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Posts Tagged ‘Shiva’

Ganesha Rahasya – Knowledge given on Ganesha Chathurthi

In Ganesh Chaturthi, Knowledge digest on 02/09/2011 at 15:53

JGD.. Happy Ganesha Chathurthi !!!!!

Ganesha Rahasya

September 01, 2011

(Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)

The ultimate truth in this existing world is that it is nothing but a collection of molecules. This is called as ‘Gana’ (collective form). Our own body is a ‘Gana’. It is made up of flesh, blood and bone marrow. Thus the Lord of all ‘Ganas’ is ‘GANESHA’.

Ganesha is ‘Achintya’, ‘Avyakta’ and ‘Ananta’. That is beyond thought, beyond expression and is eternal. Thus no other is as beautiful as Him and He is omnipresent.

Now the question arises that why this one-consciousness and one supreme power is depicted in the form of an elephant? The elephant is endowed with peculiar qualities, like its fearless and royal walk. It proudly destroys any obstacle on its path. An elephant is also a symbol of authority, endurance, strength and courage. We are thus, able to imbibe all these qualities into our consciousness.

The long trunk of the elephant symbolizes that true enlightenment is a good balance between ‘knowledge’ and its implementation (in action). Ganesha has only one tooth that stands for ‘one consciousness’.

We are often struck by the question that why does a big Ganesha sit on a small mouse? This is because the mouse is ‘Logic’ and the ‘Knowledge of self’ and over it sits the symbol of ‘supreme knowledge’ Ganesha.

The ‘Modak’ in Ganesha’s hand is the attainment of ‘Ultimate Bliss’. Also his one hand showers blessings on those who have faith and have surrendered to him. In one hand, Ganesha holds a ‘Pash’ or a string that is to tie down oneself in discipline. The other hand of Ganesha holds an ‘Ankush’ or a spear, showing self-control.

Always, the belly of Ganesha is enormous with a snake around it. This stands for acceptance with awareness. Also we surrender all our dreams of woe and distress to Ganesha in the form of ‘Durva’ grass.

We are aware of the story of Ganesha’s birth. Ganesha was born out of the collection of dirt from Parvati’s body. ‘Parvati’ is the high energy of a celebration or festival, and there always is some aspect of negativity in this high energy. This is symbolized by the dirt. When this body of dirt encountered the ‘Shiva element’, the ‘Advait Tatva’ its head, that is ego, fell apart and was then replaced by the head of an elephant. Ganesha was blessed by Lord Shiva himself that he would be worshipped at the out start of any auspicious occasion or puja.

Ganesha Om

Science has discovered that within a single human DNA strand there can also be found the DNA of every other species on the planet. Therefore, we also carry the quality of every animal in us, in fact this has been known since the ancient days.

The principal qualities of the elephant are wisdom and effortlessness. Elephants don’t walk around obstacles, neither do they stop at them – they just remove them and keep walking straight on. For instance, if there are trees in their path, they will just uproot those trees and proceed. So, when we worship Lord Ganesha, these elephant qualities within us, are kindled and we take on those qualities. The reason being that whatever you keep your attention on, you take on those qualities. So if you meditate on Ganesha, who has the head of an elephant, you will get the qualities of an elephant. You will overcome all obstacles.

The ancient rishis were so deeply intelligent that they chose to express Divinity in terms of symbols rather than words, since words change over time, but symbols remain unchanged. For instance, in any language, a skull and two cross bones indicate danger. Similarly, Ganesha signifies ‘Shubti’ (auspiciousness) and ‘Laabha’ (prosperity).

The elephant has special qualities. It has an enormous head, which signifies Knowledge and Wisdom, it has large ears that fan, small eyes which convey that it is wiser to follow that which you hear and understand rather than to follow appearances. So what you see must be co-related with what you hear. Also the elephant used its trunk for dual functions – it smells and acts through its trunk. Likewise in wisdom we smell and then act. With the merest hint of something (like smelling smoke, of course!), a wise person will take immediate action, that is the wise act as soon as they smell something. The elephant also possesses tusks that are visible for all to see while its teeth for grinding purposes are not as they are in its mouth.

So what is the significance of Ganesha? – Shiva and Parvati (this is where the word ‘Power’ comes from; (Parvati represents power) had been celebrating with great enthusiasm and Parvati had become dirty – signifying that celebration can easily become Rajasic or feverish and take you away from your centre, so she removed all the dirt (symbolic of ignorance) from her body and created a boy – doll from this. She gave the doll life and asked him to keep guard at the door while she bathed. When Shiva (representative of Supreme Innocence, Peace and Knowledge) returned to Kailasha the boy could not recognize him and so obstructed his passage preventing him from entering. This signifies that Ignorance (dirt) does not recognize wisdom or innocence, however, truth can be stopped by ignorance and so Shiva chopped off the boy’s head – the head of ignorance and entered. But when Parvati realized what had happened she explained to Shiva that the boy was their son and Shiva had to save him. So he instructed his helpers to go and find someone with his head pointing to the North, someone in tune with the natural flow of energy and to bring back his head. They searched far and wide and were only able to find an elephant in such a state. So they brought back the head of the elephant and this became Ganesha.

Now Ganesha is always depicted with a big stomach, his big belly represents generosity and total acceptance. The story goes that one day Ganesha drank so much milk that his belly burst, so he grabbed a Cobra and tied it around his stomach. This signifies that the acceptance of people and situations (big belly) without deep awareness is of no great value (akin to accepting people when we are sleeping! That is easy!) However, when there is awareness – the Cobra is symbolic of great alertness, and then there is ….or that is true acceptance and love. Ganesha’s upraised hand (in ‘Abhaya’ mudra, depicting protection) means ‘fear not – I am with you’ and his lowered hand, palm facing outwards (in ‘Varada’ mudra, symbolic of giving boons) means – unending giving as well as an invitation to bow down. (Bowing down signifies merging with the earth again, recognising the truth that we will return to the earth. In the womb our position is one where our heads are bowed, our body is in a circle. Even at birth we come into the world head down. It is our nature to bow down). Ganesha also has a single tusk which implies single-pointedness.

One also sees very often, the pasteurization of the moon laughing at Ganesha as he tries to do the ‘Saastanga Danda Pranaam’ to his parents. Here the moon signifies the mind – the mind laughs at wisdom.

Ganesha is mostly seen sitting on a lotus, now an elephant supporting on a lotus is kind of odd! This signifies that he is very sensitive; also Ganesha is always seen riding on a mouse. This is the most unexpected mode of travel, imaginable –an elephant on a mouse! However, the significance runs deeper, the mouse snips nibbling away at ropes that bind. The mouse who gradually nibbles through things is like mantra which can cut through sheets and sheets of ignorance and carry even an elephant. There can be nothing but absolute darkness and all that is required is a single tiny ray of ray that can illuminate us – free us from our ignorance. Not much is required at all – just this tiny persistent awareness. Even the implements Ganesha wields are symbolic, He carries in His hands ‘the Ankusha’ (the goad/stick that is used to prod an elephant awake; this signifies ‘awakening’) and the ‘Paasa’ (the noose which signifies control) now with awakening a lot of energy is released which without proper guidance can go haywire.

Wake Up to Universal Consciousness

In Knowledge digest, Shivaratri on 07/02/2010 at 17:00

Wake up to universal consciousness

DNA, 7th February, 2010

H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

This whole creation is a play of Shiva, the dance of one consciousness, one seed, which has manifested into a million species in the world. The whole world moving in an auspicious rhythm of innocence and intelligence is Shiva. Shiva is the permanent and eternal source of energy, the only eternal state of Being.

Shivratri is when the Shiva tatva and Shakti become one.

There is a story related to Shivratri, about the union of Shiva and Shakti. The primordial and dynamic energy is wedded to the transcendental. Shiva is the silent witness, the chidakasha and Shakti is chitti or chidvilasa, the energy that plays and displays in the infinite space. Shiva is the formless Being; Shakti is the manifestation in the field. This is the recognition of the dual aspect of matter and energy, prakriti and purusha, the dravya and guna – substance and its qualities. Recognising the underlying non-dual nature of Brahman is Shivratri.

Shivratri is the night to celebrate the wakefulness of one universal consciousness without falling into the unconscious sleep state. It is an occasion to awaken the self from all sorts of slumber. The jagran in Shivratri is not just forcing oneself to be awake or singing bhajans aloud. It is about keeping awake and being inward and being consciously aware of the inner rest that sleep anyway brings everyday. When you surpass a certain layer of sleep, the rest in samadhi or Shiva sayujya happens.

Shiva is symbolically represented by the linga. The Divine is beyond any gender, so the Divine is called Ekalinga, or one gender. That one gender is the Self, the Atma. Beyond the body, mind and intellect, and beyond likes and dislikes, that Self is only one, it is Ekalinga.

Shiva has been associated with destruction. Transformation can only happen after destruction. Shiva is that factor of transformation.

Shiva is a very simple lord, he is innocent – Bholanath. One just needs to offer bel-patra to him. But in this simplicity is a deep message. Bel-patra offerings signify the surrender of all three aspects of ones nature – Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. You have to surrender the positives and negatives of your life to Shiva and become free. The greatest offering is yourself. To offer ones self is the key to happiness in life.

Kailasa is the legendary abode of Shiva. Kailasa means where there is celebration. So wherever there is happiness and celebration, Shiva is present. Whether in sanyasa or sansara, you cant escape Shiva. Feeling his presence all the time is the essence of Shivratri. Lord Shiva is always depicted with eyes closed with a snake around his neck. He may appear to be sleeping but this indicates his inner state which is fully awake, like a snake.

He is always painted blue in pictures. Blue signifies the vastness of the sky. The moon on his head depicts everything within him. So all the ghosts, dead, devil, everything is included in his gana. In Shivas procession all types of people are present. So also in this world, all belong to that supreme soul. Its said “Sarvam shivamayam jagat”. This whole world is Shivamaya.

Shivratri signifies being aware of everything you have and being grateful about it. Be grateful for the happiness which leads to growth, and also for sadness which gives depth to life. This is the right way of observing Shivratri.

A window to your soul

In Knowledge digest on 11/11/2008 at 01:03

A window to your soul

by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

We lead life through three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and sleeping. In the waking state of consciousness, we experience the world through the five senses, be it sight, smell, touch, hearing or taste. We seek elevation and joy from these senses. 

For instance, we only want to look at something that is a source of joy, not at something likely to sadden us. If any one of the senses is missing, the entire dimension of that sense is lost. One who can’t hear is bereft of the whole arena of sound. Similarly, he who can’t see is deprived of all the beautiful sights and colours. So the sense is more important and much bigger than the object of the sense.

Each sense has a limited capacity to enjoy – after all, how much can one see or hear or touch? However beautiful a sight, one cannot keep looking at it.  The senses get tired after a short period of time. The eyes close and we want to go back into ourselves because every experience is an expense of energy.

Rated higher than the sense is the ‘mind’. The mind is infinite; its desires are many. But the capacity of the senses to enjoy is small. This imbalance in the system will remain. Greed is wanting more and more sensory objects – even though a person can eat only so much, he wants all the chocolates in the world; though the amount (of money) that can be spent by an individual during a lifetime is limited, he wants all the wealth in the world. This is greed. This is what is prevalent in the world today.

Giving too much importance to sensory objects leads to greed, giving too much importance to the senses leads to lust and giving too much importance to the mind and its desires leads to delusion. We hold on to the concepts of the mind and want things to happen in a certain way. Thus, the concepts in our mind impede us from perceiving the infinite consciousness that’s a part of us.

I’m not saying that the senses or the mind are bad. But we must learn to discriminate between things and be aware of what is happening at all times; that is when clarity dawns on us. This is the first step towards the higher state of consciousness.

Then fourth (or the higher) state of consciousness is somewhere in between the waking, sleeping and dreaming states; wherein we know ‘‘we are’’ but we don’t know ‘‘where’’ we are. This knowledge that I ‘‘am’’ but I don’t know “where” I am or “what” I am is called “Shiva”.  This state gives the deepest possible rest that one can experience. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful.

In the waking state, one is constantly engaged in looking, smelling, eating, etc. The other extreme is the sleeping state where one is completely cut off and dull. The dullness and heaviness linger even after waking up. The more one sleeps, the duller one feels since a lot of energy is expended in sleep.  Hence, the fourth state, where we are awake and yet at complete rest, is worth knowing. And we enter this state only during meditation.

Holding on to infinity Every cell in the body has the capacity to hold infinity. While a worm also eats and sleeps and wakes and performs its daily activities, there is no point in living like that. We must tap the full potential that nature has bestowed on us, the potential to hold infinity in every cell of the body. For that we must practise meditation regularly. It only takes few minutes every day. And once imbibed into the daily routine, meditation is no more a burden or a chore.

Meditation is like a seed. The better a seed is cultivated, the more it flourishes. Similarly, the more we practise meditation, the better it cultures the entire nervous system and the body. Our physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with ‘‘prana’’. And as the level of ‘‘prana’’ in the body rises, we bubble with joy.

The culturing of meditation into our system is normal. Some people call it the higher state of consciousness, I call it the normal state of consciousness since we are endowed with the ability to live in that state. Meditation helps in two ways-it prevents stress from getting into the system and simultaneously helps release already accumulated stress.  Regular meditation also leads to happiness and fulfillment; to sensitisation of the sensory organs (thereby intensifying the experiences of seeing, tasting, feeling, etc.); and to greater intuitiveness.

With the assimilation of meditation into daily life, the fifth state of consciousness, called cosmic consciousness, dawns. Cosmic consciousness is perceiving the whole cosmos as part of oneself. When we perceive the world as a part of us, love flows strongly between the world and us. (Love again is not an emotion but a state of being. It is not a melodrama expressed by endearments but our very existence.) This love empowers us to bear with the opposing forces and the disturbances in our lives. Anger and disappointments become fleeting emotions that occur momentarily and then vanish.

Usually we tend to let go of pleasant emotions and cling to the unpleasant ones; 99 percent of the world population is prone to doing this.  But when the consciousness becomes free and cultured with meditation, this tendency of holding onto negative emotions is the first thing to disappear.  We start living in ‘‘the moment’’ and let go of ‘‘the past’’. This is important because no matter how good the people we interact with, there are bound to be misunderstandings in any relationship.  Once a little misunderstanding crops up, our emotions get distorted and a host of negativities follow.  But if we are able to let go and focus on the ability of consciousness to revel in the glory of every moment, we are shielded from all the above.  The truth that every moment is supportive and complimentary to our growth dawns on us.  Thus, attaining higher states of consciousness does not require any complicated strategisation; one just needs to learn to let go.

A person in a higher state of consciousness is expected to know everything.  But while the mind and the consciousness possess the ability to know everything, do they really need to know everything?  “All knowing” simply means being conscious of the essence of all you know. In this state, both knowledge and ignorance co-exist and complement each other.  For instance, while playing a game, it is not knowing the result beforehand that makes the game sincere and fun. If one knew the result even while playing, the players (and the game) would lose their intensity. 

Similarly, if you know that a friend is going to let you down in ten years’ time, it will affect your relationship with that person today. If everything in life progresses smoothly and as per plan, life won’t be fun. After all, the fun of a story is in its suspense. And anyway, what is the big deal about this one life?  Just 60-80 years? It is nothing. You have had many such comings into this world, inhabited many bodies, done many things. One life is negligible.

When you realise this, little things will cease to bother you. Every up and down in life makes this play of life more interesting. When you open yourself to the consciousness in any particular moment, you perceive the innumerable activities taking place in the universe in that very moment-people are waking, sleeping, preparing for bed, driving, working; chicken are hatching, frogs croaking, virus and bacteria are infecting people — zillions of things are happening in that one moment in this infinite creation and yet the consciousness knows everything.

Deep inside, each person knows about everything in this world. This knowledge is present in every person. You are a part of this whole phenomenon. As your consciousness opens and the whole system gets physically, mentally and spiritually elevated, your life becomes worth living.  A higher state of consciousness will not drop on your head from heaven one fine morning. The sapling of consciousness is within you – it needs to be nurtured with simple techniques of meditation. Some palm trees yield in three years, some in ten years. And those that are not nurtured never yield! They simply exist…

The confluence of knowledge, understanding and practise makes life complete. When you grow into higher states of consciousness, you find that you are no longer thrown off balance by different situations and disturbances.  You become beautiful yet strong – a soft, delicate and beautiful blossom capable of accommodating different values in life without any conditions.