Monthly Archives: May 2020

Sri Dakshinamurthi: Chin-Mudra

Lord Shiva, in order to instruct the Rishis and the Seers, assumed the form of a Guru and sitting on the peak of Kailash, He turned southward to serve all seekers. The term “dakshina” means “that divine power of subtle perception which is generated in a fully integrated pure intellect”. This “dakshina-power”, when flowing towards the vasana-conditioned hearts of the disciples, is called “turned southward” and this is Shiva. The Teacher is none other than the Supreme, who manifests Himself in the divine form of Sri Dakshinamurthi to bless the struggling aspirant.

It is such a Teacher, who has become one with the Infinite, and has established his Oneness with the Infinite Substratum of the Universe who instructs an integrated and well-disciplined student in the Highest Truth through the SIGN of Knowledge, called Jnanamudra (Chin Mudra).

The auspicious SIGN demonstrated beautifully to the disciple the oneness of the inner Self and the Self everywhere. Jnanamudra (Chin Mudra) is generally indicated by holding the little, ring and middle fingers erect, straight and together, and the index finger bent to touch the middle of the thumb, so that a circle is formed between the index finger, palm and the lower-half of the thumb. This sign shown with the palm they called as the “Sign of Knowledge”.

This is indeed significant. The three fingers can be indicated to mean the gross, subtle and the causal bodies, and when they are completely disciplined and made single-pointed, the (individual) Self indicated by the index finger, that presides over the body of the seeker, gets itself detached and comes forward to meet the thumb, that represents the Self everywhere present. This experience that the “Self within” is the “Self everywhere” is the Infinite Experience, and the Infinitude is represented here by the circle formed between the index finger and the thumb – a circle which can have no beginning and no end.

~ Swami Chinmayananda

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Sarvam Krishnamayam!

The people of Vrindavan were rejoicing with Lord Krishna amidst them.The Lord’s adventures and playful sports, His mischief and pranks, His love and affection was the only topic of discussion in every house. Not only the people but even the trees and animals, the cows and calves – all were in blissful ecstasy. Suddenly a strange but strong desire came to them. Every Gopi wanted to experience the joy of having Krishna as her child! Every cow wanted Krishna as its calf! The trees wanted Krishna alone to climb them!The Yamuna wanted Krishna alone to play in her! The Lord decided to fulfill their desires.

At the same time, Lord Brahma overwhelmed by Lord’s maya, and not understanding the true glory of the Lord, decided to test the divine power of Lord Krishna. He came down and put all the boys of Vrindavan, the cows and calves under the charm of sleep and took them to his loka. He wanted to see what Krishna would do now. Krishna came to know what Brahma had done and immediately He the ONE, multiplied Himself to become the many. He Himself became the cowherd boys, the cows and calves! And at dusk time, Krishna alone as ALL OF THEM went back to their respective homes. No one knew what had happened, because everything looked normal. This went on for a whole year. 

All the people and especially the Gopis were very happy. Suddenly their children were very bright, good and obedient! The milk that the cows were giving was more in quantity and divinely sweet! The calves were more endearing! It was all Krishna and Krishna ALONE in so many different forms and the whole of Vrindavan was “Sarvam Krishnamayam!” It was Madhuram! Madhuram! And Madhuram! Everyone’s desire was fulfilled!!

Almost at the end of the year, Brahma came down to see what was the situation in Vrindavan and to his surprise he found everything absolutely normal. All the cowherd boys, the cows and calves were all there just as before in Vrindavan. How could all of them be in two places at one and the same time!?  

And suddenly in the place of each cowherd boy, he saw Lord Narayana Himself in all His pristine glory. Overwhelmed by the vision of so many forms of Sri Narayana, Brahma offered his salutations to the Supreme Lord. The Lord then withdrew His cosmic form. Brahma got up and now in front of him was the charming Divine Cowherd Boy – Balagopala. He now realized the Lord’s might and power, and His infinite glory. He approached Lord Krishna, prostrated to Him and prayerfully sought His forgiveness for doubting the glory of the Lord.The Lord of Compassion forgave him. All the cowherd boys, the cows and calves he had carried now returned back home. They all were totally unaware of what had happened – it was just like getting up from sleep.

Brahma went back to His world reflecting on how blessed the Gopas and Gopis were, how blessed the cows and calves were, how blessed the inhabitants of Vraja were, how blessed the soil of Vrindavan was to carry the tiny imprints of the lotus feet of the Lord on its surface, and how blessed indeed is one who is born in Vrindavan!!

Next: Significance of Chin-Mudra!
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Sankat Mochan Hanuman

Ravana, the King of Lanka was an erudite scholar, an accomplished musician, and a great astrologer. He had waged a war on the devatas and brought all the nine planets with him to Lanka. To show his might and power, he made the nine planets lie down face downwards, and used them as steps to ascend to his throne daily. When his son, Meghanatha was about to be born, he decided to put all the nine planets in their favourable houses and positions so that his son would become powerful and invincible. The devatas got worried and sought the help of Sage Narada. On their request, Narada came to Ravana’s assembly. He saw the planets lying face-down. Narada immediately glorified Ravana and told him that he should not be walking on their backs but should step on and walk on their chest — that would prove to the Gods, to the Navagrahas and to everyone around how mighty and powerful he, the King of Lanka was! Ravana got carried away by Narada’s words and turned all the planets around, face upwards, so that he could walk on their chest. As he very happily walked over them, Lord Shani’s (Saturn) gaze fell on him. It is said that if the gaze of Shani falls on anyone, the result would be endless trouble and misfortunes. Shani’s gaze had fallen on Ravana! His troubles were to start!! 

Narada walked away happily. Ravana however saw through the plan of the devatas. He was furious. He tied up and confined Shani in a remote dark room where nobody could find him. 
Shani who gives trouble (sankat) to everyone with a mere glance was confined and kept in the dark. He himself was now in “sankat”. Years passed by. When Hanuman came in search of Seeta and was moving around in Ravana’s palace, he heard a noise from one of the rooms. He opened the room and went in. He found Shani tied up there. Hanuman untied him and set him free. Shani’s gaze had fallen on Hanuman! Shani was happy, but he said that, since his gaze had fallen on Hanuman, he now would give trouble to Hanuman – that was his inherent nature. Hanuman asked him to wait till he searched for, met Seeta and went back and gave the news to Lord Rama. Shani waited….

Hanuman discovered Seeta, went back and gave the news to Rama. Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva and the whole army of vanaras reached the tip of Bharat. They started building a bridge with rocks and trees to cross the ocean. At that time, Shani came and decided to trouble Hanuman. Hanuman said he was very busy and if Shani wanted to trouble him, he could sit on his head. Shani comfortably sat on Hanuman’s head. Hanuman on the other hand was busy helping the Vanaras build the bridge. He lifted huge rocks and boulders and carried them on his head. Shani who was sitting on Hanuman’s head directly started feeling the weight and burden of the rocks. When the pain caused by the heavy rocks on his head became unbearable, Shani came down. He now realized that no one could trouble Hanuman who is always chanting the Lord’s name and is ever engaged in service of the Lord. 

Lord Shani stopped troubling Hanuman and told him that he was very pleased with Hanuman’s devotion and service, and in future he will not trouble anyone who devotedly worships Hanuman on Saturday – the day attributed to Shanidev.
And Lord Shani further said that in future Hanuman will be worshipped as “Sankat Mochan Hanuman” – the Lord who removes (Mochan) our troubles (Sankat). Hanuman is the One who removed the “sankat” of Shani who causes “sankat” for everyone else!!

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Sri Vidya Upasaka: Dikshitar

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 – 1835) was one of the greatest Musician-Saints and is one among the Carnatic Music Trinity, the other two being Saint Thyagaraja and Shyama Sastri.

Dikshitar’s father was Ramaswami Dikshitar who was a Sanskrit scholar and an accomplished musician living in Tiruvarur in Tamilnadu. When Dikshitar turned twenty five, the great Chidambaranatha Yogi of Varanasi visited their house and requested Ramaswami to send Dikshitar with him for further education. His father agreed and Dikshitar went to Varanasi. He was initiated into “Sri Vidya Upasana”, and his Guru told him to constantly worship Sri Annapurneswari, the Bestower of material needs (Bhukti) as well as liberation (Mukti). He mastered the scriptures, the science of mantras, astrology, music, and was an expert in playing the veena. He came under the influence of Hindustani classical music and Western band music.

After a few years, the teacher told him that it was time for him to go back home because he had learnt all that had to be learnt. The young disciple asked the teacher what was the proof that he had learnt everything. The teacher asked him to go to Mother Ganges and take a dip. If his learning was complete, She would reward him. He went to the Ganges, took a dip and invoked Her. Mother Ganges was there in front of him with a beautiful veena in Her hand. She handed it over to him. It had “RAMA” inscribed on it and was different from the normal veenas. The tail end of the veena which is called ‘yaalimukha’ is turned upwards. In normal veenas it is turned downwards. This veena that Dikshitar used is even now preserved in their ancestral home.

With the blessings of his teacher and with this unique veena gifted to him by the Mother of Knowledge, Dikshitar travelled back. He arrived at Tiruttani, one of the famous six abodes of Kartikeya in Tamilnadu. Dikshitar was sitting and meditating on the Lord on the steps of the temple, when Lord Kartikeya came in the disguise of an elderly man, asked him to open his mouth and put sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. At that very moment, he composed a beautiful kriti on Kartikeya with the mudra (signature) GURU-GUHA. Kartikeya also known as GUHA had come to him as his GURU.

He has composed songs on almost all deities, all pilgrimage centres and brought into the kritis the uniqueness and speciality of them all. Along with Sangeeta sastra, he incorporated the “mantra sastra” into his songs and therefore to render them with correct pronunciation and bhava, with a little understanding of its meaning will bring all prosperity to the singer as well as the listener – singing of his keerthans is equivalent to chanting the mantras.

Instances of Dikshitar bringing relief and solace to individuals as well as to the community through his keerthans are many. With a Kriti in raga Amruthavarshini, he brought the rains down on the parched land of Ettayyapuram (Tamil Nadu). He also brought health back to his disciple Tambiyappan by warding off the evil effects (graha dosha) of Jupiter, by composing a kriti on that planet. 

On the eve of Deepavali in 1835, after he had finished Devi Puja, he had a vision of Sri Annapurneswari and sang “Ehi Annapurne” – his last kriti. He remembered what his Guru had told him and knew it was time for him to leave his body. He asked his disciples who had gathered there to sing his composition “Meenakshi me mudam dehi” (Meenakshi bestow upon me Your grace) in the Raga Gamakakriya. When they sang the lines: “meena lochani pasha mochani” (O! Fish-eyed One, who cuts asunder the knots of bondage), he asked them to repeat these phrases once more. As they were repeating them, Dikshitar uttered “Shive pahi, Shive pahi, Shive pahi” and left his physical body to merge eternally with the Mother of the Universe whom he invoked and worshipped all his life. 
His compositions called “Kamalamba Nava-avarana” Krithis which are full of mystic significance are rendered even today with great religious fervour during the Navaratri festival.

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