By Pradeep Krishnan
Life is neither true, nor an illusion, but a purposeful flow towards divine evolution, says Sri Tathata in an interview with Pradeep Krishnan
|The luminous presence of Sri Tathata lights up his ashram in Palakkad|
While browsing through the book, Sri Tathata’s reply to a foreign visitor’s query, asking him when he would be able to perceive God, deeply impressed me. “If you are not able to perceive the miracle of God through a soft blade of grass coming out of this hard earth, or the whole effulgence of the mighty Sun reflecting through an innocent, delicate dew-drop, where else are you going to perceive him? Where else are you going to search for him? Which other miracle are you waiting for? Do you want him to descend as thunder and lightning?”
Years later, in March 2015, during a pilgrimage to Sri Mookambika Temple, Kollur, Karnataka, my wife and I met two German women who were on a pilgrimage to India. They revealed that they were living in the guesthouse of the Dharmapeetham, a beautiful Shiva temple consecrated by the sage, Sri Tathata, and urged us to have a firsthand experience of the unique temple and its surroundings.
Instantly, crossing the river Souparnika, we walked up to Dharmapeetham, enjoying the scenic beauty of tall trees, lovely forest flowers and shrubs. The silence of the vast temple premises, the well-laid garden and the fluttering butterflies made the place very delightful. Entering the sanctum sanctorum, we sat in front of the huge Shivalinga in contemplation for about an hour. Fully in tune with the present moment, in an instant I became cheerful and happy. To my utter surprise, several old Malayalam devotional songs, which I had heard on the radio during school days, started flowing into my mind one after the other, filling me with immense joy.
The memorable experience of that day lingered in our minds for several days and the urge to meet the sage, Sri Tathata, became deeper. Finally, we met the sage at his ashram in Palakkad on 5th December 2015, which was astonishingly the day of Sri Aurobindo’s Mahasamadhi as well as the birthday of my wife. Was it a mere coincidence? I do not know. Sri Tathata received us in his simple cottage with a warm smile. His austere manners and unassuming character put us at ease right away. Excerpts from the exclusive interview:
What is unique about your darshana?
Generally, we consider our lives to be either material or spiritual. If the former, we consider the world and the material life as the only truth; if the latter, we believe that this whole world and the life in it is a delusion, or “maya”. Ours is the middle path, which considers this manifested world and the human life in it – as neither absolutely true, nor a mere illusion – but a purposeful flow towards a divine evolution that has to happen in man, the darling of evolution. His uniqueness lies in the ability to evolve from the present state of consciousness to its ultimate possibility of Divine consciousness. Nevertheless, for this evolution to happen, he has to combine his individual free will with that of the Cosmic Will. That ought to be the aim of human life and birth so that one can live as joyously, as divinely as possible.
How can one achieve this state?
If the purpose of human birth were just to attain moksha (liberation) or to rejoin with the initial source, Brahman, there would not have been any need for this creation, or life to happen. This life is a gift from Mother Nature, given for divine enjoyment through thoughts, deeds and actions. One has the opportunity to attain divinity in all the three levels of existence of body, mind and prana. Otherwise, he will have to spend all his life or even lives in complete ignorance, chasing one momentary pleasure after another, or trying to avoid transient pains given by nature. Those who do not choose to evolve will remain stuck in the limited, selfish, individualistic consciousness, which is intrinsically violent, since it is alienated from the Whole and hence is self- and ego-centred.
However, divine transformation, which is the next logical step in man’s evolution, happens through conscious will and effort and is in tune with what nature desires for us. This process or sadhana replaces our limited, violent consciousness, with an all- embracing, non-violent consciousness.
What, according to you, is true spirituality?
We all are intrinsically spiritual and divine. Any other state is against our natural state and is but a temporary aberration. Through the practise of inner awareness, we gain clarity regarding our real purpose of life and our dharma. Dharma is the path that connects us, from where we stand now, to our ultimate goal. One’s dharma may be entirely different from the dharma of another. For example, the dharma of a naishthika brahmachari is entirely different from the dharma of a grihastha. Once one becomes aware of one’s dharma, through the practise of relentless inner awareness and right sadhana, one can co-exist lovingly and harmoniously with fellow human beings, as well as with Mother Nature. In this elevated state of all-embracing consciousness, we naturally becomes the protector of Mother Nature. And lovingly Mother Nature takes care of all one’s needs. Thus, one enjoys a joyous and peaceful life. Only in this state, can one claim to have become truly spiritual, living a life of simplicity and innocence, placing absolute trust in the love of Mother Nature for all of us.
What is your concept of God?
It is God itself who has manifested as this whole Creation. We have to search for God not outside, but for the godliness that is manifest in all of us, and all around us. God is the energy or consciousness that shines through us, in every action, and which leads us forward according to our perceptions and experiences of this Universe. We have to understand that it is God who works through us, pushing us to higher levels of awareness, through various events which we may construe as either pleasurable, or painful (in our state of limited awareness). Once we understand this, then we are able to see God and Divinity in ourselves, our perceptions, our thoughts, and in all the beings around us. If we perform action from this evolved level of choiceless acceptance and awareness, an inner state of bliss, or ananda, becomes effulgently manifest in us. This is the real God-Realisation.
Why do you stress on the importance of performing yajnas and yagas?
This whole universe and all the beings in it vibrate at a fundamental frequency of energy. Once we are able to tune in to this basic vibratory frequency, we can tap this source of energy that controls the whole of this existence. By this tuning, we can visualise, will, and work for the transformation, harmonisation and divinisation of the whole of Consciousness – not only at an individual level, but also at a collective level. Mantras, yagas and yajnas are used to tune in to this fundamental source and work in alignment with it. Nowadays, there is much disturbance in the cosmic and societal levels. It is not enough that an individual alone becomes realised through his own efforts; the whole of human consciousness must take a joint leap into the next level of Divine Consciousness. For this, channelisation of the collective will of humanity, collective actions like yagas and yajnas have become absolutely necessary.
What is the concept behind establishing the Dharmapeetha temple?
Man is the darling child of Mother Nature. Life on earth evolved from unicellular to multi-cellular organisms, then into more complex life forms such as animals, and from there to human beings. Because of millions of years of subhuman existence, mankind exists at two levels, higher and lower consciousness, or awareness. The human being is a bridge, a conduit, designed by Mother Nature, to channelise the energies connecting the lower levels of consciousness to higher levels of consciousness. But, due to lack of purity and inner awareness in life, he is unable to accomplish this anymore. In the Dharmapeetha, built in accordance with the Vedas, the dharma shakthi (power of dharma) has been consecrated in the form of a thejasthambha (pillar of light) represented by a linga (symbol of energy). It acts as a channel – connecting the higher and lower planes of consciousness – for everybody who is willing to imbibe this energy for transformation in their individual as well as social lives.
How do you view spirituality and religion?
The religions, coloured by specific cultures, are intermediaries between human beings and the ultimate Reality. The teaching of dharma by the rishis – the mystic visionaries of India – is not religion. In fact dharma is another word to qualify the “ultimate Reality.” The teaching of dharma transcends all the limitations as it opens the individual to infinite Divine Consciousness. A Moslem, a Jew or a Christian can follow dharma without denying his religion. When one practises dharma, one reaches the highest levels of consciousness. Dharma is a song written for all. There is no Indian or French dharma! Ultimate Reality has to be apprehended as whole. At this level of consciousness, all distinctions of cultures or religious belonging disappear. Dharma is one. The Ultimate Reality is one. The truth is one. The ultimate happiness is one. In that way, the teachings of the rishis are universal.
How can sadhana help in purification of oneself?
There is a great sun in the heart of every human being, which the scriptures call Atma Jyoti. This sun is our soul. The true purpose of our life is to rediscover this inner sun. When there are clouds in the sky, you cannot see the sun. Similarly, our individual soul-sun is hidden behind clouds of our desires, hungers and countless thoughts. There are also the samskaras (imprintings) inherited from our many past lives and society. We suffer because we are divided and confused. However, if the inner sun begins to shine, then our life starts to sparkle. Sadhana purifies the being on all levels: physical, pranic and mental (emotional and intellectual). Daily practice of sadhana opens the mind and allows one to receive this large amount of energy. The more the practise, the more the progress and support from masters. The more you experience, the more you evolve and the more you will help the world.
What is the role of masters?
Whenever human consciousness reaches an important turning point, the love of the Creator acts through the great masters to help the individual soul. That is the fundamental role of masters.
In an individual who is tired of living in darkness or ignorance, the desire to go beyond this state becomes stronger than everything, but since he doesn’t know how to get rid of this state he remains in constant turmoil and anguish. In such a situation, the caring hands of a master guides him to the higher state of consciousness. The masters help to uplift the consciousness, so that ultimately the mind is changed. Real Masters are like eternal mirrors. You can see your true self in them.
Portrait of a master
At a glance, his dusky complexion, child-like face, sparkling eyes, long hair and extended beard reminds one of Sri Aurobindo in his younger days.
Born on June 1, 1942, to Sri Raman and Smt Vellatyamma in a peasant family of Vandithavalam, the village where the ashram has now come up, Narayanan was spiritually inclined from a very tender age.
Although the mother, who was very pious and spiritual, used to support the boy’s spiritual aspirations, she passed away when the boy was around eight. His father, on the other hand, had no patience for his spiritual practices, which he took to be a symptom of laziness, and constantly rebuked the boy for his obsession. Eventually, Narayanan, crying, and clutching the pictures of his beloved deities to his chest, sought asylum in the nearby dilapidated Devi temple in the midst of the night, taking it as his final solace and refuge. For several years he remained there, practising several types of sadhanas, sustaining only on neem leaves and water.
The intense tapas ultimately led him to a state where he could not look after his own bodily needs such as eating, drinking or even breathing. When the physical body was about to fall off, several youth started gathering around him as they felt immense calm and peace in his presence, and tried to forcibly feed him, whenever he came out of his samadhi. In due course, they built a hut nearby and stayed there, just to be near him. This is how Tapovarishtashram happened _ slowly growing around the place of the young tapasvi’s intense penance and contemplation.
On 21st of January, 1991, while in Sarnath, at the very same spot where Bhagwan Sri Buddha had delivered the first sermon to disciples, he got a revelation that his actual name was “Tathata,” (meaning ‘The state of suchness’) and that he would be known by that name henceforth.
The luminous presence of Sri Tathata lights up his ashram in Palakkad
About the author: Pradeep Krishnan, based in Trivandrum, Kerala, is a student of consciousness deeply attracted to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.
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