Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

“I am God. And you too are God. The only difference between you and Me is that while I am aware of it, you are completely unaware.” This is the answer Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba gives to people who query Him about His identity and divinity. This fundamental truth of man’s divine nature is at the heart of His message and mission. Indeed, in His discourses to devotees, He addresses them as “Embodiments of the Divine Atma”. All who experience His pure and selfless love, and benefit from His illuminating counsel, and witness His miraculous nature get a glimpse of the glory and majesty of God, and therefore of what one potentially and inherently is.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926 in the village of Puttaparthi, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India. Even as a child, His spiritual inclination and contemplative nature set Him apart from other children of His age, and He was known as ‘Guru’ and “Brahmajnani’ (knower of Brahman or Godhead) among His peers and others in the village. However, it was not until October 20, 1940, the day He made the historic declaration of His Avatarhood, (Avatar - Divinity Incarnate) that the world at large learnt of this divine phenomenon. Today, millions of devotees from all over the world, professing various faiths, and hailing from various walks of life worship Him as an ‘Avatar’, and an incarnation of the Sai Baba of Shirdi. Thousands gather every day at Prasanthi Nilayam, His ashram established beside the village of Puttaparthi, for His Darshan, when He moves among devotees blessing them and providing spiritual succour and solace.

Revealing the purpose of His Advent, Sai Baba has said that He has come to re-establish the rhythm of righteousness in the world and repair the ancient highway to God, which over the years has systematically deteriorated. In His own words, “This Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind as one family through the bond of brotherhood, of affirming and illuminating the Atmic Reality (Atma – The Self) of each being, to reveal the Divine which is the basis on which the entire cosmos rests, and of instructing all to recognise the common Divine Heritage that binds man to man, so that man can rid himself of the animal and rise up to the Divine, which is the goal.”

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is an integral manifestation who combines two very significant roles. Firstly, He is a great spiritual Master, famed for His simple and sweet exposition of the greatest and most intricate of spiritual truths which form the fundamental teachings of all the religions of the world. Elucidating on His mission, Bhagawan declares “I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith, so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim a better Muslim and the Hindu a better Hindu.” His formula for man to lead a meaningful life is the five-fold path of Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness), Shanthi (Peace), Prema (Love) and Ahimsa (Non-Violence). Love for God, fear of sin and morality in society – these are His prescriptions for our ailing world.

Secondly, He is an inexhaustible reservoir of pure love. His numerous service projects, be it free hospitals, free schools and colleges, free drinking water supply or free housing projects, all stand testimony to His selfless love and compassion for the needy and less privileged. True to His declaration - “My Life is My Message”, He has inspired and continues to inspire millions of His devotees worldwide by His personal example to live the ideal that service to man is service to God. The Sri Sathya Sai Organization today has a presence in over 167 countries in the world and members undertake group service activities that benefit their immediate community.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is thus a beacon of hope in a world that is desperately seeking an end to the unrest and sorrow prevalent today. His message of “Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God” is a spiritual salve that will lead mankind from the darkness of ignorance to the light of immortality. Indeed, very rarely does such a divine power walk the earth. As one devotee said, “Bhagawan Baba is nothing but Love walking on two feet”. Mankind must use this golden opportunity to follow in His footsteps. That is the way to its redemption and its salvation.

The Concept of Avatarhood
Who is an ‘Avatar’ and why does He incarnate?

Who is an Avatar?

An ‘Avatar’ is defined as an incarnation (physical manifestation) of the Supreme Being. The word ‘Avatar’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Avataranam’ which means ‘descent’, and usually implies a deliberate descent of the Divine into the mortal realms to reveal the Absolute Truth to humanity and remind them of their true divine nature. Though Avatars may appear in different forms at different times, places and circumstances, yet they are all the manifestations of the One Supreme Lord.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Avatar of the Age, has succinctly explained the meaning and the reason for the descent of the Avatar in the following Telugu verse:

“Avatarinchuta yanutalo Arthamemi?
Janulapai Preethi Vaatsalya Paratha thoda
Vaari Sthaayaiki Daivambu Vachchu Bhuviki
Jeeva Prajnatho baatuga Daiva prajna”

He says that Formless God takes a form and descends upon the Earth as an expression of His boundless love and affection towards humanity. The Avatar is an enigmatic, yet delightful blend of individual consciousness and the Divine Consciousness. The Avatar behaves in a human way so that mankind can feel kinship with Him, but rises to His super-human heights so that mankind can aspire to reach those heights.

In Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Sri Krishna, the Avatar of the Dwapara Age, declares thus:

"Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavathi Bharatha
Abhyukthanam adharmasya Thadathmanam Srujamyaham.”
“Parithranaya Sadhunam Vinashaya cha Dhushkrutham
Dharma samsthapanarthaya Sambhavami Yuge Yuge"

Whenever there is a decline of Righteousness and rise of evil, the Lord incarnates from time to time to uphold Righteousness, to protect the Virtuous and to uproot the evil.

The Avatar appears whenever the world is passing through a spiritual and moral crisis. The Avatar comes in order to uphold Dharma (Righteousness) and raise the universal consciousness.

Why does He incarnate?

One may ask - why should the Lord Himself incarnate? Why should He not set about the task of restoring Dharma through the many minor gods and angels that He has at His command? The Mughal Emperor Akbar once posed the same question before the courtiers, for he scoffed at the Hindu idea of the Formless adopting a Form and descending into the world as an Avatar to save Dharma. Birbal (the celebrated courtier in Akbar’s court, known for his wit and wisdom) asked for a week's time to answer the question. A few days later, when he was in the pleasure boat of the emperor, sailing across the lake with his family, Birbal threw overboard a doll made to look like the emperor's little son, crying at the same time, "O, the prince has fallen into the water!" Hearing this, immediately the emperor jumped into the lake to rescue his son. Birbal then disclosed that it was only a doll and that the prince was safe. He allayed the anger of Akbar by explaining that he had to perforce enact this drama in order to demonstrate the truth of the Hindu belief that God takes human form to save Dharma without commissioning some other entity to carry out that task. Akbar could have ordered one among the many personnel he had on board to jump in and rescue his son. But his affection was so great and the urgency so acute that the emperor himself plunged into the lake to save his son from drowning. The decline in Dharma is so acute a tragedy and the intensity of affection that the Lord has for good men is so great that He Himself comes to the rescue.

The Triune Sai Avatar

The Divine mysteries cannot be fathomed by the human mind, unless God himself chooses to unlock them out of His immense love and compassion. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in a landmark discourse on 6th July, 1963, the Guru Poornima Day, declared the secret behind His advent. He revealed that the Sai Avatar is a triple incarnation of the Shiva-Shakthi Principle – Shiva as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Parvathi embodied as Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Shakthi Principle that will incarnate as Prema Sai in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka.

Even in His childhood days, Swami used to refer to ‘The Saint of Shirdi’ in the songs that He taught His companions. Very few in that region had ever seen or heard about Shirdi or Sai Baba. Little did they realize that the child in their midst, singing and dancing so captivatingly would, in a few years, make their village another Shirdi to which hundreds and thousands would come seeking the same Baba!

Sai Baba of Shirdi was born in a remote village called Pathri in Maharashtra on September 28, 1835 to the couple, Gangabhavadiya and Devagiriamma. Gangabhavadiya, overcome with a feeling of intense renunciation immediately after the child’s birth, decided to retire into a forest. With Devagiriamma religiously following her husband, the newborn was left in nature’s care. A pious Muslim and his wife took care of the abandoned child till He was four years of age. Then they handed Him over to a spiritual master by name Gopalrao Deshmukh (also known as Venkusa). For 12 years, till 1851, Baba stayed in Sri Venkusa's ashram. One night in 1851, for the first time, Baba came to Shirdi. However, He left after a two month stay. He returned to Shirdi again in 1858 and stayed there for 60 long years. Just prior to His shedding the mortal coil in 1918, Shirdi Baba told some of His devotees that He would reappear in the Madras Presidency in 8 years time. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, born in 1926, declared that He was Shirdi Baba come again.

Sathya Sai Baba invariably refers to Shirdi Baba as 'my previous body' whenever He speaks about Him. He often describes to His devotees, how He in His previous body dealt with people and situations, what illustrations He gave to clarify certain points, what questions were asked, etc. Many devotees of Shirdi Baba have had experiences confirming the unity of the two Sais.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada [1896–1977] the Founder-Acharya of the International society for krishna conciousness is known by his disciples as Srila Prabhupada. He was the disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who, in 1933, requested him to teach the science of Bhakti in English.

Srila Prabhupada wrote more than forty volumes of translation and commentary on such classics as Srimad bhagavatham (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya charithamrutha the Bhagavad geetha—ancient India’s most noble message of the spiritual wisdom of Bhakti. His books are highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, and clarity, they are used as textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into over seventy languages.

He wrote not only as a scholar but as a consummate practitioner. He taught not only through his writings but by the example of his life.

From 1966 to 1977, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. Throughout his works, Srila Prabhupada’s mood was to convey the natural meaning of the scriptures without far-fetched interpretations, giving us an authentic rendition of the Vedic conclusions on such important topics as the purpose of human life, the nature of the soul, consciousness, and God


In the recent living memory of mankind, various references of Babaji appear. These descriptions offer small glimpse of the purest form of "Consciousness" that we lovely call and descripbe as "Babaji".

In 1946,Paramahamsa yogananda , one of modern India's greatest yogis, revealed in his classic "Autobiography of a Yogi," the existence of a Christ-like saint, an immortal yogi, Mahavatar Babaji. Yogananda related how Babaji had for centuries lived in the Himalayas guiding many spiritual teachers at a distance, usually without their even knowing it. Babaji was a great siddha, one who had overcome ordinary human limitations, and who worked silently, behind the scenes for the spiritual evolution of all humanity. Paramahansa Yogananda also revealed that it was Babaji who taught a powerful series of yogic techniques, know as "Kriya Yoga," to Lahiri Mahasaya, around 1861, and who subsequently initiated many others, including Yogananda`s own Christ-like guru, Sri Yukteswar, some thirty years later. Yogananda spent 10 years with his guru before Babaji himself appeared to him, and directed him to bring the sacred science of Kriya to the West. Yogananda fulfilled this sacred mission from 1920 to 1952, when he left his body and attained the yogic state of mahasamadhi.As a final tribute to the efficacy of Kriya Yoga and the blessings of his lineage, the body of Yogananda did not deteriorate during the 21 days it lay exposed, before being interred in a crypt in Los Angeles. March 7, 2002 marked the 50th anniversary of Yogananda's remarkable passing. When his remains were transferred to a permanent "samadhi" shrine in March 2002, millions around the world remembered with gratitude what Yogananda's legacy has given to them.

Mahavatar Babaji - The Deathless Master

The northern Himalayan crags near Badrinarayan are still blessed by the living presence of Babaji, guru of Lahiri Mahasaya. The secluded master has retained his physical form for centuries, perhaps for millenniums. The deathless Babaji is an avatara. This Sanskrit word means "descent"; its roots are ava, "down," and tri, "to pass." In the Hindu scriptures, avatara signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh.

"Babaji's spiritual state is beyond human comprehension," Sri Yukteswar explained to me. "The dwarfed vision of men cannot pierce to his transcendental star. One attempts in vain even to picture the avatar's attainment. It is inconceivable."

The Upanishads have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A siddha ("perfected being") has progressed from the state of a jivanmukta ("freed while living") to that of a paramukta ("supremely free"—full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational round. The paramukta therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.

An avatar is unsubject to the universal economy; his pure body, visible as a light image, is free from any debt to nature. The casual gaze may see nothing extraordinary in an avatar's form but it casts no shadow nor makes any footprint on the ground. These are outward symbolic proofs of an inward lack of darkness and material bondage. Such a God-man alone knows the Truth behind the relativities of life and death. Omar Khayyam, so grossly misunderstood, sang of this liberated man in his immortal scripture, the Rubaiyat:

"Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again;
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me—in vain!"

The "Moon of Delight" is God, eternal Polaris, anachronous never. The "Moon of Heav'n" is the outward cosmos, fettered to the law of periodic recurrence. Its chains had been dissolved forever by the Persian seer through his self-realization. "How oft hereafter rising shall she look . . . after me—in vain!" What frustration of search by a frantic universe for an absolute omission!

Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali were among the ancient Indian avatars. A considerable poetic literature in Tamil has grown up around Agastya, a South Indian avatar. He worked many miracles during the centuries preceding and following the Christian era, and is credited with retaining his physical form even to this day.

Babaji's mission in India has been to assist prophets in carrying out their special dispensations. He thus qualifies for the scriptural classification of Mahavatar (Great Avatar). He has stated that he gave yoga initiation to Shankara, ancient founder of the Swami Order, and to Kabir, famous medieval saint. His chief nineteenth-century disciple was, as we know, Lahiri Mahasaya, revivalist of the lost Kriya art.

The Mahavatar is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters—one with the body, and one without it—is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

That there is no historical reference to Babaji need not surprise us. The great guru has never openly appeared in any century; the misinterpreting glare of publicity has no place in his millennial plans. Like the Creator, the sole but silent Power, Babaji works in a humble obscurity.

The deathless guru bears no marks of age on his body; he appears to be no more than a youth of twenty-five. Fair-skinned, of medium build and height, Babaji's beautiful, strong body radiates a perceptible glow. His eyes are dark, calm, and tender; his long, lustrous hair is copper-colored. A very strange fact is that Babaji bears an extraordinarily exact resemblance to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya. The similarity is so striking that, in his later years, Lahiri Mahasaya might have passed as the father of the youthful-looking Babaji.

Swami Kebalananda, my saintly Sanskrit tutor, spent some time with Babaji in the Himalayas.

"The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains," Kebalananda told me. "His small band contains two highly advanced American disciples. After Babaji has been in one locality for some time, he says: 'Dera danda uthao.' ('Let us lift our camp and staff.') He carries a symbolic danda (bamboo staff). His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously to another place. He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes on foot from peak to peak.

"Babaji can be seen or recognized by others only when he so desires. He is known to have appeared in many slightly different forms to various devotees—sometimes without beard and moustache, and sometimes with them. As his undecaying body requires no food, the master seldom eats. As a social courtesy to visiting disciples, he occasionally accepts fruits, or rice cooked in milk and clarified butter.

"Two amazing incidents of Babaji's life are known to me," Kebalananda went on. "His disciples were sitting one night around a huge fire which was blazing for a sacred Vedic ceremony. The master suddenly seized a burning log and lightly struck the bare shoulder of a chela who was close to the fire.

"'Sir, how cruel!' Lahiri Mahasaya, who was present, made this remonstrance.

"'Would you rather have seen him burned to ashes before your eyes, according to the decree of his past karma?'

"With these words Babaji placed his healing hand on the chela's disfigured shoulder. 'I have freed you tonight from painful death. The karmic law has been satisfied through your slight suffering by fire.'

"On another occasion Babaji's sacred circle was disturbed by the arrival of a stranger. He had climbed with astonishing skill to the nearly inaccessible ledge near the camp of the master.

"'Sir, you must be the great Babaji.' The man's face was lit with inexpressible reverence. 'For months I have pursued a ceaseless search for you among these forbidding crags. I implore you to accept me as a disciple.'

"When the great guru made no response, the man pointed to the rocky chasm at his feet.

"'If you refuse me, I will jump from this mountain. Life has no further value if I cannot win your guidance to the Divine.'

"'Jump then,' Babaji said unemotionally. 'I cannot accept you in your present state of development.'

"The man immediately hurled himself over the cliff. Babaji instructed the shocked disciples to fetch the stranger's body. When they returned with the mangled form, the master placed his divine hand on the dead man. Lo! he opened his eyes and prostrated himself humbly before the omnipotent one.

"'You are now ready for discipleship.' Babaji beamed lovingly on his resurrected chela. 'You have courageously passed a difficult test. Death shall not touch you again; now you are one of our immortal flock.' Then he spoke his usual words of departure, 'Dera danda uthao'; the whole group vanished from the mountain."

*Note : Text is taken from the book "Autobiography of a Yogi" By Paramahansa Yogananda.


In South India, Babaji had been preparing, since 1942, two other souls for the task of disseminating his Kriya Yoga: S.A.A. Ramaiah, a young graduate student in geology at the University of Madras and V.T. Neelakantan, a famous journalist, and close student of Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society and mentor of Krishnamurti. Babaji appeared to each of them independently and then brought them together in order to work for his Mission. In 1952 and 1953 Babaji dictated three books to V.T.Neelakantan: "The Voice of Babaji and Mysticism Unlocked," "Babaji's Masterkey to All Ills," and "Babaji's Death of Death." Babaji revealed to them his origins, his tradition, and his Kriya Yoga. They founded on October 17, 1952, at the request of Babaji, a new organization, "Kriya Babaji Sangah," dedicated to the teaching of Babaji's Kriya Yoga. The books created a sensation at the time of their publication and distribution throughout India. The SRF (Self Realization Fellowship) attempted to have them and the Kriya Babaji Sangah suppressed, and it took the intervention of the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, who was a friend of V.T. Neelakantan, to end their efforts. In 2003, Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas reprinted these three books in one volume called "The voice of babaji."

It is in the "Masterkey of All Ills," that Babaji reveals his answer to the question "Who am i". In essence, this reveals, that when we know ultimately who we are, we will know who Babaji is. That is, Babaji does not identify with a limited human personality, or series of life events, or even his divinely transformed body. However, in writings he also revealed for the first time a number of precious details about his life story, in order to outline for us a path to Self-realization, which anyone may aspire to. These details have been subsequently documented in the book "Babaji and 18 sidha kriya yoga traditions"

Babaji was given the name "Nagaraj," which means "serpent king," referring to "kundalini," our great divine potential power and consciousness. He was born on the 30th day of November 203 A.D., in a small coastal village now known as Parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India, near where the Cauvery River flows into the Indian Ocean. His birth coincided with the ascendancy (Nakshatra) of the star of Rohini, under which Krishna was also born. The birth took place during the celebration of Kartikai Deepam, the Festival of Lights, the night before the new moon during the Tamil month of Kartikai. His parents were Nambudri Brahmins who had immigrated there from the Malabar coast on the western side of south India. His father was the priest in the Shiva temple of this village, which is today a temple dedicated to Muruga, Shiva's son.

At the age of 5, Nagaraj was kidnapped by a trader and taken as a slave to what is today Calcutta. A rich merchant purchased him, only to give him his freedom. He joined a small band of wandering monks, and with them became learned in the sacred religious and philosophical literature of India. However, he was not satisfied. Hearing of the existence of a great siddha, or perfected master, named Agastyar, in the south, he made a pilgrimage to the sacred temple of Katirgama, near the southern most tip of Ceylon, the large island just south of peninsular India. There he met a disciple of Agastyar, whose name was Boganathar. He studied "dhyana," or meditation, intensively and "Siddhantham," the philosophy of the Siddhas, with Boganathar for four years. He experienced "sarvihelpa samadhi," or cognitive absorption, and had the vision of Lord Muruga, the deity of the Katirgama temple.

At the age of 15, Boganathar sent him to his own guru, the legendary Agastyar, who was know to be living near to Courtrallam, in Tamil Nadu. After performing intensive yogic practices at Courtrallam for 48 days, Agastyar revealed himself, and initiated him into Kriya Kundalini Pranayama, a powerful breathing technique. He directed the boy Nagaraj to go to Badrinath, high in the Himalayas, and to practice all that he had learned, intensively, to become a "siddha." Over the next 18 months, Nagaraj lived alone in a cave practicing the yogic techniques which Boganathar and Agastyar has taught him. In so doing, he surrendered his ego, all the way down to the level of the cells in his body, to the Divine, which descended into him. He became a siddha, one who has surrendered to the power and consciousness of the Divine! His body was no longer subject to the ravages of disease and death. Transformed, as a Mah or great siddha, he dedicated himself to the uplift-ment of suffering humanity.


Since that time, over the centuries, Babaji has continued to guide and inspire some of history`s greatest saints and many spiritual teachers, in the fulfillment of their mission. These include Adi Shankaracharya, the great 9th century A.D. reformer of Hinduism, and Kabir, the 15th century saint beloved by both the Hindus and Muslims. Both are said to have been personally initiated by Babaji, and refer to him in their writings. He has maintained the remarkable appearance of a youth of about 16 years of age. During the 19th century Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, identified him as the Matreiya, the living Buddha, or World Teacher for the coming era, described in C.W. Leadbetter's "Masters and the Path."

Although Babaji prefers to remain obscure and invisible to others, he does on occassion gradually reveals himself to his devotees and disciples, capturing their hearts in various types of personal devotional relationships in which he guides them in their development. His relationship with each of us is unique and according to our individual needs and nature. He is our personal Guru. As our hearts expand our communion with Him culminates with the "universal vision of love," wherein one witnesses Babaji in everything.


Babaji revives Kriya Yoga, which Siddha Patanjali refers to in his famous "Yoga-Sutras." Patanjali wrote his classic text of yoga about the 3rd century A.D. In it he defines Kriya Yoga in II.1 as "constant practice (particularly by the cultivation of detachment), self-study and devotion to the Lord." However, along with what Patanjali described as Kriya Yoga, Babaji added the teachings of the tantra, which includes the cultivation of "kundalini," the great potential power and consciousness, through the use of breathing, mantras and devotional practices. His modern synthesis of "Kriya Yoga," includes a rich variety of techniques. It was in 1861 that Babaji initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into his powerful Kriya Yoga system.


During a six month period in 1954, at his ashram near Badrinath, in the Garwhal Himalayas, Babaji initiated a great devotee, S.A.A. Ramaiah into a complete system of 144 Kriyas, or practical techniques, involving postures, breathing, meditation, mantras and devotional techniques. The latter blossomed as a yogi, and began a mission to bring this system, referred to as "Babaji`s Kriya Yoga" to thousands of aspirants ALL AROUND THE WORLD.

Fortunately, Babaji comes out from behind the veils of anonymity which he finds so useful for his work. Babaji has appeared to Swami Satyaswarananda in the Kumaon Hills of the Himalayas, in the early 1970`s and given him the assignment of translating and publishing the writings of Lahiri Mahasaya. This he has done in a series, the "Sanskrit Classics," from his home in San Diego, California. Babaji gave his "darshan" on the vital plane to the author, M. Govindan, in October 1999, on two occasions. This occurred 30 kilometers north of Badrinath, at an altitude of nearly 5,000 meters, at the source of the Alakananta River. During these visitations, Babaji appeared as a radiant youth, with copper colored hair, clad in a simple white "dhoti" or waist cloth, and allowed Govindan to touch his feet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur in the town of Nadia just after sunset on the evening of the 23rd Phalguna 1407 Sakabda, answering to the 18th of February, 1486, of the Christian Era. The moon was eclipsed at the time of his birth, and the people of Nadia were then engaged, as was usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Bhagirathi with loud cheers of Haribol. His father, Jagannatha Misra, a poor brahmana of the Vedic order, and his mother, Sacidevi, a model good woman, both descended from brahmana stock originally residing in Sylhet.

Mahaprabhu was a beautiful child, and the ladies of the town came to see him with presents. His mother's father, Pandit Nilambara Chakravarti, a renowned astrologer, foretold that the child would be a great personage in time; and he, therefore, gave him the name Visvambhara. The ladies of the neighborhood styled him Gaurahari on account of his golden complexion, and his mother called him Nimai on account of the nimba tree near which he was born. Beautiful as the lad was, everyone heartily loved to see him every day.


As he grew up he became a whimsical and frolicsome lad. After his fifth year, he was admitted into a pathashala where he picked up Bengali in a very short time.

Most of his contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Chaitanya which are simple records of his early miracles. It is said that when he was an infant in his mother's arms he wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies cried Haribol he used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreseeing the future mission of the hero. It has also been stated that when his mother once gave him sweetmeats to eat, he ate clay instead of the food. His mother asking for the reason, he stated that as every sweetmeat was nothing but clay transformed, he could eat clay as well. His mother, explained that every article in a special state was adapted to a special use. Earth, while in the state of a jug, could be used as a water pot, but in the state of a brick such a use was not possible. Clay, therefore, in the form of sweetmeats was usable as food, but clay in its other states was not. The lad was convinced and admitted his stupidity in eating clay and agreed to avoid the mistake in the future. Another miraculous act has been related. It is said that a brahmana on pilgrimage became a guest in his house, cooked food and read grace with meditation upon Krishna. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The brahmana, astonished at the lad's act, cooked again at the request of Jagannatha Mishra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the brahmana was offering the rice to Krishna with meditation. The brahmana was persuaded to cook for the third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and the lad showed himself as Krishna to the traveler and blessed him. The brahmana was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of his worship. It has also been stated that two thieves stole away the lad from his father's door with a view to purloin his jewels and gave him sweetmeats on the way. The lad exercised his illusory energy and deceived the thieves back towards his own house. The thieves, for fear of detection, left the boy there and fled. These anecdotes relate to his tender age up to the fifth year.

In his eighth year, he was admitted into school close by the village of Mayapur. In two years he became well read in Sanskrit grammar and rhetoric. His readings after that were of the nature of self-study in his own house, where he had found all-important books belonging to his father, who was a pandita himself.

Now, after the tenth year of his age, Chaitanya became a passable scholar in grammar and rhetoric. It was after this that his elder brother Vishavarupa left his house and accepted the ashram (status) of a sannyasi (ascetic). Chaitanya, though a very young boy, consoled his parents, saying that he would serve them with a view to please God. Just after that, his father left this world. His mother was exceedingly sorry, and Mahaprabhu, with his usual contented appearance, consoled his widowed mother.


It was at the age of 14 or 15 that Mahaprabhu was married to Lakshmi Devi, the daughter of Vallabhacarya, also of Nadia. He was at this age considered one of the best scholars of Nadia, the renowned seat of nyaya philosophy and Sanskrit learning. The learned scholars were all afraid of confronting him in literary discussions. Being a married man, he went to Eastern Bengal on the banks of the Padma for acquirement of wealth. There he displayed his learning and obtained a good sum of money. It was at this time that he preached Vaishnavism at intervals. After teaching him the principles of Vaishnavism, he ordered Tapana Mishra to go to and live in Benares. During his residence in East Bengal, his wife Lakshmi Devi left this world from the effects of snakebite. On returning home, he found his mother in a mourning state. He consoled her with a lecture on the uncertainty of human affairs. It was at his mother's request that he married Vishnupriya.


It was at the age of 16 or 17 that he traveled to Gaya with a host to sing the holy name of Hari in the streets and bazaars. This created a sensation and roused different feelings in different quarters. The bhaktas were highly pleased. The smarta brahmanas became jealous of Nimai Pandita's success and complained to Chand Kazi against the character of Chaitanya as un-Hindu. The Kazi came and broke a mridanga (khola drum) there and declared that unless Nimai Pandita ceased to make noise about his queer religion he would be obliged to enforce Mohammedanism on him and his followers. This was brought to Mahaprabhu's notice. He ordered the townspeople to appear in the evening, each with a torch in his hand. This groups, and on his arrival in the Kazi's house, he held a long conversation with the Kazi and in the end communicated into his heart his Vaishnava influence by touching his body. The Kazi then wept and admitted that he had felt a keen spiritual influence which had cleared up his doubts and produced in him a religious sentiment which gave him the highest ecstasy. The Kazi then joined the sankirtana party. The world was astonished at the spiritual power of the Great Lord, and hundreds and hundreds of heretics converted and joined the banner of Visvambhara after this affair.
It was after this that some of the jealous and low-minded brahmanas of Kulia picked a quarrel with Mahaprabhu and collected a party to oppose him. Nimai Pandita was naturally a soft-hearted person, though strong in his principles. He declared that party feelings and sectarianism were the two great enemies of progress and that as long as he should continue to be an inhabitant of Nadia belonging to a certain family, his mission would not meet with complete success.

Mahaprabhu then resolved to be a citizen of the world by cutting his connection with his particular family, caste and creed, and with this resolution he embraced the position of a sannyasi at Katwa, under the guidance of Keshava Bharati of that town, on the 24th year of his age. His mother and wife wept bitterly for his separation, but our hero, though soft in heart, was a strong person in principle. He left his little world in his house for the unlimited spiritual world of Krishna with man in general.

Lahiri Mahasaya

Lahiri Mahasaya also know as Yogiraj, Lahiri Baba, Kashi Baba (1828 – 1898) was one of India’s foremost Spiritual Masters. His family name was Shyama Lahiri. Mahasaya is an honorary Sanskrit prefix meaning “magnanimous one”.

Till the age of 33 Lahiri Mahasaya lived an ordinary householder life. Certain, circumstances tookhis job to the foothills of the Himalayas. It was here that he had a remarkable meeting with Mahavatar Babaji. Babaji was able to rekindle Lahiri Mahasaya’s spiritual realisations. Realisations he had attained in previous lifetimes.After experiencing the bliss of samadhi in the Himalayan Mountains. His Guru directed Lahiri Mahasaya to return to his worldly life and teach the ancient art of Kriya Yoga as a householder. During his life time, Lahiri Mahasaya initiated more than 5000 seekers from different faiths into the ancient Indian art of Kriya Yoga. He broke the rigid caste barriers that were present at the time. Lahiri Mahasaya saw God everywhere and was unencumbered by social status. Towards the end of his life his aura of spirituality and peace attracted many sincere seekers who would come to meditate in his presence at Benaras house.

Lahiri Mahasaya only became well known through Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Paramahansa Yogananda was a disciple of Swami Yukteswar, Giri Maharaj ,who was a direct disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Kriya Yoga tradition that has spread around the world in the early part of 19th century,including the West can be traced back to Lahiri Mahasaya and Mahavatar Babaji.

Siva was the household deity of the Lahiri family. A Sivalingam was adjacent to the house.One day, Muktakeshi Devi , the mother of little Lahiri, was absorbed in deep meditation on Siva, with little Lahiri seated besides her emulating his mother. Suddenly, a handsome Monk with matted hair appeared before the temple and addressed Muktakeshi Devi. The Monk said, Mother your son is not an ordinary human child, it is i who have sent Him to this earth, to show the esoteric path of sahana to the countless people, distressed with the worries and woes of material life. Your child will maintain a family existence and attract others to practice yoga sadhana. Mother, you have nothing to fear. I shall constantly keep a watch upon him like a shadow.

"My worship is of a very strange kind. In this Ganga water is not required. No special utensils are necessary.Even flowers are redundant.In this puja all gods have disappeared. And emptiness has emerged with euphoria."

Guruji golwalkar

Sri Guruji

Let us look at the brief answers to these questions. Shri Guruji was the second all-Bharat Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He was born in 1906. The special occasion round the corner is the celebration of his birth centenary. ‘Guruji’ was not his original name. This name was used out of regard, by his students in Banaras Hindu University where he taught. He is better known by this name even today throughout the Sangh and the nation. His name was Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar. His father’s name was Sadashivrao and his mother was Lakshmibai. They lived in Nagpur. In his childhood, Shri Guruji was called lovingly as Madhu. Eight progenies of his parents before him had met a premature death. Those days, Nagpur was a province of modern Madhya Pradesh. His father was a teacher. He was continuously posted in Hindi speaking areas. Although, his mother tongue was Marathi, since Hindi was the general spoken language, Madhu had a firm grip on Hindi as well. And as his school was managed by the Christian missionaries, Madhavrao (his name in school) developed mastery in English, too.
The atmosphere in Madhavrao’s house was pious and religious. Right from his childhood, his mother would wake him up with devotional songs, rendered in her melodious voice. This left a deep cultural imprint on him. He would cherish her songs very fondly, when he grew older.

Prodigious Intellectual Talent
Madhavrao was a sharp boy with prodigious memory. Once, his school teacher Prof. Gardener was teaching the Bible. Madhavrao interrupted saying, “Sir, the reference given by you is not correct, actually it should have been like this....” And saying thus he uttered another sentence. All the students and Prof. Gardener were amazed. But when it was cross-checked with the Bible, he was found to be correct. At the end of the class, the Professor gave him a fond pat on the back. This incident served as a witness to his qualities, like exceptional memory, courage and unshakeble self-confidence. His memory served him till his last day. Even today, throughout the country, people recall anecdotes of his phenomenal memory.

Extraordinary Forbearance
In 1924, having completed his studies up to Intermediate, Madhavrao left for the famous Banaras Hindu University, to finish his B.Sc. The huge repository of invaluable books in the library there was as if waiting to quench his thirst for knowledge. Madhavrao started reading the books, through and through, one by one. One day, his toe was bitten by a scorpion, but he very casually cut that portion of his foot, dipped that foot in potassium permanganate solution and resumed his study. Amazed at this, one of his friends asked, “How do you manage to study despite such severe pain?” Madhavrao replied, “Well, the scorpion has bitten my foot, not my head!” Later on also, people have many a time witnessed his tranquil tolerance under most excruciating physical pains.

Madhavrao returned to Nagpur after completing his Masters in Zoology with first class from Kashi and a few months later, left for Chennai for research in aquarium. There also, people experienced his passion for strict discipline. Once, the Nizam of Hyderabad paid a visit to the laboratory. All the visitors were charged with entrance fee. The managers, however, thought it inappropriate to ask for entrance fee from a big shot like the Nizam. But Madhavrao insisted and the Nizam could enter only after paying the entrance fee. In 1929, his father retired from service and this led to a financial crunch. Money could no longer be sent for pursuance of Madhavrao’s studies and ultimately, he left research work and returned to Nagpur. In his correspondence of those days, to his friends, Madhavrao expressed his sentiments as to how he felt in consonance about the incidents of the aggressive patriotism of revolutionaries.

Boundless Love for Students
From August 1931, Madhavrao began teaching at Banaras Hindu University. During this period, many of his hidden talents came to light. His unfathomable love for his students drove him to help them at studies in every possible way; often he would purchase the necessary text-books for needy students or financially assist them to pay their examination fees. He would be happy spending a large sum of his salary to this end. He would delve deep into other subjects also, so that he could help students in those subjects. Doing all this, Madhavarao had no expectation in return at all. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya noticed his talent as well as his deep affection for the students, and grew fond of him. It was through a Swayamsevak from Nagpur, Shri Bhaiyyaji Dani, who was sent there as a student by Doctorji, (Dr. Hedgewar, the founder of RSS) that Shri Guruji came into contact with the Sangh. He also became the Palak (guardian) of that Shakha.
In February 1933, on the expiry of his teaching term, Shri Guruji returned to Nagpur and by 1935, completed his study of law.

What If The Family Tree does Not Branch Out Further?
Meanwhile, having seen Shri Guruji from closer quarters, Doctorji tried to maintain contact with him. Recognizing his extraordinary working capacity and intellectual talents, he started delegating greater responsibilities to him. In 1934, Shri Guruji ably discharged the duties of Sarvadhikari (officer-in-charge) of Sangh Shiksha Varga (Officer's training camp) in Akola. By now, it was very natural for his parents to think of his marriage. Shri Guruji’s mother put forth the proposal for his marriage and said if he decided against marrying, their Golwalkar family lineage would cease to exist - he being the only surviving son. Shri Guruji replied, “In the present situation it is necessary, that, for the welfare of the society, if the family lineages of not only me, but several others like me are terminated, I am not in the least worried.” The debate over his marriage ended then and there.

In Search of his Life Mission
Shri Guruji was seriously thinking of orienting his life in a definite direction. The pathetic plight of the Hindu society and of an enslaved nation tortured him on the one side; on the other, it was his inborn spiritual pursuit that pulled him. He started visiting the President of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Swami Bhaskareshvarananda in Nagpur. There he came in close and friendly contact with Sri Amitabh Maharaj. He came to know through him that in the Sargachi Ashram, in Bengal, there stayed Swami Akhandananda, a direct disciple of revered Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. In 1936, one fine day, based on the information received from Amitabh Maharaj, Shri Guruji quietly left for Sargachi in search of a spiritual guide. Neither his parents nor anybody else knew his whereabouts. When Shri Guruji left for Sargachi, Doctorji who was thinking about entrusting him with more and more responsibilities became equally concerned for him.

Unique Personification of Service
Sargachi witnessed another brilliant aspect of Shri Guruji’s personality. He immersed himself in the service of Swami Akhandananda, who was quite old and indisposed. Shri Guruji would daily bathe him, wash his clothes, offer him tea and meals, and put him to bed. Often Shri Guruji would sit through the night at his bed-side and serve him. About six months passed in this manner. His untiring dedicated service and his spiritual orientation pleased Swamiji so much that he decided to initiate him into the Order. Shri Guruji was overwhelmed after getting initiated. Later, he described the moment thus, “I have received the blessings one gets after innumerable births. My body felt thrilled all over and I am finding myself an altogether changed person.” 13th January, 1937 (Makar Sankranti) was the auspicious day of initiation. A few days later, on 24th January, Guru Maharaj gave his blessing to Shri Guruji, saying, “Whatever good I have, I am giving it to you; and whatever bad you have, you give it to me.” That day, till 3.30 a.m. Swamiji disclosed the secrets of spirituality to Shri Guruji and Amitabh Maharaj. One day, Swamiji told Amitabh Maharaj, “It seems that Golwalkar would work in association with Dr. Hedgewar.” As a mark of his memory, Swamiji gave his personal belongings like Kamandal etc. to Shri Guruji. After a short while, in February, 1937 the revered Swamiji left his mortal coil. Later, Shri Guruji spent some time in Ramakrishna Ashram, Belur Math and then along with Amitabh Maharaj returned to Nagpur.
In Nagpur, Shri Guruji’s, life took an altogether new turn. In Doctorji, he saw a personality intensely motivated and dedicated to the nation. On being asked by some gentleman on the subject, Shri Guruji replied, “Like spirituality, organization of the Nation has also been my inclination from early days. I believe that I would be in a better position to achieve it successfully being a part of the Sangh. Hence, I have dedicated myself to the activities of Sangh. In the light of the insight and practical approach of Swami Vivekananda, I think my decision is appropriate.”
Shri Guruji was also closely observing Doctorji, who had put his heart and soul into this work. From 1938 onwards, Shri Guruji identified the work of Sangh as the sole mission of his life. In the close company of Doctorji, he focussed his entire attention on the activities of Sangh. This also relieved Doctorji of his worries.


Jnanappana and Poonthanam

Poonthanam Namboodiri is a legendary figure of Kerala

famous for his devotion to the Lord of Guruvayoor and also

for his literary works such as Bhasha Karnamritam,

Kumaraharanam or Santanagopalam Pana and


jnanappana or the Song of Divine Wisdom, a rare treasury

of transcendental knowledge and its relevance in day-to-day

life, is written in a simple, unassuming style. It is full of

comments of contemporary lifestyle in the perspective of

the short lived nature of life as well as its pleasures.

There are several legends of ‘Guruvayoor miracles’ in which

Poonthanam figures. Once while reciting

Vishnusahasranamam”, he pronounced “Padmanabho

Maraprabhu" and `Maraprabhu’ means `Lord of trees’ in

Malayalam. The famous Sanskrit scholars Melpathur

Bhattathiri made fun of this and corrected Poonthanam

saying that Padmanabha is not Maraprabhu (Lord of trees)

but Amaraprabhu (Lord of immortals). Then there came a

celestial voice ( asareeri )) from the inner shrine, “ I am

Amaraprabhu as well as Maraprabhu" . [This has motivated

the design of the statue in the Sreevalsam Guest house

compound fully made of clay, is the biggest idol made of

clay in Asia

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bhaktha Meera Bai

Meera Bai was one of the foremost exponents of the Prema Bhakti (Divine Love) and an inspired poetess. She is regarded as an incarnation of Radha. She sang in vraja-bhAshA, sometimes mixed with rAjasthAni, in praise of Giridhara GopAla (Shri Krishna), her lord for whom she developed in her heart the most intense love and devotion.

Meera occupies indeed a sacred place in the history of Indian thought and culture for her deep and passionate religious devotion, as also for her poetry in which her genius was well revealed, and which was never bereft of beauty in the true sense of the term. Her odes and hymns are so rich, sweet and inspiring, not because of any high rhetoric or dexterity of language, but because they are characterized by a tenderness and simplicity of feeling as genuine outpourings of a heart completely dedicated to God.

Much legend has gathered around the name of Meera, and there is a good deal of controversy surrounding her time (when she lived) and connection with the MewAr ruling family. According to Tod, the historian, she was the queen of RAna Kumbha of MewAr to whom she was married in 1513.

Although Karnaparampara legends maintain that she was born in Udhaipur to king Bhoonayaka and Chandramukhi, there is consensus among many as to the following account: Born in Kurkhi in 1499 A.D., she was the daughter of RAna Ratan Singh (a Ranthor) of Merta (between Ajmer and Jodhpur). Merta was a small state in Marwar, Rajasthan ruled by the Ranthors, great devotees of Vishnu. Meera was raised and nurtured by her grandfather Rao Duda in the fortress city of Merta. As customary with royal families, her education included knowledge of scriptures, music, archery, fencing, horseback riding and driving chariots – she was also trained to wield weapons in case of a war. However, Meera also grew up amidst an atmosphere of total Krishna consciousness, which was responsible in molding her life in the path of total devotion towards Lord Krishna. It is said that at the age of five, she was given a vigraha or statue of Lord Krishna by a mendicant saint passing through the kingdom. Historians claim that this mendicant was Raidas, who initiated Meera into the practice of Shabd or Nada Yoga1. Meera developed an instant loving attachment to the idol and began spending most of her time in bathing, dressing and worshipping the image as though it were real. She danced about the image in ecstasy. She sang beautiful songs in front of the image. She talked to the idol. She slept with the image. She was always present in all divine discourses in the palace, more of which were on BhAgavatam and Krishna Leela.

When she was just four years of age, she manifested her deep devotion to Krishna. Meera watched a marriage procession in front of her residence. Meera, the child, spotted the well-dressed bridegroom and asked her mother innocently, "Dear mother, who will be my bridegroom?" Meera’s mother smiled, and half in jest and half in earnest, pointed towards the image of Sri Krishna and said, "My dear Meera, Lord Krishna - this beautiful fellow – is going to be your bridegroom". Soon after, Meera’s mother passed on. As Meera grew up, her desire to be with her Krishna grew intensely and she believed that Lord Krishna would come to marry her if he could accept a cowherdess Radha as his dear consort. In due course, she became firmly convinced that Krishna was to be her husband. The benign influence of Rao Duda's wisdom, the pain of losing her parents at a tender age and her certainty that she was Krishna's chosen beloved, gave a unique strength and resolve to Mira's personality. Meera was soft-spoken, mild-mannered, gifted, sweet, and sang with a melodious voice. She was reputed to be one of the most extraordinary beauties of her time with fame spreading to several kingdoms and provinces. Her fame spread far and wide. RAna Sangram Singh, commonly known as RAna Sangha, the powerful King of Mewar, approached Rao Duda for Meera’s hand in marriage to his son Bhojraj (also known as RAna Kumbha or KumbhaRAna). Bhojraj wanted to marry Meera for her pious nature and divine intent. Rao Duda agreed to the union. However, Meera could not bear the thought of marrying a human being when her heart was filled with thoughts of every nature, all about her Krishna. But unable to go against her beloved grandfather’s Rao Duda’s word, she finally consented to the marriage. It is also said that Lord Krishna intervened timely in her dream to advise her, “if the gopikAs could do their duty to their husbands, tend their families and above all be totally devoted to me all the time, you can do the same thing. Do your duty. I shall not leave you any time”. Meera was wed to RAna Kumbha in 1513, before she turned 14.

As ordained, Meera was dutiful. She left for Mewar with the RAna Kumbha. She obeyed her husband’s commands. Scholars maintain that KumbhaRAna was a great devotee of the Lord himself, and wrote the treatise known as ‘Rasipriya’ and a grammatical work ‘SangIta rAjam’ on the immortal work of Jayadeva, GIta Govindam. He had sought Meera’s hand out of admiration for her devotion and love to the Lord, which he felt he shared. It is ironic that the RAna should forget this in the years that followed.

After her household duties were over, Meera would go to the temple of Lord Krishna, worship, sing and dance before the image daily. The little image would get up, embrace Meera, play on the flute and talk to her. KumbhaRAna’s mother and other ladies of the palace did not like the ways of Meera, as they were worldly-minded and jealous. Meera’s mother-in-law forced her to worship Durga and admonished her often. But Meera maintained, "I have already given up my life to my beloved Lord Krishna". Meera’s sister-in-law Udabai formed a conspiracy and began to defame the innocent Meera. She informed RAna Kumbha that Meera was in secret love with some one, that she witnessed Meera talking to her lover(s) in the temple, and that she would show him the persons if he would accompany her one night. The ladies further raved that Meera, by her conduct, had brought a great slur on the reputation of the RAna family of Chitore. The enraged Kumbha ran with sword in hand towards Meera, but as luck would have it Meera had gone to her Krishna temple. A sober relative of the RAna counseled him, "RAna! You will forever repent for your hasty behavior and consequences. Enquire into the allegation carefully and you will find the truth. Meera is a great devotee of the Lord. Remember why you sought her hand. Out of sheer jealousy the ladies might have concocted scandals against Meera to incite you and ruin her". Kumbha calmed down and accompanied his sister who persistently took him to the temple at dead of night. RAna Kumbha broke open the door, rushed inside and found Meera alone in her ecstatic mood talking and singing to the idol.

The RAna shouted at Meera, "Meera, show me your lover with whom you are talking now". Meera replied, "There sits He—my Lord—the Nanichora who has stolen my heart". She went into a trance. The ladies floated other rumors that Meera was mixing very freely with Sadhus. Meera was unaffected by such scandals and continued to invite BhAgavathAs to join her in Krishna bhajan at the temple. She stood unruffled in the face of accusations from the royal family. When questioned about her marital responsibilities, Meera responded that it was Krishna to whom she was married. KumbhaRAna was heart-broken but remained a good husband and sympathizer of Meera until his death.

One historical version of Meera’s life states that the RAna Kumbha died in a battle within ten years of their marriage, as did her sympathetic father-in-law RAna Sangha (who named Meera his successor before dying). At this juncture, the RAna’s relatives began persecuting Meera in various ways, even though Meera had no desire for the throne. The tortures and torments came from the brother and successor of KumbhaRAna (Meera’s late husband) and his cousin sister Udabai. It was no different from what Prahlada was subjected to by his father Hiranyakashipu. Hari shielded Prahlada. Here, Krishna always stood by Meera. Meera was sent a basket with a cobra inside and a message that the basket contained a garland of flowers. Meera, after meditation, opened the basket and found inside a lovely idol of Sri Krishna with a garland of flowers. The relentless RAna (her brother-in-law) sent her a cup of poison with the message that it was nectar. Meera offered it to her Lord Krishna and took it as His Prasad. It was real nectar to her. The bed of nails that the RAna sent transformed into a bed of roses when Meera reposed on it.

When the torture and scandals continued, Meera sent a letter to Goswami Tulsidas and asked for his advice2. She wrote, "Simply because I am constantly tortured by my relatives, I cannot abandon my Krishna. I am unable to carry on with my devotional practices in the palace. I have made Giridhar Gopala my friend from my very childhood. I feel a total bondage with him. I cannot break that bond".

Tulsidasji sent a reply: "Abandon those who cannot understand you and who do not worship RAma or SyAma, even though they are your dearest relatives. Prahlada abandoned his father; VibhIshana left his brother RAvana; Bharata deserted his stepmother; Bali forsook even his Guru; the Gopasthrees, the women of Vraja, disowned their husbands to get to their Krishna. Their lives were all the happier for having done so. The relation with God and the love of God are the only elements that are true and eternal; all other relationships are unreal and temporary". Meera met up once again with her Guru and mentor Raidas, who is said to have lived to a ripe age of 118 years. She went into the slums often to be in the satsang of this great teacher. This was the impetus and inspiration behind the many queries and controversies that she raised about Kulam in her songs.

The other version about what happened to KumbhaRAna (Meera’s husband and King) is one where the RAna outlives (survives) Meera. In this version, the confused RAna turned a deaf ear through Meera’s trials and tribulations at the hands of his conniving relatives; however, he became heart-broken upon Meera’s departure from Mewar. The turning point in Meera’s life (which precipitated her departure from Mewar and hence her earthly bonds) occurred when once Akbar and his court musician Tansen came in disguise to Chitore to hear Meera’s devotional and inspiring songs.3 Both entered the temple and listened to Meera’s soul-stirring songs to their heart’s content. Akbar was really moved. Before he departed, he touched the holy feet of Meera and placed a necklace of priceless gems in front of the idol as a present. Somehow the news reached the KumbhaRAna that Akbar had entered the sacred temple in disguise, touched the feet of Meera and even presented her a necklace. The RAna became furious. He told Meera, "Drown yourself in the river and never show your face to the world in future. You have brought great disgrace on my family".

Meera obeyed the words of her husband and King. She proceeded to the river to drown herself. The names of the Lord "Govinda, Giridhari, Gopala" were always on her lips. She sang and danced in ecstasy on her way to the river. When she raised her feet from the ground, a hand from behind grasped her and embraced her. She turned behind and saw her beloved GiridhAri. She fainted on Him. After a few minutes she opened her eyes. Lord Krishna smiled and gently whispered: "My dear Meera, your life with your mortal relatives is over now. You are absolutely free. Be cheerful. You are and have always been mine. Proceed immediately to the bowers of Vraja and the avenues of Vrindavan. Seek Me there, my dear. Start now".

Meera walked barefoot on the hot sandy beds of Rajasthan. On her way, many ladies, children and devotees received her with great hospitality. She reached Brindavan. She reached the Chitchor GopAla. It was at Brindavan that she again met and was inspired by Sant Raidas. She went about Brindavan doing Oonchavritti and worshipped in the Govinda Mandir which has since become famous and is now a great place of pilgrimage for devotees from all over the world. Her devotees of Chitore came to Brindavan to see Meera. A repentant Kumbha came to Vrindavan to see Meera in the disguise of a mendicant, revealed himself and prayed that he may be forgiven for all his previous wrongs and cruel deeds. He begged that Meera return to the kingdom and was assume her role as the queen once more. Meera at once prostrated before her husband, and gently added, “What is Kulam or lineage, heritage or inheritance? What is the meaning of the division amongst devotees as KshatriyAs and BrahmanAs and shudrAs and the like? Who is man and who is woman? Krishna is the only Purusha and all of us are women. He is Pati and we are all Pasus. I am no more Queen than you are King. There is only one King and my life belongs to him.” Kumbha reminisced for a moment of the days when he wrote the treatises on Gita Govindam and how he had desired the hand of the finest lady of his times for spiritual reasons. His eyes welled up when he was forcibly taken to his dark days of jealousy, rancor and the torture he inflicted on the great soul of divine import. The KumbhaRAna, for the first time, truly understood Meera’s exalted state of mind and prostrated before her in reverence. He then promptly left Vrindavan a changed soul.

Jiva Gosain was the head of the Vaishnavites in Brindavan. Meera wanted to have Darshan of Jiva Gosain. He declined to see her. He sent word to Meera that he would not allow any woman in his presence. Meera Bai retorted: "Everybody in Brindavan is a woman. Only Giridhar Gopala is Purusha. Today only I have come to know that there is another Purusha besides Krishna in Brindavan". Jiva Gosain was put to shame. He felt that Meera was indeed a paramabhaktha or the supreme devotee of the Lord. He at once went to see Meera and paid her due respects.

Meera’s fame spread far and wide. She was immersed in satsang day in and out. At the request of KumbhaRAna, Meera returned to Mewar and Kumbha agreed to her request that she would reside in the temple of Krishna but would not restrict her movements and wanderings. From Mewar, she once again returned to Brindavan, and then went on to Dwaraka. The King went with her. Dwaraka was to be the place where her GopAla would take her unto Him at the temple of Ranchod.

There are, once again, two versions to Meera’s union with her Supreme Lord. In one version, the following took place on Krishna’s JanmAshtami at the temple of Ranchchorji (Krishna). There was much happiness all around in the abode of the Lord. The light of the lamps, the sound of the bhajans and the energy from the devotees’ ecstacy were filling the air. With Tamburi in one hand and cymbals or chipla in the other the great tapasvini was singing ecstatically with her Gopala smiling in front of her closed eyes. Meera stood up and danced with her song ‘Mere Janama MaRAna ke sAthee’, and when the song ended, Kumbha gently approached her and requested her to come back. Meera said, ‘RAnaji, the body is yours and you are a great devotee, but my mind, emotions and the soul are all HIS. I do not know what use am I to you at this state of mind’. Kumbha was moved and he started singing with her in unison. Meera rose up abruptly, stumbled and fell at the flowers on the feet of GiridhAri. ‘Oh, GiridhAri, are you calling me, I am coming’. When Kumbha and the rest were watching in awe, there was a lightning which enveloped Meera and the sanctum doors closed on their own. When the doors opened again, Meera’s saree was enveloping Lord Krishna’s idol and her voice and the flute accompaniment were the only sounds that could be heard.

In the second version, Meera was invited back to Mewar by the RAna just as she had reached Dwaraka. Reluctant to leave her Krishna, Meera asked permission to spend the night at the temple of Ranchhorji. The next morning her lifeless body was found lying at its feet. It is believed that her spirit entered the deity during the night.

Historians and scholars put this date at 1546 A.D.

Meera’s Songs and Her Cosmic Vision

Meera had the beautiful cosmic vision. She saw Krishna in trees, in stones, in creepers, in flowers, thunder, lightning, and in every living and non-living being. As long as there remains the name of Krishna, the name of Meera will be forever remembered. It is extremely difficult to find a parallel to this wonderful personality “Meera”. She was a saint, a philosopher, and a romantic poet. She was a versatile genius and a magnanimous soul. Her life has a singular charm, with extraordinary beauty and marvel. She was a princess, but she abandoned the pleasures and luxuries incident to her lofty placement in worldly sense, and chose instead, a life of poverty, austerity, TyAga, Titiksha and VairAgya. Though she was a delicate young lady, she entered the perilous journey on the spiritual path amidst various difficulties. She underwent various ordeals with undaunted courage and the conviction that came from the ideals of Truth that she held. She stood colossal in her resolve and possessed a gigantic will. She rowed her boat dexterously in a stormy sea of family troubles and difficulties and reached the other shore - the kingdom of supreme love and peace. She belonged to the gentle fair sex and yet was undaunted in spirit and more courageous than trained warriors. Though she was young, she bore persecutions silently. She endured the piercing taunts and sarcastic criticisms of the world bravely. She was a true SthithaPragnya.

Meera’s songs infuse Faith, Courage, Devotion and the unconditional Love of God in the minds of the devotees. The songs inspire the aspirants to follow the path of devotion through a simple sAdhana, true love, and they produce in the singer and the listener a unique experience of exhilaration and tranquility at the same time. Meera was fearless in her nature, simple in her habits, joyous in her disposition, amiable in her deportment, graceful in her behavior and elegant in her demeanor. She immersed herself in the love of Giridhara Gopala. The name of Giridhara Gopala was always on her lips. Even in her dreams, she lived in Sri Krishna. Meera was a scholar in her own right: she is credited with the two poetic works ‘rAg-Govind’ and a commentary on Jayadeva’s ‘GIta Govinda’, which had had a profound influence on her psyche as a child. Despite her scholarship, Meera chose to express her love for Giridhari through the simplest and sweetest of lyrics. Meera’s mystic songs act as a soothing balm to the wounded hearts and tired nerves of those who toil in this world under the heavy burden of life. The sweet music of her songs exerts a benign influence on the listeners, removes discord and disharmony, and lulls them to sleep. Meera’s language of love is so powerful that even a pronounced atheist will be moved by her devotion.

Meera had AnurAga and Ragatmika Bhakti. She never cared for public criticism and the injunctions or interpretations of the scriptural ordinances. She danced in the streets. She did no ritualistic worship. She had spontaneous love for Lord Krishna. From her very childhood she poured forth her love on Lord Krishna. Krishna was her husband, friend, all relations and the Guru. Krishna was her PRAnanAtha. Meera had no doubt exhausted her vAsanAs in the preliminary modes of worship in her prior births.

In her divine intoxication, Meera danced in public places. Her exalted state could not be adequately described in words. She was sunk in the ocean of Premabhakti. She had no consciousness of her body and surroundings. Who could gauge the depth of her devotion? Who could understand her internal state of Premabhava? Meera was like Lord Gauranga. She was an embodiment of love and innocence. Her heart was the temple of devotion. Her face was the lotus-flower of Prem. There was kindness in her look, love in her talk, joy in her discourses, power in her speech and fervor in her songs. What a marvelous creation of God! What a personality of charm! Meera veritably taught the world the way to love God.

So many princesses and queens have come and gone. So many princesses, and queens have appeared on the stage of this world and vanished. How is it that the queen of Chitore alone is still remembered? Is this on account of her beauty? Is this on account of her poetic skill? No. It is on account of her renunciation, single-minded devotion to Lord Krishna and the self-realization. She conversed with Krishna. She ate with Krishna, her Beloved. She drank the Krishna-premarasa. She sang from the core of her heart about her unique spiritual experiences. She was indeed one of the foremost embodiments of Premabhakthi that ever walked on earth.