Wednesday 22 June 2011

Tantra in daily life (Part 8)


Those were days when I was studying 8th or 9th standard in school. I remember a Sunday morning when I woke up, jumped out of bed and ran sleepy eyed and groggy to the drawing room, to grab Indian Express before my father or anybody else at home laid there hands on the copy.
My classmate had to remind me many times the previous day (Saturdays were always half-a-days at school) to go through Peter Vidal's weekly forecast ( looking animated, she told me fervently in true schoolgirl spirit,"don't forget to read Peter Vidal's column in Indian Express ya, it is soooooooo true ya!! EVERYTHING he writes comes true, it is like magic ya!! Surely it will come true even for you ya!!). Even though I had my own doubts, I was curious as hell, I replied, "Yes ya!!"
My heart beating fast I scanned the magazine section hoping to find fairy tale stuff for Scorpios. I still remember how let down I felt when I read what was predicted for Scorpios. The forecast was all about repairs of old pipelines being a grand success that week and also a possible visit to the doctor towards mid-week. So much for my friend's great recommendation!I prayed fervently to God that the prediction should not come true, till date I hate going to the doctor and old or new,pipelines simply do not exist in my world!
The next day in school I had a tiff with my classmate about Peter Vidal. "All lies, I don't believe his prediction ya!" Looking very hurt she replied ardently, "No ya, even this week what he wrote about me came true!"
"Maybe he hates Scorpios!" I said heatedly.
"Nothing of that sort ya! Even for me the first few weeks nothing came true ya, after 3 or 4 weeks everything he said started coming true, as though he is writing only for my sake, it is like magic!"
"Don't tell me for you Librans he writes all about chocolate houses and picnics to great places and only for Scorpios he predicts old pipeline repairs!"
Wide eyed she replied, "No ya, once he wrote that I would meet with an accident. I was very careful and alert while walking on the road, but you know what?! I slipped and fell in my bathroom!"
"Really!!" fascinated, I decided to wait patiently for his predictions about Scorpios to come true.
The predictions for the following 2 to 3 weeks had no effect on my routine life but my interest in reading Peter Vidal's forecast stuck on and I continued to read his star forecast every Sunday without fail.
Around the 4th Sunday it suddenly struck me that the previous week went on just as Peter Vidal had predicted. Instantly alerted, I went through the star forecast for the following week with renewed interest. While reading the forecast I had a strong hunch that the prediction was going to come true the forthcoming week and Voila- the week turned out to be as predicted!
Gradually the weekly predictions, if not all of them, atleast most of them shaped into reality for me and I became a dedicated follower of Peter Vidal.
Somewhere along the line I lost touch with his columns but coming to think of the whole thing I firmly believe that there has to be a certain mechanism behind the manifestation of something as mundane as general forecast of sun signs. Only natal horoscope charts of individuals contain intricate dimensions of his/her nature, personality and events related to past, present and future of the native. Whereas a general forecast is based on mere sun signs and every sun sign relates to zillions of natives around the world and for the entire world to go through only 12 kinds (based on 12 sun signs)of events or circumstances every week is ridiculous if not bizarre!
The secret behind the materialization of a star forecast:- Those natives for whom the predictions fail are mostly the ones who are not reading the astrologer's columns!An avid follower of forecast columns is usually optimistic or wants solutions to his/her problems.
Therefore, those who go through the forecast are wishing/hoping/praying for the predictions to come true or bear fruit. Fervent hope and belief in the prediction are the driving forces behind its manifestation!
Our thoughts and beliefs are our lives. Instead of allowing somebody else to shape our lives according to their forecast,we could very well write down our own forecast. Just pen your dreams, desires and ambitions, with as much colour as you want. Believe in what you write! Let the writings be in present tense! They may sound like affirmations, no harm!
Maybe the first 2 or 3 weeks nothing may happen, but watch from the 4th week onwards- as accurate as Peter Vidal's forecast and just as my classmate said, it will be MAGIC ya!!
(To be continued.....)

Saturday 18 June 2011

Sri Venkatachala Mahathyam (wedding chapter 148-156)

Lord Agni Deva who cooked the feast for the Lord's wedding

(Continued from June 4th, 2010 posting)

148)Ithi Devasya Vaakyaani Prashashamsurmaharshyaha!
Thadhaa Cha Kruthavaan Jaathavedaahaa Vedavishaaradhaha!!

Meaning:
The sages and monks in the gathering were pleased by the Lord's instructions. The learned Vedic scholar that He was, Agnihothra carried out the Lord's wishes.

149)Evam Vichithrakarmaani Harervaikunthavaasinaha!
Yugaanusaarinasthasya Thadbhuthavidambanam!!

Meaning:
It was fascinating to witness the Lord who resides in Vaikuntha, The One who reincarnates as the celebrated Forms according to "yugas" ( name of an 'epoch' or 'era' consisting of four yugas namely, 'Sathya Yuga", 'Threthaa Yuga', 'Daapara Yuga' and 'Kali Yuga') behaving like a human being!

150)Achinthyam Devathaakaaryam Avaangmanasagocharam!
Agnihi:-
Dadhyodanathilaanne Cha Paramaannam Madhusravam!!

Meaning:
The words and deeds of God are beyond human mind or speech!
Afterwards, Agnihothra went ahead and prepared curd rice, rice mixed with sesame seeds, and sweet rice kheer dripping of honey.

151)Maashaapoopaahaa Gudaapoopaahaa Shaakadvaya Mathaha Param!
Sarvam Supakvathaam Neetham Thvathprasaadeyna Keshava!!

Meaning:
Snacks made of Urad Dhal, sweet pancakes made of jaggery, two varieties of vegetable curries have been prepared due to the Grace of Thee!!

152)Amanthraya Dvijendraamscha Suraanapi Muneenapi!
Agnivaaneem Samaakarnya Sreenivaaso Niraamayaha!!

Meaning:
...So please invite the learned brahmins, Devaas and sages' and Lord Sreenivasa felt pacified and to invite them....

153)Sampreshayachchivasutham Shanmukham Midhileshwara!
SREE SESHAADRAUKASHYAPAADIBHYO BRAHMAADIKRUTHOPACHAARAPRAKAARAHA
Sajagaamaathiveygeyna Japathognipraayanaan!!

Meaning:
The Lord called out to Janaka Maharaja to summon Lord Shanmukha, son of Lord Shiva.
ON SESHAACHALAA LORD BRAHMA WAS PAYING OBEISANCE TO SAGE KASHYAPA.
Lord Shanmukha rushed towards in their direction and hastened Lord Brahma, Sage Kashyapa and the pit of fire (agnihothra) surrounded by mantra-chanting...

154)Braahmanaan Vedavidushaha Aajuhaava Janaadhipa!
Paaka Ssampoornathaam Uththishtatha Suradijaaha!!

Meaning:
Learned brahmin scholars who are the best among twice born, noble personages! Please be kind enough to grace the luncheon, the food is ready!!

155)Ithi Thena Samaahoothaahaa Kashyapaathripurogamaaha!
Devaashcha Nikatam Thasya Paakasthaanasya Bhejirey!!

Meaning:
On receiving the invitation, Sage Kashyapa and Sage Athri in the company of other learned sages and Devaas rushed towards he dining hall.

156)Vibhajya Thathra Vidhivath Paathrabhoothaan Prudhak Prudhak!
Panktheeshcha Kaarayithvaadha Thaarathamyaanusaarathaha!!

Meaning:
Lord Shiva who was assigned the duty of attending to the guests, seated them in different groups according to their ranks.

(To be continued....)

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Khatir Se Hardum, Naam Raam Se/Bhakta Ramadasu





Music direction by my father, late Sri.G.Aswathama and sung by late Sri.Mohammed Rafi.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Subbalakshmi Sathyanand's Veena Recital

http://www.swaralahari.org/site/playvideo.php?concertid=165

Tantra in daily life (Part 7)

Tripura Bhairavi:-Hormonal balance in females, cure of problems related to menopause, courage and ability to cross hurdles and defeat of enemies.(She is the matured and tougher form of Tripurasundari, in whom menstruation has stopped completely. She is fierce and She is the Supreme Goddess who creates, sustains and at the same time destroys the manifested world.)
Raga Bhairavi in all its sublime melody represents Tripura Bhairavi.





Tripurasundari:- Beauty, charm, enhancement of feminine elegance (in male practitioners enhancement of overall charm), magnetism towards opposite sex, ability to entice people, charismatic looks /demeanour and influence in high places, contacts with royal personages.(This Red Goddess is an enchanting beauty of the Three Cities, in Her prime of youth. She is the main Goddess worshipped by Tantriks who belong to the Shaaktha tradition called as "Srividya Upasana.")
Raga Kalyani invokes Her. The delicate and delicious nuances of Kalyani epitomise and bring to life the form of Maha Tripurasundari in all Her beauty, grace and passion. Contemplation of this raga establishes contact with this Divine Beauty.





Balatripurasundari (Child form of Tripurasundari):-Brilliance, mental agility, dynamism and tremendous ease in achieving goals.(Bala is the child form of Tripurasundari and believed to be accessible and merciful to Her devotees. Her child-state makes the path easier for the practitioner to reach Her. Child that She is, She responds readily with eagerness and innocence. The best Form to worship.)

Raga Sudhdha dhanyasi cascades into Her form.

Sudhdha Saveri is the basic and general raga of all forms of Shakthi.

(To be continued.....)






Friday 10 June 2011

Jasmine Strings


SMT.SUBBALAKSHMI SATHYANAND (Strings of heavenly resonance and fragrance).

"A little girl just like you is going to play veena this evening in our sabha." Late Sri. Venkatakrishnan,President of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha told me. As a tiny tot of nine, I was fascinated.
"Oh, who is she?" I asked him curiously.
"Her name is Meduri Subbalakshmi, like you even she is from Andhra. Come to the sabha and listen to her."
As I recall,that evening I was taken to the greenroom where Subbalakshmi was sitting demurely next to her veena, the tuning of tambura and mridangam in progress. Her sparkling nose stud and clear white blouse on top of her long silk skirt remain in my memory even now. I remember wishing for curly hair like hers. She looked my age, quiet and reserved. We smiled shyly as we were introduced to each other.I found her a lot more quieter than me as I jumped all over the place uninhibitedly.
Showtime and Subbalakshmi was shown the stage and myself a seat in the front row.
Her playing took my breath away right from the start! She was a natural with veena. Her plucking and left hand technique were absolutely aesthetic and stunning! Till date I remember her Kalyani and the excellent nuances she had produced in the raga.I looked at her with new eyes, noticing the uniqueness about her.
After that we met whenever she visited Madras to perform, ate together, and spoke affectionately to each other.There was never any tension or that weird sense of alertness between us while interacting with each other as veena artistes.
We gradually lost touch and later I heard that she got married and settled well (presently known as Smt. Subbalakshmi Sathyanand). Often I would think of her wondering about her approach to veena post marriage.
I chanced upon her younger brother's (Sri.Meduri Srinivassrinivasmeduri1234@rediffmail.com ) veena recital on SVBC Channel who is an artiste of repute. His versatility and manodharma revealed that he is Subbalakshmi's brother.
I was delighted to know that Subbalakshmi is in India (right now) and it seemed like old times as we chatted endlessly on phone (just like our childhood days). During our conversation I gathered details about her approach to veena. The above clipping of Thodi bears testimony to her meditative approach to veena.
Subbalakshmi is a wonderful veena vidushi, who plays her veena as an offering to God. She told me that she played during 'Sandhya" kalam (break of dawn and dusk, the junction between sunrise/sunset and vice versa) as worship by rendering vedic prayers on veena to Lord Ganesha, and "Siva Siva", the Pantuvarali krithi of Saint Thyagaraja everyday without fail .
Subbalakshmi also practises the krithis of Saint Thyagaraja, especially the two krithis (Rama Nannu Brovara and Undedi Ramudokkadu) in Hari Kambodhi as a spiritual exercise. She told me how she focused on the 'samyoga' (union) of feeling (bhava) and expression (technique) when she rendered the divine krithis of the great saint composer on her veena. Subbalakshmi cited the instance when she had to repeat the phrase "kshemakarudu" (in "Undedi Ramudu....) on veena innumerable times until she could merge her soul and the phrase through expression (her hand technique on veena).
Just like voice, there are true and false veenas too. The purity of approach and yogic way of playing veena are detected only in the absence of amplifying gadgets attached to the instrument. The resonance of veena is partly the prana shakthi of the player. Notice Subbalakshmi's veena without gadgets and one cannot miss the golden aura of sheer veena tones, which is the tone of her inner self resonating through the veena. The naked tones of prana combined with veena nada is audible only minus amplification. It is also noteworthy that Subbalakshmi has not wasted her pranic energy through strain and demands of over-performing. Also, h
er playing has not suffered the ill effects of "drishti" from jealous and antagonistic scrutiny, mostly an occupational hazard for artistes who are constantly exposed to public gaze.
Smt.Subbalakshmi Sathyanand is also an artiste with All India Radio/Doordarshan and performs regularly.


Sunday 5 June 2011

My Father's gems from Bhakta Ramadasu







My favourite Kabir Bhajans from Bhakta Ramadasu, music direction by my late father, Sri.G.Aswathama and sung by the legendary singer, late Sri.Mohammed Rafi.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Tantra in daily life (Part 6)

Goddess Saraswathi Devi
A child sits naturally erect while playing the veena, the 'veena dandi' while the veena rests on the child's lap, comes up to his/her arm level. The child is able to run its hands across the frets of the veena without looking down and stooping, the act causing his/her spine to bend. A child between between 4-6 years of age has to reach up for the 'dandi' to be able to play the veena and a child between 6 or 7 years of age to 13 or 14 is able to handle the 'dandi' by sitting naturally erect which results in a straight spinal posture. Why is it essential to keep the spine erect while playing the veena? (Kindly refer to my earlier posts on the science of veena and meditation through veena yoga).
Adults and tall practitioners may place cushions below the 'kudam'(the dome on the right side) to raise its height to elbow level and place correspondingly more number of cushions (more number than the right side)below the 'surakkai' (the left side rest of the veena) to make the left side of the veena raise above the right side, making it look inclined. The practitioner now sits between the right and left cushions to play the veena without placing the 'surakkai' on his/her thigh. The idea is to raise the height of the veena for the comfort of the practitioner, so that he/she does not have to bend or stoop to run the hands across the frets or to pluck the strings.
Many times I thought of even sitting in "Vajrasana" (this asana is most effective in accelerating the flow of pranic energy) for playing the veena, I should try it sometime! Rudra veena is played on "Vajrasana".
Now, as the practitioner settles comfortably with a raised veena according to the length of his/her torso, he/she should now concentrate on posture.
First push back shoulders, raise the chin up and look straight ahead as you play the veena. It is absolutely necessary to sit as erect as possible for free flow of pranic energy from the muladhara to upwards. The only disadvantage in such a posture is that the player cannot look down at the frets while playing. This may cause some slips in the swaras (notes), but for an advanced practitioner it may not be difficult. It helps to practice in a dark room without the lights on. To play veena for meditation, one must play without following the movements of the left hand with one's gaze.
The practitioner need not worry about the breath patterns, the melody and purity of the music which he/she is producing becomes the breath-regulator. At a point when the practitioner is lost in the melody, suspension of breath or 'kumbhakam' which is the key factor for 'kundalini yoga'(breath retention) becomes a natural phenomenon.
To practice as stated above on an "Ekanda Veena" ( veena which is not made of separate woods and joined at the neck region but made of a single piece of wood without a joint piece at the neck region) made of pure jack fruit wood yields maximum results. The benefits are bountiful and the practitioner witnesses great changes for the better in life. The pranic force generated by such a yogic rendering of veena surpasses all the benefits derived by usage of high potency vitamins, high potency nerve related or anti-stress medication. Veena is a magical instrument if rendered as per yogic principles.

Mantras for Veena:-

For practitioners who are unable to progress in veena for whatever reasons:-

BALATRIPURASUNDARI STOTRAM:-

"Veena Vaadana Thathparaam Thrinayanaam Mandasmithaam Sanmukheem
Vaamey Paashadhanurdharaam Thu Nikarey Baanam Thathaa Dakshiney.
Paaraavaaravihaarineem Paramayeem Brahmaasaney Samsthithaam
Vande Sankatanaashineem Bhagavatheem Maathangineem Baalikaam."

TRIPURASUNDARI ASHTAKAM:-

"Kadambavanavaasineem Kanakavallakeedhaarineem
Mahaarhamanihaarineem Mukhasamullasadvaaruneem.
Dayaavibhavakaarineem Vishadarochanaachaarineem
Thrilochanakutumbineem Thripurasundareem Aashraye."

TRIPURASUNDARI MAANASAPOOJA STOTRAM:-

"Veenaamupaanthey Khalu Vaadayanthyai
Nivedya Sesham Khalu Seshikaayai
Sowarnabhrungaaravinirgatheyna
Jaleyna Shudhdhaachamanam Vidheyhi."

The Eleventh chapter of Durga Sapthasathi.

All Durga related mantras.

"Vim" is the Bheejaakshara for veena.

Best Veena Mantra:-

"AIM HREEM SHREEM NAMO BHAGAVATHYAI VIM VEENAAYAI MAMA SANGEETHA VIDYAAM PRAYACHCHA SWAAHA."

(To be continued...........)