I was blessed to attend a satsang session yesterday which gave me a peek on the ‘Periya Puranam’. I have not read any of our scriptures like the puranas and Upanishads. So it was interesting to hear this from a learned person.
After chanting of Lalita Sahasranama, Khatagamala stotram we were treated to a beautiful discourse on ‘Periya Puranam’ in Tamil by Pujya Rajashekara Swamigal. Am sharing the gist of the discourse
- How should one pray and what should one pray to the Lord? When we pray either in the temple or our home altar; we should have one pointed devotion to the Lord without being distracted with the people or other things around us. And we should never pray only for our selfish interests. If we pray for the whole world of which we are a part; our prayers will be heard and answered immediately.
- Periya Purana is the great purana or epic, sometimes called Tiruttontarpuranam (“Tiru-Thondar-Puranam”, the Purana of the Holy Devotees) is a Tamil poetic account depicting the legendary lives of the sixty-three Nayanars, the canonical poets of Tamil Shaivism. It was compiled during the 12th century by Sekkizhar. Nayanar (in Tamil means hounds of Shiva; they were the ones who took pleasure in serving the servants of the Lord)
- There have been many ‘intellectuals’ who have looked down upon the path of Bhakti (devotion) as something inferior to Jnana (wisdom). Their short-sightedness becomes at once apparent when we study the lives of the great Four Teachers (nayanars) (Appar, Sundarar, Manickavachagar and Sambandar) and realise that these great Jnanis, too, were great Bhaktas who loved to visit the temples and sing the glories of the Lord.
- If one wants to know what is devotion, what will be the actions and state of devotees, and want to dwell in the great nectar of love, the best place to seek that knowledge is periya purANam. If one wants to feel the great heights that love for the Lord, who is the pure form of love, can take then read the periya purANam not just for the sake of reading, but by putting oneself in the state of the nAyanAr whose life is described there. One must feel it. Even for a person who never ever tasted the honey of devotion, it should give a great experience.
- It is said about Periya Puranam that
a. It is a nectar that will give you the immortal love, drink it
b. It is a perennial river of love that will make the lands of your mind fertile, irrigate with it.
c. It is a ocean that will get you pearl heaps of coveted qualities, dwell in it.
d. It is a sharp sword that will cut off the bonds to make you feel the bliss of freedom, hold it strong.
6. One can achieve devotion and liberation through 3 means (either one or all) They are: (1) Devotion to Guru (2) Devotion to Linga (3) Devotion to Sangamam or group Devotion for example in a temple. This classification has been handed down from the creator through elders ‘ word of mouth and legendary literature.
- Consecration to Guru earnestly praying to Guru considering him as the almighty defines Guru Devotion ( Guru Bhakthi )
- Linga Bhakthi Pertains to Devoutness to the Lingam or Moorthi given by Guru or Aacharya. Goddess Kamakshi prayed to Siva with such zeal, deep affection and loyalty that she became his left half (Ardhanary).
- Sangama Bhakthi encompasses group prayer like in a Temple .Godly men can by Worshipped as God too and this is illustrated in the Periya Puranam. Godly men or considered at a higher plane than almighty himself. This is illustrated in the following example . we humans, on a hot ,sweltering summer day can bear the heat without an Umbrella but cannot bear to walk without footwear. This illustrates the fact that we can bear the earth’s absorbed heat. In a similar vein, Acharyas who have imbibed the almighty power are much more powerful than the almighty himself.
- Sangama Bhakthi elevates the whole society whereas Guru Bhakthi and Linga Bhakthi will only elevate the individual.
- Temple worship includes all three forms of Bhakthi namely Guru bhakthi , Linga Bhakthi, and group worship all come into focus at, the temple, at the same time .
- While talking about these 3 aspects Swamiji shared the following stories story of Siruthondar who sacrificed his son to be fed to the Lord. It is a height of devotion of the whole family towards Lord Shiva. The story can be read http://www.skandagurunatha.org/deities/siva/nayanars/35.asp
- Story of Iyarpagai Nayanar who offered his wife to the Lord. (who came in the guise of a shiva bhakta) http://www.skandagurunatha.org/deities/siva/nayanars/02.asp
The learning from the session was our true devotion to God can be realised only when one can shed a drop of tear only for Him, for His love and to attain Him. When we can be devoted to our guru whom we should not differentiate from God and when we serve the people; have satsang and elevate others also along with ourselves. Pray not only for self but for others as well “Samastha loka sukhino bhavantu.