Saraswati Publications, LLC

Saraswati Publications Newsletter       ( 

July 2008
Namaste Friends,
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.
Panduranga Vittala

Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva)

 Panduranga, 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.

Sage Pundalika
   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 meditation.
   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 a bit."
   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 Yuga.
   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:

Panduranga & Rukmini at Pandarpura

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"

Saintly Bricks
  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 Vijaya Vittala.

July Mantra of the Month


Victory 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 Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony
 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
In This Issue
Panduranga Vittala
Mantra of the Month
CDs of Ancient Power Volumes
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:
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony
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