Five (stanzas singing the praises of) the venerable Guru's shoes - Commentary
All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.
ॐ नमो गुरुभ्यो गुरुपादुकाभ्यो नमः परेभ्यः परपादुकाभ्यः।
आचार्यसिद्धेश्वरपादुकाभ्यो नमो नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्यः॥१॥
Om̐ namo gurubhyo gurupādukābhyo namaḥ parebhyaḥ parapādukābhyaḥ|
Ācāryasiddheśvarapādukābhyo namo namaḥ śrīgurupādukābhyaḥ||1||
Five (stanzas singing the praises of) the venerable Guru's shoes
Om̐ (Om̐) - Salutation (namaḥ) to the Guru-s (gurubhyaḥ), (salutation to) the Guru-s' (guru) shoes (pādukābhyaḥ); salutation (namaḥ) to the highest (Guru-s) (parebhyaḥ) (as well as their) supreme (para) shoes (pādukābhyaḥ). Salutation (namaḥ) to the shoes (pādukābhyaḥ) of the Lord (īśvara), Siddha-s --perfected beings-- (siddha) (and) Ācārya-s --spiritual guides-- (ācārya); salutation (namaḥ) to the venerable (śrī) Guru-s' (guru) shoes (pādukābhyaḥ)||1||
ॐ — परमगुरवे सर्वेष्वन्तरात्मेव वसतेऽस्या वृत्तेः सन्निबन्ध्रे नमो नमः॥
Om̐ - Paramagurave sarveṣvantarātmeva vasate'syā vṛtteḥ sannibandhre namo namaḥ||
Om̐ (Om̐) - Salutation(s) over and over again (namaḥ namaḥ) to the Supreme (parama) Guru (gurave) who lives (vasate) in all (sarveṣu) as (iva) the inner (antar) Self (ātmā) (and is) the real (sat) author (nibandhre) of this (asyāḥ) commentary (vritteḥ).
The word "guru" literally means: heavy. It has also another important meaning: spiritual preceptor. Undoubtedly, all spiritual preceptors are guru-s, but the term "Guru" in uppercase, as it were, is only assigned to someone who can set one free from the fetters of his spiritual ignorance. That is why the first stanza of Śrīgurupādukāpañcakam specifies a salutation to the Guru-s and another one to the highest Guru-s. In practice, I am in the habit of differentiating them by using lowercase and uppercase: guru and Guru. As you know, words are always limited to define subtle realities, but the previous definition of Guru is acceptable, I think. The Supreme Self carries out five acts:
1) Sṛṣṭi (manifestation of the universe)
2) Sthiti (maintenance of the universe)
3) Saṁhāra (dissolution of the universe)
4) Tirodhāna (concealment of one's own true nature)
5) Anugraha (grace)
The Supreme Guru is the fifth act of the Supreme Self, that is, Anugraha. Through Anugraha, the conditioned individual rediscovers his own spiritual nature and thus accomplishes the goal of life. The Supreme Guru is no human being from a cosmic viewpoint, but a Power bestowing divine Grace on limited beings. Regarding this matter, I would like to make clear the following point:
internal Guru and external Guru
As a matter of fact, the Guru is only one and He is neither external nor internal as space does not exist in His experience. At any rate, in the world of words one has to use these terms very often to indicate if he is talking about a human Guru, as it were, who can be perceived by the senses, or else about an inner reality that cannot be perceived by them. This question about internal and external Guru arises because of the presence of an ego along with a body. Therefore, from the viewpoint of an average seeker (the vast majority), the terms "internal Guru" and "external Guru" are really useful. Obviously, for the great disciples (just a few seekers), those terms are of no use. So, I will use those two terms now and then so that my explanation can reach all seekers. This matter leads us to another question:
dualism and non-dualism,
i.e. "I am different and separate from God" (dualism), or else "I am God" (no-dualism)
For a great being the Supreme Reality is not either dual or non-dual since these differences are also manifestations of the Divine. The Highest Being manifests dualism and non-dualism along with all the intermediate mixtures, but He is beyond all that. When a seeker experiences the Divinity in His full glory, all differences between dual and non-dual cease and That remains alone. He cannot say what That is or is not because the words do not exist at that moment. Even "that moment" does not exist at all as time is not there anymore. No time, space, body, mind, ego, world... but just Consciousness enjoying Svātantrya (total Freedom). When a seeker experiences That, he is no longer a seeker. In fact, nobody can tell what he is. You can call him a great being, a great Yogī, a liberated soul and so on, but all these appellatives, even though useful in the kingdom of words, will always fail to describe the greatness of his attainment. One is here to be like him. This is the purpose of human life. Everything around is destined for one to attain that Supreme State. When one does not grasp this, he merely devotes his life to please one's senses and thus falls prey to error. Guru is the divine Grace who rescues that kind of person from the painful ocean of spiritual ignorance.
Again, in respect to dualism and non-dualism, sometimes I will speak in a dual manner while on other occasions I will speak non-dualistically. It is just too troublesome to indicate the viewpoint (dual or non-dual) every time I write something. Therefore, try to understand that I will be forced to move between those two points of view so that this commentary may be useful for all types of seekers. Besides, as I am not writing it in one session but it will take a long time for me to finish the commentary, I will surely undergo many phases, dual and non-dual ones. Of course, despite those phases, I will attempt to keep the commentary as consistent as possible. Also, I hope it will be didactical.
The word "pādukā" in the stanza means "shoe" (in the sense of footwear). Anyway, it is very often erroneously translated as "sandal" (not the wood, obviously) because the Guru-s of India are in the habit of wearing that type of footwear due to the mostly high temperatures of that country or maybe because it is traditional. Other warm countries like India also depict his saints wearing sandals. Nevertheless, a Guru from Greenland (if there is any) might not use sandals... at least in the depth of winter... except he would want to have his feet completely frozen, hehe. Or also, perhaps on other countries, though warm ones, sandals are not worn by the Guru-s because it is not a established tradition. That is why Vedavyāsa, in order to avoid all those problems and differences, wrote "pādukā" or shoe and not "kośī, koṣī or caraṇadāsī" (sandal), as his writings (Purāṇa-s in this case) are destined for the entire humankind and not only India. The meanings I have given can be easily verified from consulting a serious Sanskrit dictionary, if you doubt my words.
The pādukā-s or shoes of the Guru are symbolic of the sounds "Ha" and "Sa". The celebrated Vijñānabhairava states in the stanzas 155 and 156 that:
सकारेण बहिर्याति हकारेण विशेत्पुनः।
हंसहंसेत्यमुं मन्त्रं जीवो जपति नित्यशः॥१५५॥
षट्शतानि दिवारात्रौ सहस्राण्येकविंशतिः।
जपो देव्या विनिर्दिष्टः सुलभो दुर्लभो जडैः॥१५६॥
Sakāreṇa bahiryāti hakāreṇa viśetpunaḥ|
Haṁsahaṁsetyamuṁ mantraṁ jīvo japati nityaśaḥ||155||
Ṣaṭśatāni divārātrau sahasrāṇyekaviṁśatiḥ|
Japo devyā vinirdiṣṭaḥ sulabho durlabho jaḍaiḥ||156||
(The subtle mantra) "Haṁsa, Haṁsa" (haṁsahaṁsa iti) goes out (bahis yāti) with the sound (kāreṇa) "Sa" (sa) and goes in (viśet) again (punar) with the sound (kāreṇa) "Ha" (ha). (For this reason), the living being (jīvaḥ) constantly (nityaśaḥ) mutters (japati) that (amum) mantra (mantram)||155||
Day and night (divārātrau) (this living being mutters it) 21,600 (times) (ṣaṭśatāni... sahasrāṇi ekaviṁśatiḥ). The muttering (japaḥ) of the Goddess (devyāḥ) has been indicated (vinirdiṣṭaḥ) to be easy (sulabhaḥ) (for the wise, but) difficult (durlabhaḥ) for the unwise (jaḍaiḥ)||156||
The Haṁsa mantra technique is explained in detail in Meditation 5 (See Varṇa there). Nonetheless, I will have to talk about it, to a certain extent at least, here and in the commentary on the next stanza. Listen up:
The sounds "Ha" and "Sa" are the pādukā-s or shoes of the Guru because they are the base on which His feet rest. Through the pādukā-s called Ha and Sa, He "walks", i.e. bestows divine Grace on the individuals. The Supreme Self, by means of Ha and Sa, displays the two acts of manifestation (sṛṣṭi) and dissolution (saṁhāra) of the universe, because all that is manifested and dissolved is just His breathing out and in respectively. When He breathes in or dissolves the universe, the sound Ha is emitted, and when breathing out or manifests the universe, the sound Sa emerges. From a dualistic viewpoint, the Lord is the Highest Reality manifesting and dissolving myriads of worlds and individuals dwelling in them, while from a non-dualistic standpoint, one is manifesting and dissolving all around. In spite of these different points of view, the innermost nature of the Lord lies beyond all differences.
Furthermore, all creatures living in this universe are alive due to Ha and Sa, because if they cannot breathe life is gone from them, you know. So, His second act known as sthiti (maintenance of the universe) is carried out by Ha and Sa too. In turn, this very Supreme Self, when exhibiting His Anugraha aspect, also uses Ha and Sa to give revelation of their essential nature to the limited beings.
In any case, one should understand that He is not only giving revelation to people treading a spiritual path such as Yoga, for instance, but He is always conferring Grace or Anugraha to everyone. He does so, as I have just mentioned, through the sounds Ha and Sa, which occur spontaneously in every living creature. Thus, "any" living creature may take refuge in those pādukā-s (Ha and Sa) by simply paying attention to the sounds emitted by their own inhalation (Ha) and exhalation (Sa). When I was initiated, I received this method of listening to the sounds of my breathing, but all that paraphernalia called initiation was necessary because of my complete ignorance as those sounds "always" were sounding... since I had been born at least, i.e. nineteen years at that time. Therefore, Anugraha is not something occurring in a particular moment or to a particular person, but it is an act of universal compassion and life in its entirety is pervaded by Grace. No doubt that Vedavyāsa, being conscious of the importance of the divine Gurupādukā-s (the sounds Ha and Sa), felt inspired to compose this hymn in honor of them.
A last thing: The compound "Ācāryasiddheśvarapādukābhyaḥ" which was translated in the stanza as:
"... to the shoes (pādukābhyaḥ) of the Lord (īśvara), Siddha-s --perfected beings-- (siddha) (and) Ācārya-s --spiritual guides-- (ācārya)... ".
may be alternatively translated, by playing with the terms, as follows:
"... to the shoes (pādukābhyaḥ) of the Lord (īśvara) of the Siddha-s --perfected beings-- (siddha) (and) Ācārya-s --spiritual guides-- (ācārya)... ".
The Lord of the Siddha-s is the Supreme Self.
ॐकारमर्मप्रतिपादिनीभ्यां नमो नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्॥२॥
Om̐kāramarmapratipādinībhyāṁ namo namaḥ śrīgurupādukābhyām||2||
Salutation (namaḥ) to the (two shoes) that communicate (pratipādinībhyām) the secret quality or core (marma) of the sound (kāra) Om̐ (Om̐) (and which are) endowed with the great (mahā) power (vibhūtyā) of the hidden (gūḍha) meaning (artha) of the sound (kāra) Śrīm̐ (śrīm̐) accompanied (yukta) by the mystery (rahasya) of the sounds (kāra... kāra) Aim̐ (aim̐) (and) Hrīm̐ (hrīm̐). Salutation (namaḥ) to the venerable (śrī) Guru's (guru) shoes (pādukābhyām)||2||
Here Vyāsa states that the two pādukā-s (Ha and Sa) or shoes communicate the secret quality or core (i.e. "marma") of the sound Om̐, because this sacred sound is located right in their midst, i.e. between Ha and Sa. The mantra Haṁsa is really Ha-Om̐-Sa, since when a person pays full attention to the sound produced by his inhalation (Ha) and exhalation (Sa), he will lastly be led to the middle space between inhalation and exhalation wherein Om̐ is revealed. For that reason, venerable Vedavyāsa says that Ha and Sa (the two pādukā-s of the Supreme Guru) communicate the core of Om̐. As you surely know, Om̐ is the Absolute Himself appearing in the form of sound. It is the origin of all the remaining sounds and hence its extreme importance. You can see the word Om̐ in our logo and also get plenty of information about it in Sacred Mantra-s 1 and Meditation 6.
As a seeker continues to hear the sounds Ha and Sa emitted by his breath, the gap or middle space between inhalation and exhalation is enlarged. There is a technical term to indicate "void points" through which a seeker may attain the revelation of Om̐: dvādaśānta. Dvādaśānta literally means "that which is at the end (anta) of twelve (dvādaśa)". Twelve what? Twelve fingers. There are several dvādaśānta-s. For example, the "normal" application of the technique of Haṁsa involves to firstly focus your attention on the sounds Ha and Sa during inhalation and exhalation, but then the attention should be focused on the middle space between Ha and Sa. This middle space may be found where "normal" exhalation ends and "normal" inhalation begins, i.e. at twelve fingers from the tip of one's nose into the outer space... and yes, it is a dvādaśānta known as bahirdvādaśānta or external dvādaśānta, a void point through which one can "squeeze" and get in due course the revelation of Om̐. With that revelation of Om̐, all is revealed and you accomplish your mission in life. When you manage to go into that void point, you abide in a state called madhyadaśā or middle state.
As your practice continues, that middle state expands, i.e. you remain without breathing in and out "spontaneously" for longer periods of time gradually. Some seekers get frightened at the possibility of dying in the process as breath sometimes stops by itself for much time, but there is no danger if breath stops in a spontaneous way during the application of the Haṁsa technique in meditation. Of course, if you are "forcing" that stoppage, you will have trouble unless you know exactly what you are doing. The process of remaining in the middle state or madhyadaśā for longer periods of time is named madhyavikāsa or development of the middle state. When the development is complete, Om̐ is revealed and that is the end of the search for a seeker.
At any rate, there is another void point you can use during your practice of Haṁsa. It is known as antardvādaśānta or inner dvādaśānta. It is situated in the heart area, exactly at twelve fingers measured from the external dvādaśānta (bahirdvādaśānta) toward the chest. "Normal" inhalation ends in antardvādaśānta and "normal" exhalation arises from it. So, the revelation of Om̐ can also be obtained by focusing one's own attention on antardvādaśānta.
Perhaps you wonder why I wrote "normal" inhalation and "normal" exhalation above. Well, I was not referring to the fact that you can inhale or exhale more or less deeply but to the presence of other dvādaśānta-s. At twelve fingers from the antardvādaśānta upward, i.e. in the throat area, there is another dvādaśānta. Also, there is another one at twelve fingers from the previous one, i.e. in the middle of the cranium --on a level with the space between the eyebrows--. And there is even one situated at twelve fingers from the former dvādaśānta, i.e. suspended right above the head in the fontanel area.
When inhaling, a yogī might focus his attention on any of these dvādaśānta-s instead of the antardvādaśānta and/or bahirdvādaśānta used in the traditional Haṁsa technique. If that yogī feels that his inhalation ends in and his exhalation arises from the throat's dvādaśānta, he will have an experience of bliss throughout his entire body in the long run. In turn, if the aforesaid yogī feels that his inhalation ends in and his exhalation arises from the dvādaśānta located in the middle of the cranium, his head will become heavier due to the accumulation of vital energy in that zone. Finally, when that yogī fixes his attention in the dvādaśānta suspended above the fontanels and feels that his inhalation ends in and his exhalation arises from there, his head will become even heavier than before and Samādhi or Perfect Concentration (for more information, read "Aphorisms III-1 to III-8" in Aṣṭāṅgayoga) will be attained in the twinkling of an eye. In fact, if that yogī is a great one, he might successively focus his attention on those three dvādaśānta-s one after the other and attain Samādhi at will in three rounds of inhalation and exhalation. Right before entering into profound Samādhi, he experiences a surge of immense Bliss which shuts up his mind. Throughout his meditations, he experiences different kinds of Samādhi and then returns to the ordinary state of consciousness, i.e. "misery", but one day he does not return anymore though he can open his eyes and the rest of senses works perfectly. From that moment on, he lives his life like a Jīvanmukta or liberated (mukta) while living (jīvat).
After stating that the two pādukā-s of the Guru communicate the secret quality or core of the sound Om̐, Vyāsa affirms that they are:
"...endowed with the great (mahā) power (vibhūtyā) of the hidden (gūḍha) meaning (artha) of the sound (kāra) Śrīm̐ (śrīm̐) accompanied (yukta) by the mystery (rahasya) of the sounds (kāra... kāra) Aim̐ (aim̐) (and) Hrīm̐ (hrīm̐)".
He said that because during the process of listening to the sounds Ha and Sa produced by his own breath, an experienced yogī has a double experience in the form of two visions occurring one after the other. Hence, Vedavyāsa used the word "yukta" (accompanied, united, etc.) in the hymn. Firstly, that yogī beholds the sudden emergence of a shining sun in meditation, and then that sun becomes an immense blue eye coming near him gradually. The sun has definite attributes I will try to draw now, while the blue eye is like that of a human being but it is not in horizontal position but slightly inclined upward. Here you can see the form of the sun, approximately of course:
Do not pay attention to the number of birds because I just put three to show that the sun is not alone but accompanied by those silhouettes on the orange background. The image is not static but those birds are constantly moving. This vision embodies the hidden meaning of the sound Śrīm̐. This sound is connected with the goddess Mahālakṣmī, as studied in Sacred Mantra-s 1, who confers both spiritual and material wealth to those who worship her. These worshipers always repeat her Bījamantra or seed-mantra, i.e. Śrīm̐, in order to attain her grace. Thus, Vyāsa is saying that the venerable pādukā-s (Ha and Sa) are endowed with the hidden meaning of the aforesaid monosyllabic sound, which is verified by a seeker when he has the vision of the above sun. When this happens, such a seeker has attained the core of Śrīm̐ of course, and the respective fruits just will come to him spontaneously. In short, Icchāśakti or Power of Will is fully realized by him, and all his desires are accordingly fully fulfilled too. The vision of that sun is like that of Kāmadhenu (the celebrated cow of the sage Vasiṣṭha --Rāma's Guru--, which satisfies all desires) to that fortunate seeker.
Immediately after that vision, the already stunned seeker beholds a huge blue eye which is the embodiment of the mystery of the sounds Aim̐ and Hrīm̐. On one hand, the former Bījamantra is sacred to the goddess Sarasvatī, as described in Sacred Mantra-s 1, who bestows divine Knowledge on all those followers who adore her. These worshipers always repeat her Bījamantra or seed-mantra, i.e Aim̐, so that they can attain that supreme Knowledge. On the other hand, the latter Bījamantra, i.e. Hrīm̐, is related to the goddess Bhuvaneśvarī, as explained in Sacred Mantra-s 1, who gives Final Liberation to her worshipers as She is the Highest Śakti or Power. Thus, when the vision of the huge blue eye occurs, such a seeker is pervaded by omniscience and omnipotence. In other words, he fully realizes Jñānaśakti and Kriyāśakti (Powers of Knowledge and Action, respectively). Do not think of him as if he was a kind of Superman or something. No, a wise man is not a superpowerful ordinary person, but a different type of human being. The ordinary human being is always anxious, even when he is apparently enjoying, and his happiness is completely dependent on the external circumstances and the condition his own body is in. Likewise, his interests are equally miserable: almost the whole life devoted to surviving and pleasing his senses.
On the contrary, a wise man experiences real peace and his happiness does not depend upon the external circumstances or on what may happen to his body. His interests are of a different quality too, if compared to those of an ordinary person. That sage is not interested in "surviving", in the sense of a frenetic search for money to buy food and the like, as he understands that a Superior Reality is managing his life and not him. He apparently continues to do actions but it is really the Lord who does all for him. This is true regarding all people, no only that sage, but just a few can realize that truth. Also, that great being is not interested in pleasing his senses all the time because he fully understand that the fruits of such a type of actions are always bitter in the long run. In short, a wise person may seem to be like an ordinary individual, but there are great differences underlying the surface, no doubt about it.
Besides, by omniscience and omnipotence I meant the capacity of gaining knowledge and power in a natural spontaneous way, without making tremendous efforts like a limited being. In fact, the Supreme Śakti or Power knows and does all for that yogī, while he remains as a mere witness to Her display. Ordinary people strive to know and do, but that yogī knows and does without striving at all because with those three revelations, the three Powers of Will, Knowledge and Action are, as it were, at his disposal. Well, enough of unraveling these mysteries... for the time being at least.
यद्ब्रह्म तद्बोधवितारिणीभ्यां नमो नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्॥३॥
Yadbrahma tadbodhavitāriṇībhyāṁ namo namaḥ śrīgurupādukābhyām||3||
Salutation (namaḥ) to the (two shoes) which grant (vitāriṇībhyām) knowledge (bodha) of that (tad) Brahma --the Absolute-- (brahma) who (yad) shines forth (bhāsamānam) (as) all (sarva) forms (ākṛti) (such as) the fire (agni) of the sacrifice (hotra), the fire (agni) of the Hotā priest (hautra), the oblation being offered (haviṣya), the (very) Hotā priest (hotṛ), the Homa or act of making an oblation in honor of the gods (homa), etc. (ādi). Salutation (namaḥ) to the venerable (śrī) Guru's (guru) shoes (pādukābhyām)||3||
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बोधप्रदाभ्यां द्रुतमोक्षदाभ्यां नमो नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्॥४॥
Bodhapradābhyāṁ drutamokṣadābhyāṁ namo namaḥ śrīgurupādukābhyām||4||
Salutation (namaḥ) to the (two shoes) whose form is like that of Garuḍa (gāruḍa) to the hosts (vraja) of serpents (sarpa) of desires (kāma), etc. (ādi), which bestow (pradābhyām... pradābhyām) the treasure (nidhi) of discernment or discrimination (viveka) (and) renunciation (vairāgya) (as well as) knowledge (bodha), (and) which grant (dābhyām) quick (druta) Liberation (mokṣa). Salutation (namaḥ) to the venerable (śrī) Guru's (guru) shoes (pādukābhyām)||4||
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जाड्याब्धिसंशोषणवाडवाभ्यां नमो नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्॥५॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥
Jāḍyābdhisaṁśoṣaṇavāḍavābhyāṁ namo namaḥ śrīgurupādukābhyām||5||
Om̐ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ||
Salutation (namaḥ) to the (two shoes) that are a ship (naukāyitābhyām) to cross (tāra) the infinite (ananta) ocean (samudra) of Transmigration (saṁsāra), that confer (dābhyām) firm (sthira) devotion (bhakti) (and) that are a submarine fire (vāḍavābhyām) drying up (saṁśoṣaṇa) the ocean (abdhi) of insensibility and dullness (jāḍya). Salutation (namaḥ) to the venerable (śrī) Guru's (guru) shoes (pādukābhyām)||5||
Om̐ (Om̐), peace (śāntiḥ), peace (śāntiḥ), peace (śāntiḥ)||
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