Monday, November 9, 2009

Spiritual Vision

A spiritual vision in the context (connection) of our relationships means we see the highest spiritual qualities in others despite what they say or do. This is difficult until we are able to see the same in ourselves. This simple exercise is a beginning. Write down the names of three people you know (family, friend, colleague) and then three positive qualities that you see in each of them.
Now imagine they are doing the same with you - what would they write down for you - write down a few positive qualities you think they would see in you.
Regularly realise your spiritual qualities, which they generate. The more you learn to see them within yourself, the more you will see and appreciate them in others.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why do offer food to the Lord before eating it?

Indians make an offering of food to the Lord and later partake of it as prasaada - a holy gift from the Lord. In our daily ritualistic worship (pooja) too we offer naivedyam (food) to the Lord.
The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient. Man is a part, while the Lord is the totality. All that we do is by His strength and knowledge alone. Hence what we receive in life as a result of our actions is really His alone. We acknowledge this through the act of offering food to Him. This is exemplified by the Hindi words "tera tujko arpan"– I offer what is Yours to You. Thereafter it is akin to His gift to us, graced by His divine touch.
Knowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes. The food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get with others before consuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticise the quality of the food we get. We eat it with cheerful acceptance (prasaada buddhi).
Before we partake of our daily meals we first sprinkle water around the plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the side of the plate acknowledging the debt owed by us to the Divine forces (devta runa) for their benign grace and protection, our ancestors (pitru runa) for giving us their lineage and a family culture, the sages (rishi runa) as our religion and culture have been "realised", aintained and handed down to us by them, our fellow beings (manushya runa) who constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do and other living beings (bhuta runa) for serving us selflessly.
Thereafter the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five life-giving physiological functions, is offered the food. This is done with the chant
praanaaya swaahaa, apaanaaya swaahaa, vyaanaaya swaahaa,
udaanaaya swaahaa, samaanaaya swaahaa, brahmane swaahaa
After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasaada - blessed food.

Friday, October 30, 2009

32 Names of Maa Durga and their meanings:

The recitation of these thirty two names of Maa Durga relieves from difficulties and make free from doubt.

1. Durga—The reliever of difficulties.
2. Durgatirsamini- who puts difficulties at peace.
3. Durgapadvinivarin- dispeller of difficult adversities.
4. Durgamacchedini- who cuts down difficulty.
5. Durgasadhini- the performer of discipline to expel difficulties.
6. Durganashini- the destroyer of difficulties.
7. Durgatoddharin- who holds the whip of difficulties.
8. Durgenihantri- who sends difficulties to ruin.
9. Durgamapaha- who measures difficulties.
10. Durgamajanada- who makes difficulties unconscious.
11. Durgadaityalokadava naia- who destroys the world of difficult thoughts.
12. Durgama- the mother of difficulties.
13. Durgamaloka- the perception of difficulties.
14. Durgamatmasvarupin- the intrinsic nature of the soul of difficulties.
15. Durgamargaprada- who searches through the difficulties.
16. Durgamavidya- the knowledge of difficulties.
17. Durgamasarita- the extrication from difficulties.
18. Durgamajanasamsthan a- the continued existence of difficulties.
19. Durgamadyanabhasini - whose meditation remains brilliant when in difficulties.
20. Durgamoha- who deludes difficulties.
21. Durgamaga- who resolves difficulties.
22. Durgamarthasvarupin - who is the intrinsic nature of the object of difficulties.
23. Durgamasurasanhantr i- the annihilator of the egotism of difficulties.
24. Durgamayudhadharin- bearer of the weapon against difficulties.
25. Durgamangi- the refinery of difficulties.
26. Durgamata- who is beyond difficulties.
27. Durgamaya- this present difficulty.
28. Durgamesvari- the empress of difficulties.
29. Durgabhima-who is terrible to difficulties.
30. Durgabhama- the lady to difficulties.
31. Durgabha- the illuminator of difficulties.
32. Durgadarin- who cuts off difficulties.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why do we apply the holy ash?

The ash of any burnt object is not regarded as holy ash. Bhasma (the holy ash) is the ash from the homa (sacrificial fire) where special wood along with ghee and other herbs is offered as worship of the Lord. Or the deity is worshipped by pouring ash as abhisheka and is then distributed as bhasma.
Bhasma is generally applied on the forehead. Some apply it on certain parts of the body like the upper arms, chest etc. Some ascetics rub it all over the body. Many consume a pinch of it each time they receive it.
The word bhasma means, "that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered.” Bha implied bhartsanam ("to destroy") and sma implies smaranam ("to remember"). The application of bhasma therefore signifies destruction of the evil and remembrance of the divine. Bhasma is called vibhuti (which means "glory") as it gives glory to one who applies it and raksha (which means a source of protection) as it protects the wearer from ill health and evil, by purifying him or her.
Homa (offering of oblations into the fire with sacred chants) signifies the offering or surrender of the ego and egocentric desires into the flame of knowledge or a noble and selfless cause. The consequent ash signifies the purity of the mind, which results from such actions.
Also the fire of knowledge burns the oblation and wood signifying ignorance and inertia respectively. The ash we apply indicates that we should burn false identification with the body and become free of the limitations of birth and death. This is not to be misconstrued as a morose reminder of death but as a powerful pointer towards the fact that time and tide wait for none.
Bhasma is specially associated with Lord Shiva who applies it all over His body. Shiva devotes apply bhasma as a tripundra. When applied with a red spot at the center, the mark symbolizes Shiva-Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe).
Tryambakam yajaamahe Sugandhim pushtivardhanam Urvaa rukamiva bhandhanaan Mrytyor muksheeyamaa amrutaat
"We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva who nourishes and spread fragrance in our lives. May He free us from the shackles of sorrow, change and death – effortlessly, like the fall of a rip brinjal from its stem."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Influencing The Atmosphere

Thoughts are very powerful. It is thought power that creates the atmosphere in my home or office. The atmosphere may or may not be positive depending on the thoughts of those present at home or in the office. If I can control my mind and develop its positive power, I can influence rather than be influenced by the atmosphere around me. My dependence on others and physical things will decrease. I will gain satisfaction, and within that satisfaction there will be great strength. Then nothing will be experienced as difficult. The question of wanting to drop out (leave) of the system or escape does not arise because, although I remain within society, in my thoughts I am beyond its influence.

5. Why do we wear marks (tilak, pottu and the like) on the forehead?

The tilak or pottu invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and colour vary according to one’s caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshipped.
In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or colour) - Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra - applied marks differently. The brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark signifying valour as he belonged to warrior races. The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a businessman or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three divisions.
Also Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of "U,” Shiva worshippers a tripundra of bhasma, Devi worshippers a red dot of kumkum and so on).
The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The tilak is applied with the prayer - "May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds.” Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces.
The entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves - the forehead and the subtle spot between the eyebrows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak and pottu cools the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. Sometimes the entire forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma. Using plastic reusable "stick bindis" is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why do we prostrate before parents and elders?

Indians prostrate before their parents, elders, teachers and noble souls by touching their feet. The elder in turn blesses us by placing his or her hand on or over our heads. Prostration is done daily, when we meet elders and particularly on important occasions like the beginning of a new task, birthdays, festivals etc. In certain traditional circles, prostration is accompanied by abhivaadana, which serves to introduce one-self, announce one’s family and social stature.
Hindu Rituals and Routines Why do we follow them?
Man stands on his feet. Touching the feet in prostration is a sign of respect for the age, maturity, nobility and divinity that our elders personify. It symbolizes our recognition of their selfless love for us and the sacrifices they have done for our welfare. It is a way of humbly acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong family ties, which has been one of India’s enduring strengths.
The good wishes (Sankalpa) and blessings (aashirvaada) of elders are highly valued in India. We prostrate to seek them. Good thoughts create positive vibrations. Good wishes springing from a heart full of love, divinity and nobility have a tremendous strength. When we prostrate with humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders, which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the posture assumed whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables the entire body to receive the energy thus received.
The different forms of showing respect are :
Rising to welcome a person.
Paying homage in the form of namaste
Touching the feet of elders or teachers.
Prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest, forehead and arms touching the ground in front of the elder.
Returning a greeting.
Rules are prescribed in our scriptures as to who should prostrate to whom. Wealth, family name, age, moral strength and spiritual knowledge in ascending order of importance qualified men to receive respect. This is why a king though the ruler of the land, would prostrate before a spiritual master. Epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata have many stories highlighting this aspect.