Kauai sishya along with with Woody and Sadhaka Tejadevanatha (behnd the camera) joined Sivakatirswami yesterday for the bi-monthly singing/chanting workshop. We practiced our basic Tamil invocations, two Vedic chants and then we went around the room with everyone leading a bhajan. Swami is teaching everyone to develop “auditory memory.” We sing out loud while looking at the book and then you try to “listen and hear it” inside your head with your eyes closed and just mouthing the words, but making no sound. The goal is to memorize the songs and to go deep into the meaning while we sing. So it requires both understanding what you are singing and also not being dependent on the song books. We practiced some of the Natchintanai we all know well and started learning a new one “Nalluran Thiruvadi,” which is very popular among Yogaswami’s devotees. We also practicing some basic vocal exercises as recommended by Adi Sankara: taking deep breaths and then doing long SAAA, RIII, GAAA notes.
Swami pointed out that after radio came record players and then CD’s and now iPods and iTunes. This change in the our interaction with music has turned us all into “listeners of the professionals,” but in the old days, everyone would sing. You can see some videos from Jaffna where an elder is singing. He may not be in perfect tune, but he knows the songs! So we want to get back to the “old ways” where we all sing and we are not just “listeners.” This is one of the main cultural components of bhakti sadhana in Hinduism.
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Within our Saiva Siddhanta Holy Scriptures the Saiva Agamas explain the basis of temple ceremonies and worship plus yoga and jnana. The Tirukural was considered by Gurudeva to be "the most accessible and relevant sacred text." In it are practical and helpful guidelines for our conduct in every day life. The point of family life is to gain steady improvement, forever, in self control in the midst of responsibilities in the fulfillment of family dharma. Meanwhile, not taking detachment too far but taking it in the sense of spiritually looking for happiness, not outside in other people or possessions, the world, but inside ourselves and then sharing it with family and friends. "We regard the writings of our satgurus as scripture."
Path to Siva, Lesson 20
Tirukural, Introduction and Contents
Tirukural, Chapter 15 Possession of Self-Control
"The temple enables us to feel the presence of God, Gods and devas." We use our inner eyes to see what's going on in the temple, the three worlds. In the temple we're being good dvaitists in the dimfi perspective, focused in bhakti upon God Siva. In meditation we're monists, in the shumif perspective. We claim our oneness with Siva, Sivoham, I am Siva. In surrender, shrinking the ego through devotion, we have a realization that we're not the doer, that Siva is doing it all. Siva's energy comes through our soul.