From TM-EX Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 2, Spring, 1992
INDIA -- A Visit to the Shankaracharya, Part II
On a warm Autumn evening, in Vrindaban, India, he answered the following questions which I and others asked him:
[The following transcript is taken directly from the taped conversations. Translations were provided concurrently by an interpreter.]
Questioner: The religion that Guru Dev (Mahesh's teacher) preached was connected with five forms of God--Devatas--such as Pancha Devupasana and so what relation has it with Vedic Sanatan Dharma (worship of God) as well as in regard to the ``Varna'' (caste system) and ``Aashram'' (four stages of life) systems?
Shankaracharya: The Lord, Adi Shankara was a great exponent of Vedic Sanatan Dharma. God, he taught, is grouped into six forms. He preached six types--five based on forms of God like Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, etc. and one, Nirakar, without form. However, the worship of God without form being extremely difficult was reserved for renunciates. That is what Adi Shankaracharya had instructed.
Bhagavan Shree Shankara revived Vedic Sanatan Dharma. He said God has six forms. So accordingly, Maharaji (Guru Dev) gave ``upadesh'' (initiation) to meditate upon those forms for the sake of our worship.
Questioner: My Lord, Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswatiji Maharaj (Guru Dev), who is our ``pujapaad'' (whose feet are worthy of our respect), who is ``brahmaleen'' (absorbed in Brahma, the omnipresent form of God) who is presiding over the Jyotish, who is the teacher of the entire universe--that he (Guru Dev) used to instruct mantras to his disciples. I would like to know which mantras were those?
Shankaracharya: The Lord, Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswatiji Maharaj (Guru Dev) strictly adhered to the ``Varna'' (caste) and ``Aashram'' (four stages of life) systems. He believed in one's Varna (caste) by birth. Whosoever came to him to become a disciple, he used to ask him which form of God he was in love with. Whichever form the new disciple had an interest in, that form he would explain to the new disciple. [Guru Dev] used to explain, Either you should depend on your own inclination or else, he, after understanding your previous life and which form of God you worshipped then, would instruct the initiate accordingly.
Without having an ``IshTadevataa'' (a personal form of God), no one could have a ``Mantra'' (name of God) from him. The very meaning of Mantra is IshTadevataa (a personal form of God). Therefore, along with every mantra, thinking or reflecting over the form of the IshTadevataa is essential. Therefore, in all the modes of worship, one reflects over one's IshTadevataa before chanting or meditating with one's mantra.
Questioner (to interpreter): Can you explain to Maharaji (The Shankaracharya) that I was trained by Mahesh Yogi as a teacher of TM, and I can explain to him what I was taught. I don't understand whether or not what I was taught is correct. Explain to him that I was given 16 mantras, by Maharishi that I can pronounce to Maharaji. I will pronounce them one after the other as I was trained. They are to be given out by certain ages. I can read them to Maharaji and then he can comment whether they are correct or incorrect. If he can explain how they are supposed to be used, or whether they are supposed to be used or not. Eng, em, enga, ema, aing, aim, ainga, aima, hiring, hirim, kiring, kirim, shiring, shirim, shyam, shyama.
Shankaracharya: It's like this. Here we have each mantra connected with one god. There lies the bija mantra. That bija mantra is for that god.
Questioner: Mahesh Yogi's mantras are of one [sound] each, for instance, eng, em, enga, ema, aing, aim, etc. These are given by age or sex. This is not the teachings of the Vedas or Scriptures, what is your opinion?
Shankaracharya: We do join Bija Aksharas (single syllabled names/sounds) to the mantras. But, Bija Aksharas also mean IshTadevataas (names of the personal forms of god). The kind of process you just described is purely imaginary and it has no connection with our Scripture of the Shankaracharya tradition.
Bija Akshara is connected with IshTadevataas to make it a mantra. These have relevance with the Scriptures, a tradition. Whatever Mahesh does in this respect has no relevance to Shastra (Scriptures).
-TO BE CONTINUED-
[Editor's note: The Author is a former teacher of TM. He filed a lawsuit against the TM movement on the grounds of fraud, which was settled out of court in 1991. After leaving the TM movement in 1983 he joined another Eastern group, International Society of Divine Love, ISDL. He has since left ISDL, and is no longer interested in pursuIng his spiritual life under the control of a guru.]