Highlights from this discourse:
Sri Swamiji gives us interesting insights about mantras, asthras (weapons powered by mantras), and recent Mahans who had mantra siddhi, in this episode where Sri Rama receives upadesa of asthras from Vishwamitra:
– How does knowledge of a discipline survive down the years? – Not through preservation in books, but by the knowledge being practiced.
– Mantras are real and powerful. But why do people find it hard to believe in this fact today? Why are we unable to perceive the power of mantras or asthras today?
– Incidents from the life of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni (Sri Ramana Maharshi’s disciple) who was a mahatma himself with several mantra siddhis.
– What are the prerequisites to attain mantra siddhi (obtain the final result of a mantra)? Who can attain mantra siddhi?
– Interesting incidents related to mantras, from the life of Triveni Giri Swami and Sri Gnanananda, and a Swami in the Sringeri peetham.
– Sri Rama receives asthra mantras from Sage Vishwamitra
– Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s child-like nature and what he did when he saw images of fierce deities in someone’s home?
– Even though Sri Rama received all the asthras and mantras, he barely used any of them during his lifetime, even when he was searching high and low for Seetha Devi. Why?
– When all the mantras were taught only to Rama and not Lakshmana, how did Lakshmana feel? This is indeed the greatness of Lakshmana and all those who do kainkarya to mahatmas.
– Some places kindle happiness when we visit them, some others kindle sadness, etc. Similarly some places are tapomaya where Mahatmas and spiritual aspirants feel like doing tapas – like Kanyakumari, Tirumaliruncholai. Siddhashrama, where Vishwamitra was taking Rama, was like that too. Vamana Bhagavan had performed tapas there.
– Sri Rama and Lakshmana reach Siddhashrama and successfully protect Sage Vishwamitra’s yagna
– A secret reason why Vishwamitra brought Rama to Siddhashrama
Read the translated transcript of the entire discourse below.
Listen to this Bala Kandam Episode 15 discourse (Tamil with English subtitles) on Global Organisation for Divinity Facebook page: https://fb.watch/5obKQUgbvy/
Complete transcript of Sri Swamiji’s live online Srimad Ramayana discourse – Bala Kandam Episode #15
Bhagavan who is Lakshmipathy incarnated as Rama. And in that Rama Avatar he gave joy to the people of Ayodhya, to Sage Vishvamitra, to Dasaratha, to Kousalya, to Vasishta and others through his interactions and conversations. We too are enjoying the charitra (life-story) of such a Lord, everyday, as much as we can.
Any knowledge or skill will not exist, just because it is in a book. (If one) writes down the knowledge in a book, locks it up safely in a box and places it in a locker, that does not mean the knowledge will survive. For knowledge to survive, it has to be continuously in practice. The knowledge that is not put to practice will vanish.
When I was a small child, I have seen that when someone is bitten by a scorpion, they will bring them to a person. That person will draw water from the well, pour it on himself and with the wet dhoti, he will do japa. He will then tie a thread on the bitten person’s hand and that person will be cured. But today, all that is hard for us to even believe. Yet, I have seen it. Similarly, for calves bitten by scorpion, he would come and chant some mantras and the poison would be removed.
Mantra has such power. I have seen that myself. Like that, when narrating the life-story of Sri Raghavendra, Sri Raghavendra, when giving the sandalwood to the scholars, I only said that he chanted the Agni sukta while grinding it. I only said that he chanted the Agni sukta while grinding it. He didn’t add any powder called Agni or fire called Agni. He only chanted the japa called Agni Suktam. If we pay close attention, sandalwood and fire are by nature, opposites. One is very cool in characteristic and the other is very hot. If a wood that is inflammable caught fire when he chanted Agni sukta, then it is logical. He had a stick in his hand. He chanted Agni sukta and that stick suddenly caught fire. Or, had he had cotton with him and he chanted Agni sukta for sometime. And, the cotton caught fire and burned. Then it is logical and seems fair. Those are items that catch fire easily. But what is he doing here? He is grinding sandalwood. Sandalwood’s characteristic is very cool. That cool sandalwood, when ground chanting Agni sukta, is like fire on the people who applied it. That is the effect of the japa. That is the effect of the mantra. Pay attention to it closely.
In those days, in our Bharata desha (India), there were plenty of astras (weapons). When we narrate or read or listen to Ramayana today, we take all that very lightly. Why we take it so lightly is because.. when something cannot be perceived by the senses, then it is difficult for us to believe.
Sri Valluvar says in Thirukkural, “mayir neeki, uyir vAzhA kavarimAn”. There is a deer called “kavarimAn”. It has a keen sense of honor and dignity. It has a lot of pride in its beauty. Even if a single hair is removed from its body, it will give up its life. That is how people who value honor and dignity will be. For that, he cites the example of that deer. But, today if the children in school are told about the “kavarimAn” (deer), they will laugh. Why? Because it is not in existence today.
Similarly, when describing woman’s gait, it is described as “hamsa gati” That “hamsa” bird has a special attribute. If we mix milk and water, it can separate the water and take only the milk. It has the intelligence to do that. Innumerable poets have sung about the hamsa bird, spoken about it, written about it. Yet, if someone talks about the “anna”(hamsa) bird, everybody laughs. They say, “These are false, Sir!” When water and milk is mixed, the bird leaves behind water and takes only the milk. If said, we don’t believe. Because, it cannot be perceived by our senses today. We are unable to see it today.
(Also) there is a sea. Wherever you take water from it, it tastes as sweet as sugarcane. There is another sea. That has the taste of milk. Another sea, that’s like curd (yogurt). These are all there, isn’t it? We read in the Puranas, right? When we ourselves talk about it, we will laugh. We ourselves do not believe it. How is it that there is a sea, in which wherever you take the water, it will taste like sugarcane? Who will believe this? But, when it is said, there is a sea in which wherever you take the water and drink, it is salty, we believe that. We don’t doubt that. That is because we see that ocean right in front of our eyes.
We are able to believe in whatever is perceived by the senses. Although mentioned in Itihasas and Puranas (scriptures), if we cannot perceive it, if it is not in existence today, then we lose faith. This is the nature of the world! So, speaking about these astras, there is a type of astra which when a mantra is chanted and released, it will spit fire. Another astra, when chanted with a mantra and released, it will pour rain. Another astra, when aimed by chanting mantra, can cause the entire army to go mad. Another astra can mesmerize the opponents, when chanted with a mantra and released. Like this, there are many varieties of astras. These different types of astras can be seen in various scriptures. Various types of astras have been told. But, when we ourselves read it, we wonder, “Were these astras ever existed? Or is it simply just written about it?” What is the reason? Because, it is not perceived today.
What is the reason that it is not perceived today? If we look, since the reign of Dharmaputra, the period of Krishna, later then Parikshith’s rule, then Janamejeya, then Vikramadityan, Navanandas, Harsha, Chandra Gupta Mauryan, and so on. Then, it was the reign of Ashoka. Until approximately the period of Ashoka, there weren’t any battles in the land of Bharata desha. Battle is cruel. It is violent. It is a huge sin. That’s how Ashoka got transformed. Following Buddhism, he made strict laws of non-violence as the law of the world.
Prior to him, were the incarnations of Sri Buddha and Sri Mahavira. Sri Buddha and Sri Mahavira preached strict non-violence to all. Sri Mahavira says, “Don’t crush even a small ant in the house.” “Do not kill even the lice in the head.” “Do not keep cow dung in the cow shed because worms may come.” “Eat before lamps are lit in the evening. Insects may fall in the food when it gets dark.” Such strict non-violent doctrine was preached by him. Sri Mahavira is a Jain. Buddha also preached such strict non-violence. King Ashoka, not only adopted Buddhism, he spread the religion everywhere, as far as Sri Lanka, China, Japan. When Buddhism was at its zenith, people did not want war and so battles did not happen. Since that was a period of no battles, gradually these astras, their mantras, and their practice of knowhow disappeared.
As said in the beginning, only when there is a need and put to practice, that knowledge will exist! That is why, many of the ancient astras of Bharath desha disappeared. How did they disappear? If we dig the earth, can the astra be found? It is not that kind of astra. The Astra can be used only by taking a simple “darba” grass or an ordinary arrow in hand and chanting the mantra. “The astra” has disappeared or the knowledge has disappeared. (Knowledge) means that, each astra has a ruling deity (devata, athi devata) and chanting the name of the deity, chanting the mantra has to be done until it bears fruit.
In Akbar’s court, there was a great musician. If he suddenly sang “Deepak” raga, all the curtains in Akbar’s court would catch fire and burn. He would sing “Megamalhar”. When he sang, “Megamalhar”, rain would pour and make the entire place cool. A great musician called Tansen lived during Akbar’s period, which has been documented. He could sing a raga, and make it rain. He could sing a raga and set fire. Such things are there.
Raga or the mantra is nothing but sounds. That sound has so much of potential. With right modulation and pronunciation, not just that it needs to be recited following the rules laid for it. That is the Veda mantras. Those are the mantra in the Itihasas and Puranas (scriptures). Even mantras in Tamil are also the same.
There is “Kolar pathipagam”. If we recite the Kolar pathipagam everyday, we will not be afflicted by the effect of “Navagraha” (9 planets). There are lot of mantras in Tamil too. We could find them in Thiruvachagam, Thevaram, Prabandham… Kumaraguruparar too has given SakalakalAvallimAlai. If we recite that, then one will excel in studies. That sound, with modulation and is the blessing of Mahans. So, with shraddha (sincerity and dedication), bhakti (devotion) and respect, it needs to be practiced. There were so many such skills. Those skills disappeared.
So, did it exist only in the period of Puranas and Itihasas. Did such a person exist in recent times? Two days ago, we saw in the discourse, there was a mahatma called Kavyakanta Ganapathi muni. He was born by the blessing of the ‘Dundi Ganapathi” in Kashi. And, he had the “amsa” or part of Ganapathy. That is why he got the name “Ganapathy.” When a poet has to write a poem, he has to think a lot. But, for him, songs used to pour out of his throat. That is why he was known as ““Kavyakanta” Ganapathi muni. He never took long to think. It used to just pour out from him. He also had mantras siddhis. A devotee would invite him, and tell “I am doing a homa at home. Please come.” They will be awaiting his arrival at the entrance. But, suddenly his face will appear in the homa kunda (fire). He was such a “Siddha”. He had done hard penance (strict tapasvi). In Tiruvannamalai, when he did penance, if he started sitting cross-legged before sunrise he would not move his body until sunset. After sunset, he would drink a little fresh milk. How great a tapasvi he was that sitting in a Ganesha temple in Thiruvottriyur, he did penance to have darshan of Sri Ramana Maharshi and made Sri Ramana Maharshi come via Akasha (space). If it made Sri Ramana Maharshi come to give darshan, how great a tapasvi he must be! For Dhruva’s penance, Bhagavan came. For Hiranyakashipu’s penance, Brahma came. For Ravana’s penance, Brahma came. For Kardama Prajapathi’s penance, Bhagavan came.
We have seen all that. So, when the Tapas was done, Sri Ramanar when describing it says, “I don’t have a thought of my own. My body, on its own, went up the sky and travelled. Then it climbed down on its own in one place. Then a thought that this place must be Thiruvottiyur arose. There was a Ganapathy temple. There, Kavyakanta Ganapthy Muni was doing penance. I kept my hand on his head. Then I came back. Only then I realized, Siddhas must be traveling like this.” What did Kavyakanta Ganapathy Muni do? Near Vellore, there is a place called “Padaiveedu”. There, Renuka Devi, Parasurama’s mother, Jamadagni’s wife. That Renuka Devi is the deity for astras. He is one who lived in recent times, who has gone to that place and did penance towards Renuka Devi and gained knowledge of the mantras for astras. Sharing an incident in a lighter vein here. In Tiruvannamalai, he asked for a place to stay in one ashram. He was married.
A person who was staying in the ashram told him, “There is a room here, but we will not give it to you because we don’t let married people stay here.” Saying so, that person locked the door and took the keys with him. He took a blade of grass from the ground, did a japa and threw it on the lock. Immediately, the lock broke into pieces.
(That is the greatness) Use of mantra! Such an incident really happened! Just to unlock a lock, a mantra casually was used. If the mantra was very strong, it would blow fire, rain a lot, and it will make us go mad. Like this, we have many such things. That’s why at this place, once Tadaka was killed, all the Devas including Indra were tremendously happy. Elated at Sri Rama, the Devas told Vishwamitra, “(Rama) He is the right candidate. We have to teach him only how to use all the weapons.” Why? Because only the right, eligible person should have such weapons.
Today, there is AK-47 gun in the military. Can we give it to anyone? What will happen if we give it to anyone? Who can have that AK 47? There is a rule that says who [authorized people] can hold what weapons at each level in the military hierarchy, right? If say, there are big missiles, there are rules that dictate who can operate them, right? If there is an atom that can destroy a whole country, there is a person who is authorized to order others to use it, right? Similarly, starting from Devas to Indra, everyone comes and tells Vishwamitra, “Rama is rightly qualified. Maharishi, you know everything. Please do upadesa.”
Once Tadaka was killed, Sage Agastya’s curse quickly disappeared. Initially Rama had said, “This forest looks dilapidated!” Now as he looked on, the forest became green and beautiful. Once it became very beautiful, Vishwamitra along with Rama and Lakshmana, stayed that night at the same ashram where Tadaka was killed. In the same forest.
(Vishwamitra) He says, “I am pleased with you and as I am pleased with you, I want to share the knowledge of all astras that I know. Do you know how hard I worked to earn these astras?” Many bhaktas would come and ask me, “what is mantra siddhi (perfection)?” They would ask, “how to attain mantra siddhi?” To attain a mantra siddhi, first of all, the mantra has to be given to only those people who follow proper Achara (rules).” Why? Because the mantra will not have effect if the right recipient is not there. Say there is a seed. When it is sown in a fertile land, it will germinate quickly. If it is sown in a land where there are rocks, even if it germinates, it won’t be as green and healthy as it would be on a fertile land. How will it grow through the rocks? If it is sown in a floor (like this)? it will not even germinate. Right? Similarly, upadesas given to a satpAtra (worthy recipient). If one is not a worthy recipient, upadesa will have no effect. So when doing upadesa of a mantra, it should be carefully given to a worthy recipient.
In the beginning, one should not be given big mantras but start with small mantras, kramENa (gradually). He should be prepared before big mantras are given to him. Even if the recipient is worthy enough to receive the mantras, he should keep himself clean. He should practice food restriction. He should follow rules for taking bath. His habits should be clean. His mind has to stay focused. It is not just enough to give or receive the mantra, he should crave to perfect the mantra. He should have that urge to succeed. In addition, he should know who is the devata (deity) for that mantra, where to chant the mantra, when to chant the mantra, what is the dhyana shloka for it, and how to do it (anganyAsa karanyAsa). By properly following the rules, he should start chanting the mantra, and he should chant it one crore times the number of aksharas present in the mantra. Once a mantra is chanted a crore times, he should do purascharaNa homa (dasAmsam).Then, he should do arghya (offering of water). Then, he should feed those who practice Vedas. Only when he does it in this order, the mantra devata will manifest for him. Manifesting of the mantra devata is called as attaining mantra siddhi. When he does the mantra japa, he will have a lot of good signs.It doesn’t have to be until the mantra devata manifests. Even as he progresses little by little through the japa, he will start having divine dreams. When he starts having divine dreams, if we need to speak about what dreams he has to have in order to say that he is making progress He might dream about a temple on a hill, or a pond in a temple, or the Archavatara Murthi(idol) of a temple, or a banyan tree or a gooseberry tree or a vilva tree or tulasi plant. Dreaming of such divine things or seeing his Guru in his dreams or hearing the sounds of mantras or dreaming of their ishta devata, if they dream of such things, then it indicates that one is progressing in their spiritual path. A dream will come only when it reaches the subconscious mind. As he progresses even further, the mantra devata will give him darshan in his dreams and will also start talking to him in his dreams, before the manifesting pratyaksham before him.
If one asks, “Is there someone who has seen such devatas in these days?” then if you go to Tapovanam Gnanananda Swami’s Ashram, there would be some Brindavanams opposite to the Ashram. In one of the Brindavanams, there is a samadhi of Triveni Giri Swami. In the beginning, he was with Sri Ramana Maharshi. He is from Tirunelveli district. Sri Ramana Maharshi did upadesa of atma vichara (self enquiry) to everyone, right? “Look inward, and look at the source of the mind.” This was his upadesa. In his (Triveni Giri Swami) later days, he came to Tapovanam Gnanananda Swami. Gnanananda Swami only gave him sanyasam. That’s why he got the title Giri.
Triveni Giri Swami said, “Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi asks us to do Atma Vichara. He asks us to look inward and look at the source of the mind. When a thought comes, and when you ask for who is the thought coming, then that thought would disappear at the place from where it came.” “I also wish to do that. I have also been trying. But, at times, in my mind, a wish comes asking me to do Gayatri japa again and again. What should I do?”. Gnanananda Giri Swami replied, “You made a sankalpa to do a crore Gayatri Japa in one of your previous births. But before that was done, your previous life ended. So, that thought comes back to you as a vasana in your mind. It will never leave you for many births to come. Sankalpa is a big obstacle, isn’t it? It won’t leave you. What Sri Ramana Maharshi says is a straight path path but since your vasana is such, we will go along with it.” Once someone becomes a sanyasi, he should not do Gayatri japa. So, all these were before he (Triveni Giri Swami) became a sanyasi. The kshetra (place) for Gayatri japa is Chidambaram (chit + ambaram) – air filled with consciousness. It has the sound of mantras. “chit-Akasham” has the sound of mantras. So, he said, “Go to Chidambaram”. In Chidambaram, sitting on the banks of Sivaganga, he did one crore japa of Gayatri Mantra. He drank Sivaganga water, ate arugampul (simple grass), and with such tough upavasa restrictions, he did Gayatri japa. And so, before he completed his one crore Gayatri japa, Gayatri Devi manifested Herself before him. There was a beautifully bloomed lotus, and on top of it was agni (fire), and on top of it, she was sitting in a padmAsana/siddhAsana and was holding lotuses in both her hands. In one of Her hand, She was holding a chakra, in another hand was a conch, and in another was abhayavarada hasta, and with pAsham and angusam, Devi gave darshan to Triveni Giri Swami. With five faces, and wearing a brick-colored saree with jari, and adorned with many necklaces made of coral, coins, and many beautiful chains, She was shining brightly! A mantra Devatha isn’t it? So she shined! Therefore, a Mahatma who saw Gayatri Devi in the recent past is Triveni Giri Swami.
After that, he took sanyasa ashrama. Gnanananda Swami gave him upadesa of Srividya mantras. In his last days, he stayed at the Vaishnavi temple in Thirumullaivaayil. Before he attained siddhi, Gnanananda Swami came before him and asked him to come back to Tapovanam. He came back to Tapovanam and attained siddhi. In his last days, since he had to attain siddhi at Tapovanam, after Gnanananda also attained siddhi, he saw a big praNava from which his Guru Gnanananda Swami appeared. So, you have to chant mantras with such upavAsa, chant a crore times with persistence. When you chant, you should not be scared even when you feel scared. When desire and anger arises in your mind, you should not be scared. Why? In Puranas, we hear asuras used to scare people. In earlier Yugas, it used to come as asuras. But now, mind itself does that. So if we say Ramba and Oorvasi came (to spoil tapas). In Kali Yuga, Ramba and Oorvasi need not come to incite desire in our heart, our mind itself is enough for that. Ego stops a sAdhaka from progressing any further or else fear starts in the mind or else desire occurs. So, a sAdhaka has to be mentally strong and win over them. A courageous person will only win. A coward will let it go. Only a mentally strong and courageous person can achieve. Whatever happens, let it happen. One should not step away from his goal. Such a person will only attain mantra siddhi.
In the recent times, a Mahatma saw a mantra devata. There was a Swami in Sringeri peedam. He gave the title to the next Swami for the peedam who was a small child. The older Swami used to go in a golden palanquin. The younger Swami who was a child had a thought, “When will I get to go in that golden palanquin?” Immediately, the older Swami knew what the younger Swami thought. Smilingly, he called the younger Swami and asked him to bring a handful of rice. The younger Swami brought a handful of husked rice. He asked the younger Swami to put the rice on the seat where the older Swami was sitting in the palanquin. As soon as he did that, the rice puffed up into pori (puffed rice) because of the heat. Such was the older Swami’s tapo agni. He told the younger Swami, “The day when husked rice gets fried in the place where you sit, on that day you can get into this palanquin.” Such tapasvis!
Isn’t that the greatness and pride of Bharata desa? Hence Vishwamitra says, “I have done lakhs and crores of chanting for each akshara (of the mantra), fasted with rules, persistently, been a dheera (mentally strong) and have so much of reserve of so many mantras. Now, I am thinking of giving those mantras you.” Saying so, they both go near the river Ganga. Upon getting there, Vishwamitra sits facing North. Rama and Lakshmana sit facing East. He took the water and did “aachamanam”. He did japa of the mantra devatas. He made Rama sit in such a way so that his right ear was towards him. What did he do after making him sit? He told Rama, “Listen, I will initiate you into the mantras that will control by force and give you victory over the Gandharvas, Urakas, Devas, Asuras and others in war.”
First, he initiated the Dhanda Chakra mantra. The deity of that mantra came in a flash like lightning. Then he initiated the mantra, Dharma Chakra. That deity rushed in. He gave the mantras and weapons for Kaala Chakra, VishNu Chakra and so on. They are all weapons in chakra form. All those deities appear in front of them. Then he gave the weapon called Aindhra and Vajra. Then gave the Brahmasthra. For some weapons, Lord Shiva is the deity. He gave the weapons – Soolam and Brahmasiras for which Lord Shiva is the ruling deity. He also gave Aikshikam. He also gave the mantras Modaki and Shikari which are applied as two maces. He also gave weapons such as Dharmapaasha, Kaala pasha and Varunapaasha. He gave Varuna asthra as well. Vishwamithra told him what this Varunapaasha would do? While one astra can make it rain, enough to fill an ocean the other can completely dry out the ocean that was caused by rains. Those were two Varunapaasha and Varuna asthra weapons given by him. As Rama was watching and as the mantras were initiated by him, all the deities rushed in front of them. The astras- Pinak, Naaraayana, Agni, Pradhanam, Vaayava, Hayasiras, Krouncham, astra called ‘Krauncha’, a pair of spears by doing japa of two mantras, KankAla, Musala, KApAla, KinkiNi, the great weapon of celestial beings Vidhyadharas called Nandhana, a mighty sword; MAnavAstra – which has Gandharvas as its deities, the two weapons of PrasvApana and Prashamana; Surya’s weapon of Sourastra, Varshana, Soshana, SanthApana, VilApana, MAdhana – all these are given.
He began to explain the usage of these astras. He gave the mantras Varshana, Soshana Santhaaapana, Vilaapana, Maadhana right? What are these? With Varshana one can enchant. With Shoshana one can parch. With SanthApana one can make someone distraught. With VilApana one can put someone in distress. With MAdhana, one can mesmerize someone’s mind.
Saying so, he gave ManmathAstra, PaishAchAstra, ThAmasAstra. He gave the mighty Soumana, Samvartha astras. He gave the undefeatable weapon denoting the mortar called Musala. He gave Sathya, MayAmaya. He gave the weapon of the Sun god called Thejaprabha. He said, “You will get all the prowess from the one that you use this on.” He gave the Moon god’s weapon called Sisira saying, “Whoever you use this on, will become cold.” He gave the Moon god’s weapon called Sisira saying, “Whoever you use this on, will become cold.”
He gave the weapon of Vishwakarma called ThwAshtra and a weapon named Bhaga which are formidable, and the weapon of Manu named Sheeteshu. He gave the weapon of Vishwakarma called ThwAshtra and a weapon named Bhaga which are formidable, and the weapon of Manu named Sheeteshu. Sheeteshu will make one freeze over. Also gave Maanavaastra that has deity and form.
Saying so, he did the aachamana on the river bank and as Rama came and sat, all the deities appeared in front of Him. The deities were effulgent like lightning, the Sun, the Moon, the Ashwini kumaras etc. Rama was standing in reverence with astonishment. Vishwamithra asked, “Do you know how long it took for me to see these deities in person? Every single one was by doing japa 1 crore times. I did all Purascharana, Argya, and the Bhojana, abiding by the rules.”
When Rama called, all the deities came in a flash and stood in front of Him. Vishwamitra was astounded. The deities of those mantras told Rama, “We have become your servants. We are awaiting your orders to fulfil them.”
Rama said – “pratigruhya ca kAkutstha samAlabhya ca pANinA |
mAnasA mE bhavishyadhvam iti tAn abhyachodayat ||”
Rama called the deities, touched them and said that he has taken them in his heart. He said, “All of you enter into me.” “I will call you when I need you.” He drew all the mantras for the astras into himself. Looking at this, it is similar to Srimad Bhagavatam mentioning that Lord Sri Krishna learned all the 64 artforms in 64 days in Sandeepani’s Gurukula. When we see this, we keep saying that Krishna is great. But Azhwar says “Anthanan Oruvan..”. “You are saying that Krishna is great as he learned all 64 art forms in 64 days.” “But he who had known all 64 art forms single handedly is greater”, which is Sandeepani. Instead of saying “You go to this person to learn horse-riding; learn about cows from this person; dance from that person; astrology from this person; music from that person”, all 64 arts were known to this one great person, Sandeepani. Instead of saying “You go to this person to learn horse-riding; learn about cows from this person; dance from that person; astrology from this person; music from that person”, all 64 arts were known to this one great person, Sandeepani. Similarly, Viswamithra was one amazing person who had all these weapons himself.
These are all deities and mantras. If one is not skillful, one cannot bear it. Mantras are no games. Some mantras belong to ferocious deities. If such mantras are initiated to someone who is careless about the rules of achara, and he starts doing japa, the mantra will destroy him. Nothing else is needed to destroy him. One has to honour the mantras. Some deities are very fierce. If one is disrespectful towards those mantras, as he does japa, the mantra will destroy him.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to visit some homes. When he left after satsang in the house, he would come back like a child. He would say to the host while leaving, “Can you give me a cardamom?”
Why? He would say, “Because when Sadhus leave after coming home, you should not send them empty handed. I have come to your home. No harm should befall you. Just give me one cardamom”. Similarly, when he goes for satsang to any home, he would just go back and forth inside of the house to the entrance. He will try not to interfere in anyone’s personal matters. But there would be some pictures of some deities in their house, which are not suitable for puja by householders as they are too fierce. Ramakrishna would debate within himself whether to tell them or not. Thinking that it might bring them some harm, he would come to them slowly and say “We don’t need this picture in our house. Why not give it away to a temple? Why don’t you keep peaceful deities at home?”
If merely keeping the pictures of the fierce deities at home is not good, then how powerful would the mantras be? So, what happens here? Vishwamitra knew all these mantras himself. He did japa of those mantras, and those mantras appeared before him. We don’t know how many times he had chanted them, but the moment Rama chanted each mantra, the devatas appeared in front of Him. This is also similar to an incident in Ramakrishna’s life. A person named Thothapuri came to Ramakrishna to give Him the Advaita experience. To give Ramakrishna Paramahamsa that Advaita experience, he scratched with a glass piece between his brows and told him to focus his mind on the pain he experienced. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa attained the nirvikalpa samaadhi instantly. Thothapuri who wanted to show the Nirvikalpa Samaadhi to Ramakrishna gets a little dejected. That Nirvikalpa Samaadhi which took 35 years to attain through rigorous practice for Thothapuri, was attained in 35 seconds by Ramakrishna. Similarly, here…. those mantras that took Vishwamitra lakhs and crores of chants per akshara with so much rigor are all standing in front of the Lord and do not want to step away from Him. What did the Lord do? He absorbed all these devatas into his mind, and told them he would put them to use when in need.
These devatas have now been introduced to Rama, but in Rama avatara, Rama almost never summoned them nor put them to use. Why not? Valmiki shows us this on purpose. As far as Rama is concerned, he never approaches others expecting anything; he does not seek any recommendation from anyone; he does not seek any help from anyone. He only accomplishes things through his character, truth and inner strength and does not even ask for help from deities. There are so many deities. When Seetha went missing, if he were to ask one of these deities to find her, he would be able to bring Seetha back. But he never does. His charitra is such a beautiful one that accomplishes all deeds through his inner-strength.
Rama then asked Vishwamitra, “You have taught us all these mantras but please teach us the upasamhara (repeal the weapon) of these mantras as well”. We note in the beginning of Bhagavatha, that Ashwatthaama released the Brahmasthra. Arjuna runs all the way and says “Krishna Krishna mahaa yogin bhakthaanaam abhayankaraha”. Because, Ashwatthaama does not know how to do upasamhaara. Drona taught upasamhaara to Arjuna only and not to Ashwatthaama despite being Drona’s own son. Krishna tells Arjuna “You know the mantra to do the upasamhaara of the weapon. So recall the weapon.” After teaching all the weaponry, Vishwamitra should also teach how to recall them back right? So, Rama asks Vishwamitra to teach Him how those mantras should be recalled.
“gruhItAstro’smi bhagavan durAdarsha: surairapi |
astrAnAm tvaham ichchAmi samhArAn munipungava ||”
“SamhArAn” – He asked him to teach the knowledge of doing the upasamharam. Vishwamitra was very happy to hear this. He explains this in an entire chapter. He taught the repealing mantras – Sathyavath, Sathyakeerthi, Dhrushtam, Rabhasam, PrathihAratharam, ParAngmukham, Avaangmukham,…. LakshAlakshyau, Vikramam, DhrudanAbham, Surabham,…. DashAksham, Shatavaktram, DashashIrsham, Shatodharam, PadmanAbham,…. MahAnAbham, DundhunAbham, SvanAbhamkam, Jyotisham,… Shakunam; he also teaches NairAsyam and Vimalam. He also teaches NairAasyam and Vimalam. Further he said, “I taught you some demonic mantras…” “..I will teach you how to do their samhara”. Yaugandharam, Vinidhram, Shuchi, Baahu, Mahaabahu are the mantras to tackle them. Yaugandharam, Vinidhram, Shuchi, Baahu, Mahaabahu are the mantras to tackle them. Nishkali, Virucha, SaarchimAli, DhruthirmAli, VritthimAn, Ruchiram, Vidhootham, Makaram can be used to do upasamhaara of some weapons. Nishkali, Virucha, SaarchimAli, DhruthirmAli, VritthimAn, Ruchiram, Vidhootham, Makaram can be used to do upasamhaara of some weapons. He also taught Pithrya, soumanasam. Next were Paraveeram, rati, Dhanam, Dhaanyam, KAmarUpam, KAmaruchi, Mohanam, mAraNam, Jrumbakam, SarpanAtham, PanthAnam, Varunam (children of KrushAshravas) to Rama. Rama received the upasamhaara mantras.
The deities of the upasamhara mantras, also appeared in front of Rama. Valmiki describes the appearance of the devatas here. Valmiki describes their appearances – some had a body, some didn’t possess a body and were in the form of light as Jyothi roopa, some of them were like a cloud of smoke, some of them were like fire, some of them appeared as though it was sun or moon that had appeared on the earth. Some of them appeared as though it was sun or moon that had appeared on the earth. These devatas who were like Devas, like Agni, like sun, like smoke, like light asked Rama, “We are all your kinkaras (kinkarargal). What should we do?” Rama said, “I will call when a need arises and it is enough to come during that time.” He registered all the mantras that he needed for doing Prayogam in his mind. He sent away the devatas of upasamhara mantras. These devatas circumambulated and prostrated to Rama before they left.
He goes on to say,
“atha tE rAmam Amanthrya kruthvA chApi pradakshinam Evam asthu ithI kAkustham uktvA jagmuhu yathAgatham” [Bala Kandam Sarga 28 Sloka 15]
praNamya sirasA rAmam sarvE sammatha vikramAhA
After hearing what Rama said, the devatas circumambulated and prostrated to Rama and started to leave.
The region where Mantra Upadesam was administered to Rama was surrounded by many Ashrams. Many people who have studied the Vedas, sadhus and tapasvis, many of them were living in that place. They also witnessed the mantra upadesam that was administered to Rama. They, along with Viswamitra looked at Rama and said, “Oh Rama, whatever mantras were taught to you, please do the upadesa of the mantras to Lakshmana also.”
Would Lakshmana, who also came with Rama think, “Oh I also came with Rama and why is it that no mantra upadesa was administered to me. Why was it done only to Anna (elder brother)?” Lakshmana is not a person to have such thoughts. He feels happy about whatever is being done to Rama. Why? Because Lakshmana has only come to do kainkarya and did not come expecting any benefit. Kainkaryam is equal to the sacrifice (thyAgam) done by the Maha Purushas. One who has such a thyaga buddhi and is a dheera purusha can only do Kainkarya.
If we look at recent times, Mahaperiyava, after renouncing his pontiffhood, went all the way to the north on a pilgrimage. Balu went along with him. Srikantan went along him. Ekambaram went along with him. Mettur Swamigal went along with him. All of them walked the same miles as Mahaperiyava. In the night, Mahaperiyava would retire in a cow shed (maatu kotta) or a pump set or a mill or toll-gate or under a tree. Where will everyone else sleep? They have to sleep either in the same place or in a sugarcane farm (cholai) which is filled with many snakes and scorpions. Mahaperiyava would unfold a saffron cloth (kaavi) and sleep. We are now seeing these MahaPurushas. The ones who go with these Mahapurushas, when he takes the teertha pathram and starts walking at 3am in the morning, they also need to run behind the Mahapurushas. He wouldn’t say beforehand that he will leave at 3am the next day and ask everyone to be ready. No one knows where he will go. He will leave as he pleases (Chittham pOku.. Sivan pOku) If we go there and set up everything to cook and eat, he would leave from there and everyone needs to run behind him. People accompanying the Mahapurushas will not get proper sleep, proper food, in fact nothing properly. They have to keep on walking with him. If we say Mahaperiyava has walked so many miles, the ones who accompanied him also walked all these miles.
One who is doing Kainkaryam, should not have any other expectation other than the Kainkaryam. If someone else had accompanied Rama like Lakshmana and said- ‘Oh Rama! I didn’t inform my mother.’ ‘Oh Rama! What would Urmila be doing at this time?’ ‘Oh Rama! My head is hurting’. ‘Oh Rama! Why are you not talking to me?’ He then becomes more of a liability than Kainkaryam for Rama. Rama would think, ‘Why did I bring him along with me?’ Lakshmana did not have any expectations, he was not feeling bad and for him most importantly he wanted to be with Rama.
After doing Upadesam to Rama, a term ‘Brahmavaadi’ is mentioned. These Brahmavaadis, looking at Rama told him to do this ( Mantra) Upadesa to Lakshmana.
thathasthu rAmaha kAkushtaha shAshanAth brahmavaadhinaha
Sa lakshmanAya cha thAm sarvAn varasthrAn raghunandanaha
samhAran sa cha samrishatha sreemAn tasmaii nyavEdhayath
Rama did Upadesa of all the Mantras that he had learnt and all also the mantras that will counteract (Upasamhara) these mantras to Lakshmana. Rama did Upadesa of all the Mantras that he had learnt and all also the mantras that will counteract (Upasamhara) these mantras to Lakshmana. They left the place. Some places have some significance (prabhAvam).
We become very excited when we go to the beach in the evening to get fresh air. Four children will be flying kites, many will be doing some business, getting fresh air, singing. The whole ambience will lead to excitement in the hearts. When we visit some places, it will lead to agony.
Visiting some places will lead to happiness. The place by itself has a greatness (prabhAvam/mahima). By visiting the ashram of great Mahatmas and Maharishis, one can experience peace in the hearts upon entering the ashram. There is an attraction (Akarshanam). If we have to say in Tamil Nadu, it is Kanyakumari. In Kanyakumari, it is verily Devi with a Japa mala, who is doing penance at the time of the confluence of the three seas and it being the land filled with tapas, when one with the inclination to do penance visits that place, he will be drawn towards penance. That is why Swami Vivekananda swam across to do penance on the rock for three days. Tapomayamana bhoomi. Upon entering the Tapomaya bhoomi, one will immediately get the urge to do penance (tapas).
In Tamil Nadu, there is another popular (shreshtam) place known for doing penance. It is Thirumalirincholai, the hill where Kalazhagar is consecrated is supposed to be a very conducive for penance. Bhupadeva did penance here for Srimad Bhagavatam. We have been saying Bhupadeva Bhupadeva. The proof of Bhupadeva’s is Bhavishya Puranam. It is said in Bhavishya Puranam that he got back Srimad Bhagavatam. Many people say ‘thirumbi Bhagavatam kondu vandAr’- and say ‘he is the one who wrote Srimad Bhagavatam.’ But it is not mentioned that way in Bhavishya Puranam.
Bhavishya Puranam says that he got back Srimad Bhagavatam. We get Bhupadeva’s charitra in Bhavishya Puranam. So is Bhagavatam one of the 18 puranas? If Bhagavatam is one of the 18 puranas, then Devi Bhagavatam cannot be one of the eighteen Puranas. There is this debate. Bhavishya Puranam is used as a proof to discuss this debate. Vrithrasura Vadham should be there and so on. When saying about this, Mahans say that it is fine if they include or not. Bhagavatam is a separate shastram. Why should we fight to have Bhagavatam included? Bhagavatam is a separate shastram hence it is fine either ways to have it as one of the eighteen puranas or not. Sri Veda Vyasa himself gave all the eighteen Puranas to Suta Pouranika’s father Romaharshana. He did Bhagavatam separately because it is the precept (shastras) of the Mumukshus and precept for those with experience.
Some said Devi is no different from Krishna. Devi and Krishna are one and the same. So both the puranas can be included as part of the eighteen puranas. Thirumalirincholai is a sacred place for doing penance. That is where Bhupadeva did penance (tapas). Therefore each place has a greatness (prabhAvam).
Visiting some place suddenly ushers in happiness. Visiting some place suddenly leads to sadness. Visiting some place is fun (kelikai). Visiting some place suddenly makes one close the eyes. A place that is very suitable (yogyadai) for penance is Siddhashramam. After walking, they have now reached Siddhashram. O! Siddhashrama’s beauty! There are many cows and calves in Siddhashramam. A big goshala is there. Many deer are jumping and playing.
Many Naishtika Brahmacharis, Sanyasis, married men (grahasthas) who have learnt the Vedas (Veda Adhyananam) are there in the ashram. Many deer are jumping and playing.
Many peacocks are there.. Many cuckoo birds are there. Many birds are there.. It is very beautiful and filled with many flowers, trees. It had lots of sacrificial altars (vEdi) that were used for performing Yagnyas and were left as it is. Lots of dried cow dung cakes, fuel all stacked up, darba sticks all tied up.. aajyam is all there.. Whenever anyone comes it is very ready (siddham) to do a Yagnya or Homa . Everyone being Naishtika Brahmacharis, UrdhvarEdhas, wearing a japa mala, a loincloth (koupina), wearing tree barks and deer skin. Their faces are filled with divine radiance.
Rama entered.. “anayAvagachAmi dEshasya tu sukhavattayA sarvam mE shamsha bhagawan kasya aashrama padamtvidam anayAvagachAmi dEshasya tu sukhavattayA sarvam mE shamsha bhagawan kasya aashrama padamtvida”
The ashram is so beautiful and upon coming here, mind is totally at peace. Motivates one to sit in PadmAsanam and meditate. kasya aashrama padamtvidam ’ – “Whose ashram is this?”
“Rama, I have brought you to this ashram. This is Siddhashramam.”
“It is here in Siddhashramam that I am going to perform the yagnya.”
What is the greatness of Siddhashrama? Kashyapar and his wife Aditi performed tapas here praying that Lord himself be born as their son. Why should the Lord be born as their child?
One of their sons is Indra. Indra’s entire rule was usurped by Bali, an Asura king. Indra lost his position and was suffering. His mother was unable to withstand the suffering. She performed a vratha called ‘Payo Vratha’ and prayed to the Lord to help her son get back his status. Her vratha yielded fruits and on the day of Shravana dwadasi, the Lord himself incarnated as Vamana Bhagavan. Vamana Bhagavan incarnated and went to Bali’s yagnyashala. He requested for three feet of land. Using the two feet, he measured the earth (bhoomi) and the sky (aakasa). When he was unable to give land for the third foot, the Lord placed his foot on Bali’s head, took him into his fold and sent him to Patala Loka. He gave back Indra’s kingdom and came here to Siddhashram to do penance (tapas) for a long time. What is the reason for Vishnu to come here and do tapas? To show the world and make everyone understand what Tapas is. He wanted to show it himself. So verily Vaamana Bhagawan came here to do Tapas. By doing so he showed what is Tapas? What is meant by Tapas Siddhi?
Since the Lord showed all these, this ashram came to be known as Siddhashram. Oh Rama! Did you see the greatness of his presence? Till today, whoever comes to this ashram is motivated to do more and more tapas. That is the greatness of this ashram. Vishwamitra said, that is the greatness of the Lord doing penance here.
As soon as Vishwamitra entered the ashram, all the residents of the ashram came running to welcome him. Why? Because it is here that he has a desire (sankalpa) to do the yagam. He said earlier to Dasaratha that he started the Yagam, but faced many obstacles and so he became very tired and weak. He has come to this Siddhashrama to continue the same yagnya. The residents of Siddhashramam have developed good relations with Vishwamitra. They performed Aditi pooja to Vishwamitra, Rama and Lakshmana and invited them inside. Rama, when he had come along with his Guru, felt very uncomfortable and shy when they invited him inside by doing Aditi Pooja. Modestly Rama entered the Ashram after accepting the Aditi pooja. He along with Lakshmana, saw the Goshala, sees the deer running, saw the peacocks, cuckoos. He saw all the sacrificial altars and all the wood for sacrificial fire that were collected.
He saw the divine mantras that were being chanted. Rama felt so happy. Vishwamitra called two people and assigned them the responsibility to take care of Rama and Lakshmana. Since it was a new place, they would be a little shy and might not know where to eat, where to sleep. So he assigned the responsibility to these two people. Rama and Lakshmana slept with these two people and went to take bath the next day. Those children find out about these details by asking them. How many cows are there? Will the deer always be roaming around? Will you all be chanting the Vedas all the time?
Will many yagas (rituals) happen here? Like that, Rama asked and learned a lot of information.
It was a happy ambience. Vishwamitra said, “I’m going to sit for the yagna diksha. For a total of 7 days, including the first day’s commencement ceremony (poorvangam). The next 6 days the important yagna will be performed. For those 7 days, I will take the mouna vratham. I will not speak with anyone. So, if you want to know anything, ask them. You will not be able to ask me anything.”
He points out the right people to Rama and said, “Ask them if you want to know about anything. They all are well learned and well informed ones. They will give only proper advice to you.” After saying this he and other vedic ritviks, rishis sat around the big vedic altar. Commencement of ritual started in shuklapaksha dasami. And he was going to complete on the day of pournami.
Rama and Lakshamana had their bath in the morning. They had been brought exclusively to protect this yagna. So they were very carefully guarding the yagna shala. Rama walked and strummed the string of his bow, which sounded like thunder. Then Lakshmana did the same from the other side. Then both walked across, and Rama said, “Lakshmana be alert. Lakshmana be cautious.” Lakshmana would say, “O Brother! Be cautious.” Like this both were safeguarding the yagnashala. Rishis over there said, “You should not be patient here as you were in Tadaka vadham. In Tadaka vadham, dust storm came first, then rain of stones, then she suddenly appeared here and there. You were a little patient and then killed her. If you do like this here, by then they will dump meat and blood in to the yagna kund and the yagna will be terminated. You have to hit them as soon as you see them, and don’t think even for a bit.”
Further they said, “They are Mayavis, who know magical warfare. They are Rakshasas. They may come in any form. They may come from come any side. Be cautious.” Rama absorbed what they said and thought, “So if we give time for thinking, then the work will be spoiled.”
Maricha came first. Immediately Rama took maanavasthra asthram. The unique features of this asthra is that it won’t be sharp and its end will be blunt. He hit Maricha with the asthra. The resolution was that Maricha should not be killed. The asthra took Maricha and threw him in the ocean which was 100 yojanas away. Next, the terrible Subahu appeared. He applied Agneya asthra which created fire and burned him to ashes. And then a large group of rakshasas appeared. Lakshmana used Vaayuvasthram. This weapon makes enemies to be dispersed like a strong wind. Lakshmana used that to defeat the host of demons.
After that, they heard noises but no one came. Rishis there said, “We think it will take Maricha a hundred years to get up again from his unconscious state. They won’t come near this place anymore, we will be able to live peacefully now.” Thus they celebrated Rama and Lakshmana. Rama and Lakshmana guarded with alertness till the final offering (poorna huti) was given to culminate the yagna. Since Vishwamitra brought them exclusively for this important purpose they were completely focused on their duty and were not even concerned about their food or sleep.
When Lakshmana got a little tired on the 6th day, Rama advised Lakshmana. “We should not let go of the enthusiasm, intensity, spirit from the day one till we complete the task. Our spirit should not wane on the second, third or fourth day. We should maintain it as same as the day we started. So Lakshmana be alert.” Yagna was completed without any obstacles. Rama didn’t pay attention to the culmination rituals. The beauty here was Rishis and ritwiks were not focused on Rama and Lakshmana, they only focused on chanting mantras and agni kunda. Likewise Rama and Lakshmana were focused only on guarding the yagna from rakshasas. Everyone was focused on their respective duties.
Yagna was then completed. As soon as yagna was completed, Rama wished to go near Vishwamitra and prostate and enquire, “Did I do my duty well? Did the yagna go well?” As soon as poorna huti was done Vishwamitra looked around for Rama. He is a great rishi not a bhavuka bhakta. His body slightly shivered in joy. His eyes welled up with happy tears and felt horripilation. He told Rama to stay in his place. He went close to Rama, and expressed his joy by embracing and caressing his head with happy tears. Vishwamitra says “Because of you, my duty was completed, my wish was fulfilled. In spite of being a child, you accomplished this great task.”
Immediately, there was some mantra-infused water in the kalash, and Vishwamitra said, “Bring that.” He made Rama and Lakshmana sit on the riverbank, facing eastward. With the mantra-infused water, he did abhishekam for Rama and Lakshmana. Because they were keeping watch throughout the yagna, they didn’t feel an appetite or exhaustion but after the completion of the yagna they were now feeling hungry. There was some panchamritam, and they all ate the panchamritam and because of their fatigue from the yagna, went to bed early.
The next morning, they did an elaborate avabhrutasnanam in River Ganga and it took a long time. Then, Vishwamitra decided to depart from Siddhashrama. After deciding, he spoke to the residents of Siddhashrama. While talking, he said to Rama and Lakshmana, “Shall I drop you off in Ayodhya? Or, I’m going to Mithila now, do you want to come there? There is a Maharaja named Janaka who is doing a grand yagna. There is a Shiva Dhanush, will you come to see it?” When he asks them, Rama and Lakshmana said, “We don’t have any individual wish. We will readily follow your words. If you wish to leave us in Ayodhya, please take us to Ayodhya. If you wish to take us to Mithila, take us to Mithila.”
Vishwamitra thought. “When I came to the court, Dasharatha was discussing your marriages. Janaka has a Dhanush. Whoever strings the bow – this is a test of valour, not a svayamvara. He has decided that he will have his daughter marry only that person who strings the bow. ”
Vishwamitra kept this thought in his mind, looked at Rama and said, “Lets go to Mithila and then go back to Ayodhya.” They started to walk toward Mithila. They readied 100 carts. In those many rishis and ritwiks, headed back to their cities. How compassionate must Vishwamitra have been to all forms of life, that when he leaves, a peacock stood in his way and cried, “Please don’t go!” A cuckoo bird stood in front of him and cried, “Please don’t go!”
A deer stood in front of him and cried, “Please don’t go!” Cows and their calves stood in front of him and cried, “Please don’t go!” He fondly caressed them and consoled them.
Rama asked him “Isn’t this your ashram?” Vishwamitra responded, “This is not my ashram. My ashram is in the Himalayan Mountain Range on the banks of Gomathi (Kaushiki). Kaushiki is my sister. That is why it is my permanent ashram. I came just to do the yagna here in Siddhashrama.”
In this Siddhashrama, while telling Rama the Vamana Charitram, Vishwamitra thought, “This is the place where You did tapas in Your previous avatar. I wished to do a pooja in your presence in the place where You did that penance in the previous avatar. That is the secret wish I had in my heart, I made the yagna as a reason to bring you here.” They rounded up the carts and headed towards Mithila.
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare |
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||
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