Monthly Archives: July 2020

Sri Varalakshmi

Sri Varamahalakshmi festival falls on the friday just before the full-moon in the month of Shravan.

Vaikunta and Sri Lakshmi Narayana: In Vaikunta, Lord Vishnu is depicted as lying down in yoga-nidra on the coiled Adisesha in the milk-ocean. Sri Lakshmi is seated at his feet and constantly serving him, but her gaze is completely focused on the Lord’s beautiful face. Vaikunta means ‘without any defects or limitations or conditionings’ and therefore it represents the State of Enlightenment. The milk-ocean represents a ‘pure and conducive spiritual environment within oneself’. Adisesha lies coiled with its hood turned inward which represents a ‘mind completely under self-control and turned within’. Lord Vishnu in yoga-nidra represents a ‘Man of Realisation (Jeevanmukta) who is completely relaxed and revelling in his State of self-realization’. Lakshmi serving at Narayana’s feet with total attention rivetted on the Lord represents a ‘Master rooted in his true inner nature within and simultaneously engaged in selfless activities of guiding the generation to walk the path of spirituality’.

Sri Laksmi Narayana – the Path and Goal: To a seeker, Narayana represents the Spiritual GOAL and Lakshmi represents Knowledge and Values. Her constant and consistent service to the Lord indicates the PATH – materialistic and spiritual activities undertaken by a devoted seeker in total dedication to the Lord. 

The great musician-saint, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar has composed a kriti exclusively for the auspicious occasion of Varamahalakshmi Vrata – “Sri Varalakshmi namasthubyam…..”: “Salutations to Sri Varalakshmi, the Bestower of Fortune! One with lotus like feet, graceful at every step, protect me. An embodiment of all virtues, shining like molten gold and with effulgence that surpasses a crore of suns, she is easily accessible to those who worship her and she bestows her choicest blessings upon them. Lakshmi resides in the heart of Lord Kesava and is worshipped by all the sumangalis on FRIDAY PRIOR TO THE FULL MOON OF SRAVANA. Adorning a gem-studded garland offered by GURU-GUHA (Karthikeya), worshipped by Bharati (Saraswati), she bestows materialistic wealth and kaivalya-pada (moksha) on her devotees.”

There is a beautiful and very significant line in this kriti: “sarasapade..rasapade…sapade…..pade……pade”.

The padartha or word-meaning is very simple. It means: “One with lotus like feet (sarasa pade), who is graceful at every step (rasa pade), slowly but surely (sapade), step by step (pade…pade)” — protect me.
Significance of this line: PADA means ‘State’. SARA means ‘Essence’, the Supreme Essence, the Unmanifest Parabrahma Tattva. SARASA (Lotus) signifies Truth, Knowledge, Beauty and Bliss. SARASAPADE: Lakshmi represents the Supreme Parabrahma State, the State of Sachidananda (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss), the Nameless, Formless and Attributeless. RASA is the opposite of SARA, and therefore it represents the Manifest Deity with Name, Form and Attributes. RASAPADE: represents the Mother of the Universe in her manifest form – the Supreme GOAL. SA means ‘sahitha’ or ‘along with’.   SAPADE: Lakshmi is an embodiment of moral and ethical values which a seeker needs to walk the path of spirituality, and therefore, she represents the PATH to be taken by the seeker. PADE…..PADE: to ‘walk step by step’.  The prayer to Goddess Lakshmi is that, “O Mother, you represent the Highest Goal and also the Path to reach the Goal. As my preceptor walk along with me, guide me, slowly but surely, step by step to ultimately reach the All-perfect State of Enlightenment”.

Hold on to Narayana; Lakshmi can never be far away. Wealth with character alone can bring joy, peace and prosperity. When one is kind and sincere, alert and consistent, he attracts to himself wealth and glory. - Swami Chinmayananda

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Hanuman: The Music Maestro!

Sage Narada was a great musician. And he also played the veena beautifully. He became proud of his talent and thought he was the best musician in all the three worlds.

One day, as Narada was moving across the skies singing the Lord’s glory, Hanuman and his mother Anjana Devi saw him. She pointed out to Hanuman and said, “there goes Narada who is the best exponent of music!” Narada heard this and became even more proud of his talent. Hanuman came to know of Narada’s pride. The Sage’s ego had to be destroyed. Hanuman jumped into the sky, caught hold of Narada’s feet and pleaded with him to bless him. Narada replied back saying that there was no blessing that Hanuman did not have, because all the devatas had bestowed upon him their grace and blessings as requested by his father Vayu, the wind God. However, when Hanuman insisted, Narada said that since no one had blessed him with the gift of music, he, Narada – the great musician, would bless him to be one of the best musicians.

Narada had no idea that Hanuman was already an accomplished musician. After showering his blessings, Narada decided to move ahead, but Hanuman would not leave him. He told Narada that since he had now been blessed with the gift of music, he would sing and Narada had to hear and judge him. Narada was reluctant. He thought he would be wasting his time listening to and judging a novice. But Hanuman would not let him go. Finally Narada agreed. He sat down comfortably, placed his divine veena on a rock in front of him and asked Hanuman to sing. Hanuman sat in front of Narada, closed his eyes, invoked the Lord and started singing. He sang so beautifully that all the devatas stationed themselves in the sky above him to hear his music!

Even Narada was overwhelmed with the flow of naada. The rock on which the veena was placed started to melt with Hanuman’s music. And the veena started to sink into the liquid rock. After some time, Narada who was listening with closed eyes asked Hanuman to stop so that he can now proceed further. The moment Hanuman stopped singing, the rock froze and became solid. Narada got up and tried to collect his veena, but it would not move – it had got stuck in the rock. Narada had already realized the glory of Hanuman’s music, but he was astonished to see that his music had even melted inert stones! Narada’s ego was crushed – he was totally humbled. He realized that he was after all not the best musician. Narada also realized that it is devotion that ultimately adds beauty and divinity to music. He pleaded with Hanuman to sing once again. This time when Hanuman sang, the rock melted, and Narada collected his veena. He acknowledged and praised Hanuman as the best musician in all the three worlds and with a pure heart devoid of ego and filled with devotion, he went his way singing the Lord’s glory.
Hanuman is Kavya – Nataka – Sangeeta – Naada – Paripoorna!! 

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I Am delighted to inform you all that I have authored a book of stories for
children titled: ” Bharatiya Katha Vaibhava -1″.

The book was released for Deepavali. This book features 25 unique and
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Kartika Purnima: Tripura Samhara & Dev Deepavali

Tripurantaka

Tarakaksha, Vidyunmali and Kamalaksha were the sons of Tarakasura. Lord Subramanya engaged Tarakasura in a fierce battle and killed him. To avenge the death of their father, the three brothers decided to perform penance and acquire powers from Lord Brahma. They meditated for a hundred years standing on one foot, for the next thousand years by only taking in air, and then for another thousand years by standing on their heads.

Pleased with their tapas, Lord Brahma appeared and asked them what they wanted as a boon. All the three brothers asked for immortality. The Lord denied them immortality because according to the Laws of Nature, death is inevitable for one who is born. Alternatively they asked for three flying cities with forts, one fort made of gold in the heavenly region to be ruled by Tarakaksha, a silver fort to be ruled by Kamalaksha in the sky (intermediate space) and the third fort to be ruled by Vidyunmali made of iron on the terrestrial plane. Each fort which was capable of flying was a huge city by itself. They were together called as “TRIPURA”. They would align once in every thousand years for a very short interval of time, and if anyone could destroy all the three forts with one arrow when they aligned, that would also be the cause of their death. Lord Brahma granted their unique wish.

Ruling over these flying cities created by Maya, the architect of the asuras, these asuras gradually became arrogant and followed the path of adharma. They tormented the devatas, the rishis and beings on earth. All the devatas along with Brahma and Vishnu went to Lord Shiva and asked him to annihilate the asuras.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva agreed and waited for the right time when the three of them would align themselves. Bhu-devi (Mother Earth) became the golden chariot artistically crafted by Viswakarma, the celestial architect. Brahma became the charioteer. Mount Meru became the bow and Vasuki, the serpent became the string of the bow. Lord Vishnu himself became the arrow called the Pashupatastra. All the celestial beings assembled in the sky to witness the destruction of Tripura. When all the three city-forts aligned themselves, which was hardly for a few seconds, Lord Shiva who was waiting with all alertness, released the arrow which went through all the three cities. The cities as well as the three asuras were burnt with the fiery astra. The day of TRIPURA SAMHARA happened to be on Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Kartika. The Lord adorned his forehead with three horizontal strips with the ash left over and danced in ecstasy. His dance is known as TRIPURA NASHA NARTANA! And Lord Shiva is known as TRIPURANTAKA. The overjoyed devatas who were witnessing the rare and unique event came down to the bathing ghats of the sacred River Ganga in Varanasi and took the holy dip in her sacred waters which is known as Kartika-Snan, and celebrated the victory of GOOD over EVIL by lighting rows and rows of deepas (lamps). Hence the Kartika Purnima became known as DEV DEEPAVALI. It is also known as TRIPURARI PURNIMA.

Significance: The three cities as a whole represent an individual’s three EQUIPMENTS, the body, mind and intellect. They also represent the three periods of TIME – past, present and future; the three STATES which we go through – waking, dream and deep sleep states; the three QUALITIES associated with the mind – sattva, rajas and tamas; and the three WORLDS – higher, mortal and lower worlds. An individual is associated with the three equipments, the three states, the three qualities of the mind and he also transacts in the three worlds in the three periods of time. All of them are constantly in a state of flux (change). 

Shiva represents a seeker in his seat of meditation striving to transcend all the tri-groups and reach the State of Enlightenment. The alignment of the three cities represents the state of stable and neutral equilibrium reached by the seeker within himself. The arrow released indicates the transcendence of all the tri-groups and consequently the realization of the Supreme State of Absolute Oneness. In the Highest Vision of Oneness experienced within oneself, all plurality and multiplicity dissolves away or gets burnt down. This is represented by the ash which the Lord adorns himself with. Vibhuti means ‘ash’ and it also means ‘divine glory’. The glory, ornament and beauty of a Jeevanmukta is his REALIZATION.

Devatas taking a dip in the Ganga signifies a spiritual seeker taking a dip into the scriptural knowledge represented by Mother Ganga and ultimately experiencing the State of Enlightenment represented by Kashi or Varanasi. This is the All-full (Poorna) State indicated by Kartika Purnima. It is significant to note that the term Kartika denotes the faculty of viveka or discrimination exercised by the seeker in his seat of contemplation.

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Sampat Lakshmi Vrata

[Lakshmi Vrata is undertaken on all Fridays during the month of Shravan. There will be a post every friday starting from today for 4 weeks on Goddess Lakshmi.. Do check the 2nd post on Goddess Lakshmi next Friday.. ]

In Satya Yuga there lived a poor brahmana who had to take care of a large family comprising his wife, four sons and four daughter-in-laws. One day, as he went out seeking alms he reached a house where “Sampat Lakshmi Vrata” was being performed. They received the pious brahmana and asked him to wait until the puja was over. After the puja was over he received bhiksha along with a mud-kalasa which they had used for puja. With a lot of curiousity he asked for the details of the puja, how it is to be performed etc. That day because of the sanctified mud-kalasa he possessed, he got a lot of bhiksha from other houses also. Feeling very happy, he went back home and narrated everything to his wife. 

They also decided to perform Sampat Lakshmi Vrata on all the fridays during the month of Shravan. There were five fridays in the Shravana month that year. On the first friday they made all the necessary preparations for the puja. After the sankalpa was taken, according to the conditions of the vrata, the first daughter-in-law with haldi-kumkum in hand, went out to invite a sumangali for the evening puja. She found a married woman with an extraordinary glow and aura around her. The daughter-in-law invited her home. The woman accepted the haldi and kumkum, applied it on her forehead and said, “I will come”. But in the evening she did not turn up. The brahmana’s family waited in vain. They could not complete the vrata. The second friday, the second daughter-in-law went out to invite a sumangali for the evening puja. She also met the same woman full of tejas who promised “to come”. But like last time, she did not turn up. But the family did not give up. The third and fourth fridays were the turn of the third and fourth daughters-in-law. And as usual, they also met the same sumangali who said she would come but did not turn up.

On the fifth friday of Shravan, the brahmana sent his wife this time to invite a sumangali for the evening puja. Strange! She too met the same woman and requested her to come for the evening puja. She said that she would come. They again made all the preparations and waited. It was dusk-time. Suddenly their whole house was filled with a golden glow and they heard the soft, tinkling sound of anklets. The looked in the direction of the jingling sound of anklets. There was Goddess Lakshmi in all her glory manifest in front of them! Overwhelmed with joy and happiness, they devotedly worshipped her. 

Mahalakshmi, the Mother of the Universe told them that she was the one whom they had met all the previous four fridays. She had promised to come, but she had not told them when she would come. She wanted to test their devotion and surrender, consistency and faith before pouring her blessings on them. Goddess Lakshmi bestowed upon the family wealth and prosperity to take care of their life here and hereafter. 
The Sampat Lakshmi Vrata is undertaken on all the fridays of the Shravana month. The friday prior to the full-moon is celebrated as Varamahalakshmi Vrata.  

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