Last year some 8000 seekers joined me (96% virtually) every day for sixteen days to immerse themselves in the unparalleled sadhana of Sri Suktam. At the conclusion of the event, if you recall, I announced that this year we would do it a bit differently.
The powerful sadhana of Sri Suktam can be done in srishti krama (creative sequence), samhara krama (the dissolution sequence), or stithi krama (the sustenance sequence). The idea is to create a space that helps your consciousness expand (srishti), destroy those afflictions and tendencies that pull you back (samhara) and, maintain the good foundation (stithi).
What we did last year was to invoke the creative sequence, starting on the new moon night and continuing on for the next fifteen days as the moon waxed. And I’d said that we would perform the sequence of dissolution this year in October, starting on the full moon night and ending on new moon. Usually this ancient method, that is srishti followed by samhara, is done in a closed group and handed out to the initiated disciples as opposed to the world at large. And not just any disciple but only renunciants.
As many of you know, I did away with all those rules and agreed to do the full invocation irrespective of the status of your initiation, your intention for doing the sadhana or how you joined me (physically or virtually).
But, Houston, we have a problem.
Before I spell out the problem (which BTW, is spelled as p-r-o-b-l-e-m), I am compelled to share a famous story from Srimad Bhagavatam.
As kids, both Krishna and Sudama were pupils of the great sage Sandipani Muni and lived in his ashram. One day they were tasked to fetch some firewood from the forest. Knowing it was a tiring exercise, the wife of Sandipani Muni packed them puffed rice. One pouch each. As usual, Krishna asked Sudama to hold onto both and that he would take his when required. They left in the morning and as they went further in the woods, it started pouring buckets. Sudama was keen to run back to the ashram and revisit the task at another time but Krishna was not having any of it, no matter how unrelenting the rain.
They took shelter under a giant banyan tree with Sudama climbing up the tree and Krishna resting on one of the lower boughs. A couple of hours passed and there was no sign of the rain abating. Sudama devoured his tiffin. Another hour passed and he felt pangs of hunger again. Taking a bit of rice from Krishna’s share wouldn’t hurt anyone, he thought. And so he ate some from the pouch that belonged to Krishna. A mere five minutes later, before he knew it, he had already polished it off.
When the rain stopped in the afternoon, Krishna mentioned he was famished and wanted his rice to which Sudama replied that in all the running around from rain in the morning, both the tiny bindles of rice had come loose and they were all but gone. Well knowing what Sudama had actually done, Krishna let him have his dignity and chose not to confront him.
Upon graduation, they went back to their hometowns and lost touch. Sudama became a priest who, it seemed, not only married his wife but poverty too. Krishna, on the other hand, became a mighty ruler revered by everyone.
Several years later, when Krishna was the emperor of Dwarika and Sudama a poor but scholarly brahmin, an extraordinary incident unfolded. Prodded by his wife, Sudama reluctantly agreed to visit his royal friend Krishna and ask for help. Not wanting her husband to go empty-handed, she borrowed three fistfuls of puffed rice from her neighbor and made a little parcel to be offered as a gift to Krishna.
Sudama wasn’t sure if Krishna would meet him or if he would even remember him at all. Forget the doors of the palace, he was stopped right at the city gates but somehow got in after pleading and all. Finally when he reached the royal entrance and managed to have a message sent to Krishna, he was gobsmacked to see that Krishna himself came out to receive him.
After washing his feet and feeding him, Krishna took Sudama to his private chambers and asked playfully if he brought him any gift. Sudama was tongue-tied to even utter a word, let alone offer the little bindle made from a tattered cloth with patches in many places. He knew his friend was a king, but it had never occurred to Sudama how mighty a ruler Krishna was and how opulently he lived. Krishna’s chief consort and queen, Rukmini was watching all this with joy and fear in equal parts. Joyous because Krishna seemed happy, and afraid because she knew that Krishna was an avatara of Vishnu, and as such, capable of granting anything. She suspected that his playfulness was a bit unusual in the present circumstances. 1 Krishna saw that his friend was hiding something and so he grabbed Sudama’s hand and seized the pouch.
“Ah, so this is my gift,” Krishna said, and undid the knot. Sudama looked down and Rukmini askance.
He took a handful of those puffed rice and put it in his mouth. As he was eating those and smiling, Sudama couldn’t hold back his tears. Rukmini, however, knew that with Krishna accepting the offering like this only meant one thing—he would give back a millionfold. This was the same Krishna who had had one mere grain of rice from Draupadi’s pot and the entire entourage of the feared sage Durvasa was satisfied including the sage himself. She, an avatara herself of Mother Divine, knew that by eating one handful of rice, Krishna had already granted Sudama all the material riches imaginable.
When Krishna took another fistful of rice, her heart sank. She pleaded with him to stop by subtly folding her hands. She knew that eating it again meant a rare and direct intervention by Krishna in the modus operandi of the Universe. Krishna being who he was did not stop and put the second serving in his mouth relieving Sudama of his entire karmic burden forever.
On Krishna’s left hand was resting the creased and sullied cloth with another handful of rice. Sudama had no clue what was going on and meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, his family back home had already been provided with a lavish dwelling, servants, food and plenty of gold to last lifetimes. As Krishna dug into the remaining rice and raised his hand to put them in his mouth, Rukmini leapt forward and held his wrist.
“Please, O Soul of the universe,” she said and looked at him with her doe-like eyes filled with tears, “You’ve secured him an abundance of all kinds of wealth in this world and the next. After all, one’s prosperity depends on Your satisfaction. If you take this, you will give away all riches from all the planes of existence and that would include me, Sri. What will the world live off, what will happen to the law of karma and the laws of nature? Please stop.” 2
Krishna knew that Rukmini was right, and he refrained from eating the third palmful lest he should give away everything to one person. Krishna ate the first two for he knew that even after being an erudite scholar, Sudama had been living a life of abject poverty because he had once taken what wasn’t his. He had taken what rightfully belonged to Krishna, that one small bag of rice when they were kids, and had lied subsequently. As it is, to covet what’s not yours comes at the huge expense of your spiritual growth and then to actually take what doesn’t belong to you is a depraved act, completely immoral. Krishna knew that only He could pardon his friend because one, he was Vishnu and two, it was his portion of rice that Sudama had taken as a young adult. A victim holds the first right to forgiveness.
And yet, Rukmini was successful in stopping Krishna from eating it the third time. The three fistfuls could easily be the three planes of existence, this world (bhu), the divine world (bhuvah), beyond (svaha), or the three states of consciousness, sleeping (susuhpta), dreaming (svapna), awake (jagrata), or the three modes of material nature, goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), ignorance (tamas), or anything else at all. Krishna alone knows what Krishna means. 3
Now, in case you are wondering why this story or what is the problem I referred to at the beginning of this writeup, well, here:
I tried to circumvent some rules by agreeing to conduct the Sri Suktam sadhana in samhara krama without really putting the seekers through the rigors of sadhana (including the prerequisites) or probing them to ensure that they were ready (in any which way). But Mother Nature intervened, it seems.
Due to the incessant rains, a major retaining wall in the ashram has come cascading down. It was the one adjoining the yajnashala (the sacred hall where we were going to make the fire offerings) and as a result, the yajnashala is in ruins and will need to be rebuilt. Once the weather clears up, it would take several months and a lot of resources to resurrect the retaining wall and build the yajnashala.
This leaves us with two options. One, do the Sri Suktam sadhana at some other place in the ashram in a makeshift structure. Or, two, do it where it’s meant to be done even if that means it will be next year (or the year after, depending on how long it takes us to get everything done).
Sorry to disappoint you but the Sri Suktam event of 2023 stands cancelled (the srishti krama will be available in the Sadhana app, of course, beginning the night of Diwali). Instead, I will hold smaller events in the ashram in November to make good on my promise of my availability this year that you were otherwise going to get through the Sri Suktam event. Details of the November events will be available on the ashram website in due course.
I know it’s inconvenient to all those who were looking forward to this live sadhana, but I strongly recommend that we choose the second option and only do it when the original yajnashala is ready. This approach will bring the greatest benefit to all the participants. I would like to do samhara krama at the same place where I did the srishti krama.
And what about the stithi krama of Sri Suktam?
That, my dear, is the third fistful of rice.
- Everyone who applied for initiation before 31-Jul will receive an email from me on 20-Aug. (If you have applied after 31-Jul, please expect to hear from us in October).
- As promised last month, I will come live on Zoom on 26-Aug at 9:30 AM IST. Details will be published on os.me/live. I look forward to seeing you there. All are welcome.
A GOOD STORY
There were four members in a household. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. A bill was overdue. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.Don't leave empty-handed, consider contributing.
It's a good thing to do today.