Life is a series of experiences – an eternal journey from birth to death riddled with ups and downs: pain and pleasure, profit and loss, success and failure. Man is so preoccupied with his outer journey that he completely misses out the inner journey. In fact, every step taken outside should carry the stamp of a beautiful step taken within. Each one of our life’s journey – YAANA, must become a YATRA: a movement which helps one to cross the ocean of samsara. If the inner life is taken care of, the outer journey is automatically taken care of. This inner reorientation and transformation is the content of the Scriptures and the theme of the Puranas. Fulfillment is in “living” the words of the Scriptures and Realized Masters.
However, in and through life’s journey, constant reminders and guides are essential to keep us on the right path. The whole WORLD as an open UNIVERSITY provides us with these reminders. The entire VISHWA is a VIDYALAYA!! Everything around and about us are silent reminders of the great grand spiritual pilgrimage to be accomplished within each one of us – a rich culture and glorious tradition indeed!
The Hindu Calendar Year, known as SAMVATSARA has twelve months: CHAITRA to PHALGUNA. And throughout the year there are numerous festivals celebrated: UGADI to SHIVARATRI. Every month or rather the NAME of the month indicates where we are and what we should do on the path of self-improvement. It is equivalent to twelve graded exercises or steps in the scheme of spiritual evolution: from MANAVA to becoming MADHAVA – from the state of NARA to the State of NARAYANA: from BONDAGE to ABSOLUTE FREEDOM. Similarly with the FESTIVALS too!
The first month CHAITRA, indicates “many” or “variegated” (chitra – vichitra). It denotes our present individual state in the space-time world in a cause-effect relationship. VAISHAKA means more or excessive branching. It suggests our outer and inner world of multiplicity, diversity and plurality – the realm of change. Once identification and relationships become predominant, JYESHTA arrives! Jyeshtha means elder, big, or superior. Their opposites then automatically become evident. Comparison, contradiction and conflict starts! There is “I or ME” and the “OTHER”. The individual is then in a state of ASHADA! ‘Shad’ means ‘to sit’. ‘A-shad’ is its opposite, and hence ‘A-shad’ denotes an inner state of restlessness – a state which is not at all comfortable. An individual may have everything in life, but still can come to experience dissatisfaction, discontentment and unfulfillment. It is then that one starts enquiring into the ‘why’, ‘wherefore’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ of life. This is when Introspection starts. This month is also known as AA-SHADA, which means to “continuously sit” and introspect, take stock of one’s life and investigate into it. Guru Purnima comes in this month which signifies that one is ready for the Guru to enter into one’s life – a major turning point! When the Guru enters our life, SHRAVANA or ‘listening’ to the scriptures begins. Having heard the scriptural declarations, they have to be now reflected upon again and again, so that the knowledge gets well-rooted in the mind. This is BHADRAPADA: the state of ‘well-securing’ the knowledge within oneself. It denotes a sense of inner well-being (bhadratva). The next stage is Nidhidhyasana or Contemplation, represented by ASWAYUJA. ‘Yuj’ means to connect, unite or identify with. ‘Swa’ means tomorrow. ‘Aswa’ means ‘not-tomorrow’ and therefore signifies TODAY or the PRESENT. ASWAYUJA therefore represents contemplation. It also represents ‘pervasiveness’ or ‘expansion’, wherein the attempt is to include and accommodate everything and every being within oneself: to connect the micro with the macro; the individual with the Universal.
The next stage is KARTHIKA: invoking the Light of Knowledge, with the help of which the seeker can discriminate between the Real and unreal, the Permanent and impermanent. MARGASHIRSHA: ‘marga’ means path; ‘shira’ means ‘head’ or ‘higher’. Therefore, Margashirsha denotes ‘path leading to the Highest’ – negating and rejecting the lower and the false; and asserting and identifying with the Higher and the Real. PUSHYA means to nurture, nourish and maintain. When the seeker starts getting glimpses of the Higher within himself, he must consistently, constantly and totally identify and maintain that Higher State within himself. MAGHA means “don’t fall or don’t slip”. The seeker must not lose his hold of that Higher State. Inadvertedness can cause a spiritual fall which can be disastrous. The seeker should be alert and vigilant on the spiritual path. PHALGUNA denotes ‘not this….not this’. It denotes the Highest State of “That Am I” – the Absolute State of Realization.
The names of the twelve months of a Samvatsara through suggestion, significance and implication represent one’s Spiritual Evolution – the inner Spiritual Yatra leading the seeker from the realm of ignorance, change and mortality to the State of Absolute Knowledge, Changelessness and Immortality: the State of Jeevanmukti (Liberated-in-Life).
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