A talk given by Ramai Santhirapala during the monthly Yogaswami puja at Shree Ghanapathy Temple in the UK
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo…
Thank you for asking me to say a few words on my experience with Kauai Aadheenam and the Guru Parampara. My journey started in this very temple, in 2005 when Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami led a youth workshop here at Shree Ghanapathy Temple. I remember the publications which were handed out and for the first time my religion was explained in a highly professional manner in English. Growing up in the west and the challenges of adjusting to local culture whilst not losing one’s own is a balance. Even if one is not conscious of it, each is seeking an understanding of who they are.
Fast forward a few years to 2009; I found myself googling “Saivism in English” and came across a website known as Himalayan Academy; the site of Kauai Aadheenam. Having read other sites which explain Saivism in English, something about this site was different and felt unusually drawn – I immediately signed up to have the daily lessons emailed to me. Two years later I had another unusual opportunity to visit Hawaii and visit Kauai Aadheenam. To my mind at the time it was Skanda Sashti, a festival so beloved in our family, and a wonderful boon to visit a Saivite temple.
Whilst there one of the Swamis suggested I do the Master Course – a study of Saivism. Starting the Master Course formally in 2013, having read it on an ad-hoc basis beforehand has been nothing short of life changing. As some of you will know, I am an academic, and the thought of studying Saivism and understanding it from a philosophical and academic perspective appealed to me. Yet as Paramaguru Yogaswami’s Guru, Chellapaswami, spoke ‘Naan Ariyom’. We do not know – our minds are limited by intellectual reasoning and there is so much that remains unseen at least to our two eyes.
The Master Course was then a 15 month, now 24 month, course in English which takes one through Saivite philosophy helpfully breaking it down into three books; the trilogy. The first, Dancing with Siva, lays down the philosophical basis of Saivism in a bite-sized way. I wanted to share the first teaching from this book:
“Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?
Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with God. We are, in truth, the Truth we seek. Aum.
We are immortal souls living and growing in the great school of earthly experience in which we have lived many lives. Vedic Rishis have given us courage by uttering the simple truth, “God is the Life of our life.” A great sage carried it further by saying there is one thing God cannot do: God cannot separate Himself from us. This is because God is our life. God is the life in the birds. God is the life in the fish. God is the life in the animals. Becoming aware of this Life energy in all that lives is becoming aware of God’s loving presence within us. We are the undying consciousness and energy flowing through all things. Deep inside we are perfect this very moment, and we have only to discover and live up to this perfection to be whole. Our energy and God’s energy are the same, ever coming out of the void. We are all beautiful children of God. Each day we should try to see the life energy in trees, birds, animals and people. When we do, we are seeing God Siva in action. The Vedas affirm, ‘He who knows God as the Life of life, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind–he indeed comprehends fully the Cause of all causes.’ Aum Nama Sivaya.”
As you might imagine these verses, much like the natchinthinai, are profound and as an example some have been studying the Master Course for over 50 years and still find the words deeply insightful. The second book, Living with Siva, gives practical advice on how to live as a Saivite which was particularly useful as I was growing up in the west; simple directions like go to temple once a week, go on pilgrimage once a year, practice the yamas and niyamas; very practical. The last of the trilogy books, Merging with Siva, delves into the mystical aspects of Saivism – for example today’s lesson (Sivaya Subramuniyaswami conveniently divided each book into 365 lessons; one for each day of the year) spoke of the mystical power of dharsan.
I will read an excerpt:
“Little is known of the guru’s grace or the power of darshana in Western culture. Darshana (more popularly darshan) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘vision, seeing or perception.’ But in its mystical usage, it is more than that. Darshan is also the feeling of the emotions of a holy person, the intellect, the spiritual qualities that he has attained and, most importantly, the shakti, the power, that has changed him and is there constantly to change others. Darshan encompasses the entirety of the being of a person of spiritual attainment. In India, everyone is involved in darshan. Some at a temple have darshan of the Deity. Others at an ashram have darshan of their swami or on the street enjoy darshan of a sadhu. And most everyone experiences durdarshan. That’s the word for television in India, meaning ‘seeing from afar.’ Even this seeing, through movies, news and various programs of mystery, tragedy, humor, the fine arts and culture, can affect our emotions, intellect, pulling us down or lifting us up in consciousness. Seeing is such a powerful dimension of life, and it affects us in so many ways, inside and out. Darshan, in the true meaning of this mystical, complex and most esoteric word, conveys all of this.
“The concept of darshan goes beyond the devotee’s seeing of the guru. It also embraces the guru’s seeing of the devotee. Hindus consider that when you are in the presence of the guru that his seeing of you, and therefore knowing you and your karmas, is another grace. So, darshan is a two-edged sword, a two-way street. It is a process of seeing and being seen. The devotee is seeing and in that instant drawing forth the blessings of the satguru, the swami or the sadhu. In turn, he is seeing the devotee and his divine place in the universe. Both happen within the moment, and that moment, like a vision, grows stronger as the years go by, not like imagination, which fades away. It is an ever-growing spiritual experience. The sense of separation is transcended, so there is a oneness between seer and seen. This is monistic theism, this is Advaita Ishvaravada. Each is seeing the other and momentarily being the other.”
This Master Course also taught me to perform a home puja to Pillaiyar and begin the steps of attention and concentration practices which Sivaya Subramuniyaswami speaks as pertinent prerequisites to meditation. You remember I thought of this as an academic study, yet it brought me so much more; almost like peeling off the layers which hide the inner light, it was a journey in seeing myself as a divine soul on a wondrous journey. The unseen boon of the Master Course was that in fact I was reading the words of my Guru Parampara. If I am honest before the Master Course had someone asked if I needed a Guru, my answer would have been “Why? Why have someone stand between you and God?”. But that only shows the mind’s ignorance and poor understanding of the real role of a Guru. From personal experience, a Guru is your friend, your confidante who by his own efforts and self realisation can see the steps ahead for you. Our teachings teach us to lean on our own spine, a favourite saying of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, that all knowing is within us and this has given me courage to open doors where I was once tentative. For example it altered my professional trajectory to one of writing and now not only write academically but also the boon of writing for the foremost international magazine, Hinduism Today. However there are times when one is at a crossroads and despite soul searching the road ahead seems unclear and now I think to myself ‘What would Satguru Bodhinatha do?’. Where the path ahead is still uncertain I know he is just an email away or mystically always connected and here – for example sometimes the answers come through the words of others, circumstance or unusual opportunities. All in all visiting Kauai Aadheenam and completing the Master Course has been a life transforming experience. Aum Namah Sivaya.
• While Himalayan Academy’s resources are available for free at himalayanacemy.com, you can now sign up for an online Supervised Master Course program here: https://courses.himalayanacademy.com/courses/master-course
Today is the fourth day of Pancha Ganapati and the fourth shakti of Lord Ganesha. This phase in particular, Satguru has been meditating on this day’s focus on the fourth shakti, which is the refinement of life, making it the perfect day for launching this special course.
So we are pleased to announce our new online Master Course Supervised Study! Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami has been working tirelessly to revitalize this core program for all our students.
The basic course is designed to fit into the spiritual life of today’s busy seekers and requires only ten minutes a day. You can enjoy additional course videos, audios, apps, etc., during your leisure time or even while commuting. We hope this online course will prove accessible and useful for all our students.
Join us on this wondrous spiritual journey of study!
The monks and members gathered for another Ritau Homa in Kadavul Temple. Satguru guided our week with a talk on the new ritau and the new considerations it brings into our lives.
Nartana Ritau, the season of Dancing with Siva, begins on Hindu New Year. This is the period of creation, the warm season, from mid-April through mid-August. The key word of this season is planning. The colors are orange, yellow-gold and all shades of green--orange for renunciation, yellow-gold for action, and green for regeneration. High above, the main Hindu flag flies the color orange, heralding the Nartana Ritau throughout this season, symbolizing sadhana and self-control. The other colors adorn smaller flags. This is the season of giving special attention to those in the grihastha ashrama. It is a time of awakening, renewal, review. The emphasis is on seeing ahead, planning for future years. It is a time of planning retreats and other activities for youths and adults for the entire year. During this time of looking forward, the Churchs six-year plan is updated by the Guru Mahasannidhanam and stewards and another year added. The Saiva Dharma Shastras are studied; and any needed additions in supplementary manuals, representing new growth, are made.
The practical focus is completion of unfinished projects. Secular holidays to observe among the families include Mothers Day in May, Fathers Day in June and Grandparents Day in August. In the monastery intensive cleaning of buildings and grounds takes place. New clothing is issued and old garments mended.
This season of harvest and new growth is also the time to review and reestablish picking and planting routines for the gardens. It is a time for ordering seeds and plants for the year, of planting trees, fragrant vines and the annual crop. Review is made for scheduling the care of all nine realms of the Aadheenams 71 acres. Kadavul temple and the Guru Temple are cleaned and renewed during this season, and the adjacent grounds receive special, abundant attention. Karma yogis are invited to help in this and other areas with planting and weeding, digging, fertilizing, fence repair and more.
The daily sadhana is the Sivachaitanya Panchatantra: experiencing nada, jyoti, prana, shakti and darshana. In Sanskrit, it is a time of learning new shlokas and mantras. In the family community, prashnottara satsanga is held for one and all to attend. Families plan for their annual pilgrimage. Shrine rooms are renewed and redecorated for the year, and the clothing of all is renewed in the Hindu style of the current fashion. It is a time of doing things for others, religious outreach. In the missions, Nartana Ritau is the time of bringing in new students and Church members. It is a time of hatha yoga and philosophical teaching.
The main festival of Nartana Ritau, and of the entire year, is Guru Purnima. The mathavasis hold special conclave on Vaikasi Vishakham, the full moon day of May.
After years of work that began with Book Four of the Saivite Hindu Religion course, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and the media team have completed a brand new book with 68 questions and answers on Saivite Hinduism for youth. The original Book Four had 35 questions and answers with four different languages. Bodhinatha requested a new version be created with only English. This was to serve as an answer to the often repeated query from numerous parents and teachers: "We need one complete but simple course we can teach for out kids!"
To that end we also reached out to our teachers in four different countries to get a list of additional subjects they felt should be covered because they needed these subjects covered in their classes. As editing began, we realized that one or another concept was missing, and slowly the scope of the book expanded until 68 subjects were included in question and answer form. The design concept was also upgraded to a more modern look and feel to be attract the current generation. We are happy announce the release of this book on Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's 2016 Mahasamadhi. We know he would be delighted to see his teachings take this new form for the next generation.
The book has already been printed in Malaysia and we have a few copies here. It is gorgeous! The physical copies will not be available until next month in the Minimela store, but in the meantime we have released the ebook versions on line. When the print edition is available we will send another announcement.
Please go here to fetch your PDF, eBook, or Kindle (Mobi) version. We are also including an MSWord DOCX version for teachers who may wish to extract text for classroom worksheet usage contexts.
Click here to down load your copy of: Path to Siva!
The long-awaited Tamil language version of Gurudeva's Dancing with Siva (renamed Sivaperumanudan Oru Thirunadanam) has been published by Kannadhasan Pathippagam in Chennai. It can be ordered online from the publisher for Rs450 here: bit.ly/TamilDWS. Within India the shipping is free. International orders are sent by courier.
Today marked the moon's passage into the lunar mansion (nakshatra) known as Ardra. Ardra nakshatra is associated with Lord Siva, specifically with the eponymously named star within it. The star known as Ardra is known as Betelgeuse in astronomy, and is 1.5 billion times larger than our sun. Think about that. Keep in mind that our sun is a million times larger than the size of our earth to begin with. This affords us the opportunity to meditate on the microcosm/macrocosm concept. Lord Nataraja's image conveys the constant activity of our natural universe in His dance. It occurs every millisecond within every subatomic particle. This is Parasakti.
Today's photo captions are the entirety of Gurudeva's third lesson of Dancing with Siva, "What Is Meant by 'Dancing with Siva?'."
Please also enjoy also this quotation from Saint Thirumular on Siva's Dance.
"The thirty-six elements dance. Sadasiva dances. Consciousness dances. Siva-Sakti dances. The animate and inanimate dance. All these and the Vedas dance when the Supreme dances His dance of bliss. The seven worlds as His golden abode, the five chakras as His pedestal, the central kundalini sakti as His divine stage, thus in rapture He dances, He who is Transcendent Light. He dances with the celestials. He dances in the golden hall. He dances with the three Gods. He dances with the assembly of silent sages. He dances in song. He dances in ultimate energy. He dances in souls--He who is the Lord of Dances. Tat Astu."
-- Saint Thirumoolar
Kaivalyanathaswami enjoys a good-bye-for-now chat with Luisa Vaca in our Wiliwili Mandapam. She is an enthusiastic registered Master Course student who has just completed a month-long pilgrimage here. Today, she is returning to her home to in Castaic, Southern California. "This has been a tremendous time for us," she said. (Her 20-year-old son, Sebastian [not pictured], had joined her for two weeks of the pilgrimage). "It has brought us a lot of clarity and understanding. It's helped remove obstacles and brought us closer to the Deities! We really feel good about that. It was a great experience that taught me the deeper meaning of pilgrimage.
Luisa is originally from Peru and remains close to that country and its culture. In fact, in a few days she will be traveling there with Sebastian on a different kind of pilgrimage, to visit with the ancient Q'ero people whose ways of living and philosophy she finds identical to that of Hinduism and Saivism. Buen viaje, Luisa and Sebastian! We are eager to hear of your experience there.
For those who saw this post several weeks ago, and were surprised to see them disappear suddently, we have improved the speed and audio quality and added proper MP3 tags and are now release these as good to go.
Gurudeva's 1970 Audio Master Course transformed the hearts, minds and lives of 1000's of spiritual aspirants. Several generations of seekers have passed through these last 4 decades and many have never heard of this treasure. Gurudeva lays out the core metaphysics of spiritual evolution in very simple terms.
We want to give a special thanks Iain Morland in the UK who has professionally restored the digitized versions of these very old audio tapes and brought them forward to good quality MP3 files. Now Gurudeva's powerful presence feels like he is right with you today!In 1970's the sadhana/practice/course was to listen to each one of these 12 tapes 3 times in one week. Then move to the next chapter. The course also had transcripts to read as you listened and took three months to complete. Some young Hindus recently heard some of these talks and were "blown away... awesome!" so the message is ever fresh and ever powerful, 40 years later. Click here to listen or download to your computer or mobile device NOTE: Small request for help: In our archives, we are missing a copy of the printed booklet of Chapter One of the course. In the front of each chapter transcript is a message that we have included in the web version, but we need to get that message from the Chapter One transcript book. If you have a complete set of this old course, please open to the first page that describes the meditation, visualization and practice that should accompany Chapter One, type this up and send it in an email to [email protected] Thank you!
We present to you quotations from Merging with Siva and Tirumantiram on Love and its identity with Siva. Specifically, these are taken from Chapter 18: Love is the Sum of the Law. Remember, as you go about your day, the love that flows through your Being is the same as the love that flows through everyone you meet. Every animate and seemingly inanimate object. Your family, friends, and that one person (or those persons) you really wish didn't exist. You all share the same love and that love is Siva. Anbe Sivam!
Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.