Children, This is for you.
After praying to Mahaganapathy to remove obstacles and to Goddess Sarswathy, to enrich us with knowledge, we will now pray to our Guru for his blessings. Guru is practically the one who provides us tools for a purposeful living. Later, you will lean that Guru is an elevator to your spiritual enlightenment, but it is too early to go into that aspect.
This is a familiar slokam on Guruvandanam.
GURUR DEVO MAHESHWARAH
GURUR SAAKSHAAT PARA-BRAHMA,
TASMAI SHRI GURUVE NAMAH.
The Guru is Brahma (The God of Creation)
The Guru is Vishnu (The God of Sustenance)
The Guru is Shiva (The God of Annihilation)
My Salutation to such a Guru, who is verily the Supreme God.
Who is your Guru ?
Your first Guru is your mother, in whose womb you evolved as an embryo of two layers of cells and grew step by step , absorbing the nutrients from her, that made you fit to come out in the open and face the world.
“Are you comfortable my gem in the little space I have provided, where neither the sun rays nor the moon shine reach ?” She asks you, unhappy over the reality that she could not provide you a mansion with golden walls and silver floor, on the top of a diamond hill
” Am I hurting you my lotus bud, when I sit, stand, bend or walk?” She continues to worry. ” Come out soon my child so that I can feed you when you cry”. She laments, “how sad I have no way of knowing when you are hungry !”
Those words soaked in unadulterated affection, love and compassion, pass to your years, ignoring the intermediate layers and get embedded in your little brain. Mother’s love crosses mountains and oceans . The first lesson you learn is nothing but the vibrations of love and affection, care and compassion and it is with that precious knowledge that you enter the world. Your mother has already provided you the safest place in the earth, inside her own body, where neither the hungry vultures nor the vagaries of weather will en-capture and decimate you. That accommodation, also gives you an opportunity to learn to live in darkness, in a restricted space and to grow with the available air and food.
Thus, your own mother is your first and foremost Guru. God is the repository of compassion and He is known as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara and as your mother teaches you the first lesson on the above subjects, she is your first Guru.
GURUR DEVO MAHESHWARAH
GURUR SAAKSHAAT PARA-BRAHMA is your mother.
तस्मै Thasmai- to him ( here, to her) my namaskaram.
My eldest son Sharath,( Ananth for the world and Kuttan for me ), used to burst into a ‘pey,pey’ yell, the moment I went to sleep, exhausted and eager to rest. It was as if he entered this world with an imbedded device in his throat . Jumping like a just- filled foot ball, I had to get up from my bed, carry him on my shoulder, stroll around the garden in front of our house, resisting the chill weather. Enjoying the mild rocking and warmth of my body, intermittent slow and rhythmic patting on his back, low-tone lullaby lethargically escaping from my lips and cooing of the night -birds from the bushes around, my naughty little imp used to pretend to sleep but the moment his father halted, he used to scream again more forcefully, as if the sky had fallen on his head or a meteor had passed through his ears. What he actually deserved was a dozen slaps or pinches for his cruelty, but I continued my stroll till he slipped into the hands of sleep, unwillingly and unknowingly.
Your parents too are like me, who had often forgone their basic needs like sleep and food to take care of your needs and to make you comfortable and happy. They taught you the value of love, care and tolerance.
You might not remember now but it was your father who taught you to regain your balance when you missed your steps while toddling.
It was he who taught you, your fist steps, which subsequently turned as a long journey in life. Therefore , your father too is your Guru.
So are the other elders in the family, your siblings, your friends , your teachers, your neighbors . You have learned and continue to learn some good acts or words from them and therefore, they too are your Gurus.
So are the world around, the sky and the stars, the sun and the moon, the trees and the rocks, the birds and the animals- they all have a lessen or two for you and they all are your Gurus.
You are an intelligent child. That is why you ask, ” how am to differentiate good from bad, in the process of learning , since you say that every object has some thing or other to teach me ?”
valid question. I will try to clear your doubt when we meet next.
Dear children, this is for you:
You are familiar with this picture of the goddess Saraswathi , सरस्वती, on the bank of a river, adorned by a pure white silk sari with golden borders, holding a book and beads, playing music on Veena, a peacock by her side admiring her serene and calm face .This painting is by Raja Ravi Varma, which might be adoring your mini temple in home. Saraswathi is the Lord of learning, fountain of arts and culture and the symbol of supreme vedanthic wisdom. She is worshiped as Sharada ( the presiding deity in the Sringeri temple), Bharathi, Vani or vagdevi and Kalaivani (in Tamiz ).
You have also been taught the simple Stothram,
विद्यारम्भं करिष्यामि सिद्धिर्भवतु मे सदा ॥
saraswathi = O Saraswathī
namastubhyam = namaH tubhyam = salutations, for you. तुभ्यम् / tubhyam= to you
varadé= o giver (-dA/ -dā) of boons (vara)
-da (-dA /dā for feminine) suffix means giver of, like
jalada, ambuda (giver of jala/ambu=water, i.e. clouds)
vasu-dA / vasudā = giver of wealth = earth
kAmarUpiNi = o giver of form (rUpa / rūpa) to desires (kAma / kāma). This is a beautiful expression. दायिन् / dAyin giving. dAyini would have served the purpose. But
kAmarUpiNi is lovely.
vidyArambham = vidyA Arambham / vidyā ārambham = knowledge (studying) start
kariShyAmi / kariṣhyāmi = I will do
siddhirbhavatu = siddhiH bhavatu / siddhiḥ bhavatu = accomplishment, may
me = mine
या कुन्देन्दु तुषार हार धवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणा वरदण्ड मण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना ।
या ब्रह्माच्युत शङ्करप्रभृतिभिर्देवैः सदा पूजिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा ॥
Yaa Kunda-Indu Tushaara Haara Dhavalaa Yaa Shubhra-Vastra-Avrtaa
Yaa Veenaa Vara-Dannda Manndita-Karaa Yaa Shveta-Padmaasanaa |
Yaa Brahma-Acyuta Shangkara-Prabhrtibhir-Devaih Sadaa Puujitaa
Saa Maam Paatu Sarasvatii Bhagavatii Nihshessa-Jaaddya-Apahaa ||
1: (O Mother Saraswati), Who is fair as a Jasmine flower and Moon and White as Snow and Who is dressed in White Garments,
2: Whose Hands are Adorned by the Veena and Staff symbolizing Boon-Giving and Who is Seated on a White Lotus,
3: Who is always Adored by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the other deities,
4: Kindly Protect me, and Remove my Ignorance.
कुन्द / kunda jasmine flower- इन्दु / indu = Moon तुषार/ tuSAra= snow, dew, camphor हार/ hAra = garland धवल / dhavala = dazzling white.
शुभ्रा / zubhrA crystal वस्त्र / vastra = cloth आवृ / AvR = cover शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता = adoring zubhrA vastram
|दण्ड / daNDa = rod, staff, stick|
प्रभृति / prabhRti= beginning with . Brahma-Acyuta Shangkara-Prabhrtibhir-Devaih= by Brahma, Vishnu, Sankara and other Devas Sadaa Puujitaa= always worshiped
Maam Paatu = Save me सा / sA = she मां/ mAM पातु / pAtu = Protect निःशेष /niHzeSa = complete, जाड्य / jADya= stupidity, ignorance, absence of intellect, dullness etc . अपह / apaha = removing Nihshessa-Jaaddya-Apahaa = the one who completely removes ignorance, illiteracy etc.
The name Saraswathi is derived from सरस् “saras” (anything flowing, water, pond etc) and “wathi” (meaning “she who has …”, similar to sowbaagyavahti, roopawathi), i.e. “she who has flow”. Now, knowledge is free flowing. One might be a great scholar; it has to flow from him to help others. Books are repositories of knowledge, but that has to flow into our head.
The words saritā (सरिता = river), sarovara (सरोवर = lake), sarī-sṛipa (सरी-सृप = reptiles), sarpa (सर्प = serpent) all have the same root – to flow. So, Saraswathi is symbol of knowledge, whose flow (or growth) is like a river or pond, supremely fascinating like a divine damsel. She is depicted as a lovely, fair Goddess with four arms, wearing a spotless white saree and seated on a white lotus. White, for us, is the shade of purity and everything about Saraswathi , is white, the colour of pure snow.
The श्वेतकमल or white lotus, which blooms at moon- rise is her seat . Moon is ‘zitAMzu’ शीतांशु, the one with white cool rays at the sight of whom the white lotus blooms. Saraswathi is ‘kundendhu thushara haara dhavaa’ and ‘ subravasthranghitha’ She wears white apparel and white garland and is ‘हंसवाह’ riding of hamsa, which again is snow-white in colour.
She is the embodiment of intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, eloquence and power.
You would have observed that Sarswathi doesn’t have any weapons . Annihilation is not her job. Knowledge is not to harm others. It is to help them. It is to help you and promote you to a better status. To purify your soul and elevate it to a high level. The ultimate aim of knowledge is to liberate the soul about which you will learn when you grow.
Calm,quite, pure, peaceful and a totally serene feeling you should have when you meditate on the Goddess whose physical form symbolizes pure knowledge, which is stainless.
Now, meditate on Goddess Saraswathy to help you in your studies. Studies knows no boundary. It can flow from the classroom, at home, in the play ground , from your parents and others at home and also from those outside. The Nature is a best friend and teacher.The animals, tress, birds, river, ocean all will teach you something or other.
Let your ambition to learn good things grow. Let Sarswathi Devi bless you for that to happen.
This is for you, children.
At dusk, when the reddish divine disc, descends with admirable glory, behind the western hills, visible from our house , we children used to sit before a brilliant big brass lamp that illumined and sanctified the small enclosure called ‘sree kovil’ in our ‘naalu kettu’ big house, where we were raised. Focusing at our innocent faces and appreciating our imperfect attempts to sing, were rows of dazzling pictures of male and female forms of divinities who, we were told, were the givers of heath, wealth, education and happiness .
The first stotram we were taught by Appa was,
anēka dam tam bhaktānām ēkadantam upāsmahē
अनेक दम् तम् भक्तानाम् एकदन्तम् उपास्महे.The meaning, in brief :
Aananam-face or mukham
arka-sun.Gajaanan- the one with the face of an elephant
Aharnisham- day and night, throughout.Anaekam – Many, plenty
Dam- He who gives
Bakthanaam– to the devotees
Upasmahae– Upasmi aham- I worship
Explanation of the words :’Ga’ refers to gamanam or movement. When the negative sound ‘a’ is prefixed, the meaning changes to, one which cannot move- here mountain, the Himavan. Recall similar words like, asathyam, adharmam, Atchuthan, Ananthan, Amara, Asura, etc.
The word ‘ja’ means’ born to or from. Agaja is the one born to Agam or mountain- ie Parvathi.
|नग Naga has also the same meaning- the one which doesn’t move. Nagaathiraja is King of mountains, Himavan.
Remember the first sloka in Kumarasambhavam :अस्त्युत्तरस्यां दिशि देवतात्मा हिमालयो नाम नगाधिराजः।
पूर्वापरौ तोयनिधी विगाह्य स्थितः पृथिव्या इव मानदण्डः॥ १-१astyuttarasyāṁ diśi devatātmā himālayo nāma nagādhirājaḥ |
pūrvāparau toyanidhī vigāhya sthitaḥ pṛthivyā iva mānadaṇḍaḥ || 1-1Mahaganapathi is described in the first line as the sun for the lotus face of Parvathi. The Divine mother’s face blossoms the moment she sees her son, as does a lotus which blossoms at the sight of the first ray of the sun.Second line – Gajaanananam – the elephant faced God. Day and night, with no break, always,Third line- aneka dam- tam bhaktaanaam, ‘damtam’ should be understood as the combination of two words, ‘dam, tam’. You give, in plenty, to your devotees.Fourth line- eakadantham -single-tusked – I worship.Charm of the hymn :
The first line starts with ‘Agajaana’ and the second one with ‘Gajanana’, both carrying different meaning but with sound parity.
The third line starts with ‘anaekadantham’ and the fourth one with ‘ eakadantham’, again different meanings with sound parity.
This sabdalankaram, beauty of sound similarity adds to the charm of the hymn.
The Sun and lotus have special significance in our literature. The sun is not a globe of burning gases or even just a remover of darkness or nourisher of living beings.
‘Sooryam sundara lokanathamamritham, vedanthasaram, Sivam
Jnanam,brahma mayam, suresamamalam, lokaikachitham swayam.
Indradithyanaraadipam, suragurum, thrailokya choodamanim,
Vishunu, brahamma, sivaswroopa hridayam, vandae sada Baskaram.
The sun is vedantha saram, the meaning of vedantham, Vishnu, Brahma, Siva swaroopa hridayam, Suraguru –the Rishi’s eulogization of the sun god goes on endlessly. For the Hindus He is the prathykshadeivam, the god visible to the naked eyes, the very source of life, nourisher, remover of sins .
So, is the importance of lotus, which is related to all gods. Though the sun opens up the eyes of all buds, he is named padmaprobhoda, emphasizing his special relationship with the lotus. Our ancient literature sings loudly about this unique relationship of the heavenly born sun and pankajam, born in marshy, muddy bottom of a pool. The unique union of the sky- born, extremely powerful luminary and simple, bashful, lovely, fragrant flower of moderate family has been the theme for many poetic works. No flower other than Lotus has the unique distinction of having the closet relationship with the gods. Brahma is padmasana, Vishnu is Padmnabha and Lakshmi is padmam, all in all .
‘ padma priyae, padmini, padma hasthae,
Vishnu priyae, viswa manonukoolae,
Thwat paaadapadmam, may sannidhisswa.’
Every where padmam, that is Mahlakshmi.
Ask your child, while reciting, to concentrate on his mind’s eye, the sparkling face of the Gajanana Bagavaan, the face that blooms the lotus-like lovely, serene face of Parvati, beaming with pride and tranquility at the sight of her beloved sun.