Shabari and Rama

Rama and Shabari

Shabari served her Guru Rishi Matanga with devotion for many years since her youth. As years went, Shabari became elderly and thin. She moved slowly and needed help of a cane to walk. However, she got up early everyday at 3am and after her meditation did all the chores and collected fruits and berries for herself and her Guru. 

When her Guru, Sage Matanga, was about to leave the world, Shabari was despondent and asked him whether she was qualified to receive God’s grace before he departed the world.  Sage Matanga told Shabari that since she was such a pure soul, Bhagavan Rama himself would grant her Moksha (Liberation). He told her to wait for Bhagavan as he would pass by this way in his search for Sita (Rama’s wife). Saying this Rishi Matanga entered Mahasamadhi.

Then the news came that Bhagavan Rama and his brother Lakshman would be walking on the path that led to the town. Shabari had a few days to prepare and so she started to look for the best fruits and berries to offer Rama should she happen to see him. In two days, she had filled several baskets of fruits and berries.

As Bhagavan Rama came towards the town, he avoided visiting all the rich ashrams and temples that had big feasts prepared for him. His brother Lakshman wondered what was going on because they had been walking the whole day and needed to eat. 

With Lakshman following, Rama walked straight to Shabari’s small hut. Rama said to Shabari, “Granny, my brother and I are hungry. We have been walking the whole day. Do you have anything for us to eat?” Shabari was ecstatic to see Rama and Lakshman. Giddy with delight Shabari said that she had collected fruits and berries. So Rama and Lakshman sat down. Shabari insisted on feeding Rama with her own hands.

Lakshman was horrified to see that Shabari started to nibble on each berry before putting it in Rama’s mouth with her hands. Some berries Shabari would eat whole. Others, she would taste and give to Rama. Lakshman was even more surprised as Rama accepted Shabari’s half eaten berries and seemed to enjoy it.

Lakshman whispered in Rama’s ear, “Brother she is giving us half eaten berries. First she eats and then she gives to us. She is eating some of the whole berries herself. But we are only getting the ones that she has already eaten parts of. What a way to treat the guests? Don’t you see it?” Rama whispered back to Lakshman, “Yes, I see it. She is making sure that we only get the sweet berries. She is testing each berry. The ones which are bitter, she does not give us but eats them whole. We are only getting the sweetest ones. So eat up brother.”

Rama said to Shabari, “Granny these are best berries I have ever tasted. Certainly, there is nothing as sweet as a mother wanting to give her child only the best and the most tasty things. Thank you Granny.” Shabari was filled with delight at Bhagavan’s words and started to giggle. In the pure joy exploding in her heart, Shabari attained liberation. In this way, Bhagavan taught that purity, sincerity, and devotion makes everything sweet and full of joy and leads to freedom of the soul. 

As interpreted by Harsh K. Luthar

Mother Divine: The Supreme Goddess

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Luthar.com

When I was very young, my meditations made me soar so high that I was afraid of falling and felt anxious. In those moments the most gentle and angelic female presence firmly held me from behind and guided my flights over celestial regions like a mother showing a child how to ride a bicycle. It happened often.

This angel was always behind me at my back holding my shoulders in the most reassuring manner. Gliding over the heavenly realms of light with this divine companion was pure joy.  But I could never see her face and wondered who she was.

Who was this motherly angel who manifested in my meditations to protect me from fears? Who was this being that embraced me with such tenderness and silently guided and navigated the path?

This went on for many years. She was my guardian angel. Where she came from, I don’t know.

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This Nonsense Makes Perfect Sense

Luthar.com

HKL-Lamp of the Heart

In  2001, one of my students gave me a book “The Enlightened Heart” edited by Stephen Mitchell. Looking through it this morning I came across several beautiful poems. I wanted to share one with you from Lao Tzu that speaks my heart:

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Bhagavan Ramana Explains the Four Paths

Given Below Bhagavan Ramana explains the paths for spiritual growth. These include the paths of Jnana (Self-Inquiry), Yoga (breath control) , Bhakti (devotion), and Karma (selfless actions). Note that Bhagavan starts with Inquiry first and then suggests the other paths for those who find inquiry difficult. Continue reading

Marital Garland Of Letters: By Ramana Maharshi

The Five Hymns to Arunachala are the earliest poems of Sri Ramana Maharshi except for a few short verses. They were written about 1914, when Sri Ramana was about thirty-five years old (he was born in December 1879). He was still living in Virupaksha Cave on the hill. Continue reading

As I Saw Bhagavan Ramana: By Varanasi Subbalakshmi

A most beautiful account by Varanasi Subbalakshami of Bhagavan Ramana. Bhagavan Devotees will enjoy reading it immensely.

I LOST MY HUSBAND when I was sixteen. I went back to my mother’s house and lived there as a widow should, trying to pray to and meditate on God. My mother’s mind too was devoted to the spiritual quest and religion was the main thing in her life. Continue reading

We Did Not Go To Him For Profit: By T.K. Sundaresa Iyer

Note: T.K. Sundaresa Iyer (T.K.S) met Sri Ramana in 1908 when T.K.S was only a twelve year old boy. Bhagavan, although a full blown Self-Realized sage, was also quite young and in his late 20’s. Many early devotees have described how Bhagavan by his sheer look would give them experience of the Self. However, this was not true in every case.

T.K.S’s cousin Krishnamurthy had been visiting Bhagavan Ramana  regularly and would sing songs of devotion to him. One day T.K.S asked his cousin where he went every day. Krishnamurthy told him about Ramana and said, “The Lord of the Hill Himself is sitting in human form, why don’t you come with me.” Both of them then climbed the Hill and went to Virupksha cave to visit the Sage.

Now the story in T.K.S.’s own words:

I too climbed the Hill and found Bhagavan sitting on a stone slab, with about 10 devotees around him. Each would sing a song. Bhagavan turned to me and asked, “Well, won’t you sing a song also.” One of Sundramurthy’s songs came to my mind and I sang it. It’s meaning was, “No other support have I, except thy holy feet. By holding on to them, I shall win your grace. Great men sing your praise Oh, Lord. Grant that my tongue may repeat Thy name even when my mind strays.”

“Yes. That is what must be done,” said Bhagavan, and I took it to be his teaching for me. From that time on, I went to see him regularly for several years without missing a day.

One day I wondered why I was visiting him at all. What was the use? There seemed to be no inner advancement. Going up the hill was meaningless toil. I decided to end my visits on the hill.

For one hundred days exactly I did not see Bhagavan. On the hundred and first day I could suffer no longer and I ran to Skandasramam, above Virupaksha Cave. Bhagavan saw me climbing, got up and came forward to meet me. When I fell at his feet, I could not restrain myself and burst into tears. I clung to them and would not get up.

Bhagavan pulled me up and asked: “It is over three months since I saw you. Where were you?” I told him how I thought that seeing him was of no use. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is of no use, so what? You felt the loss, did you not?”

Then I understood that we did not go to him for profit, but because away from him there was no life for us.

From “At the Feet of Bhagwan” by T.K. Sundaresa Iyer.

Pushpanjali – A Floral Tribute!

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Pushpanjali –
The Offering Of Floral Garlands to
Deities in Ritualistic Worship – Part 1

Hindus offer Flowers to  to Gods/esses in the temple  as part of a Ritualistic Worship.  This is called  ‘Pu-ja’ – Pu stands for ‘Pushpam’ or Flowers and Ja stands for Japa or chanting the  Holy names of Gods/esseses. Ja also stands for ‘Jalam’ or Water as water is sipped during the Worship while chanting the Holy Names of Gods/esses. ( This is called Aachamanam)

What do Flowers represent  in Hindu Worship?  Flowers represent ‘Nature’ or Prakriti. The word Prakriti is made of three syllables – Pra , Kri, and Ti. In Devi Bhagavatam, Sri Narada describes Prakriti thus. “The prefix “Pra” in the word Prakiti means Exalted, Superior, Excellent; and the suffix  “Kriti” denotes creation.  So, the Goddess,  Devi,  Who is the most excellent in the work of creation is known as the Devî Prakriti.

“Pra” signifies the Sattva Guna, the most exalted quality, “Kri” denotes the Rajo Guna and “Ti” denotes the Tamo Guna. The Sattva Guna is considered as the Highest as it is perfectly clear and free from any impurities whatsoever;  the Rajo Guna is considered intermediate as it has this defect – it spreads a veil over the reality of things, so as not to allow men to understand the True Reality, while the Tamo Guna is considered worst as it completely hides the Real Knowledge.  Thus when we offer Flowers to the Deities , we are actually praying to Gods/esses to to eradicate our Tamo and Rajo gunas and bless us with Sattwa guna which is conducive to the “Flowering of Consciousness.”

Offering Flowers to Deities is an important part of Hindu Worship. Different Gods/esses love different Flowers.  Traditionally, it is said that we should only offer those Flowers that have a pleasant Fragrance  and are cultivated on good soil . Wild Flowers that spring up everywhere and those with thorns should be avoided.  When we offer Flowers to Gods/esses, we are transmitting our Devotional ‘Bhava‘ or Emotion and are literally requesting God/esses to grant us Health, Wealth and Happines(both Material and Spiritual benefits.)  Hence the expression  ‘Yad Bhava , Tad Bhavet. ‘  It is the bhava of ‘Surrender’ and Faith. ( Sharanagati and Shradda)

PUJA TO LORD SHIVA
One of the names of Lord Shiva is ‘Ashutosh’ – One who is easy to please . Bholenath ( A Simpleton ) loves Milk ‘Abisekham’ and therefore devotees bathe the Shivalinga with Panchamrit.- – Panch means Five and the ingredients are Milk, Honey, Ghee , Yoghurt , and Sugar.
Here is a Picture of a priest bathing the Shivalinga with the Pancamrit liquid !

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While doing the Abisekham , the Devotees will chant continuously the Lingashtakam –

Brahma Murari Sura architha Lingam,
Nirmala bashitha Shobitha Lingam,
Janmaja dukha vinasaka lingam.
That pranamami sada shiva lingam.

I bow before that Lingam, which is the eternal Shiva,
Which is worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu and other Devas,
Which is pure and resplendent,
And which destroys sorrows of birth.

To listen to the entire Lingashtakam , go to
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MB1XQl0l3A&feature=related&pos=0

Shankar Baba is equally pleased if Bilva Leaves are offered to Him.  It is believed that Sri Lakshmi resides in Bilva Leaves and by offering Bilva Leaves we are asking the Lord to bless us with Wealth and Prosperity.  Bilva Leaves also have a cooling effect on the hot tempered Deity Shiva also known as ‘Rudra’ (the Wrathful One)

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Bilva Puja to Lord Shiva

While offering Bilva leaves to The Shiva linga ,
it is customary to chant the ‘Bilvashtakam’ comprising of eight stanzas.
Here is the First verse .

tridaLaM triguNAkAraM trinetraM cha triyAyushhamh .
trijanmapApasaMhAraM ekabilvaM shivArpaNamh .

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
Which has three leaves,
Which causes three qualities,
Which are like the three eyes of Shiva,
Which is like the triad of weapons,
And which destroys sins of three births.

To listen to Bilvashtakam, go to
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCNSY19DK4Q

Lord Shiva is pleased with all kinds of worship – both internal and external worship. Internal worship is called Manasa puja .  Adi Shankara Bhagvadapada sings thus in his Shiva manasa puja :

AtmA tvaM girijA matiH sahacharAH prANAH sharIraM gR^ihaM
pUjA te viShayopabhogarachanA nidrA samAdhisthitiH |
sa~nchAraH padayoH pradakshiNavidhiH stotrANi sarvA giro
yadyatkarma karomi tattadakhilaM shambho tavArAdhanam.h ||

Sambhu, You are my Self, my intellect is Goddess Parvati, your attendants are my vital airs, my body is Your temple, all enjoyments of sense-objects are Your worship, my sleep is samadhi, all my movements on my feet are circumambulations of You, whatever I speak is praise of You, and thus whatever action I perform is Your worship.  Note: When a devotee totally surrenders to God, then whatever he does is according to God’s will.  He gives up all sense of being a doer and an enjoyer. ( This Translation is by Shri Shastriji, chief moderator of ‘Advaitin’ list.)

To listen to Shiva Manasa puja , go to
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCvVjlPAkl8&feature=related&pos=0

Here is a picture of Adi Shankara Bhagvadapada , The Author Of Nirguna Manasa Puja

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This is the first of the Series on how to worship different  Hindu Gods/esses .   Lady Joyce ( aka Radhe ) is the true source of inspiration behind this humble attempt. Bhakti Yoga is the firm foundation on which both Karma and Jnana yoga rests .  Without Devotion or Love,  Jnana is incomplete and without Atma ma Jnanam, Bhakti is not ripe.  Karma yoga is the thread that runs through both Bhakti and Jnana yoga .

Shri Krshna himself says in srimad Bhagvad Gita

yoginam api sarvesam
mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah ( 6:47)

And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me,
thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me—
he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.

OM Namaha Shivaya

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