Mahadanapuram: JUNE 9-10, 2012

Importance of Worshipping with a Focussed Mind

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived in Mahadanapuram on 9th June evening to a reverential welcome. The Jagadguru was taken in a procession through the streets of Mahadanapuram. After Dhuli Pada Puja was performed, Swagata Patrikas were read in Sanskrit and Tamil to welcome the Jagadguru. The Swagata Patrika in Tamil described the long relation between Mahadanapuram and Sringeri. Mahadanapuram had been the headquarters of the Nelamavu Math, one of the branch Maths of the Peetham. Mathadhipatis such as Sri Kamalananda Bharati (a disciple of Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji) and Sri Narayananda Bharati had stayed at Mahadanapuram and their Samadhis are located here. The Samadhi of Sri Ramananda Saraswati (Sannyasi, and disciple of Jagadguru Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji and later of Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji, and the author of books such as Paramahamsa Dharma Nirnaya) is also located here. Sri Sacchidananda Tirtha (disciple of Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji, and famous as Sri Bhashya Swamigal) had also stayed in Mahadanapuram for a few years.

In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that since time immemorial, we have faith in Ishwara as the force behind Srishti, Sthithi and Samhara and the bestower of fruits of our actions. Our life runs on this faith. Ishwara must be worshipped with Bhakti. Only His Grace will result in our welfare.

What must we offer to Ishwara? There is a saying – रिक्तहस्तेन नोपेयात् राजानं दैवतं गुरुम् – Do not approach a king or God or the Guru with empty hands. Something must be taken as an offering. Hence the question: what must we take as an offering to God? Many may wonder why must this question be posed as we all do take offerings in the form of materials for worship such as flowers, fruits etc. However, is there anything that we can offer to Ishwara that He does not possess? Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada says in this context –

करस्थे हेमाद्रौ गिरिश निकटस्थे धनपतौ
गृहस्थे स्वर्भूजामरसुरभिचिन्तामणिगणे ।
शिरःस्थे शीतांशौ चरणयुगलस्थेऽखिलशुभे
कमर्थं दास्येऽहं भवतु भवदर्थं मम मनः ॥

If I wish to offer you an ornament of gold, You have the golden Meru Parvata (that was used as a bow during the Tripura Samhara) in your hand. If there is anything that can be offered in kind, you have at your command Kubera, the God of wealth. If one wishes to offer anything unique, Ishwara has at His disposal the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha and the Kamadhenu cow that can bring forth anything. If one desires to offer anything that cools, Ishwara has the crescent moon on His head. Hence as none of these can be offered to You, O Lord, I offer my mind at Your Lotus Feet.

Again, in another verse, Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya says – समर्प्यैकं चतेस्सरसिजमुमानाथ भवते । – I offer the lotus of my mind to You. What does placing the mind at Ishwara’s Lotus Feet imply? How can the mind, a subtle entity be taken and placed at the Lord’s Lotus Feet? Placing the mind at His Lotus Feet implies the constant remembrance of the Lord. The paraphernalia associated with a Puja or the duration of the Puja is not of consequence. What matters is the extent to which our minds remain focussed on Ishwara when engaged in Puja.

It is however natural for the mind to wander. Arjuna himself said to Bhagavan that the wavering mind is as difficult as controlling the wind –
चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद्दृढम् ।
तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् ॥

The Lord replies that the mind is indeed difficult to control and can be stilled only by constant practice and dispassion –
असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहम् चलम् ।
अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ॥

You cannot think that mind can be made still in a day. One has to start by focussing on God for a few minutes and then slowy increasing the duration as the days go by. Along with such practice, one has to cultivate dispassion. The mind runs after objects because of the desire to possess them. The mind will remain still if God alone is looked upon the object of desire. When we walk, do we get distracted by everything that lies on the ground? However, if the eyes fall on a hundred-rupee note lying on the ground, the mind desires to pick it up because of the value associated with it. Thus an object is desired only when the mind attributes a utility value to it. Dispassion is the quality of realizing that there is no value in anything except God. The Yoga Shastra also state the same, that the mind has to be controlled by practice and dispassion – अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः.

Worship done without fixing the mind on God, however long it may be, brings no benefit – अन्तर्मुखसमाराध्या बहिर्मुखसुदुर्लभा – The Goddess is described as being inaccessible to one who is a Bahir-mukha – one whose mind is turned towards the world, its objects, and the activities in it. Such a man’s worship is merely mechanical. However, when a man is Antarmukha – one whose mind is turned inward and directed towards Her, the Goddess is easily pleased and comes within one’s reach.

The Jagadguru then recounted an incident from the past when His Guru, Himself and the Mathadhipati of Tarakeshwar Math in West Bengal had proceeded to offer Puja to Sri Tarakeshwara, and how His Guru – Jagadguru Sri Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji had lost Himself in the performance of Maanasa Puja to Sri Tarakeshwar. While Sri Sannidhanam and the Tarakeshwar Mathadhipati used the materials to offer worship, the Mahaswamiji had remained motionless and after an hour exclaimed with great satisfaction that He had worshipped the Lord. The Jagadguru described that He had seen His Guru as an example given in the name of the Goddess – Antarmukha Samaradhyaa. Hence it is essential to engage in worship of God without allowing the mind to wander. The Jagadguru then recalled the association between Mahadanapuram and Sringeri. The Jagadguru mentioned that Sri Kamalananda Bharati had studied the Shastras at the Lotus Feet of Paramaguru, Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji.

The Jagadguru then narrated an incident of how Sri Ramananda Saraswati had received Sannyasa. When Ramachandra Iyer (the Poorvashrama name of Sri Ramananda Saraswati) approached Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji seeking His approval for embracing Sannyasa, the Jagadguru advised him to spend a year in Sringeri learning aspects of Sannyasa Dharma and cultivating the determination to be able to adhere to the practices involved after Sannyasa. Sri Ramachandra Iyer stayed in Sringeri, studied the Dharma Shastra texts related to Sannyasa Dharma and also wrote the work titled “Paramahamsa Dharma NirnayaH”. During that year (1922), the wedding of the daughter then Math’s Agent Sri Srikantha Shastri had been fixed. As Ramachandra Iyer was Srikantha Shastri’s friend, the latter wanted him to attend the wedding that was to be held at Mysore. Iyer refused citing that he had come to Sringeri to prepare himself for embracing Sannyasa. Shastri then requested the Jagadguru Mahaswamiji Himself to persuade Iyer. The Mahaswamiji called for Iyer who said he had refused as he did not want his mind to go outwards by attending such social functions. The Mahaswamiji then asked Iyer to consider the invitation to the wedding as a test of his mental resolve, and said that he would be granted Sannyasa if he finds that his mind does not waver. Iyer happily agreed to the Mahaswamiji’s direction, attended the wedding, “passed the test in flying colours”, and was blessed with Sannyasa Ashrama soon after returning to Sringeri. Sri Kamalananda Bharati of Nelamavu Math had given him Sannyasa and Pranavopadesha while the Jagadguru Mahaswamiji Himself had bestowed the Yogapatta of Ramananda Saraswati.

The Jagadguru then said that given such a relationship with Mahadanapuram, it was natural for Him to come to Mahadanapuram. The Jagadguru added that He had come to Mahadanapuram though it was located only 2 km away from the previous camping location, Krishnarayapuram. The Jagadguru ended His Anugraha Bhashanam saying that the residents be blessed with a mind that will be able to remain focussed on God.

The following morning, the Jagadguru graced the house of Agnihotri Bellamkonda Srinivasa Somayaji in Mahadanapuram and blessed the family. With the Jagadguru rarely gracing anyone’s house, it was a well deserved blessing for the Agnihotri and his family that maintains the Vedic sacrificial fire at home and performs the Agnihotra ritual everyday.

The Jagadguru then had Darshan at the Vishwanathar Vishalakshi temple and graced the Yajur Veda Pathashala. The Jagadguru then returned to give Darshan and devotees partook of the Tirtha Prasada. In the afternoon around 3 pm, the Jagadguru started from Mahadanapuram towards Srirangam. En route, the Jagadguru laid the foundation stone for reconstruction of Sri Kashi Vishwanathar temple at Thimmachipuram. The Jagadguru then graced Manathattai, had Darshan of Sridevi Bhudevi Sameta Prasanna Venkateshwara Perumal and blessed the residents. The Jagadguru then proceeded to the Rajarajeshwarai Township near Viralimalai and inaugurated the township. The Jagadguru also laid foundation stones for an old age home and a school in the township premises and proceeded towards Srirangam.