Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Shankaracharya Jayanti

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

April 30, 2017

As I write this, there are flurries of birdsong tumbling over strong winds. Not arabesques. Something with its own name which I do not know. Nature is not random. I wonder if there are those who still know how to read and name it.

Today is the birthday of Shankaracharya. Here, they call it Shankaracharya Jayanti. This day honors Adi Shankaracharya, one of the preceptors in the Guru-Disciple stream that drenches us with blessings from Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Womb, to time beyond time. A few of us gathered at the murti of Shankaracharya at 7 a.m.

It was a day of rare beauty. The sounds of rippling water washed over a small piece of Tibet -- the adjacent pond with the Kailash Stone that Swami Ritavan brought back from his Tibetan trek as an offering to Swami Veda Bharati. Mantras, wind, stillness, birds, bushes, abundant flowers, fragrances and vast spaces washed over us. The tree that umbrellas this small spot stood witness. In fact, all of nature stands as the noble witness.

How easily we forget that everything is alive, even the stones. Swami Veda once posed the question, though I do not recall his precise words, what is the language by which the stars and the flowers communicate?

At the altar is a yantra, the visual equivalent of a mantra. A single, simple force guides its parts. This diagram invokes Om, the Guru, Shri Ganesh, the 9 planets, the 10 directions and 16 Mother goddesses including Shri Laxmi and Shri Durga. Two seeds with red dots painted on them are placed inside the world of this yantra. A few grains of rice are dropped into a small bowl of rice. A conch is blown. Bells are ringing everything alive. A light rain is falling.

Those gathered were Swami Tattvananda, Pandits Deepak and Harshanand, Satyavir and Supriya Sharma, Dr. K.K. Upreti, Ramprakash Das, Divya Gupta, Surendra Nakoti, Rabindra Sahu, Raguvir, Mili Pant, Dr. and Mrs. Dixit, Joanne Sullivan, and last but not least, Manoj, who washed the temple spotless before we all arrived. John Sellinger came with serene smiles at the very end, coming straight from morning meditation.

The larger setting is a profusion of jasmine, champa* flowers, gardenias, roses and variegated light falling on bushes.  Majestic trees tower over the Little Kali River. You can sometimes see an eagle flying to the top of its nest there. The grey-blue foothills can be seen in the distance.

The altar has garlands of flowers, fruits, flames, water, mantra, conch, bell, red powder and string that binds us to the underlying force of the invocations. Shiva Sankalpam astu and other prayers are invoked.

*Medha has said that Swami Veda once said that the champa was his favorite flower. In my Navaratri 2013 article, I wrote more about the champa and you can see a photo of it there.

Champa (A Type of Flowering Tree)

There is a tree here that makes an arboreal temple right over you. There are varieties of champa, but the ones on our grounds are also called the common white frangipani. Some say it is a kind of plumeria though some disagree. It has mysterious trumpet-like buds all coiled up with indescribable fragrance. The petals finally open with turgor into vibrant and mysterious spirals of fleshy yellow and white petals. When I look at the closed bud it reminds me of a stupa, a spire, or Divine Mother - Her wrap drawn close around Her.

I will greatly miss Navaratri at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) this autumn (September 21-29, 2017). Navaratri, The Nine Nights of the Goddess, is a special time here. 1000 names of the goddess are uttered night and day in an unbroken flow in our Tara Devi Temple, and everyone is welcome to come and sit in that peace.



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