'If you go on working with the light available, you will meet your Master, as he himself will be seeking you,' says Ramana Maharshi. On the occasion of Guru Poornima (the full moon day to pay respects to our Gurus), today's song is a humble obeisance at the feet of our Gurus.
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The story of Dattatreya illustrates how we can learn from the smallest of creatures around us, if only we stop to observe.
Once, while wandering happily in the forest, Dattatreya met a King named Yadu, who asked him the secret of his happiness and the name of his guru. He replied, “The Self alone is my guru. Yet, I have learned from twenty-four other individuals and objects. So they, too, are my gurus.” Dattatreya then mentioned the names of his twenty-four Gurus and spoke of the wisdom that he had learned from each:
1. Earth: Patience and doing good to others
2. Water: Purity
3. Air: To be without attachment while moving with many people
4. Fire: To glow with the splendor of Self-knowledge and austerity
5. Sky: That the Self is all-pervading and yet it has no contact with any object
6. Moon: That the Self is always perfect and changeless and it is only the limiting adjuncts that cast shadows over it
7. Sun: Just as a sun, reflected in various pots of water, appears as many, so also God appears different because of the embodiment caused by the reflection of the mind
8. Pigeons: I once saw a pair of pigeons with their young ones. A fowler spread a net and caught the young birds. The mother pigeon was so attached to her babies that she fell into the net and was caught. I learned that attachment is the root cause of earthly bondage
9. Python: The python does not move about for its food. It remains contented with whatever it gets, lying in one place. I learned to be contented with whatever I get to eat
10. Ocean: Just as the ocean remains unmoved, even though hundreds of rivers flow into it, so also the wise man should remain unmoved amid all the various temptations and troubles
11. Moth: To control the sense of sight and to fix the mind on the Self, is the lesson I learned from the moth
12. Black Bee: I take a little food from one house and a little from another house and thus appease my hunger. I am not a burden on the householder. This I learned from the black bee which gathers honey from various flowers.
13. Bees: Bees collect honey with great trouble, but a hunter comes along and takes the honey away easily. From this I learned that it is useless to hoard things
14. Elephant: The male elephant, blinded by lust, falls into a pit covered with grass, even at the sight of a female elephant. Therefore, one should destroy lust
15. Deer: The deer is enticed and trapped by the hunter through its love of music. Therefore, one should never listen to only the music of the soul and not for sensory gratification
16. Fish: Just as a fish that is covetous of food, falls an easy victim to the bait, so also the man who is greedy for food loses his independence and gets ruined
17. Dancing Girl: There was a dancing girl named Pingala. One night, being tired of looking for a client, she had to be content with a sound sleep. I learned from this fallen woman the lesson that the abandonment of hope leads to contentment
18. Raven: A raven picked up a piece of flesh. It was pursued and beaten by other birds. It dropped the piece of flesh and attained peace and rest. From this I learned that people undergo all sorts of troubles and miseries when he runs after sensual pleasures and that become as happy as the bird when they abandon them
19. Child: The child that drinks mother's milk is free from all cares, worries and anxieties, and is always cheerful. I learned the virtue of cheerfulness from the child
20. Maiden: The maiden was husking paddy. Her bangles made much noise and there were people around. To silence the bangles, she removed them one by one. When she had only one, it did not make any noise, and she was happy. I learned from the maiden that living among many can create discord, disturbance, dispute and quarrel. Even between two people there might be unnecessary words or strife. So, the ascetic should remain alone in solitude
21. Serpent: A serpent does not build its own hole. It dwells in the holes dug out by others. Even so, an ascetic should not build a home for himself. He should live in a temple or a cave built by others
22. Arrow-maker: I learned from the arrow-maker the quality of intense concentration of mind
23. Spider: The spider pours out of its mouth long threads and weaves them into cobwebs. Sometimes, it gets itself entangled in the net of its own making. Humans too make nets of their own ideas and get entangled in it. The wise man should, therefore, abandon all worldly thoughts and think only of Brahman
24. Beetle: The beetle catches a worm, puts it in its nest and stings it. The poor worm, always fearing the return of the beetle and its sting, thinks constantly of the beetle and becomes a beetle itself. I learned from the beetle and the worm to turn myself into the Self by contemplating constantly on It; thus I must give up all attachment to the body to attain Moksha or liberation
Dattatreya’s enlightening words inspired the king to lead a life of austerity and meditation on the Self.
Based on the Puranic story retold by Swami Sivananda
Lyrics and translation:
Anantha samsara samudhra thara naukayithabhyam guru bhakthithabhyam, Vairagya samrajyadha poojanabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
The crossing of this Endless ocean of samsara (this mundane world) is enabled
by the boat that is sincere devotion to Guru
Showing me the way to the valuable dominion of renunciation,
O dear Guru, I bow to thy holy sandals.
Kavithva varahsini sagarabhyam, dourbhagya davambudha malikabhyam, Dhoorikrutha namra vipathithabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Like a full moon for the ocean of the Knowledge,
Like down pour of water to put out the fire of misfortunes,
Removing the various distresses of those who surrender to them,
O dear Guru, I bow to thy holy sandals.
Natha yayo sripatitam samiyu kadachidapyashu daridra varya, Mookascha vachaspathitham hi thabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Those who prostrate to the blessed sandals of their Guru
become possessors of great wealth
and overcome the curse of their poverty very quickly.
To such sandals my infinite prostrations.
Naleeka neekasa pada hrithabhyam, nana vimohadhi nivarikabyam, Nama janabheeshtathathi pradhabhyam namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Attracting us to the Lotus-like feet of our Guru,
removing all kinds of desires borne out of ignorance,
fulfilling all the desires of the disciple who bows humbly
To such sandals I humbly offer my obeisance.
Nrupali mouleebraja rathna kanthi saridvi raja jjashakanyakabhyam, Nrupadvadhabhyam nathaloka pankhthe, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Shining like a precious stone adorning the crown of a king
They stand out like a beautiful damsel in a river infested with crocodiles
They raise the devotees to the state of sovereign emperors,
To such sandals I humbly offer my obeisance.
Papandhakara arka paramparabhyam, thapathryaheendra khageswarabhyam, Jadyabdhi samsoshana vadawabhyam namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Shining radiantly like the Sun, effacing the endless darkness of the disciples sins,
Like an eagle for the snake like three-fold pains of samsara (this mundane world)
like a conflagration of fire whose heat dries away the ocean of ignorance
To such supreme sandals of my Guru, I humbly surrender.
Shamadhi shatka pradha vaibhavabhyam, Samadhi dhana vratha deeksithabhyam, Ramadhavangri sthira bhakthidabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
They endow us with the glorious six qualities like Shama (tranquility)
They vow to bless the initiated ones with the ability to go into Samadhi (state of meditative consciousness).
Blessing the devotees with permanent devotion for the feet of Lord Vishnu
To such divine sandals, I offer my prayers.
Swarchaparana makhileshtathabhyam, swaha sahayaksha durndarabhyam, Swanthacha bhava pradha poojanabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
Fulfilling all the wishes of the disciples,
Who are ever-available and dedicated for service,
Awakening the sincere aspirants to the divine state of self realization,
Again and again prostrate to those sandals of my venerable Guru
Kaamadhi sarpa vraja garudabhyam, viveka vairagya nidhi pradhabhyam, Bhodha pradhabhyam drutha mokshathabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukabhyam.
They are like an eagle for all the serpents of desires,
Blessing us with the valuable treasure of discrimination and renunciation,
Granting us the knowledge to get instant liberation from the shackles of the life,
My prostrations to those holy sandals of my Guru.