Shri Prabhu was one day resting absorbed in his own self, while his brother Nrisimha, always devoted to him, was pressing his legs. At that moment a strange thing happened. Like a roll of thunder from the sky, words suddenly rolled from Nrisimha’s lips, which were subsequently accepted as the Birudavali (Invocation) of Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj.
BHAKTA KARYA KALPADRUMA GURUSARVABHAUMA
YOGI MAHARAJA TRIBHUVANANANDA ADVAITA ABHEDA
NIRANJANA NIRGUNA NIRALAMBA PARIPOORNA SADODITA
SHRI SADGURU MANIK PRABHU
MAHARAJ KI JAI
This glorious invocation describes Shri Prabhu in his pristine form. Each of its words describes an essential attribute of Shri Prabhu and in doing so the form of Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj stands before us. Even though the physical form of Shri Manik Prabhu may not be visible, his Akshara-rupa, immutable form can be experienced by us.All great events appear to happen suddenly and unexpectedly. The invocation or the Birudavali became the Maha-Mantra, recitation of which was to bring immense relief and peace to innumerable devotees in the years to come.
The spontaneous outpouring had a dramatic effect on the life of Shri Prabhu. If we believe that Shri Prabhu was the manifestation of Shri Dattatreya, then we should understand why we believe so. If peace and contentment descends on our mind, even by mere repeating of the Maha-Mantra, how much grace would fall on us if we understand and assimilate the meaning and significance of words contained therein? It is said that in Kali Yuga the Nama-Smarana, remembrance of the name of the Lord alone is enough to cross the ocean of Samsara. The Word, the Sound has greater power concealed therein than one realises.
Nama (name) and Rupa (form) have great significance in the spiritual advancement of a human being. In fact the Nama has more powerful impact than the Rupa. It is therefore rightly said that Rama-nama was more powerful than Shri Ram himself and this fact the Lord himself was to experience in the devotion of Hanuman. When the Maha-Mantra is recited with all devotion, in the resonance of that Mantra the form of Shri Manik Prabhu comes to be expressed before the devotees. The Maha-Mantra is believed to have the power of the Gayatri to illumine and spiritualise the human personality. It is also considered to be the verbal manifestation of Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj.
This is the assurance of the Guru himself, not just a statement. Therefore, in understanding the literal meaning of each of the words, one should endeavour to seek to experience the psychic and the mystical Sound of the words. Because words are no words, if they do not stir feelings in the heart of human beings. When even the plants and the animals are said to experience and move with the vibrancy of sound there is no reason, given the inclination and determination, why the human being should not experience the spirituality of the Maha-Mantra.
There is no doubt that the illumination is the is the gift of God but the desire to have such illumination comes about through Divine Grace. The very first verse of Avadhoota Gita, therefore, declares, “It is only with Grace of God that in men with wisdom is born the inclination for non-dual experience which alone protects one from great fear”.
Kalpadruma is a mythological wish fulfilling tree. As Shri Prabhu was known to respond to the sincere prayers of his devotees, and to grant their wishes, in the Invocation he is likened to that tree.
Is he just fulfiller of the desires of the devotees? Surely not so. His dispensation is neither whimsical nor erratic. The desire should be for non-dual experience. Getting rid of the miseries of human life means being ready for the divine life. Getting rid of human miseries does not mean filling one’s life with more physical wants which are nothing but shackles. The Guru fulfills the Bhakta Karya and Bhakta Karya is what benefits the devotee most in spiritual aspirations and not what pleases his senses.
Therefore, one should have discrimination before one desire – ‘Nitya-Anitya Viveka’, as Shri Shankaracharya puts it. One should be able to discriminate between the Truth and the un-Truth, the Eternal and the non-eternal, the good and the bad, between what is Proper and what is Pleasant. In Katha Upanishad (I.2) , Nachiketa is told by Yama that before each person two choices are laid – ‘Preya’, one which pleases the senses and therefore binds him to the miseries of Samsara and ‘Shreya’, the one which is Proper and therefore delivers him from the misery and the bondage of the Samsara. The Wise one, Dheera, chooses that which Proper and thereby gets liberated and the one of little understanding, attracted by the objects of the senses, chooses that which is pleasant, thereby coming back to the miseries of Samsara repeatedly. Therefore, Shri Krishna assures Arjuna, “….those who worship Me, meditating on Me alone, to them who ever persevere, I bring attainment of what they have not had and security in what they have” (Bhagavad Gita IX.22)
In like manner, those who devote themselves to Shri Prabhu with all their heart and soul, discarding personal needs born out of selfish desires and induced by sense organs, their actions being Satvic, Shri Prabhu comes to help in the fulfillment of their actions. Because it truly is Bhakta-Karya, the action which will bring the devotee in communion with the Guru. Bhakta is one who is not Vi-Bhakta. Bhakta is one who is in communion with the Lord, one who has ‘Advaita-Vasana’ – the desire for non-dual experience, which according to Avadhoota Gita comes through the Grace of God, which alone delivers one from fear.
Therefore, whenever one desires to propitiate Shri Prabhu through the Maha-Mantra, it should be in the sense of complete surrender of one’s self-centered ego, selfish nature and by filling the heart and the mind with noble thoughts and noble intent. Let, therefore, our prayers be born out of humility.
Let us remember the instructions, the commands (Adesha), the teaching (Upadesha) contained in Taittiriya Upanishad (I.2.1) “Speak the Truth. Practice virtue. Let there be no neglect of your reading (the scriptures). Having brought to the Teacher the wealth that pleases him, do not cut the thread of the offspring. Let there be no neglect of Truth. Let there be no neglect of virtue. Let there be no neglect of welfare. Let there be no neglect of prosperity. Let there be no neglect of study and teaching. Let there be no neglect of the duties to the gods and the fathers.”
Let us not pray to the Lord in this manner. “nirvighnam kuru me deva SARVA karyeshu sarvada” Instead of “Sarva Karyeshu” (good or bad, noble or ignoble), let our prayer be ‘SHUBHA Karyeshu Sarvada”. Let success come to us in the performance of good, noble deeds, not otherwise. In our ignorance, if we perform unknowingly ‘A-shubha’ Karya (an ignoble act), let the Lord bring impediments and prevent us from undertaking and fulfilling those actions.
Bhakta Karya, therefore, becomes the performance of those actions which are beneficial to the Devotees. Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj is the dispenser of such Bhakta Karya.
He is Supreme among all the Teachers. Shri Dattatreya, whose essence Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj evidently is, was himself the manifestation of the combined energy of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. That is the reason why we pray: “Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is verily, Mahaeshwar. Guru is the ultimate Supreme Brahman. To such a Guru let my adoration be.”
Among the King of Kings, he is the most auspicious one. In him is concentrated the essence of Shri Dattatreya, the manifestation of the triple-energy, the threefold Shaktis.
Among the Yogis, he is the great emperor. In Jabaladarshan Upanishad at the very outset, he is described as ‘Dattatreyo mahayogi bhagavan bhutabhavanah/ chaturbhujo mahavishnur yoga samrajya deekshitah” He was also the wandering ascetic like Maheshvara, with matted locks and body smeared with ashes. He was both Vishnu as well as Maheshwara. In Shri Prabhu’s life this aspect of Bhogi and Yogi was perceived.
Shri Prabhu was beyond the constraints of Tri-Guna (three attributes), Tri-Kala (past, present and future), bliss of all the three worlds, of the human world, of the space and of the heavens.
There, indeed, is a state which is beyond, when the attributes, the Gunas, inseparable powers of equilibrium, movement and inertia, become purified as Jyoti, Tapas and Shama. That is the state of absolute Bliss, which is incomparable even in the three worlds.
Non-dual. He was one with the Supreme Brahman. He was the real Bhakta of the Lord, having been in committed communion with Him. He was aware of his real state of Being, which is non-dual and blissful. It is like the space being one with the Space, there remaining no separate existence between the Individual Self and the Universal Self. “Verily, when there is another, there one might see the other, one might smell the other, one might taste the other, one might speak to the other, one might hear the other, one might think of the other, one might touch the other, one might know the other. He becomes like water, the Seer without duality. This is the highest goal; this is the highest treasure; this is the highest world; this is his greatest bliss. One particle of this very bliss other creatures live.” (Brihad Aranyak Upanishad. IV.3.31-32)
Having transcended all the five sheaths of consciousness, Shri Prabhu is beyond dichotomy. There is no separateness between his individual Self and the Universal Self. Both being in reality but one, there is no distinction.
He is without defects, ‘aham eko niranjanah’ declares Shri Dattatreya in Avadhoota Gita. The Brahman is Pure, without defects.
Without any attributes like Satva, Rajas or Tamas. He is Brahman. Creation is said to come about when there is turmoil in the balance of these three attributes. Since Shri Prabhu has passed beyond these three attributes, he is Nirguna, beyond the effects of the modifications of the Gunas, the attributes. He is ever free of the attributes and therefore beyond being created.
He is not dependent on anyone else. This is difficult to explain. At the supra-conscious level Brahman is independent of all others while all others are dependent upon Him. As Shri Krishna clarifies, “Whatever state of beings there may be, be they Satvic, Rajasic or Tamasic – know that they all flow from Me alone. I am not in them, they are in Me” (Bhagavad Gita VII.12). When one considers the meaning of the word NIRALAMBA on an empirical level, where the Lord descends to establish righteousness amongst the erring humanity, we will have to take the assistance of Bhagavat Purana (II.2.2-6) where the attributes of the person who is wise, are narrated.
“Such are the words of the Vedas, that the mind seeks gratification through names without experiencing their real meaning. Expecting happiness in the world of Illusion, the soul wanders as though in sleep, without realising true happiness. Therefore, the man, who is wise, should associate with the objects of the senses only for the maintenance of the body and convinced at the same time of their futility, should never get attached to them. If such happiness be possible due to one’s own fate, then one should not strive for them because that would only be avoidable labour. When the earth is there, what need is there for a bed? When nature has provided us with arms, what need is there for pillows? When one can hold food in the folds of the palms, what need is there for a dish? When there is the space and the barks of the trees, what need is there for silken robes? Are there no rags on the road or are there no trees on the roads that are ever eager to give fruits and leaves unasked? Have the rivers dried up or are the mouths of caves blocked? Or has the Supreme Lord, Shri Hari, denied protection to those who approach him? Why then should the men who are wise knock the doors of those who are blind with the arrogance of wealth? Having thus decided, the wise man should adore the Infinite and Eternal Lord dwelling in his heart as the beloved and the Ultimate Truth.”
This is the highest state of being non-dependent upon any one other than one’s own Self. As Shri Krishna commends, “Let a man exalt his Self by his own Self; let him not degrade his Self. For Self alone is the friend of the Self and Self alone is the enemy of the Self’ (Bhagavad Gita VI.5) This is what is meant by the word NIRALAMBA.
He is complete in himself. One who is aware of the majesty of one’s Self is the Self himself. “When it (the Self) is known through every state of cognition, it is rightly known, for (by such knowledge) one attains life eternal. Through one’s own Self one gains power and through wisdom one gains immortality.” (Kena Upanishad. II.4) One who knows the Self thus is a Complete Person. “He who is here in the person and he who is yonder in the Sun – he is one. He who knows this, on departing from this world, reaches to the Self which consists of Food, reaches the Self which consists of life, reaches the Self which consists of Mind, reaches the Self which consists of Understanding, reaches the Self which consists of Bliss” (Taittiriya Upanishad. II.8.1)
Shri Manik Prabhu being Jeevanmukta had experienced the fullness of the majesty of the Self even when he was alive in this body.
Like the Paramahamsa, the Divine Swan, he was capable of distinguishing here in this life itself ‘Shreya’ and the ‘Preya’, the Truth and un-Truth. “When, to one who knows, all beings have, verily, become one with his own Self, then what delusion and what sorrow can there be for him, who has seen the oneness?” (Ishavosya Upanishad.7). He revels ever in the knowledge of Experience. The bliss or delight which wisdom of Brahman brings about is beyond any description. It is something completely incomprehensible. As the Seer puts it, “When the words return along with the mind, not attaining It, he who experiences that bliss of Brahman fears not from any thing at all. For such one, verily, the thought does not torment, Why have I not done the right? Why have I done the sinful? He who knows this, saves himself from these (thoughts). For, truly from both these he saves himself – he who knows this, Such is the Secret Doctrine” (Taittiriya Upanishad. II.9.1-2). Therefore, Shri Prabhu is SADODITA, ever living in the blissful state of realised self.
He is ‘samam hi sarveshu’ – equal towards all. He is the same to every one who approaches him. None is dear or hateful to him. He is aware that whatever has been said in every faith, creed or religion is but the Eternal Truth, though the method of expression has varied according to the time and place and capacity of the person. Just because the expression differs, the Truth does not differ. As Shri Krishna declares in Bhagavad Gita (IX.23), “Even those who are the devotees of other gods and worship them with faith, they also sacrifice to Me, O Arjuna, though not in the right manner”.
The time when Shri Prabhu took Avatar was the time when unrighteousness, bigotry, hatred etc. were at their highest peak. In the world had spread the virus of distrust between classes, castes, communities and religions. The knowledge about the true nature of religious beliefs and the ultimate reality was lacking in people and they were becoming more and more ignorant and superstitious. It was at such a time that He took descent to put an end to these disparate, divisive forces prevailing in society.
Shri Prabhu not only preached SAKALMATA he also practised it in letter and spirit. Once Gulam Mustafa Khan the Tahasildar of Chitguppa being impressed with Shri Prabhu’s profound knowledge of the holy Koran, approached him with a strange proposal. He requested Shri Prabhu to embrace Islam so that he could accept him as his Murshad (teacher). He even went to the extent of alluring Shri Prabhu with royal gifts from the Nizam of Hyderabad. However, for Shri Prabhu change of religion was a futile exercise as he knew that all religions led to the same goal. He immediately asked for a copy of the holy Koran and read out the very first verse from it which says, “Alhamdulillah Rab-ul-Alamin” which means – Allah alone is praiseworthy as He is the creator, sustainer and the deliverer of the whole Universe. Shri Prabhu jocularly asked Gulam Mustafa Khan to cite a single verse from the Koran wherein Allah is said to be the saviour of only Musalmans, to which Gulam Mustafa had no answer.
Only a great Teacher like Shri Prabhu can realise the similarity, the common bond between different faiths and religions and bring about the state of ‘Samatvam’, the equanimity. He was therefore the Sakalmata-sthapita as well as the Sakalmata Acharya.
One should understand the Maha Mantra with this background in view and the purpose and the objective which Shri Prabhu had placed before himself and his Sampradaya. It is for this purpose that both Nama and Rupa should equally be understood. It is not sufficient if we say that we venerate the Teacher and not follow his message. The Rupa and Nama are not different. Once the Rupa is removed form our sight it is the Nama which guides us in our life. But Nama is not only the name, written in alphabets. It is idea behind the name. While Rupa is the visible symbol of the Nama, Nama is the vocal symbol of the Rupa. These are the principles which are required to be apprehended by the intellect as well as by the consciousness. While the Rupa is the outer form the Nama is the inner soul.
Nama and Rupa together make the person. The Nama is not purely the name but the idea, the archetype, the essential character, consciousness and the Rupa is the existential context, the visible embodiment of the idea. In every object these two elements do exist. But while the form may change the idea still remains the same. The different Nama-Rupas are the differentiated conditions of the one Nama, the Universal Consciousness. This the significance and the fundamental basis of all religions. This what Sakalmata stands for.
Therefore we should pray with the Vedic Seers.
Assemble; speak with one another.
Let your minds be of one accord.
As ancient gods unanimous
enjoyed their portions,
May your aim be common,
your assembly be common.
Common be the mind,
and the thoughts be united.
A common purpose do I lay before you,
To worship with your common ablation.
Common be your aim
and your hearts united.
Your mind be one,
So that all may happily live together.