Tag Archives: sanatana dharma

Hanumat Vibhuti by Swami Chinmayananda

[Excerpts from talks & articles by Swami Chinmayananda]

HANUMAN represents a perfect man of education and culture, proficient and efficient, and ever a go-getter. Nothing seems to be impossible for him. To think is to act for him; to conceive is to achieve. Yet, this beautiful characterisation, all along Ramayana, so tenderly both handled and dandled by the sensitive poet Valmiki, has been deliberately wrapped up in the outer anatomical shell of a monkey! Any sensitive student of literature will be compelled to pause for a moment to wonder, “was it a monkey?” To suggest this question in the mind of the readers, Valmiki himself describes him as. “is he a man?” (VA – Nara?). The symbolism suggested is evidently clear to all deep students of our spiritual texts, who are familiar with our cultural diction, and who are trained to be sensitive in Indian traditions of poetry. 

Monkeys represent THOUGHTS; the similarity being that both are restless (chanchala) and unsteady (asthira). Of all thoughts, the very minister of Su-greeva (sushtu greevam — well reined) now in his exile, was HANUMAN, extremely erudite and scholarly. Yet, this thought-personality cannot bring out its potential might and beauty, albeit serving as the minister to “Self-Control”. Knowledge and erudition, with moral restraint and physical control, is the highest from the standpoint of material education, and according to the systems of worldly education. Yet, Valmiki demonstrates that all the potentialities inherent can blossom forth only when that knowledge bows down to Rama, the Spiritual Essence!

From the moment, Anjaneya meets with Rama, Ramayana distinctly reveals a mysterious unfoldment of great powers, an explosion of inconceivable merits and beauties in that apparently ridiculous and seemingly insignificant form of a monkey. However wise and intelligent we may be, even when that wise man has character and self-control, it is not all. Only when these thoughts move, in utter devotion and total loyalty towards “that which revels in everything” (Rama), that all the inherent potentialities divine can get a chance to blossom forth.

Thereafter, as the loyal servant of Sri Rama, the personality of Hanuman unfolds its infinite strength and endless beauty, for all generations to watch, and yet in himself he remains outwardly a “va-nara” and inwardly a steady and total devotee. Every hair on his body was heard to whisper the divine name of RAMA. The mind of Hanuman was always totally involved in singing Rama’s name. Centred in Rama, he acted. For Rama, he achieved. Rama’s glory was his only glory. There stands now the puny monkey, larger than life: greater than the greatest, the eternal devotee, his strength, his wisdom, his love, and his all, dedicated totally to Rama. Thereafter, we detect the Supreme expressing through this insignificant-looking monkey, making us all wonder, “is it a man (Va-nara)?” or “is it a God (Va-deva)?” 

HANU is “killing” and MAN is “vanity”. So HANUMAN can be interpreted as one who has destroyed his vanity. Though a monkey, he has risen to the stature of a Divine God, only because of his PHYSICAL READINESS TO SERVE THE CAUSE, MENTAL DEVOTION TO THE CAUSE, and INTELLECTUAL CONSISTENCY OF FAITH AND PURPOSE IN THE CAUSE. Whoever brings out these sincerities in his actions, even if he be a monkey, will certainly unfold himself to reveal his divine stature and might. Such an individual is the Child of “Pavana,” the Lord of Storms — the Might of the mighty! 

The victory over the “animal’ can be gained, even if you be Sri Ramachandraji, only with the help of HANUMAN, the monumental strength of perfect “Brahmacharya”. Control the Indriyas; delve within. Cross the Sethu – the distance between the DIVINE that you want to become and the animal you ‘are’ now!

When you lead a life in complete surrender to Lord Rama, then the strength that rises from within you, THAT IS HANUMAN. When love, beauty, erudition, courage, determination and success come to your life from a source beyond the body, mind and intellect, THAT IS HANUMAN. When you reach your life’s goal, like a sure-shot arrow from Sri Rama’s bow, THAT IS HANUMAN. Grace of Rama Dhoota Bhakta Siromani Hanuman brings Health, Devotion and Spiritual Success. We need them all on the Path Divine. Keep Him always within your heart as the situation demands, chanting the Lord’s name in times of peace and in the face of imposing challenges, for that is where He belongs!!

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Sri Rama Pattabhisheka – the Significance!

SRIMAD-RAMAYANA represents the spiritual yatra of a seeker – the AYANA (journey) of a spiritual seeker represented by RAMA. Hence it is known as RAMAYANA. Ramayana is also a treasure house of VALUES to be inculcated and practised at every stage in life. The Epic also highlights the various relationships amongst the different characters, and the need and importance to nurture, nourish and maintain these relationships at individual and social level. Lord Rama and his consort, Seeta as well as all the other characters through the various incidents, situations and circumstances demonstrate the journey from the realm of mortality to the State of Immortality. These incidents, situations or circumstances (each and every one of them) are “dynamic pictures with enormous significance” which are to be clicked on our mental screen and contemplated upon for they carry “life transforming” messages for us! 

One of these pictures which is very familiar to us is the SRI RAMA PATTABHISHEKA. In fact, whether in the temple or in our puja room, Lord Rama whom we invoke and worship is the “Pattabhisheka Deity – SRI PATTABHIRAMA”. The great musician-saint, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar has composed a kirtan on the “Pattabhisheka Scene” which is beautiful and vividly captivating, complete and extremely significant! 

“O, Pattabhi-Rama, who adorns the Seat of Sovereignty and whose auspicious and sacred name, RAMA, is glorified by the ever-victorious Maruti (Hanuman), protect me. Rama, the Pure and the All-perfect, who is supremely contented and ever fulfilled, carries the Kodanda-bow in His hand and is the personification of Auspiciousness. The Lotus-eyed Lord belongs to the illustrious Raghu dynasty. Rama whose feet are soft and tender, is of dark complexion resembling the rain-bearing clouds. Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna are attending upon and serving their brother, Sri Raja Rama with the royal umbrella (chhatra) and the chamara (fly-whisks). Vibhishana, Sugreeva and others are offering their obeisance to the Lord. Sri Rama, son of Dasaratha is the recipient of the blessings of the great Rishis like Atri, Vasishta and others. In a gem-studded navaratna-mantapa, Sri Rama, along with his consort Seeta adorns the beautiful bejewelled suvarna Simhasana. Lord Sri Rama of exemplary character and conduct (the embodiment of Dharma), is extremely dear to Guruguha (Lord Subramanya). He is like the beautiful moon to the ocean of the solar dynasty. He is verily the Ruler and Protector of the whole Universe, SRI RAMACHANDRA!”

The “Rama Pattabhisheka” Scene or the Picture represents a MAN of REALIZATION – a Jivanmukta. Ayodhya is “A – Yudha”. It means “No conflict”. Therefore, it represents the Inner State of Absolute Peace and Bliss – the State of Mukti or Enlightenment. In this State of Bliss, Lord Rama and his consort Seeta are seated on the royal throne – the Simhasana. ASANA means “seat” and SIMHA means “Dharma”. Therefore, SIMHASANA means the “Seat of Dharma or Righteousness”. Sri Rama and Seeta together represent the “One State” beyond the aspects of Purusha and Prakriti – the State of Jivanmukti. The Man of Realization is one who has attained the Dimensionless State of Infinitude – he is VIRAT. He is a Master of the external world (Samrajya) as well as the inner world (Swarajya). Such an individual is a real SAMRAT and SWARAT. When he is working for the welfare of the community, he is ever rooted in and established in Dharma. There alone is the true RAMA RAJYA. Therefore, Sri Rama who is the embodiment of Dharma represents a Jivanmukta. Rama is surrounded by his brothers, the Rishis, Hanuman, Sugreeva, Angada, Vibhishana and others. All the characters represent one of the noble traits or virtues to be developed within us.

Alternatively, Seeta and Rama represent a well-integrated Mind and Intellect equipment. Lakshmana represents Karma Yoga, Bharata represents Vairagya or Dispassion, Shatrughna stands for the Ever-victorious and Hanuman signifies unconditional Surrender and total Devotion (there are different interpretations as to what each character stands for). Therefore the entire picture with all the characters of SRI RAMA PATTABHISHEKA is ONE WHOLE SPIRITUAL message for us!!

Keep within RAMA-MAYAM as Sadhana. To see RAMA-MAYAM is Sadhya; the former the Way, the later the Goal. Merge into Rama. Disappear in Rama!! “When will this be?” What a question! “When you choose to be,” is the scriptural answer!! Go beyond the famous “Coronation Picture” of Sri Ramachandra into the Ocean of “Rama Tattva” behind His Golden Throne. Through Rama to “Rama-Tattva”; through names and forms to the “BEYOND!!” ~ Swami Chinmayananda

रामो राजमणिः सदा विजयते रामं रमेशं भजे
रामेणाभिहता निशाचरचमूः रामाय तस्मै नमः ।
रामान्नास्ति परायणंपरतरं रामस्य दासोस्म्यहं
रामे चित्तलयस्सदा भवतु मे भो राम मामुद्धर ॥ (Sri Rama Raksha Stotra)

महारत्नपीठे शुभे कल्पमूले
      सुखासीनमादित्यकोटिप्रकाशम् ।
सदा जानकीलक्ष्मणोपेतमेकं
      सदा रामचन्द्रम् भजेऽहं भजेऽहम्  ॥ (Sri Rama Bhujanga Stotra)

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Ratha Saptami and Magha Snana!

MAGHA SNANA (taking a dip in the waters during Magha Maasa) also known as mini Kumbha Mela is as important, significant and meritorious as KARTIKA DEEPA (lighting the Deepa) in the month of Kartika. From Pushya Purnima to Magha Purnima, devotees undertake the Magha Snana Vrata. Apart from Snana, Charity (Dana) is also one of the main features of Magha Vrata. When the Sun enters the Makara Rashi (Uttarayana), the inclination of the Sun-rays, and consequently the light as well as the warmth (heat) reaching the terrestrial plane is different. The season is slowly changing – from cold (winter) to warm (summer) climate. In the dry winter season, there is a deficiency of sufficient light and warmth which weakens the immunity system of an individual. Now, with the arrival of Uttarayana, the soft and tender rays of the Sun energize the waters of the rivers and the ocean. This water (especially the saline ocean water) is extremely beneficial for us to fight the cold as well as the seasonal infections. Apart from this, the vibrational energy from the Sun during this time-period is extremely beneficial at the pyscho-spiritual level also. The various Puranas endorse this and therefore, this cosmic & celestial event has been incorporated as a mandatory religious vow or vrata. The Magha Snana is to be taken at dawn (Arunodaya Kaala) just before sunrise preferably in rivers, lakes or tanks which are exposed to Nature and are close to temple or pilgrim centres. Magha Snana at Prayagraj (Magha Mela) is considered highly meritorious because of the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. After the Magha Snana, Surya Bhagavan is invoked and Lord Madhava, the presiding deity of Magha Maasa is worshipped. 

Magha Navaratri Vrata is also undertaken by the devout. Goddess Saraswati, the presiding deity of Knowledge & Art-forms is worshipped on Vasanta Panchami or Sri Panchami Day. The Magha concludes with the Mahashivaratri on the chaturdashi day prior to Amavasya. In the month of Magha, Lord Sun is worshipped on the Ratha Saptami Day which is also known as Surya Jayanti and Arogya Saptami. It is said that the northward course of the Sun gains momentum on the Ratha Saptami! Apart from the Gayatri mantra, Surya Ashtakam and the Aditya Hridayam are fervently chanted to invoke the grace and blessings of Surya Bhagavan. Ratha Saptami signifies the change of season. It heralds the onset of the fresh ever-green Spring (Chaitra) and the end of the dry and cold Winter. For the farmers, this is the beginning of a new harvest year. On the Ratha Saptami Day, the utsava-murthi (procession-deity) in many of the temples (especially in Tirumala) is adorned with a kavacham inlaid with diamond and other precious gems and brought out in the early morning to face the rising Sun. It is an overwhelming sight to see the radiant and golden glow reflected from the Deity as well as the gems sparkling at the touch of the first morning rays of the Sun! The divine and blessed feeling of being wrapped in the light and warmth of the Lord’s immediate presence is inexplicable!! The fresh and tender Sun’s rays are extremely rejuvenating and beneficial to the physical body as well as the mind-intellect equipment.

MAGHA means “do not commit sins (mistakes) or do not fall” or “may we not suffer any grief or sorrow.” This is an indication that an individual must consciously walk the path of righteousness (dharma) and also be alert so that inadvertently one doesn’t slip into the path of unrighteousness (adharma). Hence we invoke Surya Bhagavan to keep us in the Light of Knowledge. Surya Bhagavan is worshipped as the Lord riding on a chariot with one wheel – the WHEEL of TIME (Kaala Chakra). The three-sectioned hub of the Wheel, represents the three Chaturmasa-s. The six rims (or six sections of the rim) of the Wheel represent the six seasons and the twelve spokes represent the twelve months of the year. Hence the Wheel is also known as SAMVATSAR or a YEAR. In one year, Lord Sun moves through the twelve zodiac signs, each of which represents one month of the Hindu calendar. The chariot is yoked to seven divine horses which are named after the Vedic metres or chhandas. They represent the seven colours – VIBGYOR – the seven components constituting Sun (White) Light; but the horses are green in colour! Anything that is far from our view appears GREEN, which indicates vastness and expansiveness. Green is also the CENTRAL colour in VIBGYOR. Hence “green” represents “balance, stability and equilibrium” in the cosmic configuration. The horses also represent the seven days of the week starting from Sunday – the first day of the week. Aruna is the Lord’s charioteer and he represents Dawn. Surya Narayana is the Lord of Light and Heat, Knowledge and Wisdom, Health and Prosperity. It is HE who nurtures, nourishes and sustains the entire world of things and beings.

“Saptashva Rathamarudham Prachandam Kashyapathmajam; Shveta Padmadharam Devam Tam Suryam Pranamamyaham”

“Prostrations to Surya Bhagavan, the Self-effulgent and the son of Sage Kashyapa who is seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses and sports a white lotus in his hand.”

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Venkatadri Swami & the Lord’s Diamond Crown!

Alluri Venkatadri Swami (1806-1877) was born to a pious couple in Alluru in Andhra Pradesh. He was devoted to Lord Narasimha of Alluru. He obtained mantra deeksha from his Guru, Narasimha Dasa and took to Hari Nama Sankeerthana. Venkatadri Swami travelled to many pilgrim centres and temples and offered his services to the various Deities in the form of keerthanas – Naadopaasana. At Bhadrachala, along with sangeeta seva, he completed one crore Rama Nama and had the divine vision of the Lord. He then travelled to Tirumala and offered his services to Lord Venkateswara. 

Sriranganatha, Srirangam, Kanchi, Namperumal, Vaikunta Ekadashi, Lord Venkateshwara, Ranganatha,
Alluri Venkatadri Swami

From Tirumala, Venkatadri Swami reached Kanchipuram and stayed in a room on the banks of the Brahmateertha pond which is even today known as “Venkatadri room”. Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi would physically be present to enjoy the beautiful keerthanas while an overwhelmed Venkatadri Swami sang for him! Venkatadri Swami was different from other renunciates. He accepted donations from devotees and utilised it completely for the Lord’s daily seva. He contributed to renovation and construction works related to various temples. Inscriptions are available for the same in the temples. Along with Veda-abhyas program for children, he started various seva projects and to make sure that all the projects continued without any hindrance, he set up a permanent charity and bought dry and wet lands to generate revenue for the same.

One day, Lord Varadaraja appeared in Venkatadri’s dream and asked for a diamond crown for himself! In search of resources, Venkatadri Swami came to Chennai. Amidst hardships, he reached the famous Sri Parthasarathi temple in Triplicane and sang, “Parthasarathi pada bhajana cheyave manasa (O mind! sing the glories of Lord Parthasarathi)”. By Lord’s Grace, the devoted people volunteered and contributed for the diamond crown. The beautiful diamond crown was completed in time. The devotees carried the crown in a procession through the streets of Chennai, accompanied by umbrella (chhatra), dhwaja (flag) and sangeeta (music). The crown reached Kanchi Sri Varadaraja temple. On the Vaishaka full-moon day, during the Garuda Seva, the Lord (utsava murthi) was adorned with the crown which came to be known as “Venkatadri Crown!” An overwhelmed Venkatadri Swami poured out his devotion to Lord Varadaraja in the form of beautiful keerthanas. Even today, on special occasions the Lord’s utsava murthi is adorned with the “Venkatadri Crown”. He then proceeded to make crowns studded with diamonds and other precious gems for the Lord’s consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi. 

At the behest of the Lord’s divine will, Venkatadri Swami had a precious crown made for the utsava murthi (known as Namperumal) of Srirangam to replace the old damaged Pandian Crown. Unaware of the actual measurements, a model crown was made, and yet the crown fitted the deity perfectly! It is said that Lord Ranganatha Himself provided the measurements for His crown! The diamond crown needed a ONE INCH SQUARE EMERALD for completion. Not knowing what to do, Venkatadri Swami invoked the Lord to show him the way. The Lord appeared in his dream and told him that the required emerald was available with a diamond merchant, Madhav Seth in Kolkata. When the merchant was approached, he cheated them by providing an ordinary green stone. However the Lord forewarned and the merchant was confronted. Finally, the real and big emerald was obtained and the Pandian Crown was completed. The Utsava murthi, Namperumal was adorned with the new Pandian Kondai (Crown) on Margashirsha Vaikunta Ekadashi day!

Pandian Crown with the green emerald

Sri Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar of Kanchi initiated Venkatadri Swami into the Pancha Samskaras of the Sri Vaishnava tradition. Later on, he was initiated into the sanyas order by Sri Ranga Narayana Jeeyar and came to be known as Thiru Venkata Ramanuja Jeeyar. Venkatadri Swami was well known for his socio-religious services. In recognition of his seva, apart from scholars, high-ranking officials and businessmen, the then Governor of Chennai, Lord Francis Napier also came to Srirangam and paid his respects to Venkatadri Swami. 
In 1877, Venkatadri Swami left his mortal body and attained to the Lord’s feet. His memorial is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri. Venkatadri Swami was a great Composer-Musician-Saint as well as a Karma Yogi. His compositions are simple yet profound in their message. None of his keerthanas which are overflowing with devotion carry his signature-name which speaks of his extreme humility and dispassion. Various Bhajan Mandali-s have been carrying forward his rich musical legacy even to this day.

Om Namo Narayanaya!

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