Archive for August 17th, 2008

Last speech of Shri Raghavendra Swami

Shri Raghavendra Swamy Picture at my house.

Shri Raghavendra Swamy Picture at my house.

The photo of Rayaru you are seeing above, was given to me by the couple who managed the Rayara Mutta we had in Bijapur, near water tank. I used to go there every Thursday before driving to my College. When my father informed them that my marriage was fixed and gave them the first wedding card in 1991, the couple who managed the matta, gave this photo to me as a blessing and told me that they would miss me seeing there in the Matta every Thursday morning.

Rayaru has traveled with me all over the world, and now Rayaru is in my Pooja Room in Burtonsville, MD.

Isn’t it so appropriate that I am posting the last speech of Shri Raghavendra Swamy during his aaradhane? I received an email a couple of years back, which had this speech. So, here comes the contents of the same:

The day that Raghavendra Swami had chosen to enter Brindavan (Virodhikruth Samvatsara, Shravana Masa, krishna paksha, Dvitiya : 1671 A.D.) had come. Thousands of people had congregated there, hearing that Raghavendra Swami would enter Brindavan.

The crowd contained devotees as well as doubters. Some people had come just to make fun of what was going on. The devotees were filled with anxiety; they didn’t want their revered Guru to leave them. There were also people who were merely curious, just to see what would happen-although Sri Vadiraja Tirtha had entered the brindavan in the same manner, alive, in the year 1600 A.D, there were few who had witnessed that. Those who had only heard about it were greatly curious to see such a miracle with their own eyes.

Sri Raghavendra, as was his daily practice, got up before dawn meditating on Sri Hari and finished his bath during the early hours itself. After his japa and dhyana he conducted the morning discourse. His disciples were in deep sorrow at the thought that this was going to be their master’s last discourse. Their master was filled with an overwhelming desire to teach as much as possible and the disciples were anxious and eager to absorb everything. The subject matter was as usual Srimadacharya’s Bhashya and Sri Jayatirtha’s commentary for it.
That day’s discourse was the culmination of his life’s mission. For the thousands that had gathered there the realization that such a treasure-house of knowledge would leave them forever filled them with pain and agony. The discourse came to an end. After bathing once again, he started the puja of Sri Rama and other icons of the samsthan. After going through all the details of the puja he blessed the entire gathering with tirtha, prasad and phalamantrakshata. As the appointed time was nearing he went to the spot that was already chosen and sat in padmasan. He had his japa mala in his right hand and in front of him were all the moola granthas, sarva moola, tikas and tippanis on the vyasa peetha. For a while he was lost in contemplation; then Sri Raghavendra started his soul-stirring speech.

“Hereafter I will disappear from your sight. The Lord who sent me to you has Himself ordered me to return to Him today. I have completed His task. Everyone has to obey His orders – coming here and returning when He calls us back. You need not feel sad that I am leaving you. The moola granthas, sarva moola and their commentaries will be your guiding light. Never give up their study under a worthy master. The Lord has blessed us with this priceless life just to study them. The shastras have an answer for all our mundane problems. Follow the shastras and listen to the words of the enlightened. Put into practice as much as you can whatever you learn. The shastraic way of life is the royal road to peace, prosperity and happiness.

The search for knowledge is never easy. As the Upanishads say it is like walking on the razor’s edge. But for those who have strong faith and put in sustained effort and have the blessings of Sri Hari and Sri Madhvacharya, this is not difficult. Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Srimadacharya. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only witchcraft. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them.

The Lord is full of auspicious qualities and absolutely faultless. There is no virtue that does not exist in Him. He is the Lord of Ramaa, Brahma and all other devathas at all times and in all ways. His form is beyond prakrithi (nature). His body is made up of jnana and ananda. He is omnipresent and omniscient. All the jivas are subservient to Him. Mahalaksmi who is ever liberated is His consort. All jivas (souls) are not equal. There is gradation amongst them and they are of three types. Whatever state they attain finally is in keeping with their intrinsic nature. The sattvik souls attain moksha which is a state of eternal bliss. The tamasic souls attain eternal hell where there is all pervading darkness. This is a state of eternal sorrow. The rajasic souls keep rotating in samsara always, experiencing both happiness and sorrow. The shastras declare such a three fold classification and gradation of souls. It can be seen everywhere in this world. There are several schools of philosophy which go against these tenets and declare that there is no God, no dharma, this world is false; there is nothing but void; the jivas and Brahma are the same; there is no three fold classification or gradation, all the jivas are equal to Brahma, the Vedas are not true, Brahman is nirguna (attribute less), nirakara (formless). None of these philosophies are correct. The world that we see is real; this world has a master; he is neither nirguna nornirakara. The shastras declare Him to be nirguna and nirakara because He is devoid of the three qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas (unlike us). For the suffering soul. His grace is the only means to attain salvation which is eternal bliss. Those who forsake Him will never be truly happy.

Without right living, right thinking will never come. Right living is performing one’s ordained duties according to one’s station in life without hankering after the fruits of the actions and on the other hand offeringall one’s activities to the Lord. This is real sadachara (right living). This is real karma yoga. Another facet of right living is performing right rituals and observing fasts. Fasting on ekadashi and krishnashtami is compulsory for everyone. Both men and women belonging to all walks of life have to observe this. Those who give up this will always have the doors of the Lord’s home closed. This is what the shastras declare. Observance of chaturmasya vrata is another compulsory mode of worship. Along with this, vishnupanchaka and other vaishnava vratas can be performed according to one’s capacity. The main goal of all such vratas is to earn His grace and love.

One should always be careful never to harm or hurt another. Philosophical thought is very necessary for the soul’s growth. Without philosophical thought we can not arrive at the right conclusions. But let there be no personal enmity. Social work done for the good of worthy people should also be considered as the Lord’s worship. In short our life itself is a worship.Every action is a puja. This life is precious. Every second of our life is precious. Not even a second that has gone will come back. Listening to the right shastras and always remembering Him is the highest duty. Without this life becomes meaningless. Have devotion to the Lord. This devotion should never be blind faith. Accepting the Lord’s supremacy wholeheartedly is true devotion. Blind faith is not devotion. It is only stupidity. We should have devotion, not only for the Lord, but also for all other deities and preceptors in keeping with their status. In short having devotion to those above us, goodwill amongst those who are our equals and having affection for those who are below us are the excellent values of life. Anybody who approaches you should not go heavy at heart or empty handed. Spirituality can never exist without social grace. And social life without spirituality is no life at all. Spirituality never denies any virtue. But always remember that the Lord is the home of all values. The world does not exist for our sole pleasure and enjoyment. The thought that we are here for the good of the world is real spirituality. While incorporating right thinking and right values in our life we should also make it a habit to give up wrong values and wrong thinking. If we do not fight against them it amounts to approving them. But such disapproval should never turn to cruelty. It should be within the limits of justice. The outstanding feature of this should be love for truth and not personal hatred.

This is our philosophy. This is Srimadacharya’a philosophy. This is the philosophy all the shastras proclaim. This is the philosophy that kings and sages like Janaka and Sanaka believed and followed. The Lord’s devotees like Dhruva and Prahlada incorporated this philosophy in their lives. Those who believe and live by this philosophy will never come to any harm is the assurance of the Lord.Being God’s devotees you should honour and respect His devotees. Help as much as you can those who seek your aid. But always remember your duties. Offer all your actions to the Lord and never hanker after temporal gains. All actions performed with a selfish motive is like milk turned sour. There can be no higher motive than the motive to please God and the motive of earning jnana (right knowledge). But giving up all actions and following unworthy methods is like taking poison which will destroy us completely. It was Srimadacharya who preached this wonderful philosophy. The same Vayu who manifested as Hanumantha to serve Lord Sri Rama and as Bhimasena to serve Lord Sri Krishna also manifested as Srimadacharya and preached this philosophy. This was his service to Lord Sri Vedavyasa. His life, like his works was philosophy itself.

Now I take leave of you. Though I will not be with you in person my presence will be in my works and in my brindavan. You can serve me best by propagating, studying, preserving and listening to my works. My blessings to you.”

The message of the master gave new light to all the people gathered there. He had revealed to them the secret of his philosophy which he believed in, the philosophy which he preached and the philosophy by which he lived all his life. But the pain of separation made them forget the happiness that his message gave them. As they were hearing his sermon, they realized that he was a true jnani, a yogi, a scholar and a radiant monk possessing a soft and compassionate heart. Fear of displeasing him was the only reason why they held back their tears.

After this Sri Raghavendra began reciting the pranava mantra. In a very short time he was lost in meditation. He reached the highest point in mediation. His face was serene. He was shining with a rare brilliance. All the learned people who had gathered there were reminded of the sloka from the Bhagavad Gita :

omityekaksharaM brahma vyaaharan.h maamanusmaran.h
yaha prayaathi tyajan.h dehaM sa yaathi paramaaM gathim.h

At one stage the japamala in the master’s hand became still. Venkanna and other disciples who understood this sign started arranging the slabs around him. They arranged the slabs up to his head and then, as per his earlier instructions, they placed a copper box containing 1200 Lakshminarayana saligramas that had been specially brought from Gandaki river. Then they placed the covering slab over it and filled it with earth. They poured twelve thousand varahas (abhisheka) over the brindavan that they had built.

Appanacharya was very close to Raghavendra Swami. At the time that Raghavendra Swami entered Brindavan, he was on the other side of the river Tungabhadra. Appanacharya wanted to be with his revered guru, but the river was flooding. He jumped into the Tungabhadra, singing Sri Poornabhodha stotra, realizing that if Raghavendra Swami could lead him across the ocean of samsara, a mere river could not hold him back. And he did cross the river safely, only to see that Raghavendra Swami had already entered Brindavan. Appanacharya was in such a profound state of grief, that he could not finish the stotra he had started to compose-it was missing 7 aksharas. These final 7 aksharas came from inside the Brindavan. Not only did this show that Appanacharya’s Sri Poornabhodha had Raghavendra Swami’s approval, but it also showed that Raghavendra Swami was still with them. This was the first miracle he showed after entering Brindavan, and even today miracles happen to people who go to Mantralaya Brindavan to seek his blessings.

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