Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Advaita Bhakti (Devotion in Non-Duality) - Part 1

by Sri P.C. Lahiri

Saint-composer Sri Tyagaraja hailed from the state of Karnataka, situated in the south of India.  His 250th birth anniversary was recently celebrated. On one hand he was a great devotee of Sri Rama and Mother Sita, and on the other hand, his thoughts were deeply soaked in Vedanta, the science of non-dualism.  He is said to have composed 24000 songs, of which only around 700 exist today, as the palm leaves on which they were written perished away with time.  Music was his only vehicle, and bhakti (devotion) was what moved that vehicle. A soul who composed 24000 songs in a lifetime - a fact accepted by most historians – had to have had a certain amount of spontaneity within,  which poured out in the form of words along with its musical composition (although this aspect of spontaneity is not accepted by some intellectual critics).  They at the most consider him to be a musical genius.

Now we have heard from the Master (Prajnanpurush Sri Sri Babathakur) the science of spontaneous revelation from within after Self-realization.  Innumerable songs poured out of His lotus lips, sometimes for a few days incessantly after deep trances (Samadhi), out of which we have been able to preserve only about 1000.  This happened because of our lack of readiness (both mentally and technically), as also because many a times these revelations happened for days in the absence of anyone else who could make an effort to write at least. Those days there were no mobile phones, computers or readily available portable tape recorders.  In case of Sri Tyagraja it was somewhat different as he himself wrote down those songs on palm leaves, most of which have perished due to a lack of maintenance.  Here we find another example of ‘posthumous followers’ (a coinage of the Master)¾ followers wake up to greatness of a soul only after his departure from mundane existence.  People are now lamenting the loss of such highly devotional songs.

The meaning of the word ‘revelation’, as I understand from the Master, is spontaneous outpouring from the deepest recess of the heart without any intervention or use of mind-intellect-ego.  This can only happen when the entire human body system becomes a ‘perfect channel’ for the Supreme Truth within which to reveal of Its own accord.  The ‘I’, as a Perfect Witness that is identified with the Supreme Truth, only witnesses Its own ‘sportful dramatic sameside game with Itself, for Itself and in Itself alone’.  In this Supreme State there is no second entity or any ‘sense of otherness’ whatsoever who would consider the aspect of writing on palm leaf or a piece of paper. Out of exuberance of eternal Bliss, the Absolute One reveals as many verses of a song in various tunes, meter, rhythm, speed etc. To us all, these revelations appear and sound as many different ones, but to the Absolute One, it is only that sameside game where there is no second entity.  So revelation only happens from the state of Absolute Perfection.  From the state of profound bhakti or extreme devotion, what comes out is the outpouring of a highly intoxicated mind, immersed in the remembrance and glory of its Lord or sought.  Such an outpouring may look like spontaneous revelation.  As common people, we also sometimes experience a flow of words coming from our mind on a subject of great interest and involvement. I am not trying to do any comparison as I have no right, reason or qualification to do it.  I am just pointing out the unfathomable boundless depth of the Master’s utterances in whatever form they revealed. It is the supreme reasonless Grace of the Absolute Self I-Reality that It reveals Itself to some struggling souls irrespective of their qualification of any kind.  As struggling souls, we must remain ever grateful and thankful by making constant self-effort (purushakara) to be devoted to the revelations as much as possible. This kind of self-effort has been termed by the Master as sattvic purushakara which will ultimately lead to the realization of the perfect unity of destiny (daiva) and self-effort (purushakara).

Most of Sri Tyagaraja’s compositions are steeped in devotion and love for his Lord Rama and His consort Mahalaxmi Sita; however in certain places, he clearly indicates his awareness of the fact that his beloved Sri Rama dwelt in him and that they could never be separated. From his compositions, we glean that he regularly conversed with his Lord Sri Rama and those compositions only tell us how intimate their relationship was.  On the other hand, many of his compositions show his helplessness in reaching the Lord. The aspect of being inseparable with the Lord and yearning for reaching the Lord simultaneously existed in a devotee of very high order.  He was a believer of the ultimate Oneness of the Supreme Self and the individual self but said that this wisdom has to be gained through the tapas (constant practice and devotion) of music.  In one of his compositions, he implores to Sri Rama to help him realize how is it possible to know the meaning of the eternal Truth of the Vedic dictum Tattvamasi (you are That)?  Is it possible to realize and directly experience the profundity of this Vedic Mahavakya as tamas and rajas gunas can never be overcome?  Such doubts and yearning for the Divine have been expressed in their lifetime by many great souls including Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore through Rabindra sangeet.  They all have had visions and companionship of the Lord at various points of time in their life.  That is why they yearned for lasting company of the Divine and became despondent if they did not get it.  They are regarded as great souls as all their desires culminated in this one desire of seeking permanent company of the Lord or their chosen deity or Guru.  We, the struggling souls, can fully understand and appreciate how difficult it is to train and refine the mind (while residing in this world full of diversity and manyness), to ultimately desire only one final thing, i.e. God-realization.

Submitted at the lotus feet of the Master

This topic shall continue in the Janmashtami 2017 issue of e-Sanai 

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