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. 🙂

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! 

————————

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.