Tag Archives: Hinduism

Dussehra : Sri Rama’s victory over Ravana!

Seeta, Lord Rama’s wife had been abducted by the ten-headed Ravana. She was held captive in Lanka. Rama and Lakshmana along with the army of vanaras headed by their King Sugreeva, his wise minister Hanuman and others crossed the ocean and reached Lanka and waged a war against Ravana. When Ravana lost all his mighty warriors, his brother Kumbhakarna and his sons, he finally came to the war-field to fight Lord Rama. There was a fierce battle between the two of them which was incomparable. A divine chariot and charioteer descended from the heavens for Lord Rama. Every time Rama cut off one of Ravana’s head, another one manifested in its place! Ravana countered Rama with all his might and strength.

When Rama became exhausted, Sage Agastya came forward and taught the “ADITYA HRIDAYA” (a powerful invocation glorifying Lord Surya Bhagavan) to Sri Rama. As instructed by Sage Agastya, Lord Rama invoked Lord Surya by chanting the ADITYA HRIDAYA. With the grace and blessings, the power and strength of Surya Bhagavan, Rama was able to defeat and kill Ravana. Accompanied by Seeta and others, Rama went back to Ayodhya. He was crowned the King of Ayodhya. RAMA RAJYA was established.

Significance: Rama represents the INTELLECT and Lakshmana represents the MIND. Seeta stands for ABSOLUTE PEACE. The ten-headed Ravana is the EGO in the seeker with the ten heads representing the five sense-organs of perception and five organs of action. All of them are turned outward and hence Ravana is known as DASHAMUKHA. To conquer and destroy the EGO is extremely difficult. When one head is cut off, another one appears. When one sense impulse is conquered, another one gets strengthened. At that point of time, the Guru (Man of Realization) represented by Sage Agastya appears. Agastya Rishi is “Kumbhodbhava” (born out of a pot). Kumbha represents POORNATVA or “fullness”. He points out, directs and guides the advanced seeker to the “INNER (Hridaya) CONSCIOUSNESS (Aditya)” – Aditya Hridaya!

At this stage, the process of INTELLECTION is taken over by INTUITION and the seeker is able to liquidate the EGO (Ravana) within himself. This is the real DUSSEHRA or DASHA-PAPA-HARA which happens within the spiritual seeker and bestows on him the ETERNAL and EVERLASTING VICTORY – the VIJAYADASAMI. INNER PEACE (Seeta) is restored back. The couple SEETA-RAMA represents a Man of Inner Quietude or a Man of Realization. He alone can reach the REALM OF NO-CONFLICT (Ayodhya or A – yudha). Seated on the SEAT OF DHARMA (simha-asana) within himself, he is able to establish RAMA-RAJYA within! The VICTORY of GOOD over the EVIL within oneself and over the external circumstances is the real CELEBRATION OF DUSSEHRA!

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Significance of Navaratri!

There are five Navaratri-s in a year. Vasanta Navaratri, Ashada Navaratri, Sharad Navaratri, Pausha Navaratri and Magha Navaratri. Amongst all of them, Vasanta Navaratri and Sharad Navaratri are considered to be important because they represent the arrival of Spring and Autumn and are associated with creative activity in Nature along with major climatic changes and solar influences. Sharad Navaratri (Sharannavaratri) is also known as Maha Navaratri and is considered even more important because it comes just after the rainy season. During this period, Mother Nature is at her creative best! Sharad or Autumn season represents newness, freshness, plentiful-ness, change and creativity. Most of the seasonal and non-seasonal flowers, fruits and vegetables are available during this period. Sharannavaratri comes in the month of Aaswayuja.

The autumn season is very conducive for environmental changes; everything in Nature is changing for the better; everywhere creative activity is going on. Nature is but an extension of our mind. As in the macro, so in the micro. Therefore, it is easier to align the mind to its universal aspect in this season and bring about constructive changes in the mind, train it and redirect it in purposeful sadhana to reach the ultimate fulfillment of human life. Hence the importance of Upasana during this period.

Nature is in “creative-activity”, and Mother represents the Power of Creation. Therefore, during Navaratri, the Ultimate Reality or Supreme Universal Power is invoked and worshipped in feminine form, as DEVI – “Mother Goddess”. On the Mahalaya Amavasya day, prior to Navaratri, Devi is worshipped as the “Mother who brings forth or delivers the Universe”. On this day, the alankar for the deity in the temple is known as “Jagat Prasuti Alankara” (One who has just delivered the universe – post natal alankara). The alankara of the deity as “mother” includes a child (represented by a doll) in her lap. The doll in Mother’s lap not only represents the entire universe of things and beings (macro) delivered by Her, but the doll also represents each one of us (micro) who has come into existence by Her grace alone.

The nine days of Navaratri along with Mahalaya Amavasya and Vijayadasami (9+2 days) represent a seeker’s spiritual pilgrimage, from the darkness of ignorance to the Light of Spiritual Knowledge. Amavasya means “clothed in ignorance”. Mahalaya means “total dissolution”. Mahalaya Amavasya therefore means “total dissolution of spiritual ignorance”. To accomplish this pilgrimage within ourselves, the Navaratri Puja (9 days of Upasana) is undertaken. Ratri (night) again represents darkness or ignorance. Nava means Nine – the nine “steps” to be taken by a mortal to reach the State of Immortality, by discarding or transcending the nine material-wraps (nava-avarana) around oneself. Nava also means New or Fresh. Every day through spiritual sadhana, the seeker works upon himself so that he improves and evolves and “today he is a better person than what he was yesterday – he is a NEW PERSON (nava)”. The entire pilgrimage fulfills itself in Vijayadasami – the Everlasting and Ultimate Victory – the State of Enlightenment. Therefore, Navaratri Puja is an inner spiritual pilgrimage from Mahalaya Amavasya to Vijayadasami. 

The first three days, MAHA DURGA is invoked to destroy the negative qualities and rakshasic impulses in us. The next three days MAHA LAKSHMI is invoked to instill in us positive, noble and divine qualities. The last three days MAHA SARASWATI is invoked. With her grace and blessings, the seeker is initiated into the scriptural knowledge. Through intense contemplation, the seeker realizes the God State of Consciousness within himself, which is Real and Everlasting. This fulfillment is represented by the tenth day – the Vijayadasami (Ever Victorious). The auspicious Vijayadasami is also known as the Day of Vidyarambha. Akshara Abhyas is performed on this day and children are initiated into the Aksharas (alphabets). Elders are initiated into the study of scriptures. Those who wish to pursue the Art-forms like music, dance etc., are also initiated on this day. The sequence of worship of the three deities (Maha Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati) varies from State to State. However, the significance remains the same.

Navaratri Upasana is also known as Dasara or Dussehra Puja. This is an abbreviation of “Dasha Papa Hara“. Therefore Dussehra Puja is that upasana which when undertaken helps an individual to liquidate the effect of karmas performed through the five sense-organs of perception and five organs of action. It is basically the Victory of Good over the Evil.
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Mathru Roopena Samstitha; Namah Tasyai Namah Tasyai Namah Tasyai Namo Namaha“.

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Dolls Display and Temple Celebrations during Navaratri!

Sharannavaratri is celebrated in the month of Aaswayuja. YUJ means “to unite with, to yoke with or connect with”. SWA means “tomorrow”. Aaswayuja means “to always or to continuously stay connected with”. Aaswayuja also means TRANSCENDENTAL and IMMANENT, which means “pervading everywhere (macro) and at the same time within oneself (micro). Therefore, the every word Aaswayuja means to constantly and continuously stay connected with the Higher, the Ultimate Reality at the universal and individual level. 

Dasara Dolls – Significance: Navaratri (Dasara) during Aaswayuja is therefore a sacred occasion for each and everyone of us to acknowledge and express our gratitude to all of that which is manifest: from the gross to the subtle, from small to the big, from the inert and insentient things to the dynamic and sentient beings, from the terrestrial to the celestial, from micro to the MACRO – from Vishwa to Vishwanatha. However it is next to impossible to go out and individually express our gratitude to each and every one of Lord’s creation – to the whole universe. Therefore, We bring the entire universe into our house! The entire atmosphere and environment within the house becomes sanctified and divinised. Every house is a mini universe! Every house is a temple complex! 

Normally on nine steps (odd number of steps) the entire universe is laid out, or spread out in the form of dolls. The Principle Gods, other devatas representing the cosmic phenomenal forces, the rishis, the saints, the king and queen, the common folk, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, gardens, temples, market place, the agricultural fields, etc, etc., are all systematically and artistically laid out – Vishwa along with Vishwanatha in the house! This is not a mere dolls display or dolls show. The dolls represent something extremely sublime and subtle. The entire universe and its Creator have all been “cast-in-the-form-of-dolls”. With heartfelt gratitude, we acknowledge the significant role and contribution of all of them in our lives. Hence, prostration to this Divine Altar inside our house represents our salutations to the entire universe outside along with its Creator! Therefore, the invocation, salutations, puja and arati are not for the dolls. It is all for the Jagat and Jagadeeshwara undertaken by the Jeeva, the individual. 
Since the Lord in His compassion has given us everything in so much of abundance, we in turn acknowledge, reciprocate, and express our gratitude by offering everything back to Him. When it comes back to us, it becomes His prasad.

Temple Utsavas: Hence the various alankaras (decoration) and utsavas (procession) to the various deities in every temple. Alankara is done to the deities starting from haldi (turmeric) and kumkum, flowers, vegetables, fruits, gold and precious gems, etc. Animals are worshipped in the form of Lord’s vahanas (vehicles). Our own homes (gruha), equipments (ayudha), cars and other vehicles (vahana) are also worshipped and revered. All are nothing but an expression of Lord’s divine glory!

When these rituals are understood in the correct perspective and sincerely undertaken, with implicit faith and total devotion, our constricted minds expand, evolve and become more subtle. When we learn to respect, revere and adore every thing and every living being, we are automatically aligned with and come to live in harmony with the whole universe which is nothing but a loving display of His Glory. Infact, the universe is a manifestation of the Lord Himself! 

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Sri Kateel Durga Parameshwari

Arunasura was a rakshasa who was creating havoc amongst the sattvic and noble people. He was very arrogant that none could vanquish and kill him. He had performed rigorous tapas and obtained a unique boon from the Creator, Lord Brahma. According to the boon no devata, human being, rakshasa, any two-legged or four-legged creature or any weapon could cause his destruction. Because of his rakshasic ways, the entire land was ridden with drought and everyone was suffering.

The Sage Jabali was filled with compassion for the people around and decided to perform a yagna for the welfare of all. The Sage went to Indraloka and asked Lord Indra to send the divine Kamadhenu with him. Since Kamadhenu was not available then, Indra asked the Sage to take Nandini, Kamadhenu’s daughter, with him.  However, Nandini who was very proud refused to go with the Sage to the realm of mortals. Jabali became very angry and cursed her to become a river and flow in the very region which she refused to grace.

Nandini realized her mistake and sought forgiveness and asked the Sage to take back the curse. Jabali told her that the curse cannot be reversed, but assured her that Adishakti, the Mother of the whole universe would redeem her from the curse at the appropriate time. In the month of Magha on the full-moon day, Nandini descended down and flowed in the form of a river from the Kanakachala mountains.

All the devatas prayed to Adishakti. She appeared in front of them and assured them that she would annihilate the rakshasa. Devi took a beautiful form and as Mohini entered and moved around the courtyard of Arunasura. When Arunasura saw her, he was so enamoured by her beautiful looks and asked for her hand in marriage. Devi started teasing him and running away from him. He ran after her. She ran faster and unable to catch her the rakshasa became furious. As he tried to catch up with her, Devi reached the banks of river Nandini and disappeared into a huge rock in front of her. Arunasura hit the rock very hard with his sword. And a huge bee emerged out and stung the rakshasa to death. The bee was neither a two-legged or four-legged creature. It was a six-footed one. And it did not use any weapon. Its sting killed the rakshasa. The bee was none other than Devi herself who came to be known as Bhramaramba.  (Bhramara means bee)

All the devatas were overjoyed. Indra brought the tender coconut water from the celestial tree and performed abhisheka to Bhramaramba (Devi in the form of a bee) to calm it down. They requested her to stay there permanently for the sake of her devotees. She accepted their request. In the middle of the river Nandini, Devi chose to manifest in a “Linga” form, surrounded by waters on all sides. Since she rose from the river, she is considered as the daughter of Nandini. With that Nandini was redeemed of Sage Jabali’s curse. 

The place became famous as Kateel (Kateel means ‘in the centre’) and Devi is known as Sri Durga Parameshwari. Since she came in the form of a bee and bees repel the smell of champaka flowers, these flowers are not used for her worship. Tender coconut water in this kshetra is first offered to her and only then taken as prasad by devotees.

[Kateel is situated at distance of 18km from Mangalore]

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