May 2009

Swami Says: Time to give in + Healing Mangoes + Tiger’s Eye + The Law of Least Effort + Visible & Invisible God + Vadapalani + FEATURE: We have it in us! + Integral Yoga + Yogic Devotionlism + The hand that rocks the cradle + Kids meditation on Love + much more ...

Cover image: Gayathri Peedam Kavadi Procession, 12 April 2009

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Namasté all.
The AGM of the Gayathri Peedam was held on the 26th April and was attended by approximately thirty members. Among other minor challenges, three important issues were discussed, the first of these being the successful completion of various projects due to the funds contributed by Peedam members. For this we extend a humble thank you to all who have made this possible. The fruits of your generosity does not go unnoticed and will live on in the divine ashram being created by Swami Shankarananda. There are still a number of projects to be undertaken and we know that, with your continued contribution and the dedication of the Peedam task-force and committee members, these will be completed soon.

Another topic discussed was the necessity to contribute to the financial needs of Guru. Although Guruji does not wish to rely on contributions for His personal sustenance, those present at the AGM realise the positive impact that removing Guru’s financial burden will have on His health. The biggest concern is securing funding for Guru’s trips to Sri Lanka in order to supervise running of the ashrams there. While a definitive long-term solution for this has not yet been found, we appeal, in the interim, to any members who are in a position to contribute towards Swami’s travel expenses to please do so.

The third and most important issue raised at the meeting was that of the attitudes of many, many devotees who have caused Guru much undue stress and great disappointment by their improper approach and behaviour not only towards each other but, specifically, towards Guru. Too many devotees take advantage of Guru’s big heart, kind nature and sense of humour, treating Guru more like a once-a-month friend than a spiritual master. We appeal to all devotees who want to progress on the spiritual and material paths: put aside your problems and petty differences when you come to the ashram and spend time in Guru’s presence. All that matters at the Peedam is God and Guru. If you carry this attitude into your homes and relationships on a continual basis, your problems will take care of themselves. Guruji has given freely and helped most of the Peedam members and devotees unconditionally, but many do not even think to repay Him in any way at all. Always remember that an exchange of some sort has to be made in order for any blessings bestowed to be effective. Whether that exchange comes in the form of cash, devotion, respect or service is immaterial. What does count is that a positive, uplifting exchange is made, especially if we want Guru to be available to us in the future.

Finally, please remember to support the Peedam Fundraising Dinner at Little India on 30th May. Speak to Ashok or Deepak for more details.

In Love and Service always, Ed.

Swami Shanakarananda

Yes, we have it, the greatest blessings in life! Firstly, to be born human, secondly to have a longing for liberation, a yearning for emancipation from the cycles of birth and death and, thirdly, to behold God, to have God as our companion on the journey of life. These great gifts of life have been bestowed upon every human being for hundreds of years, yet a countable number of humans only have realised this value.

Many of you ask: ‘why did God send me here? What is the purpose of this life and this journey?’ Very rare is this creature called the human being, blessed with good health and vitality. But how many have realised these things? The human being, or the human race, spend all of life doing just a few things. Some human beings spend 98* of their time thinking about wealth and amassing wealth, chasing all types of power, pleasure and possessions. Yet, the gift of this human birth is to return to that eternal bode, the True Home. But the human race is lost in a chase - a chase for worldly possessions. The human looks like a charmed prisoner, bound by the charms of worldliness.

The spiritual transcripts indicate that the soul passes from species of lower nature to that of higher nature, and finally after great good karmic actions, securing the gift of human form. This human form had to pass through many countless births before being called a human being. Yes, this birth is like the feeling of an itch. Some feel the itch to steal, some to gample, some to pleasure and others to scratch. Nobody feels the itch to pray. And, because of this feeling, the human being passes the open door to freedom, to spiritual freedom, to God and Truth. The human being enjoys opening all other doors that have been closed, yet misses the open door, thereby this divine opportunity of being human and not Human Being slips away missing the opportunity to attain liberation.

This ‘Being Human’ birth is due to your passed good actions, called Karma. Therefore being human is regarded and taught as being the only means of salvation. This is the bridge that is required to avoid the circle of birth-life-death-rebirth. The itch that is felt, flows under the bridge, the journey must continue. But what is this gift really?

This divine gift is to not be born again - in other words, deathlessness. What then is true about being human? This life is transient and fleeting, more than this is that in being human, the body is mortal and perishable, easily afflicted and destroyed by disease, habits of addiction and death. Decay is inevitable to the human body. Just like clothes that the human wears get old and are thrown away, or a house that is burned down is discarded, the body must be discarded in the same way at death. The realisation of the Self is the door to attainment in this life of Being Human.

Guru also said, ‘Human form is the bridge to get to the other side. Do not build a house on it, that would be extremely foolish’. This human form which is referred to, has a special rare precious gift that has been bestowed in order that the Truth is revealed. Do not waste your opportunity of Being Human, because only here will you have hope. Where there is life there is hope.

Suren Pillay

On the journey to enlightenment there are, no doubt, many paths. Essentially all these paths lead to the same goal. Yet each path offers something a different to the spiritual aspirant. The four essential paths of self realisation are: the path of knowledge (jnana), the path of love (bhakti), the path of meditation (raja yoga), and the path of action (karma yoga). A saint was once asked, how he had achieved enlightenment, and his answer was that he achieved a perfect balance of energy in the yoga that he practised.

Each path to enlightenment appeals to a specific type of temperament held by a devotee. A spiritual aspirant who is devotionally-minded, is naturally inclined to the path of bhakti yoga. Singing and chanting the Lord’s name, dancing in the ecstasy of God-consciousness might come easily to this type of devotee. Yet intellectually minded aspirants may find the path of jnana yoga and scriptural study , to be the most attractive for their nature and temperament. For the devotee who loves working and has a heart of giving, the path of selfless action or karma yoga is the most attractive path to liberation. For the devotee who loves inner peace and solitude, the path of meditation is found to be the most effective.

So a mans temperament, to a great degree, influences the choice of the yoga he practices. It is important that no one path of yoga should be considered superior to another, for they all have their source in the supreme intelligence. Yet, for each path, the process of enlightenment is often different. It is often said that bhakti yoga is one of the easiest paths to enlightenment. Yet, even though it is an easy path, it is also regarded as the longest path to attainment. On the other hand, raja yoga or the meditational path is regarded as one of the most difficult yoga sciences to practice but is considered to be the quickest path to enlightenment.

In the modern day, we find the negative influences to be of a much stronger and pervasive nature than those present perhaps thirty or forty years ago. The result is that the spiritual aspirant faces a range of obstacle and temptations much greater than his predecessors of previous generations. It thus becomes essential for every devotee who wishes to attain the state of enlightenment to practice a range of yoga practices that are not only attractive to him but also beneficial in countering the negative influences which are pervasive in the physical plane of existence.

Integral yoga or yoga synthesis is a way of dynamically integrating all yoga systems in ones life in a most harmonious way, such that maximum spiritual benefit is achieved. When one practices all the yoga systems under the guidance of a God-realised Guru, spiritual evolution is greatly enhanced at a rapid rate. My message to you this month, dear readers, is to evaluate whether the yoga practices you undertake are bringing you the spiritual benefit you desire and deserve. If they aren’t then, with the guidance of a Guru, choose to increase your spiritual practices in one of the yoga systems to maximise your spiritual growth in this lifetime.

Aum, Shanti, Shalom, Amen!

Gloria Wendroff

Would it really be so hard to bring the world to its knees? Would it be so hard for the world to denounce misery and announce love instead? What would it take to erase suffering from the face of the Earth? Suffering in the world has been like a contract ordered by the Mafia. Yet because a hit was once ordered does not mean it must be followed, and followed over and over and again and again.

Those who would commit suffering upon another think they are winning something or returning suffering for suffering, and yet they revisit suffering upon themselves. Any glory felt or gained is short-lived. Man does not suffer alone. One who perpetuates suffering has given his allegiance to suffering. He thinks he inflicts it on someone else, yet he has inflicted it on himself, and he is unaware that he is free to drop it once and for all. For all.

I call for an end to suffering.

Love exists whether or not I say so. However, I said long ago that love is all. I continue to say that love and love alone exists. When did I ever say that man must be hard-hearted? When did I say that man must ignore others' hearts? On the contrary, I have said that the heart must be heard. I say it now, loud and clear: All hearts must be heard. And all hearts must be answered.

A man who is happy with himself would not squeeze suffering from any other. One who acts cruelly must be listening to a god of his own making. He has made up a god in his own mind. He believes in a god where might makes right, and that is the image he acts in. He who enacts cruelty must feel that cruelty enlarges him. He must believe in a god of separation. A man who persuades himself that he believes in a god of justice must also believe in a god of injustice itself. In his clouded view, one who is cruel believes in the necessity of perpetuating superiority and therefore inferiority.

When you believe in need, you will believe you need whatever you perceive as lacking. This is not a conscious procedure. It is simply that you must have whatever you believe you need. You will go to great lengths to fill your perceived need. From perceived lack come the troubles of the world. Better to know all that you are and let go of need, most especially in any need that you be superior.

I say again that life is not all about you. It is not about what you gain. If life is about filling needs, then at least on every other occasion, will you kindly look to fill someone else's need? See what happens to your own heart. See how it grows. See how good it feels to have your heart grow rather than contract.

If you have a need, beloveds, you have a need for freedom, and so now you give freedom to others, for you must give whatever it is you feel you need, so you will see that you have enough of it to give. In the giving of it, you will see it. Unkindness begins in misperception.

A beautiful rose does not have to be the most beautiful of all. It does not have to be taller or rosier than the other roses in the garden. A rose is just happy to be. The flowers in a garden do not try to enhance themselves by stepping on other flowers. And no garden on one side of the street feels it has to be better than the garden across the street or across the ocean.

Be not like the queen in the story who had to keep looking in the mirror to make sure that she was the fairest of all. I see My children as One, and all are fair. And now I ask you to do the same.

Mahavishnu Moodley

Vadapalani means ‘North Palani.’ The area derives its name from a famous Muruga Temple in its surroundings called Vadapalani Thirukkoil. Vadapalani is close to the shopping paradise of T-Nagar in Chennai, and is also near the south Indian film city of Kodambakkam. Hence, the temple has gained popularity over the years. AVM Studios are in Vadapalani, and the famous music director A.R. Rehman resides and works nearby.

The most popular temple is the Arulmigu Vadapalani Dandhayuthapani Thirukkoil. This 125 year old shrine has very humble beginnings. Annaswami Thambiran was a great devotee of Lord Muruga. He had a small thatched hut in which he worshipped a painting of Lord Muruga. This was his temple. In intense states of meditation, he felt an overwhelming force take over his body and utter things. Whatever he said in this trance-like state proved true. He was in Arulvaku, divine communion. In this state, he cured people, solemnized marriages and helped people with their everyday problems. It so happened that one day he himself fell very ill, and at the insistence of a sadhu (holy man), he started a pilgrimage to Thiruthanni, a famous Muruga Temple. Moved by prayer and devotion, he cut off his tongue at the Balipeetham of the temple. On his return journey, the disease was cured. He also visited Palani, where he had strange experiences, and knew that his end was nearing. He entrusted the manage-ment of the temple to his dear friend Ratnaswami. Oddly, Ratnaswami also entered Arulvaku. Using the money given by people who visited, Ratnaswami decided to build a proper temple. He passed away before seeing its completion. The next predecessor also passed away before completing the temple. Builders were then consulted to continue with the temple, to the structure we admire today.

The kumbabishegam (official opening of a temple) was conducted for the first time in 1972, with the second time being in 1984. The second time round, the deities were pulled in a golden chariot.

Entering through the Rajagopuram, one notices the sculptures of stories from the Skanda Purana. The eastern tower has the 108 poses of Bharatha Natyam (classical Indian dance) sculpted onto it. The main deity is Vadapalani Andavar, and bears the resemblance of Muruga at Palani. He is in standing pose with a baton in his hand, Vel (spear) across his chest, and turban eloquently tied on his head. Although the temple is predominantly for Muruga worship, it is also a Shiva shrine of note. There are also smaller temples dedicated to Vinayaga (Ganesha), Kali, Bhairava and Muruga with Valli and Devasena. There are niches in the walls, with idols of Dakshinamurthi, Mahalaskhmi and Chandikeshwara. Of importance also is Lord Anjaneya’s (Hanuman) temple. Devotees smear the idol with butter in prayer that their wishes materialize. There is also the spacious marriage hall, where many couples take their vows, believed to be auspicious when done at Vadapalani. Daily worship includes Abishegam with milk, sandhanam (sandal paste) and Vibhuthi (sacred ash).