Monday, December 4, 2006

Chapter 18


Within the next few weeks I returned to London. The first thing I did was to hunt in my cassette collection for some of the tapes I had purchased while I visited Nemili many years ago. I finally found one. I went into my room, and sitting crosslegged on the
ground and with all my attention focused on this great goddess, I listened to the tape.
Soon, I was totally transported to the shining, luminous world of Sri Bala. It was as though she was giving me a darshan, seated on a golden swing with a mischievous smile on her lips!

That was a Friday evening. I remember this very clearly because this child appeared in my dream that very same night.

This vision was unlike many I had experienced before. My sleep was disturbed that night by the sound of someone entering my bed room. I opened my eyes but could not see anyone. However, I was able to sense someone was there. I could hear the
shuffle of feet as this person came over to the far side of the bed and got into bed with me. I could hear the soft creaking of the mattress and feel a presence beside me. The next thing I felt was a column of air snaking up my spine. It was as though
someone or something was sending a waft of powerful energy through my entire back. I felt I was floating somewhere and then, spiralling down into a great bottomless void . As I did this I could see a light at the very end. There was a man doing Puja
and a girl’s voice said “ You will go to see Haran Aiya.” That was when I realised that the person next to me was indeed Raja Rajeswari herself.
My voice choking with emotion, I called out “ Amma, Akhila Kodi Brahmaanda Nayakiye Neeya Idhu?.” ( Is it You? The great
Goddess of the universe?) .

I knew then I was not dreaming. However, a strange fear seemed to grip me. Where was I? What was happening to me?

It was as though my unspoken thoughts were understood. The presence was no longer beside me on the bed. Instead, there was shaft of light in the doorway of my bedroom and there, in that soft light I saw my second daughter.

She was saying “ Hey mum, I just finished my homework. Can I come and lie down beside you? .”
I remember heaving a sigh of relief and going back to sleep.
I awoke the next day and only then remembered. My daughter was not even here in London. She was thousands of miles away studying at an University in New Jersey, U.S.A.
So, the person in my dream had really been the mischievous Baala who had made her presence felt both as Raja Rajeshwari and as a young girl in the form of my daughter so as to not make me frightened of my “ dream within a dream”.

A few days later I received some bad news. My daughter had been admitted to a hospital in New Jersey with bacterial meningitis. I was frantic with worry. I had just finished six days of prayers to Lord Muruga for Skanda Sashti and beseeched Him to help my daughter. While she had been diagnosed just in the nick of time, the doctors told us to wait for a couple of days since further tests needed to be done and their results analysed.

I tried to be optimistic, yet could not really get rid of a nagging thought at the bottom of my heart. So, the next morning, while awaiting the results of the brain scan, I made a long distance call to the house at Nemili.
The phone number I had was an old one and I was not too sure if anyone would even pick up the phone at the other end. To my surprise the phone was answered almost immediately by the elderly priest Shri Nemili Ezhilmani.

I told him he would not know me but that I was calling from London and had visited Nemili 3 years ago.
I reminded him about the black and white drawing I had given him. At this, the priest immediately remembered me. He said he had kept that picture in the puja room very carefully!
I quickly informed him about my dream and the gentle “ reminder” Bala had given me during Navarathri.
The man’s response was surprising. “ Oh you must understand that our Baala likes to play tricks on people. She loves to shock them and then appear in dreams as a young girl”.
“Don’t worry”, he said “ I shall surely pray for you and your child. Nothing will happen to her health. Just take confidence from me.” He also added “ Do write a personal letter to the Goddess, and tell her your problems. She will sort it out for you. Mail it to
my address and I shall place the letter at her feet and send you the prasadams.”

I thanked him profusely and said I would write a letter immediately. However, I also told him that my mother who lived in Chennai would contact him. Perhaps he could perform a special archana in my daughter’s name on her birthday ( November
16th) that was just going to fall within a few days.

However, Sri Ezhilmani said that archanas were not performed at Bala Peetam. He reiterated that just the phone conversation with him was sufficient and I should just have complete faith in Shri Baala.

I sat down at my computer immediately and poured out my heart in a letter to Bala. I sealed it in an envelope and rushed to the post office to mail it.
When I re- entered the flat the phone was ringing. I hurried to pick it up. It was my daughter calling from the hospital.
“Mummy, I just got the results of the CAT scan. The doctors feared there might have been an abcess in the brain. But everything is clear. There will be no long lasting after- effects from the meningitis.”
From the very depths of my heart I thanked Shri Bala!!

I was leaving London again within the next few days to visit my daughter and called my mother to see if she could possibly send me the temple prasadam . However, my mother was bedridden due to a leg ailment and although she said she would try her best, I did not really think the prasadam would reach me before I saw my daughter in the U.S.

Anyway, I reasoned to myself, Bala is always within me. I don’t really require the prasadam. I reassured my mother and told her not to exert herself.

I landed in Boston and was staying with my elder daughter. My health suddenly took a turn for the worse and instead of leaving immediately to visit my younger daughter in New Jersey, I had to wait a few days until I got better.
I spent a lot of time each day in prayer and started reading the Abhirami Andhadi. There are one hundred verses in this great work where the ending word of each verse forms the starting point for the next. I spent some time every day revelling in the glory
of the Goddess as well as appreciating the unshakeable faith and devotion exhibited by the poet Abhirami Bhattar.

My husband flew in from London a few days later as we had planned to drive down to New Jersey to visit my younger daughter over the Thanksgiving break.
He arrived one evening just as I was finishing the last verse of the Abhirami Andhadi. I opened his suitcase in order to unpack it.
There, right on top of all his clothes was a yellow cloth bag with the smiling photograph of Baala embossed on it.
Hardly believing my luck I opened the bag, Along with the prasadams were a few sloka books and a small medallion with Baala’s image.
But I had thought it would not have possible for the prasadam to reach me within the week! After all Nemili was a good two hours away from Madras.How was this possible?

I called my mother to thank her. Apparently the whole thing had been a remarkable coincidence. The prasadam had come in on a Friday and on that very day some members of the family were travelling to London. These people had, in turn, passed it on to
my husband just as he had been leaving London to come to Boston.

Once again, that little child- goddess has set in motion a train of events that achieved the desired results!!
I was overjoyed and made my daughter wear the precious medallion almost immediately, when we did see her!

It was following the Thanksgiving break and after we had returned to Boston that I resumed my spiritual diary once again.
As mentioned earlier, there was a strong urge for me to finish recounting all the events over the past year.
As I finish this portion of my narrative, I do realise that one more question deep within my heart has still not been answered.
In my letter To Baala I had asked her “ Dear Baala, please tell me what I should do with all my paintings. You have given me the talent. Now I desire to be of service to You. Please tell me how its going to be possible for me to help humanity during my life

I realise that my Guruji has given me clear instructions to hold an exhibition of all the paintings. Swami Paaramarthananda has adviced me to set up a web site with my writings. The latter is very nearly set up. But the real question is “ How am I going to
achieve this task of raising money”.

It is my intention to visit Chennai in late January 2006. I plan to place all my writings and photographs of all my paintings at the feet of this tiny, but most powerful goddess and seek her help.
I am aware that I am destined to meet “ Aiya’ of Rochester at some point in my life.
Until then the purpose of these writings and my paintings will elude me.

( I just noted I have finished writing this final segment at 4 p.m. on December 4th. From reading the little pamphlet sent to me
by Nemili Ezhilmani, the number FOUR is Baala’s special number!).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Chapter 17


After completing this massive portrait of my Guru, I started a painting depicting the Ashta Lakshmis ( eight Lakshmis). These depictions of the goddess of wealth are considered very auspicious. I decided to do them for my own peace of mind.
As is my usual custom, I did read up a lot of slokas pertaining to the various representations of this Goddess. She stands for many aspects of our personalities like valour, courage, love, generosity, hard work, knowledge, etc

I followed this up with a painting of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi seated on the mighty Adi Sesha. This painting was inspired by a beautiful Sanskrit hymn to this Heavenly couple called “ Lakshmi Narayana Hridayam”.

Following this painting, I engaged myself in doing a lot of abstract paintings as well as portraits of Lord Ganesha done in a modernist manner. I started reading the Narayaneeyam whilst doing the abstracts. I would simply close my eyes, meditate
on the Lord and within minutes conjure up in my mind, the colours for my abstract paintings. I reasoned the absence of figures as a ripening of my utter faith in the Lord and a movement away from Sagunam to Nirgunam Brahman!

During the summer of 2005 I made another visit to Chennai. I met Swami Paramarthananda on Guru Poornima day and sought his blessings. He remembered me from my previous visit and questioned me if I had folllowed his advice to set up
a web site with my writings and paintings. I replied I had not yet done so. Moroever, I informed him I wasn’t really sure if people would really be interested in my reflections and writings.

His reply was firm “ You should create a web site. Put down whatever comes to your mind. People living overseas will definitely benefit by this. I am giving you the confidence today. Start this project with my full blessings “ Then, in a complete
changeof topic he remarked, as I was leaving “ Don’t give up Sagunam deity bhakthi”. How had he known that I had started my abstract paintings? I puzzled about that for a bit and actually felt happier he had not asked me to move away from saguna worship. In truth I had been finding this process a bit difficult as my mind was so used to concentrate on the image of any particular God or Goddess. I was overjoyed to hear this respected Guru mention it. I did my namaskarams and left his presence.

During my two week stay in Chennai this time, I was fortunate to visit two more temples. This time I was able to get Darshan of Guruvayurappan and the great Bhagavathi of Chottanikkara. Was it mere coincidence that this deity is considered widely as “ Amme Narayana” ? i.e. an aspect of Shakthi or Durga along with Vishnu. I remembered my
painting of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi and said a silent prayer of gratitude.

During August, 2005, I was in Boston, U.S.A. staying with my eldest daughter. The month of Aadi is considered auspicious to Amman. So, I decided to do a drawing of the mighty Sri Chakra, as an act of propitiation to the Goddess. On the holy Adi Velli,(Friday), I attempted this very precise and mathematical drawing after duly reciting the Lalitha Sahasranamam and Lalitha Trisathi.
By the end of the day I had finished this mystical geometric pattern that harnesses all the power of Shakthi within its manifold triangles. I framed the print and hung it in my daughter’s flat as a good luck charm.

As things worked out, I was intended to stay on in Boston for the next two months. My husband seemed to be considering the possibility of moving to the U.S. permanently and I felt quite happy .
I continued with my prayers and meditation whilst staying in daughter’s flat. The next painting that “ happened” was one of Shiva and Parvathi. I had been listening to the Rudram every day and felt the urge to portray this great Lord once more dancing with his consort very happily !
I finished this painting just before the auspicious period of Navarathri.

During this time I had been constantly thinking about the purpose of both my paintings and writings. Despite the assurances given by Swami Paramartha, I was not fully confident that anyone might be remotely interested in reading either my narrative or for that matter interested in viewing my paintings. It wasn’t as if these art pictures were unique in any way, i.e. except in my eyes!

Nevertheless my daughters helped me to start a web site and I called it “ spiritualvision” In this, I pasted all my pictures and writings i.e. my spiritual diary. I left a blank page to put in daily thoughts and another one titled Spiritual Guidance.
However, I did not resume writing my diary just yet. I was assailed by conflicting thoughts.

During Navarathri I recited the Devi Mahatmyam every day and sought the guidance of my Guru. One night I got my answer. I was in the presence of Shri Shanthananda Swamigal. He was sitting on a pedestal smiling genially and conversing with a
group of people. I approached him and did my namaskaram. Then, what happened was very strange. He just looked at me and I found my lips moving and uttering these words several times “ Keep an exhibition of all your paintings. Collect money and send them to the Skandashramam temple in Tambaram”
In fact, I woke up as if from a deep slumber saying these words over and over again. It was early morning on a Friday during the holy nine days of navarathri. While I did not ignore this message, I hardly knew where to begin.

One afternoon during this auspicious period, I was surfing a web site that was devoted to the Raja Rajeshwari temple in Rush, N.Y.
I had come across this web site previously during my researches on Sri Vidya worship. It was maintained by a man called Haran or “Aiya’ and I read his short biography. He hails from a long line of Gurus all of whom are in the path of Sri Vidya and Shakthi worship. Apparently, he started this temple at Rochester many decades ago and it attracts hundreds of devotees each year, especially during the time of Navarthiri.
I was lucky that at the moment I tuned in, there was a live webcast of the Abhishekams that were going on to the main deity.
For a long time that day I sat and watched the proceedings at this temple. After the morning pujas were over that day, there was a short talk by “ Aiya” to the congregation.
What he spoke about quite simply took my breath away.
The whole speech was about the glory of Sri Baala, the little child-like deity whose temple was a small house in the village of Nemili.

I remember feeling an electric shock coursing through my spine. Baala was saying to me very clearly. “ I gave you the ability to paint ever since you placed the first picture at my feet. Now you seem to have forgotten me?

I sat, for what must have been a long time, in the same position, not being able to think, and with no other thoughts in my mind except this child deity. Much later, I remember my daughter entering the room and asking “ Mum, what’s the matter. You have been sitting rooted to that spot for ages. Is something wrong?”

There was no doubt in my mind about the message I had just received. It was the complaint of a small child seeking attention!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chapter 16


We returned to Chennai the following day. Many months later I had a vision of the Acharya. One night, I was somehow transported to Shringeri. I saw him performing a puja. However, even as I looked on, his physical form seemed to balloon out.
His image became fatter and more grotesque. His face filled out until his eyes disappeared under the enormous folds of his chin. Suddenly, with a puff of smoke he completely disappeared from my view. I woke up as if from a deep stupour and the first
thought in my mind was “ He showed me that name and form didn’t really matter. I have been foolish to underestimate and not fully realise the immense power of this very Holy man”.

I don’t really know if that idol was ever returned to Salem. Somehow, I don’t think that was the real intention of Swamigal. I got the distinct impression that this whole episode was a test of my faith in my Guru!! It had taken a lot of courage for me to convey
my Guru’s message to the Acharya, braving criticisms from my family. The Acharya, of course, could see through this “test” very easily! I was meant to get the blessings of a “living” Guru and this objective had been achieved.

Two further memorable events happened during this short visit to Chennai in January, 2005. However, before I start to elaborate on them, I must mention another vision I experienced on the very early morning of December 26th , 2004.

In this vivid dream, I found myself in a very old, but beautiful mansion . It seemed that I was here to meet someone special. I wandered around the vast, spacious corridors that seemed to enclose a courtyard. I remember seeing a tinkling fountain in the middle of the
courtyard. The broad verandah encircling the courtyard had cool marble flooring and was perfumed with the fragrance of various exotic flowers and plants that seemed to grow in profusion in the garden.

All of a sudden I came across a a raised dais set in the side of the verandah. I went closer and then saw her. There was a woman sitting on the raised dais. I could not really see her face too clearly but registered in my mind that she had a portly figure. Then, as I drew closer to her, I seemed to leave my body and literally “ float” towards her, or into her. It was a strange sensation, but not too unlike experiences in the past.
This Lady said in a soft voice “ Please tell your sister to come and see me. I have been waiting for her. She was supposed to come and see me earlier but did not show up. You will bring her to me. “ That was all, that was the message.

I awoke and realised it was my sister’s birthday. I called her up immediately and told her about my dream. She remembered that there was a psychic astrologer- lady in Chennai whom she had intended to visit in October 2004. But somehow, she never got around
to seeing her. We felt that perhaps it was this person who wished to meet her after all!

Bearing this dream in mind, when I was in Chennai during January 2005, I asked my sister if she wanted to visit this lady.We found out where she lived and fixed up an appointment to see her. Meenakshi Ammal lived in a tiny flat in a suburb called
Chrompet. We introduced ourselves and soon got talking. Apparently Meenakshi Ammal had been blessed by Lord Muruga of Tiruchendur. . She had this God given ability of reading horoscopes and making accurate predictions.
I had taken my horoscope and my sister had taken her daughter’s horoscope as she was anxious for her daughter to get married soon.
Meenakshi Ammal did predict many past events for my sister rather accurately and reassured her that her daughter would soon get married.
Then she turned her attention towards me. She looked carefully at my horoscope and that of my husband’s as well. Without the slightest hesitation she described with great accuracy all the troubles I had endured on several fronts over the past. She
mentioned a great dosha in my husband’s horoscope and told me to carry out some parihaarams for it , if I was interested.

There was a marked difference in the tone of her voice while she spoke to me and gave further information. I was meant to be there that day! Meenakshi ammal told me that in my earlier births I had been extremely religious. However, this had been
forgotten in the most recent janma. Hence the return to spirituality in the current janma or birth. She assured me that throughout all my problems I was assured of Lord Muruga of Tiruchendur’s support. “ He is surely guiding you and protecting your children. Don’t be afraid”. These were her final words.

Soon after this interesting episode and, towards the tail end of my trip to Chennai, I had the opportunity to visit Tiruchendur. This temple by the sea-shore is one of the famous battle- camps of Lord Skanda, so the legend goes, and is a truly inspiring
sight. Apart from the architectural splendour, there was an unmistakable vibration in the atmosphere that was soul- stirrring.
The temple was, as usual, extremely crowded. Although we were escorted by a few temple priests who allowed us to escape the seething mass, nevertheless we were jostled and pushed towards the main sanctum. Here too, there was a tremendous
commotion and chaos.
My sister in law and her daughter had travelled along with me. We were given permission to sit up front at the very entrance to the main sannidhi. From this spot I could get an uninterrupted view of Lord Muruga in all his glory. Yet, the noise outside was
deafening. The people in the crowd that was just behind us, were screamimg at the top of their voices. The few priests inside the sanctum seemed to rush back and forth between the main altar and the entrance carrying the arathi and prasadam. There were people who were shouting out their respective names, gothrams, etc for archanas. In the midst of all this din, there was a solitary priest inside the sanctum reciting the Murugan Ashtothiram
( 100 names in praise of the Lord).

I strained my ears but simply could not hear anything! I then focused my attention on the main idol and sat there simply looking at this glowing figure.
Within a few minutes I completely forgot the chaos outside. In other words I could either not hear it or it didn’t matter to me anymore because something really strange was going on that caught my complete attention.
Even as I sat there gazing at the deity, I could very distinctly see His mouth move. I could “ hear’ Lord Muruga reciting his own Ashtothiram. I thought I was mad!!!

Surely someone else might have noticed this as well?

However, in that crowded sanctum not one of the priests seemed terribly concerned that something unbelievable was going on. I waited for a few minutes, my eyes still on the deity. No mistake here. I could see Lord Karthikkeya move his lips and now I could hear the priest chanting as well. The deity’s mouth moved in unision with the chanting!! I could not tear my eyes away. Now another strange thing happened. Lord Senthil Vel Muruga was giving me a darshan as Pazhani Andavar. Gone were the crown and robes that had been adorning this idol. The face looked young, the head was completely shaven, adorned with rudraksha beads. There he stood in solitary splendour wearing nothing but a loin cloth and holding his Dhandam in his right hand. His youthful face
smeared with sandal paste looked so calm and serene. His mouth was parted in a smile, but at the same time still mouthing the many namams of his own Ashtothirams.

I think at this point I screamed to my sister in law who was sitting next to me- ‘ Look , Look, don’t miss this sight. He is actually talking!!! Can’t you hear?”
Later, after we left the temple premises she told me that she had been really quite concerned about the state of my mental health.
As soon as the Astothirams were over, we did leave the main sanctum. However, I caught hold of one of the priests and told him what I saw. He did not really know how to respond! Clearly, he must have thought I was completely mad.
In any event, I can never forget what I had witnessed. That image of Tiruchendur Murugan who also revealed himself to me as Pazhani Andavar is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

After I returned to London in eatly February, 2005, I decided to do a portrait of my Guru Sri Shanthananda Swamigal. I had meant to paint a large portrait of him earlier but could not find a suitable photo to copy from. The night before I departed Chennai, I
visited the Mel Maadi puja room to get a few minutes of peace. I sat in front of the photo of my Guru and said a silent prayer. I closed my eyes to meditate. A single thought appeared and despite all my efforts I could not cast it aside. This was the thought
message. “ Take my photo from this puja stand back with you to London and paint that image”.
Why had I not considered this option before? Well, I did not really think I should remove the photo my mother worshipped everyday!
Anyway, I went downstairs and asked her permission . She replied immediately I could take it as long as we substituted another one in the same place. That was easy to accomplish. Then, I asked her if there was anything special about this
particular photo. Apparently, after the death of my father, the rather neglected puja room upstairs did not really have a photo of Swamigal. So, during one of his visits to Madras my mother personally requested him to give her a copy. He had given her this
particular laminated photo with great love and affection. That was why it was so precious to her!

I promised to return this photograph once my painting was finished.
I started this painting of Guru with utmost devotion. I immersed myself in Slokas on Lord Dakshinamurthy, the Guru of all Gurus, as well as Avadutha Sri Datta Guru. I listened to the Sahasranamams in the praise of these two great spiritual masters
and then commenced my painting.

I must admit that this painting was the most difficult one to finish and although the photograph from which I copied our Guru had been taken about 30 years ago when he was relatively younger, by the time I finished, the face was totally different.
I was not very happy with the finished painting. I reasoned to myself that perhaps this was how He wanted it. So, I left it at that.

Soon afterwards, my mother came to visit me for a few days in London.
This was a surprise visit. It was as though she was destined to see His painting just as I had finished it.In fact, over the past three years I had completed a lot of my paintings. My mother had never really seen any of them in the original size in which they had been executed. She had not visited me during this period, so, apart from viewing them in prints or photos she had never seen the originals.
With great pride, I showed her all the 80 or so odd paintings that it had been my destiny to paint!
The last one I showed her was my enormous painting of Swamigal. I propped it up against the wall in our living room. The painting seemed to dwarf the whole space. My mother looked at it intently for a bit then said that although his face looked
different in my painting as compared to the photo I had used as a guide, his face here looked exactly as it did during his last days!!
I was truly stunned to hear this. I had not really seen him during the last few years of his life. All I had done was to copy his image from a more youthful looking photo. What turned out was what He meant for it to be.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Chapter 15


I had hardly finished this set of paintings when I received news from my eldest brother that he was to celebrate his sixtieth birthday in accordance to stipulated rites. The venue was The Sharadha Peetam at Shringeri. I was very happy to hear this news. However, I
was not too sure about making another trip to India especially as I had just been there less than a month ago.

Although such a trip would have provided me with the opportunity of visiting a very Holy place, and one that I had intended to visit during my last trip, I had to resign myself to not going for the function due to the extra expense involved.
However, a few weeks later, bowing to my mother’s wishes, I changed my mind and decided to make a quick dash to Chennai.

There I was, in late January 2005, back again in Chennai. My sister who lives in New Zealand had also come down for the function.
A lot of family members were attending the celebrations at Shringeri. I travelled with my sister, my sister in law and her daughter.
En route from Managalore to Shringeri a sudden decision was taken to visit the famous Sri Krishna Temple at Udipi. It turned out that my brother had a very good contact at the temple and this devotee could give us a tour of the temple.

I was overjoyed. It was early afternoon when we reached this famous temple. The contact proved enormously helpful and gave us a thorough tour of the whole temple premises including the enormous Go Shaala ( cow stalls) .

After we had finished the preliminary tour this man informed us that the head priest of the Math would be performing an evening puja at 7.30 p.m. and he insisted we stay and witness this function.
However, my sister- in- law decided that we could not stay on for it as it might not really be safe to drive back to Mangalore very late in the evening.
With regret, she informed the helpful man, we could not possibly stay.

My sister and I did not venture to say anything as we realised my sister- in-law did have a valid reason. Nonetheless I was disappointed by the decision.
Now came the surprising bit. Our guide agreed with our resolution but instead offered to take us for a very quick audience with the head priest of the math “ to get his blessings”.

We agreed and followed our friend into a small room situated on one side of the main sanctum. There was a huge silver throne in the middle of this otherwise very plain room.

We were told that this throne dated back several centuries and was one used by Saint
Madhvacharya, the founder of this Math. We stood in one corner of the room waiting for the chief priest to enter after finishing his evening bath in the temple tank. We didn’t have a long wait. Within a few minutes the door opened with a flourish and a young,
athletic man with a completely shaven head bounded into the room with great energy and got onto the throne. We were all surprised! We had expected an
old, venerable figure to come shuffling in slowly! Instead here was this smiling, enthusiastic priest who seemed to be in a rush to start the evening rituals!

There followed a very swift introduction and we bowed low with respect. Then this head priest said in a very clear voice “ You must stay for the Puja and only then you can leave”.

Saying this, he quickly leapt off the raised dais and hurried off to the main sanctum.
Crowds thronged everywhere and literally swept us in the same direction. Behind us, our friend said rather loudly “ The head priest has spoken from his throne. You cannot refuse his command”.
My sister in law reluctantly agreed to stay. However, she told us we must leave half way through the ceremony when she gave the signal.

The evening ritual began. And what an experience it was. I could observe every nerve fibre of the priest and indeed all his physical energy focused on Lord Krishna. It was as if he was invoking Lord Krishna to be part of Him. He gave the deity a ritual bath, anointed
the Lord with sweet smelling sandal wood, fanned him with great big feather fans, sang lullabies to him and put him on a swing to sleep!

We looked on fascinated and totally mesmerised by the rites. What struck me over and over again was the abject devotion and total Bhakthi that was exhibited. My sister in law also stood and witnessed the entire puja. No signal to leave was give, It was as though
she too had been transported eleswhere!!
I caught a glimpse of the Lord through the barred inner doors of the sanctum . He seemed to have a mischvievous smile on his lips!!

After this puja was over, we were told to collect prasadam from the head priest. There was a line of people queing up for this. I noticed that the priest was literally “ throwing” the prasadam down from a great height and one had to be quite adept and nimble to
catch it!
The reason for this was obvious. These priests were very holy and were not supposed to even “accidentally” make contact with any of us.
I was a bit concerned when my turn came as I was sure the prasadam which consisted of several packets of sweets as well as the customary vibhuti, etc , would fall on the ground .

I need not have worried. As I bowed low near the priest and focused on his hand I
noticed to my great surprise that it ventured lower and further down than it had done for the others. In fact He made sure I could received it properly. I don’t know what made me look up ( its not entirely respectful to make an eye contact), but I did so , and the priest looked directly into my eyes and smiled! It was a totally captivating smile that lit up his face and seemed to reflect his true inner self. In that instant I could clearly see Him as Lord Krishna!! Of that there is no doubt at all.

As we left the temple, I remember the last thing our guide told us. “ Look up at the frescoes adorning the inner sanctum They are very special because you can see all the Ten avatars of Vishnu carved on stone”.
What a fitting end to this marvellous evening!!

We proceeded to Shringeri the following morning. Here was yet another temple complex and ashram nestled in a beautiful valley with the serene river Tunga flowing through it. While attending my brother’s birthday celebrations I had ample time to wander around
and marvel at some of the ancient shrines that were dotted around in the vicinity of the Peetam.

Our family members were also able to get the blessings of the Archarya of Shringeri. I remember standing in a long line waiting to receive “holy” water from this man. The Acharya represents the head of one of four peetams established by Aadi Shankara several centuries ago. This is a highly venerated position and he is literally treated as a royal personage. Bearing all this in mind, I approached him, when my turn came, with great humility indeed. I received the holy water and, viewing my brother’s consternation, stepped back at a discrete distance , to sip it. My brother introduced me to him and said I lived in London.

My first introduction to this Holy man seemed somehow , totally forgettable. I did not really feel any sense of exhilaration from having met a religious leader held in awe by so many devotees. However, I chastised myself for being too critical and thought that
perhaps I might seek out an opportunity to get a private audience with him and get his blessings. I decided to ask my brother about this later. He knew the Acharya extremely well and promised me he would try and arrange something for the next day. However,
everyone seemed busy with the Shastiabthapurthy celebrations and I decided not to press this matter any further.

That evening I witnessed a puja performed by the Acharya. It is customary for this daily rite to be conducted with a lot of pomp and I sat in a vast auditorium watching the Acharya perform this late night puja on a raised dais.

There was a group of people in a corner chanting the Rudram and Purusha Suktham. It was peaceful to hear these ancient vedic chants. However, after a while my attention was focused on the Acharya himself. I noticed that although he seemed to be performing
many rites, his eyes were not really on the deity he was worshipping. He was constantly looking at the doorway of this vast auditorium as if to check out who was coming in or leaving.

There did not seem to be any positive vibrations coming from this holy man. I could not help but compare this evening puja to the one I had witnessed the previous day in Udipi. There was absolutely no way to describe either the mesmerising quality of that puja
ritual or the utter faith and conviction of that priest whose entire body seemed to quiver with total bhakthi and in whom Lord Krishna was totally dissolved at the end.

Today, I was watching a corpulent, old man ( actually I later came to know he was only in his early fifties),performing a ritual rather mechanically with absolutely no involvement in it whatsoever.
I had perhaps expected too much and felt strangely let down. In fact, I noticed the Acharya yawning a couple of times as he was performing the puja and it seemed to me he was really tired and ready to go to bed!

The next day was my brother’s Shastidhaamaabthipoorthy celebrations.
It came to me as great surprise that morning that in the middle of his busy schedule he had remembered my request of the previous day. He had arranged for someone to take me to see the Acharya at 9.30 a.m. that very same morning.

My sister agreed to accompany me. However , my mother warned me before I left that despite all my misgivings about this man, I had to observe the usual niceties. I was given strict instructions not to bring up the subject of that broken idol that Santhananda
Swamigal had wanted returned to Salem. In other words, my mother did not really give any credence to either my dreams or visions.
She perhaps thought I would embarrass myself in front of this Holy man by saying something that was totally irrelevant. My sister was sent with me in order to prevent me from committing any such folly!

At precisely 9.30 a.m. we entered his private quarters and were taken into what was called the “ Darbar room” or throne room. This was where the Acharya usually met people.
There was a carpet on the ground of this otherwise bare room. We sat down and waited. At this time I still had no idea about precisely what to say to the Acharya. I said a silent prayer to my Guru and requested him to speak on my behalf! I told him mentally “ If
you want your idol back you will have to ask for it. I have been warned not to ask silly questions”.

Within a few minutes the Acharya entered along with an assistant. He sat on the throne in a comfortable posture. My sister and I did our namaskarams. Then, the Acharya looked at us and smiled. He asked us if there were any problems either of us wished to discuss.
The man who came with him retired to a discreet distance at the far end of the room. Clearly, this was the general protocol as most people who visited the holy man came to unburden all their family problems and ask for advice.

My sister remained silent and looked at me. I stood up rather hesitantly, and began to talk. I started off by telling the Acharya that I had not come here to discuss any of my personal problems. Instead, I said I had come to him because my Guru had sent me here. He looked a bit surprised. “ Who is your Guru?’he asked. This was the cue or so it seemed. I don’t know how I managed to talk, but words seemed to flow out of my mouth, in perfect tamil!
I talked about how Sri Shantananda Swamigal had been our family Guru ever since I was little; about how he had taught me a sloka on Goddess Bhuvaneswari when I was just three years old; about the mantra he had given me years later; and all the visions I had
experienced; my paintings; about my out of body experiences, etc. In short, within the space of perhaps ten minutes I was able to give this most holy man a complete account of my spiritual journey thus far, including my momentous meeting with Amma!!
I was emotionally overcome by the time I finished. I noticed the Acharya yawning a few times during my narration carried , but did not really care!

I finished my speech or rather my Guru finished it off for me by saying the following:
‘ Acharya, compared to you I am a very ignorant person. In terms of knowledge, I know perhaps what is equivalent to a grain of sand while your knowledge can be compared to the vast ocean. Therefore, please do not consider me as pretentious when I just pass on
a message that my Guru wanted me to deliver to you.I understand there is an image of Goddess Bhuvaneswari that is currently here at the temple. This has to be sent back to Salem. This was my Guru’s instructions and I had to mention them to you. The outcome, however is not really a concern of mine. I’m sure you will do what is meant to be done..
Finally, I would like to seek your blessings so I can carry on painting religious deities as long as I live. I would not like to discuss my desires for Moksha or liberation as Vedanta decrees one should be free from all desires; even the desire to achieve liberation. That
is all.”

The acharya looked at me for a few minutes and then smiling softly, said “ You will always be able to achieve whatever it is your deep down subconcious mind feels.” So saying, he took a huge pomegranate fruit from the tray in front of him and gave it to me.

Then, he turned his attention on my sister and asked about where she lived and enquired about her family. He blessed her as well.
With that, our audience with this Holy man ended.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chapters 13 and 14


The day following our visit to Amma coincided with the start of the auspicious Navarathri festival. I recited the Devi Mahatmyam every day as well as Lalitha Sahasranamam. However when I closed my eyes to meditate, instead of the familiar face of my Swamigal and Bhuvaneswari I could only see Amma.
When I sat down in yogasana to meditate, I felt it was Amma sitting down. When I closed my eyes, I felt it was Amma closing her eyes and when I faced this black void, I saw Amma, in the center of my eyebrows. She was laughing, smiling, sometimes in trance , sometimes dancing. One night, I felt the fragrance of Amma and distinctly felt her presence near me. Just for a few minutes she seemed to hold me, then she was gone.

On the ninth day of Navaratri I propitiated Saraswathi, the goddess of wisdom and asked her sincerely to help me move further along my spiritual path. The very next day, Vijayadasami (the auspicious start of all new things), I felt a very strong urge to sit down at my computer and finish the story or rather the autobiographical account I had started the previous year(2003) in November. At that time I had only written about 30 pages before moving on to execute more paintings.

In two days time I have put down on paper the rest of my story to date.

Due to a sudden turn of events I am poised to visit Madras next week and it is my intention to place this document at the feet of my Guru( his samadhi) in Salem and ask for his blessings .

I still do not comprehend why I am writing this book. The purpose remains: a mystery to me.


Today is the 30th of November, 2005. I have decided to resume the spiritual diary that stopped flowing abruptly at the end of October, last year.

No particular event, episode or person has prompted me to start writing again. However, I did write a very inspired short article on Lord SkandaGuru, today. I say “ inspired” because after my heart felt prayers for his guidance in writing a short narrative about his esoteric significance, I sat at the computer and my fingers seem to flash over the keyboard at a speed that was greater than the flow of my thoughts.

I did not really re- read or correct what I wrote. Later in the afternoon, a strange urge came over me to pick up my diary and finish writing about the momentous events of this past year.

I still do not have a very clear idea as to the purpose of mainting this chronicle of events in my life. Howevere, I would like to put down in writing a few events that have occurred during this period all of which have helped me move further along my spiritual

I visited Chennai around the period of Diwali last year. The very first outing was a train trip to Skandashramam in Salem. I requested my mother that we should spend at least half a day at the temple and that we should partake of the food that
was cooked there.

In the days preceding our visit to the temple I had a few strong visions. In one particular dream I was led into a small room at the Salem temple and here I discovered a lot of personal items that had been used by our Guru Shri Shanthananda Swamigal. I
remember vividly seeing a few objects typically used during ritual worship like small incense holders and puja accessories. I felt a strong positive aura exuding from this room, especially when I handled these items.

Before embarking on our trip I visited Swami Paramarthananda to seek his blessings. I had taken with me two small photo albums containing small prints of all the paintings I had executed to date. I also took with me a folder containing my writings thus

Swamiji is a very busy man and has many demands on his time. I did not wish to spend a lot of time explaining all the strange, wondrous visions I had experienced. Instead , I gave him a copy of my written work and requested him to read it and view it in
conjunction with my paintings. He was very happy to do so and asked me to return in ten days time.

It was during this intervening period that we visited Salem .

On our way to the Salem temple, we stopped briefly at a Karumariamman temple that had been established by Swamiji at the base of the small hillock in Skandashramam. This deity had appeared several times in my vision and it seemed appropriate to
seek her blessings before we entered the temple.

We finally made our way up the small winding road that led to the hill top temple. It was raining lightly and I felt that it was indeed a blessing from Heaven!
We were greeted upon entry by a few of Swamiji’s faithful followers or priests. I felt a pang of pain and sadness when I saw the empty seat on the Asanam or chair where our Guru generally sat in order to receive visitors. I felt I could still see his smiling face
welcoming my mother and myself!

We paid our respects to Lord Skanda and his mother Ashtaa Dhasa Buja Mahalakshmi. The priest pointed out the small Shiva linga established at the base of the Durga statue. This was right over the tomb where our beloved Guru had been interred. My
mother and I were quite overwhelmed. After all, he had been a real guide and spiritual teacher to my mother over many, many years !

We then proceeded to perform Guru Pada Puja. The priests had placed the two Padukas ( footwear) on a pedestal and to the chants of Rudram and Guru Ashtakam we remembered our preceptor and silently worshipped him in our minds.

My mother recited the mantras and I engaged myself with the task of handing her the flowers to place on those sacred slippers ( padukas).
All the while I beseeched my Guru’s guidance in my spiritual path. I also asked him mentally to indicate to me what painting I should embark on next.
Finally, the puja ended and despite the fact a lot of other family members had also accompanied us to the temple, the priest who
officiated the rites lifted the flowers placed on those holy padukas in one swift motion and gave them all to me. I remember my cousin who was seated at the back remarking “ You are lucky. He gave you all those flowers!”

I did not of course attach too much importance to this. However, as we finished this small puja, one of the trustees of the temple came up to me and said “ I understand you do a lot of religious paintings. Why don’t you do a large painting of our Swamiji”!
I was stunned by his remark. In my mind I sincerely thanked my Guru for answering my unspoken question.
Later I sat for a while in quiet meditation at the sannidhi of Durga . Before taking leave of the priests we were shown a small building just off the main temple. The trustees were expected to make this into a meditation hall. We came across a huge life-like
statue of Swamigal that hads been recently executed by a local sculptor. We postrated this figure with deep respect and circumambulated the holy spot. Just as we were leaving I spotted a room that had been locked from the outside. There was a
huge bar across the lock on the outside. I remembered this as Swamigal’s personal quarters. The priest explained that all of Swamigal’s personal belongings had been kept in this room and it was their intention to convert this room into a small museum
for visitors.

I remembered my dream. I had been inside this room already!

We returned to Chennai the next day. The rest of my stay was rather uneventful except for my second visit to Swami Paramarthananda. By this time he had finished reading my diary and I admit to being a bit nervlous before I stepped inside his room. At the back of my mind I had a real concern that he might find all my outpouring to be nothing more than piteous ramblings of a lunatic who hallucinated a lot!

I did my namaskarams to him and silently said a prayer to my Guru as well. He looked at me very kindly and said my writings were “ excellent” and he really was impressed by all those incidents I had written about. He went on to say that I should consider
putting all my writings on my own personal web site so that others could get a chance to both read them and be helped by them.

He said that all those long years I had spent all alone in my Chelsea flat doing mental japa had indeed been Tapas! And that was why I had come further along my spiritual path.
His words were like music to my ears. Here was a man I greatly respected both for his wisdom and intellect giving me so much confidence when my family members had not shown the least interest. I had been widely considered as either totally mad, or at
best fanciful. However, here was a most respected Guru giving me encouragement and real advice!
I was overjoyed and determined to carry on with my paintings.

The one small regret I had at the end of the two short weeks I spent in Chennai was that I had not carried out Swamigal’s request to have that slightly broken statue of Bhuvaneswari returned to him. I came to know that this statue was currently at the Shringeri Sharada Peetam. The Acharya here was a man I had never met or known and it was very daunting to make a visit to Shringeri for this request which might be considered completely insignificant. The Acharya, a great scholar and a most revered figure by
thousands of devotees across the whole of India might not even have time to give me an audience.So, with a small nagging feeling of guilt for not having really tried, I decided to forget about this for the time being.

Back in London during November, 2004, I embarked on a series of paintings on the great Lord Vishnu. I had intended doing a painting of Shanthananda Swamigal at first, but somehow was not able to find a photograph of him that appealed to me
sufficiently enough to copy . So, I decided to embark on the Vishnu paintings. I had always wanted to depict the ten avatars of this mighty Lord and finally got started one day after the appropriate invocations to Lord Ganesha were given.

I did a lot of research on Vaishnavite slokas during this period. There were many Gadyams or praises that had been rendered by eminent poets and scholars. In particular, I was fascinated by the works of Swami Desikan. He was a thirteenth century scholar
who had created many literary works. However, one work stood out with special significance to me. These were the Dasavatara Slokams he had composed, inspired by a visit to the great Temple at Sri Rangam and having witnessed the sculptures depicting
the various avatars.

So , I began my avatars series with the first portrayal of the Lord as a Fish ( Matsya).
It is said in our scriptures that the great Lord came down to this earth in many forms in order to combat the evil spirits or demons and to establish righteousness and Dharma. However, another way of looking at these ten avatars is from the point of view of the
modern theory of evolution.

For example, at first creatures that live solely in water i.e. fish or Matsya.
Second, those creatures that live both in the water as well as on land i.e. amphibians like the tortoise ( Koorma avatar).
Third, the animal on land, a wild boar or Varaha Avatar.
Fourth, the half-lion half-man stage between Homo Sapiens and animals i.e. NaraSimha avatar.
Fifth, the shorter stature among homosapiens as indicated by the Vamana ( dwarf) avatar.
Sixth, the rough and not too civilized human being portrayed by Parasurama or Rama with an axe.
Seventh, the perfect, civilized human as illustrated by the life of Rama.
Eighth, the one with an occupation as portrayed by Balarama with a plough.
Ninth, the superhuman who performed many miracles and feats- i.e. Krishna Avatar.
And, finally the tenth and yet to come apocalyptic Kalki avatar- a glowing depiction of a man wielding a sword, riding a white horse.

I thoroughly enjoyed completing this set of ten paintings. The whole exercise was a mind cleansing process. Whilst creating the image of each Avatar I would focus solely on the prayers for that particular deity.
The most awesome and powerful image I created was Lord Narasimha. I finished this image to the recitation of Lakshmi Narasimha stotrams and when I stood back to view the painting, I could almost visualise the fury and anger that emanated from
this great Lord.

The most enjoyable and rewarding avatar was that of Lord Krishna! I spent all my time whilst drawing this image, listening to that greatest of all prayers “ Narayaneeyam”.
Composed by a great scholar called Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiripad, Narayaneeyam is a set of 100 cantos extolling the Lord of Guruvayoor.

The legend goes that this eminent scholar Bhattathiripad was afflicted with severe arthritis when he was very young and therefore came to this sacred temple to find relief. While he was there he was given instructions by a Malayalam poet to write some slokas
with the cryptic note ‘ Start with the fish”.
Melpathoor being the eminent scholar he was knew immediately what this message meant.
Thus began the Narayaneeyam, a shortened version of Maha Bhagavatham in praise of the birth, life and many avatars of Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that the poet composed one canto every day and on the 100th day had the full darshan of the Lord of Guruvayoor.He was cured of his illness and lived long singing the glory of the Lord.

By the time I had finished the set of ten paintings, I managed to thoroughly understand and appreciate this great work!
However, as I mentioned earlier , the painting of Lord Krishna remained my favourite work. Later, it was no coincidence to find whilst reading the commentary on Swami Desikan’s Dasavatara sloka, that the “ Ishta ( favourite) devata of this poet also was
Lord Krishna!
In fact, in the sloka praising the Krishna avatar, he says
“Naathayaiva namah padam bhavathu”
In other words “ My obeisance is ONLY for Lord Krishna”.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chapter 12


After I had completed this project, I came across yet another form of Ganapathi called Shubha Dhrishti Pillayar. This image, the result of a vision experienced by a religious sculptor , was a kind of an amalgam of all major deities. Here was a Pillayar embodying in himself aspects of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Devi. It was a divine force that led me to discover this image and also allowed me to paint it to my satisfaction.

There is a reason I mention this. I finished work on my 32 Pillayars on Guru Purnima day in July 2004. I prayed for my Guru’s blessings and mentally dedicated all my art work to him. I was absorbed in meditation for a long time and seemed to get a strong
mental suggestion from my Guru to do another painting. He wanted me to do a massive reproduction of the Sri Chakra.

A few weeks prior to this, I had a marvellous vision in my dream of the Kamakshi Amman at Maangadu. In my dream I was busy painting a huge six feet image of her with the Sri chakra at her feet. About the same time, I had yet another intriguing dream. The scene, as if I can see it clearly now, is my mother’s room in my family home. A priest enters the room in a state of great distress. He informs my mother and my second brother (who is also there), that an idol has been lost from the MEL MAADI puja room and is going to cause us all some bad luck. I see a lot of servants engaged to find the missing idol. However, none can trace it. The dream ended on a rather sad note. The very next day I called my mother and related the vision. She reassured me that nothing had been lost from our puja room.

I was relieved to hear this. However, the uneasiness persisted. It was several months later that I discovered that a small statue of the Goddess Bhuvaneswari given by Swamigal to another sibling, had indeed been broken by accident and no longer remained in the
house. So, my dream had been right. I was not hallucinating as my mother believed! That was a relief for me.

Now, during my meditations on Guru Purnima day, I received another message from my Guru. He asked me to return that idol back to the temple at Salem and place it beside his Samadhi. This suggestion came just after the request for me to paint the Sri Chakra.
However, as the time of writing this, I have no idea how this request will be fulfilled. I have simply prayed to him for guidance. On the other hand, I was naturally very interested in the subject of Sri Chakra. I had already done a lot of digging on this topic because of strong thoughts in that direction. I knew how to draw this geometrical shape that represented the great vedantic truths of identity between the atma and paramatma. I was also aware of the significance of the yantra. In fact, during this time, I was fortunate to make e-mail acquaintance with a disciple of SHRI Shanthananda Swamigal who lives in Texas. This man seemed a veritable storehouse of knowledge. An astrologer, mathematician, philosopher as well as a Sri Vidya Upasaka, he exuded the quiet confidence that comes from the great accumulation of knowledge.

I exchanged a couple of letters with him and in the process obtained a few moola mantras for the worship of Ganapathi. In fact, in one of his letters he had asked me if I was interested in taking up the Sri Vidya Puja for devi. This is also called the Navavarana puja and represents the ultimate truth of the identity between Devi and worshipper. I felt I was nowhere near qualified to undertake this kind of demanding ritual. Also, my interests lay more on the philosophical plane, not really the ritual part of our Vedas. I informed this man I would take up the puja if my Guru so ordained it.

However, I wanted to execute the portrait of Kamakshi Amman and the sri chakra without further delay.

One auspicious day, I chanted the Rudram, lalitha sahasranama and trisathi, and after dutifully paying obeisance to my Guru, placed the blank sheet of drawing paper
on the table. Even before I could put pencil down on the paper, the door bell rang and there was a special courier delivery for me. My mother had finally sent me, after several months of my request, a small snapshot of the Shubha Dhrishti Ganapathi she was able to lay her hands on in Madras. Something inside my mind told me not to proceed with the Sri Chakra just then. Instead, I started painting the Shubha Dhristi Ganapathi, also known for his power to ward off all evil spirits immediately. Within a few weeks, this image was
finished. Summer vacation was upon us and the whole month of August went by without any other artistic output. However, every day during this period I was reciting either the Devi Mahatmyam or the Lalitha Sahasranamam. While on holiday, I had another vision,
around the time of Varalakshmi Nombu.

In this dream, I found myself part of a crowd of people, waiting expectantly for the arrival of someone. It was not long before I saw Her. There was Amma, Matha Amritanandamayi, walking slowly down the path, with devotees thronging each side of it. I felt myself being jostled in this crowd. As Amma walked close to me, I bowed down respectfully. However, to my intense surprise, she came straight towards me, singled me out from the crowd and placed a blood-red spot right in the centre of my eye-brows. Then, she vanished.

I awoke, rather puzzled by the significance of this dream. In a week’s time, I returned back to London from the U.S. The minute I walked through the door of my flat, I stooped down to pick up some mail that had been delivered in my absence. Right on top of a pile of correspondence was a newsletter. There was a large photograph of Amma and an announcement that she was scheduled to visit London on October 12th. Somewhere, at the back of my mind, a little voice said this was no ordinary coincidence.

The very next day, I set about painting a huge portrait of Maangadu Kamakshi Amman. I wished to depict her with the chakra at her feet. I went to the craft store I normally get my art supplies from. I picked up several sheets of drawing paper and some tubes of paint. When I went up to the cash desk to pay for my purchases, I smiled and said “Hello” to the lady at the cash register. Over the past few years, I had become a regular customer at this shop, and this assistant knew me by sight quite well. However, on that particular day, we got talking a bit more than usual. “What do you paint?”, this lady asked me. “You seem to be buying a lot of gold paint tubes from us”. So, I replied that I do paintings of Hindu religious deities. I did not want to embark on any complicated explanation because I thought it would go over this person’s head. The lady digested this information for a minute. Then she asked me “Do you know Amma?” I was taken
aback. I didn’t think for a minute that a shop assistant in Chelsea, London would have ever heard of her!

Immediately, I warmed up to her. We spoke at great length about my paintings and what they meant to me. She said she was looking forward to meeting Amma when she came to London in October. She also told me she had volunteered to help at the venue by cleaning
all the toilets! I felt humbled to hear this and I informed her I was going to do a massive painting of Devi and intended to bring a photograph of it so Amma could bless it. “Good luck on your painting”, she said, and I left. For the next two weeks I was totally engrossed with my painting. Each day I would recite the Devi Mahatmyam, followed by the Lalitha Sahasranama and then start work. I also meditated on the symbolism of the Sri chakra .

There is no doubt that this enigmatic, geometrical shape called Sri Chakra is the greatest symbol of this whole universe. It also represents the body of the Goddess Kamakala who resides in the central point Bindu, in addition to permeating this entire universe.
Therefore, by meditating on this shape of the chakra understanding what it stands for, we understand the basic Vedantic truth that establishes the identity between the individual jeeva and Brahman, or Creator or Devi or Ishwara, however you want to call that divine
energy force. At the very heart of the Sri Chakra, the Bindu pulsates with energy.

In fact, the five activities associated here are:
1. the emanation of the cosmos.
2. projection of that creation - that is the world as we see it,
3. the preservation of this universe,
4. the withdrawal of the life- giving energy source at the time of death and dissolution,
5. the retention of all that withdrawn energy in a potential seed-like form—so that the next cycle of rebirth can occur. Think of this as a form of unmanifest creation - just like you have in your hand a seed that can later, under proper conditions like water and light, sprout into a plant. (hiranyagarbha).

Coming to the geometrical diagram, next—there are four upward pointing triangles and five downward pointing triangles. The upward pointing ones are considered to be an aspect of Shiva’s energy, while the downward pointing triangles emphasis the importance of shakthi. These 4+5==9 triangles stand for the Mula prakrithis- or the fundamental elements that make up this universe or the macrocosm. In other words it refers to the abstract substance ( root stuff) or essence that gradually evolves into various forms of matter either concrete or subtle. It is this primordial substance that is the basis of all observable and non- observable phenomenon—e.g. physical shapes, mental or psychic projections. These elements are also found in the individual in the form of skin, blood, flesh, fat, bone, (coming from shakti); and semen, marrow, vital breath or prana, and the soul (from Shiva). These nine triangles interlock and form 43 further triangles along with the central dot or bindu.

Analysing the shape and structure of the sri chakra: the 43 triangles( 43+bindu) are enclosed by three concentric circles. This in turn is surrounded by two circles of lotuses. The first circle has 8 petals and the second has 16 petals. Surrounding these circles of lotuses, there is a square shape which is the outer enclosure. This is formed of triple lines and has gateways in four directions called DWARAS.
These dwaras are points of awareness.This outer enclosure is called the bhupura.
There are nine AVARANAS or enclosures in the Sri chakra and in what follows I am going to explain these in terms of their esoteric significance. Understanding this is the same as performing SRI VIDYA puja, which is also called Navavarana puja. The AVARANAS stand for various layers of ignorance and bad habits that prevent us from realising our own true nature and oneness with GOD. I sincerely hope this explanation will be easy to read. Also, what follows is just the explanation I have gleaned. There are many views and opinions on this topic and lots of extra details that I am not getting involved with at this stage.

The first avarana or enclosure: The bhupura or square enclosure with 4 gateways, plus two more( if you think of this as a three dimensional shape), stands for below the ground and Akaasha. The eastern gateway represents the path of mantras. The southern
gateway stands for bhakthi. The western dwara represents the practice of rites and rituals, and the northern gateway stands for wisdom or jnana. The below ground space represents the path of words, while the space above denotes liberation. As you can see, in this
outermost layer, every human being is seeking happiness through various routes. This is called the TRAILOKYA MOHANA CHAKRA—or the delusion of dreams.

Now we proceed inside to the second chakra. This is the ring of 16 lotus petals, called SHODASHA or SARVA ASHA PURVAKA CHAKRA. As you can guess, shodasha stands for 16, and the sarvashapurvaka represents the fulfiller of all desires(asha). In simple terms, a seeker who wants happiness is going to be very frustrated if many of his basic desires are thwarted. So, in this chakra virtue, wealth and pleasure is granted. There are shakthis that are present in each of the 16 petals that stand for the 5 elements (air, earth, fire, water, ether); the 5 sense organs—touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing; the 5 organs of action ( hands, feet, speech, organs of generation and evacuation); plus the mind. These, together make up the 16 petals. The expectation is that the person who has his basic needs satisfied can continue on the path of spiritual progress.

The third chakra is that of the eight lotus petals. This is called the Sarva Sankshobana chakra and is a kind of transition stage where the seeker is kept still prosperous and in a state of mental and physical equilibrium.
There are goddesses in each of the eight petals, manifesting the powers of:
Speech, motion, transcendence, ananda or bliss, detachment, attitudes of giving, rejection, acceptance and apathy. So, the individual has various options to develop the vairagya necessary to further his spiritual progress if he wants to!

The hope of spiritual success is firmly established only in the next chakra which is called the Sarva saubhagya dayaka chakra . This is the wheel that bestows all prosperity for the seeker. This is the fourth enclosure. There are 14 triangles in this avarana. There are 14
deities here who empower the ten Indriyas: that is the 5 sense organs plus the 5 organs of action explained earlier. The additional four refer to the four sections of the mind.
The Mind comprises of :
Manas: the originator of all doubts,
Buddhi or intellect, which makes all decisions.
Chitta or memory
And Aham - or the I conciousness or ego.

So, through mind control and sense control and discipline for the body, a seeker can hope for spiritual success.

The Fifth enclosure is called the SARVA SADHAKA CHAKRA. This is composed of ten triangles. These ten triangles represent the ten types of vital breaths or PRAANA. These are:
Prana- the inhalation and exhalation process
Apana- excretion processes—(i.e. the flow of air that aids these bodily functions)
Samana- circulation of air and oxygen aiding the digestion process
Vyana- the circulatory system—vital oxygen passing through veins and artery
Udaana—the upward movement of air: coughs, vomiting— and, at time of death, it is only this function that works and carries the last vital breath out of your system. In addition to these 5 breaths that are found in the human body, there are 5 more secret pranas pertaining to the movement of the atmic spirit in the realms of buddhi and manas. There are also vital breaths in the heart and head.

These are all vital fields that allow finer spiritual, intellectual and psychic forces to work.
Hence, in this chakra which is also called the preservation stage- or VISHNU- energy, the possibility of inner spiritual realisation is established.

The sixth enclosure is called the SARVA RAKSHAKARA CHAKRA, or the protection granting wheel. Tere are ten triangles in this segement representing the ten vital fires within our bodies that keep us alive. The fire principle is essential inside our bodies not only to maintain a constant body temperature, but also to aid with the digestion process and helps to break down the food we consume into smaller and more easily absorbed enzymes and chemicals and nutrients that nourish and protect the body. Basically the fires associated here are to do with helping the digestion of all food that is eaten, chewed, licked, sucked or imbibed.It is in this chakra of preservation that spiritual knowledge begins to flourish.

The seventh enclosure is called SARVA ROGA HARA CHAKRA, or the remover of all diseases. The eight triangles here represent the eight weapons held by Kameshwara and his consort Kameshwari. The healing aspect of Rudra is highlighted here. In this inner wheel, the aspirant is finally able to detach himself from earthly pleasures and is on the brink of self- realisation.

The eighth chakra is the primary or the innermost, first chakra and is called Sarva siddhi pradha chakra, or the Bestower of all Attainments or siddhis. The presiding deity here is Kama Kala, who is the very first effect caused by the energy flow from the central
Bindu. The three lines of this triangle are said to represent the three gunas—sattva, rajas and tamas; and alternatively the three states of conciousness during jagrat or waking state, swapna or dreaming state and sushupti or deep sleep. There is a fourth state beyond
this called turiya, that transcends all three states. The fourth state is ultimate awareness, conciousness, or bliss that is found in the ninth enclosure.

The ninth enclosure is just represented by the tiny dot Bindu, which is the Sarva ananda mayai chakra or the place of bliss. This ananda comes from the truth of self- realisation and the wisdom obtained by the identification of union between jivatma and paramatma. This Bindu can also be represented as a very, very small triangle made up of just three dots- One dot, the fire principle, corresponds to the Sushumna Nadi that runs through the centre of the spine and connects with the thousand- petalled lotus or sahasrara on the top of the head. Another dot corresponds to the energy power of the moon and represents the IDA NADI running on the left side of the spine. The third dot represents the sun’s energy and stands for the PINGALA NADI that runs on the right side of the spine.

The Sri chakra diagram is also representative of the ascent of the Kundalini—or serpent power—from the base of the body—mooladhara, through the various centres of energy in the body like the Svadishtana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddhi, Ajna and finally the
Sahasrara. In other words, the seeker is able to attain complete mastery over his senses and mind, and by practising constant meditation, attains the true happiness that comes from pure awareness of conciousness.

Mind is a manifestation of divine energy or Shakthi . By continuous meditation on each chakra, the whole body assumes divinity! The practice of Sri Yantra meditation is supposed to transform the worshipper or Sadhaka, so that what is at first seen as lines and
triangles becomes a mental state in the sadhaka. He becomes one with the yantra and recognises this. He realises that there is no difference between the worshipper, object meditated upon, and the very knowledge gained through such a process. In short, the Sri
chakra represents the human body and the whole universe, for what is in the former is in the latter and vice versa. It is the greatest symbol of Devi as she is in her own form or Swarupa and as she is in the form of the universe.

I finally finished this beautiful portrait two days before Amma’s visit to London. Kamakshi Amman stands very serenely on a decorated pedestal, while at her feet is the golden Sri Chakra. I took a photograph of this painting, intending to get Amma’s blessing. On October 12th, I left the house very early, because I did not wish to repeat the long waiting process of last year. So, there I was in the lobby of this vast Sports Complex, ten miles outside London, on a cold, rainy morning, three hours ahead of the arrival time of Amma. I took my place in the short queue that had already formed to get the tokens for the darshan and hugging.

Since I had arrived early, my token was numbered within the first one hundred. I was relieved. This meant I wouldn’t have to wait 5 hours like the last time. I took my token and went along with my husband inside the huge auditorium. We sat down crosslegged on the floor, close to the big central dais on which Amma’s chair had been placed.There was still several hours more to go.

I spent the time doing meditation and prayers . My husband and I sat there, waiting patiently for Amma’s arrival. Finally, at 10 a.m. she entered the room. Dressed in her customary white saree and wearing a garland of flowers, Amma walked down the pathway lined with devotees on either side. We all stood up respectfully, until Amma sat down on her little seat in the centre of the auditorium.

When we were all seated, Amma greeted us with a lovely smile. Her eyes darted across the assembled crowd and she turned her head slowly from left to right, as if to acknowledge our presence. Then her eyes seemed to gaze in the direction where I was seated and then rested very gently on my face. She looked at me and smiled. The smile seemed to say “I know you, and everything about you”. It was the kind of smile a mother gives a child. Very tender and loving, yet I got the feeling she really knew everything about me. The gaze was on me for just a minute and, still smiling, she gestured with her right hand for me to move to the centre of the pathway. I was stunned for a minute and rooted to the spot until the person sitting next to me gave me a gentle push and asked me to sit in front of Amma.

Hardly believing my luck, I moved across, holding the photograph of my painting very tightly. I sat down right by Amma’s feet and then placed the photo on my lap. We were all asked to close our eyes and meditate. I recall my eyes closing but my heart was pounding very fast . We did some chanting and prayers. During the whole period I was mentally trying to picture my Guru, Shri Shanthananda Swamigal. However, his face appeared for an instant only to dissolve into that of Amma the next instant. I silently prayed to Amma. “You are my Goddess, my Guru and indeed the very Durga, Kali of the Devi Mahatmyam. I want nothing except to be with you at all times”.

Then I opened my eyes and Amma smiled at me as if she had heard my prayer. She asked me to come forward. However, an assistant next to her asked me where my token was. I was flustered because that tiny scrap of paper must have fallen off my lap when I moved
forward. However, I need not have worried. Amma was already hugging me. For a long time she held me in her arms and her right hand moved up and down my back several times. All the while she was talking to her assistant in Malayalam but I could get the gist of what was said. Apparently on her way to the auditorium there was an accident on the road. A car in front had rammed into a lorry. She was
remarking on this while continuing to stroke me. After a minute, I felt all my thoughts disappear and I was in this huge black void where there was nothing. No feelings, certainly no fear, but just a blank state. The only overriding emotion was one of absence of fear and a strange elation.

Then Amma leaned forward and whispered in my right ear “Chella Pillai, Chella Pillai” . This meant “ favoured child” in tamil. This phrase was repeated very clearly, distinctly several times. Then another hug and I was let go. Now, it was my husband’s turn. He too
was hugged and something whispered in his ear. However, just as he rose up to go,Amma turned towards him and asked him in Tamil if he had a job. My husband was taken aback. Only both of us knew the hardships we were going through because my husband
had stopped working eight years ago. Over the years we had put up this brave front pretending to be able to cope when in truth every day meant more financial set backs. So, to hear this holy person asking this pertinent question, and that too in a very casual manner was shocking to say the least.

My husband, I think, was too embarrassed to answer because the question had been asked loudly in front of the assembled crowd. He could not bring himself to lie to her just as he could do to other family and friends. Kneeling next to her, I was silently shaking my head
because I thought someone should respond. However, Amma did not really look at me. Her gaze was directly on my husband. She did not need to hear any reply. Then she turned to me and said still smiling “You are suffering?” Again this question was a rhetorical one. Tears were streaming down my face. She asked us both to come towards her and hugged us both at the same time while whispering Chella Pillai” again, several times in my right ear. After this she took some sandal paste and applied it to our foreheads and gave us prasadam.

All this time the photograph of my Kamakshi Amman painting had fallen near her feet. Her assistant picked it up and urged me to give it to Amma. Amma took it in her hands and turned it over several times. She remarked that it was very nice. I said that I had painted it and sought her blessings. I told her I was doing a lot of paintings of religious deities and wished I could continue with this effort as long as I had power in my hands. She listened to everything I said and instead of replying, just smiled at me and gave the photograph back. I accepted it gratefully and with tears blinding my eyes slowly made my way out.

I shall never forget this incident. I was not really concerned about my husband’s job. It truly did not matter to me whether he had one or not. What was paramount in my mind was that I had “connected” for a few minutes with this amazing divine power manifested in Amma.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Chapter 11


The paintings of the many-hued Ganapathis symbolised various little vedantic truths. I found it soul satisfying to do more research and compiled a little commentary for each one of them. The following explanations can be understood better if viewed alongside each image.


This “childlike” God, represented here in a red hue, reminds us of two important concepts. First, this sacred form of our beloved elephant God is shown here as holding four different fruits in each of his four hands. These are: a banana, mango, sugarcane and jackfruit, all of which symbolise the bountiful nature of Mother Earth. We have to respect all aspects of this universe as manifestation of the supreme Lord, especially the earth that both sustains and nourishes us! Ganesha represents unity, harmony and man’s eternal striving towards integration with nature.

Secondly, Baala Ganapathi can be worshipped only through pure love - isn’t that what a child expects and what a mother gives unquestioningly? This image directs our attention to qualities of tolerance, compassion and love towards children!


This image in a brilliant red colour reflects the blossoming of youth! Lord Ganapathi is seen in this picture with eight hands holding: a noose, goad, modaka, wood apple, rose apple, a broken tusk, sprig of paddy and a sugar cane stalk. While the fruits he holds remind us of the need to respect the bountiful aspect of mother earth, the noose and goad represent the need for disciplined living, development of both mind and sense control, and the importance of developing virtues like compassion, tolerance, fortitude and bhakthi. The modaka stands for the happiness that enlightened souls attain when they have discovered that beneath the outer layers of this gross body lies the Atman, or pure conciousness. This is the ultimate truth that provides true liberation for the mature spiritual seeker!


Shining with the pearly- white lustre of a full moon, Bhakthi Ganapathi is very dear to his devotees. He protects and rewards everyone who worships him with great faith and devotion. Indeed, along with fruits like a mango, banana and a coconut that he holds in his hands, this God is seen to hold out a bowl of sweet payasam - the ultimate reward of “wisdom” or “liberation” to those who ask for it! The main significance of this image is to highlight the fact that God can be worshipped for producing both material benefits such as wealth, prosperity, etc, as well as non-material or spiritual (Nishkaama) benefits. In the latter mode of worship, the devotee seeks to discover the “truth” of Atman- i.e. that the supreme Lord resides as the life giving energy source within his intellect!


This “valiant warrior” God is like a fiery ball of fire as he strides forth to destroy his enemies! His sixteen hands bristle with various weapons, all symbols of various mental inadequacies and bad qualities or “vasanas” that afflict mankind. The general message
portrayed by this image is to conquer all these negative qualities and strive to follow a spiritual life that will eventually lead to wisdom.


This “powerful” God of a golden- red hue is four- armed and seated with one of his “shakthis” on his knee. It should be pointed out here that Lord Ganapathi’s consort merely symbolises the “energy” or “power” within the Lord, as well as within all of us! The essential significance of this image is that when the mind is cleansed of all its impurities it is firmly set on the path of bhakthi. Firm faith in Lord Ganapathi results in fulfilment of both material desires as well as the wisdom to understand the finite nature of wordly pleasures .The true seeker will then develop the intelligence and discrimination required in his quest for peace of mind and liberation.


The four- headed Dvija ganapathi is moon-like in colour. He holds in his hands the sacred scriptures and japa beads, along with a goad and staff. The significance of this image is primarily to highlight the importance of faith in the Vedas and holy teachings. It also reminds us of the necessity of following a life that incorporates the ideals and values stressed by our ancient rishis, and which involves spending some portion of our time in prayer, meditation and self- awareness!


Glowing like the sun, Siddhi Ganapathi is the “accomplished” one. He represents the epitome of self mastery and the achievement of the Ashta Siddhis. According to ancient yogic scriptures, these siddhis or “powers” that a yogi can possesss are: Anima, the power to make the physical body very small ; Mahima, the ability to make the body very big; Laghima, the capacity to make oneself very light; Garima, the power to make oneself very heavy; Prapti, the ability to acquire any material items; Prakaamya, the ability to satisfy any whim or wish of the mind; Ishitva, the power to dominate or rule over anyone, and Vashitva , the capacity to control the mind of another.In addition to these siddhis, yoga shastra mentions several other powers, including the control over one’s hunger and thirst, ageing, and so on. However, the greatest siddhi is, of course, self-realisation and the awareness that these intermediate siddhis are in fact a hindrance to that essential “knowledge” of the Atman!


This is a very rare and unique form of the Lord with the figure of Shakthi in his lap. Ucchista Ganapathi is the “Lord of Blessed Offerings” and guardian of music, art and culture. Of blue complexion, he sits with his consort, holding in his six hands a veena, a pomegranate, blue lotus flower, japa mala, and a sprig of paddy. Worship of the Lord in this form is believed, in tantric scriptures, to enhance friendship and love and to remove misunderstandings among people!


Of a brilliant golden-yellow hue, Vighna Ganapathi- protects his devotees and removes the obstacles they might encounter in life whether it is in the pursuit of material ends or spiritual progress. This image is represented here with 8 hands holding a noose, goad,
conch, discus, sugarcane, an axe, tusk, and a bunch of flowers.While the noose and goad remind us of the importance of discipline and control of senses, the conch and discus represent the protective gesture of this great Lord towards those who follow the path of Dharma.
The axe is of course symbolic of cutting through the bonds of Samsara, while the broken tusk is a sign of the disappearance of ego, and the flowers and sugarcane can be taken to represent both the beauty and bounty of nature!


This red-hued representation of Ganapathi is symbolic of the “Quick action” of the Lord, as a giver of boons. Indeed, in one of his hands this deity holds a sprig of the Kalpavriksha or wish-fulfilling tree! In his uplifted trunk there nestles a pot of precious jewels, a symbol of “wisdom or enlightenment”. In his other hands he holds a noose- to protect his devotees and hold them close , as well as the goad to prod them onwards on the path of righteous conduct!


Five-faced, white in colour and riding on a lion, Heramba Ganapathi is the “Protector of the Weak”. He extends the gestures of protection and blessing with two of his hands. The other eight hold a variety of objects: a noose, symbol of sense control; an axe and hammer, both representing the cutting away of bonds of samsara and reminding us of the importance of discipline; japa beads, indicating the necessity of spiritual practice and meditation as an important pre- requisite for acquiring purity of mind; a garland, fruit and modaka, all representing fulfilment of wishes both material as well as spiritual!

The significance of this image is to teach us that peace of mind and liberation can be acquired only with the complete destruction of the various mental inadequacies that afflict us!


Lakshmi Ganapathi, pure white giver of success and prosperity, sits flanked by his two consorts - Wisdom and Achievement. Gesturing a Varada mudra with one of his hands, this Lord holds in his other hands a green parrot, a pomegranate, a sword, goad, noose, sprig of Kalpavriksha and a water vessel.

In this image, again, we see the importance of leading a disciplined life in order to acquire the pre requisite Sadhana Chathustaya Sampathi, or mind and sense control, which in turn sets a seeker very firmly on the path of self- knowledge and attainment of wisdom.
Bhakthi is given importance here, as it is only through unwavering faith in first, a saguna deity, that a seeker is set on the path towards realising nirgunam Brahman!


The “Great” Mahaa Ganapathi is red–hued and three-eyed. Accompanied by one of his Shakthis he holds in his ten hands a tusk, a pomegranate, blue lily, a sugarcane bow, a discus, noose, lotus, sprig of paddy, a mace and a pot of gems.

Worship of the deity in this form promises all kinds of glorious things to the devotee, both material objects as well as spiritual progress.
However, it is only the discerning individual, having developed adequate purity of mind, vairagyam and spiritual strength, who can attain the true treasure of Moksha or liberation, and have peace of mind while sailing through the sea of Samsara or Life.


As his name suggests, this particular form of the Elepahant- God stands for victory or success in battles. Now, these “battles” refer to various turmoils and outcomes that are the result of actions stemming from a non discriminating mind. In other words, when the mind is assailed by countless thoughts and drifts without control, like a boat tossed on stormy waters, the resulting chaos is mirrored in the upheavals in our lives. So, the need for mind control is highlighted here.

In this picture, Ganapathi is red-hued and is riding on his mount, the resourceful Mooshika. The Mooshika has enormous symbolism!
Just as a rat has a keen sense of smell, similarly, the strongly ingrained tendencies or vasanas in all of us make us a slave to the senses! Therefore the necessity for sense- control is indicated here.
The various insignia here are: the broken tusk- a reminder to reduce ego- the elephant goad, (to prod us on the correct path), a noose- to hold his devotees close and protect them, and his favourite fruit, the mango- that represents the sweetness of self- discovery!


The “ happy dancer”, symbolises excellence in all forms of art. This golden- hued Ganapathi dances happily under the shade of the wish- yielding Kalpavriksha tree, exuding great happiness and joy. In his four arms this mighty Lord holds a tusk, a goad, noose and modaka sweet.The main significance of this image is that true happiness and peace of mind can come only when the mind is totally devoid of thoughts. In the total silence, devoid of all thought, the presence of pure conciousness is revealed!


Urdhva ganapathi is “ the Elevated” Lord of the golden hue!. He is seated with one of his Shakthis on his left knee. In his six hands this deity holds a sprig of paddy, a lotus, the sugar cane bow and arrow, his ivory tusk and a blue water lily. The significance of this image is the importance of developing a spiritual outlook in life and to rise above the mundane problems that beset us !


He is the Lord who symbolises attainment of Knowledge. “Ekakshara”- of single syllable (Gam), this form of the deity is red in colour, three- eyed , and wears the crescent moon in his crown. Seated in a lotus pose upon his vehicle, Mooshika, he offers the boon- giving gesture with one of his hands, while holding in the others- a noose, goad, and a pomegranate. The importance of sense- control ( signified by the mooshika), and the necessity for following a life of values and adherence to the scriptures are the essential significance of this image.


Varada Ganapathi is the boon giver who fulfils the desires of his sincere devotees. Holding the noose and goad in his arms and enclosing a pot of jewels in his trunk, this red- hued Lord, with one of his shakthis seated on his lap, holds out a dish of honey to his
devotees! With the crescent moon adorning his crown and the predominant third eye of wisdom, this Ganapthi teaches us to lead a life of dharma, performing our duties sincerely, while keeping our minds filled with pure thoughts.


Lord Ganapathi is an iconographical example of the fundamental Vedantic dictum “ TAT TVAM ASI”—In other words, it tells us that “you” the apparently limited individual are no different from the Supreme “reality” or Brahman. The huge elephant head of Ganapathy stands for the macrocosm and the individual is represented by the human body, thereby combining in one image the simple truth of Vedanta.
Lord Ganapathi represents the pranava or AUM- which is the symbol of the supreme self- Hence in this image , He is “ the Lord of the three letters”- A- U- M.
Shining with the lustre of gold, this Lord carries in his four hands, his broken tusk, goad, noose and mango, while clutching a sweet modaka in his trunk.


Kshipra Prasaada Ganapathi, “ the Quick Rewarder”, is seated on a throne of Kusha grass. Red in colour, with a big belly representing this entire universe, he holds in his six hands- a noose, a goad, tusk, lotus, pomegranate and a twig of the wish- fulfilling tree.

The kusha grass throne is of special significance here as it symbolises the importance of intelligent discrimination of mind- just as razor sharp as the edges of the tall and straight kusha grass that is used in vedic rites and generally regarded as a purifier!


Golden- yellow in colour , this Lord is generally prayed for the accomplishment of all auspicious endeavours. Along with his tusk and a modaka, this deity wields a noose to hold his devotees close to his heart as they flounder in the ocean of samsara. However, he also uses a sharp goad to spur his true bhakthas onward on the path of spiritual progress!


Ekadanta, of “ Single Tusk”, is distinguished by his blue colour and sizeable belly. This giant pot belly, signifies both the bounty of nature as well as reminding us that as our saviour, the Lord swallows all sorrows and protects the universe.The attributes for this murthi are- an axe, to cut the bonds of ignorance, prayer beads for japa, a laddu to indicate the sweetness of the realised inner- self and finally, the broken tusk- to symbolise that no sacrifice is big enough in the pursuit of knowledge!

The principal symbolism of this image is for the spiritual seeker to overcome material desires, and subdue ego, in the pursuit of attaining purity of mind.


The “Lord of Creation and Manifestation” is red- hued and has four hands. He is riding on his small vehicle- the mooshika, holding in his hands- a noose, goad, a perfect mango, and his tusk representing selfless sacrifice.
This image reminds us of the importance of using intelligent discrimination to control desires and move upward on the spiritual path guided and protected at all times by the Lord who resides within all of us!

Just as the incongruity of the huge elephant sitting on the small mouse indicates the Truth that Atman is the same in all irrespective of size, birth or race, so too, does the little mouse that scampers around, stealing food at night, reminds us of the fact that our ego exists, unnoticed in our minds and wreaks havoc on our lives. Only when ego is controlled by wisdom can we make progress!


Uddanda Ganapathi is the “ Enforcer of Dharma”- the fundamental laws that govern mankind. Bright- red in colour, this Lord has ten hands, holding- a pot of gems, a blue liliy, sugarcane, a mace, lotus flower, sprig of paddy, a pomegranate, noose, garland and his broken tusk. One of his Shakthis is seated on his lap.

The importance of this image is to inform us about the Cosmic intelligence principle that is guiding and providing direction in all our lives. It is generally known that life forms progress gradually from lower to higher forms. Therefore, from the tiniest single- cell amoeba right up to man, there is some, unique force that motivates and gives direction to the unfoldment of life. It is this cosmic intelligence that is Ganesha! He represents the unity and harmony that exists in this wonderful creation, and we offer our thankful prayers to Him for upholding these eternal laws that control the Universe!


This crystal- like image of Ganapathi is humanity’s liberator from the “three debts”. This can be interpreted as freedom from the bondage of samsara, from guilt and from ignorance. Alternatively, it could also mean that faith and devotion to God would eventually enable us to pay off the three debts mentioned in our scriptures. These are: First, the debt owed to God for the creation and protection of this wonderful
universe. This debt can only be repaid by dedicating our life to the service of God and mankind and following the path of truth and righteousness. Secondly, there is the debt we owe to the great Sages and Rishis . This can only be repaid by revering their great works
and by helping to promote the transmission of scriptural teachings and keeping our heritage alive. Finally, the third debt is owed to our ancestors. This can be repaid by raising one’s family in accordance with moral andethical principles of Dharma.


Red- hued Dhundhi Ganapathi- “The Sought After”, holds in his hands a strand of rudraksha beads, his broken tusk, an axe, and a small pot of precious gems- the treasury of awakenings he saves for all his ardent devotees. The significance of this image is the
destruction of internal enemies- or bad qualities that hamper a spiritual seeker in his quest for self- knowledge. This Lord veritably resides in the mind of the Disciplined, guiding them on their spiritual quest!


With His two Divergent faces, this Lord, also called Janus by the Romans, sees in all directions! His dark hue- green form is dressed in red silk. He holds in his four hands a noose, a goad, his tusk and a pot of gems. This image signifies the accomplishment of happiness and attainment of the treasure symbolised by the pot of gems. It is with the help of his noose as reins that the Lord guides us in the right path, helping us to cut through the knot of binding desires and attachments. The goad is used to gently prod the true seeker along the path of spiritual progress and also used as a weapon to repel and strike out at obstacles.


With His Three faces, this Lord of Red- hue, sits in a contemplative pose on a golden lotus, doing his japa with the rudraksha beads.
While one hand grants wishes and the other is raised in the protective gesture, this Ganapathi of six hands, also holds a noose, a goad and a vessel of nectar. The significance of this image is the importance of the blessings of Dattatreya, the Supreme teacher or Guru!
Although a spiritual seeker might have accomplished mind and sense control and developed tremendous spiritual strength, true liberation can only be achieved with the wisdom gained from the teachings of an Enlightened Guru!


Symbolising Strength and Fearlessness, Simha Ganapathi is astride his vehicle- the lion. He reminds us of the need to destroy the evil tendencies and mental inadequacies that cause us so much unhappiness in our lives, and by gesturing protection as well as blessings with his right and left hand, respectively, this deity highlights the fact that He is indeed available for his ardent devotees and will guide them to achieve spiritual maturity! In his other hands, he holds a kalpavriksha sprig ( from the wish- yielding tree),the veena, to indicate excellence in music and arts, a lotus blossom, a flower bouquet- to signify the beauty of nature and the harmony in the universe, and finally a pot of jewels, to inform us that the real treasure we seek lies deep within all of us!


Accomplishment of Dhyaana Yoga is the significance of this form of Ganapathi. His knees are strapped in a meditative pose, and his hands hold a yoga staff, sugar cane stalk, a noose and prayer beads. His colour is golden, like the morning sun! According to the Vedas, the real nature of a form of God is the specific set of syllables (mantra), generated by contemplating on that form. In other words, Gods are of the form of mantras. For example, when we see a “horse”, the word “horse” comes to mind. The image of horse gets imprinted on
the mind and the mind experiences a subtle vibration. According to the famous work of Paneeni called Shabdopatti ( mechanism of sound production), this initial, specific vibration kindles the Shareeagni ( fire inside the body)- this in turn causes the internal Vayu(air) to expand and get activated. This in turn activates Prana, which is normally lying dormant in the Mooladhara chakra. Consequently, these physiological electrical impulses get transformed to potential acoustic impulses, and this rises up to the throat region ( Visuddha chakra). A fusion of sorts take place here and, by impinging on certain sound producing spots, result in the creation of specific mantras!

Therefore, when a person thinks of an abstract concept like God-depending on the attribute of the object of thought, a certain set of acoustic impulses originate in the Mooladhara, manifest later in the Visuddha, and come out from the mouth as Mantras! However, it is only a very pure heart that has been steadied by yoga that can perceive such mantra forms of Gods. Sages and Seers ( Mantra Dhrashtas), have recorded that the very first syllable heard was indeed the OMKARA- the first mantra with which Ganesha is worshipped!


Durgaa Ganapathi is the “ Invincible One”, and he is seen here waving the flag of victory over darkness. This splendid murthi of a deep golden hue affords protection to his devotees while undertaking any long journey! In his eight hands he holds, a bow and arrow, a noose and goad, prayer beads a broken tusk and a wood apple. The weapons indicate the protective nature of the Lord- the noose and goad, the importance of sense control , purity of mind and the prayer beads- the significance of prayer , meditation , the broken tusk- an eternal reminder that no sacrifice is too great for attaining wisdom, and the fruit- the recognition of the vedantic truth that is indeed deep within us!


He is the “ Dispeller of all Sorrow” – this Lord of a red- hue, seated with a Shakthi on his lap, on a lotus flower! He holds a bowl of sweet pudding, a goad and a noose, while gesturing the boon- giving varadha mudra. The significance of worshipping the murthi in this particular form is the eradication of all obstacles and hardships that assail a house holder! Indeed, the essential principle of loving Ganesha is that one looks within oneself to find the divine energy! Ganesha is often described as the presiding deity of the Mooladhara Chakra, represented by a lotus flower and an elephant--- Symbols such as these should not detract from the very simple truth that God, as an Abstract notion is immanent and manifest in every single sentient and non sentient being or object in the universe. Adopting a life of values , having a pure mind and being of service to humanity in general , will help remove the layers of accumulated vasanas and mental inadequacies and place a true seeker on the path of spiritual progress under the guidance of a Guru!