July 26-31, we will be doing a 5-1/2 day workshop on the Adventures of Rama and Sita at Indralaya, on Orcas Island in the beautiful San Juan Straits between Washington and British Columbia. The following weekend we'll be in Seattle at East West Books for singing the praises of Ganesha.
is generally regarded by those who know of him as an incarnation of
Vishnu. This is technically true, but there is more to it than that.
Some call him the coming one similar to the Maitreya in Buddhism, the
Messiah in Judaism, or Christ coming again in Christianity.
Panduranga as an Aspect of Krishna
When Krishna announced that he would be leaving at the end of
Dwapara Yuga, there was despair among the general population, rulers
and sages alike. He was asked. "What shall we do? Kali Yuga is coming
and that is when we will need you the most. In that age of spiritual
darkness, your light and spiritual authority will be needed more than
at any other time. Why must you depart?" Krishna responded that his
supra-physical body could not be constructed during the density of
Kali Yuga. Although he could contain his essence in a body during the
thickening time of Dwapara Yuga, it was just not possible for him to
make a body that could contain him in the time of spiritual density
that is Kali Yuga. But he also told them not to despair that he would
descend to earth in several different ways to safeguard the pious and
sincere ones during Kali Yuga.
One way that is revered by millions is the black stone called
salagrama. In many places in India this stone is used for a murti for
performing puja to Krishna. The priests performing the pujas feel that
the essence of Krishna is contained in the stone.
There is another aspect of Krishna that is told in the story of
Panduranga, a black stone image that stands on a brick with his hands
on his waist. There are several versions of how the statues of
Panduranga and Rukmini came to stand in the city of Panduri, commonly called
Pandarapura. The most commonly accepted story tells that after
Krishna's marriage to goddess Rukmini, he went out one moonlit night
to the place of his childhood where he danced with the milkmaids. Once
again after his marriage, it is told, he met with them and they danced
the traditional Rasa dance as the love stricken milkmaids swayed in
ecstasy. Through her spiritual sight, Rukmini saw these activities and
became upset with Krishna. As a mark of rebuke and punishment, Rukmini
went and stood in a forest called Dindira Vana, in austere discipline, in
the form of a statue. In a sense, being a chaste wife, she was
performing penance to atone for the acts of her husband. It is a
wonderful example of the sacrifices that husband and wife make for one
another in classical Indian literature, and even in the actual lives
of devout Hindus today.
As a mark of apology, Lord Krishna seeing the penance of his wife also
took the form of a statue and came to that spot in apology to her. The
two of them stood there for a long time, each with their hands on
their hips in statue-like pose.
Pundalika's parents wanted him to take them on a pilgrimage to Kashi,
also called Benares. He ignored them and went himself. While
traveling, he stayed one night at the ashram of Sage Kukkuta. In
meditation during the early morning hours, Pundalika saw three women
sweeping the ground with their long hair. Enraptured, Pundalika asked
the meaning of what they were doing. They replied that they were the
three rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. Everyday they served the
divine sage Kukkuta whom they called the embodiment of virtue. Holy
rivers were made even holier, they told him, by the great service if
saints. Then they disappeared and he came out of his trance-like
Now Pundalika experienced intense desire to know what spiritual
disciplines Sage Kukkuta performed to have the holy rivers wait upon
him. After asking, he was amazed to discover that the only discipline
performed by the sage was the devoted service he made to his parents.
Seeing God in them, he took exquisite care of them, feeling as if he
was expressing his gratitude to God for attaining a human body. The
treasure of human birth, although not widely known in the world, was
understood by Pundalika to offer extraordinary opportunity for
spiritual advancement - so much so, that even the celestials desire
human birth so that they may attain liberation. Understanding the
inner nature of Sage Kukkuta's service in gratitude to his parents for his birth, Pundalika
underwent a true change of heart and returned to his home. There he
began daily service to his parents with all reverence.
While this drama was taking place, Krishna and Rukmini were standing
in the forest with their hands on their waist. After some time,
Krishna found that his attention was being drawn to the sincere
devotion with which Pundalika served God through his parents. Finally,
he disappeared from the forest and came to stand outside the hut of
Pundalika. There Krishna's voice rumbled like thunder on the ears of
Pundalika, "Oh Pundalika, I am Krishna who has come to you, pleased as
I am at the devotion you have shown through your parents."
At first Pundalika did not quite believe and replied." Whoever you,
you must wait until I finish serving my parents. I will be with you in
This pleased Lord Krishna even more who spoke again, "Ask any boon you
like. Ask me and the same shall be fulfilled unto you." After thinking
for a moment, Pundalika found a brick and placed it on the ground
outside his hut. Then he prayed to God to stand on the brick and bless
humanity forever with his darshan (ecstatic vision). Bound by the
cords of Pundalika's love, Krishna placed parts of himself in the
statue or murti - an image of himself - for worship during this Kali
Later Rukmini followed Krishna and also stood as an image behind her
husband. Separate temples were built to them, and today millions of
Hindus visit Pandarapura to propitiate the images of Panduranga and
Rukmini, particularly in July and November.
The images at that temple are below:
Meaning of the Name Panduranga
In Sanskrit, "pandu" means "white" while "ranga" means "color."
Thus, in one sense, Panduranga means the white-colored one. This seems
odd for a black statue. This is because the term white a symbol and
does not mean the actual color. It stands for the tranquil sattva guna
of which Lord Krishna is said to be the perfect embodiment. Thus, the
white light that Krishna personifies as the Lord of Sattva Guna, will
come to all who are sincere in seeking God during Kali Yuga. It does
not matter which religion one follows or upon which path one trods.
Sincerity, dedication, and discipline are the keys to receiving the
white light - each according to his/her capacity. Understood in this
context, it is amazingly similar to the idea of the body of Christ.
This idea declares that all sincere Christians shall be come part of
the body of Christ no matter where they are or what they do. The white
light of Panduranga is nearly identical in context.
Krishna and Panduranga
In common parlance, Krishna was called "Ranga" meaning his blue
color. They used the word "Ranga" to denote the one with the dark
color. With the appearance of the statue, Panduranga came to be
synonymous with Krishna in this form of the statue.
In another context, Krishna was friend and guide to the Pandavas.
Thus he became Pandava's Ranga or Panduranga.
The other part of Panduranga's name is Vittala. Breaking apart this
word, "vi" stands for "Vidhi" or Brahma, "ta" stands for Nilakanta,
which is a name of Shiva as the "blue- throated-one who saved the
celestials by drinking poison spewed forth by the serpent Vasuki, and
"la" stands for Lakshmi Pati or the husband of Lakshmi who is Vishnu.
Thus, Vittala stand for the three in one: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Before Krishna came and stood at Pandurapura, the place was known as
Panduranga Kshetre associated with an old Shiva temple. The
white-colored interpretation of the Panduranga as a Shiva temple was a
reference to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas where Shiva dwells. One
day when the Shiva temple priest came early to prepare for puja, he
could not see his Shiva lingham anywhere. Instead there was this large
black figure standing there with hands on the waist. After searching
for a bit, his glance chanced upon the head of the figure standing
there and he spied the Shiva lingham on the top of the head of the
large statue. He broke into song in verses that end with the phrase,
"Parabrahma Lingam Bhaje Panduranga," which roughly translates, "The
symbol of the Supreme Brahma sits atop the image of Panduranga"
The great guru Sivananda of Rishkesh has written in his
translation of the Bhagavad Gita that the word
"brick" is a slang expression for a saint. The meaning is the saints
are as dependable as bricks. Applying this slang expression to the
image of Panduranga standing on a brick, it can be deduced that the
consciousness that is Panduranga manifests through saints. That is to
say, Panduranga stands on a brick, or, the consciousness and power of
Krishna overshadows a certain group of saints in the Hindu tradition.
Sadguru Sant Keshavadas is
the 20th Century spiritual preceptor who taught about Panduranga and
the coming Kalki Avatar. He established Vishwa Shanti Ashrama in
Bangalore which has a 30 foot tall murthi of Panduranga in the form of
July Mantra of the Month
RAMA KRISHNA HARI JAI JAI PANDURANGA HARI JAI JAIVictory to Rama, Victory to Krishna, Victory to Panduranga (which is the same being and will come as the next and last avatar of Vishnu at the end of Kali Yuga.)
This is a mantra for realization of Panduranga (inner or outer darshan or a vision of the white-light being.)
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony Recordings
The Ancient Power of Sanskirt Mantra and Ceremony, 2nd. Ed., is now being revised to simplify pronunciation.
As promised some time ago, Namadeva is recording all of the volumes to be sold in CD sets of 10 or more CDs.
Volume I will be for sale at our online store in August 2008. Volume II will be ready by the end of the year and Volume III in early 2009.
The works of Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva) give unprecedented, detailed instruction in how to empower yourself using the techniques of the ancient sages and rishis. He and Satyabhama have been given the mission by their Gurus Sadguru Sant Keshavadas and Guru Rama Mata to bring these teachings to everyone.
To that end, he has written and recorded a number of works, and he travels to North America and the UK to teach workshops. Bi-annually they lead a Pilgrimage Tour of India's Holy Places, visiting with the Shankaracharayas at Kanchi Math, Guru Mata at Vishwa Shanti Ashram, and doing fire ceremonies in the Himalayas, among the highlights of the trip.
They have founded a religious organization, Sanatana Dharma Satsang, which has opened a Gayatri Temple in Beaverton, Oregon. Plans are in the works to found temples with residential communities in Oregon, New Mexico, and other locations. The link to it is in the right column.
These works are offered in a spirit of service. We sincerely hope that they will further you on your path.
Prem & Shanti,
Satyabhama (Margalo Ashley-Farrand)
Saraswati Publications, LLC
2008 Schedule of Workshops
We will be doing workshops in the following places in 2008:
July - Portland, OR; Indralaya on Orcas Island, WA
August - Seattle, WA; CA: Far Horizons Camp, Sierra Mountains (near Fresno)
September - Charleston, SC; Kripalu, MA
October - IL: Arlington Hts, Highland Park, Chicago; CA: Los Angeles; CANADA: BC, Calgary (10/31)
November - CANADA: Calgary, Red Deer.
December - Bangalore, India
India Pilgrimage - May 2009
Please see our schedule for details and updates:
at Vishwa Shanti Ashram