Rama and Sita are inseperable (Same as Siva and Sakti being inseperable)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

When one thinks of the Sun, he thinks of its radiance, its brightness. Just as brightness and the Sun can never be dissociated, so too can Sita and Lord Rama never be viewed separately, and should not be viewed separately, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. Rama with Sita is benevolent. Rama without Sita is dangerous.

Whenever He killed, it was when Sita was not beside Him. He killed Tataka, Subahu, Vali, Ravana and Kara and Dooshana, when Sita was not beside Him. He did not kill Kakasura because Sita was with Him at the time. This is a very interesting episode, which highlights the importance of approaching Rama when He is with Sita. Ravana's sins of coveting another man's wife and then carrying Her away were unpardonable. But even he did not cause Sita any bodily harm.

Kakasura, on the other hand, pecked at Sita's breast. When compared with Ravana's act of kidnapping Sita, Kakasura's sin is more serious. Yet Kakasura was spared by Rama, who only blinded him in one eye. How did Kakasura get away with a mild punishment? The answer lies in the fact that Sita was beside Rama, when Kakasura surrendered to Him. In fact, even this Saranagati (surrender) of Kakasura was deficient, for instead of placing his head at the Lord's feet, the demon placed his feet at the Lord's feet. This is not the way to surrender, for the act of surrender must be done with humility, by placing one's head at the feet of the Lord. Sita, noticing that Kakasura had not surrendered as required, turned him over so that his head now rested near the Lord's feet. Thus it was through Sita's act of kindness that Kakasura was saved.

Rama is the Lord of the universe, yet it is the presence of Sita that makes Him our protector. Rama is every inch a king, and the way Rama sits on His throne indicates His Supremacy. Such is His bearing. But Rama is like a cool ocean. Just as we retire to the seaside on a hot day and find the sea breeze soothing, so can we approach Rama, for His mercy will rid us of the heat from our sins. The feeling of safety we get in His presence comes from the fact that Sita is beside Him.


Rama and the vision of life

Friday, 12 August 2011

All of us have read or at least know about the Ramayana. But do we understand its vision? Even those who were present at that time and watched the events unfold would get deluded by the spell of maya (illusion). They could gain clarity only by listening to the story of Rama again. Like Parvati, who saw Rama lamenting Sita’s absence and wondered how He could be the Lord if He also cried and felt sad like ordinary mortals. Her doubts and delusion were cleared after listening to the story of Rama (Ramkatha) in detail from Lord Siva.

It is not enough just to listen to the story or watch a television serial on Ramayana. Serious thinking on what is heard is important. If a student goes to a medical college, we expect him/her to come out a doctor, not a patient. Similarly, if you study the Ramayana, you must become like Rama and not Ravana. It is Rama’s vision of life that is the true vision of Ramayana, which we must comprehend.

Everyone has a vision of life, whether it is couched in philosophy or not. A person’s behaviour, actions and reactions are based on his vision and values. An atheist who does not believe in God, scriptures or saints, and thinks that this body and the world around is all there is, will naturally value money and pleasures more than anything else. His goal in life will be to earn money and enjoy life.

This importance attached to money is reflected even in our everyday language. We hear many women say, "I don’t work, I am only a housewife." The never-ending work done by her does not earn any money directly; hence it is not considered work! This is because we value money. Work that does not pay is not considered work. This is how our values are decided by our vision of life. Higher vision of life triggers questions like, “Who is this God I am serving?” and “What is the purpose of my life?”

The thirst for self-knowledge arises. On analysing life we find that the Lord alone dwells in all people, all creatures, all things. We will, therefore, not develop hatred even towards our foes and detractors. This is the vision of life we should have. Lord Rama’s vision of life offers us a standard against which we can measure ourselves and improve. Even his enemy, Maricha, said: “He is the very embodiment of dharma.” Dharma is that which integrates and creates harmony within us, in our inner being, outside, in our family, and so on. If we hold on to dharma, it will protect us. It is said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.” If you don’t have any higher values or goals in life, you will fall easily. It is said that knowledge is our friend in our travels, the spouse is our friend at home, medicine is the friend for the ailing and dharma is our friend after death.

In the Kishkindha Kanda of Tulsi Ramayana, we find many gems of wisdom embedded in the poetry. Some verses describe the monsoons. The search for Sita had to be halted during this period. Rama and Lakshmana lived in a cave on the Pravarshana mountain. They did not play cards or hunt to while away their time. Rama used to tell Lakshmana kathas (stories) — their conversation increased devotion and dispassion; they talked about how a king should live and rule his kingdom, and about common sense, which is so uncommon.


The impact of not worshiping Goddess Parvati before worshiping Lord Siva

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Karthika women, who brought up Lord Subrahmanya, went to the abode of Lord Siva, and requested Him to teach them the ashta siddhis. The Lord agreed. But while they showed a keenness to learn the use of these ashta siddhis, they ignored an important instruction of His, namely, that they should first worship Goddess Parvati, before they worshipped Him.

Lord Siva was going to be their guru. And it is imperative that anyone seeking instruction should obey the guru implicitly. But the Karthika women, by ignoring Parvati, did not pay heed to the instruction of their guru, namely, the Lord Himself. So the Lord said that they would forget the siddhis that He taught. They would have to go to Earth and become stones there. They would be liberated from that state by the Lord Himself. Thus the six women went to the Earth, and became stones in a place called Pattamangai. The place is in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu, and is now known as Pattamangalam, said Raghubai in a discourse.

Under a banyan tree the women lay as stones for thousand years, and the stones were covered with falling leaves. The Lord then took the form of a gnani, and came to the banyan tree. He cast His merciful glance on the women turned to stones, and they came to life at once. What a miracle it was, like iron turning to gold! The women were lucky to have had the Lord's eyes rest on them. This is known as nayana deeksha. The Lord then put His hand on their heads. Thus they also got sparsa deeksha- deeksha by touch. Then the Lord taught them the eight siddhis.

The eight siddhis give one the power to take any form, to traverse all worlds, to make a light object heavy and vice versa, to control the planets, to subjugate even the celestials. These powers were conferred on the women by the Lord. However, He added that those who were His true devotees, would never use any of these powers. These powers would follow them as their own shadows, and reveal the greatness of such devotees to the world.

The Karthika women thus afford an example of what happens to those who ignore Parvati. The Lord and the Goddess are both to be worshipped for worship to be meaningful.


King Mahabali is a Mahatma

Monday, 1 August 2011

Mahabali, the king who was sent to the netherworld by Lord Narayana, was a rare person, one who can be called a mahatma, said B. Sundar Kumar. He may be called a mahatma for many reasons. He had promised Vamana that he would give Him whatever He desired, and when it came to bending his head before the Lord, who had expanded from the little Vamana to the enormous Trivikrama, Mahabali did not hesitate to offer his head as the next place for the Lord to put His foot on.

When Vamana approached Mahabali and asked him for land that He could measure with three steps of His feet, Mahabali washed the Lord's feet. The water that washed the Lord's feet was later to become the sacred Ganga. Mahabali was blessed to wash the Lord's feet. How many are so blessed?

On Mahabali's head the Lord placed His foot. What greater fortune can there be than this?

Mahabali was a man who had great guru bhakti, and never went against his guru Sukracharya's words. Mahabali was so obedient to his guru that the latter gave him a golden chariot.

Yet, when Sukracharya warned him not to pay heed to Vamana for, Sukracharya suspected that something untoward was going to happen, Mahabali did not obey his guru. He, who had never gone against his guru's wishes, ignored him on this one occasion, for to obey his guru would have meant that he would have had to break his promise to Vamana, and Mahabali was never one to break a promise. Mahabali had the support of his wife in his act of generosity to Vamana. She stood by him when he kept his promise to the Lord. How many are blessed with such a wife? Only a mahatma is so blessed.

It is our duty to behave in such a way that we earn the approbation of our forefathers. Mahabali pleased his grandfather Prahlada so much that the latter gave Mahabali a garland of never fading flowers.

He who is indifferent to wealth and women is a mahatma. Mahabali was a king, who was prepared to give away everything he possessed. Only one with supreme detachment to wealth would be willing to part from all that he owned. Thus Mahabali was a mahatma in this sense too.


Reaching God through various means

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that devoting one's entire mind and heart to Him is the essence of Bhakti Yoga. When with this involvement one also seeks refuge in Him, one will gradually understand His infinite greatness without any trace of doubt and thereby gain the highest spiritual experience, Bhakti.

In a lecture, Nochur Sri Venkataraman pointed out that Bhakti is something already inherent in the mind and heart of the individual soul. But with the appearance of the sense of I and Mine, the individual becomes involved with the world. When this involvement is directed towards God, it becomes Bhakti and this is the state of mind of saints and realised souls.

In the Bhagavata Purana , Yudhishtira asks Narada how Sisupala, who displayed open enmity to Lord Krishna, attained salvation instead of getting punished. Narada replies that God waits for some kind of relationship with Him who is the Antaryami, even if the relationship hinges on hatred.

Sisupala's enmity to Krishna occupied his mind with such tenacity that he never forgot his sworn enemy. Because of this association, he merged with the Lord in a dramatic manner when Krishna was honoured for His pre-eminence during the Rajasuya Yaga performed by Yudhishtira.

Narada also explained the story of the gatekeepers of Vaikunta, Jaya and Vijaya, who were cursed and sent away from their posts for preventing the sages Sanat Kumaras from seeing the Lord. They regretted their mistake and opted to fulfil the curse through three consecutive births when they would seek God by showing enmity to Him. Their births show that it is easy to think of God constantly as an enemy.

In like manner, God can be reached through love, fear, friendship or kinship. The Gopis sought God through love and were steeped in Krishna to the extent of forgetting their own status and position. Kamsa's thoughts dwelt on Krishna, propelled by fear ever since he became aware of the prediction of his death. The Vrishnis sought Him through kinship, while the Pandavas' friendship with Krishna was tantamount to Bhakti.


How to use your wealth in a wise manner

Sunday, 17 July 2011

There is a deep-seated desire for wealth in every individual and sastras accept wealth as a legitimate aspiration. It is included in the four main goals of life (Purusharthas) — righteousness (Dharma), wealth (Artha), desire (Kama) and liberation (Moksha). Scriptures teach us to evaluate wealth in philosophical and secular terms, said Srimati Prema Pandurang in a lecture.

Though renunciation is the ideal to be practised in one's lifetime for the attainment of salvation, wealth is shown as necessary for worldly upkeep. Scriptures teach us that wealth has to be earned by rightful means and warn us of its dangers. An excess of wealth can make one inebriate, become a constant worry and, if put to wrong uses, can destroy one's peace of mind.

When Bali began an Asvamedha Yaga to gain mastery over the worlds, the Lord incarnated as Vamana and approached Him for alms. Bali was impressed by the handsome youth and was willing to give him whatever he wanted. The boy wanted only that much of land he could cover with three paces. Sukracharya warned Bali not to give all in haste. His insightful advice at this juncture is practical and teaches us how to use wealth in a wise manner. Charity should not endanger one's life and livelihood.

Wealth has to be used for the practice of one's religion. A part of our earnings has to be set aside for selfless acts that will bring us fame even after we die — such as protection of the scriptures, cows, etc. Acts of charity for the purpose of people's welfare, for the family and for the needy are also encouraged. This paves the way for the growth of a welfare society. There are long-term benefits as well for those who engage in such deeds — for their generous acts take care of their well-being in this world and hereafter. Such is the power of righteous deeds.

But Bali had already committed himself to the youth and found himself shorn of the immense wealth that had been his just a minute ago. He had to offer his head in all humility to fulfil his promise. This shows that wealth is slippery especially when one lacks humility.


The story of Lord Siva as bangle seller

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Once Lord Siva took the form of one involved in penance and appeared before the wives of sages. He looked so handsome that it seemed the God of love, Manmatha, himself had come as a sage. The women ran towards Him. Their hearts melted at His sight. Such was their anxiety to make acquaintance with Him, they lost their weight instantly and their bangles slipped off! They then asked Him to return the bangles.

Lord Siva then indulged in some teasing conversation with them. They then looked into His eyes and saw images of some women in His eyes. The women were none other than these women themselves but they were unable to discern this. So they requested Him to hold their images in His eyes too.

The Lord replied that a handsome man could be seen in their eyes too, but they must have the capacity to discern this.

What He meant was that the Lord resided in everyone but only realised souls were aware of this.

The women then tried to embrace Him, but He eluded their hug, for He can be caught only in the net of bhakti. He is easily approached by His devotees but not by others, said Raghu Bai, in a discourse.

The women asked the Lord when He would return their bangles and He promised to return them soon. They tried to embrace Him, but He vanished.

The sages, whose wives had thus seen the Lord but failed to recognise Him, knew that the One who had appeared before them was Lord Siva.

Yet the sages' wives had sinned in trying to embrace someone other than their husbands. So the sages cursed their wives and said they would take another birth and that Siva would rid them of their curse.

The women were reborn accordingly. And when they attained marriageable age, Lord Siva appeared before them as a bangle seller. He displayed the bangles He had, and when He slipped them on the hands of the women, they had goose bumps. He then revealed His true form, and He ascended in a vimana.

As for the women, they were rid of their curse, because they were touched by the Lord, and thus rendered pure.

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