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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
For the pushpa-samarpanam every day, all of you are reciting the same set of verses and the most important of them is the Guru-ashtaka which Shankaracharya has composed. Shankara has composed quite a number of poems. Under his name, there are a number of devotional hymns. In my young days, I used to recite some of them, many of them. Those days, the metered verses used to appeal to the heart. But as I grew, those thāla-vrtthās lost their appeal. I used to like such meters which convey great meaning. Though they are all meters, each meter has got a specific import to convey. In this Guru-ashtakam, the one message that he drives is,
Generally verses are composed with the last line common in all in many ashtakas, but here is the composition of Shankara who was so much wise, who had no dearth of words, whose poetic excellence is matchless, who was able to express even the subtlest philosophical, abstruse ideas. It is very difficult to express in prose, even those he could freely, flowingly express in poetry. And he has devoted one half of the verse commonly for all the verses. I wonder whether there is any other composition of this kind.
I am wondering, how many of you if at all have gone through, have tried to know the meaning and import of these verses. They are not many, all together only eight. He says, anything and everything you have in your life. What all things can you have, aspire for? A good birth, a good life, a good growth, enough of monetary resources, sufficient education, the blessing of austerity and austere temperament, austere mood, a lot of viveka, a lot of vairagya, dispassion, a lot of knowledge, even self experience, maybe you have lived in the forest, you are living in a house, maybe in some other secluded spots, you have travelled widely, many people know you, you have very become famous, very famous for your life, you have a lot of influences, influential people, relatives associated with you, health is there, wealth is there, dispassion is there, knowledge is there. All these things, he says, are of no avail at all, if your mind is not devotionally fixed on the lotus feet of the Guru.
You have come here very specially for the occasion. Will you on my behalf reflect upon these verses, the message conveyed by them? If you don’t know, ask for it. Try to discuss and understand. What does it mean? It means something very, very unique, very unique, very unique. We generally speak of humility. I am looking at the way you are standing. There are elderly people, some are short also, not very short. All of you come and occupy your places preferably in the front. Have you ever thought of “Who is behind me?” If they are elderly people, especially when the number of people is more, they will be finding it difficult to stand. So, why don’t you go gently behind and request them to stand in front? What does it mean? This is part of humility, part of consideration.
Everywhere we must understand that there are some qualities which we have to conform to, some qualities which we have to conform to. Out of the humility that we speak about he(Shankara) says, the fond and submissive humility you have in front of the Guru, thinking about him, thinking about him, thinking about him, that fondness, humility and weddedness to the Guru, this is the only attainment worth having in human life or this is the only attainment that gives you crowning fulfilment. It is not the family, it is not the property, it is not the gold, it is not the education, it is not a large band of relations who are influential, it is not fame, many people know you. It is not any kind of a merit, even literary merit. No, no, no, no, no, no. There is something called Guru-bhakti which rises above all these.
If you start contemplating upon this message, particularly chanting these shlokas, making sure that your pronunciation is alright. So, you chant with the mouth and hear through the ears and compare what you chant, whether it conforms to what is written, whether every word, every vowel is in place, true, wholesome. This examination makes the recitation more concentric, more attentive and then preferably if you can bring the meaning of the words along with the utterance of each word, then there is a fourfold application or concentration. When you are able to involve the mind in chanting, in hearing, in comparing to see that what is chanted is what is written, then associate preferably the meaning of each words, this fourfold concentration will instantly produce exhilaration in you. That is good as an experience. But the greater part of it is, you should contemplate upon it and make sure that the qualities or the pronouncements made become true of you. Try to find out where you lack, what you lack, where you lack. The moment you know your lack, automatically the instinct as well as the intelligence will be at work to remove it and fill the gap. Like that, everything that you learn, let it be for application, application, application. Let it be for pursuit, perseverance, attainment, attainment, attainment, resulting in reformation, refinement, expansion, enlightenment and fulfilment. Remember these words. You will be here two or three days. Let these days be this kind of an inner austerity, austerity, inner sublimation, purification and refinement.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.