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HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 7-2.

7. Kartigai Deepam - 2.

When the light on the top of the Tiruvannamalai Hill is unveiled on the Kartigai Deepam day, people see the big light and worship it.

They recite again and again in a loud voice “Harohara”.

The esoteric meaning is that he who sees the light of lights that is burning eternally in the chambers of his heart through constant meditation attains immortality. The light on the Arunachala brings the message to you that the Self or Lord Shiva is self-effulgent, He is the light of lights.



On the Kartigai Deepam day in South India, people make bonfires in front of temples in the evening.

It is said that Lord Shiva burnt the chariots of several demons who were torturing sages and celestials.

This bonfire symbolises this legend.


People place rows of earthen lamps in front of their houses on the evening of Kartigai Deepam and worship the Lord.

They also light a variety of fireworks.



Annihilate the three impurities, namely, egoism, selfish action and delusion.

Burn the mind, …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 7-1.

7. Kartigai Deepam - 1.

ON THE full moon day of the month of Kartigai (November-December) which falls on the ascension of the Kritigai star, the Hindus celebrate the Kartigai Deepam.

It is on this day that the huge beacon is lit on the holy hill Arunachala, in South India.


Once Lord Shiva assumed the form of a hill at Tiruvannamalai in South India.

Here He quelled the pride of Brahma and Vishnu who were quarelling as to their relative greatness.

One day, when Lord Shiva was in meditation, Parvati left Him and went to the hill of Arunachala.

There She performed penance.

She was the guest of the sage Gautama.

It was during Her penance here that Mahishasura was killed by Durga hidden by Parvati.

Parvati saw Shiva as Arunachalesvara.

She was taken back by the Lord to His side, and made His Ardhangini once more, that is, She occupied half of the body of the Lord.


Arunachalesvara is Tejo Lingam. Arunachala or the Tiruvannamalai Hill is the place that represents the fire element.

(The five …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-7.

6. Holi - 7.

The social element during Holi is the uniting or “embracing” of the great and the small, of the rich and the poor.

It is also the uniting of equals.

The festival teaches us to “let the dead bury the dead”.

We should forget the outgoing year’s ill-feelings and begin the new year with feelings of love, sympathy, co-operation and equality with all.

We should try to feel this oneness or unity with the Self also.



Holi also means “sacrifice”. Burn all the impurities of the mind, such as egoism, vanity and lust, through the fire of devotion and knowledge.

Ignite cosmic love, mercy, generosity, selflessness, truthfulness and purity through the fire of Yogic practice.

This is the real spirit of Holi.

Rise from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and dive deep into the ocean of divinity.



The call of Holi is to always keep ablaze the light of God-love shining in your heart.

Inner illumination is the real Holi.

The spring season is the manifestation of the Lord, according to the Bha…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-6.

6. Holi - 6.

All great Hindu festivals have religious, social and hygienic elements in them.

Holi is no exception.

Every season has a festival of its own.

Holi is the great spring festival of India.

Being an agricultural country, India’s two big festivals come during the harvest time when the barns and granaries of our farmers are full and they have reason to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour.

The harvest season is a festive season all over the world.


Man wants relaxation and change after hard work.

He needs to be cheered when he is depressed on account of work and anxieties.

Festivals like Holi supply him with the real food and tonic to restore his cheer and peace of mind.


The religious element in the Holi festival consists of worship of Krishna.

In some places it is also called the Dol Yatra.

The word dol literally means “a swing”.

An image of Sri Krishna as a babe is placed in a little swing-cradle and decorated with flowers and painted with coloured powders.

The pure, innocen…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-5.

6. Holi - 5.

Festivals like Holi have their own spiritual value.

Apart from the various amusements, they create faith in God if properly observed.

Hindu festivals always have a spiritual significance.

They wean man away from sensual pleasures and take him gradually to the spiritual path and divine communion.

People perform havan and offer the new grains that are harvested to the gods before using them.



There should be worship of God, religious gatherings and Kirtan of the Lord’s Names on such occasions, not merely the sprinkling of coloured water and lighting of bonfires.

These functions are to be considered most sacred and spent in devotional prayers, visiting holy places, bathing in sacred waters, and Satsang with great souls.

 Abundant charity should be done to the poor.

Then only can Holi be said to have been properly celebrated.

The devotees of the Lord should remember the delightful pastimes of the Lord on such happy occasions.

Swami Sivananda
 To be continued  ....



HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-4.

6. Holi - 4.

On the festival day, people clean their homes, remove all dirty articles from around the house and burn them.

Disease-breeding bacteria are thereby destroyed.

The sanitary condition of the locality is improved.

During the festival, boys dance about in the streets.

People play practical jokes with passers-by.

A bonfire is lit towards the conclusion of the festival.

Games representing the frolics of the young Krishna take place joyously around a fire.



On the last day of Holi, people take a little fire from this bonfire to their homes.

They believe that their homes will be rendered pure, and their bodies free from disease.



Nowadays, people are found indulging in all sorts of vices in the name of the Holi festival.

Some drink intoxicating liquor like toddy and fall unconscious on the roads.

They indulge in obscene speech as a result of drinking.

They lose respect for their elders and masters.

They waste their money in drink and dice-play.

These evils should be totally eradic…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-3.

6. Holi - 3.

This same scene is enacted every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved, and they that torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes.

When Holika was burnt, people abused her and sang the glories of the Lord and of His great devotee, Prahlad. In imitation of that, people even today use abusive language, but unfortunately forget to sing the praises of the Lord and His devotee!


In North India, people play joyfully with coloured water.

The uncle sprinkles coloured water on his nephew.

The niece applies coloured powder on her aunt’s face.

Brothers and sisters and cousins play with one another.


Huge bundles of wood are gathered and burnt at night, and everywhere one hears shouts of “Holi-ho! Holi-ho!”

People stand in the streets and sprinkle coloured water on any man who passes by, be he a rich man or an officer.

There is no restriction on this day.

It is like the April Fool’s Day of the Europeans.

People compose and sing special Holi songs.

Swami…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-2.

6. Holi - 2.

Another legend has it that once upon a time an old woman’s grandchild was to be sacrificed to a female demon named Holika.

A Sadhu advised that abuse and foul language would subdue Holika.

The old woman collected many children and made them abuse Holika in foul language.

The demon fell dead on the ground. The children then made a bonfire of her remains.


Connected to this legend of the demon Holika is Bhakta Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Narayana, and his subsequent escape from death at the hands of Holika.

Prahlad’s father, Hiranyakashipu, punished him in a variety of ways to change his devotional mind and make him worldly-minded.

He failed in his attempts.

At last he ordered his sister, Holika, who had a boon to remain unburnt even in fire, to take Prahlad on her lap and enter into the blazing flames.

Holika did so.

She vanished, but Prahlad remained untouched and laughing.

He was not affected by the fire on account of the Grace of Lord Narayana.

Swami Sivananda
 To be con…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 6-1.

6. Holi - 1.

IN DAYS of yore, there were communities of cannibals in India.

They caused much havoc.

They threatened the lives of many innocent people.

One of them was Holika or Putana.

She took immense delight in devouring children.

Sri Krishna destroyed her and thus saved the little children.

Even today, the effigy or figure of Holika is burnt in the fire.

In South India, the clay figure of Cupid is burnt.

This is the origin of the great festival of Holi.


It begins about ten days before the full moon of the month Phalgun (February-March), but is usually only observed for the last three or four days, terminating with the full moon.

This is the spring festival of the Hindus.

In the spring season all the trees are filled with sweet-smelling flowers.

They all proclaim the glory and everlasting beauty of God.

They inspire you with hope, joy and a new life, and stir you on to find out the creator and the Indweller, who is hiding Himself in these forms.


Holi is known by the name of Kamadah…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-8.

5. Guru Purnima : 8.

Remember and adore Sri Vyasa and the Gurus who are fully established in knowledge of the Self.

May their blessings be upon you!

May you cut asunder the knot of ignorance and shine as blessed sages shedding peace, joy and light everywhere!

At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Guru Purnima is celebrated every year on a grand scale.

Many devotees and aspirants come from all parts of the country.



1. All aspirants awake at Brahmamuhurta, at 4 o’clock.

They meditate on the Guru and chant his prayers.

2. Later in the day, the sacred worship of the Guru’s Feet is performed. Of this worship it is said in the Guru Gita:


Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;

Pooja moolam guror padam;

Mantra moolam guror vakyam;

Moksha moolam guror kripa.


“The Guru’s form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation”.

3. Sadhus and Sannyasins are then worshipped and fed at noon.

4. There is c…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-7.

5. Guru Purnima : 7.


To strengthen and affirm the faith of the wavering man and to guarantee the attitude that is necessary for the fruition of all worship, the ancients have deified the personality of the Guru.

To adore the Guru is indeed to adore the Supreme.

In this world of mortality, the Guru is verily like an ambassador in an alien court.

Just as an ambassador represents fully the nation to which he belongs, even so, the Guru is one who is the representative of the sublime transcendental state which he has attained.

Just as to honour the ambassador is to honour the nation that he hails from, even so to worship and to offer adoration to the visible Guru is verily the direct worship and adoration of the Supreme Reality.

Even as a distant tree though it cannot be seen is nevertheless known by the fragrance its fully-bloomed flowers waft far and wide, so also, the Guru is the divine flower who disseminates the Atmic aroma of divinity in this world, and thus proclaims the immortal L…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-6.

5. Guru Purnima : 6.

Do you realise now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man?

It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva.

It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it.

For, the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.


Give up the delusive notion that to submit to the preceptor, to obey him and to carry out his instructions, is slavish mentality.

Only the ignorant man thinks that it is beneath his dignity and against his freedom to submit to another man’s command.

This is a grave blunder.

If you reflect carefully, you will see that your individual freed…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-5.

5. Guru Purnima : 5.

Remember these four important lines of the Brahma Sutras:

1. Athatho brahma jijnasaa—Now, therefore, the enquiry of Brahman.

2. Janmasya yathah—From which proceed the origin, etc.

3. Sastra yonitwat—The scriptures are the means of right knowledge.

4. Tat tu samanvayat—For, That is the main support (of the universe).

Jaya Guru Shiva Guru Hari Guru Ram;

Jagad Guru Param Guru Sat Guru Shyam.



It is through the medium of the preceptor that the individual can raise himself to Cosmic-Consciousness.

It is through that medium that the imperfect can become perfect, the finite can become infinite and the mortal can pass into the eternal life of blessedness.

The Guru is verily a link between the individual and the Immortal.

He is a being who has raised himself from this to That and thus has a free and unhampered access to both realms.

He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality, and, bending down, he raises the struggling individuals with his one hand, and with …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-4.

5. Guru Purnima : 4.

Become a personification of receptivity.

Empty yourself of your petty ego.

All the treasures locked up in the bosom of Nature will become yours.

You will progress and attain perfection in an amazingly short time.

Become pure and unattached as the mountain breeze.

As the river flows continuously, steadily and constantly towards its goal, the ocean, so also let your life flow ceaselessly towards the supreme state of absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, by letting all your thoughts, all your words and all your actions be directed only towards the goal.


The moon shines by reflecting the dazzling light of the sun.

It is the full moon on the Purnima day that reflects in full splendour the glorious light of the sun. It glorifies the sun.

Purify yourself through the fire of selfless service and Sadhana, and like the full moon, reflect the glorious light of the Self.

Become the full reflectors of Brahmic splendour, the light of lights. Make this your goal: “I will be a liv…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-3.

5. Guru Purnima : 3.

Have a new angle of vision.

Behold the entire universe as the form of the Guru.

See the guiding hand, the awakening voice, the illuminating touch of the Guru in every object in this creation.

The whole world will now stand transformed before your changed vision.

The world as Guru will reveal all the precious secrets of life to you, and bestow wisdom upon you.

The supreme Guru, as manifested in visible nature, will teach you the most valuable lessons of life.


Worship daily this Guru of Gurus, the Guru who taught even the Avadhuta Dattatreya.

Dattatreya, regarded as God and the Guru of Gurus, considered Nature Herself as His Guru, and learnt a number of lessons from Her twenty-four creatures, and hence he is said to have had twenty-four Gurus.

The silent, all-enduring earth with its lofty forbearance, the shady fruit-bearing tree with its willing self-sacrifice, the mighty banyan tree reposing with patience in the tiny seed, the drops of rain whose persistence wear…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-2.

5. Guru Purnima : 2.

Generate fresh waves of spirituality.

Let all that you have read, heard, seen and learnt become transformed, through Sadhana, into a continuous outpouring of universal love, ceaseless loving service, and continuous prayer and worship of the Lord seated in all beings.


Live on milk and fruit on this day and practise rigorous Japa and meditation.

Study the Brahma Sutras and do Japa of your Guru Mantra, during the four months following the Guru Purnima.

You will be highly benefited.


The day of worship of one’s preceptor, is a day of pure joy to the sincere spiritual aspirant.

Thrilled by the expectation of offering his reverent homage to the beloved Guru, aspirants await this occasion with eagerness and devotion.

It is the Guru alone that breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence.


The Srutis say : “To that high-souled aspirant, whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his Guru is as great …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 5-1.

5. Guru Purnima : 1.

THE FULL moon day in the month of Ashad (July-August) is an extremely auspicious and holy day of Guru Purnima.

On this day, sacred to the memory of the great sage, Bhagavan Sri Vyasa, Sannyasins settle at some place to study and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharishi Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic, philosophical investigation.


Sri Vyasa has done unforgettable service to humanity for all times by editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam.

We can only repay the deep debt of gratitude we owe him, by constant study of his works and practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in this iron age.

In honour of this divine personage, all spiritual aspirants and devotees perform Vyasa Puja on this day, and disciples worship their spiritual preceptor.

Saints, monks and men of God are honoured and entertained with acts of charity by all the householders with de…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 4 -4.

4.  Gayatri Japa Day -4.

MEANING:

“We meditate on the glory of the Creator who has created the universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the embodiment of knowledge and light, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May He enlighten our intellect!”


Herein there are five parts:

Om is the first part;

Bhur bhuvah svah is the second;

Tat savitur varenyam is the third;

Bhargo devasya dheemahi is the fourth;

and Dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat is the last.

While chanting the Mantra you should pause after every part.


This rare and most precious divine treasure of the Gayatri Mantra is neglected by the youth of the present day.

This is a very serious lapse indeed.

Open your eyes now on this sacred day and start in right earnest the Japa of the Gayatri.

Repeat it at least 108 times (1,008 is better!) on the Gayatri Japa day.

Then continue it (at least 108 times daily) without missing even a single day.


May the whole world be made Gayatri-conscious through the inspiration of the auspicious…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 4 -3.

4.  Gayatri Japa Day -3.

Some people think that the Gayatri Mantra is presided over by the sun. In fact, even this idea is to be modified a little.

The sun that it speaks of is not that which shines over this earth before our physical eyes, but tat savituh or “that Sun”, the great Sun which this sun or moon does not illumine, and which is the impersonal, absolute Brahman.


Therefore, this is the greatest of all Mantras as its presiding Deity is none other than Para Brahman Himself.

Hence, why hanker after other Mantras?

The Gayatri itself is the crest-jewel or the king of all Mantras.

It is the most powerful of all Mantras.

Na gayatryah paro mantrah—”There is no Mantra greater than the Gayatri”.

Each word, each letter of the Gayatri bears on its head the highest Vedantic concept of the absolute, supreme Truth.

Do Japa of the Gayatri—it will give you the most excellent fruit, the fruit of immortality!

The Mantra is as follows:


Om bhur bhuvah svah

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo de…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 4 -2.

4.  Gayatri Japa Day -2.

The Gayatri is the divine power that transforms the human into the Divine and blesses man with the brilliant light of the highest spiritual illumination.

Whoever may be one’s favourite Deity, the regular repetition of a few malas (rosary of a hundred and eight beads) of Gayatri Japa every day will shower upon one incalculable benefits and blessings.

It is universally applicable, being purely an earnest prayer for light addressed to the Almighty Supreme Spirit.

The Para Brahma Gayatri Mantra is the most important of all Mantras.

For every Brahmin of any creed or order of life, this has been prescribed as being the sole transcendental guiding light.

The Brahmachari or celibate, the Grihastha or householder, and the Vanaprastha or one who is retired, must repeat this Mantra every day; the Sannyasin or renunciate is asked to repeat Om instead of this Mantra.



The nature of the Gayatri Mantra is such that you can repeat it while meditating on any form you like.

It …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 4.1

4.  Gayatri Japa Day -1.

TO BRING to one’s mind repeatedly the inspiring lives of great personalities, the wise men of all the ancient religions had set apart particular days in the year, as specially sacred and auspicious on their account.

On these days, nations and races glorify these lofty personalities, they re-live the spirit of the great events to perpetuate the memory of these great men.

Thus we find that the calendar of the Hindus is marked by birthdays of divine incarnations, saints and sages, the Gita Jayanthi, Guru Purnima, Shivaratri, Vaikunta Ekadashi, and many more auspicious occasions.

The Gayatri Japa Day is one such very holy and glorious day intended to remind all of the greatest and most glorious of all Mantras, the sacred Gayatri Mantra.


The Gayatri is the life and support of every true Hindu.

It is the impregnable spiritual armour, the veritable fortress, that guards and protects its votary.

In fact, that is the very meaning of the word Gayatri—”that which protec…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-1-6.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri :

1.The presiding Deity over Creation and Dissolution-6.

6. Besides the books representing Saraswathi, all instruments and implements like typewriters, printing machinery, etc., are also worshipped on the ninth day.

7. On the Vijaya Dasami day, all aspirants en masse are given initiation into various Mantras according to their tutelary Deities. Deserving aspirants are initiated into the holy order of Sannyas. Initiation in the study of the alphabets is given to young children, and to the old children also! New students commence their lessons in music, etc. During the morning Satsang the books which were worshipped on the ninth day are again worshipped and a chapter from each of the principal scriptures like the Gita, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Ramayana, and Srimad Bhagavatam is recited.

8. On the Vijaya Dasami day, there is Kanya Puja also. Nine girls below the age of ten are worshipped as the embodiment of the Divine Mother. They are fed sumptuously and, a…

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-1-5.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri :

1.The presiding Deity over Creation and Dissolution-5.

Glory to the Divine Mother! Let Her take you, step by step to the top of the spiritual ladder and unite you with the Lord!

At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the following are the regular features during the Durga Puja celebrations:

1. A special ritualistic worship of the Mother is conducted daily, which includes the recitation of the Durga Saptashati.

2. Laksharchana for the Mother in the temple, with recitation of the Sri Lalita Sahasranama, is also conducted.

3. All are exhorted to do the maximum number of Japa of the Navarna Mantra, Aim hreem kleem chaamundaayai vichche, or the Mantra of their own tutelary Deity.

4. An elaborately decorated altar is set up for the evening Satsangs, with the picture of Mother Durga for the first three days, Mother Lakshmi for the next three days, and Mother Saraswathi for the last three days. Many sacred verses from the scriptures are recited and many Kirtans are …

HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-1-4.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri :

1.The presiding Deity over Creation and Dissolution-4.

Therefore adhere to this arrangement; your efforts will be crowned with sure success.

This is your path.

As you destroy one evil quality, develop the virtue opposite to it.

By this process you will soon bring yourself up to that perfection which will culminate in identity with the Self which is your goal.

Then all knowledge will be yours :

you will be omniscient, omnipotent and you will feel your omnipresence.

You will see your Self in all.

You will have achieved eternal victory over the wheel of births and deaths, over the demon of worldliness.

No more pain, no more misery, no more birth, no more death!

Victory, victory be yours!

Swami Sivananda
To be continued  ....





HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS : 3-1-3.

3. Durga Puja or Navaratri

1.The presiding Deity over Creation and Dissolution-3.

The tenth day, Vijaya Dasami, marks the triumphant ovation of the soul at having attained liberation while living in this world, through the descent of knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswathi.

The soul rests in his own Supreme Self or Satchidananda Brahmam.

This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of the goal.

The banner of victory flies aloft.

Lo! I am He! I am He!


This arrangement also has a special significance in the aspirant’s spiritual evolution.

It marks the indispensable stages of evolution through which everyone has to pass.

One naturally leads to the other; to short-circuit this would inevitably result in a miserable failure.

Nowadays many ignorant seekers aim straight at the cultivation of knowledge without the preliminaries of purification and acquisition of the divine qualities.

They then complain that they are not progressing on the path.

How can they?

Knowledge will not desce…