Sarasvati thwayam drushyam Veena pustaka dharini
Hamsa vahana samayuktha Vidya danakaree mama
THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN EXISTENCE:
The pursuit of knowledge is a universal phenomenon. People of all cultures and of all regions have the desire to acquire knowledge. My Indian Identity is displayed by my belief that some icons could help me in the learning process and in finding Knowledge and to acquire Wisdom.I am encouraged to use three Cultural icons and I am introduced to the use of these icons as the first learning experience of my life. I acquire knowledge to support my human existence. However, Pure Knowledge and Perfect Wisdom is the key, it is the hope and it is deliverance and ultimately it breaks my shackles and gives me the opportunity to conquer the fear of ‘SAMSARA’, a term which explains Indian attitude and understanding about the nature of human existence. I am directed to learn and acquire knowledge not only to make a living and support myself but also to know the nature of Reality. The pursuit of knowledge is a global phenomenon and it is not the privilege of any particular class of people.
LORD SHIVA, GOD OF LEARNING:The first icon is “Shiva” who is described as the God of Learning.The learning of alphabet “AKSHARA ABHYASAM” began with the writing of a mantra with my finger tip over a bed of rice grains.The five letter mantra of “Aum Namah Shivaya” was followed by a solemn declaration of “SIDDHAM NAMAH”indicating that I am ready and that I am prepared to receive my learning instructions.That is the ground rule for learning.Learning would simply be impossible if the student is unwilling and is unprepared. Shiva ensures that we are willing and obedient before we commence our schooling career.Shiva defines that the purpose of learning is to acquire the ability to think for oneself.
GODDESS SARASVATI, THE GODDESS OF SPEECH, KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM:
The second icon is Goddess Sarasvati who is described as the Goddess of Speech, Knowledge, and Wisdom.The personality of Sarasvati could be compared to the female person identified as Wisdom in chapters 1,3 and 4 , in the Book of Proverbs (the Proverbs of King Solomon, the son of King David, the King of Israel) of Holy Bible which instructs, ” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge.” She represents the value of acquiring pure knowledge.To optimize our learning potential, to draw upon the immense powers of a creative mind, She recommends an attitude of humility,obedience and discipline.The following verse shows that all the Gods of our Culture including Her spouse Lord Brahma worship Her to avoid mental lethargy. She defines that the goal of learning is to transform our minds to make us creative individuals.
Ya kundendu tushara hara dhavala, ya shubhra vastravrita
Ya veena vara danda mandithakara, ya shwetha padmaasana
Ya brahmachyutha shankara prabrithibhi devai, sada poojitha
Samaam paatu saraswathi bhagavathi, nihshesha Jaddyapaha. _/\_
- Salutations to Devi Saraswati, who is pure white like Jasmine and covered with white garments, with the coolness of Moon, brightness of snow and shines like the necklace of Pearls.
- Whose hands are adorned with Veena and the boon giving staff and who is seated on white lotus.
- Who is always adored by lord Brahma, Vishnu, Shankara and other devas.
- O goddess, please protect me and remove my ignorance due to mental inertia completely.
LORD GANESHA, THE MENTOR OF LEARNING:
Lord Ganesha is the mentor of learning.This belief is so strongly ingrained into our psyche, His idol is worshiped along with the school books placed on the side to remind Him that we are seeking His assistance to learn from those books. He symbolizes the values of attentive listening, writing down words as instructed and patience. In the learning process, He works like a catalyst. He facilitates achievement in the learning process by removing obstacles. He helps students to gain success with a sense of humility. All obstacles are removed and subdued if I meditate upon His face which is a picture of relaxation and total composure.The following prayer specifically guides me to overcome problems by focusing on positive energy that can be gained by reflecting upon a face that promotes tranquility.
This is a prayer to Lord Ganesha, who is also called “Vighneshwara”, Conqueror of Obstacles. This is a Stotra in praise of Him, praying to remove the obstacles on our path.
|Lyrics in Sanskrit:शुक्लाम्बरधरं विष्णुं शशिवर्णं चतुर्भुजम् ।प्रसन्नवदनं ध्यायेत् सर्वविघ्नोपशान्तये ॥|
|Lyrics in English:ShuklaAmbara Dharam Vishnum Shashi Varnam Chatur BhujamPrasanna Vadanam Dhyaayet Sarva Vighnopashaantaye (Vighna Upashaantaye)|
O Lord, who is wearing White colored clothes, Who is all pervading, who has four hands
Who has a peaceful, joyous face we meditate on you, remove all the obstacles.
THE SARASVATI TRADITION:
The worship of Sarasvati is not a mere ritual.The worship would invariably include all the books and even note books that are used in the school.Books are not considered to be just a source of information but they are viewed as objects worthy of reverential treatment and as such are deemed to be physically representative of Sarasvati. Any disrespectful manner of handling books is avoided. For example,books including note books could not be tossed or dropped on to the bare floor.The floor should be cleaned and prepared and is preferably covered with a piece of cloth or a mat and the books should be carefully laid. Books are never to be used as play objects and not allowed to be used to hit another person. As a kid, I actually believed that improper handling of books would displease Sarasvati and I believed that learning would become extremely difficult as a consequence of disrespectful attitude towards books. Self motivation and high expectation of academic achievement are very important in the learning process.The following prayer to Sarasvati demonstrates the need to prepare the mind to expect success while learning.
Saraswati namastubhyam varadé kāmarūpiṇi | vidyārambham kariṣhyāmi, siddhir bhavatu mé sadā ||
సరస్వతీ నమస్తుభ్యం వరదే కామరూపిణీం! । విద్యారంభం కరిష్యామి సిద్ధిర్భవతు మే సదా ॥
सरस्वति नमस्तुभ्यं वरदे कामरूपिणि । विद्यारम्भं करिष्यामि सिद्धिर्भवतु मे सदा ॥
Meaning: 1: Salutations to Devi Saraswati, Who is the giver of Boons and fulfiller of Wishes, 2: O Devi, when I begin my Studies, Please bestow on me the capacity of Right Understanding, always.
SARASVATI CONSCIOUSNESS AND ACADEMIC LIFE:
My academic accomplishments are not exceptional but the overall academic experience was great.I read several books on my own and derived much pleasure from reading.Through out my academic life,I had competed with my fellow students and had participated in essay writing competitions,elocution contests and debating events and won several prizes.When I was 11 years old, I won the first prize in an English essay writing competition held at the Danavaipeta Municipal High School,Rajahmundry,when the School conducted such a contest for the first time. At age 13, I finished High School studies and by age 17, I obtained an under graduate degree of Bachelor of Science (Botany,Zoology,Chemistry)from Osmania University,Hyderabad. I did well in both Part I and Part II of the B.Sc examination and had the satisfaction of getting the top position among students who took the same elective courses. I completed my under graduate studies in Medicine at Kurnool Medical College in 1970 and on 26th July 1970,I reported for duty at Army Medical Corps Centre and Officers Training School, Lucknow.The Short Service Regular Commission to join the ranks of the Indian Army was granted to me in 1969 when I was 21 years old.
Among the several prizes that I had won during my school years, I can rightfully speak about my success in one particular event. In 1965,when I was a freshman at Kurnool Medical College, the Department of English conducted an English essay writing competition that was open to all the College students.To encourage wider participation,the topic was announced in advance of the event. It about ‘Family Planning’. The lecture hall, the venue of the event was filled up and the centre of attention was a final year M.B.B.S student who had already won the first prize at a national level competition for his essay on ‘Family Planning’. The general consensus was that he would easily win this contest too. I arrived at the venue without any prior preparation. All other participants wrote about the importance of Family Planning, the methods and their ideas about implementing the programme. My essay was the only exception which did not delve upon those issues. As I sat down and was getting ready to write my opening statement, my mind was inspired by the creative spirit and had guided me to oppose the idea of Family Planning. After that, my thoughts came down pouring and I kept writing them down until the final minute of that contest.When the results were announced, the student community was astounded for my essay which opposed the idea of Family Planning won the first place for creative writing.
For the last 24 years I have been living in a Land where Shiva,Sarasvati and Ganesha are not relevant to most of the people in my community. However, I still cling on to my precious icons that made my human existence possible. My mind is not still.My desire for intellectual pursuit is active and alive. Knowledge is revealed to me in tiny bits of information. I learned that the human body is made up of trillions of cells.I learned that I have no” CHOICE ” or ” AUTONOMY ” to impose my authority over my body.There is not even one single cell in my body whose functions I could directly regulate and govern according to my choice.This lack of ability to rule the cells of my body gives me a sense of fear. I exist but I am not governing my existence.The people of my Land of origin for thousands of years depended upon two letters, “RA” and “MA” to complete their life’s journey. I am learning that those two letters could also help me and give me hope and a sense of direction and keep me afloat while I cross the ocean.
THE SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND HUMAN EXISTENCE:
I am fully determined to continue my pursuit of pure and perfect knowledge and as before, I have my icons to guide me. My understanding of the term ‘consciousness’ has changed. Human consciousness includes aspects of mental awareness, and rational thoughts. I understand the term consciousness not only in the context of a mental function but also that of awareness at a cellular level. Consciousness is a biological characteristic and this trait is exhibited by all living cells and all biological entities. Each individual cell is conscious or aware of its existence and is aware of its internal and external environment. This awareness or consciousness describes living entities as created entities. In Indian tradition, all living entities are aware and conscious of the Creator. This consciousness gives the living entity a biological ability to exist by exploiting energy from its external environment. This energy dependence could only be instituted by an Energy Controller. Man’s existence in nature is subject to this energy connection with an extraterrestrial source of energy.
Man acquires knowledge by sensory experience, internal reflection, and by rational thought. Such acquired knowledge is useful for man’s material existence in the world. Man has no rational ability or sensory experience to directly know the Ultimate Reality. However, man has innate knowledge whose existence is either hidden or ignored. At the time of conception, man begins his life journey by establishing an anatomical connection with a host without knowing the physical identity of that host. At the time of birth, man continues his life journey as an independent entity. He gains independence from his host but he is not truly energy independent. The newborn declares its connection with a Cosmic Source of Energy and Power by its cry. That simple act of crying announces the vital connection between man and his Energy Provider and Controller. The Journey in the external world after delivery from mother’s womb marks a big transition in the nature of Human Existence. The act of breathing begins, the breath of life assumes control of human existence and this connection is the sign of Divine Providence. The Knowledge of Internal Reality that is physically manifest in the Immanent Realm, and its identity with an External, Unmanifested Reality in Transcendental Realm could be obtained by simple awareness of the connections a Man has to make for his survival and existence in this world.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.