Today is the holy celebration of Vaikasi Visakam, honoring the birth of Lord Murugan. On this day the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order welcomed its newest swami in traditional ritual.
Thus was born Sannyasin Tillainathaswami!
Together at dawn and in the presence of all the swamis of the Order, he and the satguru symbolically conduct his antyesti samskara, the ritual funeral rites, to betoken the death of the personal self and the birth of the spiritual being. He places the remnants of personal identity, clothing, pulnool or sacred thread and all desires for wealth, progeny and fame into the homa fire, beseeching the permission of Lord Ganesha and heeding the path of Lord Muruga, vowing aloud his renunciation thus: "All that I have and all that I am I now give unto my God, my Gods and my guru. I have no family except the Divine Father Siva and Mother Sakti who dwell in Kailas and on Earth the sangam of Saivite devotees. I have no home except the stillness of Being. I have no possessions except my faith and dedication. I have no desires except my desire to serve and to realize God." The candidate then says aloud three times, "I, wishing for mukti, take refuge in this sacred Order and in God Siva, who created the world, who breathed out the Vedas. The purpose of my life is to cultivate dispassion, to become pure, to attain union with God Siva and be immersed in Divine Love. I do fully and of my own volition accept these Holy Orders of Sannyas, now and for the remainder of my life, and bind myself in the fulfillment thereof to the ancient Order of sannyas, to my satguru, to my Saivite Hindu faith and to the devas, the Mahadevas and Lord Siva Himself. I am the Atman, the non-dual Parasiva, pure and free."
So saying, the renunciate walks seven steps around the homa fire, returning to kneel at the guru's feet. He is thereafter dead to the world. The satguru then whispers the Panchakshara Mantra in the candidate's right ear three times, along with personal instructions for meditation.
The acharyas read aloud Yogaswami's from Natchintanai:
Hail, O sannyasin, love's embodiment!
Does any power exist apart from love?
Diffuse thyself throughout the happy world.
Let painful maya cease and ne'er return!
Day and night give praise unto the Lord.
Pour forth a stream of songs
To melt the very stones.
Attain the sight where night is not nor day.
See Siva everywhere, and rest in bliss.
Live without interest in worldly gain.
Here, as thou hast ever been, remain.
Then never will cruel sorrow venture nigh.
THE SACRED VOW OF RENUNCIATION: KNOWN IN TAMIL ASAHATTURAVU.
RENUNCIATION IS THE RELINQUISHMENT of world, desire and ego. It is detachment founded in knowledge of the magnetic nature of body, mind and emotion, a knowledge which inclines the soul toward non-involvement with external forms and, in time, summons forth realization of Parasiva, Absolute Reality. Renunciation is repudiation of individual personality and ownership. It is poverty as opposed to affluence, simplicity as opposed to ramification in life. It is self-containment, freedom from worldliness and its concomitant distractions and obligations. In its deeper sense, renunciation is a surrendering of limited identity, ego-sense or individuality known in Sanskrit asahamkara, that the soul may soar to the very depths of Being. It is the beginning of the end of samsara, the wheel of rebirths, the death of the old ushering in a spiritual renascence which will ultimately mature into illumination andmoksha. It is the ultimate ripeness of the soul and mystic marriage to God Siva. It is the Maha Vrata or Great Oath of the Saivite pathfinders and contains within it commitment to the unwritten and even unspoken customs followed by those who have worn thekavifor untold centuries.
In Tamil renunciation for the sannyasin is known asahatturavu, which means "detachment through giving up the sense of I' and mine,'" epitomizing the ideal of this Sacred Vow. Renunciation is not a running away from the world provoked by fear or failure therein. Rather it is an irrepressible drawing into sacred realms of consciousness and being far more subtle and demanding of discipline than anything the world may offer--a state of being that follows fulfillment in the world as the next natural evolution of consciousness. Renunciation is not an opportunity to shun responsibility or to do as one pleases, but carries with it challenges and accountability of an even more formidable, albeit inner, nature. It is not a disgust for this world, but a love of deeper worlds so great that the material universe and its gifts are, by comparison, mean and meager. Though he strives to be affectionately detached, the sannyasin should never become indifferent or so accepting of all that happens that he accepts passively harm to himself, his Order or his religion. The renunciate's life is not one of inactivity, but vital activity directed toward selfless and spiritual ends--an inner consciousness described in scriptures as the giving up not of work but the fruits thereof, whether apparently good or bad. It is not by virtuous acts that the sannyasin attains liberation. They are chains, though wrought in gold. No deed, however altruistic, is without its bearing on the ego of the doer; and thus the sannyasin holds firmly to his detachment even in the midst of his bountiful benevolence.
Renunciation is the abjuration of the grihastha dharma and the acceptance of the sannyasa dharma, a dharma which will create or resolve karmas according to how it is discharged. Though it disallows personal possessions and upholds the ideals of simplicity known as poverty, renunciation is not a condition of destitution, deprivation or disregard for one's well-being. Nor is it a resignation from life or an abandoning of humanity, but a fulfilling of mankind's highest need and a joyous surrender to That which is the substratum of life. It serves not man, but God in man, not the body but the spirit within the body. Renunciation for the sannyasin may be defined as wisdom in handling of karma, maya and desire. He must strive to free the mind from the thralldom of the senses. He must work diligently to extirpate vanity and selfishness, realizing that the ego, though subdued by the strength of tapas well performed, is never annihilated as long as the soul remains embodied, but is subdued, reserving the potential to rise again should he abandon his sannyas dharma. He must strive, especially at the outset, to quell the forces of pride, pretention and conceit, never allowing himself to feel the flush of self-importance or arrogance. He must guard his modesty as a treasure, never holding himself superior to others, for there is no conceit so tenacious as the spiritual ego. Before he is well-grounded and stable in his realization, he must give up all siddhis that may arise as a natural consequence of his sadhana and unfoldment, neither desiring nor encouraging such powers. He must see the perfection resident within the souls of all men, but remain aware of his own faults and transgressions, however insignificant. He must remain equally indifferent to both praise and blame, never allowing others to extol his virtues, never speaking personally of himself or his past, even when asked. He must never accept personal gifts, however small or well intended. However, he may accept food and minimal travel assistance and receive non-personal contributions on behalf of the monastery, placing them immediately upon the altar, offered to the Lord.
The sannyasin cultivates renunciation through meditation on the transcendent Parasiva and worship of the immanent Lord Hara who removes the fetters which bind the soul. He cultivates renunciation through remaining secure within his inner consciousness and radiating the joy and contentment which are the harbingers of awakening. He cultivates renunciation through living simply, holding the consciousness that Lord Siva has entrusted to him the care of tools and personal items which he uses; such an attitude of custodianship averts any sense of possessiveness. He cultivates renunciation through patiently enduring hardship. He cultivates renunciation through performance of tapas and austerities which keep his will strong and his ego subdued. He abjures personal wants that may arise rather than seeking to fulfill them and casts off all preferences, both likes and dislikes. He accepts in trustful love all that comes, offering no complaint when ostensible needs are not provided. He practices detachment and dispassion, vairagya, consciously remaining calm, kind and quietly strong in the midst of even adverse circumstances. He cultivates renunciation by continued penetration into contemplative states of mind, withdrawing from the vortex of external consciousness into Parasiva, the Self God. He cultivates renunciation by surrendering to the will of Siva in his life, abiding in the knowledge of Sarvam Sivamayam, all is Siva, a mystic insight which will dissolve all concepts of separateness from God and offer in its stead cognition that jiva is indeed Siva. He cultivates renunciation through living on the eve of his departure, always ready to change, to move, to travel wherever he may be needed. He cultivates renunciation through not identifying with name and form, through not attaching importance to title or position. He cultivates renunciation through detachment which evolves from viveka which is discrimination to vairagya which is dispassion to tyaga which is renunciation and finally into kaivalya which is emancipation, blissful independence and moksha. He cultivates renunciation through giving up all fears of death and even desires of anticipated enjoyments of the heavenly realms. He cultivates renunciation through viewing himself as the homeless one, free and unattached, finding security within the recesses of his own being, not participating in the mundane concerns and conversations of the world, nor engaging himself in social life outside of the brotherhood of sannyasins. He cultivates renunciation through non-involvement with his family or former friends. He cultivates renunciation through remembering that this body is destined to perish, that this personality is fleeting, and identifying therefore with nothing ephemeral, but with the only permanence there is--That within which lies beyond time, form and cause. He cultivates renunciation through spurning the life that is death and embracing the death that is life eternal, transcending himself by himself.
In fulfillment of his Sacred Vow of Renunciation, the sannyasin is directed to not involve himself in matters of the world. Should worldly situations arise, whether from within the monastery or without, he is enjoined to remain silent and aloof. Neither shrinking from disturbed conditions nor feeding them by his thought and concern, he must remain ever the witness lest he hasten the harvest of such unseemly karmas. He is enjoined to keep his own personal needs moderate while not requiring the same of others and to hold firmly to his yoga and his equanimity. If he can remain the silent watcher, if he can control the wanderings of the mind sufficiently to be summa, to just be, if he can remain joyous and serene in all circumstances, if he can progressively surrender the sense of "I am the doer" and awaken the perception that "Siva does all," if he can patiently endure all hardship and maintain his tavam, standing apart from the entanglements of sex, money, food and clothes, if he can live in simplicity owning nothing in this world, not even the robes he wears, if he can never, never forget his guru and the goals of service and realization, he will have fulfilled the spirit of this Sacred Vow. May the sannyasin ever call to mind the words of the Tirukural,"Attach yourself to Him who is free from all attachments. Bind yourself to that bond in order that all other bonds may be broken."
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