Many of us believe in the philosophy of quitting their favourite edible or avoiding materialistic luxuries to please the God and receiving blessings in return for fulfilment of the desired wish. This concept is prevalent during the seven or eight days of fasting of Navratras. Yet if you are not one of those who can fast, still you have to abide by the rituals of food pattern in the house.
Remember- Strict NO to Non-Vegetarian food!
All of us are aware about the prohibition of non-veg food items and even onion and garlic during Navratri festival; so let’s explore the cause behind it.
*NAVRATRI occurs during the two major changes of season i.e. fall into winters and then winters into spring. This period has the highest probability of affecting our immune system; and such changes in the nature and environment around us also brings alterations within us. Thus it is better to go for easily digestible edibles which are healthy and nourishing and also activates the positivity within you.*
Other reasons for avoiding non-veg:
- Non vegetarian food is high in Tamasic content that consumes a much longer time for digestion and creates an aura of irritation and negativity.
- The animals are slaughtered inhumanely which leads to a cover of pain and distressing energy around the meat; which keep on growing as we consume them.
- Certain issues like respiratory diseases, heart diseases, indigestion and even cancer can be caused due to excess of proteins.
- The Sattva-guna begins to decline within one, over powered by the violent and ferocious
- Lack of positivity disturbs the spiritual experience of an individual and he deviates from his motive of life.
Though all these points mentioned above will compel you to think about it at least once, but there is no law against it and it is not a sin to eat meat. Yet those of us who prefer Sattvik over Rajasic or Tamasic are able to reach the spiritual destination, much quicker and easily.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
The night of stillness or the great night of Shiva is a largely celebrated festival among Hindus. Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of ‘Maagha’ according to the Hindu calendar. Among all the 12 Shivratris that occur throughout the year, Mahashivratri holds the utmost spiritual significance. The absolute formless God, Sadashiv appeared in the form of “Lingodbhav Moorti” exactly at midnight on Maha Shivratri, due to which all the Shiva devotees perform “Shivlingam abhishekham” at midnight.
- As per renowned stories, the auspicious ‘Samudra Manthan’, where lord Shiva drank the poison ‘Halahala’ to save the entire humanity from evil destruction; marks the celebration of this event on this day.
- Another legend reveals, once a hunter waited on the wood apple tree for his hunt, in the meanwhile he started throwing leaves on the ground. Oblivious to the presence of Lingam on the ground, Lord Shiva was pleased with the patience and dedication of the hunter and blessed him with wisdom.
- It was said that once Goddess Parvati pledged Lord Shiva to save the Earth from destruction, in return lord Shiva kept a condition that the devotees will worship him with complete faith and dedication. On this day devotees express their gratitude through enthusiastic prayers.
As per the research, the Northern hemisphere is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in beings. The fundamental of this night long festival marks the gain of natural energies into our body and soul. Beings who want to proceed ahead on the path of spirituality, offer special prayers on this day and become still with the stable Lord. After many millennia in meditation, the day when supreme Lord becomes stable is Mahashivratri. This day provides enhancement possibilities to the yogic seekers.
Mahashivratri is not only a ritual but a cosmic definition to the Universe. It dispels ignorance by spreading the light of knowledge, and blesses the beings with wisdom and happiness.
“Na ca saknomy avasthatum bhramativa ca me manah nitmittani ca pasyami viparitani kesava”; meaning- O Krishna, I am unable to keep composed; my mind is unsteady, and I see dire indications of inauspicious omens.” The supreme Krishna guided the perplexed Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra and the direct gospel from the lips of Lord Krishna holds significance in our daily lives and provides solutions to everyday troubles.
The 700 shlokas across 18 chapters as a part of epic Mahabharata highlights the Vedantic views, which needs to be imbibed in our lives. The core philosophies of karma, dharma, reincarnation, atman, brahman, maya and moksha forms the basis of the teachings of Krishna.
In the beginning of the chapter, the act of knowing your true self i.e. leaving apart the physical body and materialistic possessions that are delusion, identify your higher self or eternal soul. When man is free from the effect of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, anxiety and other such emotions; then he completely connects with the supreme power and stays neutral and contented at every situation in life.
Be in the moment:
Gita explains about the relevance of cherishing the journey more than the final destination. Whatever field you have mastered in, the pleasure of creating yourself up to that level is more inspiring and beautiful than the final end of creation. So be it any phase of life, if you live in that very moment without being judgemental about results, the greed and curiosity for more, vanishes.
Gita highlights the necessity of weighing everyone at the same level, be it friends or foe. “He alone sees truly who sees God in every creature he does not harm himself or others.” If the Supreme father doesn’t discriminate among all his kids, then how can we mortal beings perform against the law of nature? As the feelings of acceptance indulges the flower of love blooms within us and provides the strength to treat everyone as One human family.
Be cautious about your actions:
Lord Krishna explains Arjuna that every situation in our life is the result of our prior actions; fate and destiny need not to be blamed. Think about what you are doing right now, as your present actions decides your future results. The beautiful life is a gift of God, utilise it now and get rid of your flaws within time.
Have faith on HIM:
Almighty is infinitely more, beyond what can be seen, felt, heard by our physical senses; so it’s pointless to be thoughtful about every action on this planet. Have faith on his supreme blessings and say ‘I am in you and you are in me’. This bestows you with strength that prevents you to get trapped in the vicious circle of life.
Perform your duty:
“You might like another’s duty, and dislike yours. But still, do your own duty, and not another’s, even if you can do another’s duty very well. Or you’ll go on being caught up in the field of opposites. And there will be no end to your suffering.” It is much easier to become a hermit and stay in forest, leaving your family and responsibilities; but the true challenge is to perform your duties within the world of illusion and stay connected to the true self every second.
Act good, the lord is watching:
As a watch keeper, the Lord is aware about every act you perform. We can fool other mortals but not the supreme power. So be true to yourself and act wisely, without expecting the fruitful results, as it is your journey that matters. Gita says that you keep doing your duty in the best way you can and there will always be bigger power that will protect the truth. In short, never stop your war against injustice just because your enemy look so formidable. ‘In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of truth, I advent Myself time to time.’
The elements of Bhagvad Gita has been inspiring from the life of Mahatma Gandhi to Robert Oppenheimer, so why not you. Each one of us is Arjuna on the karmic battlefield of life, and the teachings of Lord guide us to win the battle against our own blood relations.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
Indian weddings are all about a festive celebration among two families, that unites them together in the auspicious bond of love. Traditional values and cultures are most highlighted during the ceremonies beginning from engagement to the wedding day. Yet the big fat wedding doesn’t end here till the newly-wed couple arrives at the door of the house, thinking it to be the completion of all the customs but to their surprise so much more is waiting for them.
Indians must have experienced or watched the post wedding customs in all the drama series and movies on television, in which the bride and groom are warmly welcomed by the groom’s family at the door step. Here we’ll discuss further about their relevance.
The Dwar Roka ceremony is performed in which the couple is not allowed to enter the house, until the groom gives some expensive gift or cash to her sister and other cousins. The sister-in-law demands a gift from her brother as it is a symbol of the beginning of new relationships and ties a hot and sweet bond between the bride and her sister-in-law.
Then the mother-in-law welcomes the couple with the traditional ‘Aarti’ and the bride enters with her right foot and kicks a vessel filled with rice and coins. The Griha pravesh ceremony is a house warming ceremony to fill up the space with kindness, tolerance, patience, generosity, humility and selfless love. By kicking the vessel at the doorstep, it symbolise the beginning of new era for the family and it denotes the arrival of happiness and wealth in her marital home. Bride being the symbol of Goddess Lakshmi, is the sign of wealth and prosperity, thus it signifies the arrival of wealth and prosperity. The reference of ‘Kalash’ has also been made in the Rigveda considering it a symbol of prosperity. It is a literal cosmos transceiver.
These ceremonies neutralises the evil aura, inside and outside the house, removing all the negative energies and bringing a new ray of positivity along with the new bride.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
The wish fulfilling tree or also known as ‘kalpa vriksha’ in Sanskrit is considered auspicious for providing the necessities of life. It is said, that Adi Shankara replaced the ‘bali’ sacrifice of human beings by coconut, to achieve the fulfilment of desire by performing religious ceremonies. Coconut is referred as human head, where the outer hard shell is similar to physical body and the kernel to the subtle body. The marks on the hard coconut body are also considered to resemble the three eyed Lord Shiva, who is the Lord to fulfil our wishes and desires.
Significance of offering Coconut:
The purest offering to Lord is coconut, which is unadulterated and pure due to the outer hard shell. Devotees please the Lord by making a pure offering and portraying the intensity of their prayers. We have often seen people breaking coconut before the beginning of auspicious ceremonies or at the beginning of a profitable venture; it is because the coconut is loved by Lord Ganesha. Devotees remember Lord Ganesha by breaking the coconut and getting rid of all the evil energies and negative hurdles.
It is also said that the ceremony of breaking the coconut resembles the breaking of human selfish motives like greed, ego and pride. As the coconut breaks, the human ego or ‘ahankaar’ is broken and shattered in front of lord, by achieving the oneness with supreme God in the Universe. As the physical myth or ‘maya’ is smashed away, one can taste the sweet untouched nectar of divine bliss.
Every part of the coconut fruit along with its tree is beneficial for human existence. Parts like trunk, leaves and coir are used in making of thatches, mats, furniture, oils and soaps. The coconut tree soaks the salty water from the ground and transforms it into sweet nourishing water which is especially recommended for patients. Special parts of the tree and fruit are used in the preparation of ayurvedic medicines and the consumption of the fruit is really healthy.
“Water the plant for five years, reap coconuts for life” is an appropriate saying to define the significance of this auspicious fruit.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
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
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