The Power of Solitude

meditation

Dear All,

OM !

One of the most essential qualities one must cultivate to be established in Self (Truth) is solitude. Because Truth reveals in all its glory in Silence and one gains the alertness and clarity to pierce through the layers of erroneous thinking and be established in the Self. . It is quintessential for a Seeker.

I have heard many people telling that “one need not leave home or renounce anything, one should be like a lotus leaf in a water pond and untouched by it”. That may be so. Yet, all the saints and sages who inspire me from all religions have renounced, became house-less wandering seekers and have spent some time in solitude before they have attained the establishment in the Truth – Buddha, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharshi, Guru Nanak, Sadasiva Brahmendra, the Russian Christian Pilgrim (The Pilgrim book) etc. To be untouched by water and to be like a lotus leaf seemed to be the goal, where as during the “Seeking” stage one sees oneself being touched and influenced by the external situations, people, places, events. There is a gap that needs to be reconciled. Swami Sivananda has explained very well in “The Kingly Science and Secret” that sometimes simply saying “One should be like Janaka, untouched even though involved in the worldly activities” does not always do justice to the seeking. One MUST learn to be in solitude, to gain strength and clarity and conviction in the Self-Knowledge. Because of this, one gains detachment, thereby wisdom to re-enter the world.

lotusleaf

Today, I was reading through some articles by Swami Krishnanada ji and I came across the article called “The Importance of Being Alone” which is very valuable and helpful for Sadhana. I am greatly inspired by Swamiji, though I never met him. His writings carry a firm and deep conviction and clarity. Hari had the privilige to meet him in Rishikesh in 1995 or so, when Swamiji, upon knowing  that Hari was an engineering student, advised him “Make Self-engineering your subject !” What an insightful advice !

I am just posting an excerpt from the article here:

One of the essential conditions the seeker of yoga is called upon to bear in mind is ekantavasa, or sequestration, solitude. These days, wrong notions are driven into people’s minds by inexperienced teachers who say that we can be in the midst of a city and yet practise sadhana. Though this goes on very well and sounds fine as a theory and a doctrine, it is a total impossibility when we actually try to practise it. The ancient masters who said that solitude is necessary were not fools. Though in the end, in the consummation, it may be possible for us to find a solitary forest in the thick of New York City, consummation should not be identified with the beginning. That would be like putting the cart before the horse.

In this connection, I am reminded of a very homely analogy of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Fire consumes ghee. Any amount of ghee that we pour on fire will be burnt by the fire. Yes, this is a great truth, a fact known to everyone. But suppose we pour a mound of ghee over a spark of fire; will it burn the ghee? The fire itself will be extinguished. The fire should first become a huge conflagration. Then we can pour the entire fuel of the world into it, and it shall burn it to ashes. Our fire of aspiration will then be capable—only then, and not before—to burn all the dirt and dust of this world even if it is thrown upon it in huge heaps. But when we are only a struggling spark who has not been able to take even the first step in yoga, if the whole weight of the world is to sit upon us, what will happen? We cannot face it. We will be crushed to dust.

Just being aloof, not having any friends, spending time in reading novels, watching movies etc is not “aloneness” or “solitude”, though it may appear that way sometimes, but being in a state of “alert lone-ness” where the mind is engaged in contemplation on the Self and thorough examination of the world to grasp the substratum behind it – that is the solitude we are speaking of for a seeker.

I strongly encourage all of us to read the full article titled “The Importance of Being Alone – by Swami Krishnanandaji” and be highly benefitted.

With Prem and Om,

Aparna Hari

Even This Will Pass Away !

Dear All,

Below is poem “Even This Will Pass Away” written by the poet Theodore Tilton on the transience of events and occurrences in life and how Time does not stop at either a happy or sad occasion. This concept gives a lot of strength to face life. I came across this in Swami Sivanandaji’s literature and he suggested to write this on a piece of paper and keep it with you in your pocket. I did it accordingly. I even have it in my office prominently where I can see while working. It helps me to remind myself that any elation or any depression is bound to pass away.

EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY !

By Theodore Tilton

Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon a signet ring,
Carved a maxim strange and wise,
When held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance,
Fit for every change and chance:
Solemn words, and these were they:
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.

Trains of camel through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys over the seas
Brought him pearls to rival these,
But he counted little gain,
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say,
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”

Mid the pleasures of his court
At the zenith of their sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
Seated midst the figs and wine,
Said the king, “Ah, friends of mine.
Pleasure comes but not to stay,
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”

Woman, fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned as queen,
Pillowed on the marriage-bed
Whispering to his soul, he said,
“Though no monarch ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh is only clay!
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”

Fighting on the furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield,
Soldiers with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tortured side,
“Pain is hard to bear;” he cried.
“But with patience, day by day,
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”

Towering in a public square
Forty cubits in this air,
And the king disguised, unknown,
Gazed upon his sculptured name.
And he pondered, “What is fame?”
“Fame is but a slow decay!
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the gates of gold,
Said he with his dying breath
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then as answer to the king
Fell a sunbeam on his ring;
Showing by a heavenly ray.
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari.

Divine Ambrosia E-Magazine – 2012 Spring Issue

Dear All,

Hari Om.

We are pleased to publish the Spring issue of the spiritual E-Magazine “Divine Ambrosia”. You will find interesting and insightful articles in this issue in addition to a light-hearted fun corner.

This issue of Divine Ambrosia E-Magazine can be read online by clicking the below :

You can also download the PDF version by clicking here.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your feedback about this magazine.

Happy Reading !

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari.

Swami Sivananda’s Song of Vibhuti Yoga

Dear All,

Hari Om.

For the last two weeks, I have been enjoying listening to the kirtans/bhajans composed and sung by Swami Sivananda ji whose voice has a very unique melody. Coupled with insightful lyrics and beautiful Veena tuning, it is brilliant and capable of taking a seeker into the realm of “Atma-Vichar” or the Enquiry into Self.

Particulary, I was enhcanted with a Saguna and Nirguna Song starting with “Narayanam Bhaje” for Saguna and “Om Om Om..” for Nirguna bhajan. I have always liked Swamiji’s unique gift to spiritual seekers of english music and formulating scriptures into one-liner essences as part of good bhajan.

There are so many Kirtans of them – in English, Hindi and all of them are wonderful to listen to. One such bhajan is actually reflecting on the “Vibhut Yoga” – 10th Chapter of Srimad BhagavadGita, where Lord Krishna give a sample of his Divine attributes to Arjuna. The Vibhuti Yoga deals with the glories and the manifestations of the Lord. Swamiji has extended Vibhuti Yoga to ecnompass a wonderful variety of things. Read the below Lyrics and listen to the song. You will know 🙂

Below are the lyrics of the Song by Swami Sivananda:

Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om
Soham Soham Sivohan Soham
Soham Soham Sivoham Soham.

I am neither mind nor body, immortal Self I am
I am witness of three states,
I am knowledge absolute
I am fragrance in jasmine, beauty in flowers
I am coolness in the ice, flavour in the coffee
I am greenness in the leaf, hue in the rainbow
I am taste bud in the tongue, essence in the orange.

I am mind of all minds, Prana of all Pranas
I am Soul of all souls, Self of all selves
I am Atman in all beings, apple of all eyes
I am Sun of all suns, Light of all lights.

I am Pranava of all Vedas, Brahman of Upanishads
I am silence in forest, Thunder in all clouds.
I am velocity in electrons, motion in science,
I am effulgence in the sun, wave in the radio.
I am support of all this world, soul of this Body
I am Ear of all ears, Eye of all eyes.
I am Time, Space, Dik and the controller,
I am God of all gods, Guru and the director.

I am melody in music, the Rag in Raginis
I am sound in ether, Shakti in Virya
I am power in electricity, Intelligence in mind,
I am brilliance in fire, penance in ascetics.
I am ‘reason’ in philosophers, ‘will’ in Jnanis,
I am Prem in Bhaktas, Samadhi in Yogis.

I am That I am, I am That I am,
I am That I am, I am That I am.

Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om Om
Soham Soham Sivohan Soham
Soham Soham Sivoham Soham.

You can listen to this song by clicking on below link:

Yours,
In Service of the Lord & Gurudev,
Aparna & Hari.

Non-Difference of Siva-Kesava

Dear All,

Hari Om.

While I was perusing the Divine Life magazine, I came across this Drama – YES, I said it right, a Drama 🙂 that contains the concept of Non-Difference or absence of difference between Siva and Kesava. This drama is an Act-1 among the three Acts to illustrate the glory of Swami Sivananda.

The Hero in this Act is the renowned Sage Sri Appayya Dikshitar, in whose lineage after some generations Swami Sivananda ji was born.

I felt reading of this material was very apt in context and time for me because the previous day I had a very brief conversation with our Temple president. He was narrating to me how he approached a Vaishnavite priest to take up a position in the temple here, and the priest seems to have mentioned “I don’t touch Siva. It is forbidden.”

Hmmm….With my family, religious and scriptural background, and by fortunate association with Saints and Swamijis, and due to inclination towards the literature of the likes of Sri Swami Sivananda, Sri Swami Dayananda (Of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam) and Thakur Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, I have learnt that names and forms of the Divine are personal aids for each seeker, while the essence is the same. Thakur’s parables actually contain a story illustrating this.

My reflection:
Division, once it starts at some point, never ends, like a giant miotic division of cell. It is an ad-infinitum process of dividing up everything and we can never stop. And to see differences is the normal way. As Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati humorously puts it, the Barber Murari (a character in his humors) who is illiterate and has no knowledge of Vedas is highly aware of the differences. Then, what additional wisdom has one gained by the study of Upanishads, Vedanta, Religios scriptures, when one vehemently upholds the differences as real ?

I think it will be a struggle for a Saguna devotee, attached to one form, initially to transcend over the form. But that does not deny the truth that the names and forms are only incidental, while One in essence. Respecting other forms of the Divine is called for until we progress in our spirituality and become more wise.

As I have learnt from Pujya Swami Dayananda ji :
Dvaitaaddhi Bhayam Bhavet — From the sense of duality indeed, fear arises

I hope you read this Drama, enjoy it and appreciate the message:

Yours,
In Service of the Lord & Gurudev,
Aparna

Remembrance of God is the greatest fortune

Hari Om!
Om Namo Narayanaya!

After a long gap during which we also enjoyed a month long stay at Sivananda Ashram in India (more on this will be posted soon), here is a post to share a very inspiring talk given by Guru Maharaj Pujya Sri Swami Chidanandaji:-

What is good fortune and what is misfortune? Who is our friend and who is our enemy?

Man is the only living being endowed with discrimination and who has inherited vast knowledge through scriptures – the Vedas, Puranas, Srimad Bhagavatam, Panchadasi, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Narada Bhakti Sutras, Sandilya Bhakti Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, BrahmaSutras, etc – which are filled with so much wisdom. Add to it the wisdom teachings of many, many sages down the centuries. In our own times, there are the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna Dev, Swami Ramdas, our own Gurudev, Ma Anandamyi, etc.

How much guidance we have got! If we don’t use this for our good, then who is to blame for it? Having all this and not utilizing it – it is our fault, not somebody else’s fault.

Vipado Naiva Vipadah, Sampado Naiva Sampadah !
Vipada Narayana Vismrutih, Sampat Smaranam Narayanasya !!

Misfortune is forgetting God – that is the real misfortune. Constantly remembering God and not to forget Him – what is greater fortune than this? This is indeed the greatest fortune. Other things are neither good fortune nor misfortune. These alone are the greatest good fortune and the greatest misfortune – Remembrance of God and forgetfulness of God.

Who is your friend? Who is your enemy?

He is your greatest friend, well-wisher, relative, companion, helper – who creates in you a taste for repetition of God’s name, even from your childhood. Srimad Bhagavata Maha Puran says that He is your father, mother, companion, best friend, helper, well wisher – who creates within you, a taste for the name of God even from your childhood. There cannot be a well-wisher greater than such a person, because in this Kaliyuga, repetition of God’s name is the greatest way.

Jaake Hruday na Ram Vaidehi !
Tyajiye Koti Vair sam Yadyapi Param Sanehi !!

That person, in whose heart God is not seated – here he mentions Lord Rama and Sita, the daughter of King Janaka Maharaj or Videha. That person who has not kept God and awareness of inner presence of God -even if he is your best friend, cast him away, leave him, renounce him, as though he is a million devils or enemies – who is intent upon doing you harm; who will destroy you, hurt you, harm you. Such a person, even if he happens to be your best friend, if he diverts your mind to miscellaneous enjoyments saying – lets go to the club or the cinemas, lets go and have a nice evening snack in the restaurant, etc. Any person who diverts you towards earthly activities, whose fruit is not attainment of God – discard, renounce, give up such a person as though he were a million enemies put together. Even if he happens to be your most intimate friend, because slowly he will color you in his own color. He will make you like himself.

This is a miniscule wisdom teaching out of many that we have received from various saintly sources. I think this one is from Sant Tulsidas.

Having provided you with these nuggets of spiritual teachings, gems of wisdom, I shall end the service of this morning, but Spiritual teachings are only useful when they are remembered; when they are kept in the heart and so remember them and benefit from them by applying them in your own life – subjective inner life as well as objective outer life in this world. Even if you have many lakhs of rupees in the bank and you do not make use of it, then you are as good as a poor person or a miser. A miser has money but he will not spend; a poor person has no money so he cannot spend. To either of them money is not of use in life. In the same way for spiritual teachings. Therefore, spiritual truths and guidance must be actively and constructively utilized. It is for living; you must apply it in your daily life by thought, word and deed.

Hari Om! Om… Om… Om!”

Yours in service of God and Gurudev,
Aparna & Hari