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Divine teachings: Gayathri manthra, Lord Siva avathars, ghosts

   Questions and Answers

   Q. Some say that the Gayathri manthram should not be uttered by women. Why?

   Kayam is a Sanskrit word meaning body. Athma gnanam is the head. When such gnanam comes out as a lit wick, a jyothi, it is Gayathri. Senses, thought and consciousness directed in unison towards Siva Shakthi - that is Gayathri, the union of cosmic knowledge and cosmic energy.

   There was a king and warrior by name Vishwamitrar who wanted to receive the title of Maharishi. He went to sage Vashisthar and asked to teach him how to become a rishi. The sage Vashisthar told him that as a king and warrior, it would be very difficult for him to attain rishi status since he had a warrior's blood in his veins. This angered Vishwamitrar and to prove sage Vashisthar was wrong, he went back and gave away his kingdom and royal belongings. He then went to the forest and practiced rigorous penance and prolonged meditation for a number of years. He thus aspired for the divine wisdom, just as a wick seeks to light itself. The heat produced by Vishwamitrar could be felt by Brahma and he sent the lotus under him to find out the source of heat. The lotus found Vishwamitrar buried under piles of earth doing rigorous penance. Vishwamitrar could feel the lotus above him and he sent his soul up and lo! his soul was sitting on top of the lotus. Brahma could feel that someone was sitting on His lotus. He was delighted to see Vishwamitrar having attained the power to sit on His lotus and He gave Vishwamitrar the title of Maharishi. Until then, Brahma had four faces and because of Vishwamitrar another face got added and five faces emerged. That represents Gayathri. After succeeding, the first words Vishwamitrar first uttered were what has come to be known as the Gayathri manthram. Vashisthar then realized his folly and said that since Vishwamitrar created Gayathri, all other rishis would chant the Gayathri japam 1008 times.

   Swami further added that women may not chant the Gayathri manthra. In ancient times, the man of the household, if a priest, did all the chanting during the poojas while the woman of the house prepared the requisite items. The woman, because of her role, would then become the embodiment of Gayathri Devi and Veda swaroopini and hence have no need to chant the manthras. But, nowadays, neither the man nor the woman lives the traditional lifestyle. That is why we find mahans like Sathya Sai Baba saying that woman can also chant the Gayathri manthrams. As per Swami, it can be chanted by all, however the true benefit of chanting is not there for the ladies.

   Q. How can one control anger?

   Anger is a state of mind. We get angry when our mind senses something contrary and unacceptable to us. Thus, here the mind begins to play games. When we learn to do things from the heart, the mind will take a back seat. To practice this, one has to keep thinking about his or her ishta deivam (favorite God) and keep chanting the divya namam (divine names). Then, feelings of the heart take the upper hand and anger subsides. When we get to the point where what we do is dictated by the pious heart, anger becomes a trivial state of mind that can be controlled.

   Q. Why did only Lord Vishnu have numerous avathars and not Lord Siva?

   We all know that Lord Vishnu had ten avathars. Swami says that actually Lord Siva has twelve as against Lord Vishnu's ten. But all of Lord Siva avathars are aroopam (formless). The twelve jyothir lingams all over India symbolize the twelve avathars. In these lingams, Lord Siva appears for his devotees.

   Q. Do ghosts really exist? Can you tell us about the existence of ghosts (referred to as pishaashu or brahmarakshasa or bootham)?

   Our human form has three bodies. One is the moola shariram (physical form) all of us know and are aware of. The second one is the sookshma sharira (the subtle body, our aura) which envelopes us at arms length and the third one is the ghost body or the bootha sharira which lies in between the moola and the sookshma shariram.

   All the good we do and all our positive aspects are absorbed by the sookshma shariram and it passes on straight from our physical body to the subtle body without getting affected by the presence of the ghost body in between. In the same way, all our bad deeds and all negative aspects are absorbed by the ghost body and only a minute fraction reaches the subtle body. Thus very little of the negative aspect gets attached to the subtle body.

   When the physical body dies, the subtle body leaves to get itself attached to the next physical body that the soul seeks. The subtle body is intelligent enough to find its course. This is not the case with ghost body. It often loses its way and keeps searching.

   In such an eventuality, there is a likelihood of the ghost body latching on to a very dear one or a person against whom it harbours feelings of resentment and vengeance or maybe even a person dear to its enemy. All this are possible. The scientific world may not agree to this. They label the resultant abnormal human behaviour as nervous or psychiatric disorders, or diagnose brain damage.

   When sedating drugs are continuously administered to the possessed person there is a likelihood of the ghost body leaving him, as it always likes to remain active in search of a new physical body. Out of frustration, it will leave the sedated body. Here there is a risk, as such drugs cannot be administered for extended periods of time due to the risk of serious side effects.

   The second method is shock treatment. Here also the physical body cannot tolerate extended treatment and many people give up treatment. The electric shock reaches into the resident ghost body and over several repeated shocks, it dies. Thus science, in spite of devoted research to diagnose and treat such abnormalities has not been successful in many cases.

   In Chothanikkarai, the tanthri doing the guruthi pooja at Keezhkavu is a specialist in exorcising the ghosts from the physical bodies that they have possessed. With masterful use of the tanthric mudras and urulis filled with guruthi (special brass vessels filled with reddish blood colored water), the tanthri jostles and negotiates with the ghost, coaxing it to leave the physical body. He tries to make it realize that it has no right to possess the physical body of another. After a few days, the tanthri is able to gauge how reticent the ghost is and tells the affected person's escorts how many days they may have to stay within the premises (bajanam) to completely exorcise the ghost. The same tanthri may not be at work daily. As in the case of hospital care, charts are hung over the beds of the patients detailing their case history. Ghee is sanctified and given to the possessed persons as medication during the bajanam period. Finally, when the tanthri feels that the ghost is weak enough, he just pulls out a strand of hair from the body of the person and mixes it with the guruthi in a flash, giving the worn out ghost the impression that the physical form has died and consequently it also dies a natural death. By this treatment the person is totally cured without fear of relapse.