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Vanity Of The Mind

November 9, 2017

Vanity is not merely physical. Vanity is also of the mind, heart and spirit. – Viji (!)

Those vain in this respect never cease to ask ‘the mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bestest of’em all!’

Well, I have a name for this: ‘Vidhya Garvam’

Remember the path-breaking epic Tamil picture ‘Sindhu Bhairavi’ from K Balachandar. If you can get the message from him, you can never be so obstinate with your unjustifiable fixations. You will break free. KB incidentally was himself a Palakkad Brahmin who went on to make another trendsetter ‘Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (you can do it bro).’ What he preached in his films, he also practised in real life. His daughter Pushpa married Kailasam, a dalit, with his blessings.


Nirlepa– Free from all impurity
Nirmala – Spotless
Nithya – The Eternal One
Nirakara – Without limiting form
Nirakula – Unaffected by agitation
Nir Guna– Beyond qualities

Nishkala- A unity without parts
Shantha – Ever tranquil
Nish Kama – Beyond desires
Nirupaplava – Indestructible

Nithya Muktha – Ever free
Nirvikara – Beyond all change
Nish Prabancha – Beyond the limits of the universe
Niraashrayaa – Not limited to a body
Nithya Shudhdha – Eternally pure
Nithya Buddha – Eternally wise
Niravadhya – Blameless
Niranthara – Without end

Nish Kaarana – Not caused, but Herself the ultimate cause
Nish Kalanga – Sinless
Nirupadhir – Beyond attributes and adjuncts
Nir Eashwara – Beyond god, as she is herself the god
Nirraga – Free from passion
Ragamadhani – Who destroys passion
Nirmadha – Free from pride

Madhanashini – Who destroys pride

Nischintha – Free from anxiety
Nir Ahankara – Free from egoism
Nir Moha – Free from delusion
Moha Nashini – Who destroys delusion
Nirmama – Without self-conceit
Mamathahandri – Who destroys conceit
Nish Papa – Sinless
Papa Nashini – Destroys sin

Nish Krodha – Free from anger
Krodhashamani – Who extinguishes anger
Nir Lobha – Free from greed
Lobha Nashini – Destroys greed
Nishamsaya – Free from doubt
Samsayagni – Dispels all doubt
Nirbhava – With no origin
Bhavanashini – Destroys the existence cycle

Nirvikalpa – With no false pretences
Nirabadha – Beyond wrong inference
Nir Bedha – Beyond all differences
Bedha Nashini – Destroys differences
Nir Nasha – Without end
Mrithyumadhani – Removes fear of death
Nish Kriya – Without attachment to action
Nishparigraha – Not a receipient of anything

I am reciting the Lalitha Sahasranama for over 25 years now. It has become a part of me. I want to die reciting Her name in my heart, my lips.

I never gave up on the Mantra perhaps because of the  differences I have felt deep down in my heart and mind ever since I started with it all those years back when I needed a strong clutch to cling on to life that the Nama became for me then, and since further down the road, the changes in my perceptions, and in my assessments and judgments and the way how I have been viewing things far more clearly for what they stood, than I did ever before. Every time I recite the Mantra, something more adds up to me. Something extra builds up in me: something I can vaguely describe as a growing acute sense of justice while feeling less self-important at the same time.

To most devouts, Matha is a bestower of health and wealth principally. To me, She is an ocean of peace and intellect and pure conscience.

Incidentally, my biological mother exhibited these traits – so far i can recall from my limited memory of hers. I can relate a few incidents but already this is a long post…

Mantra, Tantra, Yantra – the formula, the trick and the tool… this is also the Mother. I can get only the broader meaning here. I am not proficient in any of the scriptures and i cannot far-reach into the deeper meaning of these either. But what I do know is what my Mother is. What She wants you to be. How she wants to define you, refine you. How She can affect you – if only you let Her. To those who do the Devi Parayana a 1000 times within the sanctum sanctorium of Agamic temples still unable to come out of their innate prejudices, the Nama can have no impact or meaning or relevance in my humble opinion stemming out of this feeble mind of mine. (By the way neither do I know the Agamic temples or Yogic temples or the Tantric temples for what they are or from each other. What is the use in knowing all these but not attaining the ultimate enlightenment). I am not saying I am master of anything. I found a simpler translation for some verses  describing Mother Goddess and these are the exact words that bind Her to me. This is the same vocabulary that affects me deeply, making me what I am today.  Whether I am likable or sociable or tolerable is different issue.  But at least I can live with myself. I have a sense of peace. These are the exact verses that have chiseled my line of thoughts and action for a quarter century so that I live and swear by them now.

In short, as you recite the Mantra over years, you can become what the Mantra purports you to be: Like the Mother, free from pride, free from ego, free from anxiety,  free from anger, free from greed, free from doubt, free from delusion (state of denial), no false pretences, no wrong inferences, beyond differences and without (material) attachment. If you don’t become that over course of time, I would say, there is no point in reciting the Nama. I am not saying I am all that perfect that, but to some extent I am becoming that. I strive to become that. Subconsciously I am that somewhat….

I have already stated in one of my earlier posts: you need not have to know Bheeshma and Vidhura in detail to be a sincere Sanathana Dharmi. You can be a worshiper at a non-Agamic temple offering the Mother meat for Naivedya and still you could be a true Hindu. May be better Hindu than those self-appointed custodians of Hinduism from Tantric, Yogic temples who knows. While I very much appreciate what has been handed over down to us over generations ( I do not definitely want to sound ungrateful), I think it is high time some among us start this self-introspection which is long since due for them. Past is well over us, behind us. Future is before us. Past glories cannot blind you to present injustices. No one is superior to another by mere virtue of birth.

If Shastras are to have their way until today, then a vast majority of us could be out of schools and worthy occupations, with women stoking the kitchen fires, not milling about with handbags flung over their shoulders as they drive to work.

Faith is how we interpret it. Even Faith has to evolve with humans.  I am spiritual and I don’t know how far religious I am. Both can even be inversely proportional in interesting cases, no doubt. Ritualistic and religious forms of faith are fine so long as they do not divert you from your original pursuits, or at least this is my line of thought on this.

Lalitha Sahasranama has a profound impact in me as I realize and come to terms with my growing intolerance to injustice in any form to anyone. If I am critical of certain issues from past and present, then my misgivings about them are well-founded with historical references and can be scientifically substantiated.

Most of all, Mother has given me the ability to empathize. This I realized when watching a recent interview of the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. He was underscoring how empathy helped him, helps him after what life gave him. My greatest gift is perhaps this empathy for the oppressed. For the victims. For the victimized. So that may naturally hurt the sensibilities of the oppressors, the offenders because I call a spade a spade.

The true meaning of a Mantra can dawn on you only when you live the Mantra. You take the Gayathri Mantra:

Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Tat-savitur Vareñyaṃ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt

What do you mean by the verses:

There are various interpretations:

One is that: We meditate on that most adored Supreme Lord, the creator, whose effulgence (divine light) illumines all realms (physical, mental and spiritual). May this divine light illumine our intellect.

A few more here:

Let us adore the supremacy of that divine sun, the god-head who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress toward his holy seat. – Sir William Jones in 1807

Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the True Sun now hidden by a vase of golden light, that we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat. – William Quan Judge in 1893

We meditate on the worshipable power and glory of Him who has created the earth, the nether world and the heavens (i.e. the universe), and who directs our understanding. – Sivanath Shastri (Brahmo Samaj) in 1911

We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our mind. – Swami Vivekananda in 1915

We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence. – Sir Radhakrishnan in 1953

We meditate upon the Divine Light of that adorable Sun of Spiritual Consciousness, which stimulates our power of spiritual perception; May It open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect. – I K Taimini

O Effulgent, Infinite, potent, Omniscient and Omnipresent being, bless me with Right Understanding and Clarity of Thought. – Swami Srikantananda

In effect, we can summarize the Gayathri Mantra as Seeking of Clear Thoughts, Clear Understanding, Englightenment of Intellect Inspiring our Intelligence, Stimulating our Spiritual Perception, Opening up our hearts.
There may be slight variations but the essence of the interpretationss is one and the same. A Hindu always seeks KNOWLEDGE first and foremost from the One Supreme, seeks WISDOM, seeks ENLIGHTENMENT over anything. And this is why the Hindu philosophy can never be like the Abrahamics.’ 
With these potent and powerful Mantras, if you cannot broaden your vision, open your heart, cannot improve your spiritual intellect, then what a waste it is of everything. It means, the light of awareness is not yet lit in your heart.
My aunt used to tell me this: ‘Light the Diya only when you can focus and manage a sincere prayer. The Kamakshi Vilakku or the Kuthu Vilakku (both are the traditional Diyas or lamps we light in Tamil Nad) are not Petromax lanterns for you to light without readying your soul.’ Unfortunately, many Hindus are lighting only the Petromax lanterns in their hearts and  mind, never the Kamakshi or Kuthu Vilakku – the Diya that dispels the darkness of ignorance and liberates the soul.
Champions of Hinduism are the likes of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and EVR and Ambedkar, never the ilk of Sadhgurus or Sri Sris or Periyavas that these people fancy.  Narayana Guru may be with his passive, non-confrontational and subjugated, segregated course. Satya Sai Baba of Puttabarthi from recent times is at least attributed with some humanitarian social work and services. These are the social reformers, these are the ultimate Gurus. I do not know much about Vivekananda or Rama Krishna or even Aurobindho but I do know they still lagged behind from enacting bold social reforms like even the Brahma Samaj and Arya Samaj did. They chose the easiest paths, non-contradictory, non-controversial paths.
What is Dharma. Is Dharma calling your ancestral sins your ancient heritage? I am at loss of words here to go on.
Ettu Suraikkai Karikku Udhavaadhu – what a brilliance from our forefathers. Some intelligence is thus of no consequence.
Everyone says the essence of Sanathana Dharma lies in the Vedas, but to me, it will always lie with the Vettiyans and Chakkilis and such breed who still BELIEVE, who still PRACTISE, and this after a 4000 year oppression. Don’t let us drive them into the open arms of evangelists seeking their conversion with promise of their dignity long denied to them.
Mother made me different that I can never agree with the rigid versions of Hindu Dharma. Blessed that such a hypocrisy has not characterized me and I thank my Lalitha for instilling in me this impartial eye. Whatever I may write of other things – other followers, other places, other people,  it is based on recorded historical evidence strictly and may be at times from personal experience. Never is it a foregone conclusion or a pre-existent prejudice.
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