Vani’s Musings

Archive for the ‘Hinduism’ Category

Hi People,

It’s been ages since I wrote anything here, what with a bout of seasonal illness and the consequential extra work at office……………

We celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi today on a moderate scale, partly because we are not in our permanent residence and partly because a very close relative is in hospital.

After the feast in the afternoon, I was browsing, and stumbled upon this beautiful explanation regarding Ganesha.

Here it is for all of you, courtesy Ganeshutsav.org.

 

May the good Lord shower all his grace on all of us for the coming year. Hope you all had a wonderful festival too.

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According to the Hindu calendar, the year is divided into two halves, Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. Uttarayana commences from Makara Sankranthi and Dakshinayana from Karka Sankranthi.

Uttarayana begins in January and ends in July. Dakshinayana begins in July and ends in December.

Shastras prohibit the celebration of events like marriage or Upanayanams during Dakshinayana. Climactically speaking, this period is the time of heavy rains.

 In the olden days, heavy rains rendered people immobile. The Parivrajakas or missionaries who went around the whole country, as part of their religious propagation activities would stay put in one place for the duration of this period. As such, they spent this time in austerities and devoting their time to God.

The weather reflected on the food they ate, giving rise to a wholly different cuisine to be followed during Chaaturmaasa. The practice is still continued by our religious missionaries and conservative families to this day.

 The Vrathas commence on the Shuddha Ekadashi of every month and go on till the Shuddha Ekadashi of the next month.

 In the first month, the ShaaKha Vratha is followed, wherein the usage of vegetables and dicot plant produce is prohibited.

In the second month, the usage of curd and buttermilk and buttermilk extracts is not allowed.

In the third month, usage of milk products is avoided.

In the fourth month, there is a restriction again on the usage of dicots.

Sounds tough and hard to digest, doesn’t it? But the varieties that can be prepared without the use of the above food products are simply amazing.

I have sampled a few of the special dishes that are prepared during Chaaturmaasa and found them heavenly.

Want to try some at home? Wait for my coming posts.

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Saraswathi Namastubhyam

 Varade KaamaruupiNi

Vidyaarambham Karishyaami

Siddhirbhavatume Sadaa 

Our Saints and Poets have sung eons in her praise and we continue to follow that tradition. No academic activity begins without a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi. 

It was a practice during my school and college days to have a Saraswathi Pooja every year in school just before the examinations. It was during some time off while at work today, that my colleagues and I went back to those lovely days and remembered the Saraswathi Pujas.

 Since I was just aware of very basic details about this Goddess, decided to do some research, and the result of that research is what I am sharing with my readers today.

Goddess Saraswati is the presiding deity of the spoken word. She is considered to be Lord Brahma’s ‘maanasa putrika’ though later events led to their marriage and they began to be worshipped as the primordial couple.

Mounting on her divine vehicle Swan, she plays on Kachchapi, her Veena and is worshipped as the presiding deity of all knowledge. She resides in Satyaloka along with her consort Lord Brahma. Narada, the celestial saint is their ‘maanasa putra’.The legend has it, that once Lord Brahma utters a lie of having sighted the nether portion of Shiva Linga and Lord Shiva, who, angered by the false claim curses Brahma that his speech (Saraswati) be converted to a river. It is believed that the dry parched region of the present day Thar Desert is at one time a stretch of River Saraswati. To this day, scientists believe that the river still flows underneath the Thar and attempts are onto trace the river. At any confluence of two rivers, Saraswati is deemed to be hidden underneath and thus the place assumes the nomenclature TRIVENI. A very famous example is of the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi as “Guptagaamini” in Prayaag, India.

Uniqueness of Saraswati:The term Saraswati envelops a vast expanse of meaning ranging from Vaagdevi, river, Veda Mata and to the giver of knowledge. The celestial mother Aadishakti manifested herself as Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati. Hence Goddess Saraswati is considered to be the very epitome of Sakthi or Cosmic Power.Not only mortals, but also even the celestial beings in Heaven are said to be the beneficiaries of Saraswati’s benevolence. Her shower of mercy empowers speech and all other fine arts.

 ETYMOLOGY:The word Saraswati means a string of rivers. The goddess is also known by synonyms like Braahmi, Bharati, Bhaasha, Geeh, Vaak, Vaani, Saarada, Saraswati, Maha Sookta, Kaadambari to name a few. All the letters in the alphabet are considered to be the different forms of the goddess.

APPEARANCE: Saraswati beams a very benevolent smile. She is often seated on a pristine white swan. Dressed in white she wears a garland of white pearls. She plays on the divine veena with a lace of beads in one hand a book in the other. She also adorns parrot in one hand and a lotus in the other.

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 Ramaya Ramabhadraya

Ramachandraya Vedhase

Raghunathaya nathaya

Sitayah pataye namah

Sri Rama Navami is being celebrated all over the country today.

Rama is the epitome of how a human being should lead his life.

“Ramayana” means Ways of Rama.

This Tulasidas Bhajan describes Lord Rama’s antics perfectly as a child.

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Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Kilaki kilaki uthat dhaay girat bhuumi latapataay
Dhaay maat god let dasharath kii raniyaan
T

humak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Aanchal raj ang jhaari vividh bhaanti so dulaari
Tan man dhan vaari vaari kahat mridu bachaniyaan

Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Vidrum se arun adhar bolat mukh madhur madhur
Subhag naasikaa men chaaru latakat latakaniyaan

Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan
Tulasiidaas ati anand dekh ke mukhaaravind
Raghuvar chhabi ke samaan raghuvar chhabi baniyaan
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

The Meaning of the Bhajan in English

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Laughing joyously he stumbles around on the ground
He is fondly picked into the laps of King Dasharatha’s queens

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

They cover him with their saris, dusting the dirt off and caressing his bruises
They offer loving and reassuring words of devotion to make him feel better

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Baby Ram’s ruby red lips speak sweet melodious words
Ornaments decorate his nose and waist

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Poet Tulsidas is thrilled at the face of Ram, which has the glory of the Sun
Baby Ram is exactly what he had imagined him to be

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

In Indian culture there are sixteen major samskaras (rites of passage) to be performed by or for an individual beginning with conception and continuing up to the last rites performed after death. These samskaras are meant to cultivate positive qualities which help purify the soul and ultimately lead it to Realization, or union with God.The literal meaning of the word Samskara is to purify or to refine.

There are forty samskaras prescribed of which sixteen, called the Shodasha samskaras, are in vogue today. There are a few samskaras which do not come under the classification above, but which are also widely performed like performing puja to the foundation stone of a building, the milk-boiling ritual before one starts living in a new house, etc.

The Shodasha samskaras are to be done in the five different stages of a human life i.e. – the prenatal years, the childhood years, the student years, the adulthood years and the old age or wisdom years. They are

1.     Garbhadana  – is performed by a married couple when conceiving a child. This important Samskara raises the act of conception to a sacred occasion, and is powerfully purifying and uplifting for the unborn child.

 2. Pumsavana – is usually performed between the second and fourth month of pregnancy. Its purpose is: first, to promote the birth of a male child (for perpetuation of the family line and tradition); second, to insure the good health of the foetus and the proper formation of its organs, regardless of gender.

3. Simantonnayana Samskara – In the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, the mind of the foetus begins to develop. This is when Simantonnayana Samskara is performed. Its purpose is to protect the foetus–especially its newly forming mind–from all negative influences, and also to stimulate the development of the unborn child’s intellect.

4. Jatakarma – is the ritual performed at the birth of a child. It awakens the child’s intellect, gives it strength, and promotes long life for the child.

5. Namakarana  – On the eleventh day after the child’s birth, namakarana Samskara is performed. In this ceremony, the child receives its name.

 6. Nishkramana – The baby’s first outing into the world, beyond the confines of the home, is the occasion of nishkramana.

7. Annaprashana – The first feeding of solid food to the baby, usually in the sixth month after birth, is the occasion of Annaprashana

 8. Karnavedha Samskara – usually performed in the sixth or seventh month after birth, consists of the piercing of the baby’s ear lobes, so earrings may be worn.

 9. Chudakarana Samskara – At the end of the first year after birth, or during the third year, the child’s hair is shaved–all but a tuft on the top of the head. This ritual shaving of hair, performed with ceremony, prayers, and chanting of Vedic hymns, is chudakarana Samskara This Samskara is for both boys and girls.

 10. Aksharabhyaasa: begins a student’s primary education by ceremonially introducing the child to the alphabet

11. Upanayana Samskara – initiates the formal study of the Vedas. It is one of the most important and esteemed of the samskaras. Upon performance of Upanayana, a boy traditionally moves from home to live in the ashram of the guru. 

12. Samavartana Samskara – With samavartana Samskara the disciple graduates from his Vedic studies and returns from the house of his guru. Thereafter, the disciple will marry and raise a family, and so enter the stage of householder, grihasthashrama.

13. Vivaha – The traditional Hindu wedding ceremony is known as Vivaha Samskara It is considered by many to be the most important of all the samskaras.

14. Panchamahayagna – A married couple performs the panchamahayajna, or five great sacrifices, daily. In this Samskara, one honours, in turn, the rishis (ancient seers of Truth), the gods, the ancestors, humankind, and all created beings.

15. Vanaprastha Samskara – According to the Vedic tradition, vanaprastha is the third stage of life, following brahmacharya (Vedic student/disciple) and grihasta (householder). Here, a man leaves behind his life in the world and retires to the forest (with or without his wife), to live an ascetic life devoted to study of the scriptures and to meditation.

16. Antyeshti Samskara – The final sacrament, the funeral rites, are known as antyeshti Samskara