Let us begin with the collective chanting of the Gayatri Mantra:
“Om Bhur Buvah Swah, Tatsaviturvareñyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yonah Pracodayat ||”
Sisters and Brothers,
Your powers, your potentials are limited. May be, they would be sufficient for your sustenance and for raising your family as per the common trends. But this capability is gifted by Nature to every creature in some form or the other! You have also been gifted with hands, legs, eyes, etc and the wonderful system of the body, intellect and the ability to earn. Still what you could do on your own is rather restricted, confined to the average levels of natural capabilities of many others like you. You can’t rise beyond a certain level by yourself. If you want to ascend beyond your best talents and endeavors, you need to take the support of the Supreme Self — God, the Preeminent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent source of infinite virtues and powers. What is God? Well, if you want a definition of the infinite, you may regard Him as a limitless source of cosmic consciousness force and supreme ensemble of virtuous qualities and powers. As you know, an electrical powerhouse in a city supplies powerrcurrents to every household, roads and offices, etc. Varieties of machines, instruments, fans, bulbs, etc, all run with the help of this electricity. How will they run if their connection with the power generator is disrupted or insulated? Similar would be the case of instruments requiring other kinds of energies. So you see, connection with the powerrgenerator is essential.
You can’t accomplish extraordinary tasks without having extraordinary abilities; linking of yourself with the Supernatural powerrsource is necessary for awakening and expanding your paranormal potentials. The process of connecting the individual, ‘limited’ self with the Supreme, ‘Unlimited Self’ is called — Upasana. The word “Upasana” in Sanskrit means –– to sit near. If you sit near a fireplace, you would feel the heat; you would shiver with cold if you were in an ice factory or on a snowrcovered mountain. Sitting near (being in the close company of) someone puts you under the influence of his qualities; this induction flows from higher (more intense) to the lower levels of the particular qualities which you lack or which you are not so strong at. The trees and surroundings near a big sandalwood tree also smell of sandal. Your upasana (worship, devotion) of God should also be so dedicated that it envelopes your being in the divine aura of His grace, inspires your inner self and links your consciousness with the omnipresent supreme consciousnessrforce.
It is said that the magic stone named “Paras” transforms everything that touches it, into gold. I do not know whether such a stone has been seen and tested in any laboratory. But it is certain that touching (getting associated with) the source of divine light enlightens everyone with its unalloyed radiance, which is brighter and more precious than gold. Have you heard of the drop of Swati (raindrop falling in swati nakshatra)? When a drop of Swati falls in the oyster, it is gradually transformed into a pearl. But what if they don’t meet? The drop will disappear in the streams of rainwater or get absorbed in the soil if it falls elsewhere. The oyster would remain like any other shell on the seashore if it does not open its mouth to take the Swati drop. You will also have to surrender yourself to the beatifying grace of God, to purify yourself to adopt the divine virtues if you want to turn your otherwise negligible ‘tiny drop’ of life into a shining pearl.
The scriptures refer God as “Amrata, Paras and Kalpvraksha”. Amrata means elixir, drinking of which makes one immortal. Touching the Paras, as I said, converts the raw, impure cast iron into the precious yellow metal. Kalpvraksha is the boonrtree, sitting beneath which fulfills all desires. Indeed, if you drink (adopt) the elixir of divine devotion it will awaken your inner self and liberate your soul from the thralldoms of mortal life. Connection with this Paras will transmute the ‘wrought iron’ of your personality into a refined, illumined, virtuous character. The shelter of this Kalpvraksha will enshower immense blissfulness upon you, there will remain no worldly desire, no illusive aspiration thereafter; you will be freed from the sensual greed and insatiable thirst of the ego that have entrapped you in the dark well of devolution.
Those who know themselves as the soul never die. Who dies? It is only the physical body, the biological sheath that dies. Death for the individual soul is like shifting the house or changing the dress. Realization of the immortality of the ‘soul’ eliminates all fears from your mind; understanding of its omnipotence diminishes your delusive attachments, crazy ambitions and avarices and in turn evaporates all your tensions and agonies. All your vices and weaknesses are burnt up in the radiance of the “Paras” of the Almighty. Upasana teaches you the magical art of touching this Paras.
You might have played or seen kiterflying in your neighborhood. The player holds its thread and throws the kite upwards with a jerk; the kite begins to fly higher and higher as per the manipulation of the thread by the player. But what if the thread breaks or the player just loses his grip or misses its control? The kite falls abruptly and gets torn apart into pieces. Our lives are also like kites. If left uncontrolled and not surrendered to God, there will be no hope of rising; nothing would then protect its ominous decline and fall. A puppet show works so well and lively by the synchronized movements of the fingers of the puppeteer. But what if the threads of the puppets tied on these fingers get loosened or broken? The puppet would simply fall on the stage. It can’t move on its own. It is only the skilled control and talent of the puppeteer that make it dance so beautifully. If we regard ourselves as puppets in the hands of the Supreme Creator, we would be liberated of all ego and the enormous vices and worries generated by it. Surrendering at the feet of God means adopting divine disciplines and ideals and following wholehearted transaction of our duties to further beautify His creation –– the world around us.
A creeper rises high with the support of a tall tree. Suppose it does not do that, then? If it grows without taking a stout support, this delicate creeper might just spread haphazardly on the ground and will be crushed under the feet of the trespassers. The same is true of human life. It might inflate with extensive worldly possessions but it can’t elevate without the support of its Omnipotent Origin. If we take shelter in the angelic grace of God, take His beatifying support, our lives would elevate up to great heights and eventually reach the divine realms. God is Absolute, Infinite; there is no limit to His boons.
So if Upasana is so fulfilling, you may like to know more about it! What you have to do in Upasana? The first and most important step is selfrrefinement. Not only the neatness of the body and surroundings, more importantly, the cleansing of the mind counts more in this respect. There would be no reflection of light from an opaque or covered mirror; you can’t see any image in it if it is dirty or hazy. If you look at the surface of a clean and still pond of water in daytime, you can easily see your face in it. But it won’t be possible to do so if the water is dirty or turbulent. How would you see the image of God if your mind were not clean and calm?
Therefore, the first thing you need to do before sitting near God is purifying yourself. The rituals of panchakarma you practice in the beginning of your daily Gayatri Upasana symbolize this process. These five rituals are pavitrikaraña, acamana, shikhavandana, prañayama, and nyasa; these are performed with chanting of specific mantras. In pavitrikaraña, you take some water in your right hand and sprinkle it on the body while chanting its mantra with a feeling that all your impurities of the body and extrovert conduct are being cleansed. Then you do acamana three times, each time chanting a mantra and drinking a spoon of water (kept in your right palm). This is to remind you to keep your mind, speech and actions (both mental and physical) pure and disciplined. The water goes in via your tongue each time. This signifies the importance of contemplation on the tongue. It is the most vulnerable of our sense organs; greed begins with its passion of delicious food; anger also is expressed first through the abusive words uttered by the tongue. This ritual teaches you to restrain both. What you eat should be fresh, austere and nutritious; eat only what is essential for good health. Also control your speech. Speak thoughtfully and soberly.
In shikhavandana you are supposed to take some water in the left hand, soak the fingers of the right hand in it for a few moments and then keep these fingers with chanting of a mantra, on the root of the shikha (hair knot). SHikha is a sacred symbol, like the sacred thread (yagyopavita), of the core ideals of the Indian Culture. Beneath its root inside the skull, lies the suture – an important junction of neuronal and blood supply channels in the brain. This spot is of great importance in yoga as well. SHikha stands like a flag, symbolizing our faith in noble values of the Rishi Culture. The ritual of shikhavandana is like saluting the great culture, paying reverence to Gayatri – the Primordial Universal Power, the Goddess of pure knowledge, enlightened wisdom and divine virtues. SHikha serves like an antenna to receive the beatifying illumination inspired by the cosmic force of Gayatri; deep engrossment in this feeling of shikhavandan during sincere practice of panchakarma every day indeed induces spiritual vibrations and majestic effects.
Prañayama is an important yogarexercise of harmonized breathing for physical and mental wellrbeing. The chanting of special mantras and prañayama practised before upasana are meant to throw away the dirt and vices in the body, mind and the inner self with the exhaled breath. While inhaling and retaining the breath inside, the feeling should be that these are being energized by the praña (vital spiritual energy) bestowed upon us by the Almighty. Similar feelings of cleaning and empowering the sense organs of perception and activity should occur while doing nyasa.
Every action of a sadhaka should be like the spirit behind the panchakarmas –– aimed at selfrrefinement. The more your internal and external purity, the greater would be the absorption of the cosmic radiation and extent of your enlightenment. It is your vices, untoward instincts, thoughts and consequent actions that hinder your progress and keep you deprived of what you pray for. You all know the necessity of bathing and cleaning the body every day. If you don’t do that for a few days, there would be layers of dirt, infections and germs on it; Eczema and host of other skin diseases are the first to crop up on a dirty body. Even lice and vermin would begin to grow. As there won’t be proper perspiration, you would also risk falling sick due to jaundice and varieties of other diseases.
‘Bathing’ of the inner body is equally important. Upasana, sadhana1 are essential for this spiritual bathing. You clean the house every day by sweeping and wiping it; Utensils are scrubbed with cleansing powder and washed everyday; these are repeated till the place or pot is shining clean. Japa2 during daily upasana is also a process of cleansing the mind, and the inner self where the soul resides. While washing a cloth, you rub the soap on it, scrub it with force and then rinse it in water and spin; you repeat this till the cloth is cleaned. Remembering God’s name is like applying the ‘soap’ and soaking the inner body in it. You are asked to do japa repeatedly with mental concentration; this is like ‘scrubbing’. The friction generated by focused japa at consistent pace chisels the mental core, similar to the way machines chisel the marbles and carving stones and shine them. The practice of selfrdiscipline and penance (tapa) associated with upasanarsadhana further smoothens and glazes the internal and external makeup of your personality.
Get rid of the illusion that japa of God’s name or prayer is to please Him. This is an absurd notion. No great power needs anybody’s praise. Then, what to say of the Supreme Power? That Almighty is the creator of everything, every being; every impulse of Nature exists at His Will. God takes care of everything and every one; do you think the tiny insects, birds and animals praise him or pray to him as we humans in our ignorance do. No! Still He has made arrangements for their natural sustenance and growth. All men and women, all beings are alike for Him. Do you think that Omniscient, Omnipotent would be pleased by your paeans, by your materialistic valuables offered in His worship? Why would He, the Generator, the absolute owner of the whole world, of all material, animate and sublime domains of existence would need your flowers or sweets and oblation? So stop entertaining such childish illusions and myths.
(To be concluded in the next issue).
1. Sadhana: Devout spiritual endeavor. Sadhaka: who is dedicated to sadhana.
2. Japa: Repeated enunciation or mental chanting of a mantra or devotional hymn with
deep mental engrossment.
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