Saturday, May 18, 2013

From ‘Journeys to Sacred India. Acts of Faith’ by Makarand R Paranjape

It was Giri who ….taught me how to meditate …..tell all your senses that you’re about to conduct some serious business; tell them that you will not be attending to them for a while, and that they should not try to draw you outward with their perceptions or sensations. After that, you turn inward, closing the doors and windows of the mind to the outside world. Once you are reasonably comfortable in a particular place, cleanse your inner being of negativity. Cleanse the space around you, starting with the room you are in. Then send out positive thoughts in all directions – may all beings be happy; may they all be free from afflictions; may their hearts be purified. Consciously transmitting your positive vibrations everywhere. Your meditation may now commence.

I suddenly realized that I did not know of anyone, not a single person, who had left India to pursue dharma or find some sort of spiritual truth. Everyone who went abroad did so only to improve his of her standard of living, to make money, or earn success or fame. The reasons for leaving India were largely material, not spiritual.

Consequently, I understood that for those who wished to explore spirituality above all things else, India might naturally be the best place on earth.

The Vedas …..are perhaps the only sacred texts in the world which assert time and again that Truth is greater than the Vedas themselves. As Swami Vivekananda says, ‘It is the Vedas alone that declare that even the study of the Vedas is secondary. The real study is “that by which we realize the unchangeable.”’

….the four mahavakyas or ‘great sayings’ exemplify the ultimate spiritual truth of the Vedas. ….They are: Tat tvam asi or That Thou Art …..Aham brahmasmi or I am ‘Brahman’ …. Prajnanam brahma or Consciousness Is ‘Brahman’ …..and Ayam atma brahma or This Self Is Divine….These great sentences assert the oneness of the Self and God, or of the atman and Brahman, or jiva and Shiva. That is to say that we are all divine, immortal and free, even when we are human, mortal and embodied.

….Vishnu, following Shiva from behind, began to dismember Sati’s corpse. Wherever a part fell became a sacred shrine, a shaktipeetham. There are 51 such peethams, spread all over the subcontinent……

When the devotee, either physically or mentally, visits all or even some of these shrines, he is re-membering the Goddess, literally joining her different detached body parts into one unified whole. ……in doing so, what is also constituted is the image of a country, a territory……. Our myths and beliefs thus help to form this sacred geography of our country……Puranic or legendary India is full of such pan-Indian groupings of sacred places. The four sacred abodes of Vishnu or the char dhams …..the five Kashis are distributed over the north and the south; the seven sacred cities or puris, …….the 12 jyotir lingas or fire shrines of Shiva ….Likewise, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Christian holy places are also found all over the country. ……The thousands of temples, mosques, gurdwaras, churches, dargahs and shrines spread across the length and breadth of India help fabricate its spiritual body …….

It seems to me that it is India which has solved the ‘one-many’ problem more creatively and successfully than any other civilization. Elsewhere, a monotheistic God displaced the pagan plurality, but when God shuts our gods, then other intercessors such as angels or saints come crowding in, from the backdoor, as it were.

….the Kanchi Paramacharya’s beautiful song, ‘Maitrim bhajata,’ which M. S. Subbulakshmi had sung at the United Nations:
Maithreem bhajatha akhila hrith jeththreem
Atmavat eva paraan api pashyata
Yuddham tyajata, spardhaam tyajata, tyajata pareshwa akrama
Jananee prthivee kaamadughaastey
Janakodeva: sakala dayaalu
Daamyata Datta Dayadhvam Janataa
Sreyo bhooyaath sakala janaanaam (thrice)
Cultivate friendship, which can conquer all hearts
Consider others even as your own self.
Renounce war, forswear competition, give up the use of force to
get others’ possessions.
Our mother earth has enough to fulfill all our needs
And the Lord, our Father, is supremely merciful.
(O people of this earth) show restraint, be generous, and practice
May all beings be prosperous (repeated thrice)

see 6:00 onwards

…..Gandhi-ji ….of gram svaraj:

It will have cottages with sufficient light and ventilations, built of a material obtainable within a radius of five miles of it. The cottages will have courtyards enabling householders to plant vegetables for domestic use and to house their cattle. The village lanes and streets will be free of all avoidable dust. It will have wells according to its needs and accessible to all. It will have houses of worship for all, also a common meeting place, a village common for grazing its cattle, a co-operative dairy, primary and secondary schools in which industrial education will be the central fact, and it will have Panchayats for settling disputes. It will produce its own grains, vegetables and fruit, and its own Khadi. This is roughly my idea of a model village …..

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