Unravelling the Parashakti
“When Knowledge is in story form, the assimilation is better, as there is tendency to postpone things that appear complicated. A lighter read permits not only the study but also better understanding of the cosmos”, states BhanumathiNarasimhan, author of Parashakti, a compilation of stories from the BrahmandaPurana, Devi Bhagawatam, Shiva Purana, SrimadBhagawatam and other texts. “These stories are open secrets, yet for those who see beyond the words and perceive the formless through the form, new insights dawn”, she adds.
For Bhanumathi, the objective of penning the book was to make things universal. “Going to the roots takes us to the universal spirit or light. Our scriptures reflect this universality where the message delivered is not limited to Hinduism. So when you revere the forms through these stories, a reverence to life dawns which is lacking in present times.”
“Wars are formed in the mind first; you are happy or unhappy first in the mind. When you are in your true nature, you are in a state of Sur, meaning you are in harmony with nature. But when you are angry or experiencing negative emotions, you are in a state of Asur, or disharmony with nature. When you are in a state of calm, you automatically are in love with nature and its gifts. The stories told here enable you to tackle the mind, bring forth this harmony”, she further elaborates.
“The stories related in the book are generic but they have a deeper meaning, which has universal appeal, kindling the interest in an intellectual as well as children alike, the simple yet profound messages striking resonance with a scientific temperament as much as the fantasy world draws a child to know more. The message in the book is applicable to both intellectuals as well as children”, she states.
According to her, there is food for thought in our scriptures for the faith based as well as for those with scientific temperament. “Predictions on the cosmos were made to the most accurate degree when technology to assess the same was totally absent. It was done by relying purely on intuition, by delving into the source. This intuitive assimilation is currently being researched in science to know more. In science, any research, findings are similarly done by going into the micro aspect or the relevant source of the issue that is being researched. This reveals the common thread of the spirit of enquiry prevailing, be it faith based or a scientific mind.”
Why did you compile these stories?
The stories are generic, yet the deeper universal message in each would appeal to me when every Navratri I would read it and earlier heard the same from my father and later also from my brother Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I decided to relate these stories in my book as it opens up the mind, broadens the vision.
You have said that criticism should be at the lip level and not reach the heart. How does one achieve this?
When criticism comes from family and well-wishers, it needs to be taken as a stepping stone towards achieving perfection but when it originates from a jealous mind, it should be ignored as it is from a mind that is sick.
There are five aspects in developing the right personality. The first is Vastram, the dress worn which is what is seen first. Wearing the right dress for the occasion automatically infuses confidence. The second is Vaacha, how you choose your words, where your address is not openly critical but polite, composed and respectful, the basis for good communication. The third aspect is Vapusham, the physical personality which pertains to the body language, how approachable and natural you are. The fourth is Vidya, education which reflects automatically in your demeanour and communication. The last is Vinayam, humility and this is vital as absence of this can ruin all communication. Keeping good company and delving into knowledge ensures these five are present in a person.
You have spoken about Tara, vibrations, that everything including the breath has a specific vibration and the impressions that the mind carries attracts corresponding vibration. How do you alter the vibration to ensure it is positive?
Choosing the right company makes the difference. For instance, being with people who are happy leaves you too feeling happy. Laziness is the biggest Asura, demon in us and this is referred to in the story on Mahishasura. This can be addressed by increasing our Prana. A yogi has VivehaGyana, which enables discrimination between good and bad. Being in the company of truth is important as truth is a constant, unchanging. It not only nourishes the self but alters the vibration, cleansing your presence.
(BhanumathiNarasimhan is the younger sister of Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. She leads the women’s welfare and child care initiatives at Art of Living. She is the Chairperson of the Art of Living Free Schools that provide free holistic education to over 70,000 children through 700 plus schools across 23 states in the country.)
About the book
The book Parashakti begins with a brief on the framework of the universe where questions such as, Are you just the body, are asked. The seven layers of existence, the three types of space, four levels of communication, the wheel of time, the subtle world, the Gunas, yantras, mantras are all explored and elaborated in this section. The ocean of stories follows with the rich recount of various stories from the scriptures, along with the interpretation of the hidden deeper meaning. The author then gently takes the reader through the Dashamahavidya which offers a glimpse of the ten prowesses, the unseen energies which are the basis of creation. She then comes full circle with her note on Lalitha, the joyful, dynamic and scintillating expression of the self, the quintessence of a thousand names dedicated to the Devi.
Excerpts from the Ocean of Stories
In the story of Madhu and Kaitabha who were born of the earwax of Lord Vishnu, Vishnu found that the more he fought them, the stronger they became. Bhanumathi gives a very beautiful explanation for this. “Madhu means craving, Kaitabha means aversion. Cravings and aversions are born out of the ears, by hearing words about something that in turn causes craving or aversion. These also prevail when awareness is asleep which subsequently kills creativity.”
However hard Vishnu fought, he could not win over Madhu and Kaitabha because they were born out of Vishnu himself. Cravings and aversions are nothing but thoughts in one’s own mind and you cannot win over your thoughts by fighting with them. At the level of the mind, whatever you resist will persist. The more you fight with them, the stronger they grow and you are unable to win.
In the story of Kushmanda: Eternity in a Pumpkin, Bhanumathi explains the deeper meaning behind the statement, ‘putting an elephant through the eye of the needle’. “On his way to Vaikunta, Narada meets a scholar committed to his practices and also a cobbler who was singing the praises of the Lord. Both evinced their desire to have darshan of the Lord. Lord Vishnu however indicates that the scholar has many lifetimes yet while he was preparing to meet the cobbler himself. He sent Narada back to both with the message that he was busy putting an elephant through the eye of the needle. When Narada shared the message with the scholar, the scholar found the statement illogical and meaningless. Yet when Narada shared the same message with the cobbler, he was greeted with amazement and wonder.”
Surprised, Narada asked, “Don’t you find the message a little ridiculous and unreasonable?” The cobbler gazed at Narada for a few moments, then led him to the edge of a cliff and showed him a vast banyan tree below it. He said, “for the one who can fit this entire tree inside one tiny seed and have so many such seeds sprout in each tree, putting an elephant through the eye of the needle is nothing!”