Lesson 347

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Sloka 37 from Dancing with Siva

What Is the Nature of the Charya Pada?

Charya is the performance of altruistic religious service and living according to traditional ethical conduct and culture, by which the outer nature is purified. It is the stage of overcoming basic instinctive patterns. Aum.


Charya, literally "conduct," is the first stage of religiousness and the foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa marga, meaning "path of servitude," for here the soul relates to God as servant to master. The disciplines of charya include humble service, attending the temple, performing one's duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas. Within a strong society, one performs charya whether he wants to or not. Young or rebellious souls often resist and resent, whereas mature souls fulfill these obligations most naturally. Right behavior and self-sacrificing service are never outgrown. The keynote of charya, or karma yoga, is seva, religious service given without the least thought of reward, which has the magical effect of softening the ego and bringing forth the soul's innate devotion. The Tirumantiram explains, "The simple temple duties, lighting the lamps, picking flowers, lovingly polishing the floors, sweeping, singing the Lord's praise, ringing the bell and fetching ceremonial water--these constitute the dasa marga." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 347 from Living with Siva

Upholding Your Faith

The clothing we wear shapes our attitudes, cultural behavior and the friendships we hold. Clothes do affect our moods and emotions and make a declaration of who we are. My recommendation is to be who you are and let the world know it, even in the workplace, unless a dress code does not permit this, of course. This includes wearing the sacred forehead marks and Hindu jewelry, wedding pendant, toe rings, earrings and beads. The message is: don't be afraid to be a Hindu, which includes dressing like a Hindu.

Boldly proclaim your faith to the world. Others proclaim theirs. I will never forget seeing the many spiritual and parliamentary leaders in Moscow at the Global Forum on Human Survival in January of 1991. Many were dressed in Western suits and ties, and it was hard to tell who among them were from the West, or from Africa or India, and harder still to tell who was a religious person and who a politician. But at the Millennium Peace Summit of Religious Leaders at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York in 2000, there were so many, perhaps most, who wore their native dress. I knew instantly who they were, where they were from and what they represented. They carried the stronger message and showed by their clothes that they were proud of their tradition, and that they intended to preserve it. That kind of strength is good to see in a world that has mistaken drab uniformity for security.

This is what temple societies and elders and swamis and gurus are all thinking deeply about--"Should my ashrama look like a hippie commune, or a serious place of yoga? Should our temples look like advertisements for Levi-Strauss acid-washed jeans?" Many say, "Well, God in the temple doesn't care how I'm dressed. It's how I am on the inside that counts." This is a weak excuse. We cannot be one way on the inside and another on the outside. It's all us, inside and out. Even in elegant restaurants, a coat and tie is required. They will lend these to you at the door. Just as is done today at temples in Bali, we loan wrap-arounds and shawls to those who walk into our temples wearing T-shirts and shorts. Perhaps the way things are heading, one day the Gods in the temples will have the dress of the day: a baseball cap turned backwards, a T-shirt, baggy pants. Perhaps that would satisfy the issue and end the controversy. What do you think?

Women say that they think and act and move differently when they are dressed in a sari than in Western casual clothing. Another point--men look nicer in the traditional Indian outfit than they do in Western coats, shirts and trousers. But many are shy to wear Hindu clothing, especially the men. They need not be. Last summer a girl we know was scared to death to go to college in her punjabis. But she tried it. Within four days some of the American coeds came up and asked, "What do you call that outfit? We want one like it, too. It's so beautiful." So much for our fears!

Swami Vivekananda noted, "The sari of our women and the choga and turban of our men defy comparison as regards beauty in dress. The tight dresses cannot approach in loveliness the loose ones that fall in natural folds." Hindus dressed like Hindus behave like Hindus. Don't underestimate the power of our dress, how it influences our attitudes, feelings and even the company we keep. This is food for thought, isn't it? Think about it.

Sutra 347 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Overnight Stays When Traveling

My Saiva monastics while traveling may reside and take meals in ashramas, temples, hotels or homes of worthy initiated families of our Saiva Siddhanta Church. Their sojourn in homes must never exceed three nights. Aum.

Lesson 347 from Merging with Siva

Earth Peoples' Shared Wisdom

Therefore, reincarnation is a refining process, attributing to the evolution of consciousness. To the watchful observer, the evolution of man's inner bodies can be seen reflected in the tone and form of his physical vehicle. Being a reflection of the inner bodies, the physical shell can and does pass through radical transformation as the spiritual path is followed. Some people seem to reincarnate within this very life, changing themselves so deeply through tapas and sadhana that they are totally renewed or reborn on the physical plane. Their new light and energy pass through the very cells of the body, invigorating and strengthening it. Still, the inner bodies are more malleable than the physical forces and generally evolve more quickly, becoming quite different and more refined in this life than the physical shell. In the next life, the physical structure will be entirely different, as the spiritual body manifests a new physical body more like unto itself.

Other theories propose that the soul remains on the astral plane after death. After reviewing all of our Earthly experiences on the playback, we release the astral body and enter the heavenly realms of consciousness, never coming back to the physical plane, or at least not for a long time. Many cultures, such as the Native American Indian culture, recognize this basic law of reincarnation in their "Happy Hunting Ground" concepts. Also related to this theory is the belief that when something is destroyed through fire on the physical plane, whether animate or inanimate, it will be found again on the astral plane. For example, when an Indian brave died, his saddle, clothing and valuables were buried and sometimes burned along with his body so that he might continue using these possessions to live well on the inner, astral, plane. These theories of reincarnation assure us that we will meet our loved ones and friends on the inner planes after death. Similar traditions exist among the Hindus in Bali and the Shintoists in Japan.

By exploring the theories of various civilizations we discover that man can either incarnate soon after his death, with little or no interlude, or he may remain for thousands of years on the astral plane, evolving in those force fields, just as on Earth he evolved from experience to experience. How long he will spend on the astral plane depends on how he has created or chosen what he wants to do while on Earth. If he left things undone and felt compelled to accomplish more, to see more, then he would return quickly to another body in fulfillment of the desire for Earthly experience. However, were he satisfied that life had taught him all of its lessons and wished to exist away from the physical plane in mental and spiritual spheres, he might never return to inherit another body.

If we study the Pyramids and explore the intricate ceremonies which the Egyptians provided for their death, we find that they kept the body preserved with elaborate chemical and environmental treatment. When the elements of the physical body are kept intact and not allowed to decompose, the departed may remain consciously on the astral, mental or spiritual plane for as long as he wants. A contact can even be maintained on the physical plane through these laws. However, as soon as the physical body begins to disintegrate, awareness is polarized once again and pulled back to the lower chakras and the physical plane. Actually, as the elements of the previous body disintegrate, all of the instinctive-mind atoms form a force field around that body. This generates a power center. When the body is completely disintegrated, the force field is dissolved, and the soul reincarnates at that time. The Egyptians believed that if a body could be durably mummified, the deceased could enjoy a fine life on the inner planes for thousands of years. Modern science can freeze bodies and thus preserve them perfectly, thus opening up possible research into these principles one day.