Light the Lamp Within You

Karthigai Deepam in Tamil and Karthika Deepam in Telugu, this festival of lights signifies lighting the lamp within. This post details the story behind this festival and the also the inner meaning conveyed

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What Should I Do?

A severe storm lashed for the past 4 days.  As I woke up in the morning I was glad that I could see the sunrays.

In the past 4 days, I had seen incessant rains, gale winds. It was chaos all over. I flew over to Rishi’s drawing-room. He was getting the latest update from the TV on the situation around…

It was unusual calm… calmness after the storm as it is said.

It was as though the nature has become tired and is now taking rest.

Storm

Huge gigantic trees got uprooted and lay all over. As the camera zoomed, I could see the blades of grass slowly standing up recovering from the severe storm. I was surprised.

GrassInStorm2

A chain of thoughts started in my mind… the storm-within started ?!?!?

I asked Rishi “Should I explore the depths and conquer the heights like a tall tree or should I stay firm to the ground and even be able to conquer the storm.  What should I do?

There was a gentle smile on His face. He answered.

Ankur…

“If you are a tree… explore the depths and conquer the heights.

If you are a blade of grass conquer the storm and stay firm on the ground.

Know yourself, Be yourself”

I suddenly remembered the Story of Vanamahotsav Competition…

I smiled…

Saints of India

India has been the home of numerous saints and sages from Vedic times.  In recent times, we had saints like Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramakrishna, Mother Teresa – to mention a few.

Let’s have a look at some of the famous saints of India

 Adhi Shankara

 adhi shankara

Born in a pious and devout family in a village called Veliyanad near Kalady, this divine child had accomplished the phenomenal task of composing his first book at the mere age of six.  At the age of eight he obtained Sannyas.  Upon completion of his studies, Shankara with the blessings of his Guru, took upon himself the monumental task of writing Bhaasyas (commentaries) on the Vedantic texts such as the Bhagawad Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutras.  He composed inspiring works such as Bhaja Govindam, Atma Bodh, Tattva Bodh, Dhakshinamoorthy stotram and Vivekchoodamani, etc.  By the time he was 32 years, he had single-handedly revived the Hindu Culture and brought 75 different schools of thought under his Advaita philosophy.  He was not just a mere personality he was an institution.

 Basaveswara

 basaveswara

He broke the custom of writing religious and ethical texts in Sanskrit and poetry form and began to write them in Kannada and in prose form called Vachana.    He brought a great reformation in the fields of religion, social life, language and literature.  He formed a new spiritual institution called Anubhava Mantapa.  Piety and character alone was required of anyone who came into Anubhava Mantapa and they were given a Linga to show that all were equal in the eyes of God.

 Bharadwaja

 bharadwaja

He was a saint of the Vedic period who attained extraordinary power of meditation.  He acquired extensive knowledge of the vedas and did severe tapas.  He always stood like a fortress protecting good and righteous people at all times.  He had extraordinary knowledge on aero-dynamics science, which is seen in his book Vimana Shastra.  He was a sage who spread the name and fame of Bharata through wisdom and kindness.

 Madhwacharya

 madhawacharya

Madhwa was born in a  small villagenear Udupi.  He was initiated into sanyas at the age of 12.  His whole life was devoted to the propagation of vedic philosophy.  He preached Dwaita philosophy when the caste system was stubbornly practised in the Indian society.  He wrote commentaries on the Prastana Traya – the Bhagawad Gita, 10 Upanishads and Brahma Sutras.  He dedicated his work Gita Bhashya to Veda Vyasa.  He lived the life of a dynamic sanyasi and had a reassuring effect on all who came to him. Acharya Madhwa took leave of his disciples and left for Badri in 1317 AD and none saw him after that.

 Swami Rama Tirtha

 ramthirtha

He was a saint with a scientific outlook who supplemented Swami Vivekananda’s work of emancipating India.  He was a mathematician par excellence.  After becoming a sanyasi, he travelled extensively around the world, bringing to light the plight of the Indian masses and trying to make a way for India’s redemption.  His inspiring messages are recorded in his books such as Songs of Enlightenment and In the woods of God realization.

Answer to Misery, Material and Spiritual Pursuits

Measuring Spiritual Evolution

As discussed in yesterday’s post, we cannot measure spiritual quotient similar to the way we do with intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, etc.,

This however can be experienced at the personal level, is very subjective and not for comparison with others. We share below some indicators of spiritual evolution… As mentioned they are only indicative for self-awareness and there are no right or wrong answers…

  • You hear some bad news…
    • an environmental disaster or catastrophe in the other end of the planet. None of the people known to you live there. But still… what kind of feeling it leaves in you? Does that move you? Do you stop a moment and pray for them? or think for them
    • about a person whom you love and are closely attached with. How do you respond to that challenge? Do you get emotionally down or become a source of strength to that person?
    • about someone you are not comfortable with. What is your initial response? Do you feel glad that he had to face that? Do you feel he deserved that? Do you feel sorry for that person?
  • You hear some good news…
    • about someone whom you are not comfortable with or some one whom you hate. What are the feeling that arise in you? How do you respond to that situation?
    • about the success of your competitor, in school or workplace… What are your initial thoughts and feelings about the progress of that person/organisation?
    • about a stranger’s success… Do you feel happy for that and congratulate him/her? Do you feel that you or someone close to you could not achieve that success?
  • On your way to the office in the bus or the train or in the lift, you meet a person who is hurt or wounded… Do you stop a moment to enquire about him? Do you feel sorry for that person within but keep quiet? Are you pre-occupied about something and does not have the time to think about that person?

The list is not a comprehensive one and can go on…

Fullness and Oneness

Spiritual Quotient (SQ) is defined as the ability to act in harmony with the world around and be in balance, realising the “Fullness” within and “Oneness” without.

A cell – an independent functional unit in the organism, acts in the interests of the organisms’ wellness. A cancerous cell violates this principle resulting in ultimate destruction of the organism including the cell.

The cell’s identity is because of the organism. A link exists across all the cells making them a unifying force of existence – the organism. This link while also helping the cell to act in cohesion with the organism, gives it the freedom to act independently. This link – the unifying force, gives a sense of fullness to the cell. This fullness exists only as long as the cell respects the link. Thus the cell is at once, both Independent and United with the organism.

Similarly an individual – an independent functional unit in the universe is free to act according to his will (expression of fullness within) and be in a joyous state by being in harmony with the outer world. All living beings, by default act in adherence to the universal laws, because they don’t have the free will. Humans are the only species which has the privilege of freewill and hence by default has the responsibility to act according to the universal laws. Freedom comes with responsibility.

Unlike other quotients of human personality, Spiritual Quotient is more experiential and cannot be measured. Growth and Evolution in the spiritual domain of human personality is experienced as a feeling of expansiveness, happiness, joy and peace; and expressed as love and compassion one has towards the fellow beings – living and non-living in the world around.

Meditate Daily on these thoughts

Satsang with Swami Satsangi

Lots of questions in the young minds…

“When the student is ready the teacher arrives”

Swami Satsangi, Peethadheeswari of Rikhipeeth, Jharkhand clarifies the doubts in the minds of children, teachers and parents alike.

“What is Tantra?”

“What is in a Mantra?”

“What is Panchagni Tapas?”

“How to find my Guru?”

“Why do Sadhus wear saffron robes?”

“Why poverty in such a culturally rich and wisdom laden Country?”

CYF 2013 team of 90 members from Chennai representing Children, Parents and Teachers from 10 schools take part in a Satsang with Swami Satsangi at Rikhia peeth.

Listen to Swamiji’s answers to above questions and more in a simple and effective language, within easy reach of young minds…

Rest & Relaxation

When the amount of pranic energy spent is more than the body can restore, the body feels weak.  This is one way of spending energy. Uncontrolled emotions can very quickly use up the prana stored in the body.

A few minutes of anger can cost more energy than a day of physical labor. when the anger has subsided, there is still no definite command for the muscles to relax and they stay activated. When we are excited by lower emotions, the mind constantly keeps the nerves in action and our muscles tense by unrestrained and uncontrolled mental states. More of our energy is spent in keeping the muscles in continual readiness for work than in real useful work done during our lifetime.

We can compare the waste of pranic energy as the result of tension to the waste of water as the result of not turning off a faucet and allowing the water to trickle away hour after hour. So we allow our prana to trickle away in a constant stream of tension, which in turn results in wear and tear on our muscles and internal organs.

In order to regulate and balance the work of the body and mind, it is necessary to learn to economize the energy produced by our body, which is the main purpose of learning how to rest and relax. The periods of rest and relaxation help the body to rejuvenate / recharge for the next phase of work.  During relaxation there is practically no energy or prana consumed, although a little is kept in circulation to keep the body in normal condition, and the remaining part is being stored up and conserved.

Sleep is the most commonly known mode for rest and relaxation. Ideally one need 6-8 hours of rest a day depending on the life-stage, gender and other factors. Two hours before midnight and four hours after is the most advisable period for one to have a good sleep. Insomnia / sleeplessness and excessive sleep are also common diseases of 21st century. Depriving the body of much-needed rest and relaxation for long periods of time can have deleterious effects on the system. Excessive sleep on the other hand can make us dull and again have deleterious effect on our body.

The three methods for rest and relax are on three planes… physical, mental, and spiritual. No relaxation is complete until man reaches the stage of spiritual relaxation. During relaxation, the conscious mind sends a message to a particular organ, such as the heart or liver. This message is received by the instinctive mind and the order is immediately carried out. Thus one could relax all the involuntary organs too. Wakeful Sleep is an effective way to do this.

Physical: First, physical relaxation starts from the toes up and the auto suggestion passes through the muscles and reaches up to the eyes and ears at the top. Then, slowly, messages are sent to the kidneys, liver, and so on, internally.

Mental: During mental tension one should breathe slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes and concentrate on breathing. Slowly the mind will become calm and one is able to feel a kind of floating sensation, as if one were as light as a feather; one feels peace and joy.

Spiritual: Yogis know that unless man can withdraw himself from the body idea and separate himself from the ego consciousness, there is no way of obtaining complete relaxation. So, from the mental relaxation, he withdraws himself and identifies himself with the all-pervading, all-powerful, all-peaceful and joyful self, or pure consciousness within himself, because all the source of power, knowledge, peace, and strength are in the soul and not in the body.

 

Festivals of India

India is a land of many religions, languages, culture, traditions, etc.  It is also a land of festivals.  Some of the festivals are celebrated throughout the country while others have specific regional associations. Some festivals are celebrated to welcome the seasons of the year, the harvest, like Pongal, Baisakhi, etc., others are celebrated on religious occasions, the birthdays of God, Saints, Gurus or the advent of New Year.

Some of the common Hindu festivals celebrated are :

 NAVARATRI

 navaratri

 Navaratri is celebrated through the first nine days of the Hindu month of Ashwin.

It is the celebration of the end of the darkness of ignorance and evil and it is said to bring knowledge, goodness and bliss, thus spiritually enlightening the human mind.

The first 3 days is dedicated to Mata Durga, the destroyer of Mahishasura the buffalo headed demon.  The next 3 days are dedicated to Mother Lakshmi. By invoking her grace we are not only blessed with virtuous qualities but also by Daivi Sampatti  and by gaining victory or self control over the mind. The last 3 days are dedicated to Mother Saraswathi who is the bestower of light of Knowledge.

The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashami.  It is among the most auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.  It signifies the victory of the good over the evil.  This day marks the victory of Mahishasuramardini and the defeat of evils.  It also depicts Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana.  On this same day the Pandavas too, took out their weapons which they had kept in the Shami tree and they revealed their identity after one-year of incognito.  This marked their preparation for the war of Kurukshetra.

In West Bengal, the festival is called Durga Pooja. The festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are spent in worship, and on the tenth day, the idols are carried out in procession for immersion in a river or pond.

In Gujarat, the exuberant Navaratri celebrations include dancing the lively and fascinating Garba dance. The men and women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands and wooden sticks.

In Himachal Pradesh, a week -long fair is held in the hill town of Kullu, From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in elaborate processions to the main ground in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji or Lord Rama.

Vijayadashami is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

 DIWALI

diwali

 It is a five day Hindu festival.  Diwali means a “row of lighted lamps” or the Festival of Lights.  According to the legends, it is the day when Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.  Another story is that it is the day Lord Krishna killed Narakasura – the demon of sorrow and hell.

In different parts of India, Diwali is celebrated differently.  Generally the festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship Lakshmi.  On the second day, Naraka Chaturdashi – Kali, the Goddess of Strength is worshipped.  On the third day, Diwali, lamps are lit, gifts exchanged and crackers burst.  On the fourth day the business accounts are settled and new books are opened.  On the final day (Balipratipada) of the festival, Bali, an ancient Indian King is recalled.  He had destroyed centuries old philosophies of the society.  However, he is remembered for being a generous person.  Thus the focus of this day is to see the good in others, even in our enemies.

 HOLI

 holi

Holi is celebrated in early spring on the full moon of Phalgun.  Holi means “The festival of colors’.  It signifies the power of the virtuous in encountering and over-coming the evil.  It celebrates the joy of the end of evil.  It also signifies the acceptance of all the colors, that life brings.  A huge bonfire called the Holi Fire is burnt every year to commemorate the success of Prahlad’s devotion and the tragic end of the evil demoness Holika.  The next day of Holi, a festival of colours i.e. Rang Panchami or ‘Dhulivandan’ is played.  People throw colours at each other, thus spreading colourfulness into the lives of everyone.  On this day people forget the bitterness and enmity and forge friendship with one another.

 GANESH CHATURTHI

 ganapathi

 It falls on the fourth day in the month of Bhadrapada.  The birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated in great fanfare.  This festival is the most colourful and happy event in the religious, social and cultural life of India. This festival is celebrated for 10 days with great pomp and festivity.  The day before the festival, idols of Ganapati which are varying in sizes, designs and shapes are purchased and brought home.  On the next day the Lord is welcomed and worhsipped.  On the 3rd, 5th, 7th or 10th day after performing Puja the idol is taken out in a grand procession to immerse it in the nearby tank, lake or ocean. The immersion of Ganesha only points out that a seeker after purifying oneself through study and worship, transcends the form and realizes the Lord as the formless.

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