Category Archives: Hinduism

Raja Rishi Sri Narahari Tirtha

Shyama Shastri (13-14th century) was an erudite scholar, statesman and the minister of King Gajapati of Kalinga (Orissa) State. When Sri Madhvacharya reached Orissa while returning from Badrikashrama, a Vidvat Sabha was arranged there. Among the galaxy of scholars, pandits and philosophers, Shyama Shastri also was present. Acharya Madhva defeated all the scholars and upheld the supremacy of Dvaita Philosophy. Inspired by the Dvaita philosophy, Shyama Shastri became the disciple of the Acharya and followed him to Udupi. He was initiated into the sanyasa-order and was given the name NARAHARI TIRTHA. 

Narahari Tirtha engaged himself in spreading the doctrines and philosophy of Dvaita. At the time, Madhvacharya sent Narahari Tirtha to Orissa to propagate the Dvaita Philosophy and also to bring back the ancient gold vigraha of Lord Rama known as MOOLA RAMA, along with the vigraha of Seeta. The deities were a part of the Kalinga State treasury. Narahari Tirtha set out to Kalinga and stayed in a remote cave on the outskirts of the city.

Around that time, the king of Kalinga died and his son who was to be the successor was very young. As was the custom prevalent those days, the royal elephant was given a garland and left free to move around. Whomsoever the elephant garlanded would be accepted as the king. The elephant headed straight towards the cave where Narahari Tirtha was residing. Hearing the commotion of people and the elephant’s trumpet, Narahari Tirtha came outside. The elephant immediately placed the garland around Narahari Tirtha’s neck! The people were surprised but happy at the same time because they recognised their own minister, Shyama Shastri in the Sanyasi! Accepting it as the Lord’s Will, Narahari Tirtha ascended the throne. He beautifully integrated his SANYASA DHARMA along with RAJA DHARMA – verily a “RAJA-RISHI”. He diligently and efficiently ruled over the kingdom and its people for a period of twelve years. There are innumerable stone-inscriptions describing the religious as well as the welfare programs undertaken by Narahari Tirtha for the community. When the prince was capable of taking charge of his responsibilities, Narahari Tirtha, the “personification of dispassion”, handed over the kingdom to him and made preparations to leave for Udupi. The young king wished to express his reverence and gratitude to the Acharya who had ruled and looked after the kingdom all these years. He requested Narahari Tirtha to ask for anything that he wanted as a gift, and it would be his fortune and privilege to offer it to the acharya. The Acharya told the king that he did not want anything for himself, but requested for the idols of Moola Rama and Seeta which were in the royal treasury. The king willingly handed over the idols to Narahari Tirtha. 

A contented and fulfilled Narahari Tirtha reached Udupi. He had been able to carry out his Guru’s words and bring the divine idols to Udupi. Sri Madhvacharya was overwhelmed to receive the beautiful Moola Rama and Seeta vigraha-s. The rare and unique idols were crafted by the celestial architect, Viswakarma at the behest of Lord Brahma himself. Through the ages, they reached the Kings of Kalinga and were safely kept in the State treasury. Sri Madhvacharya intuitively knew about the idols and wanted to revive the worship of Moola Rama and Seeta. On receiving the idols from Narahari Tirtha, Sri Madhvacharya placed the idols alongside Sri Krishna and worshipped them. From then onwards, the pontiffs of Madhva Matha have been worshipping the idols. Sri Moola Rama and Seeta vigraha-s were worshipped by Sri Raghavendra Tirtha of Mantralaya who also belonged to the same parampara and the tradition of worshipping and offering services to Sri Moola Rama and Seeta continues to this day by the present Acharya-s. 

Narahari Tirtha was one of the foremost amongst the Haridasa-s of the Bhakti movement. He composed beautiful kirtan-s in the kannada language under the signature of “Narahari” and “Raghupati”. He wrote commentaries on various scriptural texts as well as on Sri Madhvacharya’s works. He built many temples and was instrumental in extensively spreading the philosophy of Sri Madhvacharya. It is said that the well-known Art-forms known as “Yaksha Gana” and “Bayalu Aata” (open theatre drama) were introduced by Narahari Tirtha, as a part of Vaishnava Bhakti Movement.

ससीतामूलरामार्चा कोशे गजपतेः स्थिता।
येनानीता नमस्तस्मै श्रीमन्नृहरिभिक्षवे॥

“Prostrations unto Sri Narahari Tirtha, the Great Ascetic, who brought the icons of Moola Rama and Seeta (to the Madhva Matha) from the treasury of King Gajapati”.

“Sriman Moola Ramo Vijayate! Sri Guru Rajo Vijayate!”

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Hanumat Vibhuti by Swami Chinmayananda

HANUMAN represents a perfect man of education and culture, proficient and efficient, and ever a go-getter. Nothing seems to be impossible for him. To think is to act for him; to conceive is to achieve. Yet, this beautiful characterisation, all along Ramayana, so tenderly both handled and dandled by the sensitive poet Valmiki, has been deliberately wrapped up in the outer anatomical shell of a monkey! Any sensitive student of literature will be compelled to pause for a moment to wonder, “was it a monkey?” To suggest this question in the mind of the readers, Valmiki himself describes him as. “is he a man?” (VA – Nara?). The symbolism suggested is evidently clear to all deep students of our spiritual texts, who are familiar with our cultural diction, and who are trained to be sensitive in Indian traditions of poetry. 

Monkeys represent THOUGHTS; the similarity being that both are restless (chanchala) and unsteady (asthira). Of all thoughts, the very minister of Su-greeva (sushtu greevam — well reined) now in his exile, was HANUMAN, extremely erudite and scholarly. Yet, this thought-personality cannot bring out its potential might and beauty, albeit serving as the minister to “Self-Control”. Knowledge and erudition, with moral restraint and physical control, is the highest from the standpoint of material education, and according to the systems of worldly education. Yet, Valmiki demonstrates that all the potentialities inherent can blossom forth only when that knowledge bows down to Rama, the Spiritual Essence!

From the moment, Anjaneya meets with Rama, Ramayana distinctly reveals a mysterious unfoldment of great powers, an explosion of inconceivable merits and beauties in that apparently ridiculous and seemingly insignificant form of a monkey. However wise and intelligent we may be, even when that wise man has character and self-control, it is not all. Only when these thoughts move, in utter devotion and total loyalty towards “that which revels in everything” (Rama), that all the inherent potentialities divine can get a chance to blossom forth.

Thereafter, as the loyal servant of Sri Rama, the personality of Hanuman unfolds its infinite strength and endless beauty, for all generations to watch, and yet in himself he remains outwardly a “va-nara” and inwardly a steady and total devotee. Every hair on his body was heard to whisper the divine name of RAMA. The mind of Hanuman was always totally involved in singing Rama’s name. Centred in Rama, he acted. For Rama, he achieved. Rama’s glory was his only glory. There stands now the puny monkey, larger than life: greater than the greatest, the eternal devotee, his strength, his wisdom, his love, and his all, dedicated totally to Rama. Thereafter, we detect the Supreme expressing through this insignificant-looking monkey, making us all wonder, “is it a man (Va-nara)?” or “is it a God (Va-deva)?” 

HANU is “killing” and MAN is “vanity”. So HANUMAN can be interpreted as one who has destroyed his vanity. Though a monkey, he has risen to the stature of a Divine God, only because of his PHYSICAL READINESS TO SERVE THE CAUSE, MENTAL DEVOTION TO THE CAUSE, and INTELLECTUAL CONSISTENCY OF FAITH AND PURPOSE IN THE CAUSE. Whoever brings out these sincerities in his actions, even if he be a monkey, will certainly unfold himself to reveal his divine stature and might. Such an individual is the Child of “Pavana,” the Lord of Storms — the Might of the mighty! 

The victory over the “animal’ can be gained, even if you be Sri Ramachandraji, only with the help of HANUMAN, the monumental strength of perfect “Brahmacharya”. Control the Indriyas; delve within. Cross the Sethu – the distance between the DIVINE that you want to become and the animal you ‘are’ now!

When you lead a life in complete surrender to Lord Rama, then the strength that rises from within you, THAT IS HANUMAN. When love, beauty, erudition, courage, determination and success come to your life from a source beyond the body, mind and intellect, THAT IS HANUMAN. When you reach your life’s goal, like a sure-shot arrow from Sri Rama’s bow, THAT IS HANUMAN. Grace of Rama Dhoota Bhakta Siromani Hanuman brings Health, Devotion and Spiritual Success. We need them all on the Path Divine. Keep Him always within your heart as the situation demands, chanting the Lord’s name in times of peace and in the face of imposing challenges, for that is where He belongs!!

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Sri Rama Pattabhisheka – the Significance!

SRIMAD-RAMAYANA represents the spiritual yatra of a seeker – the AYANA (journey) of a spiritual seeker represented by RAMA. Hence it is known as RAMAYANA. Ramayana is also a treasure house of VALUES to be inculcated and practised at every stage in life. The Epic also highlights the various relationships amongst the different characters, and the need and importance to nurture, nourish and maintain these relationships at individual and social level. Lord Rama and his consort, Seeta as well as all the other characters through the various incidents, situations and circumstances demonstrate the journey from the realm of mortality to the State of Immortality. These incidents, situations or circumstances (each and every one of them) are “dynamic pictures with enormous significance” which are to be clicked on our mental screen and contemplated upon for they carry “life transforming” messages for us! 

One of these pictures which is very familiar to us is the SRI RAMA PATTABHISHEKA. In fact, whether in the temple or in our puja room, Lord Rama whom we invoke and worship is the “Pattabhisheka Deity – SRI PATTABHIRAMA”. The great musician-saint, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar has composed a kirtan on the “Pattabhisheka Scene” which is beautiful and vividly captivating, complete and extremely significant! 

“O, Pattabhi-Rama, who adorns the Seat of Sovereignty and whose auspicious and sacred name, RAMA, is glorified by the ever-victorious Maruti (Hanuman), protect me. Rama, the Pure and the All-perfect, who is supremely contented and ever fulfilled, carries the Kodanda-bow in His hand and is the personification of Auspiciousness. The Lotus-eyed Lord belongs to the illustrious Raghu dynasty. Rama whose feet are soft and tender, is of dark complexion resembling the rain-bearing clouds. Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna are attending upon and serving their brother, Sri Raja Rama with the royal umbrella (chhatra) and the chamara (fly-whisks). Vibhishana, Sugreeva and others are offering their obeisance to the Lord. Sri Rama, son of Dasaratha is the recipient of the blessings of the great Rishis like Atri, Vasishta and others. In a gem-studded navaratna-mantapa, Sri Rama, along with his consort Seeta adorns the beautiful bejewelled suvarna Simhasana. Lord Sri Rama of exemplary character and conduct (the embodiment of Dharma), is extremely dear to Guruguha (Lord Subramanya). He is like the beautiful moon to the ocean of the solar dynasty. He is verily the Ruler and Protector of the whole Universe, SRI RAMACHANDRA!”

The “Rama Pattabhisheka” Scene or the Picture represents a MAN of REALIZATION – a Jivanmukta. Ayodhya is “A – Yudha”. It means “No conflict”. Therefore, it represents the Inner State of Absolute Peace and Bliss – the State of Mukti or Enlightenment. In this State of Bliss, Lord Rama and his consort Seeta are seated on the royal throne – the Simhasana. ASANA means “seat” and SIMHA means “Dharma”. Therefore, SIMHASANA means the “Seat of Dharma or Righteousness”. Sri Rama and Seeta together represent the “One State” beyond the aspects of Purusha and Prakriti – the State of Jivanmukti. The Man of Realization is one who has attained the Dimensionless State of Infinitude – he is VIRAT. He is a Master of the external world (Samrajya) as well as the inner world (Swarajya). Such an individual is a real SAMRAT and SWARAT. When he is working for the welfare of the community, he is ever rooted in and established in Dharma. There alone is the true RAMA RAJYA. Therefore, Sri Rama who is the embodiment of Dharma represents a Jivanmukta. Rama is surrounded by his brothers, the Rishis, Hanuman, Sugreeva, Angada, Vibhishana and others. All the characters represent one of the noble traits or virtues to be developed within us.

Alternatively, Seeta and Rama represent a well-integrated Mind and Intellect equipment. Lakshmana represents Karma Yoga, Bharata represents Vairagya or Dispassion, Shatrughna stands for the Ever-victorious and Hanuman signifies unconditional Surrender and total Devotion (there are different interpretations as to what each character stands for). Therefore the entire picture with all the characters of SRI RAMA PATTABHISHEKA is ONE WHOLE SPIRITUAL message for us!!

Keep within RAMA-MAYAM as Sadhana. To see RAMA-MAYAM is Sadhya; the former the Way, the later the Goal. Merge into Rama. Disappear in Rama!! “When will this be?” What a question! “When you choose to be,” is the scriptural answer!! Go beyond the famous “Coronation Picture” of Sri Ramachandra into the Ocean of “Rama Tattva” behind His Golden Throne. Through Rama to “Rama-Tattva”; through names and forms to the “BEYOND!!” ~ Swami Chinmayananda

रामो राजमणिः सदा विजयते रामं रमेशं भजे
रामेणाभिहता निशाचरचमूः रामाय तस्मै नमः ।
रामान्नास्ति परायणंपरतरं रामस्य दासोस्म्यहं
रामे चित्तलयस्सदा भवतु मे भो राम मामुद्धर ॥ (Sri Rama Raksha Stotra)

महारत्नपीठे शुभे कल्पमूले
      सुखासीनमादित्यकोटिप्रकाशम् ।
सदा जानकीलक्ष्मणोपेतमेकं
      सदा रामचन्द्रम् भजेऽहं भजेऽहम्  ॥ (Sri Rama Bhujanga Stotra)

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Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram!

The Rishis who lived in Darukavana (pine forest) engaged themselves in intense tapas and yagnas continuously. Due to their meritorious activities, they became very powerful and consequently very arrogant and full of pride. They thought that they could control all the devatas because of their austerities and mantras-siddhis. When Lord Shiva heard of their attitude, he set out to destroy their pride. He disguised himself as a pious man. On the behest of Shiva, Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini and accompanied Shiva as his wife. Both of them came to Darukavana. The rishis and their wives were totally mesmerized by the beauty and charm of the divine couple and became distracted from their austerities. A little later, the rishis realized that they had been distracted from their austerities and became angry. 

The rishis started a yagna to attack and counter the couple without knowing that it was Lord Shiva and Vishnu in front of them. In the ‘yagna-fire’, they invoked a ferocious tiger and directed it towards Lord Shiva. The Lord killed the tiger and wore its skin around his waist. Next came a serpent from the sacrificial fire. Shiva seized it in his hand and wore it round his neck as an ornament. A wild elephant was invoked next, which the Lord easily killed. A demon called Apasmara (representing ignorance) was sent next. The Lord put him under his feet and rendered him immobile. Various hurdles and obstacles in the form of mantras were sent towards Lord Shiva. He converted them all into anklets and wore them round his feet. Having met all the challenges successfully, the Lord started his wonderful and most awesome cosmic dance called “Ananda Tandava” (the dance of eternal bliss). The Lord danced and Lord Vishnu watched the beautiful Tandava! The rishis were stunned at the breath-taking, beautiful Cosmic Nritya (Dance). Lord Shiva’s Tandava represents Creation, Sustenance, and Dissolution. The rishis realized their mistake and prostrated to the Lord and asked for forgiveness.

After reaching Vaikunta, Lord Vishnu who was witness to the great Shiva Tandava narrated the entire episode and described the Tandava in particular to Adi Sesha. Adi Sesha was very eager to see the unique and divine dance of the Lord. Sri Hari told him to proceed to the Thillai forest (mangrove forest), which is Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu), and perform tapas. Adi Sesha manifested as Sage Patanjali and came to the Thillai forest. He was joined by Sage Vyaghrapada. They made a Shiva-linga and invoked and worshipped Lord Shiva in it. 

Lord Shiva was pleased with their penance. It was on the auspicious day of Margazhi Purnima that the Lord performed the Tandava for them. The star on that day was Arudra Nakshatra which is associated with Lord Shiva. Chidambaram was the only place in the universe that has the strength and stability to become the divine stage for the Lord of Dance, NATARAJA, for his Cosmic Dance. Hence this auspicious day is known as ARUDRA DARSHANAM.

All the devatas, rishis, and gandharvas came to witness the dance. Celestial musicians sang. Narada played his veena and Nandi played the mridangam. The Vedas became the Lord’s anklets! The devatas and rishis who had witnessed the great performance requested the Lord to continue his Nritya for the welfare of the whole world. Lord Nataraja agreed and made Chidambaram his abode.

Chidambaram means “covered or clothed with knowledge”. The Lord is worshipped there in the form of Nataraja (with form), as crystal Linga (form-less), and as Akasha or Space-linga (invisible). Hence, this kshetra is one of the Pancha Mahabhuta Kshetras. There are five sabhas in which Lord Shiva performed five different types of Tandavas. CHIDAMBARAM is the KANAKA (Golden) Sabha where the Lord performed the ANANDA TANDAVA. The temple was designed and consecrated by Sage Patanjali himself who is the author of the ‘Yoga Sutras’. The structure of the Chidambaram temple is very unique and can be related to the entire structure of a human being. The temple is located at the centre point of the world’s magnetic equator. Lord Nataraja represents the five great Elements necessary for creation. He symbolises the Pancha Kriyas: Srishti (Creation), Sthiti (Sustenance), Samhara (Dissolution), Tirobhava (Veiling) and Anugraha (Showering of Grace). SHIVA TANDAVA represents Life and Life’s activities (micro and macro) in the entire Cosmos.

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