Thursday, December 28, 2006

Brief life sketch of Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Mahasvami - 03

Hare Krishna Friends,

Before continuing, just a reminder that tomorrow is Vaikunta Ekadashi. Let us all try to have the constant thought of the Lord as far as possible.

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Acharya was temperamentally inclined to the royal path of Yoga (As per Patanjali Yogasutras). Mahasvami initiated the Acharya into the process of meditative contemplation when he was just 15 years of age. He started mastering “Yogasanas”. He was eager to learn and he enjoyed doing asanas. Both of these contributed to the fact that he mastered many asanas in a relatively short time. Apart from asanas, he learnt many kriyas. By the time Acharya attained 16 years of age, the deep contemplation on the Self became natural. A few hints from the Guru regarding meditation were sufficient for the Acharya, who practiced meditation and soon began to attain “Savikalpa Samadhi”. When he was less than 20 years of age, Acharya went on to perfect “Nirvikalpa Samadhi” (attained by concentration on the attribute less Supreme). His urge to remain in “Nirvikalpa Samadhi” became so intense that Mahasvami had to instruct the young Acharya to check it for it would have been impossible to get him back from that state of Samadhi. We will learn more about the “Yogarathnam’s” experiences in his own words in the coming mails.

Along with his Yoga Sadhana, Paramacharya had initiated Acharya to Chandramouliswara Puja, Sri Chakra Puja and others. Contemplation on the form-full god had become very easy for Acharya.

The following incident indicates how Acharya was initiated to the contemplation on the formless Atman. This is from the book “Yoga, Enlightenment & Perfection” of his Highness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahasvamigal by Sri R.M.Umesh. Acharya has shared the following with his humble disciple Sri Umesh. The incident occurred sometimes between April 1932 – March 1933. The narration is as done by Acharya.

During my stay in Narasimhavana, every evening I used to cross the Tunga and visit the Sharadamba temple on the other bank of the river. Once when I came back after having darshan of the mother, my Guru asked me the following:

Paramacharya (Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami): When you were crossing the river, what did you see? What thoughts arose in your mind?

Acharya (Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Svami): I saw and thought about those things that were visible.

Paramacharya: Must you see whatever is in the range of your vision?

Acharya: If eyes are closed it is not possible to move forward. As the eyes were open, I saw what was visible.

Paramacharya: You must see all that is visible, yet not see them.

Acharya: How is this possible?

For this, the Paramacharya told the following Shloka and explained how one must conduct always. This occurs in Bhagavatpada’s Shatasloki. The complete verse is:

Atmambodastarangosmyahamiti gamane bhavayan asanastaha
samvitsootranu viddo manirahamiti vaa smindriyaartha prateetou
Drishtasmyaham atmavalokaaditi shayana vidou magna ananda sindou
antarnishto mumukshuhu sa khalu tanu bhrutam yo nayatyevamayuhu

Atmambodastarangosmyahamiti gamane

“When we get up from a seated position and start walking, the feeling should not be, ‘We are walking and going somewhere.’ In the big ocean – the Atman – a wave has arisen. That is the supposition. There is no difference between the wave and the ocean. Yet, because one walks (and thus moves forward like the wave), one should think of oneself as the wave. When the occasion to walk arises, one should contemplate, ‘I am a wave in the ocean of the bliss, in the ocean of the Atman.’” His advice surprised me. He went on, “At all times – even when you talk to someone – repeat this idea in the mind.” With practice, one uninterruptedly carries on this repetition even while speaking. Experience confirms this.

What should be the thought when one is seated? He advised:

bhavayan asanastaha - samvitsootranu viddo manirahamiti vaa smi

In the thread of knowledge, a gem has been strung. The gem cannot be removed; the thread is made of unbreakable consciousness. I am that gem. Contemplation must be done in this manner.

indriyaartha prateetou Drishtasmyaham atmavalokaaditi

Whenever some object is seen, the reflection should not be, “This object is now visible.” One must think, “Aha! Objectless consciousness has now become associated with objects. The Atman was manifest earlier but now its manifestation has increased.” On receiving a blow, we become markedly aware of the body, do we not? We normally do have awareness of the body but this awareness increases when we are beaten. Similar is the case here. Accordingly, even when perceiving some external object, one should cogitate that apprehension of the Atman has occurred.

shayana vidou magna ananda sindou

Do not fall asleep just like that. When lying down, contemplate, “I am now immersed in an ocean of bliss” and, with this feeling, begin to sleep. It is very good. Whoever wants can test the difference between simply lying down and going to sleep and sleeping after voluntarily eradicating all thoughts from the mind while lying down, generating a feeling of bliss and retaining it for some minutes till sleep overtakes one. The great joy that this approach to sleep yields becomes apparent once it is experienced for a few days.

antarnishto mumukshuhu sa khalu tanu bhrutam yo nayatyevamayuhu

He who spends his life in this fashion is, amongst people, the firmly inward-turned one desirous of liberation. Therefore, when walking, sitting, standing and even when lying down, this is how we must conduct in our life. This is the advice my Guru gave me.

I put into practice immediately the advice of my Guru. But the intensity of my concentration was less. When I sincerely started to do it, there were other factors which prevented me to go beyond a particular point. But with my Guru’s advice and blessing, I was able to completely bring the practice to my life every moment.”

Later, the Acharya had his formal lessons in Vedanta. His Guru expounded the Bhagavad Gita Bhashyam, Brahma Sutra Bhashyam and Bhashyam on Upanishads. To the Acharya, these lessons merely served to confirm what he had already learnt through his personal experiences earlier in life.

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We will continue with the narration the next day. Please ponder on the lines of the above Shloka. To start with, we can try to practice Bhagavatpada’s instruction before going to sleep. Wish you all a very Happy New Year in advance.

Hari Om,


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