Friday, August 28, 2009

Retta Vada Sangili

Today is “Anusham” the Star of our Paramacharya. This article is being presented as humble offering to our beloved Guru.

Once in Kanchipuram there was an old lady by name Meenakshi Patti who was taking care of her grand daughter “Kamakshi” who had lost her parents in an early age. At the old age Meenakshi Patti want her grand daughter to get married soon so that she can be relieved of her responsibility. However with her little income she some how managed to accumulate a sum of rupees five thousand and two golden bangles for the marriage. But there came a good proposal and the groom was working as a Teacher in a Kanchipuram itself at a salary of Rs. Sixty. The horoscopes were matched perfect. However the groom’s mother was demanding for Golden Chain with 64 grams “Ettu Pavnula Retta Vada Sangili.”
Meenakshi Patti who was an ardent devotee of Mahaperiyava (she goes to Kanchi Mutt daily carrying Parijatha flowers for the puja) was perplexed as to what to do next and decided to go to Mahaperiyava and told Mahaperiyava in short everything and she needed the help of Periyava to carryout her grand daughter’s marriage.
Paramacharya after hearing requested her to carryout “Pancha Sankya Upacharam” i.e. doing circumambulation or pradakshina for five times and then five namaskarams (falling in front of the deity) consecutively five days for Goddess Kamakshi and told her that Ambal will answer her prayers.
On the fifth day morning there was one lady by name Ambujam visited Kanchi Mutt and was visibly happy came with lot of offerings/prasadams for the Acharya and she was telling our Paramacharya that as directed by him she carried out the “Pancha Sankya Upacharam” for Kamakshi Ambal i.e. five pradakshina, five namaskara for five consecutive days and her daughter who was left by her husband due to some misunderstanding and was working in TATA Steel in Jamshedpur came back and took her daughter back and she is very much relieved now and going to Kamakshi Amman Temple to complete her vow.

Meanwhile Meenakshi Patti and her grand daughter were completing the final day final pradakshina on the prakaram and suddenly Kamakshi found a golden chain and showed it her grandma and Meenakshi Patti felt that this is the prasada offered by Goddess Kamakshi herself and secretly kept the Golden Chain with herself and went to the Mahaperiyava without even completing the pradakshina in full.

Mahaperiyava was sitting quietly when Meenakshi patti came and Periyava knowing everything told her that “You have forget to finish your vow simply because you got the golden chain in the prakara are u not feeling bad to take somebody’s property?” while they were discussing Ambujam Mami who was visibly happy in the morning was rushing towards Acharaya with her face very tensed and told Mahaperiyava that she had a vow that if her daughter’s problem got resolved she would offer a Golden Chain to Goddess Kamashi and she could not able to complete as she missed her golden chain while doing the pradakshina.

Acharya listened everything Ambujam told and then smilingly kept quiet. Meenakshi Patti who was there along with Mahaperiyava upon hearing this told the entire story to Ambujam and gave her back the Golden Chain.

Ambujam after hearing this promised in front of the Acharya to Meenakshi Patti not to worry about her grand daughter’s marriage as this Golden Chain belongs to Kamakshi Ambal she will buy a fresh set of Golden Chain (“Ettu Pavnula Retta Vada Sangili) and in addition will give five thousand rupees for the marriage.

In the end both Meenakshi Patti and Ambujam were relieved and paid obeisance to our Mahaperiyava. Mahaperiyava who was by then also requested Meenakshi Patti to complete the Five Pradakshina and Five namaskara to Goddess Kamakshi in the evening along with her grand daughter.

No words are there to express the joy in the face of Meenkashi Patti and her grand daughter!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Radha Ashtami

Radha Ashtami is being celebrated tomorrow (27th August 2009). Radhashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated as the birthday of Srimati Radha, the principal devotee and divine consort of Lord Krishna. Radha Astami is celebrated on Ashtami thithi (eighth day) in Shukla Paksh during the month of Bhadrapad (August – September). Radha Ashtami falls 15 days after Sri Krishna Jayanati.

History of Radha Ashtami Festival

According to Vaishnava tradition, Radha Rani was born in village Barsana (or Rawal) situated 8 km from Vrindavan. Raja Vrishabhano, the king of cowherds, and Rani Kirati (or Kalavati) are the parents of Radha. Legend has it that Raja Vrsabhanu and Kalavati were the partial incarnations of Lord Narayana and Goddess Lakshmi. Radha Rani’s worship is of much importance in Vrindavan (or Brindavan) situated about 15 km from Mathura where Lord Krishna took birth and lived for over 5000 years ago. Vrindavan houses hundreds of temples dedicated to Radha and Krishna. Radha devi is also known by other names as Radharani (Radha Rani), Radhika, Srimati, Gandharvi, Krishnamayi, Vrndavaneshvari, Vrajrani, and Gokula Taruni. Radha Rani is one of the main incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi.

Radha Ashtami Rituals & Celebrations

On Radhastami day, Sri Radha Krishna deities are beautifully decorated with flowers and devotees worship Radha along with Lord Krishna. It must be noted that this is the only day devotees may receive the auspicious darshan of Radha’s lotus feet. All other days Radha Rani’s feet remain covered.Radha Ashtami festival is popular in North Indian states and is celebrated mainly by Vaishnava sect. Devotees fast on this day, recite Radha Stuthi, and sing Hindu devotional songs of Lord Krishna and Radha. In some places, a feast is also severed which includes the famous Radha Red Plum Chutney (a spicy and delicious chutney).

More about Sri Radha…

The divine counterpart of Sri Krishna is known as Sri Radha. Together, according to the ancient Vaishnava tradition, this dual-gendered divinity is God-male and female dimensions of the Absolute Truth. Sri Radha is the complete energy, and Sri Krishna is the complete energetic source. They are non-different from each other, just as musk and its scent are forever merged, or as fire and heat are inseparable.

Radha and Krishna are one, yet They have assumed two separate forms to enjoy loving pastimes. Numerous theological texts explain how this is so, but most thorough are the writings of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami, great masters in the Vaishnava tradition whose books have been translated and commented upon by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. To understand Sri Radha, then, English readers would do well to turn to Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Sri Radha in Literature

Historically, the ancient Puranas reveal much about Sri Radha’s manifest pastimes, even if the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.30.28), the cream of all such Puranic literature, mentions Her name only once-with the indirect anayaradhitah, indicating that She is “the one who worships Krishna best.” Both the Padma Purana and the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, on the other hand, elaborate on Her pastimes of love with Krishna and reveal how the divine couple is the source of all that is. The Brahma-vaivarta Purana, in fact, reveals an esoteric creation story in which Radha co-creates the material world with Krishna.

Sri Radha’s dominance in Vaishnava theology did not come to light until the twelfth century, when the saintly poet Jayadeva Gosvami wrote his famous Sanskrit work Gita Govinda. Krishna’s spiritual love then became a celebrated theme throughout India, colorfully conveyed in festivals and the arts, with the personality of Radha sometimes eclipsing even Krishna.

It is important to point out that Jayadeva understood the spiritual nature of Radha and Krishna’s love. He knew that people could easily misconstrue it as mundane, comparing his work to erotic love poetry (as many still do). Anticipating this misconception, he commenced his Gita Govinda with a section called Dasha-avatara, in which he clearly outlines Krishna’s divine nature, listing and glorifying His transcendental descents as incarnations (avatara). With this as a preface, it becomes obvious that the loving affairs to follow-the affairs of this same divine Krishna, who incarnates as so many avataras-are not ordinary. Indeed, they represent the zenith of spiritual love.

This love was expressed more fully after Jayadeva’s time. In the fifteenth century, two Bengali poets, Chandidasa and Vidyapati, wrote beautiful Bengali verse about the divine couple. In the sixteenth century, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu-the combined form of Radha and Krishna, in the guise of Their devotee-relished this poetry, along with Jayadeva’s breakthrough Sanskrit work. He also enjoyed hearing the story of Radha and Krishna as expressed in the ancient work of Bilvamangala Thakura, Sri Krishna-karnamrita, and in a contemporary poem, Ramananda Raya’s Jagannatha-vallabha-natakam.

Sri Chaitanya’s followers were quick to add their own realizations and insights based squarely on the earlier literature. Two outstanding examples are the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi-stotram, composed by Prabhodananda Sarasvati, and Radha-Krishna-ganoddesha-dipika, by Rupa Gosvami, the latter of which is easily the most detailed exposition of Sri Radha’s divine personality ever published.

Her Divine Pastimes

How does Radha’s story unfold in the world of three dimensions? Though there are many versions of this story, the most gripping is found in the Padma Purana (Patala-khanda, Chapter 71): Early one morning, in the country atmosphere of Vraja (ninety miles south of present-day Delhi) some fifty centuries ago, Vrishabhanu Maharaja was taking his morning bath in the holy Yamuna River. Just then, a beautiful baby girl floated by, lying on a radiant and fully blossomed lotus. With intense glee, he embraced the divine infant and carried Her off to his queen, Kirtida Devi.

When Kirtida saw her husband with this magnificent child, she ran over and showered little Radha with unrelenting affection. But the king and queen quickly noticed that the baby’s eyes did not open. This naturally broke their hearts, and they prayed that God might bless Her with the power of sight.

Soon, Nanda Maharaja’s wife, Yashoda Devi, arrived from Gokula, holding young Sri Krishna in her arms. Vrishabhanu and Kirtida, now the parents of Sri Radha, greeted her with due honor, but Yashoda could not take her eyes off the newborn baby girl resting in Kirtida Devi’s arms.
Yashoda drew closer with baby Krishna, and as soon as Krishna came face to face with the baby girl, She opened Her eyes for the first time. Appropriately, Her first sight was the moonlike face of Her beloved Sri Krishna, and She paused as She gazed upon His lovely form. Krishna too was overwhelmed with love as He saw before Him His eternal consort, in the guise of a baby.

In this way, the scriptures relate how the eternal divine couple go about “meeting” each other as They appear, time and again, in the material world. As They “grow in years,” They play with loving friends, swim in the Yamuna, graze their cows, and relish each other’s loving embrace. Sacred texts and the realizations of the sages elaborate on the details, establishing narratives that serve as virtual magnets, attracting all who hear them back to the spiritual realm.

The Circle Dance of Love

Of all such narratives, the rasa-lila, the circular dance of love described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is in many ways the most important. The divine dance takes place one moonlit autumn night when the cowherd maidens (gopis) of Vrindavana, upon hearing the sound of Krishna’s flute, sneak away from their families to be with Him. The rasa-lila is considered one of the highest and most esoteric of Krishna’s revealed pastimes, and it should never be confused with mundane pastimes of prurient interest. Accordingly, Vaishnava commentators make one thing perfectly clear: romantic love between human beings is a diminished, compromised reflection of the soul’s original, ecstatic love for Krishna, God, in the spiritual world. Studying the rasa-lila under a bona fide spiritual master allows one to realize this as a tangible truth. It also allows one to develop love for God, just as the gopis do in their dance of love.

Radha’s Mercy

In short, the theology of Sri Radha is deep. The scriptures describe that one must go through many lives of pious acts, religious rituals, and yogic perfection before attaining the mercy of Sri Radha. And when one does, Krishna is not far off. In fact, it is through Sri Radha’s mercy that Krishna becomes attainable.

Radha is Krishna’s mercy incarnation, and through Her one can attain the culmination of the spiritual pursuit. Srila Prabhupada sums this up as follows: “Radharani, You are so dear to Krishna. So we offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” Radharani is hari-priya: “very dear to Krishna.” Through the mercy of Radharani we can easily approach Krishna. If Radharani recommends, “This devotee is very nice,” then Krishna immediately accepts me, however great a fool I may be. Because I am recommended by Radharani, Krishna accepts me. Therefore in Vrindavana you’ll find all the devotees chanting Radharani’s name more than Krishna’s. Wherever you’ll go, you’ll find the devotees greeting one another, “Jaya Radhe!” You’ll find this still in Vrindavana. The devotees are glorifying Radharani.

If you go by the speculative process to understand Krishna, it will take many, many lives. But if you take to devotional service and just try to please Radharani, Krishna will be gotten very easily. Radharani can deliver Krishna. She is so great a devotee, the emblem of maha-bhagavata. Even Krishna cannot understand the quality of Radharani’s devotion. Although Krishna says vedaham samatitani-“I know everything”-He fails to understand Radharani. She is so great.
It is in pursuit of these truths that Radha and Krishna descend as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for in that form They taste the highest mercy and bestow it on others. The chief manifestation of that mercy is the holy name in the form of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In this mantra both Radha and Krishna are fully manifest. A prayer to Sri Radha (Hare is the vocative form of Hara, another name for Radharani), it beseeches Krishna to be engaged in devotional service, the highest form of yoga. Radha is the medium through which such service is enacted, for She is the embodiment of devotion, the essence of love for Krishna.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantharama Deekshitar

I recently bought an audio CD having a discourse by Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantarama Dikshitar on “Vishnu Sahasranamam”. The voice of the Dikshitar is so divine and powerful which makes the audience immediately appreciate is way of presentation. The sloka recitation style is too good and one can realize only by hearing. I strongly recommend people to buy this CD pack. Thought of sharing info about Sri Dikshitar.

Anantarama Dikshitar was born on 2nd July 1903. He was a Srauti scholar and also was a great exponent of the art of upanyasas on various subjects in Hinduism. Born in the Thanjavur district as the first son to Sri Subramanya Dikshithar, Anantharaman was initiated into the learning of the Vedas under his father Subramanya Dikshithar, who was also known as chinna Muthannaval. His brother of Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Dikshithar was Periya Muthannaval. Anantharama Dikshithar had his Aksharabyasam from Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri. Then he further studied other Shastras and Vedangas from eminent scholars of repute including Kadalangudi Natesa Sastrigal who also was his father in law. He had his course on Tarka Saastra from Sri Vishnupuram Swaminatha Sastrigal who also taught it to Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal (Sri Paramacharyal) of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Apart from complete knowledge of Saastra, Vedas and Astrology, He mastered our Puranas. In giving discourse he utilized it mainly to propogate Vaidika Dharma and the cult of Bhakthi.

On the divine wishes and direction of Sri Guruvayurappan the presiding deity, He has performed many Srimadh Bhagavatha Saptaahams at Guruvayur. The Sringeri Sankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidya Teertha Swamigal too eagerly participated in the Navaaham conducted at Tiruprayar (Near Guruvayoor) Sri Rama Temple at Kerala as this was performed as ordered by the presiding deity Sri Rama Himself. In fact every one was thrilled to know the personal involvement of the Lord in the Navaaham. His discourse attracted tens of thousands of apt listeners. His propogation of Srimad Narayaneeyam of Meppattur Narayana Bhattathiri and the glory of Sri Guruvayurappan continues to draw lakhs of devotees to Guruvayoor.

Sri Anantharama Dikshitar also had composed a Sanskrit sloka on Lord Guruvayurappan known as “Guruvaatapurisha Pancharatnam”. This sloka had come to Dikshitar’s mind while having darshan of the Lord and later he told to his disciples that this sloka when properly learnt and chanted will give peace of mind and eternal prosperity. There was a small boy who was born in Poongunnam in a very good and God loving family. But he was suffering from constant headache which he thought was incurable. All the medicines that he took were of no use. So his Grandfather took him to Guruvayur and both of them stayed there for three days and prayed. Everyday they recited this slokam and he was cured of the terrible headache like magic.

The available portions of the recordings of His discourses rendered in public were brought out as cassettes and CDs as per the gracious directions of Sri Kanchi Paramacharya. The proceeds are to be used for Sri Adhishtaanam of Sri Deekshithar who attained Sidhi on 30-10-1969, after taking Sanyasa. Daily poojas are performed at Sri Adhistaanam at Chinnathirupathi, Salem Town. His divine presence is still felt there where He answers the prayers of devotees.

He has been conferred the following Titles:

· Amrutha Vaakvarshi
· Upanyasa Chakravarthi
· Vaidheeka Dharma Samrakshaka
· Pravachana Dhureena
· Vedha Yaaga Paripaalaka
· Raamayana Thathvopadesaka
· Ramaayana Kesari
· Bharatha Simham
· Pravachana Vaakeesa
· Sruthi Saakaram

Available Upanyasams (Cassettes & CDs)