Wishing you all and everyone at home a very Happy Diwali…
In these times of the pandemic, all I ask from God is to bless us all with a very healthy life. May these clouds of fear and danger pass soon and let the Sun shine upon us as always!
Let us all be socially responsible and follow the Covid-19 guidelines to their fullest and spend time with our individual families. Let the time spent be not only of fun and frolic, but also spent on thinking about our responsibilities towards self, family, society, nation and the world as a whole.
Wishing you all and all your extended families a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year.
Let us burn the vices of Ravan and embed values of Ram within us…
Let the Ram within, win today and from today onwards forever…
Let us all prepare to welcome Ram into our lives and accept our limitations as Good Humans…
The day of “Seemolanghan” (सीम्मोलंघन). It literally means to cross the borders. Not the borders drawn on the maps but the borders drawn in our society and in our minds.
Biggest border in our life is
“I Can’t Do“.
“I Can’t Accept“.
And the last is
“I Cannot Change“.
We have set these limitations in our lives and live with them. Today is the day to remember that “I CAN”. Let us all recall, remember and understand that Bhagwaan Ram had Vaanar’s to fight on his behalf. Vaanar means the one who is not sure about being Human. Ram took them together, revived their spirit and fought with their help to win the war. We all are like the Vaanars. Let us recognise the Ram within. The day we shed our inhibitions, we too will win the war.
Let us all remember, recite and learn the Shlok given below. It talks about the Surya. The problems he has and yet how He keeps on working. रथस्येकं चक्रं भुजगयमित सप्ततुरङ्गः
(The sun in the sky travels everyday with all odds against him, like a chariot with one wheel, seven horses trod by serpents and the driver without legs. Great people don’t depend on their accessories. They achieve their goal by their spirit and determination)
Let us all remember that it is the spirit within which keeps us going. So on this Dusshara, let us pray to God that He removes this vice of “I Can’t Do” from our lives and lead us to the light of “I Can Do“.
Second I cannot accept. Can we imagine ourselves accepting our own enemy? No we dont. We dont even accept our own, if they do wrong to us. But when we study Ram’s life, we learn to accept. He not only accepted the self doubting Vanars but also the brother of his enemy, Vibhishan. He accepted him with full faith and crowned him the King of Lanka, the day He accepted him. If He can, can we not?
I would say let us begin with accepting our small mistakes in life. Let us begin by accepting the vices within us. Let us accept the people as they are and not what we like them to be. I know it’s difficult but it’s a border which we need to cross in our lives. We need to crossover from I cannot accept to I can accept. Let us keep Bhagwaan Ram as our ideal.
Last is I cannot change. We talk about it next time.
Wishing you and everyone in your family and friends a very Happy Dusshara…
The shlok uttered by Arjun, the disciple of God, talks about Him being the Creator of everything that you and me can see, hear, feel or touch with our senses, again created by Him and he offers a 1000 salutations to Him again and again.
You are Vāyu (the god of wind), Yamraj (the god of death), Agni (the god of fire), Varuṇ (the god of water), and Chandra (the moon-God). You are the creator Brahma, and the great-grandfather of all beings. I offer my salutations unto you a thousand times, again and yet again!
Have purposely taken this shlok today to celebrate the coming of my elder brother, my teacher, the creator of Swadhyay Parivaar, the recipient of Ramon Magasaysay Award for Community Leadership of 1996, the John Templeton prize for Progress in Religion of 1997 and the Padma Vibhusan, the second highest civilian honour in India of 1998, Param Poojaniya Pandurang Shahtriji Athavale ( Dadaji, as he is widely known to Swadhyayees). We celeberate His birthday as Manushya Gaurav Din, “Human Dignity Day“.
It is His 100th birthday and today we sit at His feet, trying to understand His thoughts and His work and His experiments on humanity. The work of human upliftment. Instilling a sense of gratitude towards God, society and self, He has guided millions of people, mainly Indians, across the world.
In the early 1920’s, a feast in the temple in a village of Roha, situated in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. The rituals have just finished and people rush towards the area designated for lunch. The Gods have been offered a “bhog” which will be distributed as “Prasad” amongst the devotees. Some people wait at the steps of the temple for the Prasad. A few moments later, the head priest of the temple emerges from temple onto the steps with a few leaf – plates in hand and some morsels of food in it. He throws them onto the group of people waiting there who just grab it and eat out from them. It is an intriguing sight. A boy, very small, is watching this from not so long a distance and feels that something is wrong. He questions, “Why are these people being treated in this inhumanely manner? How come they do not feel bad being treated in this manner?”
The same boy after a few days, asks his grandfather the reason for taking a bath after returning from the so called downtrodden slum after teaching them the Dnyaneshwari. Laxmanraoji, a Brahmin scholar by himself, used to go regularly to the slums and teach the Dnyaneshwari to the people living there. A time when even the shadow of these people falling on oneself was considered inauspicious, he on his own went there and sat amongst them and taught them Dnyaneshwari, which in itself was very revolutionary. But keeping the sentiments of his community in mind, after returning would take a bath and then enter the house. On being explained this, the boy asked a pointed question to his grandfather, “If it is God who has made us all, how can they be down trodden? If God resides in us all, then how can they be considered inauspicious?”
After a few years, the boy is now in his youth, and has come to Mumbai to live with his parents. He has taken up reading at the Asiatic library. One monsoon evening after the library closed, he went and sat at the shores of Gateway of India. The waters of the Arabian Sea have swelled up due to the strong winds. A fisherman in his small boat is trying to balance his boat by resisting those winds and waves and trying hard to sail and save himself. The youth thinks to himself “What a brave man! Just look at the amount of energy he has. And people blame him and his society and look down upon them for all the vices. But if someone sits near this person and makes him realise his strengths and that God resides within him, then he can do anything which people feel is impossible for him to do.”
This youth today has transformed many lives and societies and has given them a self identity. He is none other than Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale, fondly called Dadaji, whose 100th birthday, is being celebrated by the Swadhyay Parivaar today.
An activist philosopher, who has not only propounded , but lived the philosophy of Indwelling God and Universal Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God. These are not mere concepts, but today have become a way of living for many, who call themselves, Swadhyayees. These thoughts have changed the lives of many a people and society as a whole.
To imbibe and practise these two concepts Dadaji has given a small experiment, amongst his many experiments, a prayer, called Trikaal Sandhya, meaning to remember God, 3 times a day. He calls it an Atom Bomb. A householder might find it difficult to remember God at every instant, but he can do so at atleast 3 important junctures of his everyday life. First, in the morning, when he awakes. God gives us back our memory which we had forgotten when we slept. “SMRUTIDAAN“. Second during lunch/dinner time, when we eat our food and that converts to energy. God is there to oversee this process. “SHAKTIDAAN“. And at night, when God takes away all the thoughts from our mind, so we can sleep well. “SHANTIDAAN“. Being grateful to God slowly helps in experiencing the nearness of God and oneness with God. At the same time it develops an understanding, that what He does to me, He does unto others. So the other is not other. The other may not be related to me by blood, but we are related by the same maker of blood, God. So other is my divine brother. It’s a chain reaction which spread slowly Trikaal Sandhya being the neutron bombarded on the Human, the uranium atom.
This prayer, for you my readers, might sound like another ritual. But it is not so. If done with an understanding, it creates wonders. There are umpteen examples of what started as a ritual, but on understanding brought in transformation. A tobacco addicted man used to say it everyday. One fine morning, he thought that when I say “करमध्ये तू गोविंद ” meaning God resides in my palm, it means that when I rub tobacco on my palm, I rub it into Him. Now this thought changed his whole understanding and he left tobacco that moment itself. Yes, you may ask that this must be taking time. It does. It is slow and gradual, but permanent. And what if he never realises his folly? Then too it’s fine. He may change in his next life.
Let’s also talk about the transformation in the lives of the fisherman folk whom I mentioned about at the beginning of my blog. Dadaji went to them, into their houses and sat with them. He told them to identify themselves and live a dignified life. He told them “You are from the lineage of Vyas and Valmiki. Then why do belittle yourselves? You are following your father’s profession. ( आ पाप नो नहीं, तारा बाप नो धंधो छे।)” Instilling this self identity in them, the fisherman folk today see their lives change and transform. Dadaji calls them “सागरपुत्र”, the sons of the ocean. The relations that Dadaji built with them and their families is unparalled in the recent history. Similar is the case with the other castes and classes. In this modern world, where caste systems are still predominant amongst the society, people from the upper caste go to the houses of the outcastes ( called untouchables). Not only go to their houses, but live with them and share food with them. All this has been possible by a mind boggling thought of Indwelling God i.e. God resides in everyone.
Dadaji has stressed upon building relations. He says when you go to meet a person, first listen to what the person has to say. This is the stepping stone of any relation. Hear them out. You first relate with them. We do not go to them to change them, or give any advice to them or interfere in their ways of living. But we go to them as they too are sons of the same God who takes care of us. We are divine brothers. And It is believed that Dadaji himself has cultivated such relations with more than a lac families personally, transcending caste, class and creed. It’s mind blowing to see a philosopher so down to earth and ready to mingle with the common man.
His experiments of Yogeshwar Krushi, Matsyagandha, Vrikshmandir, Shreedarshanam, Loknath Amrutalayam to name a few amongst the many have brought about transformation in village and society as a whole. It is an alternative society in the already prevailing one. A society with no vices but just pure love and warmth for each other. A society of selfless relationships. It all sounds like an utopia, but one needs to see it to believe it.
But the crux of all this is the transformation of Humanity with God at it’s centre. The change in the individual. The change not through beheading but through the changing of the thoughts in ones minds and brain. This is true revolution. And so Dadaji’s birthday is celebrated as Human Dignity Day. His human centric life is always like a lighhouse in the vast ocean.
Even today his thoughts and methodology are the same which were at the onset of His Godly effort. The family spread across 6 continents and many countries works in the same way everywhere. This universal approach has been a guiding spirit to Swadhyayees through Dadaji’s daughter, Pujaniya Jayshree Athavale – Talwalkar (Didiji). She works with the same understanding as that of Dadaji’s and guides every Swadhyayee to work with the same spirit. As every year, even this year Swadhyayees are meeting their family, friends and relatives with this thought of God to build God centric selfless relations.
So, today Swadhyayees aptly celebrate Dadaji’s birthday as Human Dignity Day – Manushya Gaurav Din.
Wishing you all and your families a very Happy Human Dignity Day.
(Maadi Taaru Kanku Kharyu Ne Suraj Ugyo Jag Mathe Jaane Prabhutae Pag Mukyo Kanku Kharyu Ne Suraj Ugyo.
Mandir Sarjaayu Ne Ghantaarav Gajyo Nabhno Chandarvo Maa Ae Ankhyumaa Aanjyo Divo Thaavaa Mandir No Chando Aavi Pugyo Kanku Kharyu Ne Suraj Ugyo…
Maavdi Naa Rath Naa Ghugharaa Bolyaa Ajavali Raate Maa e Amrut Dholyaa Gagan No Garbo Maa Na Charanomaa Zukyo Kanku Kharyu Ne Suraj Ugyo…
– Avinash Vyas)
A beautiful poem by Avinashbhai comparing the advent of dawn, with the vermilion applied on the forehead of the Goddess. He goes on to describe that it feels as if the feeling of Godliness has taken over. The grandiose of the Goddess as described in the poem is truly the one that need to observe and behold in our eyes. The grand celebrations started two days back.
The Goddess is worshipped in different forms and every form has its own name and characteristic. Of the different forms, the three forms, namely Maha Kali, Maha Laxmi and Maha Saraswati represent the Female trinity. Again all the three forms are just one of the different forms of the omnipresent. The three signify destruction, wealth and knowledge as well as death, prosperity and birth respectively. They are also worshipped as consorts of Shiv, Vishnu and Brahma respectively.
These days of Nav Ratri (Nine Nights) actually mean 10 days. The 10 days of the battle between Mahisasur and The Goddess Durga. On the 10th day, the Asur was slained and is celebrated as Dusshara (दशहरा). An Asur is someone who is enjoying life and is completely immersed in one’s senses and worldly gratifications only and denies the existence of anything except self. Here the Asur is named as Mahisasur meaning a person who lives and behaves like cattle. Goddess Durga kills this characteristic found within Humans. The fight is within and without too. To overcome or slay these vices one needs to arouse the feminine characteristic within oneself. And this feminine characteristic is Durga. Durga means to takes oneself beyond all difficulties. It is the divine energy that protects the soul from known and unknown, adversity and opposition. Durga means to deliver oneself across the turbulent ocean of ignorance to the radiant other shore beyond all darkness. To remind oneself a Durga Idol/ Ghat/ Kalash is installed in every household of India.
Many households especially in Maharashtra and Gujarat celebrate the festival as ‘Ghatsthapana‘ or ‘Garba‘. The flame or a Diya (small lamp) is kept in a specially made earthen pot with pores (holes) in it. The pot represents the omnipresent Goddess. The rays of light coming out through the pores signifies the importance of knowledge and strength. The Garba is placed at the centre of a circle and the men and women play a disciplined dance, also called Garba, around it on its periphery. It has many a significance. It reminds us that every action of ours needs to be God centric. And also we need to work in tandem with everyone. There needs to be a rhythm in our movement and we cannot afford to miss one step. The village as a whole comes together to celebrate.
At this juncture, need to talk about today’s Garba played in our cities. The youth today calls it Gujarati Sunburn, which is absolute humbug. They just feel that it is a place for entertainment and fun. A place where we can make friends for fun. A place to pick up boys / girls and to spend the nights with them. And then forget everything and live an uncontrolled and non-obstructive life. My readers, I urge upon you to give a thought about the thoughts and rituals which we have got from our elders through our past generations and would they like the way we celebrate them today?
The blaring music and the obscene dance steps add to the joke we have made out of such divine festivals. It affects the environment too. I myself remember playing Garba, the whole night, but it was quite a smaller scale in those times. Every lane had it’s own Garba celebrations and everyone from children to the elderly, participated. I have vivid memories of the girls and the boys playing at different times. In Gujarat, Girls playing is called ‘Garba‘ and the boys playing is called ‘Garbi‘. It is expected that both the sexes play differently. Also it was played on a single Dhol (drum) accompanied by the singing. Men and Women both sang during their routines. It used to be a grand affair and we all learnt the songs well. There were variations in steps then too. But today, the picture has changed. We just want to dance and vent out our feelings. We too like Mahishasur have started leading our lives for our senses and pleasure. We do not deny the existence of God, but at the same time we behave as if He does not exist. The time has come to arouse the Durga within us.
Let us be environment friendly and at the same time instill faith and devotion towards the Goddess during these days.
Let us learn to develop an outlook of treating every woman with respect, as She is the embodiment of Maa Shakti.
Let us remember to keep God in the centre of our life and plan and execute things around Him.
नमस्तेऽस्तु लंबोदारायैकदंताय विघ्ननाशिने शिव सुताय।
श्री वरदमूर्तये नमोनम:।।
(Namo Vraātpataye Namo Ganpataye. Namah Pramathpataye. Namaste astu Lambodaray Ekdantaay Vighnanashine Shiv Sutaay Shree Varadmurtaye Namo Namah.)
Wishing all my readers a very Happy Ganeshotsav. The days of rejoicement. A time when God arrives at our homes. It’s a beautiful concept in itself that God arrives as a guest at our homes.
Generally every household does have a Mandir (temple), so then why does God need to come home? Just to explain to Humans that every Sarjan (construction) has a Visarjan (destruction). The Ganesh which visits our houses is called the Parthiv Ganesh, Ganesh made from sand.
Today I want to talk about Ganpati as the Devi of Buddhi. What can we as students of life learn from Her? What does the Idol of Ganpati wants to convey? Does the concept of the Elephant headed God have any meaning?
My readers, our seers have done everything which has some logic and wanted to convey some understanding by celebrating a festival. They want us to ponder over many qualities and try to imbibe them into our lives. The festival celebration always has a learning part hidden in it.
Today we just want to dance to the tunes of music and pass our time. At the same time I see people being emotionally attached with Ganpati as the countdown of arrival begins many months before actual arrival, or even in some cases, from the day he leaves. People await the arrival as it liberates us from worries and sorrow and keeps us happy. But will we be stuck in this. Will we not move ahead in our understanding and let ourselves grow. Or just go on doing it the ritualistic way? At the same time am not against rituals. We all do the parayan of Atharvashirsh every year. Many of my friends do get the Parthiv Ganesh Murti at home. But let’s try to understand it today from a student perspective.
The Ganpati word itself has a meaning, the leader of the masses. Ganesh means the Eshwar of the Ganas (leader of the masses). So the Lord exhibits the characteristics of a leader. And to be a good leader, we need to educate ourselves (to draw out the qualities within us).
1. The Ganpati has an elephant head. Elephant signifies wisdom. So we all need to be gaining wisdom through what we study.
2. He has narrow and small eyes. It is not so that the eyes are small, but the face is so big, that the eyes look small. But the best part about the eyes is that they can see even a small needle in their path. As students when we study, we need to understand the smallest of the nuances of the topic which we are learning. We need to be alert for each and every information, and in whichever corner it may be, however small it may be.
3. His ears are like the “Sup” (grain whinning plate). The Sup keeps the grain intact and at the same time removes the dirt from them. The enormity of ears suggest us to be open to listen to all but decide what to discard while we listen. As a student, one needs to be focussed on studies. We may be exposed to various things around us, but we have to decide what to keep and which to blow off. Also at the same time keep our ears open for good thoughts however far they maybe or however faint they may be. In the different thoughts, we need to find out the most important one.
4. A crooked trunk signifies the length and the reach of oneself. The knowledge we get must be kept in such a way (folded) that it does not interfere in someone’s life. But it should unfold at the right time and be used for the rightful thing.
5. Ganpati is Mahakaay. A huge body. A big belly. Big belly is for keeping all things in the stomach. It is a storing place. Similarly we have to gain such huge knowledge that we need a big belly to keep it.
6. He has a small mouth. It signifies to talk less. A student needs to talk less and listen more. Keeping ones mouth shut means concentrating on what is being spoken and taught. At the same time, it also means that open up at the right time, ask questions, discuss, argue and draw conclusions.
7. The modak in his hand has its own significance. It is sweet inside even if tasteless outside. It reminds us, students, that go into the depth of every topic ones learns. Any topic is always sweet and interesting from within. Outside it is always bookish and boring.
8. He rides a mouse. It signifies a control over worldly desires. Similarly a student needs to have his own control over his desires and concentrate on his/ her studies. He needs to ride his wishes and will.
We can go on and on with lots of things about the Lord. But somewhere we need to leave the things for next time. Many thoughts still lie in my mind which need to be emphasized and talk about. But leave to it Ganesha to give me an opportunity to pen them down some other day.
Wishing you all again, a very grand Ganeshotsav.
MAY GANESHA BLESS US ALL WITH LOTS OF INTELLECT AND WISDOM
If knowing or unknowingly, have caused “Dukh” (rough translation “pain”) to any one, living or non living, by my thoughts, words or deed, thenfrom the bottom of my heart, I bow down to you and ask for your forgiveness.
The 8th day also known as Samvatsari. It is a Day to ask for forgiveness from the creatures of the world and the creation itself.
In my last two blogs, we are talking about the ten fold path or the ten virtues we need to imbibe in our lives to be a good Jain, follower of Jin (The Teerthankar). We have talked about 7 virtues till now. Will briefly recap them before moving on to the last three.
Kshama, the virtue of forgiveness. Mardav, to be modest in all situations. And the straightforwardness, Aarjav. Satya to accept one’s existence and the journey of life is to find the truth. Sauch, the purity of body and our thoughts. Sanyam, restraining ourselves and our Panch Indriya. Tap, the art of practising non food intake. These seven if implemented on would help us in our quest to find ourselves. Now, we move onto the last three.
TYAGA (Renunciation) – To leave things behind. Here Tyaga also means keeping the bare minimum and slowly giving away that minimum too. That is what the Jain Sadhu does. Bhagwaan Mahaveer too had a loin cloth when he left the kingdom, and slowly that too wore off. It happened naturally.
Internally renuncing the attachments and emotions is like removing a big hurdle from the path of development.And this is possible by realising the true nature of the soul.
AKINCHANYA (Non-attachment) – This assists the person in detaching from external possessions. Historically ten possessions are listed in Jain scriptures: ‘land, house, silver, gold, wealth, grain, female servants, male servants, garments and utensils’. Being unattached from these, helps control our desires and leads to an influx of meritorious karmas.
Also akinchanya assists us in being unattached from our internal attachments of false belief, anger, pride, deceit, greed, laughter, liking, disliking, lamentation, fear, disgust, sexual desires.The more we are unattached, the more we purify our soul.
BRAHMACHARYA (Celibacy) – It might have been talked about at last but it is equally important as the others. It’s only sexual context needs to be clarified. It means staying away from desires and our wishes. To the extent of staying away from our senses. Not even being led off by the scent of a rose or a cool breeze.
Brahmacharya has two words in it. Brahma + Charya. Brahma here means the soul and Charya means to dwell. It simple means to dwell in one’s soul. When we reside in our soul, we can become the master of the Universe. To reside outside means to become a slave of desires.
All the above ten virtues make us a good Jain or the follower of Jin. Many of you may wonder that we never heard anything like what you have written. But dear readers, we are followers of Jin. Let’s go back to our roots. Follow what Jin Prabhu has said. Our Sadhu and Sadhviji’s are our teachers. They can show us the path and lead us unto it. It is we who need to walk on it.
My student (Khushi Maniyar) had shared with me the meaning of Paryushan which I reproduce here as it.
“Paryushan introduces one to oneself. It reminds us of souls ultimate goal. पर्यूषण is actually made of two words. परि + उष्ण. परि means from outside and उषण means to come home stay. It means to come out of all materialistic things and stay in oneself ie आत्मा मा वास करवो.“
Now if you read all the three blogs together than my writing would make sense. Fasting is good, but at the same time the person who is fasting is thinking about these 10 virtues and is in the thought process of how to imbibe them into our lives. So let us all who fast, pray or ask for forgiveness celebrate the greatness of these days, try and live in the divine and pure atmosphere and immerse ourselves in it.
At the end of this series, I beg for forgiveness if I have hurt any one by my words or thoughts or deeds. I ask for forgiveness from all Guru Bhagwan for any mistakes in these blogs.
Frankly even after writing all the meanings I still feel that the names mean the leader of the masses. Also the different meanings convey the same thought that the one who leads.
The idea itself is so heart warming that the God himself comes to reside with us. We all go to the temples to get a regular Darshan. But today is the day when He comes to our place to meet us, to stay with us, to eat with us, to bless us. This itself is such a beautiful thought.
I always wonder who must have thought of this idea of getting the God home. How that idea must have percolated to the masses! The amount of time and energy spent on this idea is something beyond the pages of history, date and time.
This thought always keeps me trying to find answers to my questions. And I know Ganesh, the Goddess of Intellect helps and satisfies the curious with an answer.
There is a story that when Ved Vyas, decided to write the Mahabharata, he was trying to find a writer who would wite his story. It was a humongous task and the writer too has to be of the same iintellect as the story teller. So Muni Narad suggested that Ganpati, the son of Shiva, can write it.
Ved Vyas did approach Ganpati who readily agreed. They both had an understanding. Once the writing of the book was started, it would not stop till the end and the writer would just not write down the book as a dictation but uunderstand it before writing it down.
Two great personalities, and, one great epic.
Ganpati had decided not to stand up while writing, so sitting in one place would increase the heat within his body and make him uncomfortable. So Ved Vyas came up with an idea of applying mud packs on Ganpati’s body to keep him cool. Ved Vyas served Ganpati food that he loved to eat the most.
As the mud packs were applied, Ganpati’s murti, even today, is made from mud (Shadhumaati). Yet, even after these 10 days when the wrting of the book was completed, the heat had increased inside Ganpati’s body and the mud packs had dried and stuck to his body. So it is said that Ved Vyas took Ganpati to a nearby river to bathe him to soothe his body as well as remove the dried packs from his body.
Thus began the culture of getting Ganpati in the idol form at one’s house for 10 days and immersing them in water on the 10th day. Later, as it was found that it is difficult to get and look after such a big personality at home for 10 days, Rishis must have come up with the idea of keeping Him for 1 and half day or 5 days.
Some may disagree with this story, but it’s a start of the quest to find the reason behind it. Its going to be long journey, but will tread on it slowly and steadily. I trust that Ganpatiji will help me.
Wishing you all a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi and a colourful Ganeshotsav.
My readers may ask me how is it that you Jains celebrate Mahaveer Jayanti twice in a year? Actually I too had the same question few years ago. Even many Jains call it Mahaveer Jayanti. But the fact is a little different. It is during these days, the Holy Book “Kalpsutra” is read. The life of the 24 Teerthankars is read and understood. On the 5th Day, the story of Mata Trishala’s 14 dreams (16 according to Digambar sect) and birth of Bhagwaan Mahaveer is read out. So it is called the Mahaveer Janma Vachan. And people celebrate with pomp as Mahaveer Jayanti.
We continue from my last blog about the ten fold path or ten virtues to be imbibed into our lives during these days of Paryushan. Last time, we gave a thought about 3 virtues. Kshama, the virtue of forgiveness. Mardav, to be modest in all situations. And the straightforwardness, Aarjav.
Today we talk about SATYA, SAUCH, SANYAM and TAP.
SATYA (TRUTH) – The only truth in this world is the existence of Self. Every other truth is relative. Excepting our own existence is the one and final step towards self realisation. Being in self denial, living in self denial is not going to help anyone. The first thing in life is to except oneself as one is and then move ahead in life.
At the same time, we can begin with small steps of speaking the truth and living that truth. At the same time being truthful does not mean to hurt others with our truthfulness. In our quest of the truth, we have to see to it that we do not hurt otherswith our truth. सत्यं ब्रूयात्, प्रियं ब्रूयात् . (Speak the truth, speak it with love). Any truth needs to be spoken with love and care. It also means that unless we share a good relation, we should not speak the truth. We need to develop relationships and let them thrive, for the truth to be told or spoken.
Also when we lie, we need to speak a hundred new lies to justify one lie. Which in turn hampers the process of imbibing Satya in our lives. So at the end, I will say one needs to realise the truth hidden within oneself.
SAUCH(Purity/Contentment) – Here the word means purity of body to purity of thoughts to purity of mind/brain. We all are aware about the external purity of our body due to the education, we receive in our schools. But we need to slowly go inwards, towards oneself. Getting contentment from material desires is not the only goal of life, but leading a contented, pure life so that it can be an ideal for generations, constitutes Sauch.
The characteristic of the soul is purity. So it is within us, which we need to find and not get stuck in material gains only. We need to go deep inside oneself and dig out this hidden virtue within us. And for this we need to practise restraint.
SANYAM(Self restraint) – I feel this is one of the virtues with whom Jains are largely identified today. Yes, we believe in restraint, not killing anyone outwardly as well as inwardly. But that is not only Jainism. Not harming anyone, not even the smallest of the creatures, is evident in all thoughts originating from Bharat. But here SANYAM means restraining oneself from desires. It is painful when our desires take over us. These 8 days constantly remind us to be away from desires. So to remember and learn this thought, we need to read the Kalpasutra. Learn from Teerthankar’s life. They never showed off. So should we?
It is also through SANYAM that we can win our desires and tread on the path of Moksh. Lesser we are attached to material things, nearer we are to ourselves and our goals of attaining Moksh. That is the reason Jains take up Sadhu dharm. The road to find one’s true self.
TAP (Austerity) – TAP means fasting, control over food. Restricting the intake of food. But after that do we gain control over our habit of eating food. Are we able to control our desires? Why is there a queue outside restaurants a Day before Paryushan and a Day after Samvatsari/Rishi Panchami? Restricting food also means restricting desires. Do we think about it? Are the celebrations of TAP justified?
Do we meditate during Tap. Do We sit back and introspect? Do we feel the nearness with our self? Our God? Cause after abstinence of food we need to move onto the next step of going towards one self.
I hope, my readers, you will give a thought about what we have read today. I just want to point out that we are becoming too ritualistic. Am not against rituals but we cannot get stuck in the rituals. Jain philosophy is loosing it’s sheen due to this. It is like eating the coconut from outside instead of enjoying the original coconut inside. So my friends, let’s think.
Still have 3 more virtues to go through. But ours is a journey long and slow, so let’s tread on it.
Listen to the Kalpasutra carefully.
Listen to what the learned Sadhu-Sadhviji’s have to tell us.
Listen to the voice within and learn to live by it.
Today is the New Moon Day (Amaavasya) of the Shraavan month. The last day of the month. Month of Bhadrapad begins tomm. Today is celebrated as “Pola” in Maharashtra and South India. Cattles are worshipped today.
And today is Mother’s Day. A day to remember all the great mothers like Jijabai, Kaushalya, Devaki and many more and their contribution towards parenting their kids. Also a day to express our gratitude to the “Gaumata”, “Tulsimata” and “Bharatmata”. By naming them, I just want to convey that every person and every substance which has help us nurture our life, is like our Mother, and today is the day to remember them.
And overall our own Mother, who has not only given us birth but also took care of us and help us grow.Someone can ask me that shouldn’t we remember our Mother everyday? I agree with them. But today is the day to not only remember them but also express our gratitude towards them.
1. Mother, a shade : I still remember my mother standing rigat by my side with a ruler in hand and hitting me when I erred, while learning Gujarati. Coming from a convent school, again her decision to educate me in an English Medium School, she took the pains that I learn my mother tongue Gujarati, when I was in 8th std. She made me do it the whole vacation. Today, I say with pride, that if my language is good and my grammar strong, it is just because of Her. I thank her today for her efforts.
Secondly my English teacher. Can never forget her. Ms A Coutinho. The effports she has taken for my Grammar, rather for the whole class, is showing its effect with our cmmunications today. Every free period of our 9th standard was taken up by Her for grammar. We used to tease her and dislie her for this, but today we all are veRyan grateful to her for her efforts. She treated every child as hers and put in equal efforts in each.
2. Mother, the last resort : I still remember that whenever we siblings wanted to get our things done, my mother was our last resort. Rather when it came to dealings with my father, it was always Her, who stood strogly for us.
I, am a father today, and see the same trait in my wife today. The way she prods our kids, the way She pushes them to exceed their limits and excel in their doings is mind blowing. The way She always stand by them and always there to help them is something we fathers rarely do. And after all this, if the kids feel that She is their last resort, they are right.
3. Mother, a security-giver : Mom is the bst security a child can ever get. The way she takes care of her child can only be compared to a lioness taking care of her cubs. She will go to the extent of fighting and killing the enemy. She will pprotect and teach the kid to protect himself.
Am reminded of Jijabai who took Shivaji under her care and nurtured him to grow up to become a great king. In the initial years of growing up, she has played not only the role of a mother but also protected Shivaji from all the evils of the society.
4. Mother, the ever giving : A child growing up without a mother is a difficult job for a father, but the mother can also fill in for the loss of a father and bring up the child. A mothers showers all her love and warmth and affection on her child and does not leave anything for next time.
There is no great personality who wouldn’t acknowledge the contribution by his/her mother into their lives. Satyakaam Jabaal is known by his mother and so are many. Even today, a childs good mannerisms and characters are attributed to its mother more.
In the end, would just request all my readers to give a thought for what their mothers have done for them and always remember to be grateful to them.
Also that our great culture and civilisation has already given us a Mother’s day, centuries back, so we have been, foremost, in acknowledging the role and contribution of a mother towards building a home, society and country, which the West is acknowledging from last few decades ot maybe a century or two. Let’s not forget that and educate our next generation about it too…
Oh! Forgiving Gurudev, I am giving up all my wrongful acts with all my strength and bow down to you with my head near to your feet.
The festival for asking forgiveness and to forgive.
The festival of celebrating life with a different perspective.
The festival of coming together and abiding.
The festival to follow and uphold the tenfold path of
1. KSHAMA (Forbearance)
2. MARDAV (Modesty)
3. AARJAV (Straightforwardness)
4. SATYA (Truth)
5. SHAUCH (Purity)
6. SANYAM (Restraint)
7. TAP (Austerity)
8. TYAGA (Renunciation)
9. AKINCHANYA (Non-attachment)
10. BRAHMACHARYA (Celibacy)
Before treading on this Ten-fold path, let me share with my non- Jain readers, that Jainism is one of the most scientific way of living and thinking. The way of worship is the same, except for the Sthanakvasi fold of the Shwetambar sect, that is everyone follows Idol worship.
Jainism, itself is divided into two big sects, the Shwetambar’s (the ones whose sadhus clad in white) and Digambar’s (the ones whose clothes are the sky, ie their sadhus accept and live a life without clothes). Shwetambar’s are further divided into 2 folds, the Deravasis (one who go to temples ie follow Idol worship) and the Sthanakvasis, as already mentioned before (one who do not go to temples and do not believe in Idol worship). Even with these outward differences, the thought of Jainism is followed uniformly in any part of the world. It is the uniqueness of the thought process in India, that even after having different ways of worship, we all are one.
Secondly, my readers might know Lord Mahaveer as the one who established Jainism. Again that’s not the complete information. Mahaveer is the 24th Teerthankar belonging to lineage of Rishabhdev or Adinath, as He is called, being the first. A Teerthankar is the one whose soul is sublime and one who has compassion towards all living beings. He is the realised one. And Jainism believes that anyone and everyone can transform his life to become the sublime self. All the 24 Teerthankars command the same devotion as any one of them.
I have decided not to go into the historical part of Jainism nor it’s cultural impact. I want to talk about the Ten-fold path propagated by these 24 men, for which the following eight days/ten days are to be celebrated. I said it’s a celebration of life because during these days one needs to sit back and brood over the above virtues and think about how to imbibe them into our life. All the 10 virtues mentioned above are equal with none more important or less important. All are equally important. We will talk about the first three today and during the course of 8 days, will talk about others, as and when the Lord permits.
1. KSHAMA(Forbearance) – My readers must have read the small prayer at the starting of the blog. It asks for forgiveness. Forgiveness is asked by bowing one’s head onto the feet of the person who is expected to forgive. As a mortal with lots of ego it is difficult for a person to bow down onto the feet of the person whom we have wronged. So we begin by bowing down to our Guru, the Teacher. If this becomes our routine, the person sheds all his inhibitions and attachment to self and will be brave enough to ask for forgiveness from the person whom he has wronged. And slowly we all can ask for forgiveness from all the creatures in the world. He is Mahaveer. This is what is Samyak Darshan. (Right Belief).
Forgiveness is like the oil to the machine, it helps us live in harmony with our fellow beings. Forgiveness begins with self. One should learn to forgive oneself. We all are sometimes too tough with ourselves. It is necessary in today’s world, but at the same time we need to be forgiving ourselves for our own spiritual development. We may be wrong in our way of living and thinking, but the day we realise we have been wrong, we need to forgive ourselves and move ahead in life. Do learn from our mistakes so that we do not repeat them, but forgive oneself too.
Forgiveness is the pain we inflict upon ourselves so that we may learn from it and brighten our lives with better karma. People have a wrong notion about forgiveness. They feel that it means to forgive others. But here the Jain darshan guides us to forgive oneself. It is only then, one can realise his true self.Forgiveness (Kshama Dharm) teaches ones soul to correct one’s identify oneself by encouraging to contemplate its true nature and hence achieve state of right belief (Samyak Darshan).
2. MARDAV(Modesty) – Humility is the diamond amongst the virtues. It is humility that makes great people, great. They never boast of their greatness nor talk about it or even give a hint about it. Sometimes our looks, money, social status, the virtue of forgiveness may make us a little / lot self-centered. Hence Kshama is followed by Mardav. There should be modesty in life after forgiveness. People believe in themselves being superior to others. We all come across such people in our lives. We might be like them too. We measure everything by temporary material objects. But this dents our life in the most dangerous way and makes our penance full of ‘Rajas’ gun. So we need to be very alert about this. The Paryushan days remind us of Humility.
All souls are born equal. No one is superior nor inferior. This is the true nature of our soul, every soul. Each soul is born divine. And the most important aspect is that every soul has a potential within to liberate itself. This belief will lead us to Mardav.
3. AARJAV(Straightforwardness) – People are deceitful. They deceive others and think that they are something great. But in doing so, they are deceiving themselves. One thinks different, speaks different and acts different. Our scriptures tells us to stay away from such people. Deceitful people loose the trust of others and they are considered less credible. Such people are a curse to the society as a whole. Whereas straightforwardness makes a person trustworthy. Such straightforward people are considered to be reliable and slowly they win the hearts of the people around them.
A straightforward person realises that the countless qualities with a being are an instrument to attain his final destination. Again the thoughts, the karma, are different from the realisation of self. So Arjav helps the person to tread on the path of realisation.
My dear readers, it’s a path we have got due to our karma’s of last lives and we need to make everything of this opportunity that we have got. We are on the path of Jin. On the path of Arihant. On the path of Siddh and Upadhyay. Let us all together decide to stick to this path and abide to live by the teachings of the Teerthankars. Then we can become true Jains.
Wishing all the Indians a very Happy 74th Independence Day.
On this day, I first bow down to God as He is the one who got India, Her independence. You, my reader, may ask me, How come God gave India independence? What was His role in it? How come you Indians always get God involved in everything? On the onset let us clarify this point as such. Yes, God is always a part of my writings and our Indian thought cause we believe that we exist because of him. Not only us but the whole creation exists because of Him. And yes we can logically prove that India got independence according to His wishes. Also at this point I should clarify that this thought has been imbibed in me by Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale. The World War II ended on a victorious note for Great Britain and it’s allies. Winston Churchill, the then prime minister, had led his country to victory through one of the toughest wars. It was he who has given the world the sign of Victory as “V”. He had kept up the high morale of the British troops and citizens during the war. The elections were due that same year and after this victory Churchill coming back to power was a foregone conclusion. But the results were surprising. Labour party with Clement Atlee as its head came to power. Labour was of the view of granting independence to British colonies including India. Winston Churchill’s idea and arrogance about India and Indians is well known to us by now. Now how did this happen? How did the electorate change its mind? I feel that God must have changed their minds. God had his own expectations from India, that let Her be free and guide the world over. (Have we been successful in living upto His expectations? is another question). Thus I first bow down to God.
I secondly bow down to the people who left their careers, families and laid down their lives for the independence of our country. My young readers in today’s times, it is difficult for us to imagine the situation or the battle at that time. Whom were we fighting against? A nation on whom the sun never set. Yet these people (freedom fighters) just selflessly offered themselves to the country without expecting. anything in return. Neither success, nor an expectation from Indians to remember their sacrifice. They just jumped into the burning fire of the independence struggle. A 16/17 year kid, Khudiram Bose, went to the gallows with a smile on his face. One 65/70 year man, Lala Lajpat Rai accepted the brunt of the English batons and gave up his life. A youth of an age of 30/35, Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar, accepted a two 50 year sentence in jail with a question “Will British Raj rule India for that much time?”. Our heads are held high even today while taking the names of Bhagatsingh, Rajguru and Sukhdev for their supreme sacrifice. Tatya Tope, Mangal Pandey, Vasudeo Balwant Phadke, Chandrasekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipinchandra Pal, these and many other names make us feel a sense of pride. Let us also not forget the women power of India. Their participation too was to the fullest. Rani Laxmibai, Kittur Rani Chenamma, Kalpana Dutt, Aruna Asaf Ali and many such brave women participated actively in this fight. We can go on and on with these names, but we will just pause here and now bow down to all the known and unknown freedom fighters.
Thirdly I bow down to the person who unified India, as it exists now, and for that he travelled to every nook and corner of India. He is called the Chanakya of Modern India. He integrated more than 500 big and small kingdoms into India with love and understanding and persuasion. Those which could not be pursuaded through understanding and love were then integrated in the way and language they understood well. The person is none other than, the most ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. If Congress was strong then, ready to listen to and follow the Gandhian way, it was because of Vallabhbhai Patel who went around meeting person to person, village to village, city to city to propogate the ideas and ideals of Congress then. It does not matter whether we honour this great man with Bharat Ratna (the highest civilian honour in India), but he is truly a gem produced by Mother India. It is with utmost sadness, Will we be able to understand the sacrifices this man has made? is a question that I leave to my reader to ponder over. Does India know the living generations of his family? The behaviour / treatment with the family of this great martyr makes one think, that did we fight for this? He did not have any expectations, agreed. But the question is that do we have any responsibility towards people like Sardar?
As the day is of celebrations, so is the day to sit back and think about a few things. Where do we stand? Where does Bharat stand today in the world? Are we the torch bearers of humanity for the world? Will only technological development and strong economic policy make us one? There was a time when the world recognised Bharat for its spiritual doctrines and borrowed from them. Swami Vivekanand and Gurudev Aurobindo were it’s guiding light. We had selfless social workers in Vinoba Bhave and Ravishankar Maharaj (Gujarat) who tirelessly worked towards the betterment of the society as a whole. Where are we today? Lest someone understand am against technological development, let me clarify that am not. But only technological development is not going us to lead unto overall development. Don’t we feel that we are taking care of just one part of the developmental process and ignoring others? We, Bharatiya will have to think holistically. That will help us regain our prosperity and respect. We will have to change the way we think. Will have to imbibe love and emotions for our country through our education system. If we do this today, then we will be able to see it’s fruits a few years later, cause change is slow.
Today we need to inculcate one’s love for his country and the pride of being an Bharatiya amongst all of us. We will have to study our true history for this. We will have to come out of the dogmas of left wingers and right wingers and think; write in that manner and live what we write and demonstrate. . त्यजेदेकं कुलस्यार्थे ग्रामस्यार्थे कुलं त्यजेत् । ग्रामं जनपदस्यार्थे आत्मार्थे पृथिवीं त्यजेत् ॥ (For the good of many, we will have to leave out one. For the good of the village we will have to leave out many. For the good of our country we will have to leave our village. And for self development and realisation, leave this worldly pleasures) We all have to rise above the narrow mindedness of selfishness, victory and listen to each and every citizen of India. We do not know, who will be guided by the God’s to suggest or speak the truth!
We will have to take all our decisions keeping Bharat and Her greatness in mind. We have done this before. The best example is our constituent assembly consisting of people coming from different areas, thoughts and leanings. Yet, for India, they all discussed, argued, debated and made unanimous decisions. Every person should know that it is his responsibility, our responsibility to run this country in a proper manner. To take care of it and to carry it forward on the path of progress is my responsibility, our responsibility. The day we realise this and are able to do this, will be the day when we will be democratic and independent in its true sense.
And for this, we will have to reach out to every nook and corner of Bharat. Reach out selflessly to each and every Bharatiya and develop a relationship based on love for our country. Will have to rekindle the fire of Spirituality with love and affection. That will be the rise of true nationalism. From that day onwards, India will again be a true torch bearer of humanity.
My readers, if we are unable to do this, let us all be helpful to people who are into it. If not helpful, let us appreciate the people who are trying to do it.
On this 74th Independence day, let us all pledge to contribute to Bharat in our own small ways, so that our Bharatmata would be happy and would also bless us with Her most valuable blessings.
Madhurashtakam is the sweetest description of the sweetness of child God, Shri Krishna by Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhcharya. Every body part and all the actions of Shri Krishna are sweet and by his sweet contact anything living or non-living becomes sweet. Whatever sweetness we see in this material world should be understood as a small fraction of the sweetness of Shri Krishna. So the devotees of Lord Krishna should continuously remember the butter stealing form of his. It is not possible to describe the sweetness of Madhurashtakam; probably it contains the sweetest eight verses written in worship of Lord Sri Krishna on this earth.
O Krishna! your words are sweet, your acts are sweet, your clothes are sweet, your bent posture is sweet, your movements are sweet, your roaming is sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥2 ॥
O Krishna! your flute is sweet, your garland is sweet, your hands are sweet, your feet are sweet, your dance is sweet, your friendship is sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥3 ॥
O Krishna! your songs are sweet, your drinking is sweet, your eating is sweet, your sleeping is sweet, your beauty is sweet, your mark of forehead is sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥4 ॥
O Krishna! your deeds are sweet, your floating is sweet, your act of stealing is sweet, your love is sweet, your words are sweet, your silence is sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥5 ॥
O Krishna! your berries are sweet, your garland is sweet, your river Yamuna is sweet, her waves are sweet, her water is sweet, her lotus are sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥6 ॥
O Krishna! your Gopis are sweet, your playing is sweet, with them you are sweet, without them you are sweet, your glance is sweet, your manners are sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥ 7 ।।
O Krishna! your friends are sweet, your cows are sweet, your stick is sweet, your creation is sweet, your destruction is sweet, your boons are sweet. O Lord of sweetness! everything about you is sweet only. ॥ 8॥
Now what is given here is the literal translation of the words and verses written. We need to dwell upon every word and find out the reason why Mahaprabhu has written every word and through his learn the Krishna way of life.
After talking about learning and parenting in my last two blogs on Krishna Janmashtami day, today wanna look at all together another aspect of Krishna. His relation with his family. Am going to quote only two poems (pad) written by Surdasji, for the same and leave it upto my reader to find their meaning.
मैं नहिं माखन खायो
मैया! मैं नहिं माखन खायो।
ख्याल परै ये सखा सबै मिलि मेरैं मुख लपटायो॥
देखि तुही छींके पर भाजन ऊंचे धरि लटकायो।
हौं जु कहत नान्हें कर अपने मैं कैसें करि पायो॥
मुख दधि पोंछि बुद्धि इक कीन्हीं दोना पीठि दुरायो।
डारि सांटि मुसुकाइ जशोदा स्यामहिं कंठ लगायो॥
बाल बिनोद मोद मन मोह्यो भक्ति प्राप दिखायो।
सूरदास जसुमति को यह सुख सिव बिरंचि नहिं पायो॥
This is a pad written by Surdas describing the act of stealing curds by Shree Krishna. And when caught by the mother, Jashoda, the different reasons given by Lala how curd is seen on his face.
Another pad where Surdasji describes Krishna’s question to his mother Jashoda, regarding the colour of her skin and His skin. And how it has become a point of mischief for his friends. A beautiful pad explaining the relation of Krishna, his brother Balaram and mother Yashoda
मैया मोहि दाऊ बहुत खिझायौ ।
मोसौ कहत मोल कौ लीन्हौ, तू जसुमति कब जायौ ?
कहा करौं इहि रिस के मारैं खेलन हौं नहिं जात ।
पुनि-पुनि कहत कौन है माता को है तेरौ तात ॥
गोरे नंद जसोदा गोरी, तू कत स्यामल गात ।
चुटुकी दै-दै ग्वाल नवावत, हँसत, सबै मुसुकात ॥
तू मोही कौं मारन सीखी, दाउहि कबहुँ न खीझै ।
मोहन-मुख रिस की ये बातैं, जसुमति सुनि-सुनि रीझै ॥
सुनहु कान्ह, बलभद्र चबाई, जनमत ही कौ धूत ।
सूर स्याम मोहि गोधन की सौं, हौं माता तू पूत ॥
All I want to say is that Krishna, the Divinity Himself, came to earth to guide us, Humanity, on how to live life. Instead of studying and understanding that, we are just interested in dancing, singing and making pyramids to break the pot of curd hanging at great heights. Am not against any form of celebration cause I myself too participate in it, but cannot leave such a great life, limited only to these things.
On this day of Janmashtami, I bow to Krishna, the Purnavtaar, for guiding mankind, on how to live through his life.
I bow to Krishna for giving us Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta, a guide to lead a better life.
I bow to Krishna for accepting us as we are and leading us on the oath of finding oneself.
येन बद्धो बलि राजा, दानवेन्द्रो महाबल। तेन त्वाम् प्रतिबद्ध्नामि रक्षे मा चल मा चल ॥
(O Brother! I tie you (towards your responsibilities) in the same way the King Bali was tied to, by his sister, Goddess Lakshmi. And pray that you may not waver from your path of responsibilities).
Am in two minds from many days whether to write or not on this caring and a beautiful relation. The great poet Valmiki too has refrained from describing Ram’s relation with his sister, Shanta. (Many of my readers may not that Ram too had a sister.) And Vyas too has not written any details about relations shared by Krishna – Balram – Subhadra or 105 Kuru Princes – Dushyala. If these great poets refrain to describe this relation, then I am just a student of this great culture and civilisation. At the same time, it is a relation which I want to write on and let the new generation also know and understand the real meaning behind this relation.
फूलों का तारों का, सबका कहना है एक हज़ारों में मेरी बहना है सारी, उमर, हमें संग रहना
I love these lines as they convey my feelings, or rather every brothers feelings towards his sister/s. Sister is the one and only relation where we can have fun and share what we like and don’t. She takes care of her brother as a protective Mother. She is a guiding force to her brothers. And so She is unique amongst the thousands of women on this Mother Earth.
This relationship is truly unique as there is a Day celebrated for it in our culture. We have Matrudin and Rakshabandhan. Both these festivals celebrate the most important and valued relations in our lives. It is considered a matter of pride to be a brother to a sister. It’s a truly selfless relation which needs to be taken care of and enjoyed.
Then why tie a Raksha (thread) around Brothers wrist? The understanding today is that the sister asks for her brothers protective covering. The brother would help and protect his sister in times of need. I feel this thought become the line of thinking during the last 1000 years of foreign rule. Our women needed to be protected from the foreigners and so who, but her brother. Question that arises to my mind is that in case of married man, what will he do for his wife? And a larger picture today is that woman today is herself quite qualified to take care of herself. And keeping this fact in mind, this festival will loose it’s sheen slowly and fade into memories in the coming years, if this would be our understanding. Or it will become just a ritual or a formality.
This festival is basically not for protection of women, but to develop an understanding amongst men on how to look towards women. Rather what should be a man’s attitude towards a woman. ‘Every other women, other than my mother and wife is like a sister to me,’ is what the festival wants to convey. The sister applying tilak on brothers forehead is giving him this understanding. It’s a third eye (tilak) for the brother through whose lens he learns to see every other woman as his sister. The thread around his hand conveys that the brother promises the same and promises not to deviate from this outlook or path (मा चल मा चल). It’s a Bandhan (commitment) that he is accepting. Hope, my readers atleast will understand this and try to inculcate this understanding in their lives.
I know am talking to a generation which asks “Can a boy and girl just not be friends?”, “My sister is my best friend.” I truly sometimes wonder whether todays generation thinks beyond friends and about the relations they have got. I personally have no such problems with their questions but do they think before they ask is what I ponder over later. My dear readers, let us all learn to enjoy every relation that we have got. Try to understand them and live in that way. And my question is if you both can be friends, then what’s the problem in accepting the girl as your sister or the boy as your brother. I leave this thought for you to think, discuss and debate.
God! Let my bond with my Sister be strengthened more in this coming year and let things get done from me, which will make Her happy.
Today is Shitla Saptami. It is the day of non cooking. Food is prepared one day before (yesterday) and is savoured today. Yesterday had its own significance too.
Yesterday was Randhan Chaatth (the day of cooking). It is the day of cooking the best delicacies possible and yeah at the same time, the ones which we can savour the next day. The women of the household start the preparations early morning itself. At some villages in Saurashtra, the women get together to cook. They sing and enjoy this whole process. Some households also offer this food as Prasad to the Annapoorna. This festival (It cannot be called a festival as it is more a gathering) of cooking is always awaited during the year.
Some of my readers may feel it unhygenic to eat food cooked a day before. But frankly we all love cold food. Especially many foods like Khichadi and foods made from spices tastes great when eaten, the next day after preparation. But it is unhygenic and unhealthy to eat it. So our Rishis have kept one day in the whole year when we can satisfy our urge to eat food cooked overnight through this festival. People who regularly eat canned foods need to understand the healthy habits inherent in daily cooked food.
In the morning, the lady of the household, wakes up early and worships the stove. She makes a swastik with red vermilion and put a twig of a mango tree over it as an offering. The mango twig signifies sweetness and it is believed that it imparts coolness. The lady prays to the stove to help her cook food which will be sweet to eat and impart coolness to the digestive system of the one who eats it. Many families chant “Annapoornastotram” as a prayer to the Goddess of Food, who provides and feeds us everyday.
Apart from this, it is also a way of expressing our gratitude to the stove / gas burner who burns the whole year for giving us food. This whole day, the stove is not lit. In our way, we would say that’s it’s a holiday for the stove. It is one way of looking at the presence of Chaitanya in non-living too.
Also it is day to worship Goddess Shitla, the Goddess of cleanliness and health. Goddess Shitala is represented as a young maiden crowned with a winnowing-fan, riding a donkey, holding a short broom (either to spread or dust off germs) and a pot full of pulses (the viruses) or cold water (a healing tool). Sometimes, she is said to be carrying a bunch of neem leaves, a herb used throughout India since ancient times that is believed by some to be an effective remedy to most skin diseases to this day. And so even today in India we keep neem leaves around the patient suffering from Chicken pox. And after 5/7 days, parents take their kids for a darshan of Shitla Mata and worship Her and thank Her for curing the child of the disease. (Medicines are administered regularly, but it is a matter of faith and gratitude towards nature). (Also reading reports nowadays that Neem is effective as a precautionary measure of Covid – 19). On this day, we are expected to offer our gratitude to the broom and every other object which helps to keep our food and surroundings clean. Some people do worship the broom and the winnow on this day.
In these days of Covid-19, hope we Indians atleast understand the importance of cleanliness of ones house, kitchen and surroundings. Also personal hygiene, today signified by taking a bath after coming from outside or back from work; or washing hands after coming from outside was a must in the olden days. These were not habits which consumed time or we did not use any tissues to rub, but it was a compulsory wash which was required. Even today there are many households where the lady of the house does not touch the utensils of her kitchen without taking a bath. There is nothing religious in it, but hygiene. Our Rishis were great enough to male such practices part of our day to day life through activities and giving a religious connotation to it.
Shitala is the also considered as the form of Goddess Katyayani. She gives coolness to the patients of fever. According to Devi Mahatmya when a demon named Jvarasura gave bacterial fever to all the children, Goddess Katyayani came in the form of Shitala to purify children’s blood and to destroy the bacteria of fever in blood. In Sanskrit ‘Jwar’ means “fever” and ‘Shital‘ means “coolness“. She is worshipped all over India by different names.
These days are of showers. Showers heavy and light keep the atmosphere clean and cool. The combination of the showers and these festivals are like a combination of lime and jaggery. They are both good for health and taste.
On these days,
Let us learn to inculcate a feeling of gratitude towards even towards the smallest of the things which make out lives healthy and better.
Let us learn to keep our surroundings clean and keep ourselves clean and healthy, free from diseases.
Let us know our ancestors and their vision and their efforts to keep us civilised.
Today we talk and understand, the Vedic way of expressing ones gratitude to Nature. We believe that God resides in everything. Rather it is the will and wish of God, that He created us, the non living and the living. We both co-exist. We believe (even science today believes) that we have come from the non-living. Science believes that there is ‘chetan’ (atoms) in everything and we believe that there is ‘chaitanya'(God) in everything. The Theory of evolution as suggested by Darwin has already been proposed many thousand years back by us in the form of 10 avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu.
So with this broad outlook we will look into the festival of Nag Panchami (नाग पंचमी) being celebrated today. It is a festival celebrated to worship the Serpents. The serpents are representatives of the reptile world.
As civilisation thrived, we had to cut down forests to make big towns and cities to accommodate more and more people. We knowingly had to drive out the reptiles from their natural habitats. As these reptiles cannot speak and express their emotions to us, for a few time they must have resisted but after finding their fight futile, they sacrificed their homes and went deeper into the jungles.
Our Rishis had a great intellect and an emotional heart. They felt that we need to express our gratitude to this class of animals who are sacrificing their homes for Humans. So they inculcated this practise of celebrating Naag Panchami.
On the occasion of Nag Panchami also want to talk about, the Naga people and Naglok, and giving a broader cultural and social outlook towards the society at large.
Were Nag people humans? Were they part of India? Yes 100%. They were humans and they were a part of India. We have had social and cultural relations with all the different tribes which exist in India even today.
Even today, in modern India, we have the Nagaland. The people residing there are called Nagas. It is just one tribe residing there, from many.
From our history we are all familiar with Vasuki, the serpent King. Just feel like sharing an anecdote about Him. Vasuki has played an important part during the churning of the ocean. Vasuki took part in the incident of churning of the ocean (samudra manthan) by allowing both the devas and the asuras to bind him to Mount Mandar, which was used as a blender in the churning of the ocean to extract “amrut” (nectar). Today it is found that Mount Mandaar or Mandar Hill or Mandar Parvat, as it is popularly known, is located in Banka District, in the State of Bihar in India. A the temple of Lord Shiva, called Vasukinath, literally meaning “the Lord of Vasuki”, is just a few kilometres away from Mandar Parvat, in the State of Jharkhand, in Dumka District.
I believe that this is my countries history and the Serpent King must have played an important part during the debates and discussion which the Devas and the Asuras had during the yesterday years. All these serpents, devas and Asuras were basically humans but names of different types of people who got their names from their characteristics. And the Serpents must have been the anchors of the debate or discussion which took place between the Devas and the Asuras.
Lord Krishna in His celestial song, Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta has called the serpent Vasuki as one His “vibhuti’s.” सर्पाणामस्मि वासुकि: (Amongst the serpents, am Vasuki. And it is this Vasuki, which can be seen around the neck of the lord or lords, Mahadev.
We know and have read about the Nagalok and how Arjun was married to a Nagkanya Ulupi, who gave him a son Iravan, who had participated in the Mahabharat war. And also a reference to that when Bheem, the second Pandav, was poisoned in his childhood and was drowned into a river, it was the Nag people who had saved him. Bheem’s strength is attributed to the potions given to him by them.
So friends, Nag people have been an integral part of our civilisation from years and we have had cultural and social relationships with them. We might have adopted this Nag pooja from them.
So, my readers, our festivals have a divine but cultural and social outlook too, which we need to understand and not laugh upon them. The westerners may call us the land of serpents, but we are far more ahead in our understanding about nature and humans, unlike them. Hence, we need to develop our own understanding about all our festivals.
Yes, I wrote the month of Shraavan and not the holy month of Shraavan as in our tradition all the months are holy. Who can decide which God of the trinity is superior? Shiv, Vishnu or Brahma? None as they all have their work decided for the and they just follow. So if someone says a particular God is more important and not another, then it’s the impression of the medieval thought that has become prevalent after the rise of Christianity and Islam.
I do not want to belittle even those schools of thought, but what I want to convey is that superiority was never a question which the Vedics had to answer or even tried to answer, as they knew very well that every work / thought has its importance. They believe in
“आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः।”
– Let all the good thoughts from all over the world come to me
And so Bharat never had a problem with welcoming Zorastrians, Arabs or the English. Nor did it have a problem with the rise of Jainism or Buddhism in Bharat itself. Rather it opened up its arms and accepted them with warmth and an open mind.
Let’s come back to our topic of Shraavan. Actually the farmer is now done with his sowing work and now he needs to take care of his growing crops and nurture them. His family is very busy with all this work. And lest they forget the indwelling God or the omnipresence of God in their work, our Rishis must have given these festivals to celebrate so that Work centered life returns / comes back to God centered.
Through these festivals, the Rishis want to inculcate a feeling of Reverence for the Creation and through them, Reverence for the Creator. At the same time, the utilitarian attitude or selfish attitude of humans should also be God centered. So a slow bit gradual change is expected in Humans while celebrating these festivals.
Yesterday I wrote about Deep Amaavasya. The new moon day is considered unlucky by many but the Rishis have given 4 festivals on all 4 amaavasyas of the Chaturmaas. Yesterday was Deep Amaavasya, next would be Matrudin, later Sarva Pitra Amaavasya and last one is Diwali. All 4 festivals have their own importance and also have tried to explain the importance of the festival culturally and emotionally. They do have a spiritual connect but I still have to develop that outlook, understanding and depth.
So next few days will keep sharing about the festivals during these months.
Today is a Tuesday. Shravan Tuesdays hold a different connotation for the newly married women of Maharashtra, especially amongst the women of Konkan. It is the day of “Mangala Gaur Pujan”. It is also known as “Sharavan Mangala Gaur Pujan”. The newly wed girl comes back to stay with her parents for the month of Asadh. Then on one of the Shravan Tuesdays, this puja is performed. The puja is for her well being.
It’s a time for the women of the family to come together and celebrate. Women play the whole night after the puja. The games are itself delightful yet completely physical as it would be evident from the pitcures see above. The women folk are fit and fine and play these games with festivities, laughter and a sense of competition. It’s a time to forget everything and just engross oneself in the game.
After this puja, the girl can now return to her in-laws. This puja is done for 5 years. The next 4 puja’s are performed at the in-laws place itself. At the end of the 5th year, the girl gifts her mother a pot full of cereals. A way to celebrate for the newly wed at her own place till she adjusts herself at her in-laws. Also a time to be oneself cause the bride would still be formal at her in laws but not at home. Just a way to help her adjust slowly to the new environment.
So as we can see that our Rishis have taken a lot of pain to understand the psyche of the people and given us these festivals. We will try to understand this outlook through my blogs in the coming days.
Today is the last day of Asadh as celebrated here in Western India. It is the last day of the month. But for the Northern India it is the 15th day of the 2nd month of Chaturmaas ie Shraāvan. (Why so? is another topic of research and study). In Western India, a month begins after Amaāvasya whereas in Northern India, Amaāvasya is in the middle of the month. So it is Amaāvasya (No / New Moon Day) today all around India.
Today is Deep Amaāvasya. The day to clean all the Diyas (earthern lamps) made of copper, steel, silver and gold. (Or any other metal) All the used and the unused Diyas are thoroughly cleaned today. And then in the evening time, they all are lit with rangolis (geometrical design with different colours) drawn around it. The Diyas are then worshipped and offered flowers. And the family members then share sweets with each other.
The worship has its own significance. It is spreading light in our lives and the lives of others too. Light is considered auspicious. It removes the darkness from the outer world and at the same time enlightens the inner self. We, Indians, light a Diya everyday and say the following shlokas invoking the blessings of the Gods :
शुभं करोति कल्याणं आरोग्यं धनसंपदः । शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥
दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योति जनार्दनः । दीपो हरतु मे पापं दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥
(I bow to the Light, which brings abundance and prosperity of Health, and wealth and which destroys the intelligent enemy [darkness]…
It is you O Light! That is the creator and the operator and you will lead me to light away from sins, so I bow down unto you…)
The Mother Goddess (Shakti) is also symbolised by a burning flame of a diya. Fire helps the mother cook the food. At the same time, they both symbolise energy. And so one of the names of the mother is “Shakti”. Will deal upon it in some later blog.
Lastly am reminded of a short story (or maybe it’s a poem). The Sun is ready to set. The Sun asks everyone in the Universe that who will take his place and give light to the world in his absence? No one answers. A small earthen lamp moves upto him and humbly says, that it might not be as large as the Sun and may not have enough energy to lighten up the world but it will try to lighten up the area around, in which it is kept. This makes the Sun very happy. It signifies the importance of small things in life. However small may one be, with determination one can do the work done by the great ones.
Also I understand the Sun as God and the earthern lamp as Humanity. The Human being promises to be His representation in this Universe and it is his/her responsibility to lighten up the world. So let us all try to be small and humble Diya’s and try to enlighten our lives and the lives of the people around us.
Wish you all a Shubh Deep Amaavasyaa.
Tommorrow onwards is the month of Shraāvan. A month of Devotion and Festivals. Naag Panchami, Shitla Saptami, Janmashtami and many others.
Have decided to write a series during these months of monsoon on the different festivals we celebrate. Will write about the known ones and the lesser known ones too as I have done today. Will try to keep them as short as possible.
Wish you all, my readers, a very Happy Vruskshmandir Din, Madhav Vrund Din and Yuva Din.
All 3 festivals celebrated by the Swadhyay Pariwaar, across the globe, on the same day, ie today, 12th of July. These 3 days also coincide with the birthday of the current head or the Elder Sister of Swadhyay Pariwaar, Revered Dhanashree Athavale – Talwalkar. She happens to be my mentor and guide too. Will write about the parivaar and its founder Revered Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale (Dadaji – elder brother in Marathi) in another blog some day.
Today wanna talk about the outlook that they both have inculcated into thousands of lives in India and abroad.
The Vedic philosophy believes in the 4 basic principles –Reverence for self, -Reverence for others, –Reverence for Nature; and –Reverence for the Creator.
The Creator himself resides within me as He, Himself said so in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta. “सर्वस्यचाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो ।” sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 15 श्लोक 15 (I reside in every heart) So am divine. In the same way, He resides in every heart. So there is no question of looking down upon others too.
And goes a step forward to say, “अश्वत्थ: सर्ववृक्षाणाम् ।” Ashwathaha sarva vrukshaanaam श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 10 श्लोक 26 (Am the Banyan among the trees) So if the Creator Himself says so, the Nature is divine too. Then how can I even think of harming it!
But Human mind based on reasoning and scientific attitude talks about the need of tree or a cow once it loses it sheen as an object of utility. And slowly loses the feeling of reverence for everything, that has been inculcated in his or her childhood. I need to clarify that am not against the usage of things and objects in our lives, but at the same time it is distressing to see Humans become so emotionless towards fellow human beings, fellow living creatures and nature.
At such a time of distress, comes a Great Man (Human history is full of such great people) who takes us back to our roots and makes us understand to water them, and not bereave them from water. They come out of Law of Universal Necessity, and not out of Law of Attraction and Repulsion or Law of Karma. They teach the Universe about the morals and ethics of life and show the right path to tread on.
Param Pujaniya Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale, Dadaji, is one such person. He explains that people, that is we, look towards nature with a sense of Utility or a sense of Objectivity (being beautiful). But He further explains that we Humans who can think and reason and feel, should move a step ahead and try to find and see the divinity within everything. It is based on this thought that He has given an experiment called Vrukhsmandir (A temple of forests).
Swadhyayees from 20 villages around plant trees in a barren land. Take care of them as family members and grow them. As it is a community work, no one is the owner of the produce. It’s rightful owner is God, Himself. It may sound like some social experiment, but my readers I should draw your attention to the fact that it is purely divine. Everyone who participates here is learning to see God, even in the trees. Through this, I feel, that Shashtriji has revived the feeling of Reverence towards Nature. There are 27 such Vrukshmandirs in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
And for this novel experiment of Vrikshmandirs, Shashtriji has been awarded the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshmitra Award too.
It is an experiment which does have social impact, but Shashtriji explains and propounds that, we do plant trees and take care of them, but we are not environmentalist, we are ‘Bhakts’ (devotees). There are so many instances where lives of people going to Vruskhmandirs have changed and this is the basic idea of what Shashtriji wants to do. He further explains, that if we see changes in the mindset of the society or a positive attitude develops towards nature, for society as a whole, then it is the ‘side effect’ of this experiment. The Vrukshmandir is basically for a human to look into himself and change. This is Swadhyay.
Similarly, the people living in metro cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru or Kolkatta and Delhi and in town and cities have been encouraged to plant a small shrub at home to develop a healthy and a divine attitude towards Nature. Everyday morning, the family members get together and water the plant and utter the ‘Narayanopanishad’ while watering. Two small changes can happen. One is that the family comes closer and their bonding collectively with nature too increases. Singing the Narayanopanishad helps develop the understanding of seeing Narayan, ie God in the tree or sapling planted at home.
This understanding based on the thoughts of Bhakti has transformed lives of people and families. Created a sense of unity amongst society. And yes, indirectly helped in environment conservation too.
Shastriji has also asked upon Swadhyayees to conserve water at home, in fields and in lakes around their villages. Swadhyay parivaar has built thousands of lakes and check dams across many states in India. They call them ‘Nirmal Neer’. Also many Swadhyayees have taken upto rain water harvesting in their individual houses and many villagers have started helping in recharging the ground water levels through an experiment of “Shosh Khadda” (a pit that helps absorb kitchen water into the ground).
My readers might have a question that even after doing all this, we have never heard about it. Because both, Shashtriji and His daughter are of the firm belief that we have to go and share such ideas with people personally. First develop a relationship and then share. It is not a system but their conviction that changes are desirable in the minds of the people. The moment they realise and develop a bond with their God within, then a small Human can do big things. It is this firm belief that has kept the Parivaar together. And so they keep away from Media. There has been no such media propaganda of the ground work that they have done.
Today, also happens to be the birthday of Dhanashree Didi (Didi – elder sister). She has been nurturing the Parivaar with lots of love, warmth and affection. The way She connects with people through Her talks and action is just unbelievable. For people who dont know Her, they would feel that am just exaggerating. So even I would say that Seeing is believing. I have seen it and I believe it.
She has taken a lot of efforts to gather all the different pearls (people of different states, linguistic preferences, castes, creed, nationaities) into a single thread. The youth, in particular, will remain indebted to Her for generations to come. According to the wishes of Dadaji, She has organised the youth and given them dynamic activities through which the generation of today understand the morals, ethics and more importantly, the nearness of God. So the youth on Her birthday, celebrate Yuva Din (Youth Day). It is a way of expressing their Gratitude to both these ‘ Mahamaanavs.’
At the end, I pray to God that
May He, help us to develop strong bondings amongst Humans that these binds transcend faith and uplift Humanity.
May He, help us develop the understanding of oneness with Nature and the Universe as a whole.
May He, take us closer to Himself and bless us with understanding of oneness with God.
Moras Bhaji is a beautiful salty succulent that grows in damp regions like mangroves, dunes, beaches, etc which is mostly available during early monsoons.
It is a perennial creeper with small thick flat leaves. The size of the leaves goes up to 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length.
It is considered as a Halophyte. Halophytes are salt tolerant plants that grow in waters with high salinity, such as mangrove swamps, marshes, seashores and saline semi deserts. Only two percent of the plant species found on the earth are Halophytes.
The reason I planned to write about Moras as I came to know about its importance and use in one of the ‘Vrats’ (penance) done by the unmarried girls of a small age, in Gujarat. It is called “Molakaat”. The girls stay away from use of salt in food for 5 days. It is unimaginable for people like me who like a pinch (a bit large) of salt in their food. But the girls do dedicatedly follow the rules and abstain from salt.
Here is where Moras comes in. As it is rich in salt, some girls consume it during these 5 days. As the vrat coincides with the onset of monsoons, Moras is also available in plenty. They consume Moras in the form of theplas, parathas or falafels. They are very delicious to taste and are eaten by all in the family. Many a girls even abstain from consuming these.
But overall, I was just thinking about the vrats have been made to coincide with the seasons so my Namaskaars to the people who have come up with these novel ideas to make us learn some control in life too.
Well, I was very happy to consume the falafels made at home, which have left a taste to savour more. Will ask everyone of my readers to find out more such local delicacies and enjoy them during this lockdown…
A question mark bowing down to an exclamation mark. It’s mind boggling.
At the same time Awesome. Beautiful. Creative.
It wholly explains the openness of Vedic literature in a simple yet lucid manner. Vedas have always given an impetus to asking questions. “Veda” itself means “to know“. This is has been and should be the underlying principle of development of the Human, His soul and the entire Human race.
Who am I?
Where have I come from?
What do I have to do?
Why am I chosen to play my part?
How do I do it?
need to be asked by one and all. Everyone might find a different answer to these questions. But the end result is the salvation of the soul from this circle of life and death.
The quest is the road from life to death to life, till the soul finds it’s rightful place. The day when the soul gets to sit in the lap of God, as “Dhruv” has found it. As many others have found it.
Some go to the extent of saying that stick to a thought and live your life with it and accordingly and you will find your salvation. Though I am no one to disagree with these Great souls, I feel that it is not possible. Say for example Mahatma Gandhi. By sticking to the lone principle of Ahimsa, he might have earned the title of a Mahatma, but if someone tells me that his soul was liberated due to this, is what I am not ready to believe. (Pls try to understand what I want to say and do not argue or counter argue on the example given. It can be anyone else.) I just want to convey that the development has to be whole, entire, complete.
Coming back to the quest, what I am fascinated by is the last question “How do I do it?”. There is no particular answer to this question. It will be varied. A “few” may find their own way to do it. They are the ones who have come, or rather, been sent to Mother Earth out of Law of Universal Necessity. The “many” need to follow them, do what they do and say what they say. Again accepting the master or a teacher is a human choice.
This is where I loved the picture, as for common people like me or rather us, we all need to bow down to these great people of wisdom – accept them as our Teachers, Guru…
Bowing down is to find the answers to our questions.
Bowing down is to signify the acceptance of their being a step ahead of us in the quest of develooment.
Bowing down means ” समर्पण”. I offer myself and my life to you and please guide me.
Bowing down means having full faith in the person we bow down to, after testing and questioning and reasoning every word the person has said.
Bowing down means merging our life into his and walk onto his path.
Here the questions rest.
Here the quest for development not only through thought but action begins.
Here we tread on the path to become an enlightened researcher.
As Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta propounds “बुधा भावसमन्विताः।” (Chapter 10 Verse 8) (a combination of Intellect and Emotions), this can be the only way to find the answers to our questions.
So my readers, let us begin this journey and be blessed by the right teachers who show us the path on which we need to tread on.
असित-गिरि-समं स्यात् कज्जलं सिन्धु-पात्रे। सुर-तरुवर-शाखा लेखनी पत्रमुर्वी।। लिखति यदि गृहीत्वा शारदा सर्वकालं। तदपि तव गुणानामीश पारं न याति।।
Pushpadant in his Shiv Mahimna Stotra has written this Shlok for the Lord. It translates thus:
O Lord! Even if we make paper of the land mass present on earth and ink from the water of her oceans, use the trees as a pen and if Saraswati, intelligence personified, sit backs to write about you for the time infinite, then too, it’s a mammoth and daunting task to describe all your qualities.
Today is Vyas Poornima. People celebrate it as Guru Poornima. Indian culture / civilisation personifies God in the form of a Guru. To lead and follow a spiritual life, a guru is needed. Kabirji in one of his doha’s (couplets) describes the importance of guru thus
गुरु गोविंद दोऊ खड़े, काके लागूं पाय। बलिहारी गुरु आपकी, गोविंद दियो बताय।।
Both the Guru and the Lord are standing in front of me and am confused whom should I bow down to first?.
The next line can be translated in two ways:
1. As you, my Guru, have shown me this form of the Lord, I bow down to you first
2. You being my Guru, pointed to the Lord saying, bow at His feet first.
It’s such a beautiful feeling that Kabirji has expressed stating that both the interpretations can be right. As they both, the Lord and Guru are no different.
Ved Vyas is the son of Rishi Parashar and Satyavati, a fisherwomen. The story goes that Rishi Parashar was in a hurry to reach a “Yaag” and had to cross a river to reach the other side. At that time, it was Satyavati who helped him cross the river. In lieu, Rishi Parashar gave her a mantra to beget a son. He also told her that the son would be very intelligent and no one would compare to him in intelligence. Satyavati at that moment invoked the mantra and conceived a child. The boy when born was called “Krishna” as he had black skin. The child was born on an island so was known as “Krishna Dwaipayan” (Dwaipayan – island born). [There may be other stories about the birth of Vyas, and I leave it upto my reader to decide which they like, but one thing is a fact that he was a son of Parashar and Satyavati].
As Krishna grew into an adult, he left Satyavati and promised her to return whenever she needed him. He gained knowledge from the four Kumar’s, Muni Narad and Brahma, Himself. After acquiring his education, he took upon a great task of bifurcating the Veda mantras.
Till then, the Vedas were all one. Krishna took upon him the task of understanding each mantra and started dividing them into Rigved, Yajurved and Samved. Rigved has all the mantra’s invoking Mother Nature and the Gods. Yajurved has mantra’s describing rituals and the technical modalities of performing them. Samved has the same mantra’s of Rigved (a few are different), but they are written in a meter and so can be sung.
It is easy for me to describe in three sentences the work he has done. But to be fair and to give you, my readers a fair idea about the volume of work, am just quoting one figure. Rigved had 12/13 shakhas of which only 2 are available today. The available 2 shakhas have more than 10000 mantras. It was a mammoth task. Also it was Krishna, who with a large heart accepted Tantra and Medicine as Vidya and clubbed them together to make a fourth Ved, Atharvaved. It covers many topics from the duties of the king to a common house holder. (Courtesy – Kanhaiyalal Munshi) The contribution of Krishna Dwaipayan cannot be put into words but due to his effort, people started calling him “Ved Vyas”. (One who has bifurcated the Vedas). He is considered by many as the incarnation of the Trinity, of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
अचतुर्वदनो ब्रह्मा द्विबाहुरपरो हरिः ।
अभाललोचनः शम्भुर्भगवान् बादरायणः।।
(He does not have 4 heads yet He is Brahma, He has just two hands yet He is Vishnu, He does not have a third eye, yet He is Shiv, He is none other than Bhagwaan Badrayan)
After his work was complete, which includes the writing of many Upanishads, he has written the 18 Puranas of which Bhagwat Puran is very famous and known to us. He wrote these Puranas as he realised that what he has written is difficult for a common man to understand. So he has written all the thoughts of Vedas and Upanishads as short stories. This is the height of intelligence when one starts thinking about all this mammoth work.
The one thing I should also mention is about Brahma Sutra. A collection of 555 sutras (aphorisms) in which is said to have compiled the whole philosophy of life. Brahma Sutra is associated with Badrayan as Vyas is also sometimes addressed as. It is said that the island in which he was born was covered with “Badara” (ber/ Indian Jujube) and so the name.
Last but not the least, Mahabharat. It is said to cover every relation and emotion under the sun. It has always attracted researchers from every field, be it historical, social, pshycological, archaeological and many more. It is said that when Vyas invited Ganesh to write the Mahabharat, Ganesh put forward a condition that Vyas will not stop when dictating the story. To which Vyas replied that he will not, but Ganesh too will first understand what is being told and then write. And so was written the Mahabharat of which Shreemad Bhagwadgeeta was the heart.
The Prasthantrayi of Upanishads, the Shreemad Bhagwadgeeta and the Brahmasutra is a gift to this world from Ved Vyas. All the Acharyas have written their commentaries on the three. The Trayi holds a very pious place in the Vedic culture.
It is very difficult to write all the work, in one blog cause as a point is written, a new thought arises which can be written about Ved Vyas. So on this auspicious day, believed to be his birthday and also the day when He completed and gave to the world the 4 Veds, I just bow down to Him with humility.
One last thing I wanted to share with my readers some of whom are my students too. I know that we all feel indebted to our school and tution teachers, rather we all should. But today is not the day to wish them. For them, in India, we celebrate 5th September as the Teacher’s Day. Today is a day to bow down to those teachers (guru) who have taught us how to lead a good and humane life and who leads us onto the path of spiritual development. The wishes should be “Guru Poornima ke Namaskaar” or “Bow down to you on this auspicious day of Guru Poornima”.
Let’s end with the Namaskaars to Lord Krishna as he is Jagadguru in the words of Ved Vyas, himself,
On the 11th day of the month of Asaadh, the Gods are put to sleep. This day is widely celebrated across India as Devshayani Ekadashi. (Do they sleep? Can we exist without them? is another question) But it is such a beautiful concept of “Sagun Bhakti” (Idol worship). As I sleep, so does my God. And our rishi’s have given a thought about people’s pshycology. The agrarian people will be busy with their work in the fields and will not be able to take care of the rituals associated with God’s. So the best way is to put Them to sleep. In this way, people can just concentrate on their work and give it 100% and at the same time do not feel bad or gulity about not doing their regular rituals and religious practises.
It is being celebrated today on 1st of July, this year, without any fanfare, in every simple manner, at Pandharpur, the residing place of Lord Vitthal or Pandurang. Otherwise, normally, Lacs of waarkari’s converge at the banks of Chandrabhagaa river and visit the deity residing in the temple. The waari ( वारी) as called in Marathi begins some 15/20 days before the Ekadashi. The devotees carry the Paduka’s (wooden sandals) of the great saints Tukaram from Dehu and Dnyaneshwar from Alandi, their birth places to Pandharpur for the Darshan of their Lord.
The roads are filled with the chants of
‘DNYANOBA MAULI TUKARAM”
“NIVRUTTI DNYANDEV SOPAN MUKTABAI,
EKNATH NAMDEO TUKARAM”.
All of them converge at Pandharpur on the day before Ekadashi. It is a divine trip from home to the temple, signifying the upliftment of the physical body to the spiritual soul. There are many waarkaris who have been taking this trip for years or from generations now. Their zest and enthusiasm irrespective of age and gender cannot be appreciated, but we can just offer them our ‘Namaskaars’.
The best thing about Warkari’s is that there is no distinction between caste or creed, rich or poor, King or layman and male and female. Not even between the child and the older people. They call each other ‘Mauli‘ and bow down to everyone whom they meet. It is a heartening picture to see a husband bowing down to his wife and a father bowing down to his son. The basic thought behind it is that I bow down to the God (Mauli – Mother) within you.
The saints Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, Namdeo, Eknath, Gora Kumbhar, Chokha Mela, Muktabai and many others have done a tremendous work through this Bhakti movement in Maharashtra during the Mughal rule. They have visited hut to hut and touched the hearts of many a people and taken their Pandurang into the last person of the society.
Who is this Pandurang?
Who is this Vitthal?
Why does He stand with Hands onto his waist?
He is none other than Krishna who has travelled all the way from Dwarka to meet His Devotee Pundalik. Pundalik is the only son of two parents who have taken utmost care in his upbringing. Pundalik is a “ananya bhakt” of Krishna. He is spreading the word of Krishna to the people around him. His karmayog (work) is very big, but sadly lost today to history. When Shree Krishna hears about Pundalik and his work, He feels an urge to meet him. He rushes to Pandharpur in His chariot. The dusty roads make the dust stick to the skin of Shree Krishna. The already ‘Shyam’ (black) Krishna gets a new skin colour due to this dust. Hence He is called “Pandurang”.
When Krishna reaches the doors of Pundalik, He calls him out. It is said that Pundalik is busy with taking care of his parents, so throws a brick (eint) towards Him and asks him to wait. So Lord Pandurang puts His hands on His waist and waits for Pundalik to come out to meet him. Now this sounds a little weird to us. A devotee would never make his God to wait. Even the parents of Pundalik would have rushed out to meet Him. But due to poverty, there was no proper place to make Him sit, so they must have offered Him the brick shaped stone to sit on or stand on. We see Pandurang still standing on that stone at Pandharpur.
Jagadguru Shakaracharya gives us the meaning of this whole episode in his stotra “Pandurangashtkam.”
The God through this form of Pandurang wants to explain to His devotee thus:
“For those who are mine and reside in my heart, the waters of the Sansaar sagar, the Bhav sagar, are only upto the waist. So there is no question of drowning. One just needs to walk through these waist deep waters to meet me“
My dear readers, isn’t it big thing? It is generally, the devotee who goes to meet his God. Here it is the God, Himself, coming dow to meet His devotee. Namakaars to Pundalik and his karmayog.
From that day onwards till today, Pandurang through His various forms and lives, has guided His devotees to carry His word from heart to heart and hut to hut. It is through this thought, the saints came up with the thought of Dindi, or Wari, where devotees on their way to meet their Lord, walk from village to village. Visit hut to hut. Touch heart to heart. And spread the message of the Lord.
And after seeing, the work taken up and being done by His devotees, the way He wants them to, He goes to sleep. Why so? Is another topic which we will discuss and dwell upon when He gets up 4 months from now, on Prabodhini Ekadashi day.
PUNDALIK VARDE HARI VITTHAL.
SHREE DNYANDEV TUKARAM.
PANDHARINATH MAHARAJ KI JAY.
Today is also National Doctors Day… Wishing all of them a very Happy Doctor’s Day and expressing my gratefulness for taking care of the nation and its citizens….
Today is National CA Day… The Chartered Accountants look after the economic health of our families and society at large. Expressing gratitude towards them as well….
At the onset of my blog itself, wishing all my Kutchhi brothers and sisters a very Happy New Year
असां जे कच्छी माडुओ के नव वर्ष की लख लख वधाई।
मेठो पांजो कच्छडो, मेठा पांजा माडु,
मेठी पांजी गालीयुं, ने मेठी पांजी प्रीत,
हलो हलो रे… आवई अषाढी बीज ।
The 2nd day of the month of Asaadh is a day celebrated as the onset of monsoons in Gujarat and Kutchh. The monsoons bring a smile on everyone’s face and people rejoice and celebrate as if it’s a new year.This day is celebrated all over India, especially Odisha, as the Rathyatra, “the procession of Chariots”. Lord Jagannath alongwith his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Devi Subhadra moves in their chariots around the Odia town of Jagannath Puri. This annual rath yatra attracts tourists from around the world. People get to touch their Lord and pull his chariot which is a one in a lifetime experience.
Jagannath Swami rides in the rath which is majorly decorated in yellow and called the “Nandi Ghosh.” Lord Balbhadra rides in “Tala dhwaj” decorated in green. And Devi Subhadra rides in her “Padma Dhwaj” black chariot. It’s the time when the siblings move out of their temples to meet the people, common folk, of their town. From their temple, they go to Gundicha temple, 3km away. Hence this yatra is also called as the Gundicha Yatra.
The names of the chariots and the colours too have their own significance. The chariots have their own charioteers. Daruka is on the Nandighosh, Matali on Taladhwaj and Arjun on Padmadwaj.
First the Deities are brought out from the temple in a very typical way. The deities do not have full body, but just a the face. So they need to be lifted and got out. This ritual is called the “Pahandi“. When one sees the deities being taken out, it seems as if they are being dragged. The multitudes of people try to catch a glimpse of the Lord and touch Him.
As soon as the Lord settles on His rath with His siblings (note that each deity has His or Her own individual rath), the erstwhile King of the Gajapati clan, arrives in a dress of a sweeper and cleans the rath and the roads with a broom in hand. This ritual is called “Chera Pahara“. It signifies that in the presence of the Lord, everyone is equal. The Kings, too through the years, have been very humble andgrateful to the Lord, to let them serve Him.
Then begins the journey.
The journey of the Lord to see His own people
The journey where the people can see their Lord
The journey of life to eternity.
The common man gets an opportunity to pull the three Raths and carry their Lord to His destination. The millions who have assembled, all, just try to touch the ropes attached to the Rath and feel grateful. The idea of a mere Human pulling the Rath of the Lord is in itself such a beautiful thought. It is He who pulls our lives throughout, but this day we get an opportunity not only to see Him, but pull his Rath as well.
Being elder, Balbhadra leads the triad. Followed by Subhadra and lastly comes Lord Jagannath himself. The idea of the brothers taking care of their sister is so divine. At the same time, it also signifies that Strength (Balbhadra) and Power (Jagannath), need to be balanced in Life. It would be possible only when one has the “bhadra” outlook (Subhadra).
Once the deities reach the Gundicha temple, they stay there for 10 days and will return back to their house after that, in the same manner as today. These 10 days are of Nagar Yatra and Darshan. The people get to see their Lords amongst themselves. The Lord too through this Yatra demonstrates that people in power need to keep their feet firmly on the ground and also keep in touch with the masses living in his or her kingdom.
The Yatra lasts for 6-7 hours and sometimes even takes 15-16 hours depending upon the wish of the deity. It is truly a very divine atmosphere in itself to be witnessed. I would request my readers to atleast visit Jagannath Puri once in a life time and if possible during the Yatra time.
A stotra written by Jagadguru Shankaracharya called Jagannathashtak is worth reciting. Quoting a shlok from it for Lord Jagannath. रथारूढो गच्छन् पथि मिलित भूदेव पटलैः स्तुति प्रादुर्भावम् प्रतिपदमुपाकर्ण्य सदयः । दया सिन्धुर्बन्धुः सकल जगतां सिन्धु सुतया जगन्नाथः स्वामी नयन पथ गामी भवतु मे ॥५॥(“When Lord Jagannatha is on His Ratha-yatra cart and is moving along the road, at every step there is a loud presentation of prayers and songs chanted by large assemblies of brahmanas. Hearing their hymns Lord Jagannatha is very favorably disposed towards them. He is the ocean of mercy and the true friend of all the worlds. May that Jagannatha Swami, along with His consort Lakshmi, who was born from the ocean of nectar, be the object of my vision.”)
Today, in these difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lord will come out to bless us all and the world . Wishing you all a very divine and spiritual Yatra (journey).
Today on the occasion of Ganga Dusshara, I extend my wishes to you and everyone at home.
Let Maa Ganga delivery us from all our sins and so let us understand this utsav in this context.
GANGA DUSSHARA means the one who takes away our 10 sins (Duss + Hara) from our lives.
These 10 sins are ‘Kaayik’, ‘Vachik’ and ‘Mansik’ (physical, speech (thoughts) and pshycological).
अदत्तानामुपादानं हिंसा चैवाविधानतः।
परदारोपसेवा च कायिकं त्रिविधं स्मृतम्।।
1. To take away even if not offered ie to steal
2. To commit violence for no reason
3. To have adulterous connections
These are the sins committed by the body ie physical self.
पारूष्यमनृतं चैन पैशुन्यं चापि सर्वतः।
असंबद्धप्रलापश्र्व वाङ्मयं स्याच्चतुर्विधम्।।
4. To speak arrogantly,
5. To lie (To spread falsehood)
6. To backbite about others
7. To talk without any reason and what make no sense ie senseless talk
The above mentioned 4 sins are committed through tongue (thoughts)
वितथाभिनिवेशश्र्व मानसं त्रिविधं स्मृतम्।।
8. To think about snatching others wealth
9. To think that bad happen to others
10. To wrongly insist / persist
These are the 3, and the last of 10, sins committed in our minds
एतानि दश पापानि हर त्वमथ जाह्नवी।
दशपापहरा यस्मात्तस्माद् दशहरा स्मृता।।
O Ganga ! you are the one who will deliver me from the above said 10 sins and so I remember you (bow down to you) on the Dusshara day as “Duspaaphara”.
While writing the meanings, and you my readers, while reading the meanings must have realised that we do commit some or the other sin/s from the above 10 everyday. These first 3 Shlokas bring inferiority complex in us while reading them, but the last ie 4th shloka installs the confidence that Maa Ganga will deliver us from them.
And for this, Param Pujaniya Pandurang Shashtriji suggests thus :
“Human has to bathe / cleanse his body, his thoughts and his mind daily. The body has to be cleansed with water, the thought with ‘Swadhyay – self introspection’ and the mind with ‘Bhakti – devotion’. If we dip in Ganga with this understanding, then Maa Ganga will surely deliver us from our sins”
– Sanskruti Pujan (Utsav Vibhag), based on discourses given by Param Pujaniya Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale.
Lastly, A humble pray to Maa Ganga to keep blessing all of us in the way She has always.
Pray to God that may India receive the rainfall it needs.
Pray to God that let the world feels it oneness with its Creator
And once again Pray to deliver us from our above said 10 sins.
I bow down and go to the Sangh, Dham (Religion) and Buddha for enlightenment.
I purposely began with Sangham Sharanam Gacchami as opposite to what people say. Cause I believe that even He, The Enlightened One, will agree with it. Go the the Sangh first. Follow your “Dharma” second. And then come to me. Buddha, as history tell us, is the first to establish a Sangh, for propagation of religion. He gave a very well designed way to spread religion through the Sangh. India will always be indebted to Him for this. And as a result, we see that Buddhist thought and philosophy has not only spread all over Asia, but also dominate the thinking process of Asia in a way. The famous travellers HuenTsang and FaHien with the help of King Ashok, King Bimbisara have translated many of the Buddhist literature into Mandarin and helped in spreading the word of Buddha far and wide.
Buddha means the enlightened one.
Buddha means unattached.
Buddha means the great leader.
Readers, last blog had left a question unanswered that why are the followers of Buddha, a proponent of Ahimsa (non – violence), fish eating or meat eating? Has He allowed this? Friends, let us go back to the era when He lived. To propagate His thought, he approached the intellectual class at that time. This class did not respond to His call. So He accepted whosoever responded to His call. He accepted them as they are and yes believed that slowly they would change their ways of eating. And change, they did. But if it is translated as meat eating is allowed by Buddha, then it’s our misconception about Him. He cannot be blamed for the misinterpretation.
And so I believe what my spiritual master has told me.
An individual who guides lacs and crores of people to lead a simple and an austere life should be accepted as an Incarnation of God. And Buddha is no different.
I bow down to Buddha today, and submit myself to His care and warmth.