Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

Reining In

Hari OM
Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

The Mukundamala of King Kulashekhara is the focus, currently, as we seek to raise our devotion.

In all significant spiritual practices, control of the senses and the mind are considered paramount. In this next verse of the sage-king's ode to bhakti, there is a prayer for strength in control of the senses.
ijþe kItRy kezv< murirpu< cetae Éj ïIxr<
Paai[ÖNÖ smcRyaCyutkwaZïaeÇÖy Tv< z&[u,
k&:[< laeky laecnÖy hregRCDai/-yuGmaly<
ijº ºa[ mukuNdpadtulsI< mUxRn! Nmaxae]jm!.17.
Jihve kiirtaya keshavam muraripumcheto bhaja shriidharam
Paani-dvandvasamarchayaachyuta-kathaash-shrotra-dvaya tvam shRnu,
kRshnam lokaya lochana-dvaya harer-gachcchaanghri-yugmaalayam
Highra ghraana mukunda-paada-tulasiim muurdhan namaadhokshajam ||17||
O tongue, sing the glory of Keshava. O mind, think of the enemy of Mura. O worship the Lord of wealth
(my) two hands. O ears, listen to the stories of Achyuta;
O both eyes, see Krishna. O feet, walk to the temple of Hari.
O nose, smell the tulasi leaf at the feet of Mukunda. O head, bow down before Lord Adhokshaja!

If one follows only the jnaana-marg, then reading the shaastra and contemplating upon the words is all the ritual which might be sought. For many folk, though, this focus on the texts alone is not so easy. Too many distractions are presented by the world. Thus, all faith practices of all cultures have their ritualistic level of involvement. Some people find the rituals themselves sufficient for their spiritual needs. However, to have both jnaana and bhakti in a balance is to have, as Gurudev called it, 'two wings of spiritual flight'.

Most of us do require some level of physical expression of our faith to bring our mind and other senses onto the single focus of the Higher. Even if we do have strong concentration skills, our softer nature ought to feel the beauty and Love which can be engendered by ceremonial activity.

Thus, in temples, mosques, churches, we find a pattern of practice that all become familiar with and which is designed to rein in the wild horses of sight, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling. In the Hindu tradition, daily chants of mantras and bhajans or recitation of tracts of scripture take place so that the tongue, engaged in these, cannot wag aimlessly in gossips and idle chatter. Due to having to chant or sing, the mind is naturally involved and thus will change its focus from the external to the internal. Lamps/candles will be lit to keep the eyes busy and focused as we imagine the Living Light of Love. Incense engages the sense of smell and sweetens it, and again, the mind gets busy with the why of its purpose. In Hindu temples, perambulation of the floor and walking around the murtis (statues) or around the outside of the building, as well as throwing flowers and rice in offering, keeps the feet and hands in service of the Higher. The bells are rung to keep the hearing on the task… and for taste, the prasaadam - the food offered to the Lord first - comes back to the worshipers and all receive the blessings of food made sacred. (In the Christian faith, this has been narrowed down to communion wafers and wine, Yeshu having stated that in eating and drinking the Lord is to be found, as long as it is done 'with remembrance'.)

Our guru-king does not ignore the Advaitic aspects of worship. By pleading that the eyes see only Krishna, he is stating the Lord is to be seen in everything and everyone. By offering prostrations to Adhoksha, he is using the name of the Lord which refers to inner discovery - the name literally translates as 'looking within'. Thus the advocation of contemplation and meditation is provided, even as bhakti is honoured.

In Vedanta, there are set prayers and mantras for just about everything. In the absence of guidance on these, we can still set up our own daily 'chanting' by selecting, say, half a dozen favourite scriptural verses, learning them by heart and recite them each morning or evening, giving careful attention to the words, how the verses are constructed, what it is that appeals to us and then sitting in contemplation asking for more profound insights as to meaning and purpose to help us lift ourselves still further and closer to That Which Is. Give it a go!

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