Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The meaning of Idam Namam

Aum Gam Ganapatayeh Namah

On my most recent trip to India to celebrate the Maha Shivratri (The Night of Shiva), I had the opportunity to participate in the International Yoga Conference 2008, held at Parmarth Niketan. Needless to say, the Yoga Conference did not contribute much to my search, on which yoga discipline would be suitable for me. This may be in part due to the result of my original purpose and aim for being at Parmarth Niketan, namely to take darshan of my Guruji, His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (pictured above in the middle) and to celebrate Maha Shivratri with Him. The Yoga Conference was a collateral event, which just happened to coincide with the Maha Shivratri celebration. Nonetheless, I did learn a few important lessons from the Yoga Conference.

A young rishikumar revealed what the term "Idam Namam" meant. This was after I had taken my ritualistic bath in Ganga Ma (Holy River Ganges) for the purpose of changing my sacred thread (yagno pavit). The most direct translation into the English language means "Not for myself, but for You". Such a short verse, but with monumental effect on my physical, emotional and divine being.

My Guruji teaches that "Idam Namam" is "Ishwara paridhana" - devotion or surrender to God. This is the final, ultimate commandment of leading a dharmic life. It doesn’t matter what name or what form of the Divine you worship. What matters is that you are surrendered fully to God. Only through living for Him and dedicating all of our actions to Him can we find peace, joy and meaning in life. There is a beautiful mantra in our scriptures which says,

"Kaayena vaachaa manasendriyairvaa; Buddhyaatmanaa vaa prakriteh svabhaavaat; Karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai; Naaraayanaayeti samarpayaami"

It means, "Oh Lord, whatever I have done, whatever actions I have performed - whether through speech, through thought, through my senses, through my mind, through my hands or through just the nature of my existence - I lay it all at Your Holy Feet. Every aspect of my life and existence are completely surrendered to you."

I have come to accept that nothing in this physical world is permanent. I cannot lay claim even to my own physical body, at the moment of death I must surrender it back to the earth from where it came from. My Divine Being (Soul) is not even my property, It has to return to Almighty God, as my last breath leaves my physical body.

So, what is the purpose of my being? As my Loving Guruji taught me, to serve mankind selflessly without expectation, just as He does. My Guruji puts into practice what He preaches and just being in His Divine Presence, moves me to tears each time. Each time I have a meal, I would remember to chant "Idam Namam", in remembrance that even the food does not belong to me, just as my physical body does not belong to me. I give thanks to God and My Guruji for the food, remembering that the food is there only for the purpose of nourishing and giving strength to my physical body, so that I can carry out my duties and responsibilities to mankind.

"Idam Namam" means that I have now decided to live a dharmic life, in service of mankind, without expectation. The past is gone and the future is still unknown. I only have the present and I will endeavour to reflect my Guruji in myself.

Aum Gam Ganapatayeh Namah

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