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The Modern Om Sakthi Movement
Uniqueness of the Om Sakthi Movement
Who is Adhiparasakthi? "From whom is the birth, continuation and dissolution of the Universe?" - She is Adhiparasakthi - "the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-free, the Almighty, the All-knowing, the All-merciful, the Teacher of all Teachers." Above all "She, The Divine Mother, is of Her own nature, inexpressible Divine Love." She is the one and the only one; the sat-chit-Anandam, the Existence - knowledge - Bliss of the Philosopher and the God of Love of the devotees. Both impersonal and personal are in one and the same God. Not only that, that Divine Mother, that God is not separate or different from the Brahma as unit or absolute. Devotees choose the relative aspect of Brahma, that is Adhiparasakthi the Supreme Ruler. Adhiparasakthi is the highest manifestation of the Absolute Reality or in other words the highest possible reading of the Absolute by the human mind. In other disciplines or in other sects it is also called as Ishwara Sakthi or Ishwara. Creation is eternal and so also is Adhiparasakthi.
The Om Sakthi Movement or Adhiparasakthi Movement is a world mission, a mission to give a new meaning to religion, based upon love and even more upon service (Thondu). It is open to all, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. It is a socio-religious movement. It has made a renaissance, rather a spiritual renaissance in Tamil Nadu and is making an impact on the entire country as well as on the whole world. It has awakened the spiritual moods of the people of Tamil Nadu. It has reawakened the sense of pride in the Tamil people's heritage.
His Holiness, Arulthiru Bangaru Adigalar, as an incarnation and as the founder of the Om Sakthi Movement is contributing to our own heritage and to this movement with a very conscious sensitive, and open mind. He is not flattering anything of the past, present and future. He examines our heritage critically and gives the ancient knowledge a new interpretation more related to what the modern mind needs. The Om Sakthi Movement is divorced from the dogmas of Agama. Thus, by overruling Agama rules, any individual seeker, irrespective of gender, can enter the sanctum sanctorum (Karuvarai) and offer pooja or prayer, each according to the individual's faith, belief and conscience.
As the founder of the movement, he ushered in the concept of a group of servants of Thondarkal of Supreme Goddess, the Divine Mother who can perform the rituals and service to the Divine Mother and Mankind in periodical succession, that is in cycles or in rotation. No priests are involved. The devotees themselves are trained to perform the rituals and poojas. This is the first time that this idea has emerged in modern India. Over and above all these things it can be observed that all the offerings made by the devotees, either as money or as articles, are not taken away by priests. Instead, the offerings are collected by the Adhiparasakthi Trust and are used for the welfare of humanity and for the upliftment of downtrodden people.
Adigalar has brought a radical change in the concept of monks, sadhus and Sanyasins. In this Kali Yuga, practicing Bramachariyam, leading the life of a saint, etc. are possible only for a very few people in this world. As such, to rejuvenate the spiritual progress of mankind, he has brought a new concept through this movement. He conceived the activities of individual householders, both men and women, belonging to a religious order dedicated not merely to their own or to their family's spiritual discipline and progress and well being, but also to the spiritual progress and well being of the society at large, in which they are living.
Up to now, only Bramacharis, monks and saints were considered eligible for spiritual progress, for service to humanity, and for realization of God. Now the householders (Grahasthas) are allowed, or rather, made fit for spiritual progress, for performing rituals and meditations, for performing poojas in the sanctum sanctorum and for serving humanity. This direction of Sakthi Peetam (mission) has been consciously given by Adigalar. To my knowledge it is wholly a new direction within the practice of Hinduism.
Unity in the Om Sakthi Movement
While Hinduism has all the highest ideals of the spiritual unity of mankind, in our day-to-day life there is no unity. There are different castes, creeds, divisions, groups, rich, poor, downtrodden etc. In a temple, even though they worship the same deity, there will be two or three castes and in each there will be many groups. There is not merely diversity, but a great hierarchy in our relationships. Adigalar wants to break through all these things. In doing this, he is using the influence of his personality as an Incarnation.
In Melmaruvathur Temple, one can see that people of different castes, creeds, etc., move like family members and they all feel that they belong to one family, the Om Sakthi Family. Adigalar is gaining success rapidly in making the people understand the Om Sakthi movement as a Universal Religion. He is spreading the concept of "One Religion, One Mother" (Ore Kulam; Ore Thai) as the basic concept of world peace. Adigalar is an ardent exponent of the concept of the world as one family and the doctrine of universal brotherhood. All these he is doing in silence. He does not deliver the message through words. But the people, followers and devotees sense the sanctity of the silence, the serenity of his thoughts, the radiance of his Divinity. There is a sensation, an aura of absolute bliss, a Motherly love. He is contacting and spreading the knowledge of self in Sukshuma. Just by a mere vision he makes the people understand.
Spirituality, Worship and Social Service
Adigalar has reorganized the entire setup and has made drastic changes in rituals, poojas, philosophy, etc., to suit the people of all religions without changing the original image. Actually, he has developed a tool by which a new kind of awakening is taking place resulting in this Om Sakthi Movement. He has developed a group of enthusiastic volunteers, both full time and part time, both young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate, who are doing good to others, who are going from village to village to help the people in performing poojas and rituals in their houses, disseminating spiritual knowledge and seeking in various ways to better the conditions of all, down to untouchables and orphans.
He says, "In another ten years Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi Temple will become famous over the entire world and it will become a world spiritual center and world service center of humanity."
First off, all worship according to him is the worship of Virat or those all around us. These are all our Gods-men and animals are first Gods. We have to worship our own fellow man and woman first. He preaches to see each and every living being as a fragment of Adhiparasakthi, the Brahma. Each devotee in the Om Sakthi Movement calls each other "Sakthi" since all the Jivas are the fragments of Brahma, the Absolute. This is again a new concept. Our traditional concept was to go to meditate in the forest, leaving all our fellow man to their sufferings and short comings. The service to society to attain God-Head, to realize God-Head is an entirely new concept. This is a wholly different approach to spiritual matters.
Our philosophy was that our sufferings of this life are caused by our actions in a past life or previous birth or maybe by earlier actions in this life itself. This attitude towards human sufferings makes one insensitive to the sufferings of other people. But Adigalar's concept is -- don't bother with what may have been the source of a man's sufferings or who may have been responsible for it. One can overcome the effect of all the Karma of the past through dedicated service to humanity and by having immense faith in Adhiparasakthi. You are a human being and so you have responsibility to feed the poor so that they can also think of God realization and they can also enter into the spiritual realm and absorb spiritual knowledge (knowledge of the self). This "Anna Thanam" (issue of free meals or food) and "Adai Thanam" (issue of free c|othing) form the important aspects in this movement.
He says that: "Only by service (Thondu) can one attain the Divine Mother. Siddhars (emancipated souls) and the Divine Mother are happy only by the action of feeding the poor (Anna Thanam and Adai Thanam).
This is wholly a new and different approach to matters spiritual and moral. Adigalar preaches a path of action of redressing sufferings and spreading spiritual knowledge. Earlier saints had expressed compassion for the poor and downtrodden who suffered, but none of them had shown either an inclination or the ability to organize, to do something about it and advocate action to remove sufferings, as is being done by Adigalar. He is taking a conscious decision to get the disciples organized together, not only for the purpose of their own spiritual evolution, but for the purpose of using them as instruments for the service of Divine Mother by serving the poor and downtrodden.
The establishment of Adhiparasakthi Siddhar Peetam (a mission with many cultural and educational trusts) with a number of weekly prayer mandrams all over the world as distinguished from temples, maths etc., is certainly a new type of activity for not only the Om Sakthi Movement, but for any religion. Adhiparasakthi Temple and an association of world wide weekly prayer mandrams, is certainly a new concept. The original or ancient concept of the Ashram or Math or Temple is only for the spiritual education of the disciples. This new idea of a mission was the idea of putting the disciples to service, in addition to and so part of the process of their own spiritual training and liberation.
In addition to the headquarters at Melmaruvathur, there are Sakthi Peetams at Coimbatore, Perundurai, Punjai, Puliampatty, Tiruppur, Mettur, Tuticorin, Tanjore, Salem, etc. By Sakthi Peetam is meant a temple where the statue of Adhiparasakthi has been installed and Kumbabishekam has been performed. There are Adhiparasakthi weekly prayer mandrams almost everywhere in Tamil Nadu and there are a number of overseas weekly prayer mandrams all over the world. Mandrams are places of collective prayers in each locality for a small group of people. Members of the local mandram are responsible for many philanthropic activities locally. Special spiritually powered Om Sakthi Vilakku, Kamatchi Vilakku, Kalasam and Image (Photograph) of Adhiparasakthi and Image of His Holiness Arulthiru Bangaru Adigalar are the key items used in Mandrams to feel the presence of Divine Mother and the grace and blessings of Adigalar. Devotees who come to Melmaruvathur Temple feel as though they are at home, as though they have come to their mother's house to spend a holiday. They never feel tired of anything. Once they touch the soil of Melmaruvathur they forget all their worries and they feel the radiance of spiritual power of the group of twenty one Siddhars who are in Jeeva Samathi in the soil of Melmaruvathur. By the grace of the Siddhar Talaivi (Head of emancipated souls) Adhiparasakthi, devotees feel greatly relieved of their stress, burdens, sorrows, sufferings, etc. Over and above all these things one forgets his own native place and everything and his inner feelings urge him to stay at Melmaruvathur for days. This feeling can not be explained. It is beyond words and languages and it can only be experienced.
Now there arises a question as to whether a spiritual basis is necessary for social service. Human beings, though not wholly rational, have emotions and behave in conformity with traditions and beliefs. They all play a part in man's day to day life. Most leaders, whether political, social or religious, consciously and unconsciously use the non-traditional aspect of human personality to mobilize people for action. Hence, guidance of Avatar is necessary to reconcile the rational and positive approach with mystic experience. There is some kind of a quantum jump involved from the rational to the non-rational realms of experience. Recognizing the existence of non-rational elements in human behavior is not the same as accepting the existence of a spiritual order. They are two different things. A belief in the existence of Brahma or Divine Mother or a life of spirit is necessary for the message of a concern for one's fellow human beings.
Humanity as One Unit Through Spirituality
For some time, not only this country but even the world at large requires the message, the teachings and experiences behind the teachings of Adigalar. If at any time the world as a whole and India or Tamil Nadu in particular required the study of these teachings, now is the time. With study would come understanding, with understanding would come acceptance, with acceptance would come conviction and with conviction, hopefully action. You can see all around the world what is happening. Let us leave aside India for a moment, though India is our primary concern. But India is a part of the world, and the world today stands in one of its most serious moments of crisis with hatred, national passion, ideological passion, power passion and all other kinds of passion, raising the threat of global nuclear war and destruction of the welfare of humanity at large.
The whole concept of humanity as one unit seems to have been almost completely forgotten in almost all states by the policy makers and decision makers in the world today. We hope that nothing serious would happen but one does not know when a nuclear war will break out. If a third world war does come, it would be the final war, because there would be nothing left to fight for after the third world war, with the kind of destructive nuclear and chemical weapons that have been produced by human ingenuity during the last two decades.
Therefore, we have to rediscover the concept of humanity that human beings, irrespective of differences in language, color, caste, creed, ideology, economic status, social status and political status - all these are very important, but irrespective of all these differences - human beings constitute one body and every human being counts with equal value. All are fragments of Adhiparasakthi the Supreme Brahman. All belong to one caste, homo sapiens, and all are the children of the Divine Mother. Now this is the message of Adigalar.
To understand the concept of humanity as one unit, to apprehend and appreciate the idea that every human being is as good as every other human being and deserves equal respect, equal esteem and equal consideration, cannot merely come from the intellect, nor can it come from mere ideology. Ultimately, the deepest root of a human being lies on, call it religion or spirituality or by any name, even call it non-rational, but the highest motivation in man ultimately comes from his recognition of the superiority of something above himself, either as an individual or a representation of a class or nation. This is spirituality with its superiority and magnitude of an overwhelming and all-pervading character of something above oneself, and it is this that gives him the highest motivation. That spirituality, that superiority, that all pervading character is present at Melmaruvathur in the form of Avatar and that is why those who land on the soil of Melmaruvathur get the motivation.
We must not forget this when talking about the teachings of Adigalar. Of course, the practical programs they give rise to are extremely important but there is a spiritual basis behind Adigalar's teachings. The vedantic concept of Brahman and of human identity is a concept which was familiar to us in India for many centuries. We have all heard, though not learnt, that God-Head, the Brahman, that is the Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi, is everywhere in every human being. All our ancient sastras proclaim that Brahman or Atman is present in every human being. This is supposed to be the essence of our religion that is the Om Sakthi Movement. There are songs about it, poems about it, books about it, pronic stories about it, discourses about it and yet no proper attempt was made to link it with our life or conduct in practice. In the Om Sakthi Movement, Adigalar has implemented all these things in practice. This is where comes the greatness of Adigalar who gets the inspiration directly from the Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi.
Another important concept of Om Sakthi Movement is that religion is not to be kept only in the churches, mosques and temples, nor only in monasteries or in forest caves in the mighty Himalayas, where people pray for their own individual salvation. Religion is to be brought down into the marketplace (not for selling) brought down into actual life (so that common laymen can avail the opportunity). This is what Adigalar calls the principle of Om Sakthi Movement.
While talking about human equality it is to be understood that the children are different. Some children may be good, some may be bad, some are short, some may be tall, some may be fat, some are lean, but the same divinity is present in every human being, manifest in varying degrees. This gives the strongest base for the concept of human equality, of humanity as one unit irrespective of class, creed, nation or language. Divine Mother's Gospel emphasizes this: 'Who ever it may be, a man or a woman, a thief, a rich man, a poor man, etc. they all are my children and they have touched the soil of this Melmaruvathur, I am bound to shower bliss on them."
Women in the Movement
One of the special features of the Om Sakthi Movement is the unique place which women occupy within it. Being an incarnation of Adhiparasakthi the Supreme Brahman, Adigalar looks upon all women as a visible manifestation of the Divine Mother. Thus, a great feeling of reverence for women as special manifestations of the Divine existed in the Om Sakthi tradition from its very beginning. Adigalar expects the same reverence for women in the life of each devotee of Adhiparasakthi. He is very sensitive to the sufferings and plights of women and he feels that one of the reasons for India's degraded state in the world parlor is due to its disregard for the condition of its women.
According to him, if the woman is spiritual, she makes the family spiritual and in turn the village, the city, the country, and the world become spiritual. He calls the women as sakthis. Without Sakthi (Power) there is no regeneration for the world. The country becomes weakest when the sakthi is held in dishonor. Adigalar has been incarnated to revive the wonderful Sakthi in Tamil Nadu as well as in the world parlor and is making her the nucleus once more. His mission is to make and mold the women into great spiritual people.
The women, however, have certain advantages and disadvantages peculiar to them. One of the most obvious disadvantages, is that they sometimes do not get the moral support from the family and friends to take part in the poojas and rituals. Parents and friends are often unacquainted with Vedantha and the Om Sakthi Movement and thus entertain many unfounded doubts and fears. Usually however once the family members and friends see the sincerity and genuineness of the members of the Om Sakthi Movement, the purity of their lives, their devotion to truth and God and the Universal nature of their belief, all doubts will vanish.
Acceptability of Om Sakthi
Adigalar is not preaching all these things through words, but by silence. The sanctity of silence, the serenity of his thoughts, the radiance of Divinity are sensed by each and every devotee. There is a sensation, an aura of Divine Absolute enumerated the main requirements of a religion are Philosophy, Mythology and Rituals. Adigalar has given all these requirements and qualities to the Om Sakthi Movement.
Adigalar is propagating a religion that is equally acceptable to all minds; it is equally philosophic, equally emotional, equally mystic and equally conducive to action. Harmoniously balanced in all these four directions is the Om Sakthi movement. This movement satisfies the largest proportion of mankind and is able to supply food for all these various types of mind. And this Om Sakthi Universal Religion is attained by what we call Yoga or Union. What is meant by Yoga or union at this juncture? To the thondar (Worker), it is the union between men and the whole of humanity; to the mystic between his lower and higher self; to the lover or Bhakthar or devotee it is the union between himself and the God of Divine Love and to the Philosopher it the union of all existence. This is the meaning of Yoga. The man who follows the yoga is called yogi. Yogi is called Sakthi in the Om Sakthi Movement. The Karma Yogi is called the Thondar or worker. One who seeks union through love is called Bakthi Yogi. He who seeks it through mysticism is called Raja Yogi. And he who seeks it through philosophy is called Jnana Yogi. In the Om Sakthi Movement one can see all the four types mentioned above. Starting from Karma Yoga or Bakthi Yoga each is raising to other Yogas. The poojas, rituals of the Om Sakthi Movement, have been so arranged that it can cater to the needs of all four types.
According to Adigalar, religious ideas will have to become Universal, vast and infinite; and then alone shall have the fullest play of religion, for the power of religion has only just begun to manifest in the world after the start of this Om Sakthi Movement. The power of religion is being broadened and purified and is going to penetrate every part of human life. When we come to the real spiritual universal concept then and then alone religion will become real and alluring; it will come into our very nature, live in our every movement, penetrate every pore of our society and be infinitely more power for good than it has ever been before.
Adigalar is preaching to strike a balance between the two ideals of worship and service. He has dedicated himself to provide a rare opportunity to practice the lofty ideals of Vedantha without the distraction of the world - to practice meditation and concentration, continence and truthfulness, to intensity faith in and love of Adhiparasakthi, to practice discrimination between the real and unreal, to practice seeing Adhiparasakthi in everyone and feeling the living presence of the Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi.
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