Archive for ‘Hindu Festivals/Rituals’

April 4, 2014

Guruvayur Utsavam Pictures !

The Utsavam lasts for ten days. Beginning on the day of Pushya (the 8th asterism) in the month of Kumbham ( February-March), it ends after the Aarattu on the 10th day.Religiously, it is the restoration of divine Chaithanya. Brahmakalasam is preceded by the Utsavam. It is aimed at the purification and energisation of the powers of the deity. It is the last of the long series of rituals of kalasam and at the end, the flag will be hoisted heralding the Utsavam.

Culturally, it consists of various processions, illumination and modest fire-works (this is a specialty of Guruvayur Utsavam that no explosives are used, unlike most of the other Kerala temples). All ten days, the place wears a festive look, streets dressed up with arches, festoons etc., houses freshly thatched and painted.

Every shrine and building is tastefully decorated with lights, plantain trunks, bunches of coconut and arecanuts. Two Gopurams and the bahyankana (outer-courtyard) are elaborately decorated with illuminations and eye-catching electric displays. The lamps, deepasthambams and vilakku are all lightened.

More Info about the festival can be found here.

 

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March 14, 2014

Karadayar Nonbu – The Vrata by Tamil Women

Karadayan Nombu or Vratam is an important fast observed by Tamil women. 
Karadayan Nombu is based on the legend of Satyavan and Savitri. Based on this legend, each region in India observes an Upvaas in different time of the year. In Tamil Nadu, it is observed during the transition of Tamil Month Maasi and Panguni. The story of Satyavan and Savitri is a sub plot in the Mahabharata.

Savithri among the five Satis leads the image of a loyal and steadfast wife who could bring back her husband from Yama the God of Death because of her intrepidity and thinking-on-her-feet capacities.

The oldest known version of the story of Savitri and Satyavan is found in “The Book of the Forest” of the Mahabharata. The story occurs is told by Markandeya. When Yudhisthira asks Markandeya whether there has ever been a woman whose devotion matched Draupadi’s, Markandeya replies by relating this story:

The childless king of Madra, Ashwapati, lived as an ascetic for many years and prayed to the Sun God Savitr. He wished to have a son for his lineage. Finally, pleased by the prayers, God Savitr appeared to him and granted him a boon saying that he will soon have a daughter. The king is joyful when his daughter is born and named Savitri in honour of the god. Savitri, born out of devotion and asceticism becomes the embodiment of these qualities later in life.

Savitri was so beautiful and pure that she intimidated all the men who came near her. When she reached the age of marriage, no man asked for her hand. So her father told her to find a husband on her own. She set out on a pilgrimage and founds Satyavan, the son of an exiled, penniless, blind king named Dyumatsena who was a forest-dweller.

Savitri returned to find her father speaking with Sage Narada who announced that Savitri had made a bad choice: although perfect in every way, Satyavan was destined to die one year from that day. In response to her father’s pleas to choose a more suitable husband, Savitri insisted that she had already chosen her husband. Narada finally agreed and King Ashwapati gets Savitri and Satyavan married. Savitri went off to the forest wearing the clothing of a hermit and lived in perfect obedience and respect to her new parents-in-law and husband.

Three days before the predicted death of Satyavan, Savitri began to observe a fast and vigil. Her father-in-law warned her that she had taken on too harsh a regimen, but Savitri assured him that she had taken an oath to perform these austerities and Dyumatsena offered her his support as well.

On the morning of Satyavan’s final day, Savitri asked her father-in-law’s permission to accompany her husband into the forest. Since she had never asked for anything during the entire year of her marriage Dyumatsena granted her wish.

The couple went into the forest and while Satyavan was splitting wood, he suddenly became weak and laid his head on Savitri’s lap. Yama, the God of Death, had come to claim the soul of Satyavan.

Savitri followed Yama as he carried the soul away. When he tried to convince her to turn back, she offered various wise arguments. She praised Yama for his just rule as King of Dharma, and for his noble conduct with no expectation of return.

Impressed by her oratorical skills Yama praised both the content and style of her words and offered her any boon, except the life of Satyavan. She first asked for the eyesight of her father-in-law and restoration of his kingdom. Next her wish was for a hundred sons for her father and then a hundred sons for herself and Satyavan. The last wish cleverly created a dilemma for Yama, as it would indirectly grant the life of Satyavan. However, impressed by Savitri’s dedication and purity, he offered her any boon, but this time omitting “except for the life of Satyavan”. Savitri instantly asked for Satyavan to return to life. Yama granted life to Satyavan and blessed Savitri’s life with eternal happiness.

Satyavan awoke as though he had been in a deep sleep. Meanwhile Dyumatsena regained his eyesight even before Savitri and Satyavan’s return. Savitri retells the story to her parents-in-law, husband, and the gathered ascetics. As they praised her, Dyumatsena’s ministers arrived with the news of the death of his usurper. Joyfully, the king and his entourage returned to his kingdom.

From then Savitri has always been idolised as the ideal woman who used her wits to win back the life and riches of her husband. Unfortunately in the modern mind the label ‘Sati Savitri’ has assumed a negative connotation and used to describe paragons of virtue in joint families, especially as dep[icted in TV serials. The strength and ability to hold families together under any circumstances has become somewhat unbelievable when the norm seems to be women who are ready to come out of relationships on the flimsiest of excuses.

However there are many caregivers who, being younger than their husbands by quite a few years, are spending their own twilight years caring and being loyal to ailing spouses. This is true of men as well who care for their wives but unfortunately they are not called Sati Savitris. They may be called Ekapatni Ramas, but considering what happened to Sita that may be an iffy title.

Today marriages happen because the couples think that they are Made for each other.
The next stage they become loving and Mad for each other.
Soon the fights and disagreements set in making them SAD for each other.
Incompatibility and different types of torture part their ways and the couple become BAD for each other.

February 10, 2014

Hindu Antyeshti Samskar – Practical Guidelines for Final Rites.

Very useful guidelines on Antyeshti for Hindus living outside India, especially in USA.

Published by Hindu Mandir Executive Conference.

Foreword by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi.

To Read or download, see link below.

Anthyeshti01

Anthyeshti01

http://www.scribd.com/doc/206069530/Antyesthi-Last-Rites-in-Hinduism

January 10, 2014

Learn and Teach Vishnu Sahasranama – Compilation of resources

Tomorrow (Jan 11th) is Vaikunta Ekadesi day. Here is a compilation of resources found on the web to learn and understand Vishnu Sahasranamam.

This may be useful to start learning for yourself or teach Vishnu Sahasranamam to the next generation from the Vaikunta Ekadesi day.

Vishnu Sahasranama Stothra English & Samskritham PDF to read and download.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/198547470/Vishnu-Sahasranamam-English-Samskritham

You can download the pdf file from this page.

Vishnu Sahasranama Stothra SLOW recitation With English Subtitles – MS Subbulakshmi

THis video will be useful to listen and read the sthothra at the same time slowly , especially for kids.

Download the VishnuSahasranamam SLOW recitation in MP3 format

https://www.mediafire.com/?rg7r3i742xsm1r6

How to Teach Vishnu Sahasranama Stothra to Kids
This video will be useful to know the methodology to teach the stothra to kids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbZFVIRtiDM&list=PLFF6C9AF4CBB282AC

Background of Vishnu Sahasranama Stothra

  • In Mahabharatha , at the end of Kurukshetra War King Yuddhishtra went to Bhishma who was laying on a death bed of arrows to gain his lifetime’s knowledge and experience. During the conversation (Anusasana Parva, Section 149, verses 14 to 120) he posed these questions –
  • Who may be said to be the one god in the world?
  • Who is the one refuge of all? By glorifying and worshiping whom, can people attain peace and prosperity?
  • What is, in your opinion, the greatest Dharma – one’s true nature?
  • By doing Japa of what, can creature go beyond the bonds and cycle of birth and death?

Bhishma responded by reciting these one thousand names of Lord Vishnu and reminded him that either by meditating on these names or by invoking the names through archana (Offering), our minds can be lifted to higher consciousness.

Benefits of Reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stothra – Phala Sruti

That man who hears the names every day or who recites them every day, never meets with any evil either here or hereafter.

  1. If one becomes desirous of earning the merit of righteousness, one succeeds in earning it (by hearing or reciting these names).
  2. If it is wealth that one desires, one succeeds in earning wealth (by acting in this way).
  3. So also the man who wishes for enjoyments of the senses succeeds in enjoying all kinds of pleasures, and the man desirous of offspring acquires offspring (by pursuing this course of conduct).
  4. That man who with devotion and perseverance and heart wholly turned towards him, recites these thousand names of Vasudeva every day, after having purified himself, succeeds in acquiring great fame, a position of eminence among his kinsmen, enduring prosperity, and lastly, that which is of the highest benefit to him (viz., emancipation itself).
  5. Such a man never meets with fear at any time, and acquires great prowess and energy. Disease never afflicts him; splendor of complexion, strength, beauty, and accomplishments become his.
  6. The sick become hale, the afflicted become freed from their afflictions; the affrighted become freed from fear, and he that is plunged in calamity becomes freed from calamity.
  7. The man who hymns the praises of that foremost of Beings by reciting His thousand names with devotion succeeds in quickly crossing all difficulties.
  8. That mortal who takes refuge in Vasudeva and who becomes devoted to Him, becomes freed of all sins and attains to eternal Brahma.
  9. They who are devoted to Vasudeva have never to encounter any evil. They become freed from the fear of birth, death, decrepitude, and disease.
  10. That man who with devotion and faith recites this hymn (consisting of the thousand names of Vasudeva) succeeds in acquiring felicity of soul, forgiveness of disposition, prosperity, intelligence, memory, and fame. Neither wrath, nor jealousy, nor cupidity, nor evil understanding ever appears in those men of righteousness who are devoted to that foremost of beings.
  11. This hymn in praise of the illustrious Vishnu composed by Vyasa, should be recited by that person who wishes to acquire happiness and that which is the highest benefit (viz., emancipation).
  12. Those persons that worship and adore the Lord of the universe, that deity who is inborn and possessed of blazing effulgence, who is the origin or cause of the universe, who knows on deterioration, and who is endued with eyes that are as large and beautiful as the petals of the lotus, have never to meet with any discomfort.

Astrological importance of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama

  1. As mentioned above recitation and meditation of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra can help anyone who is seeking relief from various problems and can fulfill his or her desires.
  2. Helps minimizing evil combinations/affliction of planets as indicated in one’s birth chart. One can also heal through and overcome various curses and misfortunes.
  3. Many astrological classics including Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra have mentioned its use to obtain peace and relief in difficult situations. In fact it is a universal remedy to pacify and empower all planets in one’s birth chart.
  4. Difficult periods indicated in a person’s birth chart including:
  5. Dashas and antadashas of death inflicting planets(marak periods) and functionally malefic planets.
  6. Difficult transits of Rahu, Ketu or Saturn especially over Luminaries, that is, natal Sun and Moon.
  7. When transiting Jupiter moves through one’s 8th House.
  8. Weak and inauspicious Sun, Moon, Lagna(Ascendant) Lord as indicated in one’s birth chart.
  9. Incurable diseases, health problems, fear, anxiety and low state of confidence and self-esteem.
  10. Financial losses, conflicts and poor economic condition.
  11. Problems with progeny and any problem affecting children.
  12. Marital problems and divorce conflicts.
  13. Ensuring success in exams, business ventures and other competition.
  14. Natural disasters or when one’s country/state is in a state of turmoil and distress.
  15. Spiritual progress and grace of Lord Vishnu.
  16. To fulfill any other desire or overcome any difficulty.

Namaste

Hari Ramasubbu
thapas.wordpress.com
​www.sdfglobal.org
www.vidyadaanam.org​

September 14, 2013

Mahalaya Paksham – 2013

Useful Information on Mahalaya Paksham  from various sources.

From Wikipedia:

Pitru Paksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष), also spelt as Pitr paksha or Pitri paksha, (literally “fortnight of the ancestors”) is a 16–lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitru Pakshya, Pitri Pokkho, Sola Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”),Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitru_Paksha

​~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

From Sarma Sastrigal (sarma.sastrigal@gmail.com) 

Here is a comprehensive Mahalaya Information in one pdf format

A ‘paksha’ is 15 days. When the Sun enters ‘kanya rasi’ (Virgo) in Krishna paksha, the period is termed as ‘Mahalaya paksha’.
It is said that our ancestors get Yama’s permission and descend from Pitru loka during Mahalaya paksha, and receive with
satisfaction the offerings of their progeny.

This year this Paksham starts on Friday, the September 20th 2013.

Karunyaka pitrus:
This is also the only paksha where we get an opportunity to offer ‘tarpana’ even to the departed souls of our choice, other than our
own pitrus. This is known as ‘karunyaka pitru tarpana’. For instance, we can do it for persons who died without issues.

At least on one day:
Persons who have lost their father can perform ‘Tharpanam’ daily. Yes, during the entire period.

Or else, one should perform ‘Mahalaya sraaddha’ at least on one day during the paksha as hiranya roopam.

Significant days:
Those who wish do it on only one day as Hiranya sraaddham, they can do it on a convenient day. Following days are considered
significant, one can consider, if possible, to choose a day cited here: Maha Bharani (23rd Sept), Maha Vyatheepadham (26th Sept),
Madhyaashtami (27th Sept) and Gaja chaaya (2nd Oct).

Brahmana Bojanam :
Brahmana Bojanam also is (as samaaraadhana menu) also highly recommended during the Hiranya roopa Sraaddham.

Chaturdasi & Amavasya:
Of course they have to avoid certain days, ie., Chaturdasi & Amavaasya (3rd and 4th of Oct. These days are meant for particular persons, ie., Chaturdasi is allotted for those who died in accidents and by other unnatural (durmaranam) deaths. It is said that widows and Brahmacharis can observe Mahalayam on the day of Amavaasya, the 4th.

For those who have attained ‘siddhi’ (Sanyasis) , the 1st of October (Tuesday) is recommended.

Paarvana Sraaddha:
While on the subject let me point out that though it is no mandatory as such, this Mahalaya Sraaddha can also be performed as ‘Paarvana’ vidhaanam ie., with Homam. But as it may involve a lot of preparations in addition to the monetary aspects it may not be possible to perform this every year for all.Sufficient (more) space also is required. Hence, if possible, one can think of doing this, at least once in the life time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Shri K.Raman (kramansmail@gmail.com)

1-MAHALAYA PAKSHAM -2013-Daily sangalpam.pdf

All about MAHALAYA PAKSHAM -2013.pdf

August 14, 2013

Benefit of chanting manthras – Swami Viditatmananda Of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

 

Question

Is there any difference between doing japa by chanting a Sanskrit mantra, and doing it in our own language? Is it true that you need to recite specific mantras for specific purposes? Even if you don’t know the meaning of the mantra, you are supposed to get the benefit by reciting it. How does that work?

Answer: Let us understand the purpose of doing japa. Japa means reciting the names of the Lord or a mantra of the Lord. So, one aspect of japa is the repeating of a given name in remembering the Lord. The idea is that when I remember the Lord, the remembrance is meant to invoke the devotee in me and evoke a spirit of devotion, bhāvanā, in me. This is the second aspect of japa. This is very important. If I find that instead of chanting a Sanskrit mantra, chanting a mantra in my own language invokes devotion in me, I would consider it to be better. A mantra is not for its own sake; it is meant to invoke devotion. It is the spirit of devotion that ultimately heals or purifies my mind.

It is true that in itself, a Sanskrit mantra also has an effect. This is why we are told to repeat the Vedic mantras even if we do not understand their meaning. Any mantra, recited properly, exerts a positive influence upon us. Thus, when we recite a simple, “Rama, Rama, Rama” or any other name of the Lord, it does have an influence upon us.

This is because when we utter a word or even a sound, the air originates from our navel or the region of the heart, slowly travels upwards, strikes our skull, comes down through the various regions and ultimately emerges from our lips. Whenever we utter a name this process takes place, impacting even the skull. This is the reason why the names or mantras, which are prescribed by the scriptures or our teachers, have a positive effect that influences our personality, when we recite them.

If you do not know the meaning of the mantra, it is a good idea to chant the Sanskrit mantra with the proper intonations. But knowing the meaning is always better than not knowing the meaning. A mantra that creates a feeling of devotion in me would be more effective than a mantra that does not. But, to answer the question, reciting a mantra in the Sanskrit language definitely has an effect because it does influence one’s

personality. Sometimes we hear priests chanting Vedic mantras and you can feel the effect.

They say that by reciting the Vedic mantras, you get brahmavarchas. This is the spiritual glow, which you can see in some people because they have been chanting the Vedic mantras for many years with devotion and commitment. The very vibrations that those mantras create have an impact upon our body and then our mind. Thus, a mantra has an effect independent of whether or not we understand the meaning of what it is that we recite, but an understanding of it will evoke a spirit of devotion in us. To that extent, whatever is chanted in that spirit of devotion is definitely more effective than chanting without devotion.

Posted by AVG Sevak

Namaste

Hari Ramasubbu
thapas.wordpress.com

May 21, 2013

Sumangali Prarthanai or Pondugal: A South Indian Ritual To Honor Ancestral Elder Women

This information might be useful for most Brahmin families who live outside of India.

Sumangali Prarthanai or Pondugal: A South Indian Ritual To Honor Ancestral Elder Women

Sumangali Prarthana is a ritual seeking the blessings of women of the family who are no more; something akin to the nandi sradham, only there are no vedic rituals or mantras in this ritual.

It is purely a ladies’ function. In most families this function is performed during important events like marriage, upanayanam etc, while in some families it is performed every year.

It is believed that performing this puja will satisfy the unfulfilled yearnings of all the girls and ladies who have passed away at young age and they would in turn bless the family. It is common practice to conduct the Sumangali Prarthana before the marriage if the daughter is getting married and after the new daughter-in-law comes home if the son is getting married. This function is not performed on Tuesdays or Saturdays.

Usually, 7 ladies and 2 young girls (preferably below the age of 10) are invited to participate in the function, partake the feast and receive thamboolam. There is no objection for near relatives of the hostess to participate. Now a days many people do with 7 (6+1) or (5+2) ladies as it has become difficult to get together the 9 ladies to sit for the function.

Different families follow different customs. The ladies who sit for the puja represent all the women of the family who are no more alive. Since there is no explicit avahanam through manthrams of any pithrus, ladies generally accept the invitation.

This function is very akin to the nandisradham performed prior to the upanayanam in many respects. While nandisradham is presided over and conducted by the purohitha of the family and the kartha is a gent; this function is presided over by the elderly lady members of the family.

Usually the kartha is a sumangali from the family. The gifts to the ladies vary among families and also depend on the financial status of the kartha, very similar to the nandi sradham. The menu for the feast is also very similar.

Though no vedic rituals are performed, Sumangali Prarthana is considered to be a very important and sacred function and all the preparations are done with a great deal of Shradha and Bhakthi. This is one function where the gents of the family are excluded from the rituals. They are asked to enter the hall only after initial puja is offered to do namaskarams and seek the blessings. Otherwise, they can stick around to offer any help around or in the kitchen and then await call for lunch, when the ladies have been fed and seen off.

The consent and convenience of all the prospective participants would have been obtained in advance and there would always be a few standbys for any unexpected dropouts. In the olden days, the preparations for the function had to start the previous evening. Armed with a bucket of oil and packets of turmeric powder, kumkum, flowers, betel leaves and nuts, and shikakai powder, we would go to all the invitees’ houses and invite them giving a measure of oil and the other things we carried. The items were for the lady’s bath and adornment the next day.

I am not sure if the custom is being followed anywhere today. Perhaps, these days one would have to carry, shampoo sachets, moisturizing cream, lipstick and the like. We did not have that invitation round this time at our home as most of the participants were from the family and immediate family.

All the participants are supposed to take an oil bath in the morning and come dressed in 9 yards saree only. There is no match to the beauty of the ladies all dressed in nine yards sarees and with no make up other than turmeric powder in their face and flowers in their hair, fresh from an oilbath.

In memory of those souls who are no more with us, a new 9 yards saree and pavadai as offering (these two would be used by some members of the family after the puja) are kept in wooden trays, along with oil, betel leaves, flowers, turmeric, kumkum and neem leaves early in the morning and the blessings are sought. This has to be done by a member of the family before taking bath! In all our rituals, I have not some across another ritual which is done before taking bath.

As I was staying at a neighboring house (not enough space for all invitees at home), my mother sent word for me at 5.30am. I sent back the messenger as I was yet to bathe.

My mother sent the messenger back saying, “I want her to come here before taking bath”. It has been a long time since I myself conducted this ritual. When my astute and blessed mother-in-law was alive, she used to take care of these little things and I used to be busy in the kitchen.

My mother made me offer the saree and pavadai with oil and other items to the elders (who are in heaven) and asked me to pray for their blessings for the family. This done, the saree had to be washed and dried before the actual function.

In some families new dresses for all the girls and ladies of the family are bought and kept at the puja and later on used by the family members. Anyway, not all the dresses are washed prior to the function.

Though the cooking for this function is usually done by the women in the family, the hired cook prepared the feast as all of us were quite tired after the poonool. An elaborate lunch (again samaradhanai vattam) was prepared including

Parikkai pitla,
Vazhakkai kari
Chakka kari,
Pudalangai thoran,
Payar thoran,
Pachadi,
Kichadi,
Parippu,
Rasam
Thogayal
Payasam.

The menu also included three types of fruits, mango, jackfruit and banana. Vadai and Neiyappam were also prepared. It is a practice at home to make polis which was discontinued this time as no one was in a mood to have more sweets.

When all the invited ladies arrive, they are received with kumkum, haldi, flowers and pachai (rouge!). This pachai is a paste made of kumkum and water and is applied on both sides of the cheek outside the earlobes.

They are then taken to the function hall where a place has been marked for each one with two places for the deceased seniors at the head of the hall. The saree and pavadai meant for the deceased seniors are kept in the palakai along with some gold chain and flowers and betel leaves, neemleaves, turmeric and kumkum.

Banana leaves are laid out for serving food at the place where the saree and pavadai are kept (this place is called pudavai kalam – meaning where pudavai or saree is kept) meant for the departed souls and also for all the invited participants, after having invoked the departed seniors. After all the items are served on the leaves, puja is done offering flowers, turmeric powder, kumkum betel leaves, neem leaves and water to the departed souls and all the invitees, by the eldest lady of the family .The other members of the family including male members offer puja and namaskarms at the pudavai kalam site only. Doopam and Deepam are offered at the place where elders are invoked, i.e., at the pudavai kalam and also to all the participating ladies by the eldest lady of the family.

This is one of the functions where ladies are served first. After lunch, the ladies are given a special mixture called Chukkumanam (mixture of dried ginger and jaggery) as a digestive aid after the heavy meal. They are also given paanakam to drink. They are offered thamboolam, dakshina and mehendi.

These days, people give more expensive gifts like sarees, bangles, and the like to the invited ladies. After the invited ladies are seen off, the other members of the family have their lunch. The food served at pudavai kalam ( the two places earmarked for the departed ) is partaken of by two ladies of the family.

After lunch the saree and pavadai are given to some family members who have to wear them and replace them at the same place. In the night a pot of water is also kept near the pudavai kalam to quench the thirst of the heavenly visitors.

In the olden days (during the time of my grandmother), the saree kept at the pudavai kalam was kept inside a trunk after the function and worn only after the next Sumangali Prarthana. The saree inside the box, kept after the previous Sumangali Prarthana was taken out on this occasion and worn by a member of the family.

April 13, 2013

Online panchangam for this Vijaya New Year

Tamil and Kannada Panchangam for this new year from Sringeri Peetham.

http://www.sringeri.net/gallery/downloadables/panchangam

December 28, 2012

Today is Thirvadirai Festival – Ardhra Darsanam Festivel – For Bhagwan Shiva

Info on Ardhra Darisanam.

Based on Shri Raman’s email forward and Mahesh’s Sage of Kanchi blog.

 

Arudhra Darshan 2012 – Lord Shiva Ardra Darshanam

Arudhra Darshan, also known as Ardra festival, is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Shiva in Tamil Calendar and it celebrates ‘the cosmic dance’ of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.

In 2012, the date of Arudhra Darshan is December 28. Arudhara Darshanam is observed on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Margazhi (Margali Masam).

Arudra festival is celebrated with fervor in Lord Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and in other parts of the world by Tamil speaking population.

Arudara Darshanam festival is of great importance at the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple in Tamil Nadu and marks the conclusion of Margazhi Brahmotsavam.

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva as Nataraja represents – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Arudra Darshan celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.

It must be noted here that Arudhra, Ardra, Arudhara, Arudra, Arudara are the different spellings used in English language to mention the festival.

Significance of Ardhra Darshanam

 

One of the eight fasts (vrata) of importance in favour of Lord Siva, according to Kanda Puranam, is Thiruvathirai fast. Those, who perform it, are expected to arise from bed before dawn, complete their daily ablutions, go to the Siva Temple, witness the anointing ceremonies, light ghee lamps, offer their prayers, view the Nadarajah’s procession and fast without food until the next day when they can partake meal with Saivite devotees after their early morning ablutions and Siva worship. Patanjali, Vyakrapada and Munsishesha rishis are said to have followed this fast and obtained benefits according to puranic stories.

ARTHIRAI: Only two out of twenty-seven stars are honoured with title “Thiru”. They are Athirai and Onam, which are assigned to Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu respectively. The Saiva world surprisingly has assigned a birthday for the Primordial. Athirai seems to have been assigned to Lord Siva from very early times according to literary evidences (Kalitthogai; Paripadal). Athirai is also called Chemmin, meaning red star. The word Siva too has the meaning of a red person. Those who gave Siva a peerless position also assigned one of the biggest stars to him.

MARKALI THIRUVATHIRAI: The last day of Thiruvembavai is the tenth day, which falls on Markali Thiruvathirai. According to an old verse of Paripaddal, girls on Markali Thiruvathirai find out from elderly women how to perform the rites for Ambavadal and then start off the rites bathing in cold water before dawn and praying that the world become cool with sufficient rains in their ceremony.

The Bhagavada Purana also refers to a Karthiyayini fast performed in Markali by girls similar to the above one. The ceremony conducted by girls in favour of the Mother Goddess became extended to Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu irrespective of gender and age in later times. This “Markali bathing” is referred to in some ancient poems (Narrinai; Ainkurunury; Kalitthogai) as “Thai bathing” because after the full moon in mid Markali we get part of Markali and part of Thai, there giving license for both terms. Saivites recite the twenty verses of Thiruvembavai sung by Saint Manikkavasagar daily for ten days ending on Markali Thiruvathirai. Vaishnavites recite the thirty verses of Thiruppavai sung by Saint Andal, one daily for the whole month of Markali. The divine charioteer, Lord Krishna observed that he is Markali of the calendar months and Thiruvathirai of the stars in Bhagavad Gita.

ARDHRA DARSHAN: Saivites hold Markali Thiruvathirai as one of the most holiest days of Siva. Saint Thirugnana Sambandar singing to Poompavai asks whether she is going away without witnessing Athirai (Thirumarai). It is significant that one of the six anointing ceremonies of Lord Nadarajah takes place on this day. Further Lord Nadarajah comes out in a procession of this day to give Darshan to his devotees.

In Sanskrit ‘Arthirai? is called ‘Ardhra?and the Thiruvathirai anointing ceremony is called Ardhra Abisheka and the Thiruvathirai viewing as Ardhra Darshan. It is held as a great achievement to be able to view Nadarajah’s procession on Markali Thiruvathirai in Chidambaram. Saivites from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) used to go in boats to Vedarniyam (Thirumaraikadu) and then to Chidambaram for this ceremony annually in olden days.

Travel restrictions between India and Ceylon put an end to this annual Saivite trek from Ceylon. However lands and properties donated by Saivites in Ceylon to Chidambaram Nadarajah bear testimony to the attachment of Ceylon Saivites to Chidambaram and its Lord. There is a great festival in the ten days ending on Markali Thiruvathirai in Chidambaram. This will be followed by the anointing ceremony in the early hours of Markali Thiruvathirai. Then it will be followed by the procession of Lord Nadarajah with his consort to bless the multitude of devotees.

Chendanar of Cheppurai sang the Thiru Pallandu decade so as to get the chariot, which stuck in the mud to move on a Thiruvathirai procession in Markali (Thiru Pallandu). His only decade forms one of the five hymns recited in Siva Temples even today. Nandanar’s ambition to get Arudhra Darshan saw no bounds. He was forced to go on postponing his departure day after day due to his subservience to his Master thereby earning for himself the name of Thiru Nalai Poovar. His story is the theme of a musical drama by Gopala Krishna Bharathi in the late 19th century. The hermits of Darukavanam, due to their arrogance, overlooked the peerless Lord Siva, paying no heed to the path of knowledge, followed the pathway of Karma (action) and performed a huge fire ceremony.

The gracious Lord took the form of a beggar to enlighten them when he dropped in at the doorsteps of the hermits smitten by his Grace forgot what they were doing and followed him one after another. The hermits became furious and brought one of the five dreadful creatures to destroy the Lord. Lord Siva destroyed all of them and stood upon one of them (Muyalagan) and performed a Tandava dance enlightening the hermits who was the Lord of the universe. This darshan is said to have taken place on the Markali Thiruvathirai. Therefore viewing the procession of Nadarajah on this day is said to be very beneficial.

THIRUVATHIRAI KALI (MASHED FLOUR): Cendanar of Naukoor, a disciple of Paddinattu Adigal, used to eat only after feeding some Saiva devotees. Due to a constant bad weather he could not get together all the essentials for a proper meal. He had no option but to mix water with flour and prepare a mashed paste. Lord Siva understood his predicament. He wanted the people to know how sincere his devotee was to him. Therefore he disguised himself as a Siva devotee and visited Cendanar’s hut and enjoyed what was given to him as food. The temple attendants saw the premises scattered with the mashed paste the following morning. Inquiries led to an understanding of Cendanar’s piety and he was thereafter bestowed with all due respect. This incident took place in a Markali Thiruvathirai. This is why Thiruvathirai Kali forms an important prasad on this holy day.

Ardhraa Darshanam (Kanchi Periyava Upanyasam) –39 minutes — in Tamil

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Ga22f6V-4

Aani Thirumanjanam Of Lord Natarajar Pt.1

Aani Thirumanjanam Of Lord Natarajar Pt.2

November 4, 2012

Neivedhyam – meaning – significance – Kanchi Periyava

Neivedhyam – The act of offering food to Bhagawan

http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/part1kural52.htm

நைவேத்தியம் செய்தால் ஸ்வாமி எங்கே சாப்பிடுகிறார் என்று சிலர் கேலியாகக் கேட்கிறார்கள். நிவேதனம் என்றால் ஸ்வாமியைச் சாப்பிடவிடுவது என்று அர்த்தமேயில்லை. அவருக்கு சாப்பிட்டு ஒன்றும் ஆக வேண்டாம். நம் நினைவினை சுத்தமாக்கிக் கொள்ளத்தான் பூஜை முழுவதுமே தவிர, அவருக்கு இதனால் ஆவது ஒன்றுமில்லை.

நிவேதயாமி என்றால் அரிவிக்கிறேன் என்று அர்த்தமே தவிர, உண்பிக்கிறேன் என்று அர்த்தமில்லை. அப்பனே, இந்த வேளைக்கு உந் கருணையில் c இந்த அன்னத்தைக் கொடுத்திருக்கிறாய் என்று அவனுக்குத் தெரிவித்துவிட்டு அவனுடைய நினைவோடு உண்ண வேண்டும். அவன் அருள் இல்லாவிட்டால் இந்த அரிசி எப்படி விளையும்.

ஸயன்ஸ் நிபுணர் அரிசி வகைகளை ஆராய்ந்து பெரிய பெரிய புஸ்தகங்கள் எழுதலாம். ஆனால் அவரால் ஒரு மணி அரிசியைச் செய்யமுடியுமா. செய்ற்கை அரிசி (Synthetic rice) என்று ஒன்றைச் செய்ய முடிந்தால்கூட இதற்கு மூலமாக கெமிகல்ஸ் ஏற்கனவே பகவத் சிருஷ்டியில் இருந்துதானே வந்தாக வேண்டும்.

எனவே மனிதன் செய்ததாகத் தோன்றும் எல்லாமும்கூட முடிவிலே ஈஸ்வரன் சிருஷ்டித்ததுதான். பரமேஷ்வரனால் கொடுக்கப்பட்டதை அவனுக்குக் காட்டாமலே நாம் அநுபவித்தால் திருடர்களாகின்றோம்.

Some ask, scornfully, whether the Lord himself eats what is offered to Him. "Nivedana"does not mean making the Lord really "eat" what isoffered. He does not have to eat. Puja is meant to make us inwardly pureand the Lord does not have anything to gain from it.

"Nivedayami" means"I am making it know to you (informing you)" and does not mean "I amfeeding you". You must speak thus to Isvara:"O Lord, in your compassionyou have given us this food." Then you must eat the food thus offered,thinking of Him. Without His grace how does the rice grow?

Experts mayconduct research and write big tomes on rice. But are they capable of making one grain of rice? What is called synthetic rice is made out of materials already created by Isvara.

So all that seems to be made of manmust be finally traced to God’s creation. To enjoy what he has given us without first presenting it to Him would be tantamount to thieving.

^&^&^&^&&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&&^

Another interesting article i found in the web on the same subject.

Spiritually what is the difference between "Nivedana" & "Samarpana"?

http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120717102750AAPARLe

Nivedanam is a Sanskrit word with a direct meaning, "informing" or "making it known". How does this making known relevant when we use the word Nivedanam it in the context of pooja, where the word is in common use? It simply means, signifying our gratitude to God and His Nature, but for whose grace, the food we eat would not have been possible. The bhava here is one of expression of gratitude and consume what has been given to us by God as Prasaadam.

By placing food at the conclusion of pooja we make this our gratitude known to God. It does not mean we are offering the food for God to eat. Nor does God expect that, God does not even expect our expression of gratitude. It is for our own satisfaction and mental disposition so that we are always conscious that the food we have got is not due to our effort alone. It is due to the cumulative contribution of God, Nature, Our fellow beings and lastly we. This kind of attitude will help in having a serene mind always. The food which is consumed after this gesture is called the prsaada or what is left to us by God.

The Sanskrit word "Samarpana" means offering or dedicating something we possess as not belonging to us. What has come to our possession due to whatever reason is not ours but belongs to some one to whom we dedicate it. By dedicating that thing to its rightful owner we have no claim over that thing either for consumption or for enjoyment. The bhava here is one of not being entitled to be the possessor of the thing that is dedicated

It will also be noted that in the context of pooja we use the words ‘ samarpayami’ for argyam, Paadyam, Aachamaneeyam, Aasanam, Pushpam, dhhopam, dheepam, Gandham, neeraajanam etc., These are dedicated to God and are not for us. When we present the food we use the word ‘ Nivedanam’ for, we are the consumers of that prasada after Nivedanam.

October 26, 2012

How to Wear a Pancha Kachcham

The pancha kachcham (panja kacham or kacham) is a form of wearing the dhoti, typically worn by grihasthas (men who are married) on special occassions such as poojas or festivals. It is typically a 8 or 9 yard dhoti worn in a specific woven way.

Due to western spell we have forgotten our tradition, which is visible in all walks of our culture.

The attire worn by our forefathers which is most suitable for the weather conditions in our region is Dhothi.

http://www.wikihow.com/Wear-a-Pancha-Kachcham

How to Wear a Pancha Kachcham

Wear a Pancha Kachcham

The pancha kachcham (panja kacham or kacham) is a form of wearing the dhoti, typically worn by grihasthas (Brahmin men who are married) on special occasions such as Pujas or festivals and some orthodox persons daily, during their routine Puja times. It is typically a dhoti of eight to ten square yards (according to the height and girth of the person) worn in a specific way. The steps below describe the way as according to Iyers (South Indian Brahmins).

Edit Steps

Main and important thing is that pancha kachcham should be weared by those who got married .Not a bachelor (It’s not like a jeans or other dresses)

  1. Open the 8 or 9 hands (4 – 4.5 yards )dhoti completely.
  2. Hold the dhoti such that you are right down the center of the dhoti (lengthwise). Both the ends should be free and you should be holding the dhoti such that there is enough dhoti to go around you just once.
  3. Wrap it around you once (as shown) keeping the wrap a little tight at the stomach portion.

    fold inwards at least a couple times to hold it firmly around your waist

  4. Fold the dhoti a few times so that the it is held firmly at your hip.
  5. Take the end that is on top (typically should be the one to your left); Starting from the end, slowly make folds of about 2 inches each (kosuval).

    fold slowly and smooth the folds - the smoother the better

  6. Insert the folds into the wrap around the hip (as shown).

  7. Take the breadth portion of the top fold and starting from the end (so that the border coloring is visible), make similar folds (as shown).

    start from the border - ensure its visibility

  8. Insert this second set of folds on top of the previous one (as shown).

  9. Take the other free end of the dhoti, starting breadthwise, make similar folds.

  10. Run this between your legs and bring it behind you (as shown).

  11. Ensure that the folds are not twisted.

  12. Insert the new set of folds behind your back (as shown).

  13. Check that the kachcham looks like this .

October 22, 2012

Navarathri Special Edition – E-Book from Kanchi Periyava Forum

Navarathri Special Edition – E-Book from Kanchi Periyava Forum

Hari Om!

We are pleased to bring you the Sixth edition of the e-book series from the Kanchi Periva Forum. Like the last edition which was a special edition release for Sri Vinayaaka Chaturthi, this time also we have a special edition to mark the occasion of Navaratri Festival which is celebrated from16th October to 24th October 2012.

This ebook is compiled with a view to present our readers a treasure of sorts. Among many other things, this contains excerpts from Sri Maha Periva’s enchanting discourses on Ambaal, a beautiful compilation of Periva’s sweet audio discourse on Ambaal, the significance of Navaratri, some information on Navaratri Puja, the Philosophy behind Navaratri Golu, the procedure of arranging the same and some common recipes for making Prasadam during the Navaratri festival.

To view the content and download it click the below link.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/110758184/Handbook-on-Navaratri-Kanchi-Forum

Namaste

October 21, 2012

Meaning behind the word “Yoga”. Astaanga Yoga and Vedanta – A Comparison.

This chart will help us to understand the term "Yoga" as envisoned by Sage Pathanjali.
The following chart is a comparison of Ashtanga Yoga & Vedanta.

"Yujyate Sādhyena Saha Sādhakaha Yena Saha Sādhanā"

The word Yoga means -"that which links the Sādhaka and the Sādhyam – the seeker and the sought".

Yoga is derived from the root Yuj – to combine or unite. Unite the Sādhaka and Sādhyam.

The following chart explains the eight limbs of "Yoga" and the today’s modern Yoga refers mostly to the third limb which is "Asana".

Attached is the pdf of the above chart.

Ashtanga Yoga.pdf

October 6, 2012

Kailash Yatra , Your Complete Guide: Hinduism Today – Jan 2012

 A step-by-step manual on how to prepare for (and survive) a pilgrimage to Siva’s most sacred mountain

By Dr. T.S. Mohan, Bengaluru

Read the complete article in colorful magazine style at page 18 from the pdf link below.

http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/wfdownloads/singlefile.php?cid=43&lid=108

Here are some excerpts from the above article.

January12Featurespread.jpg

Why Do the Yatra?

Some have asked why I decided to perform this yatra. I was inspired by the image of Lord Siva as a great tapasavin, sitting and meditating in the Himalayas, blessing all, an austere Lord lost in oneness with His true Self, the Parabrahman. I asked myself, can we imbibe that degree of spiritual absorption when we sit for prayer and meditation, with our senses in cool control? Can we have that peaceful calmness in ourselves, too?

To me, Lord Siva as Pashupathinatha rules over animals, but also over our own instinctive demons. The reptilian part of the brain inside of our heads, as well as the limbic system, is animal in nature, fostering anger, jealousy, envy and attachments. With our sincere devotion to Lord Siva, we can overcome and keep in check these unconscious emotions. My quest was for Siva as Lord Dakshinamurti–calm, youthful, blissful and silent!

With such lofty aspirations and Siva enshrined in my heart, my journey began.

Preparing for the Yatra

The Kailash Manasarovar yatra can be undertaken via two routes: the Kathmandu route and the Indian one via Kumaon in Uttaranchal Pradesh. Pilgrims who have done both reported vastly greater satisfaction, more trekking and healthy acclimatization on the scenic and inspiring trails in Uttaranchal. The organization is better, and tour groups allow more time in Kailash and Manasarovar at a lesser cost. The caveat is the difficulty in getting approved. It is available only to Indian nationals. There are quotas of pilgrims every year, and there are too many competing for a chance. Only the robustly healthy and medically fit qualify through the rigourous Indian government selection. If you get approved, consider yourself lucky. Applications are invited during February or March of every year. The screening procedure will look daunting. Persist, and you may succeed.

I took the Kathmandu route. Either way, this yatra is a year-long affair, for one needs to be fully prepared even without the prod of the Indian permit. Timing is essential. Typically, the yatra is done such that one is at Lake Manasarovar on a purnima day (full moon). The most auspicious purnima is that in the month of Shravana (July-August), though heavy rains at that time often cause disruptions such as landslides, overflowing rivers and washed-out roads.

The concept is to visit Manasarovar either before or after doing the parikrama–the circumambulation of the mountain. Tour programs run from May through August every year. Early June is pretty cold; August is rainy, although relatively warm during the day. The temperatures are just about right in late July and early August. Warm days of 30oc under the sun and 18oc in the shade are pleasant, and the nights are relatively better but still cold, down to 6oc.

The Indian crew starts from New Delhi. After a overnight bus ride, the trekking formally begins at Dharchula. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police checks the medical fitness once more near the border. Escorted by Chinese officials, one reaches Darchen.

As for the yatra via Kathmandu, I will tell you all about it!

What to Expect

It was the month of Shravana in 2004 when I did my blessed pilgrimage. Taking a cue from an earlier yatri, I booked it through a travel agency in Kathmandu by phone and paid on arrival. They did what I discovered is a typical “big on talk, low on delivery” act–see the sidebar for some wisdom on getting around these perils.

At the local travel agencies I bought a package that included the service of staff to handle the cooking, the tents and even Chinese visas for the group. These agencies partner with the state-run Chinese agencies across the border, whose guides actually handle the entire tour and are ultimately responsible for your yatra experience. They manage transportation, act as interpreters, choose appropriate wayside inns to overnight in case of inclement weather, handle the yaks and horses and even do the cooking. Yatris are pretty much in their hands.

Apart from the (bossy) guides and their broken English or unintelligible Hindi, other Tibetans will not be able to communicate with you.

If an incompetent crew is assigned to your group, no amount of complaining to your Nepali travel agency can help. Fortitude, resignation and a spirit of tapas and humility do help. Smile bravely, focus and get on with your pilgrimage goals. With tact, you can get the Chinese guides to listen and help.

The fee I paid for the yatra was about USD 1,200, from Kathmandu back to Kathmandu. Items included in the costs were: a bed-and-breakfast stay for two days before the start and one day after the return at a good Kathmandu hotel; transportation by bus, truck or land cruiser when needed; permits; the help of a Chinese guide; services of a sherpa cook-guide-worker; plus food for the entire journey in Tibet. travel within Tibet was done aboard Toyota Land Cruisers, four yatris to a vehicle. We stayed overnight in tents and, sometimes, in wayside inns. The journey was on foot only around Kailash itself.

A blueprint for any pilgrimage–including the Kailash Yatra

Fifteen Spiritual Tips

  1. Make a firm samkalpa for the yatra. Samkalpa, a Sanskrit word, means a complete mental picture coupled with a firm intention to see it through.
  2. If you can find someone who has performed this pilgrimage, ask for all the details–the nitty gritty details. Read anything you can find on it.
  3. Ask yourself how this kind of yatra fits in with your spiritual goals and practices. You may remember that this is not just the fulfilling of a refined spiritual desire, but also a great opportunity to become closer to your Ishta Devata.
  4. Don’t get sidetracked by the will of the group. Try to understand each religious practice, instead of blindly following the rituals others have done during the trip.
  5. Start planning months in advance.
  6. Design a 40-day sadhana period with the yatra as the culmination. For each day, practice early morning prayers and meditations; perform the yoga arts of pranayama, dharana and dhyana. Prepare body, mind and spirit for the trip.
  7. Analyze your pre-yatra eating habits in a thoughtful, but joyous way: if you begin to see the preparations and cleansing process as a burden, you may lose the enthusiasm that is so necessary to the trip. Wisdom should be the guide.
  8. Free yourself from all addictive food: caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Cultivate moderation.
  9. Kindle the soul with evening chants, bhajans and satsangs. Attend pujas and abhishekams.
  10. Cut the gossip! Observe mauna (silence) and undertake periodic solitude.
  11. Eschew unnecessary and worldy reading, even news.
  12. Avoid non-spiritual company. Cultivate satsang, being in the presence (physical or virtual) of wise and truthful people.
  13. Fast mentally as well as spiritually: enjoy the purity that comes from abstaining from TV, parties and senseless internet drifting.
  14. Lead a conscious, goal-oriented daily life.
  15. Ask yourself during this process, has my bhakti for Lord Siva increased? Did I do my daily activities and work in the spirit of karma yoga? Was I compassionate toward others? Have I upheld dharma?

Six Down-to-Earth Tips

  1. Draw out a concrete itinerary, meticulously listing all details: transportation plans, hotels, where to eat, a list of medical establishments along the yatra. Plot all costs, timings and alternatives. Try to anticipate difficulties and create a few “plan Bs” for accidents, injuries, inclement weather and even getting robbed. Instead of being anxious, be prepared.
  2. Work hard on the luggage list. When badly done, a lot of unnecessary stuff is carried around and the most useful items are left out. I have laid out a sample packing list in my yatra website: www.vedanta-family.org/kailas/
  3. On the appointed day, start the pilgrimage with a visit to a Lord Ganesha temple. Go thank Him after the yatra, too.
  4. The more you are dependent on others or on material resources for your sadhana, the more the inconveniences. When circumstances are outside of your control, do mental tapas inside and observe peace outside.
  5. After completing your pilgrimage, set aside time to meditate on and document the lessons learned, the experiences and the blessings. Few people do this, but it is vital for your pilgrimage to not be just another trip.
  6. Finally, a pilgrimage destination does not have be a far and inaccessible place. It could be the nearest hill town with a shrine to a Deva or Devata. The most important aspect of the yatra is your relationship to the Divine, both inside and outside of yourself.

Guidelines To Keep You Sane and Alive

Picking the right agency is crucial: your experience on the yatra depends on who is running the show. Talk to several tour operators. Remember, most sales folks have absolutely no idea of what the yatra is like and will promise the moon at times. Here are hard-earned tips.

  1. Our travel agency’s managing director deliberately put a wrong mobile number in his business card, so that we would never call and complain! When cornered, he sheepishly corrected it.
  2. Book your air tickets early. I had to postpone my trip because getting confirmed reservations was difficult. Some airlines are unreliable; check their history of flight arrivals.
  3. Try to gather like-minded spiritual people to go with you, in multiples of four for the vehicles.
  4. Do not buy yatra accessories from the tourist agencies: you can get them cheaper elsewhere.
  5. State your option for a vegetarian cuisine and ask that it be cooked and served appropriately. Many times, the cook and the helper sherpas cut short their cooking chores by frying all food in the same pan with the same oil. Politely convey your requirements to the cook and others during the yatra to ensure that it happens.
  6. Bargain on the price up front. Year 2004 prices were around 53,000 rupees, all inclusive except the stay in Kathmandu (add another 50% for other expenses). Ensure that the standards of the trip are agreed upon in writing. Do not pay any money before reaching Kathmandu, only after visiting the travel agent’s office. Ask for receipts: “What receipt?” they will say. Insist.

Require Your travel Agency to Commit to the Following

  1. The stay will be in decent guest houses, inns and hotels. that include proper toilets as well as ventilated windows within the rooms. Ask for the right to inspect before selection at every place, or demand to move to another establishment.
  2. Extra costs due to delays in starting or in completing the itinerary will be fully borne by the agency, including costs of staying at Kathmandu. This includes incidentals, such as extra meals.
  3. The group and the sherpas will not be split up. The sherpa guide will accompany the group on foot during all walks.
  4. Good vehicles shall be provided. Ask for the new versions (less than 5 years old) of the Land Cruisers. This might add to your overall costs another INR 4000, but it is well worth it. The agency will likely promise such vehicles but not deliver! Tell them you will pay separately on return in case you do get them for the trip in Tibet.
  5. The guides shall have the resources to solve problems that arise, and respond to the communications with the yatris. In our case, after spending money on truck repairs, they tried to stay on budget by saving on the food they were expected to feed us.
  6. The Chinese drivers should: A) stop the vehicle upon request (we were all drinking lots of water); B) be courteous in their interactions with the yatris; C) respect the group’s religious sentiments; D) not smoke inside the vehicles; E) not play their pop music loud.
  7. Mineral water will be packed and served as part of the general package and not be charged for separately.
  8. The guides must take the yatris to Chuggu Gompa, Chiu Gompa and its hot springs, Rakshas Tal, Darchen Gompa, Ashtapad, Tar-po-che, Dheer Puk Gompa, Gauri kund, Zutul Puk Gompa and Thirthapuri hot springs–plus Lake Manasarovar. Many of these destinations are skipped if you are not attentive.
  9. The price for yak and horse rides during the parikrama will be capped up front. Many times, after reaching the mountains, pilgrims get a shock with the price tags, leading to unpleasant arguments.
  10. Luggage will be kept always clean and dry in the trucks. It often gets dirty and drenched, being exposed to rain and fuel.
  11. On the parikrama around Mt. Kailash, the sherpas shall bring the toilet tents and mineral water bottles on the yak. If you don’t ask for this, they will bring only minimal equipment.
  12. Any monetary tips that you will give to the sherpas or the drivers will be based on your satisfaction: there shall be no mandatory tipping! This helps ensure their good behavior and performance.
  13. Ask the agency what procedure would be adopted if, during the yatra, one is: a) ill with food poisoning b) ill with high altitude sickness c) down with broken limbs d) down due to flu, fever or cough.
  14. Every member of the group shall have a separate, rainproof tent in good condition. (Mine leaked.) You live in your private world within it, resting and meditating! In other groups, ladies and gents were packed eight members to a small tent!
  15. Every day’s menu will be shared upfront the previous day! Oil used once for frying will not be used again. Non-veg cooking will be separately handled with no interchange of used oils, pans or spoons.

Do’s and Don’ts of the Kailash Yatra

  1. Don’t get your shoes wet, ever! Walk carefully, especially across rivers and rivulets. Use a walking stick or a hiking pole. Use waterproof trekking shoes meant for cold countries. If your shoes get wet, dry them out as early as possible! A soggy boot can injure your feet in no time.
  2. Carry with you an ample supply of water and energy-giving food (not junk snacks). In an emergency, you might have to live on those rations, stranded for long hours before someone discovers you. Each day, take a food box with items from breakfast.
  3. While shopping anywhere, bargain using sign language. Start at 60 percent of the asking price. Forty percent may work, too.
  4. Bring a couple of small padlocks so you can lock your tent zipper.
  5. At many of the stops, you will encounter small children asking for gifts, or poor people begging. Carry small items with you to give away.
  6. You can mix lukewarm water with the cold water before drinking. This helps with coughs and cold-sensitive teeth.
  7. Pack a pair of sandals, in addition to your shoes. Wear them at the camp to give your feet and your shoes time to breathe.
  8. Ladies should bring a makeshift mini-tent to answer nature’s call when the cars stop. There is little place to hide, really.
  9. Pack all your clothes and belongings in plastic bags. That will help prevent dampness and possible drenching. In addition, it separates the used from the unused. No laundry service available!
  10. Bring your own sleeping bag if possible, one that can sustain you in -5oc.
  11. When sleeping in a tent, do not cover your face. Use lip balm and wear gloves. Never allow your feet to be without socks (keep a separate pair of woolen/nylon socks for sleeping only).
  12. Nurse any foot problems every night; they get worse fast, and cold. plus injury can result in gangrene.
  13. Never use candles or matches inside a tent.
  14. Carry a small, deodorant-size oxygen cylinder with you always.
  15. During the journey, report any sickness of any kind to the sherpa and Chinese guides.
  16. Never skip a meal and never stop drinking water, for you could weaken and dehydrate in no time. Never over-exert yourself. Breathlessness can make you dizzy, and you could trip on rocks and fall.
  17. Do the parikrama at a steady pace.
  18. The water in big flasks in the rooms of the inns are typically for washing your face, not for drinking. This is the only bathing that you will have on the road.
  19. Carry your own garbage bag. Bring all bottles and cans back to the cities.
  20. Use lip balm or vaseline for your lips and sunscreen lotion on your face and hands. The rarefied atmosphere makes for high UV exposure.
  21. While walking on ice use your pole to check its thickness. Beware!
  22. You cannot recharge batteries anywhere except Kathmandu. Take several spare charged batteries. Watch out for dust damage to your cameras.
  23. Never part with your passport and other vital documents except when at customs. Ask to have them back as soon as the guides are done with the paperwork.
  24. Practice silence. The yatra is not about the company. Soak in the grandeur of the Kailash region, the plateaus, valleys, mountains and lakes!
September 19, 2012

Why we make clay Ganesha and immerse it in the sea during Ganesha Chathurthi ?

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Why we make clay Ganesha and immerse it in the sea during Ganesha Chathurthi ?

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations end with the immersion or Visarjan of clay Ganesha murthi in water. Hindus worship the formless ParaBrahman. But the vast majority of people need a form of the ParaBrahman to pray to, to seek help and to receive blessings.

Clay mixed with water gives form to the formlessness. During the Ganesha Chathurthi celebrations, this form is worshipped. After the celebrations, it is time to accept the eternal cosmic law that which took form has to become formless again in a never ending cycle.

Each year Ganesha arrives to teach us that forms change but the Supreme Truth remains the same. Body perishes but Brahman residing in it remains constant. This body becomes energy for another but the source of energy is the same. Bliss is achieved when we realize this.

Source: Hindu Temple Of North Texas Newsletter

April 24, 2012

A report on First Veda Sammelanam Of North America – APRIL 14, 2012

Anugraha Bhashanam of Sringeri Acharya Swamigal for Veda Sammelanam at SVBF Stroudsburg, PA
(11 mins, in Samskritham language)

Veda Parayanam at Sringeri Vidhya Bharathi Foundation, Stroudsburg, USA
(45 mins)

Lecture Demonstration at Veda Sammelanam held at Sringeri Vidhya Bharathi Foundation, Stroudsburg, USA
By Dr YagnyaSubramaniam (1 hour 40 mins, in English language)

Part 1 http://youtu.be/H7s8XWCguoo

Part 2 http://youtu.be/U9mSJ809as8

|| Shree Gurubhyo Namaha ||

FIRST VEDA SAMMELANAM OF NORTH AMERICA – APRIL 14, 2012

With the Blessings of Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharati Teertha Mahaswami of Sringeri Sharada Mutt and the boundless Grace of Goddess Sharadamba, the first Vedasammelan in North America was conducted in a grand manner on April 14, 2012 at the Sringeri Sadhana Center, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The Sammelan coincided with the 100th year of ascension to the Spiritual Throne by the 34 th Pontiff of Sri Sharadha Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal.

The Vedasammelan was conducted mainly to honor the Vedic scholars living in the U.S.A and Canada, and to create and propagate awareness of the Vedic dharma to all Asthikas living in this part of the globe. On the day of the event, around 130 Vedic scholars from all over the United States and Canada, comprising, Vedic Scholars, Agama/ Sastra Pundits, Shivacharyas and Vaishna Bhattacharyas, assembled at the Sringeri Sadhana Center at 8 AM. The event started with Guru Vandanam, by praying to the entire Guru Parampara of the Sanatana Dharma tradition.

A special pooja was performed to H. H. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji to seek His blessings. The pooja was followed by Ganapati Homa and abhisheka to Lord Chandramouleeswara in the temple. Then, all the Vedic scholars assembled at the Veda Vyasa shrine. Prayers were offered to Veda Vyasa, who codified the Vedas into four major branches. Pooja was performed to the Veda Book of all four Vedas, the personification of Veda Purusha.

The Veda Book was then placed on a beautifully decorated pallakki, and was carried on the shoulders by the Vedic scholars themselves. The images of Sri Sharadamba, Sri Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji, and Sri Sri Bharati Teertha Mahaswamiji led a ceremonious procession that resounded with Veda mantras of different Shakhas from Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda and also from other Agamas. It was a fitting tribute to the Veda Purusha, the Jagadgurus and Goddess Sharadamba as the entire procession advanced on red carpet. Blessed were those people who witnessed a rare procession in their life time. The procession ended at temple. ‘

The Vedic scholars then assembled in the Sri Sharadamba’s shrine, and sat in groups according to their own shakhas. The assembly of scholars was welcomed by the President of SVBF USA, Dr. S. S. Iyer. He formally welcomed the priests and Padmashri Dr. V. R. Gowrishankar, CEO, Sringeri Peetham, India. A video message of H. H. Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswami was played. The Jagadguru, in his benedictory message, explained the importance of Vedas and the importance of following our Dharma.

The gathering was then addressed by the Chairman, SVBF, Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian. He stressed the importance of fostering the Vedic Dharma and explained how the Vedic scholars play an important role in fostering the dharma. He also pointed out that all other shastras, like music, dance, etc. will flourish only if the root of all of them, the Vedas is properly nourished. The Vedic scholars are the custodians of the Vedas, and if we need to preserve the treasure of the Vedas, Vedic scholars should be encouraged to send their kids to pathashalas, he said. He also mentioned that if Vaidika dharma is preserved, it will in turn protect us. He appreciated the Vedic scholars for turning out in big numbers and showing full support to propagate this dharma, which was the main objective of the mutt.

Dr. V. R. Gowrishankar, who was kind enough to make a flying visit for the event amidst his busy schedule, gave a very good speech on the uniqueness of Sanatana Dharma. He recounted an anecdote where H. H. Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswami posed a question to a group of scholars as to what is unique about our Sanatana Dharma that we want to follow this dharma? Even though the scholars came up with many good answers, the saint was not convinced with any of them. The Pontiff Himself gave the answer – our dharma is the only one which is apaurusheya, i.e., not of a human origin.

Dr.Gowrishankar also praised the Vedic scholars for their commitment to spread the dharma in this part of the world. He urged them to lead the asthikas in the dharmic path by giving them the right advice.A very elaborate and special Ashtavadhana seva was offered to Goddess Sharadamba, the abode of all Knowledge, by the Vedic scholars. It was a rare treat to the audience who enjoyed the recitation for nearly two hours and was a great experience to hear many Vedic scholars, synchronizing to one single voice.

A few Veda Mantras from the following shakhas were recited:
Rig Veda – Shakala shakha
Shukla Yajur Veda – Kanva shakha, Madhyamdina shakha
Krishna Yajur Veda – Taittiriya shakha
Sama Veda – Kouthuma shakha, Jaiminiya shaka, Pranayaniya shaka
Atharva Veda – Saunka Shakha
Agama – Vaikanasa, Shaiva, Pancharatra, Madhva

The special offering was followed by lunch prasadam. All the Vedic scholars were served food in the most traditional style by the volunteers of the foundation.

In the afternoon, the Chairman of SVBF, Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian gave a very informative lecture-cumdemonstration of the various Vedic recitation practices. He illustrated in simple terms the prakrti and vikrti pathas of reciting Veda mantras. The oral recitation practices were beautifully demonstrated by the highly qualified priests of SVBF, Br. Sri. Shringeswara Bhatt, Br. Sri. Shyamasundara Rao and Br. Sri. A. R. Chandramouli.

The different prakrti pathas – Samhita, Pada and Krama – and vikrti pathas – Jata, Mala (Pushpa Mala), Shika, Rekha, Dwaja, Danda, Ratha (Dwichakra, Trichakra and Chatuschakra), Pancasandhi Ghana and Ghana – were illustrated and recited. Dr. Yegnasubramanian enlightened the audience with the various chanting methods and the pattern involved in each of the oral recitation patterns. He also illustrated Varna Krama – the phonology of accent and classification of each syllable.

Br. Sri. Sivaramakrishna Salakshana Ghanapathi from Sri Guruvayoorappan Temple, Morganville NJ demonstrated the Varna Krama for a single Vedic word “Saraswati”. Dr. Yegnasubramanian described the Vedic method of analysis of each syllable in the Vedas, and explained how the various parameters of each Vedic syllable, along with the recitation practices served as an impeccable record for propagating the Vedic texts without distortion in an oral tradition. The lecture was well received by an enthusiastic full house audience (more than 300) at the Sri Bharati Theertha Community Center Hall.

The Vedic scholars then assembled at the temple premises again for the concluding session. Every Vedic scholar was individually honored in front of a huge audience. The Vedic scholars in turn expressed their gratitude to the Foundation and praised the efforts of Dr. Yegnasubramanian for his untiring efforts in fostering the Vaidika dharma. The program concluded with Rashtra Aseervadam by the participating scholars.

All the scholars left the place with rejuvenated energy. It was a very good break from their routine and they were already looking forward to many more conferences of Vedic scholars in the years to come. All participants greatly appreciated the way the Sammelan was organized and were pleased with the hospitality, food and other facilities provided by the foundation. It was a very fruitful and memorable day for all the participants.

The whole event was well attended and appreciated by many devotees. A group of more than 75 people came from Canada in two buses to witness the Vedasammelan. The event was also webcasted live on the Internet, and was watched by devotees all across the globe. It was also covered by TV5, a television channel.The Foundation is grateful to the volunteers, who were responsible for pulling the event off to a grand success.

Meticulous planning (up to finest details) for two full weeks and faultless execution of tasks by the independent committees were appreciated by all the participants. The volunteers worked as a part of several committees – parking & transportation, food, registration, hospitality and religious – to execute the tasks. The volunteers were honored by the organizers at the end of the event.

In summary, with the blessings of the Jagadguru and grace of Sri Sharadambal, the first Vedasammelanam event was a grand success – another good achievement by the Chairman of the Foundation and organizers of the event, a matter of pride for the participants, a pleasant treat for the audience, a great source of information for enthusiasts of the Vedas, a great blessing for the devotees and a big accomplishment for the volunteers and SVBF SAINT THYAGARAJA DAY

On April 15th, Sunday we had the Inaugural Saint Tyagaraja Day, a dedication to the Saint at the Feet of Goddess Sharada who is none other thanRajamathangi Herself! The Sangeetopasana/Nadopasana followed the Vedopasana of the previous day on the same stage.

Shri. RK Shriramkumar led the Pancharatna kritis session in the morning and it was Supreme Bliss and divinity that filled the air and hearts and minds of the devotees! Shriramkumar gave an inspiring chaste concert following that. He chose the Karaharapriya Rame Nee Samanamevaru, appropriately for his main. The afternoon session was filled with Group presentations by the teachers and students of Tiruvottiyur, Lalgudi, Kovur pancharatnams etc. The children had wellprepared and practiced for the event and presented their pieces in One Voice! An adult group of 10 people trained by a Senior Teacher, Mrs. Padma Srinivasan sang in unison the Kambhodi, Mahita Pravrddha Srimati. It’s one of the Lalgudi Pancharatnams of Tyagarajaswamy.

We also recognized and honored the talent of the North American Carnatic Idol, Shyamala Ramakrishna as an Young Musician, on the occasion of Saint Tyagaraja Day! Shyamala gave an inspiring concert for an hour and a half and deserved the appreciation of the Foundation and the audience.

Every April, we will celebrate Saint Tygaraja Day, Americavil Thiruvaiyaru. We invite the teachers and students of Carnatic Music to come forward and participate in all the sessions of the event and dedicate the day to Goddess Sharada and Saint Tyagaraja with whose blessings we learn, develop and grow our talent to blossom.

Starting next year, Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation, an Overseas Affiliate of Sringeri Sharada Peetham will recognize and honor an Young Musician with an award and a citation.

About SVBF: http://www.svbf.org

April 21, 2012

Tamil and Telugu New year – Interesting information.

Tamil New year Nandana Varsha – Phala Sruthi – General Nature of the year.

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You may be aware that the beginning of a new year (month) is marked by the movement of Surya Bhagavan (Sun God) fron One Rasi to Another Rasi. As per the Tamil Panchangam (Almanac) Surya enters Mesha Rasi from Meena Rasi on this day (i.e. on April 13th, 2012).

According to the Jyotisha sastra (the science of astrology) every year has a name, and the name for the year which takes birth today isNandana. The following sloka indicates Phala surti (the prediction of outcomes) for this Nandana Year.

आनन्ददा धरा नित्यं प्रजाभ्य: फल संचयै :
नन्दनाभ्दे श्व हानि: स्यात् कोश धान्य विनाश कृत् !!

ஆனந்ததா தரா நித்யம் பிரஜாப்ய: பல சஞ்சயை :
நந்தனாப்தே (அ)ஸ்வ ஹாநி: ஸ்யாத் கோஸ தான்ய வினாசக்ருத் !!

As per this Vaakyam, this year will see abundant production and availability of fruits, flowers, and grains for all living beings throughout the dharaa (universe). Satisfactory rainfall is also predicted.

It goes on to say that everyone on this earth will have a life filled with aanandam (happpiness), and forecasts a generally happy and prosperous 12-month period.

Only concern, this sloka says, that aswaas, vehicles will have bad time and because of vehicles (of all types) others also may have the little impact. The Nava Naayagargal, Raja, Mandiri, Arkaadhipathi, Sasyaadhipathi, Senaadhipathi, Rasaadhipathi, Dhaanyaadhipathi, Meghadhipathi and Neerasadhipathi, of this Nandana new year too, according to Panchangam, endorses this version in general.

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Telugu New year information for this year

Nandana Samvatsara ( Lunar Calendar Year) – The 26th Yugaadi Cycle starting on 23 Mar 2012

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About Yugaadi:

1. Yugaadi is made of two words from Samskrutham Yuga (= Paired together) + Aadi ( Commencement, Beginning). ThusYugaadi means a reckoning point at which there was a pairing, a union in the Beginning for a Commencement of TIME CYCLE set in endless circular motion. Traditional schools set this beginning point as the start of the ‘Brahma-Kalpa’- the onset of cosmic creation.

2. Yugaadi – Wheels of Time (Samvatsara Chakra :Annual time cycles) within Major Cosmic Time wheels (- Kaala-Chakra) : Within this ‘Brahma-Kalpa’ smaller cycles are reckoned. The Chatur-yuga cycle ( four Yugas); Within this the Seven Manu ‘s cycles; Sub cycles within this ; the land-anchored human cycles linked to Royal patronages et al. The commencement of current ‘Nandana’ Yugaadi in the current Kaliyuga sub cycle, is on Gregorian calendar date 23 Mar 2012.

3. Nandana -Yugaadi – is the 26th yugaadi in the smaller sub-cycle of lunar calendar of sixty years cyclicity. The First of the 60 year cycle is called Prabhava (= Excellence of Commencement) and the last 60th one is called ‘Akshaya'(= The endless infinity). This cycle continues repetitively.

4. Akshaya Truteeyaa of Nanadana Yugaadi ( and All Yugaadi’s) – Akshaya means Inexhaustible, Infinite, Perennial, Eternal. Truteeyaa means the ‘Third’.

The third day of each Yugaadi commencement is considered most auspicious. Traders believe that investments (especially gold purchase !) made on this day will be growing very fast. Traditional Families do the worship of ‘Gauri’- the goddess of auspiciousness.

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thapas.wordpress.com

April 1, 2012

Sandhyavandanam benefits by Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar

Tamil Audio with English subtitles on the importance and benefits of doing Sandhyavandanam (Nithya Karma).

This lecture is by Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar , one of the greatest Bhagavataas of the current century.

These videos describe the benefits of doing Sandhyavandanam regularly.It also describes the adversity one faces when the duties are not performed.

Vidoes with english subtitles – 7 minutes each

Audio

Click here to download the mp3 files

Biography

Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantharama Deekshithar was born on 02-07-1903 at Pathur village in His maternal grand father’s house in Thanjavur District (in the month of Aadi of Sobhakrit year in Anuradha star) to Sri Subramanya Deekshithar and Smt. Subbalakshmi. Sri Deekshithar learnt Vedas from His father, Sri Subramanya Deekshithar.

He mastered all the Saastras ordained by our Sages. He had His course on Tatra Saastra from Sri Vishnupuram Swaminatha Sastrigal who also taught it to Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal (Sri Paramacharyal) of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Apart from complete knowledge of Saastra, Vedas and Astrology, He mastered out Puranas. In giving Purana discourse, He utilized it mainly to propagate Vaidika Dharma and the cult of Bhakthi. His propagation of Sri Narayaneeyam and the glory of Sri Guruvayurappan continues to draw lakhs of devotees to Guruvayur.

On the divine wishes and direction of Sri Guruvayurappan, the presiding deity, He has performed many Srimadh Bhagavatha Saptaahams at Guruvayur. The Sringeri Sankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidya Teertha Swamigal too eagerly participated in the Navaaham conducted at Tiruprayar Sri Rama Temple at Kerala, as this was performed as ordered by the presiding deity, Sri Rama Himself. In fact, every one was thrilled to know the personal involvement of the Lord in the Navaaham. His discourse attracted tens of thousands of apt listeners, which was unusual till then.

The available portions of the recordings of His discourses rendered in public were brought out in cassettes as per the gracious directions of Sri Kanchi Paramacharya. Now, the contents of the tapes have been processed using softwares and the result is a far improved audio quality. The improved contents are brought now in both the forms of Compact Discs and also of cassettes. The proceeds are to be used for Sri Adhishtaanam of Sri Deekshithar who attained Sidhi on 30-10-1969 (in the month of Thula, Krishna Sashti tithi) after taking Sanyasa on 21-10-1969. Daily poojas are performed at Sri Adhishtaanam at Chinnathirupathi, Salem Town. His divine presence is still felt there where He answers the prayers of devotees.

http://www.vittalrukmini.org/gurusmaranam-srideekshithar.php

Namaste
Hari

April 1, 2012

Useful SandhyaVandanam Resources – in English and Tamil

We all know that SandhyaVandanam is an important Nithya karma for those who wear Yagnyopaveetham.

Here are some useful resources that might motivate and help a person to get started , on this very important duty that benefits the world around us and the world inside ourselves.

Sandhyavanadam – Must hear Upanyasam by Shri Krishna Premi
(Tamil Audio mp3 – 2 hours)

Gayathri and Sandhyavandana Mahimai by Kanchi Mahaswami
(Tamil Document)

Meaning of every manthra in Yajur Sandhyavandanam by Swami Paramarthananda
(English Audio mp3 – 10 tracks)

http://pravachanam.com/audio/by/album/sandhyavandanam

Brahmana Lakshnamam – Upanyasam by Shri Krishna Premi
(Tamil Audio – 8 mins)

Yajur Sandhyavandanam manual from Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam forum and approved by noted priests in Chennai.
(English document with good tips and techniques for doing SandhyaVandanam)

Namaste
Hari

March 2, 2012

Gayatri and Sandhyavandana — Kanchi Mahaswami

Gayatri and Sandhyavandana

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap12.htm

If the Gayatri has not been chanted for three generations in the family of a Brahmin, they cease to be Brahmins. The quarter where such Brahmins live cannot be called an “agrahara”. It is perhaps not yet three generations since Brahmins gave up the Gayatri. So they still may be called Brahmins.

In the same way if the Brahmin family has not performed sacrifices for three generations its members will be called “Durbrahmanas”, degenerate Brahmins. Even though degenerate the label “Brahmin” sticks to them. There are prayascittas (expiatory rites) by means of which the corrupted Brahmins will be remade true Brahmins. But there is no such hope for a Brahmin in whose family Gayatri has not been chanted for three generations. A member of such a family ceases altogether to be a Brahmin and cannot be made one again. He is just a “Brahmana- bandhu”, a kin or a friend of Brahmins. The same rule applies to Ksatriyas and Vaisyas with regard to the Gayatri mantra; they become “ksatriya-bandhus” and “Vaisya-bandhus” respectively.

The spark I mentioned earlier must be built into a fire. The spark by itself does not serve any purpose. But it has in it the potential to grow into a bright flame or a radiant fire. At least on Sundays, all those who wear the sacred thread must do Gayatri japa a thousand times. They must not eat unclean food, goto unclean places and must atone for lapses in ritual observances and in maintaining ritual purity. Henceforth they must take every care to see that their body is kept chaste and fit for it to absorb mantric power.

Even in times of misfortune the Gayatri must be muttered at least ten times at dawn, midday and dusk. These are hours of tranquility. At dawn all creatures including human beings rise and the mind is serene now. At dusk all must be restful after a day’s hard work: that is also a time of calm. At noon the sun is at its height and people are at home and relaxed and their mind is calm. During these hours we must meditate on Gayatri, Savitri and Sarasvati.

In the morning the dominant presence is that of Visnu, at noon that of Brahma and at sundown of Siva. So we must meditate on Gayatri in the morning as Visnu personified, at noon as Brahma personified and at dusk as Siva personified.

Gayatri contains in itself the spirit and energy of all Vedic mantras. Indeed it imparts power to other mantras. Without Gayatri-japa, the chanting of all other mantras would be futile.

We find hypnotism useful in many ways and we talk of “hypnotic power”. Gayatri is the hypnotic means of liberating ourselves from worldly existence as well as of controlling desire and realising the goal of birth. We must keep blowing on the spark that is the Gayatri and must take up the Gayatri-japa as vrata. The spark will not be extinguished if we do not take to unsastric ways of life and if we do not make our body unchaste.

Gayatri-japa and “arghya” (offering libation) are the most important rites of sandhyavandana. The other parts of this rites are “angas” (limbs). The least a sick or weak person must do us to offer arghya and mutter the Gayatri ten times. “Oh only these two are important aren’t they? So that’s all we do, offer arghya and mutter the Gayatri ten times a day. ” If this be our attitude in due course we are likely to give up even these that are vital to sandhyavandyana.

A learned man remarked in jest about the people who perform arghya and mutter Gayatri only ten times thus applying to themselves the rule meant for the weak and the unfortunate: “They will always remain weak and be victims of some calamity or other”. Sandhyavandana must be performed properly during right hours. During the Mahabharata war, when water was not readily available, the warriors give arghya at the right time with dust as substitute.

Arghya must be offered before sunrise at noon and at sunset. Once there was a man called Idaikattu Siddhar who grazed cattle.

He said: “Kanamal konamal kandu kodu aadukan pogudu par ”

“Kanamal/r” means before you see the sun rise and “konamal/r” means when the sun is overhead and “kandu” is when you see the sun before sunset. These are the three times when you ought to offer arghya. “adu” means “niradu”, bathe in the Ganga. “kan” here means “visit Setu” or have ” have darsana of Setu”. “Pohutu par”- by bathing in the Ganga and by visiting Setu your sins will be washed away. Here is mentioned the custom of going to Kasi, collecting Ganga water there and going to (Setu) Ramesvaram to perform the abhiseka of Ramanathasvamin there.

Only by the intense repetition of Gayatri shall we be able to master all the Vedic mantras. This japa of Gayatri and arghya must be performed everyday without fail. At least once in our lifetime we must bathe in Ganga and go on pilgrimage to Setu.

If a man has a high fever, people looking after him must pour into his mouth the water with which sandhyavandana has been performed. Today it seems all of us are suffering all the time from high fever! When you run a high temperature you have to take medicine; similarly Gayatri is essential to the self and its japa must not be given up at any time. It is more essential to your inner being than medicine is to your body. Sandyavandana must be performed without fail everyday. Gayatri-japa can be practised by all of us without much effort and without spending any money. All that you require is water. Sandyavandana is indeed an easy means to ensure your well being. So long as there is life in you, you must perform it.

Gayatri must be worshiped as a mother. The Lord appers in many forms to bestow his grace and compassion on his devotees Mother loves us more than anybody else. We know no fear before her and talk to her freely. Of all the forms in which Bhagavan manifests himself that form in which he is revealed as mother is most liked by us. The Vedas proclaim Gayatri to be such a mother.

This mantra is to be repeated only by men. Women benefit from the men performing the japa. Similarly when the three varnas practise gayatri-japa all other jatis enjoy the benefit flowing from it. We may cease to perform a rite if the fruits yielded by them are enjoyed exclusively by us.

But we cannot do so if others also share in them. Those entitled to Gayatri mantra are to regard themselves as trustees who have to mutter it on behalf of others like women and the fourth varna who are not entitled to it. If they fail in their duty of trustees, it means they are committing an irremediable offence.

The mantras are numerous. Before we start chanting any of them, we say why we are doing so, mention the “fruit” that will yield. The benefit we derive from the Gayatri mantra is the cleansing of the mind (cittasuddhi). Even other mantras have this ultimate purpose, but cittasuuddhi is the direct result of Gayatri-japa.

Even in these days it is not difficult to perform sandhyavandana both at dawn and dusk. Office goers and other workers may not be at home during midday. They may perform the madhyahnika (the midday vandana) 2 hours 24 minutes after sunrise that is called “sangava kala”.

We must never miss the daily sandhyavadana unless we find it absolutely impossible to perform. When we fall ill, in our helplessness we ask others for water or kanji in the same way, we must ask our relative or friend to perform sandhyavandana on our behalf.

Let us all pray to God that he will have mercy upon us so that the fire of mantras is never extinguished in us and that it will keep burning brighter and brighter.

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Other Aspects of Sandhyavandana

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap13.htm

“Astra” and “Sastra” are terms used in Dhanurveda (military science) to denote two types of weapons. Knife, arrow, spear, club and so on-real weapons-come under the term “sastra”.”Astra” is what is energised by a mantra into a weapon. If you discharge just a darbha or a blade of grass chanting or muttering the appropriate mantra it will be turned into a weapon. Sastras are also discharged similarly with mantras. If you hurl something at a object or person muttering the mantra proper to it, the object or person will be destroyed when hit.

The twice-born (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) have the duty of discharging “Astras” every day to destroy asuras or the evil forces besieging mankind. Does not “Astra” mean that which is discharged, thrown or hurled? What is the “Astra” which is to be thrown or discharged [by the twice – born]? We throw water so as to drive away or destroy the demons or evil forces that have taken hold of the minds of people. This water, the astra, is the same as the libation offered during sandhiyavandana. We must keep this purpose in mind when we offer arghya : “May sinfulness and falsehood be annihilated. May the sun of knowledge shine brightly. May those obstacles that keep the sun of knowledge dim in us to be demolished. “Whatever you do or do not do, you must perform this arghya thrice a day. Do it somehow ” holding your breath”

When a person does a job earnestly and whole-heartedly, we say that he does it “holding his breath”. As a matter of fact sandhyavandana is to be performed holding one’s breath. If we do this all the evil forces will be destroyed. Nowadays all we do is to hold our nose with our fingers. The sastras do not say, “Nasikam ayamya”, but say, “Pranam ayamya. ” It means, instead of merely holding the nose, control the vital breath, the prana itself or the life force.

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All work must be done with one-pointedness. There must be such one-pointedness of the mind to turn water into a weapon(astra). The breath is controlled for this purpose.

You will ask: “How is it that if you control your breath the mind will be still? “

We see that when the mind is still the breath also stops. When our wonder is aroused, when we are grief-stricken or when we are overjoyed, the mind becomes one-pointed. We exclaim “Ha” and the breath stops for a moment. But soon we breathe fast. We do not stop breathing with any effort on our part-the stopping is involuntary. The mind stops when it is enwrapped or absorbed in something. Then we heave a sigh-take a long breath-making up for the momentary stoppage of breathing. We learn from this that, when breathing momentarily stops, the mind becomes one-pointed. This is the reason why the breath is controlled when arghya, libation, is offered.

If we practice pranayama we will train ourselves to have mental concentration. This is important to yoga. Practicing pranayama for long is difficult and it must be done under the guidance of a guru. In sandhyavandana we do it only ten times. For some rites it is performed three times as a preliminary step. If we had practiced pranayama regularly from the time of our upanayana we should have become yogisvaras by now.

What we do we must do properly. When we practice pranayama as a part of sandhyavandana we must stop our breath for 30 seconds or so, not more. When the vital breath stops, the mind will become still. If the arghya is offered in this state the evil forces will be truly be driven away. The water that we pour or throw when our mind is still will turn a weapon to destroy all evil.

After employing the arghya weapon against the evil forces, we must perform Gayathri-japa. Pranayama we must do according to our ability, holding the breath for a while, then realising it: this process may be repeated without controlling the breath for too long a time.

All the steps in sandhyavandana- samkalpa, marjana, arghya-pradana, japa, stotra, abhivandana-have for their purpose the blessings of Isvara: this is stated in the samkalpa that we make at first. From beginning to end sandhyavandana is dedicated to Paramesvara and pranayama is an important part of it.

According to the sastras even the sick must do pranayama three times a day. This means that breath-control is not such as to cause trouble or discomfort. Indeed it could mean a cure for the illness and a prescription for long life.

Rsayo dirgha-sandhyatvad dirghamayuravapnuyuh Prajnam yasasca kirtim ca brahmavarcasameva ca – Manusmrti, 4. 94

In abhivadana we mention the name of the sage from whom we are descended. It is our duty to observe Vedic rituals at least for the fact that we belong to the gotra of that sage. After him there have been so many rsis in the line. We use the terms “trayarseyam”, “pancarseyam”, “ekarseyam”, meaning that, in the gotras concerned, there were three sages, fives sages, one sage. . . They must have lived long and secured knowledge, fame, Brahmic lustre and spiritual eminence by performing sandhyavandana. This is what the Manusmrti stanza means.

By our neglect we should not sever the thread, the tradition, handed down to us uninterruptedly. We must perform sandhyavandana as an offering to Paramesvara and must do so understanding its meaning and with faith and devotion. There must be one-pointedness in it and no mantra must be left out.

We sin with our mind, speech and body. I told you that these sins must be washed away by performing rites with the same mind, speech and body.

In sandhyavandana we mutter the mantras with our mouth and, even as we repeat the Gayatri, we meditate on it with our mind and in such rites as marjana (sprinkling of water) we acquire bodily purity.

Sandhyavandana is karmayoga, bhaktiyoga and jnanayoga combined [it unites the three paths of karma, devotion and knowledge].

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February 17, 2012

Significance of the Sandhyavandanam in our Ithihaasa and Puranaa

Significance of the Sandhyavandanam in our Ithihaasa and Puranaa

http://govindarajapuram.com/?p=609

The significance of the Sandhyavandanam was portrayed with examples from Mahabharatam, Srimad Bhagavatham and other sastras.

 

In the Mahabaratham Sri Krishna is said to be in Moorchai on two occasions,

1.When Draupadi calls out for his help during Vastrapaharanam and the other during the post war period.

2 The scene was when Yudhistira approaches Sri Krishna after the war and the later was in Meditation. Suddenly Sri Krishna goes into Moorchavastha and upon inquiry by Yudhishtira, he replies that Bhishma was remembering him, since Ratha Saptami was approaching. It was time for Bhishma to start his Swargarohanam. Krishna takes Yudhishtira along with him to the presence of Bhishma. Yudhishtira, with heart full of guilty feeling for the war that ended and for Bhishma’s situations itself, seeks with Bhishma the details of Dharma and how to uphold the same. It is well known that Bhishma concluded by reciting the Vishnu Sahasranamam, but prior to that Bhishma tells him that the most important thing to observe daily is Sandhyopasana and this upasana is the basis for all other Karmas.

 

PARASURAMA

Another incident from the life of Bhishma is when Amba approaches Sage Parasurama, for fighting Bhishma. Parasurama created his own Chariot, Horses, Weapons etc with the power of Gayatri. The fight went on for many days and the stage came when Bhishma could no longer with hold the battle. Bhishma prays to his Pitrus for advising him whether he will win or not and in case not he will run away from the scene. The pitrus appear in the dream of Bhishma and invest him with a mantra, which Bhishma recites the same next morning. The mantra prevents Sage Parasurama from doing his Sandhya and eventually he is not able to face Bhishma and he then withdraws from the battle.

An incident related to Sri Parameswara and Sri Parvathi was also narrated. After the marriage of Lord Mahadeva and Sri Parvathi, Sri Parameswara was taking her around Kailasa, his abode. As the sun started descending down Sri Parameswara, suddenly stopped and took leave Sri Parvathi. Upon her inquiry about where he was leaving, he said that it was time for him to offer his Sandhya worship at the Manasarovar where the Rishis have already proceeded to offer their sandhya worship. Such is the importance of the Sandhya worship.

 

The significance of the topic is also discussed in the Srimad Bhagavatam, where it describes how Lord Mahavishnu incarnated as Vamana. Vamana was invested with the sacred thread at the age of seven, when Brihsapati gave him the ‘Hip wear’, Akasha gave him the umbrella, since the ears of a Brahmin should not get heated, it has to be covered from the sun. Kubera gave him the Kamandalu, since a Brahmin should always carry water. Vamana had to take the Aiswaryam of the great King Mahabali, the descendant of Prahlada, hence Kubera himself gave the Kamandalu. ‘Surya’ himself gave Brahmopadesam to Vamana. Mother Annapoorneswari gave the Bhiksha annam. It is to portray the importance of Upanayanam that sage Vyasa has elaborated on the subject in srimad Bhagavatham.

Q: Can Sandhyvandhanam be performed at the office?
A: Yes, mentally through Bhava we can purify ourselves and offer Arghya mentally. Chanting can be restricted to mental chanting.

It can be seen from the following incident from Mahabharatha. Duryodhana insists on continuing the war even after the sunset on the 14th day of Mahabaratha war. He insists on continuing the war even when Bhishma and Dronacharya advise him to stop for Sandhyavandhanam. Yudhishtira then offers the sand of the battle field as Arghyam to the setting sun. It portrays the importance of doing Sandhya even in the battle field and that even sand can be offered as Arghyam. It is more important that we start offering Arghyam.

Q: Should we chant Achutaya Namaha or Achutaya Swaha as chanted by some people in the North India?

A: Our practice is to chant Achutaya Namaha, as laid down by our forefathers and it is better to follow as laid down by them. The practice in the North India is a result of the difference in the Sutras, Sakhas that they follow.

Q: Is bathing mandatory for Sandhyavandhanam?

A: It is better to take bath before Sandhya and in extreme cases where we cannot take bath, it can be relaxed.

Q: Is Sandhya to be performed on all times?
A: It is said that it is to be performed even in a house where death has taken place. The Marjanam, Arghyam and Pranayamam can be avoided during such period and it can be limited to Chanting of Gayathri Mantra.

Q: What is the Ideal age for Upanayanam?

a: The ideal age is 7. If the upanayanam is delayed and performed after 16, is deemed as a sin committed and it goes to the parents and the kid alike. Similarly if a person invested with sacred thread do not perform sandhyavandhanam it is also deemed as a sin committed.

More resources about the Sandhyavandanam can be found at https://thapas.wordpress.com/category/sandhyavandanam/

January 15, 2012

Uttarayana punyakalam misconception or not – need some clarity.

Namaste

It is a common practice among many in TamilNadu that Uttarayanam starts only on Pongal/ makarashankaranthi day (atleast to my limited knowledge).

According to Drika Panchanga makers like mypanchang.com, datepanchang, janmabhumi panchang, rastriya panchang and Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika, Uttarayanam started on December 21st 2011

I would like to share the below mentioned information and would like to know which panchagam is widely used in India and outside India to figure out festival dates.

Please read the reasoning below very carefully. Its quite a read if one wants to understand the basics of Hindu calendering system.

Namaste
Hari

Drik Siddhanta and Uttarayana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uttarayana

This festival is celebrated on January the 14 or the 15.The season occurs based on tropical sun (without ayanamsha). The earth revolves around sun with a tilt of 23.45 degrees. When the tilt is facing the sun we get summer and when the tilt is away from the sun we get winter. That is the reason when there is summer north of the equator, it will be winter south of the equator. Because of this tilt it appears that the sun travels north and south of the equator. This motion of the sun going from south to north is called Uttarayana – the sun is moving towards north and when it reaches north it starts moving south and it is called Dakshinayana – the sun is moving towards south. This causes seasons which are dependent on equinoxes and solstices.

There is a common misconception that Makara Sankranti is the Uttarayana. This is because at one point in time Sayana and Nirayana zodiac were the same. Every year equinoxes slide by 50 seconds due to precession of equinoxes, giving birth to Ayanamsha and causing Makar Sankranti to slide further. As a result if you think Makar Sankranti is Uttarayana then as it is sliding, it will come in June after 9000 years. However Makar Sankranti still holds importance in Hindu rituals.

All Drika Panchanga makers like mypanchang.com, datepanchang, janmabhumi panchang, rastriya panchang and Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika use the position of the tropical sun to determine Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

Also when Uttarayana starts, it is a start of winter. When equinox slides it will increase ayanamsha and Makar Sankranti will also slide. In 1000 AD, Makar Sankranti was on Dec 31 and now it falls on January 14; after 9000 years when Makara Sankranti will be in June. It would seem absurd to have Uttarayana in June when sun is about to begin its ascent upwards —Dakshinayana. This misconception continues as there is not much difference between actual Uttarayana date of Dec 21 and January 14. However, the difference will be significant as equinoxes slide further.

read more »

October 25, 2011

From Darkness to Light. இருள் நீங்கி ஒளி பெருக. Happy Deepavali Wishes.


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இருள் நீங்கி ஒளி பெருக உள்ளிருள் நீங்கி உள்ளொளி பெருக
பொருள் ஓங்கி அருள் பெருக மெய்பொருள் ஓங்கி பேரருள் பெருக
இறைவனை வணங்கி , உங்களுக்கும் உங்கள் குடும்பத்தினருக்கும்

எங்கள் இனிய தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்
ஹரி

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From Darkness to Light , from Inner-darkness to Inner-Illumination
With Material success and Inner contentment

From the darkness of Corruption to Light of transparency in India.
We Pray to Bhagawan and Wish you are your family

A Joyful and Happy Diwali/Deepavali
Hari

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October 19, 2011

14 Questions People Ask About Hinduism and 14 short tweetable answers!

Excellent/must-read publication for all followers of Sanatana Dharma aka Hinduism. This can be used for presentations in educational institutions also.

This material is published by Hinduism Today MagazineKauai Aadheenam, Hawaii, USA.

You can also download this publication in pdf file from here. Please share it with your friends too.

14 Questions People Ask About Hinduism and 14 short tweetable answers!

Namaste
Hari

September 30, 2011

Significance of Navarathri – Poster by Hinduism Today Magazine

Significance of Navarathri – Poster by Hinduism Today Magazine

This can be used for flyers or education material for adults and kids.

Namaste
Hari

September 12, 2011

Origin of word Onam – Transliteration from Kanchi Paramacharya audio talks.

Origin of word Onam – Transliteration from Kanchi Paramacharya audio talks.

Day of Thiruvoonam star on Shravvana maasa (month) is called as Onam in kerela and Tamilnadu.
Shraavani Nakshathra is the presiding star of this month which is called Shravana Masa.

The month name “Shraavani” phonetically changed to “Aavani” (in tamil) as they removed the part “shraa” from it.Similarly, the Star name “Shravana” nakshathra changed to “oonam” and “thiru” got added to it to call it “Thiruvoonam” nakshathra.

The word “Sinhala” in sanskrit got transformed to “Eela” in tamil by replacing the “sinha” with “ee” hence the name Eezha. This is just one example. Just like that “shravana” in samskrit became “oona” which became “oonam”.

August 24, 2011

Devotion to Vaidika Karma anuShThAnam

There is a person even in these days of commercialization of human life, devotedto the adherence of vaidika karma anuShThAnam.

http://www.advaitin.net/Subrahmanian/Agnihotri%20Ranganathan.pdf

||Sri Gurubhyo Namaha||

Pradosha Pooja Group, Bangalore, recently honoured Agnihothri Sri Ranganatha Sarma on his completing 60 years of age. Sri Ranganthan, prior to moving to Mysore on official work, was an active member of the group.
Sri Ranganathan born on 23 Dec 1950, at Coimbatore, has walked on this planet for over sixty years.

Combining the characteristics of modernity and Dharmic-Vedic traditions, he has been a torch-bearer for many spiritually inclined fellow-men. He is what one may call “Nitya Agnihotri”, a rarity in these times practising Agnihotra Karmaanushtaanaas and maintaining the Aupasana Agni from day one of his marriage (1985) with sustained enthusiasm, albeit starting his Vedic education from the age of twenty (1970). His father (Late) Sri S Ganesha Sastri was a well known Vedic Scholar and had kramaantha adhyayanam from Palghat Chittur Paatashaala. His wife Smt.Bhuvana‟s father, an octogenarian Sri H.S.Krishna Dixit, is still in the services of Lord Srikanteshwara at Nanjangud temple. It is small wonder therefore that Sri Ranganathan was destined to accede to his inner call and follow his chosen path of divinity with such deep fervor. Mention must also be made of his two engineer sons, who are well versed in Yajurveda Samhitha and assist him in performing Ishti.

Sri Ranganathan cites an incident which at a later date lit the dormant fire in him, apparently answering his life’s ‘Why & What for?’ To quote his own words, ” I used to attend Upanyaasaas during younger days where I gathered informations regarding our Nityakarmaanushtaanas viz. Snaanam, Sandhya, Japam, Homam, Vaiswadevam/atityam Devata pooja et al. I had this nagging doubt regarding daily Homa. How come that our offering of Naivedya, is ultimately consumed by us without being able to feed Gods directly? That‟s when my father explained to me about Aupasana wherein Gods indeed get directly fed. I was also informed that Aupasana is to be taken up only after marriage.”

True to the saying “Udara nimittam bahukrita vesham”, Sree Ranganathan too had to don many a hat during his life’s professional Karma-trek. Basically a Chemical Engineer and a MBA (Finance) he worked initially in a private firm; thereafter successfully ran his own small scale industry; and finally joined KSIIDC, Bangalore from where he took VRS in Apr 2005 while he was still a DGM, all because he wanted to take up Agnihotra.

His Maargadarshin-s were Seers, men of divinity, spiritual seekers and scholars. He has been personally blessed and guided by the then pontiff of Sringeri – Jagadguru Abhinava Vidyateertha MahaswamgaL through Dr. Lakshminarayana Pandit. Sri Ranganathan has had occasions of visiting ishtis conducted by the latter, the then practising Agnihotri at Mysore, who
impressed upon him the sanctity of Agnihotra and the divinity in performing various yajnas for the betterment of society.

A few words about Agnihotra may not be out of place: The word Agnihotri is from agni (fire) and hotra (a ritual carried out in fire). Agnihotri means “one who carries out rituals in fire”, i.e. the Agnihotra. The one who performs Agnihotra daily with faith and full trust in the Almighty can be called an Agnihotri. The one who means it when he says “idem, na mama” ((O Lord, all this is Yours, NOT mine) is a true Agnihotri. Agnihotra is a Vedic Yajna mentioned in the Atharvaveda (11:7:9) and described in detail in the Yajurveda Samhita.

The central part of the Agnihotra consists of making two offerings of milk/Ghee/Rice into the fire exactly at, slightly before, or even after the time of sunset and sunrise, along with Vedic mantras that relate the fire and the sun to each other: This preserves the sun over night, which is also one of the interpretations of the ritual given in the Samhitas.

This small rite is surrounded by a large number of additional actions and is followed by the worship of other sacred fires (agni-upasthāna). The ritual is performed by a Brahmin for his own or for the benefit of a sponsor (yajamāna) and the universe as a whole.There is a simplified version of the Agnihotra in the Grihyasutras and in later post-Vedic texts. Having created Yagnaas along with mankind, the Creator expressed: “The Yagnaas are created with an intention of helping Devaas and manushyaas mutually for eternal happiness/prosperity.

Let manushyaas perform yaagaas to feed devaas (through Aahutis) who in turn would provide all necessities of life (like Sun, rain, wind, heat, environment etc) to the manushyass for their happy living on earth.
We marry in the presence of Agni which is maintained till death. All married people are to perform a homa in this Agni both at sunrise and sunset and this karma is called Aupaasanam.

And the Agni is called smaartha agni. All samskaaras pertaining to the yajamaana and his family are to be performed in this Aupaasanaagni. This Aupaasanaagni is split into two portions – – one portion is maintained as Aupaasanaagni and the second portion is developed – through a ritual called AgniAadhaanam- into a Srouta-Agni and maintained till the death of the Yajamaana. In this Srautaagni only all the 400 yagnaas described in Vedas are performed.

A yajamaana who maintains both Smartha as well as Srouta Agni and performs both Aupaasaman and Agnihotram daily is called an Aahitaagni (meaning embodiment of Agni). Srautaagni is generally maintained without quenching in a place called Gaarhapatya. At the time of Agnihotram Garhapatyaagni is further developed into two portions and kept in places called Aahavaneeyam and Dhakshinaagni where aahutis are offered through Vedic chanting.

Agnihotram is a nitya karmaanushtaanam like Snaanam, Sandhyaavandanam, Gaayatri Japam, Vaiswadevam, and Nitya panchaayatana poojaa. Agnihotra homa properly done reaches Surya; from Surya through antariksham it rains. From rains anna (food) grows on earth; and anna (food) affords happiness to all. Thus Agnihotri secures and ensures the well being of the universe as a whole. Agnihotra is the result of vedaadhyayanam. All the karmas / prayogas in the agnihotra are based on chanting of vedic mantras. Krishna yajurvedaa deals wholly with the concepts of performing various yagas for which agnihotram is the foundation.

In Mahabharata sage Daumya declares “O king Dharmaputra- if you want to witness all the pure rivers as well as all the devas together, please visit any house where Agnihotra is performed. Siva Geeta confirms that all japas performed in agnihotra sannidhi shall result in poorna phala.” Siva Rahasya confirms
the omnipresence of Siva in the 8 forms – 4 directions, Sun Moon, Nakshatraas and Agnihotri/ Aahitaagni.

That‟s why perhaps it is stated that “Agnihotra samo dharma: na bhootho na
bhavishyati” There is no karma ever equivalent to agnihotra. And as for Agnihotri himself, the benefits he reaps would seem the ultimate; for having realized the essence of these nishkaamya karma and continuing the anushtaanaas attains brahmasaakshaatkaara or brahmaswaroopi:

Brahmaarpanam Brahma havi: brahmaagnau brahmanaa hutam. Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma karma samaadhinaa. (BhagavadgItA 4.24)

[The ladle is Brahman. The knower of Brahman perceives the
instrument with which he offers oblation in the fire as Brahman
Itself. The oblation is Brahman, the offering is poured by Brahman
in the fire of Brahman. Brahman alone is to be reached by him who
has concentration on Brahman as the objective, as the goal to be
known and attained.]

P.V.ANANTANARAYANAN

August 24, 2011

Why Hindus have Thilak on the forehead

Why Hindus have Thilak on the forehead?

This junction is one of the very significant chakra, called in spiritual terms AGYA chakra. This is a very sensitive point.
Without the worship of Sri Ganesh no work in Sanatana Dharma should begin. Likewise, no religious work should begin without a Tilak on the forehead.Chandan or sandal paste, Roli, Kumkum, Sindoor and Sacred Ash or Vibhuti can also be used as Tilak.

Tilak is a mark of auspiciousness. It is put on the forehead with sandal paste, sacred ashes or kumkum (red tumeric). The devotees of Siva apply sacred ashes (Bhasma) on the forehead, the devotees of Vishnu apply sandal paste (Chandan), and the worshippers of Devi or Shakti apply Kumkum, a red tumeric powder.

The scriptures say: “A forehead without a Tilak, a woman without a husband, a Mantra the meaning of which is not known while doing Japa (recitation) , the head that does not bend before holy personages, a heart without mercy, a house without a well, a village without a temple, a country without a river, a society without a leader, wealth that is not given away in charity, a preceptor without a disciple, a country without justice, a king without an able minister, a woman not obedient to her husband, a well without water, a flower without smell, a soul devoid of holiness, a field without rains, an intellect without clearness, a disciple who does not consider his preceptor as a form of God, a body
devoid of health, a custom (Achar) without purity, austerity devoid of fellow-feeling, speech in which truth is not the basis, a country without good people, work without wages, Sannyasa without renunciation, legs that have not performed pilgrimages, determination unaided by Viveka or discrimination, a knife which is blunt, a cow that
does not give milk, a spear without a point- all these are worthy of condemnation. They exist for name´s sake only.”
From this you can imagine the importance of Tilak or the sacred mark.

Tilak is applied at the Ajna Chakra, the space between the two eyebrows. It has a very cooling effect. Application of sandal paste has great medicinal value, apart from the spiritual influence. Application of sandal paste will nullify the heating effect when you concentrate and meditate at the Bhrumadhya. Tilak indicates the point at which the spiritual eye opens. Lord Siva has a third eye at the Brumadhya. When he opens the third eye, the three worlds are destroyed.

So also, when the third eye of the Jiva is opened, the three kinds of afflictions – Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and Adhibhautika- are burnt to ashes. The three Karmas- Sanchita, Prarabdha and Agami,- and also all the sins committed in the countless previous births, are burnt. When you apply the Tilak, you mentally imagine: “I am the one non-dual . Brahman free from all duality. May my eye of intuition open soon.” You should remember this every time you apply a Tilak. There are various methods of applying Tilak. Saivas apply three horizontal lines with the sacred ashes. The vaishnavas apply three vertical lines (Tripundra) on the forehead.Some Vaishnavas apply only one vertical line. Only the method of application differs, but the significance is the same in both the Vaishnavas and the Saivas.

When they apply Tilak, they say: “O Lord, protect me from the evil effects of the Trigunatmika Maya which has Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas as its binding cords.”

The Tilak is used in various ways for different reasons.Without the Tilak,Sandhya, Pooja,Deva Darshan,Tarpan and other religious activities should not be performed.There are thirteen places on the human body where Tilak can be placed.However it is only on the forehead that it is noble.The head is the summit of the body with the brain being the axis of the entire body.According to Hindu Astrology,Mesh Rasi or the House of Aries is on the forehead.The Lord of Mesh is Mars and His colour is Red.This is why Red Chandan and Sindoor is placed as Tilak on the forehead.

The fingers used for applying Tilak are as follows.At the base of the little finger is Mecury,at the base of the ring-finger is Sun,at the base of the middle finger is Saturn,at the base of the index finger is Jupiter and at the base of the thumb is Venus.Perfect peace is experienced at Sunrise ,Saturn is the protector of lifespan,Jupiter represents immortality and Venus represents health.Tilak applied with the ring-finger and the thumb is very benifical.

In addition to this,the Sun represents firmness,brilliance ,honour,respect and faith.These are the blessings achieved by applying Tilak with the ring-finger. Venus gives lifeforce,health, is the creator of new life,the bestower of gentility and
politeness.This is achieved by applying Tilak with the thumb.Women should use the ring-finger for applying Bindie with unbroken rice grains. Men should also use unbroken rice grains(Akshat) mixed in red chandan and apply the Tilak with the thumb.The unbroken rice grains symbolises steadfastness and firmness of the brain and is also a symbol of peace. It is reffered to as Deva Dhanya—-grains of the Gods.

August 24, 2011

Sloka/Stothra resource with translations – All in one location.

Searching for a sloka/sthotra text ? here is a one stop place for your stothras/slokas needs, in english with translations.

For example, here is the Vishnu Sahasranama with translations http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Vishnu_Sahasranamam

While i donot know the quality of samskrtham-to-english transliteration along with translation in this website , one might find this a handy and useful resource.

http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Stotra

Here is more info about Hindupedia.
http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Hindupedia,_the_Hindu_Encyclopedia:About#Advisory_Board

August 23, 2011

தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம் ரத்து ஏன்? – ஜெ. விளக்கம்

தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம் முன்னாள் முதலமை‌ச்சர் கருணாநிதியால் சுயவிளம்பரத்துக்காக இயற்றப்பட்டது என்றும் இதனால் மக்களுக்கு எந்தவித நன்மையும் இல்லை என்றும் முதலமை‌ச்ச‌ர் ஜெயலலிதா சட்டப்பேரவையில் கூ‌றினா‌ர்.

இது தொடர்பாக சட்டப்பேரவையில் அவர் இ‌ன்று பேசுகை‌யி‌ல், தமிழ் மொழி மீதும், தமிழர்கள் மீதும், தனக்கு மட்டுமே அக்கறை இருப்பது போன்ற ஒரு மாயத் தோற்றத்தை பொதுமக்கள் மத்தியில் உருவாக்குவதற்காக, முன்னாள் முதலமை‌ச்சர் கருணாநிதியால் தமிழ்நாடு தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம், 2008 ஆம் ஆண்டு இயற்றப்பட்டது.

இந்தச் சட்டம், ஒரு சுய விளம்பரத்திற்காக இயற்றப்பட்டதே தவிர, இந்தச் சட்டத்தினால் மக்களுக்கு, எந்த வித நன்மையும் இல்லை. மாறாக, ஆண்டாண்டு காலமாக சித்திரை மாதப் பிறப்பை தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டாக கொண்டாடிக் கொண்டு இருக்கும் தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளை புண்படுத்தும் விதமாக இந்தச் சட்டம் அமைந்துள்ளது.

ஒரு நாட்டிலே, ஒரு சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுகிறது என்றால், அந்தச் சட்டம், அந்த நாட்டு மக்களுக்கு பயன்பட வேண்டும்; அல்லது, இது போன்ற சட்டம் தேவை என்று மக்கள் கோரிக்கை விடுத்திருக்க வேண்டும். இது மட்டுமல்லாமல், அந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுவதற்கான காரணங்கள் தெளிவாக தெரிவிக்கப்பட வேண்டும். இவை எதுவுமே இல்லாமல், யாருக்கும் பயனளிக்காத ஒரு சட்டத்தை முந்தைய தி.மு.க. அரசு ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளது.

இந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்பட்டதையடுத்து, உடனடியாக சென்னையில் கருணாநிதிக்கு பாராட்டு விழா நடத்தப்பட்டது. கருணாநிதியின் துதிபாடிகள் அனைவரும் அவரைப் போற்றினர். இதை தவிர, வேறு யாருக்கும் எந்த வித நன்மையும் இந்தச் சட்டத்தினால் ஏற்படவில்லை. தமிழக மக்கள் மத்தியில் தன்னை விளம்பரப்படுத்திக் கொள்வதற்காக, தமிழுக்கு மிகப் பெரிய சிறப்பினை செய்தது போன்ற ஒரு மாயத் தோற்றத்தை உருவாக்குவதற்காக, இது போன்ற சட்டத்தினை கருணாநிதி இயற்றியுள்ளார்.

தமிழர் காலக் கணிப்பு முறையின்படி, ஒரு ஆண்டுக்குரிய 12 மாதங்களில் சித்திரை முதலாவது மாதமாகும். இது சூரியனின் நகர்வை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு கணிக்கப்படுகிறது. சூரியன், மேஷ ராசிக்குள் நுழைவதிலிருந்து, அந்த ராசியை விட்டு வெளியேறும் வரையில் உள்ள காலம் சித்திரை மாதம் ஆகும். ஆண்டின் தொடக்கம் வசந்தமாக இருக்க வேண்டும் என்ற அடிப்படையில், சித்திரை மாதத்தை ஆண்டுத் தொடக்கமாக நம் மூதாதையர்கள் கணக்கிட்டுள்ளார்கள் என்று கூறப்படுகிறது. பல்லாண்டு காலமாக, சித்திரை முதலாம் நாளையே புத்தாண்டாக தமிழர்கள் கொண்டாடி வருகின்றனர்.

சித்திரை மாதத்தில் புத்தாண்டு தொடங்குவது என்பது, வான நூலையும், பருவங்களின் சுழற்சியையும் அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டது. எனவே, பருவங்களின் சுழற்சியை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு, இயற்கையை ஒட்டி, சித்திரை மாதத்தைத் தொடக்க மாதமாகக் கொண்டமைந்த ஆண்டு கணக்கீடு தான் பூர்விகத் தமிழ் மரபாக இருக்க முடியும். கோடைக் காலமே முதலாவது பருவம் என சீவக சிந்தாமணியில் வருணிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

சித்திரையே வா! நம் வாழ்வில் நல் முத்திரை பதிக்க வா! என்று சொல்லும் மரபு இருக்கும் காரணத்தால், சித்திரை மாதமே தமிழ் புத்தாண்டுக்கு உரிய, பொருத்தமான நாள் ஆகும் என மதுரை ஆதினம் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளார். சித்திரைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளை ஆண்டின் துவக்க நாளாகக் கொண்டாடலாம் என பல அறிஞர்கள் கருத்து தெரிவித்துள்ளனர். பண்டைத் தமிழர் வானவியல் ஆதாரப்படி, தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் சித்திரை மாதம் தான்.

சங்க இலக்கியத்தின் மிகப் பழைய இலக்கியமான, பத்துப்பாட்டு இலக்கியத்தின் நெடுநல்வாடையில், சூரியன் மேஷத்தில் சஞ்சாரம் செய்து சுழற்சியைத் தொடங்கும் உண்மையை நக்கீரனார் தெளிவுபடுத்தி இருக்கிறார். சென்னைப் பல்கலைக்கழகத்தால் 1912 ஆம் ஆண்டில் பதிப்பிக்கப்பட்ட தமிழ் பேரகராதியிலும் சித்திரை முதல் நாளே தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு என்று குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது. அரசவைக் கவிஞராக இருந்த நாமக்கல் வி. ராமலிங்கம் பிள்ளை அவர்களும், சித்திரை மாதத்தில் புத்தாண்டு தெய்வம் திகழும் திருநாட்டில் என்ற தனது வாழ்த்துப் பாடலின் மூலம் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டின் தொடக்கம் சித்திரை மாதம் என்பதைத் தெளிவுபடுத்தியுள்ளார்.

மேலும், பல்வேறு கல்வெட்டுகளும், எண்ணற்ற இலக்கியங்களும், சித்திரை மாதம் முதல் நாளன்று தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு தொடங்குவதை உறுதிப்படுத்துகின்றன. இந்தச் சட்ட முன்வடிவு, சட்டப் பேரவையில் தாக்கல் செய்யப்பட்ட போது, இதை வரவேற்று பேசிய மார்க்சிஸ்ட் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி உறுப்பினர், என். நன்மாறன், தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டை மாற்றி அமைத்ததற்கான காரணங்கள் இருந்தால் அதை தெளிவுபடுத்த வேண்டும் என்று கூறி இருக்கிறார். ஆனால், கடைசி வரையில் அதற்கான காரணங்கள் தெளிவுபடுத்தப்படவில்லை.

மேற்படிச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்படும் போது, அதற்கான நோக்கக் காரண விளக்க உரையில், தை திங்கள் முதல் நாள் தான் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் என்பது ஒட்டுமொத்தமாக எல்லாத் தமிழ் அறிஞர்களும் ஒப்புக் கொண்டுள்ள உண்மை என்பதால், தைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளையே தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் என அறிவித்து, நடைமுறைப்படுத்திட அரசு முடிவு செய்துள்ளதாகவும், அதற்கு செயல் வடிவம் கொடுக்கும் பொருட்டு சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுவதாகவும் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

இந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்பட்டு மூன்று ஆண்டுகளாகியும், சித்திரை திங்கள் முதல் நாளையே கோடான கோடி தமிழ் மக்கள் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு தினமாக கொண்டாடி வருகின்றனர். இந்தச் சட்டத்தை ரத்து செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று தமிழக மக்களிடமிருந்து அரசுக்கு கோரிக்கைகள் வந்துள்ளன. மக்கள் நம்பிக்கையை சட்டம் மூலம் மாற்றுவது சரியல்ல.

எனவே, தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளுக்கும், கருத்துகளுக்கும் மதிப்பளிக்கும் வகையில், யாருக்கும் பயனளிக்காத, காலங்காலமாக போற்றி பாதுகாத்து வந்த மரபுகளை மீறுகின்ற, தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளை புண்படுத்துகின்ற, இந்தச் சட்டத்தினை ரத்து செய்வது தான் பொருத்தமாக இருக்கும் எ‌ன்று ஜெயலலிதா கூ‌றினா‌ர்.