“Shankaraaa, when you practice proper meditation, you can do anything you like.  You can create and destroy too.  You get that kind of power when you reach the highest level of concentration where your consciousness is totally pervaded by the Lord.  Only at that point, you can know what is in store.  You can hardly find people at that level.”

“But guruji, how the branch was removed from the rocky bench”

“It is an act of God.  God does not act directly.  He always remains as a witness.  Since He is omnipresent, He knows everything that happens in the universe.  In this case, He asked me to remove the branch.  For my age, it is not possible to do this without His grace.  Shankaraa, God is always very compassionate.  Alright, without wasting further time, let us discuss about the doubt you have been nurturing since our last session.  What is your doubt?”

I repeated my question. “When God in the form of soul is within us, why should we worship Him in a temple?”

“Suppose I did not tell you that God is within you as the soul, what will you do?”

“Guruji, I am not in the habit of going to temples.  If it were someone else, he will continue his visits to temples to make prayers and submit applications to Him.”

“Yes.  Visit to temples is the beginning of religious life.  Religious life forms the foundation for spiritual life.  One has to first study first standard and then move up gradually to degree and higher.  Religious life lays a strong foundation for spirituality.  Religions prescribe a lot of rigorous practices.  You take fasting as example.  Fasting once in fifteen days cleanses your system.  If your bodily systems are not cleansed properly, your prana is not cleansed. A bad prana affects the ascent of kundalini.  Without kundalini reaching higher chakras, realisation or commune with God does not happen.  Even if you do not practice kundalini, it ascends on its own, depending upon your spiritual progress.  I will take you to a great master of our age to learn kundalini meditation.  He lives in Himalayas.

“God and soul are not different.  Suppose a country’s head disguises him and mixes with the people without establishing his true identity, how people will treat him?  He will be treated like any other ordinary citizen.  This is because people do not know him as the country’s head. God is the purest form of consciousness.  When consciousness is distracted, it is not God.  You keep some cotton under the sun.  It does not catch fire.  If you hold a magnifying lens above the cotton, focusing the rays of the sun, the cotton catches fire.  Why, because the heat energy of the sun is focused on the cotton.  In fact a replica of the sun is brought on the cotton.  Though the replica is not as powerful as the sun, it is powerful enough and is capable of burning the cotton.  The magnifying lens is used as a tool to intensify the heat of the sun on the cotton.  If the heat is not intensified, the cotton cannot be burnt.

“In the same way, God is present in everybody as the soul.  Without the soul, a body cannot function like a bulb cannot illuminate without electricity.  Electricity is not connected to the bulb directly, but is routed through a switch.  You have to put on or off the switch.  God is within you, ever illuminating.  But you are unable to realize His illumination, because there is nobody to operate the switch.  Where is the switch? It is your mind.  When you put on the switch you find the light illuminating the objects around it.  In the same way, if your mind switches on electricity, there should be somebody to realize the illumination.  You cannot physically see this illumination, as everything happens in your subtle body.  Whatever happens in your subtle body cannot be seen and can only be realized. It is only your consciousness that can realize the soul within.  A diamond can be cut only by diamond.  Rivers can confluence only with an ocean.  A union between any two is to be of the same category.  Since God is the purest form of consciousness, only your purest form of consciousness can realize that purest consciousness, God.  Your practice is a tool like the magnifying lens. 

“In temples, idols of Gods are installed and consecrated. Regular propitiations are being carried out.  Further, most of the temples are built according to vastu.  The advantage with vastu is it diffuses the generated energy which has been retained.  When you enter a temple, you can realize the positive vibrations.  Vastu is a science relating to the movement of planets, earth’s atmosphere, gravitational forces and the energy generated from all the objects.  Every object is capable of generating energy.  Modern day kirlian photography confirms that every object generates energy. Some objects produce more energy and some less; some objects produce positive energy and some produce negative energies.  The art of understanding and manipulating these energies is called vastu.  All olden temples are constructed as per vastu sastra and hence, produce only positive energies. 

“Regular propitiation takes place inside the temples by mantra chants. Mantras are capable of producing intense positive energies.  Sound of mantras also originates from God. Thus all the positive vibration prevailing in a temple enters into your body through your top head chakra or back head chakra and makes your body fit and vibrant. 

“Unless you focus your mind on the God, like the magnifying glass focusing the rays of the sun on the cotton wool, your consciousness does not become pure.  Like a river can confluence only in a water body, only a purified form of consciousness can realize God.  Your consciousness has to be pure and focused on God all the time to realize Him.  Now I will explain this to you from Trika angle.

“As I told you, in Trika philosophy, there are three characters. Trika means three. First, the eternal Shiva, who always remains in the form of Self-illuminating Light and because of this Light, everything else shines.  If Shiva does not shine, there will be no light in the universe, causing annihilation.  Shiva’s Light is too powerful to comprehend and cannot be directly perceived.  Shiva never changes under any circumstances, including annihilation.  Even when the entire universe gets annihilated, Shiva remains the same.  If Shiva’s Light is blinding, automatically a necessity to create someone arises to diffuse His glowing Light.  Only Shiva could solve this issue.  Shiva decided to create Shakti and named Her as maya with instructions to form a sheath around Him, so that His binding Light is not perceived by anybody.  Shiva has also given a power of attorney to Shakti to act on His behalf and administer the universe.  Shiva is not simply interested in doing any kind of activity.  He is static all the time.

“When every living being is created, Shiva becomes the cause of that living being.  The nature of Shiva is Self illumination.  But His illumination is concealed by Shakti deliberately.  Unless Shakti is realized a nara or man cannot realize Shiva.  It is not enough if you realize Shakti.  Realising Shiva is our ultimate aim.  Only then you attain liberation.  Transmigration ceases only if you are liberated.

“Shakti is the embodiment of maya.  She casts Her spell of illusion.  Now you know that you have God within.  But you are not able to affirm that, because of lack of evidence.  You stop looking at the physical body and get dissociated from sensory organs.  As long as you take cognizance of physical bodies, you cannot advance spiritually.  You should be able to look deep within, the God remaining as soul.  The relationship between Shiva and Shakti is inseparable.  The one without the other cannot function.  For example, without Shiva, the very existence of Shakti is not possible.  Similarly, without Shakti, Shiva remains only as an inert. For our convenience sake, God is divided as God without attributes -Shiva and God with attributes - Shakti. The power of Shakti is known as maya.  Maya is the name of the power given by Shiva to Shakti.  Shiva is the cause and Shakti is the effect.  It is important for you to understand that maya is inherent part of His creation.  Maya can be removed only by spiritual knowledge and there is no short cut way to go past Her.  She alone can reveal Shiva to you and nobody else can, including your guru.”

Guruji concluded his longest lecture ever.  The subject was so interesting, it appeared to me that I was able to grasp whatever he said.  I found Trika philosophy easier than Advaita philosophy.  Guruji got up and walked towards our home.  It signalled time for our lunch. I have also taken a vow that hence forth, I follow all the principles followed by my guru.  After a good lunch, as usual guruji walks a few steps. I walked with him. 

“When will your mother finish her work now?” he asked me.

“She may not take very long.  Once she finishes her lunch, she cleans the place and takes rest for a while.  My mother has the habit of reading.  She has some old books that my father had left.  She used to read them.  She spends quite a lot of time with books.  Sometimes, she regrets for having lost my father.  Why guruji?”

“I want to talk to your mother Shankara.  Let me know when she is done with her chores.”

When we were returning from our very slow walk my mother came out of the house and was looking at the havoc caused by yesterday’s thunderstorm.

“Amma, I want to speak to you.  Are you free now?”

“I am at your service swami.”

“Amma, Shankara is now not an ordinary person.  I have been sent here to teach him whatever little I know about spirituality.   Your son has a crystal clear mind.  He has successfully crossed the first stage in his spiritual test now and is ready to move forward. Nobody can prevent his further progress, including you and me.  I have to take him for further training and seasoning to a few places in the Himalayas.  He will be trained there not by me but my gurus.  They will decide the modus operandi.   This process could take months or years, not known at this point.  Even if he becomes a fully enlightened yogi, we do not know what he would do. 

“At the same time, I have my duty to protect you and ensure your safety.  I have asked a woman from my native place to come here and stay with you.  She is on her way and could be here anytime now.  She is a highly trustworthy woman and you can depend on her for anything.  Whatever the work, Shankara was doing, she will continue to do them.  I need your permission to take Shankara with me for further training.”

“Swami, you know everything.  How a mother can live alone, sending her son to some unknown place. Moreover, I want him to get him married and rear his family and enjoy his life in peace here.  His needs are very limited and he can provide all comforts to his family.  You also say that he may not return immediately.  How do you expect me to send him along with you?” Her saying was not confrontational but sounded full of concern for her and for me as well.  Though both of us do not speak often, there is a strong bondage between us. 

“I understand your concern for your son. Every parent would like his or her kids to get married.  But, Shankara is not just another person. He is not born to nurture a family of his own.  He has got a duty to nurture this world.  He is going to achieve new heights in spirituality.  It is too premature to say whether he will become famous, but mostly not, because Shankara is not an extrovert.  It is not right on your part to hold on to Shankara.  He is meant for the world.  There are very few persons who are born to reach the summit of spirituality.  He is one among them.  Please give me permission to take him with me.” Guruji was virtually pleading with my mother. 

I was surprised and confused.  I never thought that I could be going to Himalayas.  I am not interested to have another guru.  When my guruji himself is so powerful and can do so many miracles, why another guru?  Further, I do not know Hindi, which is the only language spoken in those places.  I do not even know English.  I repented for a moment about my disinterest in my education.  In the first place, where do we have money to reach the Himalayan valley?  I do not have any woolen clothing.  I have only three sets of dress and how I can go to far off places with limited dress.  But I immediately recollected what guruji has.  My mother tried to argue with guruji asking him to take me with him after her death.  But guruji was adamant in taking me with him. 

While we were discussing, a middle aged woman was coming towards us.  She paid her respects to guruji and then to my mother and finally to me.  She was looking pretty good and was ageing graciously.  She was moderately built.  Guruji called her Mangalam.  Mangalam is her name.  Guruji introduced her to my mom and told my mom to take her inside. 

“Shankara, I will have my nap now” and he moved towards his place where he sleeps.  I went in to meet my mother.  My mom and Mangalam were chatting. 

“Amma, please send Shankara with guruji.  I feel it is your duty to send him with guruji.  I am here to help you.  I will do all the work that Shankara was doing hitherto” as she finished speaking both my mom and I were shocked.  How she came to know about my name, my mission and her duties beforehand.  Guruji could not have told her as there was no telephone in our area.  It was a real shocker for both of us. 

“How do you know all these details” I asked her.

“Shankaraaaaa, please ask your guruji” she addressed me with the same melody that my guruji used to address me.  I have then decided, she is also not just another person.  I walked towards my rocky bench.  I sat there and looked up.  The missing branch was very obvious. I felt sad for that branch of the tree.  The branch was there yesterday and it is not there today.  Its long life has come to a sudden end.  What it has achieved?  It has protected me from the scorching sun. It gave me soothing breeze.  But what I have done to anyone except to my mom?  Even for mom, I have not done anything significantly.  I have not done anything for the society, as I never mingled with them.  It dawned on me that life is short for everyone and in that short duration, one has to achieve something good.  I thought that if I go with guruji, I can do something for the society.  I decided and I have decided to go with him.  I walked up to my mother and conveyed my decision.  She was obviously upset with me.  I waited for guruji to get up to know more about our program.  I began to take a walk on the banks of the river.  The time could be around 1.30 post noon.  The sand beneath my feet was hot.  I moved towards the shadows of the trees.  I walked for a mile and returned.  I saw guruji freshening up in Cauvery water.  I increased the pace of my walking and reached guruji. 

“Shankaraaa, freshen up yourself and I want to talk to you” he said.

I returned after splashing the cool water on my face, neck, arms and feet.  The cool water of Cauvery has the immense capacity to refresh and heal. 

“Shankaraaa, are you surprised at the turn of events?” guruji asked.

“Yes guruji.  I am surely surprised.  I thought about what you have said and I am keen to come along with you to Himalayas.  But I do not want to lean from other gurus. You are everything to me. I understand that life span is short.  With your blessings I will achieve anything.  You know better guruji.”

“Don’t worry.  You are a blessed son of God.  You will reach the Lord, provided you are able to strain your every nerve and willing to sacrifice all your physical comforts.  You cannot practice spirituality in comfort.  Comfort is for your body and when you disown your body, comforts have no significance for you.  You are not anyway leading a comfortable life even now.  The significant difference from your present life and your proposed life is your active life.  Here you are not active.  If you are lazy, your mind also becomes dysfunctional.  In an inert mind, you cannot realize God.  You will be taught some physical and breathing exercises at Rishikesh.  Once you are through with these preliminaries, you will be taken to the higher ranges of Himalayan Mountains for your emancipation.  You will have opportunity to meet great sages and saints and you will spend some time with them.  After your emancipation, you can decide your future.”

“What is emancipation guruji?” I asked.

“Emancipation and liberation both mean liberation of your soul from further transmigration.  You will become one with God and you will continue with your gross body till all your karmas are exhausted.  This state is also known as yogi, the union of self and the Self had taken place. Your thinking about the world will undergo drastic change.

“We have to leave this place day after tomorrow.  We will go to the town tomorrow morning.  Someone will be waiting for us with all your needs and also the tickets for our journey.  From this place, we will proceed to Madras, from Madras to Delhi and from Delhi to Haridwar. Up to this point, our journey will be by train.  After a few days halt at Haridwar, we will proceed to Rishikesh.  Rishikesh is the place known for spirituality.  But there are more commercial gurus than real gurus.  True gurus will not have crowd around them.  They will be alone.  Occasionally, at the command of their gurus, they impart training.  They will have only a few disciples.  They will be very friendly and compassionate.  Just don’t worry about anything.  I will be with you as long as they permit.”

(to be continued)