Saturday, December 10, 2011

O Lord of Meru













O Lord of Meru, the mount of realization
Hallowed be Thy divine nameless name.
May Thy glory spread throughout creation
As nature is but Thyself, Thy very same.
Dost Thou uplift our spirits into oneness of union
Erasing this longing, this universal game.
Dwelling deep within, beyond thought and emotion
Thou existeth as consciousness, as the flame.
As the eye of the eye, in solution and dissolution
Is Thy fabric, Thy substratum of fame.
As primal Energy, as the sole cause and causation
Found as the all-potential, once the mind is tame.
Beyond the physical, the supernatural and manifestation
Thou are the core, the soul, our only aim.
Intuitive Thy reality, beyond the mind and comprehension
Such is our conviction, such our realized claim.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shiva Within Me













O Shiva within me, may Thou give me strength;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me wisdom;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me prowess;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me Thy peace!
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me vision;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me love;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me finesse;
O Shiva within me, may Thou give me Thy Shakti!
O Shiva within me, may I never feel abandoned;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel sullen;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel weak;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel Thy absence!
O Shiva within me, may I never feel dejected;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel despair;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel distanced;
O Shiva within me, may I never feel separated from Thee!
For all problems, all issues, all worries, all shortcomings,
O Shiva within me, Thou art the sole solution, the sole remedy!

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kartik and The Lord's Diwali

Calendrical History

A long time ago, before the emergence of the Gupta Empire in Northern India, the Hindu calendar used to begin the new year in autumn. This was an ancient Vedic tradition dating back millennia, wherein the term autumn was synonymous with year.

May we see for a hundred autumns!
And may we live for a hundred autumns,
May we hear for a hundred autumns,
May we speak for a hundred autumns,
And may we hold our heads high for a hundred autumns,
Yes, even more than a hundred autumns.
Holy Shukla Yajurveda Samhita XXXVI:24

As the lunisolar calendar would shift with relation to the backdrop of the stars and seasons due to a phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes, the new year would be periodically shifted backward to align with the seasons and keep with the beginning of autumn.

With the emergence of newer knowledge from Persia and the Middle-East during the Gupta Era,  astronomer-mathematicians based in the city of Ujjain decided to move the new year near the vernal equinox. It was resolved that Mesha Sankranti (point of transition of the Sun into sidereal Aries) was to be considered the solar new year, and the lunisolar month that contained the Mesha Sankranti, known as Chaitra, was to mark the lunisolar new year. And so the tradition has been since that time to celebrate the solar new year at Mesha Sankranti (currently around April 13/14), and the lunisolar new year at Chaitra Shukla Paksha (today falling somewhere between March 16 to April 13).

Before this shift of the lunisolar new year from the autumn to spring , the lunar month of Kartik marked the beginning of the year. However, curiously this shift of new year's day did not occur uniformly. While all other regions of India and all countries within the Indian sphere of influence shifted to the vernal new year in Chaitra, Gujarat (particularly Kathiawad) and the Newar region of Nepal refused to change. To this day, therefore, the ancient Vedic tradition of celebrating new year in autumn is carried out by Gujaratis where the Kartik Shukla Paksha marks the beginning of the Kartikadi Vikram Samvat, and by Newaris who mark the same as beginning of Nepal Sambat, both of which fall the day after Diwali (Bali Pratipada).

Commandment of Shiva

Now, there is more to this month Kartik than just the beginning of the ancient Vedic new year. Kartik is arguably the holiest of month in the Hindu calendar, as Ramadan is to the Islamic calendar. Per ancient legends, Kartik was given prominence by none other than Shiva Himself. Upon the commandment of Shiva, it is said, that Ganapati was given the honor of being the first Deity to be worshipped. To ensure that His other divine Son should not feel left out, Shiva dedicated the first month of the year to Kartikeya, the Lord of discernment. While Ganapati was the first to be worshipped, Kartikeya-Murugan was the first to be remembered and commemorated in the new year. In fact, in all traditions except the Tamil, the sixth lunar day in the bright half of Kartik (Kartik Shukla Shashti) is called Skanda Shashti,  a special day for worship of Lord Kartikeya.

It is, therefore, per the commandment of Shiva Himself that the month when the full moon occurs on the asterism Krittika (Pleiades) and aptly called Kartik, is considered the holiest, the best and the first of months. The month of Kartik is still to this day considered a month when one looks within and finds divinity; a month when every action is blessed, and every wish fulfilled. It is a month of fasts, prayers, holy river dips, and introspection. Holy traditions never forget history, even if people do. Praises be to the holy month of Kartik!

Kartik Purnima and the Lord’s Diwali

The height and glory of the holy month of Kartik is felt most prominently during its defining full moon festival. The full moon day of Kartik known as Kartik Purnima or Deva Diwali (the Lord’s Diwali) commemorates a welcoming of the Lord, both as Shiva and as Vishnu depending on tradition, into our lives by lighting oil lamps much in the same way as the main Diwali festival fifteen lunar days prior commemorates the welcoming of the Divine Mother into our lives.

In Shaivite tradition, Kartik Purnima, the Lord’s Diwali, is celebrated as the victory of the Lord over Tripurasura (the demon of triad cities). The festival is aptly also termed Tripuri Purnima. If we skip over the silly myth, it is fairly simple to understand that the triad cities are nothing but anava, karma and maya, the triad impurities. Since the Lord lies beyond the triad impurities, He is considered the Victor over the triad. During the height and light of this festival, one is to have a full realization of the Lord, who exists deep within ourselves as the Atman, who has conquered the triad impurities, and who is ever liberated.

In Vaishnavite tradition, Kartik Purnima, the Lord’s Diwali, is celebrated as the reemergence of the Lord from the allegorical chaturmasa (four-month) slumber. Per tradition, the Deities of Vishnu are considered to be in slumber from Shayani Ekadashi in Ashadh until Prabodhini Ekadashi in Kartik, four lunar days before Kartik Purnima. When Vishnu has awaken from His slumber, His icons once again exit the temple solitude and grace the world on Kartik Purnima. Again, if we skip over the myths, it is fairly simple to understand the slumber represents deep meditation, and emergence from the slumber represents realization. During the height and light of this festival, one is to realize the Lord, who exists deep within ourselves as the Atman, who has been realized through meditation, resulting in liberation.

Now, one may wonder why Kartik Purnima, the second festival of lights of Hinduism, is called the Lord’s Diwali. This is simply for us to realize that the major Diwali festival which occurs 15 lunar days prior during the new moon is Devi Diwali, the Goddess’ Diwali. Only by passing through the Goddess’ Diwali, can one reach the Lord’s Diwali. During the main Diwali, Mahalakshmi is worshipped; during the Deva Diwali, Mahavishnu is worshipped. During the main Diwali, Mahakali is worshipped, during Deva Diwali Maheshvara is worshipped. The main Diwali is dedicated to Shakti, the Deva Diwali to Shiva. The main Diwali is dedicated to realization, the Deva Diwali to liberation. During the main Diwali, the Tirthankara Mahavira reached realization; during the Deva Diwali, Mahavira attained liberation. The main Diwali is dedicated to freeing oneself from fetters (Bandi Chhod), the Dev Diwali is dedicated to becoming a liberated being (Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti). It is only by realizing Shakti (main Diwali), can one become liberated into Shiva (Deva Diwali); the holy lamps during both festivals are but a capture of the resplendence of realization and liberation into Paramashiva, the Divine Ultimate.

Rejoice child mine for the Lord of all things is about to rise,
From the slumber of chaturmasa, the four months of rain;
Yet again He shall leave the solitude of the holy temples;
And come out to grace the world and its inhabitants!
O autumnal month of Kartik, blessed art thou indeed!
For thou hath been given prominence by Shiva Himself;
Named after Lord Kartikeya, and considered ever so holy;
May we cherish every passing moment within thy expanse!

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the Union of Shiva and Shakti

On this holy night of Diwali, O Divine Mother
On this dark moonless night, O Kali
When the longitude of the Moon is one with that of the Sun
On this night before the beginning of the auspicious month of Kartik
Marks the union of Thee with Thy Beloved!
May Thou appear to us as Shiva Himself, who is but Thyself!
May Thou appear to us as Ramachandra Dasharathi, as He returns triumphant to Ayodhya
May Thou appear to us as Krishna Vasudeva, as He returns triumphant to Dwaraka
May Thou appear to us as the dwarf Vamana, the Subdoer of King Mahabali
May Thou appear to us as resplendent Lakshmi emerging from the ocean of nectar
May Thou appear to us Dhanvantari, the Healer of all ailments
May Thou appear to us Bhadrakali, the Destroyer of all things evil
O Shakti, the embodiment of Shiva, Thou are all the forms of Divine indeed
O Universal Mother, whose praises know no beginning nor end
Guide us always, always on the path of truth and of realization
For in the union of Shiva and Shakti is reality so pure and bliss eternal.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mother Mine

Mother mine, give me the strength to change
That which I feel I have no power to change.
Mother mine, give me the ability to overcome
That which I feel I cannot possibly overcome.
Mother mine, give me the know how to be
The person whom I feel I cannot yet be.
Mother mine, give me the wisdom to know
The things I feel I cannot possibly know.
Mother mine, give my spirit the stability
So I may rise up again and sing Thy glories.

Obeisances to the Primal Mother!

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the moments before time

In the moments before time, Shiva alone is
In the moments after time, Shiva alone is
In the moments between the moments, Shiva alone is
In the momentlessness of all reality, Shiva alone is
Shiva is, Shiva is, Shiva is absolutely
Independent, unchanging, unflailing, unconditional
The Divine alone is and always has been. 


Aum Namah Shivaya.  

Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan

The Atharvasira Upanishad is a very ancient text that comes to us from the Pashupatas, who formed the first and oldest sect of Shaivism known to history. Atharvashira means "head of the Atharva(veda)", and is meant to convey the very essence of the most esoteric of the Vedas. 

Though some scholars assign a date of ca. 700 CE to the Atharvashira, the original text is without doubt much older. Again and again the old books of law, the Dharma Shastras, have mentioned the Atharvashira as a purifying text alongside the Vedic Samhitas and Upanishads (vide Gautama XIX.12; Baudhayana III.10.9; Vasishtha XXII.9). Given that these Dharma Shastras themselves were composed between 600-200 BCE, we may safely assume that the Atharvashira was already in existence some 2500 years ago. 

It is possible that the Atharvashira was originally an independent mystical text of the Pashupatas and not considered an upanishad, as such. However with time, given its great import to the Shaivite religion, it may have incorporated itself into Vedantic literature as an upanishad in its own right. Whatever be its history, we know that various recensions of this holy text are in existence in different areas of India, owing to the fact that the Pashupatas were once a widely-distributed and highly-influential sect. 

One finds in the Atharvashira teachings of a deep spiritual nature centered around the single Deity, Rudra, who is Lord (Bhagavan) and the nucleus of all existence. He is the One who exists in all forms, all shapes, and all experiences. It is He who fills the void between all things. He exists in vibrational form as Omkara, the holiest of syllables. He is to be mediated upon, and He is to be realized. He is the Source and the Destination. 

Shame indeed it is that primary texts of such spiritual caliber fail to be adequately and fully translated, while the defunct Dharma Shastras enjoy much scholarship. 

Tanno Rudra Prachodayat ~ May Rudra impel us!

Mahashivaratri 5112 (2011 CE).

-----
Aum!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Brahmā. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Vishnu. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Skanda. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Indra. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Agni. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Vayu. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Surya (Sun). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Soma (Moon). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is the eight grahas (planets). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is the eight pratigrahas (offerings). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Bhuloka, the world of mortals. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Bhuvarloka, the world of the ancestors. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Svarloka, the world of the Devas. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Maharloka, the world of Gandharvas. Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Prthivi (Earth). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Antariksha (Mid-Region). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Dhyaus (Heaven). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Apas (Water). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Tejas (Fire). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Kala (Time). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Yama (Ender of time). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Mrityu (Death). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Amrita (Immortality). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Akasha (Space). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Vishva (Universe). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Sthula (Gross). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Sukshma (Subtle). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Shukla (Bright). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Krsna (Dark). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Krtsna (Entirety). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Satya (Truth). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!
He who is Rudra, He is Bhagavan.
He is Sarva (Everything). Salutations be, salutations be unto Him!

~Atharvashira Upanishad (II:1-32)

ॐ नमो भगवते रुद्राय.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Shivaratri

To all my readers and friends, a Happy and Blessed Shivaratri! May Shiva guide us all unto the path of knowledge, service to mankind, and to eventual moksha.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Mahashivaratri 5112 (2011 CE).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uma Haimavati

Once upon a time, it is said, long before history was recorded, there lived a young female ascetic. We know very little of that young woman, except what we can surmise through writings in ancient books of lore that were recorded many centuries, perhaps millennia, after she walked on this earth. Perhaps not knowing her familial identity, texts of ancient lore have called her Parvati (Daughter of the Mountain) or Haimavati (Daughter of the Himalayas) after the mountains where she is thought to have lived and meditated.

Otherwise known as Uma, there is a real possibility that this young female ascetic was a historic figure from many millennia ago. While the name Uma can signify golden light, it is according to sacred knowledge, a restructuring of the holy syllable AUM. In certain schools of thought, AUM is Shakti representing the three conditions of the self and the phenomenal world, and the half-syllable of silence that follows is Shiva, the unconditioned, the Fourth (Turiya). By her very name, therefore, Uma Haimavati has been identified with Shakti, the Mother of all existence. Little surprise then that in Her form as Parvati, the Divine Mother attains and unites with Her Beloved, the Divine Father!

Though we know very little about the ascetic Uma, we can conjecture that if and when she lived, she was a sage of extraordinary spiritual accomplishment. In the extant canon of the holy Veda, we find Uma Haimavati's name mentioned in a narration contained within the Kena Upanishad (III.12-IV.1). Here, when the Deities of the earth (Agni), atmosphere (Vayu) and heaven (Indra) seek and fail to understand the Supreme Brahman, they find a beautiful, radiant figure of Uma who enlightens them. By the time of the composition of the Kena Upanishad, one can surmise that Uma was already a sage of great renown.

Had her great teachings been recorded, they would without doubt have been identical to those found in the Devi Gita of the Devi Bhagavatam, a puranic text that was realized in Bengal in the first millennium of the common era.

Brahman (is) free from all passions and parts
(Manifest externally) as the highest Golden Sheath (Hiranyagarbha).
That is pure, That is the highest of Lights,
It is that which the knowers of Atman know.
He is even in the centre of our Sun and illumining all planets.
The Sun does not shine there in His Presence nor the Moon and the stars
Nor lightning, and much less does this fire shine there.
When He shines, everything shines after Him;
By His Light all this becomes manifest.
The eternally Free is verily this Brahman only.
He is in the west, in the north and the south, in the zenith and the nadir.
The Brahman alone is; it is He who pervades all directions.
This Brahman alone is it who pervades,
This Brahman alone is the Fullness.
This Brahman is the highest.
Srimad Devi Bhagavatam,
Book 7 (Devi Gita):36:12-14

Before Radha or Mira, before Andal or Janabai, before Mahadevi Akka or Lalleshvari, before Karikal Ammaiyar or Rup Bhavani, perhaps even before Vag Ambhrini and Gargi Vacaknavi, there was the immortal yogini, Uma Haimavati, the foremost of female ascetics and the teacher of the Supreme Eternal.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Realizations

As if struck by lightning, great realizations in this world occur suddenly, in a rapid flash. Without rhyme or reason, realizations descend upon us, but not without having dwelt upon the subject for many-a-year. So it is said that great scientists of our world as with the great philosophers came upon their grand conclusions in just such moments. While we presently live in a dichotomous world – one which separates out science from spirituality, intuition from evidence, realized truths from demonstrable truths – in the realm of consciousness the two are not, and have never been, separate or mutually exclusive. But, why is it that the great men and women have come upon answers to queries greater than themselves merely by thought and simple observations that defy all others?

In the grand Shaiva-Shakta traditions of Sanatana Dharma all of reality exists, so to speak, but in thought. There is no reality without thought and no thought without reality. Is it possible to have a knower without something to know? Conversely, is it possible to have something to know without a knower? Reality is but a word to describe consciousness and its activity. What activity? Self-reflective activity. What self? The Self-Divine. When we go into deep thought, whether scientific or spiritual, or meditative states, we too are tapping into that activity, of which we are but a part. It is this self-reflective activity that gives birth to both the knower and the known. It is She who is called Shiva’s Shakti, the Mother of the Universe. Knowing Her, we come to know all things, as She is the nature of all things, all phenomenon, all conditioned reality.

Is it then surprising that all great thinkers of this world have come upon timeless truths about the phenomenal or spiritual world, as their goal may be? It is so surprising then that truths of the world are simple and intuitive? Every time a great being uncovers a profound mathematical equation describing the universe or unveils a hidden grand theory of physics, cosmic or subatomic, he or she is but ushering humanity into a deeper level of the spiritual. Shakti is especially strong among the scientifically-minded!

Unto the feet of the Divine Mother, who is but Shiva, we offer our hearts, minds and souls. 

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

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