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Blessed Self,
Hari OM and Namaste!


Symbolism of Onam - 2 - By Swami Chinmayananda!

Concept of Vedanta - The traditional version of the Puranas not only fascinates and charms the devoted reader but also instills in people noble values and virtues and makes them aware of their social responsibilities, duties, and commitments. There is a deeper significance behind the rendering too.

    Here Mahabali represents the individual spiritual seeker. He performs a hundred yajnas. 'Yajna' here means cooperative endeavor - action performed without ego and egocentric desires for one's own self-purification and mastery over the sense organs. Sense organs are called indriyas and the one who is the master of the indriyas is Indra. So the individual seeker in the initial stages performs karma yoga to gain the Indra post or mastery over the senses. As he progresses on his path with total devotion and surrender to the Lord, he develops vairagya (detachment) and starts to give away everything or renounce or offer everything to the Lord.

     At this stage, the Lord takes away everything. He means only three feet and the seeker agrees, but the Lord spares nothing, for the demand of the seeker is Atma-samrajya - the inner kingdom of peace and beatitude. The Lord covers the entire earth with one step which represents the surrender of the physical entity; the second foot covers the heavens and represents the surrender of the mental equipment and the placing of the Lord's foot on Bali's head represents the intellectual surrender at the Lord's feet.

     So the Lord has all - the body, mind, and intellect equipment of the seeker surrendered to Him and He lovingly shows the seeker another world deep down below - the Atma-samrajya (kingdom of the Self) deep within the core of the seeker himself. This nether world shown to Mahabali represents the inner world or the substratum - The Reality or Truth upon which the entire world of plurality is projected.

     Now Brahma, Rudra, and Visnu in the same order descend to bless Mahabali. Brahma represents the creative faculty in the individual - the sankalpa-vikalpa sakti, which makes the mind always extrovert. The arrival of Rudra represents the elimination or destruction of our thoughts or in other words, the exhaustion of our vasanas or tendencies because Rudra represents the destructive faculty (creative destruction). Therefore, the vasana-ksaya takes place and the inner equipment that is the antahkarana is purified. Due to this control of the mind, tamas and rajas get reduced and sattva, or purity of the mind increases.

     When sattva increases, Lord Visnu, the faculty of sustenance and existence comes to bless the seeker. In other words, the sacred hour of contemplation has come. At this juncture, the seeker with a purified mind and intellect continues and sustains his contemplation on the nature of the Self Divine. The seeker maintains the one thought of the divine to the exclusion of all other dissimilar thoughts. He contemplates the Guru's instruction 'Tat tvam asi', discovers his oneness with Brahman as 'Ayam atma brahma', and roars out the Truth - 'Aham brahmasmi.'
The ancient Masters knew that one has to turn his attention inwards to gain the state of absolute knowledge, which one foolishly seeks in the external world. With this view in mind, they introduced various rituals and festivals throughout the year to remind man of his supreme goal and ideal. One such festival is Onam.

With Prem and OM
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Mailing address: Chinmaya Mission Austin, 12825 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78727, USA

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Chinmaya Mission Austin · 12825 Burnet Road · Austin, TX 78727 · USA