we prepare for the pilgrimage to India, I want to assure you all that
we will offer prayers on your behalf at the holy places we go and at
the fire ceremonies in the Himalayas that His Holiness Shankaracharya
Jayendra Saraswati said will benefit all of America and all of India. And we will be offering separate prayers for all of you.
For those of you who are able to come, see you in Portland for the blessings of Satguru Rama Mata's visit here in June.
|Pancha Ratra School of Spiritual Development|
Intellectual disputation with Jnana Yogins centering around the Pancha
Ratra School, with heavy reliance on the Lakshmi Tantra, appears to
deny any self-revelation by the Absolute Reality. The reasoning goes
like this: Since the Absolute is unmoving, causeless and unmanifest, it
is only the personal deity that can reveal itself. The search for God
is really a search stemming from reason and not from reality. All the
impulses and feeling of religion, no matter how noble or lofty, have no
place in the transcendent reality. In this way, the God of Religion is
a lesser reality than the absolute and has no place outside empirical
consciousness. They maintain that the Absolute is not God because it is
related to nothing. This being the case, the personal God must be only
an appearance and thus NOT the highest reality. It is somehow lower,
and form of emanation that is not "the highest." Since it comes from
"something and someplace else." it may be withdrawn at any moment and
thus should be surpassed if one desires the highest realization.
Since religious consciousness cannot be satisfied with discovering a
God who is not supreme at all but only the appearance of a more
Ultimate Being, then we are faced with the problem of the ontological
status of God.
Reason: To What Lengths Will You Go?
However, using this argument, the rationalists and seekers through the
path of knowledge fall into the trap of hubris. They believe that
through thinking, that is, by reason alone, they can plumb the
mysteries of God and the way the Supreme One chooses to manifest. They
erect a framework of Popsicle sticks and then crush any idea that does
not conform to that structure.
Who told them that the unmanifest was completely distinct from the
From whence comes this idea except by the logic of an imperfect mind
that, seeing light and void, cannot conceive of an intimate,
non-apprehendable connection between them? Has the mind of such
logicians become so arrogant that while admitting that the absolute is
essential unknowable, that suddenly they know how it works and in what
ways it does not work?
The teachings of the Lakshmi Tantra confound the logicians. So, being
essentially unwilling or incapable of meeting it on its own terms, they
attack it for not meeting definitions which they themselves create.
This is sophistry of the most elementary kind and totally transparent.
The creation and destruction of "straw men" has been a staple of false
and misleading logical argument for centuries, but it was faulty then
and still is.
The truth is that the logicians appear not to understand any
relationship between Transcendental Being and its process of Becoming
or Causation. So not understanding, they attack. This is a classically
untenable position: Attack from a base of ignorance. Much heat is
created but very little light.
A Comparison with the Personal Approach
There is an irony to all of this. In the Advaitya and Vashishta
Advaitya approach, Ishwara is used for the personal approach. For
Shankaracharya, Shiva was all pervasive consciousness. The feminine
portion, the portion of power, is simply Maya to be overcome through
knowledge. For Ramanuja, it was Narayana as both the personal and
transcendental. Lakshmi as consort is integral to Narayana. For the
Pancha Ratra system, it is Lakshmi who is the agent of Becoming,
change, movement, birth of avatars, shakti and jnana in installed
The Individual Self
For followers of Pancha Ratra, the individual self is pervaded by the
Supreme Being as its inner self. Thus mantras such as "Om Namo
Bhagavate Vasudevaya" indicate that since the self is everywhere in
some aspect, all of this universe is Vasudeva - an aspect of the self.
But since Lakshmi is the causative agent of Vasudeva, it is she that
implements that continuous "becoming" of the self through our
incarnations, as well as those of the avatars and saints
Finally, the goal is said to be the entering into the Supreme Being.
This common belief holds for Advaitins as well as Vashishta Advaitins
and even many in the Pancha Ratra School. However, many who follow
Madvacharya hold that liberation is overrated. This has led to the
The Dasa Movement holds that service to the Supreme is preferable to
merging with it. Thus, followers of this school do not aim for
liberation but to be accepted as true and worthy servants of the
Supreme. To this end, certain great beings are said to have achieved
the ability to confer such status on a soul. Once achieving this, these
ones re-incarnate gain and again with the idea of leading souls to
their own divinity.
At its core, this movement is very similar to the great Bodhisattva Vow
of Buddhism, taking which souls defer final beatification and
absorption for the sake of sentient beings whom they serve in
perpetuity. Of course, the Buddha is often treated as a heretic by
orthodox Brahmins. Similarly the Dualism of Madvacharya is also
looked at in askance by the followers of the path of knowledge for whom
the teachings of Shankaracharya hold supreme.
Personally, I think they underestimate the great Shankaracharya. While
having coffee with author and teacher Georg Feuerstein several years
ago, he casually remarked that most of the commentators do not
understand or cannot relate to certain concepts put forth by
Shankaracharya. So they ignore them, ultimately creating a false
impression of what Shankaracharya taught. This was an illuminating
bombshell for me. It is obvious, of course, but NEVER discussed or
even mentioned in texts and commentaries. Thanks, Georg!
Individual Self in the Embodied State
So we come to the idea that the Supreme Purusha itself assumed a
place in the world through the mechanism of the individual self. There
is differentiation between the Self and the Purusha, even though they
are the same substance. The followers of Madvacharya would smile,
saying this reaffirms their position, since even the Advatins hold this
Many Pancha Ratrins hold the view that the soul takes embodiment
though the activity of Lakshmi. Since the very intelligence,
personality, mind and sense of individuality stem from her, that once
the soul leaves the manifested realms, it will automatically return to
Narayana, whose manifestation she is. Thus, there is little difference
between the Pancha Ratra and the Advaitins. The followers of Ramanuja
would also have little quarrel. But followers of Madvacharya would
state that it boils down to a matter of choice.
One of the principal differences between Shankaracharya and
Ramanujacharya is in their discussion of whether souls are part of the same soul or individual
souls. Shankaracharya holds the former view and Ramanujacharaya the
latter. Pancha Ratra sides with Ramanuja.
Emancipation or Liberation
Review: There are three main approaches to Liberation:
1. ADVAITYA: Through Jnana or Knowledge
Ramanuja held that mere intellectual approaches were not sufficient,
that spiritual discipline accompanied by moral and spiritual efforts
were necessary to invoke the redemptive grace of the Supreme.
2. MIMAMSA: Through action in accordance with scriptural injunction.
3. DEVOTION OR BHAKTI: Ramanuja put forth great emphasis on Bhakti.
But the followers of the general path of the Lakshmi Tantra speak of
devotion as the sumum bonum of spiritual discipline and pursuits. They
ultimately call it superior to learning from the scriptures and
superior also to performance of duties called for by scriptures.
4. PRAPPATI is a unique contribution form the Panch Ratra school. This is
a form of Bhakti that places oneself completely at the Grace and Mercy
of the Supreme. It is characterized by unconditional surrender,
leaving even the works of ultimate salvation to God or the Supreme.
The characteristics of Prapatti are:
a. Adoration of God.
b. Dedication to God in the spirit of Love
c. Abstinence of any kinds of disservice to God.
d. Unflinching faith in the providence and powerful benevolence of God,
including God's protective power.
e. Yearning of the soul to take refuge in the Divine
f. Complete Self-Surrender
g. Humility before the greatness of God.
This doctrine has also been accepted by the followers of Ramanuja as a
genuine and legitimate approach. But even Prapatti has two camps. They
are regarded as the Monkey Camp and the Kitten Camp.
Some feel that self-effort and moral commitment are requisites for the
Grace of God. Thus, this camp performs disciplines and observes moral
and ethical standards. Thus, it is said to be like a baby monkey
clinging to the mother, going whoever it goes. Performance of duty and
spiritual discipline, as well as other other activities are like
clinging to the mother as a baby monkey does.
The baby Kitten school is said to be picked up by the mother, God, and
moved wherever the mother deems it appropriate. God does with us what
ever God wants, as we accept and adjust.
The Pancha Ratra school asserts that Grace is the final arbiter of all
karma. It is Grace that puts us on the path in the first place, and
Grace that will take us to liberation of Dasahood. While other schools
may also have this view, in the Lakshmi Tantra this work is performed
by Narayana's Sudarshana Chakra, of which Lakshmi is the chief
instrument, being concerned with all of His activity. The Sudarshana
Chakra is the higher powers of the mind. The idea here is that the
Grace of God can come at any time, completely annihilating any or all
of our karma. The Grace of God is the final instrument of progress and
Classical Patra Ratra Initiation
The classical request is to ask for refuge through the teacher (very
similar to the Buddha's Refuge Ceremony). Then five aspects of
initiation and practice are observed.
1. The shoulder is marked with some symbol of the deity. Sometimes the
tongue is marked.
2. A special mark can be placed upon the forehead. (although this is
often the red dot, there are esoteric ways as well).
3. A devotional name is given.
4. One should recite appropriate mantras, after being properly
5. An image of the deity or deities should be secured. If possible,
puja and/or prayer should be performed.
The Pancha Ratra school of spiritual progress ultimately depends upon
devotion. Where in Ramanuja teachings that devotion is developed through a number
of ways including study and meditation, in the Pancha Ratra school one
moves quickly into an unflinching devotion to God that becomes complete
self-surrender - Prapatti. It is the single most unique
contribution of the school.
May the Grace of Lakshmi and her powering of the Sudarshana Chakra be
with us all.
|May Mantras |
From the Lakshmi Tantra:
Sahasrara Hum Phat Swaha
(A Sudarshana Chakra Mantra)
Om Namas Chakraya Vidmahe
Sahasra Jwalaya Dhimahi
Tanno Sudarshanaha Prachodayat (Swaha)
(Sudarshana Gayatri Mantra)
Om Sri LakshmiNarayanaya Namaha
|Certified Priests and Pujari|
Maheshwara and Sri Savitri Devi, Sanatana Dharma
Satsang Certified Priests, are available for pujas and fireceremonies in absentia. Please click here for further details: Pujas in absentia.
Mahavir has been certified by Sanatana Dharma Satsang as a Pujari for 7 years. He is available to do puja at your location in New York City on a donation basis. He can be reached at email@example.com
[Please note that Maheshwara and Mahavir will be unavailable in May due to traveling to India.]
The works of Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva Acharya) 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, we 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.
We 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
Video Quick LinksIndia Video
Visit with Guru Mata at Vishwa Shanti Ashram and Pujas
India Video HD
NEW CD IN JUNE: Piercing the Knots-Granthis CD
- A Mantra
& Visualization Meditation Mantra Therapy for Prosperity CD
- Help with blocks to prosperity and mantras to bring it in Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony
, Volume I & II CDs now recorded and availableMantra, Path to Spiritual & Material Attainment
- a 15-hour workshop on 14 CDs
Rama & Sita Workshop, Co-Starring Hanuman - approx. 15 CDs.
2009 Schedule of Workshops
We will be doing workshops in the following places:
May 1-24 India Pilgrimage
(We still have places left. Click on the link in the box above for more info.)
June - Guru Mata-Gayatri Temple, Portland, OR; Pensacola, FL; Atlanta, GA, and Charleston, SC
July- Boston, MA; St. Louis, MO.
August - Far Horizons, Sequoia Nat'l Monument, CA; Maple Ridge, BC.
Sept - Lansing, MI; Chicago, IL; Keene, NH, MA: Boston & Kripalu
October - CANADA: BC - 3 workshops, Alberta - 2 workshops
November - CANADA, Alberta
December - Austin, TX
2009 information: http://sanskritmantra.com/schedule.shtml
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
Jyoti Atma Chanting Group, Contact Jagadamba, who is a Certified Mantra Instructor, email@example.com
Contact Mary Huddleston, who is a Certified Mantra Instructor at
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony Recordings
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony, 2nd. Ed., is now being revised to simplify pronunciation.
As promised some time ago, material to be chanted is being recorded by Namadeva
to be sold in CD sets of 7 or more CDs.
Volume I and Volume II 7-CD sets are now for sale at our online store for $65 each.
Volume III, which will be more than 7 CDs, will be ready in late 2009.