A small boy who was already a realized soul, narrated his experience of Self-Knowledge to Bhagwan Adi Shankaracharya. To the boy this knowledge was clear as ‘a gooseberry (amalaka) kept on the palm (hasta), and so the boy was named Hastamalaka. He became famous as one of the four renowned disciples of the Acharya and the conversation complied by the Acharya is “Hastamalaka Stotram”.
The famous saint of Maharashtra, Sant Eknath Maharaj has written a beautiful commentary on this stotra in Marathi.
Swami Purushottamanandaji brings out the quitessence of that commentary, which will be most valuable to English knowing seekers for contemplation and Self-Realization.
Hastakamalaka Stotram is our humble offering at the lotus feet of Param Pujya Swami Chinmayanandaji. We are extremely pleased to bring out this English edition.
As part of the Brahmachari course, I had occasion to take this stotra for discussion in the evening satsangs. During this period, I came across a beautiful commentary on it by the sixteenth century Maharashtrian saint, Sant Eknath Maharaj. The composition in Marathi, in verses called ovis is full of apt logic and devotion. Every shloka provides illustrations to make Vedantic concepts easy to understand.
Hastamalaka Stotram, on pressing demand was serialised in the ‘Chinmaya Chaitanya’, the monthly news letter of Chinmaya Seva Trust, Maharashtra. CCMT first published this in Marathi. It was soon followed by the Hidi edition of the book.
When it was decided to take this text for the Jnana Yagna at Bangalore, HH Swami Brahmananda suggested it be translated into English. Swami Atmadevananda responded promptly by translating the text. This was followed by discussions and some changes and editorial amendments were made at appropriate places.
This book in its final form being published by CCMT is not just a translation. It is a ‘revised commentary,’ bringing to seekers the quintessence of the commentary on Hastamalaka Stotra by Sant Eknath Maharaj, in English.
By the grace and blessings of Param Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji, may this book help seekers of the Truth to contemplate on the Supreme goal of Self-Realisation.
I wholeheartedly congratulate Swami Brahmananda for his timely suggestion, Swami Atmadevananda for his prompt preparation and Chinmaya Mission, Bangalore for initially publishing this book as a souvenir for the yagna.
May Shri Gurudev’s Grace and blessings be always with us all in ‘His’ service divine. Om Tat Sat!
Perfection is the main goal of life, which alone can reveal complete happiness and satisfaction. One may acquire material things, like wealth and rewards in plenty, but these are ephemeral and incomplete. The apparent pleasure that one gets from them will also be finite and incomplete. Such happiness lasts so long as there is an association with the objects. The moment there is dissociation, we experience sorrow. No one has ever achieved everlasting satisfaction from such things and beings. Then, the question arises: what is that which complete in itself can unfold complete happiness?
Vedantic Masters refer to it as ‘the Supreme Being’, or Sat-Chit-Ananda (Atman). Though ever-accomplished, for the individual (jiva) it appears to be hidden due to ignorance of the Self (avidya). It can be revealed only by Self-knowledge in the pure heart. That state is liberation, Kaivalyam. The Upanishads also declare: ‘Mukti is through knowledge alone’ (jnananad evatu kaivalyam).
Karma performed without any selfish motive and with an attitude of surrender unto the Lord, brings about purification of the heart and makes it eligible for knowledge of the Self. Such a seeker of knowledge, with pure mind-intellect (heart), gains this knowledge through a study of the scriptures with the grace and blessings of the Guru.
Hastamalaka, one of the four renowned disciples of Bhagavan Adi Shankaracharya, was such a realised soul, established in the bliss of perfection. As a child, he did not talk to anyone or listen to anyone, including his parents. His behaviour was like that of ‘Jada Bharata’.There is a story about him...
Once upon a time, a Siddha Mahapurusha lived on the banks of a river. One day, a lady came to him with a small child in her arms. She requested the Mahatma to look after the baby and went to the river to bathe. Soon after, when the Mahatma was lost in samadhi, the child crawled to the river, slipped into it and died. The dead body of the child came up, floating on the Water in the arms of the mother. Terribly shocked to see her baby dead, she brought the dead body to the Mahatma. Hearing her heart-rending cry, he opened his eyes and was moved by her grief. In his infinite compassion, by his yogic powers, he left his own body and entered the dead body of the boy. Thus, there was a realised soul in the form of the child.
Revelling in Self-Joy (svananda), the child remained in silence (maunam). He neither talked to anyone nor wept like a normal child. As a result, his parents and other people considered him to be insane, dull-witted, deaf and dumb, and so on. The parents were doubtful about performing his thread ceremony, as he would not chant the Gayatri Mantra.
Fortunately, at that time, Bhagavan Adi Shankaracharya, on his visit to the famous Mookambika Temple came to the nearby village Sribali. Since the parents were worried about the child, they brought him to the Acarya to receive his blessings. The Acarya was highly pleased to see the signs of Self-Realisation in him. To clear the misunderstanding about the boy in the mind of his parents and others, out of love, asked him some simple questions, such as: “Who are you? Where do you come from?” These appear in the beginning of the sloka. The boy also answered out of love from a supreme altitude, that he is of the nature of the ever-accomplished Self — the eternal Consciousness.
His state of realisation was as clear as an amalaka fruit kept on the palm, so the Acarya called him Hastamalaka (Hasta means ‘hand’, amalaka means ‘gooseberry’) and for the benefit of seekers, compiled the conversation in a composition called Hastamalakiyani or Hastamalaka Stotram.
Sant Eknath Maharaj of Paithan, Maharashtra in the sixteenth century, has written a beautiful commentary on it in Marathi, in the form of verse known as ovi, which is full of devotion and illustrations pertaining to every sloka, making the Vedantic concepts interesting and easy to comprehend. It is quite useful for deep study. This contemplation is widely interspersed with references from it.
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