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!!

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