It is that time of the year – the auspicious month of Shravan when Lord Shiva is worshipped in all His glory. Those who have been following my blog for a while, especially those who know me personally, are well aware of the significance of Shiva in my life.
I have been fasting during the month of Shravan for 20 years now. This is my 20th year!! Many Hindus fast during this month and for multiple reasons. I have never really paid attention to why I fast. I guess I feel more grounded when I fast weekly on Mondays and especially so during the month of Shravan. It brings personal and mental comfort to me. It enhances my sense of belonging to the Divine.
As Monday dawned, I woke up in the morning with multiple topics on my mind and some intentions. I am hoping to be more disciplined in the study of Hindu scriptures. That is my goal for this month. I am hoping to make lifestyle changes to be more fit, to be more disciplined and to be more goal-oriented – both personal and professional. I am also looking to volunteer more.
Having said that, Shivji definitely had an awesome plan for me on Day 1 of Shravan 2017. After 10 months of clearing my interview I finally finally finally received my Certificate attesting to me being a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. I am aware that I talk about becoming Board Certified a lot but that is because I am still so much in awe of how life unfolds.
What an incredible sign from The Universe – once again reiterating that the ultimate purpose of my life continues to be through walking the path of Clinical Chaplaincy.
I am not completely sure what the future holds, but for now – at this very moment – it feels fantastic.
May you and yours have a fabulous month of Shravan! May you all always be surrounded in Ishwara Kripa!!
Until next time,
The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens. – Rainer Maria Rilke
Guru Purnima – The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadh – is designated to honor one’s Guru, Spiritual Teacher. While I am not formally initiated into any Guru-Shishya tradition, Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswatiji (Arsha Vidya Gurukulam), Swamini Svatmavidyanandaji (Asha Vijnana Gurukulam), Pujya Swami Chinmayanandaji (Chinmaya Mission) and their teachings continue to inform my spiritual formation.
I do think it makes a huge difference in having found a spiritual alignment. What is even more important, in my opinion, is allowing for that alignment to happen organically. We seek and seek, but the alignment happens when it is meant to and with a path that may or may not have been on the path we had initially been seeking. Personally, it all came together for me when I was introduced to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi by my dad. Bhagavan Maharshi did not have any initiated disciples.
In his article on Guru Purnima, Dr. David Frawley writes: “The true guru is a position of spiritual guidance, the illuminating presence of a higher awareness. The guru is not limited to any physical person, however exalted he or she may be.
The guru is an inner institution, an authority rooted in an experiential wisdom, not in any mere human convention. The guru works to awaken us to our own Divine potential beyond the limitations of time and space, fear or desire.
Great souls who hold the position of the guru have a special honour and immense responsibility that can only be served in a selfless manner. The true guru is not conscious of being a guru to others, but of simply sharing the light of truth to dispel the darkness of ignorance.
The guru is a powerful conduit to the universal flow of knowledge. As such, there is only one true guru in all gurus. The guru is the guiding intelligence of the universal and eternal dharma that assumes many names and forms.
The importance of having a guru resides in being able to connect with the transcendent realm through a human representative. We should emphasise the guru’s teachings, rather focusing on outer appearances.
It is the ability to surrender the human mind and its opinions that makes for a true guru. The true guru teaches a path of self-realisation, giving us back our own true nature, not making us weak or dependent.”
All of this and more, I continue to encounter on this spiritual journey – the opportunity to visit Tiruvannamalai, to witness the Arunachala Hill, to feel the powerful presence of Divinity in Sri Ramanasramam – all coming a full circle back to the starting point of my spiritual journey in my current physical birth. How incredibly amazing is that?
I continue to be in awe of Sri Ramana Maharshi – a mere glance at his image has an immediate calming effect on my mental noise. On this Guru Purnima, I continue to seek his guidance and Divine Krupa in everything I am.
To Shiva, The Adi Guru ; To Sri Ramana Maharshi ; To Arunachala ; To every single person who has been a Guru to me (willingly or otherwise) ; To Life
May the Grace of The Guru continue to bless your being…
|| Shubh Guru Purnima ||
Until next time,
अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशालाकया ।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नम:
Agyan timir-andhasya Gyananjan Shalakaya.
Chakshur-oonmeelitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who opened my eyes, by applying the divine collyrium of self-knowledge in my eyes, which had been blinded by the cataract of ignorance.
Today, I’ve been reflecting on a phase of my life growing up in India. When I was much younger growing up in Gujarat, my sister and I used to observe the annual Gauri Vrat. The Gauri Vrat this year starts today July 4 till July 9, 2017. This particular vrat (fasting with intention) is predominantly observed in Gujarat by unmarried girls and is dedicated to Goddess Parvati (the female Divine – Shakti). The vrat lasts five days and is intentionally observed for one to be blessed with an ideal husband and to bring prosperity in the family.
It was really fun to observe the fast – the highlight of it being the early morning trips to the Shiva-Parvati mandir before school, puja rituals where we grew small crops [multiple mixed grain seeds such as wheat, barley] in a small mud basket that looked something like this:
The end to the fast was indicated by all girl friends getting together and pulling an all-nighter, sharing stories, dreams and visions for our future. The vrat was to be observed annually for 5 years or 7 years which we were able to complete successfully. My sister and I just started talking about our memories of fasting earlier this evening and hysterically laughing at some of the antics. Back then, boys in our school had a blast teasing girls about wanting an ideal husband but more about all the food we could not eat. Definitely some good memories.
Well, the fact that I am unmarried and as single as can be, I am left to wonder about such rituals. But then, the fact is to do rituals with unwavering faith – Śraddhā. When we did the vrat rituals at the temple, we are constantly asked to have faith. And that is what keeps everything in perspective.
Some years ago I had moved away from rituals as I studied Advaita Vedanta and thought it was unnecessary to participate in rituals because all that is, is Brahman. But then the more I studied Vedanta, the more rituals began to make sense and most of all their importance in developing and maintaining a focus on Brahman. I now have a renewed appreciation for religious rituals.
As the month of Shravan is around the corner, I am hoping to be more intentional in my fasts and ritualistic worship of Shivji. In words of Shri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, everything will always be through Isvara Krupa [Divine Grace].
Until next time,
“Know that the eradication of the identification with the body is charity, spiritual austerity and ritual sacrifice; it is virtue, divine union and devotion; it is heaven, wealth, peace and truth; it is grace; it is the state of divine silence; it is the deathless death; it is jnana, renunciation, final liberation and bliss.” – Shri Ramana Maharshi