2013 Gurudeva Mahasamadhi Day 2

"Life is meant to be lived joyously. There is in much of the world the belief that life is a burden, a feeling of penitence, that it is good to suffer, good for the soul. In fact, spiritual life is not that way at all." Gurudeva

Day two of the Aadheenam's Gurudeva Mahasamadhi Celebrations began with a short early-morning pada puja performed by Sadhaka Mayuranatha and Sadhaka Jayanatha. Following the puja was a silent meditation.

After Breakfast, the group of pilgrims gathered in the courtyard for a Santsang with Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami. He gave a short talk and then told some wonderful stories about Gurudeva. He then played a video, taken during Gurudeva's 70th birthday on an Alaskan cruise ship. In the Video Gurudeva described his first meeting with Yogaswami. Paramacharya ended the class with a discussion about the importance of the guru.

Pilgrims continued their full day with lunch followed by a grand paduka parade out to the Swayambhu Lingam. Gurudeva's tiruvadi were placed on a palanquin and paraded through the property to several key points where worship was performed and individual groups of pilgrims had a their chance to receive prasadam. The first stop was Umbrella Ganesha, the second was Iraivan Temple, followed by Dakshinamurti, then Muruga Hill, and finally the Swayambhu Lingam. Afterwards everyone returned to Kaduval temple and then left for the evening, to return the next day for our first homa in our newly created yagasala.

2013 Gurudeva Mahasamadhi Celebrations

"Through regular practice of meditation, one learns to move awareness through the Superconscious areas like a dancer learns to move across the stage according to the rhythm of the music. It takes much practice for the dancer to acquire the technique in the preparation of himself to fulfill his calling. He has to live a disciplined lifestyle. It is the same for the contemplative. He has to work with and exercise the currents of awareness so dynamically that he can flow into a superconscious area and remain there long enough to look around a little bit and enjoy it." -Gurudeva

Today marks day one of four festive days here at Kauai Aadheenam. Pilgrims from all over the world have come to visit the monastery, learn from Satguru Bodhinatha and his monks, perform sadhana, and of course, celebrate Gurudeva's fathomless spirit. Today began with a Siva homa, performed by our guest priest Kumar Gurukkal. Gurukkal is currently serving as head priest of the Hindu Temple of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He lives there with his family and has officiated at our Gurudeva Mahasamadhi for several years now. The Homa included an auspicious Namakarana Samskara, a name-changing ceremony for Jayashri Nataraj. Here is part of her pledge which she read aloud:
"I, Jayashri Nataraj, formerly known as Lily Lawrence, having declared of my own volition acceptance of the principles of the Sanatana Dharma, including a firm belief in all-pervasive Divinity and the Vedic revelations of karma, dharma and punarjanma, and having severed all previous non-Hindu religious affiliations, attachments and commitments, hereby humbly petition entrance into the Saivite sect of the Hindu religion through the traditional namakarana samskara. I plead for recognition and acceptance of this irrevocable conversion to Saivite Hinduism by God, Gods, devas and the community of devotees witnessing this sacred rite. May my family name be known as Nataraj and my given name as Jayashri."

Following the Homa, pilgrims had a light breakfast together and then attended a satsang with Satguru Bodhinatha. Bodhinatha led the group through several meditations and delved deep into a study of the tattvas and the deeper energies of the mind and soul.

Later in the day pilrgims had the opportunity to join Brahmanathaswami for a bhajan class, and then proceeded to a class with Shanmuganathaswami. Swami gave a lesson in color meditation and energizing one's aura. Following the class pilgrims were free to wander the evening grounds and perform sadhana in our sacred gardens. Many pilgrims soon retired for the night, after having had an exhaustingly wonderful day.

Gurudeva Padapuja

Today we celebrate Gurudeva as we invoke his inner blessings and observe the love with which he changed all of our lives. Jai Gurudeva!

From Living with Siva:

"Love is inclusive, not exclusive, on the spiritual path...
Hindu temples sustain Hinduism around the world. Scriptures keep us always reminded of the path we are on and the path we are supposed to be on, but only from the satguru can you get the spirit, the Sakti, the sustaining spirit, to make it all come to life in you, to make the temple meaningful and to complement the scriptures with your own sight, your own third-eye sight. Otherwise, it's just words. Nathas are not on the path of words. The Rishi wandered down from the Himalayas to Bangalore. What did he say? Nobody knows. Whom did he talk to? Nobody knows. Did he influence crowds of people? Perhaps, but he only had to influence one individual, Kadaitswami, to speak out to the world. Kadaitswami caught the spirit of the Rishi, who had caught the spirit of the previous Rishi, the previous Rishi and all the ones that preceded him. It is that spirit of sampradaya that makes the traditional teachings meaningful, that gives you the power to discriminate between what is real within those teachings and what is superfluous or just plain nonsense, that gives you the power to blend Siddhanta with Vedanta, Vedas with Agamas. The irreversible spirit of the guru carries through all of the sishyas. It is basically the only gift a guru can give--that sustaining spirit. He doesn't have to give knowledge, because that has already been written down. He doesn't have to build temples, because there are more than enough temples for everyone. The rare and precious gift that he can convey is the inner spirit of his religious heritage. That is his unique gift to the world. Nathas do not follow the way of words.

Marching Through Sri Lanka and South India

The 1982 Indian Odyssey and the all-island tour of Sri Lanka that followed had no precedent in history. No one, not even S. Shanmuga sundaram, the liason officer for the Church in Sri Lanka who had done the groundwork for the journey, had an inkling of the overall magnitude of the receptions that awaited Gurudeva there. It was unprecedented precisely because religious followings in Asia remain exclusive, and the followers of one teacher or guru do not attend the lectures of another. When a Ramakrishna swami travels, for example, his audience is, for the most part, Ramakrishna Mission members, plus a few uncommitted seekers. But here was a rare soul, a guru, not from India, but from the Wild West, from America, who had no local following and posed no threat to any movement. After all, he would soon return to his land and not draw devotees away from the local ashrams. Everyone was, therefore, free to attend his talks, and they did in numbers that had not been seen since the legendary saints of yore walked these same lanes to speak similar thoughts to devotees centuries before. In this remote part of the world, the village was still the center of life; and when Gurudeva rode through a village, by car or carriage, it came alive. Thousands of Saivites lined the lanes of Alaveddy, Kopay, Karainagar, Batticaloa, Hatton, Kokuvil and elsewhere to honor and revere the satguru and affectionately greet the Saiva pilgrims from the West. A holiday was declared in Kilinochchi so all the school children of the district could join in the parade, which wound a full sixteen miles through the region and took an entire day. From 9am to 5pm Gurudeva was seated on a tall chariot made for the occasion, drawn through the crowded streets by hundreds of men pulling two long, stout ropes. At the gate to each family compound, typically just off the road, nearly every household had set up an elaborately decorated greeting altar, with brass oil lamps called kuttuvilakku and a kumbha. Standing around the altar, the entire family (often three generations) would greet the tall, white-haired, orange-robed, rudraksha-bedecked satguru with flowers, rosewater, holy ash and arati. For most, he simply passed by and they rushed forward to throw their garland into his hands. Now and again, the procession halted, and Gurudeva got down, approached the family's altar and allowed them to pass the lighted lamp before him, to pour water on his dusty feet, place the red pottu on his forehead and garland him. He looked like Siva Himself, they whispered to one another, so divine, so full of light and love. For these families, stories would echo for generations.

Processions continued for miles and miles in the hot sun, village after village. As he approached the outskirts of a village, you could hear the distant, welcoming roar of hundreds of voices intoning "Aum Namasivaya" with heartfelt fervor. Kids set off firecrackers and lit sparklers. Those with more ingenuity had set nets of flowers high in the trees, and as Gurudeva walked beneath, they tugged on ropes to release showers of blossoms. Each procession had its destination, a temple usually, for this is the common gathering place for Saivites and saints, but sometimes it was a hall or a schoolyard. The last few hundred meters, sometimes the last mile, men would scurry in front of him, in teams of eight, to place on the ground newly woven white veshti cloth in ten-meter lengths so the satguru's feet, bare as he approached the temple, would not have to touch the Earth. Walking before the satguru, there was always a team of nagasvara and tavil musicians and a flock of young girls in white dresses tossing rose petals beneath his feet. Arriving, Gurudeva was escorted to the Deity's shrine for a brief puja, then to the stage for the obligatory oratory by local politicians and village elders, which, if allowed, would eclipse the real purpose of the day. Toward the end Gurudeva decreed that his talk would be first and the introductions would follow. Amazingly, it worked; and his connection with the audience came to life, absent the hour-long soporific speechifying by others.

Gurudeva Portrait

When Zsolt Miklos Kovacs traveled for several hours to meet our peripatetic swamis in Italy last month, he brought this amazing portrait of Gurudeva as a gift, made with acrylics and pencil. Gurudeva's teachings mean a lot to him and it shows in this work which captures something special of our dear Gurudeva. Zsolt calls the work "Homage." It's so accurate, we thought some may want to print it out, so you can click on the full-screen button in the bottom-right for a higher-resolution version. Or click here for an even higher resolution version

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