a smaller murti of Krishna, called Nurbur Krishna as a gift to Sri Swami Vishwananda. Since then this murti is worshipped daily and travels with Swamiji abroad, being present also during this week, at all events of the tour in Portugal.

Nurbur Krishna

7 Oct 2014

Divine Mother and the True Meaning of ‘Just Love’

Navaratri 2014
Sri Swami Vishwananda is always reminding us of the Divine Mother's Love, in particular during Navaratri Celebrations. In this context, He has told us, “For nine days we praise the Divine Mother, calling upon Her help in each day, in different ways reaffirming the connection that we have with the Mother. Actually the Mother's Love is something very special. Why do we venerate the Divine Mother? Because She reminds us of the Love of God. But Her work doesn't finish here. Her work is to lead you to God.”

God's Love is the basis of Sri Swami Vishwananda's teachings, described simply as ‘Just Love’. In 2012 during a Satsang, He spoke about the true meaning of ‘Just Love’: “When I talk about Love, I am always talking about the universal Love, about the great Love which pervades all of you and everything.

Sri Swami Vishwanada blessing a baby (left)  and a murti (right)
Because God infuses Himself in everything. He is present everywhere. As Krishna Himself said in the Gita, ‘A true Yogi sees Me everywhere.’

Of course, you can say, ‘How can I love something which is not animated?’ But, some people, when they look at a stone, they say, ‘Oh my goodness, how beautiful this stone is!’ It is inanimate, no? But yet they have a feeling towards the beauty they are seeing or the energy which these things are projecting – and that's the percentage of Divine Love. So this is the Love which I talk about. Not the love between two people, because this kind of Love it is there today, tomorrow it is not there.

Whereas when you have this deep Love between you and God, it will stay forever. Sometimes you may feel it strongly and sometimes not. But, it doesn’t mean that this Love is not there. It is ever present!

Darshan with Sri Swami Vishwananda
Whenever God has revealed Himself, whenever He manifested His Love inside of you, it is always there, permanently. If you turn your mind and focus it on the right frequency there, you will find it. It's like a radio. When you are looking for the right frequency, for the program you want to listen to - it is there as vibration but you have to tune yourself in the right frequency. The same thing with the universe – the whole universe – it is not out there, it is inside you. But you have to look for the right frequency by turning your mind inside. By looking most of the time inwardly.

People always do things in a very harsh way. They are always very quick, quick, quick, but they don’t take time and see what is happening within themselves. So, in the daily life, whenever you are busy, you should watch carefully what is happening – how is the flow of energy. Then, you will perceive that your heart responds in different situations, differently. Have you ever sat down quietly... or even while you are doing things, and stay in a constant feeling of the heart?

Darshan with Sri Swami Vishwananda
Well, different people may have different experiences, but you have to be aware of it. This is how the Love reveals Itself to you. Then you will feel this tremendous Love, just like a bhav which takes you and will carry you. How do you know this is genuine or a fantasy of the mind? When it is a fantasy of the mind, doubt will arises also. Whereas when it is truly there, there will be no doubt. This Love will consume all the doubt.”

Navaratri Day 10 – Dussehra and Maha Kalash Abishekam

Navaratri Celebrations 2014 - countless blessings from Sri Swami Vishwananda
Navaratri Celebrations at Shree Peetha Nilaya culminated on the tenth day with Dussehra. Dussehra, - also called Vijayadashami - marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur and also Lord's Rama victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravana.

Every year a Maha Yagna is performed which ends with a special ritual of protection and purification, the dakshdishpal. Sri Swami Vishwananda explained, “This prayer is for your own protection and for the protection of your family. It removes all negativity.
Maha Yagna
"This dakshdishpal will protect you from all directions, from the effect of the planets and so on. You see, Vijayadashami means also the victory over the 10 negative qualities in human beings, which are: Kama vasana (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Moha (Attachment), Lobha (Greed), Mada (Pride), Matsara (Jealousy), Swartha (Selfishness), Anyaaya (Injustice), Amanavata (Cruelty) and Ahankara (Ego). So, the dakshdishpal also represents these qualities and we are asking the devas, we are asking the Supreme Lord Himself to remove all these negative qualities from oneself.”

For the third year in a row, Sri Swami Vishwananda has blessed us with the opportunity to attend a Maha Kalasha Abishekam, where he let himself be bathed with the fragrant water from the 9 Kalashas worshipped during the 9 nights of Navaratri. Each night the water was energised more and more with the devotion of everyone present, with their prayers, their calls and cries, directed at Maa. So, all these calls are delivered to Sri Swami Vishwananda while bathing him with this sacred water.

As with any abishekam, the act of pouring water or the panchamrit elements over a deity in a puja is not for the benefit of the deity, but for the benefit of those praying. Through prayer, the deity is helping to remove great amounts of negativity from the devotees, so that they can come closer to the Divine within everything. For the third year, we got to witness an act of a our Master's pure Love and kindness to all devotees, to the whole humanity.

The Love and Surrender of Sri Swami Vishwananda during Maha Kalash Abishekam
At the end of this day's celebration, Sri Swami Vishwananda blessed everybody by chanting some mantras while people remained bowed down to the ground. He then finalised this ritual by sprinkling water over all. Then He explained, “This water from the kumba carries inside all the vibration of the prayers. It carries all the Shakti, it has the Grace of the Mother into it. When you bow down, you are offering the awareness to open up, so that the flow of energy, the flow of Her Grace can be poured on you.”

Every mataji received a sari from Sri Swami Vishwananda as a special gift from Divine Mother
Afterwards, Sri Swami Vishwananda gave personally to each person a bag with several blessed items from the Navaratri prayers, namely kumkum, ashes, flowers and also tulsi dhal. He explained, “In each bag there is tulsi dhal which is this coloured rice. This rice carries your devotion into it and has a great blessing of Maha Lakshmi. You can keep it in your safe or in your purse, so that it will keep it always full.”

The deities were taken in procession back to the temple
Final moments of Navaratri 2014 (in the temple after procession)

6 Oct 2014

Navaratri Day 9 – Kanya Puja and Dashami

On the last day of Navaratri, Sri Swami Vishwananda performed the Kanya puja, praying to Navadurga represented by nine little girls.

At the beginning of this ritual he said, “Kanya puja means the worship of the Goddess in the form of the little girls here. In the Devi Purana, Maha Devi Herself said that due to their innocence, due to their purity they carry the essence of the Mother and this essence of the Mother is made active inside of them during the Kanya puja. Each girl here represent one Devi: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri.
"So, we are worshipping the essence of the Devi inside of the little girls, because due to their purity the Mother gets manifested through them, acts through them and blesses through them. Through your eyes you will see only what you perceive externally but through the inner eyes one perceives the Devi Herself seated in each one of them and the blessing of the Mother in that form is very important.

Kanya puja
"Sri Ramakrishna from Dakshineshwar... one day when he saw one of his nieces - a deep bhav, a flow of energy was awaken inside of him. He had this great urge to worship the Mother in the form of the niece. Of course for the brother of Sri Ramakrishna this was maybe weird, but in reality what he perceived was not the little niece, he perceived the Divine Mother Herself.”

At the end of the night, we celebrated Dashami. Sri Swami Vishwananda invoked Durga in Her fierce form of Mahishasur Mardini.

Goddess Durga in Her fierce form of Mahishasur Mardini
The 21 verses of the Mahishasur Mardini Stotram were chanted several times, gradually increasing the tempo, while a live performance of the killing of Mahishasur by Devi was presented.

The victory of the Divine Mother over Mahishasur
At the end, Sri Swami Vishwananda did a final offering to Ma (a watermelon), whose symbolism he explained as follows, “On the last day, one of the big offerings to Ma is the sacrifice – there will be a fruit that symbolizes that sacrifice, all the animal qualities that are within us.”

Sri Swami Vishwananda also explained to us the deep meaning of Dashami: “During the reading of Devi Mahatmyam, you have heard the history of Maha Devi destroying all the enemies, Mahishasur. Let's see who is this Mahishasur? She was killing all these great demons – millions of enemies – destroying  all of them in a fraction of seconds; just by the word ‘Sa’, they were all reduced to ashes or chopped into pieces. But what are these demons? Who is this great demon Mahishasur?

"The great demon Mahishasur is the pride in man, because from pride all the other negative qualities arise. When you have pride, then arrogance comes; jealousy, envy, anger, all these qualities arise out of pride. The pride is something that consumes oneself. And these qualities, if you enter into it, they will take full control of you. Then, you don't see anything else, you are blind to the truth of who you are in reality. That's why it is said that only by the quality of humility one will achieve the Divine.

"Of course, when the quality of humility is there, that doesn't mean that the other qualities are not there. They are like little demons. As long as they are there, they will always try to attack. If you are on the spiritual path, and you are advancing towards the Divine, towards God-realisation, towards Ma, of course the mind will never accept, the mind will always object the calling of your heart; and out of the mind, the pride starts to take over.

"Of course, humans have the capacity of either going into the game of it or choose not to go into the game of it. But saddly, most humans in the world, they do go into this and let themselves be ruled by these demons. So once one realises this, one tries to get rid of all this. One starts to self-analyse, to change oneself, and that's when the aggressiveness of these demons arise also. Have you ever heard that the more we feel close to the Divine, the more problems we have? Or, the more one tries to be positive the more the mind becomes negative? This is when the demons start to get agitated and then they fight back. The best is to surrender everything on the Divine altar and pray that God gives you His help, so that the Divine Mother comes to you, carries you and destroys all these qualitites. Because by your own effort it's very difficult.

"Human beings out of pride think that they have the power to do many things, thinking, ‘Oh I am somebody.’ You are nobody! You are nothing! As She destroyed everything just with the word ‘Sa’, like this She can also finish you all. So who are you? You are not just this pride that makes you think that you are somebody more special than anybody! You are all the same, You are all Her children, You are all part of one God. This perception comes later on, when there is no trace of this pride inside. But before that, you have to learn not to go into that qualities even if they arise. So, just surrender them to the Mother!

"Let Her take care of you, let Her handle you. She has the best solution for them, She knows how to annihilate them, She knows how to unroot them completely. But for that you have also to surrender these qualities. When you give something away to someone, that thing doesn't belong to you anymore. If you give this to the Divine Mother saying, ‘Mother handle that for me,’ but yet you are still roaming around it, as if it is yours; then She will say, ‘Take it back!’"

Sri Swami Vishwananda gives commentary on the Guru Gita - Part 6 (final part)

On the ninth day of Navaratri, Sri Swami Vishwananda finished his commentary on the Guru Gita, covering verses 155-182. Here is an excerpt of his commentary.

Guruputro varam moorkhas,
tasya siddyanti naanyathaa;
Shubhakarmaani sarvaani,
deekshaa vrate tapaamsi cha.

"Here Bhagavan Shankara is saying how important it is to the bhakta to surrender to the Feet of the Master, to surrender completely to the Will of the Master. They don't need to do anything. Just by concentrating, by meditating on the Master's form, by chanting His name one will attain everything! So, the devotees who surrender to the Guru will be successful in their life.

"There is this story of Trotakacharya. His name was Giri. Giri was a humble and devotee disciple of Adi Shankaracharya. And the duty which was allocated to him was to wash Adi Shankaracharya's clothes. You see, Adi Shankaracharya used to speak every day, at a certain time, about the shastras, the Puranas, the scriptures.

"One day Giri was washing the clothes of Adi Shankaracharya and the class began. When the class began, all the students, all the devotees of the Guru, Adi Shankaracharya, started running to listen to the class. As the people were running to listen to the class they were making fun of Giri saying, ‘How fool are you! You are washing the clothes of the Master while the Master is talking.’ They started to make fun of him, ridiculing him.

"Adi Shankaracharya noticed what was happening. So while Giri was washing the clothes, there was a spontaneous flash in his mind. Due to that Grace which was transmitted by the Guru to Giri, spontaneously, all the knowledge of the scriptures flashed into his mind. He could not understand what was happening inside of him: why all of a sudden he could chant great mantras? Why all of a sudden he started chanting all the scriptures? So, he run quickly to the Feet of Adi Shankaracharya and as he opened his mouth all the verses which the Guru had explained came out of his mouth automatically. Even the most difficult verses, became very easy for him to uttered.

"Seeing that, all the other students were shocked, ‘How come?’ So they realised at that moment that Guru seva is the most important thing. If the Guru says one to do something, one should not even think of something else, but only of doing what the Guru had asked one to do.

"There is a similar story in the life of Kabir. There was one incident in his life when all his disciples assembled together and asked Kabir, ‘Maharaj, tell us please who is your greatest devotee?’ So Kabirji pointed to his son and said, ‘Kamal is my greatest bhakta, my true disciple.’ So everybody was wondering, ‘Why is Kabirji saying that Kamal is his foremost disciple?’

"Kabir could read their minds, so even if the sun was shining he said to his son Kamal, ‘Kamal, I have dropped the needle while sewing. Could you please bring me the lamp so that I can look for it?’ Straight away, Kamal went to get the lamp and brought it to the Guru. Kabirji didn't say anything. Then, he asked his son, ‘Kamal, today some devotees are coming and I would like you to cook some prasad for them. Go and cook quickly some sweet laddoos, but instead of sugar put a handful of salt in it.’ Kamal did it without questioning. Meanwhile the others were observing how Kamal was obeying to his Guru without any questions.

"Then, Kabir told his devotees, ‘Don't you think that Kamal knew that my comments were ridiculous? Don't you think that he knew that cooking a sweet dish and put salt in it would ruin it? Don't you think that he knew that the sun is shining and that I can see where the needle is? But yet he took the Guru's command without any question.’

"So the moment one meditates, the moment one accepts without any question the command of the Guru, in that moment true meditation happen spontaneously. And it is also by seeing such a dedication that the Lord Himself gives Darshan to the bhaktas.

"So these are two stories which show that even a fool who is dedicated to the Guru with full devotion, even if one doesn't do much, but just by having great reverence for the Master, one shall have everything!"

The ninth form of Ma - Siddhidatri

The ninth form of Divine Mother, Goddess Siddhidatri, which is one aspect of Mahalakshmi, is usually celebrated on the ninth night of Navaratri, but this year according to the calendar, two nights, the eighth and the ninth, fell together on the same night, the eighth.

Sri Swami Vishwananda said, “It is said in the Puranas that the Mother in the form of Siddhidatri Ma grants 18 forms of success in life. So whoever prays to Her on this auspicious day is blessed with success. Here it doesn’t mean success only in business. She is giving success in everything. So whatever your wish, by Mother Siddhidatri’s Grace, you will be successful, whether it is business, whether it is financially, whether it is in a relationship, or anything else.

In that form of Siddhidatri, the name itself says ‘siddhi’. ‘Siddhi’ means ‘power’, ‘force’. But for ‘siddhi’ you need ‘riddhi’ also, which is ‘buddhi’. You need knowledge, wisdom. Mother Siddhidatri gives also wisdom. If we have our mind surrendered to the Divine, we will have a blessing. We will have the 18 siddhis, the 18 successes that She talks about. But if we let our mind be polluted, if we let our mind be rubbished, it will go in the bin.

So, ask Maa Siddhidatri to bestow on each one the Grace of Love, the Grace of wisdom. Wherever you are, whatever you do, you are human and human beings are not perfect. Maa knows that very well and She doesn’t expect much, because all is Her creation. Every power which acts in this world is only Her. The devas themselves praise the Mother, the Gods praise the Divine Mother, saying, ‘You are the power that gave us the power to function.’ We know that Shiva is One with the Ultimate, but it’s Maa Siddhidatri who gives Shiva the power to liberate.“

5 Oct 2014

Sri Swami Vishwananda gives commentary on the Guru Gita - Part 5

On the eighth day of Navaratri, Sri Swami Vishwananda continued his commentary on the Guru Gita, covering verses 120-154. Here is an excerpt of his commentary.

Pindam kim tu mahaadeva,
padam kim samudaahratam;
Roopaateetam cha roopam kim,
etadaakhyaahi shankara.

"Here Parvati is asking Lord Shiva to explain to Her what is ‘pindam’?

"‘Pindam’ has different meanings one of the meanings of ‘pindam’ is the seat. Another meaning of ‘pindam’ is shakti or it can also be ancestral. Then She asked for the meaning of ‘padam’. ‘Padam’ means the Feet. But, ‘pindam’ and ‘padam’ together mean the Guru Himself. So in this context, ‘pindam’ represents the flow of energy which is constantly flowing through the Feet of the Master. That's why when one bows down to the Master's Feet, one is touched with that energy.

"Parvati wants to know what is ‘roopam’. ‘Roopam’ means the form. What is this form? What mystery does this form hold? Because everybody sees with the physical eyes only the outside, the gross matter of the Master only. But that's not the reality.

"The Master is not just what one sees in the outside. There should be something greater than that, which the form of the Master hides. Parvati said, ‘Reveal to me what is this roopam. And reveal also to me the roopatitam. Reveal to me what is behind that actual form. What secret does this form of the Master hold, in the form and beyond the form? Which form lies behind the form of the Master? Who is He?’

"Here Parvati is saying, ‘O Shankara, tell this to me! Oh Devadi deva, You are the Lord of the demigods! You are the only one who can reveal that to me.”

Shree Mahaadeva uvaacha:
Pindam kundalinee shaktih,
padam hamsamudaahritam;
Roopam bindu riti jneyam,
roopaateetam niranjanam.

"Here Mahadeva said that ‘pindam’ is Kundalini Shakti. All the Shakti is flowing constantly inside of the Guru. The Kundalini is fully awaken in the Guru, it is not in a dormant state. The Guru dwells always in an awaken state.

"The Shakti flows but for this flow to happen, prana is needed. So, in this context the ‘padam’ stands for the flow of prana, which constantly flows from the Feet of the Master and ‘hamsa’ stands for purity or for something that can't be grasped.

‘Roopam’ represents the Blue Pearl. You see, nowadays people have many blue pearls, but the real blue pearl is unique. I am not talking about the fake one, the manufactured one. It is said that in millions of pearls one may get one real blue pearl.

"So here Bhagavan Shankara is saying that the ‘roopam’, the form of the Master is like the blue pearl which is very rare. It's not always that the Guru incarnates in this world. There are many gurus, shiksha gurus but the Satguru is unique. Because the shiksha guru can not take you from the mundane world to the spiritual world, only the Satguru can do that.

Shree Mahaadeva uvaacha:
Ananta phalamaapnoti,
guru geetaa japena tu;
Sarva papa prashmanam,
sarva daardrya naashanam.

"Here Bhagavan Shankara is saying that just by reading, chanting and meditating on the Guru, by chanting the glory of the Guru, as in the Guru Gita, one obtains endless merits. Everything that one desires is fulfilled. All the sins are put to an end. So, all that one really needs in one's life, just by surrendering to the Feet of the Master and by meditating on the Master one will automatically receive it all."

3 Oct 2014

Sri Swami Vishwananda gives commentary on the Guru Gita - Part 4

Yesterday, Sri Swami Vishwananda continued his commentary on the Guru Gita covering verses 91-119. Here is an excerpt of his commentary.

Shvetaambaram shveta vilepa pushpam,
mukta vibhoosham vibhoosham muditam dvinetram;
Vaamaanka peetha sthita divyashaktim,
mandasmitam saandra kripaa nidhaanam.
Here ‘Shvetaambaram’, the white robe, means that the Guru is always in purity. The Guru is never tarnished by anything of the world. The white paste, which the Guru is anointed with, symbolises that whatever He has, He can also transfer it to His bhakta. The flower and pearls in this verse mean the strength and purity.

"The Guru radiates joy, but His joy is not just a plain temporary joy. His joy is the eternal joy of the heart. When one recognises one's Guru, there is a different kind of joy which awakens within oneself and this joy which awakens inside is something eternal. Even if the bhaktas don't feel the same joy all the time due to their mind state or due to where they are in the world, but yet this joy that the soul felt when one meets one's Guru is eternal. It stays always within one's heart. And whenever the mind of that bhakta is turned inwardly into his heart, diving into there to meet the Guru, the same joy awakens itself again.

"In this verse Bhagavan Shankara is also saying that the Divine Mother Herself is seated on the left side of the Guru. Like yesterday, one of the verses was saying, the Mother is ever ready to fulfill the wishes of the one who is surrendered to the Guru.

"Here the scriptures say that the Guru is not bored, the Guru has always a smile. You see, Krishna is always smiling, you never see Krishna with a gloomy face, in a very miserable state - even in the middle of the battlefield, when He was talking to Arjuna, He had always a smile in His face, because He is always aware, ahead of what is coming. So Lord Shiva said, ‘The Guru has always a smile’, because the Guru is always forward. Bhagavan Shankara carried on saying that the Guru is the ocean of Grace, which means that His Grace is endless, so one should meditate on the Guru.

Evam vidham gurum dhyaatvaa,
jnaanam utpadyate svayam;
Tat sadguru prasaadena,
muktohamiti bhaavayet.

“Here, Bhagavan Shankara is saying that service to the Guru is the meditation to attain the Grace of true knowledge, not book knowledge but inner knowledge. And this knowledge is only given by the Grace of the Satguru.

"When one has the Grace of the Satguru one realises oneself, one attains liberation and one attains the Lotus Feet of Shriman Narayana Himself. And this happens automatically. There is no formal initiation, but it happens through the dedication which the bhakta has towards the Guru. The more they are dedicated, the faster it happens.

"You see, the Guru will never go around telling you what you have to do all the time. You have also the take the responsibility of surrendering yourself to the Feet of the Master. Otherwise one can do sadhana for years and years and years and still doesn't receive anything. Whereas to the one who is completely surrendered, in a fraction of a second the Guru can give everything - a fraction of a second is even too much - the Guru can give realisation instantly!

"And the Grace of the Guru flows automatically from Him to His disciple, doesn't matter where he is, what he is doing, which place of the world the disciple is. The moment they have complete shraddha, faith and surrender to the Master, the Grace flows from the Master to the disciple. Here I am utilising the word ‘disciple’ because in this verse Bhagavan Shankara talks only about the disciple, not about the devotee.”

Navaratri Day 8 - Mahagauri

Mahagauri Ma
On the eighth day of Navaratri we celebrate Goddess Mahagauri. Her complexion is totally white. Her garments are also white. She is mounted on an ox and has four hands. Her top right hand is rendering fearlessness and the hand below holds a trident. The top left hand holds a ‘Damaru’ and the hand below is in a gesture of giving a boon.

To have Shiva as Her husband She went through a rigorous penance in the form of ‘Parvati’. As a result of this arduous meditation Her complexion turned dark. Lord Shiva, pleased with the devotion of Parvati, bathed Her in the holy water of the Ganges. As She bathed She turned fair. From then onwards She became known as ‘Mahagauri’.

Sri Swami Vishwananda said, “Mahagauri is the purity. The white that She is wearing symbolises us, our True Self, which is without any stain, without any impurity. Once we have attained our True Self through the Mother’s Grace, we attain the Divine. Once we have cleansed ourselves from all karmic things of the past, as well of the present and we surrender to Her, then Mahagauri can help us. She relieves the people and makes them attain ‘mukti’, salvation."

Abishekam to Sri Swami Vishwananda Padukas (left) and Devi (right)

"Mahagauri is different from Devi Kalaratri, who we celebrated yesterday. Yesterday She showed us all the animal qualities and how wild the animal qualities can be. But today She is showing that once one has renounced these animal qualities and transcended them, one attains purity. Once one lets go of the limitation that we put with our mind, one will see the greatness behind everything. One will see how great is Her creation and that She is present in everything. Mahagauri wants that we cross the barrier of limitation, so that we can realise that we are ever pure. We are ever free."

Yagna with Sri Swami Vishwananda
"Once a boy went to see God. On the way he met a great Sadhu standing on one leg with the hand up. The Sadhu said to him, ‘As you are going to meet God, I have one question: Ask God when will I attain liberation?’ So the boy met God and asked all the questions.

"On the way back he met the Sadhu, who asked him, ‘So… have you met God? What did God say?’ The boy told him that God said, ‘Well, the Sadhu still has some karmic things. He still has to take birth three times before attaining me.’ The Sadhu got very enraged and said, ‘All my tapasya, all my sadhana that I have been doing and still I have to take birth three times?!’ But the boy was very calm and joyful, so the Sadhu said, ‘Oh, I am sure that this is your last life here.’

"The boy said, ‘Oh, my dear Sadhuji, it’s not like that. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to take as many births as there are leaves and then I will attain Him.’ The Sadhu looked at him, ‘Are you stupid? Why are you so happy?’ The boy said, “Well, it doesn’t matter. I know at the end I will attain Him.’ At that moment he heard a Divine voice saying, ‘All the lives of this boy with the pure heart are erased and he attains mukthi in this life.’

"This shows that it’s not how much one has done, but how one is doing it. Love has to be there. If you do things out of Love, the Divine will run to you. You just need to do one step with Love. Then She will do everything. But as long as there is not this one step from your side, it will be difficult. Mahagauri will help you to become like that, so that this one step can be done with a pure heart."

Prityangari Devi Yagna with Sri Swami Vishwananda

On the seventh day of Navaratri, Sri Swami Vishwananda performed a Sri Prityangira Devi Yagna.

The ceremony started with a Kalash Puja.

Kalash Puja to Sri Prityangira Devi
At the beginning of the Yagna, the participants were blessed with a meditation on the seven chakras guided by Sri Swami Vishwananda.

At the end of this meditation Sri Swami Vishwananda gave a final blessing saying, “The 21,600 times that you breathe a day, shall be a dedication to the Guru's Feet as samarpanam [offering] and Devi will give you the strength to do so.”

During the Prityangira Devi Yagna, dozens of kilos of chillies were offered into the Yagna kund.

Sri Swami Vishwananda said, “Prityangira Devi Yagna is one of the most powerful yagnas. We are doing lot of abbreviations of that Yagna due to our Sampradaya. In the Vaishnava tradition we don't offer meat to Devi, whereas in the Tantra they offer meat to Her. What we offer as sacrifice to Devi is our heart.”

Sri Swami Vishwananda told us the story of Prityangira Devi as follows:
“Prityangira Devi is linked to the manifestation of Narasimha but She is not His Shakti. Narasimha is a Purna Avatar. He is God incarnated. Narasimhi is the other name of Prityangira Devi. When Lord Narasimha appeared due to Prahlad Maharaj's prayer, after He had killed Hiranyakashipu, there was such a tremendous energy, that it created a chaos is the whole creation. This means that the whole universe was unbalanced.

"At that time, the devas approached Maha Lakshmi asking, ‘Please, even if the Lord is in this Ugra form of Narasimha, in another form He is also your husband. Maybe you can calm Him down.’ Maha Lakshmi Herself tried but She could not calm Him down. Shiva also tried but didn't succeed.

"Then they approached Maha Shakti, which is Goddess Parvati Herself saying, ‘Mother, you are the sister of Narayana, who has incarnated in such a terrifying form. Can you please calm Him down?’ So, She appeared as Prityangira Devi taken also the appearance of a lion. She has the head of a lion, not a lioness.

Ugra Narasimha's appearance during Narasimha Chaturti
in Bhakti Marga's Narasimha temple in Feltham UK

"Here, again you see this dual quality of male and female, the combination of these two shaktis. She took the aspect of a male face and a female body and She is seated on a lion. She approached Lord Narasimha and tried to calm Him down but She also could not. So, She pray to Him, ‘Please, there is only one thing that I want from you, 'Give me the head of Hiranyakashipu.' So, She took the head of Hiranyakashipu.

"As all three of them, Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati, who are dear to Him, could not stop Him, they said, ‘Let's combine ourselves!’ So Lord Shiva took another aspect, a lion form, Sarabeshwara. Devi became His head and Maha Lakshmi became His wings. The combination of these three became Sarabeshwara, which is an incarnation of Shiva. He also tried to calm Narasimha down but could not, because He is the primordial aspect of God, which is fully manifested.

"Then Brahma realised that it was due to Prahlad's devotion that the Lord had taken such a form. So he appeared to Prahlad and asked him, ‘You are the only one who can calm Narasimha down.’ And then, you know already the story when Prahlad went to Narasimha and could calm Him down.

"Prityangira Devi appeared to many sages. To one of these sages She appeared as Goddess Parvati saying that whoever prays to Her, whoever suffers calamities, whoever has lots of enemies, She will take that aspect of Prityangira Devi to finish them.

"Here you have to understand that She symbolises destruction, not destruction as your mind understand, but the destruction of the pride and ego. The head of Hiranyakashipu represents this spiritual pride. She manifested Herself to cut off this pride, that's why She took this head into Her care saying, ‘I shall hold your spiritual pride with Me and I shall look after it.’ She took the aspect of the thousand-headed Prityangira, which is the cosmic form of Prityangira Devi. She has a thousand heads and from each head there is fire coming out. This is called Maha Prityangira. She burns and annihilate everything.

After the yagna the swamis and swaminis made a puja to a young child representing Prityangira Devi 

"However, even in this terrifying aspect of Devi, behind that aspect She is still a Mother. The terrifying aspect is only seen by the ego. If you have pride, of course, you will see the negative aspect of Her. But if you have love inside of you for Her, even if She looks terrible outside, inside She is pure. It is said that the more terrifying She looks, the more loving She is. This is the secret of Prityangira Devi.

"Though Mahavishnu orders, Devi was given the permission to guide everyone. As you know, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahavishnu, Narayana said to Devi, 'People will pray to You as they pray to Me. Through You, they will come to Me. You are a Mother, You have been given to the world and in that form, You will be responsible to bring the people who are surrendered to Me.”