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Bhajana – as a sadhana

Mastergaru and Ammagaru

Every festival in India is preceded by loudspeakers bursting their hearts out with songs, and bhajans and vying for the attention of the God Almighty (HE is truly The Supreme, for a lesser being would have gone deaf by now!).

Nevertheless, collectively singing songs in praise of the Lord in the form of kirtans, kawwalis, bhajans, etc has been the prevalent custom in every religion. It has also been actively promoted by many saints of India like Sri Chaitanya Mahapraphu, Sri Tulsidas, Kabir, Meera Bai, Sri Anandmayi Ma, Sri Pakalpati Gurugaru, Sri Satya Sai Baba etc. for reasons that are far deeper than those commonly known. Many are the general psychological and physiological benefits to group singing, ranging from mental relaxation, and being a part of a social network, to renewing our faith in a higher guiding force.

Spiritual seekers for lack of adequate knowledge have been known to view such activities as being of a lower cadre when striving for higher goals. A case in particular is mentioned in the book “Sri Anandamayi Amma” authored by Pujya Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja. He writes- Bhayiji, a close devotee of Anandamayi Ma and his friend Niranjan Rai never participated in the kirtans that were sung by and around Anandmayi Ma, night and day. One evening after the regular kirtan session however, Ma brought this to light by announcing, “Those who have not participated in kirtan today will have to sing now.” Astounded by her keen observation they began to sing. With time they noticed that due to the singing, their hearts were more and more infused with devotion because of which there was a marked improvement in their meditation too. Only then did they appreciate the value of devotional singing.

Another explanation was given by Divyajanani Alivelu Mangamma in one of the satsangs at Nagole.  She said that God is to be remembered and contemplated upon with manas, vacha and karmana- all three together. Accordingly, we observe that while doing bhajan or kirtan one thinks about God with one’s heart and mind, uses the power of speech to sing his deeds and glory, and finally sways his body involuntarily to the tune and rhythm of the bhajan and keeps the beat by clapping his hands.  Through such complete involvement on the Lord, his grace is showered on us by  intensifying devotion in us which slowly but surely brings us closer to Him.

JAI SAI MASTER!

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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

My Beloved Mastergaru

Master in the guest house at Kottapatnam beach in Ongole.

Pujyasri Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja is fondly called as ‘SaiMaster’

Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja loved the oceans and the mountains. Everytime we came to Ongole, Mastergaru would plan a trip to the beach at Kothapatnam. Everyone was included….so there was easily a gathering of about 30-40 people and we would all leave by around 6 in the morning. After enjoying ourselves in the salty water of the ocean (which is actually termed ‘samudrasnanam’), all the ladies would freshen up at the nearby lodge while the gents would bathe at the adjacent well including Mastergaru. Once these proceedings were over with, Mastergaru would be asked reverentially to be seated on the bed in the lodge and all of us would perform arati to him. Then naivedyam that we had carried from Ongole would be offered. We  would then  bow down and take the duat of  Mastergaru’s feet one by one and he would give udi in the hand and also apply it on our forehead. Only then would the distribution of prasadam begin. Invariably the prasadam would include puliora.  The prasadam distribution would be a lively affair with much hilarity all around. Slowly we would then pack up and loiter around the premises taking snaps or spending time in talking to Mastergaru. Finally it woul be afternoon before we left the beach and would reach in time for lunch which would be awaiting us deliciously prepared by Ammagaru’s loving hands!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Sri Guru Charitra’

“Gurus… are the agents of God, expressions of his mercy, for mankind.” -Acharya Sai Master in ‘Sai Baba of Shirdi and His Teachings’

Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja or Sai Master as I shall refer to him henceforth, emphashised strongly the need to contact a Guru.

There are times in everyone’s life where the continuous turbulence of our mind and thoughts brought about by joy and sorrow, longing and despair, possessing and losing, birth and death suddenly irks us and we wonder, is all of life just one feeling after another, without any stability and security? And then we look around ourselves and find that everyone is going around busily in circles with one day flowing into the next like automated toys without any respite and no hope of permanent joy in their lives. Is there no end? Does everybody on earth live such a hopeless life? If we but stop and ponder sincerely, long enough many thousands of such questions would arise

We only need to truly open our eyes wide enough and look a little further, we find that there are a few lucky souls who may appear to have nothing at all materialistically, but still have everything that each of us have secretly craved for- something that we have kept unacknowledged even from our own private selves- those magical and elusive feelings of everlasting peace and contentment!

They are the mystics, mahatmas, saints or sages of this world. The one’s who are truly happy because they have transcended these dualities of joy and sorrow, they are the liberated ones, the self-realized souls! When our interest is truly kindled by their attitudes, we begin to wonder about their lives and process of transformation to have reached such a state. Fortunately our scriptures the Bhagavatham, the Puranas, the Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of such personagesor Gurus with the details of their lives given at length. Descriptions are there of many more who have faithfully trodden the path given by these great ones and attained salvation. However, one is always more strongly drawn towards living people with whom we might discuss our doubts, fears and get a better clarity and focus on our objective and the path forward.

But this is the risky part because presently there is an overabundance of self-styled, fake people who popularize themselves as Gurus to lead unsuspecting people into pseudo-spiritual traps. In this regard, fortunately there is a tried and tested method that has proved invaluable to many spiritual seekers- the daily reading of ‘Sri Guru Charitra’. Originally written by Sri Gangadhar Saraswathi in Marathi language about the first two incarnations of Lord Dattatreya, it was only in the nineteenth century that it was translated into Sanskrit. Sri Vasudevanand Saraswati, Sri Rangavadhuta Maharaj of Nareshwar to name a few, blossomed into renowned saints after diligent study and contemplation of this sacred book. Mention of this holy book is also made in Sri Sai Baba’s biography wherein Kushabhav was asked to read this book 108 times by Sai Baba and was greatly benefitted.

The greatness of this sacred text lies in the fact that it impresses our hearts with the quatlities of a truly realized Guru. It also reveals to us the seemingly intangible benefits that a Guru bestows on his disciples while at the same time teaching us the appropriate attitude and behavior of a sincere disciple.

It is a real boon that because of the tireless efforts of Pujyasri Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja, this invaluable scripture was translated into several regional languages of India and made available to us common folk. The greatness of this book is more meaningfully revealed in Sri Gulavani Maharaj’s words, “It cannot be obtained by giving even a core rupees. How can you price them? The cost can be repaid only be reading it and attaining liberation.”

“The Sri Guru Charitra helps us to recognize the Real Master when we encounter one”, says Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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