Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can 'Paadukas' Rule an Empire?

           By Mythily Raghavan

          This episode is described very movingly by Sage Vaalmiki. Among the society of the devout, there is not an iota of doubt about the truth in Bharata’s proclamation. They hail him as a devotee par excellence.  Outside this sphere, however, it does challenge man’s innate rational sensibilities. “A pair of Sandals employed to rule a kingdom! They are deemed as equivalent to a noble king!” This sounds preposterous!! What do all these mean? They are after all inanimate objects! It can only be considered as a crazy action performed by a sentimentally and emotionally charged person having a mindless adulation for his dear one.

         Any attempt to analyze and understand whether this proclamation is the result of mere devotion and sentiment or if it has any science behind it, will certainly not hurt the sentiments of the devotees but would only strengthen their conviction.

                 Sri Sriranga Mahaaguru (who had experienced the supreme spiritual state of jnaana and had the thorough knowledge of its manifestation known as the vijnana in its entirety) explains the profound principle behind this, using a few simple examples.

           Let us consider the case of a cheque leaf. Though a mere piece of paper, the moment it is signed by an authorized person its value jumps to crores of rupees depending on the one and zeros!   One who has an understanding of the banking system shall have no doubt about its validity.  Is it an exaggeration if we say that the piece of paper ‘speaks’ out the mind of the signatory? Does it not carry his will and order? The banker who is able to ‘read’ the order carries it out in letter and spirit. This is the case of a lifeless leaf ‘speaking.’

That every mood of a person produces a unique tone is common knowledge. For example, when we write a word “Ah!” and try getting the mood behind it through the script, we may fail. But if we hear the sound “Ah!” we can immediately catch the mood - it may be a painful scream or a surprise or sarcasm.  It is because the mood, when it fills the mind, naturally produces an associated tone. In other words, the mood imprints and manifests itself naturally through the tone (or a Raaga). Since we have a first-hand experience of these mundane moods in our daily life, recognizing the mood in its imprinted form becomes a simple task.

As an extension of the above idea consider the mood of a musician. The mood of an expert musician also spontaneously produces within himself a certain raaga and he, being an expert, brings it out faithfully through his vocal cord. All through the development of the raaga he exhibits the same inner mood. A common man may simply enjoy the music but one who has a keen sense of perception and has acquired a special training can follow the raaga and trace it back to the singer’s mood. This becomes possible because the musician faithfully ‘places’ his mood/mind in the raaga.

A skilled instrumentalist ‘places’ his mind not in his voice but on an inanimate piece of wood and strings smartly put together (a Veena for instance) to replace his voice box. Any person trained in musicology can definitely trace the notes, produced by the inanimate instrument, to their source – the musician’s mood. Thus the idea that it is possible to transfer the musician’s mood on an insentient object and to decipher his sentiment is also common knowledge since such trained minds are not ‘very rare to be found’.

 One may further argue that the signature on a cheque leaf and the emotions being vocalized are clearly visible, while that is not the case with the Paadukas. But it is not necessary that every change be visible. There are numerous instances wherein the changes induced are not visible to the naked eye but yet can be perceived through the understanding of modern science.

For example, a magnet can induce its magnetic properties in a steel bar and cause it to become a magnet itself. Although there is absolutely no visible difference in the steel bar, it has acquired the magnetic energy and so is effectively a magnet now. A scientist who understands the laws of magnetism may cause numerous materials to be magnetized. He may even specify the time for which magnetic properties persist. He may at will switch on or off these magnetic properties in an electromagnet – a specially designed magnet.

To mention another case, electrical energy can be transferred and stored in a battery and the physical battery thus charged performs the electrical tasks.     

The above examples are within the purview of our sense organs, mind and intellect tuned to modern science and hence are easy to comprehend. But the case of a Jnaani (serene Seer) is radically different. He, not only transits the familiar roller coaster realm of the senses and intellect, but also effortlessly flies into the spiritual realm which transcends all these. These areas are beyond the imagination of a common man who has restricted himself to the world of sense organs. They are also beyond the scope of science as we know today, because modern science has not exerted itself in this direction.

For, a jnaani is one who has attained the supreme spiritual state and enjoys the bliss therein. Once he is able to establish himself firmly in that state then his entire system with his mind, intellect and body gets flooded and permeated with that bliss. The dharma (mood-state) acquired thereby is termed as the ‘Aatmadharma’. Such a person retains this mood even after descending to the sensory world. Every thought, word and deed of his will then reflect faithfully this Aatmabhaava / Aatmadharma / Brahmabhaava.

Mahaaguru used to quote an example to illustrate this. A person chewing cardamom cannot conceal its aroma with his mouth open!   Similarly whatever activity a jnaani carries out would automatically entail along with it the Atmagandha, the perfume of the Atman.

 So, just as a musician instills his bhaava on an instrument the jnaani too can instill his Aatmabhaava in any material; it may be a piece of wood or stone or anything other thing of his choice. He can accomplish this through his touch or sight or any means he opts for since his entire system is filled to the brim with that bhaava. But the Aatmabhaava thus imprinted cannot be comprehended through our senses; for, the source of this bhaava is far beyond our senses.  To decipher as to what is installed one needs to gain a special spiritual training along with a body system that is sensitive enough to recognize even subtle spiritual moods.

It is this principle that is to be applied in the case of Sri Rama Paaduka. Sri Rama is not just a Jnaani but he is the one being sought after by the Jnaanis. He is the Divine Lord residing within the heart of every being. So there is no doubt that he was full of Divine energy or to be more precise, he was Divinity in human form. So when he placed his sacred feet on the Sandals he powered them with his divine energy/the Atmabhaava and that was his seal of authority. The Paadukas therefore, are no longer dead wood, but sentient wood vibrant with Aatmabhaava, in short, a personification of Rama Himself. Like a paper cheque getting transformed into an instrument worth millions, the Sandals got transformed into Rama’s Pratinidhi (representative). Rama is nidhi and the Paadukas his pratinidhi.  And that was verily the idea behind Sage Vashishta’s advice to Bharata to seek the blessings through the Paadukas. The sandals in an inanimate state (mara bhaava) got transformed into an eternal glowing state (amara-bhaava) filled with the Divine bliss. Hence Paaduka Pattaabhisheka (the Coronation of Paaduka) was really equivalent to Enthronement of Sri Rama himself.

Bharata too was not an ordinary soul but was a great jnaani. His devotion to Rama knew no bounds. He had all the necessary metaphysical sensitivity to recognize the divinity of the Sripaaduka. That is the reason why he adorned his head with them! He was such a great soul that when he approached the Paadukas placed on the throne, his mind and intellect were elevated and filled with Rama bhaava and he became verily an instrument of the power and will residing in the Paadukas. His mind, his words and his actions were all directed by that bhaava and he simply obeyed the `inner’ command. When such was the case, would it not be right to say that the Paadukas ruled Bharata and (through him) his empire? This spirit prevailing in him and ruling him all the time   manifested itself in the form of the proclamation that “Indeed it is Sri Rama Paaduka which ruled the empire and that he was a mere servant of Sri Rama”. That was simply his inner experience translated into words! That is why Bharata is rightly hailed by illustrious people as an exemplary devotee, a devotee of the first order. `Bharataaya param namostu prathamodaaharanaaya bhaktibhaajaam’.  

Sriranga Mahaaguru has not just stopped by explaining the scientific basis behind the installation of spiritual energy onto any material. He used to say that every system brought about by Bhaaratiya maharshis is verifiable even today and so insisted that his disciples accept the custom only after experimental verification. He has actually demonstrated how spiritual energy can be induced in an object by a jnaani for a specific length of time through his Sankalpa. Also, a few of his disciples trained in the practical aspects of ‘Naadi shaastra’ were taught to read through naadi the energy thus transferred.  Such practical lessons from the Mahaaguru indeed reinforced the conviction in the minds of the disciples.

Salutations to Sri Rama, the divinity incarnate! Salutations to Bharata who recognized and revealed to the mankind this Divinity! Salutations to Sriranga Mahaaguru who proved to the world the science behind the episode and thereby has enhanced our reverence for the great sages of Bhaarata!
May this little garland of words woven with the grace of the Mahaaguru adorn His Divine Feet!

Basis of Himsa and Ahimsa (Violence and Non-violence)

[Following is an English rendering of the ideas expressed, through day-to-day examples,by Sri Ranga Mahaguru during a conversation with his disciples in August 1961]
It is often said “None should hurt any being; ahimsa is the greatest Dharma”.  And this is quite appropriate. But how would you decide, which is an act of violence and which one an act of non-violence? If one were to understand correctly and discriminate between the two, then the vow of non-violence practiced would be the most commendable. But one may parrot such rhetoric about non-violence mechanically without an adequate understanding of the matter. Then it amounts to mere preaching, without any practice.
How would anyone ever determine what is himsa and what is not? For example, if we were to cast a cursory glance at the workings of ‘Nature’, one observes that the lizard subsists on insects like mosquitoes. There it is true that the insect is subject to outrage. If we were to prevent the lizard from gobbling up the insects the lizards would die of starvation; would it not be a torture inflicted on the lizard? It doesn’t stop at that. If the insects were not eaten up, their numbers would multiply drastically. Wouldn’t the other living beings (including humans) have to undergo the profuse pain of being bitten by mosquitoes?!
Hence it would be appropriate to say that Nature itself has designed a scheme for this world to function in a balanced manner. Therefore it would be in the fitness of things if himsa and ahimsa were to be differentiated in consonance with the laws of Nature.
Look at this example too. At night, to dispel the darkness we light lamps. But this attracts thousands of flies and other insects and they fall in the flames and die. Don’t they? Shall we then stop lighting the lamps, driven by the notion that the lamps cause harm to the insects? Some sects who believe in the doctrine of non-violence, do not light lamps at dusk, as insects would die as a result. They finish their supper in the twilight before darkness sets in. If one were to stop lighting lamps, under the influence of their arguments, many ill-effects might follow; thieves generally eagerly await twilight. If it is not even visible as to who trespasses, thugs can rule the roost. Nocturnal creatures like cats and rats would wait expectantly for the nightfall. How would we escape the misery that these creatures inflict on us (if the lights are not on)?
Mammals are born from the womb of their mother. Does not the mother experience labour pain during child birth? Isn’t this violence in a sense? Can a mother be subjected to such an agony?!
And see again! Is it not common to be afflicted by diseases? And to mitigate their effects, is it not necessary to take medicines?  But if you do that, the germs causing the disease would die. Is this ‘assassination’ not a violent act?! But if you do not indulge in this ‘cruelty’, the Atman within the body would experience discomfiture (on account of the disease to the body), finally leading to death. Is it not suicide then? Is that not (an act of) himsa?
When there is an outburst of plague, the doctor gives the patient an injection. During administration of the injection, is he not inflicting pain? The initial pain later leads to good health. Similarly if a child, suffering from a bout of fever, craves for curds, should the mother yield or not?  If she gives in, the fever turns into pneumonia. And if she doesn’t, you know how much mental agony the child has to endure.
To escape the scourge of plague, the pain of inoculation must be inflicted by the doctor. To avoid the suffering of pneumonia, the mother must refuse curds to the child even though it causes agony to the child. Hence whatever is perceived from a superficial glance should not always be accepted. Meaningless non-violence often leads to another cruelty. Zero ahimsa is obviously impossible in our life and therefore one should stick to the principle of minimum himsa. Hence only when the wise interpret violence and non-violence in a meaningful manner, with a full understanding of the plan of Nature, the country will be in comfort and the world will be safe and secure.

In the Mahabharata we find a clarification for ‘himsa’:  The universe has a natural order. The self-preserving order is harmonious with the laws of creation. Those who disturb this order are called ‘Dasyus’ (tormentors). Such dasyus, who spoil the natural functioning of the ‘world-order’, are indeed to be termed ‘brutal’. Tampering with the systematic evolution in Nature and its associated self-preserving order is indeed ‘violence’. Those who indulge in such violent acts are the dasyus. Rectifying the process of natural evolution and preservation, by subduing the dasyus is in fact an act of non-violence and does not amount to violence. (Without this guiding principle) the discrimination between himsa and ahimsa would perhaps be impossible.
            When robbers loot the house, the owner is distressed. If punished, the robber is pained. Between the two, whose agony is to be tolerated? How would this be decided? There will always be lawyers on both sides to put forth their side of arguments. Whose grief should be endured? Whose should be eradicated? Decision is based on the preference to sincerity and honesty and wisdom to be used in dealing with such matters.
Another verse throws light on the subject of the pyramid of primacy to be accorded for sustenance of natural order: animals à beings endowed with intelligence à among them the humans à the learned ones à among the learned, the ones who resolve to perform à those who actually perform à finally the accomplished namely the Brahma-jnaanis.
Thus ultimately, the primacy of the one who has experienced the ‘Brahman’ (Supreme Being) is stressed here. For the knowledge and experience of the Brahman to spread throughout the country, preference should be given to the survival and sustenance of (such Brahma-jnaanis and then on in the order specified above) all sentient beings. Thus by ensuring preferential survival of the more discerning and responsible, nature of himsa and ahimsa should be determined. Only then will the universe survive.
If a child or for that matter, an elder has a liver malfunction, the surgeon performs an operation. Seeing this if we were to say “What a hard-hearted fellow is he! He is tearing open the stomach”. Then we have to say that it’s only because he is compassionate (to the health of the patient) that he prepares to perform the operation. Can those who mouth mere sympathies saying ‘Oh! Poor child’, rectify the liver? Will those benevolent beings be able to cure the agony of the child? Such people who indulge in meaningless sympathies are beyond doubt ‘tormentors’ themselves. If one were to observe dispassionately the facts from this point of view, the surgeon who ‘wields’ the knife,, is in fact wedded to the vow of non-violence.
Similarly in a country when, the wicked have grown in strength, the law of the jungle becomes the (ugly) order of the day, the meek but truthful and honest subjects and jnanis are trampled upon, the king of the kingdom wages a war and destroys the wicked. Now to term (this act of the king) as brutal and inhuman, is perversion and by no means prudence or pragmatism. There is no meaning to such doctrines of non-violence. If lofty thoughts and ideals are to survive, farsightedness (dooraalocana) is essential and not farcical thinking (duraalocana). Not seeing the facts in the light of the principles of Nature or any analysis devoid of a sense of perspective clearly amounts to perverted thinking.
English rendering by Dr. CR Ramaswamy

Why wear a peacock feather on the head?

When we look at the sculptural or pictorial representations of Lord Krishna or Lord Nataraja, one aspect grabs our attention.  Both of them wear a peacock feather on their head.  Lord Krishna wears it on his crown while Lord Nataraja on his matted locks of hair called "jaTaa”.
      Let us look at the mention of the peacock feather (barhi) in various dhyana slokas associated with Lord Krishna.
barhibarhAvacUDAMgaM kRuShNaM vandE jagadguruM (SrI kRuShNAShTakaM)
barhApIDaM naTavaravapuH karNayOH karNikAraM (SrImad BhAgavataM)
parikalitOnnata barhibarhachUDaH (The Dhyana Sloka at the beginning of Srimad Bhagavad Geeta)
 barhENEva sPhuritaruchinA gOpavEShasya viShNOH (Kalidasa's Meghadutam)
      Similarly the following dhyana sloka for Lord Nataraja makes a mention of the God's peacock feather adornment.
 caturbhujaM SrInEtraM ca prasAritajaTAnvitaM |
gauravarNasamAyuktaM barhipiMChasamanvitaM ||
 The dhyana slokas point towards the peacock feather, and we meditate upon these Gods in the suggested manner.  But the question remains as to why these Almighty Gods chose a peacock feather for a head ornament.  Would they have not got attractive and valuable gems to decorate their crowns?  What excellence is present in the feather of the peacock?  After all, the peacock is another member of the ordinary fowl family.
     Various fanciful answers have been proposed to this question.  Some people say that sporting the peacock feather must have been an erstwhile fashion.  They try to lend credence to the suggestion by citing the example of how it is highly fashionable today to dye the feather of a crow, or an owl, or a sparrow or a cock in a different colour and stick it to a hat or a turban! Like all little boys, Krishna must also have been influenced by the reigning fashion of his day!  Moreover, with Brindavan being a forest, it would have been easy to find peacock feathers lying around!
      But long years after Lord Krishna's days in Brindavan, he wore a peacock plume in his crown when he taught the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.  The dhyana sloka in the Bhagavad Gita clearly indicates this.
karakamala nidarshitAtma mudraH parikalitOnnata barhi barha cUDaH |
itarakara gRuhIta tOtra vEtraH mama hRudi sannidhimAtanOtu ShauriH ||
Perhaps Lord Krishna carried his boyish fad into adulthood!
      As the saying "alaMkArapriyo viShNuH" indicates, Lord Krishna (an aspect of Lord Vishnu) loves adornments and beautifications.  But what about Lord Nataraja who was an ascetic and a recluse? He had thrown an elephant skin and a tiger skin on his person, and had danced his divine dance without being bound by raiment of any kind.  Why did Lord Nataraja wear the peacock plume just like Lord Krishna when he had no interest in adornments?
      A few others therefore suggest that Lord Nataraja (an aspect of Lord Shiva) must have sported the feather out of love for his son. The peacock, we may recall, is the vehicle (vAhana) of Lord Subramanya, the son of Lord Shiva.  Kalidasa, the great Sanskrit poet, says in his Meghadutam "putraprEmNA kuvalayadalaprApi karNE karOti" when he speaks of Mother Parvati.  It means that Mother Parvati wore peacock feathers for her earrings out of love for her son.  Lord Nataraja did the same, they opine.
      Although this explanation is poetically gratifying, it is not a sound reason.  If Lord Nataraja used the peacock feather just out of filial love, we might probe whether Lord Krishna could have done similarly.  Did Lord Krishna wear it out of love for a friend or a family member?  Pursuing this thought further, we remember that Garuda was very dear to Lord Vishnu (and to Lord Krishna as well).  "dAsaH sakhA vAhanamAsanaM dhvajaH" (stotra ratna)  Garuda was the Lord's servant, friend, vehicle, seat and flag. Besides, Garuda is no ordinary bird but is the king of all birds.  Since Garuda had feathers that were beloved to Indra, the king of the Devas, he was also known as 'Garutman."  All in all, Garuda was a divine bird.  If the Gods were motivated by love for a friend or a family member in choosing their embellishments, Krishna would have done better in tucking a feather from Garuda on his head!
      Both Lord Krishna and Lord Nataraja are manifestations of the principles of creation.  They are tattva-murtis.  Their forms are divine and spiritual.  And our understanding of their forms must also be based on spiritual precepts, not on mundane and fanciful ramblings.
      Our Yogi-guru, Sriranga, has taught us that when we look at the peacock feather with spiritual realization, we notice that it has several distinct facets that help us grasp the divine.  That is why it was the perfect adornment for both Lord Krishna and Lord Nataraja.
      God's Maaya - the power by which the universe becomes manifest - is both enchanting and beguiling.  When the peacock fans out its feathers, the bold hues and the patterned plumage are bewitching to the eyes and the mind of the beholder. This represents the nature of Maaya.  Maaya holds its sway on the people of the world, and plays with them rather inconsiderately.  The Lord adorns the peacock feather on his head to show the dominance of Maaya.  Yet Maaya is controlled by the Lord, and He wills it to be His ornament.
      When we look closely at the eyespot in the feather of a peacock, we notice three circles or mandalas (orbs).  They stand for the Suryamandala, Somamandala and Agnimandala.  These mandalas are actually visualized by yogis in their meditation when they realize God within themselves. (Please note that they do not directly correspond with the physical Sun, the Moon and the fire we see in the world around us.)
karNikAyAM nyasEtsUryasOmAgninuttarottaraM |
vahnimadhyE smarEdrUpaM mamaitaddhyAna maMgalaM ||(Sri Bhagavatam 11-14-32)
      The above verse from the Bhagavatam and the epithet "maNDalatrayamadhyasthAya namaH" used in the worship of the Lord refer to the same mandalas seen by the yogis in their meditation.
      Besides, we also see the mark of Om-kaara (or Pranava) in the eyespot of the peacock's feather. Om-kaara connotes the Lord.  "tasya vAcakaH praNavaH, tajjapaH tadarthabhAvanaM"; "OMkAraM rathamAruhya"  It is also the means to reach the Lord.
      In this manner, no object in creation lends itself to the metaphor of the divine as does the peacock feather. Quite aptly, it has become the ornament of choice for both Lord Krishna and Lord Nataraja.
      Our deep and sincere gratitude to our yogi-guru Sriranga, who has taught us the spiritual significance of many such aspects constituting our Bharatiya culture.
[This is an English rendering of an article in Kannada by His Holiness Sri Sri Rangapriya Sri Srih published in “Vichara sumanomaala” of Astanga Yoga Vijnana Mandiram. Translation is by Smt Padmashree].

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stone or spiritual sculpture?

The following is an english rendering of a kannada article titled "Shileyo? shivakeshavano?", penned by Sri Sri Rangapriya Sri Sri and published as a part of the book "Vicharasumano maala" by AYVM. - English rendering by Dr.R.Mohan.

There is a famous temple by name Sankaranarayanan in Tamil Nadu. Two friends happened to visit the temple. One of them was a devoted and religious person given to worshipping god through the medium of idols. The other though familiar with the rituals of worship, was ignorant of the spirit and feelings behind worship. However he had a genuine curiosity in knowing god. His religious friend said, "Let's go have darshan of the lord inside the temple." and took him along inside the temple. Having worshipped the lord with devotion, he prostrated before the lord and said "Behold the Lord! ". "But this is just a stone!" retorted the not-so-religious friend. "Impudent fellow! You dare call the lord a stone?" exclaimed the religious man and slapped his friend in a fit of rage.

The next day they were having lunch together. As the religious man partook of his food, he happened to chew on a stone. "Aargh! Stone!" he exclaimed and immediately spit it out. His friend, who was biding his time to get back, immediately retorted "You heretic! How dare you call this little god as stone?"

This story brings us to the central question of whether it is appropriate to treat a stone as god and worship it. The enlightened ones say that god is omnipresent, omnipotent, the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the worlds and the one who upholds order in this world. On the other hand this stone idol is but a creation of man. It has none of the traits of the god described previously. Hence we often hear people say that those who worship idols are only idol worshippers and not worshippers of god. Not content at that they even condemn these "idol worshippers" in the harshest of terms. History has also been a witness to those who have destroyed countless idols in the belief that it is their sacred and bounden duty. No matter what the intrinsic merits or demerits of "idol worship" are, it is undoubtedly a vile tendency to disparage or destroy an object that others hold as an object of joy and worship. For it is cruel to break even an insignificant tile or stone when a child in play holds it fast and close to its heart as a dear child.

Let us now consider the crux of the matter without prejudice or pre conceived notion. What do the so called idol worshippers say at the end of their worship? They say that the worship of the Lord has been completed. They do not talk of the worship of idols. Thus it is evident that in spirit their worship is intended for the Lord and not the idol. That surge of emotion in the form of devotion is offered to the Lord. For those bereft of emotion or devotion, the object of worship is just a doll of stone. For the devotee it is in fact the Lord. In this context the Kannada saying "Tis a child when fondled and god when worshipped" that was oft quoted by Sriranga Mahaaguru comes to our mind.

The Mahaaguru also made another important point. By identifying the idol with the supreme lord himself, the mind finds a suitable object to rest on or contemplate. It is important to note here that devotees do not use any and every wooden or stone doll for contemplation and worship. [Elsewhere Sriranga Mahaaguru gives the example of a photograph. If one were to show us the photograph of our parents, we say "oh! That's my father/mother". At that instant, the fact that we only hold a piece of paper in our hands is completely hidden from our conscious experience. But if the photo were to be flipped so we now see the blank white backside, we immediately say that it is a white piece of paper or board. Similarly a stone idol is not just any other piece of stone. It is the external extension of the inner experiences of our Rishis that have been masterfully crafted on the medium of stone, just as a photograph is a freeze of our visual experience.] Further the shastras say that the stone used for carving should be cold to touch and devoid of cracks or other imperfections. The stone should not increase the tendency of pitta (a physiological parameter in ayurvedic parlance) when touched. It should be soothing to the senses, mind and intellect. Thus starting from identification of the stone, all through the process of creation of the idol, a conscious effort is made to further the spiritual experience of the seekers. The form that is sculpted on the stone is a part of the spiritual experience of the Rishis and hence aids the spiritual aspirant in his endeavor. The idol is further refined by means of procedures called as dhaanyaadivasa (liteally, immersion in grain), jalaadhivaasa (literally, immersion in water) and many others. The spiritual efficacy of the idol is further increased by chanting of mantras and other procedures. The place of installation of the idol is spiritually charged by the use of special materials. Silver and gold in the form of thin sticks are used in a procedure known as unmeelana - or opening of the eyes of the deity. The final procedure is praana pratishtha (life infusion) - the culmination and the best among them all. Here a brahmajnaani (a seer and knower of the highest order) touches and embraces every part of the idol from toe to crest while investing it with his spiritual energy and thereby breathing life into it. At this point the idol is comparable to the divine form of the Lord himself. Nay it may be said that it hath become the Lord himself. A bounty of joy! An image of light! It has now become a worthy medium for worship. The discerning will find it hardly surprising that those who worship the Lord in this form with their hearts filled with devotion reach the supreme state of bliss.

Sriranga Mahaaguru - A yogi par excellence who had an intimate and personal knowledge of the science behind these procedures had once said that even in the absence of all other procedures and the incantation of the mantras, the image can be infused with life just by the purposeful and powerful gaze of a brahmajnaani and may serve its purpose in the heart of a devotee filled with devotion.

While these are idols infused with spiritual energy by specifically designed procedures, there exist naturally occurring stones, elements, trees, herbs and materials that give a boost to spiritual pursuits. Saaligrama, shivalinga, tulasi, ashwattha tree and the bilwa leaves are ideal examples. That this aids spiritual progress may be proved by special techniques. It is certified by the knowers of this science and is evident in the experience of spiritual aspirants.

All these aids that directly or indirectly help an aspirant to attain a direct personal experience of the Lord, that uplifts the mind to the state of brahmajnaana, are accorded the same reverence as the Lord himself.