Gurudeva's Mahavakya Part 1

Bodhinatha welcomes everyone to the first annual observances of Gurudeva's mahasamadhi with a talk on the mahavakya, or great sayings. Citing several classics from the Upanishads, Bodhinatha repeats and elucidates on the great sayings of Chellappaswami and Yogaswami in this, Part 1 of 2, of his talk.

Unedited Transcript:

Good Morning everyone. We are very happy to have you all join us for our first annual Gurudeva Mahasamadhi Observance.

In thinking about what to say this morning about Gurudeva and Mahasamadhi, I came up with the idea of giving a talk on Mahavakya. One Maha for another! Mahasamadhi, of course, is the Great Attainment and Mahavakya is the Great Saying, sometimes very short, a short statement, a truth.

In Mahavakya, you start with the classical Mahavakya which comes from the Upanishads, which we will look at first. Then we will turn to our Kailasa Parampara. We have four Mahavakya for Chellappaswami and four for Yogaswami. Then, we created some for Gurudeva, unofficial of course. We couldn't reduce it to four. Gurudeva had more to say than you could put in four Mahavakya. But we have some Mahavakya for Gurudeva and we will comment on each of those.

The first ones we will go through rather quickly, there is not enough time to comment on each of the four sets of Mahavakya.

The classical ones all come from the Upanishads and emphasize the identity of the soul and God.

Prajnanam Brahma. Pure consciousness is God.

Aham brahmasmi. I am God. That is a very common one.

Tatvam asi. Thou art That.

Ayam atma brahma. The soul is God.

These four Mahavakya are all focusing on the soul and God and the identity of the soul with God, which of course is one of Gurudeva's primary teachings and the teaching of the Parampara as well. These four classical Mahavakya from the Upanishads, certainly permeate all the teachings of our Parampara.

Chellappaswami had Mahavakya and he not only had them, he would work at them for extended periods of time. The story goes that he would repeat one Mahavakyam for a year or two or three at a time, meditating on it. There are wonderful references to these four Mahavakyam in many of Yogaswami's Natchintanai. Certainly respected them well and speaks about them and interprets them quite frequently throughout all the Natchintanai songs.

You will have to excuse my Tamil. This is written in English, so it is even harder to pronounce because I don't know what is long and what is short.

Oru pollappum illai. There is not one wrong thing.

Before I prepare a talk which I do usually over two days, I get half of it ready yesterday and then get up early and get the other half ready. So when I get up early the first thing I do is, look at Gurudeva's Master Course 'Lesson of the Day'. See if there is anything that stands out for the talk. Because quite often, the 'Lesson of the Day' and life relate in a mystical way, it is amazing.

So I found something. It is talking about, "What the ignorant see as evil, the enlightened see as activities of low minded and immature individuals." I thought that related very nicely to the idea that there is nothing wrong, there is not one wrong thing. It struck me in a way I had not thought about it before but if everyone was high-minded, there would be no one to return your karma to. We would all be stuck, we could not evolve. We would have this karma and no one is going to give it to us, no one is going to hit us, no one is going to speak badly to us. This karma we are going to carry it forever, right? We will never achieve moksha.

So, we need a mix of people just to work through our karma. In that sense you can see, it is deliberate. You don't want everybody as kind of perfect because no one will become totally perfect. You need a world with a mixture of people in it. In that sense, it is destined to be, it is necessary. Otherwise, we would not make spiritual progress.

I had never quite looked at it that way, that we need a mix of people on earth just to bring back our karma to us, move forward.

Eppavo mudintha kariyam. It has been accomplished long ago. I am skipping that one, that one is worth a number of minutes but I can't do them all.

Naam ariyom, we do not know. That is an important one. Of course, this is referring to intellectual knowledge and it says, "We do not know." Normally when you think of knowledge you think you are trying to acquire a lot of knowledge. But this is distinguishing between the knowledge of the intellect and the knowledge of the superconscious.

So when it comes to deeper mystical experiences, when it comes to the experience of God, the intellect does not have a clue. We do not know. If the intellect thinks it understands it, that is a barrier to actually experiencing it. We have to give up the idea that, "I can figure this out rationally, I can figure this out with my intellect and that is how I will come to experience God." It does not work that way.

'We do not know', is the emphasis of the Parampara. Yogaswami's famous remark was, in scolding someone, he said, "It is not in books, you fool." Same idea and of course Gurudeva's Raja Yoga aphorism is "That the intellect is the greatest barrier to the superconscious." So all of that is saying the same thing that when it comes to religion, when it comes to the experience of God, the intellect cannot help us experience God. It can help us do a lot of things. It can help us run a computer, it can help us go shopping, it can help us cook, it can help us calculate, it can help us do many, many things. It a useful tool, it is not that the intellect is not good. It just does not have any place when it comes to experiencing God. It can be the barrier.

Last but not least from Chellappaswami:

Muluthum unmai. All is truth. That one repeats in Yogaswami, coming up.

Moving on to Yogaswami, the first one:

Tannai ari. Know thyself. This of course, we have heard Gurudeva say a few times. Know thyself. Realize the Self. Realize the Self yourself. Definitely, that is a strong theme of the Parampara.

Sarvam Sivan seyal. Siva is doing it all, even creating evil.

Sarvam Sivamayam. All is Siva.

Summa iru. Be still.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within.