The Divine Commander
Sri Swami Chidananda
Message from the book Awake! Realise Your Divinity!
Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved and blessed children of the Divine! Members of the spiritual family of beloved and worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, gathered in his spiritual presence this early morning! This morning you have contemplated the Eternal, you have contemplated the Divine, in chanting His Divine Name, in silent inner prayer, through kirtan and meditation. You have contemplated that which is, that which ever was and ever shall be-beginningless, endless, infinite and eternal. May the grace of that supreme Divine Reality shower upon you!
We have entered the second day of the auspicious six-day worship of Lord Muruga or Saravanabhava, Karttikeya, Subrahmanya, Shanmukha. Shanmukha means one who is six-faced. Etymologically and metaphysically He is regarded as having six faces. Shad means six, mukha means face, and when these two coalesce, according to grammatical rules, they become Shanmukha, the six-faced.
Esoterically we may regard “six-faced” as being spelt six-phased. He has six phases or six aspects in which He manifests Himself. All of them represent grace. One represents protection. Another represents benediction. A third represents encouragement: “Do not fear when I am here. Why do you fear?” Others represent auspiciousness, benign compassion and the light of wisdom. Each one of these six facets of Shanmukha manifests, reflects and radiates a certain sublime quality of the Supreme Being, a certain sublime quality of the Divine. They are qualities that mean something to us, mean something to the individual soul that is engaged in this life’s journey.
The individual soul, when awakened, knows that the end of this journey is not death, that it is spiritual perfection, that it is liberation, that it is the attainment of immortality and that death has no meaning in the light of this fact, this great truth. Immortality is the birthright of each individual soul precisely because it is a part of the Universal Soul, Which is the Eternal Reality, the one and the only eternal, unchanging, ever-present Reality. This experienced truth has established the fact that our being is that which is timeless, beyond time, eternal and that our being is imperishable, indestructible and immortal. There can be no question of any death for the indestructible. There can be no death for the immortal.
The body is mortal, but the light that shines within the body is endless and immortal. The body is born, but the Being within, the Indweller, the vinasyatsu avinasyantam (imperishable within the perishable), is ajah, unborn. The Being within is nitya, eternal, sasvata, permanent. It is unborn, eternal and permanent. It is purana (ancient), beyond time, beginningless. Ancient means whose beginning is not known. Therefore, they call It anadi (beginningless), sanatana (eternal).
By these terms, the dweller within the perishable body has been characterised by the great World Teacher Lord Krishna in chapter two of His Gita wisdom teachings. He is unborn, He is eternal, He is permanent, He is timeless. That is what you are, and death has no meaning for that Being Who is beyond time and Who is birthless. There is death only for that which is born. For the unborn there can be no death. Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityuh-death is certain for that which is born, jatasya, but for that which is unborn, ajah, there can be no question or death. So death holds no meaning for the Immortal Being that you are. And this journey of life has as its destiny the everlasting Life Which is ever there.
The divine destiny of man is once again to regain the full experience of his perfect nature. That this is a possibility has been proven again, and again in each generation, throughout thousands of years. It has been proved again and again by the self-experience of the seers and sages who proclaimed the great declaration “amritasya putrah (children of Immortality).” The experience of this great declaration, that we are children of Immortality, has been kept up by the great souls that have graced each generation, keeping alive and bright this great, radiant and effulgent light of spiritual experience, aparoksha’nubhuti. These great souls are the wealth of humanity. They are the wealth of the world. They are indeed the eternal benediction, the eternal grace that God constitutes.
And each face of Shanmukha radiantly expresses one aspect of His all-gracious, all-auspicious, all-benign nature, granting fearlessness and strength to His devotees. We invoke, therefore, this all-graceful, all-gracious, all-grace filled manifestation of the Supreme, the anugraha of Bhagavan Sankara (the grace of Lord Siva) which was bestowed upon the celestial beings to lead them to victory in their confrontation and conflict with the powers of darkness. He says: “Come, I will lead you to victory. Follow Me. Be of My great gathering. I will lead you to victory.” This being your divine, everlasting destiny, what is there to fear, what is there to worry about? There is only one thing to be done-to work.
A poet has declared: “Dust thou art and to dust thou returnest was not spoken of the soul.” In a very explicit way, this line brings out this great Vedantic truth, the metaphysical truth of the immortality of the real Being within, the spirit of man. Therefore, the poet says that with hope and courage work on: “Heart within and God overhead.” Be sure, the great Presence will grant you victory in this task. Therefore, “Heart within”-be of brave heart. Be courageous. Be heroic in this struggle towards your coveted destiny. Do not miss it. Do not be foolish. Do not be one who sits on the wayside and weeps just because one has fallen.
The Upanishads say: “What if you have fallen? Get up!” They say: “uttishthata, uttishthata (arise, arise)!” That too is the call of Subrahmanya. That is the call of Shanmukha. “Why are you running away cowardly, scattering yourself in confusion? O, ye celestials, come, rally around! Come, come, follow Me! I shall take you to victory.” And then they did rally around. They said: “You are deva senapati (commander of the celestial forces). You are our leader. You are our commander. Our forces are now gathered together. Even though routed, because of Your call we now have not lost heart. We rally around and we shall follow you.” Thus He leads them to victory.
That is the entire episode of Skanda Shashthi and the worship of Lord Karttikeya, Shanmukha, Skanda, Subrahmanya. Just as nine days were set apart for the worship of the Divine as the great Cosmic Power, as the great Mother, Bhagavati, Devi, Durga, even so, six days are set apart for that same power manifest as the commanding leader of the celestial forces. He is the divine commander. He dwells within you as the power of determination. He dwells within you as the power of resolute thought. He dwells within you as the power of concentration upon the task you are undertaking. He dwells within you as the power of dedication to the ideal that you have chosen. He dwells within you as endless hope and courage. These are all the daivi sampada. He dwells within you as all that represents the divine within you, the divine that you are.
To invoke Him, therefore, is to answer the call “uttishthata! Stand up! Arise! jagrata! Be ever awake and alert! Do not again lapse into slumber! Uttishthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata (Arise, awake, having reached the wise become enlightened).”
That is the spirit of Skanda Shashthi. That is the call of the Upanishads. That is your heritage. Courage is your birthright, not fear. Hope is your birthright, not despair. Resolution is your birthright, not vascillation or weakness.
Thus, we offer our homage to the commander of the celestial forces, that great Being Who dwells within you as all that is positive, creative, all that is divine, which ensures success in your idealism and life spiritual. God bless you!