WHO AM I – The baby steps

As a kid nearly 60 years back, Visalakshi Ammman Kovil (Temple is more than 300 years old ) in Batlagundu (Vattlagundu), situated in Nilkottai Taluk of in Dindigul District in Tamilnadu, on the bank of HARIDHRA RIVER (MANJALARU – no idea if the river exists today!) was the only place which I used to go regularly for prayers, not because I understood what a prayer is and the need for one; but that used to be the mandate those days for boys at the “Agraharam (an ungated community!)” from the family. Visalakshi Amman & Lord Visvesvarar are the principal deities and the temple included several Deities such as Ganesha, Subramanya, Chandikeshwarar, Dakṣiṇāmurty etc. For each of the Gods, we used to recite a specific Sloka and when it came to Dakṣiṇāmurty, we used to recite as a routine. Here is a short video of the temple (Photo Courtesy – My friend Muthunarayanan alias Muthappa)

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheswara

Guru sakshath ParaBrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namah.

I did not know anything about either God or the Sloka except that I had to recite it at that particular spot where Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty was situated. All I knew was that He was a form of Siva. Never in my life subsequent to that period and even in my dreams did I imagine once, that one day I will be writing about the Sthothram on Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty by Adi Śankarācārya. Blessed I am indeed to even think of consolidating what is written and explained by legends and doyens of Spirituality and Vedāntaḥ.

But strange is the nature and power of “the Ultimate Reality”. Study of Vedāntaḥ and listening to Spirituality oriented Discourses is the most familiar route for spending time after retirement for most of us and I am no exception to this. One such lecture by Prof. Mahadevan of IIM, Bangalore was the spark I needed to dive into the Ocean of Vedāntaḥ Concepts brought out in Dakṣiṇāmurty Stotram.  Realizing that I am getting old and spending time on spirituality, my son presented me with a book titled “The Upanishads” by Sri. Eknath Easwaran. This added fuel to the fire. As I was exploring these two topics, I learnt that I can’t do either if I don’t know Tattva Bodha. Now this is the third dimension to my time management. My preoccupation with these three books and commentaries by Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Omkaranada and Swami Sravapriyananda drove my grandchildren (my daughter’s young boys) to the conclusion that their “Thatha” (grandfather) who used to spend lot of time playing cricket and organizing/fixing the place rendered as a “mess” by them is not doing it anymore and is lost. They even declared my room as “Thatha’s Corner “– The lost and found room. The fact is that as a “Thatha” I am lost; but I am trying to find out as to who I am instead of where I am. 

How can I find out the answer to the question “Who am I”? The legendary Tamil Saint Thirumoolar comes to my rescue in his epic Thirumandiram

“நரருஞ் சுரரும் பசுபாசம் நண்ணிக்

கருமங்க ளாலே கழித்தலிற் கண்டு

குருஎன் பவன்ஞானி கோதில னானால்

பரமென்ற லன்றிப் பகர்வொன்று மின்றே”.

மனிதர்களும்,தேவர்களும் பாசத்தில் அகப்பட்டு பல்வேறு வினைகளைச் செய்து அதனால் அழிந்து போகின்றனர். இதைக் கண்ட பின்பு ஒருவன் செய்ய வேண்டியது என்ன? ஒரு குற்றமற்ற ஞானியைத் தன் குருவாகப் பற்றிக் கொண்டாலே போதும். “பரத்துடன் கூடி நீயும் பரம் ஆவாய்” என்று உபதேசம் செய்வதன்றி அந்த குரு செய்ய வேண்டியது எதுவும் இல்லை.

As mortals like me, get trapped by “attachment” and perform actions which lead us nowhere, one has to look for a Guru who will make him understand that “You are That”. Fine; I need a Guru. How do I look for Guru at this Old age? Thirumoolar gives a response to my query.

“ஆட்கொண்ட வர்தனி நாயகன் அன்புற

மேற்கொண்ட வர்வினை போயற நாடொறும்

நிற்கின்ற செஞ்சடை நீளன் உருவத்தின்

மேற்கொண்ட வாறலை வீவித் துளானே”.

ஒரு குருவாக வந்து மாணவனை ஆட்கொள்பவர் ஒப்பற்ற ஈசனே ஆவார். அவர் தன் மாணவனின் வினைகள் அழியும் வண்ணம் நாள்தோறும் உபதேசிக்கிறார். அவர் நீர்மலிந்த நீள் சடையை உடைய சிவனே அன்றி வேறு எவரும் அல்ல. சிவனே மனம் இரங்கியும் கீழே இறங்கியும் வந்து மாணவனின் வருத்துகின்ற வல்வினைகளை அழித்து விடுகின்றார்.

Thirumoolar further states Lord Siva Himself comes in the form of a Guru to help us understand ourselves. It is with this confidence, that I am undertaking this journey, with Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty as my Guru and Adi Śankarācārya’ Stotramon on the Lord as the first leg of my journey.

To be honest, nothing that I will be writing in the months to come is mine, except the attempt to focus my understanding and in that process try to express the Sanskrit Slokas in my mother tongue – Tamil; it is only my limited understanding of the vast literature available in public domain. The purpose of documenting my understanding is with the hope that someday someone as ignorant as me (hopefully not when they become “the lost Thatha”), will take baby steps as a novice like me, into this delightful field of spirituality holding this piece of document as the helping hand. If that happens, that will be the biggest gift that I would be automatically passing on (without holding back) to all the people in the public domain whose works I have used extensively. There is no commercial interest whatsoever.

A word of caution here – Millions of pages have been written over centuries by “Subject” – “Matter” – Specialists to provide commentaries for the Slokas in these books. Summing them up into few lines is absolutely immature and childish; yet as a child I have started my baby steps on Vedāntaḥ. Pardon me for that. But Children have the right to enquire and ask questions. The child I am, I am asking questions to myself with the fond hope that someday I will find answers as to who I am.

Seeking your Blessings and wishes as I commence my journey. You are most welcome to join me in my journey. Looking forward to your wonderful and valued company. A broad based schedule for April & May will be posted in the next blog.

Your feedback is vital

As I enter into the third year of my blogging, here is a BIG THANKS to all you 134 followers, 7655 visitors with 17400 plus views for the 196 blogs that I have posted. Can you kindly provide me with a feedback that will help me to improve further and walk steady in my journey. Feel free to offer suggestions and comments to my Email – prabhu53@yahoo.co.uk.

Infinity – முழுமை – पूर्णम्

In Tamil, we use the word கடவுள் (kadavul) to indicate God. நம்மைக் கடந்தும் (kada) நமக்கு உள் (ul) இருப்பதுவே கடவுள் (Meaning that the one which is away from us and yet inside us is God). A very simple word with very deep meaning. One can keep contemplating on this word alone. Deeper introspection will drive us to the concept of Infinity. Talking about infinity from a philosophical perspective will take us directly to this very famous Sloka (Hymn). This śloka is from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad and forms the mangalācarana mantra (Shanthi Sloka) for the Īśāvāsya Upanishad.

Excerpts from various commentaries on this sloka is summarised as understood by me in https://soundar53.substack.com/p/infinity

Narayaneeyam – Dasakam 1 – Conclusion

With very little knowledge of Sanskrit and abysmally poor idea about Vedanta and Spirituality, on January 4th of this year , I commenced my journey to try and get a feeling of the first Dasakam of Narayaneeyam. No need to emphasise the very low confidence that I had in this journey. It was akin to the journey by foot undertaken from the erstwhile State of Madras to Kasi (Varanasi) in the previous centuries, with the traveller not really sure if he will ever reach the destination; leave alone the chances of studying there.

As a beginner and a self-learner, like the Kasi traveller, I take lot of time to understand the sentence in Sanskrit (In Tamil we call it எழுத்துக்கூட்டி படிப்பது). Then look for help in splitting the long words into simple and understandable words (பதம் பிரித்து) and then refer to the dictionaries for meaning; come to some conclusion and then refine it with respect to the context. Many times I had lost hopes of me understanding the context and the concepts that are propounded by Bhattathri. But as I started the journey, I had an invisible hand holding mine after I finished studying each sloka – I can only guess that it was indeed the Lord of Guruvayur Himself.

So here I am; at the end of 75 days plus around 25 days of preparation , have just completed the first round of my study of 10 Slokas . I need to study this again and again till I get an understanding, as I feel that this Daskam brings out Vedantic concepts in describing Lord Guruvayurappan. I will do that as my next project. In the meantime, here is a consolidation of my learning.

Pl bear with me if you find my understanding and translation as inadequate. Please feel free to let me know through your comments.

Narayaneeyam – Dasakam 1 – Verse 10

Sanskrit Verse

ऐश्वर्यं शङ्करादीश्वरविनियमनं विश्वतेजोहराणां
तेजस्संहारि वीर्यं विमलमपि यशो निस्पृहैश्चोपगीतम्।
अङ्गासङ्गा सदा श्रीरखिलविदसि क्वापि ते सङ्गवार्ता
तद्वातागारवासिन् मुरहर भगवच्छब्दमुख्याश्रयोऽसि॥१०॥

Audio Link

https://www.dropbox.com/s/of5xqux33phzhbx/Sloka%2010.mp3?dl=0 – chanting by Sri. Sankararama Sharma

Meaning in Tamil

Dasakam 1 – Verse 10

Meaning in English

O Lord of Guruvaayur! Thy lordliness consists in being the controller of all gods from Lord Shankara onwards.Thy prowess overcomes that of those who excel the whole world in prowess. Thy pure fame is sung by even the most desireless sages. Laxmi Devi always resides in Thy bosom. Thou are omniscient and there is not the slightest trace of attachment in Thee. Therefore, the term ‘Bhagavan’ is applicable to Thee alone

English Transliteration

AishvaryaM shankaraadiishvaraviniyamanaM vishvatejOharaaNaaM

tejassanhaari viiryaM vimalamapi yashO nispRaihaishchOpagiitam .

angaasangaa sadaa shriirakhilavidasi na kvaapi tee sangavaartaa

tadvaataagaaravaasin murahara bhagavachChabdamukhyaashrayO(a)si .. 10

Meaning of the Sanskrit Words

ऐश्वर्यं – state of being a mighty lord (Lordliness)

शङ्करादीश्वरविनियमनं = [शङ्कर + आदी + ईश्वर + विनियमनं = Sankara + beginning + Lord/God + control/limit/restrict = ] controls all gods beginning with Sankara

विश्वतेजोहराणां = [विश् + तेजस् + हर = universe, powers, destroy = ] of those (powerful beings) who are the destroyers (हर) of the powers (तेजस्) of the universe (विश्व)

तेजस्संहारि = [तेज: + संहारि = powers, destroyer ] = is the destroyer (संहारिन्) of the powers (तेजस्)

वीर्यं = prowess

विमलमपि = विमलं + अपि = stain less/pure/untainted

यशो = fame/honour

निस्पृहैश्चोपगीतम् = [निस्पृहै: + च + उपगीतं] = free from desire,and, sing/sung

अङ्गासङ्गा = अङ्ग + सङ्ग = part of the body (implies heart):, union

सदा – always (resides in your bosom)

श्रीरखिलविदसि = श्री + अखिलविदसि = Lakshmi, omnipresent

न क्वापि ते सङ्गवार्ता = no, anywhere, the, attachment (you are beyond any attachment)

तद्वातागारवासिन् = तत + वातगार + वासिन् = hence, air(vayu), house (guruvayur)

मुरहर = Mura the demon, victor (Murari, Krishna):

भगवच्छब्दमुख्याश्रयोऽसि = भगवत् + शब्द+ द्मुख्य + आश्रय: + असि = Bhagwan , the sound, main, base, you are (You are the main base for the name Bhagwan). The author says that only You deserve to be called Bhagavaan since You possess the six qualities of ऐश्वर्यं (sovereignty), वीर्यं (virility), यशः (fame), श्रीः (wealth), ज्ञानं (knowledge), वैराग्यम् (detachment).

Narayaneeyam – Dasakam 1 – Verse 9

Sanskrit Verse

कारुण्यात्काममन्यं ददति खलु परे स्वात्मदस्त्वं विशेषा
दैश्वर्यादीशतेऽन्ये जगति परजने स्वात्मनोऽपीश्वरस्त्वम्।
त्वय्युच्चैरारमन्ति प्रतिपदमधुरे चेतना: स्फीतभाग्या
स्त्वं चात्माराम एवेत्यतुलगुणगणाधार शौरे नमस्ते॥९॥

Audio Link

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2k4ty4w5dd8bys6/Sloka%209.mp3?dl=0 – chanting by Sri. Sankararama Sharma

Meaning in Tamil

Dasakam 1 – Verse 9

Meaning in English

O Lord Shri Krishna! while other gods out of compassion, fulfill the desires of their devotees, Thou out of Thy unique compassion, offer Thyself (liberation) to Thy devotees. While other gods rule over the world with the powers invested in them, Thou are the very inner controller of all and rule over all beings and other gods as well as Thyself. Hence all fortunate jeevas [souls] take immense delight in the bliss that Thou are. As for Thee, Thou are ever satisfied in Thyself and are the abode of incomparable attributes. O Lord! prostrations to Thee.

English Transliteration

kaaruNyaatkaamamanyaM dadati khalu pare svaatmadastvaM visheShaa-

daishvaryaadiishate(a)nye jagati parajane svaatmanO(a)piishvarastvam .

tvaiyyuchchairaaramanti pratipadamadhure chetanaaH sphiitabhaagyaa-

stvaM chaatmaaraama evetyatulaguNagaNaadhaara shaure namaste .. 9

Meaning of the Sanskrit Words

कारुण्यात्काममन्यं = कारुण्यात्-कामम्-अन्यं = compassion, desired objects, other

ददति – given

खलु – indeed

परे – other (other gods)

स्वात्मदस्त्वं = स्वात्मन् + असि + त्वं = swatman, asi, tvam = own self, give, your [You give your own self (i.e., give liberation)]

विशेषाद्- special
ऐश्वर्यादीशतेऽन्ये = ऐश्वर्यात् + ईस्ते + अन्ये = aishwaryath, ISTe, anye = by the power, rule, other (others rule by the power )

जगति – in the world

परजने – other people

स्वात्मनोऽपीश्वरस्त्वम्। = स्व-आत्मन: + अपि-ईश्वर: + त्वं = own self , even, lord, yourself
त्वय्युच्चैरारमन्ति= त्वयि-उच्चै:+ आरमन्ति = in you, higher (deeply), revel,

प्रतिपदमधुरे = प्रतिपद + मधुरे = every step, sweet

चेतना: – souls

स्फीतभाग्या = स्फीत + भाग्य = exceedingly, fortunate
स्त्वं चात्माराम एवेत्यतुलगुणगणाधार = त्वं + च + आत्माराम: + एव + इति + अतुल + गुण + गण+ आधार = you, also, reveling in ones own self + the one+ thus + immense + qualities + abode

शौरे – oh Sauri

नमस्ते – ते नमः. – to you, salutations