As soon as the rainy season arrives by the commencement of the month of Shravan (July-August), we all find the genuine sages and hermits who are on the way to achieve perfection in their relationship with the supreme personality of godhead or have already achieved perfection in same, to pause their wanderings and see them staying in huge numbers in temples and ashrams, giving opportunity to the general masses to serve the lord and get them blessed by their blessings.
Chatumaas, the word comes from two separate words, Chatur and Maas. It means a collection of four months, Sharavan (July-August), Bhadrapada (August-September), Ashwin (September-October) and Kartik (October-November). These four months are specifically chosen since it involves the complete rainy season and the autumn season. These seasons, the sages stay at a particular place and perform austerities of body, speech and mind.
As per Ayurveda, these four months are described as the months of highest weakness in the body since the sun changes it’s course. It becomes more prominent in the southern hemisphere and the withdrawal causes generalised weakness. And since the weather is moist and humid, the body is depleted of many nutrients via bodily secretions.
In these months, the shastras enjoin that people must restrain from somethings from their diet and well as daily routine.
The rainy season, carries along with itself a plethora of pathogens and insects who move out from their residence inside the ground in order to find shelter somewhere else as their homes are flooded with water.
Also, due to cool weather, humid climate and availability of water makes the pathogens grow in an accelerated manner. These pathogens become the cause of diseases and hence, to avoid the contact with pathogens, one must observe cleanliness and must restrict movement.
Certain food items must not be consumed. One must not consume
- Green leafy vegetables in Shravan
- Yogurt in Bhadrapada
- Milk in Ashwin
- Non-veg, Urad and Masoor Dal in Kartik
The reason for the same is:
In Shravan, due to fresh arrival of monsoon, all the small organisms living inside the ground come out and try to find shelter. Green leafy vegetables being the best in nutrition as well as space give them the best opportunity. Hence, they enter the leafy vegetables
In Bhadrapada, the season becomes too much cold and wet. Hence, taking yogurt will cause respiratory diseases.
In Ashwin, the mammals whose milk we drink have been enough poisoned by eating the leafy vegetables. For two months, they have been doing so and hence, their milk becomes indigestible and we have the weakest strength at that time due to high humidity and clear sky.
In Kartik, the body starts to recover and welcome the winter season. Since the season is about to change and dryness is to come, consuming foods which are dry and take long time to digest is not considered wise.
“No one can write about my life because it has not been on the surface for man to see.”
Maharishi Arvind Ghosh, popularly known as Aurobindo Ghosh was a multifaceted man who is known for his excellence in poetry, freedom struggle, philosophy, yoga and spirituality. Born on 15th August 1852 in Kolkata Aurobindo was provided the best education from Loreto Convent School, Darjeeling and graduated from King’s College, Cambridge. While studying at Cambridge he also prepared for the Civil Services and qualified ICS with high rank. But he could not stand the mandatory horse riding test and thus could not join the service.
By this time Aurobindo was already learned in Greek, French, Italian, German, Latin and Spanish. He had also mastered the classics and English poetry. In 1893, he returned back to India and became highly interested in teaching at Baroda State College. It was during the partition of Bengal in 1906 when Aurobindo entered the revolutionary movement and became an active part of the freedom struggle. He led the group of Indian nationalists and published the nationalist Bengali newspaper- Vande Mataram, awakening the masses about the atrocities inflicted by British and need for freedom from foreign rulers.
During the freedom struggle, Aurobindo developed his interest in yoga and meditation. He also came across the spiritual guru Vishnu Bhasker Lele, who further guided him on the path of deep meditation and spirituality. His spiritual journey took a turn in British jail. Being secluded from the material world he got a chance to concentrate and learn more about higher realms of consciousness. In one of his speeches Shree Aurobindo himself said,
“I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me his shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies. Amongst these thieves and dacoits there were many who put me to shame by their sympathy, their kindness, the humanity triumphant over such adverse circumstances.”
It was in the prison only when he was visited by the powerful soul of Swami Vivekananda, who enlightened him about the divine state of super-consciousness. After his release from the jail, Maharishi Aurobindo went into deeper state of meditation for 4 years In Pondicherry. Then by association with the French lady, named Mira Richards, he was able to set up an ashram in Pondicherry near sea which was named as Auroville. Sri Aurobindo Asram began with a mere companionship of 4 people and 124 disciples but later became a hub of spiritual learning for thousands of people.
Sri Aurobindo taught the concept of ‘Being and Consciousness’ by realizing the real truth living in the cosmic Universe. His main motive was to enlighten people about their true self- soul and divinity inside them. He wanted people to move from world consciousness to divine consciousness and to learn the art of merging oneself with the Supreme Lord. His teachings on ‘integral yoga’ are clearly explained in ‘The Life Divine’ including the detailed explanation with live examples. Devoting his entire life for spiritual awakening, his soul merged with the formless on 5th December, 1950 but his vision and mission is still spreading message of peace, love and universal brotherhood.
||Om Surya Devam Namaste Stu Grihaanam Karoona Karam
Arghyam Ch Falam Sanyukta Gandh Maalyaakshatai Yutam ||
Surya Dev or the Sun God is the highly revering deity in Hindu mythology. Being the head of all the nine planets, Surya dev has immense strength and he controls the life on earth. Blessed with heavenly powers he is portrayed as riding the chariot which is driven by 7 horses or 1 horse with 7 heads. The number seven defines the seven majestic colors of the rainbow, the seven seasons and also the seven chakras of the human body.
Surya is widely worshipped by devotees, including the asuras or demons. Surya Devta is adored by the Saura sect, which worships him as one of the five main Gods. Yatudhanas, group of demons, were also the deep followers of Surya. Even the Greeks and Romans have special mention of Sun God in their ancient mythology.
Significance of adoring Sun God:
Sun is considered as the significator of health, profession and father in the Vedic Astrology. The light energy of the Sun is a natural remedy for the body ailments and boosts us with energy and positivity. Vitamin D from the Sun is a healthy source for stronger immune system and bones. While offering water to the Sun God in early morning hours, the sunlight gets refracted and reflected due to the thin layer of water which leads to the production of 7 forms of light that get absorbed by our body. Since our body has large surface area, the rays are absorbed through it, maximum by the chest.
The Sun is the symbol of the Self-god. As the Self-god illuminates the mind, the intellect and the body, the Sun illuminates the world. Being the highest symbol of enlightenment the Surya devta bestows the devotee with knowledge and illuminates the dark lives of his devotees.
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Navratras are celebrated to worship different avatars and forms of Goddess Durga. To please Goddess Durga, a 9 day fast period is observed. During Navratri puja, the Durga Sapshati puja and havan with proper procedures and rituals is conducted where each family member gives ahuti and takes blessings from Durga mata. The last 3 days of Navratre are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of education, art and creativity). The Saraswati puja vidhi and processes need to be properly understood and applied.
- After getting ready and cleaning the puja room, sit facing towards east direction.
- Place a white cloth one platform and place the idol of Ma Sarawsati on it. Decorate the idol with turmeric, kumkum, rice, garlands and flowers. Books and musical instruments can also be placed near the deity.
- Place a green coconut on an earthen pot with a red coloured cotton cloth. Light the diya and remember lord Ganesha first and pray for the successful completion of the puja.
- Chant the following mantra and remain in meditation for a while.
||Yaa kundendu tushaaradhawala, yaa shubhra vastravrutha
Yaa veena varadanda manditakara yaa shweta padmasanaa
Yaa brahmachyuta shankara prabhrutibhi devai sadaa vandita,
Saa maam pathu saraswati bhagavati nishshesha,jadyapaha.
Aum saraswathyae namah, dhyanartham, pushpam samarpayami||
- Then offer the prasadam that you have made on the banana or betel leaf. Keep elaichi and lavanga on it.
- Perform the arti with camphor and diya and ring the bell or conch simultaneously.
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The magical crystalline substance, known for its sweet aroma is considered highly auspicious in Hindu rituals. The camphor or kafur or karpura is widely used as a significant part of the puja ceremony and acts as a gesture to adore Lord. Camphor has its own unique attributes and a few of them will be discussed here.
- The camphor completely burns itself out, leaving no residue behind, symbolising the diminishing ego of the devotee and burning itself to enlighten the life of others.
- The sweet fragrance arising from the camphor spreads the aura of positivity and goodness around.
- The flame of burning camphor resembles the flame of consciousness of Lord Shiva, where we can surrender all our negative traits.
- As the devotee places his hands over the flame and touch his eyes and the top of head, it symbolise the illumination of vision and piousness in thought process.
- Camphor is known for its medicinal traits and it also purifies the air and has medicinal benefits on the people around.
- Due to the cooling feature of camphor, it is used as an essential oil for aromatherapy.
- Camphor is also significant in decreasing the irritation of nervous disorders as well as nervousness, chronic disease and epileptic problems.
- It also acts an anti-repellent to keep away the mosquitoes, snakes, reptiles and kill germs.
- Camphor products are used to relieve pain and reduce itching, and also to treat fungal infections and minor burns.
- Camphor has varied sentiments attached with different cultures, thus hold high spiritual value.
The message of Universal peace and enlightenment reminds us of the reverend Buddha, and the journey from birth of prince Siddhartha to enlightenment and becoming Buddha and finally entering into the Nirvana phase. To celebrate the divine occasion of all these auspicious events, the Buddhist festival known as Buddha Purnima or Vesak/Wesak is widely rejoiced on the full moon day of the lunar month, Vaisakha. This year this festival is falling on 4th May, 2015.
Significance of this day:
The day in history which was pre decided by the Universe, is of utmost significance as it holds the three fold journey i.e. birth, enlightenment and death (entering into Nirvana) of Buddha. Not only this, it is also believed that his wife Yashodhara, his first disciple Ananda, his charioteer Channa, and the horse Kantaka on which he renounced his, were all born on this sacred day. Even, the Bodhi tree, under which he attained nirvana, was also believed to have been created on this day. The first sermon at Varanasi by Buddha was also held on this same day.
This festival is a reminder of his noteworthy journey, as he left an epitome for the entire humanity by living as a perfect saint. His eight fold path of right belief, right intention, right living, right conduct, right word, right thinking, right efforts and right meditation; comprehends the perfect balance between materialistic and spiritual life. So the Dharma chakra (8 spokes and path to enlightenment) at Buddhist monasteries symbolises the journey of an individual, and these sacred teachings of Buddha are an inspiration to lead our lives on his directed path.
Rituals on this day:
Special celebrations are organized at Bodh Gaya in Nepal, Kushinagar, Sarnath and other parts around India and the world. Prayers, sermons, recitation of Buddhist scriptures and meditation are performed by the Buddhists devotees, on this day to express their deep love and faith towards Lord Buddha. Numerous birds, insects and other animals are released on this day to celebrate the ‘Act of liberation’, by providing freedom to the tortured and innocent souls. The festival is celebrated with peace and devotion to express the honour towards the Five Principles of Lord Buddha, known as ‘Panchsheel’.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
The presence of exuberant and lively events in life breaks the monotony and also provides an opportunity to get over our issues and share the blissful moments with everyone. India being a multi-cultural country, it is best known for its variety of festivals and celebrations throughout the year; which even leads to numerous events on a single day. As according to the solar calendar, the North Indians rejoice the fun-filled celebration of Baisakhi on 13th or 14th of April every year but this date is also significant due to so many other major events. Let’s explore a few of them along with the true meaning of this festival.
Auspicious Day for other Cultures:
- ‘Rongali Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Naba Barsha’ in Bengal, ‘Puthandu’ in Tamil Nadu and ‘Pooram Vishu’ in Kerala is also cherished widely on the same day as Baisakhi.
- It is marked as a day of enlightenment or Nirvana of Lord Budha, so considered highly valuable for Buddhists.
- Both the Bengalis and Sikh communities mark this day as New Year or Nab Varsha, so revere it with faith and enjoyment.
- Hindus believe that Goddess Ganga descendent on mother Earth, thousands of years ago; so many of them gather at the religious banks of river Ganga for a holy dip on this day to honour her presence.
- Swami Dayanand Sarsawati founded the reverend Arya Samaj Mission on this day in 1875 and created history for the forthcoming years.
- The day of celebration for farmers as it marks the time for harvest of rabi crops.
- 14th April is also observed as the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Religious significance for Sikh community:
High religious sentiments of Sikhs are attached to this festival because it was on this very day in 1699, the tenth Sikh Guru- Guru Gobind Singh Ji created oneness among humanity by organizing Khalsa Pantha (Order of the pure ones). He also named his 5 most beloved devotees as ‘Panj Piare’ after the pious baptism ceremony with Amrit (sacred nectar of immortality).
So this date holds a number of significant events on the memorable chapters of history and provides a reason of celebration for all the communities in India. Special Baisakhi fairs and Nagar Kirtan processions are organized along with music, dance, food and gracious blessings.