As Swami Ghanananda points out, Hinduism is unique among the historic higher religions in holding that neither Hinduism nor any other religion is the only truth or only way to salvation.
In the Hindu view, each of the higher religions is a true vision and a right path, all alike indispensable to humankind. Each gives a different glimpse to the same Truth, and each leads by a different route to the same goal. Each religion, therefore has a special spiritual value of its own which is not to be found in any of the others.
To know this is good, but it is not enough. Religion is not just a matter for study—it is something that has to be experienced and to be lived. This is the field in which Sri Ramakrishna manifested his uniqueness.
The nectar of Your words and
the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in
this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate
one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These
narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual
power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.
Satsang / Satsanga / Satsangam is a word which comes from Sanskrit, meaning "to associate with true people", to be in the company of true people - sitting with a sat guru, or in a group meeting seeking that association. Inner satsang is to raise the consciousness to a level of realization that soul (atma) and Lord (Parmatma) are One.
Movement can be said to have really come to Sri Lanka when its founder-leader
Swami Vivekananda, landed in Colombo in January, 1897 on his way back to India
from the West. He was no more an unknown monk. This time, he landed on the soil
of Sri Lanka as a world celebrity and as a prophet of a new order of things.
The Hindu Community of Sri Lanka had all along noted with keen interest and
pride the signal success achieved by the Swami in spreading the message of the Hindu faith in
the West at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in the City of Chicago in September, 1893. Some of the more popular local dailies had
carried the news of the ‘arrival of the Hindu sage’ in
Colombo by the ‘Prinz Regent Luitpold’ on the 15th of January, 1897. This was enough to rouse the
enthusiasm of the local Hindu Community to instant activity. A large number
of Hindus assembled at the Tambyah Chatram to consider the steps to be taken
for the purpose. To meet the expenses a subscription list was started and a sum
of about Rs. 800/- was collected on the spot.2
Arrival of Swami
In the early part
of July, 1897, a middle-aged ochre-clad sannyasin from far-off Calcutta, India,
landed at the Colombo Port. Many prominent Hindus of Colombo were ready at hand
with flowers and garlands, expecting eagerly the arrival of the Swami. The
Swami was received, on landing, with oriental greetings and respects due to a
sage, and was conducted to Thambyah Chatram where he was to stay for the next
seven or eight months, spreading the message of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami
Shivananda, for that was the name of the apostle, was one of the direct
disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and brother-disciple of Swami Vivekananda at whose
behest he had come to the Island to continue the work of propagating the
Master’s Message. He carried with him a letter of introduction from Swami
Vivekananda to Mr. T. ARRIVAL OF SWAMI SHIVANANDA 133 Sokanathan of Colombo who
had the unique privilege of hosting the great Swami when he had earlier visited
the Island on his triumphal return to his Motherland from the West. The letter
read as follows: ... ALMORA, 30th June, 1897. To, T. SOKANATHAN, Esqr, My dear
friend, The bearer of this note, Swami Shivananda, is sent to Ceylon as
promised by me during my sojourn. He is quite fit for the work entrusted to his
care, of course with your kind help. I hope you will introduce him to other
Ceylon Friends. Yours ever in the Lord Vivekananda
It is holy ash which Hindus put it across their forehead during or after prayers.
Thiruneeru which is an disinfectant when applied with the recitation of certain mantras has the ability to cure diseases.
The Thiruneeru has always been considered as having a certain sakti which manifest if it is applied with faith and the recitation of certain mantras.
When applied with devotion coupled with sincere practice, is said to be able to rid one of the fruits of his bad actions and acts as a purifier.
The healing powers of the Thiruneeru are legend. Saint Thirunaavukkarasar is one of those who was thus cured. Saint Thirunyanasambandhar has sung a lovely song about the qualities of the Thiruneeru.
All sages and wise men advice us to apply the thiruneeru at all times for it has the power to bring success.
It is also applied to concentrate our minds on good thoughts. It is to remind ourselves that we must ever strife to lead a godly life. The sakthi in thiruneeru is believed to be able to speed up the process of our own divinisation so that we become one pointed and finally reach God.
It must be noted that the ash cannot be reduced further by burning. No matter how long you burn it, it will remain ash. The use of the holy ash here is to remind man that God is eternal and unchanging in a sea of changing phenomena.All else changes; we change; but God remains the same and it is our duty and our inherent nature to seek to unite with the permanent. Every time he applies the thiruneeru, the devotee is reminded of the need to become more and more god conscious in his life so that finally he can have vision of God.
There is also another meaning: by applying the ash, man is reminded that he is not immoral and that one day he too will become ash. Therefore, he should not be egoistic or treat people badly.
He should do whatever good he can in the world and lead a divine life of service practising virtues like simplicity, humility, hospitality and honesty. He must be compassionate, loving and have devotion for God. He should realise that God gave him this life. Everything in the world is a creation of God. He should therefore not only be thankful and worship God with added devotion but should also act in consciousness of God.
Since he is mortal and may die at any time, it is therefore imperative that he try his best to achieve the goal of life which is having unitive knowledge of God or becoming one with God, thereby achieving immotality. He cannot put this off for he never knows when he will die so he must start on his God-ward journey now itself.
Normally, the Thiruneeru is picked up with three fingers of the fight hand and applied such that three lines form across the forehead.
This indicates the Trinity or the functions of Lord Shiva in his manifestation as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. Brahma is the Creator of all life, Vishnu is the Sustainer and Protector while Rudra dissolves everything back into its primal energy state from which Brahma again brings forth life.
This symbolic act is also an indicator of the play of the subatomic particles that are involved in a constant dance – called the Dance of Siva even by by some physicists – of creation, sustenance and destruction which gives us this universe of name and form.
This again reminds us that we come from God and must return to God.
Applying the Thiruneeru thus also represents an appeal to God to eradicate the three impurities of Aanavam, Maya and Karma from our life for only when we are free of these can we hope to achieve union with God.
While the prayer goes out to God, we have also to ralise this truth and endeavour to drop off the shackles of these three impurities.
It can therefore be seen from the above that the Thiruneeru is not applied simply for show or for fun. It has deep psychological meaning. We must always be conscious of this when applying the Thiruneeru to ensure max-mum benefit from our prayer and actions.
When applying the Thiruneeru repeat the mantra “Om Namahshivaya” thrice. Once can also just say “Siva Siva” or chant the mantra of one’s lshtha Devatai when applying the Thriuneeru.