Saturday, 11 August 2018

BRINGING FORTH THE CHANGE

A man well traveled will not complain for he knows his home to be a paradise. For one who has not traveled he would not know the difference either. Although I have not traveled much I have learnt to appreciate the space I have; the roof over me; the food I am given; the breath I take each moment; the peace that prevails; the sleep that befalls me almost immediately the moment I lay my head on the pillow; the limbs I am given to move myself and the things around me which I do very often and that annoys my family; the sight and sound I get to see and hear, and a life that is a bonus these days. I have learnt to appreciate and be grateful. My mantra these days is "Thank you."

The few days I spent at Kallar Ashram in 2005 under the watchful eyes of Tavayogi, taught me to be independent. After each meal we will wash our own plates with Tavayogi saying, "Down here we have to wash the plates ourselves, son." We would then head for the stream running close by, take a dip and begin washing our cloths. We fetched water, we ate very little, and we slept early. Lucky for us someone will be on hand to make the meals at the Ashram. Mataji would come down from her hometown to cook and serve if there are visitors to the ashram staying more than a day. This she did till she moved into the ashram after her husband passed away. While there I was completely disassociated from the family and thoughts about home until Tavayogi brought me to an STD booth and forced me to call home. He did not speak much except for an occasional word or two that I had to decipher and understand. Much of what he said did not make sense until later. He did not push any doctrine on us; did not have a regime to follow or expect us to bind and follow any rules and regulations. He told me the soul and spirit cannot be bound; it has to be left free to experiment and learn. To a question on how Agathiyar appeared to him, he told me he was in the light form. But he went ahead to build an Ashram cum temple that housed the images supposedly that of Agathiyar, Subramaniyar and the 18 Siddhas. When I questioned the need for these images, he told me it was for the public.

For the handful who saw through the veil of maya and saw all transactions in this world as an illusion, they pulled aside the veil and become enlightened that very instant. But how many of us can actually come to a realization of the truth spontaneously and immediately? Bringing ourselves to make resolutions that would bring a change in us, we eventually find that we fail to adhere to them. Although we find it difficult to come out of this conditioned living, there is hope yet. 

This is where the Siddhas have laid four stages namely Sariyai, Kriyai, Yogam and Gnanam, on the path that we could adopt and move on to reach the kingdom of Erai. Tavayogi's Ashram too was built to replicate this four stages on the ground. We start with external worship of Erai who resides within and without. To a young child and equally a young seeker taking the first step, he or she would not comprehend the concept of Erai as being within us. Hence the need, to have pictures or idols and tell them that that is Erai, arises. As children are always captivated by pictures and dolls and just as they are taught the things about the world around them by giving them books and playthings to see, smell, touch, feel, taste and hear, even before the actual things are shown to them, similarly we should encourage them to use their senses in discovering Erai.

This is how I was brought to worship the pantheon of gods and goddesses in our home as a child. Growing older I began to visit the temples on my own. Moving on with a job out of town, I placed these pictures at my altar in my home. I visited the temples in the locality. I came to read about Gurus. I had their pictures too on all four walls of my prayer room.

When I was with Tavayogi at Kallar Ashram I told him if the idea of having symbols, pictures, idols and gazing at light was to bring our attention to a particular point of focus and concentrate, then placing all these pictures around me and at the altar defeated the purpose. He agreed and told me that was what I would do once I returned to Malaysia. I did just that. With a heavy heart, I removed all the pictures and kept only one, that of Agathiyar. Soon Agathiyar came as a bronze statue. With daily puja he came alive with energy, opening his eyes, creating a ripple and going viral. Today he has come to stay in our hearts and our homes.

When Tavayogi came to Malaysia in 2005, he  showed me photos of his Ashram activities. When I joined him at his Ashram I did my very first act of charity, feeding the native children staying around his Ashram. I took up this thought and act and do it in a manner appropriate to my locality till this day. Together with my existing mode of prayer, Tavayogi asked me to add on the ritual of lighting the fire pit or Homam. I do that till this day too. Tavayogi showed the way and means and stood back watching but never interfering in our spiritual growth. When devotees of Agathiyar dropped by on being sent over to Agathiyar Vanam Malaysia (AVM) or out of curiosity or in search of answers, I invited them to join in these prayers. Once they saw how it was conducted I encouraged them to carry it out in their own homes. When Tavayogi was back in Malaysia in June of 2016, we arranged to have these devotees conduct the Homam in their homes to the utmost joy and satisfaction of Tavayogi and Mataji, having seen that the seed that they had sowed in the hearts of Agathiyar's devotees in this soil had grown and was fruiting; the fire that they had started in the hearts of the AVM family members had turned into a burning furnace; and the spark that the devotees carried had turned into an enormous light or Jhothi.

So too for the new seekers, start individual puja at your homes, invite Erai in the idol, wash his feet or bath him, dress him up, serve him food, sing songs of praises to him and finally put him to sleep. Moving with the community, go to the temple, and do your part in up-keeping the abode of Erai, spick and span, ideal and conducive for us to pray. By engaging in these rituals, we begin to turn inwards, keeping our body and mind, clean, healthy and clear of rubbish and clutter. By engaging in service we will look upon life in a positive manner, never complaining about our have-nots as wewill come to see and understand that there are many out there living in much deplorable conditions.

Bring the family and children into your daily home worship and the occasional temple visit. When the child is ready he would want to venture to know the reason behind these forms of external worship. Tell him that it was to discipline him, get him to concentrate on the divine task on hand that would bring him to a meditative state. Soon he would move on to yoga to prepare his body and mind to receive the divine within. Engaging further in the many methods to keep the body fit and the mind disengaged when required from the lure of the worldly thoughts, he soon learns to settle down in peace and quietude, two criteria that are necessary to help us move on to the plane of unbiased thought and wisdom. Once the divine is connected within, his entire perspective of the world changes.

Reaching the summit, there are two routes that can be taken. One drops all association with the world and all its affairs and becomes a recluse. The other continues to live in society but stays aloft. One sees the world and all of creation as Maya, a mere illusion, paints a bleak picture of it and abstains from all form of pleasures. The other sees Erai in all his creation and begins to appreciated Erai's handiwork. One only sees Erai as an entity that has to be reached, starves and performs austerities towards seeing that divine. The other goes along with Erai's play playing his role well, taking on new responsibility that comes along without complain, doing it all in the service and name of the Almighty.

This then means there is a marked distinction between these two seekers. One sees the world as grey and life as a torture. Another sees it as colorful and as a blessing. You can either address this world as false and stay away from all pleasures or engage in all the pleasures of the world but yet stay aloft as the drop of water on the lotus leaf.

An intelligence has brought us forth and provided us well with all good things so that we remember him. In return for a good life, all he asked of us is to show gratitude to him by making this world a much healthier and better place to live in, contributing positively in all ways and manner possible. Sadly most of us worry about tomorrow so much that we forget to live today. Would you rather do this or run away from problems blaming everyone else for all your shortcomings and sufferings, seeing only a bleak and sad world, and influencing others too in a negative way? I would rather live for the day, enjoy the pleasures of life and yet remain rooted in devotion, thanking Erai for all the good things showered on me at all times.

Erai gives us a trouble free live so that we can spend those hours helping or in service of others. It is time to stop receiving and instead give back. Thondu Seivom (TS) goes to the streets regularly to distribute food and drinks to the homeless, besides providing groceries to a home for the elders and mentally and physically challenged, with financial support from Amudha Surabhi (AS).

Although Agathiyar has asked that we do charity and feed the poor how long is this going to go on asked a seeker? A logical question indeed. This is where we realized the truth about the proverb "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
The general principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history. The 12th-century philosopher Maimonides wrote about eight degrees in the duty of charity. In 1826 an explication of the eighth degree was published in a journal called “The Religious Intelligencer”.

Lastly, the eighth and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to assist the reduced brother, either by a considerable gift or loan of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity. . .
(Source:  https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/08/28/fish/)

Many Soup Kitchens have identified and picked potential homeless to work with them in serving the hungry on the streets. Some have been trained in new jobs and placed back on the streets but this time with a decent job as tourist guides. 

https://agathiyarvanam.blogspot.com/2018/02/medical-camp.html

We could find ways or innovative means to bring the receiver to do his share towards the society rather then always be on the receiving end. We did try to bring the thought of sharing and giving to the minds of very young students when Pothihai Tharmanyaana Chakkram (PTC) served them food last year. On receiving his plate of meal he was not allowed to indulge into the food immediately but instead told to pass it on to the student sitting next to him. Each student was asked to do the same in the hope that the idea of giving and sharing is inculcated in those who receive. This practice continues till this day. The Parent Teachers Association should take it from there to provide food rather than expect the society or charitable body to continue funding and serving the kids year in year out. The organisation could then move on to another school and start "the fire" of serving food or annadhanam there too.

https://agathiyarvanam.blogspot.com/2017/07/annadhanam.html

A visit to the hospital opens our eyes too on the numerous cases of injuries, illness and disease that one goes through and the debility in movement due to old age. We begin to appreciate life and leave a note of thanks to the almighty for only testing us a little compared to the huge numbers of sick, disabled and dying folks. AVM in a small way reaches out to the sick through Amudha Surabhi, in collaboration with Persatuan Teman Setia (PTS) and Thondu Seivom. If seeing the sick and suffering brought Prince Siddhartha to shed his princely robes and walk the path of the mendicant, the Siddhas have addressed this issues by promoting the care of the physical body, that is very much required to discover the Supreme Being. The Siddhas are supposedly known to have reversed old age and disease through the administration of herbs and a multiple other ways.

The idea here is to stop dependency on another to lead us in prayers; stop dependency on another for handouts and existence; and to stop dependency on another to heal us. As we walk towards this ideals we seek that the Siddhas walk along us and see us through this journey of sheer amazement, peace and tranquility. 

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This blog postings are those of beginners who have taken the first step exploring the mysterious & mystical world of Siddhas. It is purely about devotion (Bakthi) and miracles. For those who think or feel that they have advanced spiritually and passed these initial, preliminary and primary stages, please reserve your comment.