A View of Santhigiri Ashram

A View of Santhigiri Ashram
Lotus Parnasala and Sahakarana Mandiram , Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Mystical Trail to My Guru

Nikhil, Santhigiri Ashram

There was a time when I viewed spirituality derisively. The years of my adolescence and youth! My native place is Manjapra near Kaladi in Ernakulam district. Those days I took asylum mostly in the reading room of the Grama Kshemam Library. There were thousands of books: I had read almost all of them by the time I turned 25. I did not know English, so I tried to get translated works from other languages. I also read the maximum number of contemporary publications. On looking back, I now realize that I was searching for myself in books, and through my writings. I searched for myself everywhere and opened out to one and all. I quarreled too and fumed, wept and laughed; felt happy and light hearted. I wandered day and night like one intoxicated.

Several people nurtured me with food, clothes and shelter. What not was given thus? There were many who filled me with love. A few, countable by fingers, hurt me too. Nonetheless, I did not feel for anybody. I felt a sort of detachment. A general feeling of disenchantment and despondency prevailed with a sense of helplessness capping it all. Even today, this sense of helplessness follows me. There is always an uncertainty as everything happens unbidden. Experiences march by as though in a reverie. Today, to a small extent, I can fathom their meaning. I also realise that more than what has been known, there is yet much to know. The depth of my helplessness deepens when I tread the path in between nescience and wisdom. The question is oft’ repeated: how did I become like this?

At that time, spirituality did not occupy any place in my life. I loved people, especially those who were in distress, sickly or helpless. The empathy I felt for such people might be because I felt one among them. Pathos inspired me to work for the liberation of the whole mankind. How could the human society be liberated from suffering?

The words of Bertolt Brecht influenced me a lot. “O, hungry man! Take up a book in your hand. That is a weapon.” These words made me wade through books. Books filled my dreams. I saw in my dreams books and word clusters. I wanted to write. And I wrote. A bevy of friends, who were like my own brothers, gave me inspiration. They helped me with paper and pen. I wrote for them dramas, big and small. They performed these in theaters and got numerous laurels. Nevertheless, all this did not make me happy. In fact it made me restless. What I needed was peace, I felt. When I began my journey to find peace, I encountered a flood of disquiet. I even suspected that I would be deluged and lost.

Simultaneously, I was welling up with another type of experience. That was the awareness about my self. It sprang from my experiences of reveries. What all were those reveries? Mist, rain, daylight, mountains, streams, the ocean, the sky, clouds, the stars and planets, fire, serpents, many hues of light, downpour of fire, rustic faces, figures of ascetics, elephants and so on. My days and nights were haunted by the rising and falling tides of such reveries. It would be rather correct to say that the dreams owned me and I became their possession. I had the awareness that something was happening in the backyard of my consciousness; but I did not know what it was.

I was a cause of concern for my family. I did not study; I did not go to work. I brought ten-fold loss when entrusted with business. What for should I study, I wondered. For me education was not required, neither were wealth, vocation, assets, house, comforts, name, fame and recognition. I did not know what was required either. Futile wanderings! It hurt the people in my family. Though they were poor, they loved me. I could say that they took a lot of hardships in enduring me. When I ate the food affectionately served by them, my eyes got tearful.

I could not give them the love they deserved, not even a good word. What I gave them was pain, instead. A few people asked me why I did not love the family, my own blood. My mind whispered that they were not mine. Nevertheless, I never expressed this thought in front of others. But occasionally, I expressed my anguish in front of my father. Poor man, I was much distanced from him emotionally. My mother, I do not remember seeing as she had already died before I was able to toddle.

A few of my friends would ask, “Why don’t you refer to your house as “my home’’? “I have no house of my own,” I answered them. For me, the house where I lived belonged to my relatives (father’s younger and elder brothers) or the houses of several other people who gave me shelter. My uncles and their families fed me and nurtured me. Their love towards me had a tinge of adoration. When I was five years old, my father had remarried and begun to stay separately. The people in that house too loved me.

From the very childhood, I had a desire to forsake everything and go somewhere. Whenever I felt a small displeasure, I used to leave the house. I would come back after wandering a while somewhere. Nonetheless, nobody in the family questioned me then. However, my grandmother would mutter with a shade of sorrow, “why are you like this, dear son?” Even to that maternal love, my response would be a dour retort. At the same time, I felt guilty and thought, “Why am I like this?” I used to ponder over the existential question: “who am I or what am I.”

As time went by, the feeling that it would not be proper to continue like this, got stronger. During this period, a friend of mine, who was a painter, mentioned about some visions he was experiencing in dream. (I came to know that he died recently). With the thoughts of Sigmund Freud, Jung and others in my mind, I ridiculed them all as fantasies. Nevertheless, I began to think and listen to his experiences. I felt that there was some truth in them. One day, during this period, I visited a famous Devi temple along with some of my friends. The experiences I got there, direct and intuitional, gave me peace and as much disquiet. I did not know whether I could call it as bhakti – love of god, because bhakti was always alien to me. My bhakti was love. Even today it is so.

With that experience the bud of spiritual contemplation began flowering in me. One evening, I lit a lamp in a corner of my house and began to pray. I ignored the stunned look in the eyes of my family members. They murmured among themselves as to what had come over me. However, it did not continue for long and I returned to my old ways of meaningless wanderings. After some time, there was a change. I again began to spend time mostly in prayers and spiritual contemplation. I began to get experiences. I shall briefly narrate only one such experience here, which left a deep impact on me.

Those days I resided in a room in the upper floor of a bungalow. There were other tenants in the adjacent room and downstairs. One day, they had all gone to work at the break of dawn. As I was alone, I stepped down to the ground floor and locked the main door. Keeping the key in its pre-arranged place, I entered the house through the back door. I fastened the latch and went upstairs. Sitting down in my room, I began to pray. With eyes shut, arms stretched out and palms cupped, I prayed. It was a prayer in supplication. The prayer, which started around 6 a.m., continued uninterrupted. When it was 9 a.m., suddenly, like the sprinkling of holy water, some water trickled down in my cupped palms.

I opened my eyes and looked in turn at my hands, on the roof and sideways. It was a hot summer day. The terrace was dry. I went out to look around. There was nobody. The house was a solitary one in the middle of four or five acres of land. Hardly anyone stepped inside. Then whence the appearance of water! I came back to the room, and taking a chair, sat down to think. Rational thoughts clogged the mind and it refused to yield to illogical conclusions. When days passed, I realized that it was the tender fondling of God. Several experiences followed. When their depth and expanse increased, my isolation became complete. The old group of friends had withered away. Nonetheless, a few people gave me food and also some money.

Those days, it was a boy named Ramesh who gave me food almost daily. His house was somewhere near Perumbavoor. He drilled rock with jack and hammer for a living. He lived in the room adjacent to mine. He would bring me dinner parceled from some hotel. He got piqued when I discouraged him. “Why do you feed me every day?” I repeated this question to him. His answer was, “My mind urges me to give you food. And I feel happy doing that”.

He took me along to many temples. I was not particularly inclined to do so, but for his satisfaction, I used to accompany him. What I liked was to sit down with closed eyes or lie down somewhere. When I sat or lay down thus, I saw several pictures passing through my mind’s eye. These visions made me exceedingly happy. I desired to see them repeatedly. It was later when I came to the abode of Guru that I understood these experiences as ‘darshanam’ – mystical visions. In between those visions, I got some words too from the atmosphere. I had an inner light to discern what was right and wrong in this. Looking back, I realize that I was being led to receive the grace of God. I had also been experiencing a few aspects of mystical experience, some trivial, some important.

As per one such ethereal vision and revelatory words, I undertook a trip to an ashram in the northern direction, accompanied by a friend. On seeing the swami there, I asked him piously, “Swami, What am I destined to do?” He questioned me back why I asked so. I told him about the experiences I got. He then said, “You are receiving these experiences without the help of others. Spend some more time praying deeply. Then there would be deeper experiences and a situation would arise when you would be unable to go further without the help of a Guru. At that time you come to me.” Later, the need never arose to go to him.

As the frequency and impact of the visions increased, so did the exasperation and bitterness born out of disownment, loneliness, helplessness and uncertainty. Those who had been intimate and helpful earlier now turned hostile. It deeply hurt me. Also the untimely death of a close friend at that time was a great blow. This friend had deeply loved me and prayed for me.

One day, I had an early dawn experience at 3 a.m. It occurred in the same bungalow where I stayed. I was reclining on the floor on my left side. Suddenly, I became aware of a wind which was blowing from the bottom of my spinal chord (mooladharam). The wind swirled and filled the whole room with great speed and strength like a hurricane. The room along with me was lifted up. When I tried to shift my body, somebody pressed me down. When I was thus being lifted, two serpents from the bottom of my feet, sneaked past quickly to either side. Up and up I went, beyond the clouds and skies and reached a luminous sphere. There was seen sitting cross legged on a rocky plateau, an ascetic of unmatched brilliance and perfection. Immediately below him sat seven or nine crossed legged ascetics. At the bottom of the hillock was a serene lake. In the lake were several small and big elephants and ascetics blissfully swimming and bathing. I was also bathing there in that joyous group. The baby elephants were playing mischief on me. The ascetic who sat on the hillock was seen talking something. But it was not fully audible. However, it could be discerned that he was talking about things from the beginning of creation. The mind welled up with unexplainable joy. After some time passed, the way it all went up, so it came down with me. I lay there motionless. At that time I was experiencing a tremendous energy circuit in my body. When I opened the eyes, the time was 3.20 a.m.

The next morning, I was sitting idle in my room. A young acquaintance, who was the friend of a friend of mine, walked in. We talked about several matters relating to life and society. At about noon, he took me to his house on a bicycle. I stepped inside the house along with him after the customary face, leg and hand wash. It was a small house but clean. He took me straight into their pooja room. His brother knew astrology and performed rites and rituals for others. The moment I entered the prayer room, a cat sitting nearby jumped across and the idol fell. I felt very odd at this. The face of my acquaintance also showed signs of uneasiness. I told him to take it easy and keep the idol back on its place. After this he led me to the dining room and served food. After lunch, a bed was arranged for me for a siesta. I spent four or five days with him thus. One day his astrologer brother took stock of my stars and said, “Brother, you are destined to be a sanyasi. It is seen as unavoidable.” I laughed at once when he said this. He also laughed. The question hidden in my laughter was how I should become one.

My difficulties increased by the day and one day I decided that unless I got the answers to some of my questions, I would not eat. “Who am I? What is my life? What for I am living? What should I do? Where should I go? Whom shall I meet? For seven days I took only water and a little quantity of boiled beans. On the seventh day morning at about 9 a.m., there was a word: “It will be revealed to you.” That was the word. I understood that this word was different from the earlier ones. I ate food. Days passed by. The house owner informed me that he desired to demolish the building and sell the property. Where would I go, I wearied myself with this thought. “There was no place for me to go. There was no house of my own to take shelter, wailed my soul. I had already left my house and the family sometime before.

One night I went to sleep with such searing thoughts. That night I experienced a vision. I was taken in front of a huge bungalow and was ushered in. “This is your house,” somebody spoke. Before I could survey the inner chambers, the vision broke. “Would I be able to own such a house?’ I had not desired for one such.” Therefore, I decided that it was not mine. It was a false vision, I thought. However, I came to know from Guru (through the revered Guru Apparent, Shishyapoojitha Janani) that it was not so and it related to a previous birth. Just two days before vacating the rented room, I got news that one of my close relatives had died. Therefore, I was compelled to go there. After fixedly looking at my people awhile, I left the place quickly along with the friend who had accompanied me.

When I left my native place, I had no clear idea as to where I should go. I had some vague information about (Navajyothisree Karunakara) Guru through whatever little was written and heard about him. I decided that as a last resort, I should visit Guru. On my way to see him, I stayed for two days at another ashram. Once earlier I had stayed there and received certain mystical experiences. When I reached there, it was past noon. A yagna was taking place and presently the offerings of the yagna were being distributed to the assembly. Somebody said that the person who came in just now also had an entitlement to the yagna. I was therefore asked to recite the mantra that they chanted for me, which I did. They also gave me some prasadham.
On the second day of my stay there, at about 6 a.m., there was an experience of vision and an instruction. It was a vision with naked eyes. What I saw was the ashram of Guru and the prayers here. The word was an instruction to proceed to the ashram. But I understood these things only after reaching here. Till then, I did not have an idea which place was signified in the vision. When I met Guru face to face, he asked me what I had seen. I told him a few things that immediately came to my mind. Along with that I began expressing my woes. Guru cut short my dialogue and said succinctly, “Poor thing! May you leave all that! What you have experienced are some big aspects. You may stay here. About what you ought to do here, you will get to know yourself.” When I thus began to stay at the ashram, an instruction was received that I should go to work in the dairy. I worked there for sometime. Subsequently, I came to the Publication Division. It was after this that a word was received to be by the side of Guru and do the work I perform presently. This revelatory instruction was received in the manner of ‘Prathyakshavaham Dharmam’ (the self apparent dharma). However, I did not get an opportunity to inform this to Guru. Nevertheless it happened on its own. It is a testimony to the truthfulness of ‘Word is Truth, Truth is Guru, Guru is God’. Like this there are several experiences in my life.

When I began to be by the side of Guru, I did not suffer any unfamiliarity, anxiety, fear or doubt whatsoever. It was just like continuing with a work already begun. I only knew that I was obeying Guru. I keenly listened to Guru’s conversations. All subjects under the heavens found a reciprocal reference in Guru’s talks. It surprised me greatly and opened before me a new world of knowledge. Each word of Guru made me realize that it was the truth. It was part of my character that I believed something only if it convinced my conscience.

After Guru’s merger with the Adisankalpam - the primordial plane of consciousness - I was overcome with a gnawing sense of emptiness. The doors of life, which had opened to me, would they get shut? “Now who will own me like Guru did? Who is able to do that here?” I was in a quagmire. One afternoon, the revered Shishyapoojitha Janani, the Guru Apparent, said to me in the hall of Guru. “You are living for this. Then why are you not taking it up?” Saying this, she immediately went out of the hall. My eyes were flooded with tears and I knelt down. That moment, a word of Guru came to my mind. ‘Dear Son, this disownment…….’ The sentence which Guru did not complete then was presently finished by the revered Shishyapoojitha Janani. That moment was my realization that the revered Janani is the continuation of Guru, nay, Guru Himself. More experiences occurred which confirmed that realization. In fact, I knew Guru through the revered Janani. It was the revered Janani who made me realize the truth of Guru. By the same manner, it was Guru who made me realize the truth of Shishyapoojitha Janani. It is experience! Each moment that I am with the revered Janani, I get convinced of the truth of Guru. But my Karmagati (karmic proclivity) holds me back from doing many a good thing. There are still limitations in me. I pray that all these shortcomings be wiped out and I be able to fulfil this in the right manner. I submit my words, thoughts and myself at the feet of Guru and conclude this presently.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teerthayatra of Sishyapoojita Janani

Gurucharanam Saranam
The Teertha of Sishyapoojita Janani Amrita Jnana Tapaswini to North-West
Mukundan P.R.

The Teertha Yatra of Her Holiness Sishyapoojita Amrita Jnana Tapaswini, the Guru Apparent of Santhigiri Ashram was a unique event, which can no less be compared with the great journeys undertaken by sages in the past like Sri Buddha, Mahavir, Adi Sankaracharya or Guru Nanak. These sages through their spiritual odysseys were erecting the edifice of spiritual and cultural transformation. The journey of Sishya Poojita was such a journey for the spiritual and cultural renaissance of India as envisioned by Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, the founder of Santhigiri Ashram. The teachings of Guru have inspired millions of people in and outside India as it add a fundamentally new perspective to the deep rooted spiritual and social maladies faced by our society today.
Sishyapoojita Janani was accompanied by 56 regular Teertha Yatris throughout the journey. The Yatra commenced on Thursday 5 November, 2009 from the Santhigiri Ashram Headquarters at Pothencode Thiruvananthapuram and concluded at Mumbai on 30th November, It involved more than 5000 KMs road journey through north-western India covering major cities and towns viz. New Delhi, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Waga Border, Rishikesh, Hardwar, Dehradun, Mussouri, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mount Abu, Devgarh, Meerut, Agra, Nad Dwara, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Daman, Vapi, Panvel, Karjat (New Mumbai) and finally Mumbai. Here I will not go into the details of the journey as a travelogue on her Teertha Yatra is about to be published soon as a book. I shall mention only the ideological significance of the Teertha Yatra, from my point of view. Certainly there are many things which I do not know. Whatever little she has mentioned about the Yatra, it has been mentioned in the travelogue along with the wonderful experiences of the Yatra itself.

The Significance of the Teerthayatra

If we look at the present times, we find that there is no dearth of spiritual teachings and ideologies. Volumes of sacred literature are available today, taught by both ancient and modern masters, prophets and Gurus. But when it comes to the realization or practice, we get to a blank. The spiritual aspirants as well as the laity get stuck at a certain level of experience unable to achieve the fullest and the ultimate. This is not the case of a particular religion but is an all-pervasive problem. The spiritual roof of mankind is blackened universally by the suffocating smokes of hatred, greed and suspicion. The lack of love we experience among ourselves is indicative of the distance we have created between ourselves and God. The old and new ideologies, religious and otherwise, have failed to take us forward on the path of peace and enlightenment. The Teertha Yatra of Sishyapoojita Janani was to generate love of God among the people.

Generally people seek immediate solutions to problems. They are unable to go in depth into the cause-effect relationship of problems. The faithful think that the Supreme Power who supposedly created this vast universe could perform any miracles. Let God perform a supreme miracle so that all living beings in the world live happily forever with love and respect. The great Gurus and Prophets wished it so and we too repeat their prayers. But such a miracle does not happen. What is the reason? God always said that the problem lies in you and the remedy also lies within you. Be conscious and alert to the laws of life - to Dharma. This seems to be the restraint of God and silent exhortation to humanity. Know the Dharma, the Will of God. The lifetime effort and mission of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru has been this – to impart Dharma to the suffering humanity.

A large number of spiritual aspirants today are trying to hide in the pigeon holes of their own ‘Self’. They are taught in sophisticated terms and terminology that the ‘Self’ (Atma) is the Supreme God. This could be a wrong and misleading supposition. The ancient method of yoga was developed in a different age which is being promoted in different fashions today. Its effectiveness in calming the body and mind is indisputable. However, for salvation and soul evolution, there are impediments arising out of physical, spiritual, ancestral and karmic bonds with which every soul is affected. The tranquility of the Self cannot be gained without gaining freedom from the karmic bonds and spiritual entanglements accumulated in one’s soul. One can gain this inner freedom only through selfless service at the feet of the Supreme Guru. The path of Santhigiri Ashram is to overcome the spiritual and karmic difficulties through service at the feet of the Guru.

It is said that the nature of our Self is consciousness. But it is wrong to equate it with the Supreme Light. Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru said; ‘We are not the Supreme, but only part of it’. To equate ourselves with God was the first spiritual mistake or the ‘original sin’ of mankind. One of the four great enunciations of the Vedas itself is that ‘I am God’ (Aham Brahmasmi). A curse has befallen on the world due to this error. Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru conveyed to humanity when and how this spiritual error occurred and with what consequence. This is a new knowledge in the spiritual history of mankind. This was revealed from the Supreme Light to Santhigiri Guru Parampara.

The above said spiritual error occurred in the 3rd Chaturyuga of the present Manvantara and thereafter, due to Godly curse, the sages could not experience spiritual light. In the 7th Chaturyuga, the Supreme authorized Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara - three spiritual evolutes to impart spiritual knowledge to mankind. It was thus the Trimurty worship originated in the world. In the subsequent period, the first error was repeated in the Trimurty tradition also, because, contrary to the Will of the Supreme, the Trimurty were equated with the Supreme God. Again corruption took place in the dharma and karma of mankind. After the 3rd Chaturyuga, now it is the 28th Chaturyuga, which means we have lived with this spiritual fall for several ages.

The pollution in dharma affected mankind in various ways. In the passage of time, a priestly class came into existence. They developed complex rituals imposing discriminatory laws on the less privileged with the help of the rulers and fabricating mythical stories. The people were segregated on the basis of castes and true spiritual knowledge was denied to them. The birth of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru was to initiate a correction in the dharma and karma of this ancient land. The Guru’s liberating ideology should reach at all door steps for the transformation of India. The Teertha Yatra was to touch the heart of India and its people.

The Sudras, the majority in the society, were encouraged to worship low and evil spirits and follow sinful customs and practices. The status of women was degraded. Women, irrespective of their caste tags, were bracketed under Sudra and denied of spiritual knowledge and enlightenment. The children and the family go astray if the women were ignorant of dharma, karmic and spiritual laws. The Indian society was thus degenerated into depths of despondency, superstition and ignorance. Dharma and Karma when practiced wrong for a long time cause wrong Karma Gati among the people, i.e. wrong karmic tendencies in the soul. The result of wrong Karma Gati would be perpetual misery and downward spiral of the soul and the family. When the families thus become victims of wrong Karma Gati, not only the family, but the society suffers, the nation suffers and ultimately the whole world. So fundamentally what is to be rectified and reoriented is the old perceptive on dharma, which we blindly follow not knowing what merits and demerits it would emboss on our soul and family. The Teertha Yatra was to carry this message to the Indian masses.

Due to wrong worship, ignorance about dharma and karma, the majority of Indians became physically and mentally raw and brutish without any positive inclinations in life. They became Sudra in the real sense. They stood divided even when the cultural and spiritual motifs of the society were being destroyed by foreign invaders. India was crushed. India became a slave country for centuries. Even at such times, the priestly and ruling class, excepting certain valiant men and women, sided with the foreign invaders for their selfish ends. Always, the ordinary people suffered. India suffered. The route of the Teertha Yatra showcased the symbols of this past suffering of India.

The people are used as tools and misguided in the name of religion and politics. How can India escape from this suffering? The spiritual renaissance initiated by Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru addresses this question. Guru said that Kaliyuga is the age of enlightenment for all, especially the Sudra. India is destined to lead the world again, Guru predicted. The Teertha Yatra of Sishyapoojita Janani, the Guru apparent of Santhigiri Ashram is the commencement of this spiritual renaissance of India.

According to Sanatana Dharma, propounded by the great Rishis, each time segment (yuga) in the creation undergoes cyclic evolution, in order that all living beings merge with the Supreme after fulfilling their full growth and potential. Therefore, the soul undergoes birth and death several times, to fulfill the dharma and virtues associated with each birth. Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru said that this cosmic plan is known as Yuga Dharma and each Yuga has its specific dharma. Contrary to this, in the present Kaliyuga, the dharma of the past Yugas – the Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga is followed, which is the worship of Devi-Devas (celestial beings and angels) and their propitiation through Yaga, Yagna and other originated in the world. In the subsequent period, the first error was repeated in the Trimurty tradition also, because, contrary to the Will of the Supreme, the Trimurty were equated with the Supreme God. Again corruption took place in the dharma and karma of mankind. After the 3rd Chaturyuga, now it is the 28th Chaturyuga, which means we have lived with this spiritual fall for several ages.

It was Sri Krishna, who, in the beginning of Kaliyuga, hinted about the dharma of Kaliyuga. He exhorted Arjuna to abandon the dharmic precepts that were being followed and surrender to Him (Krishna) as his spiritual guide, the Guru or Master. Krishna, the Guru imparted spiritual vision and experience to Arjuna. Krishna categorically stated that it was not through the learning of the Vedas spiritual realization is gained, but through surrender and devotion to the Guru, the embodiment of supreme enlightenment. Remember that Krishna was the spiritual authority of Dwapara Yuga, born in a Yuga Sandhi (confluence of two ages). He was born in Dwapara Yuga just before the commencement of Kali Yuga. His duty, accordingly, was to assess the past and delineate the dharma of Kaliyuga.

The Vedic tradition, however, refused to accept Krishna’s spiritual authority and in the subsequent period created myths that Krishna was an avatar of Vishnu, a God in the Trimurty tradition. Krishna was thus brought under the Vedic ritualism. The same mistake was repeated in the case of Buddha, who came subsequent to Sri Krishna. It was wrong to do so, because Krishna was a highly elevated soul, a Supreme Guru incarnate, who had transcended the spiritual planes of Trimurty and demigods. The visit of Sishyapoojita Janani and her entourage to Mathura and Vrindavan was to honor that great soul, the manifestation of supreme spiritual enlightenment.

Another revelation of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru of paramount importance is about the difference between the spiritual status of Devi-devas and a Guru who has transcended the spiritual planes of devi-devas. Guru revealed that there are ten spiritual planes which a soul has to transcend before it could experience the Light of Brahman. The Trimurty and Devi Devas occupy a position up to and below the sixth plane. But the formless truth of the Soul is experienced only after the sixth plane. Sri Krishna was a soul who had transcended the eighth spiritual plane by birth itself. In the Kaliyuga, God is to be worshipped through the medium of the Supreme Guru who comes as the authority of the age.

How do we recognize that Supreme Guru? The Supreme Guru would have transcended the planes of Demigods and Trimurty, i.e. he should have at least transcended the seventh plane in spirituality. He would be a Trikala Jnani and should be able to look into what had happened in the past Yugas and act according to the will of Brahman to initiate corrections in Dharma, as required of the age. That Guru and His lineage will receive revealed words from the Supreme Light to guide humanity forward and his words will be the Vedas for the whole humanity.

Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru is that Supreme Guru, who transcending all spiritual planes, became the authority of the age, whose disciples get revealed words from the Supreme Light of Brahman. The dharma of Kali Yuga is to surrender at the feet of that Supreme Guru, in love and devotion, to attain spiritual enlightenment as well as worldly progress. This is the exalted vision of Santhigiri Ashram. Guru cuts away the wrong Karma Gati of the soul, of the family and the ancestors, which helps the birth of good progeny in the family with physical and mental prowess and also with spiritual vision and enlightenment. Guru removes all barriers of caste, religion, class and creed binding human beings in the love of God. Guru is the reflection, the veil of the impersonal or the formless Supreme Being, the Light of the universe. God is to be realized through the medium of Guru. This is the concept of Santhigiri Ashram. This path, Gurumargam, will join human hearts, liberating them from religious and cultural confinements and narrowness. The Teertha Yatra of Santhigiri Ashram went weaving new threads of spiritual enlightenment in the social fabric of India.

After Guru merged with Adi Sankalpam (merging with the Light of Brahman) on 6th May, 1999, Sishyapoojita Janani Amrita Jnana Tapaswini carries the Light and mission of Guru. Sishyapoojita was born at Kallar in Idukki district, Kerala. She became entitled to the position of the first Sishyapoojita, i.e. the venerated among the disciples in the Guru Parampara through her dedicated life of renunciation from the age of seven, when she met Guru for the first time.

Sishyapoojita receives revelations and transcendent visions from the Light of Brahman, through the medium of Guru and imparts this knowledge for the guidance of humanity. She carries out spiritual intercessions on behalf of the Guru parampara. Sishya Poojita undertook the Teertha Yatra as per the Will of the Supreme through the spiritually and historically important places in North-Western India carrying the message of Guru and performing unique spiritual intercessions inspiring hundreds of people from all walks of life including heads of spiritual, religious, political, social and educational institutions.

The soul of India is ailing. The Rishis and sages are not in peace due to the wrong course of dharma. So too are the ancestral souls who suffer unable to get elevated birth, due to polluted dharma and family institutions. We can understand from the long history of India that her heart has been rent several times by the bloody march of greed, violence and ignorance by depredators, religious crusaders and cruel invaders, both internal and external. The soil of India is soaked with the blood of thousands of innocent souls. Such places appear wearing the dark blanket of wrong Karma Gati. Only by the grace of the Supreme Guru, those places and the souls inhabiting in the subtle could be liberated from the misery and a new vista of light brought through the spiritual intercession (sankalpam) of Sishyapoojita, the Guru Apparent. While burning the old Karma Gati, she paves the way for a new Karma Gati to germinate in those places. Children carrying the light and mission of Guru will take birth wherever Sishyapoojita Janani went during her Teertha Yatra. This is how a Supreme Guru brings transformation to the soul of a society.

The Teertha Yatra of Sishyapoojita was a journey cleansing India of the age old dharmic aberrations. The dawn of change and spiritual rise of India is not far. One well known neurologist, who was accompanying Sishyapoojita in the Teertha Yatra asked her how she performs this spiritual intercession. Sishyapoojita’s explanation was that on reaching a place, she could see in vision the characteristic of that place and the souls connected with it. When these souls come under her observation, she does the sankalpam for their deliverance, or for a suitable birth subsequently so that they could work out the remaining karma. The spiritual visions of several other initiates travelling with Sishyapoojita corroborated with such revelations.

The Teertha Yatra of Sishyapoojita Amrita Jnana Tapaswini was a multifaceted exercise in building goodwill, peace and harmony among different sections of people apart from its deep rooted spiritual connotation. It was not only a spiritual journey, but an educative one spreading the light of knowledge and interaction among the different people and institutions of India in spiritually and historically important places. She visited dozens of important institutions and imparted spiritual bliss and wisdom to more than 3000 people during her journey of 25 days. The Teertha Yatra of Sishya Poojita Janani will ever be remembered in the spiritual history of India. It would take India to the zenith of spiritual glory.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Speech Delivered by Sri ONV Kurup at Santhigiri Ashram

Become Virtuous by Following Guru’s Words
O.N.V. Kurup

This wide auditorium and this enlightened assembly in Santhigiri Ashram are not new to me. I had come here many times earlier. I won’t fail to repeat a thought that I used to mention on those occasions. You reverently utter a hymn before stepping into this good place. You touch this earth on to your forehead. I say this because of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru. I don’t need to explain to the disciples of Guru that how Guru, due to a divine restlessness and inspired by a insuppressible desire to seek some elusive truth came from Cherthala Taluk, north of old Travancore and settled down south in this Ashram ambiance. When Guru took abode here, he had three things in his mind. First is serving of food, second curing the sick and the third spiritual awakening. Based on these three principles, the ashram is established here. Human society requires these three always, everywhere. But many institutions that are in existence today to fulfill this aim have limited themselves to small circles.

There are big healthcare centers here. There are multi-specialty hospitals where any types of disease could be diagnosed and treated. But the common man stands outside its reach. A few years back, when I was standing in the company of a Bengali poet friend in front of the now partially gutted Mumbai’s Taj Hotel, due to the recent attack by terrorists, we saw few chickens hedged in under nylon net behind the hotel lawn. They are clucking, pecking, hackling and cruising across engaged in petty fights and recreation. They are unaware of the fate that awaits them. They do not know what will happen to them tomorrow. While standing thus watching them, my Bengali poet friend said. “Chick, you are fortunate! Tomorrow uniformed men will present you in silver tray on the roof top of this hotel. Then we will stand here down this street”. When I heard this I said. ‘I have two lines to add to it’. “When you go high up, you will be in the form of food that fills the appetite of somebody; but poor we are though, we will stand down as ourselves”. There lies the difference. What would you choose? Do you require that you are carried in silver platter by beautifully uniformed men to appease the hunger of someone or do you want to stand as yourselves, although poor and troubled? We will choose the second.

It is a question of freedom, the freedom of the soul. It is this freedom we have to first protect. We should not hypothecate this freedom to anyone. It is because of this, world famous poet Sri Ravindranath Tagore appended one song in Gitanjali among mystic verses about freedom, giving it a beautiful definition. ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’…writing few things thus he prays; ‘Unto that heaven of freedom, O’ My Lord, let my country awake and arise.’ Outwardly it’s a prayer but in its depth it defines the meaning of freedom for us. Freedom is a state wherein mind is fearless and our head is held high. While we introspect ourselves whether we have achieved that state even after six decades of freedom, we could realize that ‘we have miles to go and miles to go’, those lines of Robert Frost, Nehru had written in his last days. We have so many miles to go. Here arises a question Quo Vadis, 'where are you going?'. When this question, having reached a cul-de-sac without an answer, we implore the infinity of a way. Then a Guru should be there to disclose it. It is that Guru who becomes the benevolence in the form of food in front of the hungry, medicine and healing at the time of sickness. We should try to seek God thus.

That is what Guru said. God may be worshiped with a symbolic form for the convenience of the devotee. Some people can worship only through such symbols. Most people are unable to conceive an abstract concept. Make the abstract a concrete symbol. Once an Englishman asked Chattambi Swami why the Hindus worship idols, why a portrait is worshiped as God, why the necessity of an image etc. The Englishman did not have the inner wisdom even if an explanation was given. Therefore, Chattambi Swami remained silent. There was a framed portrait of the Englishman’s family. He was a little child and stood with his father and mother in the portrait. Chattambi Swami picked up the portrait and dropped it down. Then the Englishman asked. ‘Hey! What are you doing? This is my father and mother’. Then the swami said, “O’ I didn’t know it was your father and mother. But isn’t it just a piece of paper, just a portrait? If a portrait can remind you of your father and mother, an ordinary man can similarly remember God through a portrait. Thus it was in a practical way the doubt of the Englishman was clarified. There is no use talking to them Vedanta. They would not understand the hymns and prayers in Sanskrit, Latin or Arabic. When the glass-framed portrait was dropped down, the Englishman felt that his father and mother were being insulted. That means the portrait is symbolic. Similarly when a lotus is seen with an Aumkar inside, we are reminded that it represents something. We get the revelation that the primal sound of creation took place in the symbolic thousand petaled-lotus. Bible gives the same revelation – that the hungry man at your door begging food is god; the one begging for clothes is god, but whom you do not recognize. When you are asked to recognize that the hungry man at your doorstep is god or the man standing naked in front of you without clothes is god that gives you the ultimate meaning of Annadanam (serving of free food) and Atmabodhanam (spiritual mentoring).

In the hospitals I mentioned, multi-speciality healthcare facilities are available only to a small segment. The healthcare Guru envisioned was for everyone. Wherever man is affected with disease, medicine should be available to all sick people. There is a vision behind this. I had mentioned it in the Siddha College here on a previous occasion. I have to repeat it again. What is an idealistic life? There are three types of nature. This also is an ancient Indian concept. First there is plant life beginning from shrubs, creepers and grass to the giant sylvan tree. Guru cultivated a herbal garden which resembles a thick forest. It is the beautiful home of herbs and flora. The second nature is of animals which includes birds and other animals. Third is the human world. We are with many temperaments as it is in human nature. A plant or a creeper angles toward light. Man also does the same. There can be men who love darkness, like some plants that grow under the shade of trees. So an idealistic life is the most appropriate harmony or concordance of vegetable, animal and human natures. This was the vision of Guru, as I have understood it.

It is because of this a herb stands there silently speaking to us, “use me, press and extract out my essence and give to the sick man”. It may be njavara or a tulasi or some other herbs Guru finds out in his eagerness to cure. When a person is tested less Hemoglobin, the Tazhutama is found which silently agrees to be the concoction for providing relief to that person. There is somebody with swelling in his liver or suffering from yellow fever. There is the poor Keezharnelli in the house yard which beseech you to make it a medicine and give to the suffering man. This is what the plant life gives us. There are villains also among them. There is a tree known us cheru maram. If you stand with your back on this, the whole body will itch. If you get itched like this, there stands another tree beckoning you to embrace it to give you relief from itching. The Allopath would say that when you embrace that tree what occurs is a phenomenon called antihistamines. It is true. It is antihistamines what is given as a cure for allergy. Thus when the biological world opens its bosom to us, a new science is born in the area of health care. It is based on this science of India the college is established here. Siddha medicine depends more on animal nature while Ayurveda draws more from plant life. Guru has discovered both of this and established colleges for it.

There is a question that by doing only Annadanam and Aturasevanam would you be a human? No. With only this, one cannot become human. In the camps of terrorists also food is served. Plenty of food is given. When they become sick they have their own hospitals for treatment. But in the matter of humanism they stand four neighborhoods away. It is because they have no self knowledge. Why a terrorist does not have this? He is trying to change the world as per his own perspective, but he does not have self- knowledge. One may have some dreams, desires or expectation based on some concepts that my country should be in this way or that. But he is a fascist who is deluded into thinking that what he thinks is the sole and indivisible truth.

Swastika is a symbol that had gone from India. Hitler committed heinous genocide imprinting swastika on his hand. He sacrificed human beings in gas chambers. The values for which India stood were not even in the neighborhood of his conscience, because he was a fascist. What ultimately is self consciousness? When I sit in meditation with closed eyes, I do not know any others except myself. My subtle nerve awakens. When I sit like this people may think that I know myself, but this is not true self knowledge. What we say as Atman is the whole universe. I find my self when the sorrow of Palestine, the sorrow of Sri Lanka and of the children and mothers who were driven out as refuges, the sorrow of innocent people being burnt by terrorists and the sorrow of all people enter my mind as my own sorrow. My self knowledge becomes actualized only when I realize the sorrow of the world and find a solution to it.

It is driven by sorrow of the self, a man who was born in Kapilavasthu long ago, forsook his beautiful wife and newborn baby looking at them for a last time. It was the place where Buddha spent his time (vihar) came to be known as Bihar today. He received enlightenment sitting under a sylvan tree there. That self illumination came from a Guru two thousand five hundred years ago while searching for a solution to the distress of the world. It is in the same Guru lineage, after five centuries, another man was born in the land beside the Sea of Galilee. He satiated the hunger of poor people with five loafs of bred and a fish. He transformed water into wine when there was no wine at a marriage. This is not magic. A European poet explained it thus beautifully. When the creator looked upon this water, seeing the face of the creator, water blushed. When little children see people their cheeks become blushed, isn’t it? Like wise, when water saw in it the reflected face of its creator, it became absolutely excited. That is how it became wine. There is a flame of subtle truth in this metaphor.

It was after five centuries of Buddha another Guru was born – Christ. The symbol of that culture today is the cross in which he was crucified. I have not put it on my chest or pinned it on my shirt. But it should be there in my soul. Thrust on a cross, every nerve torn by unbearable pain, a man was suffering great pain for the sake of whole humanity. Death was creeping in every atom of his body, inch by inch, as torture. The Christ who thus died through torture and endurance has not died in me. He lives in you and in me though crucified umpteen times. That is what is known us self illumination. There is a song of African people sung by Paul Robson. “Our Christ is a black, black, black old man”. Christ is a Jew. Jews are white like milk. For a Negro, the Christ who dwells in his heart, the Christ who struggled on the cross for his liberation from sorrow, could only be a black Christ. He envisioned a Christ who is Negro. Then he exclaims and jumps in joy. “Yesterday that Christ was crucified by somebody but he woke up this morning, he woke up this morning”. That Christ was one among them for the Negro. A Christ with iron nail- wounds in his hands. Almost like their Mandela. It was in Africa, Gandhiji had first commenced the training for the struggle for freedom, much before he became the symbol of freedom in India. His initiation in the liberation struggle in Africa was by his two front teeth. That happens because of self awareness.

What we could see in politics are only the parties and party manifestos and their pitched battle. It is all normal in politics. I am not detesting or deriding them, however. Beyond all this, remaining in whatever party they are, they should become knowledgeable about the Self. That self knowledge is nothing else but the realization that God stands in front of my gate hungry and naked. It has been said that “concern for the other person is the starting point of civilization”. When do I become civilized? I don’t become civilized if I wear beautiful shirt and dhoti and spray perfume. Becoming civilized is not like companies such as Raymond declare “feel great with Raymond”, displaying the image of some well dressed people.

What makes me civilized is the concern, attention and anxiety that I have for the other person in the world outside of me. So it is not by dress or perfume. Now there are beauty shops. Men also go there and get their hair styled. He does not become civilized by this also. Here the other person is a multitude - the hungry for food and the sick without a means for treatment. Do you not read in newspapers about uncared people who have nobody to take them home from the cancer ward or from Ward No. 9 of the General Hospital? Several aged people, sleeping naked on the floor. Then there are children employed in America who send 100 dollars for the cremation expenses of their parents. These people are not civilized.

It is for this illness treatment is required. The Aturasevanam meant by Guru is that. What is mentioned here is not just for recording it down. But the disciples of Guru should understand its inner and in-depth meaning and should impart it to others. When you go to tell this, somebody may oppose. Long back, when the disciples went to convey the teachings of Buddha, they were driven out by some twice borns, the Brahmanas, wearing sacred thread. The disciples then went back to Buddha and said; “when we were talking about your ideology sitting down in the lawn of that temple, they drove us out and beat us. What should we do?” Then Buddha said. “You can sit down wherever there is earth. You can talk to all men who are there as men. But you should speak in the language that they understand’. Therefore, know that Christ, Gandhi and Vivekananda are all from this great Guru linage of Buddha, who instructed to talk to all men that are men, sitting down wherever there is earth, but speak only the language they understand. India is like a great pyramid. If you want to see that great pyramid fully, you should illuminate it. A lamp would be lit at every corner. When all the lamps are lit you could see the structure in its full view. There are many such lamps that had lit up the great spire called India beyond the horizon of this world. The Gurus are those lamps.

We should propagate the concept of Guru in a language that would be understood. What does it mean by understandable language? Now nobody understands if it is said in Malayalam. There are some people who teach lot of treachery and stratagem. I will tell you an example. We go home and ask our mother; “Mother, I am hungry. Is there something to eat?” When you ask thus, “Son, there is nothing here’ or ‘I will prepare something for you fast’, or ‘you sit down, there is some rice left which I will give you’. These are all straight forward answers. It is said as truthful musings of truth. That is truthful language. On the contrary, suppose a mother speaks the language of some literary critique or political speech: “Hunger is a global phenomenon. How this global phenomenon has affected us, it will be analyzed and an expert opinion sought. Necessary arrangements would be made after examining the issue’. This is what is said as teaching language falsehood.

You should understand that Gurus do not teach falsehood to language. Political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lenin and Washington did not teach language any falsehood. That is why Buddha said you should speak to all men that are men and at all lands whatever is land, but in the language they understand. Sri Narayana Guru was a great Sanskrit scholar. One may read his work Daiva Dasakam. It is in a language mixed with old Tamil and Malayalam. You know when he said ‘aaraayukil’, the meaning is ‘if you enquire’. You should speak in a language that could be understood. If it is asked whether there is God, I would say that I do not know. Once, a saint by the name St. Augustine gave a reply like this; “If you ask me whether there is (God) I do not know. If you do not ask, I know”. So how do we answer if it is asked whether there is God or not. If you ask me thus, I do not know. I cannot prove the existence of God going into a laboratory, pouring something in the test tube. All people are like this.

When the sorrow of all people becomes the sorrow in ones mind, when that sorrow becomes his own, it is that person who is civilized. When I visited Rajghat last time, I saw in the Gandhi Museum the blood stained cloths of Mahatma Gandhi which he wore when he was shot dead. He was running a newspaper by the name Young India. This was an answer given by him to the questions of some young men. ‘Your mind falls into an unreasonable pensive mood. You ask me that we should do in such occasion. This is what we call as one type of existential sorrow. When you are caught with such type of intellectual sadness, you remember the face of the most pathetic and saddest man you have seen on the street you traveled that day. You introspect yourself whether you have done anything for him. Your sorrow will disappear.

People talk about some loneliness–depression related sickness. If we want to remove this sickness, we must remember the face of the most depressed and saddest person we have seen on the roadside. In Tamil they say ‘sabhai arinthu pesh’. You speak after realizing who is the people you are talking to and where do they stand. Then in relation to India, the time for a renaissance is late. It is a matter of pride that we still have democracy. There are two countries like two ears of India, to its east and west, which gained freedom along with India. One is Bangladesh and the other is Pakistan. These two are not secular. There all citizens are not alike. The important citizens are only people belonging to a particular religion, the rest are secondary citizens. Taslima Nazreen wrote that the life of a woman is shameful in such a Bangladesh. And today she is hunted down by many without having a place to reside. She said that she should be shameful for being born as a women living in Bangladesh. During the time of Indira Gandhi, we shed much blood to free this Bangladesh. But when Mukthi Bahini had won, they turned against India. We should remember that while there is no democracy in these two countries, it is both the greatness of India and its entire people that democracy still exists in India.
We should feel proud of India in this respect. If it is asked why it is so, it is because there were great souls in the bosom of India whom I mentioned earlier such as Buddha, Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda and also some great people who respected work utmost. What for Vivekananda swam over to that rock? It was not for exhibiting his health. Swimming across to that rock and sitting there, he saw stretched in front the great land that is India. It is said that a great multitude was seen as expanding from a point. Try to figure out mentally how seen from Kanyakumari India diverges rising from a point.

It is thus internally visualizing India he said, ‘Awake, Arise and Stop Not until the Goal is achieved’. We should protect the light given by such a Guru linage. There is no relevance here for the discussion whether it is idealism or materialism. On the contrary, perhaps one factor both the materialists and the atheists could agree upon is the inner unity in the heart of this people. Thus you are ever conscious to assimilate and work for the concept of Guru through Annadanam, Aturasevanam and Atmabodhanam in its true depth and meaning and become a glorious people. You are duty bound to do this. I conclude my weak sounding words reminding you of this duty.

(Speech delivered by ONV Kurup, famous Malayalam poet and writer, at Santhigiri Ashram, 'Thiruvananthapuram,  translated from the original Malayalam by Mukundan P.R.)