What you can learn from the churning of the ocean

21st Aug, 2015

The story goes that the Devas (demi-gods) were slowly losing their strength because of a curse by a great rishi. Their archrivals the Asuaras (demons) took advantage of this opportunity and threatened to wage war against the Devas. Fearful of what may come to pass, the demi-gods approached Lord Vishnu (known as the Preserver in the Trinity of Hinduism) for a solution. The great Lord told them to churn the primordial ‘Ocean of Milk’ or Ksheera Sagara to receive Amrita, the nectar of immortality, through which they may regain their strength.

This churning, however, was not so easy a task that it could be conducted by the demi-gods alone. So they forged a temporary peace with the demons to attain their goal, after which the nectar would be distributed equally between the demons and the demi-gods. Using the King of Serpents as a churning rope and Mount Mandara as a churning stick, the demi-gods and demons began a task that would take 1000 years to complete. Lord Vishnu, incarnated as his Kurma avatar of a tortoise, held Mount Mandara on His back, so that it would not sink into the ocean during this time.

Working tirelessly for centuries, the reward they sought was not so easy to attain. The first thing to come out was not nectar, but poison. The Halahalam, as it was called, was so potent that it enveloped the universe and threatened to destroy all. Lord Shiva (known as the Destroyer in the Trinity of Hinduism) stepped forward to take this poison. His wife, Parvathi, stopped it from spreading to the whole body by constricting His throat. Lord Shiva’s name Neelakanta or ‘blue-throated one’ is derived from this incident, the poison having turned His neck blue due to its potency.

Amrita, the nectar of immortality, was almost the last thing to come out of the ocean. When it did, it was held in a kumbh (pot) by Dhanvantari, the physician to the gods. Fearful of the consequences of what could transpire, the demi-gods tricked the demons out of drinking from the pot. Lord Vishnu incarnates again in the form of Mohini, the irresistible temptress, and tricks the demons into giving her the pot. What ensued was a dozen days and nights of fighting between the two groups.

During this time, as Lord Vishnu fled with the kumbh from earth to heaven, a few drops of the nectar fell in four places in India: Haridwara, Prayag (Allahabad), Nashik and Ujjain. It is in these places that the Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious festivals in the world, takes place on a rotational basis every 3 years. The one-and-a-half month festival is taking place in Nashik this year, on the banks of the Godavari River. By the time it has rotated to the other three sites and returned to Nashik, 12 years (representing 12 days and nights of fighting) will have passed by. It is scheduled to finish on 25th September 2015, during which time millions upon millions of devotees will have paid homage at the holy site. Even today, bathing in the rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari and Shipra, where the nectar drops fell is considered sacred and is said to wash away sins.

Swami Sukhabodhanada visited Nashik in July for the Kumbh Mela. Watching the ocean of humanity that churns in and out of the sacred place is not unlike the ocean’s churning in the story. In fact, it is not unlike the turmoil that takes place continually inside many of us.

The mind is constantly being churned by the positive (represented by demi-gods) and negative (represented by demons) aspects within us. For the spiritual seeker, one part will yearn to pursue the spiritual path, another will oppose it. Both these aspects must be in harmony. Keep in mind that both the Devas and the Asuras worked together for the churning. This painful churning brings out first suffering and unhappiness before it gives any rewards. It is the Halahalam that threatens to destroy. Lord Shiva, who drinks that poison, represents the ascetic principle. He represents simplicity, pure love, discipline, courage and detachment. The poisonous instability of our minds can only be stopped by cultivating these principles within us.

The Serpent King represents desire. Mount Mandara stands for concentration. The name ‘Mandara’ contains two words: ‘man’ meaning ‘the mind’ and ‘dara’ meaning ‘straight line’. Therefore the name itself stands for concentration of the mind. The mind, like Mount Mandara during the churning, must rest itself upon divinity (Lord Vishnu’s incarnation of the tortoise) and give itself up to that divinity, if it is not to sink into the ocean.

Therefore, desire must be held in firm hands and controlled, the mind focused on a single aim, rested upon divinity, with all our negative and positive aspects harmonized if spiritual enlightenment is to be attained. What keeps us from this enlightenment and the immortality that it represents? Lord Vishnu in the form of Mohini represents the delusion of the mind. It is the delusion of pride and ego; they are the last hurdles one has to overcome.


International Yoga Day

22nd Jul, 2015

The bodily postures or asanas we call yoga today has its roots in a history that is more than 15,000 years old. While in modern times it is more often than not looked on as a form of exercise, yoga is, in fact, a sacred knowledge that lights the path of spiritual progress. It is one of the 6 major schools of Hinduism and is itself constituted of a variety of practices and methods, namely, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga.

The name is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ meaning ‘to bind, join, attach and yoke’; it denotes the true union of the will of God with that of our own. The practitioner of yoga is a yogi or yogin. The Bhagavad Gita describes such a person as one who has mastered his mind. ‘A lamp does not flicker in a place where no wind blows; so it is with a yogi who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of yoga, the yogi by the grace of the eternal Spirit within himself finds fulfilment.’

As with many sacred practices, it is a knowledge passed down from divinity itself, with Lord Shiva being termed the very first yogi, known as Adi Yogi. He passed on his knowledge to 7 disciples known as the Saptarishis. These Saptarishis took yoga to many parts of the world.

Passed down in the guru-shishya tradition, from teacher to disciple, it is a practice that has survived thousands of years. Today, it is practised by hundreds of thousands across the world.

In December of 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 21st June as International Yoga Day, in a way acknowledging yoga for the global acceptance it has gained for its secular approach to spirituality and self-improvement.

"Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."

- Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly

Under the guidance of Poojya Swamiji, all the chapters organised yoga camp on International Yoga Day.


Questions of Existence

31st May, 2015

The Existential Laboratory is in essence a journey of self-exploration guided by Swami Sukhabodhananda. Surrounded by nature and far removed from the stress of ever-day life, it facilitates a process to understand oneself and grow. Through that understanding, one can find a purpose and a meaningful life.

There is much we have to unlearn and forget in order to reach that level of understanding. A return to nature and innocence, a diligent effort at simplifying and 'letting go' instead of 'holding on', are just some of the things that Swamiji explains and explores.

This May, we conducted another successful workshop in Bangalore.

Life is a journey to be explored Management through the Mahabharatha

Applying tales of antiquity to the modern management paradigm, the Management Through Mahabharatha workshop took place in Lucknow on the 21st and 22nd of May 2015.


A Time for Celebration

12th May, 2015

This April 26th we celebrated Swamiji’s 60th birthday and the silver jubilee of Prasanna Jyothi, a home for girl children. An occasion marked by joy and cheer, it took place at Nirguna Mandir, and was attended by Prasannites from around the city and country. 

Many who couldn’t attend the event sent their best wishes to Swamiji through phone, e-mail and social media. Some even organized events in their own city and country. Our chapters in the USA celebrated Swamiji’s birthday in advance, while our Hyderabad chapters celebrated with chanting and bhajans, the hall and prasad bhojan being sponsored by Sri Ratnakar Rai. In fact, in the Hyderabad celebrations, they all came together to light a candle, each candle symbolizing the pool of light that spreads Swamiji’s message.



‘Happy Birthday Swamiji. We celebrated Swamiji's birthday in Hyderbad with all Prasannites in a grand way - with bhajans…mantra [and] chantings. And received Swamiji's blessings.’
   - Ms. Bhavani Dharmasamvardhini, Hyderabad

Some Prasannites reminisced about how Swamiji’s words had transformed their thinking, leading them towards a happier life.

‘Happy Belated Birthday Swamiji! I am fan of you and clearly understood your speech [on the ] difference between our experience, impression and inner status. Only with that speech, and listening to it for countless times, I have learnt, almost, how to be happy…Repeatedly, I listened to this speech to understand the funda of happiness. Thanks Swamiji.’
       - Mr. Sudarshan Nagaraj

At 60, Swamiji is one of the leading spiritual gurus of India, ‘The Week’ magazine placing him in their list of the Top 5 best exponents of spiritual knowledge. His books have sold over 1 million copies in 110 titles in different languages.


Launch of a new book: ‘The River of Life’

12th May, 2015

A picture speaks a thousand words, or so the saying goes. ‘The River of Life’ is just such a book where pictures speak as much as the words themselves. A coffee table book, the first of its kind by Prasanna Trust, it unfolds the truth behind joyous living, revealing that happiness is not something to be pursued, but rather, realized. Our very nature, as human beings, is filled with happiness. Yet we are unaware of this truth due to our own ignorance. This ignorance covers us, hides us from who we are. The book also explores questions of identity, the ‘I’ by which we define ourselves, revealing the games our Ego plays that entrap us further in a world of suffering. Embarking on a spiritual enquiry into the human condition, it begins by explaining what leads us on such a journey:

‘Conflict: the beginning of true enquiry
When does conflict arise? Only when you know ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, but at the same time are confused as to what you should do in a given situation, is it not? Understand that conflict arising out of confusion is the first baby step in one’s life towards transformation. Conflict indicates that you know something and you are not sure as to how to act in that given situation.

Life has become a battlefield in which constantly there is a war between different polarities in us – such as the good and the bad; the angel and the devil; the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
How are you treating your deficiencies and frustrations? Do you deal with them with dignity, guilt or with the tantrums of temper? When faced with such situations switch your journey of life to a journey of enquiry and be guided by your master.’

The book's subsequent sections go down memory lane, celebrating the growth of Prasanna Trust as it started from a small tributary of a handful to the family of thousands that it is today. 

We wish to applaud Dr. Muralidhar for purchasing books worth over Rs. 35,000/-. We invite Chapter Chairpersons and Seminar Leaders to join us in spreading the message of Swamiji through his publications. Take a peek into a page of the book. Contact us here to buy it.