Consolations? I am borrowing from the Old Testament Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. (Hebrew Bible, I hear you ask? The book itself is composite and the larger part of it (in fact, nearly all of it) comes from the Hebrews, the forerunners of modern day Judaism. It is proper and correct to call it the Hebrew Bible. It never was the Christian Bible, and biblical scholars along with Wikipedia are now getting us all to refer to the book by its proper name. I have to say, I concur. ) Here, we look to Consolations in two remarkably different sacred sources.
I can see yet another seva dal changeover going on; the Mumbai seva dal are all going home. They are being replaced by seva dal from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Mumbai people are happy; they say Puttaparthi is hot, with a dry heat. Mumbai is hot with humidity. I am sweating so much in the queue at the bakery, it makes little difference to me. (hint, hint, to those reading from colder climes!)
Went to the bookstore today. Walked the racks of books, some nice new books, many more books in other languages (this is a real improvement) and a large number of Sathya Sai Speaks reprinted with attractive covers. Spotted a few books by Anil Kumar I had not read before. This is interesting. Anil Kumar gives talks on Sundays; these talks are taped and written up and posted on the Sunday Wisdom website. After a time, they are compiled into books. I have to grant Anil Kumar credit; he is an excellent schoolteacher, thinks waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy outside the square and extrapolates on the works and teachings of Sathya Sai extraordinarily well indeed. I did spot an interesting title for one of these AK books; “Sparkles from around the world”. That captured my curiosity.
I think it an interesting sign of the times that I purchased audio and video, and only one book. For a fellow who has been editing books for many years, its an interesting sort of step back and reflection. Oh, there were books I did want to purchase, but I was not buying for myself; rather, I was purchasing for others, and I had to put myself in their shoes and consider what they would appreciate. And, given the way modern life is going, and the way multimedia has taken the world by storm, the multimedia Audio and Video CD and DVD won hands down.
E-books are the next step, maybe. (Consider the transformation of the Internet to the Inner-net. ‘tis coming, methinks.)
A different shopping experience this time, a lot more flexible than my earlier experiences in here. However, I have to pass an observation. I witnessed one old fellow treating a lady seva dal poorly all over a small, plastic shopping basket. I don’t like seeing ladies abused nor spoken to rudely. I told him to keep quiet and ended up putting the shopping basket aside myself. There could have been something else going on here, long reflection on this reveals that the lady never said a word. I tried being nice to her and she never spoke one word. There seemed to be something else going on about putting my purchases in the plastic bag. I am not sure what was going on there, so I will put that one on hold. I said “Sai Ram, Ammayani” (sister) as I left, still no reaction. (Most ladies will reply.) So … I dunno what was going on, I will have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt here. Why did I have to see this? Is there some sort of mirror being held up to me? Or is there some other play of the atma going on? One dimension of the consolations of God is that you do not jump to judgement quickly, but rather, be the observer, be the witness.
Bookstore: arrangements certainly have changed since I was last there, and I observe that there are now several smaller book stalls dotted around the ashram for the Books and Publications division. There are also very nice, very helpful people working in these small bookstalls. I have seen them go right out of their way to help. Ah, yes, the times for the bookstore have changed – 2 – 5 PM and the Sanathana Sarathi office has yet another time. I spotted a wagtail in the gardens up here. I never saw wagtails in Prashanti Nilayam before. (Wagtails are my spirit totem or spirit animal.)
The consolations of God – the Old Testament prophetic experience of the absence of God, the emptiness of God – which actually turns out to be the saturation of Divinity.
There was a good program in the mandir the other night. This was an offering of gratitude and love by the students of the Music College, and other students. People were sitting around glum faced, no vedam, no bhajans. Well, I was sitting there quite enjoying the program. Glum faces indeed, you get the best that India – Bharat Mata, here in the darshan hall. Students stood up and spoke of their gratitude to Swami and then gave musical numbers. These musical numbers revealed their skill and ability, and it is good. I must say, I really enjoyed the presentations and applauded the music, along with the assembled devotees. Some didn’t have the patience to wait through this for the bhajans and got up and left. Well, it was a bit long, but worth every minute. Quality musical skills, here, all given with pure, pure love for Swami. I am a bit lost for words to describe their musical numbers, they were that good. I could see the joy of the SSSIHL staff and ashram staff at the works of these students. They were applauding with enthusiasm.
I looked around at the glum faces, all sitting there with their vedam books, waiting, and thought of the consolations of God. Grace is available here in plenty, but it demands time, effort and patience. Where are the consolations of God in Hinduism? My thoughts went to Aditya Hrudayam, the great Hymn of the Sun recited by Agastya to Lord Rama, exhausted, despondent and disconsolate at all the destruction of the battlefield. Rama is silent, in deep reflection, considering the final battle with Ravana. Here, Agastya speaks to Lord Rama:
Victory, Oh victory to the Sun god,
Who is the lamp to the seven worlds,
Who by his rays destroys sin,
Who destroys aches and sorrow,
Who is lead to by the path of Vedas,
Who is the Sun God to the universe,
And Who is saluted by all the worlds,
And also my salutations to Him who makes the day.
The great God like sage Agasthya,
Who has come along with other Gods to see the war,
Seeing the tired and thought filled Ravana,
Approached Lord Rama, who is ready for the war and told.
Hey Rama, Hey dear Rama, be pleased to hear,
That which is secret and perennial,
By reciting which, son,
You would be victorious in war.
This is the prayer called “The Heart of the Sun”.
Which is holy, destroys all enemies,
Which leads to victory,
And by reciting which daily,
Leads you to perennial state of good.
This prayer great gives all that is good,
Destroys all sins committed,
Acts as an antidote for sorrow and thought,
And also leads to very long life.
Offer prayers to the Great Sun God,
Who is the owner of rays,
Who rises up from below,
Who is worshipped by devas and asuras,
And who is worshipped by every one of the universe.
He has within him all the devas,
He is the brightest among the bright,
He runs the whole world by his rays,
And protects all the worlds of Devas and Asuras,
By his great Rays.
He is Brahma, He is Vishnu,
He is Shiva, He is Skanda,
He is the progenitor of human race,
He is the king of devas,
He is Kubera, the lord of all riches.
He is Kala, the God of death,
And He is the moon also He is Varuna
He is the manes, He is the Gods called Vasus,
He is the gods called sadhya,
He is the Aswini devathas, the doctors of Gods,
He is the maruths who are responsible for breeze,
He is the wind God, He is the fire God,
He is the soul of all beings,
He is the creator of seasons,
And he is the giver of light.
He is the son of Adithi,
He is the creator of the world,
He makes us do things,
He travels on the sky,
He feeds the world by rain,
He is the one with rays,
He is the colour of Gold,
He is always shining,
He is responsible for creation,
And he is the maker of the day.
He has green horses,
He has thousands of rays,
He rides on seven horses,
He dispels darkness,
He gives a pleasant life,
He kills all life,
He gives rebirth to those killed,
He removes darkness,
And he is resplendent in his glory.
He who keeps the golden source,
He who cools down minds of devotees,
He who bestows heat,
He who is the source of light,
He who is praised by every one,
He who has fire within himself,
He who is the son of Adhithi,
He who travels in the sky with pleasure,
And he who melts cold.
He who is the lord of the sky,
He who dispels darkness,
He who is a master of Rig, Yajur and Sama veda,
He who is the cause of heavy rains,
He who is the friend of water,
And he who travels over the Vindhyas swiftly.
He who gives heat,
He who is of the global shape,
He who is of the form of death,
He who is of the colour of gold,
He who heats everything,
He who is in expert in knowledge,
He who manages the universe,
He who is of great brilliance,
He who is dear to every one,
And he who manages every event.
Salutations to him who is the Lord of stars, planets and zodiac,
To him who looks after the universe,
To him who gives light to all that shines,
And To him who has twelve forms.
Salutations to him who rises from the mounts of east,
Salutations to him who sets on mounts of west,
Salutations to the lord of objects that shine,
And the Lord of the day.
Salutations to him who is the cause of victories,
Salutations to him who has green horses,
Salutations and salutations to him who has thousand rays,
Salutations and salutations to the son of Adhithi.
Salutations and salutations,
To him who is fearful to the sinners,
To him who is the hero,
And to him who travels swiftly.
Salutations to him who opens the lotus,
And salutations and salutations,
To him who makes men live.
Salutations to Him,
Who is God to Brahma, Achyutha and Shiva,
Who is the giver of light,
Who is the son of Adhithi,
Who is ever shining,
Who eats everything,
And to him who has a fearsome body,
Salutations to him,
Who destroys darkness,
Who destroys, snow,
Who destroys his enemies,
Who has an immeasurable body,
Who destroys those who are not grateful,
And to him who is the Lord of those who shine.
Salutations to Him,
Who is of the colour of molten gold,
Who is of the form of fire,
Who has created the world,
Who destroys ignorance,
Who is the subject of all that is loved,
And to him who is the witness of the world.
This our lord helps beings to grow,
And also destroys them.
He with his awesome rays,
Looks after every being,
Gives intense heat to them,
And also causes rains to shower
This our Lord is awake,
When all the world is asleep,
Without anyone being aware,
And he is the fire sacrifice,
And also the one who performs fire sacrifice.
All the Vedas,
All the yagas,
Result of all yagas.
And all the actions,
That happen in this world,
Are this Lord Surya himself.
Hey Lord Raghava,
Any one who sings the praise of the Sun,
In time of danger,
In time of suffering,
In wild forests.
And in times of fear,
Is able to cross the problem for sure.
Please worship Him.
Who is God of Gods,
And who is the lord of the universe,
With single minded devotion.
If you chant this thrice,
You would win in the war.
“Oh hero of heroes,
You would kill Ravana within a second,”
Saying this the sage Agasthya,
Went back his way.
Hearing this, the resplendent one,
Became devoid of sorrow,
And with utmost devotion,
Wore this prayer within himself.
By doing Aachamana thrice,
And facing the Sun God,
Lifting his bow
The great hero Rama became very happy
Came he facing Ravana,
For starting the war again,
With all preparations great,
With an intention of killing him.
Immediately then Lord Sun,
Who is the king of the skies
Arose from the middle of the bevy of Gods,
With mind full of happiness,
And asked Rama to kill Ravana forthwith.
I bow and salute always before the great Sun God,
Who is ever shining,
Who is the Lord of the universe,
Who is forever living,
Who is the essence of Veda,
Who is forever peaceful,
Who is store house of knowledge,
Who is God personified,
Who is the king of gods,
Who is purity personified,
And who has the mind of all the world under his control.
Oh God of gods,
Who is source of light,
Who makes the day,
Who removes darkness,
Who has fearful rays,
And who is the creator of the morn,
Please give me long life,
Health, wealth, knowledge
And I salute you.
I don’t have anybody to seek refuge,
Except thee, Oh great God,
So please have mercy upon me,
And protect me again and again
And the last bhajan? Rama, kondanna Rama, sung by Swami himself; so yes, we had Swami’s voice for the last bhajan. The Consolation of God, indeed.
© Chris Parnell