Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Fragrance of Life

||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Aum Namo Narayanaya

Right up until I placed my head on my pillow last night, a cloud of uncertainty with regards to today’s topic hung over my head. This overcast condition left me rather confused, as usually by Thursday I would have had some inkling on the topic of discussion. Never to disappoint though, Swamiji lifted these grey clouds with a breeze of inspiration.

Alighting from my deep slumber in the early hours with the peculiar thought of flowers, I realised that it was my brief. At that moment, it was essentially a higher grade assignment - the daunting task of writing an entire blog on flowers. Indeed, we all realise that Hindus have utilised flowers as a significant part of their rituals and worship. Flowers adorn murthis, frames and doorways of temples and homes. On a basic extraction of the idea, we can allude that they contribute to the visual and scent stimulation of our senses, placing us in a good mood to begin worship.

During this month of Thai, many of us would have had a visual feast in the versatility of flower decorations especially during the Kavady period which has an unusual thirst for its use. I am still immersed in the beauty of the alangaram of the Divine Mother by our temple priest  on the final Thai Friday prayer. The wonderful array of flowers carefully selected and strung in the most exquisite garland for the Mother invokes such adoration and admiration in one’s pooja.

But I fail to believe that the significance of the flower in pooja is limited to just these two applications. Upon tapping on Swamiji’s door for a deeper significance; at once a flow of thought gushed upon me. In continuing the stream of ideas from last week on the important and wonderful festival of Maha Shivarathri, I recall an interesting mythological story that can provide a different dimension to our quest.

Once in the heavens, after creation, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were having an argument. The argument centred upon who was greater than the other. In the midst of this intense argument, a huge column of light appeared which had no beginning or end. The brilliance of this light was phenomenal. At once, Lord Vishnu saw a solution to the predicament that arrested them both. He suggested that they set out in two directions in search of the beginning or end of this light and the one who returns victorious, shall take the title of being the greater one.

Instantly, Lord Brahma became a swan and started upwards whilst Lord Vishnu became a boar and went downwards. As time passed, their endeavour become futile as the expanse of light seemed to progress towards infinity in both directions, and with fatigue and irritation digging at Lord Brahma, He was about to end His mission when He caught glimpse of a ketaki flower falling down. Upon enquiry, it relayed to Him that it adorns the head of Lord Shiva and had fallen from His head.

At once, a devious plan was conjured in His head. He convinced the flower to lie to Lord Vishnu that He had been to the top and had brought the flower as proof of His conquest. The flower  agreed and they both descended to Lord Vishnu and relayed the above tale. Lord Vishnu simply refused to accept this, and in that instant the light took the form of Lord Shiva and proclaimed that for being so devious Lord Brahma shall not be worshipped on earth as famously as the other Gods and that the ketaki flower shall not be utilised in worship.

Tree in full Bloom
We are all essentially like flowers on the tree of creation - beautiful and fragrant in our own way. Like the ketaki with a golden complexion, we all radiate with unique divine qualities. The other day, I was driving past a beautiful avenue of trees in full bloom which surely would have attracted a glance from every passerby. Yesterday as I drove past the same way, I noticed how half of them have wilted and dried up.

We too have a limited lifespan on this earth. We could choose to be attached to the world and die like the flowers on the tree; or like some flowers utilise our life in the service of the Lord by adorning His body and bringing  joy and cheer to the sick and sad. Intrinsically, the flower is a very selfless being - it does not discriminate between anyone and equally releases the same fragrance and beauty to whoever comes into contact with it.

Keta of the word Ketaki means desire in Sanskrit. When one is overwhelmed with desire and greed in this world; examples abound where people have compromised their intrinsic divine qualities like truth, love, compassion and righteousness with aim of meeting their desires. Shocking as it may be, some have even murdered their family and friends for wealth.

A Shiva Lingam Adorned with Flowers
As beautiful and famous as you may be, when you neglect to uphold the basic values of being a human being, you are not worthy to be of use for the Lord. Allow yourself to be detached of the world and yet living in the world. Selflessly give your beauty and fragrance of love, truth, compassion and righteousness to God and all His creation.

May you become a flower worthy to adorn Lord Shiva on the auspicious night of Maha Shivarathri is my sincere prayer.

With Love and Prayers always


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