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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Indra Ekaadasi - September 23/ 24, 2011


Dear Members:

Indira Ekaashi fall on the waning phase of the Moon in the lunar month of Aswin (September-October by modern calendar). Simply put, it is the Ekaadashi that falls during the Mahaalaya paksha.

Indra Ekaadasi schedule for different regions around the globe in 2011

USA/ Canada, Carribean Islands, and other nations of the American continents - September 23, 2011.

Countries of European continent, African continent - September 23, 2011.

For those living in Middle East Asia, Afghanistan, India - smaartha Ekaadasi should be observed on September 23, 2011; Vaishnava Ekaadasi (those subscribing to Vaishnava doctrines) should be observed on September 24, 2011.

For all other countries - September 24, 2011 (both Smaartha and Vaishnava ekaadasi for all countries to the east of India, including Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji Islands).

The importance of Indira Ekaadasi is explained in the Brahma vaivarta Puraana in a discussion between Lord Krishna and king Yudhishtra. Observance of this Ekaadasi will help in removing the sinful effects of actions done by oneself and also relieve deceased ancestors' souls from the remorse caused by their sinful actions when they lived on this earth. According to legends, King IndrasEnaa performed this fast on the advice of Devarishi Narada and saved his father from the remorse caused by his sins during his earthly life.

On the day before the observance of this ekaadasi fast, i.e. on dasami thithi, just one meal is eaten praying for ancestors' souls; on the Ekaadasi day a full fast is to be undertaken, and in the afternoon of Ekaadasi vrata day, rituals for the satisfaction of pitrus are to be done; the fast is broken on dwaadasi day. If such an elaborate scheme is not feasible, you may just fast as usual on Ekaadasi day, and pray for peace of your pitrus' souls after the Ekaadasi pooja to Vishnu. What else can you do for you ancestors than undertaking this fast that can relive their souls of the burden/ remorse caused by sinful activities committed knowingly or unknowingly during their tenure on this earth?

Please note that this fast is not mandatory for those below 7 years/ above 70 years as is the common rule for Ekaadasi fasts. Similarly those who are sick are also exempt from this observance if their physical condition does not permit a full fast. Others should preferably undertake a full fast (abstaining even from water, if possible). Those who can't undertake such rigorous fasts due to practical circumstances should at least avoid all full-grains, onion/ garlic items, eating food outside, etc. and try to subsist on milk and fruits. The bottom line is - observe the fast to the best of your abilities and as best as your circumstances will permit the observance.

May our members observe this wonderful fast and gain liberty from sinful karma not only for themselves but also for their ancestors!

Blessed be.

Astrological and Remedial consultant

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sharada Navarathri - 2011

There are 6 Navarathris in Honour of Divine Mother of our Universe - one for each Rithu (season), and this navarathri falling in the sharad rithu is the most important one as it is the one recommended for householders.

Navarathri schedule for different parts of the world.

Navaraathri austerities begin from September 28, 2011 for all places in the earth except for those living in U.S.A., Canada, and other countries of the American continents. Those living in U.S.A., Canada, and other countries of the American continents should begin the Navarathri austerities from September 27, 2011 itself.

Durga pooja is to be observed on October 4, 2011 throughout the world except those living in Hawaaii standard time zone who should observe it on October 3, 2011 itself.

Mahaa Navami (Saraswathy Pooja, Ayudha pooja) should be celebrated on October 5, 2011 throughout the world - except in places following Hawaai standard time. Those living in Hawaii standard time zone should observe this on October 4, 2011 itself.

Vijaya Dasami should be observed on October 6, 2011 throughout the world - except in places following Hawaii standard time. Those living in Hawaii standard time zone should observe Vijaya Dasami on October 5, 2011 itself.

Methods of celebrating Navaraathri.

It is traditional to keep "Kolu" - an arrangement of dolls during Navaraathri. This is to signify that Our Divine Mother resides as Inner Soul in all Forms. Some people make the arrangement in such a way that the various steps of the kolu represent the Order of Evolution - like keeping invertebrates and such other forms of lives in the bottom step, keeping dolls representing human life in the middle of the kolu steps, and keeping dolls representing Divine Legends, Dasa Avataars, etc. on the top most step of the kolu arrangement. It is traditional to keep 5 rows (to represent Five Elements of Life), 9 rows (to represent the Nine Forms of Divine Mother), 11 rows (to represent the 11 forms of Lord Rudra), 13 rows (one in Honour of each chapter of Durga Sapta Sati), or 15 Rows (one in Honour of each syllable of Shri Vidhya panchadasaakshari mantra) as per one's convenience; traditionally, people avoid arranging the kolu in 7 rows for sentimental reasons (there is a belief that such an arrangement in 7 rows might affect financial prospects).

I request all our members to perform simple worships as per their convenience during the Navarathri period and become recipients of Divine Grace. This is a period when we Celebrate our Universal Mother - so, that joy should be there in our minds when we observe this austerity (we should not be unnecessarily tensed or make this too complicated with too many taboos! One does not think of protocols when approaching one's mother - but just go with the moment with unbounded joy and affection; such should be our attitude when we worship Our Universal Mother during this period - assuming we are all Her Children and we are invoking Her Presence in our homes - celebrating this with affectionate respect and joy).

Recital of Lalitha Sahasranaamam, Dasa Mahaa vidhya sthothrams, simple Devi sthothrams, Abhiraami Andhaadhi, Lalitha Anubooti, Soundarya Lahiri, Dugra Sthothram, Chandi Path (Durga Saptasathi), etc. can be auspicious during this period.

During this period, we should consider all women as Forms of Divine Mother and treat them with courtesy and respect. One who observes the Navarathri austerities intensely, but insults women knowingly/ unknowingly does not get the benefit of the austerities. Remember this, and treat women (including those in your own family) with affection and respect [Ideally that should be the case always! Because Shastras say that where virtuous women are honoured, Divine Grace visits even in an uninvited manner! This is the reason why women should take special care to safeguard their basic dignity, be affectionate and gentle in dealings with family members, avoid letting corrupting thoughts/ behaviour patterns enter their life styles, etc. in an attempt to maintain their Divine nature that is intrinsic to them; All higher forms of lives spring from the feminine gender of the species, and a virtuous woman is a living Form of the Universal Mother - and can be a source of happiness and Grace to herself and to everyone who is blessed enough to move with her).

Those who have Tulsi plant in their houses, can offer prostrations to that Divine Plant and pray for prosperity and Divine Grace in its vicinity. (All the Holy Rivers are in subtle forms in the roots of the tulsi plant; All Divine Forms are manifest in the middle portion of the Tulsi plant, and All Vedas and Holy Scriptures are manifest in the tips of the Tulsi plant, as said in the Puranas).

Offering Go-Poojaa (prayers to Cow visualized as embodiment of all Divinities) on Fridays and Tuesdays of Navarathri period can give unlimited merit.

It is also auspicious to read a small portion of Divine Legends that depict how the Gracious and Kind Mother Manifested in Angry Forms to annihilate all enemies to peaceful life on Earth every night during this navaraathri period, and invoke such Manifestation of Power in our lives also to annihilate all our enemies (both intrinsic like anger, greed, laziness, and ignorance within us, and our external enemies/ unruly elements who try to disturb peaceful and gentle citizens in the society unnecessarily).

Recital of Chandi Paaraayanam is a powerful remedy not merely for our families but for ensuring peace in the land where we live in. In fact, if austere persons of Faith keep reciting the Chandi Path and Shri Rudram regularly, and if there are many of them in a land, shastras proclaim that the elements of nature's Fury like floods, pestilence, droughts, etc. will never harm that land and prosperity will rein in that land. So, it is partly our duty as Universal Citizens to offer special worship to Divine Mother during this period and pray for relief to all the distressed souls who have been harassed much by the floods in Northern parts of our blessed land, and also pray for peace throughout the world in these troublesome days where you can never read a newspaper without coming across some inauspicious event/ mishap in one corner or other of the earth.


As usual special worships will be performed at my residence in connection with Sharada navaraathri from September 28, 2011 to October 6, 2011. We will be offering poojas and homams for Universal welfare, and those who are interested in sponsoring those are welcome to do so.

The part-sponsorship of each day's austerities (beginning from early morning till night.....Ganapathy homam, Laghu chandi homam, Full recital of Devi Mahaatmyam, Lalitha Sahasranaamam, Soundarya Lahiri sthothras, Dasa Mahaa Vidhya japams, Select verses from Devi Bhagavatam, etc.) is US$75 (US Dollars seventy five only). Resident Indians might offer Rs.3500/- (rupees three thousand five hundred only for the same). We are not restricting participation in the daily homams/ austerities this year. Those who wish to be part-sponsors for more than one day's rituals are also welcome to do so.

Mahaa chandi homam is planned on October 6, 2011 on Vijaya Dasami day. The part-sponsorship for this Mahaa chandi homam on October 6, 2011 is US$375 (US Dollars three hundred and seventy five only).

You can select your option of special worships from the drop=down menu given below at the end of this write-up.

Even those who are unable to offer sponsorships for these rituals need not feel let down; prayers are offered for Universal Welfare at the end of each day's austerities, in addition to the prayer for specific special sponsors, and the prayer for Universal Welfare covers everyone - including you!

May Divine Mother Bless us all.
Blessed be.

Austerities during Navarathri
Name, nakshatra, rashi, gothra

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

About homa kundams

Dear Members:

One of our members had raised this query to me, and I am publishing the query and my response to that as this could be a guidance for many persons with similar doubts....

Query: Namaste Pandit ji - On this Vinayaka Chathurthi, there was Ganapati modaka homam done in our apts. The priests used a loha kundam (looked like iron made) for the homam and when I asked if it is better to use copper kundam or loha kundam for homam, they mentioned that copper vessels for ghee, etc have to be used and a loha kundam has to be used. They are from one of the Shankara mutts.
Can you please give your take on the homa kundam that has to be used ?

My response:

Homam kundams are preferably of Copper and not loha (Iron). Iron is "varjita" - prohibited in Deva kaaryas and pitru kaaryas.

But, maybe, the homam kundam was not loha - but just copper that has become dark with frequent usage (homam fire is of a very high temperature and can darken the homa kundam; the insides of my homa kundam also look dark - though the kunadam is a pyramid shaped one made of copper.

If they really insisted that loha kundam is the one to be used (as you claim they said so openly), I pity their ignorance and it is a sad state of affairs when people from Sankara mutts themselves are like this after learning vedas from reputed patasalas. People of Sankara mutt (priests of that tradition) are known for their excellent diction in veda mantras, and generally, I am not sure why they were confused in this matter. But, in all probability, it was probably YOU who mistook the metal that the homa kundam was made might well have been a copper homa kundam only that was dark due to frequent homam smokes and ghee soot darkening the metal making it appear as Iron.

It is best to use homa kundams made of fresh clay, or bricks, or copper - and definitely Loha - Iron is prohibited in use for most normal homams; it is used only in certain ugra rituals. That is the shastraic position of this.

For some homams on Lord Ganesha, it is permissible to use even the coconut kernels as homa kundam - and kernels do get reduced to ash at the end of the homam. There are certain other natural articles also used as homa kundams in mantraic usages - but those are exceptions. Iron as homa kundam is not permissible for most vedic homams/ saatwik Fire worships.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Random thought about the attitude of some people today

I usually refrain from writing any non-astrological topics here...but my recent interaction with one young lady (well - not so young! she is reaching her 37th year this month!) made me think how vulnerable and gullible people now-a-days are....

She claimed that one of her close friends is a leading astrologer running his own business and having different branches in different parts of the country. When I tried checking the background of the person, he did not have a history of achievement in the field at all....and that he was just working for another site - which had many branches - the site was run by an entrepreneur who did many things including running a guest house near Tirupati and selling some gemstone rings - so much for the astrological credency! That entrepreneur had "appointed" this man as "chief astrologer" (sic) and that is why the man was visiting various cities/ branches, and he did not have his own business at all. But this lady believed all her "friend" told, and was claiming that he was having own business and established branches in different parts of the country......(it is analogous to a senior associate of an IT company claiming the different branches are his own - just because he "visits" them to mentor others!)

Now, she was comparing this "paid employee" of a site with a leading international astrologer who was associated with many websites and also has his own practice.....and asked whether that International astrologer also could open many branches like that all over the city and in different parts of India and "visit" them just like her friend did, so that he can also "improve" in life! What stupidity! And what crass arrogance to suggest to a well-established reputed person in the field!

I am aware of the concept of "bias"- where we tend to judge our own people much higher than others whom we don't know - but this took the cake! Because, this lady had compared a Vivian Richards with a local Cricket Hero and claims the legend must also be like the local Cricket Hero and be seen in all the gullies/ trenches - without understanding that the legend would have already traversed those trenches and gullies long back, and doing so won't be a measure of his eminence in the field any longer. The legend may still humour young kids around the block with his gesture of playing with them - but he need not do so to improve his standings in the field!

If the woman decides to evaluate her prospective husband like that - based on her flawed baselines, I wonder what choice she is going to be saddled with ...maybe, she will just select some one who is struggling in the U.S. with jobs thinking that he is an NRI (That lady has an obsession with the U.S. just as many of our fellow countrymen are!)....or maybe, she will marry some flashy "paper entrepreneur" running some company that has no real activity - but has only paper pads and files - maintained solely for the purpose of claiming that he is a businessman (she will be easily carried away by the flashy exteriors).....

As a person who has given her a reading once and who sees possible good future for her, I have a very realistic fear that this lady is going to spoil her own future - due to her own "I am always correct and what I see is the truth, and I won't even listen to other versions of truth" attitude.

The interaction with that lady left me wondering - whether modern education and management training are worth anything at all; I have seen innocent village damsels judging people far more accurately - just based on their native intuition. Not that every modern lady is disillusioned or along false scents, but my experience as a counsellor over the years suggests that lot of women (and even men for that matter) lack real-life intelligence though they are tigers in their respective fields (IT, business analysts, Project Engineers of grand projects, CAs, etc.). Where are we does this gap between "professional competency" and "real-life survival skills" come? Why is it that a software analyst who can take flies being thrown at her face with equanimity in the office feels she must argue with every mild suggestion that her elderly mother-in-law gives? In fact, we have the other scenario also - because some middle-management or top-management ladies are mothers-in-law themselves, and why is it that such persons who can silently try to "cover up" for the mistakes of team members is not willing to look the other way when the daughter-in-law fumbles and makes some mistakes inadvertently in the family atmosphere? Are we making people more like the blinkered horse - where the intelligence of our people is directed only along certain lines of thought and they are so naive regarding other aspects! If this is the sort of specimens that we will turn out after many years of schooling and after stints in reputed business schools, and even after many years of experience at work, I feel it is better we turn to the periods of Savages - in the forest - where their native instincts proved far more trustworthy and they were more life-ready than our pampered professionals of today.

Due to their attitude, these "successful" people often have a void in their lives - that can never be filled.

It is high time that education serves the purpose of improving upon the "emotional intelligence" of individuals also - because now a days, people don't have the sort of "real life exposure" that our previous generations had. My father - has experienced major deaths in his family - many of them before his 16th year and so was an expert in handling any health crisis/ hospitalization emergencies even as a young man. Some of the elderly gentlemen of his age, I have seen entering employment in early teens and supporting their siblings with that employment....etc. Our younger generation hardly has such "familial exposure", and all our teen years are spent "cramming" concepts so that the coveted posting in an IT company would come; the result being - many young persons of today are "tigers" in front of the screen - but would hop about hopelessly in a real-life emergency.

True there are "adventure clubs", "social responsibility clubs", etc. - again packaged by their employers; but I am afraid those do not serve the real purpose - because many of them just go through the motions without imbibing the essence of such activities. How else will you explain a business analyst earning 1.2 lakhs per month ( is per month - not per annum!) saying "I am suffering a lot due to low salary(sic)".
The person does not realize that there are many families whose yearly income is less than her monthly income! Still the person claims involvement with NGO activities....what NGO activity is that - which is not keeping her in touch with the reality of her fellow-countrymen, which is what makes her feel miserable while in reality she is reasonably successful (I honestly felt that with her attitude, she is being over-paid definitely! I won't be surprised if the company finds it out, and fires her one fine day just as her previous employers did before she got employed here).

Again, those "adventure clubs" don't seem to help these youngsters to imbibe real courage. These folks don't know how to "keep quiet" when a wild animal crosses one's path, or to give way to women/ elderly when negotiating slippery slopes during spiritual treks....basic etiquettes that a forest-dweller knows and follows during course of day-to-day living!

We can't form a society out of the vacum....and it is an unfortunate reality that many of our youngsters do seem to live in cocooned dreams removed far away from realities of life...worse...they have a very poor understanding of those who lead real lives that are worthy of emulation.....and the day they lose their jobs (some of them do - in these recessive economy), they are left blank - because they have no other identity except that of an IT professional or an MNC employee, and some of them even become suicidal without realizing that people endure far far more in this world and they do survive ! Their hobbies, NGO activities, adventure clubs, everything is tied only to one thing - their profession...and when their companies ask them to take a walk - they are forced to walk all alone - because all those clubs belong to the company....!
Trust me I have had to give counselling to prevent such individuals from ending their lives when they lose jobs!

My sincere request to all parents - "Please don't brainwash your children to become just white collar slaves without personality." Encourage your children to develop real-life skills...let them run wildly - to develop stamina, get hurt by falling down - so that they know they can take pain, get bitten by canines - so that they know how to manage an unruly canine on the road in a deserted night while returning from the graveyard shift, fall from rocks - to learn that such falls are not necessarily dangerous, and there is a way to break the fall!, and lead a normal life - so that they develop real toughness and understanding of the world. Don't bring them up as softies who can't take a battering in life.....As the going says "The real winner is not who never gets beaten up - but the person who can take as many beatings with as little damage as possible." Life's challenges are a piece of cake for such real toughies. And we need such toughies to make our world better....the world always became better by the efforts of the tough pioneers who groaned and moaned and pushed relentlessly against the challenges of the world - blazing a trail that others may take on more easily.

My aim is not to downsize the reputation of the software industry or IT enabled services that have blazed a trail of development in our country....the purpose of my write-up is to request those softies to open their eyes to the world around them, and to realize that there is definitely a vast world that exists beyond their glass-paneled offices and "Hi/Bi/Dear" phony familiarity....and understanding that bigger world can help them better to deal with the challenges of their own field also.

A software engineer or business analysis who understands the real world won't pick up fights with a superior just because the superior failed to recommend this person for an on-site assignment (believe young lady literally collared her superior in front of all her associates just because the superior refused to recommend this lady for an onsite opportunity. What takes the piece of cake is her naive belief that the superior wanted her to continue - but there was no vacancy at that time to extend the contract once it expired.....Curiously just after this lady left and got posted elsewhere, the company seemed to have "vacancy"! Still the message did not seep into her consciousness!). There is much more to life than a visit to the U.S. of A., and life has far better colours and lights than the lights of New York on a christmas day.....just look at the clear sky in a dark summer night to see what wonderful sights God has already left for you....just take a casual trek in any of the hills of India to see how much flora and fauna you have missed in your obsession to camp only in "designated corporate camping sites."......just move with the innocent smiling ordinary Indians during travels to understand how much people suffer and still manage to maintain their cheerful attitude....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parivartini Ekaadasi, Onam, Vamana Jayanthi 2011

Dear Members:

Parivartani Ekaadasi also known as Parsava Ekaadasi falls on September 7, 2011 for those living in U.S., Canada, and other countries of American continent, Countries in Western part of Europe like U.K., France, etc.

Those living in middle-East countries, India, and other Eastern countries should observe this on September 8, 2011.

Parivartini Ekaadasi is the day when Lord Vishnu in His Yoga Nidra is supposed to turn from His left side to His right side.

It is auspicious to offer special worship to Lord Vaamana - the Brahmachaari Avatar of Lord Vishnu on this day.

Vaamana Jayanthi falls on September 8, 2011. From a remedial point of view, offering special prayers to Lord Vaamana can appease the malefic effects of Jupiter in the horoscope. From a spiritual perspective, meditating on Lord Vaamanaa will open up rare insights into the Nature and Maaya Prabhaava of Lord Vishnu.

King Mahaabali is also remembered on Vaamana Jayanthi, and people of Kerala origin celebrate Thiruvonam on Sravana nakshatra day with great enthusiasm. This year Thiruvonam festival is to be observed on September 9, 2011.

Legend of Vaamana Avatar:
Maha Bali -the grandson of Prahlaada was a mighty asura and he extended his sway over the whole world. The devas approached Lord Vishnu to contain his growing influence. Lord Vishnu decided to help the devas out (in maintaining their sovereignity over the Heavens), but at the same time to grant good spiritual state to Mahaa Bali - a devout and righteous ruler (though he was an asura by clan, Mahaa Bali Chakravarthy was righteous and dhramic like his ancestor Bhakta Prahlaada).
Lord Vishnu was born as a Brahman Brahmachaari and visited the yagna site where Mahaa Bali was performing a grand yagna. As per vedic protocols governing these matters, He was duly honoured. Sukraachaaryaa - the Preceptor of the asuras tried to stop MahaaBali from giving donation to Vaamanaa; but the King was adamant about Honouring the Brahmin priest - whoever He might be and whatever may be the outcome of his charitable deed (even if it meant his destruction as was feared by his guru!). Due to Divine Play of Lord Vishnu Sukrachaarya's attempts to block flow of water from the water container at the time of charity (as per custom, the donor should offer water from the "kamandalam" - the sacrificial pitcher to the hands of the receiver with devotion; Sukrachaaryaa tried to prevent flow of water by taking the form of a wasp/bee and closing the mouth of the pipe through which water should flow out of the pitcher; Lord Vishnu used a twig to pierce the pipe and cleared it - Sukracharya lost one eye in this process...).
When the King offered to give whatever the Brahmachaari desired - Lord Vaamanaa requested just 3 steps. The King who was unaware of who the Brahmachaari was, felt that the young boy did not know what to ask correctly, and prompted Him to ask for something grander. But, the Brahmachaari stood by His request and hence the king granted the request. As soon as the king gave His words, Vaamanaa took the Mighty Trivikrama Form encompassing the Whole Universe. With His first step He covered the whole earth, with His second step He covered the Heavens, and demanded where shall He keep His third step! The pious king respectfully offered his own head as the place to keep His Feet for the third step (this is an act of complete surrender). Lord Vishnu in His Trivikrama Form pushed MahaaBali to the Nether world where he lords over the domain by Lord Vishnu's Grace. As a gesture of appreciation to the adherence of the great king to his words, Lord Vishnu had permitted king Mahaabali to return to his kingdom on earth once a year. And this is what Malayalis celebrate as Thiruvonam - the annual visit of the ruler who once ruled their land righteously and was a living example of steadfastness to dharmic principles even at the cost of his life!
Lessons from this legend.....
1) Actions of Lord - though they may seem to favour some and discriminate against others are always fair. Though Lord Vishnu seems to have taken the side of the devas in this legend and condemned a worthy king to the Nether world, the reality is that devas always live in fear of losing their kingdom whereas King MahaaBali has been granted a Permanent and Safe domain that remains undisputedly under his control. Secondly, the person who is pushed down outwardly by the Lord's Feet on his head is really Blessed for all his karma will get washed away automatically. While we all seek to place our heads on the Lord's Feet, those Blessed Feet sought the head of MahaaBali as a reward for his righteousness. How many good deeds that Blessed King must have done to deserve that!!!!
2) we should never underestimate anyone....the Mighty King thought that 3 steps from an ordinary and short brahman Brahmachaari may be a trifle for him - but those 3 steps cost him his whole kingdom. Luckily for the king, the trick was from the Lord who never really harms anyone's interests and hence the king was given an undisputed domain of the Netherworld. Just imagine what will happen to us if we get deceived by our not-so-chivalrous and cunning rivals in this mundane world. Can we expect such gestures from them? So, Never ...never...underestimate anyone!
3) Always stand by Dharma - No matter what the consequences. King MahaaBali refused to even obey his own Guru (who of course advised only to protect the interests of the king) when it was against dharmic principles; when the Lord placed His third Feet on the head of the king, for mundane people it may seem that the king had lost everything....But, see actually the king had gained EVERYTHING....WHAT IS THERE TO GAIN IN THIS WORLD MORE THAN THE SPIRITUAL TOUCH OF THE BLESSED LORD'S FEET. King Mahaabali was blessed with that only due to his steadfast attachment to dharmic principles and truth (he did not go back on his promise of donating 3 steps to the Lord in His Vaamana Roopaa).
(Please note that I have given a liberal translation and essence of the legend; the lessons that I say that can be gleamed are also my impressions based on that legend. If you meditate on this legend after reading the original versions, you may also get possibly better spiritual insights or even guidance for mundane matters. Those who wish to read about this elaborately may refer Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas).

May our members celebrate/ observe these significant days with spiritual fervour and become recipients of Divine Grace.

Blessed be.

Astrological and Remedial consultant

Monday, September 5, 2011

pitru paksha - 2011 (Mahalaya paksha 2011)

Pitr Paksha (Mahaalaya Pakshaa ) is about to begin from September 13, 2011 (This holds good throughout the world except for those living in American continent; those living in American continents - all countries in North America and South America, should begin observing pitru paksha from September 12, 2011 itself).

It is a powerful period for propitiation of manes(ancestors). Pitrus are said to Grace the households of their descendants with Divine Permission from the other Planes of Existence and are waiting to Bless any descendant who is willing to Honour them in whatever little way they can.

Austerities during Pitr Paksha (applicable to those who have lost atleast one parent) include:

1) Not eating non-veg (in case of non-vegetarians).

2) Not eating onion, garlic, outside food, processed foods,drumstick, etc (for pure vegetarians).

3) If possible avoiding shaving for the entire fortnight till Mahalaya Amavasai; obviously it may not be possible for everyone due to current secular life restrictions (like office policy requiring an executive placed in a cutting-edge responsibility to be clean shaved). Even in these cases, shaving should be avoided at least on the thithis of one's ancestors.

4) Performing obesquities (shradh) on the thithi of the ancestor'sdeath to the extent possible or at least offering "anna dhaanam"(offering food) to poor persons/ priests as per one's convenience.(On this day, you should not shave as already stated)

5) Abstaining from carnal intercourse with members of opposite gender during the fortnight as a mark of respect to Pitrs.

6) Doing recitals like Garuda Puraanam (depicting passage of asoul), Nachiketa story from Upanishads (where Yama Gitaa is there -it contains Lord Yamaa's elucidation of the journey of a soul whichwas first revealed to the devoted Nachiketaa), and Gangaa Avatarana chapter from Shrimad Vaalmiiki Raamaayan. These recitals are stated to grant satisfaction of Pitrs and thereby ensure their blessings upon us. In fact these recitals can be done even by those who have parents alive! (The other rituals like tarpanam should not be observed by those who have parents living). These are auspicious and do not come under the category of shraardha - but at the same time have the potency to give peace and happiness to the souls of ancestors of one's dynasty when they are recited. Those who cannot recite them personally may organize such recitals in honour of their ancestors with the help of vedic/ puranic experts.

Some important days during the pitru paksha

The following are auspicious days to perform shraardha to pitrus - irrespective of the thithi of their demise. Those who cannot observe the ritual procedures/ restrictions outlined above through the pitru paksha may at least observe the ritual guidelines on these auspicious days in honour of their pitrus.

1) Mahaa Bharani - This falls on September 17, 2011. This happens to be Shadsheethi punya kaalam also, and so shraardhs done on this day are very powerful.

2) Madhyaashtami - This is to be observed on September 21, 2011 throughout the world.

3) Mahaalaya Amaavasya - This should be observed on September 27, 2011 by persons throughout the world except those living in U.S.A, Canada, and other countries of the American continents who must observe this on September 26, 2011 itself; Even for those living in U.S, Canada, etc. those who live in regions following EST must observe the Mahaalaya Amaavasya on September 27, 2011.

Some controversial issues regarding the observance of pitru paksha rituals/ shraardham and dharma shastraic clarification for the same

1) There are many persons who feel that Mahaalaya paksha rituals need not be done in honour of step mother (called Sapatnii maataa - by shaastraas); doing it for just one's mother and father is enough. There are some who feel that only the eldest son of the second wife of one's father needs to do the shraardha if the first wife of the father died without issues.

Clarification: Though the eldest son is the first Adhikaari for rituals, when property has been divided among the brothers or when they have started living apart from each other as separate families, shraardha and other pitru rituals need to be done by each brother individually. The same holds true for honoring the Sapatnii maataa (Step mother who has died without issues also). Just think....will that Honourable Mother have taken care of just the eldest son and left the other sons in the lurch if she had been alive and the biological mother had been dead? Please use this logic for your clarity in this regard. Just as the step-mother cannot ignore the other children (nor should she!), the children also should not be partial towards performing rituals in Her Honour for Her Soul - especially if she had died without issues. This applies more sternly in cases where the eldest brother of the family is not alive. Unfortunately many families do this mistake of leaving the poor step-mother (the first wife of one's father who died without issues) after the eldest brother is dead. As long as at least one brother is alive, the sapatnii maataa should be honoured during pitru paksha on the day when you do the shraardha of your father (you can invoke one Brahman priest to represent the step-mother's lineage just as you do for your own mother's lineage). Please note that this guideline does not apply in cases where the other woman has voluntarily left one's father (say divorce), or has been indicted by a dharma parishad for undesirable behaviour and hence denied karma benefits in accordance with dharma shastraic principles after giving ample opportunity to exonerate herself. In cases where the father has done an injustice to another woman (who is no more) and has married one's mother, the son who performs rituals in honour of that wronged woman (father's first wife - who is deemed one's saptnii maataa) redeems himself from that dosha. A righteous son should try to do what he can to set right the wrongs done by his deceased parents - as and when he comes to know of that possibility. Though each person is answerable to his/ her own karma and sins, family doshas do arise out of adharmic activities of one's ancestors and these doshas do affect the family for many generations to come (usually seen as Stree saapa in the horoscope of many members of a family). Such doshas are cleared when that wronged soul is honoured appropriately in consultation with dharma shastraic experts in this regard.

2) Some think that if the annual shraardh is done properly, Mahaalaya paksha (pitru paksha) shraardha/ tarpanam need not be done!

Clarification: If you get double-increment will you say "I already got one; so please ignore me for this increment!" No one does that. Yet, when it comes to accumulating spiritual merit, we often tend to say "I have done that and so I need not do this." This attitude of excusing ourserlves from dharmic duties should be overcome consciously. Rather, we should think that the Mahaalaya paksha is a God -Given opportunity for us to honour our pitrs yet again. In fact, Mahaayalaya Paksha shraardh is mandatory, and there is no way out of it, and the benefits accruing out of Mahaalaya paksha shraardha/ tarpanam are actually more than what can accrue out of annual shraardha. The pitru paksha observance gladens our pitrus and we should not miss it for any reason. If we are unable to offer the shraardha/ tarpan on the thithi of our father, we should at least do it on the other special days like Mahaa Bharani, Madhyaashtami, or Mahaalaya Amaavasya (any one of these days). We should not miss it giving any excuse - because no such excuse exists!

3) There are some who think that if Gaya Shraardha has been done, there is no need for Mahaalaya paksha shraardha/ tarpanam.

Clarification: Gaya Shraardha is definitely a wonderful ritual for satisfaction of pitrs. But, having done that is no excuse for exempting oneself from Mahaalaya paksha tarpanam/ shraardha and annual shraardha. These should be continued as long as one is alive (or at least till one is healthy enough to carry on the rituals). Only those who are bed-ridden are exempt this due to obvious reasons! It is a sin to skip these rituals in mistaken sense of having attained a level where these are not necessary - no human being living an ordinary life is exempt these karmas. Even great rishis who were highly spiritually evolved and avatars like Shri Raama, Shri Krishna, have observed these, and obviously we are not above all of them in our spiritual standing! Only sanyaasins are exempt these because they don't have karmaa adhikaara (ritual right to perform a karma). Everyone else who has karmaadhikaara (due to death of one's parents) should observe this - even if they have done the Gaya Shraardha and Akshaya vata pinda daan.


I hope these clarifications help our members to get this matter in the right perspective.

May our members observe these dharmic guidelines in connection with Mahaalaya paksha (Pitr paksha) and become recipients of the Grace of pitrus - our Benevolent Ancestors who have the capacity to shield us from the dangers of existence and improve our luck with their Blessings.

Those who want to offer special recitals for pitru trupti (satisfaction of deceased ancestors) might click on the links below for sponsoring such recitals:

Ganga Avatarana sarga recital
Enter name, star, gothra

Blessed be.

Astrological and Remedial consultant

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