Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Happy Ugadi (Gudi Padwa)

Happy Ugadi (New Year) to all my blog readers and friends out there.

Yuga - adi means the beginning of a new era and a new Hindu lunar calendar. The festival of Ugadi is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month (Lunar Calendar) in the states of Andhra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. It is believed that Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe on this day created days, months, years and the vital elements of nature.One of the main item, that is made today is a Pickle. The six tastes of this Pickle are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and spicy and the basic ingredients that go into this Pickle are Cane sugar, Neem flower buds, mango, tamarind, chilli and salt. These ingredients reflect the six aspects or emotions of life like Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Thus, the significance of these tastes in Ugadi Pickle is that Life is a mixture of all these situations, emotions and one has to learn to live with these with a Spirit of equanimity and steadiness. The Ugadi Pickle my wife made this morning had all but one ingredient missing. That is the Neem flower buds (bitter taste) which I would have found by flying to Queensland or something but, incidentally I happened to buy a Bottle of Neem Juice last night at an Indian grocery store. Just mixed a spoon of that Juice and that made everything perfect.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Thank God today for all yours blessings


A rich man looked through his window and saw a poor man picking something from his dustbin ... He said, Thank GOD, I'm not poor.

The poor man looked around and saw a crazy man misbehaving on the street ... He said, Thank GOD, I'm not mad.

The mad man looked ahead and saw an ambulance carrying a patient ... He said, Thank GOD am not sick.

Then a sick person in hospital saw a trolley taking a dead body to the mortuary ... He said, Thank GOD, I'm not dead.

Only a dead person cannot thank God.

Why don't you thank GOD today for all your blessings and for the gift of life ... for another beautiful day.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Surya Namaskar - Salutations to the Sun

Photo Credit :- kike-vega-F2qh3yjz6Jk-unsplash

One evening, as I was walking along the beach at St Kilda, Melbourne and I was captivated by a lady doing Sun Salutations very gracefully. I didn’t want to embarrass or disturb her privacy by staring at her but kept walking and watching. It was a perfect rhythm and control of body and mind. I also do Sun Salutations, sometimes at home but not so perfect and natural and I was impressed. She must be a yoga teacher or some serious Yoga student. Anyway, this made me think a bit these ancient yoga postures and the benefits a Sun Salutation or a Surya Namaskar gives to the practitioner. Traditionally, Sun salutations are performed in the morning during the Sunrise but, hey with our busy and hectic lifestyle, doing it sometime is better than not doing at all. Apart from normal physical and muscular strength, body co-ordination Sun Salutations provides immense benefits by activating the major chakras and the associated Endocrine glands and thus generating the important hormones useful for a health body and mind. In Hindu tradition Sun is worshipped as a visible Deva or God. He is called as Surya Narayana. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna mentions the name of Sun God as Vivisvan. Chapter Four, Verse 1 Krishna says

“Sri-bhagavnn uvaca:-

imam vivasvate yogam

proktavan aham avyayam

vivasvan manave praha

manur ikvakave bravit

The Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikvaku”.

So, it is not unusual in India worship Sun God. When Sun is rising, people offer oblations with water to Sun God, even though many may not do Surya Namaskars, they at least close their eyes for few seconds, fold their hands in reverence.    

Depending on the Yoga school you visit and the system they are following, the asanas or the poses are called differently but, basically there are 12 poses as below,

Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)

Upward Salute (Hastauttanasana)

Standing Forward Bend (Hasta Padasana)

Low Lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Plank (Phalakasana)

Knees-Chest-Chin (Ashtanga Namaskara)

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha śvānāsana)

Low Lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Standing Forward Bend (Hasta Padasana)

Upward Sslute (Hastauttanasana)

Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)

And, each set of Sun Salutation starts and ends with Pranam Mudra (gesture) of joining the hands.

Here is a nice and easy picture which basically shows the Asana or the pose, breathing which is very important (inhale/Exhale) and the name of the major Chakra that is strengthened by the asana.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Gopastami Festival

Today, (yesterday in India) is Gopastami, a festival that is dedicated to Lord Krishna and cows. This was the day when Nanda Maharaja seeing that Krishna had become sufficiently grown up, gave him the responsibility of taking care of the cows. A big festival and a ceremony was arranged by Nanda Maharaj father of Lord Krishna, which included cleaning, decorating and worshipping of Cows and their calves. That’s why, today is also celebrated as a Go Puja day, where even today, the cows are beautifully decorated and worshipped. So, this was the day Krishna and his cowherd friends are looking forward to. Go to the forests of Vrindavan and Govardhan Mountain by themselves without any adult supervision. They are all thinking of all the fun they can have playing in the forest while looking after the cows. And, this is the day when Srimati Radharani is dressed as a cowherd boy. 

Here is an interesting pastime of why Radha Rani is dressed as a cowherd boy. While, Krishna and his friends are going to the forest with cows, Radha Rani also wanted to join the fun. And, those days as girls are not allowed to go for grazing the cows, she joined the group of cowherd boys incognito. She requested and borrow a Gopa - Cowherd boy dress from Subala, a friend of Krishna and along with her girlfriends similarly disguised as boys joined the group of cowherd boys.

The above photo of Srimari Radha Rani is from ISKCON - Vrindavan and you can see her dressed as a Cowherd boy. Also, today is the only special day on which the Lotus feet of Radha Rani are not covered and can be seen.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In this Mantra, Krishna and Rama are the names of Lord and Hare refers to Radha Rani. The mantra is most commonly translated as, "O Lord, O Energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service."

Wishing you all a Happy Gopastami.              

Monday, 21 September 2020

Purusottama Masa, the Extra Month by Giriraj Swami

Both the Gregorian and Vedic calendars comprise twelve months. But whereas the number of days in each month varies in the Gregorian calendar, the Vedic months are all of the same duration: about fourteen days from the new moon to the full moon and from the full moon to the new. The day of the new moon is known as amavasya, and the full-moon day is known as purnima. And just as the Gregorian calendar is periodically adjusted during years known as “leap” years, the Vedic calendar is also adjusted, every three years. But whereas the Gregorian adjustment adds one day to the month of February, the Vedic adjustment adds one month, known as the adhika-masa, to the other twelve. Adhika means “extra,” and masa means “month.” The word adhika also means “greater,” and the adhika-masa, also known as purusottama-masa, the month of Purusottama (Vishnu, or Krishna), is considered to be the greatest of all months of the Vedic calendar.

As related in the Padma Purana, a very long time ago the great sage Narada Muni visited the incarnation of Godhead Narayana Rsi at His ashram in Badarika and humbly requested Him to explain something that would help both householders and renunciants attain the supreme abode of the Lord. Lord Narayana agreed and began to explain the glories of the month of Purusottama, which He said was “fully potent to grant not only all material happiness but also qualify one to return back to Godhead at the end of life.” Narada Muni had never heard about that particular month, and he was very eager to learn about it, including the duties one should perform.

Krishna, in the chapter entitled “Prayers by the Personified Vedas,” indicates that the Vedas, which emanated from the breathing of Maha-vishnu, serve Him in personified forms. The Supreme Lord is a person, and His emanations have personal forms too. The personified form of the earth is known as Bhumidevi, the Ganges personified is known as Gangadevi, and the personality of the sun is known as Suryadeva. Likewise, the Vedic months have personified forms.

So, Lord Narayana told Narada Muni that one day, by the arrangement of providence, an extra month appeared in this world. People, who are often afraid or at least suspicious of strangers, turned their backs on the extra month personified, thinking her to be inauspicious, dirty, and untouchable. Unhappy, she went to Vaikuntha to explain her situation to Lord Vishnu. Falling at His lotus feet, she appealed to Him. Crying and crying, she said that within the whole material manifestation, she alone was unprotected, without even a name. Lamenting, “I want to die! I want to die!” she fainted at the lotus feet of the Lord.

Lord Vishnu requested Garuda to fan the extra month, and when she regained consciousness, He caught her by the hand and brought her straight to Goloka Vrindavan. She was still crying loudly, and Sri Krishna expressed His surprise that anyone would cry upon entering Goloka Vrindavan, the rarely attained supreme abode. After paying His obeisances to Lord Krishna, Vishnu explained the miserable condition of the extra month and begged Krishna to please protect her. Now, one might wonder why Lord Vishnu, who is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did not give her protection Himself. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28), we find that all of the incarnations of the Lord are either plenary portions or portions of plenary portions of Sri Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead. As such, Krishna’s expansions also take pleasure in His service and association. So, Lord Vishnu showed compassion and brought the extra month to Sri Krishna.

Lord Krishna praised Vishnu for bringing Him the extra month and said that because Vishnu had already accepted her, He would accept her too. Not only that, but He would also infuse her with all of His opulences, potencies, and divine qualities.“Named after Me,” Sri Krishna said, “this month will be famous in this world as the Purusottama masa, and I Myself will become her protector. Everyone should offer respect to her and worship her. She will be as qualified as I am to give any type of benediction to the worshipper. Just by worshipping her, one can burn all of one’s past sinful reactions to ashes, enjoy a blissful life in the material world, and at the end return back to Godhead. Those who perform austerities, observe vows of celibacy, engage in pious activities, or fast for their entire life cannot attain My Goloka. But simply by practicing devotional service during this sacred month of Purusottama, anyone can easily perfect his life.”

The Lord gave a specific list of activities to be performed during the month of Purusottama: chanting His holy name, especially the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare; singing bhajanas glorifying His activities; studying Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita (especially the fifteenth chapter, which deals with purusottama-yoga, “The Yoga of the Supreme Person”); giving in charity according to the directions given in the seventeenth chapter of the Gita; and offering ghee lamps daily. If possible, one should also bathe in a holy river at sunrise, offer tulasi leaves and flowers to the Deity, circumambulate the temple, and worship the tulasi plant. Also, one should try to rise early; eat simply; observe celibacy; minimize one’s bodily demands; and be careful not to blaspheme or offend anyone, especially devotees, brahmans, saintly persons, cows, and the scriptures.

Upon hearing Sri Narayana Rsi’s glorification of the Purusottama month, Narada Muni prostrated himself again and again at the lotus feet of the Lord, exclaiming, “Oh, this Purusottama month is the best of all months, the best of all kinds of vows and austerities. Even if one just hears her glories faithfully, one will achieve devotional service to the Supreme Lord Purusottama and all of one’s sinful reactions will be nullified. One who performs the Purusottama vrata [vow] and worships her properly will achieve unlimited merit and thus attain Goloka.” Picking up his vina, Narada Muni continued, “O Lord, now my heart and mind are completely satisfied. All glories unto You! All glories unto You! And all glories unto the sacred month of Purusottama!”

Saturday, 25 April 2020

A Nice article on Families Self-isolating together


P.S:-Cabin fever refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time.

Friday, 21 February 2020

MahaShiva Ratri - The great night of Lord Shiva

Huge Deity of Lord Shiva at Nageshwar temple
Nageshwar temple

Happy Shivaratri to all my readers. Today is a special and auspicious day of MahaShiva ratri. Actually, the word Shiva means auspiciousness. So there are many references in our Vedic literatures as why this particular day or rather night, that comes in Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha is ascribed to Shiva and glorifying him. Because, on this very day aeons ago, Lord Shiva did some amazing things for the welfare of the creation. Shrimad Bhagavatam explains the pastime of churning the ocean by Demigods and Demons, for a pot of nectar of immortality, a devastating and dangerous poison called Halahala emerged which seemed to engulf and destroy the world.  For the welfare of the whole world Lord Shiva drank the whole poison and kept it in his throat without further swallowing it. Thus, his neck became blue and he is therefore called as Neelakanta or the blue throated one. It is said that, Lord Shiva has a beautiful and muscular whitish body. Lord Shiva is an eternally yogi - dresses as an ascetic and smears ash all over His body. Lord Shiva has Vasuki coiled around his neck - the snake is shown curled three times around the neck of the Lord.

Nageshvar Jyotirlinga
While writing this I remembered that, we had some special mercy of Lord Shiva on us i,e During our recent trip to India, we visited Gujarat and had the fortune of visiting 2 important temples or Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva (There are total of 12 Jyotirlingas in India). One of them is the Nageshvar Jyotirlinga in Jamnagar, one of the temples mentioned in the Shiva Purana which is about 10 kms from Beyt Dwaraka in Gujarat. So, we are on our way to Beyt Dwaraka, a small island sitauted at mouth of the Gulf of Kutch situated 3 km off the coast of Okha, Gujarat, India. Our plan was to have a Darshan of Nageshvarji which is on the way to Beyt Dwaraka (Beyt Dwaraka is believed to be the place where the residential palace of Lord Krishna used to be located and it is the place, where Sudama, a childhood friend of Krishna gave a him a Bet or Gift and in turn Krishna reciprocated him with unlimited wealth, opulence etc). Our bus party reached in the afternoon around 4PM and the temple was jam packed with thousands of people waiting in the queue. We decided to comeback for a darshan, on our way back from Beyt Dwaraka. When we returned, it was night around 8:30PM and the temple was almost empty and the best part was that, the Linga which is thousands of years old and which is usually covered with a Silver covering was removed, along with other decorations like garlands etc. We are able to spend some good quality time, going very close. Similarly, we had a wonderful darshan of Lord Shiva at Somnath temple, which is another Jyotirlinga.
Somnath Jyotirlinga
Somnath Jyotirlinga
I am posting some photos that I took during the visit.

I pray to Lord Shiva to help me get rid of my false ego or ahamkara.

Hara Hara Mahadeva Shambu Shankara.
Om Namah Shivaya.

nimna-gānām yathā gangā
devānām acyuto yathā
vaiṣṇavanām yathā śambhuh
purānānām idam tathā
Just as the Gagā is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Śambhu [Śiva] the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas, so Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the greatest of all Purāas. (Srimad Bhagavatham 12.13.16).