A View of Santhigiri Ashram

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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

God's Eternal Spiritual Order

On this earth, no other living being has consciousness as evolved to the level of a human being. That is why man is considered as the very image of God in scriptures. The purpose of human life is to evolve to Godliness inculcating in the soul divine virtues - truthfulness, wisdom, knowledge, compassion, love, etc. Presently, not all living beings are evolved to that level, including humans. Most humans are only two legged brutes, we know it. Here comes the significance of the theory of evolution. The soul undergoes various incarnations to evolve to higher states of consciousness drawing from the long trail of experiences. The physical embodiment is decided by the level of the spirit's evolution. As the spirit evolves, its physicality also undergoes transformation. Here lies the basis of Reincarnation theory. Perhaps, Darwin's theory proves it scientifically.

God has first created the basic molecule of life in the waters and nourished it with the divine rays of the sun, moon, planets, stars and constellations surrounding the solar system. So says the Genesis of Hindus: ‘God desiring, seeking to produce various creatures from his own body, first created the waters, and deposited in them a seed. This (seed) became a golden egg resplendent as the sun, in which He himself was born as the progenitor of all worlds…That Lord having continued in the egg divided it into two parts (male and female) by his mere thought.’ (Manu Smriti 1.9).

God has a plan that the life He created evolves and becomes one with Him through the evolution of consciousness. The living beings undergo misery because they are not awakened to their divine nature. So all living beings are driven by this very quest - realize its divinity and eternal existence. If God alone existed here, there would be no world, no living beings to experience Him. So this duality is an eternal process making the presence of God in nature.

A universal spiritual culture can evolve only on the premise of universal spiritual truths that can stand the test of time, logic and science. The disagreement between different religions and schools of thought on the basic concepts about God, the creation, its purpose and the scheme of man’s spiritual evolution have led to the present conflicts. The sages of India had brought to light some original ideas about the origin of universe as well as the spiritual evolution of man which happens through the course of many cosmic ages known as Manvantara. The avatar theory in the Hindu scriptures points to the gradual evolution of man. In the long course of a cosmic age, there are many dawns and dusks corresponding to the origin and dissolution of different human civilizations.

The avatars and messiahs of God appear when there is utter emotional unrest or social degeneration. At the summit of such social and spiritual turmoil, a messiah appears as the guide of man, who inspires the hope of his betterment and salvation. ‘Whenever dharma is in peril, I (God) manifest myself (in the form of a Mahatma)’, says the Bhagavat Gita. We know that all religions in the world have originated from such messianic movements. However, despite the work of any number of gurus and prophets, humanity is still groping in the dark unable to get on to the path of peace and spiritual fulfillment. Today we are more and more convinced about the desirability of evolving a universal spiritual culture for harmony and peace.

God, that Master Craftsman who conceived and projected this universe presides over human evolution through the medium of epochal spiritual masters. They are magnificent souls who have ascended higher spiritual planes and unified with the Light of God through their self-sacrificing effort spanning several births. They remain as luminescent souls in the astral world. It is said that the innumerable stars in the distant sky are such souls, whether we believe it or not. These spiritual luminaries occasionally adorn human forms and come down to the earth plane for the spiritual guidance of man. Mankind has received spiritual wisdom only through such souls. These spiritual authorities have their own spiritual incumbency according to their spiritual merit and the commission of God. Their spiritual incumbency may be for 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 5000 years etc. according to the civilizational requirement related to man’s spiritual evolution.

So it is wrong to say that one particular guru or prophet is the last messenger of God. There would be many such Godly incarnations in the present and in future too for the spiritual evolution and guidance of man. There is a calculation to the number of mahatmas who would come in this way in a yuga. It is said that only four Supreme Gurus come in a yuga and another one comes as the Sandhi Guru, i.e. the Guru who effects spiritual transition to the next cosmic age. Sri Krishna is an example for this. This system of spiritual evolution through the rise and fall of cosmic ages is known as Sanatana Dharma in Indian spirituality. Santana Dharma means the eternal spiritual order. In this system, all spiritual authorities that have come in the world have their own place in the historical march of humanity, but not limiting to them. That is why Indian spirituality is tolerant to other faiths and other spiritual masters too. Only such a cosmology and theology can be the basis of a unitive religion that would take the human race to ultimate peace and harmony. This lost spiritual wisdom has been restored to us in this era through Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru, the supreme Guru embodiment of this age. 

Mukundan PR

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Importance of Spiritual Guidance before Marriage

Birth, marriage and death are the most important events in the life-cycle of man. One of the important duties of a householder is to give birth to a good offspring through married life. Ironically, we can see around us many children or youth who are physically handicapped, mentally retarded or with criminal tendencies, psychological problems, drug addiction etc. According to medical science, such handicaps are due to genetic factors.  However, medical science has no solution to prevent such congenital handicaps. On a deep analysis, we can see that genetic problems are the result of a distorted life. Genetic problems, as we know, are related to the lives of our ancestors. The Indian sages called these genetic problems as pitru dosha, i.e. the demerit of ancestral souls. If we term genetic problem as pitru dosha in the native tongue, our secular intelligentsia would pounce upon us saying that all this is superstition.The physical and psychological traits of parents are transferred to the children. Every human cell or DNA is the aggregate of human experiences, values, thoughts and actions of an individual carried through a long chain of existence. According to Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru, pitru dosha is the result of wrong values, thoughts and actions in the life of our ancestors, which influence the life and destiny of offspring. Therefore, it becomes necessary to be aware of the ancestral influences with which our souls and families are affected. As we know, it cannot be known through laboratory methods, but only through the special faculty of supramental vision of a realized seer. Here lies the need for a source of authentic spiritual guidance to know about the unknown factors that affect our life and destiny. 

Next, let us take up the issue of marriage. Marriage, as well all know, is for the purpose of begetting progeny, for the continuity of family lineage. Nowadays, we see that there is lot of disharmony in our homes, between husband and wife and between parents and children. Many marriages break down with its unpleasant consequences because these marriages take place driven by blind emotions. There is a general ignorance about the sacred institution of marriage and family. Normally, parents marry off their children viewing only the material aspects of the bride and bridegroom such as physical attraction, education, wealth, family status, etc. However, the soul harmony of the couple, the spiritual status of ancestral souls, the background of family worship tradition, etc. are not considered.  

A soul which is not spiritually awakened could be a hindrance to a spiritually developed soul. Some souls may be spiritually aligned in a different way that would not be in harmony with the spiritual inclination of the other. For example, the husband may be following a particular tradition, while the wife would be deeply devoted to some other sect or way of worship. Such spiritual mismatch of couples would lead to disharmony and lack of peace in married life. 

Secondly, the parental and ancestral background of the couple should be spiritually evaluated before marriage. Ancestors with a wicked karmic background may cause the birth of undesired progeny with similar wicked tendencies. The spiritual distortions and karmic faults of ancestors might lead to the birth of children with genetic disabilities. Therefore, a girl or boy should marry considering the similarity of their ancestral background. However, caste background, physical beauty, social status and wealth need not be seen for such a spiritual evaluation. 

Thirdly, the spiritual as well as karmic background of the couples should be compatible. The baggage of good and bad karma and the amount of virtue or vice (punya and papa) in the soul decides the success or failure of any individual in life. For a successful marriage, the punya of both the souls should be in equilibrium. A boy with a tendency to steal can be married to a girl with similar tendency; otherwise, it would cause undesired problem in married life. The disharmony and severe problems faced by families today are due to the ignorance about these factors and lack of spiritual guidance. Some Hindu families approach astrologers to know about the suitability of marriage. However, astrological consultation may not always give you the complete truth. Therefore, it is imperative that we seek the guidance of an all-knowing Guru and understand the sacred institution of family and marriage in its spiritual perspective so that we would be better placed to fulfill dharma, artha, kama and moksha - the value system guiding our social life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Purpose of Family Life

The Indian rishis enjoin five duties – pancha dharma on a householder. They are grihastha dharma (duty to the family), pitru dharma (duty to the ancestors), deva dharma (duty to God), daana dharma (performance of sacred deeds) and atma dharma (self-realization). The fulfillment of these duties helps to bring about a balance in personal life, ensures the well being of the family and contributes to the welfare of the society.  The fulfillment of these duties through a householder’s life is considered as the basic value to be upheld in life. The society provides us with the space to grow and develop. Therefore, we have the duty to give back to our parents and the society much more what we have taken for our growth and development.

There are many questions with regard to our life. Invariably, the basic question revolves around the purpose of life. The rishis of India have defined these values for us, which are the guidelines for a successful life, here and hereafter. These guidelines are found outlined in the concept of dharma, artha, kama and moksha of Indian spirituality. Dharma is the ethical conduct which would sustain, nourish and develop our soul both materially and spiritually. Through such righteous conduct, one has to earn wealth (artha) and fulfill the desires (kama) in life. That is the meaning of artha and kama. Sri Buddha has defined dharmic conduct as that which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the highest wisdom, to full enlightenment, to nirvana or moksha. He advised an eightfold path defining dharma - they are right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right contemplation.

Now, we come to the question of moksha. Everybody has a unique mission in life or a duty towards oneself. The rishis called it as Atma-Dharma. We have a soul which is like a software programmed according to the level of our spiritual growth, aspirations, actions and thoughts. As we know, there are various stages of development or evolution in nature. Even our earth and other planets were formed and evolved through a gradual process. There is the stage of infancy, adolescence, youth and old age for the planets, stars and galaxies too. We witness similar phenomena in our own life and in nature. Evolution is the law of nature. The concept of time itself is related to evolution. The nature and all souls inhabiting in it are in the process of evolution to a higher status. Therefore, our Atma dharma is related to the evolution of our soul to the supreme status of perfection, freedom and bliss. Every soul is in the track of that evolutionary journey back to the origin -that is God. A rational understanding of this evolutionary process of soul forms the basis of Indian spirituality and value system. It is the lack of such a value system and world view that produces intolerance, extremism, violence and disharmony elsewhere in the world.

The journey of evolution is a strenuous one because the soul has to transcend different layers of spiritual dimensions to complete the journey towards the Cosmic Light. The soul is like a launch vehicle. Once it reaches the destination, it losses its identity and utility because it becomes one with the Cosmic Truth. Our duty is to prepare the soul, the launch vehicle, strong enough to withstand and surpass the gravitational pulls of various spiritual dimensions or mandalas along the way inhabited by spiritual entities of various nature and evolution whose hobby is to pull down the ascending souls. The whole conflicts and sorrows in life are related to this spiritual process. Remember, Sri Ram had to confront a Ravana, Sri Krishna a Kamsa, Sri Buddha the Mara, Jesus Christ the Satan, Prophet Mohammad the Jinnies, to cite few examples.

Our aim should be the Supreme Light alone, to which we owe our origin and sustenance. Indian spirituality speaks about the only One God. The Taitireeya Upanishad says: ‘Seek to know that from which all these beings take birth, that by which they live after being born, that towards which they proceed, and into which they merge, that is Brahman (God Almighty)’.

The concept of one God forms part of our value system, despite the distortions over the ages that have arrested the evolutionary growth of the soul to higher dimensions of spiritual realization. Inculcating right spiritual values and beliefs is the basic need for spiritual evolution. However, we can observe serious distortions in our spiritual practices that have made Hinduism the subject of ridicule despite its great spiritual depth.

The Soul Class Rooms or Spiritual Stages

Like the physical body, the soul has also the stages of infancy, adolescence, youth and old age. The infant souls are those who are not yet aware of their spiritual status. They live according to natural instincts like birds and animals. After a few incarnations, these souls begin to evolve to feel the moral and aesthetic values in life and nature. They move around the concepts of beauty, pleasure, love, etc. These adolescent souls then progress to the more mature intellectual level, with the awareness of right and wrong, analyzing life through the prism of intellect and spiritual values. When these youthful souls progress further, after getting tired of the ever unstable and changing nature of emotions and futile intellectual exercises, they reach the class room of soul contemplation, where they experience the pure blissful nature of the soul. They become the yogis aspiring for God realization. These spiritual aspirants understand that soul is the real deity inhabiting the temple called body. An individual experiences peace and stability in this state of soul realization. Only after reaching this stage of soul development, the soul becomes ready for undertaking the final leg of its journey to the supreme Light.

These stages of soul-transformation are contained in the idea of pancha kosha - the five layers of the soul in Indian spirituality, viz. the annamaya kosha (food sheath), pranamaya kosha (energy sheath), monomaya kosha (mental sheath), vijnana maya kosha (knowledge sheath) and anandamaya kosha (bliss sheath). The soul has to evolve through these soul-class rooms in order to undertake the final leg of its journey to the higher truth, i.e. moksha. This process of soul transformation requires the effort of innumerable lives.  When the thirsts of the embodied soul are satisfied, there begins the quest for spiritual solace. So, the Indian spirituality is based on a comprehensive view of life trying to fulfill the various stages of an individual’s spiritual growth as exemplified in the principle of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is a spiritual culture based on the guidance of an enlightened spiritual master, guiding the soul to fuller evolution through various stages of soul-evolution. Here lies the relevance of the Guru tradition of India.

The culture and value system of India is derived from the wisdom tradition of rishis, which the youth should inculcate in life. Indian spirituality is not mere philosophy, but is the science of transformation of the body and soul, starting from the very micro level to the omnipotent status. This science of evolution is known as Sanatana Dharma, which is the process of Guru-Disciple learning.

However, a distortion has happened to this spiritual culture, both ideologically and in practice over the ages through misinterpretations of these eternal spiritual truths embodied in the wisdom of rishis. It has resulted in meaningless rituals, socially disruptive institutions like caste system and other sectarian ideologies. The youth of India should inculcate in their lives the values of their ancient land knowing its strength as well as pitfalls in order to be truly enlightened. The Guru-Disciple based wisdom tradition of India was a path of knowledge related to life and its fulfillment. With the advent of Vedic ritualism, this pure life-culture was lost to the common man. The spiritual mission of Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru is to reinvigorate this pure and undiluted life-science of the rishis in a way suitable to the present age.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rediscovering the Wisdom Tradition

Gurucharanam Saranam

Sanatana vs. Hindu culture

Indian culture represents a unique all-embracing world-view and a vibrant way of life. The cultural stream of India is very extensive and comes down from eternity. It had never been just a philosophical conception cut off from practicality. India’s spiritual vision leads our awareness to eternity through the rise and fall of civilizations, as revealed by the sages through the concept of Manu cycles or the Manvantara order, spanning billions and billions of years, measuring the age and rhythmic movement of the universe. In spiritual terms, the continuity of this cosmic vision functioned through an all-inclusive spiritual concept known as Sanatana Dharma, which meant an eternal system of dharma in relation to creation, life and existence. This spiritual culture was shared and perpetuated through a line of spiritual masters and their disciples and came to be known as Guru-Sishya Parampara or the Wisdom Tradition - the jnana marga

We can see that the source of everything related to Indian culture and heritage has been derived from this wisdom path handed down through the Guru-sishya tradition. It had existed as a righteous and sublime way of life inspiring and touching all aspects of life. It nourished Dharma, i.e. the right knowledge and right conduct that enriches and expands the horizon of life. This spiritual vision of India had existed as a life-vision related to the inner transformation of life-force or jeeva, which can be seen as the practical expression of spirituality. The wisdom path of India aims to lift man from his bare emotional existence to the highest pedestal of consciousness and human values through a process of transformation, which ends with mukthi, i.e. liberation from the cycles of births and deaths. This vision of the Indian sages is constituted by the ancient Manu-centric Sanatana Dharma, from which this spiritual culture originated. 

When we deliberate on this subject, we have to highlight certain fundamental truths. We can understand it in depth only through a review of Indian culture, which flows in two distinct socio-spiritual streams, i.e. the Sanatana culture and Haindava culture (ritualistic Hinduism), as distinct from each other. We know that the ancient-most culture of India is known as Arsha Bharata Samskara or Sanatana Dharma, which is the rishi culture. 

Manu – the Nucleus of Creation

We have to re-examine the eventful history of how Sanatana Dharma could not elevate itself to its desired status and how it has got degenerated into the present day Haindava culture, through its long course over the ages. We cannot understand this history without mentioning about the kaala ganana or cosmic age calculation.
Indian Cosmic Time Calculation
1 Kalpa = 14 Manvantaras
71 Age Quartets = 1 Manvantara
1 Age Quartet = Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali = 43,20,000 years

The wheel of time called as Kalpa, Manvantara, Chaturyuga etc. is related to the parinaama or evolution of an atomic life-form into the absolute status of Brahman through the ebb and flow of srishti, sthithi, samhara and moksha i.e., creation, sustenance, dissolution and ultimate liberation. In the duration of a Kalpa, the creation completely merges with Brahman, the Supreme Light. This system of time is determined and ordered for the time-bound evolution of karma and dharma of all life-forms beginning from the microbial life-forms. The history of man’s spiritual quest reveals two types of realities. One is his subjective individuality and the second is its cosmic identity linking him organically to the Cosmic Truth in a parental relationship, God being the Cosmic Father or Creator.
The rishis measured every episode of creation in terms of Manvantara equivalent to the age of a Manu. Every solar system and life cycles originates from the sankalpam (conception) of Manus. In the endless march of time, uncountable Kalpas and Manu cycles have gone by, which would explain the reason behind a vast and expanding universe. For the same reason, the Indian rishis named God as Brahman, its meaning being ‘That which Expands’.

The cosmic phenomenon has got a nucleus, a functional centre from which everything manifests. That nucleus is the Manu, the Absolute in the form of the Archetypal Preceptor God, the instrumentality through whom the Will of the Absolute is carried out, controlling the temporal dimension including karma and dharma. Every yuga in a Manvantara fulfills the law of evolution in a structured way. The wisdom tradition envisions a gradual evolution through various time segments known as satya, treta, dwapara and kali yuga within the time period of a Manu, consisting of seventy one age quartets or chatur yugas. There are fourteen such Manu cycles in a single episode of creation known as kalpa. We can guess the depth of Indian spirituality when we know that the length of a chaturyuga itself has a duration of 43,20,000 years. We are in the seventh cycle of such an episode of creation, initiated by Vaivaswata Manu, the seventh Manu. In the present Manu cycle, this is the Kali yuga of the twenty eighth chaturyuga. There are forty three chaturyugas (28+43=71) yet to pass to complete the present Manu cycle. 

The History of Spiritual Deviation

When this Manu-centric age calculation was distorted, the karma and dharma to be followed according to each age went wrong. Twenty five chaturyugas have passed in this manner. It would be difficult for us to grasp its magnitude in one word. In the Manu-centric Sanatana Dharma, Manu alias the Cosmic Purusha is the Creator, not the Trimurti gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. From the time the puranas, the mythological treatises began to explain creation in terms of trimurty gods, changing the time order of Manu as beginning from Brahma, the ancient Sanatana stream of spiritual culture took a diversion and began to flow through a diversified path, fragmenting Indian spirituality into three broad sects, Saiva, Vaishnava and Saketheya with hundreds of sub-sects. 

Sanatana Dharma                                         Trimurti System /Hinduism

Creation begins from                                      Creation begins from

Manu alias Purusha                                         Brahma/Vishnu/Siva/Devi

Ashram Tradition                                            Temple Tradition
Guru Centric  (wisdom tradition)                    Priest Centric (ritual tradition)

Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru explains the history of this spiritual diversion in the following words:

‘What we are going through is the time-order of Manvantaras. That is our perspective or cognition of the world. In the Manu-tradition a great spiritual evolute fell from grace (in the third chaturyuga of the present seventh Manvantara). As a result the Brahman initiated a corrective in the seventh chaturyuga (by evolving the Trimurty system) which was brought to a completion in the eleventh chaturyuga. Thereafter astral matters related to mukti were revealed which got codified as Vedas, Sastras and the Upanishads, without changing the old Manvantara order (to reaffirm that order). Since the sages could not transcend those who received these astral matters did not enquire into the reason why they had received such knowledge. They used their intellect in understanding the path shown by the Almighty and charted their version of the Manvantara time-order chaturyugas, manvantaras and kalpas as subservient to Brahma. Thus they could not invoke Manu, the First Guru and grasp the Error and correct it. This is a peril that has befallen us. 

‘The Error was repeated again and again as the evolutes, who were the spiritual authorities of revealed knowledge, could not discover the mystery and unravel it in full before us…. The feeling of ‘I’ (Aham Brahmasmi) developed in the line of Manus. In the higher planes of knowing it was seen that all the wisdom and knowledge attained so far have come through it (the Manu tradition). This ‘I-ness’ can be seen in any of the books of Vedanta. You talk to any common person - this bloated notion of a free ‘I’ (ego) can be seen. When this comes up in the circle of ascetics (brahmacharis), then such notions come forth through the master-disciple lineage. In the tradition of deity-worship (devaparampara), the ‘deva’ (god) I am devoted to or the ‘devi’ (goddess) I am devoted to is the greatest and most glorious (is observed). Because of such possessiveness in individuals, all kinds of deities, chamundi, yakshi, pey, maruta, matan, mantramurthi (dark, evil spirits such as succubi, ghosts, ghouls etc.) became the ‘Lords’. This has happened because of people’s selfishness and egoism….. 

‘Due to the emergence of Varnasrama, castes and castes upon castes, those who worshiped according to the Trimurti tradition could not function in accordance with the goodness of the Age. Earlier to this, tales were created using the medium of Srutis and Smritis and they were presented as authentic. Before that, as there appeared the creed of ‘materializations’ (siddhi), some sanyasis themselves handled the traditions of siddhi. As it all came up to this, the tradition of Manu faded away even from memory. This degradation of the times is due to the refusal to modify the customs that required a change according to the age and the falsification of the ideology that the abode of Brahman should all the time be with the celestials (devas) and Brahmins’. 

Rediscovering the Wisdom Path

The Manvantara time-reckoning was thus re-charted bringing it under the trimurti tradition, giving it a new definition. It distorted the Sanatana spiritual culture that followed the Guru-centric jnana path respecting the age-specific dharma and karma. Moreover, the status of Guruhood was substituted by the temple tradition involving priest-craft and worship of devi-devas. Guru-hood in the Sanatana culture transcends the statuses of all spiritual entities including the trimurti gods, devi-devas as well as the planes of rishi, sanyasi, etc. above the trimurtis. This deviation fragmented the Indian society spiritually as well as socially. As already mentioned, this mistake gave India two contradictory spiritual characteristics. We can identify these two spiritual characteristics in terms of the Arsha Bharata Samskara guided by the guru tradition, and the Haindava culture, which has grown through the popular temple tradition with all sorts of superstitions, caste restrictions, untouchability and so on. The Haindava culture was strongly established here in which different spiritual entities with different identity, naama-rupa – names and forms and rituals were installed in temples and worshipped in order to appease them through tantric and mantric rituals with the intermediacy of priests. Along with this, the practices of blessings, performance of siddhi, miracles and exorcism also emerged. 

The jnana path tried to nourish the qualities of truth, love, compassion and humility through right thoughts and deeds and strived to earn punya - virtue through the ways of karma and dharma and bhakti for attaining spiritual sublimity.  In contrast, for the fulfillment of desires and other objectives, when people began to adopt a faith system based on the worship of spiritual entities beginning from trimurtis, demigods, yaksha, gandharva, kinnara, bhuta ganas and other angelic beings as well as all types of demonic and disturbed spirits roaming the earth’s atmosphere, these meritless spiritual practices resulted in the physical deformity as well as mental degradation of the populace. They were further made to suffer confined in the ghettos of caste, religion, clan, tribe, with each caste, clan and tribe owing allegiance to different gods, occupation, customs, rituals, etc. Such a degrading and retrogressive culture was perpetuated in the society through mythology, language, arts and literature, religious edicts, etc. as well as through the wondrous tales of siddhi and through the scholarly discourses about maya, dvaita and advaita. This spiritual diversion has been the root cause for the subsequent spiritual fall and cultural degradation of Indian society.  The concept of age-specific spiritual reformation is resisted by the orthodoxy substantiating the chaturvakyas (four great enunciations) in the Vedas, all of which try to imagine the individual soul as equal to Brahman, the Supreme. ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, one of the chaturvakyas means that ‘I am Brahman’. The individual soul is only part of Brahman, not Brahman itself, said Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru. 

Vedas are bound to Yuga Dharma, i.e. they are age-specific. The sages in every age receive the revealed 'word' from Brahman, which becomes the Vedas. The wisdom tradition worked through the Guru-sishya order. Guru is the highest symbol of perfection, the connecting link to the Absolute Truth. Such a Guru would be the spiritual authority of the age, of karma, dharma, jnana and mukthi. The wisdom tradition is a knowledge related to life and its fulfillment. With the advent of Vedic ritualism, this pure life-culture became defunct. The graceful Guru fathoms the threefold time and the cause-effect background of life-experiences. This inner fathoming or mental absorption of an omniscient Guru is to be known as Smriti. The word Smriti means Guru’s perception of those karmic entanglements, which are behind the emotional swings in life, in the form of sorrows and happiness, and the advice Guru gives to the disciple for overcoming such hurdles is to be considered as the Veda or Sruti. When one approaches a Guru in order to liberate the soul from its emotional and karmic entanglements, such process of learning sitting beside the Guru is Upanishad. Such a culture of learning from the Master and living by his guiding words was the essence of the Wisdom Tradition of Indian spirituality. When the spiritual guidance of such a Guru embodiment was unavailable, people began to lead life unaware about the evolving course of dharma, accepting the Vedas and Upanishads - the pre-historic catalogues of dharma, as the inviolable source of wisdom.

Re-establishing Sanatana Culture 

The saying that ‘Guru Sakala Dharmata’ is based on this exalted vision of the absolute truth of God. The absolute truth of God self-manifests and gets activated through Guru and his Word, which is to be followed by the family - the mother, father, children and others. The divine Word revealed through the Guru becomes the guiding force behind the institution of family - the Grihasthashram and Grihasthashrama Dharma, orienting life and culture to a pedestal of absolute purity and sublime truth.  It is this lost guru-disciple ashram culture which we have to re-establish as the highest aspects of Indian culture and spirituality. Today, unfortunately, the householders are totally cut off from this ashram-centric spiritual culture.  The individual as well as family life is affected by the good and bad deeds of ancestral souls. There are also the negative influences because of the distorted worship of maligned spiritual entities, followed by the families as mentioned earlier. The Guru parampara of Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru strives to unburden the individuals, families and gotras from the negative karmagati and spiritual influences, through a way of life that follows the word of Guru vigilantly by mind, word and deed, keeping only the Atmajnani Guru in the heart. Only the realized and divinely authoritative Guru can perceive the karmagati of a person and guide one to the Absolute Truth through ultimate bhakti, the surrender in devotion, realizing that ‘Guru Saakshaat Parabrahm’, i.e. Guru is the very embodiment of Brahman.   

We can thus see that this guru-sishya tradition is the essence of the spiritual soul of India, which strives to evolve the human spirit from the status of a human to the many dimensions of the divine such as deva, rishi, sanyasi, jnani, bhakta and muktha leading to ultimate liberation. These spiritual embodiments are related to expanding levels of human consciousness related to spiritual evolution. Guru Margam or the wisdom path combines jnana, karma, yoga and bhakti in order to nourish dharma and through that one’s success in life by way of enhanced punya and through that, fortune and wealth. Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru reminds us that we have lost this wisdom tradition. The history of the degeneration of this wisdom path is very old as it began twenty five chaturyugas ago in the present Manu cycle. 

The spiritual view of India is a path that strives to fulfill dharma, i.e. the duties and purpose of life, 
artha, the earning of wealth etc. required for attaining material and spiritual well being, kama, exhausting or fulfilling all desires and finally, earning mukthi, getting release from the cycles of births and deaths.  It is essential that we realize when and why this wisdom tradition was lost to India. The backbone of Sanatana culture was to realize the path of evolution in a natural and rational way and moreover, in accordance with the will of God. It was intended to actualize this knowledge in life and evolve oneself to the path of jnana. We should be able to understand that the prayer ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu’ as the essence of this spiritual culture.  The Indian spiritual concept is the path of fulfilling the purpose of life through karma according to dharma and the concept of parinama or evolution through the wheel of time. It is a complete life-vision in which from an atom to the Absolute attains perfection undergoing transformation. It is in this manner that the Indian spiritual concept had existed as the richest spiritual path in the world. We have to realize that our present spiritual, cultural and social situation is very pathetic. The spiritual guidance of Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru sheds light on the cause-effects of this spiritual degradation, which is both ironic and distressing. 

The Guru’s is a path of spiritual renaissance to redeem the society from this spiritual degradation and value erosion. Guru brings to our focus the deviation occurred in the transformational path of spirituality relevant to the age and to dharma and karma. It is an indisputable fact that Guru’s movement of spiritual renaissance, as a correction to this situation, is able to impart to the modern world a new light and inspiration, brilliance and strength. Guru presents before us a new path of karma and dharma respecting the yuga dharma in order to rectify the situation taking into consideration the spiritual as well as material aspects. In Santhigiri, Guru has begun to develop it as a liberating culture without the restrictions of caste, religion, class, gender etc. to fulfill the dictum ‘One Caste, One Religion and One God for Humanity’. 

(Paper presented in the National Conference on ‘Guru Tradition, Cultural Creativity and Social Change’ at Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India on 8th and 9th April, 2015. by Honorable Swami Navananma Jnana Tapaswi, Director, Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India)