On this day of Ganesh Chaturthi – the fourth day of Bhadrapada masam, we bring you Ganapathi Prarthana, a sacred prayer to Lord Ganesh – usually chanted prior to chanting vedam – and often chanted before sacred activities. We also bring one excerpt from Sri Yoga Vasistha on the seven bhoomikas.
Ganesh Chaturthi – also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi – is the Hindu festival that reveres god Ganesha. A ten-day festival, it starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September. The festival is marked with installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stage). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as Ganapati Upanishad, prayers and vrata (fasting). Offerings and prasadam (blessed food) from the daily prayers, that is distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka believed to be a favourite of the elephant-headed deity. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, wherein the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in nearby water body such as a river or ocean, thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva.
I offer my prostrations to the eternal, timeless Sri Guru.
I pray to You, the One who receives Worship first, the One who removes obstacles. You are omniscient with complete knowledge; You know more than anybody else. I have come to you, recognising your greatness. You are the Emperor of Emperors. You are Brahma. I have propitiated You with my chanting of adoring hymns. I offer my salutations to You for the fulfilment of my desires. You are the highest treasure among all treasures. You grant your devotees the treasures of both food and wisdom. We invoke Saraswati the Goddess of speech. May She be pleased with us and inspire our intelligence (to pronounce the hymns properly). I offer my prostrations to Lord Ganesha. I offer my prostrations to Goddess Saraswati; I offer my prostrations to the eternal, timeless Sri Guru.
Hari Om, May there be peace to the mind; May there be peace to all on Earth; May there be peace in all the worlds.
Sri Yoga Vasistha
Sri Yoga Vasistha is one of the greatest spiritual classics ever recorded. Attributed to Sage Valmiki, this is the detailed conversation between Sri Rama and his spiritual teacher Vasistha Maharishi.
It is in the form of replies given by Vasistha to Sri Rama’s queries regarding philosophical problems of life and death, and human suffering, and treats the essentials of Advaita Vedanta. (non-dualism) The book goes into great detail surrounding the subtle intricacies of the mind, unravelling the multitude of layers to our very existence along the way.
The Seven Bhoomikas
bhoomika – state of individual consciousness
chitta – individual consciousness
satsang – company of the good and the godly
gyan-drishti – knowledge of the Atma as the highest vision, outlook
vasana – subtle desire, latent tendency, idea
samadhi – absorption in God; ultimate consummation
sushupti – deep sleep
turiya – the fourth stage of consciousness that transcends and pervades the three states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep; the state in which the individual self is united with the Universal Self.
turiya-atit the state transcending the turiya state
Brahm-akar – everything is Brahmam
jivanmukta – one who is liberated from maya or cosmic illusion while living in a body
(Rama has asked Vasistha about the attributes of a jiva (a person, an individual with the soul) who has lost his or her ego. Sage Vasistha replies with a story about a king named Ishvaku who is visited by Swayambhu Manu (the progenitor of the human race). Manu is speaking, giving explanations on consciousness (chitta), perception (drishti) and the gunas (rajas-thamas-sattwa). Now read on.
I shall now tell you about seven bhoomikas for the extinction of chitta and for the attainment of the true self (swaroop). Listen to me. A bhoomika is a state of the chitta.
“When the tendency of the spiritual enquiry is developed in an aspirant, he seeks the company of saints (satsang), studies scriptures (on Brahm), listens to discourses and reﬂects on them. This is the first bhoomika.
“When his interest in the holy company (satsang) and in the teachings of scriptures becomes intense, the aspirant attempts to delve into these and enquires what am I and what the universe is. This marks the second bhoomika.
“In the third stage (bhoomika) the intelligence of the seeker is expanded, and with his sharp understanding he feels that I am Atma, the universe is unreal and I am not concerned with that.
“The fourth stage is marked by firm faith in Atma, resulting in the realisation of Atma and the extinction of vasana. On reaching the fourth stage (bhoomika) the seeker attains samadhi and cognizes the universe as a dream. This state is also called enlightenment (gyan-drishti).
“A seeker who is firmly established in the fourth stage, experiences bliss (ananda) within. When he is fully absorbed in ananda, he attains the state of non-ideation, also called quiescent (sushupti) state. This marks the fifth stage.
After the fifth stage, when the seeker is perennially fixed in Atma with an even chitta, he attains the turiya state, which marks the sixth bhoomika.
“When the seeker is ever absorbed in the sixth state, he reaches the state of turiya-atit which is the state of the highest liberation. This is the seventh bhoomika. A jivanmukta has no knowledge of this state of supreme sublimity — the state of turiya-atit — because it is beyond words and conception.
“The first three stages envisage listening, contemplation and practice and these are related to the waking state, because at these stages the universe is cognised as existent (sat). At the fourth stage also there is cognition of the universe but it is akin to a dream. At the fifth stage the universe merges and this state corresponds to quiescence (sushupti), because here the seeker is so much absorbed in Atmananda that he becomes oblivious of the universe. At the sixth stage, the seeker becomes the witness to the trio of waking-dreaming-deep sleep (jagrat—swapna-sushupti) and his chitta becomes extinct or it merges in Atma. The jivanmuktas are ever established in the turiya state. In this state, the cognition of the seeker is ever of the nature of Brahm-akar (all is Brahm). The chitta becomes quiescent or it merges into Atma. The jivanmuktas are ever established in this state. In the turiya-atit state, the seventh bhoomika, there is total merger, and even the Brahm-akar attitude vanishes. This state is absolutely beyond verbal expression and there is total extinction of the chitta.