Wednesday, October 16, 2013

RAMAKRISHNA MANTRA IS SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE FOR MEDITATION

 RAAMA-KRISHNA MANTRA IS SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE FOR MEDITATION

(DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, NASHVILLE, TN, USA, OCTOBER, 2013)

Sage Valmeeki saw a pair of cranes male and female moving in the forest, never parting from one another. A Nishada of hunter’s tribe struck the male bird and mortally wounded it while the sage was watching.  Overcome with grief, the sage cursed him as follows: “O Fowler! May you not have peace of mind for endless years, since you killed the one of the pair of cranes, infatuated with passion” –“Maa nishaada pratishthaam tvam agamah saasvatee samah  yat krauncha-mithunaad-ekam-avadheeh kaamamohitam”. This couplet came out instantly out of his grief (Soekah slokatva maagatah). This outburst of Vaalmeeki was in the vehemently used Anushtub meter in Rigveda Mantras consisting of 32 letters.  On the advice of Lord Brahma Valmeeki composed entire Ramayana in this meter which became popular as Sloka meter in literature. Ramayana is  Aadikaavya, the first known literary work in the divine language of Sanskrit as a matter fact before the dawn of any other language known to humans.

As we all know Valmeeki was also a hunter before enlightenment.  Naarada taking pity on his worthless life administered two lettered mantra “Ma” and “Raa” without any explanation and told him to meditate upon it to get into an ascetic life by divine blessing.  Of course even if he had explained their deeper meaning the illiterate hunter would not have comprehended the same then. These two letters after repeated chanting turned into “Raama” with which name the 7th incarnation of Vishnu descended on the earth.  Why Naarada chose these two letters?  Ma is the seed letter (beejaakshaera) in the Panchaksharee (five syllables)   Vedic mantra “Namah Sivaayaa”. Raa is the seed letter in the Ashtaaksharee mantra (eight syllables) “Om Namoe Naaraayanaaya”. In combination it became a powerful mantra of Siva-Vishnu by chanting which over thousands of years once the greatest sinner became later the holiest and wisest sage in the world who is credited with the first literary master piece of 24000 Slokas of the great epic Srimad Ramayana.

It is interesting to note Rama mantra existed long before the seventh avatar of Vishnu descended on earth with that name. It is equally important to note the word Krishna which is also considered as mantra existed long before the eighth incarnation of Vishnu.  In this context it is worth recalling the following mantra from Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad:  “Bhoomir-dhenur-dharanee lokadhaarineee | uddhritaasi varaahena Krishnena Satabaahunaa || --You were lifted by Krishna with his hundred arms in the form of Varaaha. You are well known as Bhoomi (Mother Earth), Dhenu (cow), Dharani, the supporter of all the worlds. The word Krishna means one who delights the earth. Krish means earth and na means one who provides relief (Krishirbhoovaachakah sabdo nancha nirvritivaachakah). In the Andhra version of MNU according to Sayana the famous commentator its meaning reads as follows: The earth is the giver of happiness like the milk cow, the sustainer of life and support for all living beings. Represented as such the earth is addressed: “Thou wert raised up by Krishna in His Incarnation of the Boar having hundred hands. Here Varahavatar is described as emerging from Krishna who is none other than Sriman Naaraayana or Jagadeesa. 


The word “Krish+Nah” one who attracts is derived from “aakarshayathi iti Krishnah” This means that Sri Krishna has an irresistible charm that draws all souls to him like a magnet that draws iron filings to itself.

Scholars used to say that the word encompasses in itself the following: “Ki” - He is Lakshmipathi “Ru” - He has all the charm of Sri Rama; “Sh” – He has all the 6 major GuNas of Bhagavaan (Shad guna paripoorna) “N” – He is the same as “Nara-hari” (i.e.) Narasimha
“AakarshaNa” means endearing oneself to the hearts of jivas. While one can feel happy at the thought of Rama (ramyate iti Raamah), one does not have to even think of Krishna. He enters our minds on his own volition and fills our hearts completely.


This should have inspired Jayadeva who composed his Dasaavataara Stotra in Geeta Govinda where he describes Krishna as the one who appeared as various avatars in Dasaavataara: “Vedanuddharate jagannivahate bhoogolamudbibhrate |daityaandarayate balim chchalayate kshatrakshyam kurvate paulastyam jayate halam kalayate kaarunyamaatanvate| mlechchaanmoorchchayate dasakritikrite Krishnaaya  tubhyam namah || Here Krishna is addressed as Supreme  Principal from whom the ten avataras of Matsya, Koorma, Varaaha, Narasimha, Vaamana, Parasuraama,  Raama, Balaraama, Buddha and Kalki emerged as Dasaavatars.

Also in Valmiki Ramayana Yuddha Kanada Brahma reveals Rama’s identity as Mahaavishnu and addresses him as Krishna— Ekasringoe varaahastvam bhootabhavya sapatnuijam; ajitah khadgadhrig vishnuh Krishnaschaiva brihad balah; sahasrasringoe vedaatmaa sata seershoe maharshabhah; tvamupendroe madhusoodhanah; tvam yajnastvam vashatkaarasstvam omkaarah parat parah [ Boar with a single tusk, the conqueror of your past as well as future enemies; The wielder of the sword Nandaka Vishnu, Sri Krishna endowed with great might; In the shape of the Vedas you are the great bull with a thousand horns; you are the younger brother of Indra, Upendra  and the killer of Madhu; You are  Yajnapurusha, embodiment of Sacrifice, the sacred syllable  “Vashat”  and You are the mystic syllable Om and Higher than the Highest ].  This revelation of Brahma that Rama is none other than Krishna and   both these terms refer to Parabrahman or Supreme Principal should have inspired Jayadeva to come out with his version of Dasaavatar as described above.  It is hard to believe that such a staunch devotee of Vishnu would have missed this revelation of Rama as Mahaavishnu by none other than the Creator Brahma.  The mention of the word Krishna both in the Upanishad and Ramaayana of Tretaayuga clearly indicates the word Krishna existed long before the descent of Krishnaavatar in Dwaaparayuga.

Sloka in Sanskrit literature is known as an epic meter consisting of four quarters (paadas or lines) of eight syllables each or two lines of sixteen syllables each. Sloka meter in Sanskrit literature is synonym with Anushtup meter of Rigveda Divine Composition.  That is why Slokas are revered by Hindus and powerfully employed in their prayers.

In Kalisantaranopanishat Brahma (Hiranyagarbha) reveals the following Mantra to Narada which has become very popular with Krishna Consciousness Movement all over the world.

Sa hoevaacha Hiranyagarbhah  (Brahma said to the  inquiring  sage Naarada):
Hare Raama Hare Raama Raama  Raama Hare Hare |
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||

The above Mantra contains sixteen syllable in each line making it all together 32 syllable making it sacred as the popular Vedic Mnatras in Anushtup meter of Rigveda. Every Mantra has a meter, a Rishi and a deity. This mantra becomes very powerful because it has Brahma himself as the Rishi (sage), the meter is Anushtup and the deity is combined name of Ramakrishna which represents Paramaatman or Supreme Principal.

Around 1500 years ago Sage Budha Kausika Muni of Divine Park brought out his Ramaraksha stotra in which he brings forth effectively Rama mantra for meditation.  Kulasekhara Aazhwar, a Vaishnava saint,  earlier presented to us his famous work Mukundamala in which he says: “Jihve Srikrishna mantram japa japa satatam janma saaphalya mantram”—Krishna mantra on your lips is sure way to salvation”.  Let us be guided by these spiritual saints and meditate upon combined Raama-Krishna mantra for salvation.

Lord Siva suggests to Pravati that one easy method to achieve the whole effect of chanting Vishnu Sahasra Naama (VSN) is by chanting  Raama thrice-“Raama  raameti raameti rame raaame manorame| sahasranaama tattulyam Sri Raamanaama varaanane ||”. Siva was thus conveying the sacredness of Raama mantra to Paarvati.  But in reality,  Bheeshma was offering his prayers to Lord Krishna standing before him composing Vishnu Sahasranaama and therefore one would naturally expect that Lord Siva would advise Paarvati to chant the Krishna mantra  thrice Instead of Raama Mantra. Some scholars are of the opinion that the introductory portion and the concluding Phalasrutis were later inserted into VSN.  We all know that Rama was an ardent worshiper of Siva and he was the most favored devotee of Siva.  History behind the holy pilgrimage center Rameswaram is a monumental proof to this fact. It is also believed that the secret of this Sloka was revealed to Paarvati while Siva was engaged in a conversation with Parvati in Skanda Purana.  The explanation above of Raama mantra supports Siva’s revelation of   Raama mantra as the most sacred Mantra. In the Skanda Puraana, Lord Siva tells Parvati:
Raameti dvayakshara japah sarvapaapanoedakah | gachhamsthisthan sayanoe vaa manujoe raamakeertanaat| ida nirvartitoe yaati chaante hariganoe bhavet 

Chanting the two syllable mantra  "Rama"  absolves one of all sins. Whoever chants and sings Rama Naama when moving, sitting or sleeping, or whenever possible, finds fulfillment and eventually a place with Lord Hari.  "Mind is filled with Rama. It becomes Tadaakaara, Tadaaroopa, Tanmaya (onenesas, sameness)  and Talleenata (as a man thinks).  The mind becomes identical with Rama. Jiva's will become merged with the Cosmic Will or the Will of Rama. Jivatma now vanishes" says Swami Sivananda.

In all probability Bheeshma did not want show that he was out of the way praising Lord Krishna because of his intimacy with him contradicting the popular opinion about Rama mantra then prevailing!  In essence this sloka conveys the importance of Raama Mantra as a Loadstar of all mantras.  May be he knew how Krishna respected elders particularly his brother Balarama if he is the composer of this key sloka? Hence this may be the reason why Rama is given preference over Krishna by Lord Siva. It is also strange nobody names the child as Krishnaraama, but  `Raamakrishna. Hindu culture demands respect to the elders. So Rama comes first even though Krishna is   Poorna avatar and Balarama is only amsaavatar as seen in Dasvataara stotra of Vedanta   Desika. Both Raama and Krishna played their part as humans more than their hidden divinity in them and were part and parcel of human life in their Avatars.

In 1959 Abhay Charan De of West Bengal took a vow of renunciation (sannyasa) and started writing commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures. In his later years, as a traveling Vaishnava monk, he became an influential communicator of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology to India and specifically to the West through his leadership of ISKCON, founded in 1966. As the founder of ISKCON, he emerged as a major figure of the Western counterculture, initiating thousands of young Americans.  He has been described as a charismatic leader who was successful in  having  a large following  in the United States, Europe, India and elsewhere.  After his death in 1977, ISKCON, the society he founded based on  Krishna Consciousness   using the Bhagavata Purana as a central scripture, continues to grow and is respected in India, though there have been disputes about leadership among his followers.   He is popularly venerated as Abhay Charanara-vinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prbhupada. He was inspired in his life by Jayadeva and  Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu  and his Gaudiya Math Missionary work.  They were all inspired by Kalisantaranopanishat and the Hare Rama Hare Krishna mantra which they recite in the reverse order—Krishna comes first and then Raama.  Jaydeva considers Rama also   only as an avatar of Krishna.

The combined name of Ramakrishna in naming a child is quite popular in India.  Meditation on Ramakrishna Mantra if meditated upon with understanding is simple and all powerful and is directed towards Parabrahman.   Rama devotees often write the name of Lord Raama 100000 times and worship their hand written copy on completion of their dedicated task.   Effective goal can be reached similarly with more thoughtfulness with Rama-Krishna mantra.  Every religious Hindu knows Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (a saint of highest order and liberated soul) is venerated as a Hindu Saint. He is known as the prophet of the Harmony of Religions.  Probably his name and his dedicated life true to his name made him so famous to be worshiped as a deity to-day by many  who believe he is an incarnation.    His name symbolic of effective Rama-Krishna mantra   comes foremost when we seek religious harmony and Universal Oneness.  God can be realized through different spiritual paths is known to us through the ages as learnt from Vedanta, Eko viprah bahudaa vadanti.  Meditation on Ramakrishna Mantra with the understanding that it is focused on Supreme Principal will make our tasks simpler, easier to chant, meditate upon and make our task easier when we lack the knowledge of Vedas.


Radhe  Krishna is the usual way to greet each other by Krishna Conscious people. What does it mean? Radhe means RAHA + DE meaning give   me direction.   Krishna is  combination of KRU + SHNA where KRU means "ULTIMATE" and SHNA means "HAPPINESS" So "RADHE KRISHNA" means "Give me direction for ultimate happiness
 


Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare | Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare||
[This is the order in which Brahma revealed the Shodasaaksharee mantra (16 syllables Mantra) to Narada to attain salvation in Kaliyuga in Kalisantarana Upanishad.  Probably this mantra is used in the reverse order by ISKCON devotees]

Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornnat Poornamduchyate | Poornasya Poornamaadaaya Poornameva avasishyate ||
[Raamakrishna is full; Krishnaraama is also full; if you take out one half from either of these what remains is also full!]


REFERENCES:
1.       Swami Devarupananda, Mantrapushpam, Ramakrishna Math, Mumbai, India.
2.       Swami Chinmayananda, Vishnu Sahhasranama, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India.
3.       Swami Vimalananda, Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad (Andhra Path), Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
4.       Ananta Rangaacharya, Mahaanaaraayan Upanishad, (Dravida Path), Bengaluru, India.
5.       Raghavan S.S., Sri Vedant Desika’s Stotras,  Sripad Trust, Chennai, India.
6.       Ramaraksha Stotra, Vivek Prakasan, Salagrama, India.
7.       Various internet sources.

8.       Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, Gita press, Gorakhpur, India.