ARDRA DARSANAM* – THE DAY OF MERCY.
[* Ardra-darsana means 'Vision of Ardra'. Ardra is the star, Alpha Betelgeux, and located in the Hindu Sign, Mithuna. It is also known as Betelguese and its celestial coordinates were as follow on the 1st January 1900: Longitude, 27° Gemini 22'; Latitude, 16° South 2'; and Declination, 7° North 23'. It symbolizes Girisa, according to Hindu Astrology. Ardra also means 'moisture', 'fluidity', 'compassion' and hence 'Divine Grace that transforms man'. Ardra-darsana is a mystic rite closely connected with the momentous step in spiritual regeneration known as 'Sakti-Nipata', and celebrated when the moon is in the lunar mansion Ardra, during the solar month Dhanus and the lunar month Margasirsha. Ed. L.T.]
The Lord Sri Krishna in the Gita says: "Among the months I am the month of Maragasiras known as Dhanus1". [1
The passage occurs in the Bhagavad-gita at x, 35, and the translation given above is a paraphrase which is rather wide of the mark. The correct rendering will be "Of months I am Margasirsha". This month opens the Sayanottarayana beginning with the Makarayanasankramana and not with the popular Nirayanasankranti, and thus ushers in the Topical year. And the month is synodic and not solar. The name 'Margasirhsa' means 'the crown of the path (of illumination)'. At the Makarayanapravesa the Sun turns back from the Southern and gets into the Northern course. The year par excellence for spiritual purposes is Tropical and not Equinoctial, and the month, synodic and not solar: hence Margasirsha is the first sacred month of the sacred year. – Ed. L.T] The reason for this will be the same as for the earlier hour of Dawn being called Brahma-muhurtam.2 [2
Brahma-muhurta means literally 'the moment of the spirit', 'the Divine hour' and derivatively 'the supreme moment'. In a higher sense the expression signifies 'the hour of sanctification' when the Light "dawns'" upon the soul. – Ed. L.T.] God is Love, Light and Bliss. Love ever is; and its Light shines self-effulgent; while the Bliss of Union is ever-full. "Love, Light, and Bliss" is the Be all and End-all of things. Without Love "Existence" is as nought. Without Light, "Knowledge" is impossible. And without Bliss, Life is hardly worth living. Love, Light and Bliss are eternal. When Love and Light was one (identically the same) there was none else but Bliss Supreme (which is the Union of Love and Light in "Advaita-Relation" to each other). When Love and Light was differentiated, they became transmuted into Light and Shade. And this was the beginning of Evolution. "In the beginning was the Word." The undifferentiated A-U-M, became the differentiated U-M-A.3 [3
Om (=A-U-M) is the Samashti-pranava and Uma, the Vyashti-pranava.- Ed. L.T] That was "the Word" (Logos) "in the beginning" of Evolution. This Word "U-M-A" "was with God." And the Word (U-M-A) (Svara and Anusvara) was God (A-U-M). When the Primary form of Light Supreme ("Prakasa") became transformed into the secondary form of "the Morning Rose of Dawn" ("Vimarsa"), it has acquired a certain purpose. The "Chit-Agni-Kunda-Sambodha" has become "Devakarya-samuddhata". "The Holy Mother; the Great Queen; the Ruler of the Lion-Throne; Who was born from the Altar of the Fire of Consciousness; manifested Herself for fulfilling the objects of the Devas."
And the Brahma-muhurtam is the psychological moment of Her manifestation in Vimarasa Form out of Her ever-present Prakasa Form. In time, she manifests herself as Day and Night or Light and Darkness. But "the Light shineth in Darkness," and "the Darkness comprehended it not." In space She manifests Herself as Vibration and Sound.
The month of "Margali" when the Sun passes into the Dhanur-Rasi is ever a symbol of the parting of the Ways (of Light and Darkness). The Day waxeth and the Night waneth after this month.4 [4
The statement 'after this month' is not wholly correct, for, from the moment the Sun is clear of the Winter Solstice until the time the Summer Solstice is reached "the Day waxeth and the Night waneth". And so "the waxing of the Day and the waning of the night" begins in the solar month Dhanus and not after it. Ed. L.T.] It is the ushurer in and forerunner of vernal equinox5 [5
The Solar month of Dhanus (= மார்கழி in Tamil) ushers in Makarayanavishu (Winter Solstice) and not Meshayanamahavishu (Vernal Equinox). – Ed. L.T.] which brings with it the spring-tide of Live. The followers of the Path of Light first perceive the Vimarsa Form of the Lord on the bright full-moon day which falls on the Day of Ardra6 [6
The day of Ardra-darsana succeeds Margasirshi-paurnamasi in the lunar month Margasirsha. Ed. L.T.] – the Day of Mercy par excellence. The Yogin who has been contemplating the Light in his heart of hearts perceiveth It taking the form of his "Ishta-Devata." And this is celebrated in every Siva temple as the Manifestation of God in the economy of the Universe. That is the meaning of Ardra-darsanam; and as the shrine at Chidambaram is dedicated to the Light of Knowledge, it is most fittingly celebrated there by pre-eminence. This Chidambaram is but the symbolical representation of the worship that is offered in the Inner Sanctuary of Man, in the Daharakasa of his heart. St. Manikkavachakar, who realized this both inwardly and outwardly, is honored in all the temples, for it is to him (the type of a ripe Soul abiding in Truth" the Lord revealeth Himself. He sings in "the Sacred Temple Lyric" (Hymn XXII) of his famous Tiruvachakam:-
"That I may ever ask and melt, within my mind,
O Light, Thou dost arise! In beauty shines
On heavenly heads the lotus of Thy roseate feet!
† The good that in the large and changeless heart of the Holy doth abide!
The boundless ether, water, earth, fire; - all these
Thou art; and none of these Thou art; but dwellest
In these concealed, O formless One! My heart is glad
That with these eyes THIS DAY I've seen THEE clear!"
[† Externally it is: "Sivan, who dwellest in Perunt-turrai's Shrine!"]
* * * * *
"THIS DAY on me in grace Thou risest bright, a Sun,
Bidding from out my mind this darkness flee
Transcending thought, upon Thy nature manifest,
I think. Besides Thee all that is, is nought, -
Moving ever, - as atoms ever wasting – Thou art One!
† The good that in the large and changeless heart of the Holy doth abide!
Thou art not anything; without Thee nothing is;
Who are they that can know Thee as Thou art?
* * * * *
"Expanse of Light that everywhere through
Every world, o'er earth and heaven springs forth and spreads alone" –
"O Form, beheld in radiant light made manifest!
Thou peerless Mystic all-in-one that in sooth hath no form,
Though First! Thou Midst! Thou Last! Great Sea of Rapturous Joy!
Thou Sacred Hill of Grace and Good, from evil free!"
These are some of the expression which the ecstatic seer of Ardra-darsanam, the seer of the Lord's "Vimarsa Form of Grace," doth use to express the unutterable Joy of his inmost soul. The secret of the whole is the worship of God in spirit and in truth, in the cave of one's heart. It is called "Daharopasana" and the Light within, "Daharakasa" (Small Light).7 [7
The words Daharakasa and Daharopasana need a word of explanation. The expression Daharakasa is made up of two parts, Dahara and Akasa. The word 'Dahara' does not mean 'small', when used in connection with Akasa. It is associated with the Sanskrit roots 'Dah' and 'Dabh', and means primarily 'destroying', 'consuming' or 'subtle'. We get the real meaning of 'consuming' in the sentence 'Our Lord is a consuming Fire'. There is 'melting of elements', 'conflagration', when the soul is blessed with Sakti-nipata. These 'effects' are sought to be conveyed by the word 'Dahara'. Again the 'manifestation of Light' is the "Peace which passeth understanding", that is to say, the "flesh" cannot "see" It, though the "spirit" can. The Lord is said to be 'avanmanasagocharam' but 'vedyam'. Hence He is said to be 'Dahara', i.e., not to be reached by the senses and thought, but realizable by the "soul". In other words, Dahara means 'spiritual' in the highest sense. Akasa is made up of two elements, A and Kasa. 'A' means 'On all sides,', and 'kasa', 'Refulgent'. The expression 'Akasa' therefore means 'Refulgent everywhere', 'Present everywhere' or 'Omni-present'. And now when we combine the elements 'Dahara' and 'Akasa' into the expression 'Daharakasa,' we get the meaning 'The Refulgent Plane of the Spirit, Which is Omni-present, Which the "flesh" cannot find, and in the presence of Which 'corruption' is nowhere". This "Plane of the Spirit" is the "Chidambara", "The Role of Light which the Lord Wears, "The Omniscient Holy Spirit". 'Daharopasana' is again made up of two elements, 'Dahara' and 'Upasana'. 'Upasana' means 'attendance', and hence 'Daharopasana' means 'Attending on Dahara,' 'Tending the Fire', 'Agnikarya' or Agniyadheya'. The 'Fire' referred to here is the "Consuming Fire" of the Holy Spirit Which "manifests Itself" in man only through his "ceaseless tending", "attendance", "worship in spirit and in truth". The glory of Daharakasa is described in Chapter XXI of the Book of Apocalypse. – Ed. L.T.] This worship is the only worship which the true worshipper practices; and the external temple-worship is to get oneself confirmed in the inmost experience which one hath gained. The one is wholly spiritual, the other is spiritual worship applied to the social sphere of man's existence.
To give one an idea of the prevalence of this true worship among our people, I will transcribe here an English rendering of an ordinary invitation to the "Kumbhabhishekam"8 [8
Kumbhabhishekam is again a real mystic experience sometimes spoken of as the 'somadharavarsha', or 'the opening of the fountains of the Deep'. – Ed. L.T.] of a great soul that has attained deliverance by "Daharopasana." But, before doing so, I should transcribe the Master's words as to the coming of the Kingdom of God:- "And one said unto him, Master, when shall the Kingdom come?"
"And He answered and said, when that which is without shall be as that which is within, and that which is within shall be as that which is without, and the male with the female, neither male, nor female, but the two in one. They who have ears to hear, let them hear."
The self-experience of Truth in the heart of hearts must coincide with and be attuned to Its manifestation outside ourselves. That is the greatest "Svanubhavam" or Self-experience. Intuition and Reason must support and confirm each other.
IN PRAISE OF CHIT-AMBARAM.
The following is a free rendering into English of an invitation to a Kumbhabhishekam in Tamil. The Master Soul concerned was the Guru, I am told, of St. Tayumanavar.
Long live the men of Light and Grace, Devas right and all animated Beings else.
May the Cool Waters pour down their soft influence! May the King prosper!
May all that's Evil go down, and the Name of Hara (i.e.) Path of Renunciation.
Spread through, and the World be rid of all its woes.
Know ye not "Bhaktas" true of 'Chit-Ambaram' (fair)
That Space on Earth made holy by the subtle five-fold-dance of Siva Supreme!
Who to save thirsty souls from Evil path of Birth and Death!
And grant them sure His Grace Divine in easy wise
Performeth for all time with subtleness supreme the dances-five:
In that Spacious Hall of Subtle Ether Supreme
Wherein stands unmoved His beloved 'Sivakami'
Abiding in Love as Mother Supreme, a mute witness
Of the Lord's dances, who, lording it over all, performeth
The Sacred-functions-five filling the Mother-Heart of His Spouse
With joy unsurpassed, and thrilling the souls of His devotees true,
Shedding softly therein His Self-Effulgent Light,
In gentle waves that seem to chase the Darkness of their bruised hearts,
And in ravishing Beauty shine impressing His Holy Form
In the molten stuff of their soft white hearts which like 'Living Crystals'
Show the Origin of Life (and its end) revealing to the astonished soul's single eye!
The eternal sheen of Life Divine in living Green in that Great Light!
That Infinite stood in dazzling White, One blaze of Light,
Which the Devas Bright saw but understood not,
Until the Divine Uma in ravishing Beauty revealed to them
The Infinite Brahm, the 'Over-lord' of All whose infinite form and might
Men of Grace on Earth and Devas Bright in Heaven but reflect in part
Such the Glory of 'Tillai field' where the Lord with eternal dances,
Teacheth the Truth of His-Function-Five to His Children true?
Know ye not that sacred spot Divine
That defying the subtlety of Geometric Point
Exists on Earth unseen yet seen,
The "Chit-ambara" or "Daharakasa"
The Sacred Little Hall (space) where the Lord Supreme
His Court doth hold in splendor unsurpassed
With Devas Bright and Siddha Hosts attending
While the Rishis great of "Chandogya" and "Kaivalya" sit by and chant
The Srutis old that sing the praise of "Daharakasa"
Otherwise known and worshipped as "Chit-ambara"
There, in that "little space" of subtle Ether Supreme
Is a fane designed for the worship of the True in truth!
There, in that "little space" Divine, whoever a little charity
Doth do, reapeth it manifold in abounding Faith;
Whoever worshippeth a little in truth and spirit therein
That worship in truth doth increase manifold and yield
The Fruit of the Tree of Life, which by the sense of Differentiatich
The Soul had lost, losing therewith the Sense of Unity that maketh ever for Good.
This Sense of Unity Divine that in "Chit-ambaram" abides
Is none else but "Sivam" that ever doth Good and worketh for Good.
This identity of the two, the Seers of Truth, by 'direct perception', do know,
And knowing, make no difference where Unity doth reign Supreme,
For Difference as such exists not when the Actual in the Ideal is merged,
And the Ideal in the Actual reigneth Supreme pervading it through and through.
[The former1 process the "vedanta" doth teach, and the latter2 by "Siddhanta" do we learn.
[1The merging of the Actual in the Ideal.]
[2 The realizing of the Ideal in the Actual.]
Where then is the difference that learned Scholiasts draw?
When the teachings of the "Vedanta" blend so harmoniously
With the conclusions of the "Siddhanta", as the Seers of Truth in spirit do testify.]
Witness for instance the testimony of these two Seers!
The Vedantic Seer of Truth reveling in the clear vision of the Ideal says:-
"The Vision, "Chitambalam in Tillai", yields food meet for eternity.
Nay more, it yields the power of enjoying the Ideal Beauty of Heaven on Earth.
Seeking the Way of Salvation have I seen this Vision Sweet.
Will it yield me yet this crop of woe we ween as Birth!"
The Siddhantin sage reveling in the enjoyment of the Ideal in the Actualities of the world, and seeing the one Ideal of Perfection pervading it All through and through, give utterance in epigrammatic form to the distilled essence of his Joy infinite, by traversing through Earth and Heaven and all the world in one sweeping stride which makes all the world merge in the distilled essence of his Joy, which soon solidifies so to speak. St. Tirumular." "the practical Idealist" "the Siddhantin par excellence", in simple guise of "Mantra", utters the same grand truth in the following:-
"Nandi" (the Blissful) taught that "Guru and Sivam" are one.
That "Guru" is in essence the same as "Sivam" (Daharakasam)
They know not who enter not the field of consciousness pure.
The "Guru" (the inner monitor) stands revealed as (the subtle)
Sivam and as the (more personal) Lord
And anon the Lord Supreme, transcending speech and knowledge
(the Triputi of knower, known, and knowledge).
Now to our purpose: In such a Holy place of earth
As Chit-ambaram fair, directly to the south
In the presence of the Lord, there indwells a soul
Passing rich in the realization of Siva.
And in Holy Communion blended with the Lord,
In Samadhi long continued and known to his disciples true,
As transcending all distinctions of caste or color,
Or Stage of Life, reveling right in the silent Bliss
Of Wisdom true, a Teacher good of Truth and Wisdom,
A Divinity on Earth! In his honor we hold
A celebration great of his Regeneration true,
By bathing his Kumbha body in the Waters of Life,
A striking festival – 'Maha-kumbhabhishekam' by name,
On the date of the month and phase of the Moon and Star.
That in foot note signed we give in detail below!
To that festival Great and Celebration true
We invite ye All that in the Love of Siva excel!
Come ye one and all Bhaktas true to enjoy the Holy Sight,
Of this worship true, and in coming bring your loved ones too!
Haste ye friends one and all and make sure to be.
We, the Servants true of the Teacher, abiding in the Mutt,
Invite you one and all with reverent heart and devotion true.
And our humble prayers add: "That the Grace of the Lord may descend on you!"
Here are given particulars of the date and time prescribed for the Maha-Kumbhabhishekam.
C. V. S.