A View of Santhigiri Ashram

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Spiritual Path of Santhigiri Ashram

By Mukundan P.R.

Gurucharanam Saranam

The phenomenon of Spiritual experiences in Santhigiri Ashram is and will be its strong foundation, on which the faith of thousands of people is built. For over four decades and even after the physical departure of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, the founder Guru, this phenomena is in tact and continue to be experienced by the devotees, new and old. Guru is at the centre of this experience. Guru is experienced in various ways by the devotees and disciples. Guru as the Omniscient, Omnipotent force; Guru as the Light and Guide; Guru as Truth and God; Guru as the Protector and Enlightener; Guru as the Savior of the family and the ancestral souls; Guru as the liberator of even gods and goddesses worshipped by one. This is the spiritual experience of Santhigiri Ashram. These experiences explicitly declare to us the omniscience and omnipotent nature of Guru and as a fatherly figure.

Spiritual experiences are fruit, born from the soul-tree. According to the differing qualities of the soul-tree, we reap the fruit. Life experience, therefore, is related to the quality of one’s soul. Spirituality is the science that seeks to understand the inner essence of the soul and its qualitative status in order to improve, nourish and fulfill its existential purpose. It requires the medium called Guru, who knows this subjective science of the soul. Santhigiri Guru Parampara is blessed with such a Guru of soul vision and soul intercession.

Guru helps a soul to evolve from a state of inaction and agitation to a point of bliss and spiritual realization. The secret behind the Guru-Disciple relationship is this soul processing. Guru makes the disciples aware of his or her negative traits, not only in their soul, but in their family and ancestry, and instructs them ways and means to overcome those shortcomings. Obviously, the grace of Guru is the only means. The all knowing Guru knows the soul of a disciple and also the way to liberate him from these hurdles. Santhigiri Ashram is a place where this soul science is in practice.

India has a long history of mystics, who through their life of concentration receive occult visions and experiences and also the power to perform miracles. At this scientific age also, there are such men and women in India and elsewhere in the world. Spiritual visions are experiences and intuitions otherwise not known through sensory perceptions. They are clairvoyance seen through the inner mind or the mystical eye. Spiritual visions encompass everything in its scope, subtle and gross. It includes past, present or future incidents related to people and the universe and visions of ghosts, ancestral souls, deities, angels, saints and sages, different types of light, sound, smell, sight, etc. These are all part of the mystic tradition and experience.

However, spiritual visions and experiences are not the only yardstick for spiritual realization. Spiritual visions and experiences vary in its source. They occur in waking, dream and deep sleep states of consciousness. It may occur through the medium of ghosts, ancestral spirits, yogis and saints. Certain ancestral spirits appear in the form of gods and goddesses which these ancestors worshiped while living.

There are the spiritual experiences of several saints in the recent history like that of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda, Yogananda Paramahamsa, Anand Mayi, Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Hazrat Inayat Khan and others. Those experiences belonged to individualized phenomena belonging to established traditions such as Yoga, Tantra, Mantra, Sufism, Mysticism etc. It involved the experiences of altered states of consciousness, mystical trance, possessions and performances involving yogis, gods and goddesses. For example, saints like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda had the vision of goddess Kali and experienced spiritual trance. Sri Ramana Maharshi had an altered state of consciousness in which he experienced the disembodied nature of his soul. These sages followed a rigorous spiritual life involving years of spiritual practice.

Against this, the spiritual experiences of Santhigiri Ashram are entirely a phenomenon different from the established traditions. The persons had not undergone any rigorous spiritual practices following any established traditions. Their experiences were spontaneous and belonged to a different category altogether. Their experience took them to a new discovery in spirituality. It established a radically different path from the traditional ones. Through their spiritual visions and experiences, they were being guided to the understanding of Guru Concept and to the awareness of certain pitfalls in the practice of spirituality. Therefore, the spiritual experiences of Santhigiri Ashram are in the nature of a spiritual revelation and renaissance.

As per the Indian cosmic time calculation, Kaliyuga began more than 5200 years ago. Saints and sages in the past have predicted about a Supreme Soul, a spiritual authority incarnating during this age. In the Koran there is a mention about a ‘Mahadi Imam’ – a Supreme Guru. The ‘Gospel of Buddha’ by Paul Carus says that Buddha had foreseen the birth of a great soul. Once Ananda, the disciple of Sri Buddha, asked Buddha who will guide them (Buddha’s disciples) once he left his mortal body. Then Buddha said that another Buddha would arise in the world in due course of time and he would teach the same truth that he taught. When asked how they would recognize him, the Buddha said that he would be known as ‘Mettayya’. The meaning of the Pali word Mettayya is one who is Merciful (Karunakara).

Jesus Christ also made such a prediction. On the last day of Jesus’s sojourn on the earth, he tells his disciples that he has to go, but the ‘Father’ would send another ‘Comforter’ who would be with them for ever and who will speak of the truths that he had taught and ‘who would show you the things to come’; i.e. teach through spiritual visions (St. John, Ch 14-16). Guru’s life fulfils this prophecy as well.

The spiritual vision of Aurobindo and the Mother in Aurobindo Ashram on 24th November, 1926 would suggest the descending of the Supreme Soul accompanied by Sri Krishna. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru was born on 1st September, 1927, after 280 days of this experience, the normal period of gestation. Guru as a child had the vision of Light and a face in his heart till the age of nine. The figure was of Sri Krishna. During the spiritual completion of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, it was Sri Krishna, who elevated Guru from a certain spiritual plane after the Trimurty.

There can be many more such prophesies, heard and unheard. However, they are all interpreted in different ways, buried in theological jargon and cannot be and necessarily be taken as to prove or disprove anything related to the birth and ideology of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru. The ideology of Guru stands on its rock bottom of truth, experienced by thousands of his disciples. The mention of the predictions is made here only to point out the fact that the birth of a supreme spiritual authority was awaited in many cultures and religious traditions throughout the world and such expectations of a divine intervention are all the more relevant in the present time. Several devotees had the vision of Guru even before they actually met Guru.

India had a dharmic structure based on the teachings of the Rishis. In the ancient times, the rulers administered the country according to the wisdom and guidance of the Rishis. But with the appearance of Brahmanical Hinduism in the social scene of India, instead of the all knowing Seers and Rishis, the Brahmin priests took over and became the authorities on dharma. They perpetuated a highly unequal and oppressive social system with the help of the rulers. The misery and fall of India had begun then; its chariot of dharma began to run on lamed wheels. If the backwardness, the sickness and the inglorious social problems of India have to be rectified, India should heed the words of a ‘jnani’ – an all knowing seer, who could re-establish India’s dharmic structure as per the spiritual experience of the Rishis – the Sanatana Dharma, which is distinctly different from the divisive Brahmanical Hinduism, wrongly projected today as Sanatana Dharma.

A restructuring of the society based on the teachings of the Rishis is required to uplift India to its pristine glory. It is exactly with this mission Navajyoti Sri Karunkara Guru was born at Chandiroor, in Alappuzha district of Kerala. Guru lived 72 years (1926-1999) building the new social edifice of India and also of the world in the time to come. Guru has built up a foundation for this future society, silently, through a group of ordinary ignorant people. He taught them the high ideals of the Rishis through their practical experiences in life. He taught them how to think and act and live according to the lofty ideals of Sanatana Dharma. The spiritual experiences of Santhigiri Ashram highlight this noble work of Navajyoti Sri Karunkara Guru that how Guru saved a society of ignorant people from their spiritual, karmic and social weaknesses and how he taught them to live in unity, without any distancing barriers of caste, creed and religion and follow a spiritual path that enrich their souls, not degenerate and devolve them into a state of brutes.

There is a very little thought about aspect in the spiritual practice of Hindus, i.e. the consequences arising out of the worship of low spirits, deities, serpents etc. In the Bhagavat Gita, Sri Krishna cautions Arjuna about the consequences arising out of deviated worship. Krishna said that those who worship Devi-Devas (deities), ghosts, goblins etc. or ancestor souls, their souls after death go unto those spirits and not unto the Light of God. What happens in such cases is that the souls get stagnated in very low spiritual planes unable to get elevation, which becomes the root cause of trouble by way of family curses, diseases and misfortunes.

The problem of Hindus today is that they mistake the worship of God as devotion to deities, serpents and spirits as followed by their ancestors. These ignorant and inferior practices were thrust upon the lower castes by the Vedic priests in order to decimate their virtue and progress in society. Due to these inferior forms of worship, the families of the lower castes always remained in the dark cell of ignorance, physical and mental debilities.

Guru had a fundamental concept on health. Guru pointed out that the diseases could be categorized into three: (1) Common disease (2) The disease which results because of wrong spiritual practices (3) The disease relating to ‘Jeeva’- the soul. The classification of diseases based on spiritual factors is something unique. Diseases related to Jeeva are due to ‘Aradhana Dosham’ or distorted spiritual worship. Worshipping anything believing it as God is not good. That is not the proper way to God. Let us remember the advice of Sree Krishna to Arjuna (Bhagavat Gita) that if we worship the ‘devi-devas’ (celestials), we attain devi-devas; if we worship ‘bhootas’ (spirits & goblins) we reach the same; if we worship the ‘pitrus’(ancestral souls) the soul is lead to ‘pitrus’ and not to the Supreme God. Majority of Hindus follow the path of such deviated worship and believe that performance of miracles is the sign of divinity. They achieve their goals through such deviated worship. At certain stages in life the grace in their life vanishes and they become sick and miserable. The success in life depends on the inherent virtue in the soul. Those who lack virtue should cultivate virtue, which is possible only through the guidance of an all knowing Guru.

Another aspect which is less thought about is the truth of ancestral or familial curses and its bitter consequence in the life of a family. Power and status of a person do not help when such problems strike, which can be termed as parental curses. In scientific terminology, it is known as genetic problems. Mentally retarded children, physical and mental debilities, untimely deaths, suicides, sudden fall of fortune and luck – these are all genetically encoded messages that run contrary to one’s expectations in the course of one’s life. Only a Seer, the all knowing Guru can decipher the genetic imprints in the soul and in a family lineage and suggest remedies. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru through such a graceful spiritual intercession resurrected thousands of ill-fated families.

Is there any relationship between the concept of God, way of worship and the ups and downs in life? Several studies had been done to analyze the cause and effect of social and cultural disintegration of this country which once enjoyed unparalleled supremacy in the areas of knowledge, education and wealth. Scholars and social reformers assign caste and age-old family traditions as the reason behind the decay of socio-economic and political system and progress. They do not probe into the other dimensions of this phenomenon. But Guru through his own experience revealed that it was the pattern of faith and the way of worship contrary to the age which played an important role in the disintegration of families and social order. Guru not only stated this untold truth but also fulfilled the Will of Brahman by restoring Yuga Dharma. Nobody ever knew that the decay and disintegration of families have been caused by wrong worship and faith inappropriate to the Dharma of the Age. Families thus degenerated are aplenty in our society.

Home is the centre of one’s life and the great divine institution invented by God to groom humans into perfect beings from the state of brutes. It is from the institution of Home one learns to live for the sake of one another and learn virtuous qualities such as love, sacrifice, respect, discipline and sense of duty. In that way, there is no greater university than one’s home. Those who have not learnt well from their homes, become empty speakers. They won’t be able to practice in their own house what they preach outside. Nevertheless, home is the cause of greatest worry and trouble to majority of people today. The concern of all parents today is about the fate of their children in a highly contaminated world, physically and morally. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru said that if the nation is to improve first the home should improve and to improve one’s home, the mother in the house should have gained knowledge about the dharma in life. Therefore, family is the basic pillar of the society and an institution where three important incidents take place - birth, marriage and death.

Sri Chidambaran, former Dy. Director of Education, Kerala published a booklet on the ideology of Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru. He mentioned that an ardent follower of Santhigiri’s Guru Margam, who prays and acts with full dedication and surrender, after facing a lot of obstacles, is sure to get protection from miseries, relief from diseases and also guidance and help in all activities by the grace and blessings of the Guru and this self experience is the secret of the firm faith, deep devotion and self discipline found in the followers of Santhigiri. ‘I do experience it myself in all my activities and feel the bliss of the grace and blessing of Guru. I have also the bitter experience of failure and loss due to non-compliance with the guidance and caution from Guru’. Sri Chidambaran wrote.

Brahman empowers and entrusts an Eternal Guru to purify the spirits of our ancestors, devi-devas and the other spiritual powers we and our ancestors worshipped, making them eligible for rebirth leading to liberation. Navajyothi Sree Karunakara Guru is the first Eternal Guru who got permission from Brahman to perform such purification. Guru, who has reached the zenith of divine wisdom, sees the virtues and sins of a person and his family for generations through his divine transcendental knowledge and purifies the manes and the spiritual powers we and our ancestors worshipped as per the direction of Brahman, without performing any rite or ritual.
These spiritual powers are brought to the divine light of Guru by a disciple having the power of darsan and purified by the spiritual brilliance of Guru. They are then placed at appropriate planes, after liberating those worthy of liberation, if any, and annihilating those deserving annihilation or destruction. The purified souls kept apart will be given birth through the union of well-matched couples having harmony in Jiva (not star) selected by Guru. The children so born will grow as a new pure lineage blessed with punya, fortune and ability for action free from the thoughts of hatred, malice, caste, creed and religion.

Guru informs us that in seven generations this pure lineage will spread throughout the world bringing peace, happiness and harmony. It is to be noted that Guru Pooja is done not for gaining any immediate material benefit for a person or his family, but for the rebirth, growth and spiritual uplift of our ancestors and the spiritual powers we have worshipped. Guru will remove the obstacles from the path of our karma and show the right path. It is our duty to do karma and gain virtue (punya) and fortune. The uniqueness of this Guru Margam is that activities performed strictly following the directions of Guru’s help to gain virtue and fortune, by blending materialism and spirituality, fulfilling the duties of family life.