The divine act of ‘puja’ or also known as ‘pooja’ refers to the ceremonial worship by making an offering to the image of God, as per the definition in encyclopedia. The act performed by majority of us in our daily routine, yet very few of us realizes the true meaning of puja. It is an art of expressing our reverence and gratitude to the divine energy, by performing various rituals. It is a pious way of direct communication between our soul and its true master.
Puja is not just a ceremony for few minutes or hours, it helps to seek strength from God which helps us to deal with the ups and downs throughout the day. As the other ancient practices like Ayurveda and Yoga provides the natural healing of the mind, body and soul. The Hindu system of medicine and meditative practice keeps the person away from illness of body and mind. Similarly the practice of adoring God is the ancient technique to wake the positive energies and seek blessings from them. ‘Puja is a form of yoga whose final result aimed to be the consciousness of god through homage to God.’
The mantra, yantra and tantra in puja help the devotees to awaken the positivity within and around him and channel the particular frequencies to resolve the problems. In simple words, puja is a homemade remedy- free of side effects that can be used any day and anytime to seek the strength from Almighty and face the difficulty.
Though every ritual and ingredient used during puja ceremony has their own unique significance but above all our willingness and modest attitude also play an important role. Adoring the positive energies with a right approach relieves us from the stress and also saves us from negative energies.
Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha
Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is the deity invoked when marking a new beginning. As with so many other yogic concepts, the elephant-faced one is not only a symbol for removing obstacles, but simultaneously represents the obstacle: if an elephant decides to stand in your path, you’ll have a hard time continuing along it. What to do? How to deal with it?
Being conscious of the importance of a good and solid beginning is the first step towards a successful path. Preparing yourself well, understanding that respect and care are essential ingredients to your undertaking, and that obstacles will be part of your journey, are all useful in the process of getting ready for a new beginning.
Whether you enter into a longer undertaking like a course or training, or simply get onto your yoga mat for a practice: to visualise yourself preparing for the task, maybe even doing a little ritual that involves the cleansing of hands and feet, lighting a candle or doing some breath work, to bring yourself consciously to the task, will allow for a much deeper entering into the process. It will prepare the mind and the body for what is to come.
So make ritual part of your practice. Go and find one that suits you and your purpose, but be mindful not to become habitual and mindless in the repetition and application of it. Be open to changing your ritual when necessary and remain alert to the need to do so. An empty, meaningless ritual becomes a routine, numbing you to the complexity of the task, and defying the purpose of the ritual. The mind is prone to the illness of forgetting: forgetting purpose, forgetting ongoing alertness and enquiry. Only an alert and open mind is willing to experience and thus learn. To learn, we need to be from expectation, from anticipation, from judgement.
Check in with yourself often: am I practicing habitually, seeking rigid rules and information that is set in stone and gives me the security of knowledge? Or am I engaging mindfully in ritual that allows me to become more open and free with each experience I am inviting into my process of growth? Am I becoming more capable of integration, or am I seeking the diminishing of complexity? On this path, am I becoming more rigid or more flexible? Is my mind dull or alert?
Contributed By: Nina Alfers (http://www.svastha-yoga.com) comes from a background of martial arts and yoga and practices as a massage therapist. She has studied Sociology, Philosophy and Psychology and practiced as a counsellor for some years before embracing her other healing capacities. She is based in Melbourne, Australia, and often travels to SE Asia to broaden her knowledge and to facilitate yoga workshops, immersions and teacher trainings.
The stones and pearls are a magical source of positivity and can transform the entire lives of the people. They have the power to alter the effects of the stars and transform the aura of an individual. Similarly one of the rarest pearl is ‘Sindhur Mani’; which is a yellowish-white, oversized egg shaped stones. It can also be brownish in tone, depending upon the formation of the stone.
Being a rare mani it is widely valued for the divine and healing traits. The Sindhur Mani has a cool and peaceful radiation as the natural pearls have moon dominant qualities. Whoever possesses this unique piece attracts the material as well as spiritual comforts. This mani acts like a divine healer as you feel a change in your inner self. The vibrations of your surroundings transform tremendously and your lost peace is regained by achieving silence. They also have unique feature of curing acute diseases and can even bless the barren women with the ability to conceive. Major problems like arthritis and joint pains have been cured by this extra ordinary pearl.
This auspicious pearl has found its traces in Airavata race and has adjoining sentiments of gaining wealth, fame and curing diseases. The Hindu text believes that this pearl is a symbol of Lord Ganesh’s soul and therefore considered highly fortunate and lucky. Holding immense power, the Sindhur Mani is an important source of welfare for the mind, body and soul of a being.
Varied variety of sounds produced by vibrations, have different effects on the beings and they act or react as per the sound produced. Believe it or not, sound has major relation with our mood and as a pleasant music can cheer us up, the loud and screeching sounds can disturb it. In fact, harsh sound causes noise pollution, which in turn, without our noticing, causes tension, stress, and other disorders like blood pressure, migraine and so on.
Thus to restore the balance, harmony and peace within a family, the right kind of sounds should be prevalent in the house as per Vastu.
- The sweet and soft conversations between family members lighten the mood and spread a positive ambience.
- Avoid watching television during meal time rather prefer to have pleasant conversations or soft music.
- Sacred chants or healing rhythms of devotion should be played early morning in the house.
- Dripping faucets or leaky taps should be repaired as soon as possible.
- The hinges of the door should be kept well oiled, to avoid creaking sounds.
- Close the door gently so that the mind and body remains calm.
- The bell cast from an amalgam of five metals improve the positive energy flow in the environment, dissipating the negative vibrations.
- Wind chimes are also an important source of peaceful and serene environment.
- The soft melodious tunes can induce peace, relaxation and reduce sadness, tension and anger.
- Hanging wind chimes, changing harsh sounding door bells with pleasant-sounding ones and having rippling water fountains can be a means of adding the right sounds to any environment.
To achieve steadiness and cleanse the mind, body and soul; we adore and praise the supreme Lord and his miraculous creation. Literally, ‘Man’ means mind and ‘Tra’ means wave or vibration, so mantra is a technical practice that enlightens the mental and physiological state. You might have heard about distinct mantra for different deity and purpose. For every puja conducted at home, the Vedic scholars chant so many mantras yet most of us are oblivious to the relevance of chanting mantras and simple recite them in our daily routine. Let’s know them and then chant.
Biological and Spiritual Significance:
- Mantra chanting balances the nervous system and normalizes the hormone production, which in turn maintains the working of the body systems.
- An upsurge in the energy level is attained, which replaces the materialistic thoughts with realization of Almighty.
- It transcends the senses of the body and we feel free from the bond of time and space, thus away from the weight of worries.
- ‘As music has charms to soothe a savage beast, so the spiritual sound of mantra soothes the restless mind’; it soothes our cellular level.
- Mantras awaken our dormant conscious and help us to connect with our spiritual identity; we begin to experience oneness among us and Him.
- It helps us to concentrate on our breathing pattern, whose regulation is a secret for stronger immunity and body balance.
- It won’t work if you don’t do it, so by constant repetition, in group or alone, it will enhance the will power and faith.
- Mantra activates the chemical signals in the body that transforms the unconscious into conscious, automatic into deliberate and mindless into heartfelt.
- Chanting mantras is a conscious method of controlling our moods, and in turn, our frequency and resultant all-around radiance.
- It enhances the concentration level and in turn the memory power enlarges.It acts as a brain stabilizer and one can experience the state of trance by recognizing our own natural state.
The pros of reciting mantras are unlimited and not just few of them mentioned above, but all of it can be experienced if you try it sincerely. No matter from which ever generation you belong, the next time you chant a mantra, do it genuinely and then feel a change within you.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
“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
Birth and end of mortals are a law of nature; everything that has been created by the supreme energy will vanish into it one day. In spite of being aware of it, it’s not easy to let go off someone close to our heart. Yet we have to bid farewell to our beloved ones with a heavy heart. Rituals and ceremonies are performed in both the beginning and end of a soul’s journey on earth to transform the human life into a learning and memorable experience of soul.
The ceremonies and acts involved after death of a human is a sensitive issue among society, often accompanied with various myths and superstitions that need to be dispelled. “Despite the country’s space programme which has sent satellite to Mars, many people in the country still believe in lot of superstitions and evil social practices. There is lack of awareness about scientific temper in the society which is the reason for such superstition,” said by President Pranab Mukherjee in an article published in The Indian Express.
Here few of the myths are considered, justified with facts and scientific reasoning.
Why to take a bath right after attending the funeral ceremonies?
Once a person is dead, the body begins the process of decomposition in five major steps including, Initial decay, Putrefaction, Black putrefaction, Butyric putrefaction, Dry decay. As the body loses the ability to fight against bacteria, at times it may prove to be harmful. Since most of the ceremonies are performed near a river, the temperate environment of India makes it more favourable for growth of bacteria. Moreover the scavengers are usually found near cremation grounds that are a major carrier of germs. So keeping the health and hygiene into perspective, bathing proves to be beneficial and it also refreshes the grief struck family members of the dead.
Why are Hindu women not allowed to go to funeral?
To be more clear and precise, none of the source of Hinduism has mentioned about the concept of ‘women are not allowed at the funerals’; in fact at the time of Mahabharata women did take part in the funeral rites. Usually the rituals are performed by the eldest son of the family but if there is no male in the family, then women can also perform those rites. In few of the societies women were prohibited because of the children and other old members at home. Women have a lot of responsibilities at home so the long journeys and the funeral ceremonies may turn to be difficult for them as they can’t stay away from the too long.
Aren’t dead bodies full of dangerous bacteria that can make the living sick?
The microorganisms involved in the process of decomposition are not necessarily disease causing organisms. In one of the Oliver Morgan’s article, he says, “most viruses and bacteria that do cause disease cannot survive more than a few hours in a dead body.” So this is more of a smell and psychological issue rather than health issue. In extreme cases, if the patient is suffering from some contagious disease, then easy precautions like covering the face and hands while handling the dead body must be taken.
Organ donation is against our religion?
As per a report by Shaunaka Rishi Das of the Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies, most Hindus take the view that after the soul has departed, the body is no more than a machine, and there is nothing to stop the parts being shared with others. In fact Hinduism has mentioned ‘daan’ and ‘dharma’ as niyams in the list of 10 Niyams. So the selfless act of sharing and helping the needy is not against Hindu religion. Moreover most of the major religions approve of the humane act of organ donation. President Mukherjee says, “India has a rate of less than 0.2 donors per one million population. India suffers from organs shortage of gigantic proportions. An estimated two lakh people in our country are diagnosed with organ failure every year, needing transplantation as a life-saving mechanism.”
So these are just few of the common myths, which are prevalent among our society that needs to be validated with a proper argument. Awareness is must, especially among the rural sections of the society to get rid of such superficial arguments or rather follow them with a rational approach.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja