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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bheeshmaashtami on January 31, 2012

Dear Members:

Bheeshmaashtami - in Honour of the Grandsire of the Kuru dynasty falls on January 31, 2012 this year.

Bheeshmaachaarya was known for his steadfastness to dharma, his devotion to his kingdom, and his willing sublimation of his desires to satisfy the wish of his father. He took a vow of Nithya Brahmachaaryathvam (never even considering carnal pleasures of any sort) as that was demanded by the Fisherman-chieftain whose daughter his father desired in marriage. This vow gave him the name "Bheeshma" (Meaning - The terrible; maintaining strict celibacy is really difficult for a person with great valour, strength, and heroic qualities - especially when he is engaged in the activities of a kingdom as a Prince).

This steadfastness earned him the boon of "Iccha Mriyu" (ability to shed life as desired). He waited for long period till Uttaraayana set in and left his mortal coils on the thithi of ashtami after Ratha Saptami. [I have just given a condensed version of the original event; you may read about that in detail in Mahabharatam - of course most of you must be already aware of this legend!].

In fact, the popular Vishnu Sahasranaamam that is a Wish fulfilling Tree for all us in this Kali age first came from his mouth (as he was lying in the bed of arrows in pain!).

(Image courtesy: ISCKON DESIRE TREE - Design by Shri. Umesh Modak)

As he was a strict celibate and without any family tree, and in honour of his great qualities and attachment to dharma, it has been ordained that every eligible male (even those who have parent alive!) are required to offer oblations with water in Honour of that Great Soul - who combined the rare qualities of valour and discipline, obedience and courage, affection and celibacy......rare opposites to be found in the same person.

You can chant the simple mantra: "Om Bheeshmaaya Dharma vrataaya nitya BrahmachaarinE Gangaa Putraaya idam arghyam idam arghaym idam arghyam - Om Bheeshmam tarpayaamii"

(offer it thrice).

Please note that this is one of the mandatory observances for all males subscribing to sanataana dharmaa.

May we all inherit his great qualities and become living examples of virtue and self-control just as he was.

Blessed be.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Ratha saptami - January 30, 2012

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Dear Members:

Ratha Saptami - the auspicious day to worship Sun God falls on January 30, 2012, this year. It is to be observed on the same date throughout the world.

This is believed to be the day when Sun God incarnated as son of Sage Kashyapa and his wife Adithi (hence his name Aadityaa!). According to puraanaas, it is believed that is on this day of Ratha Saptami that Lord Surya's chariot turns its actual northward movement towards North-east bringing much auspiciousness to all living beings. The chariot is said to have just one wheel (personification of the Wheel of Time!) drawn by 7 horses (indicating 7 days of the week; 7 rays of the Sun that stand for each colour of the spectrum, etc.). Thus this worship is in essence the worship of the Principle of Time that is controlled with perfection by Paramaatman (signified by Sun).

Worshipping Lord Sun on this day is very auspicious. As you might be aware, worship of Sun blesses one with health ("AarOgyam pra daatu Dinakarah" is the verse related to that). Sun God is a "Namaskaara Priyaha" , so offering Surya namaskaar in His Honour reciting His 12 names will be auspicious today.

The 12 names are "Mitra, Ravi, Soorya, Bhaanu, Kagha, Pooshna, Hiranyagarbha, Mariichi, Aaditya, savitaa, Arka, Bhaaskaraa".

Those who are initiated into Surya Ashtaakshari (8-syllable mantra) can recite that 108 times and offer arghya (oblation with pure water).

A special ritual unique to this day...

It is traditional to take bath with 7 Arka leaves (called Erukku in tamil, JillEdu in Telugu, Ekka in Kannada, and Bowstring hemp in English) on the body. The placement is 1 leaf on the head, two on the shoulders (one on each shoulder), two on the knees, and two on the feet, and then pouring water on oneself. You should keep some akshada (raw rice grains mixed with turmeric) on the leaves while placing them on your body and then take the bath.

The mantra to be recited is this:

"Om Yadyadjanma krutham paapam mayaa saptaasu janmasu

ThanmE RhOgancha SOkancha maakari hantu Saptamii"

YEtatjanmakrutham paapam yathaa janmaantaraarjitam

ManO Vaak kaayajam yaccha gnaathaaghnaathancha yath punah"

Iti saptavidham paapam snaanam ME saptha SapthakE

Saptavyaadhi samaayuktham hara maakari Sapthami"

(This is basically a prayer that declares how sins accrue to us and follow us over births, and request the Saptami thithi Deity (Sun God and the thithi Nithya Devi who is subtly invoked in this mantra) to absolve us of all the sins, and hence the karmic effects of those like diseases and sorrow in life). Those who are unable to follow the transliteration of this mantra may just pray for removal of sins asking for pardon for all sins committed knowingly/ unknowingly, and hence relief from all troubles in life.

At the end of this ritual bath, we should offer "Arghyam" to Sun God and Saptami DEvi with the following mantra:

"Saptha Sapthi vaha preetha Saptha LOkha pradeepana

Sapthamii sahitO Deva gruhaanaarghyam Diwaakara"
(offer pure water three times facing the Sun in the morning saying this mantra).

Those who can - might recite mantras like Surya Sahasranaamam, Surya Atharva seersha upanishad, Aaditya Hrudayam, Suryaashtakam, etc. and get additional benefits.

Charities that can be done on this day

1) Donating to hospitals catering to sick patients.

2) Gupta Kooshmanda daanaa is a powerful dhaana that can be done today (gemstones - especially Ruby, gold, and silver are concealed inside a pumpkin and donated to a vedic Brahmin.....You should not reveal what/ how much is concealed inside the pumpkin to them. That is why it is called Gupta Dhaana! It is difficult to get a good Brahmin to accept this dhaanaa because this is a powerful remedy that involves "transfer of karma from the giver to the receiver"; no amount of money in the world will impel a vedic brahmin to accept this! On the other hand, gifting it to a person who is just a brahmin by birth but without vedic knowledge or ritual purity, is useless; so, if you are suffering from great troubles, request an elderly or mature vedantic brahmin to accept the charity to alleviate your pains...they may consent to this out of piety, and then use that amount for charitable purposes like yagnas, temple renovation, feeding poor, etc.). There are other dhaanas like saaligraama dhaana, vastra dhaana (gifting traditional Panchakaccha dhoti), etc. that can be done today which will be easily accepted by any priest. You can offer these at vedic patashalas near your place or to a respected Pandit who is explaining Puranic truths/ spiritual precepts to a lot of people from an altruistic point of view.

Even if you can't offer the special dhaanas as mentioned above, make it a point to donate at least a small amount of money in charity (may be just a dime to a beggar outside a temple; or purchasing a piece of sweet to a poor child in your neighbourhood). No man is so poor that they can't donate anything, and there is always someone poorer than you! Please remember is not how much you donate but with what attitude you donate that is important in absolving you of your karmic liabilities. Once your karma is reduced even by small amounts, you will be amazed at how things begin to take a positive turn in life.

May our members worship Sun God who is the Manifest Form of Absolute Divine and absolve themselves of all sins and the resultant problems in life.

Blessed be

Astrological and Remedial consultant

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shat-tila ekaadasi 2012

Dear Members:

Shat-Tila ekaadashi falls on January 18/ January 19, 2012

Recommended dates for observance of the ekaadashi fast for different regions in the world

1) Those living in U.S., Canada, and other countries in the American continents, that follow Hawwaii time, MST, and Pacific standard time must observe the fast on January 18, 2012.

2) Those living in other parts of the world (including those in the U.S, Canada who are not in the time zones mentioned above) must observe the fast on January 19, 2012.

Shat-Tila literally means "six sesame seeds." The fast is understaken on this day after consuming a glass of water in which six sesame seeds have been soaked. You have to mix six sesame seeds in water and then take a bath with it first. Then drink a glass of water in which 6 sesame seeds have been soaked, offer oblations to pitrus (deceased ancestors/ rishis of the past) with water mixed with sesame, and then fast on this day. Observing this will help you in winning the six major internal enemies for the soul (Raagha, DwEsha, LObham, Moham, Madam, Maacharyam), and thus ensure your spiritual progress.

Observance of this fast will ensure removal of all sins and help to keep your karmic balance sheet healthy, allowing you to progress through spiritual levels with least of obstacles.

May our members observe this holy fast and enjoy Divine Grace. [Please note that those who are forbidden to fast due to medical indications may observe this fast on a token-basis instead of undertaking a full fast; like - you may consume only fruits, or avoid only rice items, etc. But, please try to observe the fast in some form consistent with your physical condition and environmental conveniences as this is one of the more strongly recommended ekaadashi fasts].

Astrological and Remedial consultant

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Makara Sankranthi - January 2012

Dear Members:

The auspicious Makara Sankranthi (celebrated as Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu) falls on January 15, 2012 this year for those in India and other eastern countries. Those living in U.S. Canada, and other American continent countries, those living in European countries, etc. should observe this on January 14, 2012 itself.

We extend our best wishes to all readers of our blog on this occasion.

This is an auspicious day to propitiate Lord Surya (Sun God) - expressing our thanks for His Benevolence upon us in the previous year. Recital of Aditya Hrudayam, Surya Atharvaseersha upanishad, Suryaashtakam, etc. will help you to gain the Grace of the Supreme Almighty whose Radiance shines through Sun and various other stars in our galaxy(Though there are even brighter stars than Sun - it is the Sun whose rays benefit us on earth; and hence we offer our respects to Sun God). Worshipping Sun can ensure good health - shastras say "Aroghyam pradaatu Dinakarah:" Besides health, recital of Aaditya Hrudayam helps in improving professional prospects and winning over obstacles in life. Anyone who is facing seemingly daunting tasks in life can benefit by reciting Aaditya Hrudayam 9 times at a stretch as an emergency prayer. Similarly those suffering from skin ailments can benefit by reciting Surya Ashtakam (which benefitted Saambha - the Son of Lord Krishna).

Special prayers will be done as usual at our place for Universal Welfare on this occasion.

May our members enjoy good health and dazzling tejas by the Grace of the Sun God.

Blessed be.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Arudra Darsanam - January 8, 2012

Dear Members:

The auspicious Arudra Darshanam is to be observed on January 8, 2012 this year.

This Arudra Darshanam is the festivity associated with Lord Shiva's Cosmic Dance. The Blissful Lord Shiva - who has neither Birth nor Death - appeared out of His Immense Grace in His Cosmic Dance Form of Nataraja, in response to the intense tapasya of the Holy Saints Vyagrapaadar (the Saint with Tiger claws) and Patanjali (of the Yoga Sutra fame! - the Avatar of Lord Adisesha!) on Arudra nakshatra day of the solar month of Dhanus. It is to commemorate that Holy Event that we observe this Holy day....Worship of Lord Shiva in His Form of Nataraja is auspicious on this day.

This is an occasion that is to be observed with happiness - rather than as an intense vratam. Feast comprising of a special sweet called "Kalli" and a vegetable preparation consisting of 7 different kinds of vegetables (called "Ezhu kari kootu" in tamil) is the speciality of the day - consistent with the commemoration of the Blissful event of Lord Shiva's enthusiastic cosmic dance on this day.

So, instead of restrictive austerities, treat yourselves to a happy feast (of course avoiding ritually impure articles (onion/ garlic) and non-veg - but indulging in any sort of sweet or savourite and vegetable soups/ preparations as per your taste), and remember that Blissful Dancing Shiva.....Our Lord Shiva's Blissful dance reiterates the fact that responsibilities need not always sit as a heavy burden on our shoulders ...if He - who maintains the whole Universe can dance in merriment and ecstatic joy, why can't we take our responsibilities more sportively!

May His Glorious Cosmic Dance lighten our hearts and recharge our batteries. May His Jolly spirit fill our souls now and forever!

Om Namah shivaya.
Blessed be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vaikunta Ekaadasi/ Putradaa Ekaadasi- 4th /5th January 2012

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Dear Members:

The most glorious and important of all Ekaadaasis - the Vaikunta Ekaadasi falls on January 4, 2012 for those living in USA, Canada, and other American continent nations, U.K. and places to the West of Greenwich Meridian.

It is to be observed on January 5, 2012 by those living in the Gulf Countries, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is one of the most highly recommended fasts for a devout spiritual aspirant because it has the potential of opening the "Gates of Divine Abode of Lord Vishnu" for you if this is observed correctly. Even those who have medical conditions which prevent them from observing a full fast should abstain from rice-items and sustain themselves with alternative ritually pure foods (avoiding garlic, onions, beverages like coffee, tea, etc.). Those who are desirous of cutting off the endless cycle of births and deaths for the soul must contemplate on upanishads like Gopaala Taapini Upanishad, recite Holy Bhagavat Gita, Bhaagavatam, etc.

In Vaishnava temples "swarga Dwaar" - a sort of archway leading around the Inner Sanctum Sanctorum is erected, and crossing that is symbolic of crossing the threshold of Vaikunta and getting glimpse of our Lord. Spending time in meditation/ japam while waiting in the serpentine ques, and ultimately having the glimpse of Our Lord after crossing the threshold will definitely be gainful for your souls. Please note that you should not get angry with other devotees in the que or pick up fights, you should not "jump" ques trying to overtake the other waiting devotees with your "street smartness, pushing abilities", etc. in the que. Such activities definitely invoke bad karma, and it is not for that, that you go to a temple on a Holy Day (I am commenting on this because such activities are too common in long ques; a person who jumps ques thinking he is outsmarting others is actually fooling himself/ herself, and damning himself/ herself with that karma; on the other hand, those who wait patiently, and do what they can to help other devotees who might be finding it uncomfortable - like ladies with infants, elderly, etc. while standing in ques are invoking good karma and actually helping their own souls to progress. Selfishness and self-comfort should take a back-seat at least during these occasions - and that too for your own good! If you are entitled to temple honours in some way, and hence receive special darshan - that is different; you need not feel guilty about that; probably, you deserve such Honours and maybe, that was Divine Gift to you! But even such people - if you can, it will be real good merit to stand patiently in a que, do japams till your turn at darshan comes, and then have a darshan of the Lord along with the other common devotees because, God Himself may be in disguise among the masses during these occasions. I have felt it many times - and I request my fellow aspirants to feel such miracles of brushing shoulders with Divine in crowded temples for themselves!).

Additionally, fasting on this day is also auspicious for those couples who are aspiring for progenic bliss as this ekaadasi is also hailed as Putradaa ekaadasi. Such couples should recite Baala Kaandam chapters from Shrimad Vaalmiiki Raamaayanam, Naaraayaneeyam, Santaana Gopala mantra, etc. on this day.

Generally, chanting of Raama naama, and recital of Shri Vishnu Sahasranaamam can be done by everyone today for obtaining religious merit, and for perfection/ progress of our Soul.

It is also recommended that you should remain awake at night and spend it in Divine Contemplation, bhajans (Divine Songs), discussing Theological matters, etc. It is traditional to play a dice game called "Paramapadham" on this night. You should not merely play it as a the traditional Indian version of this game (the western version is Snake and Ladders!, and I am not referring to that when I write this article....), you will find "ladders" corresponding to various virtues, and "snakes" corresponding to certain shortcomings of attitude/ can see where each ladder leads you, and where each snake drops you....look at the character/ attitude depicted in the box, see how progress/ downfall happens based on the ladder/ snake you encounter. This is verily a spiritual lesson of how a soul can progress or regress into various states of existence. It is analogous to the journey of your souls through the Cycle of Existence till the soul attains Liberation or Merging with Divine experience. You will also see how difficult it is to progress at the end of the game, and that is how difficult it is for a soul to reach ultimate liberation. If you play it consciously, reading all the attributes described in the chart carefully, this game can be a meditative exercise in itself, and can be a valuable tool for imparting spiritual values for children.

Of course, playing the paramapadam is not just helps you to keep awake and at the same time induce philosophical musings if played properly. Those of you who feel sufficiently spiritually awakened already may just spend the night in quiet Divine Contemplation which is best.

May our members observe this Holy day Fast diligently as per their circumstances and practical limitations to the best of their abilities and win salvation for their souls.

Blessed be.

Astrological and Remedial consultant

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Set your boundaries for a healthy and wholesome life

Dear Members:

A strange event on the eve of New year 2012 prompts me to write this.

In the past I have often been perplexed about why mantras do work excellently well for some while the same remedies draw a blank for others.....I nearly stumbled upon the answer yesterday - one hour after midnight when I was speaking with a close friend of mine.....

The friend had gone with some close relatives to a famous and powerful temple on 31st December 2011, and the relatives had taken the pains to do 108 pradakshinas in the temple. This friend also had lit a Moksha deepam in Honour of a friend's grandpa who expired recently. All went fine till they all decided to go for dinner around midnight when this friend had ordered some cocktails and also initiated one of the younger relatives to their first alcoholic drink.....Little did the friend of mine realize that the austerities done earlier in the day had been compromised by this activity.

The friend argues that they did not think much about it - and the austerity and the drink were unrelated as it was not "non-veg!" Well, to put matters in perspective, for people born in families where they consume non-veg food, it is not taboo to consume such foods except on certain occasions/ vrata days - but without exception, consumption of alcoholic beverages is one of the activities that can completely negate the positive effects of certain austerities. Except in certain tantrik rituals that involve use of Pancha Makara, use of alcoholic beverages is tabooed for everyone.

Moreover, the argument of "experience it once and then get over it" does not apply to drugs, alcoholic beverages, or experiencing intimacy with a professional sex worker, or drinking poison/ attempting suicide.........these are best not done at all - rather than "trying to experience so that it does not tempt later," - sometimes there is no second chance once you enter the path! (you may be surprised as to why I group drinking poison with alcohol - but actually poison at least finishes you once and for all and your woes are over; alcohol makes you a living dead - making you vulnerable...only a person like me who has bitten the bullet and escaped by the breadth of the skin in life-threatening situations will know how alertness of a high order is sometimes needed for survival - and alcohol - even in mild doses will blunt those instinctual responses - even in cases when you are not actually drunk). I know of people who began as social drinkers unable to withstand peer pressure and then gradually began liking the drink (because they thought it is best to condition themselves to that habit as anyway they have to give company to others in social occasions), and then reached a stage where they are in state of denial while in reality they have latent "substance dependence" without actually falling into substance abuse disorder category. Any activity that is not entirely desirable from a religious/ ethical/ moral point of view - but which we have done when there is no need to do it - is indicative of dependence of a mild intensity. Like in the New Year Party they need not have consumed alcoholic beverage at all as no one else was pressurizing them to do that.

The friend is on a remedial fast to overcome the dosha of having insulted a Moksha deepam unwittingly (it never occurred to me to warn them against drinking on a day when they have lit moksha deepam in Honour of others - because they initially claimed that they drank only due to spousal pressure abroad and they have not touched alcoholic drinks in the past 5 months' period), and has assured me that they won't consume alcoholic beverages in the future (with the proviso that they will resume consumption if they get married to a spouse who may insist on drinking!!!!!).

I would only request that friend not to marry such a tactless and spineless coward who can't desist from forcing a spouse into a drink just because he/ she thinks that drinking is cool and abstinence from alcohol is not! It is actually a proud thing to attend a party and still abstain from alcohol....of course, don't judge others who indulge in it - but personally don't do anything that you don't want to just because others are doing it or someone else is forcing you to do it! Many great people - including Heads of States who host banquets and official parties - have been non-drinkers, and when you are a non-drinker in a party you remember that you belong to the elite group of the world and you are in grand company!

In spirituality - the first lesson to be learnt is this.....Never ever do anything which is morally questionable under the pressure of others. If you let others to force you into erraneous deeds, you pay for that - not the ones who forced you in to that. If you have done some mistake out of intrinsic curiosity/ impulse, owe up to it - don't rationalize it - because rationalization of misdeeds is the first step towards moral depravity.

Let others pressurize you for noble deeds, not for questionable habits.....if someone argues that drinking mildly is not dangerous, ask them back then why should people who are trying to conceive abstain from alcohol?

Be like the Wolf - that is socially responsible and lives in packs but still maintains strict individuality regarding certain things.

Meditating on the animal Totem of Wolf will help you to be a responsible social person while at the same time drawing boundaries that are healthy for individual ethics/ morality (safeguarding the self from corrupting influences around you). Those who don't know how to set boundaries often end up doing everything that one person asks to do and then deciding not to cooperate at all with others who enter their lives later....this way both lives are messed up...the first one because they adjusted to someone who did not deserve that, and the second one - because they refused to adjust to the legitimate demands of the next one!

Wolf - I Beseech Thee.....Help all those who are in my life to lead responsible social lives without compromising on the ethics of the Self......Set your boundaries and live a healthy and wholesome life! Above all be loyal to yourselves and may the Wolf help you achieve that!

Blessed be.

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