Monday, July 26, 2010

Shri Bhairava Deva

Bhairava (The Wrathful) is one of the more terrifying aspects of Shiva. He is often depicted with frowning, angry eyes and sharp, tiger's teeth and flaming hair; stark naked except for garlands of skulls and a coiled snake about his neck. In his four hands he carries a noose, trident, drum, and skull. He is often shown accompanied by a dog.

Bhairava is Shiva at his most terrifying, at his most fearful. He may be understood as a particular manifestation, or emanation of Shiva, or as Shiva displaying himself at a very high level. In some myths, Shiva created Bhairava as an extension of himself, in order to chastise Brahma. Bhairava is the embodiment of fear, and it is said that those who meet him must confront the source of their own fears. His name describes the effect he has upon those who behold him, as it derives from the word bhiru, which means to become fearful - of feeling great fear.

In some sources, Bhairava himself is said to have eight manifestations, including Kala (black), Asitanga (with black limbs), Sanhara (destruction), Ruru (hound), Krodha (anger), Kapala (Skull), Rudra (storm) and Unmatta (raging). Dogs (particularly black dogs) were often considered the most appropriate form of sacrifice to Bhairava, and he is sometimes shown as holding a severed human head, with a dog waiting at one side, in order to catch the blood from the head.

The origin of Bhairava can be traced to the conversation between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu recounted in "Shiv Maha-Purana" where Lord Vishnu asks Lord Brahma who is the supreme creator of the Universe. Arrogantly, Brahma tells Vishnu to worship him because he (Brahma) is the supreme creator. This angered Shiva who in reality is the creator of all. Shiva then incarnated in the form of Bhairava to punish Brahma. Bhairava beheaded one of Brahma's five heads and since then Brahma has only four heads. When depicted as Kala Bhairava, Bhairava is shown carrying the amputated head of Brahma. Cutting off Brahma's fifth head made him guilty of having slain brahma, and as a result, he was forced to carry around the head for years until he had been absolved of the sin.

Another story of the origin of Bhairava is the tale of Sati, wife of Shiva. Sati, the daughter of the king of gods, Daksha, had chosen to marry Shiva. Her father disapproved the alliance because he perceived Shiva as an ascetic associated with a frugal lifestyle, forest animals and ghosts. Eventually, Daksha held a yagna (a ritualistic sacrifice) and invited all the gods, but not Sati and Shiva. Sati came to the yagna alone, where Daksha publicly spoke in a belittling manner about Shiva. Sati could not bear to hear her husband insulted and offered herself to the sacrificial pyre.

When Shiva learned of this, he destroyed the yagna and killed Daksha by beheading him. Shiva carried Sati's corpse on his shoulders and ran uncontrollably all around the world for days. Since this would eventually destroy all creation, Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra (divine discus) to cut Sati's body into pieces, which then fell all around. These spots where Sati's body parts fell are now known as Shakti Peethas. In the form of the frightful Bhairava, Shiva is said to be guarding each of these Shaktipeeths. Each Shaktipeeth temple is accompanied by a temple dedicated to Bhairava.

The Lord of the March of Time - Blazing Avatar Kala Bhairav

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saptvaar Vrat : 7 Days Fasts To Appease God

There are seven days in the week. A different God governs each day. Depending upon the purpose of the fast, one fasts accordingly. A common reason for fasting is to get over the malefic effect of a particular planet or God, or to achieve something through a blessing of the god. For each day there is a different procedure, different ways to pray to God, and also a different katha to read or arti to sing. However one resolves to fast, one must understand the details of different fasts.

A fast on Sunday is devoted to Surya - the sun

Eye problems or those pertaining to heat and skin may affect one. Blessings from Surya enable one to receive honour and fame and achieve success over enemies. Food is eaten once in the day before sunset. Food must not be eaten after sunset. It must be free of salt and oil. It must not be tamsik. One must offer prayers to Surya and read or listen to the prescribed katha. Only then one must eat. To appease Surya one should wear ruby. When inclined to give charity one must give wheat, red pulses, jaggery, or metals like gold and copper or ruby amongst gems. The best time to give charity is at sunset.

A fast on Monday is devoted to Chandrama - the moon

Prayers are offered to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Since they had a long, happy married life, fasting on Mondays helps one find a suitable marital partner. There are three kinds of fasts observed on Mondays. The routine fast observed on a Monday is the saumya pradosh - the fast to seek pardon for a fault, and a fast for 16 Mondays. The procedure to be followed is similar, but in each case the katha to be read or heard is different. Food is eaten once in the day. Cereals are permitted. After prayers to Shiva and Parvati one must read or hear the appropriate katha. To appease Chandrama one must wear pearls and silver. When inclined to give charity, one must give white things like rice, white clothes, conch shells, silver or pearls.

A fast on Tuesday is devoted to Mangal - the planet Mars

It is believed that fasting for 12 Tuesdays helps overcome the malefic effects of this planet. All kinds of obstacles are overcome. It also brings fame and honour. Prayers must be offered to Hanuman. Use of red clothes and red flowers is auspicious. Food prepared of wheat and jaggery must be eaten once in the day. After prayers to Hanuman one must read the katha.

A fast on Wednesday is devoted to Budh - the planet Mercury

One must preferably eat green things once in the day. One must pray to Lord Shiva and follow it by reading or hearing the katha. To appease Budh one must wear emerald in gold. When inclined to give charity one must give moong (green gram - Phaseolus mungo), kasturi (musk), blue clothes, gold, copper and five gems.

A fast on Thursday is devoted to Brihaspati - the planet Jupiter

It promotes greater learning and prosperity. Prayers must be offered to Brihespeshwar Mahadev, followed by reading or hearing the katha. One must preferably wear yellow clothes and use yellow sandalwood. Food must be eaten once. One must include yellow pulses in the meal. To appease Brihaspati one should wear topaz in gold. When inclined to give charity one should give yellow things like turmeric, salt, yellow clothes, rice, yellow pulses, gold and topaz.

A fast on Friday is devoted to Shukra - the planet Venus

The procedure for this fast is similar to that of Monday. It is preferable that food is eaten once a day. It must include white preparations like kheer (rice porridge) or rabri (milk preparation). To appease Shukra one must wear mani (a gem) in silver. Those inclined to charity must give rice, white clothes, a cow, ghee, diamonds and gold.

A fast on Friday is also devoted to Santoshi Maa

She is the daughter of Sri Ganesh and blesses one with happiness and contentment. Prayers are offered to her followed by katha and arti. Food must be eaten once. This is a strict fast and nothing sour or acidic must be eaten or offered to anyone else. It is customary to fast for 16 Fridays. On the final day, young boys are fed.

A fast on Saturday is devoted to Shani - the planet Saturn

The effect of Shani is harsh and lasts for a long time. Therefore this fast is observed. Shani is fond of all kinds of black things like black clothes, black peas, black sesame, iron and oil. Prayers are offered to Shani followed by the katha and arti. To appease Shani one must use sapphire and iron. When inclined to give charity one should give black things like an iron vessel with oil, an umbrella, a black shoe, black clothes, black sesame and black peas.

RiiTi - Dharma, Artha, Entertainment & Technology

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Hindu Vrats - Fasting Or Upvaas

Vrats are votive fasting rites which are practiced throughout India. The observance of Vrats spans religious boundaries, social classes and even caste and sectarian affiliations.

Naturally then, there is a great variety in the kinds of vrats performed and numerous variations in the actual practice of any particular vrat.

The word fasting means to move near (to the Supreme) and by implication to overcome helplessness. A calamity has always been an occasion for prayer, we normally pray for a positive reason like asking for a boon, other reasons include appeasement of an anger deity.

It is believed that no prayer can be complete unless it is accompanied by an offering.

Commonly performed Vrats:-

· Monday Vrat for Shiva

· Tuesday Vrat for Ganapati

· Wednesday Vrat for Krishna

· Thursday Vrat for Dattaguru

· Friday Vrat for Lakshmi

· Saturday Vrat for Hanuman

· Sunday Vrat for Surya

Pundit Ravi - Hindu Vrats

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success

You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

This is the core message of the book ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams’ by Dr Deepak Chopra, the celebrated author of ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’. Alternately, he calls it ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Life’. In seven simple life-altering practical steps, he tells us how to attain success.

What Does It Take to Succeed?

In this book Dr Chopra proves that success is not the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition but comprehending our basic nature as a human being and abiding by natural laws. When we understand these laws and apply them in our lives, anything we want can be created, because the same laws that nature uses to create a forest, or a star, or a human body can also bring about the fulfillment of our deepest desires.”

What is Success?

For most, it is material wealth. But Dr Chopra goes much beyond: “Success is a journey, and it includes much more than material wealth which is only one component that makes this journey enjoyable”. Success, in actuality, is – good health, energy, enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind. Also, and importantly, it is the unfolding of the divinity within us to live in harmony with the natural laws of life.

The Seven Keys to Success

In brief, here are the seven laws that can lead you to success:

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality or The Law of Unity

The source of all creation is pure consciousness or pure potentiality seeking expression from the unmanifest to the manifest. Our essential nature is one of pure potentiality – infinite spiritual essence, pure joy, creativity, endless possibilities, pure knowledge, infinite silence, perfect balance, invincibility, simplicity and bliss. And by daily practice of silence, meditation, and non-judgment, when we realize that our true Self is one of pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in the universe and get what we desire.

2. The Law of Giving

The universe operates through dynamic exchange giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives. The driving force behind giving and receiving should be happiness – if you want love, love others; if you want joy, give joy to others; if you want all the good things, want the same for others.

3. The Law of Karma or Cause and Effect

What we sow is what we reap, and when our actions of conscious choice-making bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma (both action and the consequence of that action) is joy and success.

4. The Law of Least Effort

Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease – flowers don’t try to bloom, they bloom; birds don’t try to fly, they fly. “Least effort is expended when our actions are motivated by love, harmony, and joy”. If we try to seek power, money, or chase happiness for the sake of ego, we waste energy. But contrarily, if these actions are dovetailed with love, our energy multiplies and we can use the surplus energy for anything we want.

5. The Law of Intention and Desire

“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment. And when we introduce an intention in our pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us”. At quantum mechanical levels, the universe is our extended body and when we intend, it triggers transformation of energy and information and organizes its own fulfillment.

6. The Law of Detachment

Relinquish attachment to the result of your action. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity. Detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. “Cars, houses, money, clothes etc. are transitory symbols of your Self…chasing symbols is like settling for the map instead of the territory. It creates anxiety; it ends up making you feel hollow and empty.”

7. The Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life

“Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift to give to others, and when we blend this talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” First, we have to discover our true Self. Second, express our special talents. Third, use the gift to serve humanity. Constantly ask the question, how can I help?

These laws constitute the seven chapters of the book, and each segment ends with ‘Applying the Law’ – some easy methods to practice daily and right away embark on the road to Success. Truly, as the Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Peter Guber puts it – “‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ is a Virtual Reality toolkit for the 21st century spiritual traveler.”

‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success' - Dr Deepak Chopra

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Greatness Of Lord Ganesha - Lord Of Wisdom And Success

Our concept of ‘ishtadeiva’ encourages us to worship God through our favourite deity or avathara, but every Hindu will worship the elephant headed Vinayagar, who is often lovingly referred to as ‘Pillayar’. Hence, He is the most powerful unifying force in Hinduism and is even claimed to be ‘in charge of Hinduism’.

In fact, He is worshipped in some form or other in many parts of the world and is the most popular object of worship in Maharashtra state in India. First worship is always to Vinayagar, who is propitiated first and foremost even in the celestial world. He exists in physical form with elephant head and trunk in the astral and celestial worlds.

Among all God forms, Vinayagar best manifest AUM the pranava in both form and sound. An elephant roar resembles AUM, which is the primary sound of creation which originated from sound (not light). Vinayagar’s trunk is naadam (sound) and its curled tip is bindu (energy).

Vinayagar is revered as the Lord of wisdom, success and memory for many reasons – large brain and ears (hearing everything), small eyes (discrimination) etc. He is a total ‘brahmachari’ but His divine intellect (buddhi) and success (siddhi) are sometimes portrayed as His two ‘wives’. (This is a misnomer).

Vinayagar sits at the moolathara chakra (spiritual centre) at the lower most part of our spine and gradually propels our kundalini energy upwards towards the manipura chakra higher up. He is the 1st step in kundalini yoga.

He knows best our past karmas and hence guides us accordingly. He is also the guardian and custodian of the gravitational force and so most concerned with our worldly life, creating obstacles when we are wrong, and removing obstacles when we are on the right path. Even Lord Muruga was unable to win Valli over till He had propitiated His elder brother Vinayagar, who then appeared (as the pranava) to Valli in the elephant form.

Vinayagar’s wisdom is seen in several episodes. In the contest for the fruit of wisdom (jnanapalam). While Muruga raced away on His peacock round the universe, Vinayagar calmly circumambulated His parents (Siva and Parvathi) claiming the entire universe to be in them and thus won the fruit of wisdom.

He teaches that no physical sacrifice is too great for destroying evil as well as for propagating spiritual knowledge and dharma. For the former He used His right tusk as a weapon to subdue Mausika the mouse-headed demon. For the latter He broke His right tusk to complete writing the Mahabharatha (the greatest epic of all time) while it was dictated by Sage Veda Vyasa (in 8800 verses) who had found Vinayagar to be the most qualified ONE to write the epic.

Vinayagar’s five (5) shaktis are love and compassion for family, for relatives and friends, for culture and discipline, for dharma, and for charity.

Lord of Wisdom and Success - Dr. K. Dharmaratnam, Klang

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Mehendi or Henna Dye: Green, Cool & Beautiful

Although Mehendi is generally used in many Hindu festivals and celebrations, there's no doubt that the Hindu wedding ceremony has become synonymous with this beautiful reddish dye.

What is Mehendi?

Mehendi (Lawsonia inermis) is a small tropical shrub, whose leaves when dried and ground into a paste, give out a rusty-red pigment, suitable for making intricate designs on the palms and feet. The dye has a cooling property, and no side effects on the skin. Mehendi is extremely suitable for creating intricate patterns on various parts of the body, and a painless alternative to permanent tattoos.

Mehendi History

The Mughals brought Mehendi to India as lately as the 12th century AD. As the use of Mehendi spread, its application methods and designs became more sophisticated. The tradition of Henna or Mehendi originated in North Africa and the Middle East. It is believed to have been in use as a cosmetic for the last 5000 years. According to professional henna artist and researcher Catherine C Jones, the beautiful patterning prevalent in India today has emerged only in the 20th century. In 17th century India, the barber's wife was usually employed for applying henna on women. Most women from that time in India are depicted with their hands and feet hennaed, regardless of social class or marital status.

It's Cool & Fun!

The varied use of Mehendi by the rich and royal from very early times has made it popular with the masses, and its cultural importance has grown ever since. Mehendi's popularity lies in its fun value. It's cool and appealing! It's painless and temporary! No lifetime commitment like real tattoos, no artistic skills required!

Mehendi in the West

The introduction of Mehendi into Euro-American culture is a recent phenomenon. Today Mehendi, as trendy alternative to tattoos, is an in-thing in the West. Hollywood actors and celebrities have made this painless art of body painting famous. Actress Demi Moore, and 'No Doubt' crooner Gwen Stefani were among the first to sport Mehendi. Since then stars like Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Campbell, Liv Tyler, Nell McAndrew, Mira Sorvino, Daryl Hannah, Angela Bassett, Laura Dern, Laurence Fishburne, and Kathleen Robertson have all tried Henna tattoos, the great Indian way. Glossies, like Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Wedding Bells, People and Cosmopolitan have spread the Mehendi trend even further.

Mehendi in Hinduism

Mehendi is very popular with both men and women also as a conditioner and dye for the hair. Mehendi is also applied during the various vratas or fasts, such as Karwa Chauth, observed by married women. Even gods and goddesses are seen to adorn Mehendi designs. A large dot in the centre of the hand, with four smaller dots at the sides is an oft seen Mehendi pattern on the palms of Ganesha and Lakshmi. However, its most important use comes in a Hindu Wedding.

The Hindu marriage season is a special time for Henna tattoos or 'Mehendi'. Hindus often use the term 'Mehendi' interchangeably with marriage, and Mehendi is considered among the most auspicious 'ornaments' of a married woman.

No Mehendi, No Marriage!

Mehendi is not just a way of artistic expression, sometimes it's a must! A Hindu wedding includes a number of religious rites before and during the nuptials, and Mehendi play a vital role in it, so much so that no Indian marriage is considered complete without it! The reddish brown color of Mehendi - which stands for the prosperity that a bride is expected to bring to her new family - is considered most auspicious for all wedding-related ceremonies.

The Mehendi Ritual

A day before her wedding, the girl and her female folks gather for the Mehendi ritual - a ceremony traditionally marked by joie de vivre - during which the bride-to-be embellish their hands, wrists, palms and feet with the lovely red hue of the Mehendi. Even the groom's hand, especially in Rajasthani weddings, is decorated with Mehendi patterns.

There's nothing strictly sacred or spiritual about it, but applying Mehendi is considered beneficial and lucky, and always regarded as beautiful and blessed. That is perhaps why Indian women are so fond of it. But there're some popular beliefs about Mehendi, especially prevalent among women.

Wear It Dark & Deep

A deeply colored design is generally considered a good sign for the new couple. It's a common belief among Hindu women that during the nuptial rituals the darker the imprint left on the bride's palms, the more her mother-in-law will love her. This belief may have been contrived to make the bride sit patiently for the paste to dry and yield a good imprint. A bride is not expected to perform any household work until her wedding Mehendi has faded. So wear it dark and deep!

Name Game

A bride's wedding designs usually includes a hidden inscription of the groom's name on her palm. It's believed, if the groom fails to find his name within the intricate patterns, the bride will be more dominant in conjugal life. Sometimes the wedding night is not allowed to commence until the groom has found the names. This is also seen as a subterfuge to let the groom touch the bride's hands in order to find his name, thus initiating a physical relationship. Another superstition regarding Mehendi is that if an unmarried girl receives scrapings of Mehendi leaves from a bride, she will soon find a suitable match.

How to Apply

The Mehendi paste is prepared by powdering dried leaves and mixing it with water. The paste is then squeezed through the tip of a cone to draw patterns on the skin. The 'designs' are then allowed to dry for 3-4 hours until it becomes hard and crusted, during which the bride must sit still. This also lets the bride take some rest, while listening to pre-nuptial advice from friends and elders. The paste is also said to cool the bride's nerves. After it dries, the gruff remains of the paste are washed off. The skin is left with a dark rusty red imprint, which stays for weeks.

Essential Part of Hindu Wedding - Subhamoy Das

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Six Blind Men & The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk
Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up he spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope.
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen.

A Hindu Parable - John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

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