Guru Mata, Guru Pita, Guru Amuchi Kuladevata…
Dated: – Gokul Ashtami, 6th September 2015.
Charanam Sharanam Ramambike
Charanam Sharanam Trayambake.
This is the third article in the series on Shravan Bhakti.
1. Shraavan is month of religious observances – festivals, vratas, parayans of granths, namasmarans etc. This is the month of ‘shravan’ of the Parmatma’s glories for the devout and hence, it has come to be known as ‘Shravaanmaas’. The ‘shravan’ performed culminates in enhancement of satva gunas in our vritis and unique spiritual experiences.
Of all religious performances, ‘Shravan’ of the Guru’s ‘Mahimas’ absorbs the highest spiritual vibrations.
What better blessed opportunity can there be than to write for an article on ‘Sharavan Bhakti’ in this month and that too on the auspicious day of Gokul Ashtami ? Because it is on this very day more than fifty years ago- a devotee of Mother called Smt. Sharada Mallya of Udipi derived a unique experience, which is covered in this article for case study.
The devotee’s experience appears in the ‘Sadguru Rama Devi, Golden Jubilee Souvenir (1961)’ in story called ‘Conflict Resolved’ on page no. 78 therein.
While ending the previous article in the series on Shravan Bhakti, it was remarked that the author was clueless on what to write in the next article and it was resigned to Divine Mother to instruct on the same. The author had some time thereafter randomly opened the Golden Jubilee Souvenir and this experience of Smt. Sharada Mallya confronted him at the first glance.
Hence, the experience of this devotee has come selected in this article for a case study on the subject of ‘Shravan Bhakti’.
Readers may please patiently bear with a short prelude, which shall enable us to understand the style of Mother’s functioning as the Guru in this experience. The prelude (in para nos. 2 to 7 ) to will be followed by the experience cited by Smt. Sharada Mallya (in para no. 7).
‘Guru Mata, Guru Pita ! Guru Aamuchi Kuladevata !
Thora Padata Sankade ! Guru Rakshi Maage Pude !@
Kaya Vaacha Ani Mana ! Guru Charani Arpana !
Eka Janardhani Sharana ! Guru Eka Janardana!
This hymn was composed by Sant Eknath in dedication to his Guru Janardhan. We have sung and heard this bhajan so many times in our Sunday satsangs.
It’s core meaning is that the Guru, ( being the Creator), is both our father and mother. He also shares intimacy with us in our family life as our own Kuladevata. In this manner, the Guru positions himself in our proximity to protect us from all calamities – both unseen (that which sneak on us behind our backs) and seen (that which is manifest to our comprehension).
Having realized this, let us offer ourselves with absolute certainty – (kaya, vaacha ani mana)- at his Feet, fully knowing that the Guru is none other than Janardhan.
The compositions of saints are a class by themselves. Saints compose the songs out of their own actual experiences and hence, every word in the same is a reality. They do so with a fond wish that ordinary devotees should also derive such experiences. Matching experiences can therefore be found in lives of ordinary devotees of True Gurus.
In the forthcoming experience of Smt. Sharada Mallya, one will experience every word of this hymn as Truth. Mother’s role as Guru and experience of Smt. Sharada Mallya as disciple -will be found matching in the same format and tenor as related by Sant Eknath.
3. Just as there is day and night in creation, there are periods of light and darkness in our lives. The Guru is the dispeller of darkness in our lives. He comes in the form of light in the periods of darkness in our lives.
What is the darkness in our life? The periods of sadness and calamities are the dark periods in our lives in which we do not find exits out of the same. The darkness may come in any form- prolonged diseases, family problems, financial debt, loss of prestige in society etc.
At one time, in several sections of orthodox male dominated societies in India, widowhood was one of the worst darkness that plagued lives of womenfolk. Widows had to face seclusion in homes and also exclusion from the mainstream activities of the society. The plight of the widow is so acute that she is driven to conclusions that there is no place for happiness in her life and God has forsaken her.
We will see a reality of this in the forthcoming experience of Smt. Sharada Mallya.
4. Why does God accept services or offerings from his devotees – when he is fully self-sustained, self- reliant and requires no external support for his existence? The truth is God ‘deliberately’ accepts services from his devotees – even though he does not need it. There is a clever strategy behind this act. God, by his nature, also does not accept anything free and returns whatever is given to him, manifold times the value of what is received. By accepting a service, God thus gets an excuse to become ‘indebted’ to the devotees and cause welfare to the devotee by repaying him much more than what he received.
God also reserves to himself the best time to repay the devotee. He repays the devotee when he is in most need of assistance from God i.e. in his calamity- so that the repayment is most useful.
We shall also see this truth in the forthcoming experience of Smt. Sharada Mallya.
5. The merits of congregational worship ( samoohik upasana) has always been emphasised by Mother in her discourses. The vibrations emanated in congregational satsangs and absorbed by devotees are several times multiple of the sum of the same -if the worship conducted individually by the devotees in their private chambers.
In the process, a devotee who participates in satsangs reaps spiritual experiences far beyond his individual capacities.
Taking of a single name of Ram has total redeeming effect. Therefore, stretch your imagination to reckon the efficacy of Akhand Ram Nam Jaap performed in congregational gathering.
It is for this reason that many devotees got unique spiritual experiences of Mother, – even when they had visited for first time- a site of congregational worship or bhajans conducted by Mother’s devotees.
6. Many are the diverse ways by which Mother imparts specific, instructions to individual devotees. She does so – according to the specific need and life situations of the devotees. To some – she may impart instruction by words, some by gestures, some in silence, some in dreams and some even in visions and so on.
The vision granted by the Guru specifically caters to the devotee’s specific need in life. For example, to a devotee passing through a dark phase in life – without any solution in sight, Mother may show herself to him in a vision as a Lamp. The visions granted by Mother are therefore symbolically realistic and not randomly meaningless.
7. Why do we celebrate anniversaries like Ram Navami, Gokul Ashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi ? What are the gains to the devotees from these observances?
We have seen above that God does not accept anything free and returns any devout services manifold the value received.
By observing these anniversaries as auspicious events, be sure that we shall be rewarded by some auspicious experiences in return on that very day itself.
8. With the above preludes, let us take up the experience related by Sharada Mallya in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir and one will see all the aspects described in the above preludes as clear features and realities in her experience.
The article of Sharada Mallya called ‘Conflict Resolved’ reads as under …
“The passing away of my husband who was throughout his lifetime pious and devoted and with whom I had shared a peaceful life for two decades compelled me to draw two conclusions. They were (1) all earthly pleasures are transient. (2) To me God is not merciful.
A friend of mine in order to console me took me for a bhajan which was conducted at a devotee’s house under the auspices of Sree Rama Devi Bhakta Mandali, Udipi.
A twelve hours’ akhanda ram nam yajna was in full swing. I felt that I had come to a new world. The atmosphere of devotion, the melodious notes of Ram Nam sung in chorus, had a marvellous effect of me. The lighted lamp adorned by a garland of multicoloured flowers attracted my attention. Charmed by the grandeur of floral decorations on the lamp, I was staring at it when I had a singular experience. The lamp was suddenly transformed into the blissful form of a very divine being, a venerated mother in a sitting posture, which was the exact resemblance of Sri Rama Devi’s photograph worshipped by the devotees. My body vibrated to the thrill of the experience.
My friend gave me an interesting narration about the various supernatural powers of Mother and how she was widely acclaimed and worshipped as a divine incarnation. The singular experience which I had on the first day lent support to her view but within me was lurking doubt because the tutelary deity to whom our entire family was devoted was Ganapathy. The very thought of the captivating form of the Mother which was imprinted in my mind would be sufficient to transport my mind to a region of exaltation. But the idol of my chosen deity whom I have been regularly worshipping for years together was equally evoking love, reverence and adoration.
In such frame of my mind I was sitting, one auspicious Gokulashtami day in my shrine room, just before starting the midday worship. My mind drifted into meditative mood. With closed eyes, I was concentrating on my ishta devata when in a powerful beam of light I beheld the radiant form of Mother, her hand raised in benediction. In that I visualised the beautiful form of Ganapathy, indicating thereby, that Mother was identical with supreme being manifesting various aspects of divinity including Ganapathy.
The experience granted to me by Mother intensified my longing to have her darshan. By this time I had no doubt about her divinity. In fact my chosen deity and my sadguru was identified with the Mother whom I saw in my visions.
My first darshan took place at Mangalore during a flag hoisting ceremony. She looked exactly similar to the Mother of various earlier visions. I felt safe in protection of universal Mother who had descended in our midst taking on herself the role of sadguru. The inner path which she prescribed to me appeared to be smooth and easy because it was illuminated by love. As against the customary life of seclusion imposed by widowhood, I now courageously associate myself with all the activities of the mandali with new strength and determination.”
End of article by Smt. U. Sharada Mallya
9. Readers should find all aspects discussed in the prelude (in para nos. 2 to7) as features and realities in the experience cited by Smt. Sharada Mallya (in para no. 8). Therefore, for sake of brevity, the same are not repeated again in the conclusion.
Readers will also find their own experiences by doing Shravan Bhakti of Mother’s leelas in the experience of this devotee
10. Such is our Divine Mother, who has come as our Guru for all times and lives to come. Let us just love her for all times and in all lives to come.