Monday 1 April 2024

Mangalacharan 4


वन्दे बोधमयं नित्यं गुरुं शंकररूपिणम्‌।

यमाश्रितो हि वक्रोऽपि चन्द्रः सर्वत्र वन्द्यते॥3

भावार्थ:-ज्ञानमय, नित्य, शंकर रूपी गुरु की मैं वन्दना करता हूँ, जिनके आश्रित होने से ही टेढ़ा चन्द्रमा भी सर्वत्र वन्दित होता है॥3॥ BK. Sh. 3


In the third shloka from the Mangalacharan (Balkaand) of Shri Ramcharitmanas, Goswamiji offers his reverence to the Guru, the embodiment of knowledge, who is the manifestation, the mirror image of Lord Shankar.

Goswamiji worships the Guru as an incarnation of 'Shankara', the primal Guru, under whose guidance even the flawed moon garners worship globally. Just like the moon, all fallacious humans (even though Goswami Tulasidas is making a reference to his own shortcomings) can also find praise and veneration in a Guru’s shelter.

Understanding that Lord Shiva is the paramount Guru, the source of unerring wisdom who liberates souls from the cycle of rebirth, Goswamiji venerates the Guru principle itself. The refuge of a Guru can shift perceptions of even the most undeserving disciple, irrespective of their flaws.

This verse underscores the significance of spiritual mentorship. But what about ordinary individuals like us, those ensnared by ego, distrust, and inability to surrender?




While lineage and legacy matter, if it was all that mattered, how would it be different from the material world? How would spiritual quest be any different from the exclusionary academic practices? what about those without prestigious educational backgrounds? Those without mentors, and without access to the old boys’ / girls’ clubs?

However, there remains hope. Lord Shiva, 'Shankar', the one who is capable of Shaman, dispels all doubts, transforms all shortcomings, and embraces all beings without any biases whatsoever. All you need is a pure heart. That’s the only qualification.

Vaishnav scripture suggests Lord Shiva worships Lord Vishnu and is dear to Him, indicating that seeking refuge in Lord Shankar endears one to Vishnu as well, regardless of one's stature in life or social hierarchy.

But what about the Shaiva scriptures? Isn’t Shiva higher than Vishnu in the hierarchy of the Hindu Holy Trinity?

Well, I digress. And frankly, it doesn’t matter.

As a simple devotee without a lineage, my key takeaway from this verse is hope. Hope for salvation, hope for preservation from Vishnu, and shelter from Shiva.

I’m mindful that surrender as a conscious act doesn't grant me entitlement to grace, which manifests when it does. Grace after all, cannot be demanded, invoked, asked for, begged for. Grace manifests. And when touched by it, even the flawed crescent moon finds celebration.

In its absence, endeavours may halt momentarily, yet Shankar's guidance ensures perseverance on the chosen path, even chanting the Ram Charit Manas.

Look at this work, for instance. When doubts, pride, ego took over, the work stopped. When grace happened, Lord Shankar dispelled the doubts, and took care of the ego. It is only for grace that the recitation of the entire Ram Charit Manas happened during Covid.

Thus, my return to this work clearly indicates that the Lord’s grace hasn't forsaken me. That alone is enough!

© Anupama 2024


Sunday 31 March 2024

Mangalacharan 3

भवानीशंकरौ वन्दे श्रद्धाविश्वासरूपिणौ।
याभ्यां विना न पश्यन्ति सिद्धाः स्वान्तःस्थमीश्वरम्‌॥2॥

भावार्थ:-श्रद्धा और विश्वास के स्वरूप श्री पार्वतीजी और श्री शंकरजी की मैं वंदना करता हूँ, जिनके बिना सिद्धजन अपने अन्तःकरण में स्थित ईश्वर को नहीं देख सकते॥2॥ BK. Sh.2

So Goswami ji is now paying to Sri Sankar Bhagwan and Maata Parvati. To people new to Indian mythology, but aware of the complex DemiGod relationships, it may seem surprising how the son (Ganesh Ji) is prayed to before his parents. However, philosophically as well as mythologically, we are in right to do so.
Shiv Parivar

  1. Ganesh Ji was accepted as the first among peers during any sort of Puja, or ceremony. So, it is appropriate to seek his blessings.
  2. Lord Shiv and Mata Parvati have been denoted as 'Shraddha and Vishwas' literally meaning deep faith and reverence. However, one has to understand that translations can never be literal. With deep faith, there still is a probability of it going wayward. With reverence, there is still a scope to evaluate the object of reverence and at some point it is possible to lose that deep seated respect and trust. However, Shraddha and Vishwas' are not so easy to lose. They manifest after multiple stages of knowledge and bhakti
  3. Letters and language (Ganesh - Saraswati) are needed to express one's devotion to Lord Ram, but after you are blessed with knowledge and literary skill, humility and ability to express, what will one narrate if one does not revere one's hero? If there's no faith in the narrative, what's the point of the literary skill. This faith, this reverence, cannot be attained by one's own pursuits alone. 
 It is in order to be able to see and envision the Supreme God, seated deep within one's Atman, that one needs the Shraddha and the Vishwas. It is in order to seek that ultimate blessing, that Goswamiji begs to Shiv-Parvati. 

Side Note : Shivji is the Greatest Knowledgeable Devotee of Shri Ram. Mata Parvati is not just His Divine Consort but also His disciple and hence the ideal personification of reverence, trust, faith and enlightenment. It is only very natural that Goswamiji begs for their blessings as he aspires to narrate His Lord's pastimes.

© Anupama 2016


Mangalacharan 2

वर्णानामर्थसंघानां रसानां छन्दसामपि।
मंगलानां कर्त्तारौ वन्दे वाणीविनायकौ॥1

भावार्थ:-अक्षरों, अर्थ समूहों, रसों, छन्दों और मंगलों को करने वाली सरस्वतीजी और गणेशजी की मैं वंदना करता हूँ॥1॥ BK. Sh.1

The very first verse of Goswamiji's Mangalacharan offers his praises in reverence to Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesh.

Saraswati is not just the Goddess of wisdom, but also the Goddess of Speech. Speech is not just about some sounds being uttered, but it's about the pronunciation emanating from the 'Varna' or the sound; it is also about the meaning /s and their connotations; the feelings these words invoke; the poetry that gets created in the process and the beauty, the exalted bliss and the auspiciousness of every spoken or written word and every thought.

It is very intriguing to note that while Saraswati is the Goddess of wisdom and intelligence, She is rarely worshiped alone. Almost as a rule, She is worshiped with Lord Ganesh.

In fact there are instances in epic scriptures where the Gods and Goddesses have prayed to Saraswati to manipulate a certain human, demon or another God. While in the longer run, it always serves a larger purpose; the fact remains that it is possible to drift away from a wise choice despite intelligence.

However, Lord Ganesh is different. He is the epitome of goodness, auspiciousness and everything that is ‘Shubh’. He also happens to be the God blessed by all Demigods alike to be the first among peers. He is the first one to be worshiped in all auspicious rituals and activities.

Despite this – Sri Tulasi Das addresses Goddess Saraswati before Lord Ganesh. Or is it that the acharya is addressing both of them equally in the single phrase ‘VaniVinayakau’?

As a poet, his obvious leaning would be to the Goddess of Speech, but as a devotee he realizes that it is possible to lose humility, or focus or the clarity of thought to intelligence and so he invokes Saraswati with Ganesh in the same phrase; to ensure that his poetic Endeavor remains auspicious.

This verse indicates the importance of realizing the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Intelligence is obtained by learning and applying it, but wisdom will always need what we call 'Vivek' loosely meaning ethics. It is only when combined with the right ethics and morality that knowledge can become wisdom and lead to auspiciousness.

© Anupama 2016

Mangalacharan 4

  वन्दे बोधमयं नित्यं गुरुं शंकररूपिणम्‌। यमाश्रितो हि वक्रोऽपि चन्द्रः सर्वत्र वन्द्यते॥ 3 ॥ भावार्थ:-ज्ञानमय , नित्य , शंकर रूपी गुर...