Archive for November, 2013

Spiritual Wave

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

 – Sri K.R.Raghavan Pillai, Vakil

It was the 26th January 1955. Auspicious in itself, as the anniversary of the great and peaceful revolution that has come over this sacred land, it is the most memorable day of my life, the beginning of a great inner revolution. It was on that day, that I had the good fortune to have the darsan of Sri Rama Devi at the Meenakshi Mandir, Trivandrum. It was a thrilling experience. Although indifferent towards the order of Sanyasa, there was something that drew me to the great name and the desire to have a darsan of the Mother was kindled in me as early as December 1953. The chance came two years later.

I was very timid to go to the Mother’s presence and wanted only to have a distant darsan. But in a few seconds, the whole atmosphere cleared and looked welcoming me. At about 6 P.M. I was introduced to Mother who greeted me with her radiant inimitable smile. I sat in front of Mother. She suddenly went into samadhi. It did not last long as expected and the Mother opened her eyes after a minute or two. I prayed for her blessings. She gave me Ram Nam smarana making me repeat ‘ Sree Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram ’ thrice. She asked me to attend the Akhanda Ram Nam yajna the next Sunday which I did. The chanting of Tharaka Mantra in four different tunes from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M., then Sankirthan and the Mother’s discourse, were solemn beyond words and it all elevated me to the regions of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

The seed thus sowed in my heart began rapidly to grow and as a result almost all members of my big family became Mother’s disciples.

We had the second darsan of the Mother in 1956 which gave us the initiative to start a Bhajan Mandir at the residence of Sri T. P. K. Nair at Haripad. When he, a Government officer, was transferred to Quilon, the Bhajan , Mandir was shifted to an out-house at my residence. Poojas and arathi are conducted there twice daily.

On the 4th March 1958, I had darsan of the Mother at the Trichur Mandali on the occasion of the installation of the idols of Sree Rama and Sree Krishna. At the Daridra Narayana Pooja, the Mother sat amidst of hundreds of people and partook of the dishes.

In 1959 on Her way to Kayamkulam, Mother gave us a darsan and graced our Bhajan Mandir with her presence. People from far and near had assembled. As the bhajan proceeded Samadhi set in and when the Mother opened her eyes she gave a discourse in Malayalam.

The ecstasy of Sri Ramakrishna, the exalted eloquence of Sri Vivekananda, and the wisdom of Pathanjali were all there. The members of the audience were appreciably moved and when they left they carried a rare enlightenment and consolation. The influence was immense.

Some months later, we had the good fortune to visit the Mother at Her home in Mangalore when we had the opportunity to have glimpses of Her domestic life. We had glimpses of the simple and austere life of Mother. She was an ideal mother and ideal hostess to us. She personally supervised the arrangements for our comfortable stay. Her daily routine of duties showed that she scrupulously observed what she was teaching. The simplicity of Her home, the calm and the divine atmosphere all round, the sincerity, the punctuality and hospitality of the members all deeply impressed us.

On 7-3-1959 the Sivarathri day, Mother performed Sivalinga Abhisheka with Ganga Theertham and poojas at the Bhajan Mandir at Trivandrum at the request of Swami Sivayogi Sidhananda.

In June 1960, I attended the Mother’s discourses in the Sadhana Mandir sessions at Mangalore, a place of bliss and peace.

The experiences have transformed me like hundreds of others. They have raised a wave of spiritual awakening in me and it is rolling incessantly.

At Sree Rama Devi Mandir

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

– Sri M.Narayanan Unni, M.A., B.L.

The celebrations in connection with the opening of Sri Rama Devi Mandir at Cotton Hills, Trivandrum, lasted for seven days from 7th of November to the 13th of November 1956. These were marked by brilliant pageants and moving religious ceremonies. In response to prayers from innumerable hearts, Sadguru Sri Rama Devi blessed the assemblage with her gracious presence. Attached to every detail of the arrangements, there was symbolic meaning. Over the entrance gate to the Mandir was erected a triumphal arch. Beneath hanging clusters of golden coconuts and plumy palm, hundreds of devotees came to worship at the shrine and for darsan of Mother.

From its commanding position from the declivity of a beautiful hill, the Mandir looked like a temple of peace. In the starry nights, it had the appearance of a chariot of flame winged an aerial flight to empyrean regions. Inside the prayer hall, in front of the shrine, were placed the lighted lamps and the censors full of incense. Floral offerings reached up to the peetam for Mother. The prayer hall and the shrine were set off to the finest advantage by the artistic skill of the devotees. The swelling dome of the shrine, and the praying hands of the assembled multitude beneath it, provided a splendid setting for the celebrations.

The celebrations commenced with Ganapathi Homa. Involved in it is a ritual which has wonderful spiritualizing potency. The officiating priests revealed one of the ritualistic worships of Kerala in its pristine purity. Then was the guru-pooja at Meenakshi Mandiram, the residence of Sri T. N. K. Nayar, Bar.-at-law, who is the President of Sri Rama Devi Bhaktha Mandali at Trivandrum. The guru-pooja was offered to the portrait of Divine Mother which was later to be installed in the shrine of the Mandir. The portrait is an artistic triumph, picturising the immortal calm of one of Mother’s samadhis. From Meenakshi Mandiram to the Mandir, the portrait of Mother was brought in procession. In the worship of Sadguru, at the inception of the celebrations homage was done to hoary traditions. During the procession, an awakened interest in the spiritual values of life were observable, in the common spectator and in the casual participant. The impact of a life of divinity, though hidden in the seclusion and retirement of domestic duties, is of incalculable intensity.

The institution which is given pride of place in the system of spiritual discipline taught by Mother is home. Her simple teachings communicate immortal ideas. Conduct and not doctrine is held up as the means to salvation. A complex theory of life of course emerges from the teachings. But the earnest seeker is not trammelled by doctrines and the interpretation is left to individual analysis and self-introspection. Deeply ingrained habits and mental attitudes are gradually eradicated under the impact of her powerful personality. Hers is a unique system of sadhana leading to a yogic integration of faculties. Propensities are curbed and minds are conditioned. Personal pursuits become identical with the highest ideals and most enduring values. By the performance of guru pratishta in the shrine of the Mandir, outward expression was given to the mysterious spiritual concept, namely, Sadguru, in a solemn ritual appropriate to earthly environments. Mr. and Mrs. T. N. K. Nayar, in performing the guru pratishta in the central niche of the shrine made no declaration of faith. The occasion was too solemn for speech. Representing Mother’s disciples and devotees, in expression of a common faith, they simply placed the portrait of Mother in the centre of the shrine for the wonder and worship of generations. The effect of the installation ceremony was electrifying. It evoked immediate emotional response. In the imagination of the assembled gathering, the ceremony became invested with the spiritual significance of an act of deification of Mother’s form, when it was thus installed within the sanctified precincts of a sacred shrine. The atmosphere vibrated with solemn jubilation. It was a memorable experience.

During earthly existence there are intervals of the sublime and the spiritual. Such an interval was when Divine Mother gave darsan after the gurupratishta ceremony. In the reverential salutation, with spontaneous outburst of devotion underlying the ceremony, representative singers from the various mandalies, sang a song of praise and glorification, specially composed for the occasion, full of philosophic meaning, poetic sentiment and melodious cadence. Mother’s spiritual radiance eclipsed the surrounding illumination. Mother was observed to be in solemn samadhi. Spiritual vibrations interpenetrated hearts and minds. Rich perfume of exotic incense, filled the mandir. Pancha arathi was performed. Bells, cymbals and conches in unison with human voices rose in splendor of sound wafting the devotion of the multitude to the lotus feet of Sadguru. Thereafter, the congregation moved out into the open yard for the hoisting of the flag emblazoned with the spiritual emblem of the Mandali. The symbolic representation on the flag depicted the spiritual career of the soul across the ocean of samsara to the peace of loftier realization.

Sadguru performed vigraha pratishta. Images of Sri Ramachandra and Sri Krishna were installed on either side of Sadguru’s portrait in the shrine. The images of the deities, carved out of black granites stones, depicted Sri Ramachandra with bow and arrow, and Sri Krishna with the famed murali or enchanting flute.

Presentation of addresses by various Mandalies and floral offerings by devotees followed. Sri Kudpi Srinivasa Shenoy, President, Kanara Chamber of Commerce, Mangalore, addressed the gathering. As Sadguru’s elder brother, the speaker was well suited to deal with the subject indicated by the title of the paper which he read on this occasion. His statements were based on vivid recollections. There is confirmation in the speech he read that spirituality in an exalted being like Sadguru is innate and that virtue is congenital. Sadguru’s divine life is a spontaneous efflorescence as distinguished from a meritorious life of cultivated elegance. His evaluations of Sadguru’s personality reflected the submissive attitude of pious reverence. He probably never associated with the sweet simplicity and ardent piety of his sister the inauguration of a mighty spiritual movement in the years ahead of them.

The distinctive feature of the teaching which has blossomed into an institution like this mandir is prem. This is also the most potent source of strength in the creation of a new society. There is no imposition of views, but the teaching extends its guidance to most personal and private matters in all relations of life. In the doctrine of prem, there is stress placed upon the divinity of man and not on theological abstractions. Sadguru teaches that by loving man we will learn to contemplate on the glories of God. learn to perform duties with detachment ; learn to pray in the drive and hurry of life ; learn to meditate during respite from work, during intervals of worldly occupations ; learn to enter the world of the puranas and intune the hearts and minds to their rhythm and message ; strengthen the religious conviction by meditation ; intentify devotion by surrender to Sadguru ; purify the mind by mastery of senses. Sadhana consists in practice of virtues. The courage for pursuing the path of spirituality is begotten by sadhana. Of sadhanas, meditation is supreme. Meditation gives control over mind and memory. It makes withdrawal possible from thoughts and concerns of distracted existence. It leads to awareness of the divine and brings about a state of constant loving attention to and dependence on the divine. Sadguru make all spots holy. Her benediction consecrates every life to the glory of God. This beautifying and chastening power was radiating in the mandir. There was a kind of mysticism in the air of the place where the mandir is situated which made everything beautiful to behold.

The shrine is built with modern materials, according to a style of architecture which has survived the innovations of successive ages and according to the rules of a living tradition. The architecture exemplifies a simplicity in technique which glorifies the work with a pure and integral faith. Classic themes are suggested rather than elaborated in the simplicity characterizing its decorative art. The flights of steps, fluted columns and dwarapalakas on either side-these common features get invested in the mind of the spectator with symbolic meanings appropriate to an ancient shrine. The installations are on niches, built as integral parts of the structure.

The shrine is topped by a travertine concrete slab which is resting on columns. In constructing the mandir, it was a happy thought which incorporated into its fabric, at the farther end of the huge prayer hall, at a focal and fundamental point, a separate shrine for the installation of the images of sadguru and the two deities. The precise location of the images illustrates the central position of the sadguru in the theological system. There are plans for interior decorative painting and symbolic architectural designs, which when accomplished, will result in exquisite works of art. The need for ritualistic worship in a life of piety and devotion was stressed by the observances in the shrine during the whole of the celebrations.

The shrine evoked a deep and simple spirit of prayer. Unsuspected heights of faith were revealed during the various rituals. Purity of heart, interior silence, spiritual solitude were experienced within the mandir. Life during the celebrations was a charming idyll. It was a puranic page glittering with spiritual experiences. It liberated us and made us belong to God purely. What were spoken and sung within the mandir answered to the deepest needs and aspirations of our spirits. We wished we could make an annual pilgrimage to this mandir, walking bare-foot across this beautiful country.

Everything in the prayer hall is vast and spiritual. In the rooms adjoining the prayer hall, the proportions are smaller and human. In these chambers too there was quiet. Through the open windows great clouds were seen sailing in the sky like ships. How close we were to Sadguru when absorbed by the tranquility of these chambers. Their silence and solitude are sacred to reminiscene. Now and then the huge bell from the shrine was ringing. The ensuing silence claimed us. It seemed to say : Pray and be quiet. Time stopped when once we were within the sacred precincts. By contemplation we could rediscover the foundations of being. The silence and solitude gave freedom from care. Mind and senses were stilled.

The night silence was profound in the mandir. A pure sky was overhead. The leaves were rustling. Trees were astir with prayer. Life was in the bud. Hope was young. There were flowers in the ridges and in the edges of the wood all round. On the lawns intersecting the mandir garden, there was richness of silvery sands. The mandir held the secret of knowledge for conquest of mysterious occult powers and the vision of God. Tranquility and detachment are two of the lessons it taught.

Delicate pink against deep blue was the colour of the day, sky matched against the patterns laid on the floor of the mandir, round the lighted lamp. In the prayer hall, before the shrine, all stood, royalty leading, and offered prayers and paid homage to divinity personified in Sadguru. During such prayers, the voice heard in the calm of thought, became thunderous in vibratory quality. Deep tranquility succeeded and settled upon the place. Some felt that with them spiritual life had only begun at that point of time. Between occasional showers, we saw the mandir bathed in a light usually not seen during that part of the year. The descending sun sometimes highlighted the entire structure against somber clouds of a dark overhanging sky. There was deep peace in those beautiful moments. The trellis work around enclosed a charmed spot wherefrom wafted a perfume as from a garden of roses.

Landscape helped the contemplative spirit. You could sing and pray and meditate in the hall, morning, noon or night. Only the shrine steps were not to be trodden by profane feet. Purificatory fast should precede ascent to the shrine. The shrine is accessible to purity and peace. Sadguru’s will is supreme good. Acts of virtue are prompted by it ; desire for sanctity is implanted by it. Her purifying presence alienated from everything in the world, but it also enlarged sympathies and intensified compassion.

The place was all colour with clouds and flowering shrubs and green margins. We knelt at the shrine before coming away with our minds full of visions. Wing after wing to this mandir was visualized-Bhajan, meditation, discourse, with awe-inspiring architecture, overpowering ritual, absorbing devotion. We were leaving the shrine when a big bank of clouds was crossing, and through the giant windows behind the shrine, those passing clouds suggested thrilling variations in the scenic setting of the mandir.

The bhajans made the common syntax of speech and song surrealistic. Apparently unrelated thoughts cohered in lovely tunes and seemed to be fragments of a moving symphony of sound. The songs during bhajans came up from the heart of the singers and half smothered them with ecstasy of utterance. Aflame with longing for salvation, they sang-not only for themselves but for humanity. These songs had a strange, mysterious power when sung in that context and setting, wherefrom the singers derived the richness of joy and peace.

During the bhajans there was deluge of sweet sounds and dulcet harmony. The songs were rendered sweet by the background of spiritual experience of the singers. By sheer soulful utterance they came near to achieving a sense of certitude and spiritual peace. In the songs and namavalis and especially in the orchestral bhajan of the Trichur mandali there was rich symbolism and nostalgia for rapturous identity of the individual soul with the universal spirit.

At the arathis also this congregation prayed together, with hands folded in entreaty and dedication. The arathi gave a great sense of the mysteries of our religion. There was a feeling of vital participation in a mysterious ritual. It provided the contemplative finale to an inspiring bhajan.  It gave a triumphant close to a paean of praise. The close of the arathi is strikingly significant with the word shanthi. The participants in the bhajan were at once united in an internal communion of souls as it were in some invisible shrine.

During these days it was beautiful to see Mother’s grace irradiating the lives of the people. Their actions became motivated by virtue. Their movements were harmonized by holiness.  Marvellous spontaneity marked their devotion. Golden and crimson and saffron, the evenings of the celebrations were ablaze with silver lamps, and burning bell-metal jyothis and with variety of shades of orange, red and mauve of innumerable flowers and leaves picked in high hills and distant fields for worship in the shrine.

The celebrations have liberated great spiritual forces. Through prayers, higher regions were traversed, soothing and calming currents of devotional music were sent out, genuine spiritual experiences, their pattern unchanged by flux of time, were regained by the participants in the bhajans and by the hearers of Sadguru’s discourses. The exposition of truth was emphasized and exalted by its visual exemplification in Sadguru’s divine person. The pious and the high-minded gathered for inner illumination and for graces of spirituality. The teachings of Sadguru became enshrined in the mandir. Here was another instance of the presence and operation of divine providence demonstrated in the conception and coming into existence of this mandir. Let us hope and pray that through this lives will be lifted and redeemed ; frontiers of individual ignorance will be pushed back by universal love ; mystical experience may be vouchsafed to intense striving of the earnest seeker ; fundamental wisdom experessed in the deeper religious experiences may be imbibed and propagated. We are richer already by twin gains-a desire for perfection and a message of peace, which the celebrations have already bestowed on us.

Mother’s teaching is not a doctrinal system. The controlling principles that have characterized the movement are devotion, meditation and love. One of her rare gifts to disciples is the inward spontaneity of belief in a life divine. She gives such spiritual insight which makes possible a life of clear consistency in which toleration for others can co-exist with inflexibility of conduct for oneself.

The convention of disciples, the congregational bhajans, the community life during the celebrations were superb and purifying disciplines. The conference was a signal success as regards the accommodation and hospitality offered by our hosts, the Trivandrum Mandali and the opportunity it offered for darsan of Mother surrounded by her disciples and devotees from various mandalis. Prayer prompted by devotion, petition for grace, heroic sacrifice and universal love were all  expressed in the uplifting resonance of the shrine bell, which was every day rung by an  ardent disciple of Mother who looked like the personification of sincerity.

Here was achieved a new synthesis, a higher plane of experience, a new religion growing out of the religious of today under the aegis of Sadguru, a religion of humanity. The absoluteness of her doctrine of prem gives intrinsic elevation to her teaching. All that attract, ennoble and uplift are fused in the classic mysticism which is the keynote of her personality and teaching.

“ Such is the Law which makes to righteousness
which none at last can turn aside or stray ;
The heart of it is love, the end of it
Is peace and consummation sweet.”
-Edwin Arnold