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Re: dhyAna: Advice for a "novice ": part 1

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Aug 29 1998 - 19:18:19 PDT

Dear Shivu : I am delighted to read about your
posting on the method for DhyAnA that has proven 
effective for you .It is moving and is very similar 
the prayers (conversations )  of Nobel Laureate 
Rabindranath Tagore with the supreme being in Bengali , 
which later  got translated into English with 
the title ," GitAnjali " .

Many of Our NaadhOpAsakAs like Saint ThyagaraajA ,
ShyAmA Sasthrigal , Purandara DaasA have 
had a similar personal realtionship( conversations)
with their Ishta Dhaivathams , which blossomed as
the most moving Krithis and they lost themselves
in DhyAnam and their objects of veneration
responded to them .

For those blessed with Sangitha Jn~Anam ,
there is nothing like NaadhOpAsAnA 
with the accompaniment of TampUrA 
to sing in the sannidhi of the Lord
to improve one's dhyAna janitha sukham .
I will quote some selected passages from 
Dr.Tagore and our sangItha pithAmahAs 
in the next posting .

Another Nobel Laureate , W.B.Yeats , who wrote forward 
for GitAnjali observed in this context : 
" A tradition, where poetry and religion are 
the SAME THING , has passed thru the centuries , 
gathering from learned and unlearned 
metaphor and emotions , and carried back again to
the multitude the thought of the scholar & the noble ". 

>As I sit alone in my room or in my office, 
>or as I take a walk in the evening (on our 
>beautiful campus), I pray to the Lord (nArAyaNa) 
>?in a conversational mode, speaking to Him in Kannada, 
>and asking Him to rid me of selfishness,
>pettiness, and other ills, and seeking 
>refuge in Him (anyathA sharaNam nAsti...).

An Excerpt from GithAnjali

@@@ "entering my heart unbidden even as one
     of the common crowd unknown to me, my king .
     Thou didst press the signet of eternity upon
     many a fleeting moment . "

Tagore"s words brought back the pleasures of some
personal experiences at BhagavAn's sannidhis .I will
recount them and share them , not so much in a spirit
of showing off, but from the point of sankEthams that
the Lord gives , when you think of Him longingly over
time and get your mind steeped in thoughts about Him 
and His anantha kalyANa guNAs without expecting any 
palan . He gives also sankEthams in one's dreams 
after some stage of dhruva smrithi based on 
successful dhyAnam.

I had the good fortune of a similar experience once at 
GuruvAyUr .Prior to that experience , I had completed 
a 72 plus page article on Lord GuruvAyurapapn 
at USA and was longing to have His darsanam 
at His KshEthram on the next trip to India . 
During that trip, I spent a day in Madras
and next morning , I took the plane to Cochin to
permit me to particpate in His suprabhaatha sevai 
at GuruvAyUr .

GuruvAyurappan's anugraham
The SuprabhAtham for the Lord and the Kalapa sEvai 
takes place quite early in the morning (2.45 AM ? ) . 
After the sevai was over ,I was doing prathakishaNam . 
Suddenly , some one ,a dark young man came in the opposite 
direction ( Counter clockwise ) stopped me and pressed 
in my hand the sandal prasAdham from the crown of 
the Lord , which he described as that of the Kalapa sevai 
of the morning .As I was beginning to understand 
the purport of that message , this person disappeared 
into the crowd past the BhakthAs doing thePrathakshiNam. 
This extraordinary anubhavam was overwhelming and 
reminds me even today of Tagore"s words: 

" Thou didst press the signet of eternity upon
many a fletign  moment " . 

I felt , how the Lord's sankEthams come the  way of 
the most undeserving ones , just as me . I went
back to the  sannidhi and offered my thankful salutation
to Sriman NaarAyaNan and got mesmerized by the  BhakthA's 
ghOsham " GuruvAyUrappA , NaarAyaNA " in the early hours
of the  morning . Many of you might have experienced 
similar sankEthams (e-g): flower falling from the garland 
of the Lord as you are praying for some thing or the other . 

Three other times , unexpected incidents happened 
that reminds of the ways in which our Parama KaaruNika 
Bhagavaan gives us sankEthams and reminds us of His
BhAndhavyam (Relationship )to us . This happened
to me at Srirangam , Thiruppathi and ThiruvallikkeNi .

Thiruppathi Anubhavam
In one of my visits , I moved with the line of 
BhakthAs in the sannidhi of Sri VenkatEsan . 
I was self-conscious and was filled with the thought 
that I should not take more than the moment alloted 
to every one , One of the jarikandi man said to me 
'yenna avasaram ? Irundhu seviccikkOnkO" ( What is your 
hurry? Please have the darsanam without rush ).
I was taken aback in a spirit of Joy and still did not want 
to or could not tarry in front of the Moolavar . I received the 
Theertham and Sataari and stepped out . 

As I came out of the Garbha graham I was at an area right 
in front of the Big Hundi , which had been curtained off .My
curiosity got the better of me and I pulled slightly the curtain
on one side to see waht was being curtained off ? What
a surprise  There was the Uthsavar with His Ubhaya NaachiyAr 
resting on a peetam . There was no one in front of Him . 
The Bhattars must have left temporarily 
to fetch some thing for the next scheduled uthsavam (Thirumanjanam).
There were no AbharaNams On the uthsavars . Just White 
Vasthrams . The beauty of the Lord and His dEvis 
without Kavacham and AabharaNams was divine. 
After few miniutes of this Darsana SoubhAgyam ,
I "sneaked out" apologizing for my self-consciousness 
to the Lord and thanking HIm for His blessings .I can not 
forget the beauty of that EkAntha Sevai to me . I said to myself ,
" What did I do to deserve this Bhaagyam ? ". Few years later ,
my cousin gave me a picture of the Lord with just Vasthram 
along with His dEvis ( No Kavacham , Garlands , AabharaNams)
as the sevai before the foraml thirumanjanam . This was  
just as I was blessed to see on that day .
These were the ofifcial photos of the DevasthAnam.
 I treasure it even today and hope one day ,
I can have it included in the CD ROM that SriDileepan is
preparing on the 108 divya Desams . 

ThiruvallikkENi Anubhavam
Many years ago , When I was studying at VivEkAnandhA 
college , I resided at my Grandfather's House in 
HanumanhtarAyan Koil St , Triplicane , which is on 
the North side of the temple tank . I used to go to go 
almost daily to Parthasaarathy temple for the darsanam 
of the ArchA mUrthys there  .

The darsanam of Vedavalli ThAyaar used to bring me 
extraordinary peace of mind .One day , after darsanam of 
Sri ParthasArathy in the garbha Graham , I stepped out with 
Tulasi Prasaadam in hand . There was a curtained off area
in the ardha mantapam . A teen ager's curiosity was aroused 
and I peeked by gently pushing the curtain aside .What do I 
see there ? The Lord who blessed us with Bhagavadh GithA 
was resting there with His two dEvis resplendent in all
AbharaNams and Garlands . I could not beleive my eyes and 
stood before Them for a few moments until I heard some 
approaching footsteps . The Bhattar was coming back .
I hurriedly rushed out before being seen by  the bhattar .
Later I learned that it was the day of Pancha Parva PurappAdu .
The temple servants to carry the Uthsavar and His consorts 
on their shoulders for Veethi UlA were being assembled ,
and the Lord was resting for their arrival , when I had 
my yEkAntha Seva Bhaagyam .

Sri Ranganaathan's grace:
It was  a hot day in the middle of August in Srirangam .
I had offered my shAshtAnga NamaskArams to the 44th Jeeyar ,
H.H. Sri Vedantha Desika yathindra . He was angry with me 
over some thing . I was quite upset . After I left him , 
my father said that it was good thing that I was the
object of anger of the Acharyan and that I received some vasavus 
( tongue lashings) , because that act removed all of my paapams
and as the gracious AchAryan has really blessed me out of 
his dayA svarUpam . With that state of mind , I went to 
visit Sri Ranganaathar's sannidhi and it was too late 
(past Ucchik Kaalam ) . I asked the temple people , where 
the Uthsava mUrthy is . They said that I can have the darsanam 
of the Moolavar in the evening . They also told me that
the Uthsavar  was three miles away in a ThOppu ( gove of trees )  
due to an annual mandakapaDi ( temple uthsavam performed 
by a BhakthA as part of their family commitments ) 
and that I can have the darsanam of the uthsavar  
there until 5 PM , after which time , he  will begin His 
journey to His aasthAnam thru the raaja Veedhis of Sri Rangam .
I rushed there . On a cool grove on the banks of Cauveri ,
Kasthuri Rangan with Ubhaya NaacchiyAr was resting .
There was no thirai(curtain ) or any obstruction .
He was smilingly welcoming , whoever wanted to
come there and have His darsanam. There was not
a soul besides the sleepy Bhattars and myself .

The Bhattars were observing their siesta at His feet . 
As I approached Him , I felt like a magnet pulling me 
towards Him powerfully . I fell immediately 
at His feet in great joy with tears welling in my eyes.

It appeared to me as though He was asking me , 
where have you been and whether I had a good session 
earlier with the Jeeyar ,who was in the middle of 
constructing a Raaja Gopuram for Him  . I fell again 
at His feet and was totally overcome by the beauty  
and saulabhyam of the Lord . I took piriyA Vidai after
half an hour .Today ,when I think of this 
once-in-a life time soubhAgyam , I am reminded of 
Swami Desikan's Sri Bhagavdh DhyAna sOpAna slokam 
describing the beauty of His meaning-laden smile,
red lips resembling the bimbhA fruits, the lips that 
move to ask about one's yoga kshEmam and the forehead 
adorned with KasthUri Tilakam and the welcoming eyes
even at a far distance :

SaabhiprAya: smitha vikasitham chAru bimbhAdharOshtam
dukkApAya: pranayini JanE dhoora dattaabhi mukhyam
Kaantham vakthram kanaka tilakaalankrutham Rangabharthu:
svAnthE gADam mama vilagathi svAgathOdhAra nEthram 

In this context , Recitation of Sri Bhagavdh DHYAANA 
sOpAnam , even this one slOkam , with the full enjoyment 
of the meaning of the most moving DhyAnam about 
the Thiru mukha mandalam of the Lord by Swami Desikan or 
the recitation of AmalanAdhipirAn would be most helpful in 
concentrating on dhyAnam and controlling the mind for
the duration of the recitation/experience . I adopt 
a practise, which works well for me . I will write about 
it later.

In my next posting in this series , I will quote additional
passages from Tagore in the context of Dr.Shivasankhar's 
recounting of the methodology of personal conversation
with Sriman NaarAyaNA in Kannada Bhaashai . 

Subhamasthu ,