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Venkatesh Kamath
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Soirika.gsb.in
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Greatness of devotees
 
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Kulasekhara Azhvar was a king who surrounded himself with Sri Vaishnavas, because it was their company that he liked, said Akkarakkani Srinidhi in a discourse.
Powerful men in Kulasekhara Azhvar’s court were jealous of the proximity of Sri Vaishnavas to the King. They knew that to tell the king to get rid of them would never work. So they stole an ornament that adorned the idol to which Kulasekhara Azhvar offered worship everyday. They then told the King that they suspected that the Sri Vaishnavas were the ones who had stolen it.
The King wanted to show everyone the greatness of Lord Narayana’s devotees. He then said that a pot with a venomous snake in it should be brought to him. He would stick his hand into the pot. “If the Sri Vaishnavas are indeed guilty of the crime they stand accused of, then let the snake bite me,” he declared.
A pot with a snake in it was brought to him, and he stuck his hand inside. He kept it there for a few minutes, but the snake did not bite him. He then pulled out his hand and asked the ministers if they were now convinced of the innocence of the Sri Vaishnavas.
The ministers were repentant and confessed to what they had done.
Kulaskehara Azhvar abdicated, gave up the luxurious life of the palace and went to Srirangam. To a devotee like Kulasekhara Azhvar, being in a scorching fire is preferable to being away from the Lord’s devotees. He was born into a royal family and was accustomed to royal luxuries.of
Once one has enjoyed luxuries on that scale, it is difficult to give them up. But Kulasekhara Azhvar did without any hesitation.
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Education and patience
 
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Education and patience have been written about extensively in Tamil literature, said Malayaman in a discourse.
Tiruvalluvar equated education with eyesight because it is education that opens our eyes to many things in life.
 A Tamil poet said that while everyone has two eyes, great men have three! The additional eye he meant was the ability to think and to analyse everything.
The Tamil work Naladiyar
 says that the only ornament worth possessing is education.
Education serves as an ornament in subsequent births too, says Tirikadugam.
 Tiruvalluvar says that what a man learns in one birth accompanies him for seven janmas.
Jeevaka Chintamani lists the reasons why we should think of education as undying wealth. It cannot be washed away by a flood, nor can it be destroyed by fire. It is not diminished if we impart our knowledge to others and it cannot be stolen.
There is no pleasure to equal the joy of reading, said Tamil poet Bhootancentanar.
He said that it was not wrong to even beg to acquire education.
Naladiyar further said that education was a medicine too! It was a medicine that cured people of the disease of confusion. It gave people clarity of thought.
Saint Kumaraguruparar, who composed many religious works in Tamil, lived in Varanasi and died there. He said that there was no greater source of strength to a person than his education.

 Many Tamil works also spoke of the importance of patience and of the need to forgive.
Tiruvalluvar, for example, said that we should be patient with those who abuse us, just as the earth is forgiving of those who dig her up.
 Naladiyar went one step further and said that if someone abuses us, we should worry that he will be punished for his sins!
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This is a talk in Konkani based on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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Beyond delusion
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Man is engaged in the quest to come to terms with the concept of change, instability and impermanence that characterise worldly existence and seek the permanent. ‘Brahman is devoid of any difference though He is the sole potential behind all the differences manifest in creation. The differences are due to the name and form of each object and being. The entire range of activities in the universe and the changes in it are controlled by Brahman.’ This is Yama’s explanation to Nachiketas about the integral relationship between the world of movement and change and of the eternal unchanging Brahman, pointed out Swami Suprajnananda in a discourse. The sun remains static though the world experiences sunrise and sunset regularly. The important truth is that the sun, fire, etc, have their reality in Brahman and derive their potential from Him.

Avidya or ignorance is the cause of delusion that fails to see the truth behind the appearance of change. To realised souls, the cause of change which is the basic characteristic of the universe is of no consequence. A jnani sees the world as unchanging since he sees only the Brahman. If one sees a snake in the rope, he reveals his lack of knowledge of the truth. If he sees the rope as a rope, he sees the truth and is fearless and crosses the cycle of birth. The advice is to see the all pervading Brahman in the entire universe including the individual selves and the objects and beings and also to understand that Brahman remains beyond the manifest multiplicity of the world. Space is all pervading. Is there a difference in the space present in an array of pots of varying sizes and shapes and in the space outside? Such a perception goes beyond delusion.
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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Facing the inevitable
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In His role as son, husband, brother, king or friend, Rama stands out in His commitment to dharma and one cannot but bow down in reverence to His moral authority. But there are incidents in Rama’s life that show His human qualities as well, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.

When Sumantra is ready to drive Rama, Sita and Lakshmana to the forest Dasaratha cries out in desperation to halt the chariot. But Rama urges Sumantra to go ahead. The charioteer now is caught between the contradictory commands of his two masters. Rama knows that if the chariot is stopped, His exile would be delayed. What is the point in prolonging the sorrow that is anyway inevitable? Neither Dasaratha nor Rama can convert the sorrow to joy by deferring the departure. Surmising Sumantra’s plight at that moment, Rama tells him that in case Dasaratha pulls him up for disobedience when he returns to Ayodhya after leaving them in the forest, he should tell the king that amid the din at that time he had not heard his orders.

Rama then adopts a ruse to get away from the persistent people who follow Him. They are so devoted to Rama, adore Him with all their heart, are always loyal to Him and determined that He should yield to their request to return to Ayodhya. They cannot imagine life without Rama. Rama knows He has to resort to some trick if He has to get ahead with His plans. So He tells Sumantra to drive the chariot northwards as if he were trying to return to Ayodhya. This would mislead them and Rama, Sita and Lakshmana would join Sumantra and they could drive away without the people knowing about it.
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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The merciful guru
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Spiritual truths are subtle and beyond rational reach. Therefore the Lord takes the responsibility to reveal them time and again to deserving disciples and the spiritual tradition is thus kept alive. Adi Sankara embodies the qualities of a merciful Guru who is keen to lead mankind to the path of liberation through his life and teachings. This acharya reiterates that renunciation is the hallmark of realisation and tries to inculcate the values of Vairagya and Viveka in his teachings, said Goda Sri Venkateswara Sastrigal in a lecture. While living in this world, one has to realise that this is only a temporary state and not get attached to its attractions and temptations.

The terms Paramahamsa and Parivraja are used with reference to realised souls who have dissociated themselves from worldly pulls. Hamsa means a swan, and this bird is believed to be gifted with the peculiar power of separating milk from water. It is represented in poetic conventions as symbolic of one who is able to discriminate and identify the true values in life. But a Paramahamsa is one who rises above the desire for external objects like a swan that is not desirous of either the milk or water it has separated. Parivraja refers to total giving up. There is no thought of what happens to one’s possessions.

Adi Sankara teaches that only the knowledge of the Atma and of the permanent bliss of realisation can motivate one to seek the path of renunciation. Contemplation on the Atma helps to dissociate oneself from worldly activities and cut the bonds of worldliness. A wise man, who approaches a high-souled teacher steeped in Brahman and becomes absorbed in the truth taught by him, can learn to discriminate between the ephemeral and the eternal.
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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For our good
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It is our tendency to desire those things that will keep us chained to samsara, and to neglect that which will lead us to the Supreme One. In the Gita, Lord Krishna shows us how to reach Him, elaborated Valayapet Ramachariar, in a discourse. There are three ways of discerning valid knowledge. One is through perception; another is through inference; and the third is through verbal testimony. That which our well wishers say can be taken to be verbal testimony. You see something, but you are unsure whether it is a snake or a rope. Suppose someone who has your welfare at heart were to confirm that it is a rope and that you need not be afraid to go near it, then you would believe him. So, verbal testimony should be taken as the words of someone who is concerned about our welfare.

Parents are the well wishers of their children. The Vedas are equal to thousands of parents. That is, the Vedas have our welfare in mind, much more than our parents do. The Bhagavad Gita gives us the essence of the Vedas, and it comes from Lord Krishna. The Lord has the welfare of not only Arjuna but of all of us in mind, when He advises Arjuna. So we should pay heed to the Lord’s words. We should begin the day by thinking of the elephant Gajendra, for it will remind us of the Lord’s parental concern for all of His devotees.

We should remember that we are dear to Krishna and that His words of advice therefore will lead us to Him. Our bhakti in Him should be unshakeable. Thinking of Him is the best offering we can make to Him.
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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Search for permanent peace
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Scriptures and the teachings of acharyas offer insights into the spiritual path. The path is difficult, steep and hard. Self-control, self-discipline and renunciation of worldly attractions form the foundation for the spiritually inclined. That is why among those interested in spiritual literature, there are those who may wish to know these subtle matters and not really desire to strive for liberation. But he who is determined to be released from the bondage of samsara is known as a Mumukshu.

Adi Sankara’s text Upadesa Sahasri is a manual to guide a mumukshu to strive and attain the goal, liberation, pointed out Goda Sri Venkateswara Sastrigal in a lecture. The seeker is prompted to analyse and examine oneself in the context of the world. Parikshit, the sole survivor of the Pandava race, got this name from his tendency to examine carefully whatever appears before him. At the end of the Mahabharata war, Asvathama aimed the Brahmastra to destroy the Pandavas in toto. The Lord protected the Pandavas and also entered Uttara’s womb in a miniature form to prevent the astra from attacking the foetus. The sudden brightness and brilliance of the Lord’s presence had made an impact in the consciousness of the foetus which looked in all directions to assimilate this form. Hence, the child came to be known as Parikshit — a term which means one who observes, examines and analyses with discrimination. A spiritual aspirant who seeks permanent happiness should learn to observe every thing in this world and assess its true value. He has to cultivate the ability to discriminate between the good and the pleasing, the real from the non-real.
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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Garuda’s trick
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Vinatha and Kadru were the wives of Sage Kashyap. Kadru, with the help of her sons, who were snakes, tricked Vinatha and defeated her in a bet. 

As a result, Vinatha and her son Garuda became Kadru’s slaves. The snakes told Garuda that he and his mother would be released from bondage only if Garuda brought nectar from the world of the celestials.

The nectar was closely guarded, and the snakes assumed Garuda would not be able to bring it. But he overcame all obstacles and successfully brought the nectar, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse.

However, if the nectar were to be consumed by the snakes, it would ensure their immortality. This was not desirable for, the snakes were deceitful and wicked.

And yet, Garuda could not secure his release or his mother’s without giving the nectar to the snakes. So Garuda resorted to trickery. All that the snakes had told him was that he should bring the nectar.

They had not laid down the condition that he should enable them to consume it.

So Garuda told the snakes that they should first have a bath and perform some rituals, before they could have the nectar.

While the snakes were away, Indra came down and retrieved the nectar and took it away to the celestial world. Garuda had only promised to fetch the nectar. He had not promised to prevent Indra from retrieving it. So Garuda was not really breaking any promise. He had kept his word and brought the nectar.

Garuda was perfectly justified in tricking the snakes for, after all that was what they had done to his mother!
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This is a talk in Konkani on following article which appeared in today's " The Hindu " Daily Newspaper  under section "Faith"
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The Lord’s vibhuti
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The marvel of the entire creation is a reflection of the Lord’s infinite greatness. When the Lord explains to Arjuna the most prominent truths of His divine greatness, He merely indicates some aspects of it, and it is left to the individual’s power of understanding to grasp His limitless wonder, said Swami Omkarananda in a discourse.

He makes it clear that He alone is the ultimate principle responsible for creation. He is thus the cause or beginning for all beings and is the very life force that sustains them through their respective life cycles until the end. When a human being understands that he is caught in the cycle of birth that continues endlessly, he begins to wonder how to get out of it.

The very first verse in the Kena Upanishad features a pupil whose doubts imply that the world of individual experiences is rooted in something more permanent. “By whose will and direction does the mind react to the objects? By whose command does life begin to move? By whose power is speech possible? Likewise, by whose prompting is the functioning of the senses such as eye and the ear made possible?” The query leads to seeking the real agent in the individual. The second verse provides the answers to the doubts expressed.

“The wise understand that the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech, the breath of the breath and the eye of the eye is the self when the Eternal Reality is perceived as behind the phenomenal world.”

This knowledge confers the state of eternal bliss that is nothing compared to the partial nature of happiness that the world of objects provides. Release from worldly bondage rests on this jnana of the eternal truth.
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