Mahashivaratri 2021 – The Nectar of Sivanubhava

Hari Om and Hello! How is everyone doing? I am visiting this space after two months and it feels good to be back, most importantly with a post on Lord Shiva and the enthralling experience of Mahashivaratri this year! Hope you enjoy the read. 🙂

I have had blissful Mahashivaratri celebrations since the past two years but this year was different. It was unexpected and beautiful in so many ways!

2021 was my first Mahashivaratri at my University – Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth housed in the hallowed premises of Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s maternal home. We also have a beautiful temple of Lord Dharmashastha (Lord Ayyappa) in the Ashram/Campus premises.

Needless to say, the celebrations were grand. More than that, it was transforming and soul-touching.

I began the day by participating eagerly in an absolutely divine Rudrabhishekam ceremony accompanied by mesmerizing chants of Sri Rudram and Chamakam. Very surprisingly all the Shiva-Aradhana shlokas I was yearning to chant were rendered by Swamiji (Swami Sharadananda, CIF) himself with all of us joining in as the Tiruvenis proceeded with the Alankaaram of the Shivalinga.

The atmosphere that was vibrant with Shiva-bhakti reached its peak when the temple doors were opened and all of us received Darshan of the Lingam in all its glory. That is one sight I will never forget!

It reiterated to me the importance of pujas for it purifies our minds. At that moment of Abhisheka and Darshan, when we are completely in tune with the effulgent form in front of us, very naturally we are attuned to Bhagavan residing in our hearts.

This was only the beginning. Let me jump straight to the evening, the crux of this enchanting day. At 6 PM I found myself waiting for the Chuttuvilakku ceremony to begin. Here, Bhaktas volunteer to light up the entire temple with lamps of Shraddha and Bhakti. The result is an enthralling sight that can never be described. To me, the lit up temple embodied that Satchitananda which is our own true Self. Added to it, I had been waiting to participate in this ceremony since I heard of it! 🙂

At 7 PM we began our journey towards Bhagavan Shiva in every sense, one that would conclude for the day at 3 AM but set to go on for eternity. Participating in a Sahasra Linga Abhisheka Puja for the first time, we were enamored by the elaborate preparations. The Sannidhana with Bhagavan Sri Dakshinamurti blissful in meditation and a 1,116 Parthiva Lingas made from purified clay greeted us.

What followed was an unforgettable Manasa Yatra, a divine pilgrimage to Kailasa, the abode of Mahadeva.

Here I will recount various facets of the Puja and what we can imbibe from them into our lives –

1. The Sankalpa –

A Sankalpa is a strong resolve taken by the Bhakta to fulfil the purpose of the Yajna being conducted for the benefit of all. It can also be seen as a metaphor for life itself is a Yajna and the Sankalpa is to uphold Dharma and attain the Catur-vidha Purusharthas, thereby fulfilling the purpose of life. The particularly powerful Sankalpa for this particular night also echoed the same sentiments. As we move through life, all we need is to put in efforts and leave the rest to Bhagavan!

2. Worship of Devata-s –

Hindu Dharma has evolved organically over thousands of years guided by the principles of this infinite cosmos. Therefore it is no surprise that protection and reverence for nature is essential to its ethos. For it establishes that Bhagavan as Consciousness pervades all beings – everything is by nature divine. Imagine what this could do for our ecosystem when followed in spirit by all?

On the pilgrimage to Kailasa, the hordes of Devata-s guarding the gates include the 7 mountains like the Himalayas, the 10 rivers like Mother Ganga, the Trimurti-s, the five faces of Bhagavan Sadasiva, and so on. When we proceed forward with their Anugraha, we not only imbibe the virtue of humility but also expand to love all beings around – for that alone is true Seva and Prema. 

3. The Inner Pilgrimage –

Every step forward on this Yatra was a form of Sadhana and Tapasya built on the firm foundations of Shraddha in Sadasiva and the yearning to attain his Darsana. That experience of listening to the auspicious Sri Rudram and Chamakam multiple times as the Rudrabhishekam went on and finally beholding Bhagavan in the glorious form of the Sivalinga was inexplicable. The Alankaaram performed so with supreme devotion still stands in front of my eyes. The moment of offering the Purnahuti into the Agni towards the end, to me was symbolic of offering all of us to Bhagavan – is there anything which is ours really? The Maha-arati was the final merger for the Jiva into Sadasiva, of losing all traces of himself at Kailasa!

4. Being Present –

When we realize the importance of remaining present in the moment to stay attuned and absorb the spiritual energy in such ceremonies, we also realise how we can apply this in our living by staying tuned in to the present, to the presence of Sadasiva’s grace in the form of an umpteen opportunities and so much more in our lives!

5. The Nectar of Sivanubhava –

This sacred Yatra was a reiteration to the fact that nothing more is needed in life than Sivanubhava! That attaining Aikyam or oneness with Mahadeva is very much possible through consistent Sadhana – for which Sadhana becomes our companion, Jnana and Bhakti deepen and the very experience of life is gradually heightened until we behold Bhagavan Shiva in the cave of our hearts! What is a greater blessing than sailing through Life with Him?

With that I leave us to contemplate upon Him. Hope you had a beautiful Mahashivaratri with Bhagavan too! 🙂

P.S. Thank You Srinath Sir for the inspiration. You are truly His nimitta in my life. 🙂

See You all soon,

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

Birthdays – The Indian Ways of An Uplifting Celebration

Hari Om! 🙂 My heartfelt gratitude for all the wishes and blessings on this beautiful day. Hope you like this special blog! 😀

Birthdays bring with them excitement, love and happiness. 🙂 

How do we generally celebrate our birthday? By cutting a cake, celebrating with friends and family or going out for dinner and partying, right? 

If this is what a birthday celebration means to you, maybe that is fine. 

But today, we are going to look at a subtler and more beautiful perspective of celebrating this special day – or should I say days? 

Because as per the Indian tradition or the lunar calendar, we celebrate our birthday on what is called the “Janma Tithi”, where the constellations of the astronomical bodies are similar to what it was during the time of our birth. 

Earlier I personally had zero belief in the “Tithi or Nakshatram(Star)” birthday as we call it – simply because I never understood this tradition. 

In 2019 however, I could sense a deep spiritual happiness the moment I woke up on the day of my star birthday, hence I spent time reading about it. I’ll simplify that bit of information here. 

The vibrations present in the surroundings on the Tithi are most supportive for true inner growth – because they match the vibrations we were actually born with, which make up our subtle body. 

Thus the ancient seers came up with celebration rituals that can enhance the person’s capacity to absorb these spiritual vibrations around him and evolve in all the aspects – spiritual, mental and emotional.

These celebrations are inherently Sattvic or purifying in nature. They enhance the qualities of purity and awareness in us and strengthen the vibrations of the subtle body. 

Whether you celebrate the date of birth or the Tithi or you actually choose to do both like I do – do it mindfully, integrating the best of Indian cultural practices on both days. Thus, both the special days can be greatly elevating. 

How? Let’s see! 

Abhayangasnan – Ah, how does it sound to begin the day early with a calming ritual of a gentle oil massage followed by a warm water bath? This Ayurvedic ritual helps wash away stress, fatigue and dead skin cells, is known to increase circulation to the nerve endings and levels mental alertness, amongst many other proven benefits. It is a complete nourishment for the physiological and psychological systems of the being.

Holistic Well-being – Remember how the mind automatically calms down due to divine vibrations when Arati is performed at home or at a temple? Similarly, here the individual sits near the altar at home and the elder performs the ritual of Aukshan – where subtler frequencies are activated by a lit lamp is waved in a circular motion in front of the person with a prayer for his/her well-being. It is completed by sprinkling unbroken grains of rice (Akshata) on the child’s head. 

Sattvic Inspirations – In the earlier days, parents used to invite evolved beings like the Rishis and saints to bless the child for spiritual and material growth. Today, such a blessing is rare. If you receive it, cherish it with all your heart! Visiting the temple apart from engaging in listening to and reading greatly inspiring material and holding stimulating discussions with a like-minded person on this day, can be highly elevating.

The Birthday – By S.Aravind Raghavan (AKA Aravind Bhaiya! 🙂 )

Cakes Delight – This is something all of us love! But perhaps we can avoid blowing a candle off because it corresponds to extinguishing light. Instead say a simple heartfelt prayer and then cut the cake. That will enhance the positivity of the ritual! 

Light Lamps – What better than lighting colourful lamps and making it a mini-Diwali celebration? Light lamps of knowledge, love, happiness and well-being. And radiate light to all! 

Celebrations with Family – Again, an aspect all of us love. Birthdays are beautiful occasions for family get-togethers too. 

And a perfect day to seek the blessings of the parents, grandparents and other elders you revere! For it is said that the feet of an elder stands for the values he has lived through an entire lifetime.  

Give Gifts – Eh? Birthdays are all about receiving gifts right? Absolutely! But don’t forget you too were gifted to the world on this day. Gifts when given become more special. Make a gift of all the love you have to the world around. Give a donation, visit an orphanage, teach a child, grow plants, feed animals – or choose anything else! 

Make this day and life special for everyone around. 

Reflections and Growth – As we have already seen, this is a day with greater spiritual significance than we realize. This is when you can take time off, and reflect upon the year that has gone by. Where we fell and grew, the achievements and improvements to be made – this is a good day to see where you are and where you want to be in all aspects.  

Offering Gratitude – Finally offer heartfelt gratitude to Bhagavan for all the hits and misses,the sorrows and joy and for the beautiful life and birthday celebrations, for just about everything!

Thus, a birthday celebration in Bharat’s advanced culture, is more like a spiritual fest of inner growth, seva and gratitude! It is truly a day for the seeker to be born again with fresh vigour. 

Incidentally both 2020 and 2019 were super special for me, because I could include most of these aspects in the celebrations on both days! The Star birthday especially in 2019 was truly special because I discovered an Ayyappa temple somewhere in a corner of Jaipur. It was indescribable for I also share my Nakshathram with Him. Let’s see what this year’s star birthday brings! 😀

Hope you like this blog and include some of the aspects mentioned in your celebrations too! And don’t forget to ask your elders when your Tithi or Star birthday is. 🙂 

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

The Empowering “Why” Behind What You Do

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 

Today’s blog is a reminder to myself and many of us – who want to do so much, do a lot,  leave some things halfway and keep going with some others and sometimes get frustrated due to dead ends! Read on. 🙂 

“What is the why behind everything that you do? When we know this in life or design it is very empowering and the path is clear.”

Jack Canfield 

On the path of life, each of us have various destinations we wish to reach at different points in time. 

But how many times do we pause to ask, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”

How many times do we pause to look at all those incomplete tasks we had begun with great enthusiasm and ask, “Why did I let all that drop off?” 

The answer lies in how strongly we hold on to the “Why” of what we do! If we lose sight of the reason behind what we have started, ultimately we lose sight of both the path and the goal. A strong sense of purpose and unbreakable determination can keep us walking without tiring!

If we look carefully at every personality who has achieved or have been achieving their dreams against all odds : We will know that they never lose sight of their “Whys”. What would happen to a company that goes against its vision and mission? It will fall into absolute chaos isn’t it? 

Lord Krishna knew the reason for every step in his life : to uphold and restore Dharma throughout the land of Bharatavarsha. Thus, he remained unperturbed in the face of every obstacle, even if they came from his own kin. 

For, “when you know the why behind what you do, you can bear with almost any how” says one of those people who inspires me! 

That is – when you remain steadfast in the principle that drove you to chase a dream, you can tackle every challenge that arises! 

A simple word – “Why”. But such layers of thought behind it. 

In today’s times of constant distractions, it becomes all the more important to stay in tune with the essence of our goals, to keep going back to why we began what we did. 

A good trick in the book would be to write your purpose down and keep re-visiting it from time to time. That is what I have recently discovered is an extremely fulfilling and reflective exercise which led to this blog piece. 

For example, if you are a dancer caught in self-doubt, go back to understanding why you are practicing this art form. 

If you have hit a roadblock in a new venture, remind yourself about your passion for it. 

When that energy floods your veins again, when the fire of purpose lights up your lives – no obstacle is too big and no victory too small. Every moment becomes a celebration, every goal worth striving hard for!

Just remember, to know why! 🙂

See you Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 😀

The Significance of Lord Shiva’s Three Eyes

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank so much for all the love and encouragement you shower upon this blog! It helps me become a better instrument. 🙂

In Sanatana Dharma, there is an ocean of knowledge consisting of cultural traditions analogies, statements, tales and symbolisms to hold the seeker’s attention and curiosity for a hundred lifetimes. 

One such form that enchants me is Lord Shiva’s. Imagine my joy which my Guru, Swami Tejomayananda started discoursing on the Vedasara Shiva Stotram composed by Shri Adi Shankaracharya earlier this week! 🙂 

Today, I am going to be writing about one aspect of Bhagavan’s form. The Lord ‘s fascinating three eyes. 

Hope you enjoy the read! 🙂 

This is a verse from the Vedasara Shiva Stotram –

विरूपाक्षमिन्द्वर्कवह्नित्रिनेत्रं – सदानन्दमीडे प्रभुं पञ्चवक्त्रम् ।

विरूपाक्षThe One with Unique Eyes

इन्दु – The Moon

अर्क – The Sun

वह्नि – Fire 

त्रिनेत्रं – Three Eyes

“Trinetra” or the One with three eyes – is an epithet that we immediately associate with Lord Shiva. But what do these three eyes signify? This is what I very joyously discovered this week during Guruji’s talk. 🙂 

Lord Shiva has the sun, the moon and fire for his three eyes – with fire being the third one at the centre. Weirdly fascinating is it not?  

Now for someone who may not know, the third eye might be taken as some appendage or a crack on the forehead – what a scary sight to look at! 

But it is nothing like that. In fact, it is a very subtle symbolism to indicate an awakening to Higher Consciousness. With the light of these three eyes, He illumines the entire world!

Let us go back to the famous story associated with Shiva’s Third Eye. After his consort Devi Sati immolates herself due to her father’s insults healed upon her husband, Shiva destroys Daksha and shuts himself up in a cave, withdrawing within – away from the anger and sorrow caused due to Sati’s immolation. 

In the meantime, Sati re-incarnates as Mother Parvati – an apt epitome of the seeker. For she upon the advice of Sage Narada undertakes severe austerities to obtain Lord Shiva as her husband. Much like a seeker undertakes in his quest for knowledge – the source of which is Shiva Himself. 

The Devas exasperated on seeing the Lord remaining oblivious to the Mother’s penance approach Kamadeva (The Lord of Desire) who from behind a tree shoots one of his arrows at Shiva seated deep in meditation. 

A furious Shiva, his contemplation disturbed, opens his Third Eye and burns down Kamadeva into ashes much to the shock of the Devas and Rati, the wife of Kamadeva. They turn to the Mother Parvati who is Shakti – the other half of Shiva. 

The Lord having calmed down and heard Parvati’s arguments and the pleas of Rati, told her that although he cannot restore her husband ‘s entire form – he will exist in the mind of every human being. Now, is not desire a part of all of us? 

It is quite a beautiful sight to watch this episode being performed in dance dramas! 

Kamadeva represents the constant pulls of desire in our own minds. Desire by itself is never a problem, it is our attachment to it, our insistence upon its fulfillment – that causes great sorrow and anger. 

It is this self-annihilating attachment that Shiva destroys upon awakening to the state of Higher Consciousness.  It is this constant pull, these sorrows that are destroyed when we come to realise and abide in our true nature. 

The next time you think your emotions and desires are overwhelming – try surrendering them at the feet of Shiva – a path to progress will automatically open itself up. 

Thus Lord Shiva’s Third Eye – is the eye of Wisdom and Courage. It represents the ultimate inner awakening – where one transcends the realm of the known and enters the Unknown. Where there exists nothing but life as It is. 

Activating this energy center also known as the Ajna Chakra helps us experience spiritually exalted stages of existence. 

One technique that has been taught to me in Yoga class is to focus on this pivotal center and chant Om – the vibrations felt are deeply calming and blissful. 

The Lord ‘s right eye is the sun – which is symbolic of brightness and hope. Doesn’t sunlight bring with it a new beginning? Doesn’t it lighten up the entire world around? This is also the eye of justice, of objectivity.

Thus in our lives, it represents the ability to know and do what is right – to fulfill our potential and serve the world. 

The Lord ‘s left eye is the moon – which has a soothing and re-assuring effect on all of us. It is also symbolic of how beautifully the nurturing aspects of creation work. 

In our lives, it represents the ability to sympathize, to care and to uplift. 

Beyond them – lies the Third Eye, the opening of which bestows complete inner integration of the mind and intellect and consequently an awakening to your true Self. 

This is the Eye of Viveka or discernment – which helps us balance the objectivity of the right eye with the compassion of the left and thus function in this world in perfect equilibrium – just as the Lord does. 

To truly know, to have true clarity and vision, to become truly alert to each moment, you must always look inward. There lies all wisdom. There resides the infinite power of Lord Shiva.

Here is the Playlist link to the Talks on Vedasara Shiva Stotram – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLm6DKuwwu5zrUjfKu0UDvtm3ZbKXuuuq0

And a melodious bhajan on Lord Shiva for you to listen to – https://youtu.be/WBzeTz_UpQ4

Do Read, Like and Comment – Cherish a dream with me!

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

A Message on Dussehra – My Beloved India I Promise

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Hope all of you are doing well and had a great Navaratri! We had an amazing one, despite the pandemic. 😀

I am back here after two weeks, hope you like the blog that follows! Do Read, Like and Cherish a Dream With Me. 🙂

Since centuries India had been suppressed and subjected to great atrocities. Yet this country withstood all of it and rose above to become the vibrant democracy she is today. 

Yes, we have multiple problems even today. And we are tackling them, many we still need to tackle effectively. But one of the greatest battles that India has fought and continues to fight is the one against her very foundation – her eternal cultural and spiritual knowledge tradition of Sanatana Dharma. 

We don’t need to look outside – we have masked heartless enemies within the nation itself who threaten everything we hold dear! 

Through the last few decades their attacks were not as visible as it is today. Today many Indians see through their propaganda, their “liberal” ideologies.

As India awakens to newer horizons – this Vijayadashami let each of us pledge to protect, serve and love our loving motherland – She who is an amalgamation of the Powers of Durga (Destroyer of Injustice), Lakshmi (The Custodian of Great Virtues and Material Prosperity) and Saraswati (The Bestower of Supreme Spiritual Knowledge). 

Here’s a poem I had penned when my heart felt like bursting with the amount of emotions inside it. 

My country is crying,
Choked by those who walk as her saviours. 

Listen, pay heed! Awake, Arise!
She is calling out to us,
Her beloved children,
To be warriors of her Light! 

Save my country, she is crying,
From those arrogant lobbying fools,
Who with the power of blue ticks seek to break her into pieces,
And destroy her immortal timeless legacy!

Save my country, she is crying,From those "journalists" 
Who claim to be her 4th pillar,
But have sold their souls at the altar of greed,
For they celebrate deaths of her brave children,
And encourage burning riots,
Just for mere money and TRPs! 

Save my country, she is crying, 
From all those heartless politicians,
Who use crime and violence as vote cards,
Who consider people as statistics,
Who care nothing about the nation,
Who drown under the weight of their own inhuman egos! 

Save my country, she is crying,
From the mud-slinging on her foundations,
From being buried under falsely "liberal" narratives,
From agendas that undermine her greatness,
From the dungeons of selfishness and power play! 

Save my country, she is bleeding, 
Demons masquerade as her protectors,
Wanting to destroy all that is left of her,
Wanting to stop all those who seek to re-build her!

Look, she is glancing at us,Her eyes shine with renewed hope,
For she knows this immutable truth,
Until even one of us who loves her lives,
She will be saved, she will be healed. 

Let us her children become,
The Warriors of her Eternal Tradition,
Born on this sacred land of Dharma,
Let us now live up to our grand legacy! 

Let our vision be so high,Our intent so pure and wise,
Our actions so selfless and loving,
Our voices so confident and strong,
That the cabals fade into oblivion. 

Let us come to re-discover our roots,
Let us nourish them once again with care,
Let us take such pride,
That our country shines brighter,
And the demons are destroyed in their own games! 

My beloved India I promise,
Until the last of us who loves you lives,
The truth will never perish,
Your legacy will never die.

This Dussehra, Let us pledge to gain victory against every internal and external enemy, and become children that our Mother Bharat will be proud of!

That will be the True Vijayadashami – for when the country shines, we shine. When we rise, India will rise! 

I Leave You with two YouTube Channel recommendations :

  1. Virtual Bharat – For Amazing Short Films on Untold Stories from across the country https://www.youtube.com/c/virtualbharat/videos

2. Sangam Talks – For Authentic Information on Indian History, Achievements, Wisdom, Contemporary Narratives and More – https://www.youtube.com/c/SangamTalks/videos

See You Next Sunday, 

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Happy Dussehra, 

Lakshmi. 🙂

To Shiva I Bow – The Significance of Om Namah Shivaya – Final Part

Hari Om! Welcome to the voyage inward once again. 🙂 I couldn’t post a blog last week because I was unwell. Just could not get myself to do anything. 😦

In the first chapter, the characters in the story discuss the origins of the Om Namah Shivaya mantra and how it represents the five elements of nature. You can read the chapter here for a sense of continuity – https://onavoyageinward.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/to-shiva-i-bow-the-significance-of-om-namah-shivaya-part-1/

Let’s continue with the second and final chapter! Hope you enjoy the read. 😀 

“Wonderful!” Shivaansh replied, visibly thrilled. “Now, before getting in further, I forgot to ask you a basic question. Do you know the meaning of the word “Mantra”? 

“Yes!” Devika replied excited. “Manah – is the mind and Trayate – means to protect. A Mantra is that which protects the mind.” 

“Absolutely correct.” he beamed at her answer. “What I am now going to explain is something I too have recently discovered and still trying to experience and understand. It is about the impact of this Mahamantra on the Chakras – the energy centers of our body. Now although that is a science by itself – I am speaking about it to you because you mentioned cleansing of emotional issues. Alright?” he sounded apprehensive. 

“Alright Anna. Go on, I understand that I like every other seeker will have to personally experience whatever you explain. For that we have to also know na. Go on.” she encouraged him. 

“Alright so each of the 7 Chakras is connected to an element – that is earth, water, fire, air and space. We have already seen how the 5 syllables of Om Namah Shivaya represent an element each. Let’s begin with OM. Om as we know is the very sound of creation, the beginning of all knowledge. The heart of Shiva. Thus it resonates in the 6th Chakra – the Ajna Chakra located in the center of our forehead. Where Shiva’s third eye – the eye of awareness is situated.” he explained slowly while pointing to the center between the two brows. 

“It is symbolic of intuitive spiritual wisdom. Now, each of these energy centers can also have blockages – which lead to various issues in the mind and body. Om is one chant which calms us down and leads us to deeper meditative experiences. It helps heal issues related to the very direction and purpose of life by bestowing clarity.” he paused, trying to gauge his listener’s understanding. 

She was listening to every word attentively. He went on. “Next with the syllable “NA”, the Mantra dips down to the very first Chakra situated at the base of our spine – the Muladhara Chakra. This one is connected to the earth. Thus it helps purify that element and energy – the issues here are mainly about the primal need to belong and survive. Any idea which is the next chakra?” posing questions to Devika was after all his favourite past-time! 

“Umm..the next element is MAH which is connected to Water. As far as the little knowledge I have of Chakras,” she chuckled, “The next one is Swadhisthana, right?” she asked him.

“Correct. A little below the navel. Because it is all about how we open up to new experiences, here we deal with issues surrounding a sense of well-being and the right to feel and our own desires. Are you observing how the Mantra is rising up and purifying the energy centers?” Shivaansh asked to which she nodded in agreement. 

“The third one is..” he began.

“SHI connected to Fire!” she interrupted now excited. 

He smiled, shaking his head. “Right, right. And the Chakra is the Manipura. Located in the upper abdominal area. Now this is about how confident you are of your own life and your decisions. So issues here will be about self-worth, self-esteem and so on. Want to try explaining the next one?” he winked. 

“Yup! So, the fourth syllable, “VA” represents air. And the next chakra is the Anahata which is located at our heart center. From what I have understood so far, we are also evolving as aware beings as we move up from the most primary needs to higher experiences. The Anahata is associated with love, peace and happiness. Our very ability to love not just those around but ourselves too.” she explained animatedly. 

“Right. Which is why this Chakra impacts our relationships greatly. Imagine, how much this chant is actually helping us at all levels. Continued practice in a very general sense can help us become more aware and calmer thereby improving our relationships to a great extent.” he could sense a deeper understanding growing in both their minds. 

“Now the fifth and the last syllable, “YA” represents space and is associated with the Vishuddha Chakra at the throat region. The energy here is associated with how freely we express ourselves and connect with people and other beings around at the same time – the skills of communication and empathy is impacted here. When it is balanced, it also helps us hear our inner voice of wisdom. So how you connect with yourself, that also matters.” he finished. 

“So it is like a complete potent package to help us not just deepen our meditative practice but heal at various levels of our being. Like it starts right at the center of knowledge, then dips down to cleanse other basic energies and rising up to bestow upon us intellectual and emotional clarity, finally equipping us to become aware seekers ready to absorb the highest truth.” Devika was in absolute awe. 

“Absolutely! An extremely potent chant which cleanses our energy and helps attune our thoughts, actions and awareness to that of the Infinite Shiva, your true auspicious nature. This is what I am discovering in my personal practice too.” he smiled, quite satisfied with this fruitful discussion. 

“And the practice also is so simple. Like any of us can do it! One of my friends practises writing the Mantra. She says that has helped her attention span and quietened the agitations of her mind too.” Devika said, still amazed.

“Definitely. Writing the chant, employs all your faculties in that particular act alone. It makes your mind single-pointed, preparing it for higher flights into meditation. Just as much chanting with the help of a 108-beaded rudraksha mala does. All you need is an erect spine, a comfortable seating position and the loving zeal of a seeker! You’re all set to fly.” Shivaansh shrugged. 

Both of them smiled and turned to the idol of Lord Jagadeeshwara, in awe of the simplicity and interconnectedness of everything there is – and the One who pervades all. 

As they closed their eyes for a 10-minute meditation before they left all that they felt was a deepening sense of inner peace and joy, the timeless connection with the Shiva in their hearts. 

The Chakras are a new area of knowledge for me that I had wanted to explore since a long time, as I kept writing I could sense the understanding deepen within me. It is amazing, how connected everything is.

I leave you with this very potent and calming chant – https://youtu.be/Z454rcr1HPw

Do Like and Comment – Cherish A Dream With Me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

Sources of information – Vedic Feed, Scienceandnonduality.com

To Shiva I Bow – The Significance of Om Namah Shivaya (Part 1)

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 A big thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement you shower on the blog! 

Today I am putting into words the compulsion I have been feeling from within – to begin to write on Lord Shiva. 

Although I have been with Shiva through dance all my life, my fascination for the mystical Lord deepened when I was all of 16. From then to now – working at a place which has a beautiful Lord Shiva temple in its premises – the journey continues! 😀 

This is a different territory of knowledge for me to be exploring. Hope You enjoy the Read! 🙂

Although it had a normal beginning, it was going to be quite a remarkable day for young Devika as she sat staring at Lord Shiva at her favourite temple – the Jagadeeshwara Temple in Powai, Mumbai. 

Her elder brother Shivaansh whom she had gotten here for the first time early in the morning was seated beside her, immersed in meditation. For the hundredth time, she couldn’t help but wonder at the serenity that shone on the Lord’s smiling face. 

Shivaansh opened his eyes and saw her lost in the Lord. He smiled. He was a Shiva devotee himself and had been on some wonderful pilgrimages, but this place had taken his heart away. There was this incredible aura of divinity, the white marbled Lord a sight to behold.  

“Quite divine isn’t he?” he whispered. 

“Anna, there is something about Shiva that is so fascinating. That has always touched my soul. He has an aura, an energy that completely dissolves all your false notions – that completely dissolves “you” as an entity. I don’t think I can comprehend this completely.” she said still lost in the Lord. 

He was surprised at the intensity of her words. There was no one in the temple apart from them. It only added to the piercing silence. Suddenly she turned towards him. 

“Don’t you think that when you look at Shiva, when you meditate on Shiva – you are looking at Life itself as it is. Like you are meditating upon your true nature?” she asked. 

“Absolutely.” He replied having just experienced what she was speaking about. “Now that we are having this conversation, I have a question for you. Up for it?” He winked. 

Devika smiled. Her brother and his ways of having insightful conversations. How could she forget that as an advanced seeker, he was an inspiration for her! She jumped at the chance. 

“Yes, yes.” she replied excitedly. 

“Alright. You recently started chanting Om Namah Shivaya isn’t it? Do you know it’s origins?” Shivaansh questioned. 

“No..but what I have realised in these months is that the chant is one of the most simple yet potent ways to attune our energy to Shiva’s universal energy,” she answered. 

“Rightly said. So, this is a powerful Mahamantra the origins of which goes back thousands of years. It originates in Shri Rudram of the Yajurveda. Do you have your diary with you?” he knew her habit of carrying around a journal wherever she went. 

“The Mantra appears appears in the eighth hymn of Namakam ( TS 4.5.8.1) of Taittiriya Samhita (TS 4.5, 4.7) of Krishna Yajurveda. Like this, look.” he wrote the mantra to show her. 

Namaḥ śivāya ca śivatarāya ca ( नमः शिवाय च शिवतराय च । )

“Now, Om Namah Shivaya means, “I Bow down to Shiva” – who is the Supreme Reality, my own true Self. Thus it is a worship that allows you to move closer to the Source of all energy, lying in the cave of your own heart!” he grinned. 

Devika was listening intently. “So Anna, one of the most popular interpretations we come across is in Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya’s Shiva Panchakshari Stotram isn’t it? Where Na, Mah, Shi, Va and Ya represent the five elements through which the Absolute manifests in the form of this universe.” she questioned eagerly. 

“Yes. These five elements are the building blocks of the universe and of our own beings as well. Let me write the breakdown for you. There is one more interpretation which I’ll talk about after this.” he said picking up the pen again. 

Om – The first vibration or sound that arose from the void of pure existence to begin the creation of the universe.

Na – Earth (solidity of the human body)

Mah – Water (manifests as blood in our body)

Va – Air (the process of breathing)

Shi – Fire (temperature of the body)

Ya – Sky or Space (the body occupies space)

“Can you tell me some more about this?” a curious Devika asked. 

“Alright so, in ancient times the metaphors the Rishis had to describe their experience of Consciousness were condensed and subtler, possibly even more than what we have today in the form of modern physics. Their metaphor was Shiva.” he paused gauging her expressions.

In their deep meditations, the sages experienced Shiva as the entire universe and Shiva as their own Self. Thus, this mantra when chanted becomes a powerful vibration that allows us to tune into our own true self, that is Shiva. Tell me, you have started the Japa. What have you noticed?” he questioned after explaining. 

“Hmm..What I have felt when I chant, and as the practice is getting deeper is a powerful silence and a cleansing of emotional baggage. I feel a lot more calmer than I ever was. And I also believe that knowing the entire meaning and significance of the chant helps deepen the practice.” she answered thoughtfully. 

“Wonderful!” Shivaansh replied, visibly thrilled. “Now, before getting in further, I forgot to ask you a basic question. Do you know the meaning of the word “Mantra”? 

To Be Continued…

I leave you with two links. Here’s one to listen to the Shiva Panchakshari Stotram – https://youtu.be/CYJ4udIsfBc.

Here’s another link, a magnetic Om Namah Shivaya chant to help you begin your own journey with the Mantra – https://youtu.be/9jScRVIZLic

See You Next Week with Part 2 of the story! 🙂

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

The Ekasloki – Infinity Weaved Into A Single Verse

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank You once again from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement for the blog. It always means a lot. 😀 

In one of his talks on the Kathopanishad, Swami Tejomayananda explains in the most simple manner, the subtlest philosophy of Vedanta encapsulated in a single verse by Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya.

It had left a deep imprint on my mind, thus today I am going to attempt to write about what is popularly known as Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s Ekasloki – essentially a conversation between him and a disciple who with reverence arrives to seek the Supreme Knowledge of the Self. 

Kim Jyothisthava bhanumaanahani me ratrau pradeepaadikam.

Syaadevam ravi deepa darsana vidhau kim jyothiraakhyaahi me 

Chakshustasya nimeelanaadi samaye kim dheeh dhiyo darsane 

Kim tatrahamatho bhavaan paramakam jyothisthadasmi prabho.

Seeker – O Master, what is the highest Truth enshrined in our scriptures to be realized in our hearts? How do we experience that state of supreme peace when thou knows, which the Yogis and Rishis revel in? 

Bhagawan – Tell me, how do you see the objects around during daytime? 

Seeker – With the help of sunlight. 

Bhagawan – And at night-time? 

Seeker– With the help of moonlight or by lighting a lamp. (Today, by switching on the tube light 😛 ). 

Bhagawan – Nice. Now how do you know this sunlight and moonlight? 

Seeker– With the help of my eyes. I see this light with my eyes. 

Bhagawan – Does it then not mean that sunlight illumines the objects alone? What then illumines your power of vision? How do you know what you see? How do you see even when your eyes are closed?

Seeker– With the help of my mind and intellect. Sunlight illumines the objects, my eyes see and understand with the help of the intellect. When I am asleep too I am aware of an internal world at play. 

Bhagawan – How do you know the intellect ? How are you aware even in the dream state? What then illumines the intellect?

Seeker– I know. I am aware. I just am. 

Bhagawan – Precisely. It is this self-illumining awareness that knows. That alone is. It needs no other light, no explanation. It shines by itself and illumines all our experiences. It cannot be reached by logic alone. For it is that which illumines even the intellect. Know this, understand this, glide into IT! 

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Now the question that arises – if the Self or Brahman as it is known is self-illumining, Then why do we need scriptures and paths to understand it? That is because we need it. The Self doesn’t need anything. It just is. 

We are caught up in the maze of our own likes and dislikes, constantly troubled by pangs of emotions and thoughts going haywire. Hence we need the guidance of the scriptures, of a Guru to walk the path until we grow to experience this state in the cave of our hearts. 

Isn’t it interesting that a table can never see the eyes. The eyes cannot see the mind. And the mind cannot see the Self! The flow of knowledge is unidirectional. Flowing from Brahman. 

What is that silence you experience when waves of the ocean lap at your feet? When you stand face to face with the majestic Himalayas on a trek? When you close your eyes to look within after climbing all the way up to a pilgrimage site like Kedarnath? 

Or simply when you hear a bird chirp?

What is that which shines calmly in the state of meditation? 

Ever given it a thought? Think! In the midst of self-created chaos – such are the moments that offer us a glimpse of that infinity called Brahman. Of that which shines in your own heart. Of that Light which You are. 

Here’s another gem by Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya – the Nirvana Shatakam. Listen to it. It has the explanation too given in the video itself. https://youtu.be/UrZUQh6SpcQ.

Hope You Enjoyed the Read. Do Like and Leave Your Feedback – Cherish this dream with me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

Meditation – The Person You Want To Become

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 My heart can never thank all of you enough for the love and encouragement you’ll pour upon the blog. Thank You so much! 

The science of Vedanta advises the treatment of meditation for making a genius out of an ordinary man.

Swami Chinmayananda

Recently in a talk on the Hamsa Gita (from Shrimad Bhagavatam) by Swami Tejomayananda of Chinmaya Mission I heard of a different interpretation of meditation which led to this blog. 🙂 

Most of us are familiar with meditation as a concept and practise even if it has different types. But are we aware that all of us practise meditation even in daily life? That if we pay a little more attention, it can become a transforming experience? 

What is meditation? It is a single-pointed flow of thought towards our object of contemplation. At the highest level it is meditation upon the formless Self, the Divinity that pervades all. 

In another popular aspect, one meditates upon various forms of the Lord like Rama, Krishna, Shiva and so on. When one meditates upon Shri Krishna for instance, when our thoughts flow single-pointedly towards Him, our mind imbibes the ideals He stands for – of equanimity, purity, joy and so on. 

Thus it becomes Sattvic Dhyanam. What does that mean? Sattva is one of the Three Gunas or qualities – the other two being Rajas and Tamas. 

Yes meditation while living can be Rajasic and Tamasic too! For example, directing our energy in simply earning money or self-centered activities with zero regard for anything else is Rajasic. A mind turned towards activities like terrorism or calculatively destroying another person’s life is Tamasic. Think, don’t these activities also require single-pointed focus? 

Whereas, Sattva stands for purity, where the mind is completely calm, ready for a flight to the Self. Dhyanam is meditation. Sattvic Dhyanam purifies, it uplifts and transforms us! 

How can we translate this into our daily life? If we look closely – each of us summons this ability of single-pointedness at different points in our lifetime. Whether it is pursuing our goals or simple household chores. 

The question is how does it become self-transforming? How does it become Sattvic Dhyanam? 

For that we need to take our mind away from everything we want to pursue and look at, “What kind of person do we want to become?” 

For unless you build your life upon the ideals of integrity and goodness, no matter what you build, it will never be truly fulfilling! Of utmost importance is to be a good if not a great human being. 

Thoughts channelized towards our goal is Dhyanam. When our goal is high, when we are inspired to become good human beings with each passing day, the most simple actions naturally become inspired and brilliant – be it managing a company or taking care of your family! 🙂 

Look at the life of India’s former President, Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. A great scientist, teacher, writer and patriot. At the core lay a humble, brilliant human being standing on the foundation of strong yet simple spiritual values. He was both a scientist and a saint. 

There are countless such examples. Thus before becoming anything else ask yourself, “What kind of a person do you want to become?” 

The direction in which your thoughts flow – here lies the secret to a lifetime of goodness and brilliance. 

I would like to conclude with this befitting statement by late Actor Sushant Singh Rajput –

For those of you who would like to listen to that particular talk by Swami Tejomayananda – https://youtu.be/_hh2hMGMlLw

Here’s a beautiful compilation of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s speeches that I leave you with – https://youtu.be/-7TwMUyWSE0

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form Part 2

Hari Om! Welcome back to the journey with Bappa. 🙂 Thank You so much for all the love your poured in for the first chapter in the series. It really means a lot. 😀

Before we begin the concluding chapter, I have this deep urge to start a blog series exclusively on Lord Shiva – do suggest anything on Him that you would like to read about! 🙂

“Haha. My dear, the Lord is the very origin of this world. So forget about so-called right sizes. Think. After an evolved intellect goes beyond the pairs of opposites and remains established in the Infinite, what does life become like?” Bhagawan counter-questioned her. 

“Eh? Life would be all calm and joyful. Nothing can affect us anymore, because we would have realized that all of it is actually an illusion. This is my understanding so far,” she replied. 

“You got that somewhat right. This has layers to it, so we will see in the future. For now his large stomach tells us how a Rishi can digest all the experiences that life has to offer with a smile on his face. Established in the Truth, he has an unbeatable appetite for life! Because he knows that no problem is unsolvable and life itself is to be lived fully until you are here on this plane,” Bhagawan smile widely, quite satisfied with his explanation, watching the light dawn on his little seeker’s face. 

“No wonder everyone becomes so happy on seeing Ganesha! Because Ganesha symbolises a calm and happy life,” she exclaimed. 

“Haha totally. Now before you ask I have a question for you. Why do you think the Lord rides a mouse?” Bhagawan raised a brow. 

“Hawww! You beat me to this. Not fair. Umm, so the mouse is small. Maybe it represents that for a wise man, his desires which are troublesome for most of us – for him they become small?” She was thinking out loud. 

“Aha. Perfectly put. If you notice, the mouse looks up at the Lord with devotion in his heart. The mouse is small but its teeth are very powerful. They can nibble away at anything and cause destruction. So too our desires in the beginning are small, but when our insistence on their fulfillment goes beyond control – they spell disaster in our lives. Then greed, anger, etc come into the picture.” He paused to let Devika absorb this. 

“But aren’t desires also necessary if we are to live a successful life?” she questioned hesitantly. 

“They are. But like Mooshik surrenders to Ganesha, when our desires and the root cause of it – the mind surrenders to the Lord or to a Higher goal – its potential is turned in the right direction. That passionate insistence on the result vanishes. All that remains is a calm intellect which works with single-pointed devotion. Thus a wise man sublimates his desire and becomes an instrument to work for the welfare of all.” Bhagawan concluded. 

“Amazing this is Ayyappa. Truly amazing. Such depth,” Devika was speechless. 

“Now we have three elements left for the day. The axe, the rope and the modak that he holds. Quickly go and get your materials for your eco-friendly Ganesha. Give me your answer when you get back.” Bhagawan said and went into a meditative posture. 

Devika admired him for a few moments and ran away to get the material, simultaneously thinking about the three elements. 

She got back after a while and saw that Bhagawan was still immersed in meditation. She did not know how to call him back so she quietly sat next to him and wrote down her thoughts about the axe, the rope and the modak. As soon as she was done, Bhagawan opened his eyes much to her delight. 

“So what have you come up with?” He was back to his teasing mood. 

Devika giggled, her mind felt quite fresh after the reflections. “Ayyappa, don’t underestimate me okay. Have some faith in your little girl,” she admonished him. 

Bhagawan shook his head at her innocence while she went on. 

“Bappa tells all of us, 

With the axe when you cut off

your attachments and fears,

With the rope when you reign in

Your past regrets,

Your fanciful future imaginations and distress,

Then you serve the world with love and joy, 

You receive from me Modaks of Peace and Abundance!”  (Thank You Aravind Bhaiya for inspiring me to write this! )

“Wow. A poetess in the making it seems.” Bhagawan exclaimed with pride. 

Devika went red in her face after hearing that from Him. 

“Beautiful my little girl. Keep reflecting, keep walking. I will always be here with you. So will my dear elder brother, Bappa!” He patted her head lovingly before going. 

Devika grinned. She felt like dancing around but decided to sit down and make her Ganesha with all the love she had for Him in her heart. 

As she was finishing she realized her Lord was right all along. It was all about merging into the form to go beyond to the formless!

Ganapati Bappa Morya! May Bappa bestow upon the world all the health and happiness. 🙂 

I leave you with this serene and sublime chant of the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad – https://youtu.be/ZMRH8KFlHRU

See You Next Sunday with a new blog!

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.