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HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-13.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-13.

This process demands a resolute will, determined effort, and arduous struggle.

In other words, strength and infinite power are the prime necessity.

Thus it is the Divine Mother who has to operate through the aspirant.


Let us now consider how, on the first three days, the Mother is adored as supreme power and force, as Durga the Terrible.
You pray to Mother Durga to destroy all your impurities, your vices, your defects.

She is to fight with and annihilate the baser animal qualities in the spiritual aspirant, the lower, diabolical nature in him.

Also, She is the power that protects your spiritual practice from its many dangers and pitfalls.

Thus the first three days, which mark the first stage or the destruction of impurity and determined effort and struggle to root out the evil tendencies in your mind, are set apart for the worship of the destructive aspect of the Mother.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-12.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-12.

Let us, therefore, examine in detail the spiritual significance of Navaratri.

The central purpose of existence is to recognise your eternal identity with the supreme Spirit.

It is to grow into the image of the Divine.

The supreme One embodies the highest perfection.

It is spotless purity.

To recognise your identity with That, to attain union with That, is verily to grow into the very likeness of the Divine.

The aspirant, therefore, as his initial step, has to get rid of all the countless impurities, and the demoniacal elements that have come to cling to him in his embodied state.

Then he has to acquire lofty virtues and auspicious, divine qualities.

Thus purified, knowledge flashes upon him like the brilliant rays of the sun upon the crystal waters of a perfectly calm lake.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-11.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-11.

Dussera can also be interpreted as “Dasa-Hara”, which means the cutting of the ten heads of Ravana.

So, let us resolve today to cut the ten heads :

—1. passion, 2. pride, 3. anger, 4. greed, 5. infatuation, 6. lust, 7. hatred, 8. jealousy, 9. selfishness and 10. crookedness—of the demon, Ego, and thus justify the celebration of Dussera.
                                            /...................../


Religious observances, traditional worship and observances at times have more than one significance.

Apart from being the adoration of the Divine, they commemorate stirring events in history, they are allegoric when interpreted from the occult standpoint and, lastly, they are deeply significant pointers and revealing guides to the individual on his path to God-realisation.


Outwardly, the nine-day worship of Devi is a celebration of triumph.

This nine days’ celebration is offered to the Mother for Her successful struggle with the formidable demons led by …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-10.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-10.

Sri Rama worshipped Durga at the time of the fight with Ravana, to invoke Her aid in the war.

This was on the days preceding the Vijaya Dasami day.

He fought and won through Her Grace.


In days of yore, kings used to undertake ambitious expeditions on the day of the Vijaya Dasami.

Those kings who did not go on such expeditions used to go out hunting in the deep forests.

In Rajputana, India, even up to this date, people arrange mock attacks on some fort on Vijaya Dasami.


This day, however, has much to do with the life of Sri Rama.

Nowhere in the history of the world can we find a parallel to the character of Sri Rama as a man, son, brother, husband, father or king.

Maharishi Valmiki has exhausted the entire language in describing the glory of Sri Rama.

And, we shall be rightly celebrating the Dussera if we make honest efforts to destroy the demon of our ego, and radiate peace and love wherever we go.

Let us all resolve to become men of sterling character.

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-9.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-9.

Devi fought with Bhandasura and his forces for nine days and nine nights.

This Bhandasura had a wonderful birth and life.

When Lord Shiva burnt Cupid with the fire of His “third eye”, Sri Ganesha playfully moulded a figure out of the ashes, and the Lord breathed life into it!

This was the terrible demon Bhandasura.

He engaged himself in great penance and on account of it obtained a boon from Lord Shiva.

With the help of that boon, he began harassing the worlds.

The Divine Mother fought with him for nine nights (the demons have extraordinary strength during the night), and killed him on the evening of the tenth day, known as the Vijaya Dasami.

The learning of any science is begun on this highly auspicious day.

It was on this day that Arjuna worshiped Devi, before starting the battle against the Kauravas on the field of Kurukshetra.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-8.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-8.

The Mother’s Grace is boundless.

Her mercy is illimitable; Her knowledge infinite; Her power immeasurable; Her glory ineffable; and Her splendour indescribable.

She gives you material prosperity as well as spiritual freedom.


Approach Her with an open heart.

Lay bare your heart to Her with frankness and humility.

Be as simple as a child.

Kill ruthlessly the enemies of egoism, cunningness, selfishness and crookedness.

Make a total, unreserved, and ungrudging self-surrender to Her.

Sing Her praise.

Repeat Her Name.

Worship Her with faith and unflinching devotion.

Perform special worship on the Navaratri days.

Navaratri is the most suitable occasion for doing intense spiritual practices.

These nine days are very sacred to the Divine Mother.

Plunge yourself in Her worship.

Practise intense repetition of the Divine Name, having a regular “quota” of repetitions per day, and the number of hours spent on it.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-7.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-7.


Truly speaking, all beings in the universe are Shakti-worshippers, whether they are aware of it or not, for there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or other.

Physicists and scientists have now proved that everything is pure, imperishable energy.

This energy is only a form of divine Shakti which exists in every form.



A child is more familiar with the mother than with the father, because the mother is very kind, loving, tender and affectionate and looks after the needs of the child. In the spiritual field also, the aspirant or the devotee—the spiritual child—has an intimate relationship with the Mother Durga, more than with the Father Shiva.

Therefore, it behoves the aspirant to approach the Mother first, who then introduces Her spiritual child to the Father for his illumination.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-6.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-6.

Devi worship is, therefore, worship of God’s glory, of God’s greatness and supremacy.

It is adoration of the Almighty.

It is unfortunate that Devi is ignorantly understood by many as a mere blood-thirsty Hindu Goddess.

No! Devi is not a vicious demoness nor is She the property of the Hindus alone.

Devi does not belong to any religion.

Devi is that conscious power of God.

The words Devi, Shakti, etc., and the ideas of different forms connected with these names are concessions granted by the sages due to the limitations of the human intellect; they are by no means the ultimate definitions of Shakti.



The original or Adi Shakti is beyond human comprehension.

Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita :

“This is only My lower nature. Beyond this is My higher nature, the life-principle which sustains the universe”.


The Upanishad also says :

“The supreme power of God is manifested in various ways. This power is of the nature of God, manifesting as knowledge, strength an…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-5.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-5.

Shakti is the omnipotent power of the Lord, or the Cosmic Energy.

The Divine Mother is represented as having ten different weapons in Her hands.

She sits on a lion.

She keeps up the play of the Lord through the three attributes of Nature, namely, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. Knowledge, peace, lust, anger, greed, egoism and pride, are all Her forms.


You will find in the Devi Sukta of the Rig Veda Samhita that Vak, symbolising speech, the daughter of the sage Anbhirna, realised her identity with the Divine Mother, the Power of the Supreme Lord, which manifests throughout the universe among the gods, among men and beasts and among the creatures of the deep ocean.


In the Kena Upanishad, you will find that the Divine Mother shed wisdom on Indra and the gods and said that the gods were able to defeat the demons only with the help of the power of the Supreme Lord.


The worship of Devi, the universal Mother, leads to the attainment of knowledge of the Self.

The story…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-4.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-4.


The woman of Bengal welcomes the Goddess with a mother’s love and sends away the image on the last day, with every ceremony associated with a daughter’s departure to her husband’s home and with motherly tears in her eyes.

This signifies the parting of Durga from Her beloved mother.



Durga Puja is the greatest Hindu festival in which God is adored as Mother.

Hinduism is the only religion in the world which has emphasised to such an extent the motherhood of God.

One’s relationship with one’s mother is the dearest and the sweetest of all human relations.

Hence, it is proper to look upon God as mother.



Durga represents the Divine Mother.

She is the energy aspect of the Lord.

Without Durga, Shiva has no expression and without Shiva, Durga has no existence.

Shiva is the soul of Durga; Durga is identical with Shiva.

Lord Shiva is only the silent witness.

He is motionless, absolutely changeless.

He is not affected by the cosmic play.

It is Durga who does everythi…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-3.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-3.


The mother of Durga (that is, the wife of the King of the Himalayas) longed to see her daughter.

Durga was permitted by Lord Shiva to visit her beloved mother only for nine days in the year.

The festival of Durga Puja marks this brief visit and ends with the Vijaya Dasami day, when Goddess Durga leaves for Her return to Mount Kailas.

This is the view of some devotees.



In Bengal, Durga Puja is a great festival.

All who live away from home return during the Puja days.

Mothers reunite with their sons and daughters, and wives with their husbands.



The potter shows his skill in making images, the painter in drawing pictures, the songster in playing on his instrument, and the priest in reciting the sacred books.

The Bengalis save money throughout the year only to spend everything during the Puja days.

Cloth is freely distributed to the Brahmins.


Swami Sivananda

To be continued  ....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-2.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-2.



MOTHER DURGA

The Saviour from all Sorrows and Dangers

The Durga Puja is celebrated in various parts of India in different styles.

But the one basic aim of this celebration is to propitiate Shakti, the Goddess in Her aspect as Power, to bestow upon man all wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge (both sacred and secular), and all other potent powers.

Whatever be the particular or special request that everyone may put before the Goddess, whatever boon may be asked of Her, the one thing behind all these is propitiation, worship and linking oneself with Her.

There is no other aim.

This is being effected consciously or unconsciously.

Everyone is blessed with Her loving mercy and is protected by Her.



Durga Puja or Navaratri commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of Aswayuja (September-October).

It is held in commemoration of the victory of Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon.

In Bengal Her image is worshipped for…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-1.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri-1.



SALUTATIONS to the Divine Mother, Durga, who exists in all beings in the form of intelligence, mercy, beauty, who is the consort of Lord Shiva, who creates, sustains and destroys the universe.

This festival is observed twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra and then in Aswayuja. It lasts for nine days in honour of the nine manifestations of Durga.

During Navaratri (the word literally means “nine nights”) devotees of Durga observe a fast.

Brahmins are fed and prayers are offered for the protection of health and property.



The beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence.

These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother.

They are indicated respectively by the Rama-Navaratri in Chaitra (April-May) and the Durga Navaratri in Aswayuja (September-October).

The bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change on account of the changes in Nature…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 2-5.

2. Deepavali : 5.



Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone.

Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon.

The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance.

O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance.

Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.



May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding!

May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self!

May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!

Next : Durga Puja or Navaratri


Swami Sivananda

To be continued  ....


HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 2-4.

2. Deepavali : 4.


O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart.

Sit quietly.

Close your eyes.

Withdraw the senses.

Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.



He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self.

Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.



The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire.

All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self.

Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.

Swami Sivananda

To be continued  ....




HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 2-3.

2. Deepavali : 3.



In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten.

People embrace one another with love.

Deepavali is a great unifying force.

Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O Children of God! unite, and love all”.

The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world.

Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.



On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year.

The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps.

The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amr…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 2-2.

2. Deepavali : 2.


In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes.

They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day.

They greet one another, asking, “Have you had your Ganges bath?” which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges.



Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others.

There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere.

This festival brings about unity.

It instils charity in the hearts of people.

Everyone buys new clothes for the family.

Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.



Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement.

It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning.

The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that t…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 2-1.

2. Deepavali : 1.

DEEPAVALI or Diwali means “a row of lights”.

It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November).

For some it is a three-day festival.

It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.



There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival.

Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu.

In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali.

It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.

On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.


Swami Sivananda

To be continued  ....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS :1-3.

1. Chitra Purnima.


Part-3.


When you perform worship on the Chitra Purnima day, remember this story.

If you have intense faith, if you feel with a contrite heart that you have committed sins on account of ignorance, if you pray with faith and devotion to the Lord to forgive your sins, if you resolve never to commit them in the future, and if you resolve to be obedient to your Guru and never to flout his counsel, then your sins will be forgiven.

There is no doubt about this. This is the significance of the above story of Indra.

Meditate on this story on Chitra Purnima day.


The Hindu scriptures prescribe elaborate worship of the Chitra Guptas on this day.

The Deity is invoked in an image or a kalasa (vessel filled with water) and then worshipped with all the rituals and formalities of the worship offered to God’s image.

Meditate on Chitra Gupta,


reciting the following verse:

"Chitra guptam mahaa praajnam lekhaneepatra dhaarinam; Chitra-ratnaambara-dhaararn madhyastham sarvadehinaam…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS :1-2.

1. Chitra Purnima.




Part-2.




The term Chitra Gupta means “hidden picture”.

A true picture of all our good and evil actions is preserved in the ethereal records.

The Hindu personifies it for the sake of worship.

The real significance of the worship of the Chitra Guptas is beautifully brought out in the following story connected with it.




Brihaspati is the Guru or preceptor of Indra, the king of the gods.

Indra disobeyed Brihaspati on one occasion and the Guru relinquished his task of instructing Indra in what he should and should not do.

During the period of the Guru’s absence, Indra did many evil deeds.

When the compassionate Guru resumed his duty again, Indra wanted to know what he should do to expiate the wrongs he had done in his Guru’s absence.

Brihaspati asked Indra to undertake a pilgrimage.




While Indra was on pilgrimage, he suddenly felt the load of sins taken off his shoulders at a certain place (near Madurai in South India), and he discovered a Shiva Lingam there.

He attributed…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS :1-1.

1. Chitra Purnima.


Part-1.


THE TWELVE months of the Hindu year, based on the lunar calendar, are named after that star during whose ascendency the full moon of that month occurs.

The full moon day of Chaitra month, that is, the Purnima during the ascendency of the Chitra star is particularly sacred to the Chitra Guptas, the recording angels of the Hindu pantheon.

A special worship is offered to these celestial representatives of the god of death, and an offering of spiced rice is prepared and later distributed as prasad or holy sacrament.

A fire worship is done at the close of the ritualistic worship.

By the performance of this religious observance annually, these angels of the other world are greatly pleased and judge man’s actions with more sympathy.


The psychological effect of this worship, done on the very first full moon day of every year (Chaitra is the first of the twelve months), is to vividly remind us of the higher power that maintains a constant watch over every act of our…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 1. Introduction

1. INTRODUCTION  :




THE HINDUS are a profoundly religious people. Their goal of life is Self-realisation or the attainment of God-consciousness. A religion of some kind they must have—a religion which will stir the depths of the heart and give room for the exercise of faith, devotion and love.
All Hindu festivals have a deep spiritual import or high religious significance. All great Hindu festivals have religious, social and hygienic elements in them. In every festival there is bathing in the morning before sunrise in the river or tank or well. Every individual will have to do some Japa, prayer, Kirtan, recitation of Sanskrit verses and meditation.


Man gets tired on account of hard work or monotonous actions. He wants some change or variety. He wants relaxation. He wants something to cheer him up. These festivals make him cheerful and happy, and give him rest and peace.


 Swami Sivananda has explained the significance and the philosophy of many of our fasts and festivals. In two aspect…

Practice of Meditation : Last Part.

Man himself is God and the entirety of Sadhana (spiritual practices) is meant to enable man to realise his God-nature, to realise that the God he has been searching for is his own Self.

Initially, Yoga Sadhana purifies the mind.

Later on, the seeker uses this purified mind, to concentrate and meditate on the God within; and at the deepest point of meditation, the purified mind melts in the God within and is itself lost there,
destroyed there.

And only God remains.

Being remains.

God-consciousness remains.

A telling analogy given in the Yoga texts is the dry twig used in kindling a fire, where the twig itself is ultimately consumed in the fire.

The purified mind is like this twig.

It helps to kindle the fire of God-consciousness within, and in the process, is itself destroyed in that fire.

In Samadhi (superconscious state), the mind melts in Brahmam as camphor melts in fire.

The separate identity of the individual soul vanishes
.
Only Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence- Consciousne…

Practice of Meditation : 12.

The mind which was virtually dead during the deep sleep state could not itself have consciously enjoyed a sound slumber and remembered it.

The enjoyer is the Atma.

Swamiji repeatedly advises the spiritual seeker to identify himself with this Atman which is his real Self and not with his perishable body.

Constant identification with the Atman or the Witnessing Consciousness in oneself is a shortcut to spiritual success.

The aspirant who adopts this technique will soon rise above body consciousness.




The secret of spirituality lies in realising one's essential nature.

It is not becoming something outside of oneself.

It is not as if man and God are separate and that man should go to a God who is external to him and merge in that God.

No.

God is already there, everywhere, Within us and outside of us.

 The body and the mind in which man is encased are mere illusions of an ignorant mind.




God only is.

All else is not.

All else is only appearance.

This appearance is made possible by the f…

Practice of Meditation : 11.

Enquiry opens the aspirant's eyes to new vistas of knowledge.

It leads him steadily to Truth.

For instance, if the aspirant starts the "Who am I?" enquiry, he will soon find that he cannot equate himself with any one of his sense organs like the nose, the eyes or the ears, because even without one or more of these, he can live and life can pulsate in his veins.

So, he is not the body.

Nor is he the mind, because even during the unconscious and the deep sleep states, when the mind ceases to function, he exists and his heart throbs.



Then, what is this 'I' in everybody?

 Swami Sivananda declares that the real 'I' is none, else than Brahmam or the Atma who is the motive force behind all existence.

It is He who thinks through the mind, sees through the eyes, eats through the mouth, hears through the ears and so on He is the Witnessing Consciousness who dwells in all beings.

When a person gets up from deep sleep and says, "I enjoyed a sound dreamless slee…