Saturday, July 22, 2006

The loneliness of people among a crowd...A Visit to Phuket in Search of Buddha within me

The visit to the Phuket – a beautiful island in Thailand was not the expected routine. I had a training to attend to which was in the most beautiful resort called Evason with lush green environment and beautiful beaches. I looked forward to my visit to a very famous Buddhist Temple but it was proving to be very difficult to move out of the resort as there were many activities and training scheduled. Any way during the visits to the city Phuket town and Patong Beach which was the most famous beach in the Island I did had some glimpses of life of the people who are kind of enmeshed in the quagmire of living, existence and fulfilling one’s karma in the most superficial way I could see. I did see hordes of tourists lounging around in the dance bars, discotheques and places where the sheer magnitude of materialism made me cringe inwards. I did not feel aversions to the girls (and in most case boys turned girls usually called Shemales) as they were trying to survive the fatalities of life that they have had but I did feel lot of sympathy for the tourists whose sheer materialism, search of happiness in the senses made them run after one type of enjoyment to the other without ever realizing that its all so transient. The mind of the people were taking them in circles of finding the right sense of joy among things that were not happiness but only a passing sense of gratification.

On one of the corner, I find a woman selling some cigarettes and lighters and I looked into her eye trying to find what she feels about all this and I found to my surprise that she was more content than the rich crowd she was trying to serve. She, I was sure, has understood the real meaning of being Sambhav (Equanimity) preached in GITA where one does not get affected by the feelings of joy or sorrow, doing work without the anticipation of fruits. I asked her to give me a small pack of chewing gum that she was carrying and I got it with a smile and a grateful eyes looking at me in thanks.

The feeling that I got in that crowd of tourists going about from one place of joy to another, was of desperation of trying to get something worthwhile and sustainable in there… and the feeling I felt each one coming out of those places, was of a disappointment writ large on their faces and an eagerness creeping in to visit the other place to find a better enjoyment. This is the vicious circle we live in … day in and day out and this what we need to get out of trying to find a better place, better thing or better experience to have each day in and day out. This is what Buddha preached and practiced and this what most of our yogi’s did all their lives living frugal existence but with happiness abounding in them with the touch of the superconscioues soul.

The next day I was able to go to the temple and find a great calm expanse of beautiful gardens and water bodies.

Wat Chalong
This is Phuket's most important Buddhist temple. The temple is revered among Thais for its healing powers. The prayer hall contains the statues of three of the temples most venerated monks: Luang Por Chaem, Luang Por Chuang and Luang Por Gluam. However, it is Luang Por Chaem who is best known and who has given Wat Chalong its fame as a place of healing. In 1876, during the reign of King Rama V, there was a rebellion by the Chinese tin miners, or “Angyee”. Luang Por Chaem (Lord Abbott Chaem), the abbott of the monastery at the time, helped to stop the rebellion and acted as a mediator in the peace.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
This is the second most important temple on Phuket. Its fame is derived from a magic statue of the Buddha (Phra Tong means “golden Buddha”). The statue is in a seated position but is only exposed up to the middle of the chest. Though claimed to be made of solid gold, the statue is more likely made of brick, cement and plaster, with a thin layer of gold leaf covering it. The legend surrounding the statues says that anyone who tries to dig up the statue will suffer terrible misfortune or death. Therefore, a cast of cement and plaster was placed over the statue to prevent further attempts to remove it and a bot (temple hall) was built to house the statue. The statue remains half buried in the middle of the hall and is subject of great reverence by local people.
I was mesmerized with the beauty of the place and calmness of the surroundings. The whole pagoda like structure with big round temple was like a beacon of light calling me over. The statue of Buddha although quite different from the one’s that I have seen in India, was still the same radiating peace and happiness… I was moved beyond my sense of joy that crept in as I did not expect this kind of place in the middle of superficiality. I was touched by a monk calling me to come over and sit with him in mediations and we mediated for almost hours together and he took me through the paces with chanting of Buddhist Mantra….

The sense of sadness left me slowly from the last nights visit to the place that made me wonder is that all that is with humanity – running about like a headless chicken. Here I did find what I was looking for – the inner calm and the peace that I have had heard about in India about the south east Asians attachment to the Buddha and the way they arrive at their mental balance in the middle of all the chaos around them. I was slowly sinking into the inner calm when the Monk asked me to join in with him in chanting the mantra that he was chanting in a beautiful sonorous voice. I felt slowly drifting into the vast sea that surrounded the entire Island and could float into the cloud along with him. The waves far down moved with the breath of our chanting and the clouds walked under our feet in tandem… the beautiful birds soared along with us in the deep blue universe and I felt the sudden chill of the evening breeze…

Om Namah Shivaya

Sunday, July 09, 2006

9th Mantra on HI5 Mantra Yoga Group...

The days at my village has been a calming effect on me and the last day I did Chants of a great Mantra in our own ancestral Temple which my great great Grandfather made and my father created the temple structure around it. It is believed in our folklore that when Goddess Durga arrived to stay in this temple, she came like a queen in palanquin with many divine horses, elephants and Her own Lion alongside. The Durga mantra, which although very simple to pronounce but is very powerful.



OM = as explained earlier
SHRI= “SH” as in SHell
“RI” as in River

DURGAYAI = “DUR” as in DURing but sound of “D” is soft sound as in “TH” in THe
= “GA” as in GA in Garland
= “YA” as Ya
= “I” as “AI” in fAIr

NAMAH = As explained earlier

Meaning :

I bow to the Mother DURGA


DURGA ji (Ji is a sign of respect in our traditions like what we have as in Mr / Mrs but has more deeper sense of respect) is supreme divinity. She is without qualities and attributes and as such she contains all qualities and attributes. The masculine qualities are important but they must be balanced with the feminine principles. Masculine and feminine are but observe and reverse of the same coin. Durga represents the motherhood aspect of God which is the force or Shakti through which the divinity manifests. Durga is power. She is the protector and benefactor. According to the Hindu mythology, the Chaitanya or pure consciousness of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva were united to form the being of Mother Durga. She is commonly pictured as riding a Lion and having eight arms with which she carries flowers and weapons of protection and gives the gesture of blessing.

The chanting of above mantra will give one peace, protection, wealth and happiness in very short time as her nature of mother is of divine grace and Her grace is easily obtained.


As explained earlier one has to become calm with initial process of sitting in lotus position or comfortably in the corner which was used for chanting daily. With incense stick, lighted lamps and flowers to make the mind get more attuned to the chanting. Pranayam if possible or breath control as explained earlier.

With the sound of OM take the breath up from the heart chakra with a golden sphere of light to the throat chakra and then with SHRI one has to take the breath and light further upwards to the ajna chakra at middle of the brow. With DURGYAI one has to take the breath and the thought of divine grace to the crown Chakra and feel the light “GOLD” filling up the mind. With NAMAH This Golden Orb of light to be brought to the heart chakra along with exhalations of breath.

With the sound of OM again the Golden sphere of light has to be taken upwards as above process.

This Mantra should be repeated at least 11 times a day or if possible 108 times.

This mantra in my personal experience too has given me lot of confidence and peace of mind and has removed many obstacles and knots in my own life and made me more calmer and happier.

Om Namah Shivaya

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Day Six... VIsit to Lord Buddha's Maha Nirvana Site

Today I am on way to the Kushi Nagar where Lord Buddha attained his Nirvana.

It was in Kushinagar, that Lord Buddha breathed his last with the last words, "Behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, decay is inherent in all component things ! Work for your salvation with diligence." The Mahaparnirvana Temple dedicated to the aforesaid event, stands amidst a serene grove of Sal trees. The huge statue of the reclining Buddha, excavated in 1876 at the temple, is one of the most momentous of all sights for the devout..

Known earlier as Kushinara, now Kasaya, Kushinagar is one of the most sacred sites for the Buddhists. It was here that Lord Buddha is said to have attained 'Mahaparnirvana', the freedom from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth at Kushinagar. At the time of the great event, kushinara was an insignificant settlement, a part of the Malla Kingdom.

Kushi Nagar is an archaeological site, significant for its close proximity with the life of Lord Buddha. So far, at least ten monasteries have been discovered. The Mukutabandhana Stupa, which was built to hold the Buddha’s cremated remains is considered of great sanctity. There is also a large reclining stone figure of the Buddha. The original image was made in Mathura and brought to Kushinagar by Haribala, a monk who lived in the time of king Kumargupta (AD 413-455). Although, the original image was destroyed, it was restored in the last century.

The place is about 40 KMs away from my village and the road is lined by majestic trees and the weather is cloudy which makes me feel good. I pass along the rice fields and many canals that criss cross the eastern UP which made me long to get down and play in the water the way I used to do long life time ago. How one grows fond of things that one has enjoyed in childhood. Along the way I passed one very rickety old bridge across a small river and found many wahsermen washing clothes upon its banks. The water is muddy and still has many children playing along its banks. All full of joy and fun. The town has an old world charm about it and the people seen all unaware of the importance of this town which has a major presence in all the Asian countries where Buddhism flourished. The Buddha who had succeeded in giving the peasants a freedom from the Vedic rituals and idol worship by giving them a way to attain peace in this life itself by Dhyan and Tantra mediation in the local language by discarding the Brahminical tendency of limiting to Sanskrit of all Vedic teachings. But how ironic it is to see, the people resorting to Idol worship of Lord Buddha Himself, who abhorred the idea of idol worship. But I feel that its for common people necessary to resort of focus ones simple mind to an image/ idol or of a character and its just a tool to attain enlightenment.

The place where Buddha finally rested has a beautiful garden and in the sanctorum I find the amazing statue of Buddha sleeping. I had visited this place many times earlier but this time it seemed to come alive to me. I felt the calmness that was spread over the serene face of Buddha and it enveloped me too. I went around the sleeping figure in reverence with bowed head and thinking of the peace that surrounds the sanctorum and the inner turmoil that I have within myself. How contradicting it is? like a hot water vessel immersed in the cold waters of spiritual peace. I sat down at one side of the place directly facing the Buddha’s smiling face. As I closed my eyes I felt his energy boring inside me probing and soothing the inner turmoil. The sprinkling of his calmness started to make my bubbling inner self calmer with each breath. I felt the place grow alive with thousands of Bhikshu’s going about the place from on place of worship to another. I find so many enthusiastic younger disciples crowding around the place where Buddha will finally emerge from his simple dwellings to talk to them. I find the trees swaying in happiness and fresh breeze flowing in from all sides. The atmosphere went from serene calmness to one of happiness bubbling with the joy of the Bhikshu’s who are able to be with Lord Buddha himself.

Slowly I opened my eyes to look into the face that provided me with so much of joy and I felt Him smiling and I bowed down and looked at the Bhiskhu who was around to attend to the pilgrims. He was smiling too. I went around the reclining figure once again and touched the huge feet’s of Buddha and went out of the sanctum to have a fresh look around. The foundations of the huts and the structures are still visible and give a great sense of reality to those stories that I have read about the Buddhist movement in India.

The town of Kushi nagar also offers many newly constructed monastries all around with aids from Japan, China, Sri lanka etc. they are all so beautifully done but then they lacked the power that one simple place that remains the center of all energy of the town.

Om Namah Shivaya


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Day Five....

Most of the relatives are now in the process of catching up with each other and I have to catch up with my own tryst with Goddess Durga Ji. So early in the morning I got up and asked one of my aunts to get the temple washed by some one and I went out for a bath with the motor pump. This pump is in the field and the water comes out rushing with 7 HP motor through its 4 inch hose like a water canon. As the water thrust forced out my weariness from the previous day, I could not help thinking about those days when we have had to request our farm manager in various ways to get this started so that all of us kids can have a great fun time, splashing about in the water. Slowly a crowd of village children gathered around me and I invited them to join in the fun and as they thrashed about in the water I went back in time. After an hour or so of playing in the morning sunrise with thick jet of water gushing down on me, I came out and went to the temple. By now the temple was washed clean and the Durga Ji’s platform was glistening with water drops. I arranged all the things in order and I started Puja with all the rituals that I know of. There are many rituals of performing prayers for any particular deity but for me its just what comes to my mind at that time, I do. Making sure that its just like honoring a guest who has come to one’s house and making him/her comfortable. After an hour or so I started with the reason that I had to come. I wanted my self cleansed and wanted to chant Her name for a number of times and so I started with the morning sun still low in the east.

As the breath became calm, with Pranayaam (A breathing exercise given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra which is supposed to be very powerful for spiritual upliftment and attaining Samadhi (A state of eternal bliss))and performance of chanting with the breath and chakra, I felt my tension leaving my body. My mind started becoming slow and sluggish and the thoughts that have been running and thrashing about here and there like the children that were playing with me in the water, started get calmer. The waters constant splash started sounding more like clinging of bell and the mind started loosing its ripples in the lake of thoughts. The mula dhara (Base chakra) became red and started glowing and slowly I find it rising up wards to the navel with each round of chants. Slowly I felt it rising to the heart chakra and a blue calmness enveloped me. It pulsated with my, by now very calm and measured breath, and it expanded with each of my heart beat to envelope the whole of the environment around me. Slowly I started feeling hot in around my throat and it became unbearably hot slowly. I opened my eyes and looked around to find nothing to produce this discomfort and it was unusual and slowly I found my self feeling rather sad and I closed my eyes to let this sadness leave my inner self. I started praying again to Durga Ji and asked her for the reason but nothing was forthcoming. So I let it go and again started with my chanting. With each cycle of breath with Pranayaam I felt calmer and slowly I could achieve the depth of meditation at what I had left. My mind was calmer now and the pressures of sadness has left from deep inside.

The point between the eyes become now pressured and I could feel lot of energy glowing there in form of a flame and with each sound of mantra it started growing and glowing firmer… I was entranced in its dance form and I started loosing the control of my chants and it became slowly inaudible to even me. I felt my hairs standing on its ends and I felt my self merging in the atmosphere. I felt my chants leaving me and flying around in the temple and slowly I felt a deep sense of exhilaration rise in me and fill me up with solid gold light. I was happy and I felt like I could fly. I was then floating into the sky like riding the breeze that was enveloping me from all sides. And Slowly I came down on an ocean of white waves with blue ridge and I was skimming the surface with my hands. It all felt so new and happy that I could almost touch the happiness and suddenly I was in water and felt suffocation which at once cleared to give me a great vision of the depth of the sea. I could even see the bottom of the sea as it was unusually lighted from all sides… I was wondering what was happening then suddenly I found my self in front of my own temple in the whole far corners of the sea glowing red with energy and I went down inside to bow before Durga Ji and then I heard the sound again of the Mantra that was given to me some ages ago as mentioned in this blog some years back. I was thrilled and prostrated before Durga Ji in form of the platform in the temple which was shining like a orange cube. I touched my head to one of its edge and felt the soft warmth of the edge and opened my eyes.

I was still in my temple and the place around me has become active unlike the morning calm when I had started the chanting. It was mid day and I found one of my cousin coming towards me to ask for lunch. I was very light hearted and I felt the spring in my feet’s and found my strength again of happiness.

After lunch I came back again to complete the chanting and I was able to finish the same by the night fall and I was very happy in the sense of achieving something that I had promised my self to do this time in my village.

It’s a very powerful mantra that I have been given by my esoteric Guru at the time of my initiation into the spiritual fold. He had told me that by chanting this mantra one can actually get friendship, avoid pitfalls and disease, and be secure and happy in life. I wanted to do this chant at this temple for many years and now that I have done this I was thinking of putting this chant on my group “Mantra Yoga” which I have been promising my friends since long time. I think now I will be putting it up in my group as well as here once I finish the last day of my visit to the village. i.e tomorrow.

Om Namah Shivaya


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day Four......

Today is the final day of my father’s Kaam and Kriya (This is the main ritual which usually on 13th Day, the departed soul is given a farewell which is usually accompanied by things that he may use in the next life or what he used to like in this. The pyramids are the most famous example of this ritual). The day for me started with my visit to neighboring villages for invitation for the feast after the ceremony in the evening.

My village is surrounded by many pockets of thatched houses. Each one has its individuality and most of them are based on the ancient caste system that we have in India. One of them is Lala Tola (The houses of Vaisya – The people who do commercial activities. This also housed our washermen and people who are related to the field activities like sowing and tilling. To reach this village we had to go along the canal and that brought me back a rush of memories. I remember the times when in childhood I used to go to the local school. How many times our farm manager had to literally threaten me of throwing into this canal if I don’t go to school. I never was interested in going to the school which looked so drab to me compared to so many activities that were very much inviting in the mango grove, the fields and the river. Along the way I came across many people whom I used to know from the ancient times. One of the women was surprised to see us and commented why we have left the village and never looked back. Telling her, that we have been coming here every once in a while was no use as she was one lady who used to care for me and my mother many a times and took care of my like a nurse in early childhood. Its so humbling going to each house and talking to them and inviting for the ceremonial feast as they after seeing us came out scampering from the hut some times in reverence which is due to our status in the village some time in respect of our being brahimns. I found most of them in need of basic amenities and felt sad by their plight but then I looked at their faces and that made me see the inner peace that they have is lacking in most of the people in the urban cities.

On the way I passed a very old pipul tree which is very old and huge canopy which almost covered the entire road as well as the field behind it. I used to get scared on this tree in the nights when winds used to blow and shake every branch and leaves. I remember the time when in the middle of the summer afternoon bunch of us armed with ropes and a wooden plank went to this tree to put up a swing. As I was the kid in the group adept at climbing trees was allotted the job of going up the tree and reach the overhanging branch that was higher to reach from the ground and put the rope across. As I was walking on the branch and doing a balancing act with my hands outstretched I felt a gentle tap on my left shoulder and a sound which made my hairs stand on its ends. I looked around and found no one besides me on the branch and still could feel the ringing voice asking me to get down son and do not disturb, Baba is sleeping now. I scampered down and ran away from the place along with many of friends came after me asking what happened but I did not have the courage to stay and explaing them. I still hear the sound some times and now as I pass under this old pipul tree, I find it very peaceful. We have always believed in the village that this tree houses the Lord BRAHMA called in local dialect BARAM BABA and that was the day I felt his presence and today I feel it in looking at the base of tree where many people have left things, sacred thread is running across the girth of the tree which is a sign of being a Brahmin. I felt the urge to sit down here and I asked my cousin and younger brother to wait for a while. After some time my younger brother got up to go to the fields edge and I suddenly asked him not to go there but move a little bit on the right and stay there. Suddenly he shrieked and jumped up. We all ran towards him while he started telling us about a huge cobra passing by. I felt the presence of Lord Shiva that moment and silently prayed to Him and realized that He has just blessed us and my father is happy being there in his abode. With a joy in my heart I strted to go to our house.

By the time I came back, the whole process of ceremony has started. The priests from many places have reached and the chanting of mantra has been started. My elder brother was sitting with many pots all around him marking many things that will be needed on the journey. There was on one side the a cot one which full bed was ceremoniously decorated and on its sides many house hold items including cooking vessels and daily use of clothes were placed. On one end, chair was bedecked with silk and ornaments on which a huge picture of my father was kept. Slowly the chanting grew up in volume and the priests asked us to go and get our mother. With my mother many of the local women folk came out in a group and our ladies walked in beside her. The whole atmosphere just turned from spiritual color to one of sadness and many of the relatives who have come to this place from far off places in India and abroad felt the pain of my mother. The idea was to let the people close to my father pay their farewell and finally let him go.

After the ceremony was over all our elderly relative joined in the ceremony of placing headgear to my elder brother which basically means that he now takes over from my father as the head of the family. As ours is a joint family with all five of our brithers living together, the relatives and all of us acknowledged my elder brither as the head of the family which makes it easier for some of the common decisions to be taken easily and the transition is smooth.

The evening saw thousands of village folks gathering from all around to join in the feast and make show their respect to the departed soul. As per custom, all brothers joined in to serve to the village folks starting with the Brahmins who have had performed the last rites.

Slowly the rush of the people trickled down and the night brought in a sense of sadness descended on me. I was feeling lonely and depressed so I walked into the temple and sat down to mediate. The Bhagwati mantra started slowly engulfing me and I felt the presence of many of the people in the temple. My grand father in his attire of pure white looked so peaceful and many of my uncle’s specially joined in. I felt the presence of my Maternal grandfather who was believed to be so close to Durga ji that many people said that he talked to her most of the times. It felt soothing and I relaxed and let my mind wander among the stars.

Om Namah Shivaya Virtual