Archive for the ‘Sabari Mala’ Category

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and Bhakti Yoga

December 16, 2010

Just as I mentioned about pilgrimage to Sabarimala representing Karma Yoga, I find that it represents Bhakti Yoga as well.

By any standards, pilgrimage to Sabarimala is not easy task, especially for people like me who are used to luxuries of modern lifestyle. It is just the ardent devotion that helps a person to commence on arduous journey, year after year. Strength of devotion is the only word that I can think of, for explaining my own personal experience related to pilgrimage. I still marvel as to how could I have travelled, by foot, a distance from Erumeli to Sannidanam, which is reported to be about 60 kms, in about 12 hours time! The fact is, experiences, which might otherwise be perceived as hard, fail to dissuade pilgrims.

In the true format of pilgrimage, it is preceded by 41 days of vrata. This helps to prepare devotee to undertake the pilgrimage in terms of physical health, mind control, and spiritual orientation. During this time, devotees adopt practices of Bhakti Yoga like as part of Sravana, Kirtana, Smarana, Paada Sevana, Archana and Vandana. These help pilgrim to keep his mind focused on devotion, away from its usual digressions. Keeping himself in service of others, it also helps him identify himself as a servant (Daasya) and friend (Sakhya) of others (every living being)

Commencement of is marked by a ritual called ‘kettunira’. During Kettunira, coconut is filled with ghee with utmost devotion. This coconut is now called ‘mudra’, which roughly translate to mean ‘symbol. This coconut is a symbol of self, cleared of its routine digressions and focused on God. This is taken in a bag called Irumudi, along with other things required for worship as well as to undertake the journey

Pilgrimage is undertaken as a team, everyone helping one another and spending time in utmost devotion. Hard uphill journey is made easier with the help of team members, and members from other team who volunteers to help. When it gets so hard that we just cannot continue, yet continues, we experience the power of ‘Aatmanivedana’ through the invisible, all-powerful hands. Reaching Sannidanam above holy 18 steps is a special experience in which ego dissolves in the divine glow of self-realization


Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and Karma Yoga

December 4, 2010

I think I went to Sabarimala in 1991 for the first time, if I remember it right. I have been going almost every year since then, barring a couple of exceptions here and there.

It has always been a spiritual experience for me as much as it being religious practice. I have always found the pilgrimage to symbolize the essence of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Sanyasa Yoga; all combined into one, depending on the perspective through which I look at

I shall detail on how I see the pilgrimage as representing Karma Yoga in my point of view, in this blog post, taking up others some other time.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala represents working towards a lofty goal, ultimate happiness and union with God. Happiness and well-being is not just for oneself but rather for everyone else as well.

Journey commences with a ritual called ‘Kettunira” in which coconut is filled with ghee. It is cleared of its water and it is filled instead with ghee. This coconut is now called ‘mudra’, which roughly translate to mean ‘symbol. This coconut is a symbol of myself, cleared of its routine digressions to stay focused on my goal.

From this moment onwards, my goal is only one, that is to reach the Ayyappan temple at the peak of Sabarimala

Journey is hard due to various factors. One of the factors that make journey hard is uphill climb, barefoot, with a bag containing mudra. Being used to living in the comforts of moden urban life, there are times when I felt I just cannot move on.

When I look around, I see many others as well some of whom are much worse off but still pulling on with undying spirit to reach the destination. I realize that life is not a rat race. It does not so matter how slow or fast I go, what is key is that I move on.

Journey is seldom alone. We travel as a team, helping each other. Achieving goal is better and easier when we are working as a team.

I believe, the recipe for success in everyday life too is likeminded people coming together and working as a team towards their common goal. We see ourselves in every one, and we see everyone in ourselves, and call each other Swami or Ayyappa, in the true spirit of Advaita philosophy.

As we climb the holy 18 steps to reach sannidhanam, we see the message Tat Tvam Asi (That Art Thou). That is, a realization that the God, and ultimate happiness, that we seek are within ourselves, not outside of us.

We submit the ghee in mudra to the God, in total surrender of ego, and burn the coconut shell symbolizing realization of the Self beyond confines of the body and related perceptions

Then, we commence our return journey.

Every goal, howsoever lofty that be, is part of history once it is achieved. One has to leave it behind, and continue the journey to set yet another goal and get going

Believing in God rather than fearing God

August 31, 2010

As a person believing in God, I found it always curious that even many religious institution in the name of God promote fear of God!

I wonder, can God be vindictive? Can God be punishing? If He does, if He submits Himself to trivia like a man does, can He be considered superior to man?

I find Gandhi’s speech on God is resonating in my heart

God is purely benevolent, for me.

God is life; Even in the midst of death, life persists.
God is truth; Even in the midst of untruth, truth persists.
God is light; Even in the midst of darkness, light persists.
God is life, truth, light.

God, who merely satisfies the intellect, is no God.
God rules the heart and transform it
God expresses himself in every smallest act of His votary

God satisfies the intellect, rules the heart and transforms, expresses himself in every smallest act because He is but yourself, your inner consciousness, integral part of global consciousness