Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2015

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 15-5.

15. Dattatreya Jayanthi-5.

Dattatreya then mentioned the names of his twenty-four Gurus and spoke of the wisdom that he had learnt from each as follows:

“The names of my twenty-four Gurus are earth, water, fire, sky, moon, sun, pigeon, python, ocean, moth, honey-gatherers (black bee), bees, elephant, deer, fish, the dancing-girl Pingala, raven, child, maiden, serpent, arrow-maker, spider and beetle.

1. I learnt patience and doing good to others from the earth.

2. From water, I learnt the quality of purity.

3. I learnt from air to be without attachment though I move with many people in this world.

4. From fire I learnt to glow with the splendour of Self-knowledge and austerity.

5. I learnt from the sky that the Self is all-pervading and yet it has no contact with any object.

6. I learnt from the moon that the Self is always perfect and changeless and it is only the
limiting adjuncts that cast shadows over it.

7. Just as a sun reflected in various pots of water appears as so many diffe…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 15-4.

15. Dattatreya Jayanthi-4.

LORD DATTATREYA

Who is regarded as an Incarnation of the Trinity.

The child Dattatreya soon attained manhood.

As he had the rays of the Trimurtis and as he was a great man of the highest wisdom, all the Rishis and ascetics worshipped him.

He was gentle, peaceful and amiable.

He was an Avadhuta—an ascetic who always remains naked.

He preached the Truth of Vedanta.

Dattatreya taught his Avadhuta Gita to Lord Subramanya.

This is a wonderful book which contains the truths and secrets of Vedanta and the experiences of Self-realisation.

Once, while he was roaming happily in a forest, he met King Yadu, who, on seeing Dattatreya so happy, asked him the secret of his happiness and the name of his Guru.

Dattatreya said, “The Self alone is my Guru. Yet, I have learnt wisdom from twenty-four other individuals and objects. So they, too, are also my Gurus.”

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 15-3.

15. Dattatreya Jayanthi-3.

As soon as Atri Rishi returned home, Anusuya related all that had happened during his absence, placed the three children at his feet and worshipped him. But, Atri knew all this already through his divine vision.

He embraced all the three children.

They became one child, with two feet, one trunk, three heads and six hands.

Atri Rishi blessed his wife and informed her that the Trimurtis themselves had assumed the forms of the three children to gratify her wish.


In the meantime, Narada went to Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvati and informed them that their husbands had been turned into children through the power of the Pativrata Dharma of Anusuya and that they would not return unless they asked for their husbands as alms from Rishi Atri.

Thus Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvati assumed the form of ordinary women, appeared before Atri and asked for their own husbands as alms.

Atri duly honoured the three ladies and, with folded palms, prayed to them that his wish and …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 15-2.

15. Dattatreya Jayanthi-2.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came to know of the austerity and desire of Anusuya.

So, they agreed to their wives’ request, as they knew that by agreeing to it, they would also be fulfilling Anusuya’s wish.

They put on the garb of Sannyasins and appeared before Anusuya, asking her to give them alms as specified by their wives.

Anusuya was in a great dilemma.

She could not say “No” to the Sannyasins.

And she had to maintain her Pativrata Dharma also, which she would be violating if she appeared naked before men other than her own husband.

She meditated on the form of her husband, took refuge at his feet and sprinkled over the three Sannyasins a few drops of water used for washing the feet of her husband.

Immediately the Trimurtis were transformed into three babies on account of the glory of her chastity.

At the same time, there was accumulation of milk in her breast.

She thought that these children were her own and fed them with the milk, in a nude state and crad…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 15-1.

15. Dattatreya Jayanthi-1.

Om Namo Bhagavate Dattatreyaya

DATTATREYA Jayanthi falls during December-January on the full moon day of the month of Margaseersha.

His story is told as follows.

Anusuya is quoted as the model of chastity.

She was the wife of Atri Maharishi, a great sage and one of the seven foremost seers and sages.

She was well established in the Pativrata Dharma, the main elements of which are devotion to husband and regard of him as God Himself.

She did severe austerities for a very long time in order to beget sons equal to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Hindu Trinity.


Once, Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvati requested their husbands (the Trimurtis) to test the Pativrata Dharma of Anusuya, by asking her to give them alms with an unclothed body.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 14-4.

Appayya Dikshitar samadhi at Thiruvalangadu

14. Sri Appayya Jayanthi-4.

Appayya is considered as an Avatara of Lord Shiva.

When he went to Tirupati temple in South India, the Vaishnavas refused him admission.

The next morning they found the Vishnu murti in the temple changed into a Shiva murti.

The spiritual head of the temple was most astonished and startled.

He begged pardon and prayed to Appayya to restore the original form of Vishnu.


Appayya flourished in the middle of the 16th century.

He was a great rival of Pundit Jagannatha in the field of poetry.

Appayya had no independent views on the doctrinal side of Shankara’s Vedanta, but carried on fierce controversies with the followers of Vallabha at Jaipur and other places.

He summarised his views in the Siddhantalesha, which is the most admirable digest of the doctrinal differences among the followers of Adi Shankaracharya.


No doubt, he is among the greatest of the spiritual luminaries that India has produced. Though a detailed acc…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 14-3.

Appayya Dikshitar samadhi at Thiruvalangadu

14. Sri Appayya Jayanthi-3.

An old lady, curious to a degree, came out, staff in hand, to see the phenomenon; with the freedom that is conceded to one of her age, she made her way easily through the crowd and looked at him steadily for some minutes.

Dim recollections of a face, floated in her mind.


Definitely recalling the face, she exclaimed, “I have seen this face somewhere.

Wait. Oh yes! are you not the husband of Achha?”

The great scholar confirmed her surmise with a smile.


The good old lady was disappointed.

With her face and spirits fallen, she retraced her steps homeward, remarking, “What ado to make—just over Achha’s husband!”

Appayya summarised a world of wisdom when he perpetuated the incident in a half verse: “Asmin grame achha prasiddha—In this village the name and precedence are Achha’s!”

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 14-2.

Appayya Dikshitar samadhi at Thiruvalangadu

14. Sri Appayya Jayanthi-2.

In almost all branches of Sanskrit learning and literature—poetry, rhetoric, philosophy—his name was peerless among his contemporaries, or for that matter, for decades after him and till today.

His Kuvalayananda is generally the first work of rhetoric that is taken up for study.

As is usual, Pundit Jagannatha, his contemporary and rival, levelled some criticism on it in his Rasagangadhara


His poems in praise of Lord Shiva are great favourites among the worshippers of Shiva.

He has also written a learned commentary entitled Parimalam on Vedanta; this is an outstanding monument of his philosophic erudition.


He had a gigantic intellect.

Great was the reverence paid to him in his own lifetime; even today he is greatly revered.

Once he went to the village which was the birthplace of his wife.

A grand reception was accorded to him by the villagers who were proud of calling him one of themselves.

There was great excitem…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 14-1.

Appayya Dikshitar samadhi at Thiruvalangadu
14. Sri Appayya Jayanthi-1.

SRI APPAYYA Dikshita was born in the Krishna Paksha of the Kanya month of Pramateecha Varsha 1544 A.D.) on the auspicious hour and day under the Uttaraproshtapada constellation.

His Jayanthi is celebrated every year on 2nd October.



Sri Appayya, the greatest name in the 16th century annals of South India, is the reputed author of more than 104 books, representative of all branches of knowledge in Sanskrit literature.

He attained greatness mainly by his works on Vedanta.

All the schools of Vedanta have drawn unique and unrivalled authority and support from his pen.



Of his Vedantic work, the Chaturmata Sara Sangrah is justly famous for the impartial justice with which he has expounded the tenets of the four great schools, namely, the Dwaita, Visishtadwaita, Shivadwaita and the Adwaita.

This exposition is given in his Nyaya Muktavali, Nyaya Mukhamalika, Nyaya Manimala, and Nyaya Manjari (all these together form the C…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 13-2.

13-Vasanta Panchami-2.

All get up in the early morning, take bath and worship the sun, Mother Ganga, the Deity of the sacred river Ganges, and the earth.


On this memorable day, Lord Shiva burnt the god of love, Cupid.

The gods had sent Cupid to tempt the Lord while he was absorbed in Samadhi, in order to beget a powerful son who would be able to destroy the wicked demon Tarakasura.

Cupid discharged an arrow at Lord Shiva from behind a tree.

Shiva became very greatly enraged.

He opened His third eye and reduced Cupid to ashes.

More details of this story are given in the chapter on Skanda Sashti.


The Bengalis call this festival Saraswathi Puja.

They worship the Goddess Saraswathi on this day.

The image of the Goddess is taken in procession and immersed in the holy Ganges.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 13-1.

13-Vasanta Panchami-1.

This is an important bathing day.

All Hindus observe it.

It is also known as Magh Sukla Panchami as it falls in the month of Magh (January-February).

This is the festival that marks the first day of spring.


Vasanta means the spring season, which is very congenial for doing vigorous Yoga Sadhana.


Men, women and girls wear yellow cloth.

The yellow colour is a sign of auspiciousness and spirituality.

It represents the ripening of the spring crops.

Even the food is coloured yellow by using saffron.

All the folk get together and sing songs connected with spring.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 12-4.

12. Vasanta Navaratri : 4.

Prince Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja.

The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king of Kosala.

Sudarsana and Sashikala and the king of Benares implicitly carried out the commands of the Divine Mother and performed worship in a splendid manner during the Vasanta Navaratri.

Sudarsana’s descendants, namely, Sri Rama and Lakshmana, also performed worship of Devi during the Vasanta Navaratri and were blessed with Her assistance in the recovery of Sita.

It is the devout Hindu’s duty to perform the worship of Devi for both material and spiritual welfare during the Vasanta Navaratri and follow the noble example set by Sudarsana and Sri Rama.

He cannot achieve anything without the Divine Mother’s blessings.

So, sing Her praise and repeat Her Mantra and Name.

Meditate on Her form.

Do worship.

Pray and obtain Her eternal Grace and blessings.

May the Divine Mother bless you with all divine wealth!

Next : 13-Vasanta …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 12-3

.

12. Vasanta Navaratri : 3.


The emissaries of the king of Benares passed through the Ashram of the Rishi and, when they saw the noble prince Sudarsana, they recommended him to Princess Sashikala, the daughter of the king of Benares.


The ceremony at which the princess was to choose her spouse was arranged.

Sashikala at once chose Sudarsana.

They were duly wedded.

King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, began to fight with the king of Benares.

Devi helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law.

Yudhajit mocked Her, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.



Thus Sudarsana, with his wife and his father-in-law, praised Devi.

She was highly pleased and ordered them to perform Her worship with havan and other means during the Vasanta Navaratri.

Then She disappeared.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 12-2.

12. Vasanta Navaratri : 2.

The victor, King Yudhajit, thereupon crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala.

He then went out in search of Manorama and her son.

The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had sought protection under him.

Yudhajit became furious.

He wanted to attack the Rishi.

But, his minister told him about the truth of the Rishi’s statement.

Yudhajit returned to his capital.



Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarsana.

A hermit’s son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba.

The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem.

This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra.

It is the Bija Akshara (root syllable) of the Divine Mother.

The Prince obtained peace of mind and the Grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of this syllable.

Devi appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 12-1

12. Vasanta Navaratri : 1.

THE DIVINE MOTHER or Devi is worshipped during the Vasanta Navaratri.

This occurs during the spring.

She is worshipped by Her own command.

You will find this in the following episode in the Devi Bhagavata.


In days long gone by, King Dhruvasindu was killed by a lion when he went out hunting.

Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarsana.

But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the Kosala throne for their respective grandsons.

They fought with each other.

King Virasena was killed in the battle.

Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch.

They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 11.

11. Telugu New Year’s Day

THIS FALLS on the first day of the month of Chaitra (March-April) according to Chandramana.

This is a day of rejoicing.

This is new year’s day for the people of Andhra Pradesh and also the Telugu people all over the world.


Those who live north of the Vindhya hills observe Barhaspatyamana.

Those living south of the Vindhya hills observe Sauramana or Chandramana.


There is a peculiarity about the practices of the various sects of Brahmins;

one who is not conversant with them finds it difficult to understand their meaning.

Even though they are all Brahmins, certain differences in their lineage may be traced among them.

These become manifest in their distinctive calendars where the dates and months vary.

Some have calculations according to the solar system,

and others according to the lunar system,

with the result that despite all being Brahmins,

the New Year differs among different sects.

Thus there is a Telugu New Year’s Day;

a Tamil New Year’s Day,

and a New Y…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 10.

10. Ratha Saptami

This falls on the 7th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Margaseersha (December-January).

People worship the sun in the early morning and recite the Surya Sahasranama.

Good actions done on this day give manifold results.

Brahmins become celestials if they fast on this day and worship God;

Kshatriyas, that is, people of the warrior caste, become Brahmins;

Vaishyas, the merchants, become Kshatriyas:

and Sudras or men of the servant caste, become Vaishyas.

If women fast on this day,

they attain knowledge and derive virtues.

If widows fast on this day,

they get rid of widowhood from the next birth onwards.

Even the sin of slaying a Brahmin is expiated by the power of fasting on this day.

He who takes a bath at the time of sunrise is purified like Mother Ganges.

He can never become a poor man.


Fast on this day.

Observe the vow of silence.

Remain in a solitary place.

Do Japa.

Practise intense meditation with faith and devotion.

You are sure to attain God-realisat…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 9-2.

9. Raksha Bandhan-2.

The followers of the four different Vedas have their Upakarmam on different days.

On this day, Sachi, the consort of Indra, tied a holy thread or amulet around the wrist of Indra, when he was defeated by the demons.

Then Indra, the king of gods, gained victory over the demons by the power of this protection (Raksha means “protection”) and recovered the lost city of Amaravati.

In North India, on this day, an amulet known as a Raksha or Rakhi, is tied round the wrist of brothers by the sisters as a protection from evil during the coming year.

Brahmins and Purohits similarly tie amulets round the wrists of their patrons and receive gifts.

A Mantra is recited when the Rakhi or the silken thread is tied.

The silken thread is charged with the power of the Mantra, which is as follows :



Yena  baddho  balee  raajaa  daanavendro  mahaabalah;

Tena  twaam  anubadhnaami  rakshey  maa  chala  maa  chala.


“I am tying on your hand this Raksha, with which the most powerful and ge…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 9-1.

9. Raksha Bandhan-1.

RAKSHA BANDHAN is called Avani Avittam in South India.

This falls on the full moon day of the month of Sravan (August-September).

It is an important Hindu festival.

Hindus wear a new holy thread and offer libations of water to the ancient Rishis on this day.


Recitation of the Vedas on this great day is highly beneficial.

This festival is also known as Upakarmam, and is specially sacred to the Brahmins, who have been invested with the sacred thread.

When the Brahmin boy is invested with this holy thread, symbolically his third eye, or the eye of wisdom, is opened.

This festival of Upakarmam reminds the wearer of the sacred thread of its glorious spiritual significance.

Brahmins also offer libations of water to their ancestors to whom they owe their birth and to the great Rishis to whom they are highly indebted for their spiritual knowledge and the Vedas themselves.

The true Hindu never forgets his benefactors!

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 8-7.

8. Makara Shankranti-7.


On the same day, young girls prepare various special dishes—sweet rice, sour rice, rice with coconut—and take them to the bank of a river or tank.

They lay some leaves on the ground and place on them balls of the various preparations for the fish, birds, and other creatures.

It is an extremely colourful ceremony.

The crows come down in large numbers and partake of the food.

All the time a valuable lesson is driven into our minds—“Share what you have with all”.

The crow will call others before beginning to eat.



Both these days, which are family re-union days, are regarded as being inauspicious for travel.

This is to prevent us from going away from home on those days.



When you celebrate the Shankranti or Pongal in this manner, your sense of value changes.

You begin to understand that your real wealth is the goodwill and friendship of your relatives, friends, neighbours and servants; that your wealth is the land on which your food grows, the cattle which help yo…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 8-6.

8. Makara Shankranti-6.

On the Shankranti day, sweets, puddings and sweet rice are prepared in every home, especially in South India.

The pot in which the rice is cooked is beautifully adorned with tumeric leaves and roots, the symbols of auspiciousness.

The cooking is done by the women of the household with great faith and devotion, feeling from the bottom of their hearts that it is an offering unto the Lord.
When the milk in which the rice is being cooked boils over, the ladies and the children assemble round the pot and shout “Pongalo Pongal!” with great joy and devotion.

Special prayers are offered in temples and houses.

Then the people of the household gather together and partake of the offerings in an atmosphere of love and festivity.


There is family re-union in all homes. Brothers renew their contacts with their married sisters by giving them presents.


The farmer is lovingly greeted by the landlord and is given presents of grain, clothes and money.


On the next day, the herds …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 8-5.

8. Makara Shankranti-5.

In fact, the sun itself symbolises all that the Pongal festival stands for.

The message of the sun is the message of light, the message of unity, of impartiality, of true selflessness, of the perfection of the elements of Karma Yoga.

The sun shines on all equally.

It is the true benefactor of all beings.

Without the sun, life would perish on earth.

It is extremely regular and punctual in its duties, and never claims a reward or craves for recognition.

If you imbibe these virtues of the sun, what doubt is there that you will shine with equal divine lustre!



He who dwells in the sun, whom the sun does not know, whose body the sun is, and by whose power the sun shines—He is the Supreme Self, the Indweller, the immortal Essence.

Tat Twam Asi—“That thou art”. Realise this and be free here and now on this holy Pongal or Makara Shankranti day.

This is my humble Pongal prayer to you all.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ...