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Archive for April, 2011

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity;
There is only one language; the language of the Heart;
There is only one God, He is Omnipresent
———–Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba————
Sathya Sai Baba born as Sathyanarayana Raju (23 November 1926 – 24 April 2011) was a popular Indian guru, spiritual figure and educator. He is described by his devotees as an Avatar, godman, spiritual teacher and miracle worker.The apparent materializing of vibuthi (holy ash) and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches by Sathya Sai Baba has been a source of both fame and controversy – skeptics consider these simple conjuring tricks, while devotees consider them evidence of divinity. Sathya Sai Baba has claimed to be the reincarnation of the great spiritual guru, Sai Baba of Shirdi, whose teachings were an eclectic blend of Hindu and Muslim beliefs.

Sathya Sai Baba and his organizations support a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in India and abroad. The number of active Sathya Sai Baba adherents was estimated in 1999 to be around 6 million, although followers’ estimations are far higher. Since there are no formal ties of membership, the actual figure may never be known. The Sathya Sai Organization reports that there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries worldwide. In India itself, Sai Baba draws followers from predominantly upper-middle-class, urban sections of society who have the “most wealth, education and exposure to Western ideas.”[ A cultural icon in his home country, Sai Baba has attracted presidents and prime ministers from India and beyond who have become his devotees; in 2002, he claimed to have followers in 178 countries.

Born as Ratnakara Venkata Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926, in Puttaparthi in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, Baba was recognised since early childhood as an extra-ordinarily intelligent boy. Full of love and compassion, the young Sathyanarayana endeared himself to all. The defining characteristic of the boy was his spiritual nature and his efforts to make his young friends turn towards God. He went through a lot of hardships during those years, the physical scars of which remain to this day.

March 1940 marked a turning point. 14-year-old Sathya, as the fable goes, was stung one day by a scorpion. Since that day his behaviour changed. An enigma to all, Sathya’s persona had changed. All sort of medications and therapies were tried on him on the belief that he has come under the effect of some evil spirit, but all efforts came to a naught. Withdrawn and indifferent to worldly matters, he spoke rarely and that too only on spiritual matters. He would burst into non-stop recitation of Vedic hymns he had never learnt, challenge the scholarly philosophical subjects. Days and weeks passed, and Sathya remained “abnormal”.

Then it happened. May 23, 1940, Sathya was in a good mood, materialising flowers and sugar candy in plenty, and distributing them to all those who called on him. His father Venkama Raju lost his cool as he suspected that his son was tricking people. Armed with a big stick, he approached Sathya, and asked, “Who are You? Are You God, ghost, or devil?” The big moment had finally arrived. Sathya calmly replied, “I am Sai.” Puzzled, Venkama Raju asked: “What are we to do with You?” Sathya replied, “Worship Me.” Next question:”When?” Came the answer, “Every Thursday.” After that day he used to perform miracles, besides turning more and more towards his spiritually awakened self. Then finally on October 20, 1940, he finally decided to snap all worldly ties and launch the mission he had incarnated for. He declared to his parents, “I am no longer your Sathya. I am Sai. I don’t belong to you. I have my work. My devotees are calling me. I am going. I can no longer stay here.” The Avatar was now for all to see and experience. Such was his magnetism, and such was the faith of the devotees who flocked to him and they had no reservation in accepting him as a divine incarnation.

By 1960s Sathya Sai Baba had emerged prominently on the spiritual scene, not just in Andhra Pradesh but across the country as well. Starting with a trip to Uganda, over the years Baba has travelled across the globe. With “love as the fuel for the spiritual movement”, Sathya Sai’s message has spread far and wide. Today, there are over 100 Sathya Sai Baba centres in 126 countries all over the world. 
 
His mission was further amplified in a letter he wrote to his brother in 1947. “I have a task,” he said, “To foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of bliss. I have a vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path again into goodness and save them. I am attached to a work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack.”
Sai Baba’s ashram, built by his devotees close to the village where he was born, was inaugurated on November 23, 1950. It is called Prasanthi Nilayam (the Abode of Divine Peace). It has been the gathering place of millions of spiritual pilgrims of various faiths from all over the world. Every day, Sai Baba graciously walks among them to guide, comfort, console, and uplift them.The small temple dedicated in 1950 has grown into a spiritual oasis of unprecedented magnitude. The temple and the dharshan area in front of it, which is completely covered by a beautiful roof, together encompass an area that is over 10,000 square yards.
 

During the period 14-23 November 1995, the celebrations of the 70th birthday of Sathya Sai Baba took place in Prasanthi Nilayam. More than one million people, including the President and Prime Minister of India, assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba during the 70th birthday celebrations.
 

Sathya Sai is well known for displaying his special powers like materialising scared ash, gems, flowers etc from thin air. His miracles have been under scrutiny for long but for the believers they have always been the means by which the Bhagwan displays his presence and answers special prayers.The pearl necklace Once during a tour to Kanyakumari, Baba was at the seashore and with his disciples. He stood facing the waters and said to those beside Him, “See! The ocean is welcoming me, with a garland.”
Despite the controversies that have surrounded Sathya Sai Baba for much of his life, there’s one aspect of his persona that is difficult to dispute even by his staunchest critics.Under his guidance, Puttaparthi, the once sleepy village has transformed into an oasis of prosperity in the region. It now boasts of all important amenities like an airport, railway station, super-speciality hospital, university to name a few.Today, the Sathya Sai Trust runs hundreds of philanthropic institutions, starting form primary schools to institutes of higher learning in medicine and other hi-tech fields.The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named “Sathya Sai Ganga Canal”. 

Sathya Sai Baba — The Essence Of His Teachings  

At the age of 14, Sathya Sai Baba declared to his parents that he had come to this world with a mission to re-establish the principle of Righteousness, to motivate love for God and service to fellow man. Since then, he has consistently called on all mankind to Love All, Serve All and has repeatedly asserted that the essence of all scriptures is Help Ever, Hurt Never!
Through his speeches and writings, Sathya Sai Baba has offered a veritable ocean of knowledge and guidance on all aspects of spiritual, religious, and value-oriented living. He has often repeated that it is not necessary to drink the whole ocean to know its taste, that it is not necessary to read all scriptures to live a life of joy, peace, and love. It is enough to put into practice one aspect of spiritual teaching.
A few drops of the ocean of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings, an attempt to encapsulate its essence, follows. Sathya Sai Baba urges mankind to:

  • Believe in God –for there is only ONE GOD for all mankind, though He may be called by many names.
  • Follow sincerely their respective religions and live their daily lives in consonance with the teachings of good behavior and morality.
  • Respect all other religions –for no religion advocates the negative and lower qualities of man.
  • Perform selfless service to the poor, the sick, and the needy without thought of reward or fame.
  • Cultivate in their lives the values of truth, divine love, right conduct, peace, and nonviolence and promote these values among all.
  • Be patriotic and respect the laws of the country in which they live.
Sathya Sai Baba was admitted to the super-specialty hospital at Prashantigram at Puttaparthi on 28 March 2011 following respiration-related problems. After many days of hospitalization where his condition progressively deteriorated, he passed away on 24 April 2011 at 7.40 am (IST).




Sai Vachan 
“Man is born to share and serve, not to grab and grieve.” 
“Be in the world but let not the world be in you.” 
“You need offer only two things: Pure love and self-less service.” 
“God is truth, truth is goodness, goodness is beauty, truth, goodness, beauty, sathyam, shivam, sundaram is yourself. Be yourself.” 
“Truth has no fear; untruth shivers at every shadow.” 
“The term Bhagwan means the one who is capable of lighting the divine effulgence, the illumination of wisdom, the eternal inner light of the soul. Can there be anything greater than earning the Love of such an omniscient, omnipotent Lord? There is nothing on earth or beyond it which is equal to divine love. To make all endeavours to earn that love. Is the whole purpose and meaning of human existence.” 
“A pure thought from a pure heart is better than a mantra.” 
“You ask from me a thousand things of the world, but rarely do you ask for me.”



 


 

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Kadampuzha Bhagavathi Temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage centre in Malappuram District, Kerala, India. The temple is dedicated to Vana Durga.
Kadampuzha is a small town in Malappuram district of Kerala. It is the major town of the Marakkara Panchayath. Kadampuzha is famous for the Bhagavathi Temple, which is one of the famous pilgrim centres in Kerala. Kadampuzha is 2 km east from the Vettichira Junction in National Highway -17, between Valancheri and Kottakkal. Kadampuzha also makes the shortest route between Tirur and Perinthalmanna (through Pang-Padapparamb-Puzhakkattiri), though bus services are very less in the route.
Kaadampuzha is the short form of “Kattalan Ambaitha Azha”(Place where the Archer fought with arrow and bow). The legend relates to Mahabharatha.
The Devi temple, owned by the Malabar Devaswom Board under the Government of Kerala, is administered through a trust consisting of the Variar family and non hereditary co-opted trustees.

The town of Kadampuzha was once in the hands of the “Thekkencheri” Nair family, but in the 1860s most of their land was lost. There is another temple, Madambiyar Kavu temple, situated a short distance away from the Devi temple, which was originally constructed and maintained by the Nair family. The idol of the Madambiyar temple is Lord Shiva in his “Kirata” incarnation.

The sreekovil is small about 12’x8′. With in the sreekovil a small hole of about 1 1/2″ diameter is there where Ganga was brought to Devi by Lord Siva for her thirst. It is covered with silver cap over which an Angi of Devi is kept. There is no idol. Angi is removable. Behind the temple a small forest of the same size of 12’x 8′ is available. With in the sanctum, there is sankalpam of Lord Ganapathi and Lord Siva. 
Sankaracharya reached the bright divine light of Devi reciting Narasimha manthra and Suarsana Manthra. Accordingly in front of the sreekovil in a raised floor there is Sudarsana and narasimha installed. On the left there is temple well, on the right there is Nagakanya and a Palamaram. Eastern side is Thidapalli where Nivedyams are prepared and Ganapathi pooja is done. We can circumbulate temple.
Temple Entrance
Legends surrounding the temple

A story regarding the Devi says that the Pandava Prince, Arjuna, fought with Lord Shiva during his Kirata incarnation (he was accompanied by Devi Parvathy during her Vanadurga incarnation).

A demon named Mukasura took the form of a wild boar and started destroying the trees and shrubs around Arjuna. Arjuna was in deep meditation at the time, in order to get the Pasupathasthra (a divine arrow named “Pasupatham”) from Lord Paramasiva.

Both Arjuna and Shiva shot at the wild boar and both claimed that his arrow had killed the animal. They argued, and finally agreed to fight a battle with bow and arrow. The victor of the battle would also get the honour of being the killer of the wild boar. The ensuing battle was fierce and Arjuna was defeated. Despondent over the defeat, Arjuna placed a big stone in front of him and started praying to the mother of the universe Parasakthi while showering flowers over the stone. He was amazed to see that the flowers fell at the feet of the Kirata and Kirati. He realised that those people were actually Lord Paramasiva and Devi Parvathy. The Lord and Devi Parvathy were pleased with Arjuna and gifted him with the Pasupathastra arrow.

Another legend says that Adi Sankaracharya, during his travels, once happened to pass through Kadampuzha, which was then a grassland. At one place he could not pass further, as he seemed to strike an invisible wall. He understood it to be the meeting point of the Goddess Parasakthi in her Devi Parvathy incarnation and Lord Parameswara in his “Kirata” incarnation. Adi Sankaracharya prayed to the Devi and she appeared before him. After blessing him, the goddess disappeared into a small hole in the ground. He did the first poojas to the devi there on that day in Vrishchikam (November–December) and the sanctum of the temple is said to have been built around that hole. There is no idol in the temple.

Offerings 
Muttarukkal and Poovu-moodal are the unique two offerings of this temple. Muttarukkal is for the clearance of obstacles one faces in his life (it is believed that these obstacles are made by black magic of the enemies). The performance is simple the temple priest with chanting some mantras break a coconut by hitting it on a stone placed near the Shree-kovil. Only expense to be met by the beneficiary is giving some ‘present’ known as dakshina and a meager donation to the temple. 
Poovu moodal (covering with flowers)
This regarded as the most favorite performance of the deity; this offering is based on a myth. Once upon a time Arjuna had a conflict with Lord Shiva (who was under disguise as a barbarian hunter). When Arjun not knowing who the opponent was; showered Lord Shiva with his arrows, Shree Parvathi by her magical power converted the arrows in to flowers. Arjuna was wonderstruck and fell at the feet of Lord Shiva. This offering of Poovu-moodal is symbolic representation of that myth..
The flowers of ‘thetti’ or ixora plant (West Indian jasmine) are used for the function; about four measures (one measure is about ten liters). One measure of offered rice and payasam (an Indian delicacy made of rice, sugar-candy and cardamom) are also part of the function. 
Temple timings and poojas


The temple open early morning 5 AM. The first offering to Devi is puffed rice (Malar) at 5.30 AM. Simultaneously there will be Ganapathi homam in the Thidapalli. 7 AM there will be usha pooja, then at 9 AM morning pooja and after noon pooja with poomoodal is by about 10.30 AM. The temple closes after Uchapooja and  deeparadhana and reopen in the evening by 3.30 PM. Accordingly Devaswam counters function from 6 AM to 11 AM and evening 3.30 PM to 5 PM to facilitate payments for offerings.

 

The chief priest take nivedyam prepared in the temple after uccha pooja only. He will not take any other food earlier in the morning and after noon. The main nivedyams in the temple are Malar,Trimadhuram, Appam, Vella nivedyam, Nei payasam and Palpayasam with Poomoodal. There is only one time nivedyam and poojas for Upadevathas.Pure ghee only is used in the temple for lighting, all preparations.


Accomodation

The temple has a guest house for the convenience of devotees coming from far away places. There is a dormitory for which the charge is very nominal, Rs 20. There are ten double rooms (Rs 200), 6 deluxe rooms (Rs 350) and 2 suites (Rs 500).  
There is large number of Lodges and Hotels are available here.

Though the temple is very famous all over Kerala, there is no major festival. The only festival, if it is a festival, is on Karthika day of Malayalam month Vrichikam (November-December). During this day there is Annadhanam (food gifting) to over 10000 devotees.  





You can get-rid of your obstacles of life by praying at Kadambuzha Bhagavathi temple

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sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvaartha saadhike
sharanye tryambake gauri naaraayani namostute
PROSTRATIONS again and again to the blessed Divine Mother who is the source,substratum and the ultimate goal of all creation.

Thirumadhamkunnu Bhagavathi Temple at Angadippuram is a divine centre of peace and prosperity to thousand of devotees who visit the temple everyday.Every devotee experiences the motherly affection of goddess Bhagavathy  when he or she gets the darsan of the Idol. The sanctified adn divine atmosphere of the temple gives so much of mental satisfaction to the devotees.
 

This is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram. The annual Pooram festival celebrated in March /April attracts large numbers of devotees.A unique custom here is the arrival of Vellathiri in the Pooram ground to give audience to the Malayankutty, the headman of the Pana tribal community. Kalampattu is an important offering here. Mangalya pooja, Rigveda laksharchana and Chandattam are other important poojas.

Thirumanthamkunnu Temple in Angadipuram is located about 1.5 km west of Perinthalmanna in the Malappuram district of Kerala state, south India. It was erected after the Angadipuram Temple. The temple courtyards are on a hilltop that provides a lovely view of the countryside spread out below.

The temple is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram, especially for the annual eleven-day Pooram festival celebrated in March and April. Mangalya pooja, Rigveda laksharchana, Chandattam and Kalampattu are the important poojas here. The temple finds mention among the 108 siva temples of kerala. Other deities include Bhagavathy, locally called as thirumandhamkunnilamma and Ganapathy, for whome the famous mangalya puja is performed. . There are ceremonies and rituals specific to this temple that are not carried out at others.

The temple is historically significant, as it was the para devatha of the Valluvanad Raja. It is believed that the suicide troup (chaver) of Valluvanad Raja, started their march to attack Samoothiri during mamankam, from here. A memorial structure called the ‘chaver thara’ can be found in front of the main entrance of the temple, with this regard.

Legend

The King Mandhatha of surya dynasty ruled the country for long period. He then gave away the kingdom to his successors and chose to meditate on lord Siva and attain the lord’s feets at the end. Siva was pleased with his penance appeared before the king and offered him any boon. The king prayed to the lord for an idol to worship till his death. Siva gave him the most holly Siva linga at Kailas, which was too dear to him and which used to be worshiped by Parvathy and the disappeared.

Carrying the Siva linga on head mandhatha started his downward journey from Kailas and reached the hill now known as Thirumandhamkunnu.A spring with crystal clear water flowed along the northern slop of the hill. Many beautiful birds chirped in the jungle. Wild animals like lion, tiger, and elephant roamed about in the wilderness in full harmony forgetting their traditional enimity. Different kinds of trees and plants grew in the region and gave out sweet smell in to the atmosphere. The surrounding attracted the king. Feelings of idol on his head heavy he placed it on the ground at immediately the linga got stuck in to the earth.

Lord Siva had gifted the linga to the king when his consort parvathy was away for her bath. When parvathy turned up for worship the Siva linga was not there. She got upset on enquiry she know that it was presented to the king mandhatha, by her husband. Being too much attached to it she wanted the linga back. Siva tolled her that he had no objection in her trying to get it back.

Parvathy no offered bhadrakali and a host of bhoothas to rush up and get back the Siva lingam from the king. With the army of Bhoothas Kali reached the northern slope of Thirumandha hill. The brightness emitted by the Linga installed by Mandnatha was so great that it dazzled the eyes of kali and bhoothas and they were unable to move up the hills. So they started throwing up the weapons from the foot of the hill. The ascetic attending on mandhatha were unarmed but tried to defend themselves with whatever things they had. These being insufficient to protect them they plucked Attanga nuts from their creeper plants, which were available in plenty and threw them at the enemy. Because of the power of Lord Siva and the mandra power of Mandhatha the nuts got changed in to arrows instantly. Kali and her Bhoothas could not resist them the fight lasted for 15 days.

The age old custom of “ATTANGA YERU” on first of Thulam (The Malayalam month) on the new moon day of the same month in the forenoon before pantheerady pooja refers to the legendary fight between mandhatha and kali.

Expecting defeat Mahamaya took her viswaroopa. She had an elephant in an ear and a lion in the other as earring. Seeing this form the ascetics fell down senseless. When mahamaya in this form reached the hilltop mandhatha was also helpless. He embraced the sivalinga kali tried to capture it by force. In this struggle that followed the linga got split into two. In the “Jyothis” that arose from it “THRIMOORTHIS” (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) and Parvathy appeared on the spot.

Parvathy told Mandhatha this idol was very dear to me. Still I do not want to take it away from you against the wishes of my husband. Separation from it is also difficult for me. So I will enter that linga and remain here forever. My daughter kali is not different from me. Actually she came here first. Let her also be installed near me facing north and have all poojas and festival performed. So same parvathy disappeared into the idol. This spot is the “SREEMOOLASTHANAM”. The sivalinga here is still split condition .Its position is below the “peedam” and “Prabhamandalam” and can be seen only during the abhisheka before the ushapooja and “Malarnivedia” to the deity.

As ordered by Parvathy, Bhagavathy with Sapthamathrukkal, Veerabhadran and Ganapaty were installed facing north. This is called “Mathrusala”. Pooram, Pattu and all such festivals intended for this goddess.

When Sree Parvathy appears infant Ganapathy was also with her. This infant ganapathy also been installed at sreemoolasthanam.

Sree Parvathy appeared facing west. The installations of Sivalinga at Sreemoolasthanam were facing east. It was thus for necessary to have two darshan openings one to the east and the other to west. The family descendants of “Valluva Konathiri” do not generally open the one on the west except for darshan. On either side of the doorway here are two openings through which other worshippers can have darshan of the deity. But in recent past the restrictions has been modified. After each pooja the door is keept open for some time for darshan of the deity by devotees.

Mandhatha spent many years at thirumandhamkunnu in meditation and thapusu. At last he knew it was time for him to leave this world. He was thinking of entrusting the temple to someone for perfect upkeep and maintenance when two Brahmins came there. Mandhatha told them his desire gave them a Grandha containing instructions on the performance of poojas and entrusted the shrine to them. He then retired to the jungle near by now known as “KUKSHIPPARAKKAD” and freed himself from this world of mortals by his yogic powers. Bhakthas who go round this jungle paying homage pick out a leaf from the growing plants and keep it in hair with at most reverence. This area is still a protected jungle. In the Devaprashna conducted in 1959 it was observed that an idol of mandhatha should be installed here and poojas, performed. The temple priests before pooja every Malayalam month. The annual pooja on Chithra in midhunam on Mandhatha is on special significance.

Two Brahmins entrusted with the upkeep of temple, one cleared the jungle around the idol and hence came to be known as “KATTILLAMUTTAM” .The other prepared pavilion for prathishta and came to be known as “PANTHALAKODE”. The thanthri of thirumandhamkunnu temple is still a descendent from either of these families. The nair karyasthan who was with them was given the title “chathathumarar” and made the blower of holy conch in the temple. The Namboodiri’s informed the news to Vadakkara swaroopam raja that was subordinate chieftain of valluvanadu raja holding the title mannarmala raja. He immediately rushed to the spot (Seeing the over-lord of the hill the goddess got up and paid homage to him. This humility of Devi-the sustainer of three worlds-made the raja blink in shame and) he prayed to the goddess to see him as a son. He then presented an elephant to the goddess and worshipped her from its rear, standing in its shadow. His descendants also followed the same practice. Even now direct darshan of thirumandhamkunnu Bhagavathy is not permissible to mannarmala raja.

The first Vallavaraja who took over the control of the temple entrusted its upkeep and maintenance to the local feudal lords “ETTUVEETIL ACHANS” and made them trusty. Erukalikara nair was made kavudaya nair. Sreemoolasthanam does not have a roof, which is an evidence of it having been a kavu.

The painting on the walls of the mathrusala throws light to this legend. These paintings which are in lying with the wall painting at suchindram, Pundarikkapuram,vaikom and Guruvayoor were executed in the year 1944.


 Althara Ganapathi

Attangayerru…
The easiest way to reach here is road. It is very nearest town is perinthalmanna. And through rail you can reach here by boarding train from Shoranur to Nilaboor passenger, and you can see the Angadipuram Railway station nearly after 55 minutes from shoranur.

Pooram Festival

Celebrations start in the month of Chingam with Triputhari, Ayilyam the birth day of goddess in month of Kanni, followed by Sreemad Bhagavatha Sapthaham during Navarathri, Maha Mangalya Pooja and Attanga Eru in Thulam, Kalam Pattu and Mandala Maholsavam followed by Sreemad Hrigveda Laksharchana in the first week of Dhanu. Makarachovva, Maha Sivarathri in the month of Makaram & Kumbam.

The annual Pooram Festival for elevan days in Meenam, followed by Vishu, Chanthattom etc. Thus all these age old rites, rituals and cutoms gives much relief, happiness and mental satisfaction to thousands of devotees. The most important among these rituals are the eleven day long Pooram Festival.

The pooram festival of this year starts on 9th April 2011 and ends on 19th April 2011.

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Among the various Hindu festivals in Kerala, Vishu is unique. This is a symbol of the unostentatious Malayali and so Vishu is free from the usual pomp and show and merry-making associated with other festivities. Secondly, this one has nothing to do with religion. Also the first day for Medam is the unchangeable day of Vishu, whereas other festivals are determined according to the lunar asterisms on which they fall .
 
Vishu is a new year festival celebrated in the state of Kerala, India. This occasion signifies the Sun’s transit to the zodiac – Mesha Raasi (first zodiac sign) as per Indian astrological calculations and astronomically represents the vernal equinox. “Vishu” in Sanskrit means “equal”. Therefore Vishu is more probably denoting one of the equinox days. Although Vishu (first of Medam) is the astrological new year day of Kerala, the official Malayalam new year falls on the first month of Chingam (August – September). However, 1st of Chingam has no significance either astrologically or astronomically. Chingam is the harvest season in Kerala and southern parts of coastal Karnataka.
The Malayalam word kani literally means “that which is seen first,” so “Vishukkani” means “that which is seen first on Vishu.” Arranged in the family puja room the night before by the mother in the family, the Vishukkani is a panorama of auspicious items, including flowers, fruits and vegetables, clothes and gold coins. In Jyotiṣa(Indian astrology), Vishnu is seen as the head of Kaala Purusha, the God of Time. As Vishu marks the first day of the Zodiac New Year, it is an appropriate time to offer oblations to Hindu Gods.
Vishu is traditionally celebrated as the Malayalam New Year, especially in the central and northern areas of the state. However, Chingam (August – September) is officially the first month of Kollavarsham, the Malayalam calendar. First day of Chingam is of no particular significance astrologically.

Vishukkani or Kanikanal

The Vishukkani, also called Kanikanal, is inseparable from Vishu. According to the age-old belief of Malayalees, an auspicious kani (first sight) at the crack of dawn on the Vishu day would prove lucky for the entire year. As a result, the Vishukkani is prepared with a lot of care to make it the most positive sight so as to bring alive a wonderful, propitious and prosperous new year!

Normally, the responsibility to put the Kani in order falls on the experienced shoulders of the eldest lady of the house. A traditional Kani is prepared as described below. There could be minor deviations from place to place.

There are also beliefs that if you do not see a proper Vishukkani, then you will lose a year from your life or have bad luck, depending on how much you see.

 The Malayalis believe that the fortunes for the year depend upon the nature of the object one sees first in the morning of Vishu Day. So preparation is everything! . Raw rice is put in a circular bell-metal vessel known as ‘Urule’ and over it a folded newly washed cloth is spread. A golden coloured cucumber, betel leaves, betel nuts, metal mirror, yellow flowers of Konna tree (cassia fistula), a Grandha (book of palm leaves) and a few gold coins are then placed over the cloth in the vessel. Then some oil is put into two coconut halves, a few wicks are lit and this illuminates the goodies inside. A metal lamp filled with coconut oil is kept burning by the side of the vessel as well. The morning of the Vishu at about 5 O’clock, one of the members of the house, usually the eldest female member, not surprisingly, lights the lamp and looks at ‘Kani’ ( an omen). She wakes up other members, one after another and the Kani is shown to everyone of them, taking particular care not to allow anyone to look by chance at other things. Even the cattle are not deprived of the privilege, as the Kani is taken to the cattle-shed and placed before them to have a dekho.

Vishu Kaineetam
The eldest member of the family takes some silver coins and gives them to a junior member with some raw rice and Konna flower. This is repeated in the case of other members and they in turn give such handsel to their juniors, relatives, servants etc. After this the children begin to fire crackers.
Vishu Padakkam
Fireworks is an important part of Vishu celebration in many parts of North Kerala. In the morning and the previous evening, children enjoy bursting crackers.

Saddhya is a major part of all Kerala festivals. But for Vishu, Vishu Kanji and Thoran are more important. The Kanji is made of rice, coconut milk and spices. For the side dish, that is Thoran also there are mandatory ingredients.

           In the morning then it’s all talk, bath and people put on their forehead the marks of ashes and sandal paste and go to the temple for worship. After worship, they prepare a feast which is moderate and elegant.In certain parts of Kerala, where the paddy cultivation commences after the monsoon, there is an observance called chal (Furrow) closely associated with Vishu . This is nothing but the auspicious commencement of the agricultural operations, in the new year .

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Sri Ramakrishna
18 February 1836- 16 August 1886

Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. Sri Ramakrishna is now regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age by a large number of people in different parts of the world. Nobody can deny the fact that he is the greatest spiritual personality born in the modern age. No other religious leader has exerted so profound and pervasive influence on modern thought as Sri Ramakrishna did, although much of that influence has been indirect and unrecognized as such. Among the contributions that Sri Ramakrishna has made to modern thought, three need special mention. They are: re-establishment of the supremacy of the spiritual ideal, harmony of religions, and spiritualization of the humanistic impulse.

The modern world is characterized by the dominance of the materialistic outlook and the multiplication of the objects of enjoyment. Mechanization of life’s activities and the endless quest for material enjoyment has alienated man not only from nature but also from the source of power and joy in the soul within him. As a result, modern man’s life has come to be characterized by a sense of futility, meaninglessness and boredom. There is also an enormous increase in acts of violence, crime, immorality and strange new diseases. It is in this context of the predicament of modern man that we can understand the true import of Sri Ramakrishna’s central teaching, Ishvar-Iabh-i manush jivaner uddeshya “God-realization alone is the great purpose of human life”. By God, Sri Ramakrishna meant the Supreme Self, the Ultimate Reality, of which the individual Selves are parts of reflections. This means, as Swami Vivekananda put it, each soul is potentially Divine; every person has in him or her the power to attain Supreme Knowledge, power and happiness. Religion is a discipline, which enables a person to unfold and manifest the infinite possibilities that he holds in his soul. Thus, religion for Sri Ramakrishna is not mere subservience to certain social customs and external observances but a process of inner growth known as spiritual development, which enables man to overcome his limitations, solve the problems of life, and attain supreme fulfillment and immortally. This is actually the central principle of Vedanta, the ancient system of philosophy and spirituality, which forms the foundation of Indian culture. Sri Ramakrishna reestablished this ancient ideal through his life and teachings.
   

Sri Ramakrishna rediscovered forgotten spiritual paths and revalidated the authenticity and practicability of the spiritual traditions of India. Not only that. By following the spiritual paths of other religions, Sri Ramakrishna, revalidated the spiritual authenticity of the other world religions as well. This has enabled millions of people to recover faith in God and eternal verities. No less a person than Mahatma Gandhi has borne testimony to this fact. ‘The story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s life, wrote Gandhiji, ‘is a story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face.’ Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people.

The second major contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought, for which he is more famous, is the principle of harmony of religions. This principle was derived from the profound realization of the oneness of the Ultimate Reality, which Sri Ramakrishna attained by actually following the spiritual paths of different religions. He did not subscribe to the popular notion that all religions are the same. On the contrary, he recognized the differences among religions, but held that, in spite of these differences, every religion has an essential core of spirituality, which constitutes the common ground of all religions. The differences among religions pertain to their nonessential aspects. As regards the Ultimate Reality, just as the same water in a pond is called pani, jal, etc, by different linguistic groups, so the same God is known by different names.

   

This idea had been expressed more than four thousand years ago by the Vedic sages in the dictum, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti, ‘Truth is one; sages call it by various names’. What Sri Ramakrishna did was to validate this ancient Truth through personal experience and apply it in the field of inter-religious relations. Thus he declared, “As many faiths, so many paths.” The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal — communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness. In the present-day world, threatened by nuclear war and torn by religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna’s message of harmony gives us hope and shows the way.

Yet, another important contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought is the spiritualization of human relationships. He saw God in all people-in the poor, the sinner, and the suffering as well as in the rich, the virtuous and the joyful. He treated all with respect. He did not like the idea of showing compassion to people, which implied an attitude of condescension. Instead, he taught that man should be served as God. It was this idea of service as worship that Swami Vivekananda later on developed into his famous Gospel of social service and made it the basis of all social service activities carried on by the different institutions of the Ramakrishna Movement.

Source: http://srkmys.org/ramakrishna.html

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Sri Aurobindo
15 August 1872- 5 December 1950
(1950-12-05)
Sri Aurobindo (born Aurobindo Ghose; 15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950) was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet.He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress and spiritual evolution.
Central theme of Sri Aurobindo’s vision is the evolution of human life into life divine. He writes: “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of nature’s process.”
Sri Aurobindo synthesized Eastern and Western philosophy, religion, literature, and psychology in writings. Aurobindo was the first Indian to create a major literary corpus in English. His works include philosophy; poetry; translations of and commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Gita; plays; literary, social, political, and historical criticism; devotional works; spiritual journals and three volumes of letters. His principal philosophical writings are The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga, while his principal poetic work is Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol.
Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta, India, to Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghose, District Surgeon of Rangapur, Bengal, and Swarnalata Devi, the daughter of Brahmo religious and social reformer, Rajnarayan Basu. Dr. Ghose chose the middle name Akroyd to honour his friend Annette Akroyd.
Aurobindo spent his first five years at Rangapur, where his father had been posted since October 1871. Dr. Ghose, who had previously lived in Britain and studied medicine at King’s College, Aberdeen, was determined that his children should have an English education and upbringing free of any Indian influences. In 1877, he therefore sent the young Aurobindo and two elder siblings – Manmohan and Benoybhusan – to the Loreto Convent school in Darjeeling.
Aurobindo spent two years at Loreto convent. In 1879, Aurobindo and his two elder brothers were taken to Manchester, England for a European education. The brothers were placed in the care of a Rev. and Mrs. Drewett. Rev. Drewett was an Anglican clergyman whom Dr. Ghose knew through his British friends at Rangapur. The Drewetts tutored the Ghose brothers privately. The Drewetts had been asked to keep the tuitions completely secular and to make no mention of India or its culture.
In 1884, Aurobindo joined St Paul’s School. Here he learned Greek and Latin, spending the last three years reading literature, especially English poetry. Dr. K.D. Ghose had aspired that his sons should pass the prestigious Indian Civil Service, but in 1889 it appeared that of the three brothers, only young Aurobindo had the chance of fulfilling his father’s aspirations, his brothers having already decided their future careers. To become an ICS official, students were required to pass the difficult competitive examination, as well as study at an English university for two years under probation. With his limited financial resources, the only option Aurobindo had was to secure a scholarship at an English university, which he did by passing the scholarship examinations of King’s College, Cambridge University. He stood first at the examination. He also passed the written examination of ICS after a few months, where he was ranked 11th out of 250 competitors. He spent the next two years at the King’s College.
By the end of two years of probation, Aurobindo became convinced that he did not want to serve the British, he therefore failed to present himself at the horse riding examination for ICS, and was disqualified for the Service. At this time, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III was travelling England. James Cotton, brother of Sir Henry Cotton, for some time Lt. Governor of Bengal and Secretary of the South Kensington Liberal Club, who knew Aurobindo and his father secured for him a service in Baroda State Service and arranged a meeting between him and the prince. He left England for India, arriving there in February, 1893. In India Aurobindo’s father who was waiting to receive his son was misinformed by his agents from Bombay (now Mumbai) that the ship on which Aurobindo had been travelling had sunk off the coast of Portugal. Dr. Ghose who was by this time frail due to ill-health could not bear this shock and died.
In Baroda, Aurobindo joined the state service, working first in the Survey and Settlements department, later moving to the Department of Revenue and then to the Secretariat, writing speeches for the Gaekwad. At Baroda, Aurobindo engaged in a deep study of Indian culture, teaching himself Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali, all things that his education in England had withheld from him. Because of the lack of punctuality at work resulting from his preoccupation with these other pursuits, Aurobindo was transferred to the Baroda College as a teacher of French, where he became popular because of his unconventional teaching style. He was later promoted to the post of Vice-Principal. He published the first of his collections of poetry, The Rishi from Baroda.He also started taking active interest in the politics of India’s freedom struggle against British rule, working behind the scenes as his position at the Baroda State barred him from overt political activity. He linked up with resistance groups in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, while travelling to these states. He established contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita. He also arranged for the military training of Jatindra Nath Banerjee (Niralamba Swami) in the Baroda army and then dispatched him to organise the resistance groups in Bengal. He was invited by K.G. Deshpande who was in charge of the weekly Induprakash and a friend from his days in Cambridge to write about the political situation. Aurobindo started writing a series of impassioned articles under the title New Lamps for the Old pouring vitriol on the Congress for its moderate policy.[15] He wrote:
    “Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism”
further adding:
    “I say, of the Congress, then, this, – that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishment is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders; – in brief, that we are at present the blind led, if not by the blind, at any rate by the one-eyed.”
The Congress which practised more mild and moderate criticism itself, reacted in a way which frightened the editors of the paper who asked Aurobindo to write about cultural themes instead of Politics. Aurobindo lost interest in these writings and the series was discontinued.[13] Aurobindo’s activities in Baroda also included a regimen of yogic exercises and meditation, but these were minor in comparison to the work he would take up in his later life. By 1904 he was doing yogic practices for five-six hours everyday
Aurobindo used to take many excursions to Bengal, at first in a bid to re-establish links with his parents’ families and his other Bengali relatives, including his cousin Sarojini and brother Barin, and later increasingly in a bid to establish resistance groups across Bengal. But he formally shifted to Calcutta (now Kolkata) only in 1906 after the announcement of Partition of Bengal. During his visit to Calcutta in 1901 he married Mrinalini, daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, a senior official in Government service. Sri Aurobindo was then 28; the bride Mrinalini, 14. Marrying off daughters at a very young age was very common in 19th century Bengali families.
In Bengal with Barin’s help he established contacts with revolutionaries, inspiring radicals like Bagha Jatin, Jatin Banerjee, Surendranath Tagore. He helped establish a series of youth clubs with the aim of imparting a martial and spiritual training to the youth of Bengal. He helped found the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902. When the Partition of Bengal was announced, there was a public outpouring against the British rule in India. Aurobindo attended the Benares session of Congress in December 1905 as an observer, and witnessing the intensity of people’s feelings decided to throw himself into the thick of politics. He joined the National Council of Education and met Subodh Chandra Mullick who quickly became a supporter of Aurobindo’s views. Mullick donated a large sum to found a National College and stipulated that Aurobindo should become its first principal. Aurobindo also started writing for Bande Mataram, as a consequence of which, his popularity as a leading voice of the hardline group soared. His arrest and acquittal for printing seditious material in Bande Mataram consolidated his position as the leader of aggressive nationalists. His call for complete political independence was considered extremely radical at the time and frequently caused friction in Congress. In 1907 at Surat session of Congress where moderates and hardliners had a major showdown, he led the hardliners along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress split after this session.[17] In 1907–1908 Aurobindo travelled extensively to Pune, Bombay and Baroda to firm up support for the nationalist cause, giving speeches and meeting various groups. He was arrested again in May 1908 in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. He was acquitted in the ensuing trial and released after a year of isolated incarceration. Once out of the prison he started two new publications, Karmayogin in English and Dharma in Bengali. He also delivered the Uttarpara Speech s:Uttarpara Speech hinting at the transformation of his focus to spiritual matters . The British persecution continued because of his writings in his new journals and in April 1910 Aurobindo signalling his retirement from politics, moved to Pondicherry.
Aurobindo’s conversion from political action to spirituality occurred gradually. Aurobindo had been influenced by Bankim’s Anandamath. In this novel, the story follows a monk who fights the soldiers of the British East India Company. When in Baroda, Aurobindo and Barin had considered the plan of a national uprising of nationalist sannyasis against the empire.[18] Later when Aurobindo got involved with Congress and Bande Mataram, Barin had continued to meet patriotic youngsters for recruitment for such a plan. In 1907, Barin introduced Aurobindo to Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, a Maharashtrian yogi.
Aurobindo had been engaged in yogic discipline for years, but disturbances to his progress following the recent events surrounding the Congress had put him in the need of consulting a yogi. After attending the Surat session of the Congress in 1907, Aurobindo met Lele in Baroda. This meeting led him to retire for three days in seclusion where, following Lele’s instruction, Aurobindo had his first major experience, called nirvana – a state of complete mental silence free of any thought or mental activity. Later, while awaiting trial as a prisoner in Alipore Central Jail in Calcutta Aurobindo had a number of mystical experiences. In his letters, Sri Aurobindo mentions that while in jail as under-trial, spirit of Swami Vivekananda visited him for two weeks and spoke about the higher planes of consciousness leading to supermind[citation needed]. Sri Aurobindo later said that while imprisoned he saw the convicts, jailers, policemen, the prison bars, the trees, the judge, the lawyers as different forms of one godhead, Krishna
The trial (“Alipore Bomb Case, 1908”) lasted for one full year, but eventually Sri Aurobindo was acquitted. His Defence Counsel was Chiitaranjan Das. On acquittal, Sri Aurobindo was invited to deliver a speech at Uttarpara where he first spoke of some of his experiences in jail. Afterwards Aurobindo started two new weekly papers: the Karmayogin in English and the Dharma in Bengali. However, it appeared that the British government would not tolerate his nationalist program as then Viceroy and Governor-General of India Lord Minto wrote about him: “I can only repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon with.” The British considered the possibilities of a retrial or deportation, but objections from Lord Minto, or the Bengal government at different instances prevented immediate execution of such plans.
When informed that he was sought again by the police, he was guided to the French territory Chandernagore where he halted for a few days. On April 4, 1910, he finally landed in the French colony of Pondicherry.
In Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo completely dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In 1914, after four years of concentrated yoga, Sri Aurobindo was proposed to express his vision in intellectual terms. This resulted in the launch of Arya, a 64 page monthly review. For the next six and a half years this became the vehicle for most of his most important writings, which appeared in serialised form. These included The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on The Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Renaissance in India, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Future Poetry. Many years later, Sri Aurobindo revised some of these works before they were published in book form. It was about his prose writing of this period that Times Literary Supplement, London wrote on 8 July 1944, “Sri Aurobindo is the most significant and perhaps the most interesting…. He is a new type of thinker, one who combines in his vision the alacrity of the West with the illumination of the East.He is a yogi who writes as though he were standing among the stars, with the constellations for his companions.”
For some time afterwards, Sri Aurobindo’s main literary output was his voluminous correspondence with his disciples. His letters, most of which were written in the 1930s, numbered in the several thousands. Many were brief comments made in the margins of his disciple’s notebooks in answer to their questions and reports of their spiritual practice—others extended to several pages of carefully composed explanations of practical aspects of his teachings. These were later collected and published in book form in three volumes of Letters on Yoga. In the late 1930s, Sri Aurobindo resumed work on a poem he had started earlier—he continued to expand and revise this poem for the rest of his life. It became perhaps his greatest literary achievement, Savitri, an epic spiritual poem in blank verse of approximately 24,000 lines. During World War II, he supported the allies, even donating money to the British Government, describing Hitler as a dark and oppressive force.
On August 15, 1947, on his 75th birthday, when India achieved political independence, a message was asked from Sri Aurobindo. In his message, which was read out on the All India Radio, Sri Aurobindo dwelt briefly on the five dreams he has cherished all his life and which, he noted, were on the way to being fulfilled. Sri Aurobindo died on December 5, 1950, after a short illness.
Sri Aurobindo’s close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (b. Alfassa), came to be known as The Mother simply because Sri Aurobindo started to call her by this name. On being asked by why he called her the Mother, Sri Aurobindo wrote an essay called The Mother in order to shed light on the person of Mirra.
Mirra was born in Paris on February 21, 1878, to Turkish and Egyptian parents. Involved in the cultural and spiritual life of Paris, she counted among her friends Alexandra David-Neel. She went to Pondicherry on March 29, 1914, finally settling there in 1920. Sri Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator. After November 24, 1926, when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, run and build Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the community of disciples that had gathered around them. Some time later when families with children joined the ashram, she established and supervised the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education which, with its pilot experiments in the field of education. When Sri Aurobindo died in 1950, the Mother continued their spiritual work and directed the Ashram and guided their disciples. In the mid-1960s she personally guided the founding of Auroville, an international township endorsed by UNESCO to further human unity near the town of Pondicherry, which was to be a place “where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” It was inaugurated in 1968 in a ceremony in which representatives of 121 nations and all the states of India placed a handful of their soil in an urn near the center of the city. Auroville continues to develop and currently has approximately 2100 members from 43 countries, though the majority consists of Indians, French, and Germans. The Mother also played an active role in the merger of the French pockets in India and, according to Sri Aurobindo’s wish, helped to make Pondicherry a seat of cultural exchange between India and France. The Mother stayed in Pondicherry until her death on November 17, 1973. Her later years, including her myriad of metaphysical and occult experiences, and her attempt at the transformation at the cellular level of her body, are captured in her 13-volume personal log known as Mother’s Agenda.
One of Sri Aurobindo’s main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought. Samkhya philosophy had already proposed such a notion centuries earlier, but Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former.
He describes the limitation of the Mayavada of Advaita Vedanta, and solves the problem of the linkage between the ineffable Brahman or Absolute and the world of multiplicity by positing a hitherto unknown and unexplored level of consciousness, which he called The Supermind. The supermind is the active principle present in the transcendent Satchidananda as well in the roots of evolution: a unitary level of which our individual minds and bodies are minuscule subdivisions.
Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is a Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light.

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