Muruga, The God of Yoga and the Spiritual Path, Part 1

Part 1 of 3. Bodhinatha gave a talk on Lord Murugan that he is preparing for upcoming trips to Maryland, Cincinnatti and Montreal. He spoke of belief in God being the first step in an ever deepening experience of God's power in Hinduism. Bodhinatha referred to the Kandar Anubhuti, which means "Becoming One with Skanda (Murugan)," a song by South Indian Saint Arunagirinathar. He also spoke about Gurudeva's many visions of Lord Murugan, the Gods as real beings, how to feel the blessings of the Gods in the temple, the kundalini power in the spine.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

Good Morning, everyone! Welcome to our guests this morning, so glad that you could come!

We are working on a talk on Lord Muruga. This is for multiple usage. I always try and get the maximum use out of one talk.

We are leaving for Atlanta and Maryland in a few days. This talk is for the Maryland Murugan Temple, that is our first usage. We are there on Sunday, May 30th. Then we are going to Cincinnati, July 4th weekend. They are having a consecration for the Murugan shrine there. They are moving the Deities, which turns out Gurudeva gifted to them, the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati. They are moving them from a temporary location into a permanent location. So they are having a consecration ceremony. We are going there on the July 4th weekend and we are going to Montreal Murugan Temple in August around the 16th or 17th. They have a Murugan Temple up there. We are going for an annual Festival. It is around the time of the Festival in Nallur. So they are celebrating the Murugan festival that is celebrated in Nallur.

That gives you some background where this talk is going. Can get multiple use out of it.

In some religions, the ultimate experience a religion offers is having a strong belief in the existence of God. In Hinduism, however, believing in God is only a first step toward an ever deepening, personal experience of God's presence. In this regard many of the great saints and sages of Hinduism have had visions of Lord Murugan, the Deity on the left here, and shared that with their devotees, thus strengthening the devotees faith and understanding of these divine Beings. In ancient times such great saints as Arunagirinathar had visions of Lord Murugan and wrote of this experiences in devotional poems, such as Kandar Anubhuti.

Swami Sivananda, Divine Life Society founder, wrote an excellent description of this work. To quote him, "The term Kandar Anubhuti is derived from Kandar and Anubhuti. Kandar in Tamil is Skanda, in Sanskrit. Anubhuti means becoming one with or experience. Hence, Kandar Anubhuti means to Become one with Skanda and denotes God experience. This is a work sung by Saint Arunagirinathar as a result of his God experience or Kandar Anubhuti, which also directs others to that experience. It is the experience of the Saint given expression to, in such powerful words that when it is repeated by others, it is capable of rendering that same experience in them in due course. Such is the glory of the work."

Here is one verse from Kandar Anubhuti. "Lord Murugan, wielder of the Vel whose form shines like the crimson sky. On that day You revealed to me the unique, divine experience. Having it and experiencing it is the only way to understand it. Is it something to talk about? How can it be told to someone else?"

In modern times, Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami has shared some of his mystical experiences and perspectives of Lord Murugan in his writings and stories. One story has to do with the founding of this temple, Kadavul Hindu Temple, in Hawaii in 1973. A large Nataraja bronze had recently arrived from India and Gurudeva was wondering where in the building to place it. That night in a vision, Lord Murugan came and struck His Vel three times on the spot where the Nataraja deity was to be placed. We placed the Nataraja there the next day and worship began.

On many other occasions, Gurudeva would casually mention that he had a vision of Lord Murugan the previous night in which they were flying through the akasha or inner space, on their sides, next to one another. That is when Gurudeva would describe that lying on one side, that is how you travel in the akasha. So they were both traveling in the akasha together quite often. Gurudeva named a book, which we hope to produce one day on Lord Murugan, 'Flying with Murugan', because of these frequent visions.

We have arranged group pilgrimages to India since 1969 and several of the pilgrims on various programs have definitely had visions of Lord Murugan as well as other Deities. The vision would often come in the form of a stone or bronze murthi moving and smiling at them or turning into a human-like figure that would move. Also, with their eyes closed, seeing the Deities face as a living Being.

You may find it interesting to know that Gurudeva enjoined all his devotees to revere pilgrimage to Nallur than Murugan's six South Indian temples, Ganesha's many temples and shrines and especially Kumbalavalai and the samadhi shrines of our lineage in Sri Lanka.

Not to mention, many living today have had visions of Lord Murugan. In the year 1995 Hindus saw first hand the Milk Miracle, where in temples around the world devotees offered milk to the murthi of Lord Ganesha and it was drunk by Him. This surely increased the faith of many and the reality of Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan. Knowing that the Gods are real Beings and that the purpose of going to the temple is to experience Their blessings is what transforms the temple from a cultural hall to a truly sacred place.

Here is a comment from Gurudeva on the reality of Lord Ganesha, "There are a great many liberal Hindus and/or western influenced Hindus, who don't think of Ganesha as a real Being. To them He is a symbol, a superstition, a way of explaining philosophy to children and the uneducated. But this has not been my experience of our loving Lord. I have seen Him with my own eye. He has come to me in visions several times and convinced my lower mind of His reality."

The stone or metal Deity images, explains Gurudeva, are not mere symbols of the Gods. They are the form through which Their love, power and blessings flood forth into this world. This is like our ability to communicate with others through the telephone. We do not talk to the telephone. Rather we use the telephone as a means of communication with another person, who is perhaps thousands of miles away. Without the telephone we could not converse across such distances. Without the sanctified Murthi in the temple or shrine, we cannot easily commune with the Deity. His vibration and presence can be felt in the image and He can use the image as a temporary physical body or channel.

As we progress in our worship, we begin to adore the image as the Deity's physical body. For we know that He is actually present and conscious in it during puja, aware of our thoughts and feelings and even sensing the pujari's gentle touch on the mental or stone. Occasionally, a devotee while visiting a temple may have a vision of the God. A more common way we experience the Gods and Devas when visiting a temple is as an uplifting, peaceful, divine energy or shakti that radiates out from the image. It is easiest to feel Their blessings at the high point of the puja when the flame is held high.

The blessings or shakti of Lord Murugan is a particularly powerful force. It has the ability to temporarily activate the kundalini force within the spine. Kundalini is also called the serpent power and when activated takes us deeper into our inner self. If someone is used to this happening, then outwardly they do not show any change, but inwardly finds themselves deeper into their spiritual nature, perhaps drawn inward for a short meditation. However, if someone is not used to the kundalini being active, they may find themselves shaking a little and feeling quite hot. This is nothing to worry about, as it will soon pass.