Jaya Guru Datta. Om Namah Shivaya. Shivaya Gurave Namaha.
I am happy you are all here for Atirudra Yaga out of love for Lord Shiva, and without consideration for comforts. I am very fond of Srisaila Mallikarjuna. Many great souls have merged into the mountains here. There are many wonderful stories, I will tell you one of them.
Today, we will talk about Srisaila Khanda from Skanda Purana and learn about why Shiva emerged in this place.
O Mahadeva! O Shambhu! Prostrations to you! O Svayambhu! Salutations! O one bearing Ganga on his head! Salutations! The only friend of all three worlds - Salutations to you! The Lord is always in Yoga. The fiery eyes, the poison within, the snakes representing anger, the elephant hide - all these generate heat. Lord Shiva absorbs into himself all the heat and the poison in the world and hence bears the cooling Ganga and the moon on his head.
The Lord loves living in Kailasa. Kasi is hailed as the second Kailasa, so why did the Lord come to Srisailam? How did he get the name Mallikarjuna? We will briefly learn about all this.
In the past, Sage Vyasa came from Kasi per the command of Lord Shiva and asked Maharshi Sanat Kumara about the greatness of Srisailam. Sanat Kumara then spoke about the conversation between Shiva and Parvati to relate the answer.
One day, Parvati Devi asked Lord Shiva, “O Lord, you love Kailasa beyond measure. Is there another place you love as much?” Shiva is Guru to world, therefore, the Mother asks these questions so the Lord can bestow Jnana on this world. We would not learn of many things including Bhagavatam had not Mother Parvati presented these questions to Lord Shiva on our behalf. Lord Shiva indicated that there was one such place.
We have favorite places we like to live in. We have our favorite food. When we go to Gaya, it is tradition that we give up something that is very dear to us. The husband might choose to give up the wife, therefore the priest announces beforehand that the spouses can give up anything but each other. Normally, people vow to give up their favorite food item or a habitual vice such as anger at Gaya. Once, a man who visited Gaya pledged to give up anger. When he returned, people asked him what he gave up. After a few people repeatedly asked him the same question, he got impatient and snapped back at them in anger. This is a story I heard in childhood.
We all have anger, desire, greed, stinginess, etc. You can choose what you want to give up. You know your body and mind the best. It is important to learn about the greatness of the Kshetra you are visiting. When we give up something in a kshetra, we should remember to adhere to the vow for life.
Lord Shiva said that the place that was as dear to him as Kailasa was Srisailam. Therefore, this place is at par with Kailasa. When are here, we should live like Devatas with a noble and sacrificing nature, and with forgiveness. Do not live like ordinary humans here. Lord Shiva said he loved Srisailam beyond measure. Surprised, Parvati asked: Himalaya is very great, and the abode of miracles. It is said that there is no rebirth after visiting the kshetras in the Himalayas.
When we do Pradakshina to Kailasa or go to Manasarova, the mind undergoes great change. We are in that stupor for a long time after we return.
Himalayas are also the residence of your father-in-law and there are many other great kshetras there. So, what is special about Srisailam”
Lord Shiva said: O Devi, in the beginning of Krita Yuga of a prior kalpa, there was a sage called Parvata. He was intelligent, wise and virtuous. Importantly, he wished for the welfare of all beings. He adored me greatly. He yearned to have my Darshana and therefore undertook great austerities (Dhyana) in Tapovana and went into meditation. He sat motionless like a mountain.
In those days, ascetics would sit still without moving. We move when a fly sits on us. We take a break and drink coffee. This is monkey behavior. In the next birth, you will born a monkey that lives in front of your house. The practice of Tapas is to establish the Lord in one place in the heart steadfastly. One must keep dwelling on the Lord constantly. That is when we attain Jeevan mukti. We cannot sit for an hour, but Sage Parvata sat in meditation for 1000 yugas. Lord Shiva entered his heart.
If you meditate on Swamiji, Swamiji will be established in your heart. If you meditate on Shiva, Shiva will be established in your heart. Shiva then emerged from the sage's heart and stood in front of him.
Shiva then said to Parvati: The sage looked at me and repeatedly chanted Omkara and offered prostrations.
The sage’s intellect was purified when the Lord was in the heart. If the Lord is not in our heart, the intellect will not get purified. So, with great love, the saint sang praises of the Lord.
We see from the story of Dhruva too that he was able to immediately sing praises of Lord Vishnu as his intellect had been purified. That means, his karma was destroyed. Intellect is influenced and prompted by karma.
The sage said: O Lord, you bear in you all the creation, you destroy all the worlds, O one with a third eye, O one with infinite virtues, O one with serpents as ornaments, O Lord, please protect me, I surrender to you. Please tell me how I may serve you all my life.
If such a great saint asked so humbly, imagine how we should beseech the Lord.
Lord Shiva said: I have never seen such Tapas before. You have undertaken austerities for kalpas on end. Samsara is without essence. It is not husband, wife, children, relatives and friends that make samsara; the process of birth and death is samsara.
That is why Swamiji always instructs you to do Dhyana. That alone will elevate you from the human plane. Dhyana/Tapas alone is the greatest happiness, the greatest good, the greatest dharma. There is nothing greater than Dhyana. When you use the japamala to chant mantra, you can experience bliss. You will face obstacles in the beginning. Your focus may initially be on turning the japamala, but gradually, you will focus on the chanting and will automatically turn the japamala. Pranayama is a must to control the mind.
The bondage of karma will hold you back from traveling to higher planes. We have taken 80 lakh births in each form. Regardless, we have now reached the Guru. So, do not let go of this opportunity. There will be innumerable opportunities to leave the Guru, but you must transcend them and be steadfast in following the Guru. Then, the wise words of the Guru will fall on your ears. The Guru too will gladly let you go if are fickle. If you wonder why Swamiji is acting funny, it means the bondage of your karma is chasing you.
Tapas/Dhyana is the only way to get rid of the bondage of karma. You must close your eyes and meditate for 40 minutes everyday. Dhyana is your Tapas, that is where you will see God and find your answers. There is no other way. But Tapas is not easy. Therefore, Swamiji has given a simple method as Upadesha through a Bhajan.
Bhajan (ID 8237): nēnu naḍicēdantā pradakṣiṇaṁ
Swamiji wrote a set of bhajans called Navabhakti Geetalu. Once, in Vijayawada, the priest in the Mother Goddess temple was chanting the hymn composed by Sri Sankara Bhagavad Pada. Then, I wrote this bhajan based on that hymn to simplify it for devotees. This composition was included in the Navabhakti Geetalu album. Vijayawada Ashram is very dear to me, it is like second Mysuru. The devotees there will not let go of me despite severe tests.
(If everyone listens with focus, you will get this Upadesha. If you look at the phone or play with children while listening, you will not understand it).
Lord Shiva said: The body is impermanent. Asking for the body to be permanent is a petty and lowly desire. Only the supreme principle is the truth. We should do Dhyana and Tapas to realize the truth. The goal of Tapas is this realization. You have been purified with Tapas.
Those who meditate for an hour each day will become real devotees. Their hearts will be purified.
Lord Shiva said: You have already become pure, so ask for a boon.
Sage Parvata said: O Deva, please always permanently live on my head with your family and retinue. Turn me into a mountain so you all may reside on the head.
Sometimes, when we feel greatly troubled, we wish we were born as a tree or a rock. But this sage asked for the boon to become a mountain, not out of helplessness, but out of a desire for the Lord to forever live on him. The sage had asked that his head become the Lord’s temple. What a wonderful desire!
The Lord said: The one who sees God in every being, is in equanimity and always contemplates on Dharma will attain all treasures. Your heart is already pure.
The goal of all desires is the welfare of others. Therefore, one must have the keen desire to do good to others and help them. This becomes credit in our favor. Instead, if you pine for desires rather than the welfare of other beings, that is not good for you.
Lord Shiva said: Right now, you are yearning for others' welfare. If I reside here, all Devatas and beings will come here. You asked for this unselfish boon for the welfare of others, now ask one for yourself.
Sage Parvata: Make all teerthas of the world flow on me.
Sage Shiva blessed that it be so and said: Your desire will benefit all the worlds. I am very happy. Ask for another boon.
The sage shows us desires can be very noble. We should not ask for boons like Kartaveerya did. He asked for a lot of boons and took a long time to reach the Lord.
The sage prayed: By merely placing their foot on me, everyone of all four varnas/orders, should turn into your devotees. They should follow strict observances and their anger should be destroyed the moment they step into the kshetra. Jealousy must be removed. All their sins must be destroyed, and they must all reach you.
The sage thus pined for everyone’s welfare. Lord Shiva commended him for the noble desire.
We should want everyone to have Swamiji’s Darshana. We should not wish for Swamiji for ourselves alone. Lord Shiva promised to reside on the saint along with all the Devatas. Those who reach this mountain will always attain Tapas Siddhi.
That means, we have reached the right place at the right time (by being here). We are all here due to the grace of Shiva.
What is said in this scripture will come true.
There are many life forms here. All beings here can attain liberation if they live by Dharma. Even the ant here can attain liberation if it lives Dharmically. You may wonder if other life forms can also follow Dharma. You may have seen on TV that a tiger reared a baby deer. Normally, you'd expect the tiger to eat the deer, but seeing this tiger protect the deer melted my heart.
The Lord said that one should conquer anger and the senses in this kshetra. One should diligently undertake noble and obligatory rituals such as Snana (bath), Dana (charity), Japa, Homa here. The Pandits mut be given food. The Lord said he would bless people that do this.
Then, the sage turned into a mountain.
The Lord continued: O Parvati, Srisailam causes welfare of all. The entire mountain of Srisailam is my body. Like Tirupati is a Salagrama, this entire mountain is Shiva. Siddhas, Maharshis reside here. Many great medicinal herbs and nectars are in the forests on this mountain. I, the Lord of all, am known as Mallikarjuna in Srisailam. All sins will be removed when one has my Darshana. When one worships me or praises me, sins of millions of births will be removed quickly.
Many commit sins believing that annual visits to Srisailam will remove all sins. That is wrong.
Those who worship the Lord here will attain residence in Kailasa. They will attain the merit of bathing in all Teerthas and visiting all kshetras.
The Lord said that he would always reside in Srisaila Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga. The one who sees the linga or touches it or offers prostrations, will attain liberation.
One day of residence in Srisailam bestows as much merit as 2000 yugas of residence in Kedernath
The Lord said: A devotee called Chandramati offered a jasmine (malli in Telugu) flower garland and prayed I wear it. Since that day, the name Mallikarjuna got even more famous. I will bestow siddhi on those who have darshana of the Jyotirlinga. I reside here to protect all beings. I fulfill the desires of those who see me as the all-pervading light.
Thus, the Lord resided in Srisailam to protect all beings, said sage Sanat Kumara to sage Vyasa.
Today Swamiji spoke about how Srisailam came about. From tomorrow, we talk about the greatness of this place, and about Bramaramba Mata. We are listening to very rare stories.
Lord Shiva likes Pradosha Puja. We are all gathered here and meditating on Shiva, chanting His name. May all our sins, our angers, desires be shaken off. We seek forgiveness from Shiva.
We have come here with Guru to seek liberation. Whatever Guru says and shows, we must follow without any other distractions and desires. Help each other.
We want Swamiji with us, so we should cooperate with each other. We should be like family member and help rectify each other's mistakes.