“Bhakti brings happiness” – A translation of an Anugraha Bhaashanam by the 35th Sringeri Acharya – Part 2

Sri Gurubhyo Namahapurva mahasannidhanam and acharyal with fan standing smiling

विवेकिनं महाप्रज्ञं धैर्यौदार्यक्षमानिधिम् ।
सदाभिनवपूर्वं तं विद्यातीर्थगुरुं भजे ॥
I worship my Guru Sri Abhinava Vidya Tirtha; endowed with discrimination, great knowledge, a repository of courage, forgiveness and generosity.

This is a translation in my words of the Tamil Anugraha Bhaashanam given by the 35th Peethadhipati of Sringeri, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji. It is available here – https://youtube.com/watch?v=7LAwstRXs1E. A great Yogi and Jnani, He adorned the sacred Vyaakyaana Simhaasana of Sringeri from 1954-1989.

This is part 2 of a series of two posts . Some words inside brackets [] have been added by me.

In Part 1, the following verse composed by Shankaracharya in the Shivaananda Lahari was presented by the Acharya –

भक्तो भक्तिगुणावृते मुदमृतापूर्णे प्रसन्ने मनः कुम्भे
साम्ब तवान्घ्रि-पल्लवयुगम् सन्स्थाप्य-संवित्-फलं
सत्त्वं मन्त्रमुदीरयन् निजशरीरागारशुद्धिं वहन्
पुण्याहं प्रकटीकरोमि रुचिरं कल्याणमापादयन्॥
bhakto bhakti-guṇāvṛte mudamṛtā-pūrṇe prasanne manaḥ kumbhe
sāmba tavānghri-pallavayugam sansthāpya-saṁvit-phalaṁ
sattvaṁ mantramudīrayan nijaśarīrāgāraśuddhiṁ vahan
puṇyāhaṁ prakaṭīkaromi ruciraṁ kalyāṇamāpādayan||

The verse describes the mental state of a Bhakta of the highest order. An analogy of a sacred-pot, a kalaśa/kumbha, is used by Shankaracharya to do this. The mind is compared to this kumbha which is decorated by covering it via the thread of bhakti, devotion for Ishwara. It should also be mudamṛtā-pūrṇe, meaning that the mind-kalaśa should be filled with the waters of contentment.

The translation of the rest of the Bhaashanam follows. The complete Part 1 can be found here

Sri Krishnaarpanamastu,
Prasad.
___________________

Bhagavatpaada Shankaracharya further mentions another characteristic that should be there – prasanne. Even if there is contentment in the mind, if the mind is fraught with thoughts, then the mind is not prasannam. What is the characteristic prasanna mind? It is one which has- viṣayāntara-saṁcara-rāhityaṁ – the capability of not fixating on any viṣaya, any external objects. When one is sitting for contemplation on Bhagavaan, if the mind is continuously running behind other things, then how can it be prasannam? Therefore, Shankaracharya has said – prasanne.

Now, if it is a sacred pot, generally some tender mango leaves are placed on top of it. Here what is the equivalent thing that is to be placed upon the mind? Bhagavatpaada has said – sāmba tavānghri-pallavayugam – the Lord’s feet, which are like tender leaves, are to be placed firmly upon the mind. What is the meaning of placing the Lord’s feet on the mind? To think is natural to the mind, and instead of thinking about any other thing without utility, the mind has to be engaged in thinking about the Lord and His nature. This contemplation of the mind on the Lord is only referred to here as `placing His feet on the mind’. Thus sāmba tavānghri-pallavayugam sansthāpya-saṁvit-phalaṁ. What is the fruit of placing the Lord’s feet in the mind? It is said -saṁvit-phalaṁ. Knowledge of the Atman, which is the ultimate imperishable `attainment’, is the result. Apart from this if there is any other result, like going to svarga or any other lokās (worlds and experiences), there is always punarāvṛtti , there will be a return from such states. Therefore, the only real attainment to be desired for is ātmajñāna – the knowledge of the Atman.

This ātmajñāna doesn’t have to be placed by us upon the mind here, just as we would place the coconut on the sacred-pot. It comes and sits there of its own accord, provided one abides by what Shankaracharya has said – sattvaṁ mantramudīrayan – ‘by chanting the mantra that “He is I” ‘. What does this mean?

At present, we are under the assumption that `I and the Lord are different’. However, according to Shaastra, even during our regular pūjā time, it is prescribed –

देहो देवालय प्रोक्ता जीवो देवः सनातनः
त्यजेद्-अज्ञान-निर्माल्यम् सोहं भावेन पूजयेत्
deho devālaya proktā jīvo devaḥ sanātanaḥ
tyajed-ajñāna-nirmālyam sohaṁ bhāvena pūjayet

When we are doing pūjā to Bhagavaan, the prescription is – sohaṁ bhāvena pūjayet – “with the attitude of that ‘He is I’ ” – one should have the attitude that the Lord is one with oneself. This is true for both kinds of meditative pūjā, either meditation on the nirguṇa nirākāra Brahman (Lord understood as being devoid of all qualities and forms), as well as the saguṇa sākāra Ishwara (the Lord who is understood together with all good qualities and forms). Why is it said so?

When we consider Lord as being nirguṇa nirākāra Brahman, then apart from this Brahman, there is nothing else. Thus the jīvā, the individual, has no existence apart from the Lord as Brahman, and thus it is clear that such meditation based on this oneness can proceed. However the prescription is – sohaṁ bhāvena pūjayet – even when we consider saguṇa sākāra Ishwara. What does this mean? Does it mean that one has to do the arcanā to oneself, take all the sacred offerings, and consume them oneself? Not at all. The idea is, just as you would take care of yourself devotedly, taking care of each of your unique requirements, making sure you are comfortable, similarly one has to do pūjā for the Lord. Sometimes, when people present naivedyam (food offering) to the Lord, it is taken directly from the stove and presented. No diligence is paid to checking whether it is too hot or too cold. But when one oneself proceeds to eat, so much effort has to go to make sure that it is in the perfect temperature. What this implies is that one has the feeling that the Lord is basically a material thing, an inanimate object. One feels, “This heat cannot harm the Shivalinga which is inanimate; if there is anything it can harm, it is only harm my tongue.  So there is no problem with presenting the Shivalinga with extremely hot food which is non-palatable”.

This attitude is wrong. It is essential that any food stuff which is to be presented as naivedyam  to the Lord must be in the state where it is palatable by oneself. If not, this becomes an example of doing pūjā  to the Lord with tāmasī śraddhā [Gita 17.2]. This should not be the case with us. When we say to the Lord, gandhaṁ samarpayāmi – “I offer fragrant sandalwood paste to You”, then the sandalwood should be having such a fragrance that it attracts even ourselves a bit. It should not be that one says gandhaṁ samarpayāmi but offers a non-fragrant, unworthy, paste which has not a semblance of quality sandalwood paste. Some people also do this – they have a  mūrti (figurine) of the Lord, and they keep on applying oil to the mūrti , and continue their daily worship of the same. If we touch this mūrti, then our hands themselves become dirty and oily. Should the Lord suffer this when we ourself are cringing? When we are bent on keeping ourselves neat and tidy, should not the Lord also be kept in that way? Such a thought never comes to some people, as the attitude is that Bhagavaan is different from oneself.

And this is the reason why it is said that one has to have the attitude that the mūrti of the Lord is a conscious entity just like me, – sohaṁ bhāvena pūjayet. One should think,If I am to serve this mūrti in any way, then it should be in the same way as I would serve myself, with care and affection and diligence”. Even if it is offering a coconut, care must be taken to ensure that it has not started to decay inside.  This is the attitude to be adopted when the Lord is worshipped as Ishwara, the repository of good qualities. When meditating on the Lord as Brahman, the one without any qualities whatsoever, there no difference is there at all between the Lord and oneself as a matter of fact. Hence, – sattvaṁ mantramudīrayan – one has to keep in mind this attitude described here.

Then, Bhagavatpaada says – nijaśarīrāgāraśuddhiṁ vahan (purification of the body which is like a house) – if one acts according to the prescription above, then one’s own body and mind will be purified. The water in the sacred-pot can be used for puṇyāhavacana ritual which is used for purifying a physical place which provides space for people. After doing this ritual alone, one proceeds to successfully complete a dhārmika karma as prescribed by Shaastra. In the same way if the mind is kept in this way, bound with bhakti and the memory of the Lord, holding that ātmajñāna  is the only worthy fruit that is to be attained, remembering that the Lord is a caitanya vastu, a Conscious Entity, and keeping śraddhā in the fact that our worship of the Lord will bear fruit certainly, then such a mind purifies itself as well as the body which houses oneself, the jīvā. 

Holding all these attitudes in mind, If one proceeds to do with one’s karma, then the karma which we do becomes equivalent to karma done after completing the puṇyāhavacana ritual, and only then it becomes successful. If these attitudes are not kept in the mind, then it becomes a waste, just as the Gita says – adeśakāle yaddānam apātrebhyaśca dīyate – if one gives something in charity at a un-sacred place, a place where it should not be given, or at a improper time when it should not be given, then the karma of giving is not fruitful.

Therefore, Bhagavatpaada says in effect that if we have to do some dhārmika karma, we have to purify our own body first. To do this, we should practice the above-mentioned disciplines.

Bhagavatpaada also tells us another thing. If we are facing some difficulty in life, then we go to several places, meet several people, by which we try to get rid of the difficulty. However, we often forget the Lord, who has the power to remove our difficulty in a trice. It is said –

त्वयि सति शिव दातर्यस्मदभ्यर्थितानाम्
इतरमनसरन्तो दर्शयन्तोऽर्थिमुद्राम्
चरमचरणपातैः दुर्ग्रहं दोग्धुकामाः
करभमनुसरामः कामधेनौ स्थितायाम्॥
tvayi sati śiva dātaryasmadabhyarthitānām
itaramanasaranto darśayanto’rthimudrām
caramacaraṇapātaiḥ durgrahaṁ dogdhukāmāḥ
karabhamanusarāmaḥ kāmadhenau sthitāyām||

O Shiva, when you are here to bestow on us whatever we desire, we are following other deities stretching hand in begging mood. (This is like) We desire to milk the camel which is difficult to achieve due to kicking with its hinder legs, while we have within our reach, the Kaamadhenu itself (which is capable of bestowing us with whatever we desire).

If we desire milk from the Kaamadhenu [the sacred wishfulfilling cow from the Puraana-itihaasas], then we don’t have to milk it from the Kaamadhenu. Praying to Kaamadhenu alone is sufficient, the Kaamadhenu gives us immediately. The Kaamadhenu even has the capability of giving whatever is desired upon prayer and worship, let alone milk. However, suppose a person who desires for milk does not have the mindset to approach the Kaamadhenu respectfully and worship Her, but rather approaches a camel which is habituated to kicking, then that would be foolish.

Similarly, when the mind is disturbed, if there is some difficulty, why not go to Parameshwara and pray for relief? Instead of this people roam around by trying to sort out the issue by approaching several people and remedies of several kinds. While this may offer a temporary relief, there is no permanent settlement of the issue. One must  therefore approach and surrender to the Lord. Bhagavatpaada has said in the Shivaanandalahari –

योगक्षेमधुरंधरस्य सकलश्रेयः प्रदोद्योगिनो
दृष्टादृष्ट मतोपदेशकृतिनो बाह्यान्तरव्यापिनः।
सर्वज्ञस्य दयाकरस्य भवतः किं वेदितव्यं मया
शंभो त्वं परमान्तरङ्ग इति मे चित्ते स्मराम्यन्वहम्॥
yogakṣemadhuraṁdharasya sakalaśreyaḥ pradodyogino
dṛṣṭādṛṣṭa matopadeśakṛtino bāhyāntaravyāpinaḥ|
sarvajñasya dayākarasya bhavataḥ kiṁ veditavyaṁ mayā
śaṁbho tvaṁ paramāntaraṅga iti me citte smarāmyanvaham||

Generally people say that we must all have a confidante, like a trusted friend or a relative, to whom we can confide our difficulties, who is also a well-wisher and will do us good all the time. However, is this apparent well-wisher himself free from difficulties? If he is not, then how can he help with our situation? How can a doctor who is unable to treat his own sickness cure the same in another? What is the utility in approaching such a doctor? With respect to the ability to get rid of our difficulties completely and for all time, all people are in the same state as such a doctor.

Therefore the teaching of Bhagavatpaada is to approach and surrender to Bhagavaan, who is yogakṣemadhuraṁdharah – One who can give both yoga and kshema. Yoga means getting something new, and kshema means retaining whatever one has. Bhagavaan has the capability to protect what is there already, and also provide whatever is not available but very much needed. Bhagavaan has in fact taken an oath in the Gita, –

अनन्याश्चिन्यन्तो मां ये जनाः पर्युपासते
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम्
ananyāścinyanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yogakṣemaṁ vahāmyaham

When such a Bhagavaan is available to us, why should we go to anyone else and kneel before them, when they do not have such a capability of providing to us the solution like Bhagavaan? And even if someone is there with the capability, do they have the heart to help us out? Not always, in fact rarely so. However, Bhagavaan is – sakalaśreyaḥ pradodyoginah – He is ever intent on providing all kinds of benefits to the anyone who has bhakti. He is as though keeping wait all the time, thinking, “Will someone come and ask me for this? Would anyone receive my grace?”. What else is needed?

Furthermore, Bhagavaan is dṛṣṭādṛṣṭa matopadeśakṛtinah. He is capable of directing us in the right direction towards fulfilling our desires, whether the desire is for something which is perceivable by us now, or even that which is imperceivable like svarga, etc. So these hidden goals are also revealed to us by Bhagavaan, and the method to attain them is also mentioned, like jyotiṣṭomena svargakāmo yajeta (by performing the Jyotishtoma yajna, one attains svarga). Also, he reveals unknown means to known ends, like putrakāmo putreṣṭyā yajeta (if one desires a son, one can do the putrakaameshti yaaga). In this way, he is all-knowing and all-powerful in providing us with all benefits and removing our difficulties.

“OK, Bhagavaan is indeed so great and wonderful, but where to find Him?”, if such a question is asked, then the answer given is that He is bāhyantaravyāpinaḥ – He is available everywhere, within and without, and all the time. He is present even within the antahkarana. He is to be recognised so. If one is not recognising Bhagavaan in that way because of some reason, then one can go to a temple so that one may get the śraddhā to find the Lord there.

Bhagavatpaada continues – sarvajñasya dayākarasya – Bhagavaan is all-knowing as well as filled with compassion towards removing the suffering of all. Bhagavaan being like this, then what is the need for even going to Bhagavaan and telling Him of our difficulties? Being all-knowledgeable, He knows them all. Being all-compassionate, he is ever intent on removing our difficulties. Such a Bhagavaan is indeed – śaṁbho tvaṁ paramāntaraṅga iti me – He is ever our confidante, ever our well-wisher. Other well-wishers, other confidantes, may be there for us today because of some reason, but tomorrow they may suddenly turn over and will not be available to us. But Bhagavaan is paramāntaraṅga – He is the innermost confidante, the indweller Himself. He has declared openly in the Gita – na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati – “My devotee will not perish, he will never be misled”. Thus there is no greater well-wisher, no great beloved, to us than Bhagavaan. Such a conviction should come.

One need not publicise this devotion, this conviction; it is enough if it is present in the mind. If it is present, then all that is good will come to us. When we have got the great fortune of being born a human being [because of the discriminative faculty, buddhi], one should approach Bhagavaan who is the most eligible person to help us, instead of going anywhere else. If we do that, then we will face no lack, no difficulty in our lives. It is for this reason Bhagavatpaada has guided us. Even if we think that Bhagavaan is separate and different from us, Bhagavatpaada has shown us the way to worship Him appropriately. By doing so, all śreyas will be gained by us.

हरनमः पार्वतीपतये हरहरमहादेव।
जानकीकान्त-स्मरणं जयजय राम राम॥
haranamaḥ pārvatīpataye haraharamahādeva|
jānakīkānta-smaraṇaṁ jayajaya rāma rāma||

 

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2 comments

  1. Sir, I got greatly benefited by your translation of Acharya’s discourse. I have a request. I am from Andhra Pradesh, not of Tamil origin. I request you, if you can translate Acharyal’s Anugraha Bhashanam titled Mukti Ku Bhakti Vazhi (Bhakti is the path to attain Mukti) in the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJZJXGoAQcg I would be very grateful. Thanking You.

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