Sunday, 1 June 2014

Idol vs Ideal

|| Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

celestial wedding ceremony of Narayan
pic- google images
|| Aum Namo Narayanaya||

The breaking news last week that revered Swami Vimokshananda was now being posted to Singapore left me drained of thoughts to pen a blog… hence you would have noticed an absence of any posting. The week seemed prolonged and cast over by a shadow of despondency and despair as not only me but many who showed deep and sincere affection for Maharaj tried desperately to understand this play of Master. We speak of attachment as the bane of our lives; yet hypocritically we tend to manipulate it for our own ends. Sri Krishna was quite clear in the Gita when He said that He who is unmoved in good or bad is a yogi. Hence it is Master who teaches the lesson of attachment here.

Maharaj has this wonderful ability to bring to life and allow the devotees to feel and experience the moods and experiences of devotees during the days with Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, Swami Vivekananda or any of the direct disciples or senior monks. The treasured few hours spent with Maharaj at a retreat at Botanical Gardens last Sunday brought nostalgic memories of the accounts with Swami Vivekananda at the Thousand Island Park.

In the midst of the Winter it turned out to be a very hot and humid morning. The well laid out gardens carpeted with well-kept lawns and stocked with an abundance of inspiring plant and animal life seemed to play an apt setting for what turned out to be a spiritually uplifting morning. The enthusiastic devotees from far and wide packed their baskets with delectable vegetarian treats and meandered through what seemed like a thousand hills till we reached the summit of the gardens. We made camp under the canopy of an expansive tree that could very easily be the grandfather of the park. Couched between the tree and the blooming lily pond, the air facilitated the osmosis of spiritual energy and ideas from Maharaj to the seated eager vessels of truth.

The troops were first led through an exhilarating and educational walk through the gardens by Maharaj Himself, assisted by brother Kamal, feeling the touch of Mother Nature in all Her glory. Maharaj in His gerua cloth was like an effulgent flame of compassion and strength dispelling the shadows of ignorance and despair that were cast on many. Lunch at the park was preceded by invocation mantras, reading from the Gospel, singing of devotional songs and a very robust question and answer session. It was during this session that Maharaj strategically calmed the anxiety of all by giving an articulate explanation about the true nature of the world. The underlying truth of the matter is that whatever is created will live and eventually must die. Therefore attachment to the transient creation will lead to anxiety and despair.

Although May was unfortunately the bearer of this sad news, I think it will hurriedly point our attention to its spiritually laden days that will assist to destalk the stigma of it being the conveyor of bad news. The birthday of my Guru - most revered Sri Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj (my eternal pranaams at His feet), Buddha Jayanti, Sita Jayanthi, Tirukalyanam of Lord Balaji and Tirukalyanam of Lord Sudareshwara; and Narasima Jayanthi give divine prominence to May. It was during one exchange of thoughts on Google+ between Maharaj and myself of the Tirukalyanam (celestial wedding) that Maharaj had given instruction that I should write on this subject matter. Most definitely not by any means an expert on the matter, I recall how once when Swami Vivekananda was ill… at the earnest request of Swami Niranjananda, He had been taking Ayurvedic medicines for six or seven days. According to this treatment, the drinking of water is strictly forbidden. He had to appease His thirst with milk. The disciple had come to the Math early in the day. Swamiji on seeing him spoke with affection, "Oh, you have come? Well done, I was thinking of you." Disciple: I hear that you are living on milk for the last six or seven days. Swamiji: Yes, at the earnest entreaty of Niranjan, I had to take to this medicine! I cannot disregard their request.

When the lion amongst mankind acceded to the instructions of His brother disciples, there was no room to manoeuvre but to following humbly and obediently the request of my “chotta Guru”. For many centuries the world has branded us Hindus as idolaters -that is people who worship images or forms of God-. Those very people have failed to see how they themselves have become enslaved in idolism. They have for time in memorial been trying to extract happiness through forms and objects. Society through objects of sense pleasure, through gambling, places of interest, art, performing arts, and many other forms derived pleasure but only to be thrown into disarray and  disillusionment in the absence of such objects or on the other hand in the presence of these objects have also experience anxiety and discontentment after time. Therefore it stands to reason that these objects are not in itself joy or happiness but idols of joy.

Hinduism has never been the advocator for idolism but are in fact ‘ideal-ators’. We have always stood for an ideal. That ideal is truth, existence, knowledge and bliss, collectively called Brahman. As explained in the Mundaka Unpanishad… like a spider that weaves its web from itself and thereafter absorbs it within, this entire creation is an expansion of that very same Brahman. Fixed firm on this ideal, we humbly pay homage and glory to that supreme energy through any form which is verily itself.

Swami Vivekananda lucidly explained Brahmin as:

the Brahman, the God of the Vedanta, has nothing outside of Himself; nothing at all. All this indeed is He… He is in the universe… He is the universe Himself. "Thou art the man, Thou art the woman, Thou art the young man walking in the pride of youth, and Thou art the old man tottering in his step." He is here. Him we see and feel: in Him we live, and move, and have our being.

What then has made us so foolish to seek the happiness and bliss outside ourselves and through objects… when we ourselves are that Brahman?  The answer is relatively simple. Once the great sages were inquisitive as to whom they should make their sacrifices to. Sage Bhrigu then made his way to the abode of the trinity, Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu. At both Shiva and Brahmas abode, he was infuriated as they had not given him any attention whilst they were busy with their activities. In this anger he approached the abode of Maha Vishnu or Srinivasa. Noticing the Lord sleeping on Adishesha and oblivious to his presence, his anger now escalated and he involuntarily kicked the Lord on His chest. The Lord immediately awakened and massaged his feet asking if he was injured. This appeased him greatly and he left Vaikunta with joy and took back the message that Vishnu Bhagavan was the greatest and all sacrifices should go to Him.

However in Vaikunta, another drama unfolded. Maha Luxmi was thoroughly insulted and asked the Lord in an aggrieved manner how he could be hospitable to the sage after he had kicked her resort in the Lord’s chest. He explained that by massaging his feet he had removed his ego which had allowed such an act to take place. Like any other domestic tiff, no explanation calmed the Mother and She immediately left Vaikuntam. The entire abode was immediately set into darkness, misery and gloom. Understanding well that His life and world could never exist without the Divine Mother, the Lord came to earth in pursuit of Her. They were subsequently united and married at Tirumala, where to this day that celestial marriage is re-enacted and many couples go to Tirumala to engage in their marriage vows.

The lesson, philosophy and spiritual lesson from this event teaches us that our very own ego has polarised our knowledge of our true nature. Thus, that absolute bliss is displaced from within us. Attending the celestial marriage ceremony at annual festivals and listening to the story of the marriage of Sri Balaji and Padmavathi must remind us, to remove or subdue our ego and humble ourselves. By resigning ourselves to God, our inherent divinity and joy wells and all our experiences are married with the spiritual energy within and our lives become prosperous and blissful.

May we all reunite and marry the spiritual consciousness within us, is my sincere prayer

 With love always

Yogan Naidoo

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