The Vedic tradition, upheld in its purity by a long history of custodians, enshrines the supreme knowledge of the integration of life. From time to time, a revival of man's understanding of its eternal wisdom arises from this Holy Tradition, rescuing him from suffering, restoring him to the speedy path of evolution and awakening him to a meaningful life in fulfilment. The Masters of this tradition have been exponents of reality from earliest ages. In each new epoch they have propounded the enduring truths of practical living and have set out those standards by which men's lives may attain the highest achievements and fulfilment, generation after generation.
Teachers of transcendental meditation around the world stem from this pure and eternal tradition of great Masters. All teaching is carried out in the name of these great Masters and on their behalf, linking every teacher in every generation with the well-preserved line of ancient tradition. This link with the Masters of antiquity is such a precious element in the life of a teacher in every age that a set system Of expressing gratitude to them has been handed down from time immemorial in order to maintain the purity and vitality of the teaching.
The details of the procedure for invoking the Holy Tradition are so perfect that the whole personality of the teacher becomes one-pointedly centred on the dignity and greatness of the Masters. Ego, mind, heart, senses, body and atmosphere having thus become permeated with the essence of divine wisdom, the teacher begins to teach. The purpose of this Invocation is to attune the active mind, by directing it towards the great Masters, to the essential nature of their knowledge of Absolute Being. From that level the mantra is picked up and passed on to the new initiate, thereby leading his consciousness to that same field of transcendental Being.
By this means, the initiator's awareness is taken to the level of inner Being then brought out to the relative in order to instruct the initiate. Through this instruction the initiate's awareness is led to the Absolute several times so that more and more of Its abundance is incorporated into his life.
How does the procedure of the Invocation help the initiator's awareness to reach the deeper levels of this inner consciousness while he yet remains alert and active? It is not enough to let his awareness reach those quieter levels which meditators experience when they have a few moments of silence during the day. In order that he may operate while awareness maintains a deep level of silence, his intellect should be awake.
The traditional procedure of the Invocation is such that awareness automatically reaches the required depth and picks up the mantra to be passed on to the one being initiated. The mechanics by which this process brings the initiator's awareness to deeper levels lie basically in this ability to pronounce the words of the Invocation while making the movements of the offering as his intellect floats on the meaning of the spoken words. This harmony of thought, speech and action is a counterpart of the harmony between his ego, intellect, mind and senses. As practise advances this harmony increases and he fathoms deeper levels of silence while still maintaining activity of thought, speech and action.
Being able increasingly to maintain deep inner awareness along with thought, speech and action is a direct means of developing cosmic consciousness. In this way the initiator is rising to cosmic consciousness as he leads each new initiate into transcendental consciousness/. This explains why and how the initiator feels more and more surcharged with rising waves or cosmic consciousness which bring greater intelligence, energy, happiness and fulfilment.
The performance of the Invocation starts with a proclamation which lays open to the intellect the clear possibility of the fulfilment of life lived in Supreme Knowledge. The proclamation is intended to lead the mind to the ultimate state of purity, gained permanently in supreme knowledge, in which divine Unity becomes a living reality. Life as it is has two levels - relative and Absolute - the one changing and the other non-changing. In this sense the relative is said to be impure and the Absolute is said to be pure.
As the proclamation is pronounced and the hand sprinkles the water, the mind conceives the whole of the outer world and inner Being, and the continuity of Being in the outer world. The water retains its integrity even as it is scattered as drops in the atmosphere. Established in its meaningfulness, the mind dwells on Being and its manifestations of life in all creation. This wholeness of inner and outer life is felt in inner calm and outer activity. It is a very pleasing and elevating feeling - between the two movements of the hand (or between the silence and the starting) on the physical plane and on the mental plane.
Activity in making the offerings enriches the atmosphere with the bliss of silence and animates the quietness of it with sublime and blissful liveliness. The air is automatically sanctified. A calm wave of spiritual innocence is generated, producing the purification described in the opening words of the Invocation. Having produced this sublime influence it is time to inspire the heart and mind with waves of love and gratitude. This is brought about spontaneously by innocently reciting the names of the great Masters of the Holy Tradition.
The Holy Tradition has been the Source of inspiration to life from time immemorial. Time is the factor that presents its light sometimes brightly and sometimes less brightly. It is this which accounts for revival throughout the passage of history. The achievements of the great Masters named in the Holy Tradition have made them immortal to memory historically as the authors of far-reaching spiritual revivals and personally as inspirers of the hearts of seekers and enlightened men and women of evey generation. The hearts of seekers, and especially the hearts of the enlightened, swell in love for those great Masters and fill with overpowering devotion for them. Had it not been for them the light would have gone from life long ago. In the resplendent pageant of such great Masters, Guru Dev (1869-1953) shines nearest to us. We cherish his memory end adore him for the great gift of knowledge he has bestowed on us.
The entire purpose of the ceremony of Invocation to him and the other great Masters is to attune ourselves to the source of energy and wisdom from which Transcendental Meditation stems. There is a set, traditional way of turning our minds to that source. Before we do this we purify the inner and outer atmosphere.
We pronounce the Invocation of the Holy Tradition. In this Invocation we repeat the names of all the distinguished great Masters.
The Lord of Creation has to maintain all levels of creation, gross and subtle. He cannot, therefore, be limited to any category of space or time, since the Lord is omnipresent. The omnipresent level of life is his abode. The recital of the words helps us to gain transcendental consciousness and to establish eternal truth through gaining purity in the inner and outer aspects of individual life. Having purified the mind, the body and the atmosphere we are worthy and capable of invoking the grace of the Holy Tradition of the great Masters, so we begin with their names:
Lord Narayana, the embodiment of eternal and absolute Being, is the first custodian and the eternal incandescence of the wisdom of integrated life. From Him it devolved upon Brahma, the Creator, who is born of the lotus rooted in absolute Being.
The truth of Brahma, the Creator, born of the lotus, rooted in eternal Being, is conventionally and traditionally illustrated in a picture in which LORD NARAYANA lying in a restful pose has the stem of a lotus emerging from his navel. BRAMHA, the Creator, is shown seated on the lotus. So the wisdom of transcendental meditation, which is the knowledge of the integration of life established in the Absolute, came to lotus-born BRAHMA from LORD NARAYANA.
From Padma-Bhava the wisdom was handed to VASHISHTA and he transmitted it to SHAKTI. SHAKTI gave it to his son PARASHARA and PARASHARA passed the knowledge to VYASA - the great VEDA-VYASA, so called because it was he who compiled the VEDAS into sections known as RIG VEDA, YAJUR VEDA, SAMA VEDA and ATHARVA VEDA. He also wrote the great classic of Indian literature the MAHABHARATA, the central chapter of which comprises the BHAGAVAD-GITA. Among his writings are the 18 PURANAS and the BHAGAVATAM which contains the life history of LORD KRISHNA, the Incarnation of infinite Love and absolute Bliss. It is a hook to guide and bring joy not only to those in abject misery, but also to the most highly evolved JIVAN MUKTAS in God consciousness.
VYASA'S exposition of the VEDIC teaching contained in the UPANISHADS has been a guiding light ton intelligent seekers and accomplished exponents of the truth of all times.
The great strength of the Tradition lies in its power of inspiring everyone in every age, recluse and householder alike. This is clearly illustrated in VEDA-VYASA'S own family. VYASA'S life was an example of the way of a householder. His son, SHUKADEVA, expressed the integrated life as a recluse. The teaching of the Holy Tradition has arisen from great exponents of the wisdom of life, recluse and householder together, so that it is universally valid and valuable for everyone, whatever his mode of living, in or out of society, at every stage of history. The truth remains free from the limitations of any particular way of life.
So then, PARASHARA, a householder, gave this wisdom to VYASA who also followed a householder's way of living, and VYASA gave it to his son. SHUKADEVA, who adopted a recluse mode of life.
SHUKADEVA gave the traditional teaching to his disciple, the great teacher GAUDAPADACHARYA who was a powerful exponent of the essence of VEDIC wisdom, VEDANTA. His reflections on the MANDUKYA UPANISHAD, the MANDUKYA KARINA, are very popular. In that work, GAUDAPADACHARYA expresses the truth that, in SAMADHI. the mind does not contract, but becomes expanded as is the experience of all practising transcendental meditation. The mind does not shrink or become absorbed or drowned because SAMADHI is the expansion of the mind, not its annihilation.
The great GAUDAPADACHARYA taught to YOGI GOVINDA the wisdom of the VEDANTA, the philosophy of the unity of life which emerges from the practical side of transcendental meditation and is a direct means to the realisation of divine Unity in day to day life. One of YOGI GOVINDA'S titles is GOVINDA BHAGAVAD-PADA. BHAGAVAD-PADA is an expression of adoration. When a direct path to enlightenment is received, those whose hearts are capable of flowing out in adoration will naturally express their highest appreciation by glorifying the source of knowledge that revealed it to them. In this expression of gratitude towards the great teacher, GOVINDACHARYA, the hearts of seekers and exponents of VEDANTA find satisfaction.
"YOGINDRA", is also applied to GOVINDA. It means "INDRA among YOGIS", that is, eminent as a ruling deity among the YOGIS.
The great, enlightened and fulfilled Yogi, GOVINDA BHAGAVAD-PADA, was the master of SHANKARA called ADI-SHANKARACHARYA (the first SHANKARACHARYA) because his disciples' successors, in charge of handing on the essential teaching of VEDANTA, are also called SHANKARACHARYAS.
This keeps alive in the nation's memory and gratitude, the first SHANKARACHARYA who redeemed India from the ignorance in which knowledge was completely entrapped, leaving her in the throes of weakness and suffering. The tragic history of knowledge can be traced through every generation like a man's shadow which follows him everywhere.
An answer to such a predicament had already been given 3,000 years earlier by LORD KRISHNA. While recounting the story of this knowledge of YOGA and Divine Union in the beginning of the fourth chapter of the BHAGAVAD-GITA, He says that it is through the long lapse of time that the knowledge is lost. Time is responsible, but there is also an internal factor which distorts the truth of this teaching. And what is that? It is the difference in the level of consciousness between the teacher and the taught. The teacher speaks from his level of enlightenment, a level of clear perception and of faultless and precise vision of the reality of life. He speaks to those who seek but have not yet attained that level of consciousness. The Master's completeness of expression is therefore naturally received by his pupils in incompleteness. This is what dilutes knowledge increasingly as generations pass. This is the tragic history of knowledge. This is how time, and nothing else, is held responsible for eroding the essentials of the true teaching.
The great genius of ADI-SHANKARACHARYA led him to establish in the four corners of India, four principal seats of learning for propagating his teaching ; at a time when he had revived the understanding of the people and established the true and eternal fundamentals of VEDIC wisdom.
The success of SHANKARA'S work does not lie only in the revival of the understanding of life, but also in his establishment of a thorough system by which the teaching would be passed on to succeeding generations. BHAGAVAN ADI-SHANKARACHARYA gave the knowledge to his four disciples named: in the Tradition:
The legend goes that SHANKARA was once about to cross a small river with one of his disciples. The boat could only carry one passenger so the ferryman took SHANKARA and left the disciple on the bank. Before the boat had reached the other bank, the river suddenly rose in flood. The devotion in the heart of the disciple rose simultaneously and, thinking of his duty, he hastened into the water. As he waded in, lotuses appeared under his feet to support his steps as he hurried to reach his master. As soon as he arrived at the farther shore. SHANKARA called him PADMAPADACHARYA - the lotus-root teacher.
HASTA-MALAKA, one of the four chief disciples of SHANKARA, has a name which is literally translated, "the fruit on the palm of the hand". The ultimate reality of life was as clear to him as an amalak fruit on the palm of one's hand. This expression, used as his name, brings to light the clarity of his understanding and the sureness of his wisdom.
SURESHVARACHARYA was also called VARTIKA-KARA, a householder rigidly tied to the path of KARMA, the school of KARMA-MIMAMSA, which is the fifth of the six systems of Indian philosophy. SHANKARA had to convince him of the validity of VEDANTA, the sixth system, which speaks of the field of Unity beyond the enjoyment of the celestial light of God consciousness which is the goal of KARMA-MIMAMSA. Recognising the need to propagate the true principles of life, SURESHVARA abandoned his home and became a SANYASI. He followed SHANKARA and, being highly learned, wrote commentaries on his works and travelled all over the country to popularise his teaching.
TROTAKACHARYA was one of the most outstanding of the four chief disciples of SHANKARA. The atmosphere around SHANKARA was always vibrant with waves of wisdom emanating from the conversations of his most learned and enlightened disciples, PADMA-PADA, HASTA-MALAKA and VARTIKA-KARA.
TROTAKA, moving among them, provided an innocent foil to all that brilliance and, amid those tidal waves of knowledge, his mind and heart floated in the divine radiance of his master, preferring to enjoy it rather than annalyse it through the prism of discriminatory logic. The vast intellects of his fellow disciples tended to disregard his less cerebral virtues, but the one-pointedness of his heart and mind was unaffected by their less than full appreciation of him.
At that time SHANKARA was writing his commentaries in his cave at JYOTIR MATH. A single motive animated TROTAKA'S actions: that he should do all he could to save his master's time from being spent on organisational matters of day-to-day living, so that he could reproduce the maximum of himself in his commentaries. Through these acts of timely prudence TROTAKA responded at the feet of his master to his most pressing needs. He was a man of practical outlook and held fast to one thing - service to the master. He did not join in the other disciples' intellectual discussions with the master, but in full sincerity of purpose, undertook such duties as would justify his engagement in accordance with his nature - cleaning the floor, cooking meals and washing clothes. This freed the other, more learned, disciples from domestic duties and gave them more time to serve their master on an intellectual level.
One day SHANKARA returned to his cave after bathing in the ALAKAMANDA river, accompanied by his three learned disciples. TROTAKA had been left behind. It had taken him an unusually long time to wash his master's clothes and so he was late in returning. The other three disciples grew uneasy about the delay caused to SHANKARA'S discourse. SHANKARA wondered, but continued to wait for TROTAKA. Whispers went around: "The master is waiting for a disciple who is not interested in the discourse anyway." Just then a tuneful voice was heard from far away, thrilling the air and purifying the whole valley of JYOTIR MATH in praises of the GURU. It was sweet and richly harmonious, sung in a previously unheard and unknown metre. There came TROTAKA singing the praises of his master in words overflowing with wisdom and heart-melting melody. He had gained instantaneous enlightenment and a most refined state of intellect through the instrumentality of his love for his master and the love of his master towards him.
Whatever be the shape or quality of the timber, once it comes to the carpenter's bench, he spares no effort to increase its worth and usefulness to the maximum. This shows that all that is needed on the part of the aspirant is sincerity, unwavering devotion and love for the master; then, spontaneously, life gains more and more fulfilment.
TROTAKACHARYA was placed in charge of JYOTIR MATH. He was the first exponent of SHANKARACHARYA'S teaching in Northern India. The other three disciples of SHANKARACHARYA occupied seats in the remaining three centres: GOVARDHAN MATH, near PURI, Eastern India:SRINGERI MATH, near MYSORE, Southern India; and DVARKA MATH, in DVARKA in extreme Western India.
In the tradition of JYOTIR MATH, the essential wisdom thrives more in the value of the heart. The Spiritual Regeneration Movement for the whole human race arises from this cradle of the wisdom of the heart.
From my own experience, I know that there were hundreds of very learned and capable disciples of GURU DEV, yet the task of spiritually regenerating mankind fell to one who was like TROTAKACHARYA, as distinct from the intellectual giants who surrounded the Master. This does not detract from the recognition and appreciation of those of more highly developed intellect since it is they who are more capable of comprehending and evaluating the philosophy and really enjoying the creative application of the whole philosophy in practical life. What is meant here is that, even those who are not so highly developed intellectually, can innocently become as tools in the hands of the divine, to work out His plan. And this seems to be the case in the tradition of JYOTIR MATH - not much learning is needed: just innocent surrender to the master. This gives us the key to success - we have simple sincere feelings, devotion, a sense of service - and wisdom dawns.
After naming all four of SHANKARACHARYA'S disciples we include the VEDIC revelations as they abide in SHANKARACHARYA himself in which capacity he is hailed as the abode of kindness because he is held in high esteem for his depth of knowledge and his ability to put it to practical use for the sake of the people. Kindness is the product of the fullness of life, expanded awareness, pure consciousness which is the character of enlightenment and that state of knowledge. Thus "abode of kindness" is, in other words, the abode of knowledge -enlightenment.
The SHRUTIS are divine revelations which constitute the VEDAS.The SHRUTIS were not formulated by anyone either human or superhuman. They are self-expressed and divinely exposed as impulses of the Absolute to the profound vision of the seers. They bring to light the eternal truths of existence and so they are the ultimate authority of the wisdom of life and the key to its fulfilment on all levels.
From these unchallengeable and irrefutable expressions of divine truth, the sages distilled codes of behaviour for the individual and for society. The codes they prescribed are man-made laws, but entirely based on the authority of the SHRUTIS, bringing to light all the do's and don'ts of behaviour. The codes are called SMRITIS.
The third authority is the PURANAS. PURANA means ancient and the PURANAS are ancient records of events covering all living intelligences from man to angels and gods in the celestial regions. They form the history that uncovers the mechanism of nature and the structure and functioning of evolution. They also comprise accounts of Indian history which serve as annals of higher evolution. The PURANAS may be said to be a record of the applied value and phenomenal phase of the eternal truths of the SHRUTIS expressed in the SMRITIS.
The knowledge of transcendental Being, so long as it remains theoretical, does not help in day-to-day practical life at all. For it to be of any practical value, some technique is needed by which to gain experience and give substance to abstract knowledge. That is why SHANKARACHARYA, having succeeded in making the abstract, philosophical knowledge of eternal Being known in its full sense, is also hailed as "world emancipator".
SHANKARA means redeemer from the bondage of ignorance, from all negative influence, suffering or failure in life, bestower of life free from suffering. We call SHANKARACHARYA redeemer because in his work of revival he brought out the knowledge of the completeness of life and strengthened every phase of action, thinking and Being. It is the harmony of these three that supplements, supports and enriches every aspect of life, and one who brings such harmony is naturally called a redeemer.
SHANKARACHARYA'S theme of revival was the same as Lord Krishna's - integration of the three spheres of life, Being, thinking and action. LORD KRISHNA emphasised Being when he said, "NISTRAIGUNYO BHAV-ARJUNA" - "Be without the three gunas, perform action": "YOGASTHA KURU KARMANI" - "Remain established in Being and act".
This revival theme of LORD KRISHNA and SHANKARACHARYA has been adopted by our movement to bring the message of complete harmony in the full dignity of life in Unity. This message, the doctrine of VEDANTA, has been misunderstood in terms of renunciation and detachment from the practical field of life. It is important to note that activity is necessary for stabilizing the state of pure consciousness in practical life. As long as transcendental pure consciousness, which is the state of Unity in life, fails to be maintained during activity, Unity can never become a living reality. Awareness of the natural Unity of existence must go hand in hand with engaging in the practical activity of life in order to live Unity permanently.
The comparison of SHANKARA with KRISHNA and BADARAYANA simultaneously has touching and revealing significance. KRISHNA, the ocean of the Absolute, finds expression in the waves of the SHRUTIS, which expound the eternal laws of life, upholding the entire creation in both its Absolute and relative aspects, and BADARAYANA'S BRAHMA SUTRAS fathom their height and their depth. The love of KRISHNA and the wisdom of BADARAYANA meet in SHANKARA, redeemer and emancipator, so named because his teachings have e natural quality of bringing freedom to everyone, irrespective of his condition in life or his way of living.
As we have seen, their similar theme of revival has already linked the name of KRISHNA to SHANKARA'S. It is a theme of revival rather than an unprecedented outburst, because it is no less than the age-old wisdom of the Absolute contained in the VEDIC text that has been brought to light again its pure form.
SHANKARA is hailed as BADARAYANA. VEDA-VYASA, who is BADARAYANA, compiled the BRAHMA SUTRAS, the aphorisms of BRAHMAN, expressions of ultimate reality. His consciousness reverberated on the level of the impulses of the SHRUTIS and was open to the full extent of the eternal truths revealed in them. BRAHMAN means omnipresent and SUTRAS are aphorisms, so the BRAHMA SUTRAS are concise yet perfect statements of the teachings of BRAHMAN which express the fullness of life. They explain the mechanics of transformation on the path of evolution between the last two milestones of the journey. They present an authentic record of those conscious states to guide the aspirant and support his right experiences as he evolves from God consciousness to Supreme Knowledge, and so enable Unity to be established in his everyday life. The content of the BRAHMA SUTRAS ranges from God consciousness to Unity consciousness, but the authentic experiences are recorded in the UPANISHADS with which the BRAHMA SUTRAS are intimately connected. The BRAHMA SUTRAS are usually taken to be a clarification of the UPANISHADS, but the truth is that the UPANISHADS contain expressions which formulate the highest level of the BRAHMA SUTRAS' teaching - the culmination of the whole VEDIC wisdom. The UPANISHADS expound the ultimate truth of existence. Absolute reality is like the sap in a tree which forms the basis of every aspect of its growth and is present everywhere in the tree, so that it can be said that the tree is nothing but sap and the sap alone is. Similarly, in the UPANISHADS, ultimate, absolute, eternal existence is established as the ultimate reality of all that was, is and will forever continue to be.
The purpose of the UPANISHADS is to bring the reality of this eternal oneness of life to men of all times. Whatever level of consciousness prevails, their teaching is available to inspire men to live that unboundedness of eternity in this day-to-day life and to experience its joy even in the silence of deep sleep. A glimpse of this supreme destiny inspires all men and lightens their path towards it. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that these formulations in the UPANISHADS are expressed from the level of Absolute existence. The truth of eternal life can only be expressed from the platform of that truth itself; from the status of Absolute Being in the field of pure consciousness. Moreover, the understanding of it can only be from that level, for the same reason. This means that the SHRUTIS of the UPANISHADS are comprehensible and substantially useful only to men already established in Unity. The BRAHMA SUTRAS stand with the SHRUTIS to guide the realised man from God consciousness to the level of Supreme Knowledge.
For a revival in the understanding of life to be accomplished, it was vital that SHANKARA should reveal that Supreme Knowledge which alone leads men to the highest state of evolution and maintains them in it. This Supreme Knowledge not only constitutes the climax of evolution, but also the most thorough coordination between Being, thinking and action, which is the peak of achievement in any revival. The one SHANKARA brought about would not have blossomed had not every petal of the flower of knowledge been encouraged to unfold in its fullness. For this purpose SHANKARA wrote commentaries on the BHAGAVAD-GITA, UPANISHADS and BRAHMA SUTRAS.
It is recorded that SHANKARA, having completed his BRAHMA SUTRAS commentary, was challenged on it by VYASA himself. From the age of 11 to 16, SHANKARA wrote the three great commentaries while living in JYOTIR MATH with his four disciples. Having completed his definitive work of scriptural interpretation, SHANKARA started his journey to the plains to establish his teaching among the people. At KEDARNATH, a place of pilgrimage in the HIMALAYAS, an old man appeared before him and challenged his comprehension of the BRAHMA SUTRAS. SHANKARA sat down to have a discussion with him and eventually convinced him that everything he had written was in accord with VYASA'S real intention and that his commentary displayed the true meaning of VYASA'S BRAHMA SUTRAS. It is said that the old man was none other than VYASA himself appearing to express his joy at SHANKARA'S commentary and to reassure him and give him confidence that the revival would be complete if the true meaning of the BRAHMA SUTRAS was conveyed to the people.
The significance of SHANKARA'S commentary has made him a revered figure of world-renown.
Here SHANKARA is portrayed in the status of the absolute. All those who desire to gain the wisdom of the omnipresent, absolute Brahman are seekers of the truth, perfection and eternal freedom in life.
Having recited this and having filled our minds and hearts with the meaning of what we say, we complete the invocation to the long tradition of the great masters and feel the inspiration of their glory. With heart thus secure in deep devotion, and mind upheld in the meaning of the recitation, our hands and eyes engage in the act of offering.
The invocation through the offering is symbolic of our universal behaviour towards invited and honoured guests. Naturally we offer them the best we have in the house flowers, fruit, light, bath, shower, towels, good food. We greet them with loving reverence and sweet words. The ceremony of offerings has similar significance in that it expresses gratitude on a physical level and everything is done in a very natural, innocent and spontaneous manner.
This invocation and sequence of offerings comes to us from that ancient tradition which is dear to us. It is this which prepares us and inspires us to pass on the wisdom of the great Masters in its purity and helps us to maintain the efficiency of the teaching, generation after generation. Our aim is sublime; it reaches beyond time and touches eternity both for ourselves and in our activity. We want to release the present present generation from the grip of suffering and we feel that it is our responsibility to lay a solid foundation for this great teaching to be passed on in its purity to the generations to come. Therefore, it is highly important that, as teachers of transcendental meditation which is the key to the integration of life, we pass on this wisdom in the name of those great Masters of antiquity by invoking the Holy Tradition. This is the only way to preserve the teaching from impurity.
If every teacher in every generation continues to impart this knowledge in the name of the cherished Masters of the Holy Tradition, he will naturally pass on the teaching in Its purity as it has been taught to him by his master. This procedure will naturally serve to keep every teacher in line with the great Masters of the past and his teaching with the pure and eternal teaching of those great Masters.
Had it not been for this simple, short ceremony of offering, there would be little to link the teacher with the Holy Tradition, as the years go by. In that case the teaching would exist only as a form of instruction given by an individual of the present time without any basis and security in the distant past and the years between. As soon as the slightest impurity entered the teaching its effectiveness would be lost and its whole purpose marred.
Therefore, this invocation is the very life of the teacher. The ceremony of offerings is the body that maintains the spirit of the invocation, the purity of knowledge. It must not be forgotten that this tradition of paying homage to the Masters of the Holy Tradition has served and will forever serve as a means of keeping alive this precious teaching of the integration and perfection of life. The performance of this traditional invocation and offerings at the time of imparting the knowledge to others is like an act of watering the root of the eternal tree of wisdom.
The tree of wisdom expresses the truth of its life and the truth of existence in its various phases. It grows in the garden of eternity and spreads the knowledge of the unbounded along all the branches of time. It reaches out to offer its ancient message to all men in every age and in every corner or the earth. Those in the East who enjoy the fruit of its teaching glorify its eastern bough, and those in the West who receive the benefit or its message honour its western branch. If it so happens that those in both East and West, while enjoying the fruits of the knowledge it provided and continuing to sing the praises of their own particular branch, forgot to water the root of the tree itself, then, after a certain time had passed, the eastern and western branches would show signs of decay and all the branches, old and new, would begin to drop away and disappear.
This is precisely the situation that exists among all the different religions in the world today. It is true of every religion without exception. Devout men and women of every persuasion sincerely adore their religion and are proud of those characteristics which distinguish it from others, but the truth about religions is that each represents a different branch of the same tree - the tree or wisdom. the same eternal truth of 200 percent of life has been propagated by all religions. How many religions there were and how many of them have passed into oblivion even history seems to have forgotten. How many more will be born in the infinity of time? Each shoot gives rise to new branches of the tree, every age gives rise to new religions. The main trunk of the tree of wisdom naturally continues to support the birth of each new religion. New branches will emerge but they will be nourished by the same sap issuing along the main trunk from its roots in eternity.
The same truth of life will be broadcast in different names at different times in different lands, but the life of all of them will forever depend upon the strength of the sap drawn from the roots through the main trunk. If the main trunk is continuously preserved, the sap of truth will always keep alive branches of religions arising in different times.
We have seen how the truth of the integration of life is handed on from generation to generation, naturally and simply in its full clarity and completeness, through this Holy Tradition of Masters. The supreme teaching of their ancient line forms the trunk of the tree of eternal wisdom from which different branches of knowledge spread to enlighten man along the different avenues of life and living. Different sciences emerge, different fields of art thrive, and interest in different disciplines is cherished. Each of these branches of knowledge have their significance in enriching life, and for us it is a joy to see that all of them emerge from the main source of the current of life - the eternal source of all knowledge, the VEDA, which is forever upheld by the great Masters of the Holy Tradition. It is for this reason the Masters of our Holy Tradition are also called the great Masters of the Vedic Tradition.
When we invoke the Tradition and make offerings, what we are doing is watering the tree of wisdom, keeping alive the main trunk of the truth of life, watering the root of the tree of universal religion which is responsible for preserving the dynamism of eternal truth of life for all generations, Whenever the need of the time demands, it manifests in the form of new religions. We feel proud to have been given the privilege of upholding the life of the main trunk. We rise to bring the truth to every man, no matter what his religion or what his way of life. We nourish the main trunk and supply sustenance to all the branches. We maintain the universal spirit of all religions from the platform of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement and feel happy that we are thereby bringing nourishment to the people of all religions, of all faiths, of all philosophies, of all sciences and of all arts.
We find our stand has a universal character. If we wish to call this universal and eternal tree of wisdom a religion, let us call it the Universal Religion to support all religions; if we wish to call it a faith, let us call it the Universal Faith to support all faiths; if we wish to call it a philosophy, let us call it the Universal Philosophy to support all philosophy; if we want to call it a science, let us call it a Universal Science, the Science of sciences, if we want to call it an art then let us call it the Universal Art.
It may be that someone, seeing us making offerings before a picture, might argue that we are a sect and label us as such, and thereby try to depreciate the universality of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. Nevertheless these formalities, this style of offering, are ways of bowing to GURU DEV or expressing our reverence to the Holy Tradition. These are what we know to be the ties that bind us to the universality and eternity of the integrated state of life, and in order to propagate this universality of integrated consciousness, we find ourselves clinging fast to the main trunk. And if in clinging to the main trunk someone argues that we are lovers of the trunk, as others are lovers of the branches, we accept their sentiment and say: "Yes, we are proud of clinging fast to that trunk which is the source of nourishment for every branch." If in pursuing this universal purpose we are labelled a sect or an "ism", we honour it, referring to the Universal Sect and the Universal Ism. This is where we stand regarding the spiritual aspect of our Movement.
The integrity of the spiritual side of the Movement is upheld by the organisational wing. This is patterned on nature itself - the infinity of life is upheld by the structure of the body. What is our view of the organisational side of our Movement? We are an international and universal organisation. An organisation, even though of international and universal character, has to have specific rules sustaining it. Procedures have to be followed, but this organisational framework is for the purpose of safeguarding the universal character of the precious teaching. These rules and codes of conduct for the organisers of the Movement are there to maintain the universality of its purpose and to continue the faultless and universal nature of the teaching. Therefore, even though we may seem to some eyes to be a rigid organisation with many set procedures, we feel proud in binding ourselves to the discipline which enables us to hold on to our universal purpose and achievement and which helps us to safeguard our own interests and those of all our fellow men.
Ever leader of the Movement, whether engaged in teaching or in organising, takes delight in upholding the purity of both its aspects and thereby rises to fulfil his aspiration to bring joy and progress to his surroundings and the light of wisdom to his time.
Glory to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, for us the light of the Holy Tradition.
Our Guiding Light is the ever-shining, never-setting Sun of Divine Grace. Ever the same, constant as the northern star and bright as the mid-day sun, our Guiding Light is the Divine Grace of Shri Guru Deva, Maha Yogiraj, His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj, the most illustrious in the galaxy of the Jagad-Guru Shankaracharyas of India.
He was Maha Yogiraj (greatest of Yoga Teachers) in the family of the Yogis of India and was held by the "Gnanies" (Realised) as personified Brahmanandam (Universal Bliss or Cosmic Consciousness), the living expression of "Purnam adah, purnam idam".* The divine radiance blooming forth from His shining personality revealed the truth of "Purnam idam" and His Sahaja-Samadhi (all time natural state of cosmic consciousness) brought home the truth of both - "Purnam adah" and Purnam idam". It was the perfection of this great Spiritual Master which innovated a spiritual renaissance in Northern India and wherever he travelled.
This Great Pride of India was "Rajaram" in his early days when he was the love of his great family and was cherished as the "rising sun" in the community of Mishra Brahmans of village Gana, near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, North India. He was born on the 20th December 1868, but his hour of nativity claimed him for the recluse order and for that of the secular.
At the tender age of nine, when the other children of the world were mostly busy in playgrounds, he had matured in the idea of renunciation and by continuous and deep thinking was convinced of the futility and evanescence of worldly pleasures. He realised so early that real and lasting happiness cannot be had without the realisation of the Divine. The joys and pleasures that are obtained from the phenomenal world are mere shadows and smudged images of the ideal happiness and bliss, that is not far from man but exists in his own heart, enveloped by the dark clouds of ignorance and illusion. When he was barely nine years old he left home and went to the Himalayas in search of God, the Light that dispels the great darkness in the human mind, the darkness that stands between man and the inner Enlightenment.
On the path of the Divine a proper guide is necessary. During the search for a perfect spiritual guide, he came across many masters and good beginners but none of them came up to the ideal that he had set for himself. He desired his spiritual master to be not only well versed in philosophic learning but also to be a person of realisation; and over and above these dual achievements, he should be a life celibate, perhaps the natural and legitimate desire of an aspirant who himself had decided to maintain that high ideal for life.
In the world as it is constituted today, to find a personality combining these three conditions and attributes is difficult, if not altogether impossible, and so the young truth-seeker had to wander far and long before he arrived at the goal or his search. After about five years of wandering in the Himalayas, he reached the township of Uttar-Kashi. In that "valley of the Saints", at that small and distant Himalayan hermitage there resided in those days a great spiritual master, Swami Krishanand Saraswati, a sage deeply versed in philosophical lore, representing a rare and perfect blend of theory and practice, of learning and realisation.
To that realised soul, the young ascetic surrendered himself for being initiated into the mysterious realms of the spirit, whose real key practices are attainable not from books and treatises, but only from perfect spiritual masters, who silently pass these topsecret practices from heart to heart.
After some time, with the permission and order of his master he entered a cave at Uttar-Kashi with a resolve not to come out before he had realised the Light Supreme. His desire to attain the highest knowledge was not merely an ideal wish or intention; it was a mighty, overpowering determination that burned like fire in his heart. It permeated every particle of his being and bade him not to rest or stop before the complete realisation of the Bliss Eternal.
Soon he arrived at the Heatless, Smokeless Effulgence of the Self and realised the Divine Truth, Cosmic Consciousness, the Ultimate Supreme Reality, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Nirvana.
The greatest attainment of a saint is his life itself, the high edifice of realised Upanishadic living that develops from direct experience of Reality. To understand that inner personality one must approach such realised souls with an open and receptive mind and try to visualise the great internal life that is the basis of their actual and real form of living.
At the age of 34 he was initiated into the order of"Sanyas" by his Master at the greatest world fair, "Kumbla Mela", that is held once in twelve years at the junction of the two holy rivers, Ganges and Jumna at Allahabad City. Then he again proceeded to blessed solitude, the only blessedness. This time he did not go to the Himalayas,but went to the Amarkantakas, the source of the holy river Narbada in Central India.
For the greater part of his life he lived in quiet, lonely places, the habitats of lions and leopards, in hidden caves and thick forests, where even the mid-day sun frets and fumes in vain to dispel the darkness that may be said to have made a permanent abode in those solitary and distant regions of Vindhyagiris and Amarkantakas (mountain ranges).
He was out of sight of man but was well marked in the eyes of the destiny of the country. For more than one and a half centuries the light of Jyotir Math* was extinct, and North India had no Shankaracharya to guide the spiritual destiny of the people. Here was a bright light of spiritual glory well adorned by the perfect discipline of Sanatana Dharma, but it was hidden in the caves and valleys, in the thick forests and mountains of central India, as though the blessed solitude was giving a proper shape and polish to a personality which was to enlighten the darkness that had overtaken the spiritual destiny of the country, by the flash of His mere presence.
It took a long time, twenty years, to persuade Him to come out of loneliness and accept the holy throne of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math in Badariashramam, Himalayas. At the age of 72, in the year 1941 , a well marked time in the political and religious history of India, He was installed as Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, and that was a turning point in the destiny of the nation. The political freedom of the country dawned under His Divine Grace and He was worshipped by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Indian Union. At the conference of the eminent philosophers of the world during the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Institute of Indian Philosophers held at Calcutta in December 1950, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the famous philosopher and the successor of Dr. Prasad as president of the Indian Union, addressed Shri Guru Deva as "Vedanta Incarnate" (Truth Embodiment).
His policy of spiritual enlightenment was all embracing. He inspired all alike and gave a lift to everyone in his religious, virtuous, moral and spiritual life. He was never a leader of any one party. All parties found a common leadership in Him. All the differences and dissensions of various castes, creeds and "sampradayas" dissolved in His presence and every party felt itself to be a thread in the warp and woof of society, and that all the threads make the cloth and that no thread can be taken out, with advantage, from it. Such was His universal and all-embracing nature.
His entire personality exhaled always the serene perfume of spirituality. His face radiated that rare light which comprises love, authority, serenity and self-assuredness; the state that comes only by righteous living and divine realisation. His darshan made the people feel as if some ancient Maharishi of Upanishadic fame had assumed human form again, and that it is worthwhile leading a good life and to strive for realisation of the Divine.
His spiritual teachings are simple and clear and go straight home to the heart. He strictly adhered to the courses of inner development laid down by the systems of Indian philosophy and ethics and he raised his voice never in opposition but always in firm support of the truths and principles contained in the concept of dharma. He gave to the people the spirit of religion and made them happy in every walk of life.
As time would have it, after 12 years that flashed by, the Manifested merged with its Origin, the Unmanifested, and "Brahma Leena Brahmanandam" is now appearing in the hearts of His devotees as waves of Brahmanandam (Bliss). He cast off His mortal coil, but left behind a few others in mortal coil to keep the light of His grace shining and pass on the torch of His teachings from hand to hand for all the centuries to come.
The Spiritual Regeneration Movement was started under His direct inspiration that we received on the 31st December 1957, the last day of His 89th Birthday Anniversary at Madras. His Divine plan of Spiritual regeneration of the world is being worked out quite naturally by the stronghold of time which is found marking a change in human density. We only pray Him to keep on guiding us.
* That Unmanifested (Brahman) is perfect and This Manifested (Brahman) is (also) perfect.* The principal monastery of Shankaracharya.