Tag Archives: Ganga

Ganga – the Flow of Spiritual Knowledge!

River Ganges is respected and adored as Mother Ganga. As a river she is the main source of water especially for the northern part of Bharat. Apart from being a source of water, she has unique properties. Since she flows down through the Himalayan ranges, she carries along with her the inherent and unique properties of the soil, minerals and foliage through which she flows which gives her waters distinctive features. A dip in her waters or to drink her waters is extremely beneficial. Her oxidation level is also very high and therefore the Ganges water can be stored for years together – it still remains fresh and uncontaminated. 

King Bhagiratha of the Solar dynasty performed intense tapas to bring the sacred Ganges from the higher realms down to the plains to redeem his forefathers of their sins. Pleased with his tapas, Ganga appeared before him and told him that the force of her descent from the Higher Realms can be very devastating and everything within her reach will be totally wiped out. The only person who could withstand and contain the impact of her mighty descent was Lord Shiva. So Bhagiratha performed penance to propitiate Sankara. The Lord appeared before him. Bhagiratha narrated everything to Lord Shiva. The Lord agreed to take the tremendous impact of Ganga when she descends upon himself. Lord Shiva came to Gangotri and on the auspicious Ganga Dussehra day, Mother Ganges descended down from the higher realms with full force. Lord Shiva received Ganga into his open “Jata” (locks of hair). Subsequently the Lord released Ganga slowly in the form of small streamlets from His Jata. The Ganga from the Lord’s Jata followed Bhagiratha from the higher altitudes to the lower terristrial plains and then finally reached the lower realms to redeem the forefathers of Bhagiratha. After traversing the entire Northern plains known as the Gangetic Plains, Ganga reaches the ocean (Bay of Bengal) at Ganga Sagar and merges to become one with the ocean.

GAM means “knowledge”. GA means “to move”. Therefore GAMGA or GANGA represents “the eternal flow of Spiritual Knowledge”. She is the personification of Mother Sruti (scriptures). She is worshipped as AKASHA GANGA, wherein she represents the Highest, Subtle and Incomprehensible Spiritual Knowledge. The ‘vahana’ (vehicle) of Ganga is crocodile. The crocodile represents ‘spiritual ignorance’. Ganga signifies ‘Spiritual Knowledge’. Ganga seated on the crocodile represents the destruction of ignorance with the help of Spiritual Knowledge. To partake a DROP OF THIS KNOWLEDGE is to transcend and move beyond name, form, attributes, activity and reach the realm of Highest Experience: the State of Enlightenment.  King Bhagiratha represents a spiritual seeker. BHAGA means “glories”. RATHA means “chariot”. BHAGIRATHA therefore means “personification of all divine qualities”. He is born in Solar dynasty meaning “he is endowed with spiritual knowledge”. 


When the seeker invokes the spiritual knowledge within himself in his seat of meditation, it descends down with such an impact that in one sweep the entire world of plurality and multiplicity becomes non-existent for him, leaving behind only the experience of Absolute Oneness. The seeker in the present moment may not have the ability and capacity to take on the impact. Only Lord Shiva who represents the Highest State of Meditation can contain the knowledge and revel in the experience of Absolute Oneness. Therefore Ganga (Divine Knowledge) descends onto his head (intellect). Hence Shiva also represents the Guru who has not only the Knowledge of the Higher State, but has experienced it within himself. When the seeker approaches the Guru, depending upon the constitution of the seeker and his ability and capacity to absorb the Higher Knowledge, the Guru slowly initiates him which is represented by the flow of Ganga from Lord Shiva’s tresses. Just as Ganga on reaching the vast shoreless and depthless ocean, loses her individual identity to merge and disappear into the ocean and becomes one with it, so too the spiritual seeker (jivatma) slowly progresses on the path of meditation to reach and become one with the Highest State (Paramatma). This is the State of Mukti or Enlightenment.


Gange Hara Hara! Gange Hara Hara!! 

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Lord Rama and Kevat

Sri Rama started on his fourteen years of exile to the forest along with Seeta and Lakshmana, to keep up his father Dasaratha’s promise to Kaikeyi. He met Guha, the tribal chieftain and asked him to arrange for a boatsman (Kevat) to take them across the river Ganga. Guha sent for the Kevat and asked him to take them across the river. But the Kevat refused saying that unless Rama let him personally wash His feet, he would not allow them to enter the boat. Guha angrily asked him why. The Kevat told him that he had heard that by the touch of the dust of the Lord’s feet, an inert and hard stone had transformed into a woman. His boat was made of softer material and if it comes in contact with the dust of Rama’s feet, surely and definitely it would also get transformed into a woman. Not only he would lose the boat which helped in his livelihood, but he would also have to look after another woman along with maintaining his family! That would not be possible for him at all. Guha was wonderstruck at his innocence. Lord Rama smiled and agreed to His feet being washed.

The Kevat brought a small plate and asked the Lord to place His feet in them. The Lord put His right foot on the plate. There wasn’t much space for His left foot in the plate. The Lord looked at the Kevat. It would be difficult for Him to balance Himself with both His feet in the small plate! The Kevat looked up and asked the Lord to place His hand on his head, and then place His left foot in the plate. In doing so, He would be able to maintain His balance! The Lord understood the humble and simple desire of the boatsman. All that he wanted was Bhagavan’s hand on his head as a sign of blessing. Rama placed His hand on Kevat’s head and put both His feet on the plate. Kevat was overwhelmed, and with eyes brimming with tears, he lovingly washed the Lord’s feet using the waters from Ganges. When the Lord was about to place His feet on the ground and enter the boat, Kevat stretched out his hand for the Lord to place His feet on his palm, and then enter the boat! What a great devotee and what a blessing!

Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana got into the boat and the Kevat took them across the river onto the other side. They stepped out of the boat and the Lord had to give him something for rowing them across. The Lord looked at Seeta and she removed her ring from her finger and gave it to Rama. Rama offered the ring to Kevat for taking them across the river. Kevat politely declined the offer saying that there is no “give and take” between two people in the same profession! The Lord was surprised and asked him how both of them were in the same profession?

The Kevat very beautifully told the Lord, “I ferry people across the river. You ferry people across the ocean of samsara! Are we both not in the same profession?”

Every one there was surprised and amazed at the Kevat’s knowledge and devotion. He requested the Lord that on his return journey back from the forest after fourteen years, he should be again given the fortune of rowing them back to this side which the Lord promised.

 
The Kevat had ferried the Lord to and fro across the river. It was now the responsibility of the Lord to ferry the Kevat across the river of life!!

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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 popular short Stories with beautiful illustrations from our Epics, and from the life of our Saints, Sages and Rulers… This is indeed a wonderful gift for children especially to be given as a prize for competitions! You can order in bulk too. Orders are welcome for libraries, schools etc..
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Note: To buy the full colour version book (paperback with colour illustrations) please contact the author , as they are only being printed on author’s request .Those who wish to avail of this offer, please contact/message me.(Especially if you want a full color version book, please inform at the earliest..)

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Sri Vidya Upasaka: Dikshitar

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 – 1835) was one of the greatest Musician-Saints and is one among the Carnatic Music Trinity, the other two being Saint Thyagaraja and Shyama Sastri.

Dikshitar’s father was Ramaswami Dikshitar who was a Sanskrit scholar and an accomplished musician living in Tiruvarur in Tamilnadu. When Dikshitar turned twenty five, the great Chidambaranatha Yogi of Varanasi visited their house and requested Ramaswami to send Dikshitar with him for further education. His father agreed and Dikshitar went to Varanasi. He was initiated into “Sri Vidya Upasana”, and his Guru told him to constantly worship Sri Annapurneswari, the Bestower of material needs (Bhukti) as well as liberation (Mukti). He mastered the scriptures, the science of mantras, astrology, music, and was an expert in playing the veena. He came under the influence of Hindustani classical music and Western band music.

After a few years, the teacher told him that it was time for him to go back home because he had learnt all that had to be learnt. The young disciple asked the teacher what was the proof that he had learnt everything. The teacher asked him to go to Mother Ganges and take a dip. If his learning was complete, She would reward him. He went to the Ganges, took a dip and invoked Her. Mother Ganges was there in front of him with a beautiful veena in Her hand. She handed it over to him. It had “RAMA” inscribed on it and was different from the normal veenas. The tail end of the veena which is called ‘yaalimukha’ is turned upwards. In normal veenas it is turned downwards. This veena that Dikshitar used is even now preserved in their ancestral home.

With the blessings of his teacher and with this unique veena gifted to him by the Mother of Knowledge, Dikshitar travelled back. He arrived at Tiruttani, one of the famous six abodes of Kartikeya in Tamilnadu. Dikshitar was sitting and meditating on the Lord on the steps of the temple, when Lord Kartikeya came in the disguise of an elderly man, asked him to open his mouth and put sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. At that very moment, he composed a beautiful kriti on Kartikeya with the mudra (signature) GURU-GUHA. Kartikeya also known as GUHA had come to him as his GURU.

He has composed songs on almost all deities, all pilgrimage centres and brought into the kritis the uniqueness and speciality of them all. Along with Sangeeta sastra, he incorporated the “mantra sastra” into his songs and therefore to render them with correct pronunciation and bhava, with a little understanding of its meaning will bring all prosperity to the singer as well as the listener – singing of his keerthans is equivalent to chanting the mantras.

Instances of Dikshitar bringing relief and solace to individuals as well as to the community through his keerthans are many. With a Kriti in raga Amruthavarshini, he brought the rains down on the parched land of Ettayyapuram (Tamil Nadu). He also brought health back to his disciple Tambiyappan by warding off the evil effects (graha dosha) of Jupiter, by composing a kriti on that planet. 

On the eve of Deepavali in 1835, after he had finished Devi Puja, he had a vision of Sri Annapurneswari and sang “Ehi Annapurne” – his last kriti. He remembered what his Guru had told him and knew it was time for him to leave his body. He asked his disciples who had gathered there to sing his composition “Meenakshi me mudam dehi” (Meenakshi bestow upon me Your grace) in the Raga Gamakakriya. When they sang the lines: “meena lochani pasha mochani” (O! Fish-eyed One, who cuts asunder the knots of bondage), he asked them to repeat these phrases once more. As they were repeating them, Dikshitar uttered “Shive pahi, Shive pahi, Shive pahi” and left his physical body to merge eternally with the Mother of the Universe whom he invoked and worshipped all his life. 
His compositions called “Kamalamba Nava-avarana” Krithis which are full of mystic significance are rendered even today with great religious fervour during the Navaratri festival.

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[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

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