Veda Dharma

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vaikhanasa Dharma : Nitya Aradhana

The following work by Sri Ramakrishna Deekshitulu of Tirumala temple and Sri Sathagopan of Oppilliappan koil is an excellent introduction to the Vaikhanasa Agama. When I was thinking of writing my next blog on the nitya aradhana of the Lord as mentioned in the agamas, I came across this excellent work which has mentioned the nitya aradhana of the Lord in good detail (page 67 onwards). Hence I am just providing a link to this book:
http://www.srihayagrivan.org/html/ebook031.htm
The direct pdf can be obtained here:
http://www.srihayagrivan.org/ebooks/031_sva_v1.pdf
This work also has other interesting stuff like the celebrated Atma Suktam (page 39) and pictures of different beras of the Supreme Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala. It also has a good list of temples that still follow the Vaikhanasa style of worship.
The exact number of upacharas to be performed might change here and there. For example, Bhrigu's Vasadhikara mentions the following number of upacharas for each asana:
1. Mantrasana - 13 upacharas
2.Snanasana - 36 upacharas
3.Alankarasana - 28 upacharas
4.Bhojyasana - 16 upacharas
5.Yatraasana - 5 upacharas
6.Paryankasana - 32 upacharas
The complete list of upacharas can be found from the agamic works in detail. The agamas also mention five different suddhis (purity) that are necessary for worshipping the Lord. They are deha suddhi,sthana suddhi, patra suddhi,atma suddhi and bimba suddhi that correspond to body, place,vessels, soul/self and the Lord's image.
The agamas also talk about the greatness of water from ganges and tulasi leaves for the worship of the Lord.
narayana smaranam

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Astrology and Advaita - The divine connection


In this post, I will throw some light on the relation between astrology and advaita. This should possibly clear some of the doubts related to astrology especially Vedic astrology. Astrology is based heavily on the principles of karma theory and non-duality( "advaita" loosely translated). Let me just define what I mean by karma theory and advaita before venturing into the discussion. Karma theory says that any action that an animate being does leaves an impression on the soul and these impressions are carried over from one birth to another. As a result, the sum total of impressions from past lives decide a being's psychology, actions and experiences. For example, a person who donated lot of wealth in his previous birth will be born rich. On the other hand, advaita says that the whole universe including animate and inanimate beings is only a manifestation of Supreme consciousness, that is SadaShiva. This literally means that this whole universe is completely interconnected with a string i.e "consciousness". Now let us proceed to understand the basis of astrology, a spiritual science.


When a stone is thrown into a lake, ripples get created in the lake. The stone is the cause and the ripples are the effect. When an intelligent person standing at the shore of the lake sees ripples coming, he can safely infer that a disturbance was caused ( a stone thrown etc.) to the lake. Similarly, to understand the state of an element in a completely interconnected system, it is sufficient if one has enough information about few other components of the system. The amount of information needed about other components is dependent on 1) what information we seek from the component under analysis and 2) the nature of interconnections between the various components of the system. For a system like this universe ( which is completely connected through consciousness), it is sufficient if we have enough information about few components to understand any other component. This is applicable to all the elements of this universe. And this is the very basis of spiritual powers, which are exhibited by great siddhas and others. So what has this got to do with astrology?


What does one need to predict a person's future? The sum total of all the past impressions on his/her soul. If these impressions can be found somehow, then any one can predict the future of a person based on these. But getting the spectrum of impressions is beyond a normal human being's mental powers! But the theory about an interconnected system mentioned in the previous paragraph comes to our rescue. One can get the spectrum of impressions of a new born, by taking enough information from some of the other components of this system, the universe. Astrology is based on getting this spectrum by observing the planetary positions at a person's birth ( please note that planets are just another component of this interconnected system). The tough problem of getting impressions of a person is solved now. Now the next step is to use the planetary positions as a proxy for the impression spectrum and just decipher this based on the nature of the interconnection between these two components of the system (planetary positions and impression spectrum). An example for this is like if z=2cos(x)+3sin(y), where x, y and z are longitude of Sun, longitude of Moon and sum total of impressions, one can easily find out z if x and y are known. But knowing this relation is dependent on the nature of interconnections between various components of the system. Thanks to the ancient rishis, who understood the nature of interconnections and formulated the rules of astrology. Thus a combination of advaita, karma theory and theory of interconnected systems resulted in the discovery of a divine science "Astrology". Understanding this basis of astrology, solves many questions that are posed by researchers about Vedic astrology. Let us try to answer some of these questions, right now!


One question that people generally ask is that why does not vedic astrology use planets like pluto, uranus etc? Is it because they were not discovered during vedic times? Can we do any better if we use them? The answer is too obvious once we understand the basic theory of astrology. The answer is that they are not needed. To say this mathematically, if it is sufficient to use variables x1 to xn to describe a system completely why should one use more variables? They are just redundant i.e they do not give any extra information. Even if one tries to use lets say pluto's longitude (call it 'u') we will end up getting a relation like z = 2cos(x)+3sin(y)-0tan(u). As the coefficient is zero, one does not need 'u' to find the value of 'z'!


Another question that people often ask is that why do vedic astrology use something called Rahu and Ketu (the lunar nodes) though they are not real bodies? The answer is again obvious. Vedic astrology's aim is not to use only planets for getting the spectrum of impressions. It's real aim is to rather get information from other components of the system(the universe) so that the impression spectrum can be derived completely or almost completely. Hence it became mathematically necessary to use positions of lunar nodes to describe the impression spectrum completely. The reasons are purely mathematical than anything else!


Now comes the tough question, if astrology is based on this theory of interconnected system, karma and advaita why not use information from other components of the universe to predict a person's future? If you had asked this question, I bow to your feet sir. You are a vedic sage in making. One can indeed use information from other components of the universe and accurately get the impression spectrum provided one deciphers the relation between these components and the impression spectrum. One can see proof of this point in vedic literature. There are other branches of vedic astrology which use other components like time of a query, a person's face, a person's thumb impression (nadi astrology), lines in a person's palm or random happenings( seemingly random as nothing is random in this universe) like omens etc. What all these sciences do is to use information from 0ther components of the system to decipher the same information as long as the information is sufficient enough to describe the unknown variable completely.


But what about the branch of astrology that gives remedies like mantras, worshipping dieties etc for solving problems? How is this justified? Are these not illogical and unscientific? Astrology gives remedies so that the impression spectrum of a person gets modified so that favourable results are achieved by him. It is only for the purpose of remembering easily, sages have said things like saturn can be propitiated using the mantra "Om xxxxx namah" etc. What they are essentially trying to do is to correct a particular portion of the impression spectrum using an appropriate mantra so that a given aspect of life governed by those impressions can be improved (Read my other article on mantras to understand how mantras can solve problems). The concept of planetary dieties used in vedic astrology is also closely related to this. One can see proof of this in other remedial measures like giving the gift of gold etc which are meant to cleanse a negative impression that was accumulated due to stealing gold in the previous birth.


Now that we understand the basis of astrology, let us see what it takes to become a great astrologer? Historically, we have seen that all the best astrologers were highly spiritual without exceptions. One cannot find an astrologer who is not at all spiritual. The reason for this is that when one is dealing with a complex system with multitude of components which are connected through "Consciousness", it is important to understand "that" consciousness well. And how can a non-spiritual person who doesnt understand "Consciousness" i.e "Sadashiva" analyse this complex system using astrology? By all means, do follow the directions of ancient seers even if you do not understand the science behind them. There is a very high probability that the sages are right. We will realise it some day.


narayana smaranam.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vaikhanasa Dharma (Pavitra Utsavam)

Today we will talk about the ceremony called "Pavitra Utsavam" (purification festival) in detail. I have chosen this topic as this is one of the festivals that is least known to the general devotee community. We will also touch upon the ritualistic details little bit in this post. One can find mention of this ritual in any major agamic text and I have used "Vimanarchana Kalpa" by sage marici and "Vaasadhikara" by sage Bhrigu for understanding this ritual.
All Vaikhanasa agamas gave lot of importance to the ritual "Pavitra Utsavam" or "Pavitra Aropanam". The main purpose of the ritual is to remove the effects of lapses in the worship of the Lord. This could be due to defects in mantra, kriya(ritual) or dravya(worship items). Performing this ritual gives benefits equal to that of performance of all sacrifices, bestows prosperity and fulfills the desires of the devotees. No worship will give good results if pavitra aropanam is not performed and will eventually lead to the destruction of the king and the state. Hence all efforts must be made to perform pavitra aropanam. In order to perform this ritual an auspicious time should be fixed as mentioned by the Vaikhanasa agamas by carefully avoiding inappropriate times. Vimanarchana Kalpa specifies months of Ashadha, Sravana or Bhadrapada etc for this ritual. Pavitra Aropanam should be done on the Dwadasi day of the Sukla Paksha. The selection of dwadasi is because of it being Vishnu's tithi. The agamas say that pavitra utsavam should not be done when Sun is in Tula, as Sun being in his debilitated sign is not auspicious. There are other conditions mentioned in the Agamas which should be taken care of while selecting an auspicious time for this ritual.

(Following are the significators for various tithis : 1. Agni 2.Sri 3.Bhargava 4.Yama 5.Soma 6.Guha 7.Bhaskara 8.Durga 9.Matru 10.Vayu 11.Rishis 12. Chakrapani 13. Sankara 14.Brahma 15. Vishnu)

In order to perform the ritual yagasala should be made in the mantapa in front of the main alaya etc and the whole place should be cleansed using cow-dung. The whole place should be decorated using beautiful flower garlands, plantain tree trunks etc. Also thoranas should be tied at all the four gates of the temple. Then a platform should be made of wood for performing the rituals like snapana etc when needed. As mentioned in other posts "Ankuraropanam" should be done the previous day and either sabhyangni or paundarikagni kunda should be made. The main ingredient of the ritual is "Pavitram", which is some kind of a garland made with any of the following materials. The sastras say that sutras made of silk(linen) or gold give best results, whereas sutras made of silver and cotton mediocre and least results respectively. The sutras should be made by brahmin women who are sumangalis and pativratas. If not possible, they should be made by young virgins. In the worst case sutras bought can also be used for this purpose. But sutras spoilt by rats, sutras with strands of hair(due to carelessness of the person who made the sutra), sutras that are not soft or sutras that have become weak should be avoided. The sutras should be purified by darbhas using pancha gavyas(dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee from the cow) by reciting appropriate mantras. Sutras made of 108 threads and that extend till the knees are the best. Sutras made of 54 threads and that extend till the thighs are mediocre whereas sutras made of 27 threads and that extend till the chest are least preferred. The number of knots in the pavitra garland could be 27 or 8 or 12 depending on whom it is being offered to. Also the size of the knots can be of the size of thumb or one inch or even smaller and they should be classified as best, mediocre and least quality.The knots should be tied while Vishnu Sukta is being recited and the pavitrams should be decorated with different perfumes like sandalwood paste, agaru paste etc.
(See the image of the Lord in tirumala wearing "Pavitra" garlands as mentioned above during the annual pavitrotsavam festival)

On the Ekadasi day, the Acharya should get up early in the morning and then do sandhya vandanam. After that, he should do brahma yajna and then should do pranayama and enter the temple after doing pradakshina. He should then sit in front of the Lord and then recite the ashtakshari mantra with devotion and a concentrated mind. He should avoid talking to impure people while doing the same and should then enter the yagasala while praying to the Lord using appropriate mantras. The yajamani along with his wife should then do the Aghara homam in either Paundarika agni or Sabhyagni kunda. In the western side of the mantapa, a heap of rice grains of approximately six dronas or half of that should be formed. Above this heap, darbha grass should be kept while appropriate mantras are recited. After that Kautaka Bandhana should be performed which should be followed by Pavitra Adhivasam ( Keeping the pavitras on the heap of grains). The Kautaka murti should be appropriately worshipped by offering arghya, padya etc. On the Dhanya Peetha ( heap of grains) one should make "Garuda" and then pavitras should be kept over the peetha while appropriate mantras are being recited. New clothes, Akshatas etc should be offered to the pavitras before doing adhivasam.
Fifteen suktas such as rudra suktam, ratri suktam, durga suktam, saraswata suktam, viswajit suktam, dhruva suktam, sri suktam, bhu suktam, vishnu suktam, Godana suktam, atma sukatm etc should then be recited while touching the sutras. If this is not possible then ten suktas should be recited and in the worst case at least five suktas should be recited. Otherwise vishnu sukta should be recited repeatedly and then the Lord Sudarsana should also be worshipped. After this, devatas from the three avaranas should be invited using appropriate mantras. The Kumbha should be kept in the north-east directin and the Lord should be worshiped properly. After this the devas from the three avaranas including Jaya, Vijaya, Indra and Lokapalas etc should be worshiped in the Pradakshina order in their appropriate places. The next step in the ritual is inviting the Ashta devatas (Santam, Garudam, Chakram, Sankham, Nyaksham, Vivaswatam, Mitram and Mahidharam) and worshiping them by offering Arghya, Padya and Mudganna etc. After this the snapana utsava ( Bathing festival) will be done by using water from 108 vessels while appropriate mantras are recited. Also new clothes should be offered and the Lord should be decorated well. The agamas also talk about doing special worship (Visesha Archana) to the Lord. Lord should be worshipped using various flowers and leaves like Bilva, Karaveera, Jajii, Vakula, Kalhara, Asoka, Padma, Kumuda, Nilotpala, Mandara, Dwikarna, Nandyavarta, Punnaga, Vishnukrantam, Tulasi etc. After offering dhoopam, deepam, arghyam and nivedyam etc. pavitrams should be offered to the Lord, Devis and other deities and to the temple premises by reciting appropriate mantras and vishnu sukta. Also two dronas or half of that should be offered to Lord as Bali along with paniyam and achamanam.
After this, the following homas should be done. First homa should be done while reciting Sri, Bhu, Purusha and Vishnu suktams. Ahutis should be made into agni depending on the number of granthis while reciting vaishnavam. After this paramatmika, ashtasiiti and sarva daivatya homas should be done. (The performer or Yajamani can do the above homas in the best, good or ordinary means as mentioned by the agamas) In addition, chaturveda adhyana, singing of devotional songs, devotional dances, recitation of stotras etc. should be done in the evenings. Other procedures related to offering pavitrams to kautuka, utsava, snapana and bali beras should be learnt from the Agamas. Pavitrotsavam and the other visesha archanas should be done either for 9/7/5/3/1 days and brahmanas and vaishnavas should be worshipped and offered food. After that the sutras can be removed and nirmalya should be used to worship Vishwaksena. By performing pavitrotsavam a year's worship becomes fruitful. All desires of devotees shall be fulfilled. Pavitrotsavam will surely guarantee Vishnuloka for the performers.
narayana smaranam.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Power of mantras and Samskritam

When does a language qualify to be called divine? We all know that sanskrit is called a divine language. Is it just because it is the language of Vedas? Or why are vedas recited in sanskrit only? Why cannot somebody recite vedas is telugu or english or hindi for example?
The Supreme Brahman ( a name for the formless God) is formless, eternal, all-pervading and omniscient. One cannot perceive the nature of attribute-less Brahman through senses or mind. But when the Brahman gets agitated then it gives birth to three gunas namely sattwa, rajas and tamas( goodness, activity and dullness respectively). Endowed with these three gunas the Supreme does the acts of creation, sustenance and destruction. When a sadhaka does penance for thousands of births his vasanas get purer and he starts getting closer to reaching the state of divinity. At the height of perfection, he loses himself and he becomes Brahman. But before reaching the highest perfection called nirguna samadhi, a sadhaka starts reaching the level of the Brahman with attributes. In other words, he starts experiencing divinities like Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva, who are embodiments of Brahman with attributes. Though the Brahman without attributes cannot be experienced through senses, Brahman with attributes can be experiences through senses that are highly purified. Senses are considered highly purified, when they are perfectly controlled or when they are brought to the verge of destruction(through sadhana). Though one generally thinks of experiencing something as seeing, experiencing can be done either through one or more senses. All the five main senses viz. sound, touch, form, taste and smell experience the divine through their own ways, when purified.
Thus one can experience Brahman through any of the five senses and a spiritual sadhana is nothing but a process of purifying each of these senses. Thus smelling fragrant leaves like tulasi that are offered to Lord or the incense purify the sense of smell. Similarly, touching the Lord's feet with hands and taking bath in sacred rivers and applying sandal wood paste on the forehead etc. purify the sense of touch. Similarly, seeing the form of Lord in temples through His images and seeing great saints purify the sense of sight. Similary, eating sattwic food in limited quantities at appropriate times after offering it to Lord purifies the sense of taste. Similarly, reciting sacred mantras or mystic chants continuously or singing the glories of the Lord purify the sense of sound. In order to achieve this perfect control of senses, Vaidika dharma has designed a way of ritualistic worship that achieves all these results at the same time. When the mind also gets controlled along with its companion senses through meditation on the Lord and worship of the Lord, liberation can be attained.
But one can ask the question: "What is the link between above mentioned activities and purification of senses?" . When the senses are engaged in activities that correspond to the sattwa aspect of Brahman they get pure as only the Supreme can purify anything. No other activity can purify senses. Hence, the set of activities are designed in such a way that they imitate the experience of Brahman. So one is asked to see the form of Lord whom one sees after getting liberated. One is asked to smell the fragrances that one can smell when experiences the Supreme and so on. Similarly, one is asked to recite the sounds that one uses to experience Brahman. Only such set of activities can be together called the "Samskrita dharma" and the sound portion of this dharma is called "Samskrita bhasha" or "Sanskrit language".
Hence a language can be called divine only when the words in that language correspond to the form of Brahman that they address. For example, a language can called divine, if the word "Rudra" is used to denote the destroyer and meditation on the word "Rudra" will result in perceiving the form of Rudra. Essentially we are saying that reciting any word should result in realizing the form denoted by the meaning of that word. Only such a grammar can be termed "Divine". Sanskrit is the only such language in the Universe, which has this feature. This has become possible only because it emanated from the Supreme Lord Himself.
One who understands this immediately realizes that every word in the Sanskrit language is a mantra and will give the realization of the object denoted by the word. At a higher level of yoga, sages do not need mantras anymore as every letter itself is a combination of purusha and prakriti. Sukshma meditation ( avery high form of meditation) is based on this. Eternal meditation also has its roots in the same.
So when somebody says "Sri", the beeja of the divine mother, it bestows on one the experience of Divine Mother. This experience manifests itself in three levels: At the physical level the sadhaka starts benefitting by getting wealth, education, fame etc. At the mental level the sadhaka is bestowed with "Mental wealth" in terms of bhakti, noble thoughts etc. At the atmic level, the sadhaka becomes rich by getting rid of all bondage and finally gets moksha. But most of us associate the "Sri" beeja only with the physical results, which are only a minute fraction of the whole.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lord's infinite grace

"He doesn't tell anything to Lakshmi;Nor does He wear His weapons Sankha & Chakra;
Doesn't call any of His servants; Doesn't even wait for His divine vehicle Garuda;
Doesn't bother to clean the juice of betel leaves flowing out of His mouth to His ears;
Doesn't leave the end of Lakshmi's saree which he has taken to wipe His mouth( and pulls her along as a result)"

This is the hurry Lord shows when any devotee prays to Him for help; This incident had happened during "Gajendra Moksha", liberation of the elephant king from a crocodile's attack.

(As depicted by Sri Pothana in Srimad Bhagavatham)

What other proof do we need to submit ourselves to the Lord and receive His grace instantaneously?
Even before one says "Sri" the Lord "Sri Rama" would have already started!

narayana smaranam

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama ( Kumbha Dhyana Vidhanam)

In this post let us see the process of meditation on Vishnu to install His power in the sacred pot or Kumbha. The process is very generic in nature and constitutes of meditating upon the Lord with great concentration. There might be different variations of the same procedure but I will talk about the one mentioned by Sage Atri in his work Samurtarchanadhikarana.
The priest after purifying himself should wear 12 urdhwa pundras as mentioned by Kasyapa and should wear clean white clothes, apply sandalwood etc. He should sit facing the east or north and keep clean water from rivers ready for "Kumbha Pooja". The sacred pot should be made out of gold/silver/copper/mud. It should be of size of equal to 32 "prastha" and in the shape of "ripe bimba" fruit. It should be cleaned properly and then threads should be wound around the Kumbha, while appropriate mantras are recited. The pot should be filled with water from sacred rivers while reciting mantras and should be purified using kusa grass and gems, akshatas, flowers, fragrances should be put in the water. The pot should be decorated using a new cloth with sandalwood etc and kusa grass . The following seven ingredients are the most important ones and they signify the following:
1.Water - Meda
2.Gems - Asthi
3.Threads - Sira or veins
4.Coconut on top - Head
5.Red mud - Sonitam
6.Cloth - Skin
7.Fragrant dust - Flesh.

The above seven dhatus are very important and even if one is missing the Lord's presence is impossible. The kumbha should be placed on a heap of paddy in front of the Lord. Acharya should then recite the pranava in his heart and should also recite the atma and purusha suktas. He should meditate on the region of Varuna in the form of half moon in the water in Kumbha. After this he acharya should start reciting "Sahasra Sirsam" and start the process of meditation on the Lord as learnt from his acharya. He should become peaceful in mind and should sit in swastika asana. He should concentrate his vision on the top of the nose and should pranayama as much as he can do. Pranayama is of three types known as rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka. These are synonymous with exhalation,inhalation and holding of the breath. Pranayama should be done by the acarya so that he can bring his senses under control. Wherever the mind goes it should be brought back under control with effort.
Once the mind is controlled thus, the Supreme Lord who resides in the form a flame in the heart should be meditated upon. The Sruti speaks of Him as the eternal and the supreme soul. In meditation He is perceived as a thunderbolt in the sky. He is an embodiment of all jnana and doesnt have decay. He is of the form of Pranava and causes prosperity. Though He doesnt have a body, He fills the whole universe with His power. The supreme Lord who stays in all creatures can only be perceived with the light of Jnana. He is smaller than an atom but still bigger than the Universe. He is both Sat and Asat and cannot be perceived by senses. But still He can be understood through the path of devotion. The Lord is the source of all Vedas. Lord Vishnu is the target of all yagnas. Lord Hari is the truth enunciated in all dharmas. He is beginingless, master of all and support for all. The whole universe is created by Him and is filled with Him. Thus after controlling all the senses, the Lord Vishnu should be meditated with happiness.
The Lord should then be meditated as one in golden colour, with red eyes, with Yagnopaveetha and decorated with different ornaments and a shining crown. His chest shines with splendour of gem Kaustubha and a white patch of hair on His chest( known as Srivatsa) should be perceived. In His upper four hands He wears Sankha and Chakra. In His lower two hands He displays Abhaya/Varada and Kati mudras. The guru should thus carefully install the power of the Lord in the sacred pot through the above meditation.
"The Lord who resides in Nara(water) is known as Narayana. The Lord who fills the whole Viswa(universe) should be known as Vishnu. The Lord who enters all jivas/vastus is known as Vasudeva. " The Lord should be meditated upon thus with concentration. In His micro form He enters all jivas and in His macro form He resides with mother Lakshmi in Vaikuntha.
This is the way of Advaita Puja as told by the great sage Vikhanasa. The argument that the Lord's power need not be installed as He is all pervading. We need to make fire from firewood though fire is internally there in the firewood. The Lord can only be installed with devotion and concentrated meditation. The Lord can be meditated in the heart or in the image or in the water or in the disc of Sun and can be worshipped. It is important to invite Him with mantras and dhyana. The divine mother also should be similarly invited into the Kumbha and should be worshipped. The kumbha can then be taken into the main sanctum and the power can be transferred to the image of the Lord. Thus ends the process of Kumbha dhyanam.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Vaikhanasa agama( Different beras)

The info provided in this post can be found at many places on the net. Still let me just write about it for the sake of continuity. There are five kinds of murtis used in the worship of Lord in a Vishnu temple.
1) Dhruva bera - The immovable image or the main image.
2)Kautuka bera - The image used for all archana related activities. Considered on par with dhruva image in power. Made up of precious metals. (The same image is known as Bhoga srinivasa in tirumala temple)
3) Utsava bera - The procession deity. (In tirumala the same image is known as Malayappa swami)
4)Snapana Bera - The bathing deity. (In tirumala the same image is known as ugra srinivasa murti)
5)Bali bera - Used for all offering havis etc to the Lord. ( Also known as koluvu srinivasa murti in tirumala temple). The order from dhruva to bali beras is an important one and has significance in temple rituals. Though it is desirable to have all the five beras at least dhruva and kautuka beras are compulsory.
narayana smaranam.

Vaikhanasa Agama ( Ankurarpanam or Beejavapanam)

Ankurarpanam or beejavapanam is one of the most important rituals of the Vaikhanasa Agama. One can see ankurarpanam being done in almost all the festivals that are part of the worship of the Lord. Ankuararpanam essentially means "sowing the seed". The essence of this ritual is to make a sankalpa to celebrate a utsavam( festival) and get the grace of the Lord. Sastras prescribe doing ankurarpana 9 days before the festival. If this is not possible at least 7,5,3 days before the main festival ankurarpana should be done. In Tirumala and other temples we see this being done 9 days before the brahmotsavam or in other words 1 day before the 1st day of brahmotsavam. The agamas say that any festival that is celebrated without amkurarpana in a temple is of a demonic nature and hence is not desirable( "Ankurarpana hinam yatkarma ca asuramiritam" from Samurtarchanadhikarana ) . (Remember one of the previous posts in which a prayaschitta was mentioned for celebrating festivals without ankurarpana).
Another important thing to note is that ankurarpana should never be done in the day time. This dictum has its basis in astrological principles. As chandra is the "sasya karaka" the controller of plants, sowing a seed in the day time is not considered wise. In fact chandra is considered strong in the night. Also an auspicious lagna or muhurta should be used for this purpose as any activity that is started in an auspicious time "will" be a success. Many people find it confusing that one has to see an auspicious time for celebrating a festival for the Lord. The reason is that the Supreme Lord, who is sat-chit-ananda swarupa does not benefit from a festival. It is only for our own good that we worship Lord and hence the festival is essentially an activity meant for our spiritual progress. Agamas also mention that the sprouts that emanate from the seeds provide useful hints about how perfectly the festival was celebrated. For example, if the sprouts are black in colour they denote loss of wealth, red colour shows possibility of enmity with others, sprouts growing down shows diseases and no sprouts indicate death. These results are to be predicted for the Yajamani. Similarly, white and well developed ankuras, straight or yellow ankuras show prosperity for the Yajamani. It is not surprising that the signs about the sprouts have an astrological significance.( May be it is not an accident). An yellow or white sprout shows jupiterean or venusian effects which are beneficial. A black sprout might show a saturnian effect which can lead to poverty. Similarly a red sprout is clearly indicating martian effect which might lead to wars, fights etc which is the very nature of Mars.
One needs to make vessels known as "palikas" either using gold or silver or copper or using mud for performing ankurarpanam. These vessels should be either 16/12/8 in number. The details of exact size, shape for palikas should be taken from any standard vaikhanasa agama text. Samurtarchana adhikarana by Atri has these details in chapter 26. Earlier in the afternoon the seeds should be soaked in a new vessel in water. In the northern side of the temple cow dung should be used to decorate the place. Also rice powder should be used to decorate the place. After that the brahma peetam should be formed as prescribed in the texts using rice etc and different deities like Brahma, Garuda, Sesha, Sudarsana, Vakratunda, Soma, Santa, Indra, Isana and Jaya etc should be invited and worshipped through fire. It is advisible to worship all the deities mentioned above otherwise at least brahma, sesha etc should be worshipped as mentioned in scriptures. The palikas should be filled with mud while worshipping the Goddess earth and the seeds and water should be poured while worshipping Moon. The managala vadya should accompany the sowing of seeds. The palikas should be decorated by wrapping a new cloth around them and punyaham should be done. The seeds should be sown by the acharya or the yajamani in the same order. "Somam raja" mantra and Vishnu sukta should be used for sowing the seeds and varuna mantra should be used to sprinkle water. The seeds should not be sown by prohibited people as mentioned in the sastras(See Atri samhita) . Water and deepa should be offered everyday and the seeds should be protected very carefully. This is very important.(This also signifies keeping the mind alert and always be attentive and concentrated until the completion of the festival without any obstacles)
Thats all we have about ankurarpanam and let us do the ritual with utmost devotion whenever necessary and receive the grace of the Lord.
narayana smaranam.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama( Alaya nirmana vidhi)

According to the Vaikhanasa agama, before the main temple is built a temporary temple should be built and the Lord should be worshipped there. This is called " Taruna Alaya". It is important to build a Tarunalaya first and worship the Lord there for for sometime before the main temple is built. The main temple is known as "Baala Alaya". Now onwards whenever we refer to the main temple let us use the word "Balaalaya". When the Baalaalaya is built without a tarunaalaya it is called "Harakam". When the balaalaya is built after tarunaalaya it is called "samrutam" . Vaikhanasa agama strongly suggests that a tarunalaya should be built first. ( The rules and worship for tarunalaya are not very complicated. This technique helps in gathering spiritual power slowly and then after substantial amount is collected then the installation of the power into the main idol an be easily done. It also helps in understanding and settling all temple administration issues.) And Vimanarchana Kalpa by Marichi says that the tarunalaya should be built in the north-east/north-west/indra direction of the main temple site in the same premises. The size of this temple can be found from the agamas.(Not very big and is generally around 10 sq feet, I guess )

The images of the Lord can be made in three ways: Sthanaka, Asana and Sayana postures. Vimanarchana Kalpa gives the importance of using suitable architecture for the vimana consistent with the type of image viz. sthanaka/asana/sayana. We will talk about the different types of Vimanas in later posts. Sthanka is the standing posture whereas asana and sayana are sitting and reclining posture respectively. (Examples are Tirumala Venkateswara for sthanaka, Ahobila Narasimha for asana and Ananta Padmanabha of Trivandrum/Ranganatha of Srirangam for sayana) In each of these styles, the Lord can exhibit different bhavas like Yoga/Bhoga/Vira. Some scriptures divide Vira further into Vira and Abhicharika.
In the yoga sthanaka posture, the right hand will show either abhaya/varada posture. The left hand can be in kati posture.( This is from Atri Samurtarchanadhikarana chapter 20 whereas marichi gives abhaya for right and varada/kati for left. Both are acceptable) Also the Lord will be accompanied by Brahma,Sankara,Pujaka and sages in appropriate directions as mentioned by the agamas. Building without sankara,brahma is mediocre and building without pujaka,sages is least desirable. (Not prohibited though). It is important to note that Lord is not accompanied by devi in the yoga posture. In addition right upper hand will hold chakra and left upper hand will hold sankha and the Lord is made in black colour.
In the bhoga sthanaka posture, the lord has the same posture but he is acompanied by Sridevi on the right side and Bhudevi on the left side. Sridevi holds a lotus in her left hand and leaves her right hand free. She should also have a slight side glance towards the Lord. She bends her left leg little bit and keeps her right leg straight. Bhudevi stands on the right side and has to be made in the reverse manner to the above. Any mistake in the hands/feet posture is very dangerous. Similar rules for other parivara like Brahma, Iswara are given and in addition there are others like Narada, Vidyadharas,Tumbura, Sanakadi rishis, Surya and Chandra etc accompanying the Lord with all paraphernalia. I will not describe the Vira/Viraha/Abhicharaka which are minor variations and the devis do not accompany the Lord in these postures. Also viraha postures constitute of Lord without sankha and chakra. Abhicharika postures resemble some vamachara kind practises and are used only for destruction of enemies and so on. Lord may hold a mace in Vira postures.
The asana postures are similar to the above sthanaka postures in terms of who the Lord is accompanied by and other such details. The Lord remains seated with his right leg folded and left leg left hanging. The hands can show either Varada/Abhaya postures or can remain on the knees as if meditating. In yoga postures they generally remain on the knees( Anka posture). In bhoga postures if seated along with devis then he may show abhaya/Varada postures. In yoga postures sometimes he might not even hold sankha and chakra. (As mentioned in Vimanarchana) . In bhoga postures devis will remain seated and fold one of their legs depending on which side they are seated.( Sridevi on the right folds her left leg and holds lotuses in both the hands. One can easily form rules for Bhu devi similarly) . In the Vira asana postures Lord is without devis and holds sankha and chakra. Other details can easily be inferred from above. There is also mention of simhasana, Padmasana, Bhadrasana, bhadrasimhasana in Vimanarchana Kalpa. Similar details can be found about the different ways of making sayana postures images can be found easily from the Vaikhanasa scriptures. One point to note is that if the Lord is in standing posture then the parivara devas should be made in standing posture. If the Lord is in sitting posture then the parivara devatas can be made in standing/sitting postures. But sayana is an exception and the parivara devas will have to be made in sitting/standing postures. These rules are very important and any violation might spoil the servant-master relation between the Lord and His servants and might cause negative results. But the only exceptions are Vishwaksena, Vignesa, Jyestha, Matara and Rohini who should always be made in sitting posture. (These details are available in Bhrigu's kriyadhikara) . After discussing the various postures let us understand the effects of these. Yoga images should be worshipped for yogic perfection whereas bhoga images should be worshipped if materialistic prosperity is desired. Vira and other images are worshipped if courage/valour are desired.
I have read in some website that the image in the Tirumala does not confirm to the Agamas as it is a swayambhu. I do not think it is true as from the above description one can clearly see that the Lord of the seven hills is a classic example of a Yoga Sthanaka posture. But there is something very special about this Lord that makes Him grant bhoga also. This is the presence of Mahalakshmi on his heart on the right side which gives Him a tinge of Bhoga posture attributes viz. bestowing prosperity. ( I am not talking about the Swarna Sri and Bhu images he wears on His heart but I am talking about the carved image of Sri on the Sila on the right side of His bosom) Thus an analysis of Agamas reveal that the Lord of seven hills may grant His devotees bhoga when they are in initial stages but will ultimately grant moksha as that is the very nature of a Yoga sthanaka image. More details on the Vaikhanasa agamas in teh next post.

Vaikhanasa Agamas ( Sthala Nirnaya and Bhu Pariksha)

Vaikhanasa agamas specify very clearly which kind of places are suitable for building a temple of Vishnu and which are not suitable. The agamas clearly specify the characteristics of nine different kinds of places which are Vishnu sthalam, Brahma sthalam, Rudra sthalam, Indra, Garuda, Bhoutika, Pisacha, Rakshasa, Asura . Not all of the above places are suitable for building a temple of Vishnu. The classification should be done based on which direction the land is sloping, colour and smell of the land, kinds of trees, animals, birds found in the place. Vishnu sthala is characterised by sloping down towards the east, whitish colour of the land, presence of trees like tulasi, kusa, aswatha etc, animals like sardula, vrishabha, suka, hamsa etc, lakes filled with lotuses etc. Brahma sthala is indentified by its westward sloping, reddish colour. Rudra sthala is identified by its black colour, southward sloping. Similar attributes can be used for other places also as mentioned in Kasyapa Jnana Kanda( Chapters 11 onwards). Different results are given for different lands. Vishnu sthala gives intelligence and sattva, brahma sthala gives sattva, brahminical splendour,wealth, rudra sthala(tamas) is suitable only if courage and strength are desired. Similarly garuda sthala gives strength, courage and wealth, indra sthala gives rajas, abundant food and wealth, bhautika sthala gives prosperity. All the above sthalas are ok whereas pisacha, asura and rakshasa sthalas should be avoided in any case as they will result in destruction and inauspiciousness. After the land is identified and chosen properly, a test of the soil should be done as follows:
Dig a hole of at least of the width,length and depth of an arms length( some works talk about a circular hole but the logic remains the same). After digging the hole, refill it with the soil taken out in the previous step. If the pit is filled and the soil is left then the place denotes growth, if no soil is left then it is just ok and if the pit is not completely filled then it should be avoided.

(Many of us might feel how a land might effect the construction of a temple. The ancient sages were so divine that not only did they see the presence of Supreme consiousness in everything animate and inanimate but they could also find out the characteristics of different objects. The way a devotee prefers staying in good company and a non-believer prefers staying in bad company, animals,trees also grow in the place suitable for their tendency. Hence one can clearly say that the presence of a given animal or a tree gives hints about the nature of the place. This kind of intuition is heavily used by Vedic sages in all the different sciences as it can be used by even people of mediocre intelligence. One need not have the intuition to look at a place and decide which category it belongs to. Non-believers of vedic dharma cannot see through this dense forest like logic and superficially conclude that Vedic worship is superstitious and baseless. My aim is not to criticize other faiths but only to show my Hindu brothers how deep and insightful is Vedic tradition and to stop them from getting attracted to other faiths.)

Vaikhanasa Agama( Antaryaga vs Bahiryaga, Amurta and Samurta aradhana)

According to the Vaikhanasa agamas, worship of the lord can be done either internally ( antaryaga) or externally(bahiryaga). A person who is interested in doing antaryaga should get up before sunrise by gaining mastery over sleep. After that he should finish his morning cleaning rituals facing east or north. He should clean his toungue, teeth and take bath and become clean. After that he should wear the urdhva pundra of the Lord. After that anganyasa and karanyasa ( any of the variations can be followed) should be done by reciting the appropriate mantras. He should seat himself in front of the Lord by either facing east or north. Atma suktam should be recited carefully and the sadhaka should identify himself with the Supreme soul. Pranayama should be done with all its limbs like rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka after this. After this he should think of a 16 petalled lotus in his heart and write all the necessary beejas in all the sixteen petals. Otherwise an eight petalled lotus can be meditated upon by writing the eight sacred letters. ( Like the eight letters of the ashtakshari " Om Namo Narayanaya"). Inside that lotus, the fields of Sun, Moon and Fire should be meditated upon. In the core of the fields, one should meditate upon the Supreme Lord Vishnu in the form of the letter "Om". The Lord should be thought of as same as the sound "Om". The Lord should be thought of as this single letter "Om" as mentioned in the sruti vakyam "sa brahma ...." . ( "The Pranava om is verily Brahma, it is verily Siva, it is verily Vishnu and it is the Supreme Lord" is the gist of that sruti vakyam for those who havent heard this). The Lord should be meditated upon incessantly depending on one's sradha for as much time as possible as "Om" which is in the form of a flame of length one inch. Thus one should merge himself in that flame, which is verily the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who is same as the pranava. This kind of worship is not easily accessible to lesser intelligent people. Now follows the bahiryaga.
Bahiryaga is very simple and is easily doable by anyone. The Lord should be installed in the form of an Archa image by installing the Bija(om can be used if one is not initiated) in the heart of the image first. He should then be worshipped using the regular ways like offering flowers, giving food, reciting stotras etc. That Lord who is thus worshipped everyday is verily the Eternal one and fulfills all the desires of His devotees. The gist is that worshipping Lord in the form of an external image is very useful when one is not in an advanced spiritual stage.
As far as the temple worship is concerned, the Vaikhanasa agamas prescribe two ways of worship. Amurtam (without form) - this is that part of worship where the Lord is worshipped in the Vedic fires / Sun / Heart / Water / Earth through offerings of ghee etc. Samurtam - This is the worship that is done to the Lord in the form of an archa image in the temple. In any Vishnu temple which follows the Vaikhanasa style both amurtam and samurtam are used in the right mixture.
(This is not specific only to Vaikhanasa agamas but is seen in other agamas like Sakti etc. The general opinion that Vedic followers do not understand formless worship is very false. The meditation based on Agni, Soma and Surya mandalas is very extensively used in Sakti worship based on Kundalini. Sakti worshippers divide the spiritual centres into Agni( bottom two chakras), Surya(next two till heart) and Soma( the next two) . But Vaikhanasas put all the three mandalas in heart itself? Is one of them wrong? There is no contradiction here as the meditations are not related to the physical body and are really meant to meditate on the Agni,Surya and Soma mandalas one after another. One can clearly see that both the Vaikhanasa and Sakti styles achieve the same result. Another interesting observation. The Supreme has created this Universe in such a way that what is inside is replicated in a macro scale outside. See for example Fire gives energy to Sun, who in turn makes the moon shine. )

Friday, July 13, 2007

Annamacharya about Tirumala hills!

Annamacharya was one of the greatest saints, who sanctified this earth with his devotion towards the Supreme. He wrote and sang 360000 songs describing the glory of the Lord of seven Hills. It is very interesting to see that Annamacharya wrote many songs explaining the glory of Tirumala. The following is the vision annamacharya had about Tirumala.
"The seven hills of Venkatadri are verily Adisesha's thousand hoods. The hill venkatadri is indeed Vaikunta on the earth. One cannot explain the glory of Tirumala even in thousand verses. The eternal vedas have taken the forms of various stones in Tirumala. Great sages have incarnated themselves as trees in the forrests of Tirumala to liberate themselves. This is to say that one should have done so much punyam even to become a tree in sacred tirumala. The streams that flow in the hills of tirumala are a sum total of auspicious acts of all devotees. Even divinities like Brahma consider living in Tirumala a great fortune. Great divinities roam in tirumala disguising themselves as animals and wait for a chance to worship the Lord. Divine lakes like Ksheera sagara(milk ocean) in Vaikunta verily became the ponds in tirumala. There is nothing that one cannot achieve by worshipping the Lord in tirumala. If one desires wealth, food, progeny, power or moksha let him reach Tirumala as soon as possible and meditate on the Lord, who is the master of Maha Lakshmi. When one takes refuge at the feet of the Lord, whom the Goddess Sri serves with great humility, is there anything impossible? Even the divine mother Sri decided to stay at His feet though He had given her a place in His heart. The reason is too obvious . Let us meditate on His feet and only His feet! This is sufficient to cleanse us of all our sins accumulated from endless births and give us liberation."
narayana smaranam.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama ( Sila lakshanam and sangrahanam)

Let us see the different ways of making the image of the Lord. This is one of the most important steps in building a temple as any mistake in making the image of the Lord might make the temple useless or even dangerous in some cases. The agamas Vasadhikara, Vimanarchana Kalpa, Prakeernadhikara are used for understanding the science of stone selection for the image.
The image of the Lord can be made using one of the following: Stone, Wood, Gems, Metals or Mud. (Technically these are known as Silajam, Darujam, Ratnajam, Dhatujam and Mrinmayam). The stone based images can be divided based on the colour like Sweta(white), Rakta(red), Peeta(Yellow) and Krishna(black). When the image is made of a white stone it gives results like all attractiveness etc. Similarly a red stone gives victory whereas a yellow stone gives wealth,abundant food and pleasures. A black stone gives all perfections and protects the people in the country. Similarly people with different dispositions like Brahamana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra are advised to worship the different stones. Similarly an image can be made of any of the following seven precious gems like manikya, vaidurya, pravala, pushyaraga, sphatika, marakata and neela. All the above give results like wealth, attractiveness etc.(List can be found in prakeernadhikara by Bhrigu). Similarly metals like gold, silver, copper, bronze etc can be used for making the idol. But using lead, tin or iron might be harmful. A golden idol gives wealth whereas silver and bronze idols give power and progeny respectively. An idol can also be made from the wood of the following trees: Devadaru, Pippala, Sami, Chandana, Asana, Khadira, Vakula, Mayura etc. But following four trees should be avoided as they are considered as of a lower quality: Nimbuka, Anjanika, Plaksha, Adumbara. When an idol is made of mud only unbaked mud should be used as it bestows all perfections. Using baked mud will result in destruction and hence should be avoided in any case.
When stone is used for the making of images of the Lord it can be retrieved either from earth(Bhumija) or from mountains(Girija) or from rivers(Varija) . One retrieved from earth is the best, from the hills is mediocre and one retrieved from rivers is the least preferred. One should find out the face of the stone using the guidelines given in agamas( Kasyapa Jnanakanda chapter 28). An east facing stone bestows victory, a west facing one wealth, south facing one protection and a north facing one prosperity. The gender of the stone should be ascertained by the expert silpi using the standard techniques like relative sizes of the base and top, vibration emanated from the stone when hit by the chisel( sound of a bell, vessel or a low sound) etc. Analysis of the characteristics will result in the classification of stone into male, female or neuter. Male stones should be used for making the images for masculine forms of the Supreme, whereas female stones should be used for the feminine forms. Neuter stones should be used for building Prakaras etc. in the temple. A stone should be rejected when a frog is found inside or when it is hollow or when inauspicious lines/marks are found on the stone. (Use Silpa sastra for more details). Transgressing these rules might result in great calamities and hence the rules should always be followed strictly.
After carefully selecting the stone thus, the stone should be brought using proper ritualistic techniques. The ritual of bringing the stone is known as Sila sangrahanam. Almost all the Vaikhanasa agamas mention the same ritual for this event. First an auspicious muhurtam should be seen for the bringing of the sila. The yajamani should worship the Lord along with His saktis and garuda on the auspicious day.After that having received auspicious omens(like hearing of a good news, sight of a full pot, horse, elephant, group of brahmins etc) the dharmakarta ( Yajamani ) along with the acharya and the sculptor should reach the place taking with them the materials needed for a homam. If inauspicious omens are seen then one should understand that the journey will prove futile and might result in dangerous results. After reaching the place, Vastu homam should be done and then purification using paryagni and pancha gavya should be done. Then food,flower,water and sandalwood offerings should made to various beings using the proper ritual(To the deities of the forest, Nagas,yakshas, rakshasas, gandharvas, eighteen ganas etc.). After that the sila is given a bath using fresh water(using Vaishanava, Purusha, Sri and Bhu suktams) and the acharya should face the north and do pranayama and recite atma suktam and mahi suktam carefully. He should recite the mantra that says that this is verily Vishnu by meditating on the Supreme Lord and touch the stone with his hand and thus collect it. After that the sila should be tapped using the chisel on the top, sides and bottom along with the recitation of Vishnu gayatri and the mantra "Chitram devanam". The sila should then be transfered carefully onto a cart/vehicle and then should be brought to the Karma mandapa in the temple. Some works say that the sila thus brought should be taken in a pradakshina way around the village. After this the sila will be carved into a beautiful image of the Lord using the principles of Sipla sastra. In the next post we will discuss the different ways of carving the image of the Lord in detail( more from a Vaikhanasa perspective though).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama ( Archavatara Visesham)

In this post, let us talk about the greatness of archavatara and the various kinds of temples. Scriptures like Ananda samhita( Sage Marici) and Prakeernadhikara(Sage Bhrigu) are used for this purpose. Of all the forms of worship, worshiping Vishnu is the best way for salvation. Worshiping Vishnu in any way is a desirable thing to do. Worship of Vasudeva either in home ( for benefiting one self) or in a temple ( for the benefit of the world) is infinitely auspicious. Worshiping Vishnu in the house benefits the people in the family whereas worshiping Vishnu in the temple benefits the whole world. If a worship is done in a temple built for the village it benefits the village whereas worshiping the Lord in a "Swamvyakta" kshetra sanctifies and protects the whole world.
In the Vaikhanasa philosophy, the Lord is thought of in five different ways( known as five swarupas).The first in the five swarupas is known as Para which performs the acts of creation. The second is known as Vyuha which causes all the animals to move, eat etc. and is also the controller of mind etc. Similarly the vyuha form is worshipped in five different murtis known as Vishnu, Purusha, Satya, Achyuta and Anirudha. Vibhava form is the one responsible for the destruction of demons like Ravana etc in various avataras like Matsya, Vamana, Kurma etc. Antaryami form is the one which resides like the Self in all jeevas. The last but the most easily accessible is the Archa form, the form which protects the devotees and eliminates their sorrows. This is verily the form that is worshipped in the temples.
The para and vyuha are not easily comprehensible and can be accessible only after long sadhana of eight limbed Yoga. Hence it takes considerable time to get moksha using para and vyuha. But the archa form gets pleased with plain worship using flowers, tulasi etc or even with a single salutation to the firm with devotion and faith. Hence moksha is easier to achieve through the worship of the archa form. As mentioned above one can see that Para and Vyuha are accessible only to the liberated and eternal ones. Vibhava form is accessible only to those fortunate ones who lived during the times of these avataras. Anataryami form is again not easily accessible to normal people but is perceived using yogic vision by the advanced yogis. Thus archa form is the most easily accessible and everyone in this universe has the right to pray to it and thus achieve moksha irrespective of caste, creed, gender etc.
Drinking anything in a village or a house where the Lord is not worshiped is equivalent to drinking liquor. Eating anything from such places is equivalent to eating cow's meat. All the people in the village get the benefit equivalent to that of the performance of many fire sacrifices if Vishnu is worshiped in a temple. In a village, where there is no temple worship of Vishnu even house hold worship doesnt give any fruit. It is like a tree which has lost its roots. Hence in all circumstances temple worship should be performed for the benefit of everyone in the village.
The archavatara of the Lord can be broadly classified into five categories: Swayamvyakta, Deva, Arsha or Sidha, Pauranika and Manusha. The difference is based on who installed the deity in a given temple. The images installed by divinities like Brahma, Indra etc are known as Deva sthala. Similarly, images installed by great sages are known as arsha sthala and by sidhas are known as Sidha sthala. Images installed in the ancient days and are mentioned in the epics are known as Pauranika sthala. Images installed by the devout human beings are known as Manusha sthala. (Names are for the kshetras not for the images) Places where the Lord manifests on His own because of His infinite mercy and out of a desire to save the devotees are known as Swayamvyakta. These are the most powerful places of spirituality and are also known as Maha kshetras or the greatest kshetras. Disciples of Sage Vikhanasa worshiped the Lord in these kshetras. Atri worshiped the Lord Srinivasa in Tirumala and Marici worshiped the Lord in Mandhara kshetra. Rituals like Karshanam, Bimba Sudhi etc are not necessary for the images in swayamvyakta kshetras. Worshiping the archa form of the Lord can purify even people belonging to the lowest birth.( People who are born from the limbs of the Lord viz. brahmanas from the face, kshatriyas from the shoulders, Vaisyas from the thighs and sudras from the feet are recognised by Vedas as of higher births. These people are born when the parents desired progeny for the continuation of dharma. But progeny which is born out of pure lust on part of parents are equal to animals and are classified as those of low birth.) One should not treat a devotee of Vishnu like a normal mortal. Devotees of Vishnu are verily devas who came to earth after their punya balance is over.
Manusha sthala sanctifies a region of one yojana around it whereas Pauranika, Arsha and Deva sthalas sanctify a region of approximately three, five and ten yojanas respectively. Swayamvyakta sthala sanctifies the whole universe for sure and the Lord therein bestows His grace on everyone in the world. In all the places, it is desirable to worship the archa form of Vishnu using the principles of Vaikhanasa or Pancaratra(as told by Sage Katyayana). In any case worship has to be performed somehow irrespective of the availability of priests knowing the right sutras(Vaikhanasa or Pancaratra). The agama also says that sometimes one might find a temple which is not built according to the shilpa sastra rules of Vaikhanasa Agama, still it is preferrable to follow the vaikhanasa style of worship. A village where Vishnu's worship is not done is equal to a graveyard and a house without Vishnu worship is like a funeral pyre. One who doesnt perform the worship of Vishnu due to laziness is equal to a pig and will surely go to hell after his death. Dont eat food in a house where the worship of Vishnu is neglected as it will be equivalent to eating shit. Hence in any case perform the worship of Vishnu in the home and also make sure that Vishnu is worshiped in the village temple. Doing this one will surely get rid of his sins, get all his desires fulfilled and obtain moksha after his death. Drinking the teertha from the Lord's feet and eating the remnants of food eaten by the Lord will surely destroy the sins of anyone and grant him moksha.
narayana smaranam.

Vaikhanasa Agama( Sukta details)

In the vaikhanasa style of worship, various suktams from the vedas are widely used. Depending on the ritual being done various number of suktams are recited. In the previous posts we have seen mentions of panca suktam or a set of five suktams. Below is a given list of suktams used in vaikhanasa style of worship .
Vishnu, Purusha, Narayana,Sri and Bhu suktams are called "Panca suktam"
(Or)
Vishnu, Nru, Sri, Bhu and Ekakshara suktams are also known as "Panca suktam"

Rudra, Dhruva, Durga, Ratri, Saraswatam, Viswajit, Purusha, Aghamarshana, Godana and Atma suktams are known as dasa suktam

Dasa and suktam and Panca suktam together form Panca dasa suktam.

Vaikhanasa agama ( Samprokshana Vidhanam)

Jala samprokshana has to done in the following manner: Vastu homa and Punyaha should be done in the place either by using sand or bare ground to get the place purified. Also panca gavya should be used for sanctification. The image of the Lord should be given bath using kalasa reciting purusha sukta. Paddy equal to six dronas should be filled in 5 pots and they should be wrapped by a pair of cloth. The images of the Lord should be kept between them. Then the five murtis should be invited and worshipped using five suktas and a fire sacrifice. The sacrifice should be done using the 88 mantras along with panca varuna mantra and with maha vyahritis. And then the sanctified water should be sprinkled along with the necessary mantras. Sanctified thus, the image of the Lord will again retain the power of the Supreme without fail.
Laghu samprokshana has to be done in the following manner: More or less same as the above except the scale and the extra ritual. Ankurarpana should be done three or two days in advance. All the things mentioned above will be done. Lord should be given bath using 108 kalasas. 32 pots should be decorated with white threads and filled with water. Paddy equal to six bharas should be used as mentioned above. In the kumbha, nine gems should be put. (Or gold can be used). After the kalasa is worshipped with sandalwood, flowers etc 12 suktas should be recited. (Saraswata, swasti, Dik, Aushadhi etc.) After that Mula, Kushmanda, Panca Varuna, Dhata and Paramatmika homas should be done. The same 88 (Ashtasiti starting from "Eem") mantras mentioned above should be repeated 108 times or at least 28 times. Vishnu gayatri should also be used 108 times for homa( Lotuses or Bilwa leaves can be used). After that the acharya, after being decorated by fine silks and ornaments should carry the Kumbhaon his head and should do a pradakshina of the temple accompanied by sacred nadaswara and enter the sanctum and sprinkle the sacred water on the Lord's image and all the mandirams. The mantra to be used for this purpose is "Suchi vo havya...." and at the end ask for the forgiveness of the Lord. After that 1000 brahmins should be fed and then the daily worship can be carried as before. Doing laghu samprokshana guarantees reaching the abode of Lord after death for sure. It removes the defects due to impurities and then makes the country prosperous.
Maha samprokshana is much more complicated than the above two and is almost synonymous with re installation( Punah Pratishta) and hence will not be treated here. In the next post I will talk about the different kinds of Vishnu temples and their details.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama( Samprokshana Vidhanam)

The great sage Vikhanasa is the first one to expound the vaikhanasa agama system of worship. Sage Vikhanasa is considered as an incarnation of Brahma and he taught this system of worship to His four disciples Atri, Bhrigu, Marici and Kasyapa. Though my knowledge of Vaikhanasa agamas is almost zero, I will try to take some interesting portions from these agamas. These are not meant for the Archakas but for the sadhakas who are interested in understanding the various rituals in the Vikhanasa agama and thus benefit from them by doing arjitham through the Acharya (Acharya mukhena). The reasons for writing about the Vaikhanasa agama are two fold: The first one is about me being a servant of Lord Venkateswara and the second one is about the lack of knowledge about Vikhanasa agama among devotees. Many of them confuse it with other Vaishnava agamas like pancaratra which are different from the Vikhanasa agama.
One of the rituals that one often comes across in agamas is "Samprokshana". Samprokshana is a way of purification. Samprokshana is done when different kinds of impurities happen in the temple. According to Sage Bhrigu in "Prakeernadhikara" samprokshana is done in three ways viz. Jala samprokshana, Laghu samprokshana and Maha samprokshana. These three different samprokshanams are done depending on the level of impurity, maha samprokshanam being done for the worst of impurities.
Jala samprokshanam is done when any of the following happen: Delay in worship, Missing worship of the Lord once, Impure people or animals like dogs, pigs and donkeys entering into the temple( into the prakara), Inauspicious happenings in the prakara, Non-believers of vikhanasa faith entering the temple, when rain droplets touch any of the images. In all the above cases jala samprokshana should be done in order to keep the power of the Lord in the image.
Laghu samprokshana is to be done in case of impurities more severe than above. Examples are: Animals entering the sanctum sanctorum, Impure people entering the sanctum sanctorum, When worship is not done for three days, When worship is not done according to Vikhanasa agamas, When a thunderbolt strikes the sanctum sanctorum, When the deity stays in another village for a night or When no deepam was lit for three days .
Maha samprokshanam should be done for catastrophic failures in the worship of the Lord. This is very different from the previous two and is done only in the case of extreme impurities. When maha samprokshanam is done a re-installation of the deity (Punahsthapana) and maha santi is done before samprokshanam. Examples are : When a brahmin dies inside the sanctum, when any of the festivals are done without Garuda dhwajarohana ( hoisting the flag of Garuda), When the deity is not worshipped for more than 12 days to one year, When an earth quake moves the deity , death of animals inside the sanctum sanctorum, when the asta bandha is disturbed, when fire touches the image by mistake , when the image is hidden in the earth due to any calamity, when an anthill is found in the garbha griha and when the image stays in another village for three nights.
Thus one can see that the power in the image of the Lord in the temple is maintained with utmost purity and great care. The image of the Lord in the temple is not a mere stone but a concentrated mass of spiritual energy. Only by following all the rules laid down by the great acharya vikhanasa can one benefit from the grace of the Lord. In the next post I will discuss the details of performing Samprokshanam.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 9

Sloka 79:
The Lord is known as Adhokshaja as He is beyond the comprehension of senses. He is not touched by Prakriti and His glories are infinite in number. He is the source of all creation and His incarnations are infinite in number.

Sloka 80:
His names are infinite in number and His knowledge,bliss and kindness are also infinite. He is known somewhat by the Vedas,which are infinite in number and cannot be known completely even by the Vedas. He grants infinite happiness and pleasures to His devotees because His abundant mercy.

Sloka 81:
The happiness of Your devotees,who worship Your feet incessantly with concentrated minds, increases manifold day by day both here and there(After death and before death). How fortunate are they! How fortunate are they!

Sloka 82:
Even if one gets an infinitesimal part of Your grace, he gets everything in this Universe . Then what to speak of devotees who are lucky enough to get a substantial amount of Your grace?

Sloka 83:
The divine acts that You performed in Your various incarnations were shown by You to Your devotees to make them understand Your merciful nature.

Sloka 84:
When an insect fell at Your feet in Your Veda Vyasa incarnation You bestowed a kingdom on that insect. (An ancient story about Veda Vyasa bestowing a kingdom on an insect). When Your feet touched a stone it became a beautiful woman Ahalya(In Rama incarnation). Then what to speak of Your infinite grace towards Your devotees?

Sloka 85:
In Your incarnation as Krishna You became a charioteer for Arjuna. Out of Your Supreme grace towards Indra , You became a beggar as Vamana and asked for three feet of land. Again out of Your supreme mercy towards King Bali , You became His gate keeper at His request.

Sloka 86:
When the elephant Gajendra was troubled by the crocodile Kshudra , instead of sending Your servants or gate keepers , You Yourself went in haste to protect Your devotee out of our infinite grace.

Sloka 87:
Lord! You may leave the Vaikuntha also someday but You will never leave Your devotees in trouble. "My devotees are the dearest to me" is Your Supreme Will.

Sloka 88:
Kamadhenu(wish fulfilling cow), KalpaVriksha(wish fulfilling tree) and ChintaMani(wish fulfilling gem) are desired by everyone to fulfill their desires. But You on the hill of venkatachala became all the three in one form of Lord Venkateswara.

Sloka 89:
Kamadhenu etc can only fulfill material desires like food, wealth etc. but they dont have the capacity to give Moksha. But only You can fulfill the material and spiritual desires of Your devotees.

Sloka 90-92:
If You are happy with a devotee , You bestow all the four desires of a human being. You might even remove the blindness of one who is blind by birth and provide Your gracious darshan to Him.
You can make a deaf man hear Your auspicious glories and You can make a dumb man speak all the sastras in eloquence. You can make a dull-witted person intelligent and an expert in Sankhya, Yoga and Samadhi. (In short there is nothing impossible for the Lord)

Sloka 93:
For one without hands, You can give hands and make him perform Your worship in all splendour.
You can make a lame man walk and can persuade him to visit Your abodes like Venkatachala etc.

Sloka 94:
The supreme Lord destroys all the sorrows of a devotee immediately and give them happiness. He saves them from the problems of old age, from diseases like leprosy etc and from mystic spells that aim to kill the devotee. Out of Your supreme grace You give strong and beautiful body to Your devotees by removing all the immanent defects.

Sloka 95 :
Lord! Why to speak of so many things? In short, You eradicate all the problems of Your devotees and give them supreme happiness. There is no one equal to You in merciful nature in the whole universe.

Sloka 96:
The Lord is like a black cloud and the mothers Sri and Bhu are like lightning in that cloud. This black cloud showers rain that cools down the heat of the devotees caused by the three kinds of problems and fulfills all their desires. (Adhi Bhowtika, Adhi Daivika and Adhyatmika).

Sloka 97:
The supreme Lord gives a plunge to His devotees in an ocean called "Fulfillment of desires" and then keeps them on an island called "Great Bliss". Thus the happiness and the pleasures of Lord's devotees only keep growing and never diminsh.

End of Second Chapter.

narayana smaranam.

"Stopped writing about Srinivasa mahatmyam as I found other works on the net which did the same. Will start writing about Vaikhanasa agamas and their style of worship."

This is the place where one can find the complete translation of the work by Sree Sistla.

http://www.geocities.com/vara12sreerama/Baktirasa/vemkatesa1.htm

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 8

Sloka 47 - 48:
Adisesha received the great fortune of serving you in four forms viz. bed, sitting place, foot rest and umbrella after performing intence penance for many years. Thus Sesha achieved what could not be achieved easily.

Sloka 49:
Seeing the great fortune of Sesha Mahalakshmi thought " Why should Sesha alone enjoy the bliss that was derived because of his contact with the Lord's body. Let me also enjoy the same!".

Sloka 50-51:
Inspite of staying in the lotus-heart of the Lord , the Divine mother Lakshmi decided to enjoy the happiness experienced by Sesha as Lord's bed, seat, foot-rest and umbrella. She also decided to stay along with Her Lord in the lotus hearts of all people living in Vaikuntha, the fourteen worlds, inside the universe and outside the universe.

Sloka 52:
She decided to serve the Lord in the forms of Lord's resting place, Cool breeze and fragrance in whichever place that Lord stays in the Universe.( Thus she became all materials that can be used for worshipping the Lord)

Sloka 53-55:
She has also taken the forms of various flower giving plants like Jasmine, Ketaki and Champaka so that she can worship the Lord in the form of various flowers. In order to reach the Lord's mouth as Naivedyam she has also become various fruit giving trees like badari, matulunga, kapitha, dadimi, jambu, and jambira. She has also taken the forms of Parijatha and Kalpavriksha trees and also became sandalwood and honey.

Sloka 56-57:
She has also entered the lake with fresh water that was situated in the Lord's resting place. She has also entered the flowers of various hues in that lake and also entered the honey bees, fishes, tortoises and swans in the lake. In short she has become everything in the lake.

Sloka 58:
The divine mother Rama also became a mantapa in the lake that is made of nine precious gems . She also became various chairs and sitting places in that mantapa.

Sloka 59-60:
Having entered everything in that divine lake that is situated in a forest with all the above mentioned fruit giving and flower giving plants, Adilakshmi worshipped the Lord with all the sixteen upacharas as mentioned in the sastras after having seated the Lord on the golden throne.
She also fed him various fresh and tasty fruits, Payasam and Pancha Bhakshyas in golden vessels.
After offering Naivedyam to the Lord the divine mother offered Him fresh drinking water.

Sloka 61:
Though the Lord is ever-satisfied and doesnt have any desires, Mahalakshmi, who is the essence in everything that is auspicious, offered Him all tasty foods with great devotion.

Sloka 62-63:
Mahalakshmi also became a golden cot, decorated with various diamonds, gems and pearls, so that the Lord can relax after a heavy meal. She also became the golden chains that are used to tie this cot to the ceiling.

Sloka 64-68:
A portion of Mahalakshmi's power, which is of the form of Mother Earth, became a soft mattress made of silk. Another portion that is of the form of Mother Sri became a pillow for the Lord's head. Yet another portion that is of the form of Mother Durga massaged the Lord's feet. Mahalakshmi also took the form of Tambula( betel leaves), fans decorated with precious gems and a gem studded resting place for your feet. She also took the forms of all royal paraphernalia that signify the Lord's soveriegnty over the whole Universe. Thus the Divine mother became One with You because of Her intense desire to serve in the forms all bhoga vastu. The divine mother and the Lord are ever united in all the abodes starting from Vaikuntha.

(All the above slokas look out of place at the first glance. But they have yogic significance for really advanced devotees. The above slokas are nothing but a way of doing nirguna manasa puja for the Lord. The Mahalakshmi is the purified mind of the devotee and the Lord is the eternal Self. The mind creates all mental paraphernalia and worships the Lord with all items of worship.)

Sloka 69:
The Supreme Lord is worshipped in various worlds in various forms by divinities like Brahma and others seated on a golden asana.

Sloka 70-71:
The Supreme Lord has created Brahma from a lotus that emanated from His navel. The great Lord Sankara is the heart of Venkateswara. All the gods starting from Indra, all the sages and other living beings emerged from various parts of the Lord's divine form. After creating everything the divine Lord entered everything and protected all from the outside.

Sloka 72:
The Supreme Lord is very different from all the beings that He has created. He is not bound like the other beings and is eternally free.

Sloka 73:
The Lord doesnt expect anything from others as He is ever-contented and all His wishes are fulfilled. He is very kind at heart and His sankalpa can never be changed. He is worshipped by all divinities like Rama(Sri), Brahma, Rudra, Indra and others.

Sloka 74:
The Lord as the indweller provides stimulus to all beings to act in a given way. He is the controller of muktas and amuktas(free and bound beings). He is an expert in achieving things that are impossible and He shines with innumerable good qualities.

Sloka 75:
He performs acts that cannot be thought of by anyone. He is smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest. He fills the entire Universe inside and outside. There is nothing that is comparable to Him in all the three worlds.

Sloka 76:
Everything in the Universe rests on Him and He is the eternal witness of all that happens. He is desired or liked by every creature as He is the indweller of all. He is the most beautiful and the best of all. He is omniscient and is the master of all beings. The past,present and future are nothing but Him only.

Sloka 77:
He is the eternally powerful and His acts cannot be comprehended by people with uncontrolled senses. At the same time, He can be comprehended by devotees with controlled senses. He is unchangeable and is known as "Sesha" as He alone remains at the time of great deluge. He is also known as "Asesha" as He pervades everything when the deluge ends. He is the eternal Brahman and hence cannot be touched by sins and He is all-auspicious.

Sloka 78:
He is not touched by decay,disease,death and incompleteness. He shows the four ways of dharma( brahmana, kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra) to the world. He also bestows dharma, artha, kama and moksha on His devotees. He grants the four kinds of moksha viz. salokya, sameepya, sarupya and sayujya to His devotees depending on their eligibility.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 7

Sloka 10-12:
The great Adisesha, who serves the Lord in various forms such as bed, throne, umbrella and foot-rest, thought thus: "The glory of Lords feet is unparalleled in its spoiritual glory. There is nothing which is as beautiful as this in the past. The feet of the Lord can delude even the great Lord Himself"

Sloka 13-15:
The Adisesha meditated on the feet of Lord,who is the husband of Lakshmi and immersed himself in the ocean of bliss by looking at the Lord's feet with all his thousand eyes with great affection. He felt that he is indeed fortunate for getting the opportunity to serve the Lord by staying near.

Sloka 16-17:
" I will not go even to Vaikunta leaving the feet of my Lord at Venkatachala. Even in vaikunta, I will not get the bliss that equals the happiness that I derive by serving my Lords feet here." thus thought the great Sesha.

Sloka 18-19:
" Even if I go to Patala I can serve your feet as Patala is nothing but the feet of the Supreme Purusha. I will not waste even a second by not drinking the nectarine beauty of Your feet." Thinking thus, Adisesha kept on roaming in places where he could find the divine marks of Lord's feet.

Sloka 20 :
The great Lord Sankara, who bestows happiness on His devotees , pondered as follows over the glory of Lord's feet.

Sloka 21 -22:
"The great Adisesha is very lucky as he has thousand eyes to drink teh nectar of Lords lotus feet. How unfortunate am I with only three eyes to serve the Lord? Indeed Iam unlucky as I stay far away from the Lord in Kailasa and Sesha is very nearer to the Lord. May I take my next incarnation as Adisesha so that I can serve the Lord better". He went to Kailasa with a heart filled with sadness and vairagya after thinking thus.

Sloka 23 - 25:
Deva Sarma said " Lord Venkatesa! The King of Gods Indra, who emerged from Your divine face, enjoyed the beauty of Your lotus feet with his thousand eyes day and night and declared that he didnt experience this Supreme Bliss before.(even when he drank nectar also)"

Sloka 26 - 28:
" One cannot see eyelids as they are too nearer to eyes. Similarly one can enjoy the beauty of Lord's feet better from a distance. Thinking thus Indra settled in heaven and decided to go back after he felt satisfied with enjoying the beauty of Thy feet. But because of his lack of contentment in drinking the nectar of Thy Lotus feet , he settled forever in heaven."


Sloka 29 - 30:
"When this is the condition of great divinities, how can I , a mere mortal sing the glory of Thy lotus feet? Pardon me for the effort Iam making in singing the glory of Thy lotus feet. In spite of my inability, I have decided to do so in an attempt to purify the three worlds"


Sloka 31-32:
"Lord Srinivasa ! Thou wears the sign of Wheel(chakra) in Your feet to convey that hearing the glory of Thy lotus feet destroys the darkness of ignorance and creates light of Knowledge and leads teh devotees to Your abode."
(The chakra rekha in the Lord's feet signifies destruction of ignorance)

Sloka 33:
"Meditating on the glory of Thy lotus feet bestows the knowledge of four vedas, Itihasas, Puranas, Mantra sastras and Upanishads on the aspirant. Thou wears the sign of a conch in Your feet to signify this."
(The sankha rekha signifies Omniscience to the devotee)

Sloka 34-35:
" The meditation on Thy lotus feet saves the devotees from all calamities. It results in the destruction of all demons,ghosts and Brahma Rakshasas. To convey that You crush the demons into powder You wear a sign of a mace in Your feet."
(The Gada rekha signifies destruction of all calamities related to bad spirits)

Sloka 36-37:
"Lord Padmanabha! You stay in the lotus hearts of devotees, who sing the glories of Thy lotus feet, along with Your wife Padma and Brahma, who emanated from a lotus. To signify this Thou wears a sign of Lotus in Thy feet."
(The Padma rekha signifies that the Lord resides eternally in the lotus hearts of His devotees.)

Sloka 38-39:
(More significance of Padma rekha is given)
" All the great ponds, which are destroyers of grievous sins,like Viraja, Manasa Sarovara and Ganga have their birth place on Thy lotus feet. These ponds are filled with red lotuses with thousands of petals and with beautiful flowers. Padma Rekha also signifies this."

Sloka 40-41:
(More significance of Padma Rekha is given)
" The divine mother Padma resides in Your lotus heart and drinks the beauty of Your lotus feet with Her lotus-like eyes. She meditates in Her lotus heart on the glory of Thy lotus feet. Keeping Your lotus feet on her soft thighs she massages them with her lotus-like hands. You wear the Padma rekha in Your feet to remember the love of Padmaja towards Thy lotus feet."

Sloka 42-43:
"A devotee can purify himself of all sins by writing the glory of Thy lotus feet with his own hands and gift it to a devoted Vaishnava. To signify the destruction of the mountain of sins Thou wears the Vajra rekha( sign of diamond) in Thy feet."
(Vajra rekha signifies the destruction of mountain of sins of the devotee)
Sloka 44:
"The six powerful elephants namely lust, anger, greed, delusion, ego and jealosy are subdued by You for Your devotees, who worship Your lotus feet. To demonstrate this, Thou wears the sign of goad in Thy feet."
(Ankusa rekha signifies the subduing of Arishadvargas of the devotees)

Sloka 45:
"Devotees who listen to the glory of Thy lotus feet are uplifted by You to great heights in life. To signify this Thou wears the sign of Dhwaja in Thy lotus feet".
(Dhwaja is the flag pole in temples. Dhwaja rekha in Lord's feet signifies upliftment of devotees.)

Sloka 46:
"The great Universe with all its nine Avarana's had become weak with the touch of Thy lotus feet's little finger. Who can describe the glory of Thy lotus feet then?"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 6

Sloka 56-58:
Having thought thus, the Vedas decided to describe only an infinitesimal part of Lord glories. But when they tried that, they found that this small portion also started expanding into inifinity. The glory of the Lord's toe nail has expanded so much that it resembled the rays of Sun and it filled the entire universe from Patala to Heaven with its effulgence.

Sloka 59:
This glory of the Lord cannot be seen with eyes, heard with ears, told with the tongue and understood by the mind. Thus the Vedas found themselves in a fix and made a futile attempt to describe the Lord's spiritual glory.

Sloka 60-62:
The Vedas then dedicated themselves to describing an infinitesimal part of Lord's glory and praised the Lord in all their capacity. But how can the Vedas do a perfect job when deities like Lakshmi,Brahma and others failed in comprehending the Lord's glory to the fullest extent.

End of Chapter 1 of Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam.

Chapter 2:
----------
Sloka 1:
Devasarma said " Let me describe the eternal beauty of Your lotus feet. Though Iam not qualified enough to do the same , I will still try my best having been inspired by You".

Sloka 2:
"Lord ! Though You have granted your heart as the resting place for MahaLakshmi, having been captivated by the beauty of Your lotus feet she made your feet her eternal abode. "

Sloka 3:
"Lord ! The divine mother after trying desperately to drink the nectar of the beauty of Your lotus feet found Herself shocked because of her inability and then decided to take three forms as she felt that two eyes are not enough to drink the nectar of Your beautiful feet"

Sloak 4:
"The divine mother then took three forms as Lakshmi on the left side, Bhudevi on the right side and occupied a place in front of You as Durga with great excitement. Now she can hopefully use Her six eyes to drink the nectar of Thy lotus feet."

Sloka 5:
"Mother Lakshmi gave up her interest in other things and with a single pointed mind started drinking the nectar of Thy lotus feet with great happiness. Looks like she is not satisfied yet! (As she has not stopped her efforts still)."

Sloka 6:
"Lord! Thou are the most beautiful thing in the Universe! Brahma, who emerged from a lotus that emanated from your navel, has concentrated all his senses in worshipping Thy lotus feet. "

Sloka 7:
"The creator, who could not quench his thirst inspite of drinking the ambrosia of Thy lotus feet day and night with his eight eyes, transformed himself into multiple forms so that he can drink the nectar of Thy lotus feet more."

Sloka 8-9:
"He took the forms of Kaustubha gem(that is worn around Lord's neck), Mount Meru, Vaikuntha, Sweta dweepa, Adisesha and Satya loka etc. to worship you incessantly. (Vaikuntha, Sweta dweepa and Adisesha are called Tridhama's or the three abodes of the Lord.) He also drank the nectar of Thy lotus feet incessantly and didnt get satisfied yet."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 5

Sloka 45:
Devasarma said " Lord Venkateswara! You created the creator Brahma from a lotus that emanated from your navel. You are the Lord of the Goddess Sri, who sits on a lotus. You are the Lord of all gods viz. Brahma, Siva, Indra and others. Lord your eyes are as soft and beautiful as full-blown lotuses. You wear a garland of lotuses and wear a lotus,a mudra of protection, Sankha and Chakra in your four hands respectively.

Sloka 46:
"Lord! Your feet and hands are as soft as a lotus flower. You reside in the lotus hearts of all living beings. I pray to your beautiful lotus-like feet to grant me protection".

Sloka 47-48:
"Lord Srinivasa! The power of your lotus feet is incomprehensible even for Maha Lakshmi herself. With your one foot you measured all the three worlds! All the spiritual qualities emanate from the splendour of the nail on your little toe. Because of Her inability to comprehend the infinite spiritual glory of your little nail, which shines like a bright gem, MahaLakshmi, who spends all Her time staring at your lotus feet, finally finds Herself lost in an ocean of astonishment and happiness. Happiness as she savours the spiritual glory of Lord's little nail and astonishment as she finds Herself incapable of describing the Lord's little nail's spritual glory, which cannot be understood even by the eternal Vedas themselves."
[Reference to Vamana incarnation where the Lord measures all the three worlds and receives it as a gift from the great devotee King Bali is made. The sloka indirectly reminds a sadhaka of the importance of meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord. Srimad Bhagavata rightly describes that the splendour that emanates from the Lord's nails removes the darkness of spiritual ignorance when meditated upon by devotees.]

Sloka 49-50:
"At the time of creation, Your spiritual glory was explained by You to the creator Brahma out of Your parental love. He is still engaged in singing Your divine qualities with all His four heads. He has not stopped counting Your divine qualities even today either because he has not finished counting yet as they are so infinite in number or because he derives immense pleasure in doing so."

Sloka 51-52:
"Even the great AdiSesha with His thousands of hoods is not able to comprehend the spiritual glory of Your little toe nail, though he is an expert in expounding the meaning of all Vedas. Even the Vedas in their personified form, when they met together, were incapable of understanding the glory of Your little toe nail and exclaimed as follows."

Sloka 53:
"All the Gods starting from Brahma were given different responsibilities and power by the Supreme Lord at the begining. After that they started enjoying the power that was given to them by the Supreme Lord".

Sloka 54:
" In spite of being extremely powerful, all the Gods were alert and devoted when it comes to worshipping the Lord of Seshachala, the Lord of Mother Ramaa. We, the Vedas, were also installed by Him in our positions so that we can describe His infinite glories. Alas! We failed to do our job though we ourselves are infinite and eternal".

Sloka 55:
" The spiritual glories of the Lord's little toe are infinite in number. Even if all of us, the infinite Vedas, together describe them we can only cover a one part in infinity".
[So infinite is the glory of the Lord's toe nails that even the infinite Vedas find themselves in a critical situation.]

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 4

Sloka 34:
When Deva Sarma's luck had ripened, his guru Vayu went to his house because of his mercy on the great lady and the children.

Sloka 35:
When Deva Sarma had seen his guru, who had come at the completion of his penance, Deva Sarma got up and greeted Vayu, who is the teacher of all the worlds, with happiness.

Sloka 36:
He fell at the feet of his guru and did a Sashtanga Pranamam to the him and stood with folded palms. Then Lord Vayu started speaking to his disciple in a sweet and pleasant tone.

Sloka 37:
"Go on a pilgrimage to Venkatachala to see the Lord Venkateswara, the husband of Sri. By doing this your wishes will be fulfilled. There is no other way"

Sloka 38:
"With a devoted mind visit Venkatachala and see the Lord, the husband of Sri and who is an ocean of mercy and who grants boons even to Brahma and other deities. Get rid of all your doubts immediately"

Sloka 39:
After being told repeatedly thus by the best of Gods, the Vayu, who is also his guru, Deva Sarma started for the pilgrimage.

Sloka 40-41:
The guru's advice is beneficial for the disciple. A disciple should always follow the words of guru with devotion. There is no power stronger then the guru's command. And the guru's order should not be neglected in any case. Having pondered thus, Deva Sarma started for the hill Seshachala in an enthusiastic mood to see the Lord Venkatanadha.

Sloka 42:
Deva Sarma had the darsanam of the Lord Vishnu, who is known as "One filled with happiness", who resides in the place called "The abode of happiness" and who grants happiness and knowledge to his devotees, in a happy mood.

[
Ananda maya - One filled with happiness.
Ananda Nilaya - The abode of happiness(Name of the sanctum sanctorum in Tirumala).
Ananda Jnanadam - One who grants happiness and knowledge.
]

Sloka 43:
Seeing the Lord Venkateswara, who roams in bliss with His divine sakthis namely Sri and Dhara (Lakshmi and Earth), who smiles at the sight of His devotees due to His infinite love, Deva Sarma paid obeisance to Him with a devoted mind as follows:
[ The smile of Lord Venkatanadha of Tirumala is very famous for its sweetness and captivating power. The author here says that Lord Venkateswara smiles like that as He feels happy when He sees His devotees, who come to get His darsanam.]

Sloka 44:
Deva Sarma said " Obeisances to you Lord who is a treasure of mercy!Obesiances to you Lord who is a treasure of mercy!Obeisances to you Lord who is a treasure of mercy!Obeisances to you Lord who is a treasure of mercy".

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sri Srinivasa Mahatmyam - 3

Sloka 19:
I will now tell you what I have heard from the sage Kapila regarding the activities dearer to Lord Hari. Performing them will give happiness to the sadhaka.

Sloka 20:
Go on a pilgrimage to Venkatachala with a determined mind and see the Lord Vishnu there with a mind filled with devotion and with senses well-controlled.

Sloka 21:
As Lord Hari likes the songs that praise His qualities, devotees should recite various stotrams knowing the divine qualities of the Lord.

Sloka 22:
Lord does not become pleasant with stotras done with out having the knowledge of His Supreme nature. When worshipped with devotion and knowledge, He fulfills the desires of His devotees.

Sloka 23:
Lord's grace does not shower on a person who neither does stotra's nor has Bhakti. I will tell you an ancient story in this regard.

Sloka 24:
Once upon a time there lived a devotee of Vishnu named "Deva Sarma", who was a disciple of the Lord Vayu( The deity that represents air). Listening to the story of the devotee Deva Sarma, who controlled his senses well, generates devotion towards the lotus feet of the Lord.

Sloka 25:
Deva Sarma always engaged himself in thinking about Vishnu and performing penance( Tapam). He followed all the Vedic injunctions strictly, renounced his desires towards material objects and reached a state devoid of attachment or ego.

Sloka 26:
He conquered the six internal enemies and was devoid of any desire[The six enemies are kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya]. Though he suffered from poverty, he did not worry about taking care of his family.

Sloka 27:
His wife, who was desirous of getting rid of poverty, prayed to him everyday to do something to take the family out of trouble.

Sloka 28-29:
She tells him that the children are suffering from hunger and that she is not capable of going to a forest and get some fruits for them. She begged him to save her as there is no one else to protect her and the children.

Sloka 30-31:
She said "The Lord Venkateswara, our family deity, has taken a vow to protect the world. All the saintly people in this world seek protection at His feet. He is the master of all Saranagatas and truly helps them to cross the ocean of samsara. Please go to His feet and pray to the master of Goddess Lakshmi.
[Saranagata is a person, who declares to the Lord that he doesnt know any other refuge other than the Lord. "Anyatha saranam nasti tvameva saranam mama".]

Sloka 32:
"Please show mercy on us kindly and pray to the Lord. When the Lord becomes happy with your prayer, He will definitely improve our living conditions".

Sloka 33:
Even though implored by his wife repeatedly, Deva Sarma did not go to Venkatachala for a long time because of the fear that the journey might become an obstacle to his penance.

narayana smaranam.