Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2015

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.2.4.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.2

2. Let me now describe the actual process of Shiva-Raja Yoga:4


    The dream and the deep sleep states also have their four sub-divisions which have to be passed.

When the Yogi comes to the thirteenth stage, he is in the waking part of the fourth state.

The vision of Lord Shiva in the form of Self-Consciousness now begins.

The form of the Lord appears before him as though coming out of the lights, which began at stage four of the sixteen stages.

From this stage onwards the mind loses its sense of separate activity.

It becomes deeply absorbed in the Self within.


    On the 13th lunar day Nature assists the worshipper in waking up from his mental deep sleep and in becoming aware of the fourth state.

The Yogi who practises his Yoga on the Pradosha day gets these experiences of Lord Shiva quite readily.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  .....


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.2.3.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.2

2. Let me now describe the actual process of Shiva-Raja Yoga:3


 At first a yellow and a red light appear, the red being in the centre and two yellow flame-like lights on either side.

After a few days, all these colours pass away and he begins to see a steady light of the shape and colour of the moon.

As his practice advances, this grows brighter and brighter, and the whole room in which the Yogi sits is gradually illumined, starting with the intensity of twilight until it becomes a flood of bright light.

Yet in this state nothing that is in the room is seen; other things which are not there, begin to appear.

They come and go with amazing rapidity, and reveal many things to him.


    Thus far, we have dwelt upon only the first four stages of the entire series of sixteen stages which have to be passed through by the Shiva-Raja Yogi before he finally attains union with Lord Shiva.

The details of the experiences at each stage vary from man to man, as also from day…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.2.2.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.2

2. Let me now describe the actual process of Shiva-Raja Yoga:2


    The Yogi then passes through an entirely different experience.

He suddenly awakens from a deep sleep.

He does not remember when he got into the sleep state, but he is conscious of the sudden awakening.

The truth is that he had not slept at all.

His mind became a complete blank, he lost consciousness of the workings of the mind, which was nonetheless still active all the time.

When he regained consciousness, he suddenly felt his awareness once again.

He is now tempted to examine himself to ascertain if his posture is still erect and if his eyes are still fixed between his eyebrows.

Finding no change in these he realises that the temporary loss of consciousness was only a stage which he passed through in his Yoga.


    Next comes the stage when he feels as if something of the nature of a hot nail is pricking him at the centre of his eyebrows.

In the earlier period of his practice there will only …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.2.1.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.2.1

2. Let me now describe the actual process of Shiva-Raja Yoga:1

The Yogi sits in utter darkness, with the head and body erect, eyes open, and the gaze directed to the centre of the eyebrows.

He utters the Mantra in his mind and, without restraining his breath, concentrates his gaze at the middle of the eyebrows, ever on the thought of the appearance of the lights.

The deep concentration resulting thereby yields the following fruits, in order.


    First, he overcomes the distractions of his mind.

 He reaches a stage wherein he seems to hear somebody talking somewhere in the distance.

The words are not distinct, but a sort of murmur is heard.

Nevertheless, since his mind is elsewhere, he pays no attention to it.

In fact, the sound comes from nowhere outside.

It is his own mind that produces these sounds.

The mind is actually functioning in its form as sound.

Soon afterwards, this sound ceases, and he begins to see all sorts of visions, in the same manner as we…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.3.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.3.

1.  Here is the Yogic interpretation of the Pradosha : 3.


    This coincides with the flow of the breath through the left nostril.

If, however, at the time of practice the flow is through the right nostril, the Yogi is asked to perform a special exercise by which to change the flow to the left.
When the Yogi concentrates on the point between the eyebrows, he transcends, stage by stage, the first twelve sub-states.

The current of breath continues flowing through the lunar channel.

The “moon” is gaining more and more strength.

When the 13th day is reached, the spiritual power of the Yogi has correspondingly increased, and he is in a condition to see the lights which appear in the nerve centre in between the eyebrows.

In inverse proportion to the increase in concentration is the duration of the Yogi’s breath.

At the start of the practice, the breath will occupy a space of 16 fingers (inches approximately).

The moment the concentration has led him from the wakin…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.2.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.2.

1.  Here is the Yogic interpretation of the Pradosha : 2



    Those who worship Mother Shakti have certain beliefs of their own, one of which is that the Goddess that is worshipped acquires one ray on each of the days of the bright fortnight, starting from the first day.

Thus, on the full moon night, the Goddess would have received fifteen rays and would be ready for the final form of worship intended to benefit the devout worshipper in all ways.

That is why the Navavarana worship is always conducted on the full moon day.


    The moon is believed to have a direct influence on the mind.

Incidentally, the word mati means both the moon and the mind.


    According to Shiva-Raja Yoga there are two channels through which the Prana flows.

These are the Ida and the Pingala, ruled respectively by the moon and the sun.

Midway between these two there is a third, known as Sushumna.

The Yogi is asked to start the practice of Yoga when the breath is passing through the lun…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-4.1.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 4.1.

    This Vrata is highly lauded by the scriptures and is of very great sanctity and importance to worshippers of Lord Shiva.

The mere sight of the Deity in a temple during this period will destroy all sins and bestow bountiful blessings and Grace upon the fortunate beholder.

Even a single bael leaf (leaf taken from the wood-apple tree) offered to the Lord at this unique, auspicious moment equals a hundred Mahapujas.

It is usual to have special additional lights in the shrine during the Pradosha.

To light even a single wick at this juncture is highly meritorious and productive of untold benefits, spiritual as well as material.

Most fortunate and blessed is the person who performs the Pradosha Vrata, for upon him Lord Shiva showers His choicest Grace and blessings in a very short time.

  1.  Here is the Yogic interpretation of the Pradosha :

According to the Shiva-Raja Yoga, concentration is directed towards the central point in the middle of the eyebrows, whe…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-3.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 3.


    One who takes this Vrata fasts on that day, and keeps vigil at night after the fast is over.

Bathing an hour before sunset,

the worshipper first performs a preliminary worship of Lord Shiva,

together with all the others of His divine family, namely, Parvati, Ganesha, Skanda and Nandi.

After the worship of Ganesha, Lord Shiva is invoked in the special kalasha placed on a square mandala with a lotus drawn in it and spread over with darbha grass.

 After the formal worship has been completed, a Pradosha story is read and heard by the devotees.

This is followed by the recitation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra 108 times.

In the end the sacred kalasha water is partaken of, the sacred ash is applied to the forehead,

and the water which was used to bathe the Lord, is drunk.

A gift of a pot, a cloth and an image of the Lord is given to a Brahmin to conclude the worship.


    A very important point to be remembered in this connection is that during this auspicious per…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-2.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 2.

Pradosha is the worship of Lord Shiva and Parvati when they both are in an extremely propitious mood.

Repeatedly worsted in war by the demons, the gods approached Lord Shiva to bless them with a leader for their celestial hosts.

They came to the Lord at twilight on the thirteenth day of the lunar fortnight and found Him in the blissful company of His consort, Parvati.

Hymned and glorified by them, Siva immediately granted their prayerful request. Hence, the extreme auspiciousness of the period.


    The Skanda Purana relates how Sandilya Muni prescribed this Vrata to a certain Brahmin lady.

She came to the sage with two boys, her son, Suchivrata, and an orphan prince, Dharmagupta, whose father was slain in battle and the kingdom overrun by enemies.


    Acting upon the advice of the sage, the woman and the boys performed the Vrata with great devotion.

After four months, that is, in the eighth Pradosha, Suchivrata obtained a pot of nectar and drank the divine amb…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 24-1.

24. Pradosha Vrata - 1.

ALL THINGS in this vast creation function upon definite laws.

There is always a beautiful system and sound rationale governing every phenomenon and process, mundane or mystical.

Just as the gross elements and physical forces operate differently under different states and conditions, so also the subtler and higher forces respond and react in the inner mystic planes, and in the purely spiritual processes like meditation, prayer, worship, etc.

Therefore, you will find definite injunctions for performing certain types of worship in the morning, certain other injunctions for the midday prayers, and still others for the evening worship.

Again, some observances are meant to be performed during certain phases of the moon, some when a particular star is in the ascendant, or at the time of a particular conjunction of planets.




    The Pradosha worship is to be done in the evening twilight on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight.

It is the worship of Lord Shiva for victor…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-10.

23. Rama Navami-10.

  On the auspicious Ramnavmi day take a firm resolve that you will repeat Ram-Nam with every breath and that you will endeavour to lead a righteous life.


    Ramnavmi is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnava sect of the Hindus. However, even those who adore Lord Shiva celebrate the occasion.
Some observe a strict fast on the day. Temples are decorated and the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned. The holy Ramayana is read in the temples. At Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama, a big fair is held on this day.


    In South India the Sri Ramnavmi Utsavam is celebrated for nine days with great fervour and devotion. Those talented in the art of story-telling narrate the thrilling episodes of the Ramayana. The Kirtanists chant the holy Name of Rama and celebrate the wedding of Rama with Sita on this great day. It is an extremely colourful ceremony, highly inspiring and instructive, too.


    At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Ramnavmi is celebrated for ni…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-9.

23. Rama Navami-9.


    O Devotee! recite His Name, sing His glory and serve His Lotus Feet.

Enthrone in your heart Lord Rama of dark hue, whose image is reflected in the heart of Lord Shiva.

Blessed is the pious soul who uninterruptedly drinks the nectar of Sri Rama’s Name which has been churned out of the ocean of the Vedas, which removes the impurities of the Kali Yuga or the iron age, which lives constantly on the lips of Lord Shiva, which is a sovereign remedy or unfailing specific to cure the disease of worldly existence and which is the life of Mother Sita.


    Ram-Nam burns ignorance, passion and sin.

With or without knowledge, correctly or incorrectly, when the word “Rama” is pronounced it showers a rain of good upon the devotee.

Sri Rama is Brahmam who takes one across the ocean of worldly existence.

Rama is one in across whom the Yogis sport, that is, the Self within.


    Lord Shiva tells His consort Parvati :-

“This Ram-Nam is equal to the Lord’s thousand Names, or repetit…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-8.

23. Rama Navami-8.

    Even a great sinner who is full of evil qualities and who is fond of other people’s wealth,

is freed from all kinds of faults that pertain to worldly life if only he remembers the Lord always.

He attains purity and goes to the supreme abode of the Lord.


    The Name of Lord Rama is the greatest purifier of the heart.

It wipes away all one’s sins.

Not only this, but it wipes away the sinful tendencies as well.

The Name is sweeter than the sweetest of objects.

It is the haven of peace. It is the very life of pure souls.

It is the purifier of all purifying agencies.

It quenches the consuming fire of worldly desires.

It awakens the knowledge of God.

It bathes the aspirant in the, ocean of divine bliss.

Glory to Sri Rama and His Name

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  .....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-7.

23. Rama Navami-7.


    I shall tell you the means of attaining the final release from the great cycle of births and deaths.

Devotion to Lord Rama is a great purifier of the heart.

From devotion arises knowledge.

From knowledge comes the realisation of the pure Self.

Knowing this perfectly, one goes to the Supreme Abode and merges in the Supreme Self.


    Without first developing devotion to Rama who is the Self, who lives in the hearts of all beings, who is all bliss and who is peerless, how can man cross the ocean of worldly life which has sorrow, pain and misery for its waves?


    Do thou therefore worship Lord Rama who is Vishnu and the consort of Sita who is Lakshmi. Abandon all foolishness and enmity. Take to the service of Lord Rama.


The Lord is extremely fond of those who have surrendered themselves to Him.

He has given this promise in the Ramayana : -

“To anyone who once takes shelter under Me and solicits ‘I am Thine’, I bestow fearlessness from all beings. This is My vow”.

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-6.

23. Rama Navami-6.

 Devotion to God is not a simple emotion.

It is the result of intense dispassion and purity of heart and attitude.

You should strive your utmost to possess the good qualities that are extolled in the Ramayana and exemplified in the life of Lord Rama.

Otherwise, emotion may rise up in you temporarily to a kind of ecstasy, but you will not experience divine consciousness thereby.

Devotion is a fruit which ripens gradually through the processes of self-restraint and virtue.

Without intense dispassion there can be no real Sadhana for Self-realisation.

Only after detachment from the world of things, is it possible to attain the Supreme Godhead.

Remember this.


Devotion has absolutely nothing to do with age, caste, creed, position or sex.

Generally, the worldly-minded people say : “We will practise meditation and devotion when we retire from service.”

This is a serious mistake.

How can you do serious Sadhana after squeezing out all your energy in working?

How will you be …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-5.

23. Rama Navami-5.


    None but the righteous can be truly happy. None but he who has the correct sense of duty and the will for its implementation can be said to live worthily.

One must be imbued with a definite conviction about the supremacy of moral principles, ethical values and spiritual ideals.

These ought to guide one’s day-to-day actions and serve as powerful means for the culture of the human personality.

That is the purpose of life.

That is the way to Self-realisation.

That is the message and the mission of Lord Rama’s fife on earth.


    To a devotee, Sri Rama is not simply a good and a great person, but God Himself.

Rama was the son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, but He is also the divine omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God.

The destruction of the ten-headed Ravana signifies the annihilation of the mind or the ten senses.

Worship of Lord Rama is worship of the all-pervading Godhead Himself.

Read the prayers offered by Mandothari and Brahma in the Yuddha Kanda of the …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-4.

23. Rama Navami-4.

    Lord Rama was the best of men with a sterling character.

He was the very image of love.

He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend and an ideal king.

He can be taken to embody all the highest ideals of man.

He led the ideal life of a householder to teach the tenets of righteousness to humanity.

He ruled His people so well that it came to be known as Ram-Rajya, which meant the rule of righteousness, the rule which bestows happiness and prosperity on all.


    The noblest lesson embodied in the Ramayana is the supreme importance of righteousness in the life of every human being.

Righteousness is the spiritual spark of life.

Cultivation of righteousness is the process of unfoldment of the latent divinity in man.

The glorious incarnation of the Supreme Being in the form of Lord Rama has exemplified the path of righteousness.

Let mankind follow His footsteps and practise the ideals cherished by Him, for it is only thus that there can be …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-3.

23. Rama Navami-3.


    Lord Rama was the prince of the Ikshvaku race.

He was virtuous and of manly strength.

 He was the Lord of the mind and the senses.

Brave and valiant, He was yet gentle and modest.

He was a sage in counsel, kind and sweet in speech, and most courteous and handsome in appearance.

He was the master of all the divine weapons, and a great warrior.

Ever devoted to the good and prosperity of His kingdom and His subjects, He was a defender of the weak and the protector of the righteous.

Endowed with numerous wondrous powers of the mind, He was well versed in all sciences—in military science as well as the science of the Self.


    Deep and unfathomed like the ocean, firm and steadfast like the Himalayan mountains, valiant like Lord Vishnu,

He was the joy of Kaushalya.

Though fierce like fire on the battlefield, He was calm like the cool breeze of the Mandara Hills, patient like Mother Earth, bounteous like the god of wealth and righteous like the lord of justice himself…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-2.

23. Rama Navami-2.



    Let Sri Rama be your ideal.

Ideals are remembered and adored for the purpose of adopting them in your own life.

The Ramnavmi celebration or the Vasanta Navaratri every year is an opportune period for us to saturate ourselves with the spirit of Lord Rama.

We love and adore our ideals because we express thereby our yearning to unite with them.

In our worship of God it is implied that we should be virtuous, good and perfect even as God is.

Hence the wise instruction : -

“One should become divine in order to be able to worship God”.

One cannot be a real worshipper of Lord Rama unless one makes an honest attempt to grow in the virtues that the Lord represents.

On the other hand, worship of Lord Rama is itself the surest means to develop such virtues.


    One who approaches Sri Rama with love and worshipfulness becomes large-hearted, pure in spirit, good-natured and dispassionate in thought, word and deed.

 A true devotee of Lord Rama is His representative, with His …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 23-1.

23. Rama Navami-1.




    Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram

    SALUTATIONS to Lord Rama, an Incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is measureless, who is of the nature of pure Consciousness and bliss, who is the consort of Sita, Master of Sri Hanuman, and the Lord of the three worlds, who took His birth at His own will in order to establish righteousness, destroy the wicked and protect His devotees.

    Ramnavami or the birthday of Lord Rama falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March-April).



    Rama was the Lord Hari Himself, incarnate on earth for the destruction of Ravana.

He was well accomplished, beautiful and endowed with royal marks.

His glory and prowess were unlimited.

He was peerless on earth.

He was free from malice.

He was gentle.

He was the protector of all His people.

He always addressed them in gentle words.

He never used any harsh words even when somebody provoked Him.

He held sway over the whole world.


Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  .....


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 22-5.

22. The Kavadi- 5.


At the Sivananda Ashram in India, Skanda Sashti is observed for six days, preceding and including the Sashti day.

    1. Devotees of Lord Subramanya live on milk and fruit and do rigorous Sadhana.

    2. All spiritual aspirants get up at 4am during Brahmamuhurta and meditate on the Lord.

    3. On each of the six days, all the participants do as many malas of the Mantra Om Saravanabhavaya Namah as possible. They even greet one another with this Mantra.

    4. Yogis and learned scholars deliver lectures on Subramanya Tattwa or the divine sport of the Lord. During the evening Satsang, hymns in praise of Lord Subramanya are sung. Readings are taken from my book Lord Shanmukha and His Worship. Devotees sing inspiring songs on the Lord.

    5. Every day there is elaborate ceremonial worship of the image of Lord Subramanya installed in the Bhajan Hall.

    6. On the last day a grand havan (fire-worship) is conducted. The Satsang is devoted entirely to the adoration of Lo…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 22-4.

22. The Kavadi- 4.



The Kavadi-bearer enjoys a high state of religious fervour.

He dances in ecstasy.

His very appearance is awe-inspiring; there is divine radiance on his face.

Devotees often experience the state of feeling union with the Lord.

Sometimes the Deity enters them and possesses them for some time.


 Agni Kavadi: This is the most difficult Kavadi-offering.

With the Kavadi hanging on his shoulder, the devotee walks through a pit of burning coals.

Hymns are sung in praise of the Lord by those assembled all around the pit.

Drums are beaten and incense is burnt.

The entire atmosphere is awe-inspiring.

The true devotee enters into ecstasy and easily walks over the fire.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  .....

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 22-3.

22. The Kavadi 3.


The Kavadi-bearer observes strict celibacy.

Only pure, Sattwic food is taken; he abstains from all sorts of intoxicating drinks and drugs.

He thinks of God all the time.

Many of the Kavadi-bearers, especially those who do it as a spiritual Sadhana, impose various forms of self-torture.

Some pass a sharp little spear through their tongue, which is made to protrude out of the mouth.

Others may pass a spear through the cheek.

This sort of piercing is done in other parts of the body also.

The bearer does not shave; he grows a beard.

He eats only once a day.

The spear pierced through his tongue or cheek reminds him of the Lord constantly.

It also prevents him from speaking.

It gives him great power of endurance.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  .....




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : - 22-2.

22. The Kavadi Festival-2.


Now, the two baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain rice, milk or other articles that the devotee has vowed to offer the Lord.

The more devout among them, and especially those who do it as a Sadhana, collect these articles by begging.

They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door.

The villagers offer their articles directly into the basket of the Kavadi.

The Kavadi-bearer continues begging until the baskets are full or the avowed quantity is reached, and then offers the Kavadi to the Lord.

Some keen devotees undertake to walk barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering.

He has to walk a hundred miles sometimes! The people who place the articles in the baskets also receive the Lord’s blessings.


The Kavadi-bearer: The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi, and the day of the offering…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 22-1

22. The Kavadi Festival-1.

Perhaps the most potent propitiatory rite that a devotee of Shanmukha undertakes to perform is what is known as the Kavadi.

The benefits that the devotee gains from offering a Kavadi to the Lord are a millionfold greater than the little pain that he inflicts upon himself.


Generally, people take a vow to offer the Lord a Kavadi for the sake of tiding over a great calamity.

Though this might, on the face of it, appear a little mercenary, a moment’s reflection will reveal that it contains in it the seed of supreme love of God.

The worldly object is achieved, no doubt, and the devotee takes the Kavadi; but after the ceremony he gets so God-intoxicated that his inner spiritual being gets awakened.

This is also a method that ultimately leads to the supreme state of devotion.


Kavadi: -

The Kavadi has various shapes and sizes, from the simple shape of a hawker’s storehouse (a wooden stick with two baskets at each end, slung across the shoulder) to the costly palanq…