I am standing in front of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum, Kerala, India. From here onwards there is a long pathway that leads to the actual temple entrance. After putting away my mobile phone, in a locker provided on the temple grounds, I enter the temple from the main entrance.

Almost immediately I notice the large stone pillars lining a corridor that leads to the sanctum sanctorum. Each pillar is intricately carved and each pillar is carved differently. This temple, In fact, is one of the holiest Sri Vishnu temples in India.

I waited in a line to see the deity in its eternal sleep. Waiting, my mind thought endlessly about life and its ultimate purpose. It was then that I understood ‘The way of Vishnu’. So many disparate things that I had heard over my lifetime suddenly connected together in an instant. A moment of pure ecstasy took over and I was filled with pure joy.

Now if I have to explain it, I will have to ask you, my reader, to take a leap of thought with me and that is –

Everything that has ever existed, Everything that exists in this moment, Everything that will ever exist,

Already Exists in you.

Manoj Kumar

Vishnu is that holy one that has countless names and countless forms. Each name and each form is an aspect that exists in you and furthermore it has always been there in you.

Imagine, if you were taught, everything that exists in the universe and, even more surprisingly you managed to remember it all. But, to apply that knowledge in your life would require a completely different skill and knowledge. The knowledge of that ‘right application’ towards a fulfilled life, that is Vishnu.

To reach Vishnu though, one could start with Shiva. I say ‘could’ because there are countless ways and there is no exact order to reach anywhere.

Shiva teaches us destruction of the self, Shiva teaches us that all that we think that is us is not us, but something far more profound. The universal consciousness, that is the goal that Shiva shows us. And we learn to get to it through destruction of the I, destruction of the millions of years of conditioning. To understand conditioning, let me tell you a story.

There was once a couple who had a baby. They loved their baby and because the kingdom where they lived was constantly under the rule of tyrant king who would slay all newborns, they decided to abandon the baby in a nearby forest. (sounds a little like Mowgli. Right?) The baby by some miracle was accepted by a pack of dogs and reared and raised by them. The baby grew up with zero contact from human beings. The child never laid eyes on any human ever. Many years later when the tyrant king was dead the parents went searching for their child. They found the child.

Now here is my question. Will the child be human? will the child walk like a human? Will the child make noises or talk like a human? Eat like a human? Have compassion, empathy and other such emotions as a human?

The answer should be a resounding “NO”. So now let me ask you what makes us human?

Thus one understands that the human existence is actually made up of countless years of memory, both physical and mental, stacked on top of each other. Our minds are a ‘Palimpsest’ of conditioning. The way of Shiva teaches us to destroy that conditioning, and wipe the slate clean.

But there is method to this madness. Sri Adi Shankaracharya explains it through this wonderful 6 para poem.

Mano budhya ahankara chithaa ninaham, 
Na cha srothra jihwe na cha graana nethrer,
Na cha vyoma bhoomir na thejo na vayu,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 1
Neither am I mind, nor intelligence,
Nor ego, nor thought,
Nor am I ears or the tongue or the nose or the eyes,
Nor am I earth or sky or air or the light,
But I am 
Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely 
Na cha praana samgno na vai pancha vaayur,
Na vaa saptha dhathur na va pancha kosa,
Na vak pani padam na chopa stha payu,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 2
Neither am I the movement due to life,
Nor am I the five airs, nor am I the seven elements,
Nor am I the five internal organs,
Nor am I voice or hands or feet or other organs,
But I am Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely Shiva

Na me dwesha raghou na me lobha mohou,
Madho naiva me naiva matsarya bhava,
Na dharmo na cha artha na kamo na moksha,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 3
I never do have enmity or friendship,
Neither do I have vigour nor feeling of competition,
Neither do I have assets, or money or passion or salvation,
But I am 
Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely Shiva

Na punyam na paapam na soukhyam na dukham,
Na manthro na theertham na veda na yagna,
Aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhoktha,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 4
Never do I have good deeds or sins or pleasure or sorrow,
Neither do I have holy chants or holy water or holy books or fire sacrifice,
I am neither food or the consumer who consumes food,
As I am Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely Shiva

Na mruthyur na sankha na me jathi bhedha,
Pitha naiva me naiva matha na janma,
Na bhandhur na mithram gurur naiva sishya,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 5
I do not have death or doubts or distinction of caste,
I do not have either father or mother or even birth,
And I do not have relations or friends or teacher or students,
As I am Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely Shiva

Aham nirvi kalpi nirakara roopi,
Vibhuthwascha sarvathra sarvendriyanaam,
Na cha sangatham naiva mukthir na meya
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham., 6
I am one without doubts, I am without form,
Due to knowledge I do not have any relation with my organs,
And I am always redeemed,
And I am Shiva the all pervading happiness,
Yes,I am definitely Shiva

Lets take another leap of thought. Lets say that you have destroyed the self and the accompanying “I”. Now what?

With the burden of the self lifted, with the burden of acting according to the society lifted, with the burden of our karma lifted, we are now free to do whatever that we want, and live as we please. But the world still exists and the society still looms large, and that is where “The way of VISHNU” teaches and guides us to preserve ourselves until someday we leave this existence.

Every name, every avatar of Vishnu is an Affirmation. Every name has a meaning a story. For every occasion, in every moment, in every breath there is Sri Bhagwan Vishnu.

As they finally opened the curtains and I finally saw the grand deity in its perpetual sleep, my mind was filled with peace, my eyes teared up and I felt the greatest relief.

My eyes fell upon the deities hands pointing to the ground, talking to me, telling me, there is only one obvious end, so enjoy life, be content, be happy and remember the 1000 names of Sri Bhagwan Vishnu for they hold the key to fulfillment.

P.s. - I don't believe in renouncement. This is my way to live this life of mine. The words here are just mine. These are my personal experiences. I do not intend to convince anyone of anything. I don't want anything from anyone, for everything I have ever needed is already in me!

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