Author Topic: Saints / Devotees  (Read 36702 times)


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2010, 10:17:57 AM »
Regarding Andal, who was found out by Vishnu Siddha, her father, (Periyazhwar) was brought up as a brahmin girl only.  She started praying
to Ranganatha of Sri Rangam, who is Krishna.  It is said that in order to
get the love of Sri Krishna, she wanted to become a gopika, cowherdess.
Hence she started walking with inturned hip (as cowherdesses do to take
one curd pot on their hips!).  She started wearing  plaited hairs as a bun
on the head (as cowherdesses do to carry the curd/butter pots)!  She
applied stale putrified butter on her face and sari, so that she would get the 'smell' of a typical cowherdess!

This is a poet's imagination.

Arunachala Siva.


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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2010, 03:48:10 PM »
Basava (1134 - 1196)

Basava (also known as Basavanna or Basaveshwara, (1134 - 1196)) was a philosopher and a social reformer. He fought against practice of caste system and rituals in Hinduism. He is also called as Vishwa Guru and Bhakti-Bhandari. His teachings and preachings go beyond all boundaries and are universal and eternal. He was a great humanitarian. Basava advocated a new way of life wherein the divine experience was the center of life giving equal opportunity to all aspirants regardless of the gender, caste, and social status. The cornerstone behind his movement was the firm belief in a universal concept of God. Basava has a proponent of monotheistic concept of formless God.

A true visionary with ideas ahead of his time, he envisioned a society that flourished enriching one and all. In addition to being a great mystic, Basava was the Prime Minister of the Southern Kalachuri Empire in South India and originated a literary revolution by introducing Vachana Sahitya. Basava is said to have been a mystic by temperament, an idealist by choice, a statesman by profession, a man of letters by taste, a humanist by sympathy, and a social reformer by conviction. Many great yogis and mystics of the time joined his movement enriching it with the essence of divine experience in the form of Vachanas (Lit. sayings - sacred hymns in Kannada) that define a new way of looking at God and life.

Basava's path later gave birth to a new religion (or "Sampradaya") called Lingavanta Dharma or Lingayata. Other synonyms for lingayata are: Basava Dharma, Sharana Dharma, Vachana Dharma.

Basavanna was born in the year 30-04-1134 into a Shaivite Kamme Brahmin family residing in the small town of Ingaleshwar, Bagewadi in the Bijapur district of northern Karnataka, Basava grew up in a strict, religious household where he was made to wear a sacred thread known as the Janivara. He did not accept the Janivara. He rejected the religion based on agamas, shastras, and puranas which were written in Sanskrit and were not reachable to common people. He did not accept the ritual rites. Shrinivas Murthy, in his book 'Vachana Dharma Sara' writes:

Vachana Sahitya is not borrowed from other languages, they are the Original and Unique to Kannada language. What ever is there in Vedas and Upanishads is available in Vachanas, but what ever is there in Vachanas is not there in Vedas and Upanishads. Basavanna with his original and creative thinking added much value to Kannada language through Vachana Sahitya.

He left Bagewadi and spent the next 12 years studying Sangameshwara, at the then-Shaivite stronghold of Kudala Sangama. There, he conversed with scholars and developed his spiritual and religious views in association with his societal understanding. His Guru was Jataveda Muni, also known as Eeshanya Guru. His views included believing there is only one true, perfect God; additionally, he created people who perform social services like removal of untouchability, superstitiousness, confusions, temple culture, and priesthoodness. He believed people who were in search of a false god needed to be shown the right way. He preached equality among humankind and condemned all barriers of caste, creed and sex, fighting against the caste system. He is also known as Krantikari (revolutionary) Basavanna for his revolution in the social system of the 12th century.

Basavanna started his career as an accountant at Mangalaveda in the court of Kalachuri king Bijjala, a feudatory of the Kalyani Chalukya. When Bijjala acquired the power at Basavakalyana, by overpowering Tailapa IV (the garandson of Vikramaditya VI, the great Chalukya king), Basavanna also went to Kalyana. With his honesty, hardwork and visionary mission, Basava rose to the position of Prime Minister in the court of king Bijjala, who ruled from 1160 - 1196 at Kalyana (presently renamed as Basavakalyana). There, he established the Anubhava Mantapa, a spiritual parliament to openly discuss Lingayatism, which attracted many saints from throughout India. He believed in the principle Kayakave Kailasa (Work puts you on the path to heaven, Work is Heaven); one step ahead of Ravindranath Tagore's 'work is worship'. It was at this time that the Vachanas, simple and easy-to-understand poetic writings which contained essential teachings, were written. Below is one of the thousands of Vachanas that were written:

The power of knowledge destroys ignorance;
The power of light dissipates darkness;
The power of truth is foe of all untruth;
The sharana's experience of god is the sole cure of worldliness;
Dont rob, Dont kill, Never ever lie
dont get angry, Dont think negative about others
Dont self describe, Dont tease others
this is the way of self respect, this is the way to get respected by the world.
This is the way of impressing my lord Koodala sangam deva.

Basava created much controversy by actively ignoring the societal rules associated with the caste system, which he wished to abolish. By allowing untouchables to have lunch at his residence and praising the historic marriage of a Brahmin woman and an untouchable man, Basava caused orthodox members of King Bijjala's court to go to the King with such stories, some true and some false. Bijjala, afraid of a possible uprising in orthodox society, ordered the newly married couple to be harshly punished. Before punishing the couple Bijjala asked Basava to agree with caste system; but Basava strongly opposed caste system and said, both Haralayya and Madhuvaras were Lingayats and the rules of caste system are not applicable to them. Bijjala did not agree with Basavanna's ideas; and asked Basavanna to be silent and accept the punishment to couple or leave Kalyana. The "Being punished" (Danda-gonda) Basavanna left Kalyana with heavy heart and marched towards Kudala Sangama. He left Kalyana in 1196 A.D. of Rakshasa nama samvatsara, phalguna masada 12th day for Kudala Sangama and en route to Kudala sangama, he preached the people about the humanity, morality, honesty, simplicity, and the dignity of labour, equality among all human beings, human rights etc. Being a perfect yogi he released the bonds of the body and soul and took nirvana (Lingaikya) on 30-7-1196 A.D, in response to the call from Kudala Sangama Deva, or Lingadeva the Almighty.

Basava said that the roots of social life are embedded not in the cream of the society but in the scum of the society. It is his witty saying that the cow does not give milk to him who sits on its back, but it gives milk to him who squats at its feet. With his wide sympathy, he admitted high and low alike into his fold. The Anubhava Mantapa established by Basava laid down the foundation of social democracy. Basava believed that man becomes great not by his birth but by his worth to the society. This means faith in the dignity of man and the belief that a common man is as good a part of society as a man of status.

He proclaimed that all members of the state are labourers: some may be intellectual labourers and others may be manual labourers. He placed practice before precept and his own life was of rigid rectitude. Basava brought home to his countrymen the lesson of self-purification. He tried to raise the moral level of the public life in the country, and he insisted that the same rules of conduct applied to the administrators as to the individual members of the society. He also taught the dignity of manual labour by insisting on work as worship. Every kind of manual labour, which was looked down upon by people of high caste, should be looked upon with love and reverence, he argued. Thus arts and crafts flourished, and a new foundation was laid down in the history of the economics of the land.

Basava formed people's committees representing various vocations such as agriculture, horticulture, tailoring, weaving, dyeing, and carpentry. All vocations were regarded as of equal value and the members belonged to all sorts of vocations. Thus Jedara Dasimayya was a weaver, Shankar Dasimayya a tailor, Madival Machayya a washerman, Myadar Ketayya a basket-maker, Kinnari Bommayya a goldsmith, Vakkalmuddayya a farmer, Hadap Appanna a barber, Jedar Madanna a soldier, Ganada Kannappa an oilman, Dohar Kakkayya a tanner, Mydar Channayya a cobbler, and Ambigara Chowdayya a ferryman. There were women followers such as Satyakka, Ramavve, and Somavve with their respective vocations. The curious thing was that all these and many more have sung the Vachanas (sayings) regarding their vocations in a very suggestive imagery.

Basavanna Defines GOD as:
jagadagala mugilagal migeyagal,
nimmagala, pataLadindattatta nimma shricarana,
brahmanDadindattatta nimma shri mukuta,
agammya, agOcara, apramana lingave,
neevenna karasthalakke bandu
cuLukadirayya kudala sangamadeva.

In this Vacana, Guru Basava has made it clear that, Kudala Sangamadeva in not Lord of meeting rivers. He is infinite, eternal, and beyond the reach of the physical senses. Basavanna gives perfect shape in the form of Ishtalinga to the formless and absolute GOD. Thus Ishtalinga represents the eternal, omnipresence, and Absolute GOD.

Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2010, 10:55:09 AM »
Kudala Sangama is the place two rivers meet, Tunghabadra and Godavari (?).
The Lord Siva, is the kudala sangama deva.  The signature of Basvanna is
kudala sangama deva in his blank verses.  A.K. Ramanujan translates it
as the "Lord of the meeting rivers!"   Akka Mahadevi who also belonged to
Basavakalyan group, a group formed to spread Veera Saiva movement
in Northern Karnataka.  She uses the siganature, Channa Mallikarujuna
deva, the Lord of the Golden Jasmine creepers.  Desi Ramayya uses
O Ramanatha, the Lord of Rameswaram. The foursome formed the group
of Veera Saivas movement, which flourished even now in Karnataka.  They
wear (both women and men) a small Linga image across their waist (like
the sacred thread).  They apply Vibhuti only.  No kumkum.  They are strict

Arunachala Siva.


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Bhakta Chokhamela
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2010, 08:56:57 AM »
Bhakta Chokhamela (13th century / 14th century)

Chokhamela was born in Pandharpur (or near that place) and was contemporary of Namadeva.
He was an untouchable and a staunch devotee of Sri Krishna. He sang and danced before the temple of Panduranga in Pandari puram.

Ironically enough the devotees who thronged before the temple were lured to his music like a snake which danced to the juggler’s music. But the minute his music and dance came to a stand still, their interest in him vanished. He became an untouchable and was prohibited the darshan of Lord Krishna. He would dance to his heart’s content and fall at the doorstep brooding over his ill fate. This farce continued for quite some time.

His faith was questioned one day. Somebody stopped his ecstatic dance and asked,
"If your faith is so real, if your ecstasy is heartfelt. Why then doesn't your lord give you permission to have is darshan. You say that God helps his devotees, but you are not cared for! Can a dog sit beside a Brahmin and have its food? Can a beggar enter a royal palace? So give up your futile attempts and leave this place at once!"
He even pushed the devotee ruthlessly!

The untouchable rose to his feet and argued humbly,
"My faith in God is as real as my birth into a low caste. How can my birth be a hindrance? Doesn't sun God shine over lotus born in mud? Do the clouds rain over rivers only ignoring mud ponds? Does Mother earth avoid us? Does my prayer become unwanted for my God?"
But it fell into deaf ears.

He walked back home with a heavy heart. His wife showed concern and asked:
"Why are you like that?"
He burst out crying, "I don’t know why I am created like that! I am destined to suffer. I didn't do any crime knowingly. I don't know what is cheating or fooling others. All I know is an undaunted faith in Lord Krishna, but I am not blessed by Him.
Soyarabai his wife consoled him in many ways, but his sorrow was unappeasable. He went to bed without food, still crying heavily. Soyarabai was worried about him and was watching him unobtrusively, without a wink of an eye.

Chokhamela couldn't sleep. The darkness of his heart was ten times the darkness around. But suddenly, there was a sparkle of light ten thousands times the sparkle of the sun which shattered the darkness in and around! The lord Panduranga Himself came to the doorsteps of Chokhamela.

The tears of sorrow turned out to be tears of joy. The couple fell to the feet of Vittala. The God assured them that it was His duty to save them. So saying, the God held the hand of Chokhamela and led him into his temple. God took him into the Sanctum Sanatorium even as the doors were tightly locked. Nobody saw them.

Chokhamela put one step backward,
"My lord! I am not permitted to enter your temple, but you are leading me into the Sanctum Sanatorium. It may be a bad omen to you."

God laughed away his wild fears.
"My Sanctum Sanatorium is filled with darkness, because of such superstitious practices of mankind. Today it looks illumined because of your entry. Chokhamela, whoever doesn't bother to reach me inspite of being born as a man, is an untouchable; whoever hates my staunch devotee is an untouchable."

Chokhamela was delighted by God's explanation and asked him a question for the welfare of mankind,
"Oh Lord! How should your devotees lead their lives to attain moksha ?"

Panduranga Swami answered this with a smile on his face,
"Chokha ! Three aspects have to be followed by my devotees in Kaliyuga"
1. Chanting: They should chant the name of God incessantly. Mere chanting will fetch the same results in Kaliyuga what yagnas used to fetch earlier.
2. Good Behaviour: A devotee should practice good principles like ahimsa, pity, patience, control over sense organs and a life of celibacy.
3. The company of Good people: Should move always in the company of good people who always spend their time in the presence of God. To be acquainted with such people itself is a difficult task.

So follow these three principles and set an example to the others.

The conversation went on till the early hours of next morning. The main priest heard some voices even as he unlocked the door and was taken aback to see the forbidden man in the inner most part of the temple. The head priest questioned him angrily.
"How dare you step into this sacred place ? Why can't we punish you for your stealthy act?"

Chokhamela humbly answered,
"Oh priest I did not come on my own. My Lord brought me here personally. I am not offensive in any way. I may be an untouchable, but my entry has not made the temple untouchable. If that is the case the Ganges should become untouchable since sinners have a dip in the holy river. The air should become untouchable. Just as a mother doesn't give up an ugly child God doesn't give up a lowly child."

The wiseacres had no answer to his questions. All that they knew was, he was challenging them. He had crossed the barriers and he needed to be punished. They were worried, if they left him like that, God would bring him there every night. So they banished him from that place. He was asked to live at the other bank of the Chandrabhagha river.

Chokhamela mutely obeyed their order as God's order and settled down there in a small cottage.

One day Chokhamela was having his food under a tree before his house. His wife was serving him. Panduranga unable to bear His separation from his devotee came in search of him. He wanted to join him in dinner. The couple were more than delighted, did pooja to His feet and started serving him. Soyarabai in her excitement happened to spill curds over God's dress. Chokhamela, unable to control his anger, shouted at his wife,
"How dare you do that ? Can't you see properly?"

Just then the temple priest happened to pass that way and mistook those words. Since he couldn't see the Lord, he thought they were aimed at him. In a fit of anger, he gave a big slap on his face, had a bath in the river for having touched him and came to the temple. In the meanwhile God disappeared from Chokhamela's house.

"Oh my God!", the priest was wonder struck when he opened the temple door. Tears rolled down Lord Panduranga’s cheek and one cheek turned red and swollen. You should look at the priest! His throat became dry. He missed a heart beat. He could hardly stand! He could see his mistake reflected on the Lord's face! He rushed to the senior brahmins and explained the situation. What the brahmin realized for himself was true! They could guess that God was grieved at the fate of his devotee! The only solution was to apologise to Chokhamela.

Without any second thoughts, the priest hastened to Chokhamela and prostrated before him. The latter was shocked at his action. The priest explained the situation and holding his hand in his hand, brought Chokamela to the divine presence. Chokhamela was moved to tears to see his beloved God in sorrow. He pleaded,
"Oh God! Forgive us as a mother forgives her children. Whatever has happened has happened unwittingly. We can't bear to see you in such a pitiable state. Please shower your Blessings on us with your ever pleasing smile."
God who can't say no to His devotees, looked the normal smiling self again! How great are the powers of God!

Sri Namadev had won the name of the chief devotees of Panduranga. One day while he was singing in the temple, he was shocked to see the Lord weeping. When asked for the reason, God answered,
"Oh Namadev! There is a staunch devotee of mine by name Chokhamela. He chants my name incessantly, leads a life of equanimity and sacrifice. He met with a tragic end. As he was working with some labourers, a brick wall fell over them and all of them died."

Namadev was touched at his story and said,
"Oh God! You ever love to your devotees. You blessed him by helping his jeevathma join you - Paramathma. Why then should you feel sorry for him?"

The lord answered,
"No, Namadev, he had one dying wish. I can't be happy if his desire is not fulfilled? I entrust you to fulfil it."
"Order me, my Lord, I am at your service. There is no difference between you and your devotees. So I deem it a great pleasure to play my part."

God was pleased at his readiness and said.
"Oh Namadev! Chokhamela had a strong desire. He wanted his dead body to be buried before my temple. But he met with an accidental death and all the dead bodies were given a mass burial. Now, you search his bones and get them here and bury them before my temple."
Namadev was more than willing, but he raised a genuine doubt.
"How do I differentiate his bones from the rest?"
God ruled it out as a strange fear!
"Chokhamela was chanting my name even as he breathed his last. So, whichever bone gives out my name, as you keep it near your ear that bone is Chokhamelas."

Accordingly, Namadev went and examined every bone. Lo! Some bones let out the prayer. "Vittala Vittala Panduranga." Namadev was moved to tears. He carefully collected all his bones and buried them before the temple. Even today, the devotees of Panduranga stand before his cemetry and pray to him.

Chokhamela lived in the samsara sagara, but was not drowned in it. Just as the stones floated on the Ocean due to the power of Rama Nama, he floated on the ocean of life fue to the power of Panduranga. He also proved devotion to God is not coloured by caste, creed or religion. A true devotee doesn't bother about mundane world or the behaviour of society towards him. All that a true devotee knows is undaunted faith in God.

The following song shows the realization of Chokhamela:
In my own body I have found Him, that Lord of Pandhari,
The Self, the eternal, He is standing on the brick!
Know that He, Panduranga is the Supreme Soul
And his wife Rukmini is the peace of my heart!
What had taken a visible form has now vanished,
Now I contemplate Viththala as the eternal Soul:
In such guise did Viththala take hold of my heart and mind -
And Chokhamela clasps His feet!
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2010, 09:28:10 AM »
Dear silentgreen,

I find a lot of parallels between Periya Puranam and Sri Mahabhakta Vijayam.
In the former, Nandanar, his name really is Tirunalai Povar, was an outcaste.
He wanted to go and see Thillai (Chidambaram) Nataraja.  First, there was
hurdle from his land lord, he was an agricultural labourer.  Then he was
permitted to go.  But how could he go to the sanctum sanctorum.  He stood
at a neaby village, called Tiru Pungur, wherefrom Nataraja gave darshan to
him by asking Nandi, the bull, to keep away from hiding Nandanar's sight.
Then Nandanar went to Thillai.  The brahmins did not permit.  Siva appeared
in their dream and told them to raise a fire so that Nandanar could bathe in it and come out pure!  The brahmins did accordingly, and Nandanar jumped into the fire and came back, in golden colour, with cross threads and vibhuti on his arms and forehead.  He entered the Temple, but did not come back!

Arunachala Siva.     


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« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2010, 04:16:09 PM »

Narahari was a goldsmith of Pandharpur who was fanatically devoted to Lord Shiva.
He never went to the temple of Lord Vithoba and will not place trust in any other deities.

Once a rich man took a vow that if a son was born to him, he would prepare a gold waistband for Lord Vithoba. His desire was granted and the merchant came to Narahari to make the ornament. Narahari agreed to make the gold waistband but not to go to the temple of Lord Vithoba to take measurements. He asked the merchant to take the measurement and come to him. The merchant was surprised to see that Narahari would not go to the temple of Lord Vithoba even for his business.

The merchant himself went to the temple of Lord Vithoba and took the measurements. But after the waistband was made it was found to be small. He asked Narahari to make it bigger, but after the modification was made it was found to be too big. The process of corrections were repeated but the waistband did not fit the waist of the Lord properly.

Finally the merchant requested Narahari to go to the temple himself and take the measurement but Narahari declined. The merchant gave the idea that he will blindfold Narahari's eyes and he need not see the image of the Lord. Narahari finally agreed and went inside the temple with blindfold on his eyes. Seeing Narahari people began to laugh but Narahari was unconcerned.

But when Narahari began feeling the image of the Lord, he distinctly felt that he was touching the image of Lord Shiva with matted hair, serpants etc. He threw open his blindfold only to find the image of Lord Vithoba. He again put back his blindfold but once more felt Lord Shiva while trying to take measurements. This repeated and finally Narahari understood that it was Lord Vithoba who had played trick on him to make him realize that he and Lord Shiva are not different. Narahari bowed down to the Lord's feet and said, "Victory to Thee, Lover of Thy bhaktas. Thou removest the illusions of Thy bhaktas". Lord Vithoba drew Narahari to Himself and removed the last traces of ignorance from him - the misconception that Vithoba and Shiva are different.

Narahari sang many abhangas and is also said to have gone to a pilgrimage to North India with Jnanadeva, Namadeva and the other devotees.

Some of his abhangas show very deep realizations.
In one of his abahangas he says that he is so convinced about the unreality of the world that he regards it as merely a picture drawn upon a wall.
In another abhanga he says that "The unstruck sound is foreever sounding in my ears, and my mind has been captivated by it. By means of the unstruck sound, think always upon God, and meditate upon Him in your heart. This will endow you with true love of God, and show you His pathway, as it did Narahari".
In another abhanga he says that he is a goldsmith who deals in the name of God. He makes his body the melting vessel of the soul, which is the gold therein.
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2010, 11:05:46 AM »
One discourser said that Panduranga Vittal is the combination of Siva, Vishnu and
Devi aspects.  The priests have found long matted hair below his head gear. He
keeps both the hands on his waist so that no one would thrust either a conch shell
and disc or a trident and hand drum on his hands.  Narahari's experience in Bhakta
Vijayam only shows this aspect of Hari and Hara.  Saint Karaikal Amma sings:
I see you as Vishnu on your left side, I see you as Siva on your right side, when
I started seeing you in Heart, I left all these suspicions.  (Adhbudha tiru vandati)

Arunachala Siva. 


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« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2010, 02:07:20 PM »
Thyagaraja (1759 AD - 1847 AD)

Thyagaraja was born in 1759 in Tiruvarur, a small town in the Thanjavur district of Old Madras State, now Tamil Nadu, to Kakarla Ramabrahmam and Sitamma in a Telugu Brahmin family of the Mulukanadu subsect. He was named Thyagaraja, after Lord Thyagaraja, the presiding deity of the temple at Tiruvarur. Thyagaraja was born at his maternal grandfather, Giriraja Kavi's house. Giriraja Kavi was a poet-composer in the court of the king of Thanjavur.

Thyagaraja was married at a young age to Parvatamma, who died shortly afterwards. He then married Kamalamba and they had a daughter named Sitalakshmi.

Thyagaraja began his musical training under Sonti Venkataramanayya, a noted music scholar, at an early age. He regarded music as a way to experience God's love. His objective while practising music was purely devotional, as opposed to focusing on the technicalities of classical music. He also showed a flair for composing music, and, in his teens, composed his first song Namo Namo Raghavayya in the Desika Todi ragam, and inscribed it on the walls of the house.

A few years later, Sonti Venkataramanayya invited Thyagaraja to perform at his house in Thanjavur. On that occasion, Thyagaraja sang Endaro Mahaanubhavulu, the fifth of the Pancharatna Krithis. Pleased with Thyagaraja's composition, Sonti Venkataramanayya informed the King of Thanajavur about Thyagaraja's genius. The king sent an invitation, along with many rich gifts, inviting Thyagaraja to attend the royal court. Thyagaraja, however was not inclined towards a career at the court, and rejected the invitation outright, composing another gem of a kriti, Nidhi Chala Sukhama (English: "Does wealth bring happiness?") on this occasion. Angered at Thyagaraja's rejection of the royal offer, his brother threw the statues of Rama, Thyagaraja used in his prayers into the nearby Kaveri river. Thyagaraja, unable to bear the separation with his Lord, went on pilgrimages to all the major temples in South India and composed many songs in praise of the deities of those temples.

In addition to nearly 600 compositions (kritis), Thyagaraja composed two musical plays in Telugu, the Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam and the Nauka Charitam. Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam is in five acts with 45 kritis set in 28 ragas and 138 verses, in different metres in Telugu. Nauka Charitam is a shorter play in one act with 21 kritis set in 13 ragas and 43 verses. The latter is the most popular of Thyagaraja's operas, and is a creation of the composer's own imagination and has no basis in the Bhagavata Purana.

Thyagaraja's works are some of the best and most beautiful literary expressions in Telugu language. Valmiki composed the Ramayana, the story of Rama, with 24,000 verses and incidentally Thyagaraja also composed 24,000 kritis in praise of the lord.

The kirthanas of Thyagaraja are direct, simple and inspiring, full of wisdom and entire surrender to the Almighty.

Thyagaraja died on January 6, 1847.

He, along with his contemporaries Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry, forms the Trinity of Carnatic music.

From wikipedia
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2010, 10:58:04 AM »
Two interesting pieces about Saint Tyagaraja:

1.  We must be thinking that he sang only on Rama.  No, there are keertans on
Sri Panchanadeeswara, Siva of Tiruvaiyaru, near Thanjavur, where he attained
liberation and also on various Siva shrines.

2. Once someone asked Bhagavan: Whether Tyagaraja sang such heart melting
songs and attained liberation?  Bhagavan answered:  No, he attained liberation
and then sang.  This is anubhuti.  Words of experience and not words for experience!

Arunachala Siva.


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2010, 03:06:16 PM »
Milarepa (1052 AD 1135 AD)

Milarepa was born to Mila-Dorje-Senge in 1052 AD. His father was a trader in wool and became quite wealthy. During childhood Milarepa was named Thopaga, (which means delightful to hear) and his voice was so delightful that his companions were charmed by his singing. Milarepa had a sister named Peta who was four years younger. The family was generous and was loved by all relatives and neighbours in the area.

However fate turned the fortune of the family. Milarepa's father became gravely ill and sensing his impending death called the extended family and put the care of his estate in the hands of his brother and sister till Milarepa (then Thopaga) had grown and married Zesay, one of the neighboring girls who had been betrothed to Milarepa in childhood.

After the death of the father, the greedy uncle and aunt dispossessed Milarepa, his mother and sister from their property. They were forced to live with minimum subsistence and even made to work in the fields. The once prosperous family now lived on course food, tattered clothes and became objects of derision and abuse by all.

When Milarepa was fifteen his mother put together all her resources and arranged for a feast to make the neighbours and relatives know how they were dispossessed of their property by the uncle and aunt. However the greedy uncle and aunt took the upper hand and declared that it was their property and drove out Milarepa, his mother and sister to fend for themselves.
After that they lived meagerly, supported by the relatives of Milarepa's mother and charity from Zesay's family. The three were forced to work hard, exchanging their labor for a bit of food or a scrap of clothing.

To take vengeance of the cruel acts of the uncle and aunt, Milarepa's mother forced Milarepa to learn black magic, selling half of her plot to finance him and even telling that she would commit suicide if her son returned without learning the art. Milarepa found a teacher, worked diligently and learned a lesson of black magic. With that he raised hail storms and utterly ruined the entire barley crop of that year and also killed some lives. Milarepa's mother in utter happiness made it public that it was her son, now an expert sorcerer, has wrecked this havoc. Through an intelligent ploy she also warned that whoever opposes her son will have to meet with similar predicament. Everyone was both afraid and angry. Milarepa's life was in danger and he escaped narrowly.

However Milarepa became deeply repentant for his evil acts and he longed for the Truth and a way of deliverance from the karmic effects of his acts. His search for teacher led him to Marpa  (Marpa the Translator) who was widely known for his trips to India to procure sacred teachings which he brought back to Tibet in large bundles of scrolls. Marpa was initiated by Naropa, a powerful Saint who had fully transferred his exalted state of enlightenment to his disciple Marpa.

Marpa came to know beforehand about the coming of Milarepa. To expiate the sins of Milarepa, Marpa put Milarepa in considerable hardships without Milarepa knowing the purpose. Marpa  kept Milarepa busy at strenuous physical labours building various stone buildings, asking him to demolish them as if in whim and again rebuild them differently. His treatment was harsh and cruel to say the least. When Milarepa sometimes asked for the teaching, Marpa drove him out. So instead of teaching, Milarepa only got orders for strenous works, abuses and beatings. He developed deep sores in his back by constantly carrying stones and his state of mind was a deep despair. His only consolation was Damema, the kind wife of Marpa. She consoled Milarepa when he wept and tried various ways of getting Milarepa initiated by her husband, but of no avail. Often she became the object of anger and beating by her husband. Milarepa obeyed Marpa with dogged determination for initation, but eventually he lost hope. Damema came out with a plan to get Milarepa initiated from Ngogpa, a disciple of Marpa posing as if it was the order of his Master. The plan succeeded and Milarepa got initiated from Ngogpa. However during meditation he was not able to get the expected results. Upon enquiry when Ngogpa came to know about the plan hatched to get initiation, he said that since Milarepa has taken the initiation without the permission of his Guru Marpa, the results were not coming.

The period of expiation came to an end and Marpa made it known that his harsh treatement towards Milarepa was purposeful. He also praised Milarepa for his dogged determination, sincerity and faith in his Guru. Milarepa finally got the initiation from Marpa. Milarepa began his meditation training shut in a cave with provisions. Everyday he meditated putting a lighted lamp on his head and would continue meditation till the lamp went out. This continued for eleven months after which Marpa called Milarepa and asked him to tell about his experiences. Milarepa said:

I have understood this body of mine to be the product of ignorance, composed of flesh and blood and lit up by the perceptive power of consciousness. To those fortunate ones who long for emancipation it may be the great vessel by which they may procure Freedom. But to the unfortunates who only sin, it may be the guide to lower and miserable states of existence. This our life is the boundary mark whence one may take an upward or downward path. Our present time is a most precious time, wherein each of us must decide, in one way or other, for lasting good or lasting ill.

One who aims only at his own individual peace and happiness adopts the lower path (Hinayana), but he who devotes the merits of his love and compassion to the cause of others belongs to the higher path (Mahayana).

In meditating on the Final Goal, one has to discover the non-existence of the personal Ego, and therefore the fallacy that it exists (i.e. because everything in the universe with name and form is basically illusory in nature)

To realize the state of non-existence of the personal ego, the mind must be kept in quiescence. In that state, thoughts, ideas, and cognition cease and the mind (awareness) passes into a state of perfect tranquility so that days, months, and years may pass without the person perceiving it; thus the passage of time has to be marked for him by others.

The visions of the forms of the Deities which appear in meditation are merely signs attending the perseverance in meditation. They have no intrinsic worth or value in themselves.

All the efforts put forth during this path must be made in a spirit of compassion with the aim of dedicating the merit of one's efforts to the Universal Good. There is a need of mentally praying and wishing for blessings on others so earnestly that one's mind processes also transcend thought.

Just as the mere name of food does not satisfy the appetite of a hungry person but he must eat food, so also a man who would learn about the Voidness (i.e. Universal Awareness) must meditate so as to realize it, not just learn of its definition.

Marpa was very pleased and said that Milarepa's realizations have exceeded his expectations. He sent Milarepa back for more meditation.

By now Marpa was getting on in years. Since he began teaching Milarepa, he had made two more trips to India to visit his Guru Naropa and receive the final texts he had not brought back in his earlier trips. Marpa now called together all his chief Lamas and disciples, including Milarepa, and gave to each those mystics texts that would be most valuable according to each person's line of development. Each also received some relic that had belonged to Naropa. To Milarepa was given the teaching of Tum-mo in which the ascending and descending flows along the spinal column are united to produce the vital heat so necessary for meditation in the cold and solitary caves of the Himalayas. Then all returned to their own province except Milarepa who continued for several more years of meditation in a cave under the direction of Marpa.

Once Milarepa fell asleep in the cave and had a dream wherein he saw the house he had lived in as a child all in ruins. He saw his sacred books within the fallen house being wasted by rain water, his old mother had died, and his sister was roving about the countryside with no attachments and no friends. He felt nostalgic, came out of the cave, went to his guru and asked for permission to go home. Marpa gave permission but listening to his dream predicted that Milarepa's mother is dead and this will be their (Milarepa and Marpa's) last meeting. With a heavy heart the guru and disciple parted and Milarepa left for his native place.

When Milarepa reached his house, he found it in ruins, he came to know that his mother has died and no one knows about the whereabouts of his sister.

Milarepa begged some foodgrains and settled in the spacious comfortable cave, not even sleeping, but meditating continuously except for a single break once a day to prepare a meal of flour and water mixed with whatever root or edible he might find. At about this time Milarepa gained proficiency in the yogic power of Tum-mo, the generation of the Ecstatic Internal Warmth, in which the body generates a great deal of heat. This allowed him to stay relatively warm through the cold Tibetan winters with nothing but a thin cotton covering whereas most people had to wear thick wool and leather hides. For this reason he came to be called Mila - repa or Mila the cotton clad.

His daily routine of meditation continued for four years until his supply of flour ran out. This caused him great concern because he had vowed to himself not to return to the world for any reason - but with no food, he was afraid he might die without having attained liberation. He decided to walk about outside the cave in search of some kind of food. Not far from the cave he found a sunny spot with springs of fresh water, an expansive view of the area, with a large quantity of nettles growing all about. He continued his meditation and ate only nettle soup. His body became emaciated and the hair on his body began to take on a greenish tinge from the nettles. Some hunters and local people who occasionally came near the cave thought that he was a spirit and he had to assure them that he was a human being. Some people made fun of his austerities but Milarepa was undeterred.

Several more years passed in this way and Milarepa's sister Peta and his betrothed Zesay found him out. They tried to get him back but Milarepa instead instructed them on the real purpose of life. They often supplied food to Milarepa.

His meditation attained new heights. The knot of the central spinal column along which the psychic energy flows was now cleared at the plexus (i.e. chakra center) below the naval and the psychic energy current rose up his spine in its fullness. He now experienced a supersensuous calmness and clearness that far exceeded in its ecstatic intensity any of the states he had previously reached. He attained to new heights of realization in which he saw that the highest state of Nirvana and the ordinary state of Samsaric consciousness were but opposite and inseparable states resting on the base of the Voidness of Universal or Supra mundane Mind (ie Ultimate Awareness). In his new realization he could clearly see that the samsaric or phenomenal existence results when the Universal Mind is directed along the path of self centered and self oriented awareness, and that the Nirvanic state of transcendence results when it is directed on the path of selfless or altruistic awareness.

Later Milarepa moved to Lapchi-Kang (Everest) and continued his meditation amidst the snows and isolation there. Altogether he meditated in and made holy twenty caves covering the region from Mount Kailas and Lapchi-Kang in Tibet to far off Nepal. It is said that besides his many human converts he also brought to enlightenment some superhuman (ie non-embodied) beings as well, including the Goddess Tseringma (one of the twelve guardian deities of Tibet who reside at Mt. Kailas). The Goddess came to tempt him with her powers during his meditations and instead was herself liberated.

During his travels over the 84 years of his life he met many worthy disciples that were destined to come under his tutelage. Highest among the disciples was Dvagpo Rimpoche (Gambopa). The most well known among them was Rechung who entreated him to tell in detail the story of his life which was recorded for the benefit of all sentient beings, even into the far future. These two disciples were respectively like the sun and the moon. The most exalted of beings met by Milarepa was a Maha-Purusha (Great Being) he had the excellent fortune of meeting - an Exalted Being mentioned by the Buddha himself as one of the guardians and protectors of the human race who live on through the centuries far from human habitation.

Besides his two chief disciples, Milarepa had 25 additional highly accomplished disciples, both men and women, who became saints. Another hundred made such progress that they did not take rebirth. Another hundred and eight Great Ones obtained excellent experience and knowledge from meditation. A thousand sadhus and yogis, both men and women, renounced worldly life and lived lives of exemplary piety. Innumerable lay disciples formed a religious relationship with Milarepa so that the gateway to lower states of existence was closed to them forever.

Thus did Milarepa radiate spiritual light like a beacon, drawing vast numbers of sentient beings forward toward the light of deliverance and dispelling in all directions the darkness of selfishness and ignorance.

"The Guru, being like the Dharma-Kaya (aggregate of all enlightened beings) is like the expanse of the sky.

Upon the face of the sky, the Clouds of Good Wishes of the Sambhoga-Kaya (aggregate of overseeing deities in heaven worlds) gather.

From the Clouds in the expanse of sky, descend the flowery showers of the Nirmana-Kaya (Great Teachers incarnated on Earth)

These falling on the Earth unceasingly, nourish and ripen the harvest of Saved Beings.


Life of Milarepa and internet sources
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2010, 07:32:47 AM »
Arunagirinathar (15th century)

Arunagiri was born in Thiruvannamalai, a town in Tamil Nadu. His father died soon after his birth and his mother and sister brought him up in the rich cultural and religious traditions. Legends claim that Arunagiri was attracted to the pleasures of the flesh and spent his youth in pursuing a life of debauchery. He used to get money from his sister each time to go to devadasi's. His sister always give whatever she earned to make his brother happy. One day he demanded money from his sister, but unfortunately she had no money. She was very sad and said, "Oh brother, I am sorry that there is no money to give you today." Arunagirinathar shouted how its possible and he wanted money now to have pleasure. His sister then said "Brother, if you need to have pleasure then please come sleep with me, tomorrow I will get you the money somehow". Hearing that, Arunagirinathar felt how self centered and selfish he was. He decided to end his life, went to the temple hit his head in all the pillars and steps, begging for forgiveness. Then he leaped from the tower of Thiruvannamalai temple. He was however miraculously saved from the death by Lord Muruga who also transformed him to a holy saint instantaneously.

Arunagiri sang his first devotional song and thereafter decided to spend the rest of his life singing in praise of the god. He was a devotee of Lord Muruga and worshipped the God at Vedapureeswarar temple at the sacred place known as Cheyyar on the banks of the Cheyyar River. His fame got the jealousy of chief minister of the Kingdom. He claimed Arunagirinathar as a false saint and not a true devotee of Lord Subramaniya. So the king arranged a public gathering and asked Arunagiri to show Lord Subramanya to others also. Arunagiri started singing songs towards Lord Muruga and soon after Lord Muruga appeared in a stone pillar in the form of child. He was so bright as equal to hundreds of suns and the people were unable to see this with their ordinary eyes. Due to this everybody lost their eyes including the king and ministers. It was suggested that bringing the Parijatha flower could only get sights back to the people. Arunagirinathar is said to have entered the body of a parrot in order to fetch the parijatha flower. His enemy Sambandan burnt his body & hence Arunagirinathar settled himself on the temple tower in the form of the parrot and sang his famous Kantharanubhuthi. There is a form of a parrot in one of the sthubis (Kili Gopuram), testifying to this story.

Arunagiri, rendered his first song Muthai Tharu... after the miraculous escape at Thiruvannamalai. Arunagiri visited temples all over South India and composed over 60000 songs. The songs show the way to the life of virtue and righteousness and set the tone for a new form of worship, the musical worship.

The Thiruppugazh songs remained in manuscript form for a number of years and ignored and forgotten. V.T. Subramania Pillai and his son V.S. Chengalvaraya Pillai of Tiruthani understood their value, retrieved them and published them.

In 1871 Subramania Pillai, a District Munsif, had the opportunity to hear a rendering of a Tiruppugazh song while he was on a tour of Chidambaram. Captivated by the song, he decided to set out on a mission to search for the entire body of Tiruppugazh songs. He toured all over south India, collected manuscripts, including palm leaves, assembled the texts and published them in two volumes, the first in 1894 and the second in 1901. After his demise, his son Chengalvaraya Pillai brought out a new edition of the songs.

In our sastras, it is said that the state of mind of a person at the last moment when life is about to leave the body, is very important from the point of view of his rebirth. If one were to utter the name of Narayana or Shiva and fix his mind on His form at the time of death, he is assured of moksha and release from rebirth. Arunagirinatha had realised with great poignancy that the body had failed to serve the purpose for which God had intended it. He had misused it for immoral purposes. What was there left for him to do except to surrender the mind and the body to the Lord? He sings thus:

Oh mind of mine!
Trust not the body
That infernal machine
Turning out pleasure and pain.
Brahma who sits on the Lotus
Created it to bind the mind.

Oh mind of mine!
Free thyself from fear.
To seek Him, endeavour
Patiently and steadily.
Let us go to Him
Show our love and surrender.

Oh mind of mine!
It's good you decided to surrender.
See Him on His peacock Vahana
He has now taken charge of you.
Doubt not, there is no Greater State.
Dwell on His holy name
Always, 'Mainda, Kumara'.

How beautifully Arunagirinatha has expressed it when Lord Muruga appeared before him!

Kinkini thith thimi, thith thith
The anklets on the dancing feet jingled,
A sound that to other sounds
Closed my hearing.

The Kadamba garland that He wore
Suffused me with its cloying fragrance,
And my breath was held.
His moon-like countenance and tender smile
Caused such cheer and ecstasy
That my mind was lost.

For a moment He looked at me,
A cool liquid light poured out
From His long lotus eyes.
It filled my heart tasting like nectar
And I was lost to Him forever.

Internet sources
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2010, 11:00:43 AM »
Dear silentgreen,

Thanks for your post.  Arunagiri Natha must have done a lot of penance
in his previous birth.  That is why Lord Muruga came to his help and made
him pure in that birth.  His songs, about 1328 are available today.  They
are long and short ones.  One Guruji Raghavan has started the practice
of singing these songs, originally from Delhi and this movement spread
to other centres too.  He had made raga and tala for about 600 songs.
The entire book is also published by them.  This is Tiruppugazh.  The
saint poet has also written Kandhar Anubhuti, (which is his last work)
and Kandhar Alkankaram, Tiru Viruttam and Tiru Vaguppu.  All these
are available in print.  There are many groups which sing them every
week, both male and female.  The Bangalore Centre is very active,
with about 1000 members.  Guruji Raghavan is about 85 years old
and he also sings.  He lives now in Chennai.  My wife is an active
member in this group since 10 years.  He has also used the word
Summa Iru (be still) in his songs.  Devaraja Mudaliar mentions about
these songs in his Day by Day and Reminiscences.  Bhagavan Ramana
used to quote some songs.  This Tiruppugazh has been transliterated
in Kannada recently.  All songs are available for reading and most of
them as audios in run by one Gopala Sundaram.           

Arunachala Siva.


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2010, 01:15:06 PM »
Ramprasad (1718/1723 - 1775)

Ramprasad was born in Halisahar, a village on the banks of the Ganges about thirty-five miles north of Kolkata, into a Tantric Vaidya family. Due to the absence of birth records, his actual birth date is not known, but it is believed to be around 1718 or 1723. His father, Ramram Sen, was an Ayurvedic doctor and Sanskrit scholar. Ramprasad's mother Siddheswari was Ramram's second wife. Ramprasad was sent to a Sanskrit tol (school) where he learned Sanskrit grammar, literature, Persian, and Hindi. As a youth, he had a talent for poetry and learning new languages.

Ramram hoped his son would follow in his profession, but Ramprasad showed no interest in practical pursuits. As he grew up, his spiritual inclinations caused a great deal of anxiety to his parents. Believing that marriage would make Ramprasad more responsible, his parents married him to a girl named Sarvani when he was twenty-two years old. In keeping with the family custom, the newly wed couple was initiated by the family's spiritual teacher, Madhavacharya. According to traditional accounts, during initiation when the guru whispered the mantra to him, Ramprasad became consumed by intense longing for the goddess Kali. One year after the initiation he lost his guru. Ramprasad later became the disciple of Krishnananda Agamavagisha, a Tantric yogi and scholar. Agamavagisha was a well known devotee of Kali and the author of the Bengali book Tantrasara. Agamavagisha instructed Ramprasad in Tantric sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) and worship of Kali.

Instead of following his parents wishes and looking for a job, it is said that Ramprasad devoted most of him time to sadhana. Ramram died before he could make provisions to support the family. Forced finally by poverty, Ramprasad moved to Kolkata and worked as an accountant in the household of Durga Charan Mitra for a monthly salary of thirty rupees. According to traditional accounts, during his employment Ramprasad would write devotional songs to Kali. His fellow employees were appalled to see Ramprasad write poems in his account book, and reported him to their employer. Durga Charan Mitra, upon reading Ramprasad's work, was moved by his piety and literary skill. Instead of dismissing Ramprasad from work, he asked him to return to his village and compose songs to Kali, while continuing to pay his salary.

After returning to his village, Ramprasad spent most of his time in sadhana, meditation, and prayer. Traditional accounts tell of several esoteric sadhanas that he performed, including standing neck-deep in the river Ganges, singing songs to Kali. Ramprasad would regularly practice his sadhana in a panchavati groove with five trees—banyan, bael, amalaki, ashoka, and peepul—all regarded as holy by Tantric tradition. He would reportedly spend hours meditating on a panchamundi asana (an altar inside which are interred five skulls–that of a snake, frog, rabbit, fox, and man). According to popular stories he had a vision of Kali in her form of Adyashakti Mahamaya.

The Maharaja Krishna Chandra of Nadia, a landlord under Nawab Sirajuddaula of Bengal, heard Ramprasad's hymns—being an ardent devotee of Kali, he appointed Ramprasad as his court poet. Ramprasad rarely attended the Maharaja's court and would spend his time in sadhana and worship of Kali. Krishna Chandra became Ramprasad's benefactor, giving him 100 acres of tax free land — Ramprasad in return dedicated his book Vidyasundar ("Beautiful Knowledge") to the Maharaja. Krishna Chandra also gave Ramprasad the title Kaviranjana ("Entertainer of poets"). During the Maharaja's last years, Ramprasad stayed beside him, singing hymns to Kali. Ramprasad's mysticism was recognized by sufis and Nawab Sirajuddaula. Ramprasad is said to have visited the court of the Nawab at the Nawab's fervent request.

In Bengal, popular stories and legends are told of Ramprasad. One of the most well known stories is about a "radiant girl" who helped him one day. Ramprasad was repairing a fence with the assistance of his daughter, who left shortly thereafter. Soon a "radiant girl", whom he didn't recognize, came to help him. After finishing the task, she vanished. According to the story, Ramprasad then realized that she was a manifestation of Kali.

Another popular story is told of Ramprasad's vision of goddess Annapurna of Varanasi. Ramprasad was on his way to the river for his daily ritual bath when a beautiful young woman stopped him, asking if she could hear him sing a devotional song to the Divine Mother. Ramprasad requested her to wait, since it was getting late for his noon worship. When he returned, he couldn't find her, and began to think that it may have been the "play of Divine Mother." Sitting down to meditate, he was surrounded by a radiant light and heard a female voice saying, "I am Annapurna (...) I came all the way from Varanasi to hear your songs but, alas, I had to leave disappointed." Ramprasad was angry with himself and immediately left for Varanasi to find Mother Annapurna and sing for her. After walking many miles, he reached Triveni, where he took rest under a tree on the bank of the Ganges. Here he reportedly received another vision, saw the same mystical light, and heard the Mother's voice saying, "Stay here and sing for me. (...) Varanasi is not the only place where I live; I pervade the whole universe."

During Ramprasad's old age, he was looked after by his son Ramdulal and daughter-in-law Bhagavati. A folk story is told of Ramprasad's death. Ramprasad was very fond of taking part in Kali puja on the night of Diwali, the festival of lights. On one Kali puja night, he performed the puja and sang throughout the night. In the morning, Ramprasad carried the jar of Divine Mother's sanctified water on his head to the Ganges. He was followed by the devotees, who carried the clay image of Kali to be immersed in the Ganges after the night of worship. Ramprasad waded into the holy river, until the water was neck deep, all the while singing for Kali. As Kali's image was immersed, Ramprasad died— this was believed to be around 1775.

Hymns of Ramprasad::

You'll find Mother In any house.
Do I dare say it in public?
She is Bhairavi with Shiva,
Durga with Her children,
Sita with Lakshmana.
She's mother, daughter, wife, sister —
Every woman close to you.
What more can Ramprasad say?
You work the rest out from these hints.


You think you understand the Goddess?
Even philosophers can not explain her.
The scriptures say that she, herself,
is the essence of us all. It is she, herself,
who brings life through her sweet will.

You think you understand her?
I can only smile, you think that you can
truly know her? I can only laugh!
But what our minds accept, our hearts do not.
Ants try to grasp the moon, we the goddess.

Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Saint Francis of Assisi
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2010, 04:39:36 PM »
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1228)

Saint Francis is called the little poor man of Assisi. He was born in the year 1182 in the town of Assisi in Italy. His father's name was Bernadone. Bernadone was a very wealthy merchant of Assisi. Francis was a very good-looking boy. He was merry and soft-hearted. So he had many friends. All the noble men's sons were his companions.

Francis was brought up in luxury and gaiety. He spent a considerable portion of his wealth in extravagant pleasures. He used to drink with the young princes of the land.

One day Francis was joking and laughing with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis, who was soft-hearted, gave whatever he had in his pocket to the beggar. His companions mocked at him for his charitable act. Dispassion dawned in his heart. The sight of the beggar set him thinking about the poverty and misery of mundane life. He gave much money to the poor. His father thought that Francis was wasting his money and rebuked him.

Sometime after this, Francis was laid up in bed for many months on account of some serious disease. He was about to die. But the Lord saved him as he had to carry out a definite mission in his life. The nature of Francis was entirely changed. Francis prayed to the Lord for light and guidance as to his future. He had a vision of Lord Jesus. He made a strong determination to renounce his old way of living to tread a life of purity and to dedicate his life to the service of humanity.

As soon as Francis got well, he informed his parents of his determination. They were disappointed. They became angry with Francis. Francis gave up his old ways and habits and set up to serve God. He distributed clothes, goods and money to the poor. His father was very much annoyed towards his son. He said, "Is this the gratitude you show to me ? I laboured hard and amassed wealth. You are lavishly wasting it on these miserable wretches".

Francis' friends mocked at him and teased him. His father turned him out of the house. Francis lived like a beggar. His old friends even pelted him with stones and mud. He bore everything with patience. He wore a coarse dress and ate simple food.

Francis lived in a cave in the mountains of Assisi and spent his time in prayer and meditation for two years. Some kind people gave him food, but very often he had to starve.

Francis called the body 'brother ass'. He kept this brother ass under perfect discipline and control. Sometimes he kept this brother ass without food and water and denied it some special food that it liked very much.

Francis was humble. He loved God's creatures. He loved birds and beasts. He loved the depressed and the outcastes. He treated the birds, the beasts and all beings as brothers and sisters.

Francis went from village to village preaching the love of God. He invited people to join him in his life of service if they were willing. Bernard, a rich man of Assisi, was very much attracted by the saintliness of Francis. He joined Francis. He was the first follower of Francis. He placed all his wealth at the altar of God. Eleven others also joined Francis. They distributed all their wealth to the poor. Francis and his followers went all over Italy preaching, teaching, healing and blessing wherever they went.

The gospel of kindness and love of Francis soon spread all over Europe and earned for him the name of St. Francis. People called him the little poor man of Assisi. He lived for ever in the hearts of all men.

St. Francis collected many followers and founded the Order of Mendicant Friars or Franciscans. The members of this Order have to take a vow of poverty, chastity, love and obedience.

St. Francis gave up his mortal coil in 1228.

The followers of St. Francis built a beautiful church round him on the hill of Assisi, the hill he so dearly loved. The influence of St. Francis and the sweet aroma of the life he lived will last for ever.

Glory to St. Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, but an illustrious saint !

The Prayer of Saint Francis

O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved
as to love; for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

By Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society)

Saint Francis was a great lover of animals. He often communicated the glory of Gods to animals.
The stories of Saint Francis and animals can be found here:
« Last Edit: March 23, 2010, 08:13:04 AM by silentgreen »
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...


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Re: Saints / Devotees
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2010, 08:00:51 AM »
Dear grhluna,

I found that reading the biographies of saints is like doing parayana (circumbulation of mountain or some holy place). Normally all biographies are available in the internet. However it still helps to put it in one place, because internet is such a huge collection of resources. There is no well-defined sequence I follow but put them as and when it occurs to me. Swami Sivananda is also in my agenda.
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...