Monday, April 27, 2009

Bhavam Madhuram

I am just back from a four day dip in bliss. All we did was talk about the different bhavas, or bombs that explode your consciousness, or paths to the Beloved. The meditations we practiced were more powerful than anything I have ever done, or imagined in my life. Some meditations were something I might have wanted to do, but never had the guts. And some of the tations I have done earlier, but never knew why.

Yes, this spliff has a name. Bhakti Spurna Programme. Designed by Swami Nithyananda, conducted by Gyanananada Maharaj. Don't go by his name, he is a very sweet fellow. He flooded us with stories of his transformation, how he met the master, the ashram life, all those juicy bits.

The last I read about the five different bhavas was in the Gospel of Shree Ramakrishna. I remember feeling that the explanations were too short. In a two volume book set of a thousand pages, only half a page had the bhavas. Many a times I have visited that page, willing the saint to come out of the book and tell me more.

Well, finally he listened to me.

There are five bhavas, Vatsalya, Matru, Dasa, Sakha and Madhur. Here are a few thoughts and impressions I went through over the last four days, regarding the bhavas.

Vatsalya bhava: Looking at God / Existence as a child. (Vatsalya = motherly)

ex: Yashoda with Krishna.

image: Yashoda running behind Krishna with butter in her hand. Yashoda is the universal mother.

tation: Sit for a few minutes and feel that you are the mother of all existence. Then walk out the door, barefoot (Yes!) , and feel the child in all objects, animate and inanimate, that you encounter.

my experience: I hugged a tree, let some tears flow down the bark, and then I sat under it and felt child earth, with all my four paws, told her not to run around the sun so fast, and scolded her for continuously fighting with little moon. Then I went into a corner of the building (because swamiji has said somewhere that there are so many corners that we never step onto) and patted the half tiles on the floor.

Then I came back to my seat and took out my child from my purse and read a few lines from it that represented Vatsalya bhava eggjactly.

Here is an excerpt from my book, A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage:

(The protagonist is sitting in a busy restaurant with a group of friends, in Tiruvannamalai, the Mountain town.)

I got up from the table and walked towards the kitchen. Young girls were hurrying in and out with trays of food. I was wondering if I could order a cup of coffee.

And then I saw it.

On a table near the kitchen door, a tray with used cups next to him, a baby was howling away. All alone.

I looked around. No one was bothered; they were either too busy or not concerned.

I went near him and touched him. He screamed louder. A stink told me he had done the deed. Yuk! What to do?

“Would you mind washing him in the toilet, please?” An extremely hassled foreigner holding a steaming tray of food made this request.

“Ya sure!” How could I say no to a German?

I picked up the screaming babe, held him slightly away from my body and went to the loo. I opened the tap and held his butt under it, his head resting on my elbow. I looked away. Aagh! Yuk!

“You will have to remove the knickers first.” This was Jonathan giving directions from the door.

By the time it was done, he was wet and naked, yelling on top of his voice.

“He is a boy!” Jonathan said, with pride.

“Will you get a towel from somewhere, please?” I had to shout to be heard.

A towel came, along with a bottle of warm milk.

Five minutes later there was silence, as the babe sucked on the nipple, wrapped in the towel, settled on my lap. Why did it feel like such an achievement?

After the milk, he was silent, his eyes closed. I gazed at his face. He was fair, with a big forehead. He smiled and opened his eyes, looking straight at me. The look lasted about ten seconds. Neither of us blinked. Then he closed his eyes and smiled off to sleep.

His name was Hansraj and he was six months old. My name was Gopika and I was his slave.

Wayne had flashed me a glimpse of what it could be to hold a babe; the Mountain plonked a divine child in my lap. Just looking at him smile was darshan. Now I know how artists sculpt god’s face. They have a baby at home.

I spent almost all my day with him. I took him to the ashram, to different tea shops, to the satsangs in town. Since it was difficult to remove my sandals holding a child, I would leave them back in the room. This was my new sadhana, walking barefoot in Tiru with a babe in my arms.

Matru bhava: Looking at God as a mother.

ex: Ramakrishna's obsession with Kali Maa

At first glance, this bhava is synonymous with the bundle of joy that is childhood. Carefree, playful, innocent, naughty. No thoughts for the morrow, Mum and Dad take care of it all. And how does a child deal with pain? With integrity and intensity. There he works hard, he bawls out loud.

Cry to God with yearning and you shall surely see him, Ramakrishna said . Cry to the universal mother with the intensity of a lost child and be comforted. Lose all self respect or stiffness that being an adult has baggaged you with. Howl it all out. Works better than any pranayama in cleansing out the heaviness.

Dasa Bhava : Looking at God as Master (Dasa = servant)

ex. Hanuman with Rama, Ananda with Buddha, Shabari with Rama, etc.

All these bhavas are about how to drop the mind, the ego. Dasa bhava is a powerful tool of transformation. I mean, look at Hanuman. The man flew holding up a mountain in one hand! From North India to South India!

Those who experience work as worship, the karma yogis, jell with this bhava. ' Sharanam '
is the mantra here, and the trick and the ticket.

Job-jumping grasshoppers like me should keep there mouth shut on this bhava, me thinks. I could never surrender to my boss.

Sakha Bhava : Looking at God as a friend.

ex. Krishna and Arjuna

This bhava breeds an attitude of friendliness to everyone around us. Friendship, I used to think, is all about togetherness and communication. However, it is also about freedom. When I came home last night and told my husband that he is free to be as he is, his happiness knew no bounds.

Adding the dimension of friendliness can deepen any relationship. When God comes down as a guru, you get a friend who accepts you with all your faults.

Madhur Bhava: Looking at God as a divine lover. (Madhur = sweet)

ex. Radha and Krishna, Gopis and Gopala, Shiv and Parvati, Meerabai, etc.

This is my favorite bhava. For one, there is no doership here. Action happens. The Gopi leaves the pot of milk boiling on the fire and runs out the door when Krishna plays his flute.

And two, all unnecessary thoughts disappear. A Gopi was calling out to Radha when Radha was immersed in Krishna consciousness. Radha did not respond. Instead of taking her to an ear specialist, like my mother would have done, the Gopi called out, 'Krishna!' And tricked Radha into attention.

Third, there is no question of 'will he, wont he.' Parvati does not take no for an answer. Even from an ascetic like Shiva himself.

Which is why, a bhakta is never worried about enlightenment. Because bhakti itself is the promise, it is the shehnai playing before the wedding.

Here is song from my book. If I could sing it to you...

I am that I am,

I am that I am.

Soham Shivoham,

Soham Shivoham

I hear the silence calling me,

So softly calling me.

I hear the silence calling me,

To the place where I have always been.

I am burning and burning,

I am burning and burning in your grace.

Surrender to thy Mystery,

Awaken to your Beauty...

I hear the silence calling me...

So softly calling me

I hear the silence calling me...

To the place where I have always been.

Soham Shivoham...

Soham Shivoham

I am that I am


Banno said...

Meanwhile the child partied with his aunt.

And I finally got to meet him.

Manjushree Abhinav said...



He is getting too big for his boots already. He scolded me for leaving Papa alone overnight!

And you didn't come for my launch but went for a kiddie party. Vatsalya in your old age, darling?

Anonymous said...

Hi, grasshopper! I've got as gift from a friend a CD with meditation music and in there is this song,that you have put in your 'Bhavam Madhuram' article...( 'I hear the silence calling me, so softly calling me'...I've searched in google and found them in your article)...could you tell me where this song come form, who is singing, whether there is also in youtube,'cause i would like to forward it to all my friends and post it in facebook, too.10x in advance...a seeker

Manjushree Abhinav said...

Hi, Annonymous,

I have heard this song only once, at a satsang in mumbai, at Ramesh Balsekars talk. A western woman sung this song and I have never forgotten it. Please please make a copy of that CD and send it to me. Or put it up on you tube and send me the link. I will give you my right arm for it. Promise.

Manjushree Abhinav said...

At least tell me the name of the CD and where did your friend get it from?

Anonymous said...

infact I don't know the name of the CD, it is just a copy,I'm not familiar with uploading in youtube...I intended to find the song in youtube and to post a link in facebook,so that my friends could listen ...I'll try to find out more about the CD form my friend...

Anonymous said...

i think this is waht you are looking for :
Satyaa & Pari live auf dem Rainbow Spirit Festival