By: Swamy Ayyappadas, National Vice Chairman)
VEDAS are the basis of Sanatan Dharma/ Hindu Dharma. If there is something called ‘Knowledge – GYAN’ in the universe, everything originated from the Vedas. However, even though the whole world is ready to acknowledge this, we Hindus are reluctant to accept the facts. About 5000 year ago, the great sage Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa divided the immortal, invaluable treasure of knowledge, VEDA into four as Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. Later, four Upanishads were written as questions & answers between Master and Disciple for clarification of doubts. The inner meanings of the four Vedas, explained through the four Upanishads came out by churning, these are reflected in the great four truths (phrases). Great sages Adi Sankara, Jesus Christ, Sree Narayana Guru, Chattambi Swamikal, Swami Vivekananda etc. were searching an answer to the ever famous question “Who Am I “ will be revealed, if you understand the inner meaning of these Maha Vakyas !
|Ayam Atma Brahma
|Gyan is Brahma
|It is You
|I am Brahma
|I am Atma, hence I am Brahma
Your effort in search of an answer to the question “Who Am I” will bring you Here, though the route to reach Here is highly complicated, full of thorns.
Modifying the earlier way of life practiced till now with major changes, adhering to the strict rules and advices of a Guruswami (3rd person)- Vrita, with dedication, devotion and determination and reaching at the end of the travel towards divine bliss, enlightenment- is the doctrine of Sanatana Dharama- i.e., Tat-Tvam -Asi.
Strengthening of body and mind through tough rituals of vritha, you will be prepared to face any adversaries in the trekking route to Sabarimala. Passing through dense forest in the midst of wild animals and difficulties, with ‘Irumudi’ containing pooja materials and the most important “Neithenga” (Ghee filled Coconut) on the head you reached below the holy 18 steps to get a glimpse of the Lord, Swamy Ayyappa, Sree Bhootanatha, the head of Panchabhootas- Prithvi (Earth), Ap (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Akash (Sky / Ether).
Breaking a coconut symbolizing destruction of your ego, you climb the 18 holy steps, steps to your final goal of Moksha. Human body comprises 96 tatwa /doctrines / principles in which 18 are very important and are to be compulsorily avoided. The essence and purpose of the strict rituals during the Vrita are to prepare your body and mind to overcome these 18 vices.
The first 5 steps represent Panchendriyas- 5 sense organs: eyes, nose, tongue, skin and ears, which always divert a person from his ultimate goal are to be under your control, though difficult in the worldly life, a truth-seeker should be able to acquire that mental power. The next 8 steps represent 8 negative characteristics which prevent man from attaining salvation: kaama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (temptation), mada (pride), maatsarya (envy), ahankara (ego) and dambham (jealousy) which are to be removed from your mind. Next 3 steps represent Tri-gunas: Tamo guna (lowest of the three; selfish, ignorance), Rajo guna (a mixture of both Tamo & Satva gunas) and Satva guna (Rishi like good quality, selflessness, sacrificing for others); One has to come out of all these tri-gunas, which are derived from Panchabhootas. The last 2 steps represent Vidya- wrong knowledge that body is everything and Avidya- ignorance, tamo-guna (bad qualities).
A devotee devoid off or has overcome all these 18 negative characteristics and gradually travelled and raised up from the lower Tamo guna through Rajo guna and attained superior Satva guna will be fit enough to get the divine blessings. When the divine knowledge glitters in you that “I am not this body, not the panchabhoothas, not the mere worldly knowledge…..” and then “Who am I “….“I am Atma: Jeeva-Atma and is inseparable part of Param-Atma- the Supreme Power. When you reach on top of the 18 steps, Swamy Ayyappa instills in you that whom you were searching till now is within you – That You Are = Tat-Tvam-Asi.
The divine Ghee-Coconut, represents: Shell – your body and Ghee inside -your Jeeva-Atma, is merged with Paramatma by pouring the Ghee on the Murty in the Sreekovil (Sanctum Sanctorum), symbolizing your attainment of Moksha-salvation. After taking the ghee from the coconut, the shell part (with flush) representing your body is put in the holy fire symbolizing cremation and the life after Swamy darsan is a new life of Good man devoid of all vices, a true Ayyappa!!!