The Coconut of Great Wealth

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


The Coconut of Great Wealth

I remember another one of these leelas which concerned a lady from South India who asked Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to grant her material riches. This time Sathya Sai Baba gave her a coconut and told her to listen to His advice carefully. “Hear properly what I have to say. I have given you a coconut. Take it home and worship it every day. You will be given all the riches you want.”

Needless to say, she was overjoyed. She received it and started her journey back home. On the way she sat at Penukonda railway station awaiting her train. She took the coconut and moved it with her hands. While doing so she heard a sound inside that seemed to emanate from the coconut. A doubt crept into her mind. Was Sathya Sai Baba’s gift genuine? Could a coconut really offer riches?

So thinking, she decided to break it open and look inside. As the coconut cracked open, a golden idol of Lakshmi sprang out and instantly disappeared! Grief stricken, she came back to Sathya Sai Baba and told Him about her mistake of breaking the coconut; she requested Him to give her one more. Then, Satya Sai Baba told her, “You do not have faith in My words. Hence, return just as you came here.”

Many such people came to Sathya Sai Baba seeking such material wealth; very few were interested in spiritual riches.

Even during the Shirdi incarnation, there is an instance of a rich gentleman who had every worldly success in life and appeared to lack nothing, and therefore came to Baba seeking the ultimate wisdom.

The Sai Satcharita says that despite a very comfortable and prosperous life, the wealthy man came to Shirdi, went to the Masjid, saw Sai Baba, fell at His feet and said, “Baba, hearing that You show without any delay the Brahman (Almighty God) to all who come over here, I too have come all the way from my distant place. I am much fatigued by my journey and if I get the [knowledge of] Brahman from You, my troubles will be well-paid and rewarded.”

It is said that Baba replied to the rich gentleman seeking spiritual knowledge thus: “Oh, My dear friend, do not be anxious, I shall immediately show you the Brahman; all my dealings are in cash and never on credit. So many people come to Me and ask for wealth, health, power, honour, position, cure of diseases and other temporal matters. Rare is the person who comes here to Me and asks for Brahma-Gyana (Knowledge of the Self). I think it is an auspicious moment when a person like you comes and presses Me for Brahma-Gyana.…”

(However, the ensuing details of how Baba gave the seeker an experiential lesson in the supreme spiritual wisdom is very interestingly described in chapters 16 & 17 of the Shirdi Sai Satcharita and they go to show how genuine seeker’s of God’s grace are very rare, as most devotees tend to be only interested in gaining worldly favours from the God incarnate. – H2H Team)

Reference

Diwali 2009 – Festival Of Lights – Deepavali 2009

Diwali 2009 – Festival Of Lights – Deepavali 2009
2009: Deepavali / Diwali Will Be Celebrated On October 17th 2009

Diwali 2009 – Divali – Dewali – Devali – Deepavali 2009 – Depavali – Deepawali – Festival Of Lights – Celebration Of Light – Dipavali – Diwali Wallpapers – Hari Deepavali – Row Of Lights – Dipawali – Lakshmi Puja – Laxsmi Pooja – Naraka Chaturdashi – Balipadyami – Dhanatravodashi – Narakchaturdashi – Kali Puja

Blessings Of Lakshmi 2009 Divali

Blessings Of Lakshmi 2009 Divali


Diwali 2009

Diwali 2009

Diwali, or Deepavali, (also called Tihar and Swanti in Nepal) is a major Indian and Nepalese festival, and a significant festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Many legends are associated with Diwali. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the “Festival of Light” or “Celebration of Light” where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over evil within every human being. The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists of Nepal, particularly the Newar Buddhists.

According to one theory Diwali may have originated as a harvest festival, marking the last harvest of the year before winter. In an agrarian society this results in businessmen closing accounts, and beginning a new accounting year. The Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth in Hinduism) thanked and worshipped on this day and everyone prays for a good and prosperous year ahead. This is the common factor in Diwali celebrations all over the Indian subcontinent.

In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest. The people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name, Deepawali / Deepavali, or simply shortened as Diwali. South India marks this day when Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. In western India it is also in honor of the day King Bali went to rule the nether-world by the order of Vishnu. (There is another festival ‘Onam’ which is celebrated in Kerala around the month of August to mark this legend).

Diwali is celebrated on the first day of the lunar Kartika month, which comes in the month of October or November.

In Jainism it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on October 15, 527 BCE. The Sikhs celebrate Diwali for a different reason. On this day, the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed from imprisonment along with 52 Hindu Kings (political prisoners) whom he had arranged to be released as well. After his release he went to Darbar Sahib (golden temple) in the holy city of Amritsar. There, he was greeted by Sikhs and many other people. In happiness they lit candles and diyas to greet the Guru. In India, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

The festival marks the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. Symbolically it marks the homecoming of goodwill and faith after an absence, as suggested by the Ramayana.

On the day of Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks. Some North Indian business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.

Hindus have several significant events associated with it:

  • Return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya: Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile, and a war in which he killed the demon king Ravana. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. Since Lord Rama traveled from South India to his kingdom in North India, he passed through the south earlier. This is the reason why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India.
  • The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi, two days before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapar Yuga during this time of Lord Krishna’s avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Lord Krishna (Lord krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narakasura by pretending to be injured by the demon. Narakasura can only be killed by his mother, Satyabhama) himself. Before Narakasura’s death, he requested a boon from his mother, Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi – Narakasura’ mother), that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light.
  • Austerities of Shakti: According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon) to get half of the body of Lord Shiva. This vrata (austerity) is known as kedhara vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara. The ardent devotees observe this 21 days vrata by making a kalasha with 21 threads on it and 21 types of offerings for 35 days. The final day is celebrated as kedhara gauri vrata.
  • Krishna defeating Indra: Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their ‘dharma’ truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their ‘karma’, to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna’s life is mostly glossed over – but it actually set up the basis of the ‘karma’ philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.
  • Bali’s return to the nether world: In Bhavishyottara and Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Diwali is associated with the Daitya king Bali, who is allowed to return to earth once a year. However in Kerala this is the reason ‘Onam’ is celebrated. ‘Onam’ festival falls around the month of August-September.

Reference

Prosperous Diwali Greetings 2009

Prosperous Diwali Greetings 2009


Mandala Of Light By Joe Moreno

Mandala Of Light By Joe Moreno


2009 Celebration Of Light

2009 Celebration Of Light

Sathya Sai Baba: Deepavali means “the array of lights.” “Thamasomaa jyotirgamaya” (Lead me from darkness to light) is an Upanishadic prayer: This means that where there is darkness light is needed. What is this darkness? Sorrow, restlessness, loss, disappointment, misery and lack of enthusiasm are all different forms of darkness. To get rid of the darkness of sorrow, you have to light the lamp of happiness. To dispel the darkness of disease, you have to install the light of health. To get over the darkness of losses and failures, you have to usher in the light of prosperity.

Looking at the Deepavali festival from the scientific point of view, it should be noted that at one time in the distant past, our ancestors lived in the Arctic region (the polar region). In this region, darkness prevailed for six months. The sun appears on Mesha Sankranthi day (the sun entering the Aries sign of the Zodiac). The sun sets in this region on Tula Sankranthi day (when the sun enters Libra). In the movement between these two signs, there is an interval of six months. After the sun sets in Libra, the dark half-year starts.

Today is Chathurdasi (the fourteenth day) in the month of Karthik. It is Amavasya (New Moon day). The month is called Kaumudi. The people in the polar region used to start lighting their lamps from this day. The lighting of the lamp is not without other significance. As they would be in darkness for a long period, they described the lamp that was lit as Nithyajyothi (the perennial light).

It was on Deepavali day that Sri Rama’s coronation took place after his victorious return to Ayodhya from Lanka vanquishing Ravana and his Rakshasa brood. For a long period Ayodhya had been plunged in darkness when Rama was in exile in the forest. In the absence of the effulgent Rama, Ayodhya was a city of darkness. The forests were filled with light. The return of Rama was hailed by the people of Ayodhya as the return of divine effulgence and hence they celebrated the event by the lighting of lamps everywhere.

Nor is that all. Today’s festival is marked by other significant features. This is the day on which the Lord in His Vamana incarnation sent the Emperor Bali to the Nether World after He got the promise of three feet of ground (measured by the Lord’s foot) from Bali. Vamana (as the incarnation of Vishnu) used the gift of three feet of land to put down the Ahamkara (egoism) of Bali.

Deepavali is a festival which is designed to celebrate the suppression of the Ego by the Higher Self. Man is plunged in the darkness of ignorance and has lost the power of discrimination between the permanent and the evanescent. When the darkness of ignorance caused by Ahamkara (the ego-feeling) is dispelled by the light of Divine knowledge, the effulgence of the Divine is experienced. Deepavali is also the day on which Emperor Vikrama ditya ascended the throne.

If the darkness of ignorance is to be dispelled, man needs a container, oil, wick and a matchbox corresponding to what an external lamp needs. For man, the heart is the container. The mind is the wick. Love is the oil and vairagya (sacrifice) is the matchbox. When you have these four, Atma-jyothi (the Divine flame of the Spirit) shines effulgently. When the light of the Spirit is aflame, the Light of Knowledge appears and dispels the darkness of ignorance.

The flame of a lamp has two qualities. One is to banish darkness. The other is a continuous upward movement. Even when a lamp is kept in a pit, the flame moves upwards. The sages have therefore adored the lamp of wisdom as the flame that leads men to higher states. Hence, the effulgence of light should not be treated as a trivial phenomenon. Along with lighting the external lamps, men should strive to light the lamps within them. The human estate should be governed by sacred qualities. This calls for the triple purity of body, mind and speech–Trikarana Suddhi (purity of the three instruments).

The inner significance of Deepavali is to lead man from darkness to light. Man is perpetually plunged in darkness. Every time he is enveloped in darkness, he should light a lamp that is ever shining within him. Carry that lamp wherever you go. It will light your path wherever you may be. (Sathya Sai Baba – Diwali Discourse 1991)

Reference

Lakshmi Blessing On Deepavali 2009

Lakshmi Blessing On Deepavali 2009


Festival Of Lights 2009

Festival Of Lights 2009

Diwali 2009 – Divali – Dewali – Devali – Deepavali 2009 – Depavali – Deepawali – Festival Of Lights – Celebration Of Light – Dipavali – Diwali Wallpapers – Hari Deepavali – Row Of Lights – Dipawali – Lakshmi Puja – Laxsmi Pooja – Naraka Chaturdashi – Balipadyami – Dhanatravodashi – Narakchaturdashi – Kali Puja

For More Diwali Greetings and Deepavali Wallpapers, See:
0102030405060708

Sathya Dharma Shanti Prema Ananda Free Mandalas

Sathya Dharma Shanti Prema Ananda Free Mandalas

Ganeshji Ananda Mandala

Ganeshji Ananda Mandala

Sathya Sai Baba: Who is Vinayaka? In the sloka (verse) beginning with the words, Suklaambaradharam Vishnum, only the form of the deity is described. But there is another inner meaning for the name Vinayaka. Suklaambaradharam means one who is clad in white. Vishnum means he is all-pervading. Sasivarnam means his complexion is grey like that of ash. Chathurbhujam means he has four arms. Prasannavadanam means he has always a pleasing mien. Sarvavighnopasaanthaye means for the removal of all obstacles. Dhyaayeth, meditate (on him). Vinayaka is the deity who removes all bad qualities, instills good qualities and confers peace on the devotee who meditates on him.

Sri Lakshmi Bliss Mandala

Sri Lakshmi Bliss Mandala


Saraswati Bliss Mandala

Saraswati Bliss Mandala


Maha Lakshmi Bliss Mandala

Maha Lakshmi Bliss Mandala

Sathya Sai Baba: The supreme Shakti manifests herself in the form of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Durga grants to us energy –physical, mental, and spiritual. Lakshmi bestows on us wealth of many kinds –not just money but intellectual wealth, the wealth of character, and others. Even health is a kind of wealth. She grants untold riches to us. And Saraswati bestows intelligence, the capacity for intellectual inquiry, and the power of discrimination on us. The Navaratri festival is celebrated in order to proclaim the power of the goddesses to the world.

Sri Sathya Sai Bliss Mandala

Sri Sathya Sai Bliss Mandala


Sai Baba Of Shirdi Bliss Mandala

Sai Baba Of Shirdi Bliss Mandala


Sathya Baba Bliss Mandala

Sathya Baba Bliss Mandala


Related Links:
Fire Darshan Bliss Mandalas (Series One)
Official Sathya Sai Baba Website

All Artwork Created By Gerald ‘Joe’ Moreno – All Rights Reserved
Free Mandalas – No Commercial Uses

Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Discourse on Vijaya Dasami 2008

Sathya Sai Dasara Discourse

Sathya Sai Dasara Discourse


Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Discourse on Vijaya Dasami, 09 Oct 2008
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Durgashtami – Mahashtami: 8th Day Of Navaratri At Sathya Sai Baba Ashram

Dasara Sai Baba Durga Devi

Dasara Sai Baba Durga Devi


Durgashtami – Mahashtami: 8th Day Of Navaratri At Sathya Sai Baba Ashram
(Curtesty Sai Baba News Yahoo! Group)

Today is the most sacred day of Durgashtami which is also known as Mahashtami is the 8th day of Navaratri which is one of the important days of Durga Puja. Navadurga, which literally means nine Durgas, constitute the manifestation of Goddess Durga in nine different forms. These nine forms of manifestation are Silaputri, Brahmacarini, Candraghaṇṭa, Kuṣmanda, Skandamata, Katayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8th, which is Mahanavami, the day for Suvasini Puja or Ayudha Pooja. Om Sai Ram

Reference (With Pictures)

Dussara Vedapurusha Jnana Yagna

Dussara Sri Sathya Sai Baba Vedapurusha Jnana Yagna


Dasara Vedapurusha Jnana Yagna

Dasara Sri Sathya Sai Baba Vedapurusha Jnana Yagna

Navaratri – Worship Of Sri Lakshmi Devi At Sathya Sai Baba Ashram

Navaratri – Worship Of Sri Lakshmi Devi At Sathya Sai Baba Ashram

The 3rd, 4th and 5th days of Navaratri are dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi.

Sathya Sai Lakshmi

Sathya Sai Lakshmi

Hindu Goddess Maha Lakshmi - Goddess Of Wealth

Hindu Goddess Maha Lakshmi - Goddess Of Wealth

Lakshmi Devi

Lakshmi Devi

Wednesday, October 1, 2008: The Devi Navarathri has begun at Prasanthi Nilayam with the Kalasa puja in the Mandir. Preparations are underway for the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yagnam which will commence in a couple of days. Bhagawan has been sitting onstage while the Vedam goes on for a few minutes over the last few days before going into the Bhajan Hall for bhajans. Today, He came for darshan a few minutes after five o’clock and moved around in the verandah and the Bhajan Hall before coming onstage at around 5.15. He sat there for nearly half an hour, blessing the Birthday boys and also the Iranian Primary School student who had come for Id blessings. Swami moved to the Bhajan Hall at 5.45 and the Bhajans began. He accepted Arati just after six and returned to His residence in the car.

Also see:
Vijayadashami – Dussehra – Dasara – Navaratri 2008

Vijayadashami – Dussehra – Dasara – Navaratri 2008

Vishvarupa MahaDevi

Vishvarupa MahaDevi


Lakshmi Dussara Pictures
Shakti Dasara Pictures
Durga Durgashtami Pictures
Kali NavaratriPictures
Saraswati VijayadashamiPictures

Vijayadashami – Dussehra – Dasara – Navaratri 2008
Celebrated From September 30th 2008 through October 9th 2008

Vijayadashami (Hindi and Marathi: विजयादशमी),also known as Dussehra (Hindi: दशहरा, Marathi: दसरा), “Dashain” in Nepali, is a festival celebrated across Nepal and India. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Ashwayuja or Ashwina, and is the grand culmination of the 10-day annual festival of Dasara or Navaratri. The legend underlying the celebration, as also its mode of conduct, vary vastly by region; however, all festivities celebrate the victory of the forces of Good over Evil. It is also considered to be an auspicious day to begin new things in life. It is the largest festival of Nepal and celebrated by Hindu and non-Hindu as well.

Significance Of Dasara
In Southern India, Eastern India and Western India, the festival of Navaratri which culminates with Vijayadashami commemorates the legend in which the Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini, vanquishes the demon Mahishasura, an event that is said to have taken place in the vicinity of the present day city of Mysore in Karnataka.

In Northern India, the same 10-day festival commemorates the victory of Rama, prince of Ayodhya in present-day Uttar Pradesh, over Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, who according to the Ramayana had abducted Sita Devi, the wife of the former, and held her captive in his realm.

Legend of the Shami Tree
Here is another and little-known legend associated with this festival, one associated with the Mahabharata. For reasons impossible to delineate here, the Pandavas underwent a period of exile, being 14 years of dwelling in the forest followed by a year of exile incognito. Disguise being indispensable during the latter period, the Pandavas found it necessary to lay aside, for the length of that year, the many divine and distinctive weapons that they possessed. These they secreted in a ‘Shami’ tree in the vicinity of their chosen place of incognito residence. At the end of a year, they returned to the spot, found their weaponry intact, and worshipped in thanksgiving both the Shami tree and the Goddess Durga, presiding deity of strength and victory. Meanwhile, the Kauravas had invaded that area, suspecting the residence of the Pandavas there. Upon finishing their devotions, the Pandavas made straight to battle, and won the contest comprehensively. The day that all these events occurred on has since been known as “Vijayadashami”, where “Vijaya” is the Sanskrit word for “Victory”.

The fact of the comprehensive success of the Pandavas in their endeavour has been extrapolated to the everyday ventures of the common man today. Even to this day, people exchange Shami leaves and wish each other victory in their own ventures and efforts.

Celebration Of Dasara
In Northern India, the festival commemorates the victory of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and avatara of Vishnu, over Ravana, the ruler of Lanka who had abducted Rama’s wife, Sita Devi. The festival is celebrated with much gusto. Crackers are burnt, and huge melas or fetes are organised. The Ramlila – an abriged dramatization of the Ramayana – is enacted with much public fervour all over northern India during the period of the festivities. The burning of the effigies of Ravana on Vijayadashami, signifying the victory of good over evil, brings the festivities to a colourful close. Some non-Hindus also go to the festival for the novelty of the costumes and reenactments.

The legend associated with the Shami tree finds commemoration during the renowned Navaratri celebrations at Mysore, which otherwise strongly emphasizes the Durga legend described above, as may be expected in the city built at the very site of the events of the Durga legend. On Vijaydashami day, at the culmination of a colourful 10-day celebration, the goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped and then borne in a Golden Ambari or elephant-mounted throne, in a grand procession, through the city of Mysore, from the historical Mysore Palace to the Banni Mantapa. Banni is the Kannada word for the Sanskrit Shami, and Mantapa means “Pavilion”.

In Karnataka, Ayudh Puja, the ninth day of Dasara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, kitchen tools etc.

It is an effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses in daily life. Basically it includes all tools that help one earn one’s livelihood. So knowledge workers go for books, pen or computers, plough and other agricultural tools by the farmer, machinery by industrialists and cars/buses/trucks by transporters are decorated with flowers and worshiped on this day invoking God’s blessing for success in coming years. It is believed that any new venture such as starting of business or purchasing of new household items on this day is bound to succeed.

In Madikeri Dasara is celebrated in a different style.Madikeri Dasara has an history of over 100 years. Here Dasara starts of with Kargas from four Mariamma Temples. There will be a procession of 10 Mantapas from 10 Temples on the night of Vijayadashami.

At night, effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight. Children especially enjoy seeing this because of the beautiful fireworks on the ground. The festival, which is thought of as the “Victory of Good over Evil” and “Return of Rama from Exile” is celebrated in grand style. Because the day is auspicious, people inaugurate new vehicles, machines, books, weapons and tools by ceremonially asking god to bless the new items.

History Of Dasara Vijayadashami
This day marks the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon king Ravana. On this day, Rama killed Ravana.

Rama was asked to go on exile because his stepmother, Queen Kaikeyee was tricked into asking King Dasaratha to exile him for 14 years. Rama’s wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana went with him willingly.

News of Rama staying at an ashram while on exile spread rapidly. A demon, Shoorpanakha found her way there and demanded that Rama or Lakshmana marry her. When both brothers rejected her, she threatened to kill Sita, so that Rama would then be single again. Lakshmana then cut off her ears and nose.

Shoorpanakha’s brother was the demon King Ravana. Ravana was incensed to hear what happened to his sister, and kidnapped Sita to avenge the insult.

The Ramayana chronicles Rama’s travels and deeds as he searched for his wife, and defeated evil.

Variations Of Dasa Across South Asia
Dussehra is celebrated in various ways in different parts of South Asia. In Bengal, the festival is celebrated as Kali Puja or Durga Puja, while in Tamil Nadu, the festival incorporates worship of the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Shakti.

Some people feel that Dussehra and Dasara are not simply different transliterations of the same word, but two different festivals.

Dasara is the festival marking end of Navratri and the immersion of Durga idols which are worshipped for nine days prior to Dussehra. Dussehra is also the day when many families start formal education of their kids. The practise has been so old, that in some parts of Kerala, even after conversions to Christianity, some members of the community continued this tradition. In 2004, many churches in Kerala formally adopted the same tradition of introducing young children to education on Dussehra day.

The Dasara celebrations in Mysore are popular with tourists, and are conducted with great pomp. Dasara is celebrated in Nepal by the name of Dashain.

Wikipedia Reference

Sai Maa

Sai Maa


Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Discourse: 14 October 1988 On Dasara
In the human body, the Divine flows through all the limbs as the divine essence (rasa) and sustains them. This divine principle is called the Embodiment of Divine Sweetness (Rasaswaroopini, or Angirasa). These divine principles that permeate and sustain the physical body should also be worshipped as mother goddesses. Then there are the great sages (maharishis), who investigated matters relating to good and evil, right and wrong, what elevates man or degrades him, and, as a result of their labors and penance, gave to mankind the great scriptures, indicating the spiritual and mundane paths and how humanity could redeem its existence. These sages have also to be revered as divine mothers.

The cow, the earth, the presiding deities for the body, the sages, and the guru are all worthy of worship as the embodiments of the divine Motherhood. Although these five appear in different forms and names, they have one thing in common with the mother. They play a protective and sustaining maternal role for mankind and hence should be revered and worshipped as divine mothers.

Conversely, the mother of every child displays in relation to the child the attributes of these five entities. The mother nourishes the child, provides the necessaries for its growth, teaches the child what it should know and what it should avoid, and leads it on the path of righteousness.

The life of a man who cannot respect and love such a venerable mother is utterly useless. Recognizing one’s mother as the very embodiment of all divine forces, one must show reverence to her and treat her with love. This is the true message that this nine-night festival (the Navaratri) gives us. The supreme Shakti manifests herself in the form of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Durga grants to us energy –physical, mental, and spiritual. Lakshmi bestows on us wealth of many kinds –not just money but intellectual wealth, the wealth of character, and others. Even health is a kind of wealth. She grants untold riches to us. And Saraswati bestows intelligence, the capacity for intellectual inquiry, and the power of discrimination on us. The Navaratri festival is celebrated in order to proclaim the power of the goddesses to the world. One’s own mother is the combination of all these divine beings. She provides us with energy, wealth, and intelligence. She constantly desires our advancement in life. So she represents all the three goddesses that we worship during the Navaratri festival.

Vijayadashami – Dussehra – Dasara – Navaratri – Dassera – Vijaya-Dashami – Vijayadasami – Durgashtami – Dussera – Dasara 2008 – Durga Festival – Festival Of The Mother – Lakshmi -Saraswati – Vijayadashami 2008 – Worship Of The Three Goddesses

Religions beyond ‘isms’

COEXIST

COEXIST


Religions beyond ‘isms’
By Upinder Singh

In the realms of religious doctrines and practices, the period c. 200 BCE to 300 CE reflects several continuities with the earlier centuries, but also some striking new developments.

One of the most important of these was the beginning of new devotional practices within Buddhism and Jainism and the emergence of early Hinduism. New forms of worship were accompanied by new liturgies and mythologies. Religious teachers, saints, gods, and goddesses were worshipped or venerated in the form of images within the context of religious shrines.

The history of religions is usually constructed on the basis of frameworks provided by religious texts, which are not always accurately reflective of popular practice. Apart from their elite authorship and normative nature, some of them are difficult to date.

The beliefs and practices they mention often have earlier beginnings. Further, dominant religious traditions usually try to marginalize or ignore other traditions and therefore often give a distorted idea of their significance. An example is the case of the Ajivika sect, which, notwithstanding all the criticism of its ideas and leaders in Buddhist and Jaina texts, was clearly influential in many parts of the subcontinent across many centuries.

Further, religious texts do not always clearly reflect regional or local variations in practices, and there are some widely prevalent practices that they do not mention at all.

For all these reasons, although texts are extremely valuable sources for the history of religions, they have to be looked at along with evidence from archaeology, inscriptions, and coins.

When studying the history of different religions or sects separately, little attention is often paid to their contemporaneity and interaction. Studies of pilgrimage sites in India contain innumerable examples of places that are considered sacred for different reasons by different religious communities.

The interconnections and interactions between and among different religious traditions at the ground level also emerge clearly when we look at the archaeological evidence from specific sites, areas, and regions.

The sculptural motifs associated with ancient religious establishments reveal the existence of a shared pool of auspicious symbols. Their shrines reflect shared architectural styles that cut across sectarian differences. All this is not surprising, as these traditions and their adherents shared a common cultural space.

We will also see that there are several religious practices that were not specifically associated with a specific religious tradition but were an enduring feature of popular religion over many centuries. At the same time, the relationship between different religions or cults could also take the form of competition and conflict.

Yakshas, nagas, and goddesses
The evidence of literature and sculpture graphically illustrates the metamorphosis of the yaksha from a benevolent, powerful deity who was the focus of exclusive worship to a terrifying, demonic creature, reduced to the position of a subsidiary attendant figure associated more with fertility than with wealth. Yakshis or yakshinis were originally benign deities connected with fertility. Their worship was eventually absorbed into and marginalized by the dominant religious traditions, but the frequent references to them shows just how popular and widespread this worship once was.

The worship of serpents—nagas and nagis (or naginis)—was another important aspect of religious worship that cut across religious boundaries. The nagas and nagis were associated with water and fertility. Like the yakshas and yakshis, they too were originally the focus of exclusive worship, but were in course of time absorbed into the dominant religions. Colossal naga figures belonging to the early centuries CE have been found in many places. Their imposing nature and the technical finesse of their carving make it amply clear that they do not represent a simple folk or village cult.

Female terracotta images have been found at various from prehistoric times onwards. Whether or not these had a cultic or religious significance involves subjective judgement.

The worship of goddesses during c. 200 BCE–300 CE is evident from archaeological evidence from many sites. Female figurines are sometimes associated with terracotta artefacts that are referred to in archaeological literature as votive tanks and shrines. These occur many sites in the subcontinent, from 3rd century BCE levels right up to medieval levels, showing that such objects were part of the paraphernalia of domestic rituals for over 1,000 years.

Puranic Hinduism
The English word ‘Hinduism’ is a fairly recent one and was first used by Raja Ram Mohun Roy in 1816–17. The word ‘Hindu’ is older and is derived from the Sindhu (Indus) river. It was originally a geographical term, used in ancient Persian inscriptions to refer to the lands beyond the Sindhu river. In the course of the medieval period, the term came to acquire a religious–cultural meaning. Modern-day Hinduism differs from other major world religions in many important respects, in that it has no founder, no fixed canon which embodies its major beliefs and practices, and no organized priesthood. It is also marked by a great variety in beliefs, practices, sects, and traditions. Some scholars argue that Hinduism is not so much a religion as a set of socio-cultural practices; others argue that it is inextricably linked to the existence of caste, and still others hold that we should talk of Hindu religions in the plural rather than the singular. The relative newness of the word, the problems of definition, and the existence of much internal diversity, are not sufficient reasons to avoid the use of the term Hinduism.

During the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE, there is evidence from a variety of sources of certain devotional practices that can be associated with Hinduism. This was the formative phase in the evolution of early Hindu pantheons. Some of the deities who became the foci of worship in this period are known from Vedic literature. However, during these centuries, they emerged as powerful supreme deities, whose images were installed and worshipped in temples and homes. The most influential of the newly emerging cults were associated with the worship of the gods Shiva and Vishnu and the goddess Durga.

The beginning of the theistic trends that came to the fore in this period can be traced to the later Upanishads. However, the process is more clearly visible in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The new religiosity of devotion is also reflected in the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas. Apart from textual sources, archaeological sites, sculptures, coins, and inscriptions give important data, which in some cases indicates earlier beginnings than suggested by texts.

The earliest inscriptional references to and archaeological remains of Hindu temples belong to c. 200 BCE–300 CE. Reference was made earlier to the Besnagar pillar inscription of Heliodorus, which records the installation of a pillar associated with a Vishnu templeand the remains of the foundations of a temple nearby. A 2nd century Nagari inscription mentions a temple of Samkarshana and Vasudeva. The remains of a temple dedicated to the Matrikas (the Seven Mothers) at Sonkh, a Lakshmi temple at Atranjikhera, a Shaiva temple at Gudimallam, and temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva at Nagarjunakonda can be considered to be among the earliest vestiges of Hindu temples in the subcontinent.

Although the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE witnessed the development of sectarian cults that considered a particular god or goddess as a supreme deity, there was also a parallel process which visualized the Hindu gods as closely related and performing complementary functions. This is evident, for instance, in the idea of the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, present in the Mahabharata and more clearly developed in the Puranas. In this triad, Brahma is associated with the creation of the world, Vishnu with its preservation, and Shiva its destruction. The three gods are also associated with different principles, from which arises their division of labour—Brahma is associated with rajas (the creative, active principle), Vishnu with sattva (the unattached, passive principle), and Shiva with tamas (the dark, fierce principle). In some places in the Puranas, the gods operate in their respective spheres according to this division of labour, in others they are described as manifestations of the same divine being.

The acknowledgement of other gods and their being considered worthy of respect is also evident from the fact that shrines dedicated to one deity often have sculptural representations of other deities as well. Polytheism simply refers to a belief in many gods, but monolatory means the belief in a supreme god without denying the existence of other gods. It is the latter term that best describes emergent Hinduism.

Extracted with permission from A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: from the Stone Age to the 12th century by Upinder Singh. Pearson Longman. Pages 704.

Religion Symbols

Religion Symbols

Lakshmi – Hindu Goddess Of Wealth Sri Lakshmi Devi

Goddess Lakshmi

Lakshmi – Goddess Of Wealth Sri Lakshmi Devi
Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess Who Governs All form of Wealth and Success and the Paths, Means and Results of all forms of Prosperity. Mother Lakshmi is often depicted in several colors: Pink, Gold and White. When Lakshmi’s skin color is Pink, She is the Divine Mother. When Her skin is Gold, She is the Universal Shakti and when Her skin is white, She is Mother Earth.

As the the Consort of Lord Vishnu (Narayana), who is the God of Preservation, Lakshmi Devi is the Goddess of Health and Beauty. Sri Lakshmi embodies Sublime Beauty, Siddhi, Peace, Strength, Balance, Auspiciousness, Opulance and Wisdom. Because Lakshmi possesses all of these good and noble qualities, She embodies infinite wealth~ symbolizing that good and noble qualities are the only wealth we can keep.

Lakshmi Devi is always depicted sitting or standing on a lotus with golden coins flowing in an endless stream from one of her hands~ symbolic of when the lotus of wisdom blossoms, the wealth of good and noble qualities appears and Lakshmi’s blessings are present.

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