Month: November 2014
Have you ever imagined that a symbol can rage the anger of a specific community or individuals from a particular territory? Can a symbol be associated with the pride of one and the disgust of the other?
It’s a mystery in itself that how a simple symbol can be connoted differently by various individuals and divide the entire humanity into pieces. ‘Swatika’ is one such symbol that holds various beliefs for varied individuals.
True meaning of Swastika:
Literally, Swastika means ‘of good fortune’ – ‘Su‘ means ‘well’ and ‘asti‘ means ‘being’. It marks the beginning of peace, fortune and happiness in one’s life.
- Spreading its arms in four directions, the solar symbol defines the power of Sun or Lord Vishnu.
- The four armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable centre as God.
- It explains the four eras i.e. Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dwapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.
- It represents the four varnas i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
- It defines the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation).
- It describes the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda and the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma.
- It is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck.
- It represents the celestial change of the Sun to the tropic of Capricorn according to Hindu astronomy.
- It carries the spirit of enlightenment that defines the flow from humankind to a higher level of consciousness.
Negative connotation related with Swastika:
The above points highlight the positive side of the coin but we can never ignore the negative connotations and beliefs attached to this symbol. Till date the sentiments of the Jews are hurt and they associate the ‘Swastik’ with evil energies. As swastika was associated with ‘Aryan identity’, Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the emblem of ‘racial purity’ displayed on a red background. Even before that, during the post-World War I period, a number of far-right nationalist movements adopted the swastika.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote: “I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle.” The devastating holocaust in Germany and the negative association with the Nazi party invokes the strong emotions of the Jews and has acquired a negative connotation in the West.
Significance for other cultures:
Not only for Hindus, but the symbol of swastika is also evident on the chest, palms, soles of Buddha and it symbolised the footsteps of Lord Buddha. For Jainism, it represents the four possible places of rebirth i.e. the animal or plant world, hell, earth, or the spirit world. In China and Japan, the swastika has been used to represent abundance, prosperity and long life. The Greek goddess Athena was sometimes portrayed as wearing robes covered with swastikas. For the early Christians, the symbol represented Christ, calling it a disguised cross.
Though the culture and experiences may vary the definition of Swastika, yet it is hoped that the true significance of this auspicious symbol is realized by the world, ignoring the historical past.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
When lots of gold coin candies made us the richest man or grabbing the swing during lunch break was the only prime issue, these memories are the best and worst times of our living. The fun filled beautiful moments made our toddler years perfect and now we are just left with fading memories imprinted on the sand of time. To relive those special moments every year, we celebrate the fun filled Children’s Day every year on 14th November.
Apart from the usual grand party celebration at home or the cultural celebration and interesting events at school, try something new and different this year to spread the smile of happiness among the under privileged section of the society.
- Donate the funds collected for party to an orphanage or shelter home and experience the true joy of happiness by bringing smiles on their face.
- Organize a fun celebration at shelter homes for children and make them participate in unique activities like poetry, painting or dancing; this will make them feel special.
- By donating clothes, books, toys, stationery and other such items to the downtrodden street children; as this will inculcate the value of sharing among your kids and being friendly with them.
- By taking an initiative to sponsor the education of a needy child in your neighbour or for your helper’s kid can also be done.
These tiny efforts from your end will spread a spark of happiness in the entire world and will also enlighten the future foundation of this country by teaching them the act of sharing and helping others Make an oath to yourself this Children’s day that you will perform just one act of generosity and bring a smile on a tiny toddler’s face. If your children are also involved in this act of generosity then this will surely be a cherry on the top. Let the noble act of loving children by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru be carried forward by us and spread among generations to come.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
Goddess Saraswati is the store house of knowledge and wisdom, and the lover of art and music. Lord Brahma, the divine consort of Goddess Saraswati, creates the beautiful Universe and Sarsawati ji completes the process by showering the knowledge required for comprehending the creation.
The pious and serene state of Goddess is depicted by her vahan i.e. swan. The pure white swan portrays the selfless realization of true knowledge and also the discrimination between the eternal and mortal. The Goddess is also accompanied with a peacock near her image that signifies the ignorant attitude and how one is tangled in the deceptive charm of beauty. By mounting on the peacock, Saraswati ji teaches that the external appearance is transitory and should not be given priority. It’s the divine inner soul that needs to be focused and revered.
Lord Vishnu: Serpent and Garuda
Lord Vishnu also known as Narayana is the maintainer who sustains the entire creation. Lord Vishnu is the strength to maintain goodness in the Universe and he is also the remover of darkness of illusion. The connection between Lord Vishnu and his ‘sesha naag’ is renowned where the Lord rests upon sesha’s form of snake. Sesha means ‘balance’, thus the Lord is laid upon him. Snake is a symbol of time, eternity and wisdom that shows the controller of time representing the absolute truth of life.
Garuda, the eagle god is also the Vahana of Lord Vishnu that is well known for its speed and mighty wings. At one instance, Garuda wanted a place even higher than Lord Vishnu but as he got acquainted of the powers of Lord Vishnu, he became his faithful devotee by surrendering himself as his vehicle. It symbolise the numerous flying thoughts of mortals and the way they are controlled by the Almighty.
Lord Shiva: Nandi bull
Lord Shiva is the embodiment of creating as well as destroying. He is worshipped for his supreme powers and signifies the union of duality with Goddess Shakti. The vehicle of lord Shiva, Nandi bull symbolise the brutal and aggressive attitude of humans. By mounting on the top of the bull, lord Shiva tames the evil energies and also controls the sexual impulses. Shiva controls the negative impulses by riding on its back and teaches the important lesson to mankind.
Goddess Durga: Lion
Goddess Durga, another form of Parvati ji is the ferocious depiction of powerful and warrior Goddess. She is the widely adored deity renowned for female energy or Shakti. Goddess Durga with three eyes and ten arms is mounted on the golden hairy lion that symbolise the removal of dark night through bright golden light. Defeating the demon Mahishasura, mounting on the lion represents the ferocious and wild nature of both the Goddess and her vehicle. The lion acts as the celestial vehicle and portrays the lordly powers of wild beast.
Lord Ganesha: Mouse
The one without whom every important work is incomplete and without whose grace our life is doomed is our own beloved Ganesha. The remover of all our obstacles, Ganesha is the store house of knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. Lord Ganesh is often seen riding the tiny moshika raj ‘mouse’ as his vehicle which is considered weak. Mouse is related with destructive traits that spoils the food and crops, especially. Here the mouse connotes the human mind that destroys the mental peace due to evil thoughts and energies, but by mounting on the devil energies, Lord Ganesha crushes them. The faithful devotion is depicted by bestowing a peaceful mind to the devotee and teaching us the power of goodness and faith.
Lord Brahma: Seven swans
Lord Brahma is the supreme deity known for creation of this Universe. He is upmost source of knowledge and his consort Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Brahma ji is known for the creation of Vedas that are the base of knowledge for this Universe. The four head and four armed God is the symbol of four vedas, four maha yugas and the fourfold social order. He is seen mounted on the chariot lead by seven swans as swan is the symbol of knowledge and discretionary powers. Swan is known for purity that teaches us to make right decisions in our life. Swan is also known for separating milk from the mixture of milk and water that reveals the characteristic trait of Lord Brahma to make fine distinction while creating the Universe.
Goddess Lakshmi: Owl
The Goddess of prosperity and wealth is the consort of Sri Mahavishnu and is highly revered by the Hindu devotees. She is the store house of wealth, good luck, fortune, beauty, charm and riches that defines her power of showering unlimited blessings. The vehicle of goddess Lakshmi, an owl or ‘uluka’ is often a negative connotation; therefore it is considered to be associated with Alakshmi (Goddess of inauspiciousness). It is believed that during the Samudra manthan, Lakshmi was born out of Amrit and Alakshmi emerged with Halahal. As owl is known for its nocturnal activity, it is associated with ill omen but for few the ability of owl to see only in darkness symbolise the capability of going from darkness to light i.e. materialism to spiritualism. The figure of owl with the Goddess is a reminder that the wealth and fortune are a trap and our inner conscious and wisdom keeps us away from the ‘adharmik’ use of that fortune.
Lord Indra: Airavata
The most powerful and excellent warrior, known as the King of Devas and also the God of War and Weather. The term Indra is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Ind’ meaning to be powerful and the one who defeats his enemy. He is even renowned for his arrogant traits, yet he is the chief deity in Rig Veda. To maintain dharma in all three lokas and fight against evil powers, Lord Indra is the heroic protagonist. The four tusked, white elephant is the vahana of this deity, which is said to have emerged during Samudra manthan. The mighty elephant is renowned for protecting the gates of paradise as well as other miracles. It is said that Airavata gathered water from the large lakes of Udaygiri Mountains and showers it in the direction of lord Indra; thus holding the ability of giving rise to clouds or pouring rain. The pious and spotless white creature is a symbol of purity and is known to be created during the beginning of life by Lord Brahma.
Lord Vayu: Thousands of horse
The great personification of wind, Lord Vayu is known as the initial partaker of soma juice. He is a dear friend of lord Indra and given equal respect and weightage. He is as swift as mind and also called as the God of Thoughts. He is one of the major elements of the five elements of the Universe and is also described as ‘Satata-ga’ (ever moving), ‘Pavana’ (wind), and ‘Gandha-vaha’ (the perfume bearer). He is the guardian of North West direction and the father of Lord Hanuman and Bheema. Vayu devta is often shown riding forty nine or thousand horses that helps to cover long distances swiftly within few seconds. Horse is known for its swift and mighty powers and is often symbolised as notorious and fast mind that flies from one thought to another in just few seconds. By climbing upon these horses, Lord Vayu tames the swift thoughts and brings stability and calmness in our mind. The white coloured horses that cover all the three lokas of the world are a symbol of victory over our evil and negative thoughts.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
A story becomes a great epic only because of its characters and their peculiar traits, which leaves the footprints on the sand of time and stays eternal forever. The portrayal of niche thinking, complexities and determination of attaining fame; better explained through the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ and yea it was definitely ‘The War’. The great epic, Mahabharata marks the beginning of egocentric, shrewd and all other negative sides of human nature with a tint of humanity.
Though every character justified with their specific roles, yet the hero is only one and probably ‘Arjuna’, the middle one out of the five Pandavas warriors out shined as a true hero. I am not saying that ‘Arjuna’ was a perfect character but in spite of his own complexities or as per the plot of the story, he was usually in a win-win situation.
#A grand celebration was performed at Arjuna’s birth and Lord Indra was gratified by the success stories of his son and called himself a proud father of Arjuna.
#Arjuna was focussed and perspicuous about his goals and he earned his success by working hard. He practised to shoot an arrow in darkness as well as by hearing the minute audible sounds.
#Arjuna remained in the priority wish list of Bheeshma and Dronacharya forever. Both the talented warriors supported him and even opted for inappropriate actions to prove his excellence.
#Karan being an equally capable warrior as Arjuna, could never flourish because of his karmas and favouring the wrong doers i.e. Duryodhan; which indirectly lead Arjuna to excel.
#Arjuna’s feelings for his beloved Draupadi were true but sharing his wife with the other four was not his idea. Yet he abided his mother and accepted the truth.
#In spite of any complex situation, Arjuna bestowed full faith upon his soul mate- Lord Krishna and received his hearty blessings as a devotee and follower.
#At one point, Arjuna had to raise his sword to kill his dear brother Yudhistra, as per his oath. Yet Arjuna could not accept his own deed of disrespecting his brother and paid for his sin.
#The moral code and empathetic attitude of Arjuna, made him receive laurels and blessings from all his relations.
#Till the end, Arjuna had a soft corner towards Karan and respected him as a brave competitor. Only to abide by his master’s wish, Arjuna had to shoot an arrow on Karan.
#In spite of an opportunity of choosing the great army of 10,000 warriors, Arjuna remained firm with his decision of choosing Lord Krishna. The success of Arjuna was sure shot, since he preferred to sit near his master’s feet rather that near his head like Duryodhan.
The enlightening journey of Arjuna in holy Bhagvad Gita is an epitome of his successful and perfect character and proves my above statement judiciously.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja