Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
The sanskrit word Purna can be translated in many ways – Complete, Whole, Fullness, Brahman or Reality, but personally the translation I like to use is the word Perfect. Thus, the translation would be:
Om. That is perfect, this is perfect;
from the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest;
When the perfect is taken from the perfect,
Only the perfect remains.
Even when you take the perfect out of the perfect, the perfect is still there. There is nothing that can be done by anyone anywhere in any way that would take away from the perfection of God. “When the perfect is taken from the perfect, only the perfect remains.”
And from God, the Creation was manifested – so the whole universe is also immutably perfect. Yes, we have entropy, we have decay, we have a cycle of life and death, we have lions eating gazelles and we even have atrocities taking place on the planet – but remember, Evil is like Peeing in the Ocean, a miniscule percentile of urea in a vast ocean of good. Underneath it all is the immutable perfection of the Divine Creation. “From the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest.”
This chant helps me when I am dealing with things that would seem to be less than perfect. Instead of focusing on “woe is me” or “why is this happening” or going down any number of rabbit holes into negativity and small self-centeredness, I chant “That is perfect, this is perfect…” And it works. It helps me to see that behind everything that is happening in my life is an immutable perfection of God loving me, teaching me, molding me. Everything that I experience is part of God’s creation for my life and is somehow giving me more compassion, more understanding, more inner strength and brings me closer to God.
A few days ago, I plain and simply just had a bad day and at the end of it, I chanted Purnamadah for 45 minutes before bed. The next morning I felt so happy I wanted to hug everyone at work. Mind you, I work in a business office, not normally an environment conducive to group hugs, so I had to contain myself – but I only contained my hugs, not my happiness.
This chant on the Perfection of God and all of creation reminds me of my favorite story from the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is an ancient sanskrit epic about the battle between the good Pandava brothers and their less-than-good cousins the Kaurava brothers. It being the longest poem ever written, it is all very complicated and I won’t go into it here, but my favorite part takes place during the seven years that the Pandava brothers are living in exile out in the wilderness.
The brothers all come across an enchanted lake. The nature of the lake’s enchantment is such that when you see it, you immediately get intensely thirsty and want to drink, but before you drink you must answer all of the lake’s riddles, and if you drink without doing so, you die. So, one by one the brothers come to the shore of the lake, give in to their thirst and then die – until the eldest brother, Yudishthera, comes to the lake and is the master of his thirst. When the lake says to him “Before you drink, you must answer my riddles,” Yudishthera says “Very well, and if I answer them all correctly, you must bring my brothers back to life.”
So, the lake asks a series of riddles, all of which Yudishthera answers correctly without hesitation, and thus, all his brothers are restored from death and they may all drink from the enchanted waters and carry on through the rest of the epic poem to victory.
The riddles are a long string of esoteric or philosophical questions, such as “What is the cause of the world?” with the answer “Love” and “What is the opposite of your self?” with the answer “Myself.” But the one that really got me, the one that makes this my favorite part of the longest poem in the world is this:
“What is inevitable for all living things?”
Being as philosophical and esoteric as I thought I was when I first heard this, I thought the answer would be something like “Death” or “Change.” However, the correct answer that Yudishthera gave to save his brothers was “Happiness.”
Happiness is inevitable for all living things!
Contemplating this tidbit from the Mahabharata made me ecstatically happy for days. I would walk around seeing random people in a grocery store or post office and think “you are going to be happy!” I felt like I was going to burst with the wonderfulness of the inevitability of happiness!
It felt kind of like the other morning after chanting the Purnamadah. And really, they are both contemplations on the same thing. No matter what it looks like right now, no matter what is going on in my life or what things could cause me stress and unhappiness if I let them – that is perfect, this is perfect.
There is an immutable perfection of God behind everything and happiness is inevitable for all living things!