|| shrI sha.nkarAchArya aShTottara-shata-nAmAvaliH ||

Ravi Mayavaram msr at REDDY20.TAMU.EDU
Thu May 28 22:09:23 CDT 1998

AUM nAdabindukalAbhij~nAya namaH

I bow to shrI shankara who knows the philosophy of nAda-bindu-kala.
nAda denotes sound or vibration, and often the praNavam AUM. Bindu
denotes a dot or a central point. kAla has various interpretions.
Theory of creation is explained in many texts using this terminology.
>From giridhar at chemeng.iisc.ernet.in Fri May 29 16:50:33 1998
Message-Id: <FRI.29.MAY.1998.165033.0530.GIRIDHAR at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN>
Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 16:50:33 +0530
Reply-To: "Dr. M. Giridhar" <giridhar at chemeng.iisc.ernet.in>
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: "Dr. M. Giridhar" <giridhar at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN>
Subject: Re: VairAgyam
Comments: To: advaita-l <ADVAITA-L at TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
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>bhakti in cultivating vairAgyam.  It was an eye-opener.  My question
>is, how do I worship bhagavAn without a sense of "I-ness"?  Also, a
>lot of the pujAs, homAs etc. have an objective of propitiation and
>Punya as a result.  Doesn't this cultivate attachment?


        As we saw, Ultimate Bhakti is the state of mind which detaches
itself from all things and "fixes" itself on the Atman. But this is not so
easily obtained. We have to go through some steps. So let us stage this

1. When we are in difficulty and suffer, or if our close ones are
suffering, we go to God and plead with Her. We say 'I will do all this
(pujas, homas etc.), visit your temple IF you get rid of this ailment,
give me wealth etc.'

        Even the great tamil saint auvaiyar was like this. Daily, early in
the morning, she used to worship Lord Ganesha with four things: milk,
honey, rice pudding (pasayam) and nuts. She used to pray 'I give you four
things, please give me three (poetry, music and drama).' Devotion always
starts on a bargaining system. I will give you this, if you give me that.
Thus we bargain with the God. This is like a child saying to the mother, I
will eat the vegetables, if you will allow me to play with MY toy.
Actually, the mother knows she owns the toy, not the child but to please
the child, she agrees. Such is the case of people.  Everything is owned by
God. Man possesses nothing, yet he bargains. Total surrender always starts
from this simple bargaining. When it is dark, we seek light and think of
God. Not many think of Her when the going is good (i.e., pleasurable).

        This is the first stage of bhakti. Even this is noble, as Lord
Krishna explains in BG.

Four types of virtuous ones worship or seek Me, O Arjuna. They are:
the distressed, the seeker of Self-knowledge, the seeker of wealth,
and the wise one who knows the Supreme.  (7.16)
All these seekers are indeed noble (7.18)

Why is seeking objects by praying to God noble ?

2.  Because slowly, we see how much ever objects we have, we are not as
happy as we can be. The desires are endless and have no complete
fulfilment. There is something lacking. So, we understand that karma yoga,
where all dharmic activites are dedicated to God, is better. With our
prayers (even for desires), God is slowly attracting us.  But with
dedication, slowly, our mind gets purified and we start to perceive Her
grace. Her grace is ever-present and available for everyone, but not
everyone avails it ! It is not the fault of the sun if we sit in a dark
room and complain about lack of the sun.  Shankara explains this stage as

        kaanthopalaM suuchika

        God, like a magnet, attracts the devotees, who are needles. If the
iron needle is coated with paint, there is no attraction by the magnet. It
is not the fault of the magnet. As soon as the paint is removed, the
needle is automatically attracted. Similarly, our pujas in the first stage
(which are later done as dedication to the divine) purify our mind and God
"attracts" us.

3. The third stage, Shankara says, is like

        saadhvii nijavibhu

        We should think of God all the time. This is a necessary condition
for mokshha. But, we may ask, we are working for money, talk with people,
do all sorts of things. How can we think of God all the time or atleast
for a majority of time.

        Shankara explains how in Saundarayalaharii. Whatever we speak is
only 51 letters (sanskrit letters which covers the complete phoentic
range). All the letters belong to Her, representing Parashakti svarupam.
Therefore, whenever we speak or write, we should think that we are only
reciting Her name in various ways. What does this mean ? That we should
indulge in speech worthy of being called Her mantra. Naturally, our words
will become sweet and since we remember all the rest are also Her
children, we will be careful not to hurt anyone's feelings using Her
        Similarly, Shankara says, let our hands constantly engage in Her
worship. That is, whatever action we do, we should think whether it is
worthy of Her worship. Is the action dharmic, and will be performed in
accord to dharma and spirit of dedication ?
        Shankara says, let walking itself be a pradakshina.  Kanchi
periyava gives a humourous example. When you walk to the cinema theatre,
think that you are doing pradakshina in Her temple, and when you are
waiting in the queue for tickets, think you are standing in line to have
Her darshan.  Even these type of thoughts, will eventually make one visit
the temple and slowly one will stop going to movies.
        Let us offer everything we eat to Her. So, we should eat only
sattvic food worthy of being offered to Her and eat only in the times

        If we slowly do all our actions thinking that we are acting as Her
instrument, our prayer will become

        yatra yatra mano madiiyaM tatra tatra tavaiva ruupaM

        Whenever my mind wanders, let me remember only your

        An example of the monkey is given here. The baby monkey clings to
its mother and firmly clasps on her whatever may come.  Similarly, our
monkey mind is very hard to control but if we cling on to Her, then all
our attachments will fall away.

4. Slowly as we progress to the next stage, we should, Shankara
says, be

                lataa shhitiruhaM

i.e., become like the creeper twined around a tree. The creeper is
intimately twined around a tree, it is very difficult to separate it.
Similarly, it is very difficult to make a good devotee stop thinking
about God. Whenever the devotee perceives separation, he will be in
misery. Because as one is with God, there is infinite peace and bliss. The
river is all turbulent, jumping here and there, but when it joins the sea,
it becomes calm and quiet. Similarly, being with God brings about immense

        Thus we become like a kitten. Unlike a baby monkey which holds on
to the mother for protection, the kitten does not do anything. The cat
picks up the kitten and carries it to safety and takes care of it.
Similarly, a mother takes care of the new born baby whenever anything is
required by the baby. IF mothers of kittens and babies can be like this,
what about the Mother of all, Parashakti ? Does She not know about our
needs, and will She not take care of us ? She sure will. So, we should not
worry about matters following fully well that She knows what to give, when
to give and whom to give.

        Man is bitten by the snake of ignorance and thinks himself as
limited, ignorant, and suffers from the notion of 'I am the doer.' By
surrendering the notion of an individuality, he concludes that all
happenings are due to the Divine Will and he is a mere actor in the script
written by the Divine. Thus, the devotee here completely surrenders to Her

        At this stage, where the mind is completely purified and there is
surrender, the bhakti has reached the stage of ahetuki. All pujas are
completely done without expectation of any reward or motivation of
personal gain. Then why do puja? A mother dresses up the new born baby in
several colourful clothes and displays them to all, not because the baby
becomes happy but the mother who dresses up the child becomes happy.
Similarly, we do alankara to Devi, not to make Her feel happy (She is
always in bliss) but because when we see Her dressed up, we are happy.

        Also, one understands the significance of puja.  Before the puja,
one bathes to signify the outer purification. Mantras and stotras are
recited for inner purification. Even a very simple puja employs flowers.
What is the inner significance ? Flowers smell. This is called vaasaana.
Vaasaana is also an another name for the imprints in the jiva, which
constitute the flavor/smell of our personality, habits etc.  Flowers are
picked up with the right hand and then, the fingers are pointed downward
so that the flowers fall at the feet of the idol. The five fingers signify
the five senses. The senses which are normally directed outward for
pleasure and now pointed downward showing that they are surrendered at Her
Feet. Usually, the flower is placed after uttering 'namaH.' While namaH
means salutation, it is also a corrupt form of 'na mama' i.e not mine.
Thus, when offering flowers, one says, 'I am offering to you my senses,
attributes, character but none of them are really mine. Everything is

5. In the final stage, the devotee realizes that complete fulfilment can
be achieved only in union and identity. There is a saying that those who
want to only eat sugar (bliss) and not become sugar have never tasted
sugar.  Whatever a single gold ring (jiva)  can admire the huge gold crown
(Ishvara), the ultimate is achieved only in recognizing that both the ring
and the crown are made up of only gold (Brahman). Thus the devotee says,

        madiiyaM eva svaruupaM dehi

        Give me what is mine, i.e., your self, which is my
true nature.

***     Thus, we see how even doing puja etc. with an ulterior motive in
stages leading to chitta shuddhi followed by sharangati and ultimately to

AUM shaantiH

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