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Sri.Kalale's predicament

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Thu Jan 23 1997 - 02:06:38 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

I was perusing Sri.Kalale's post last night where he has given a poignant
account of his recent encounter with His Holiness the 45th Jeeyar of the
Ahobila Mutt. Equally moving was Ms.Nagu Satyan's reactions with which all
of us I suppose can empathise with varying degrees of feeling.

A passage from Sri.Kalale's post struck a chord in me and I reproduce it below:
 
".....When will that time come when I will live a virtuous life devoid of
material pursuits or hankering for money and sincerely follow a true
post-prapatti life? I dont care what it takes to get me to that stage of
life. Even if it takes a second "sharanagati" for destroying the sins which
are causing this miserable state of life, please go ahead and bless me with
a second
sharanagati for clearing my sins....."

This passage, as reported by Sri.Kalale, is indeed a reflection of most, if
not all, of our predicament in life.(It certainly does mirror mine, I am
sure!). It is a sort of feeling which often strikes one and I think it is
what is called "nirvEdam" .... an emotion through which we tend to regret
the days that we fritter away in life without seeming to get any closer to
the Lord ...and thus begin to feel a sense of "sinking".... helplessly...
and being powerless about it ... and drifting...

It is then that our faith in 'prapatthi', sometimes, seems to falter and
desert us. Like Sisyphus, the Greek mythological character, we sometimes
fall victim to a sense of panic that having "pushed" our way "uphill" in
life with all the strength that we could draw from the reservoir of
spiritual strength called "prappathi", we often find ourselves "sliding
down" again the slippery path of 'samsAra'!!

Let me confess that I too personally get agitated by such feelings and I
don't think Sri.Kalale is alone in his predicament. (Not that it is going to
help him a wee bit more to know that we are all in the same boat with him!)

I remember I once posed more or less the same question of Sri.Kalale to my
'mAnaseega-guru' "Mukkur Swami II". I got an anwer which rings in my ears
even to this day and yet inspires me in those moments when I am downcast in
spirit. Let me narrate, in my own words, my "guru's" sage advice which I
trust may offer some solace to some of you just as it has unfailingly done
to me over the years. Together with our "AchAryA", Srimad Azhagiyasingar's
own advice, which Sri.Kalale has been kind enough to narrate to us all, I
think Mukkur Swamy's advice will offer us all some re-assurance that we are
after all, by the Grace of the Lord, still "inching" our way to Him :

"... let's assume, sudarshan" Mukkur Swami said a long time ago, "that you
have gone one auspicious morning in 'dhanur mAsam' to worship the Lord at
the Parthsarathi Swami temple in 'tiruvellikEni', Chenai."

"Let's also assume that being a singularly auspicious day there is a heavy
throng of crowds at the temple gates. You are disappointed. You join the
long serpentine queue as it winds its way into the sanctum-sanctorum. As you
near the deity's shrine you have a wondrous feeling of excitement.... you
near his 'sannidhi' and fill your eyes and heart with His delight ... but
then after 'theertham' and 'satAri'... it's all over...!! you are jostled by
the crowds out of the 'sannidhi' in double-quick time before you have said
"mAlE mani vannA ...(from the TiruppAvai)!"

"Outside the temple-gates again", Sri.Mukkur Swamy continued,"your delight
in the momentary 'darshan' of Lord Parthasarathy is already fading into the
misty ephemerality of your memory! Suddenly the Blessed Sight of the Lord
all seems like a distant apparition --- grand while it lasted, but elusive
as will-o-the-wisp on the blue slopes of a distant hill..."

"Dejected you sit down outside the temple gates, on a stone-step, and begin
to wonder if, after all the trouble you took to gain one little 'darshan' of
Parthasarathy, He Himself did take any notice of your petty, insignificant
self in all the din, bustle, jostle, melee of crowds of devotees ...!!"

"And that,dear Sudarshan, is a feeling which afflicts all of us whatever
'paramEkAntin-s' we may be! None of us can help it, indeed ..."

"We then begin to suspect whether our so-called 'bhakti', 'nirvedam',
'virakthi', 'vairAgyam', 'prappathi' ... and all that has any force...
whether the Lord does indeed acknowledge it at all !!"

"At those moments, most of us would yearn intensely for some divine 'sign',
some token acknowledgment from Parthasarathy, that Yes, He indeed has taken
notice of us and has blessed us..."

" "But then how ?", we ask ourselves."

"Just then, Sudarshan", Mukkur Swamy continued,"just then, Sudarshan, as you
sit desolately and dejected outside the temple-gate, a small 'gOshti' of
"vedic-scholars" enters the temple loudly reciting a 'ghanam'. Shortly soon
after, another small 'gOshti' of 'prabhandam-scholars' too enters the temple
portals loudly singing a 'pAsUram' in praise of Lord Parthasarathy !!"

"You listen to the Vedic and Praabhandham chant, Sudarshan, and suddenly you
find yourself drifting into an intense reverie of enjoyment. Nothing else
fills your ears -- not all the sounds of the wide world -- except the
sonorous intonations of that "vedic" 'shabdhA' or the mellifluous notes of
'prabhandic' antiphony... and you find yourself transported into a temple of
pure sacred sound ...you are not even certain of its real meaning, but it
has enraptured you by its sheer sound..."

Mukkur Swamy then finally said,"If that happens to anyone, Sudarshan, if one
can freeze everything in moments like that in life and just enjoy the sound
of the Vedas or Prabhandams, our great 'AchAryA-s' and holy scriptures say,
then such a soul has indeed already been acknowledged by the Lord as His
protege.... After that there is nothing else or more that the devotee needs
as voucher for the Lord's Grace... it is there ... irrefutably, irrevocably,
unambiguously.. ....Believe me, this is Truth !!".

Dear Sri. Krishna Kalale and other 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', I thought I might
share this all with you, just to remind you that the Lord does show signs of
his Great Care for us wherever we are ... be it in India or the US ... in
the native climes of SriRangam or the chill winters of the Great Lakes areas
of the US ... in our 'loukika' occupations in pursuit of wealth or in deep
contemplation of his 'kalyana-gunA-s' ... remember you only have to chant or
listen to a vedic hymn or an ALwar's 'pAsuram' to feel His Presence
immediately besides you !!

srimate srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikAya namaha

lakshmi-nrsumha priyan,
sudarshan