Highlights from this discourse:
Importance of gunas and how Bhagavan Rama attracted others through His gunas!
– Why were Jupiter and Saturn named so?
– Who is a periyava (elder)? How do their blessings have strength?
– Be conscious of what you pray to Mahans/Jivan Muktas because they will definitely happen. Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas and Kinnaras who we cannot see, desire to be around Mahans and they would fulfill our prayers even if a Mahan blesses them or not.
– Stories of siddha purushas visiting Mahans like Sri Ramana Maharishi and Bhagavan Yogi Ramsuratkumar in the form of animals.
– Essence of all the sadhanas is to control one’s mind.
– What are siddhis? Just a byproduct of worshipping a Devata and not the end goal for a spiritual aspirant! Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sri Ramana Maharshi beautifully explain what they are!
– Who is a Guru or a Jnani? How should we not mistake someone who demonstrates some siddhis for a Guru?
– How should a spiritual aspirant persevere to attain Jivan Mukti? Sri Swamiji talks about how human birth is rare and how we should utilize this birth fruitfully to attain jnana!
– Lessons from Sage Vishwamitra’s charitra – his fight with Sage Vasishta to possess Kamadhenu, his realization in the strength of jnana, his tough penance and perseverance in attaining his goal of becoming a Brahmarishi despite many hurdles.
– Lessons from Trishanku’s story – Who was Trishanku? What was his vain desire and where did it lead him to? Why did Sage Vasishta and his sons reject Trishanku’s request? What did Sage Vishwamitra do and how did it affect his penance?
– Sri Swamiji talks in great detail about the different ways in which Mahans have given up their bodies or departed from the world – going to Vaikunta with their mortal body or attaining jiva samadhi or merging with Bhagavan Himself.
– Why should one visit temples during utsavs even if it is crowded?
– How should an ashram be? What trees and animals will we find in an ashram and why? Why is “arasa maram” (peepal tree) named so? Why do sages perform tapas under a peepal tree or an amla tree?
Read the translated transcript of the entire discourse below.
Listen to this Bala Kandam Episode 19 discourse (Tamil with English subtitles) on Global Organisation for Divinity Facebook page:
Complete transcript of Sri Swamiji’s live online Srimad Ramayana discourse – Bala Kandam Episode #19
Of the many avatars of Bhagavan, who is Shriyapati, Rama avatar is one of the most eminent avataras. Rama avatara can be called as an avatara that has all exemplary, auspicious qualities (guNa paripUrNan). The reason why many bhaktas are involved in Rama bhakti is because he has all of these wonderful qualities (gunas). Of the people that we know, the reason why we like some of them, or we don’t like some, or we ignore some is only because of their gunas. It is only through their gunas, a person attracts another. Because Rama has all the kalyana gunas (auspicious qualities), many bhaktas enjoy Rama avatara. We have been experiencing the divine charitram of such a Rama avatar everyday, as much as possible.
In this world, the word “Guru” means that which is big. We say “Periyava” (one who is an elder)… The word “Periyava ” itself means the word Guru. There are so many planets and we call one of them as Guru… Brihaspati… Guru… The reason why we call that planet as Guru is because among all the planets Jupiter is the biggest planet. When compared to the other planets, since Jupiter is the biggest, we call Jupiter as Guru. The slowest moving planet when compared to others is Sani (Saturn).. Hence, sanaihi.. Sanaihi means very slow. When we name the planets… we have named them based on their characteristics. Only because they [ancestors] had that knowledge, they have named the planets so… Guru.. Sanai:.. The word Guru means the biggest of all.
When I was telling about this the other day in the upanyasam, in the marriage invitation, we say “We request you to come with the elders and bless the couple.” Or else, if someone comes home, we say [to the kids], “An elder has come, please prostrate.” We also say, “Blessings from periyava (elders) will never go waste.” Who all are periyava (elders / worthy of veneration)? Even if I had mentioned this earlier in another upanyasam, I will repeat it again. One who chants a mantra incessantly is a venerable person (an elder)! One who is truthful is a venerable person! One who is always dharmic is a venerable person! One who worships a devata murti all the time is a venerable person! Or else, one who is attained in jnana or tapas or in bhakti, is also a venerable person! They need not have all of these five gunas. Even if they have any one of them, it is enough. Their blessings will have strength! If they say something to you… whether it happens today or tomorrow, it will happen at some point in time.
Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say, “Be conscious of what you pray to mahans… before jnanis…” Because whatever you pray before jnanis will definitely happen. Even if that doesn’t happen in this birth, it will definitely happen in another birth. Even if a jnani blesses you or not, there will be Devatas (deities) around them. Even Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas and Kinnaras also desire to see such jnanis. They will all be standing around the jnani. They won’t be visible to our eyes. Whatever we pray, whether a jnani who is a jivan mukta answers our prayers or not, these Devatas will fulfill our prayers… since it happens in their presence. Why? At least by doing this, they think, “Wouldn’t this make the jivan mukta happy?” “Won’t we be blessed with their compassion?” Everyone including the Devas desire for it. It has been told like that! Because of that, the greatness of such jnanis is so high!
Sometimes, a mongoose would come and sit in Sri Ramana Maharishi’s presence. Sri Ramana Maharshi used to tell people to not shoo away the mongoose. That mongoose would also stay there in silence. He would remain quiet. Then, he himself would say later, “I asked you not to drive away the mongoose because he is a mahatma, a siddha purusha, to get my darshan he has come as a mongoose.”
There was a Devakottai Chettiar with Bhagawan Yogi Ramsuratkumar. One day Yogi Ramsuratkumar called for Chettiar, and told him, “Let us both go to a place and come. Come with me.” There is a place in Tiruvannamalai. He took him there. They walked through a thorny, stony path and reached that place. Tiruvannamalai, itself is a region where Siddhas roam around and, and innumerable Jnanis are present. And, in particular, that place was very special. So, Devakottai Chettiyar was immensely pleased. He thought, “Today, I have the fortune of being alone with Bhagavan. Nobody else is here. Bhagavan may talk to me a lot. I am indeed blessed to have such an experience.” But, as soon as Bhagavan reached there, Bhagavan lay down and went to sleep! Chettiyar thought, “Just like Lord Ranganatha, Bhagavan Yogiramsuratkumar has reclined. I shall enjoy his darshan.” Thinking so, he sat there. A little while later, a huge snake descended the mountain. One seeing the snake, Chettiyar got scared. He started sweating and was trembling with fear. He didn’t know whether to be afraid of the snake or fear Bhagavan. He was in a dilemma whether to wake up Bhagavan or let him sleep. For one hour, he sat there in trepidation. Then the snake left. As soon as the snake left, Bhagavan woke up, and calmly asked, “Shall we leave?” And, they left. Bhagavan then asked Chettiyar, “Why are you sweating so badly? Were you scared?” Chettiyar narrated all that had happened.
Bhagavan said, “Don’t worry. He (snake) is a Siddha Purusha. He desired to have my darshan. If he comes here, everyone will panic. So, I went alone to give him darshan.”
Therefore, Siddhas, yogis, Jnanis, gandharvas and yakshas too, come in various forms desiring to have a Mahan’s darshan. They are always around them. In this world, there is one greatest skill. That skill is the skill of controlling one’s mind. If you can’t learn to control your mind, learning any other skill is useless. If you learn the art of controlling your mind, then you don’t need any other skill. So, what is the essence of all the sadhanas (spiritual discipline)? Controlling one’s mind.
And, who is a Guru? A Guru is one who is superior (to all) in Jnana. If someone says, “I have a Guru.” And, he is asked, “How do you say so?” The person replies, “He accurately predicts the past and the future.” Anybody who has mastered the science of astrology will also be able to accurately foretell the past and the future. If a person who knows the science of Astrology can, then it is no surprise that the Guru also knows it. So, we cannot conclude that one is a Guru because of that (ability to predict). Some people will be able to make objects appear in their hand, out of thin air. Some will fly in the sky. Some will walk on water. These are called ‘siddhis’. By worshipping a certain god (or goddess – devata) or when the kundalini energy rises, they attain these “Siddhis’ ‘. They get lured by the siddhis and stop making further progress.
Once, a devotee asked, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, “We obtain siddhis only when we meditate on God. Isn’t it something that happens as we are progressing? Be it walking on water or traveling in the sky or the ability to read other’s thoughts or knowing what happened in a faraway land or predicting the future. Since, we gain them through the worship of God, how can they be bad?” Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa replied, “A man consumes food and it causes him to excrete. So, can we say a man eats only to excrete? That is just a byproduct of waste. Similarly, when doing Bhagavat Dhyana (meditation), siddhis are the waste being produced.”
Sri Ramana explains this beautifully. Sometimes, there are people who perform illusory tricks on the streets. He (who is performing a trick) will have a basket. He will apply a dye and place the basket upturned. It will be initially empty. After some time, he will utter a few words and open the basket. And, a mango tree containing a fruit will appear. The one who is performing the trick knows the details. He knows how the mango appeared, how the tree appeared and so on. But, the people watching the trick do not know. They clap in wonder and exclaim, “How did that tree appear? There was nothing there a few minutes ago!” The one who is doing these magic tricks is fooling everyone but he himself is not fooled. But, people who get caught in the siddhis when doing Bhagavat dhyana, are in fact fooling themselves in the name of fooling others, without attaining jnana, he says.
So one who predicts the future or tells the past is not a Guru that even just astrologers can do. One who displays siddhi’s is also not a Guru. One can very easily say that those who show such siddhis do so purely due to ignorance. So what is jnana, performing mantra vadam, or demonstrating all siddhis or predicting the future or the past, are all not the qualities of a jnani. What a jnani does is, they are athma rama. They are always in a state of peace, they will always revel in that bliss. That is the supreme state of jnana.
Even in today’s world, in the spiritual life of many mahapurushas there are many strange and surprising incidents that we might have heard or seen. When we mentioned about Sri Raghavendra charithram, we heard the story of how he threw the gem-studded necklace into the sacrificial fire and then also brought it back. We have been talking of Mahaperiyava’s charitram, Yogiram Suratkumar’s charitram, Sri Gnanananda Swami’s charitram, Sri Ramana Maharishi’s charitram, Sri Chandrashekarendra Bharathi’s charithram, Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswathi’s charitram… so many mahatmas. But what is the conclusion or the ultimate message from all these charitrams is that, we should realise the atma swarupa in our hrudayam.
The essence is to attain the state of jeevan mukti. A spiritual aspirant when he is practicing such a sadhana, the sadhana is itself very rigorous and slipping or falling down during this period when one practices the sadhana is also very common. Reading such stories like the story of Ahalya or Vishvamitra in Ramayana is not for one to laugh at, mock or belittle sages like Vishvamitra. Sages like Valmiki would not write charitrams like the Ramayana just for entertainment. What such stories in Ramayana are trying to show us is a moral message and what’s that message?
Attaining brahma sakshatkaram is very difficult. How many ever times we fall, one should rise up and keep trying again and again without giving up. Why we need to do this is because, if not for today at some point during our birth we need to do this, if not for this birth, next birth, if not for next birth, the one after, if we don’t do even until the point of mahapralaya, again during srishti (creation) again we will have to come back. Unless and until one attains jnana one cannot attain moksha. What will be our next birth? Where will it be? Will we get satsang in the next birth? Will we get a human body? There are many countries where many people are suffering in many ways. Even in India many people are suffering in many ways. Seeing all this one should only think that Bhagavan has made our lives very conducive and so verily in this birth itself one who makes an effort to attain that jnana is intelligent, wise and fortunate.
Once we fall down, we should not be worried. We should get up and stand, rising and standing right up like this is what Vishvamitra’s story is trying to show us. “deivathAl AgAdadu eninum muyarchi than meyvaruththa kooli tharum”, says the divine poet Valluvar. If at all even if the Lord Himself has taken a vow saying that, “This shall not be attained by you!” If we can try to gather all strength, put our body through rigorous, austere penance, we will definitely be able to attain that goal. “deivathAl AgAdadu eninum muyarchi than meyvaruththa kooli tharum”. If one has to tell a story as an example for this Tirukkural, then it will be Vishvamitra’s story. His life was like that.
At first he came with a chathuranga army, he came and stood in front of Vasishta. Vasishta said that the entire army should have their meal here and only then leave. Vishvamitra said that it is not possible. So many elephants, horses, soldiers have come, how can you feed all of them? Vasishta prayed to Kamadhenu and everything that was needed arrived. After everything came, Vishvamitra on seeing Kamadhenu had a desire to have Kamadhenu for himself. Vishvamitra says, “I will give you many elephants, horses, chariots, give me Kamadhenu. I will give you 1 crore cows, give me Kamadhenu. All that is there in the kingdom belongs to the king, so please give Kamadhenu, anything that bestows goodness should be with the king, so give it.”
However Vasishta did not budge for any of these. Vasishta said in just one word, Valmiki Rishi gives an example, “A good man would not mind compromising anything for the sake of keeping his reputation intact. Similarly, I only wish for Kamadhenu. I do not desire anything else.” As he (Vasishta) said so, Vishwamithra pulled Kamadhenu by force; she howled and surrendered to Vasishta. Vasishta appeared at a loss for a moment and said, “What can I do? He has come with 4 different kinds of army. He is the king who is ruling the kingdom now. He has come in the lineage of ascetics.” Kamadhenu told him to supplicate to her. Vasishta stood and supplicated her. So many troops came out of her and demolished Viswamithra’s army. Viswamithra stood by himself. “Only the army of elephants did not work; only the army of horses did not work; only the army of chariots did not work; only swords did not work; I will go and acquire the weapons of mantra”, thought Viswamithra and went to do penance. He saw Parameshwara and acquired strong weapons like Paashupatha, Brahmastra etc.
After that, he came back to wage war against Vasishta. Vasishta controlled the army of chariots, horses, elephants and soldiers by praying to Kamadhenu. When Vishwamitra came back after earning mantra astras, he just placed the Yogadhanda or Brahmadhanda. The entire power of mantras and the weapons of mantra were all paralyzed. How is Viswamithra now? He is standing all alone. Valmiki gives a beautiful example. When a snake comes hissing, if it’s poisonous fangs are pulled out, its hissing becomes futile; no one will respect it. How would it be if there came a tsunami but the next second the sea went back to being calm. An eagle is flying towards a snake to prey on it and the snake is trying to get away. Some hunter shot an arrow and the eagle’s wings get snapped. It falls down and now in the snake’s hold.
Due to the loss of strength, just like how a bird would be in despair without its strength, like how the sea would calm down after a tsunami, like how a snake without its fang is quiet, Viswamithra stood dumbfounded. On the other hand, Vasishta was standing there like a mass of fire, holding the Brahmadanda. Devas were so scared. Everyone was hoping for Vasishta to calm down. Vishwamithra sees all this. He thinks that he would not go after acquiring the weapons or mantras through penance but wanted to become a Brahmajnani. He wanted to attain self-realization.
There is a body. The true consciousness resides within the body. But it is there, undiscovered. An example is quoted in Vedanta. Raw tamarind. When you examine raw tamarind, its shell and its flesh are stuck together and inseparable. But when you shake a ripe tamarind, you hear a rattling sound. The shell and the flesh are separated. Same is the case with the wood apple. Likewise, we do not know where the consciousness is in the body. Jnanis have the ability to separate the body and the consciousness through their effort. They do not attain liberation only after death but in this life itself one can attain liberation and realize consciousness.
Viswamithra wanted to become such a Brahmarishi and left with that desire. Where did he go? He went towards the south. First time, he went taking his queen with him. He did severe penance. “phala mUlA shaNo tAntha chakAra paramam tapa:” What he does while doing tapas the first time is “phala mUlA shaNO” is to eat only fruits; Or just vegetables and root vegetables; just leaves and twigs. phala mUlA shaNo tAntha chakAra paramam tapa: He does harsh penance. He brought his queen along with him while doing penance.
So four children are born during this penance-filled time – Avishyantha, Madhushyantha, Dhrudanethra and Maharatha. Because these children were born during this penance-filled time when he followed all the appropriate restrictions and austerities, they are all extremely powerful and honorable. As he did penance like this, what happened? 1000 years passed by. His penance was completed after 1000 years. In the end, Brahma gave him darshan Brahma told Vishwamitra that his penance was completed. No one can do penance like you. I am very astounded seeing your penance. Rajarishis have certain worlds for themselves in Punya Loka. You have won certain worlds owned by Rajarishis by your penance. Saying so, Brahma departed. Vishwamitra’s face became pale after Brahma’s departure. anena tapasaa tvAm thu rAjarshI ithi vidmahE’ As soon as he heard that he had won certain worlds owned by the Rajarishis…. anEna tapasA tvAm tu rAjarshI iti vidmahE’ Vishwamithra’s face became very downcast.
After having done penance for 1000 years with lots of difficulties… No other food was taken except fruits, vegetables and dried leaves. Controlled hunger during the penance, abandoned the kingdom and roamed in the forests. After having done the penance with so much vigor, I am only recognized as a Rajarishi. I have only become eligible for the worlds that belonged to Rajarishis. They didn’t call me a Brahmarishi. Vishwamitra felt very sad. He didn’t give up. He didn’t leave, unlike the saying in Tamil ‘chi chi indha pazham puLikkum’ (consoling oneself saying that something that we did not get was not worth it anyway). He was in a state of anguish for some time and immediately collected himself and thought he should not let it go. I will somehow attain it. tapah chakAra dharmAtmA kAkutsa paramAtmavAn’ He sat down to do penance. tapah chakAra dharmAtmA’ .. even more intense penance with the desire to earn the knowledge of Brahama Jnanam
He embarked in more intense penance. In the meantime there was a king named Trisanku. trisanku iti vikhyAta ikshvAku kulavardhanah’. Oh Rama! Trisanku was a Rajarishi in your Ikshvaku lineage satyavAdi jiTendriyaha’ Trisanku from your lineage was a king who was an advocate of truth and who upheld dharma. He did a lot of yagas and never told any lies. Not only did he not utter any lies, he was always truthful even in difficult times as well. He performed a lot of yagas. He had also done a lot of service to Sadhus and Mahatmas and satisfied them. He had taken refuge in Vasishta, who was his Kula Guru. He was great in all aspects.
Trisanku, in spite of being great in all aspects, was suddenly struck by a desire. What was his desire? Some may desire to earn the title of Indra by doing a lot of yagas. Some may desire to go to heaven. Isn’t it? Some may do yaga with the desire to have a son. Some may do yaga with the desire of winning over everyone.. that there should not be anyone greater than me in the world. There are many people like that. Trisanku got a desire when doing the yaga. What was the desire? He wanted to go to heaven with his physical body. Upon reaching heaven.. he wanted to be the greatest among the Devas. He had such a desire. etasminEva kAlEtu satyavAdI jitEndriya:| trishankuriti vikhyAta ikshvAkukulavardhana: ||
He wishes so and then, wonders what yaga to be performed to go to Devaloka with the physical body and remain there in Devaloka in his physical body, permanently, but not with the Devaloka form but in this very form that is there on earth. Similarly, we may ask if there are such instances in our times? These are instances of the Puranic time right?
In our time, there was a Mahatma called Tukaram. Tukaram prayed to Bhagavan. What did he pray for? Looking at all the people, I say, “Do Hari namakirtan, you can go to Vaikunt and make everyone do Nama sankirtan. If this mortal body of mine is dropped here and the divine form goes to Vaikunta Who would come to know? Who would know if I went to Vaikunta or not? Tukaram did namasankirtan. By the fruits of such Namasankirtan, he attained Vaikunta in his physical form.
Everyone should come to know of this. For many many ages to come, this incident should be known to everyone, only then, “Oh! Like Tukaram, if we too do namasankirtan, we can attain Vaikunta,” realizing that people would start doing Namakirtan. It is for this purpose, he prays to Bhagavan and as per his wish, from Vaikunta a vimana comes down and while being watched by everyone, he gets on to the vimana and while traveling to Vaikunta, Tukaram, continues to sing a kirtan. Just like how, Sadhus and Bhakthas meet and greet each other with “Radhe Krishna” or “Radhe Radhe” or “Ram Ram”, Tukaram in that abhang says “Ram Ram” to everyone while leaving.
Tukaram went to Vaikunta with his material body. Likewise, with the material body, Poonthanam, the devotee of Sri Guruvayurappan, attained Vaikunta. Poonthanam too went to Vaikunta in his physical form. Thus we find these two Bhaktas. The way Mahans give up their mortal bodies is different for each one. The way they are all born is similar. Sri Adi Shankaracharya was born in the same way, Sri Ramanujacharya too was born similarly, Sri Madhwacharya was born similarly, Sri Bhagavan Nama Bodhendra Swami too was born in the same way.. Birth is alike for all of them, but if we look at the way they leave the world, they all did not depart in the same way. Each one of them departs in different ways. How do they depart?
Sri Bhagavan Nama Bodhendra Swami, Sri Raghavendra Swami, Nerur Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra, they all, entered the samadhi with their prana, with their life intact. It is because of that, we call their Samadhi as Jeeva Samadhi, Jeeva Samadhi means, they enter the samadhi being alive, and then the samadhi is covered. Sri Raghavendra entered the samadhi with a room constructed inside the ground, and instructed “Keep stacking the salagrama over me. The japa mala will keep moving in my hand, and when it becomes still, close the top.” That is how he sat in the samadhi.
Bhagavan Nama Bodhendral too did the same. He came to the banks of Kaveri in Govindapuram. When he was seated in the sandy banks of Kaveri, many children were playing He called the children and said, “Can I show you all a miracle?” They asked “What?” He said, “Dig a pit, I will enter it here and come out from the other side.” They dug the pit and Swamiji entered it and came through the other side. He repeated the same thing three to four times. The fifth time, Swamiji, who entered the pit dug by the children, never came out. The children tried searching and digging further, but could not find him. When they told the elders in the village, they all came and when they started digging, they heard a voice that said, ”Do not dig further. It is by my sankalpa that I’m in jeeva samadhi.” From then onwards, Sri Bodhendral is in jiva samadhi and is constantly chanting “Rama, Rama, Rama…”
Marudanallur Sadguru Swamigal was the one who discovered the Adhistanam. Kaveri was flowing on top of the adhistanam. He diverted the river to flow like a shape of a crescent moon around the adhistanam. Akin to Chandrabhaga river. Kaveri flows from Thiruvidaimarudur and takes a diversion at Govindapuram (forming the crescent shape) and then straightens to flow to Aduthurai. This is because an adhistanam of a Guru should not be relocated. Hence the adhistanam should be intact and Kaveri can be redirected. The then Thanjavur King served in this task (of redirecting the river). This is how Sri Bodhendral attained siddhi.
Sadasiva Brahmendral also attained Siddhi in a similar fashion. He ordained that a Bana Siva linga, that will be brought by a person from Kasi, should be installed on top of the adhistanam. This adhistanam is in Nerur by the banks of Kaveri. The Bana linga is installed on top of the adhistanam. There is also a Bilwa tree by the adhistanam of Sadasiva Brahmendral.
These mahans all attained jeeva smadhi. Everyone is aware of the adhistanam of Sri Raghavendra. Lakhs visit this holy place of Mantralayam. They undertake a vrata called ‘Seva’. After taking a dip in the river Thungabhadra, with wet clothes, they undergo severe penance by worshipping Sri Raghavendra, praying for a cure from mental afflictions, physical ailments, family problems. This is similar to ‘Bhajanam’ in Guruvayur kshetra. Here is it called ‘Seva’. After a dip in Thungabhadra, they will circumambulate the temple in wet clothes, offer a certain number of prostrations, partake only the prasad of Sri Raghavendra and will never leave the temple premises.
By constantly praying to the saint and following this routine for 48 days or 3 months, Sri Raghavendra appears in their dreams and then removes their sufferings. This has been an experience of many devotees to this day. Mantralayam is a very powerful place. Not only is the original Jiva Samadhi in Mantralayam powerful, if a mrithika (a litte of the original soil from the original samadhi) is taken elsewhere and a mantralayam (sanctum) is built there with it, it is equally powerful.
Chennai has a mantralayam in Triplicane, in Nanganallur. Tamilnadu has many such mrithika brindavanams. This (jiva samadhi) is a type of attaining Siddhi. Sridhara Aiyaval merged with Mahalingam at Thiruvidaimarudhur during Pradosha kala. Meera merged with Lord Krishna at Dwaraka. Many instances are there citing Bhaktas merging with the Lord. This is not a miracle at all. Assume a person is standing under a tree and there are lightning flashes all around. If the lightning strikes the person, he will vanish altogether. Lightning is current. When it hits, the person is vapourized and the body is not to be found. God is equivalent to millions of lighting bolts. A soul getting merged in this luminous brilliance of God is not a miracle at all. Many mahans have merged with God in this fashion. So did Sridhara Ayyaval. Meera and many other mahans as well. Some have attained Jiva Samadhi. For some mahans, a light goes out from small hole formed on top of the head.
Saint Thyagaraja and Vasudeva Parabrahmam had this experience. Since they are Urdhvarethas, their skulls break and they travel to higher worlds, and attain the loka of the deity they worshipped. The bodies of Jivan Muktas like Mahaperiyava and Ramana Maharishi will drop down. Why does their body drop down? Only if the prana leaves the body, can they travel to other worlds. If the prana does not leave the body, then they cannot reach any other world. What do they do then? “brahmaNE svAhAhA.” At the last moment, the prana of the Jivan Mukta will not leave through nose or eyes, ears or mouth or excretory organs or the hole from the top of the head. The prana will get merged with the brahmam inside. Hence they will not go to any other worlds. Just like how the space within a pot merges with the infinite space once the pot breaks, the final state of a jivan muktha is described thus.
So the mahans give up their physical bodies in many different ways. There are some who go to Devatha Lokas! Siddhars are there. How did the name ‘Siddhar’ come? To do good for the people of the world, they take a ‘Siddha’ shareera. They will be in this world for 1000-2000 years. And they will not be visible to our eyes. They will appear like someone else. Sri Ramana would say that in Thiruvannamalai, when someone does Giri Pradakshina [circumambulation of Arunachala], “Don’t circumambulate close to the foot of the hill; move away from the hill and then circumambulate!” Why? Because many Siddhars are also circumambulating this hill and that is not visible to your eyes. And there is a benefit when you cicumambulate by moving far away from the hill. You get the benefit of circumambulating the hill as well as the benefit of circumambulating the Siddhars!
Similarly, once a devotee from Mylapore went to have darshan of Mahaperiyava. Mahaperiyava asked, “Today in Mylapore it is aruvaththimUvar utsavam (festival for the 63 Nayanmars) and so it will be very crowded. There will be a procession of Nayanmars, leaving that why did you come to see me? Especially living in Mylapore!” [The devotee replied] “It will be very crowded, what will I do in that huge crowd? I can’t even have darshan of the Lord so I came to have your darshan.” Mahaperiyava replied, “Don’t think like that! Visit those temples where there are festivals and it is heavily crowded! Don’t move away from the crowd thinking that people are shoving us. Go into that crowd! If you ask what is the reason?
Many Siddhars, Yogeeshwaras, Mahapurushas will come in the form of humans to see that Utsav and if you are blessed, the person whom you may rub against may also be such a great Siddhar! So wherever there is a temple festival, do take part in it!” It has happened so! Each one is different in their own way, isn’t it? Now, what did this king Trisanku wish for? He wanted to go to Deva Loka with this human body itself! And he wanted to be the best among the Devas. Thus he had this wish. So, what did he do?
He went directly [to his Guru]. Whatever it is, one should ask the Guru only right? So he went to Vasishta. He told Vasishta, “Swami! I have done many yagas, I am a truthful and a righteous person, I ruled my people in a righteous way, I have done many good deeds.” So Vasistha asked him, “So what? Why are you telling these to me? What is the matter?” He replied, “I have a prayer”…
“What is that prayer?” Trisanku said “You should do a sacrifice now..” Vasishta said “I have been conducting yagas for you and you are already doing many sacrifices, so why another one now?” “Is there a new fruit for the sacrifice?”…. “What fruit?”… “I have to go with this physical form itself to Deva Loka!”.. “Then??!!”…. “Then I should always remain permanently as the best amongst the Devas,”
Vasishta smiled and said, “Why this stubbornness? Why do you need these? This won’t happen! I won’t do those!” Why? It is not because Vasishta cannot do it but he felt that this was unnecessary stubbornness. If it is a right desire then it is fine but then this is a dangerous desire! Going to Deva Loka with this physical form…. Why all these? So he said, “Why are you asking for something like this! Go!” Shouldn’t he be silent [and leave this matter]? From there he went.. Sage Vasishta had 100 children. What are they doing?
In solitary, they are doing Tapas. After all, how will Sage Vasishta’s children be? Slowly, he approached them.. Who? Trisanku! Trisanku went there. These children were in a beautiful ashram filled with trees. In any ashram, what are the trees that should be there? Peepal tree [Arasa maram in Tamil] What is the reason behind the name ‘Arasa Maram’? ‘Vruksha’ means tree and there will be a king for the trees… Just like how we say, ‘Pakshi Raja… ‘Pandita Raja’.. ‘Simha Raja.. ‘Arasa Maram’ is the king of all the trees. In Tamil, Raja is translated as ‘Arasa’. So king of trees is ‘Arasa Maram’. In an ashram there will mainly be a ‘arasa maram (Peepal tree).
In our ashram under the Peepal tree Anjaneya resides. If a Bramhachari resides under a Peepal tree and does penance, his penance will fructify quickly. That is why we can see mostly either Ganesha or Anjaneya (who are both brahmacharis) installed under peepal trees. In our ashram also under the huge Peepal tree Anjaneya gives darshan. Like peepal tree, another tree is, Thoppu nellikai (amla, round gooseberry), not ara nellikai (star gooseberry). Thoppu nellikai (amla) tree is called ‘bhUloka-karpaka-vrksham’. bhUloka-karpaka-vrksham’ means it is the wish yielding tree that is on Earth. If those who do penance sit under that tree and do the penance, whatever they wish for will come true. It is such a tree. Tulasi, vilvam are holy.
Such trees should be there in an ashram. Secondly, for the ambience of penance, the most pure are cows, deer and water body (theertham). Such trees should be there in an ashram. These should be there in any ashram. That is why mostly in olden days, if a picture of an ashram is drawn it will have two deer in it. Deer are very sAtvik in nature. Cows are very satvik in nature. Without water no activities of worship can be performed, so it’ll be on the banks of a river. A place filled with flowers, trees and such is called an ashram.
In such an ashram 100 sons of Vasishta are sitting, chanting mantras and doing penance. From here Trisanku saw them. They are Vasishta’s sons, aren’t they? Trisanku’s kulaGuru is Vasishta right? So he goes to them, ‘shirasA praNato yache’. He nears them and prostrates to them. After prostrating he tells them, ‘brahmaNam tapasi sthitAn’. You are all in such a great penance! I’m very happy. brahmaNam tapasi sthitAn shirasA praNato yache sasharIro yatha aham hi deva lokam avApnuyAn. He says, “I’m bowing down to you and praying to you.” “You are all great tapasvIs.” tapasI sthitan’ –
You have great penance. ‘tE mAm bhavanta:’ sidhyatam rAjayantu samAhitA: sasharIro yatha aham hi deva loka avApnuyAm “I have a desire. Do you know what? I want to go to Deva loka with my physical body.” “Having reached Devaloka, I should be the greatest of all Devas and stay there permanently.” “I went to my kulaGuru, who is also your father.” “I conveyed my desire to him. I know there is nothing that is impossible for him.” He said, “Why are you persisting with a vain desire? Therefore give it up.” “But I’m unable to give it up. Be it obstinacy, be it right or wrong, I have such a desire.” “Therefore since your father said he cannot do it,” “I have come to you. All of you, somehow do a yaga,” “By the strength of your penance, as you are equal to your father and you are 100 in number,” “Do some yaga and send me to Devaloka with this same body.”
They said, “As our father said, this is a vain persistence.” “Why are you being so stubborn with a vain desire? You are asking for the impossible.” “Do a yaga and a result of that go to heaven. That is fair.” “Then you will stay in heaven as long as you have merits. Or if you are smart,” “Even if Indra troubles you very much, you should not get caught in it, do penance and yaga, and attain the post of Indra.” “That is fair. But [with your idea] you are forming a new path.” “You are trying something on your own. Your prayer is very strange. Please abandon this desire.”
But Trishanku was adamant. When he continued to insist, the sons of Vasishta became angry. They said, “When father said no to your request, you should have abandoned your efforts.” “One should obey the Guru’s words. Even though our father denied your request…” “..you still keep insisting about it. Isn’t that wrong? Also, you are cheeky enough to come to us, his own children, with the same request.” “Will we ever go against the wishes of our father?” “Will we ever dare to do something which our father has forbidden? Never!!” Still, Trishanku continued to insist that they fulfil his desire.
The sons of Vasishta were now very angry. Since Trishanku did not heed their words, they cursed him. After that night, when he woke up the next morning, his body was black, enclothed in black robes, … there was not a single strand of hair on his head, his eyelids too were bereft of lashes, all the hair on his body… …had been shed, as if he had been tonsured. His neck was adorned by a garland made of flowers that only grow in the graveyard. His entire body was covered with ash. He was also wearing ornaments made of iron – an iron chain, … ….an iron cuff on his legs, etc. He was accompanied by ministers who served him,… …some royal servants, some of his subjects too.
When Trishanku woke up in the morning and glanced at them, … …they were all terrified and ran away. The ministers ran away, the subjects took to their heels, … …the royal servants who served him constantly also escaped from there. Trishanku was left all alone. The effects of the curse didn’t end here. All day long, Trishanku felt a distress in his body. The pain was unbearable. Wondering what to do, he started wandering here and there, with his accursed body. In the course of his wandering, he came to know that Vishwamitra was doing penance. Immediately Trishanku went to Vishwamitra. Since Trishanku was a king in the royal dynasty of Ikshvaku, he was well aware of the story of Vasishta and Vishwamitra. He knew all that transpired between them. Knowing all this, he went to Vishwamitra.
When he met Vishwamitra, Trishanku assumed a piteous stance. With a sad expression on his face calculated to gain sympathy, he said in a pleading accent, “O Swami, tell me, have I ever made any mistake in my life? I have been a dharmatma! I have never lied my entire life. Not only that..” “Even in situations where I am in a bind, or in great difficulty, wherein I could have escaped by lying, I have never lied.” Nor will I lie in the future. Starting from Sage Vasishta…” “…I have served my Guru and all the people who belong to my Guru.” “I have ruled my kingdom justly, following dharma. I have kept my subjects happy.” “Never have I made any judgement that could result in miscarriage of justice. I have never been partial.” “I have performed many yagas, I have given ample dakshina, I have donated many cows.” “I have kept everybody happy. But I don’t know why, I am suddenly possessed by this desire.”
“I approached Vasishta with my desire. He said, ‘Don’t indulge in unnecessary adamant desires.'” “‘This is not possible,’ said Vasishta. Again, I begged him. He refused again.” “I thought, Vasishta didn’t acquiesce to my request, maybe his sons will be more accepting. So I approached his sons.” “Vasishta has 100 sons. They could have either agreed to take up my request or could have denied me. Instead, they unnecessarily cursed me.” “I am experiencing extreme distress throughout my body; it is as if my body is on fire. My body is smeared in ash. It is adorned with iron ornaments like chains etc. I am wearing a garland of flowers that grow in the graveyard. Do you see my plight? Trishanku thus narrated his story piteously. He continued, “However hard a person works, ultimately,” “…there is some divine force out there, which makes sure that the outcome is always as per its own wishes.” “daivam eva param manyE paurusham tu nirarthakam | daivena AkramyatE sarvam daivam hi paramA gati: ||”, said Trishanku.
With that said, a man can do anything, stand upside down, do penance (tapas), do dhyana, whatever; whether he will get the fruits of all these, is determined by the will of God (Deivam). Nothing is in our hands. The Devas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, will bestow boons, if we do japam a certain number of times. Whereas, God (Deivam) is not so. It will not grant the boon just because we do something. It should feel happy with us. We do not know what makes It happy either. Right from birth, from the time we start walking, and so on, a man’s life is entirely dependent in the hands of God. Moreover, the king says, “Fate is powerful;” “God (Deivam) is powerful; effort is hopeless.” “Why I am telling this is, I have experienced this in my life.” “I only made a prayer. He (Sage Vasishta) could have replied with a yes or no.” “Haven’t I been virtuous? Haven’t I performed yagas? Haven’t I served the sishyas of Sage Vasishta?” “Haven’t I safeguarded the cows? Haven’t I ruled the kingdom righteously?
I rendered judgements without partiality. Why should I get such a curse?” “I got this desire. What can I do? So, God is the bestower of the fruits of all the efforts “pHala sAdhanam” “paramA gati:” Judgement of God is the final verdict in a man’s life.” After speaking all this piteously, he continues to tell Sage Vishwamitra, “Yet! I am not going to relent.” “I am in this form right. Please send me to heaven at least in this form,” he requests adamantly. “I will go right away in this form itself. What about it? What if the head is bald? What if I am wearing iron chains?” “What if ashes cover my body? What if I were garlanded with flowers from graveyard?” “So let there be a Deva like this. Is there any rule that Devas should look beautiful!” “I will change that,” he says so.
Now the ego began to rise up in Vishwamitra. The king had twisted his mind with his words. This is what we must pay attention to. The height of ego of a sishya (Vishwamitra here), which goes to such an extent that, when the Guru says something is impossible, the ego inside the sishya makes him say “I will do that and show him that I can achieve what was impossible for him.” Vishwamitra is now not worried about Trishanku going to heaven. “When Vasishta refuses this as impossible, I will prove to him that I can do it.” “I will show him that I can do it. ” Instantly, he gave refuge to Trishanku. “Don’t worry! I will send you to heaven verily in this form. It is my responsibility.”
He called upon his disciples. “I am going to conduct a yaga, for the purpose of sending this king Trishanku,” “Who is from the lineage of Ikshvaku, to heaven with his human body.” “His Guru Vasishta refused that he cannot.” “Vasishta’s sons also refused the same. They have cursed him as well. What if they curse him, I will send him to heaven.” “You all go and invite the Vedic scholars,” “from various places around.”
They all went in search of them and invited everyone. Some refused to come. Some accepted the invite. Sage Mahodaya refused to participate in the yaga. “All this is not practically possible. Let Vishwamitra do whatever he wants to, I am not willing to come.” Immediately, these disciples reported to Vishwamitra that Sage Mahodaya refused to come. “Is that what he said?” “Let him become a hunter who leads a life of violence,” he cursed right away, even while Mahodaya was not present there. “Let him become a hunter, who kills birds and other creatures, and who has no sense of mercy.” Thus he cursed Mahodaya. Not just that, the disciples also went and called the sons of Vasishta.
“Sage Vishwamitra is doing a yaga.” “Please accept the invite.” they said. Vasishta’s sons told “We certainly will not come.” They conveyed that to Vishwamithra. He said, “May all 100 sons of Vasishta be born in this world for 700 births, as ones who worships dead bodies, as those who perform black magic, and roam around in this world. Only one who has committed a lot of sins would worship dead bodies and get the thoughts of destroying others with the siddhis gained through that Vishwamithra cursed Vasishta’s sons. He also cursed Mahodaya. The other rishis were petrified. “If I do this yaga, will Indra accept me with this form? Will he give me a place in heaven? Will he not give? Can we do this yaga?” They were conversing with each other. They thought, “If we say ‘No’ he is going to curse us. So let us also join the crowd and chant those mantras.” “If Indra gives it, he is going to get it. Otherwise he will go back. You saw Vasishta’s sons And how he cursed them. You saw how he cursed Mahodaya. An intelligent person would silently come; do his job; finish it and leave. He called us. So we have come. We will also chant the mantras. To allow him into heaven is Indra’s duty. Saying that he is not allowed in heaven is Indra’s responsibility. To send him there is his (Vishwamitra’s) capability. We have come to say the mantra along with him. Why should we bother about that,” said the rishis.
The rishis were afraid of Vishwamitra’s tapas. They were afraid of his curse. While the yaga was taking place, the Devas did not come forward to get the oblations offered to them. Not even one turned up. After a long time, he (Vishwamithra) got angry. He got up. While performing the havan rishis use a wooden ladle to pour ghee. It is called ‘shruvam.’ He lifted the shruvam up. Looking at the one standing there (Trisanku), he said, “dushprApaM svasharIreNa divaM gaccha narAdhipa” “I am telling you. Go to the heavens with this human body.” Trishanku started going up. Everyone was watching him.
In Devaloka, Indra was talking to those in his assembly hall. Suddenly, everyone gathered there said, “A king named Trisanku, is coming straight to heaven in his physical body!” “sa sharIraha divam jagAma!” On hearing that, Indra got up. Seeing Trishanku there, Indra yelled at him “Hey! Who sent you to the heavens! Do not enter heaven with this earthly body. Fall back upside down!” said Indra. “Tvam bhuyaH gaccha” He started to come back down again, head first. On his way back, he looked at VIshwamitra and cried,“Please help me!” “Please help me, Please help me. You sent me but Indra kicked me out. So I am falling down!” He (Vishwamitra) said, “tishTha tishTha” meaning “Stop! Stop!” Trishanku stood there itself.
He neither entered the heavens nor fell on earth. As Trishanku’s swarga, he is standing there till today. Vishwamithra got angry. Immediately, in the southern side he created another sapta-rishi mandala. Created new stars and constellations. As he was creating all these one after the other, everyone in Deva loka looked perplexed. Kinnaras, Yakshas and all others have gathered there. He said, “anyam indram karishyAmi” “Look, I will create another Indra. “Otherwise, I will make sure that Indra is not needed for this world. I will definitely do one of the two.” “Only then will I calm down!” So the Devas came and pacified him. “Please do not do such a thing. Let him not fall on this earth.” “And let him not come to heaven also. Let there be a heaven exclusively for Trishanku and let him be there upside down.” “We will not disturb him there.”
Vishwamithra too agreed to this. But Vishwamitra said, “The sapta-rishi mandala created by me and the constellations of stars created by me… should stay as it is till the sun and the moon exist, till the final dissolution!” They (Devas) too agreed to this and left for their abode. So when we see Trishanku’s ‘heaven’, What is the lesson in this for one who does sAdhana (serious spiritual practices) like dhyana and japa? We keep chanting a mantra, or doing pranayama in yoga Or control our mind and do Vedanta vichAra. Even if we do a small amount of spiritual practice, it has its own merits. If we get involved in large activities, we should keep doing japa and dhyana, like how if a product in our house is used up, we can use it again only if it’s earned again.
Similarly when we do many activities, the tapas we did and the merits of our pooja are spent on the activities we do. So if we want to do more and more activities. Like how we need money to do more activities, the power of tapas is required. So we need to do a lot of japa, chant nama more, do more pooja, chant more slokas. Only then the divine blessings would be in abundance always without diminishing. Otherwise it will reduce. So we need to keep doing something (spiritual) without a break. While doing that some would be ‘moksha-kAmukas’ meaning they would say “I don’t want anything..” “na kAmaye shriyam vidhyAm bhogAn anyAmshca rAghavA bhavat dhyAnam bhavatu me jAgrat svapna sushuptishu” ‘shriyam’ here means I do not want money, Studying a lot (vidhyAm) is not going to make any difference to me. I do not want worldly pleasures (bhOgAn) I want only one thing – “bhavat dhyAnam bhavatu me JAgrat svapna sushupthishu” “In my waking state, dream state and sleep state” “In all three states, I want only your dhyana,” prays Sri Sri Anna in his Atmanivedanam stotra.
Always doing brahma vichara only. Nothing else should be done. When we do a little bit of japa, a little bit of dhyana, while doing that we attain few powers as its merit. A prowess. But what we should do is, we should not pay heed to it. Not giving attention to it can be done only by mahans. We all would fall into this task. That’s why, in the beginning itself we pray to the Lord “Do not show these to my eyes!” “nOTake halavu koTTu enna sodisa beDa” says Ammalu Ammal.
Devalokas like this, Siddhis, miracles, please do not show these to my eyes and test me! If a person gets on a train to travel from Madras to Delhi, if he is awake during the entire journey, He would see all the stations in between, all the shops and places. If he falls asleep only Delhi is seen by him. The same way, if one starts doing dhyana, only the Brahmam should be seen and not the siddhis that come in between. That prayer should be made to Bhagavan Himself. “Do not show them in front of my eyes. Please do not test me by showing it in front of my eyes.” “Let me tell you the result of that test even before attempting it. I am one who falls down and fails in it. I can’t escape!” So what this story shows us is that if we consider Vishwamitra as a sAdhaka, he is doing japa, dhyana, chanting nama.
If there is a Swamiji, a few people will visit him. They pray to him. When he asks, “What do you want?” They say “I have only 4 Benz cars. I want to buy 4 more Audi cars.” This is unnecessary adamancy. That Swamiji may think, “They have come in search of me.” “They should know about my prowess,” and say, “You will get not just 4 Audi cars, you will get 8 Audi cars!” They will get the car and go, but this Swamiji’s tapas will come down to zero. All the tapas he did will get reduced like a balloon. Next time if what the Swamiji doesn’t grant, they would complain, “This Swamiji is of no use now.” “Previously he had some powers. But now he has nothing. Do you know anybody else?” and will go in search of someone else. Finally for this Swamiji, even the tapas he did are at loss now. Now in this Trishanku’s story, So what if a person goes to the heavens with this mortal body or not. It is sheer obstinacy. For that obstinacy of his, Vishwamitra lost his entire tapas.
In the end, Trishanku also didn’t attain what he wanted. He was hanging in the middle of nowhere. So a person praying like this to a Swamiji would also stand nowhere, And he would pull down the Swamiji too. So one who gets involved in divine practices like dhyana and japa Should never do practices like tying an amulet, beating neem leaves, doing mantras, doing siddhis… They should never get involved in any such activities. They should just be by themselves with their Bhagavan. This is the lesson we learn from this charitra.
Janakikanthasmaranam Jai jai Ram Ram!
Sathgurunath Maharajki Jai!
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare |
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||
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