Sunday 3 June 2007

11. THE GOAL

"Helpless have I wandered day by day. I now seek refuge in you, come to my rescue"

— Tyagaraja

THEY were the early hours of the day, darkness was slowly fading away, right from the moment he boarded the train. Venkataraman was eager to see Arunachala. As his cherished goal was nearing, his excitement mounted.

At first hazily, a little later more clearly and finally explosively the peak of Arunagiri, its middle, its foothills and its base, with the temple towers touching the stars all these came into view. Venkataraman's heart was immersed in an ocean of joy, his body quivered, his eyes brimmed with tears which came in the way of his beholding his beloved Arunachala to his heart's content.

Soon after the train reached the station, Venkataraman walked swiftly to the temple, almost running. In those early hours except the wind god, nobody was paying obeisance to the Lord. Even the rustle of that wind faded away from Venkataraman's earshot. It was the hour when the temple remained closed. Till eight nobody would come to the temple nor open the doors. But unusually, that day all the doors were wide open.

Was it a moment when the Father gave a secret upadesa to his son? Or did He feel that the inspired son deserved nothing less than a private audience? Or did He instruct the son: "You search for me in the depths of your heart, you shall find!"

Venkataraman walked straight into the sanctum sanctorum. Having done so, he reported to the Lord, "Father, I have come according to your bidding, I offer myself to you."

The emotional upsurge which flooded his heart vanished. The conflict of emotions abated. Peace reigned. That experience transcended both joy and sorrow — it would be appropriate to describe it as pleasurable. Tears flowed down his cheeks. The burning sensation had gone. There was no agony of any kind. An overwhelming happiness drowned him.

The son who till then was playing different parts in this world was no longer going to leave the Father's presence. All connection between him and the world snapped. Let the Lord give his benediction to the world. For Venkataraman, Arunachaleswara was the sole refuge. Never would he leave His lap. "He obtained That, having obtained which, there was nothing else to desire."

Farewell to the turmoil of this world, welcome to absolute peace. Henceforth whatever he did (physically, mentally or by any other means) was to be offered to the Father.

To whom did he offer himself? To his Father, Easwara.

Who was Easwara? Was it the stone linga in front of him? Or Arunachala, the hill beyond? Neither.

He was different from the body. He was the spirit.

The body was its sheath. The hill and the linga were the sheaths enveloping his Father. Else, how could the Immeasurable and Omnipresent One be limited to these tiny things? They were mere symbols of the limitless Substratum of this Universe, the source of all the power and acts in the Universe, the all pervasive Truth.

Venkataraman was established in It. What was the nature of his Father? What was the relation between his own ego and this universal, all-supporting, all-destroying, authoritative secret nature? How was he to ascertain this?

Everyone should find out the Truth for himself. This is what Varuna enjoined on Bhrigu too. He said "Learn by tapas [?]."

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