Alwarkurichi: MAY 7-8, 2012

Control the Mind and Cultivate Steadfast Devotion

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived at Alwarkurichi at around 6:30 pm on 7th May 2012. The Jagadguru was given a grand reception led by ardent devotee, Sri A Krishnamurthy. After Dhuli Pada Puja and the reading of the Swagata Patrikas in Sanskrit and Tamil, the Jagadguru blessed the gathering with an Anugraha Bhashanam.

The Jagadguru explained that there is no limit to the extent of God’s power. It is referred to in Sanskrit as अचिन्त्यम् – unimaginable, and अपरिमितम् – unlimited. This has been exhibited even in His Avataras (incarnations). Dasharatha had no inkling of the prowess of Sri Rama. He could only see him as a young boy. However, Sage Vishwamitra who had once been a king, and had become a Brahma Rishi by his intense penance, knew the greatness of Rama. We know that while still a teen, Sri Rama overthrew the evil Rakshasas and broke the bow of Lord Shiva to win the hand of Sita. In Lord Krishna’s incarnation, we can see an exhibition of His prowess even from the time when He was a toddler.

People must realize that despite the many incarnations, names and forms, the Lord is One and one has to cultivate Bhakti. Everyone knows the story of Sri Kannappa Nayanar. Sri Adi Shankaracharya has beautifully described Sri Kannappa Nayanar’s devotion in Shivananda Lahari –

मार्गावर्तितपादुका पशुपतेरङ्गस्य कूर्चायते
गण्डूषांबुनिषेचनं पुररिपोर्दिव्याभिषेकायते ।
किंचित्भक्षितमांसशेषकवलं नव्योपहारायते
भक्तिः किं न करोत्यहो वनचरो भक्तावतंसायते ॥६३॥

(The footwear becomes the crown on the head of the Lord, water carried in the mouth and spouted becomes divine bathing, the remnants of a partly-eaten piece of meat becomes freshly prepared offering to the Lord and the hunter Kannappa becomes the crest-jewel of devotees of the Lord. Wonder of wonders! What is it that devotion to the Lord cannot do!)

Despite being a mere hunter, Sri Kannappa Nayanar had touched the highest point of Bhakti. He once saw water running down from one of the eyes of the Shivalinga he used to worship. Immediately, he plucked out one of his own eyes and offered it to the Lord. Then, the other eye of the Shivalinga too started shedding water. Sri Kannappa plucked out his second eye too and offered it to the Lord. The Lord gave Sayujya to Sri Kannappa Nayanar. Sri Kannappa is a great example of how a supreme devotee of the Lord would act in such trying circumstances. Can we compare ourselves to Sri Kannappa? Our devotion stops at the extent where we get satisfied by offering more fruits and decorating the Lord with more beautiful flowers.

However one must realize that the Lord alone is one’s refuge and strengthen one’s devotion. Can we go to anyone else when we are in a dire situation? People would only say, “I am facing more problems than you are. How can I help you?” Hence the Lord alone must be our refuge.

The Jagadguru then spoke about the four types of devotees – the distressed, the person who desires prosperity and well-being, the devotee who seeks knowledge and the knower (Jnani). Using the illustration of Bhagavan Veda Vyasa’s son Sri Shuka, who was a Jnani and yet went on to teach Srimad Bhagavatam to Maharaja Parikshit, the Jagadguru said that even Jnanis delight in the Lord.

यं प्रव्रजन्तमनुपेतमपेतकृत्यं
द्वैपायनो विरहकातर आजुहाव ।
पुत्रेति तन्मयतया तरवोऽभिनेदुः
तं सर्वभूतहृदयं मुनिमानतोऽस्मि ॥

There is no benefit in being devoted or practising Sadhanas for mere external exhibition. The Jagadguru stressed upon “अव्याजभक्ति” – the act of devotion performed with full dedication and without the concern of how many people are observing. The Jagadguru also mentioned that people find it difficult to engage in japa and devotion as the mind wanders. The mind wanders because it feels that there are many thoughts that it deems “useful” to think about even during the time of Japa. Quoting a verse written by Sri Neelakanta Deekshitar, the Jagadguru said that even when we walk on the streets, our mind gets attracted to a stone only if it glitters and we realize it to be a diamond that has value.

पाषाणा सर्व एवैते पद्मरागेषु को गुणः ।
प्रकाशः कश्चिदत्रास्ति परत्र स न विद्यते ॥

Even as our minds do not get diverted by an ordinary stone to which we associate no value, we must value the entire world as useless when we sit for Japa. Our minds will not wander then and be firmly established in the Lord.

The Jagadguru expressed that Alwarkurichi is blessed by the divine presence of Lord Shivashaila Natha Swamy and Paramakalyani. The Jagadguru noted the devotion of late Sri Anantaramakrishna Iyer and his sons, Sri A Sivasailam (Late) and Sri A Krishnamurthy and ended the Bhashanam blessing the devotees.

On May 8th morning, the Jagadguru had Darshan at Sri Paramakalyani Sameta Sivasailanathar temple. The Jagadguru then inaugurated the library block in Sri Paramakalyani college. The Jagadguru also graced Sri Sharada Shankara Madam Trust of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati and blessed the devotees with an Anugraha Bhashanam.

In the evening, the Jagadguru graced Ravanasamudram, had Darshan at Meenakshi Ambal Sameta Chokkalinga Swami temple and gave an Anugraha Bhashanam. The Jagadguru then graced Kadayam, had Darshan of Navaneetha Gopalakrishna Swami and blessed the residents with an Anugraha Bhashanam.