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Appaji's Speech on Ati Rudra Yaga

Photo Credit: Avadhoota Datta Peetham

Message on Day 11 of Ati Rudra Yaga in Kasi, November 24, 2019 Morning

śrī mahāganapate namaḥ śrī sarasvatyai namaḥ śrī pādavallabha narasimha sarasvati śrī guru dattātreyāya namaḥ

om namaḥ śivāya om nam namaḥ śivāya om mam namaḥ śivāya om śim namaḥ śivāya om vam namaḥ śivāya om yam namaḥ śivāya om namaḥ śivāya śankara nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

Today marks the completion of this event and the beginning of the next. The previous sankalpam is now fulfilled and the next one starts. We resolved on this most wonderful Atirudra Yaga in this holy city of Kashi, at Kedar Ghat, in the presence of Lord Shiva, Mother Goddess, Lord Kala Bhairava, Goddess Visalakshi, Goddess Annapurna. This Yaga is not one devotee's sankalpa. It is the sankalpa of thousands of devotees. It is especially significant that we conducted this Yaga in a holy place. This is not a child’s play. Performing this Yaga at home or in the cities is one thing. But worshiping and meditating on the Lord in His womb (in the core of Kashi), in His presence is extraordinary. I prayed to all the deities here with body, mind, speech and all sense organs that you be forgiven for the sins you committed intentionally or unintentionally. I do not need to do it for myself; the Lord is always in me. But many of you do not seek forgiveness. You may not even know how to. Therefore, I prostrated to the Lord on your behalf. Going forward practice doing one prostration (Sashtanga Namaskaram) to the Lord. In Sashtanga, the eight limbs of the body come in contact with the earth. You can learn what those parts of the body are in Yoga class. Sashtanga implies “with the 8 parts of the body”. The Guru Gita too states that when the eight parts of the body touch the ground in prostration, the Lord gives us everything we ask for. Do not be ashamed or get out of breath in offering prostration.

Everyone is happy on the occasion of Atirudra Yaga completion. I see the glow of Mother Goddess Visalakshi in everyone’s faces. When Lord Shiva returned to Kashi, all deities were ecstatic. Seeing Lord Shiva's happiness, Mother Goddess Visalakshi opened her eyes really wide in surprise. Sometimes you too are surprised seeing Pujya Swamiji’s joy or anger. You wonder where all this anger was hidden. If you want to see Lord Shiva, come to Kashi. The Lord is in every element of Kashi. There are millions of particles in one fistful of sand. Each particle is Lord Shiva. Even when you break down a particle of sand a million times, it may be invisible, but there is still a particle there. Science also agrees. Lord Shiva is in it. Vertically slice a strand of hair one thousand times. Lord Shiva is even in the one thousandth strand. You may not be able to see the strand with your naked eye, not even with a magnifying glass. But you can see it with your mind. The Lord too can be felt with the mind. The mind is a big magnifying glass. The individual being (jeevatma) comprehends the Paramatman and experiences it within. Can you see the one thousandth fragment of the sand particle or the hair? No. Yet, it exists. You cannot deny its existence. Science too says it is there, even though the naked eye cannot see it. Experiencing that Paramatman is the essence of the namaḥ śivāya mantra. Let every element in your body chant the mantra with you.

To reach the Lord, we need to go beyond even Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. How can we do that? With the mind and with Yoga. According to the philosophy of Veda Agama (rituals based), we invoke life in a metal pitcher (kalasha). We offer worship as well as all our joys and sorrows to the Lord. We try to learn about Him through Pranayama. The Lord’s idols teach us restraint. That is why, when we go to the shrine, we close our eyes when we see the idol. When we have Darshan of Lord Kashi Viswanatha, we close our eyes. After standing in the queue for 4-5 hours in Tirupati, we close our eyes when we see the Lord’s idol. We do that because we are trying to see the Lord with the mind. When we try to experience the Lord with our sense organs, we end up only jostling in the crowds, pushing, spilling the milk and curd we bring for Abhishekam etc. That does not give you devotion. It will only frustrate you. It is only after you are crushed in the stampede, pickpocketed, had milk and curds spilled on your head that you will realize God in your heart and that you did not need to go through all that trouble. Until then, you do not realize it. That is why, to realize that God is in you, you should go on pilgrimages and visit temples. If you are told in the beginning that God is in your heart, you will not listen. But once you get pushed and jostled in the temple, you will believe God is in your heart and you did not need to go through all the trouble. Regardless of how much money you pay for Darshan, you will only get two minutes to see the Lord’s form in the shrine. You pay money and get pushed around to see the Lord with your sense organs, but eventually you concede that God is in your heart. In seeing the Manidweepa, one encounters many obstacles in the form of ghosts, evil spirits etc. With persistence, one finally sees Manidweepa in the subtle mind. Despite the fact that everyone else in the temple is a devotee of the Lord, there is so much pushing, mess and chaos. No one is chanting om namaḥ śivāya. Everyone is shouting and pushing. You are worried about family members that may have been lost in the crowd. More often than not, visiting a temple is a check mark – “I have been to the temple and have had Darshan”. There are instances when it is peaceful in temple – usually early in the morning or at night. Or, if you want more peace, close your eyes and see the Lord within yourself.

So, what is Pujya Swamiji’s message? To restrain the mind and the sense organs, we must go on pilgrimages. We adapt to all kinds of situations. Some of the devotees stayed in five different rooms on five days. They paid Rs. 2000 for a Rs. 300 room due to the increased demand. You had cold water baths, had your morning coffee at noon, adjusted in crammed spaces and had meals at irregular hours.

Also offer worship with your sense organs. Why do you have a tongue? To sing his glories. Ears? To listen to his glories. Nose? To enjoy the fragrance of the flowers offered to the Lord. We have this body to make circumambulations to the temple. Let us chant the divine names. Let us listen to the divine names. Have you ever sat down and listened to such divine mantras (Atirudra Yaga mantras) anywhere else? You are now, in Kashi. You may have heard small portions of such mantras in the Ashram. But the entire Vedanta is now in the mantras you are hearing. The subtle mantras you all heard enable communication with the Lord, “Who are you? Who am I?” Many of you are also chanting the mantras. Many women are also chanting the Rudram. Next time, you can chant along too. There is a well-known story about the untouchable who was denied the Vedas who later became a Vedantist. So why should we not chant? The Ashram girls have picked up the Purnahuti and Pradakshina mantras just listening to them. You can all chant. We are all very lucky to listen to mantras of Atirudra Yaga.

We are all gathered for such a great Yaga. This is not a trivial matter. You all came here for Swamiji out of love and devotion. Swamiji has given you such training. In Varanasi, people are talking about how disciplined you devotees are. Some devotees say they do not want to return from Kashi. They want to rent a room and stay here forever. That transformation is good. That is why, one must certainly go on pilgrimages. God teaches charitable nature during pilgrimages. God teaches us lessons step by step. This is our good fortune. There are so many people from the Telugu speaking states, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra as well as foreign countries. The representatives from all these states are here participating in the Yaga. People came from Jammu and Kashmir and the military too. We are all traveling in one boat. It is the boat of Atirudra Yaga.

(Swamiji and the devotees sing the bhajan Naav chal padi…)

Our boat is traveling so beautifully. We benefit so much from Satsang. I talked about how pilgrimages give us a sacrificing nature. Second, our charitable nature improves. Third, we learn peace and patience. You all usually sit on sofas at home. But here you are sitting on the floor for six to nine hours a day. That devotion is great. Sacrifice with body, mind and speech. Offer the nine types of devotion to the Lord. We came to the world with empty hands and we leave with empty hands. We have so much drama in between. There is always disease and disagreement. That is why with Satsang, train and strengthen the mind. With Satsang, we learn lessons that teach us non-attachment (nissanga). We then progress towards freedom from delusion (nirmoha), and then steadfastness (nischala tattva). Finally, we get liberation (jeevan mukti). That is the greatness of Satsang. We have all come running from so far out of love and devotion towards Guru and God. You fought and struggled your way here whether you took a train or a flight to arrive in Kashi. This is the time children have examinations in schools. You left that behind too, to come here. May Lord Vishweshwara bless your family and friends and even coworkers. The Krish Raman family has sponsored this. All of you have gained the fruit. All the fruit, all merit and all senses, all devotion has been submitted at the Lord's feet.

Pray to God to give you Jnana – supreme knowledge. Do not always keep asking for money. First, pray for knowledge, then health and then if you have time, pray for money. We are doing the opposite. We are first seeking money. Once we get money, we ask for health if possible. You postpone jnana for after retirement. Do you know when you will retire? Your life can be switched off at anytime. This computer is in His hands. I pray that the Lord excuse all your mistakes and give you good Jnana and devotion to Guru.

We will all take Kashi home with us. It is enough to say you are heading out to Kasi, you get the benefit of going to Kasi. Lord Siva gave us the energy to participate in this eleven-day event.

Courtesy: Dattavani

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