The Birth Centenary Year of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj is being celebrated all over India and abroad. On this occasion, Shree Swamiji delivered a series of lectures on Jagadguru‘s arati at the shivir held between the 13th -16th of October at the Banara ashram. Maharajji has said in many of his lectures that when we do āratī, we do a physical drill, instead of  ‘rūp dhyāna’—contemplation on the Names, Forms, Attributes, Abodes, and Pastimes of God and Guru.  To help us practice Maharajji’s philosophy, Swamiji analyzed the verses of his āratī. He enabled us to understand and internalize its meaning. The āratī was penned by Maharajji himself for devotees to practice sadhana and ‘rūp dhyāna’ on their Guru. Let us ponder upon the first verse of Jagadguru’s āratī and remember it every day.  The arati is an invocation to devotees to offer their obeisances at the lotus feet of their Guru. 

The first verse goes:

जयति जगद्गुरु गुरुवर की, गावो मिली आरती रसिकवर की | 

jayati jagadguru guruvara kī, gāwo milī āratī rasikvara kī

गुरुपद-नख-मणि-चन्द्रिका प्रकाश, जाके उर बसे ताके मोह तम नाश 

gurupada-nakha-maṆai-chandrikā prakāsh, jāke ura base tāke moha tama nāśa

जाके माथ नाथ तव हाथ कर वास, ताते होय माया मोह सब ही निरास 

jāke mātha nātha tava kara vāsa, tāte hoya māyā moha saba hī nirāsa

पावे गति मति रति राधावर की, गावो मिली आरती रसिकवर की

pāve gati mati rati rādhāvara kī, gāvo milī āratī rasikavara kī

These lines can only be written by a rasa-avatāra —an incarnation of divine bliss! He showers upon devotees the ras or the bliss of Guru bhakti. Rich in poetic imagery, rhyme, and metaphors of loving devotion, the verses reveal divine knowledge and the secret of God realization in simple poetic lines. which may be easily remembered even by a child if he or she is driven by bhakti. The song sings praises of our beloved Jagadguru, the crown jewel among rasik saints. He was the fifth original Jagadguru and the Jagdguruttam, (the best of the Jagadgurus), a title conferred upon Him by the Kashi Vidvat Parishad. Adi Shankaracharya, the first Jagadguru propounded the philosophy of Advaitvad, (dualism) between God and soul(jivatma). Nimbarkacharya, the second Jagadguru, emphasized the philosophy of dvait-advait. Next came Jagadguru Ramanujacharya who insisted upon the bhakti philosophy of vishishtadvaita and the fourth, Madhvacharya, propagated the dvaita tradition in the history of Hindu theology. However, our Maharajji gave the best of all siddhantas. He presented his path of nishkam bhakti  and exclusive devotion with such clarity and poetic virtue that it remains ingrained in the mind of his devotees unmistakably. 

Maharajji says that God-realization is the prime focus of our lives because we are in search of happiness and God is the ultimate source of happiness. But we cannot attain God with our material intellect, sense, and mind and that is why we need a Guru who will dispel our ignorance and enlighten the path that leads to God. The Guru helps us know God. From knowledge flows love and from love, faith. The shining light emerging from the nail of our Guru’s lotus feet (guru pada-nakha-maṆai-chandrikā prakāsh, jāke ura base tāke moha tama nāśa) is like a brightly lit moon in a dark night which dispels the darkness of Māya and destroys it. If the Guru places his hands on our head, Maya and moha fall into despair and depart from the soul. As a result, the jiv (soul) achieves gati (right direction), mati (surrenders mind and intellect) and rati (attaches mind to God). That fortunate individual thereby attains the abode, knowledge, and love of Shri Krishna and Radha Rani. All this can happen only with the grace of a Guru. 

When we contemplate the lines repeatedly, we sense an echo of the ‘sharad purnima’ night in “chandrikā prakāsh”, when the moon shines the brightest and which is the holy night of our own Maharajji’s descent. The verse celebrates the glory of the effulgent feet of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj, the greatest of spiritual Gurus in the last 5000 years. 

The next verses of this aarti will be explained in the next article.

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