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Mahasivaratri, 2003, Part 2

Mahasivaratri, Part 2 of 3, Yogaswami as an Example of Saiva Siddhanta. Bodhinatha acknowledges the presence of some special guests from Canada who were close to Yogaswami, Gurudeva's guru, and announces his upcoming trip to Toronto for Yogaswami's mahasamadhi observances on April 11 as well as some other upcoming travel plans. He then talks about Yogaswami, who was a great Sivabhaktar and Sivayogi, simultaneously profoundly devoted to Siva and a profound meditator. Saiva Siddhanta requires both devotion and meditation from us.

Unedited Transcript:

As part of our many wonderful guests, we have quite a few from Canada and some of whom were very close to Siva Yogaswami and the Kailasa Parampara. We are very happy about that. We are preparing to go to Toronto in April and because Toronto is snowing, 20 and 30 degrees, I am saying we are warming up for the Toronto trip by our talk tonight! I don't want to go there without warming up first. We are going in April and the reason we chose that date, even though it is still a little cold for our Hawaiian blood, is that it is the time of the Annual Mahasamadhi ceremonies for Siva Yogaswami. It is the Aslesha nakshatra on April 11th, so we wanted to be there for that celebration and we will talk a little more about that in a minute.

We are also getting ready and working on trips to Mauritius and Malaysia in August, at the time of Ganesha Chaturthi. We always visit Mauritius and our Center there at Ganesha Chaturthi time. We have a special Ganesha Mandapam.

We are getting ready for our biggest journey, which is a little less than a year from now and that is our India Innersearch, in the middle of January 2004, which is about 3 weeks in length. A wonderful program we are developing, which has a nice balance to it. Sometimes our programs have been almost all pilgrimage, but this program is providing a nice balance between daily classes, pilgrimage to the major temples and nice selections of the best of dance and music and other cultural traditions of South India. We are going to mix together all three elements, pretty much on a daily basis and keep the traveling down too. We are staying just in a few places, not jumping on a bus everyday and go somewhere different. We are starting to get some enrollments in for that program. If you are interested, you can contact Sadhaka Dandapani, while you are all here and assure yourself a place.

Back to Toronto. The reason we want to focus on Yogaswami, there is a very large Saivite community there in Toronto and we wanted to talk about Saiva Siddhanta and use Yogaswami as an example. Both in terms of how he lived Saiva Siddhanta, as well as how he talked Saiva Siddhanta. Because, he is an excellent example of a Siva bhaktar and a Siva yogi at the same time, in the same person. He is a great devotee of Lord Siva, has tremendous devotion for Lord Siva. He is also a great yogi, someone who can meditate profoundly. This particular combination of devotion and meditation, that Gurudeva was talking about also is pretty much unique to the path of Saiva Siddhanta. Other Hindu traditions usually emphasize just one or the other. Either, it is important to be a great bhaktar, a great devotee or it is important to meditate profoundly and worship internally. However, Saiva Siddhanta requires both of those, not just one or the other. In fact, deep devotion to God is considered a prerequisite to meditation, meaning profound meditation. It is not that we cannot sit and have a simple meditation, if we don't have a lot of devotion. But it is rather, if we are really serious about meditation and want to make good progress, really go into the depths of ourselves, first we have to cultivate devotion.

Saiva Siddhanta, as most of us know, but I will mention it anyway, because some of us are not familiar with the terms, describes the spiritual path in four progressive stages. The first one is charya, virtuous conduct and selfless service. Then kriya, devotional practices. Then, yoga, which is meditation and jnana, which is enlightened wisdom. I will read Gurudeva's statement about the relationship between devotion and yoga from 'Dancing with Siva'.

"Hinduism demands deep devotion through bhakti yoga and the kriya pada, softening the intellect and unfolding love."

That is the outcome of the kriya pada or the practice of devotion. It softens our intellect and helps us have a deep love.

"Yoga, union, is the process of uniting with God within oneself, a stage arrived at through perfecting charya and kriya. "

As we mentioned, Siva Yogaswami exemplified these teachings in his life. He certainly is a great Yogi and he would sit for hours at a time and during some periods of his life, he would sit for days at a time in deep meditation, a real profound meditator. He also had the knack, just like Gurudeva, of explaining profound metaphysical, spiritual concepts in very simple language. It is one of the beauties of Gurudeva's teachings. He does not use a lot of complex terminology, very simple. "Life is meant to be lived joyously." You cannot mistake what that means.

So, Yogaswami has one of these statements and it is called a Mahavakyam. There are four of his statements, so considered 'Great Sayings', his core teachings. This one is in Tamil - Summa Iru.

Something parents say to their children all the time, be quiet. So, it has a very practical sense because it is just something that is part of life. Parents are telling children to be quiet. Teachers are telling students, be quiet. Yogaswami is telling Saivites, "Be Quiet". It is so simple but yet it is so profound also. That is the wonderful part of his teachings, Gurudeva's teachings and the Parampara's.

In fact, this teaching is so central. There is a center, the Sivathondan Nilayam on KKS Road in Jaffna, two-storey building. Downstairs is where most of the activities take place. That is where you sing and you eat, you talk. Upstairs, silence only. The whole second storey of the building, you are supposed to be quiet. Even when Guru puja is done, there is no bell, no bell at all. It is quiet. So in the building itself, when you are upstairs you are quiet, be still. When you are downstairs, you don't have to be still. It is symbolic, as you will see.