In Hinduism believing in God is only the first step. Hindus want to move beyond just believing to experiencing the Divine for themselves. Through the power of the guru's grace, such as experienced by Yogaswami on meeting Chellappaswami, you can sometimes go deeper within than you would normally on your own.
Good morning everyone.
The focus of many religions is on helping those with no faith in God to believe in God. For western faiths, belief in God is for many, not all of course, but is for many both the beginning and the end of the process. Once you have come to believe in God, there is nothing more to do. Your salvation is assured. However, in Hinduism belief as you know is only the first step. Hindus want to move beyond just believing in God to experiencing the Divine for themselves. Thus in Hinduism it is the personal experience of God that is the focal point of religious practices.
The Guru Chronicles gives us a classic story that illustrates the Hindu perspective of experiencing God which is the second meeting of Siva Yogaswami as a young man and his guru Sage Chellappaswami which took place in about 1895. The story refers to Siva Yogaswami by the name he was known in his youth, Yoganathan. The story also illustrates how one can experience deeper inner states in the guru's presence through the guru's grace rather than by oneself.
"Yoganathan as walking along the road outside Nallur Temple. Sage Chellappaswami shook the bars from within the chariot shed where he camped and boldly challenged, 'Hey! Who are you?"
Challenging question. "Hey, Who are you?"
"Yoganathan was transfixed by the simple, piercing inquiry. Their eyes met and Yoganathan froze. Chellappaswami's glance went right to his soul. The sage's eyes were like diamonds, fiery and sharp, and they held his with such intensity that Yoganathan felt his breathing stop, his stomach in a knot, his heart pounding in his ears. He stared back at Chellappaswami. Once he blinked, in the glaring sun and a brilliant inner light burst behind his eyes."
Then there's a quote from Yogaswami: "He revealed to me Reality without end or beginning and enclosed me in the subtlety of the state of summa. (Of summa meaning stillness.) All sorrow disappeared; all happiness disappeared! Light! Light! Light!"
The narrative continues. "Waves of bliss swept his limbs from head to toe, riveting his attention within. He had never known such beauty or power. For what seemed ages it thundered and shook him while he stood motionless, lost to the world. He later described it as a trance."
Quoting: "To end my endless turning on the wheel of wretched birth, he took me beneath his rule, and I was drowned in bliss... (If you're going to drown, that's something good to drown in, right? Better than the ocean.) ...and I was drowned in bliss. Leaving charity and tapas, charya and kriya, by fourfold means he made me as himself."
Back to the narrative. "The roaring of the nada nadi shakti, the mystic, high-pitched inner sound of the Eternal, in his head drowned out all else. The temple bells faded in the circling distance as from every side an ocean of light rushed in, billowing and rolling down upon his head. He couldn't hold on, not for an instant. He let go, and Divinity absorbed him. It was him, and he was not." Back to Yogaswami's words: "By the guru's grace, I won the bliss in which I knew no other. I attained the silence where illusion is no more. I understood the Lord, who stands devoid of action. From the eight fold yoga I was freed."
Back to the narrative. "Yoganathan stood transfixed, like a statue, for several minutes. As he regained normal consciousness and opened his eyes, Chellappaswami was waiting, glaring at him fiercely. 'Give up desire!' he shouted. People were passing to and fro, unaware of what was taking place. 'Do not even desire to have no desire.'
"Yoganathan felt the grace of the guru pour over and through him, all from those piercing eyes. Such elation he had never known. Dazed, he saw that the guru intended to dispel all darkness and delusion with his words, which were beyond comprehension in that moment: 'There is no intrinsic evil. There is not one wrong thing.'"
Like it? So it's really, really a nice story. Need the graphic up there with Chellappa shaking the bars. I know it's a painting, but in the book it's quite nice.
So the story is pointing out what we want which is the emphasis on experiencing God. You know that's the ideal. And in, in this instance, it's also the example as I mentioned in the introduction that you can, in the guru's presence, through the guru's grace, sometimes, not every time, not all the time, but you can sometimes go deeper within than you would normally on your own. Power of grace takes you within but then it's not permanent. It's temporary. You go deep within such as Yogaswami is in this experience and then he came back out and got scolded. "Give up desire."
Chellappa must have been hard to work with. Makes Gurudeva look easy. Chellappaswami would just repeat one of these statements for days and weeks and months on end. "There is no intrinsic evil." That's all he would say, one thing. You have to get used to that approach; it's quite distinct.
Okay, well have a great day.
Aum Namah Sivaya Aum.
[End of transcript.]