Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The story of Manasa

Manasâ is the mind-born daughter of Maharsi Kas’yapa; hence she is named Manasâ; or it may be She who plays with the mind is Manasâ. Or it may be She who meditates on God with her mind and gets rapture in Her meditation of God is named Manasâ. She finds pleasure in Her Own Self, the great devotee of Visnu, a Siddha Yoginî. For three Yugas She worshipped S’rî Krisna and then She became a Siddha Yoginî. S’rî Krisna, the Lord of the Gopîs, seeing the body of Manasâ lean and thin due to austerities, or seeing her worn out like the Muni Jarat Kâru called her by the name of Jarat Kâru. Hence Her name has come also to be Jarat Kâru. Krisna, the Ocean of Mercy, gave her out of kindness, Her desired boon; She worshipped Him and S’rî Krisna also worshipped Her. Devî Manasâ is known in the Heavens, in the abode of the Nâgas (serpents), in earth, in Brahmâloka, in all the worlds as of very fair colour, beautiful and charming. She is named Jagad Gaurî as she is of a very fair colour in the world. Her other name is S’aivî and she is the disciple of S’iva. She is named Vaisnavî as she is greatly devoted to Visnu. She saved the Nâgas in the Snake Sacrifice performed by Pariksit, she is named Nages’varî and Nâga Bhaginî and She is capable to destroy the effects of poison. She is called Visahari. She got the Siddha yoga from Mahâdeva; hence She is named Siddha Yoginî; She got from Him the great knowledge, so she is called Mahâ Jñanayutâ, and as she got Mritasamjîvanî (making alive the dead) she is known by the name of Mritasanjîvanî. As the great ascetic is the mother of the great Muni Âstîk, she is known in the world as Âstîka mâtâ. As She is the dear wife of the great high-souled Yogi Muni Jarat Kâru, worshipped by all, she is called as Jarat
Kârupriya, Jaratkâru, Jagadgaurî, Manasâ, Siddha Yoginî, Vaisnavî,Nâga Bhaginî, S'aivi, Nages’varî, Jaratkârupriyâ, Âstikamâtâ, Visahari, and Mahâ Jñanayutâ; these are the twelve names of Manasâ, worshipped everywhere in the Universe. He who recites these twelve names while worshipping Manasâ Devî, he or any of his family has no fear of snakes. If there be any fear of snakes in one’s bed, if the house be infested with snakes or if one goes to a place difficult for fear of snakes or if one’s body be encircled with snakes, all the fears are dispelled, if one reads this stotra of Manasâ. There is no doubt in this. The snakes run away out of fear from the sight of him who daily recites the Manasâ stotra. Ten lakhs of times repeating the Manasâ mantra give one man success in the stotra. He can easily drink poison who attains success in this stotra. The snakes become his ornaments; they carry him even on their backs. He who is a great Siddha can sit on a seat of snakes and can sleep on a bed of snakes. In the end he sports day and night with Visnu.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Mother and her Divine grace

The princes, who had been invited to the Swayamvaram, won the princess hand in marriage responded to the king "Do not bother to entertain us, O King Subahu. You have passed a sleep lessnight. Go and take some rest."He returned to his castle.Inside the castle, preparations were afoot for the bride's journey to her husband's place. Some friendy princes whispered to the king, "Please don't let the coupleleave the castle now. The enemy, like a pack of hungry wolves, is waiting to pounce upon them.
The king was, naturally, in favour of detaining thecouple. But Sudarshan told him, "O King, don't have any fear for of us. The Divine Mother will protect us. I shall lead your daughter safely to my hut. I've no palace.But my forest is in no way less attractive than any palace.
The king did not like to stand in his way. He bade them farewell. A regiment of his army accompanied them. Even then King Subahu was not without anxiety. He, too, followed them. Outside the town, Yudhajit lay in ambush with his soldiers and a few foolish princes. "Here they come!"He shouted when he sighted Sudarshan's chariot. With his sword drawn, he leaped up from hiding.King Subahu did not take long to recognise his voice. He jumped forward and faced him.
Fighting broke out. Sudarshan, calm and composed, prayed to the Divine Mother calling for Her intervention. Suddenly, to everybody's surprise, there appeared aluminous female figure riding a lion, in the very midst of the battle. Yudhajit's elephants panicked at the sight of the ferocious lion. "Look here, my soldiers, the Divine Mother is here to protect us. Go forward fearlessly and destroy the enemy!"shouted Sudarshan.
What! Should you get frightened at the sight of a woman, a prince without a kingdom, and an old king? Come on, let's crush them!"shouted Yudhajit, addressing his soldiers and the few princess who had joined him. He had hardly finished giving out his call when he was struck by a lethal arrow. He fell down and died instantly. Next to fall was his grandson and Sudarshan's step-brother the young Shatrujit.
Many of Yudhajit's soldiers and collaborators diedat the hands of King Subahu and Prince Sudarshan. The rest fled. Soon all was quiet. Subahu prostrated himself before the Goddess. "Mother! Now that you have come to my rescue so compassionately, be pleased to dwell forever in the city of Kashi. I am told Kashi will remain as long as the earthre mains. My prayer is, you be in Kashi as long as Kashiis there!The Goddess agreed.
Sudarshan and his bride, too, prostrated themselves before the Goddess. "Mother! I would have beenno where but for your Grace.Kindly tell me what I should do now.
"Go to Ayodhya andascend the throne. Rule the kingdom with truth and justice. You'll always have my protection,"said the Goddess.
Those princes who were returning from Kashi got an opportunity to be hold the Goddess. They wereoverwhelmed. After the wondrous vision disappeared, they told Sudarshan, "It is because of you that we had had this fortune. We'll ever remain grateful to you.
Sudarshan and Shashikala took leave of King Subahu and proceeded to Ayodhya. Some of the friendly princes went as their escorts. The news of Shatrujit's death and Sudarshan's victorious march had already reached Ayodhya. The ministers and the nobility organised a grand reception for the prince and his bride.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Stories from Devi Bhagavatam- Hayagriva

Thousands of years ago, there was a forest called Naimisharanya. Part of this forest was untouched by the evils of Kaliyuga the era of falsehood. Many sages had chosen their home in that part of the forest. Among them was the learned Suta, who had grasped the meaning of the eighteen Puranas from Vyasa the author of the Mahabharata and several Puranas .
The sages were distressed with the fear of the Kali and had come to Naimisharanya eager to hear the Puranas. Shounaka, a sage, persuaded Suta to narrate to them the divine auspicious Bhagavatam. He yielded to their request and said, I feel blessed and overjoyed that I have been asked to narrate the meritorious Purana. I bow to Devi Bhagavati, praised by all the gods, including Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Today, I shall describe in detail and in plain language, the best of Puranas, that contains all the sentiments that a human being can conceive the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam .
Once, Vyasa was touched when he saw two sparrows showering love on their little one. Observing their affection towards their young, Vyasa grew anxious and thought that if birds had so much affection, how much more affection human beings would have for their children. He thought nurturing sons was the highest happiness. He decided to perform penance in order to have a son but didn?t know which god to pray to. The gods told him that they were subservient to the Divine Mother and no one had the powers that she possessed. Vishnu then told him about the powers of the Devi.
Once, Vishnu, the sustainer of the universe, became tired after continuous battle for ten thousand years. Seated under the shade of the tree, Vishnu rested, placing his chin on his bow. Around that time, the devas came to him for his approval for a sacrifice. Finding him asleep, the devas grew anxious. They knew Vishnu would be angry if disturbed. Lord Brahma then created white ants and asked them to eat the front of the bow which was lying on the ground so that the other end would become free and would wake up Vishnu. The white ants did as they were told, but contrary to what the devas expected, instead of waking up Vishnu, the string snapped with a great force and cut off Vishnu's head.
The devas were distressed at the mishap and did not know what to do. Seeing the devas in such agony, Brihaspati, supremely versed in the Vedas, consoled them. He said, It is no use shedding tears over what has happened. The question is how to undo it or turn it to our advantage. Now that this has happened to the mighty Vishnu we can only look up to the Divine Mother the supreme source of all power.The gods sat in meditation and directed their prayers to the Divine Mother. They asked her to restore the life of Vishnu, the husband of Goddess Lakshmi. The Mother appeared before them. She said Nothing happens without a cause. Once Vishnu looked at his beautiful wife, the Goddess Lakshmi and laughed. She wondered what ugliness he had seen in her face. In a moment of annoyance, she wished his head would disappear, without thinking of its effects. Owing to her careless thoughts then, the head of Vishnu has fallen into the ocean. I will fix his head on his body as before. But that is not the only cause for this unusual situation. Once, a horse-headed (Hayagriva) giant practiced penance. I was pleased by his penance. He asked me for a boon that he be immortal. I instead gave him a boon that he would only die only if someone who had a similar physical form faced him in a battle. Sure that another creature like him was impossible, he has now become a terrible menace. It is time someone put an end to the menace. So let Brahma take a horse's head and fix it on the headless body of Vishnu. Then Bhagavan Hayagriva will slay the vicious wicked horse-headed giant, for the good of the devas . Brahma attached the head of a white horse to Vishnu's body and the revived Vishnu entered into battle with Hayagriva and eventually killed him.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Getting ready for Navaratri

It is time for Navaratri celebrations.In the coming days Iam planning to put up some kathas of devi and the poojas to be performed during navaratri.
Getting Ready
Get the house cleaned and ready. You are inviting Goddess into the home. Usually this is done on the Amavasi day, a day before the beginning of Navratri.
Mango leaf festoons are installed on doors, windows and in puja room. Fresh Kolams are drawn.
If you are keeping Kolu, get all the Kolu dolls ready. Repair broken pieces and use natural colors to paint them.
Decide upon the Bommai Kolu Theme.
Plan early about the pooja prasadam (neivedya) and also about the gifts that you plan to give to women guests.
Requirements for Navratri Puja
If you are keeping Kolu dolls, purchase new dolls at least a couple of new ones. The most important doll needed is the Marapachi dolls (Male and Female pair of dolls).
A pot for Kalasha or Kumbha (brass pot)
Face of Goddess to be stuck on Kalasha. Some people do not opt for this.
Ingredients of the Prasadam to be prepared (this depends on what neivediya you are preparing)
Betel leaves
Betel nuts
Usual fruits
Usual pooja items like lamp, incense, agarbathis etc.
Lotus flower for Goddess Saraswathi and Goddess Lakshmi. Jasmine for Durga. Avoid wild the daily poojas I have mentioned the different types of flowers in my earlier post . If you are giving gifts to women invited for Navratri Pooja, then the bag should contain betel leaves, betel nuts, a pair of round turmeric roots, a coconut, fruits, sweets, flowers, a small gift. You can also include cosmetics like kumkum, bangles, comb etc.
A day before Navratri Puja
Navaratri Puja begins on the Bhadrapada Amavasi day or Puratasi Amavasai day, a day before Navratri begins.
In the evening, Kalasha or Purna Kumbha is prepared. This is an invitation to Goddess to enter your home.
Purna Kumba or Kalash is kept on a kolam in such a place that there is space behind to keep the Bommai Kolu. You can attach a face of Goddess to the Purna Kumbha and decorate the Kumbha with jewelry, turmeric, sandal paste, flowers etc.
Those who do not keep Kolu, keep the Kalash in the Pooja room.
Betel leaves, Betel nuts, a coconut is placed in front of the Kalasha. Cooked rice or boiled and sweetened milk is kept as prasadam or neivedya in front of the Kalasha.
This Kalasha is to be kept for next nine days – it symbolizes Goddess.
A lamp is lit every evening and morning for nine days.
Normal puja is performed.
Gollu Ideas:
If you are planning to create a unique Navarathri Bommai Golu:
First decide on a theme or select a story from mythology.
Draw a sketch of the Golu theme in paper or create one in Computer.
Mark all the dolls, back grounds and props needed.
It would be wise to hunt for dolls after deciding on a theme or story.
While selecting a theme make sure that it does not exceed the budget.
Also make sure that the dolls are available in the market or you can create it in a short period.
Depending upon your theme, you will also need backgrounds and other props like forest, trees, ashrams, animals etc.
Apart from the mythological subjects, you can opt for festival themes, karagatam, various dance performances, concert, market, village life etc.
You can also use modern toys to create themes like olympics, cricket, IT related themes, Harry Potter or any other famous stories like Cinderella. Zoo, town, park are some of the usual themes with readily available props in market.
Look around in your home and neighborhood, you will find several props and ideas. Props like forest, trees, ponds, paddy field etc can be created easily at home.
For paddy field, take a flat basin fill it with some mud and sow wheat. Wheat grows quickly. While placing the tray in Golu hide the tray cleverly, so that only the green part is seen. Ponds too can be created in similar fashion. Trees can be done on cardboards and thermocole.
If you are interested in vegetable carving, depending upon your theme you can make props using melon, carrot and other such vegetables.
Let us begin our preparation for the event .

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Identify the Real Guru?

Who is a perfect Guru?The Guru has no gender. He is neither a man nor a woman. He is beyond these attributes. He sees through his atma (soul) and sees only the atma. According to the Sashtras, the Guru follows the principles of dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. Dharma is to attain the ideal perfection, artha is to procure the right result necessary to attain the ideal perfection, and to become free from all desires is kaama. These are the three qualifications of a Guru.Guru is like a poem, which you do not understand when you read it at first. You have to go beyond the external form. You have to contemplate on the Guru, which means you have to understand the Guru. To contemplate, you have to be with him, understand him, do upaasana, conceive, then only you realize how wonderful Guru is.GU means darkness and RU means light. The Guru illuminates the path, removes the darkness of ignorance and reveals the truth. He transmits the knowledge to the disciples. He teaches the disciples. A teacher has a student whereas a Guru has a disciple, or a sishya. A sishya is the sesha of the Guru, the sesha part of the Guru, which means a part of the Guru. A sishya differs from the vidyaarthi, who goes to a teacher to attain the artha of the vidya. A sishya's place is in the heart of the Guru whereas the vidyaarthi's place is in front of the Guru. A sishya is not different from the Guru. A student is one who studies. He does not study other than what is taught, he does not know himself, he does not study his own self, he studies something else.There is also a difference between a teacher and a Guru. A teacher is not a Guru. The one who teaches what is taught is called a teacher. His knowledge of the taught is teaching, he has not attained it as shruthi (noble words echoed by the Supreme), he has acquired it from some book or some person. A Guru is one who leads you from darkness to light and one who transmits shruthi.

Guru is known as Brahma, as Vishnu and as Lord Maheswara. Guru is actually the Supreme Divinity and therefore we bow down to the respected Guru. Through all the teachers, guides, inspiration, examples of every realm of heaven and earth, the principle of Guru is what has shown forth. Why is Guru known as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara? Is it possible to have a confusion of loyalties?
What is the meaning of this shloka:
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwaraha
Guru saakshaat Parabrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha
The literal meaning, as most people understand is qualifying the Guru as the Brahma the creator, as Vishnu, the protector and as Lord Shiva, the balancer.

Guru is Brahma, the creator, He creates the disciple. If there were no Guru, there would be no disciple. Gods were there and Gods will remain, but unless there is a Guru, disciples cannot be created and no one can reach God. We look at Guru only as a creator, who can give pleasures, blessings and identify him as Brahma. Most people are stuck with Guru as Brahma. They only want the Guru to create new things, they look for materialistic and spiritualistic benefits, they find only the glitter, and as a result the moha increases. Guru gives attraction initially, for instance when you first go to a saint, he may bring out a Shivalinga and give it to you. Next day, he gives you Lord Krishna, and the third day vibhuthi (scared ash). The fourth day he asks you not to come for all these things. By this time you realize that you do not want to go anywhere else. He has shown that if he can give all these, he can give something else also. A child initially needs some sort of attraction, the saint does all this to attract you towards knowledge. He does not have to please you by giving all these things. He only attracts the human mind but people misunderstand these gestures as a cheap expression of powers.Guru creates a disciple, gives certain intimation, warnings, tests in some ways and then vanishes. The disciple keeps on searching for the Guru, he presumes that the Guru has disappeared, as he is not physically visible. The Guru is aware that since he has created you, he also has to protect you. The disciple looks for the Guru or the knowledge, which will liberate him from the cycle of births and deaths. He looks for the Supreme Divinity, which is by no means an easy task: going through the karma yoga, the dhyaana marga, the bhakthi and the jnaana marga. The Guru has created this thought within you and in order to search for him, he makes you walk the path, clears the path, makes you experience the life and throughout the experience, he protects you. You realize that he is not merely a giver, but when you are in trouble, when you are faced with diseases and difficulties, he protects you even at the cost of his life! When all doors are closed, when there is no way out, when even God does not listen to your call, Guru Vishnu protects you! Through all the struggles, the Guru is always with you. This is Gurur Vishnu!

Ultimately you come to Lord Shiva! Guru has all the three virtues within Him. The knowledge is implanted in your mind, you are asked to contemplate, made to struggle, made to work hard, made to realize and ultimately reach the transcendor. Once you reach there, he transcends you totally, he removes the veil of ignorance from you. In order to make you see your own Divinity, in order to make you understand that you yourself are the Supreme, he destroys what is not required for you. He is a destructor because he destroys the darkness, the ignorance, the avidya from within you. This is what Lord Shiva does! He has been entrusted with the responsibility of transcending. He removes the obstacles in order to create and maintain dharma. Guru Devo Maheswara! Guru saakshaat Parabrahma! Who is the Parabrahma? The one who has created the universe, who has created the Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, is Parabrahma. After passing through all the stages, after unconditional surrender, when he reaches the stage of HE AM I, the disciple suddenly finds saakshaat Parabrahma standing there! He immediately prostrates before the Parabrahma -- Guru saakshaat Parabrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha! You have no sharira, no mana, no aathma. Then you realize that the Guru is the saakshaat Parabrahma! When you reach the Brahma, then the Parabrahma is visible. Parabrahma is the Supreme Divinity. Brahma cannot create the Guru, Vishnu cannot create the Guru, Maheswara cannot create the Guru, it is only the Parabrahma who can create the Guru. All the three are merged in the Guru, enabling the powers of the Parabrahma to be transmitted to him.

There is a story of a king who claimed to be a great disciple of his Guru. One day when the Guru visited him at the palace, the King after greeting him with full respect and dignity, prayed at the Guru’s feet and wanted to know what he could offer the Guru. This just showed the king’s arrogance! What can you offer to the giver of all? Nevertheless, the Guru replied: give me whatever is yours! The king started by offering his palace to live in and meditate, then all his wealth, his praja (people), but the Guru declined everything, because nothing belonged to the King. Even the kingdom does not belong to you, said the Guru when the king offered the entire kingdom. The king offered his sons, then his sharira but the Guru refused even these. When the king offered his mind, the Guru said he would go insane, if he offered his mind, so the king offered his mind and aathma. At this the Guru said: "If you can do this, then YOU ARE ME. For the time being, please rule your country properly." The Guru then departed. What does this show? Guru does not want what you think he wants. He wants to uplift your aathma, reach you to the Supreme Power, the Divinity, because he himself is Divine. Divine only accepts divinity and nothing less than that. As long as you do not become divine, he keeps you at a distance, you have to transcend, you have to reach: Guru Devo Maheswara.