Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Gita Jayanthi and Gita Mahatmyam

Yesterday was Gita Jayanti, the day Lord Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjun for the benefit of the whole world.On this is special ocassion, lets read some of the glories about Bhagavad Gita from Varaha Purana.

GITA MAHATMYAM

dharo uvaca
bhagavan paramesana bhaktir avyabhicarini
prarabdham bhujyamanasya
katham bhavati he prabho
1. The Earth said: O Lord! The supreme one! How can unflinching devotion arise in him who is immersed in his worldly life, O Lord?

sri visnur uvaca
prarabdham bhujyamano hi
gita abhyasa ratah sada
sa muktah sa sukhi loke
karmana no 'palipyate
2. Lord Visnu said: Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita, becomes free. He is the happy man in this world. He is not bound by karma.

maha papadi papani
gita dhyanam karoti cet
kvacit sparsam na kurvanti
nalini dalam ambuvat
3. Just as the water stains not the lotus leaf, even so, sins do not taint him who is regular in the recitation of the Gita.

gitayah pustakam yatra
yatra pathah pravartate
tatra sarvani tirthani
prayaga 'dini tatra vai
4. All the sacred places of pilgrimage like Prayaga, etc., dwell in that place where the book, the Gita, is kept and where the Gita is read.

sarve devas ca rsayo
yoginah pannagas ca ye 
gopala gopika va 'pi
narado 'ddhava parsadaih
5. All the gods, sages, yogi, divine serpents, gopala, gopika (friends and devotees of lord Krsna), Narada, Uddhava and others (dwell there).

sahayo jayate sighram
yatra gita pravartate
yatra gita vicaras ca
pathanam pathanam srutam
tatra aham niscitam prthvi
nivasami sadai 'va hi
6. Help comes quickly where the Gita is recited and, O Earth, I dwell at all times where the Gita is read, heard, taught and contemplated upon.

gita 'sraye 'ham tisthami
gita me co 'ttamam grham
gita jnanam upasritya
trinllokan palayamy aham
7. I take refuge in the Gita and the Gita is my best abode. I protect the three worlds with the knowledge of the Gita.

gita me parama vidya
brahma rupa na samsayah
ardha matra 'ksara nitya
sva 'nirvacya padatmika
8. The Gita is my highest science, which is doubtless of the form of Brahman, the eternal, the ardhamatra (of the sacred monosyllable om), the ineffable splendour of the self.

cidanandena krsnena
prokta sva mukhato 'rjunam
veda trayi parananda
tattva 'rtha jnana samyuta
9. It was spoken by the blessed Krsna, the all-knowing, through his own mouth to Arjuna. It contains the essence of the three veda, knowledge of the reality. It is full of supreme bliss.

yo astadasa japen nityam
naro niscala manasah
jnana siddhim sa labhate
tato yati param padam
10. He who recites the eighteen chapters of the Gita daily, with a pure, unshaken mind, attains perfection in knowledge, and reaches the highest state or supreme goal.

pathe 'samarthah sampurne
tato 'rdham patham acaret
tada go danajam punyam
labhate na 'tra samsayah
11. If a complete reading is not possible, even if only half of it is read, he attains the benefit of giving a cow as a gift. There is no doubt about this.

tribhagam pathamanas tu
ganga snana phalam labhet
sadamsam japamanas tu
soma yaga phalam labhet
12. He who recites one-third part of it achieves the merit of a bath in the sacred Ganga, and he who recites one-sixth of it attains the merit of performing a soma ritual.

eka adhyayam tu yo nityam
pathate bhakti samyutah
rudra lokam avapnoti
gano bhutva vasec ciram
13. That person who reads one chapter with great devotion attains to the world of Rudra and, having become an attendant of lord Siva, lives there for many years.

adhyaya sloka padam va
nityam yah pathate narah
sa yati naratam yavat
manvantaram vasundhare
14. If one reads a quarter of a chapter or even part of a verse daily, he, O Earth, retains a human body till the end of a world-cycle.

gitayah sloka dasakam
sapta panca catustayam
dvau trin ekaih tad ardham va
slokanam yah pathen narah
candra lokam avapnotii
varsanam ayutam dhruvam
gita patha samayukto
mrtomanusatam vrajet
15,16. He who repeats ten, seven, five, four, three, two verses or even one or half a verse, attains the region of the moon and lives there for ten thousand years. Accustomed to the daily study of the Gita, the dying man comes back to life again as a human being.

gita abhyasam punah krtva
labhate muktim uttamam
gite 'ty uccara samyukto
mriyamano gatim labhet
17. By repeated study of the Gita he attains liberation. Uttering 'Gita' at the time of death, one attains liberation.

gita artha sravana 'sakta
maha papa yuto 'pi va
vaikuntham samavapnoti
visnuna saha modate
18. Though full of sins, one who is ever intent on hearing the meaning of the Gita, goes to the kingdom of God and rejoices with lord Visnu.

gita artham dhyayate nityam
krtva karmani bhurisah
jivanmuktah sa vijneyo
deha 'nte paramam padam
19. He who meditates on the meaning of the Glita, having performed a lot of good actions, attains the supreme goal after death. Such a man should be known as a jivanmukta (sage liberated while living).

gitam asritya bahavo
bhubhujo janaka 'dayah
nirdhuta kalmasa loke
gita yatah param padam
20. In this world, taking refuge in the Gita, many kings like Janaka and others have reached the highest state or goal, purified of all sins.

gitayah pathanam krtva
mahatmyam naiva yah pathet
vrtha patho bhavet tasya
srama eva by udahrtah
21. He who fails to read this Glory of the Gita after having read the Gita, loses the benefit thereby, and the effort alone remains.
(This is to test and to confirm the faith of the reader in the Gita. It is not a mere book but the Song of God and should therefore be studied with great faith and devotion which this Glory of the Gita generates in one's heart.)

etan mahatmya samyuktam
gita 'bhyasam karoti yah
sa tat phalam avapnoti
durlabharn gatim apnuyat
22. One who studies the Gita, together with this Glory of the Gita, attains the fruits mentioned above and reaches the state which is otherwise very difficult to attain.

suta uvaca
mahatmyam etad gitaya
maya proktam sanatanam
gitante ca pathed yas to
yad uktam tat phalarnlabhet
23. Suta said: This greatness or Glory of the Gita which is eternal, as narrated by me, should be read at the end of the study of the Gita and the fruits mentioned therein will be obtained.

iti sri varaha purane gri gita mahatmyam sampurnam
Thus ends the Glory of the Gita contained in the Varaha purana.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Bhishma Panchaka - the last Five days of Kartika 2018


Bhishmadev on a bed of arrows

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The last 5 days of the month of Kartika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. Grand Sire Bhisma had this benediction of Iccha Mrtyu or ability to die and leave his body when he wished to. The pastime of passing away of Bhisma explained in the Canto 1, Chapter 9 of Srimad Bhagavatham is a wonderful narration where, there is an assembly of various sages, demigods, Pandavas to witness this important and amazing event.Even and Lord Krishna himself was personally present to give his darshan. Thus, Bhisma gave up his physical body by fixing his gaze and attention the Supreme Lord Krishna and thus achieving the highest perfection of life.
Bhishma Panchaka begins in the month of Kartik,on Ekadasi and ends on Purnima (This year starting from today 19th Nov to 23rd Nov).
In the Hari BhaktiVilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. This is optional. "The fast should begin by remembering Bhismadeva on the Ekadasi day and should end on Purnima [the full moon]. The Padma Purana say that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities.
Bhishma Panchaka fasting Details (18/11/2018)*: -
By following these days of Bhishma Panchaka fasting one gets the benefit of all the four chaturmasya fasting if one had been unable to follow the same.
Bhisma Pancaka Fasting:
The fasting starts on Ekadasi Day which is 19th November (Monday) and will continue until the 23rd November Rasa Purnima Day (last day of caturmasya, last day of Damodara month). The fasting is broken at sunset (or at moon rise) on Rasa Purnima day. Generally, it is recommended to do full fast on Ekadasi and then the following days fruits and roots fasting. Or one can do all the days with fruits and roots fasting.
Levels of fasting:
Devotees can choose whichever level of fasting as is convenient to them. It should not disturb their normal devotional service(s) and daily sadhana.
Level 1:
One can consume products of the cow (pancha-gavya) each for each day.
First day: Cow dung (Gomaya)
Second day: Cow urine (Go-muutra)
Third day: Cow milk (Kshiira)
Fourth day: Cow yoghurt (Dadhi)
Fifth day: All products of the ccow mixed (Pancha-gavya)
Level 2:
If one can't follow level 1, one can take fruits and roots. Fruits with many seeds should be avoided like guava, pomegranate, papaya, cucumber etc. Boiled potatoes, raw banana and sweet potato can be taken boiled or baked. We can use sea salt for taste. Cashewnuts, raisins, dates can be taken. We shouldn't take milk and milk products in this level of fasting. Coconut water and grated coconut can be taken.
Level 3:
If one can't follow level 2, one can take "Havishya."
References: Padma Puraana, Brahma-khanda, Chapter 23; Skanda Puraana, Vishnu Khanda, Kaartika Maahaatmya section, Chapter 32; Garuda Puraana, Puurva Khanda, Chapter 123.
Ingredients as mentioned in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa (13.10-13):
The following are ingredients that can be taken during Bhisma pancaka. Havishya is usually made with rice and mung dal. For those following caturmasa from ekadasi to ekadasi, technically their Kartika masa is over by ekadasi, so they can take mung dal in their havishya. However, most devotees follow caturmasa from purnima to purnima, so mung dal would not be allowed in the havishya for Bhisma Pancaka. No oil is allowed.
 * Rice which is unparboiled - raw or polished, unpre-cooked.
* Ghee from cow
* 'Saindhava' salt (mineral salt)
* Ripe banana
* Kaala-shaaka
* Wheat
* Barley
These ingredients are also allowed to be taken:
* Fruits (Skanda Puraana, Naagara Khanda says they must be with a small seed or with few seeds only)
* Mango
* Jackfruit
* Labali fruit
* Roots except 'keaa' (a type of grass or root)
* Pippalii
* Haritakii
* Naagaranga
* Ikshu-dravya or sugarcane derivatives (other than gur or mollasses)
* Whole milk with cream from a cow.  
The following ingredients are normally part of Havishya but have to be
avoided in the month of Kaartika:
* Mung dal
* Til oil
* Beta-shaaka
* Shashtikaa-shaaka
* Radish
* Jeeraa
* Tamarind
One should take bath in Ganges or a holy river every day and should offer tarpana 3 times for Bhismadeva by saying the following mantra:
Tarpana mantra:
(Tarpana is when the Brahmin thread is put backwards (if applicable) and water is taken in both hands. The mantra is chanted and then the water is offered with tilting both hands to the right and downwards so that the water flows down the right thumb. This is a way of offering oblations to the forefathers. You do that for Bhisma on Bhisma Pancaka.)

Tarpana:
om vaiyaghra padya gotraya
samkrti pravaraya ca
aputraya dadamyetat
salilam bhismavarmane

Arghya:
vasunamavataraya
santanoratmajaya ca
arghyam dadami bhismaya
ajanma brahmacarine

Pranam:
om bhismah santanavo birah
satyavadi jitendriyah
abhiradbhiravapnatu
putrapautrocitam kriyam

** If you do not have any holy rivers nearby:
Those who chant "Ganga, Ganga, Ganga" get the benefit of bathing in the holy river which can be done from anywhere. Devotees can bathe in any river, lake or the ocean.
Offerings to the Lord:
Devotees may offer the following flowers to the Deity:
On the first day, one must offer padma (lotus) flowers to the feet of the Lord.
On the second day, one must offer bilva (wood-apple) leaves of the thigh of the Lord.
On the third day, one must offer gandha (scents) to the navel of the Lord.
On the fourth day, one must offer java flower to the shoulders of the Lord.
On the fifth day, one must offer malati flower to the head (siro-desa) of the Lord.
When there is an overlap of days (tithis), then the flowers for the overlap days can be offered on the same day.
** If you do not have the flowers, then mentally offer the specified flower to the specified place of the Lord.

*Reference: Garuda Puraana by HH Jayapataka Swami ISKCON.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Festival of Diwali

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Lord Rama and Sita Devi
Festival of Diwali or Deepavali refers to a row of lamps,  which symbolises victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Diwali is a five-day festival and the third day, Chaturdashi also called as Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated is the most important day. The Hindu scriptures mention that on this day, the demon Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna accompanied by his wife Satyabhama.
It is also said that on the day of Diwali, Lord Krishna as a baby boy performed the Damodhara Lila of mother Yashoda tying him to a grinding stone and Krishna than dragged the grinding mortar with him to pulldown the two gigantic trees in his backyard, delivering the two sons of Kubera, Manigriva and Nala Kubera who were cursed by Narada Rishi and standing as trees. Of course, before all this there was an amazing pastime of Lord Krishna breaking the pots of butter, yogurt, throwing them everywhere, feeding the monkeys. And then he started running away like a child in fear of mother Yashoda who was chasing him with a stick in her hand. Queen Kunti explains that this pastime is unconceivable to her because, the person whom by seeing even the fear personified becomes fearful the Yogis and Jnanis trying to catch him with their practice of Yoga, Pranayama and knowledge and unable to do so, such a person is running away in fear. And, when Krishna seeing his mother is getting tired, finally allows himself caught by her. The pastime continues, when Mother Yashoda tries to tie baby Krishna with a rope, it was short by two fingers. And, she added more and more rope from the neighborhood. And, seeing her determination Lord Krishna again, allows himself from abdomen to be tied to the grinding stone. The Acharyas explain that the two fingers signify, devotee’s determination and the Lords Mercy. 
Sri Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman

It is also mentioned in the scriptures that Diwali is the day, when Lord Ramachandra along with Lakshman, Sita Mata, Hanuman returned to his Kingdom of Ayodhya. The people welcomed Lord by lighting up their houses with lamps.
On this Auspicious day, may Lord Rama with his immense strength and fierce arrows, who in a moment (40 mins) killed 14,000 Rakshsas (race of unrighteous beings) in the forest of Dandakarunya may kill those demons sitting in our hearts in the form of Lust, anger, greed, jealousy, hatred etc. and bring all auspiciousness in to our lives.  Happy Diwali to you

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Bahulastami, appearance of Radha Kunda


Srimathi Radha Rani - ISKCON Melbourne
Today is Bahulastami, appearance of Radha Kunda.

The eighth day of the waning moon of Karttik month, or Karttika Krishna ashtami, is also known popularly as Ahoi Ashtami or Bahulashtami. Its significance for the community of Radha-Krishna devotees is that it marks the appearance of Shri Radha Kund, which is said to be the holiest of holy spots and the special scene of Radha and Krishna’s divine pastimes.
After Krishna had killed Arishta, Krishna came as usual to meet Radha and her sakhis to enjoy his pastimes with them. However, being provoked by Lalita and the others, she said she could have nothing to do with him, as he had become impure from the act of killing a bull. The bull, after all, is the very symbol of dharma. When Krishna asked what he could do to be free of his sin, she said that nothing short of bathing in all the seven sacred rivers would be effective.
Yogeshwar Krishna, showing off for his beloved, pushed his heel into the ground and made a large hole. Then he called all the sacred river, who appeared in their personified forms and filled the hole to make a beautiful bathing pond. And so Krishna took his purifying dip and the pond was given the name Shyama Kund.
After bathing, Krishna began to tease the gopis, “Now that I have bathed in the holy waters of Shyama Kund, I am free from any fault, but I am afraid that because you sided with Arishtasura, you have become too impure for me to touch. You are going to have to do something to counteract your fault.”
With that, the Radha and the gopis became a little arrogant and said, “You have your kund, so we will have ours. Our Radha is no less powerful than you!” Then, remarking the huge cavity created by the bull’s hooves on the western side of Shyam Kund, they decided to make her kund there. They broke their bangles to make tools for digging and began to make their own hole.
Within 48 minutes, Radha and her friends were finished; the hole was ready but there was no water in it. Krishna and his friends watched and laughed at the gopis predicament. Nevertheless, Krishna generously offered to fill Radha’s kund with water from his tank, but Radha and the gopis, still proud, refused.
Lalita then said, “Why don’t we form a bucket chain to the Manasa Ganga and fill it up with water from there?” Krishna jeered at them on seeing the dry hole in the earth. Radha defiantly said they would fetch water from the Manasi Ganga not far from there to fill the pond. This, however, was a daunting task.
Then, on Krishna’s order, all the holy tirthas who had come to fill Shyam Kund appeared and offered choice praises and obeisances unto Sri Radhika. All the personified holy rivers prayed before Radha to allow them to fill her pond. She consented, and Radha Kund was born. And so, Krishna broke the dam that separated the two ponds and their waters merged.
Hearing about the appearance of Radha Kund, Yogamaya Paurnamasi Devi called Vrinda Devi and instructed her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kundas. According to her own wish, Vrinda Devi also constructed jewelled ghats, i.e., steps leading down to the water, in order to facilitate Radha and Krishna’s pastimes. She arranged for beautiful kunjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. These kunjas were assigned to Srimati Radharani’s eight principal sakhis. On both sides of each ghat she had charming wish-yielding kalpa vriksha trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees, and the kundas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.
This Sri Radha Kund is the place where Sri Sri Radha Madhava have their most confidential eternal midday pastimes, as described at great length in the Govinda Lilamrita and other such texts. Besides playing their water sports here, they swing, play at pash khela, drink mead and have their noontime meal, visiting the kunjas of the sakhis which encircle the kund.
For years Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda were lost and no one knew exactly where they were located. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Vrindavana in 1515, he saw two fields under a shallow covering of water near Arit village, which were known as Kali Khet and Gauri Khet (black field and white field). Recognizing them as Krishn’s dearest place of pastimes, he bathed there and experienced the ecstasy of divine prema.
When Raghunatha Das Goswami first came to do bhajan at Radha Kund, the two tanks were only four meters by four meters in size.
Legend has it that one day Moghal emperor Akbar was passing by Arit village with his army. The soldiers and their animals and horses, camels and elephants–were very thirsty. Although all the soldiers and beasts slaked their thirst by drinking from the kunds, Akbar was amazed to see that the water level did not descend.
Another legend recounts that a rich man named Sampanna went to Badrinath to offer Lord Narayana a large donation. In a dream, Krishna told him to go to Radha Kund and give the money to Raghunath Das to renovate the kundas. Jiva Gosvami purchased the land and supervised the project in around 1554.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Gita Mahatmya (Glories of Gita) by Adi Shankaracharya

Lord Krishna - Radha Ramanji of Vrindavan

 TEXT 1
gita-shastram idam punyam, yah pathet prayatah puman
vishnoh padam avapnoti, bhaya-shokadi-varjitah.
One who, with a regulated mind, recites with devotion this Bhagavad-gita scripture which is the bestower of all virtue, will attain to a holy abode such as Vaikuntha, the residence of Lord Vishnu, which is always free from the mundane qualities based on fear and lamentation.

TEXT 2
gitadhyayana-shilasya, pranayama-parasya ca
naiva santi hi papani, purva-janma-kritani ca
If one reads Bhagavad-gita very sincerely and with all seriousness, then by the grace of the Lord the reactions of his past misdeeds will not act upon him.






TEXT 3
maline mocanam pumsam, jala-snanam dine dine
sakrid gitamrita-snanam, samsara-mala-nashanam
One may cleanse himself daily by taking a bath in water, but if one takes a bath even once in the sacred Ganges water of Bhagavad-gita, for him the dirt of material life is altogether vanquished.

TEXT 4
gita su-gita kartavya, kim anyaih shastra-vistaraih
ya svayam padmanabhasya, mukha-padmad vinihsrita
Because Bhagavad-gita is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one need not read any other Vedic literature. One need only attentively and regularly hear and read Bhagavad-gita. In the present age, people are so absorbed in mundane activities that it is not possible for them to read all the Vedic literatures. But this is not necessary. This one book, Bhagavad-gita, will suffice, because it is the essence of all Vedic literatures and especially because it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

TEXT 5
bharatamrita-sarvasvam, vishnu-vaktrad vinihsritam
gita-gangodakam pitva, punar janma na vidyate
By drinking the Ganges waters of the Gita, the divine quintessence of the Mahabharat emanating from the holy lotus mouth of Lord Vishnu, one will never take rebirth in the material world again. In other words, by devotionally reciting the Gita, the cycle of birth and death is terminated.

TEXT 6
sarvopanishado gavo, dogdha gopala-nandanah
partho vatsah su-dhir bhokta, dugdham gitamritam mahat
All the Upanisads are like a cow, and the milker of the cow is Lord Shri Krishna, the son of Nanda. Arjuna is the calf, the beautiful nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate devotees of fine theistic intellect are the drinkers and enjoyers of that milk.

TEXT 7
ekam shastram devaki-putra-gitam
eko devo devaki-putra eva
eko mantras tasya namani yani
karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva

There need be only one holy scripture-the divine Gita sung by Lord Shri Krishna: only one worshipable Lord-Lord Shri Krishna: only one mantra-His holy names: and only one duty-devotional service unto that Supreme Worshipable Lord, Shri Krishna.

Friday, 10 August 2018

According to Yudhishthira, How can a man become happy and rich?

Yudhishthira answering questions asked by Yaksha 


One of my answers in Quora.
My friend, the answers to your question can be found in the Mahabharata, Aranya Parva, 311–12 in which, King Yudhishthira encounters the Lord of Death, Yama Dharmaraj. Yama, who initially appears as a Crane and then identified himself as a Yaksha and finally in the end confirms that he is the Lord of Justice Yama.
The questions 17, 33 and 64 which in themselves are set of multiple questions talk about happiness and Yudhishthira answers them accordingly.
17.The Yaksha asked, - “What is that which, if renounced, makes one agreeable? What is that which, if renounced, leads to no regret? What is that which, if renounced, makes one wealthy? And what is that which if renounced, makes one happy?”
Yudhishthira answered, - “Pride, if renounced, makes one agreeable; wrath, if renounced leads to no regret: desire, if renounced, makes one wealthy: and avarice, if renounced, makes one happy.”
***So, for one to be happy and rich - one needs to give up Pride, wrath, desires and finally Avarice (extreme greed for wealth or material gain).
33.The Yaksha asked, - “Who is truly happy?
Yudhishthira answered, -A man who cookes in his own house, on the fifth or the sixth part of the day, with scanty vegetables, but who is not in debt and who doesn’t stir from home, is truly happy.
***It’s interesting that those days of Yore itself, Debt is such a big thing. Now a days, Debt is a part of our everyday life. Credit cards, Store Credits, Home Loans for 25 to 30 yrs and so on and we wonder why we are not happy?
64. By leaving which, man will be able to lead a happy life?
By leaving out miserliness, man would be able to lead a happy life.
***A miser is a person who is reluctant to spend, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities, in order to hoard money or other possessions.(Wiki)
Interestingly, In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna gives few other meaning for a miser. For example, 2.49 "buddhau saranam anviccha,krpanah phala-hetavah" - Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.
Also, in 2.7 Arjuna admits that he is overcome by miserly weakness and surrenders to Lord Krishna to instruct what is best for him.
Please note that, I have used the Mahabharata Translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.