Namadwaar Nibbles

How did the name ‘Pathanjali’ come into being?

Pathanjali is the founding father of Yoga Shasthra. Hence the Yoga Sutras are called as Pathanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

The origin of the name Pathanjali itself is a very interesting anecdote.

Once the Rishi Patni Anasuya performed ‘anjali’ (salutation) with both her palms filled with water from a river. Along with the water, a little snake appeared in the palms which immediately slid down.

This little snake grew to become ‘Pathanjali’. ’Pathah’ – fall/slip; ‘anjali’ - salutation.

Once Yogiramsuratkumar of Tiruvannamalai was walking towards his Ashram from His Sudama residence when a procession of a dead body passed through Him. Looking at the crowded procession which was noisy with music bands, dance and fireworks, Yogi paused and told the nearby folks how he wondered about people who worship the dead with such a pomp.
He pitied at the state that, when Sadhus and Mahatmas live in flesh and blood, they are afflicted with pain and torture, and only when they leave this world is their importance felt.

Even though we keep doing Nama Japa, we complain that our mind is filled with negative thoughts and so on. Why so?

As we progress in our Nama Japa, we should not seek anything else. But our worldly life is filled with hurdles, small or big, and our mind wishes to come out of these hurdles, and hence we pray for the same.

The Nama Japa that we do is used for this purpose. Hence the true goal of the Japa is never realized.

Thus, if we wish for purity of mind or Krishna Darshan, we should seek only that in the name of Nama and nothing else.

Once, a person asked Sri Swamiji, unable to conceal his amazement, “Swamiji! I have read about you and heard about you. One thing that I read about you was most astonishing to me!”
Sri Swamiji asked “Oh! What is it?”
“I read that you used to spend the entire night meditating in solitude in the graveyard”
“Yes! That is true. The graveyard symbolizes the impermanence of everything of this world you hold dear. What is it that amazes you so much about it?”
”Swamiji! Human bodies are cremated there. How can you tolerate such a situation?”
At this point, Sri Swamiji’s face wore a smile “What is so abnormal about that? Are you a vegetarian or non-vegetarian?”
“Non-Vegetarian, of course”
I can tell you that you too, are comfortable in a similar situation. You consume non-vegetarian food, don’t you? Are you not quite comfortable in your kitchen where bodies of animals are burnt while cooking?”

In Srimad Bhagavatam, we see that Jadabharata was born as a deer because in his earlier birth, he had so much love to the deer that he petted.
Madhava Swami was an attendant of Bhagavan Ramana. He was born as peacock in his next birth. He lived his life devoid of lust. He was a true celibate (‘uthama brahmachari). Amongst birds, it is only peacock that has least lust.
‘Keerai paatti’, yet another devotee of Bhagavan Ramana was reborn as a cow. She possessed the ‘vasana’ of giving ‘keerai’ (greens) to all. It is only the cow that has a mother’s heart, that is, ‘vãtsalya’ (compassion). So, she acquired that sort of a birth. The cow gives milk to so many children.
It is ‘vasanas’ that is the reason for rebirth and the kind of birth.

It is common belief that when one undertakes fasting, the stomach is emptied and the digestive tract is cleared. However, this is not the only reason for undertaking fasting.
One part of the food we consume becomes the mind. If one takes food before he digests his earlier meal, the food just consumed mixes with the undigested food in the stomach. Thus, the effects of the undigested food on one’s mind lingers. If one has thus consumed stale/unsuitable food, there are higher chances of its ill-effects on the mind, if he continues to eat subsequent meals.
On the other hand, by fasting one full day, the stomach is emptied of any undigested food and any new food taken is unlikely to mix up with older remnants. Thus the ill-effects of such food on the mind is also avoided.


Once there lived a sadhu by the roadside in a crowded city. He was ever immersed in chanting the Divine Names in His sweet voice and would always try his best to make everyone laugh. The one noticeable feature of this sadhu was that he always wore this long dirty coat. He would never remove it even if it was a sweltering hot day. Some enjoyed his company while some thought he was just a wayside mad beggar. Passersby would toss coins at him and he would pick them up carefully. None knew where he kept them or what he purchased with that money.

One fine day, he attained the Holy feet of God. His passersby who knew him wanted to cremate him. When they searched his belongings they found that he had left a note that he should be cremated with his coat on. Though everyone found this to be a strange request, they decided to fulfill his last wish. The funeral was arranged and his mortal coil was set aflame with the coat on as he had insisted. Within a few seconds, the whole scenario was transformed to a “Diwali”-like day. Crackers were bursting and colourful sparklers were burning from his coat. Everybody’s spirit was lifted and the whole occasion resembled a joyous celebration. That’s when everyone realized that the sadhu had bought crackers with all that money and stacked them up in his dirty coat. His pure intention was now crystal clear to all. He wanted to make everyone happy at all times!


Once a devotee approached Bhagavan Ramana and said, ‘Bhagavan, I have a lot of doubts. Many a doubt keep arising in my mind every now and then. What shall I do?’
Bhagavan replied, ‘Doubt the doubts. Then everything will be clear!’

In our scriptures, it is said that during the process of creation from the Supreme Brahman, the space (‘Akasha’) came first and sound is the property of the ‘Akasha’. From that came air, and from air came fire, from fire came water and from water, earth.
Sound is an abstraction that is closest to the Supreme Brahman.

We employ different means to worship the Supreme Brahman. We worship It as a deity – a form of earth, in the form of water (in a Kalash), in the form of fire (during havans), in the form of air (through Pranayama etc.) and in the form of sound (through the chanting of the Vedas, and chanting of the Divine Names).

However, in order to render an idol fit for worship, Mantras (the form of sound) have to be chanted. In order to worship the Lord in a ‘kalash’ (vessel of water), Mantras have to be chanted to install the Lord in the water. In order to worship the Lord as the form of fire through ‘Havan’, Mantras have to be chanted to install the Lord in ‘Agni’. In order to worship the Lord through ‘Pranayama’, one has to contemplate on and chant the Pranava Mantra.

So all these forms of worship are rendered futile unless accompanied by the ‘sound’ aspect in the form of Mantras.

However, if we were to worship the Supreme Brahman in the form of sound, mere chanting of the Vedas or chanting the Divine Name of Lord alone is enough. It does not expect any other accessory to make it complete.

That is the greatness of worship by chanting the Divine Names.

[This was mentioned by Sri Swamiji in His lecture during the Bhagavata Saptaha at Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman Temple in Jafferkhanpet, Chennai between 7th & 13th June, 2009]