The Depth of Charya Worship

Trilogy Commentary, MWS Lessons 129, 147


The more devotion the bhaktar has the stronger the darshan can be perceived. The natural place and time for meditation, to internalize worship in the Saiva Siddhanta Tradition is after the puja. Four subpadas of charya include: personal service in the temple, worshiping by attending a puja, meditation and experiential knowledge gained by these practices.

Master Course Trilogy: Dancing with Siva, Sloka 37

Merging with Siva, Lessons 129, 147

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

This morning drawing from two different places in the Master Course Trilogy and some supplementary research of the idea of the Charya Pada. So starting here first on part of the explanation of it in found in Sloka 37 of Dancing with Siva.

"What Is the Nature of the Charya Pada?

"Charya is the performance of altruistic religious service and living according to traditional ethical conduct and culture, by which the outer nature is purified. It is the stage of overcoming basic instinctive patterns.

"Bhashya

"Charya, literally 'conduct,' is the first stage of religiousness and the foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa marga, meaning 'path of servitude,' for here the soul relates to God as servant to master. The disciplines of charya include humble service, attending the temple, performing one's duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas. Within a strong society, one performs charya whether he wants to or not. Young or rebellious souls often resist and resent, whereas mature souls fulfill these obligations most naturally. Right behavior and self-sacrificing service are never outgrown. The keynote of charya, or karma yoga, is seva, religious service given without the least thought of reward, which has the magical effect of softening the ego and bringing forth the soul's innate devotion."

Then it ends with a verse from Tirumantiram:

"The simple temple duties, lighting the lamps, picking flowers, lovingly polishing the floors, sweeping, singing the Lord's praise, ringing the bell and fetching ceremonial water--these constitute the dasa marga."

In case you're not aware of this point Gurudeva stresses fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas. So this idea is not found in other descriptions of charya in terms of calling it the yamas. Talks about good conduct. So the idea is there in a general sense but in the specific sense of describing fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas it's something Gurudeva has added which is very helpful. Shows how it fits in.

Second section is something from me:

Each pada has its own inner transformation of how we perform charya and kriya. Meaning there's charya and kriya in charya, charya and kriya in kriya, charya and kriya in yoga, charya and kriya in jnana is what it's trying to say.

In charya the theme is work for the sake of work, learning to be of service in the temple without any expectation of reward.

So said another way: Moving from working for reward to working without reward. And why would we do that? Because it is the right action to do. We're doing something because it's the right thing to do not because we'll be seeing some benefit such as payment for doing it.

Well that's an important shift and it's crucial to the unfoldment that we go through that early on, get into the spirit of doing it, being totally willing to work without reward. That's the service part.

In worship we are moving from not feeling anything... Meaning when we're in the temple, not feeling anything emanating from the Deity, yet, that's how many people start, to feeling the darshan of the Deity, the energy emanating out. And then the next step which we'll see in one of Gurudeva's writings here, then to receiving messages from the Deity. So that's section that's coming up here. A bit long but it's worthwhile.

So this is point number III, comes from Merging with Siva, Chapter 19, Lesson 129:

"Love of the Gods. (Verbatim.)

"Chanting and satsanga and ceremonial rituals all contribute to this sanctifying process, creating an atmosphere to which the Gods are drawn and in which they can manifest. By the word manifest, I mean they actually come and dwell there, and can stay for periods of time, providing the vibration is kept pure and undisturbed. The altar takes on a certain power. In our religion there are altars in temples all over the world inhabited by the devas and the great Gods. When you enter these holy places, you can sense their sanctity. You can feel the presence of these divine beings, and this radiation from them is known as darshan. The reality of the Mahadevas and their darshan can be experienced by the devotee through his awakened ajna vision, or more often as the physical sight of the image in the sanctum coupled with the inner knowing that He is there within the microcosm. This darshan can be felt by all devotees, becoming stronger and more defined as devotion is perfected..."

It's an important point. What corrals the devotee to feel the darshan stronger? More devotion. As devotion is perfected. So the more devotion the devotee has the stronger the darshan can be perceived.

"...Through this darshan, messages can be channeled along the vibratory emanations that radiate out from the Mahadevas, as well as from their representatives, the Second World devas who carry out their work for them in shrines and altars."

Then Gurudeva continues to explain this idea.

"To understand darshan, consider the everyday and yet subtle communication of language. You are hearing the tones of my voice through the sensitive organ, your ear. Meaning comes in to your mind, for you have been trained to translate these vibrations in to meaning through the knowing of the language that I am speaking. Darshan is a vibration, too. It is first experienced in the simple physical glimpse of the form of the Deity in the sanctum. Later, that physical sight gives way to a clairvoyant vision or to a refined cognition received through the sensitive ganglia within your nerve system, the chakras. Though these receptors, a subtle message is received, often not consciously. (That's an important point. You can receive something without knowing you've received it.) Perhaps not immediately, but the message that the darshan carries, direct from the Mahadeva--direct from Lord Ganesha, direct from Lord Murugan, direct from Lord Siva Himself--manifests in your life. This is the way the Gods converse. It is a communication more real than the communication of language that you experience each day. It is not necessary to understand the communication immediately. The devotee may go away from the temple outwardly feeling that there was no particular message, or not knowing in his intellectual mind exactly what the darshan meant. Even the words you are now reading may not be fully cognized for days, weeks or even months. The depth of meaning will unfold itself on reflection."

The next quote, Part IV is from Merging with Siva, Chapter 21, which is Total Surrender. Lesson 147.

And it's the idea that the natural place and time, for someone who's just learning to meditate in the Saiva Siddhanta tradition, is after the puja.

"To internalize worship, after the puja is over sit before the Deity and draw into yourself all the pranas you feel around your body. Then draw those energies up the spine into the head. This is done with the mind and with the breath. It is very easy to do. It is especially easy when one is at the end of a major karmic cycle. The bhakti of uncompromising surrender, prapatti, to the God during a temple puja awakens the amrita. The amrita is the sweet essence from the sahasrara chakra. It is the binding yoke to the Divine. Bind yourself in the lotus posture after temple worship and simply internalize all the feelings that you had for the God during the worship. That's all there is to it. The yogi yoked within enjoys the amrita that flows from the cranium throughout his body. Devotees who want to awaken the higher chakras and sustain that awakening on the safe path will throw themselves into becoming uncompromising bhaktars. Then all the Gods of all three worlds will open their hearts and shower their blessings upon them."

Section V is the idea of the four subpadas of charya. So that's charya and charya/kriya and charya/yoga and charya/jnana and charya. Well these are composite definitions from a couple of different sources. So charya in charya is what we were thinking in personal service in the temple such as cleaning, selecting the flowers and so forth is charya in charya. Kriya in charya: Worshiping by attending a parartha puja in the temple to any of the twenty-five manifested forms of Siva or a form of Ganesha or Skanda is kriya in charya. So we're attending a puja, not conducting a puja. Mediation in a temple after attending a parartha puja is yoga in charya. So that's the idea that so again we just explained in the last quote. The experiential knowledge gained by these practices is jnana in charya. So learning something from within. Jnana in charya is through these practices of charya we gain some inner knowledge that we didn't have previously.

In the Tamil lexicon that's called 'anupava unarcci.'

Then the last, Section VI, here is how it's taught in Sri Lankan school course, Saiva Neri course. They learn all about this in going to the government school. It's a very interesting system that in the public or government schools in Sri Lanka you study the religion you are in. So that, I don't know if they have a course for Islam, I don't think so. Because Islam is a fairly small group. But there's a course on Buddhism and there's a course on Christianity and there's a course on Hinduism and the course on Hinduism is on Saivism. So, the only place I know where the course on Hinduism is totally Saivite. So, it's called Saiva Neri on the web, on the, course it's in Tamil script but it's on the web on the government of Sri Lanka's educational web page, anyone ever wants to look at it.

So this is a section that I had translated it, it's a page which explains charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Different kinds of mukti and relates the [somiyata...?? loc. 901] charyas to the practice. So it ought to be interesting to see what the course says how it relates charya to one of the [somiyata...?? loc 911] charyas.

According to Saivite scripture St Appar followed charya path and worshipped God. Appar's songs in his weeding services stand as good examples that Appar followed the charya path to worship God. The following song sets the point.

"Oh heart, if you seek to be everlasting, come here. Visit the temple of my Lord daily before dawn. Clean and polish the floor. Make and don garlands to the Lord. Sing his glory. Raise your hands above head, worship Him. Dance and sing with joy uttering: Oh Sankara, Jai. Hail to Thee oh my Primal Lord with rive Ganga on red matted hair. Oh Lord of Aroor, thus crying His glory."

So that's what the kids learn in the Appar charya.

Have a wonderful day.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Nothing is more precious than the first soul-quickening, life-changing shaktipata from a guru. Nothing is more central to spiritual awakening than the progressive dikshas, or initiations, he bestows.
—Gurudeva