Archive | September, 2012

Celebrating The Divine Mother

28 Sep

The Divine Mother Devi is the womb of all Creation. She is the seed of all dynamism, radiance, beauty, equanimity, peace and nourishment. She is the life force energy.
The Divine Mother has unconditional and infinite love for Her children, that is, every being in entire Creation.
During the nine nights of Navaratri, Devi is worshipped in all Her names and forms each of which has a special significance. We remember a sandalwood tree by the memory of its perfume. Each name and form of the Devi refers to a specific quality or attribute of the Divine. By remembering the form or by chanting the many names of Devi, we enliven those qualities in our consciousness and they manifest in us according to the need.
Navaratri is a journey from the outer world of names and forms to the subtle world of energies, invoked through the various yagnas. The first three days celebrate the Devi in the form of Durga. Durga also means hill. A very difficult task is often described as an uphill task. The goddess is depicted as riding a lion or tiger, alluding to the aspect of courage and valour, the essence of Devi Durga.
The Nava Durga symbolises the nine aspects of Durga-energy that act like a shield to ward off all negativities. When you have obstacles and mental blocks, just remembering these qualities of the Devi can help you overcome the mental blocks.
As Mahishasuramardini, Durga is the destroyer of Mahisha. The word mahisha means buffalo, a symbol of lethargy and inertia. These are the qualities that impede the spiritual and material progress of an individual. The Devi is a storehouse of positive energy and any trace of laziness or inertia dissolves in Her very presence.
The second set of three days honour the Devi as Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Wealth is a vital ingredient bestowed upon us for maintenance and for progress in our life. It is much more than just having money. It means abundance in knowledge, skills and talents. Lakshmi is the energy that manifests as the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person.
The final three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. She gives the essence, the Sara of the Self, Sva. She is often depicted as being seated on a rock. Knowledge, like a rock, is a steadfast support. It stays with us at all times. She plays the veena, a musical instrument whose mellifluous notes bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration into life.
Saraswati is the ocean of understanding and the consciousness that vibrates with different types of learning. She is the source of spiritual light, remover of all ignorance and the source of knowledge.
The Devi is offered flowers in a multitude of hues and fragrances like jasmine, hibiscus, lotus, lilies and roses. From outer beauty, as we turn our focus inward and are soaked in the divine attributes, our consciousness flowers.
Navaratri is a time of celebration of both inner and outer beauty, a time to give thanks to the Divine Mother Devi for her love and protection, guidance and understanding.

Presence of the Master – By Bhanumathi Narasimhan

27 Sep

Who is a Guru? Why do I need a Guru? How do I recognize a Guru? Do I have to search for my Guru, or will my Guru find me? What is the relationship between a Guru, and a disciple?

These are some often-asked questions by any seeker on the path. There are many who can give answers but only a Guru can transform questions into wonder. Only the Master can take you to that space of wonderment where there is no duality.

Spirituality is an inward journey from the outer world of names, and forms to the subtle inner Self. The physical body is gross, and limited. The breath is subtle. The mind is subtler. The intellect is even more; the ego, furthermore. The Self is the subtlest. To the infinite depths of our beautiful being – it is the Master who guides us, and takes us on this journey step by step.

The Guru is an embodiment of wisdom, and love. In Sanskrit, the word for gravity is Gurutwakarshan. The earth holds us towards itself by the force of gravity. Without this attraction or love, we would not have a base, or a foundation. Similarly, Gurutva is the basis of our life. The Guru is the guiding light – removing the darkness of ignorance.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

A Teacher can give knowledge, but the Master brings a heightened awareness.

A Teacher can give information but the Master awakens intelligence.

There is an ancient story. One day, while Lord Shiva was performing a puja, Parvati sees him bowing down. Seeing this, she asks, “You are the Supreme Consciousness, and substratum of this entire creation. Who is it that you bow down to?”

Shiva replies, “Dear Parvati, for the benefit of all humanity, I will answer your question. It is to the all-pervading Guru tatva that I bow down.” In the many beautiful verses that followed called the Guru Gita, Lord Shiva explains the Guru Principle, and says how fortunate one is to have a Living Master in his life.

The Guru in the physical form is called pratyaksh. In the presence of the Master, our enthusiasm, and spirit is in an elevated state – sorrows diminish, joy wells up, there is contentment, knowledge is nourished and protected, and talents blossom.

India honors a tradition of Masters who have protected, and given this knowledge to us, generation after generation, according to the need of the age and time.

When a drop feels connected to the ocean, it feels the strength of the ocean. When we are connected to this tradition, we feel the strength, and protection of all the Masters.

All these Masters are an expression of the same Infinite, Undivided, Supreme, Pure Consciousness.

The Guru is a tatva – an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent principle. Establishing connection with this tatva is the source of greatest strength. We know we have forefathers, great grand parents and so on. Yet we feel most attached and connected to our father, or grandfather because they are with us. Similarly, we have many Gurus in our tradition, but when we come in the presence of our Living Master, the connection is established immediately. The entire knowledge from time immemorial is made available to us.

Gurupurnima is a time to feel grateful. The more grateful we are, the more grace flows in our lives. On Gurupurnima, we remember all the Masters who were, who are and who will be in future. We feel gratitude towards the Master who moves us from the limited understanding and pride of ‘I know everything” to “I am everything.”

A disciple seeks knowledge. A devotee seeks nothing. A devotee is soaked in love, and devotion. Gurupurnima is the day of the devotee. When the river meets the ocean, the river no longer remains a river. It becomes the ocean. It is the same when the devotee meets the Divine. Only Divinity remains. The individual ‘I’ dissolves in the One Divinity.

When we look at the world through the eyes of the Master, the world will look so much more beautiful – a place filled with love, joy, compassion, and virtues.

The Master is a presence that is unlimited, vast, infinite, and all-inclusive. The presence of the Master in one’s life brings fulfillment to all other relationships.

To that One, Eternal, Pure, Unbounded, Embodiment of Knowledge and Absolute Bliss,

To the Lotus feet of My Master, I bow down.

Tantras: by Bhanumathi Narasimhan

27 Sep

Bhanumati Narasimhan

Tantras are techniques, skillful ways of handling the mind. It is skill in action. The tantric methods make use of yantras and mantras which together help a seeker to transcend the body consciousness and be established in the space of the Self. Tantras make use of these yantras and mantras with a specific purpose to heal or create harmony at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. This is the real purpose.

However tantra has been understood as a negative term. This is what happens when one tries to use the techniques with a selfish or harmful intention. It requires a mature intellect and pure heart to wield these techniques in their full capacity for the benefit of humanity.

The study of tantras is like an applied science for the mind. It is a higher psychology which involves moving through the body to the higher Self. It helps till the ego level. Only mantras can transcend the ego level to the level of the Self.  Because we are in the body, we need to take care of the body. Tantras can cleanse the body and mind of any vikarasor distortions. When used for general well-being, it has curative effects for psychiatric ailments, fear psychosis and so on. One can exercise power on the mind through the tantras.

Tantra is a research field. Real tantric scholars are a few. It is like holding a PhD. A doctorate is not awarded for individual benefit. There is value in it only when the study is beneficial for humanity. It is the same with tantras. In fact, if it used with a narrow-minded motive, then there are side-effects. Any seeming benefits are also short-lived. A child cannot attempt a PhD.

Similarly, if one attempts the tantras without being qualified and without the proper guidance and expertise, it can instead create illusions in the mind which in Sanskrit is refered to as Yoga maya. Further, failure in the attempts can lead to depression. Even among the mature beings, not all need to do PhD. The path of tantras has to be treaded very carefully. It is bound by cause and effect and the laws of karma. In research, learning happens to a great extent through trial and error. Even in this process, if any harm comes to anyone, the research scholar will reap the consequences.

Tantras give access to the ancestors. They enable travel in time, both forward and backward. If the tantras are available in the hands of an immature or selfish person, using it for short-term benefits, it can take a destructive nature. That is why it was guarded as a secret. In this creation, it is difficult to categorize anyone as a good or bad person. Transformation is continuous. That is why the gurus would study the disciples and only the eligible student is given this field of knowledge.

The Guru knows when our intellect is mature and heart is pure. The Guru knows when we are ready to receive this knowledge such that it can be of use to the society. Only a lit candle can light another. That is why it is important that we receive this knowledge from the Master. Otherwise, we can find many yantras and mantras and their tantras in the books and even on the internet but it may not help us in any way. Instead it could be harmful if not used correctly.

This skill involves a fine balance between intelligence and innocence. Without innocence, intelligence can cross over and become manipulative. It is like balancing on a razor’s edge. Tantras are like double-edged swords. You can remove the tumor with it but if you are not careful, you can hurt the limb. In the hands of a child, it is not of much use. Instead it can be dangerous. But in the hands of a surgeon, it is life-saving. The knife in itself has no value. Following any extreme can be harmful to oneself and to others. That is why the supervision of the guru is essential. The guru teaches you to be skillful in action. He guides you to be intelligent without losing your innocence. He shows you how to follow the middle path.


Atmastakam Presented By Bhanumathi Naramsihan

27 Sep

Spirituality & Technology

27 Sep

We live in a time where ‘google’ happens to be within the first 100 words a child learns, a time where we do not need to extend our hand to make a friend; just our finger is enough. A whole universe of information is available at our fingertips. An entire network of people, known and the unknown, all seem to be connected, there for each other, yet not really there. Families separated by thousands of miles can talk to each other; see each other with the help of technology. Children from remote villages get a glimpse of the world outside through technology. The field of medicine and medical diagnosis greatly relies on the accuracy of the technology that it uses.

As creators and users of technology, we have been greatly empowered. Yet this power often comes at the cost of becoming entirely dependent on this very technology. Our enthusiasm to explore and to know is often limited to internet searches. We do not go out and explore nature and lose the human touch. There is nothing that can replace the experience of touching snow or feeling the coolness of the flowing river-the majesty of the Himalayas or the tranquility of the Ganges.

While it is much easier to know more about anything by connecting to the world-wide-web, the enthusiasm to discover and learn firsthand is vanishing and only the virtual experience remains. This by no means is the real thing.

Technology should not be the cause for this. Instead we should discover ways in which technology can help to facilitate our spirit of enquiry. What is the middle-path in the use of technology and how do we find it?

It is a fine line of balance; to know how much to depend on information and when to rely on intuition. It is a skill; to deepen our knowledge with information yet broaden our vision with the real experience. This skill and balance are essential to avoid the risk of overexposure and fatigue, to keep the creativity flowing and the enthusiasm rising. This is where spirituality helps.

Spirituality is not a dogmatic rule. It is dynamic action, continuously accommodating and adapting to changes in circumstances and the environment. It makes you ever accepting of change. This ability to adapt is essential in a technological environment where the need to upgrade and update oneself is imperative to staying ahead.

In the race to keep up with technology, we should not forget the mind that created it. We are used to charging our phones and laptops. What can we do to re-charge ourselves? For the human mind to be more effective, it needs to be charged through meditation.

Meditation brings centeredness. It is the subtler technology for mind management. It calms the agitated mind. It connects us to our source and brings us back home to ourselves. It is important that we connect to the inner-net and not just the internet. A mother knows intuitively what her child needs even before it begins to speak. She is a master of the language of the heart. This ability to connect with life around us is innate and needs to be nurtured. Spirituality is the key to this cosmic connection.

When we know that we are the source, that we are ever connected to the supreme intelligence, we can move ahead with a sense of belongingness and responsibility for the transformation we bring about with the technologies that are available to us. The same finger that can unleash a nuclear bomb can also spread peace. Walking this line of balance with effortless grace is the skill that meditation brings in us so naturally. Living the values of caring and sharing, of seeking the highest truth and ultimate joy, of giving love and wisdom, are the signs of an individual blossoming to his or her full potential through spirituality and technology should be an aide in this journey to make life a celebration.

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