AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTE OF 2004 TO THE ADVAITIN YAHOO-GROUP
This is to announce the termination of the Soundaryalahari Digest, with just one more post to go. By the Grace, of Mother Goddess, of the Mahaswamigal and of my Guru, the task of translating in digest form, the Tamil Discourses of the Mahaswamigal on Soundarya-lahari, has come to a successful end. The study of these discourses and the work of ‘digesting’ them in the English language, has been, though challenging, very satisfying, spiritually. In this task there are several members – scores of them -- from the advaitin group, ambaa group, advaita-L group and Sadhana_Shakti group who have encouraged me and helped me constructively. There are also friends and relatives outside these groups who have done so. I stand indebted to them all. The entire set of posts has also been posted by me on my former website at the following URL:
I have a confession-like personal statement to make. It is important to note – I am sure readers of the digest would have noted this also – that the Soundarya-lahari discourses of the Mahaswamigal contain tons of material on the conceptual nuances of advaita, and on the practical application of it, though on the face of it this may not have been anticipated by all. Till around June 1 of last year I had no knowledge of Soundaryalahari except a rote memory of three shlokas (Nos.1, 27 and 57) and a vague idea of their meaning. Of course I knew that Soundaryalahari was a great work of Adi Shankara, but I had never delved into it. Around the middle of May 2003, when I just arrived in the U.S. for a long stay, I started reading Ra Ganapathy’s book in Tamil giving the discourses of the Paramacharya on Soundaryalahari. It was a few weeks before that, I had started getting by heart the particular shloka # 17. Ever since, I have been repeating it and using it as a meditational aid, with the specific prayer to ShrI MatA that She may bless me with the proper spiritual understanding that my great father would have been ready to give me, but for the fact that I was not probably ready to receive. In June I wrote to Shri Ram Chandranji, Shri Sunderji and Shri Gummuluru Murthy-ji whether anybody on the advaitin list had covered Soundaryalahari with the Paramacharya’s explanatory viewpoints and whether I can take up the job. They immediately encouraged me. That started my marathon venture of this ‘Digest’. As you know the first post was on August 1, 2003 and by Her Grace, the final post (DPDS-81) is going to be tomorrow, the 29th of April, 2004.
In the course of this one year I have grown – I think -- not only in my understanding of advaita but also in the ‘svAnubhava’ that the practice of seeing Her everywhere can give. Though all my life I have propitiated Goddess Meenakshi with Lalita-sahasranamam and Trishati several times, the symbiosis of nirguna-brahman and saguna-brahman that the Paramacharya has built into his Soundaryalahari discourses was only an academic matter for me until I ventured into this project. My own attitudes have changed. The irritation that naturally invaded me when things did not go my way has all but reduced now. Shloka No.27 which had just been an ordinary component in my pUjA recitation for several years, has now been blessed by Her to become more comfortable. A select 27 shlokas of Soundaryalahari -- namely, #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 27, 30, 34, 35, 36, 41, 44, 57, 60, 66, 84, 97, 98, 99 and 100 -- along with the 36 shlokas of Narayaneeiyam, about which I wrote last year, are now, word by word, in the mental picture most of the the time. Seeing Her and Him in everything makes sense. By Their Grace, the implied discipline in the Gita shloka (VI – 30) ‘yo mAm pashyati sarvatra ..’ and in the verse (# 6) from the Ishopanishad ‘yastu sarvANi BhUtAni ...’ seems to be not beyond practical reach.
I am indebted to all the members of these four groups and to several personal friendships who have made this venture of mine into this project very productive in terms of my ‘mumukshhutvaM’.