A View of Santhigiri Ashram

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Truth of Spiritual Planes

Guru Charanam Saranam

The Truth of Spiritual Planes
Mukundan P.R.

There exist three different paths for God realization in the world, viz. the path of Rishis or Guru Margam (Sanatana Dharma), Deva Margam (the path of gods or the Trimurty tradition) and the path of Prophets or Pravachaka Margam. The differences of Sanatana Dharma with Prophetic religions lie in their ignorance and less or no importance given to spiritual planes, cosmic time cycles as well as the poverty of vision in regard to rebirth and karma. However, one can see that a line of thought in consonance with the ideas of Sanatana Dharma exists side by side in the mystic traditions of almost all ancient civilizations.

Sanatana Dharma puts faith in Brahman – the One Supreme God. However, it accepts the existence of various spiritual stages or spiritual skies (akashas) other than the human world viz. bhutaloka (the abode of spirits, ghosts etc), pitruloka (the abode of ancestral souls), devaloka (the abode of trimurty/deva-devis/angels), rishiloka (the abode of sages). The supreme truth of God is experienced in the formless states (shuddhakasha) beyond rishiloka. Those spiritual skies are known as Ishwaraloka and Brahmloka. To have the experience of such subtle spiritual skies, the seeker should transcend the lower spiritual planes through self-experience under the guidance of a sage who himself has transcended all such spiritual planes. Therefore, the Guru must be a Parabrahma Guru, the Supreme Guru above all spiritual zones.

There are different types of Gurus – Gurus who worship spirits and ghosts, ancestral souls etc., those who worship deities, gods and goddesses through tantra, mantra or yoga. But as per Guru Gita, the science of Guru (Guru tatwa) which Siva taught to Parvati (Skanda Puranam), one should follow only the Parama Guru, the Guru who has transcended all other stages and attained union with the formless Brahman. Such Parabrahma Gurus come in every yuga. One cannot spiritually evolve ignoring or ridiculing the truth of these spiritual planes.

The Muslims and Christians by ignoring the truth of spiritual planes cannot pretend to have crossed these planes. Jesus Christ was crucified because he could not transcend the spiritual plane in which he found himself trapped– in the plane of angels and evil spirits. The Bible mentions the encounter of Jesus with Satan. Why Prophet Mohamed towards his end wailed and said that the world is ruled by Jinns (evil spirits). The vision was related to evil spirits. The fact that Prophet Mohamed received revelations from an Angel, not from Light, itself proves that he could not fully evolve to the formless state for which he striven. Revelations should be received from the Light, from the supreme light of Brahman, the Almighty God. Prophet Mohamed strove for the formless Truth, but striving and fulfillment are two different things. The reason behind the violence, bloodshed and intolerance connected with Islam is to be found in its place in lower spiritual spheres and its association with deviated spiritual powers in the subtle which Prophet Mohamed mentioned as Jinns.

While Sanatana Dharma follows the path of Guru-disciple order (Rishi Marga) for god realization, Trimurty tradition extols the greatness of Siva, Vishnu or Devi. A temple institution is in place around which the life of an ordinary Hindu is organized. Each sect considers Shiva, Vishnu or Devi as the Supreme Brahman – saguna or nirguna. Thus the concept of oneness of God in Trimurty tradition is fragmented in its base itself. The major differences between Trimurty tradition (Deva Margam) and Sanatana dharma have been noted here.

1. Trimurty tradition chooses for worship innumerable deities, gods and goddesses under respective traditions. They include all types of positive and negative spiritual entities. The higher castes are privileged to worship auspicious gods and goddesses such as Laksmi, Saraswati and Gayatri. The low castes mostly worship ghostly spirits and deities in lower spiritual planes because of the age old societal distortions and ignorance owing to caste system. The worship of lowly spirits and deities causes physical and moral degradation and debilities in human beings.

2. Because of the heaven centric ideology of Trimurty tradition through the medium of devas, the spiritual planes above the swarga plane, i.e., above the plane of devas are unattainable, which puts the soul into a vicious circle of births and deaths.

3. The Trimurty tradition gives importance to a highly iniquitous caste system.

4. The importance given to Vedantic philosophy in the Trimurty tradition that the world is ‘maya’ – an illusion and its equation of the individual jeeva with paramatma is creating certain negativity to Indian spirituality. According to realized sages, the jeevatma cannot claim the status of paramatma and the phenomenon of creation and the principles of transmigration and evolution of souls through various spiritual planes are not to be treated as illusion.

5. The belief that whatever form of divine one may worship, it becomes the worship of Supreme God is not in tune with the concept of Sanatana Dharma as there are various spiritual planes and spiritual powers inhabiting these planes. The spiritual status of these entities varies. For example, if a seeker worships a deity or follows a guru who is the worshiper of a deity that aspirant can reach only up to the spiritual plane related to that deity or Guru. As per Sanatana dharma, God realization is through a perfect Guru, who has realized Brahman. At least the Guru should be one who has crossed the stage of deities and demigods. Such a Guru or sage comes in every yuga for the spiritual guidance of mankind.

The impersonal Cosmic Reality expresses itself through the physical medium of a Guru. Four such Gurus manifest in every yuga and a fifth one – a sandhi guru, like Sri Krishna who came as the authority of Dwapara Yuga just before the commencement of Kaliyuga. Other Gurus and spiritual masters come under the regime or hierarchy of such epochal Gurus for specific time periods, such as 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 years etc. which means the spiritual power or potency of these gurus last only to a certain period. Therefore the concept of Christianity which held that the world will end after 2000 years or the idea of Islam that Prophet Mohamed is the last prophet only brings to focus the limitation of these ideologies in contrast to the depth and all embracing cosmic vision of Sanatana Dharma.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Appeal to All Blessed Souls

Gurucharanam Saranam

An Appeal to All Blessed Souls

Mukundan P.R.

Great preceptors (rishis) impart the guidelines of dharma in each age - the cosmic scheme behind life and the duty of man according to the aeonic changes. The Rishis are considered the guiding authorities on dharma, justice and duty owing to their omniscience, life of self-abnegation and spiritual elevation. But due to our ignorance, we still follow rituals and traditions that create divisiveness and disharmony in the society. The ‘sudra’ represents the ignorant and downtrodden class in the world whose spiritual and materialistic elevation is destined to be actualized in this age. But for its realization, they require the guidance of an omniscient seer, who could show them the path of liberation.

The Brahmic Will to be self responsible for the divine dispensation for god realization existed from the beginning of creation itself and continues incessantly. It is the same godly will that manifests as the Subtle Being, Godhead, as a Deva, Sanyasi (sage) or a Rishi and accepts worship through these mediums in the course of ages. But there is a concept known as Yuga Dharma. Different aeons like Krita, Treta and Dwapara had their characteristic dharmic dispensation, which in the present age – Kaliyuga undergoes significant changes. These changes in the dharmic code (Yuga Dharma) are brought about by great seers of transcendental knowledge, who manifest as the embodiment of enlightenment and divine abstraction as willed by God.

Even during the ages of Treta and Dwapara that were oriented for polytheistic worship of Devi-Deva (gods and goddesses), the words of Rishis, the enlightened seers were depended upon as the guiding principles. At the time of Maharaja Janak, the judgments in regard to dispensation of justice were taken by the wives of Yagnavalkya, the great rishi of that age. They had the divine insight to decide on matters of justice without even seeing the contestants, the accused or the accuser. The blind folded goddess of wisdom has been accepted as the symbol of justice even today. Despite differences in rituals, in the matters of justice, the words of a seer (jnani) are taken as authoritative. The uniqueness of the Indian spirituality or Sanatana Dharma is this tradition.

We are ignorant about the differences in the result (virtue, punya) earned from the observance of customs, rituals and worship followed by us at the present time. Due to the moral degeneration and lack of virtue in conduct, majority of people have become ‘Sudra’. The word Sudra here includes people from all castes – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. All ignorant and fallen people irrespective of caste, color, nationality and religious denominations are termed as Sudra, a qualitative term. As per the four fold caste system, the present age Kaliyuga belongs to the Sudra class for their uplift and enlightenment. The term ‘Sudra’ used here, as already mentioned, is a qualitative term used in a universal sense and includes Christians, Muslims, Budhists, Jains etc. and also the spokesmen of the modern computer age and the apostles of various ideologies and concepts. Therefore the word ‘Sudra’ embraces both the potentialities and also its limitations. The limitation of the Sudra is that he has no wisdom to dive deep into the spiritual light hidden in the historical past and apply it in life in the present age so as to enhance and enrich the glitter of his or her soul through a noble and righteous path of action.
According to Manu, the ancient law giver, this fourth age of Kali is earmarked for the Sudra for his liberation and enlightenment. But we should not think lightly of our lack of awareness and inability to understand the demerits in the customs, rituals and worship we follow at the present age, which are incapable either to liberate us from our (negative) karmic mould or to give us the blissful evolutionary soul experience. We might see the observance of caste system as insignificant which created the evils of social barriers and discriminations; we might ignore too the ignorance that termed spiritual consciousness as communalism. But how do we evaluate the corruption in the path of eternal dharma proclaimed by the Rishis in accordance with the Will of Brahman? How do we see the vested interests that disturbed the harmony at home causing motherly and fatherly curse and sorrow?

How can you justify the horrendous actions by which sinners who are useless for their home as well as the society, performing evil actions and accumulating great burden of sin, at last adorn the clothes of a Sanyasi, get elevated in the society with the support of caste or religion? How can you justify the wicked action of those men who castigated and belittled the sages, the embodiment of sacrifice and divine enlightenment and from whose mind, the pearls of wisdom churned out of the ocean of transcendental truth emerge; of those who raise the men of letters (mere scholars) to the pedestal of seers thus destroying the divine tenderness of dharma? The Sudra, the fourth in the caste hierarchy has got the right by divine decree to earn the karmic and ancestral purity required for the birth of noble souls and experience godly realization in this age. He has also got the luck to safeguard the oneness of mankind till the end of creation. But in whom does the karmic virtue exists to lead him to this goal – in the depth of the heart of a Seer or in some tantric rituals?

The Tantric and Vedic rituals and chants which were reverberating in the last century have almost come to a stop. Sri Marthanda Verma, the Travancore Maharaja used to feed thousands of Brahmins and give away handfuls of gift to them in expiation of sins, but for the last forty years the ceremony has become lifeless; the noble minded give importance to ‘Sadhu Pooja’ – the worship of sages than to the feeding of Brahmins. Who are the Sadhus or the Sanyasis? Is he a lowly beggar who has lost all hopes in life due to penury and lack of virtue or are they the ones who get afflicted by incurable diseases owing to their vices and sin and as a last resort adorn the clothes of a Sanyasi? No, on the contrary, as mentioned before, the seers are great souls who have sacrificed their life, body and mind for the cause of dharma. We should expect the fulfilling action that would be venerated by the ensuing generation, not only in our land but all over the world, only from such seers. The purity of their heart symbolizes the weighing scale of dharma and adharma. They are the divine personification of sacrifice and austerity.
What the world searches today with a longing heart is for such a seer of sacrifice through whom the grand unfoldment, development and fulfillment of Yuga Dharma is to take place. Do we respect that Universal Guru seated in the hearts of Krishna, Buddha, and Christ, Prophet Mohammed, Janaka, Vishwamitra, Maitreyi and Gargi imparting eternal, transcendental enlightenment? If we are waiting for the coming of that great Soul, the leading Light of the five-fold Gurus, the protector and elucidator of the concept of Yuga Dharma, why do we open ‘Bala Gokulams’ all along the roadside? Would we have been celebrating Krishna Leela which reminds us of the ‘Deva Dasi’ system rooted in base sensual enjoyment instead of the noble thoughts on God? Would we ever try to portray Lord Krishna who for the first time blew his Panchajanya for the establishment of Yuga Dharma as the lustful, sensual ‘Gopala Krishna’ through texts like Gita Govindam - creations out of great ignorance? Whatever it is, we are also the inheritors of that pernicious tragedy.

It may be due to the fact that we are also part of that sinful tradition we could not well understand Guru (Navajyoti Sree Karunakara Guru) and the Santhigiri Guru parampara. Nevertheless, Santhigiri Guru Parampara has reached the penultimate peak of luck. We have discovered the deposits of transcendental truth in the boundaries of Guru Parampara, born from the sacrifices of Guru. Through this medium God has prepared for us, in the form of Navajyoti Sree Karunakara Guru, we have become the possessors of Cosmic Mind. Like Gargis and Maitreyi, the Jananis (Sanyasinis in Santhigiri Ashram) blessed with transcendental vision ennoble this Guru lineage through the worship of Guru.

This Guru Parampara which receives revealed words from Brahman, the Supreme Light of God promises the certitude of the divine birth of great seers, the initiators of great concepts, like Janaka and Vishwamitra in the coming ages. (It refers to the performance of ‘Guru Pooja’ in Santhigiri Ashram, by which Guru cleanses the ancestral and spiritual impurities and debilities and through which a generation with mental and physical prowess would take birth in the families thus purified by Guru).

In the divine experience of great souls, they see Guru as the illumination of all godly abstractions and the ever lasting, sublime light of love. We consider this glory as the ultimate path of refuge for all people and the entire creation. Lo, through that path of protection, we first walk, nearer and nearer. O Guru, you are enthroned as all Godly abstractions and divine consecrations. You exist as the Cosmic Will and the glorious abode of our veneration.

Submitting our prostrations at your holy feet, we purify the flaws in our ancestry, spiritual practices and customs and also find a solution to the familial curses and sorrows of our mothers and fathers. We have become singers of the glory of the universal path of liberation. We have fulfilled through this the prayer of great sages, the result of their penance of several ages. This path of purity is the fulfillment of God’s wish from the inception of creation itself.

We, the Santhigiri parampara, submit this in front of the whole world with a prayer for the mercifulness of Guru.

(Excerpts from ‘India O’ Rise’ published by Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala)