Across Time….

bench_in_the_park_201332

Memories – Sweet and Strong

of better days

waft in by the dozen

as I look once more

at my old school;

The places where I cried

The places where I laughed

And the places where I hid

when I was a kid…..

Silent witnesses of

a complete generation,

the trees, the sand,

and the volleyball court

talk to me in a language

I do not understand –

Perhaps they tell me

of a secret truth,

hidden amidst the chaos

of a city life,

waiting to be discovered,

when I am alone –

in a village plain….

( Dedicated to all my school friends – esp late Shri Jesudasan whose six foot frame could send a service ball 30 feet up in the air……. and remembering Shri Loganathan of Lateri who taught me Volleyball)

MAHA SAMADHI…..The final merging

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Samadhi is the withdrawing of the mind from the created world INTO the uncreated void…..The body and mind become immaterial or irrelevant when the realisation of spirit dawns on the soul. During the start of meditation, there is an object of meditation – but in Samadhi, all have become one – merging takes place. The self does not distinguish between the object contemplated and the process of contemplation thereby the mind/intellect becomes immaterial in the experience of all pervading spirit consciousness. Thoughts do not arise, as the mind is stilled by the experience of expanding consciousness. That is why in the Bible it is said, “Be Still, and know that I am God”  (Psalms, 46:10)

In Tamil, the word Samadhi has a profound meaning. In Tamil, Samadhi is interpreted as Samam + Aadhi meaning equal to the original being of Spirit –and Maha Samadhi means to merge into the Infinite spirit……

All of us, have to leave this earth one day, but none of us know when or where or how – but great saints, and evolved souls, know when their time comes. They silently prepare their followers to carry on without them. Some saints leave the earth in simple fashion; Some saints leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Whether they leave silently or spectacularly, they greatly inspire the countless devotees who follow them in their path.

They say that the great Shirdi Sai gave his own life to save the life of an ailing disciple. Some years before his Maha Samadhi, he had come back from Samadhi after three days, when his devout disciples refused to part with the body even after the doctors have come and said that there was no life in the body. Their faith stood steadfast and Shirdi Sai returned. But in 1918, he did not return as he attained Maha Samadhi – even as he saved the life of a beloved disciple.

At the end of his life, Sri Ramana Maharishi the great sage of Tiruvannamalai, was afflicted with a tumour –  he refused the usual treatment, and allowed the wound to take a toll on his body – he was unconcerned by the suffering of his body and urged his devotees to look at the spirit behind the body. He graced all those who visited him during his last days with his eyes full of light. When Sri Ramana attained Maha Samadhi in 1950, many witnessed a comet moving across the sky at the exact moment of his Maha Samadhi and disappearing behind the Arunachala mountain.

When Sri Aurobindo attained Maha Samadhi on 5th December 1950, The Mother had to announce thus : “The funeral of Sri Aurobindo has not taken place today. His body is charged with such a concentration of Supramental light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it remains intact.” The body of Sri Aurobindo was interred on 9th December 1950. The Pondicherry Mother too, exhibited similar symptoms during her Maha Samadhi in 1973. The interred Samadhis of these two great saints draw people from all over the world even today.

Sri Ramakrishna, the great saint of spiritual renaissance in India, attained Mahasamadhi in 1886, uttering the name of the Divine Mother. In his lifetime, Sri Ramakrishna had laid the foundation for a very vibrant spiritual order, and Swami Vivekananda spearheaded the organisation and its ideals as Sri Ramakrishna’s worthy disciple.

Swami Vivekananda himself had a quiet Maha Samadhi – but he truly aroused the world from its spiritual slumber with his call of “Arise and Awake” – before he passed away at a young age of only 39. He is even supposed to have studied the alamanac, trying to choose a date for his departure!

Meera Bai, the great devotee of Lord Krishna, was often seen in Samadhi – the final merging came one day when she went into the Krishna temple of Dwarka and simply disappeared in the year 1547.

Meera Bai’s merging with the Lord bears a striking resemblance to Sri Andal’s merging centuries before Meera Bai’s advent. Sri Andal of Sri Villiputtur, the famous and only lady ALWAR, who composed the immortal 30 part hymn Tiruppavai and the 143 hymn Nachiar Tirumozhi  disappeared into the temple of Sri Ranganatha when the blessed Lord appeared in the dream of the temple priest and asked that Sri Andal be brought in bridal finery to the temple – she entered the sanctum sanctorum and disappeared in front of the waiting crowd at the temple sometime in 3020 B.C – a miracle seen by the locals of that time.

Sri Akka Mahadevi of Karnataka, defied every authority of the ancient patriarchal society by going around totally naked – her body covered only by her long tresses – she too, disappeared in a flash of light at Sri Sailam (present Andhra Pradesh) at a very young age, around 1160 A.D.

Sri Ramalinga Adigalar, the proponent of “Arut perunjothi” also disappeared into thin air on 30th January 1874 ( attained Soruba Samadhi ) which was even investigated by the British collector of Cuddalore at that time. After the investigation, the collector was convinced of the divine disappearance of the great saint.

The places where the saints attained Mahasamadhi are generally well preserved in India. There are many interesting stories where the saints speak from their tomb after their samadhi….

Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral, the great Avaduta’s Jeeva Samadhi ( he attained Jeeva Samadhi in the 18th century at three places – Nerur, Manamadurai and Karachi) just a few decades back, a great saint from Sringeri had a doubt about an aspect of yoga that he was practicing. As directed by Lord Siva in a dream, he came to Nerur, and Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral spoke to him from his tomb, and cleared the doubt of the saint of Sringeri.

The story of Sri Raghavendra appearing in flesh and blood several years after his Maha Samadhi (The saint attained Mahasamadhi in 1671 A.D)  to the British officer Munroe to show him the documents of the land at Mantralaya, is well known.

Sri Trailanga Swami (his famous meeting with Sri Ramakrishna is well documented by Swami Chetanananda’s books in RK Math publications) one of India’s greatest saints, attained Jeeva Samadhi at 7 places, including Varanasi, Madurai and Tenkasi – He was born in 1601 and attained Mahasamadhi in 1887 – and his penances when he was alive, is well known – Sri Paramahansa Yogananda writes in his famous classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, thus : “If Christ returned to earth and walked the streets of New York, displaying his divine powers, it would cause the same excitement that was created by Trailanga decades ago as he passed through the crowded lanes of Benares”

There is an interesting episode of the guru of Swami Rama (author of Living with the Himalayan Masters) who comes back to life after attaining Maha Samadhi to guide his disciples.

Sri Akkolkot Maharaj, after he attained Maha Samadhi in 1878 also came back to life for a few minutes out of compassion, unable to bear the misery of his devotees who were crying for him. He also appeared in flesh and blood to a few of his devotees who did not know about his maha Samadhi, five days after his Maha Samadhi.

The exemplary Maha Samadhi and subsequent resurrections of two of India’s greatest saints, Sri Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar Giri Maharaj, in Sri Paramahansa Yogoananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” is a well known inspiration to the devotees.

The Maha Samadhi of Sri Paramahansa Yogananda itself is a great inspiration to the countless devotees on the path of self realization…..many years before his Maha Samadhi the great yogi had predicted, “ I will not die in bed, but with my boots on, speaking of God and India” and on 7th March, 1952, the great Guru of SRF/YSS did exactly that, as he left his bodily temple, talking of God and India……

( Sri Paramahansa Yogananda’s last words on earth echoed his love for God in no uncertain terms: ”Where Ganges, Woods, Himalayan Caves, and Men DREAM God – I am hallowed; my body touched that sod”  As he finished those words he looked up and consciously exited the world…..Sri Paramahansa Yogananda’s body remained in a state of perfect preservation for nearly three weeks before the casket was finally sealed)

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KAAL CHAKRA…..

 outerspace

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.” ― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

( Our Ancients knew that the dimension of TIME, was unique –  which is why they devised a God of Time – Just as the Greeks had Chronos as the God of Time, the ancient Hindus saw  “Kaal Bhairav” and “Kali” as the God and Goddess of Time……Ancient Hindu Astrology always calculated time in relation to the position of the stars and planets – and hence the concept of time had a more meaningful resonance in daily life as it was based on astronomy as well…..the concept of time in Hindu Astrology does not depend on a single zero point –as it is correlated with the position of the stars and planets at any given point of time –  even though Vedic astrologers used units of time such as : Vipal = 4 sec, Pal =24 sec, Ghari = 60 Pal, or 24 min and Ansh, 30 Ansh = 1 Month…..  )

So, it is 2014 now. In the history of the universe of a billion years, ours is but a very brief history of just around 2000 years of human memory. The powerful hands of Time has washed away the remnants of very ancient civilizations before the historians could get any evidence and all we have are fossils and submerged remains of tools that can only be summarised by the imaginations of historians and the like, and of course, carbon dating. What was life like, before 2000 years, or 5000 years, or 10,000 years? We have no idea but we keep conjuring with the aid of science, astronomy, archaeology and of course, our fertile imagination. The discovery of the submerged city of Dwaraka off the coast of Gujarat, surprised some present day historians who never really knew about India’s hoary past, as it proved and disproved some popular theories. It suddenly told a sceptical world, that Krishna’s city was indeed there – was it 5000 years before? Using stellar positions of stars and planets, it is now possible to predict even the probable time of Krishna’s life and the time of the Mahabarata war. Fascinating details emerge out of the mythical stories – of when a event occurred, centred around a celestial happening like an eclipse or the arrival of a comet…..

The concept of time has confounded ordinary man and scientists alike. The question that naturally comes to mind is, where is the zero point of time for the present 2014? Since we were definitely not around when the big bang occurred, we can only surmise. And we suddenly come to the realisation that 2014, is after all, only man made, man marked, man created time…….It is possible that past civilizations which have been totally wiped out from the face of the earth due to some natural calamity would have also marked the years just like us…..

Now that the possibility of living in other planets are becoming more and more a reality, one wonders, what life will be, in the future. If a person is living in Mars, for example, will he have the same lifetime as that of earth’s or will he have Mar’s? That is, if one year on mars is equal to 687 earth days, a man living in Mars, will he live 21,900 days ( 60 x 365 of earthtime)  or 41,220 earth days (60 X 687)  in Mars? Earth time vs Mars time – These are interesting questions that perhaps will be answered in the times to come – perhaps in a thousand years……

But our obsession with time is best seen when during new year’s eve, people party around midnight, waiting for the clock to strike twelve – For they know that they can only celebrate time, and not stop or slow Time……

Time and Tide, indeed, waits for no man…..

HARVEST FESTIVALS – THE LEGACY OF OUR ANCESTORS…..

  green field

(Harvest Festivals are there from time immemorial – Even in Biblical times, the practice of thanking God for the plentiful harvest, was there, as in tribal areas or in agrarian civilisations….Seasons of the year gave the measure of time for our ancestors, and life, in general, was guided by the Seasons……Modern Day living has thrust unnatural living to the maximum, that in so many companies, especially the IT sector, people use the day as night, and the night as day, defeating the very purpose of God’s mighty creation of day and night…..and thereby incurring health effects and burn outs and stress…….)

The earth has gone around the sun one more time to mark man made time as 2014…..never mind whether it is more than a billion years in actuality. But Nature has a different time mode altogether -Had we been in Mercury, we might have celebrated more years than on earth. Or, had we been in Jupiter or Saturn, we might have celebrated less new years in our lifetime….

Even the hour/day/year of the earth, is different on different planets. For example, if, say, we live 60 years on earth, will it be the same 60 EARTH years if we were to live on a different planet? Is certainly a thought to ponder……But even this cursory look at the time taken by different planets to revolve around the sun once, which we call a year, reveals the relativity of time.And yet, we unsuccessfully try to celebrate Time, to hold it in our hands while all the time it is slipping away. Youths drinking and shouting and racing on two wheelers just when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s eve, is perhaps the best example of our folly to hold on to intangible time by the gimmicks of revelry and partying. And yet, the New Year brings with it a certain promise –of change, of a better time than before.

Our ancients celebrated New Year only in March and April -it was only in 46 B.C that Julius Ceasar introduced the Julian Calendar that celebrated new year from January 1st. However, during the Middle ages, January 1st was abolished as the new year, until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar restored January 1st as New Year. Be that as it may, it is indeed a strange coincidence that the financial year still remains April to March……And the vernacular New Year for many of us in India remains Mid April, the season for reaping the harvest.

But Harvesting is almost unknown vocabulary to many children in today’s generation……Festivals like Pongal and Baisakhi, signal harvesting season, the season of plenty in Agriculture. Unfortunately, in modern India, real estate is now the new agriculture……creating acres & acres of concrete jungles. But Hope, is eternal. Let us hope that the agrarian and cultural tradition of remembering God, as the giver of plenty during the harvest season, always remains…….

சுதந்திர சமுதிரத்தை விட்டு வைக்காத அரசியல்!

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எங்கும் அரசியல்

எதிலும் அரசியல்

இன்றய உலகில் –

சாப்பிடும் உணவிலும் கூட….

 

சுதந்திர சமுதிரத்தில்

வாழும் மீன்களையும்

பிரித்து பார்க்கும் அரசியல் –

 

அதில் மாட்டிக்கொண்டு மிதக்கும்

இலங்கை இறால்

அந்தமான் வஞ்சிரம்

தூத்துகுடி சுறா

ஜப்பான் ந்ண்டு

 

என பிரித்து பார்க்கும்

கேவலம் மனிதர்களைப்

போல் இல்லாமல்

 

சுதந்திரமாய்……

இயற்கையின் பிரஜையாய்

மட்டும்…….

 

 

 ( Thanks to Yahoo Transliteration service and Google translate!)

Where the mind is without fear…..

tiranga

The cool morning mist

clears;

the sun breaks

the clouds to peep

into a nation

awakening itself…..

To the sounds of “Vande Mataram”

and “Jana Gana Mana”

and “Azaadi”…..

Whilst the National Tricolour Flag

hoisted across

the subcontinent

flutters in the breeze,

proudly proclaiming:

liberty and freedom…..

there is a small nagging thought….

Gaining momentum

With each passing hour:

Is the country truly awake

In that freedom

Tagore saw in his dream

And in his poem?

 

Awaiting patiently……

 

 

An ode to a friend…..

“Sir, please arrange to change the menu from Rava Upma to Poori Aloo for tomorrow’s breakfast” chorused the scouts and guides assembled before the campfire.

The Scouts Jamboree was on, and the children from various districts had had a good time, going by the camp fire stories and experiences shared that evening. As the District Commissioner, it was my duty to see that the children were happy with the food, and while doing the evening rounds, we had asked the children for any complaints, and there was one, on food. Most of the children did not like the “Rava Upma” that was being served for morning breakfast, and they wanted “poori Aloo” for the next day’s breakfast.

That was the only complaint/suggestion that they had. Otherwise, there was no complaint from them regarding all the camping arrangements that have been made.

It would have been difficult for them to have any complaints, as long as Sekhar “the DOC” was there. Shri Sekhar, a lifelong Scouter, was a great inspiration for all the young  Scouts and Guides. As the District Organising Commissioner  (hence the name, “DOC”) of the Palakkad District of Southern Railway Bharath Scouts and Guides, he was almost a legend when it came to scouting.

The time was 10.30 p.m., and I called the Scouter in charge of the kitchen. He came with the master chef and cooks. The new menu, Aloo Poori, was not easy, as the dough had to be kneaded and the pooris had to be rolled. It was quickly decided that the Pooris WILL BE MADE, come what may. But we did not have the rollers (Belan in Hindi) – the DOC along with a few others, late in the night, went from house to house in the colony, asking for chapatti rollers……

It was nearing midnight, and we had only 7 rollers – we needed atleast 15 more for the hundreds of pooris that have to be made. It was then that Scouts ingenuity came to our aid. It was the DOC who came up with an idea. We requested the Inspector of Works, for two long PVC pipes which had to be cut to the size of a roller, and bingo! We had 20 rollers in no time.

Since the Scouts camp was in the Railway School premises, we cleaned four long wooden desks in a classroom thoroughly and used it as the rolling base. The work of making the pooris started by around 2.a.m., and by around 6.a.m, the pooris were glistening and ready.

Like this, innumerable events spread across 8 years for me characterised the scouter in Shri Sekhar. Whether it was a station cleaning campaign, exhibition programme, road safety campaign or cycle rally, he was there, solid as a rock, making all the arrangements. The dedication, sincerity, hard work, teamspirit, ingenuity and the presence of mind of people like Shri Sekhar, had to be seen to be believed. It is the incognito Sekhars of Indian Railways, who make the Great Indian Railways, the organisation that it is…

All this scouting talent lay bundled up in a coffin on 11th May 2013, when  Shri M.Sekhar lost his brief battle with cancer.  As many a familiar face bid farewell to this great scouter, Shri M.Sekhar, tears stood at the corner of every eye that attended his funeral…..All the tears seemed to say, “Farewell, my friend, until we meet again….”

shekar

 

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