Testimonies by Students
Toshadevi Nataraj in St. Lucia, Caribbean
Studying the Master Course and doing the work sheets every day has helped me to give better accounting of how my time was spent towards my spiritual progress. During the first year it helped me to understand that I had created my present circumstances and that it was up to me to use the teachings provided to transform my life. With the formal study I had immediate help from the monks to educate, answer questions and to encourage when necessary. I was able to build a platform (so to speak) for the next step.
During the second year I worked in more detail each week on a different technique that was so important to maintain consistency, erase many fears, develop more trust in God, Gods and Guru and increase my devotion in many ways. In the third year of formal study I was amazed as to how I was grasping a better understanding of all I thought that I had understood during the first and second year. This course is so great and so powerful and has the right message for me each time I read it. Sometimes I missed a point because I had grasped all I could for that moment. Another time the message in same paragraph was revealed to me in a way that opened my understanding further.
Gurudeva said, "Yet to be experienced is yet to be understood." Only with the formal study will I get to truly experience what I must, and because of it I have been privileged to have the timely intervention of the Guru in our family life. It has made me a better person in every way and I have this incentive to do my utmost to practice the Yamas and Niyamas and to have a "zero tolerance for disharmony." With Vasana Daha Tantra every day, I try to rid myself of all negative emotions. A formal study keeps me on my toes doing my best at all times in this life. It has given me a desire to work more towards contentment so I can clear the clutter out of my life so I can better focus on the goal of Self Realization.
Muni Sivananda in Mexico
I had been studying the Master Course books for more than three years, but just on my own, not with the discipline wisely instructed by our Guru. This year I finally began the formal study, and it has made a huge difference. When I first received the first Master Course book "Dancing with Siva," about three years ago, and starting reading the first pages I felt so overwhelmed by love and joy. It was a very sweet feeling, like finally getting home, like finally finding that very important missing piece. That said, it's also amazing to experience how the more you advance the more you realize that this is a path, not a place just to rest and contemplate, that we must keep striving. It's a blessing to have the guidance of our Guru.
Ganga Sivanathan in Australia
A business trip to India in the 1990s began my search for the spirituality that was so palpable in India and which provided the people that I met there with a wonderful sense of happiness and acceptance of all that is. In my search, I found Gurudeva and his book "Merging with Siva" in a bookstore in Sydney. That book became a treasure that, despite its size, accompanied me wherever I was—home or abroad. It took me some time, but eventually I bought the other books of the trilogy, registered for an Innersearch travel/study program, and still later enrolled in the Master Course formal study.
Studying the teachings of a lineage that began in the Himalayas centuries ago, and brought to us today by Gurudeva, is a remarkable journey. Enrolling formally in the program and studying the Master Course brings profound insights, connections and a closeness with the current Satguru Bodhinatha and the whole lineage of gurus. Our community of Master Course students is as diverse as can be—all ages, cultures and backgrounds. Our personal journeys are profound and amazing. Those nagging questions of life—who am I, what am I doing here, what am I meant to be doing?—are opened and explored within the framework of Saiva Siddhanta.
The ability to connect with Gurudeva's traditional South Indian Hindu Swamis and monks who encourage, clarify, provide practices and tools and guide our journeys is unique; more so is the opportunity to have the guidance of a beautiful, deep, enlightened Satguru. The more that you read Gurudeva's teachings and hear them from the current Satguru and Swamis, the more the teachings reveal their depths. I will never tire of reading these books or sitting at the feet of the Guru.
Kejiou Toulash Sharma in Mauritius
"The world is perfect at any point in time," is the ultimate conclusion I drew after reading the Master Course Trilogy. It is the work of an enlightened spiritual master. His Holiness Gurudeva has, in simple language, explicitly explained Hinduism integrally from the basic philosophies to the most complex aphorisms and metaphysics. Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva guides the soul systematically along the path to enlightenment. The Trilogy cannot be compared to a Self-Help book. It is far beyond that. It's a Self-Transformation program, so powerful enough to entirely change the patterns of one's life. It consists of all the secrets to achieve lasting happiness, success and spiritual evolution. Said another way, it is "completely complete".
Honestly speaking, the Master Course Trilogy gave sense to my life. It helped me become a better Hindu, to live and abide by the ethics of Sanatana Dharma. Bound by ignorance, despite being a vegetarian and performing daily prayer, I was smoking cigarettes and consuming alcoholic drinks at an early age. My circle of friends were all of lower consciousness. Without my parents knowing I was going to night clubs, was lying for the sake of lying, gambling and not that interested in selfless service. Referring to the lotus flower, the symbol of spiritual evolution, I was in the muddy area, held in lower consciousness though I had some positive attitudes. We go to school and university for academic education with the only goal to get a high paying job. But nobody teaches us how to live on earth, how to face our karmas and to express our soul nature, our true identity.
The Trilogy gave me all the necessary religious and spiritual knowledge to live a far better life than I could ever imagine. The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation of my good character. It provided me such a solid and reliable platform that when difficult times come, I do not dare to use deceptive means to get things done but, but face the situation with love and integrity. Thanks to the Trilogy, I began viewing life from a mountain-top perspective. I have greater control over myself and circumstances. Applying the divine teachings of HH Gurudeva, things started changing naturally in my life. I befriended spiritual people, have the time and love for selfless service and attend prayer regularly at the temple. Being good academically, the Trilogy helped me discover new potentials in me. Unknowingly, I had good communication skills, leadership skills, teaching skills and many more.
Esoteric and mystical tools like the power of affirmation coupled with "thinking, visualization and feeling", can change one's life and become a magnet to spiritual, academic, financial and cultural success. One of the beauties of Gurudeva's teachings is that it enabled me to live sad moments joyously and to express naturally my soul nature. Compared to other religious sects, Saiva Siddhanta encompasses both monism and theism. Dancing with Siva answers all the intriguing questions a Hindu may have, while Living with Siva teaches how to become a good Hindu and emphasizes on the theistic approach, to experience God outwardly and finally, Merging with Siva stresses on the "monistic" approach to realize God.
In light of the above, as a child needs the love of his parents for proper upbringing, we "baby souls" need the divine love and guidance of a spiritual master to unfold spiritually. The Master Course Trilogy is a gift by HH Gurudeva to humanity. Imagine a world where dharma prevails, where people live in harmony and where success in all walks of life is ensured. Well, that is possible, just read the Trilogy and get transformed. Your life will open from a bud to a fragrant flower. Indeed it consists of all the secrets to achieve lasting happiness and accomplish the four goals of life: dharma (virtuous living), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation from rebirth).
"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." —Confucius. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami said it beautifully, "Now is the time... Fear not, proceed with confidence."
Madhavi Medi in USA
The last four weeks was an amazing journey for me. I have memorized a few slokas, doing puja daily in the morning and in the evening which I never did before. More importantly my family is participating in the worship and all of us are seeking God's blessings before we leave the house in the morning. Our house is filled with beautiful music in the morning and the alter is decorated with flowers and fruits! There is more peace and harmony. I am more conscious of how I think and act in my daily life with family and everyone else around me. I have made a few strides in learning to meditate. When I sit down to meditate my thoughts are not as scattered or racing. I am doing breath control.
Yovana Mauree in Mauritius
Prostration to the holy feet of our Satguru. It gives me a great inner happiness to be part of the spiritual world where i can sense the positive changes and progress in my everyday life, especially my family life. I have become more positive, tolerant and mature. I try to keep in practice whatever I learn from the spiritual lessons as much as possible. This has brought lot of happiness and positive energies in my marital life. I Thank you for this. I have started feeling the oneness with Lord Shiva and I feel really blessed. Going to Ganesha Homa every month has become a must, the main objective in my life and my husband's life. We really live with Siva, while he breaks the coconuts and me cutting fruits for the devotees.
As usual, the lessons are helping me in my daily life to attain the real happiness which is far away from this material life. This has aroused the devotion and love towards God in me. My knowledge about Hinduism has now taken a true turn. I have realised lot of things. There's no place for a "Why me?" Now I have realised that whatever happens is per our our karma, and it gives me great happiness to inform you that I live very very near to a Shiva temple. When I read the Nandinatha Sutras I realised how lucky I am. Before I was living in ignorance because some would say that it's bad omen to live near a Siva temple. But today I feel very lucky, all is Siva's doing. And we are all dancing with Siva.
Laura Mehr in USA
It is amazing that a year has passed since the beginning of this course. The inner qualities of my life have evolved significantly. The loving embrace of Ganeshji has held me close and taught me much.
Gurudeva's words have struck at the very heart of life itself, and opened vast philosophical vistas of understanding, pondering, and most of all, love. Following the activities of the monastery on TAKA, is such a boon, and the feeling of being part of that, even though while not physically present, is very powerful. Being part of the HA community, first on Google, and now on Facebook, even though I have not been a significant contributor, has also been wonderful. To read of people's quests and how problems are dealt with, is a great opening into understanding this evolutionary process.
All of the studying through HA, has led to even further understanding of so many of the great Hindu masters, Ramakrishna, Satyananda, Sivananda, Yogananda. So many dancing in the love of the Sanatana Dharma. So blessed that Ganesh has led me on this path. Jai Ganesh! Jai Gurudeva, Jai Bodhinatha, and all praises to our ever bountiful Lord Siva!
Ramai Santhirapala in UK
My journey started in this very temple, in 2005 when Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami led a youth workshop here at Shree Ghanapathy Temple [in London]. I remember the publications which were handed out and for the first time my religion was explained in a highly professional manner in English. Growing up in the west and the challenges of adjusting to local culture whilst not losing one's own is a balance. Even if one is not conscious of it, each is seeking an understanding of who they are.
Fast forward a few years to 2009; I found myself googling 'Saivism in English' and came across a website known as Himalayan Academy; the site of Kauai Aadheenam. Having read other sites which explain Saivism in English, something about this site was different and felt unusually drawn - I immediately signed up to have the daily lessons emailed to me. Two years later I had another unusual opportunity to visit Hawaii and visit Kauai Aadheenam. To my mind at the time it was Skanda Sashti, a festival so beloved in our family, and a wonderful boon to visit a Saivite temple.
Whilst there one of the Swamis suggested I do the Master Course - a study of Saivism. Starting the Master Course formally in 2013, having read it on an ad-hoc basis beforehand has been nothing short of life changing. As some of you will know, I am an academic, and the thought of studying Saivism and understanding it from a philosophical and academic perspective appealed to me. Yet as Paramaguru Yogaswami's Guru, Chellapaswami, spoke 'Naan Ariyom'. We do not know - our minds are limited by intellectual reasoning and there is so much that remains unseen at least to our two eyes.
The Master Course was then a 15 month, now 24 month, course in English which takes one through Saivite philosophy helpfully breaking it down into three books; the trilogy. The first, Dancing with Siva, lays down the philosophical basis of Saivism in a bite-sized way.
As you might imagine these verses, much like the natchinthinai, are profound and as an example some have been studying the Master Course for over 50 years and still find the words deeply insightful. The second book, Living with Siva, gives practical advice on how to live as a Saivite which was particularly useful as I was growing up in the west; simple directions like go to temple once a week, go on pilgrimage once a year, practice the yamas and niyamas; very practical. The last of the trilogy books, Merging with Siva, delves into the mystical aspects of Saivism - for example today's lesson (Sivaya Subramuniyaswami conveniently divided each book into 365 lessons; one for each day of the year) spoke of the mystical power of dharsan.
This Master Course also taught me to perform a home puja to Pillaiyar and begin the steps of attention and concentration practices which Sivaya Subramuniyaswami speaks as pertinent prerequisites to meditation. You remember I thought of this as an academic study, yet it brought me so much more; almost like peeling off the layers which hide the inner light, it was a journey in seeing myself as a divine soul on a wondrous journey. The unseen boon of the Master Course was that in fact I was reading the words of my Guru Parampara. If I am honest before the Master Course had someone asked if I needed a Guru, my answer would have been "Why? Why have someone stand between you and God?". But that only shows the mind's ignorance and poor understanding of the real role of a Guru. From personal experience, a Guru is your friend, your confidante who by his own efforts and self realisation can see the steps ahead for you. Our teachings teach us to lean on our own spine, a favourite saying of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, that all knowing is within us and this has given me courage to open doors where I was once tentative. For example it altered my professional trajectory to one of writing and now not only write academically but also the boon of writing for the foremost international magazine, Hinduism Today. However there are times when one is at a crossroads and despite soul searching the road ahead seems unclear and now I think to myself 'What would Satguru Bodhinatha do?'. Where the path ahead is still uncertain I know he is just an email away or mystically always connected and here - for example sometimes the answers come through the words of others, circumstance or unusual opportunities. All in all visiting Kauai Aadheenam and completing the Master Course has been a life transforming experience.