Sunday, 9 October 2011

Climbing the rungs of spirtual consciousnes

|| Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Aum Namo Narayanaya

Flag Post(Kodi Maram) at Arunachalla Temple

It became quite lucid to me as I started to pen this blog that the intention behind creating festivals and prayers to constantly engage the mind on God was an extraordinary and  successful concept. I cannot speak for other countries and towns but can proudly proclaim that Tongaat has kept the Hindu torch ablaze despite the tumultuous history and religious and cultural isolation from India for many decades.
It portrays an essentially unique Hindu characteristic where at regular intervals, the town sprouts with excitement and colour over an impending festival. I must add they are quite strategically positioned to ensure that the devotee is never robbed of his dose of spiritual inspiration throughout the year. Even in the midst of the seasoned holidays like Easter and Christmas,  temptations fail to lure the 'bhaktas' from chanting the Lords name.

I recall vividly growing up in one of the Tongaat Sugar Housing schemes,  how households would be abuzz with excitement and preparations awaiting the arrival of the Lord mounted on his gloriously decorated chariot, parching the thirst of his devotees with his enchanting 'dharshan'. Seasons and landscapes may change but I remain confident that these wonderful  traditions will continue to add flavour to our lives till our last breaths.

Yesterday, two of our sister organisations, the Isinembe Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple and the Chinna Thirupathi Venketeshawara Devastanam held their annual chariot festivals. A colourful display of devotion that contagiously spreads a warm and inspired feeling amongst people,  having spent the entire day singing and chanting God's sweet name.

A dear friend was chatting to me after the proceedings of the prayer and asked a very interesting question. “When will people learn to elevate themselves, they come sing songs eat and go home.” A very interesting observation I thought as it quintessentially speaks to the perennial despondency, pain and suffering experienced by many. We are often so quick to point fingers at God, but have we sat and analysed what we have done to change the status quo of our lives.

Sri Ramakrishna said: “The wind of God’s grace is incessantly blowing. Lazy sailors on the sea of life do not take advantage of it. But the active and strong always keep the sails of their minds unfurled to catch the favourable wind and thus reach their destination very soon”.

The inaugural celebrations of the chariot festivities commence with a very significant practice which is pregnant with a philosophy of self evolution. The prayers involve the raising of the flag on the flag staff which is located in front the main entrance of the temple. The presiding deity of all flag poles is an animal which is the 'vaganam' (carrier) of the presiding deity of that temple. In this case it is 'Garuda', the celestial bird who is the official transporter of Maha Vishnu. Temple architectural design is governed by the scriptures which dictate that the eyes of the Garuda murthi must be in line with the feet of the Installed murthi in the inner sanctum. Above this main murthi is the dome of the temple which culminates with a gold or metal 'Kalsum'. The top of the flag post must be in line with the 'kalsum' on the dome.

Most of us although given a very important and divine gift of 'Viveka' (discrimination and intellect) in this human birth, live our lives like animals who are slaves to their senses. Animals operate purely by instinct and sense stimulation. As Paramahamsa Yoganandaji said: ”We live like sudras who see no greater purpose than the satisfaction of wants and desires of the body. Such persons eat, sleep, work , multiply and finally die.” Such an existence is plagued with despondency, unhappiness, troubles, irritation and anxiety. This mechanical way of living and even mechanical way of attending prayers and functions does nothing to release you from the fetters of this chronic misery.

Then it is understandable why most prayers or festivals at the temple commence with the flag hoisting ceremony, indicative of the first step we should all practice if we want to experience perennial joy alone. That is, to raise our consciousness from the base animal and body conscious level to the divine spiritual level - as one would see the 'garuda' on the flag is raised from the bottom to the height of the 'kalsam' on the dome. Forget that you are this body, and forget about the existence you lead, think you are divine, that very Lord that pervades this universe is in you.  And as the singing and activities go on in the temple take some time to delve inward to commune with this Lord that is within you. Start to remove the layers of ignorance and negativity from your minds activity. Use the bhajans and worship that is being done as detergents to clean the mirror of your mind. Let it shine and reflect all the positive energies inside so you can see that he who is the universe himself dwells in you as the atman. Raise that energy from down below to the topmost part of your head which will unlock the treasure of eternal bliss that you are.

Essentially that’s what beloved Swami Vivekananda speaks of when he said "Arise, Awake, stop not until the goal is reached". Raise your consciousness to that divine level. Take note though this does not come easily. One must be sincere and have steadfast devotion and faith in God. It is through His grace alone that the lubrication is provided to ease the friction of spiritual elevation.

May your journey to divinity be blessed by His grace is my sincere prayer.

With love always.

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