The mind is a news room
I am born a Hindu and as a Thamilian I am a Saivite. Thamilian means one who speaks the Thamil language. Saivite means one who professes the Saiva Siddhantham. In Hinduism there is also Vedanta. As a respecter of all religions and one who believes that God is One, I would like to explore the philosophies of other religions as well.
In these columns I wish to give our readers some aspects of Hinduism as I understood and felt.
Let us take how the Mind is perceived by knowledgeable Hindus. Before that we must remember that the humankind is generally averse to research and analysis of its own. This is because the people are so busy that they have no time for introspection in contrast the Sages could have ample time on account of their simple living.
They spend most of the time to research and self-analysis. In spite of contemporary advancement in knowledge of all kind their findings are valid even today. In fact they have left behind a heritage to the humankind. But we resort to benefit from their experience and knowledge only when we are knocked flat by our own bitter experiences.
We turn to their teachings only for inspiration. We have several pleasures that we are almost immersed in them.
But what should be remembered is that like the Romantic poets in England in the 19th century communion with nature or the Almighty brings to our consciousness certain knowledge and conviction which neither books nor teachers could give us.
How can we analyse consciousness? This awareness exists in all forms of humans (animate and inanimate) -from the lowest manifestation to the highest. However in the inanimate consciousness is dimly expressed. And in the process of evolution its expression becomes brighter and brighter until it shines forth most brilliantly in the most evolved or perfect human being
We identify ourselves with our body and mind. As we know the senses of the body are physical. Senses of the mind are cerebral.
The Hindu sages called the innermost part of the humans as anthakaranam. It consists of four distinct functions: the mind, the intellect, consciousness and ego (One is reminded of Freudian or western psychologists naming of the Id, Ego and super Ego)
News Room analogy
The senses could be likened to a newsroom in a broadcasting station. The senses are like ‘Reporters’ giving you news. They pour in information collected - important and trivia.
The mind is like a newsroom in that depending on its activity receives all the information. If the mind is occupied in something specifically, the rest of the information would not register in the mind.
The Intellect is like the ‘News Editor’ who classifies the news received into different headings. And he rejects unimportant news and adds only the relevant by reference to past recorded memories.
The finished product is the presented to the self, the ‘Director’ who is the unseen Judge, although his presence is always felt. He approves the text and might suggest changes or modification. The outward demonstration leads to the broadcast of the text.
We must especially note that the Director is the executor of the orders given by the Self. He pretends that he is the originator of all these intricate process merely because he is proud, arrogant and deluded. This is why the western psychologists give importance to the Ego. They fail to dive deep and obtain even a peep into the inner workings of the mind.
We take refuge in multi-syllable terms like stream of consciousness, subjective mind seats of memory etc to our muddled and confused mind.
Unlike the modern day’s psychologists, the ancient sages had clear conception of consciousness. Consciousness is never dead as we imagine being.
‘Consciousness’ never dies from a Hindu perspective. They say that there are 96 lights burning within us in our full working stage. When we dream some lights are switched off. Hence we don’t see things clearly.
In deep sleeping or when we are fainting there is only breathing to indicate the existence of life. The doctors would say that the patient has lost his consciousness. It is not losing consciousness but only more lights have been put off action. That stage indicates the invisibility to the ego in us.
Sages practising the yoga and gaining gnanam reach the fourth and fifth stages of consciousness. These stages are called Thuriyam and Thuriyatheethaam. The last stage is reached when the apparent self dissolves finally into the supreme self at the time of physical death.
The last two stages are beyond our comprehension. Knowledgeable sages declare that this solid world of ours and the whole universe is only a modification of the consciousness and nothing else.
There are moments in our times when such a consciousness overpower all our logic and reasoning and encompasses the whole. And the puny ego dissolves into that infinite consciousness. That stage is called by different names in different languages and understood, and felt - but unexpressed and undefined.
It is true we obtain knowledge by objectifying but how can we objectify subjective consciousness? It is impossible. That is why all great teachers observe silence and taught their disciples by silence which may appear queer.
Happiness is within
Swami Tejomayananda, Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide
Vedanta teachers that the happiness that we seek from the outside is within us. We see that people are busy all day and night.
They sometimes even say that they have no time to die! Everyone wants to go somewhere, to get something or become something.
If you ask why they want these things, they will say it's for happiness. To be or not to be something, to hold on to or to give up something, to meet and to part, are all for the sake of happiness alone.
Marriage is for happiness and divorce also is for happiness. Man searches for happiness from outside all the time.
Vedanta says that the joy which each one is searching for is not outside, it is within. It even goes one step further and says, "You are that joy!" Our struggles end as soon as we realise this. We will be free. When we depend on things outside for peace and joy we get only bondage, not peace. There may be a fleeting glimpse of joy for a moment, but that is not true happiness; it is only an illusion of happiness. Real happiness is that which puts an end to sorrow.
There has been so called happiness in our life but that happiness has not removed our sorrows. So we have never been happy in the true sense. Only one who has turned his vision inward and realized the true happiness, is no more bound. Once we contact this joy within, it can never be lost sight of, whatever the circumstances, time or place. From the experience of deep sleep we can understand that there can be happiness even when there is no object of enjoyment.
What is this source of joy? It comes from the blissful Self alone-but we are unable to recognise it because of our ignorance of the Self. Our search alone with the bondage ends when we gain this vision and realize our true nature to be bliss.
Swami Tejomayananda's answers to questions on the topic:
Q: How can one be happy when there is so much misery around? Is it not selfish to meditate and try to attain happiness for oneself?
A: When people around us are unhappy, it is our duty to help them out of their misery in whatever way and to whatever extend we can.
The misery of others can be due to subjective or objective reasons. If someone needs money, we can help them financially. If they need emotional solace, we should provide that.
Some need our time, so spend time with them.
We are not supposed to celebrate when others around us are unhappy. But again, that does not mean we should become or remain miserable.
How can one who is himself unhappy alleviate the pain of others? A drowning man cannot be helped by one who does not know how to swim.
How can a poor man help another financially? How can a physically weak man serve another in pain? How can an emotionally imbalanced person give emotional support to another? If we are trying to make money in order to serve the poor, or making ourselves physically strong and emotionally balanced in order to serve and give solace to others, it is not being selfish.
Serving others requires great inner strength. One hears of psychiatrists who themselves become patients or social workers who become bitter.
So let us gain inner strength and the right attitude; then we will succeed in alleviating the pain of others.
Students in medical college should not give up their studies when they hear of disease around them.
In fact they must put forth more efforts to qualify as doctors because only then can they truly help others.
Similarly, those who meditate to attain liberation are not selfish.
They are only qualifying to liberate others later.
Q: We have seen people gaining comfort and happiness from material wealth whereas we have not seen the happiness and joy which people gain from spiritual wealth. How then would we get motivated to gain spiritual wealth?
A: It is not that we do not see the gains of spiritual wealth. It is only that we may not have been alert to an understanding that what we have seen is spiritual joy. A person who gains this spiritual wealth acquires equipoise, balance and serenity. He exudes peace, joy and love.
Q: What is this freedom? In your lectures, you talk about attaining freedom, and point to that as the goal of life. Freedom from what? Are we not free people?
A: Ha! We think we are free? Think for yourself! We wake up in the morning and if hot water is not available for our baths, we become miserable. Then if we do not get the right cereal for breakfast, we are angry.
At office, if the cleaner has disturbed the papers on our desk, we feel frustrated. When we get back home if the wife does not smile we get depressed. If she smiles too much we are worried. See how delicately poised our happiness is? Where is the freedom?
The outside world of things and people is perpetually dictating our happiness and sorrows. We are slaves to the outside world and to our mind and senses.
When we see some delicious chocolate mousse, are we free? Do not misunderstand. I am not saying do not have chocolate mousse.
But do we have the mastery over our mind so that whenever we want to employ our mind or senses in a given field, we can do it; and whenever we want to stop and withdraw, we can? The freedom our Scriptures talk about is freedom from slavery to our own mind.
His Holiness Swami Tejomayananda, head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide is well versed in scriptures, has original texts as well as commentaries on texts written by other masters to his credit. His book 'Hindu Culture: An Introduction" has been adopted as an academic text by some American Schools. As a laudable devotional singer, he has recorded several albums with original music and lyrics. His profound, poignant, and pictorial talks on Sant Tusidasa's Ramacharitamanasasa and Veda Vyasa's Shrimad Bhagavatam are world-renowned, highlighting his spiritual wisdom and masterful storytelling.
Swami Tejomayananda will be in Sri Lanka conducting talks in English on Ramayan at New Kathiresan Hall in Bambalapitiya from the 19th to the 22nd of October 2008 from 06.30 pm and 08.00 pm. Admission will be free of charge.
For further information contact Chinmaya Mission of Sri Lanka, 32,10th Lane, Off Schofield Place, Colombo 3. Tel: 2591344.
Understanding Hinduism - 02:
Hinduism: Paradoxical Thoughts
Scholars say that the Hindu religion as practised today is more Tantric than Upanishedic. The Tantric system obliterates the abstract ideal of the formless Nirguna Brahman.
Ramakrishna from Bengal in India (19th century) could be said Tantric in practice. But his disciple Vivekananda spread the Vedantic philosophy of the Upanishads in the west. Ramakrishna favoured the worship of Kaali rather than lose himself in Brahman. He preferred to eat sugar and not become sugar itself.
Ramanar who lived in the last century however favoured the Advaitha system. Both Ramakrishna and Ramanar are considered saints the saints by the Hindus. Both lived the lives they preached.
This shows clearly that true religious life does not depend on the system one follows. To some the path of devotion comes naturally to them. To the others the path of analysis come easy. In fact a mixture of both appears to be the best. This is what the Thamilian poet and sage Thaayumaanavar of the 17th century advocated and practised. The paradox is that all the three saints mentioned renounced the world and led the life of hermits
The renovation of the Kovilkulam Sivan Temple was completed recently. Here the Maha Kumbabishekam being held with religious rites being performed to the Koburam (towers) of the temple. Picture T. Vivekarasa, Vavuniya SPL, Corr
Hindu religion today is an amalgamation of many philosophies of the past. These philosophies remained merely schools of thought. and never crystallised as practical religions. We learn that a sage called Kapila pronounced the theory of Karma long before the others. His role was to explain the differences observed among human beings. But if this theory is applied only to one life, then there could be problems. It should therefore be applied to both the past and the future,
The Varusabisekam Festival of Sri Varatharaja Perumal Kovil, Kotahena took place recently. Here the chief Priest performing special Pooja. Picture A. Maduraveeran
The theory of Karma led to the theory of a Migrating Soul. But this did not solve the problem. It was asked how and when the Soul came into existence. It was told that the Soul was eternal. Humans wanted to live eternally, hence the answer.
In theory the Hindus are Monists but in practice they are Dualists, It is not easy for them to forego traditional beliefs, temples, Gods and Goddesses, rituals, ceremonies, priests etc. For them a personal God and individuality is necessary. However the Bhaghavat Gita gives the necessary authority to lead a worldly life and yet remain spiritual by surrendering to God everything.
The Hindus interpret the sacred books according to their own knowledge and experience. That is why we have innumerable religious sects among Hindus. There is room for any schools of thought in Hinduism. There is room for the savage and the saint. These two are only reflectors of the omnipresence and they have no intrinsic merits or demerits of their own. They are only masks and the anonymous actor is the omnipresent God. This is the general attitude of the Hindu in justification of his belief that there could be anything else beside God.
Annual abisheka flag hoisting and arrattu (water cutting) festival of Aluthmawatha All Ceylon Anantha Iyappa Devasthana was held recently.
Here Bramasiri Narayam Nanpoothiri and Agith Nampoothiri conducting Kalasa Poojava for God Shuri Iyappa. Also trustee of the temple Raji Sivaree with devotees are in the picture. Aruna Ponnambalam-Kotagala Group Correspondent
The concept of God that he is outside this world is fast disappearing. His omnipresence and omnipotence are generally accepted. God is revealed by the sacred books-Vedas. However we can say that religious works are the result of inspired seers.
If inspiration is the source of our religious beliefs, then reason cannot aspire to sit on judgment. In other words we should believe and act according to those injunctions whether we like them or not. Unfortunately this is not practical.
More thought as I understood next week.
Understanding Hinduism - 03:
Stages of Evolution
Is there a purpose in Life? The Hindu has a ready answer for this. Yes, there is. He explains:
Having reached the human stage of evolution life should be purposeful so that we may transcend the body and mind and transform ourselves into spirits that should be done gradually. According to Thol Kaapiyar, the original Thamil Grammarian, there are four stages of development: Aram, Porul, Inbam and Veedu.
- Aram or Dharma governs our social duties and charity to all.
- Porul covers all our attempts to acquire worldly possessions. It is the philosophy of practical life.
- Inbam is the judicial method of enjoying what we have acquired with so much of pain staking.
These three aims are not the end of all and be all of human life. Real religious begins only when there is an urge for a higher aim. What is the highest aim?
Veedu or Moksha - It is not Heaven as most perceive. It really means Liberation from Ignorance. It is the ignorance that binds us to the first three aims.
The four aims were summarised by a Thamil woman poet of earlier times. Avvai said: Aram (Dharma) is charity and duty.
Porul is the acquisition of worldly possessions by righteous means. Inbam is reciprocated Love. Vedam is renunciation of all the above said three aims.
Idea of liberation permeates in a Hindu’s consciousness. Liberation from Ignorance is the supreme spiritual theme.
But Veedu is not practical for most people, as most people give up the three aims. From the cradle to the funeral pyre our tome is fully occupied in the pursuit of our desire for wealth, power and pomp. It is ignorance that bides us to the worldly pleasures.
It is Maaya (Illusion) that prevents us to come out of ignorance. For instance body and mind are mistaken for Aatman. Most of us have body consciousness and mind consciousness. We do not consider ourselves as spirits. We believe that the bodies, the minds are very real for us to think further. Our attachment to these seems inseparable. What we consider real is not real but an illusion.
It is philosophy and religion that would give us the necessary discrimination for reaching the Truth, so that we could evolve into a better being than what we are.
As Avvai said the true vision of humanity is to see the ONE behind everything that is phenomenal. ONE is Paramaartham, which is Cosmic Consciousness. This state is eternal and bliss.
In Hindu Literature religion is entwined with practical life. This is because to remind us of the existence of God. In our struggle for life, we tend to think about God. Hence the concept of God is related to the practical life.
What is this practical life?
Bramachariya - requires strict chastity and obedience. Learning and farming desirable habits are the main objectives.
The first step on the spiritual path is taken. It is termed Charikai. The sacred books should be read and important verses memorized. Meditation should be practiced at appointed hours of the day.
Grahastha - Having equipped ourselves with the necessary knowledge to enter the battle of life the Brahmachariya of the first stage becomes the Grahastha of the second stage taking over the responsibilities of a householder He should identify himself with the pleasures and worries of married life. He should also discharge his duties to his ancestors and God. What he has learned about religion should now be practiced with great vigour.
Practically there would be religious ceremonies every day and he would be thinking of God every moment. That would be the second step in on his religious path and its term is Kirihai.
Vanaprasatha - is realised after retirement from active service. Having gone through the first two stages and acted his parts well. The third stage requires a different approach. Worldly life and that entire stand for are no more. Other worldly life begins as it were.
The masks worn at the previous stages are of no use now. Religious life appears to be more important now and man takes the third step with greater determination. This is the Yoga in his spiritual path.
Man realises that he is not only a professional and a social being but also something more: an Aathman - Self. Free from the cares of this world, more time is available for him to practice in Yoga and follow simple living. It is yet incomplete. The final stage is Sanniyasi.
This is the fourth and the last in the final step in the spiritual path.
He becomes Gnani. He breaks himself free from all bonds that held him captive throughout his earlier life.
He has no thoughts for the future and is utterly indifferent to the present. He identifies himself with the Eternal Self and beholds nothing else.
Everything has become God for him. Individuality and ego have dissolved in the wake of wisdom.
It may not be necessary to go through the stages of spiritual development in the order mentioned. Some are known to skip the first two stages and lead a life of renunciation very easy in life.
To me God is Love. God resides within us. Show love to all humankind and even animals. Love conquers them all.
Understanding Hinduism IV:
Omnipresence of the Almighty
K. S. Sivakumaran
Readers please note that what I write in these columns may not be orthodox Hindu point of view. I am only expressing my thinking and understanding of this great religion as I understood it. Readers would have also noticed that my interpretation is shaped within my limitations of my intellect. Where did I gather the knowledge of the Hindu religion?
Well, I am still learning both the Saiva Siddantham and the Vedanta as aborn Hindu. But what I have stored in my little brain is what my dear father, the late Kailayar Sellanainar, taught me.
He was an ardent reader of both the western and eastern philosophies. He used to read Bertrand Russell, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Huxley and others like Brownski of his generation and also Thaayumaanavar and other Thamilian saints.
Although he and I are born as Thamilian Saiva Siddhantists, we would like to describe ourselves as persons having a world view on many matters, including religion. As far as Hinduism was concerned my father had a bent towards Vedanta.
A group of tourists visited Sri Siva Sibramaniga Swamy Kovil in Slave Island. The members of the Kovil Trustee explained them the importance of the temple. Picture by Kotagala group corr.
In addition, I learnt the quintessence of all great religions by reading western authors particularly reading Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and Beyond Outsider and also researched pieces in Thamil on Saiva Siddantham. I also read Lankan Thamil writer the late M. Thalayasingam’s Meiyul.
Let’s get back to the subject. Let’s see what is termed as God or Almighty.
The Materialists think that the humans evolved from matter and the spiritualists think that they came from God. Both look through the same telescope but from opposite ends. We all know that both Science and religion are in the realm of speculation starting from opposite poles and their progress in the final analysis might well end in the discovery of a circle.
To the humans the whole universal is only a reflection of God who animates everything everywhere. In Thamil they say “Avanantri oar Anuvum Asaiyathu”.This means not an Atom could move without Him. The truth is that God is not outside us. He is within us and around us. We live and move with him. He can never be detected or discovered by any instrument of the Scientist nor can he be made the object of his researches as He is eternal.
He can never be made the object of research or study.
God is everywhere. The Vedic sages discovered this and subsequent generations never questioned the validity of that statement. It is being repeated by everyone even now.
That God is everywhere will be repeated eternally. Science throws no light on the nature of the spirit of Human or God. I do not know whether the Scientists have located even the mind within our small human bodies. Then how can we expect the scientists to locate God?
A Scientist cannot control the mind. With the help of drugs and instruments he might be able to modify the mind but he cannot make it think as he wants. History reveals that dictators and mind benders have failed in controlling the minds.
I have no personal experience of having seen God anywhere much less everywhere.
All I can truthfully say is that I see a variety of things representing God. My personal experience is that in Shri Sathya Sai Baba, I see a representation in embodiment of the attributes of God. This again is my felt experience.
The five senses bring in a good deal of information from outside and by using our intelligence we are able to conceive certain ideas. Beyond that our mind cannot extend to other realms. It is also within the experience of all of us that at times we get flashes of intuition if we can concentrate sufficiently long on any subject.
We may therefore assume that the Sages saw God everywhere in such moments of insights. But the thing is that most of us are spiritually blind and therefore cannot see Him everywhere. It could be She too. Irrespective of their race or country of birth, all sages felt or saw God.
How is it that we do not see God when the Sages are able to see is a pertinent question?
Let’s try to give an example as an answer to the question.
Take the different pieces of furniture in a room. They are all made of teak wood. They are made of timber is the fact, but we label the pieces with different names. If we call the carpenter to repair any of the pieces he does not see the pieces as he looks only for the kind of timber by which they were made of.
When we look at different pieces of furniture we look at their form or design and never look at the substance. But the carpenter looks for the substance. That’s the difference.
The form and names can be maintained only in space and time which have no real existence except in relation to some substance or event. The substance is the real and it does not change in any way.
A picture predominantly red in colour would be viewed differently by an artist and say a buffalo, while the artist sees a beautiful sun set in the picture, the buffalo will see only the red colour and would charge against the picture.
God is the substance and the humans are manifestations of Him and HE resides within us and everywhere.
Vegetarianism - Hindu perception
Dr. Vimala Krishnapillai
All religions are in quest for spirituality but their perceptions vary on vegetarianism. Hinduism also known as Sanathana Dharma or Vaidika Dharama is based on the bed rock of Ahimsa and jivkakarunia, non violence and compassion . Vegetarianism is fundamental to uphold ahimsa or non violence.
As respecting all forms of life being integral to this, Hinduism advocates a vegetarian diet. Vedic and agamic scriptures proclaim “Injure not the beings living on earth, in the air and in water.”- Yajur Veda. The Hindu sages and saints have clearly laid down restrictions on diet and conduct the scriptures speak clearly and forcibly on vegetarianism.
The brotherhood of life belongs to birds as well as beasts say the sages. Accepting the sanctity of all life both human and animal they advocate vegetarianism which encompasses abstinence from eating meat, fish and eggs. Two of the other religions Buddhism and Jainism which originated in India too endorse it.
Hindu scriptures, embracing in its fold a broad spectrum of philosophies and belief systems have voiced their thoughts and feelings on this subject of vegetarianism over and over again.
But not all of the one billion Hindus abstain from killing or eating flesh. Even animal sacrifices, a primitive and crude practice, though rare, are still prevalent and are done in the garb of religion. Saivism and other refined Hindu denominations have prohibited this practice.
Among the primary denomination of Hinduism, Saiva Agamic tradition of Saivism, indigenous to Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka stresses Ahimsa as the greatest dharma and as such it is obligatory for a Saivite to be a vegetarian.
As a corollary of this, the Tamil word ‘saivam’ in common parlance connotes vegetarianism and ‘asaivam’ non vegetarianism. Today there are a vast number of Saivites who had guiltily abounded vegetarian ways of their parents and grandparents when they decided to be secular and modern.
But it is a paradox that many of the Saivites uphold vegetarianism only on special days of religious significance. However a few Hindus at some point in their life once and forever turn up completely vegetarian in fulfillment of vows or after pilgrimages especially so to most sacred places such as Kashi. Others do it step by step give up red meat first followed by poultry and eggs.
No where else is the principle of non-meat eating fully expressed so eloquently as in the sacred Thirukural. The ancient and timeless Kural, which is well over two thousand years old, has been venerated by the Tamils as their ethical code of percepts for a perfect life. Krural is relevant today as it was then. The sage poet, Thiruvalluvar lays down in his Kural:
‘All life will raise their hand in worshipful adoration.
To those who refuse to slaughter or savor flesh.’ - (260) Thirukural
“How can he practice true compassion when he eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh”(251)- Thirukural
“If the world did not purchase and consume meat no one would slaughter or offer meat for sale.”(256 )- Thirukural
The act of the butcher starts with the desire of the consumer ‘There are three forms of killing: He who kills the animal, sells the meat, the purchaser of the meat, the one who eats it, even those who cook it and serve - all these are to be considered as meat - eaters’ says - (Anu115.47) Mahabaratha
The Bhagavad Gita explains how ones psyche, personality, mood, mind and bodily tendencies are shaped by the food one eats. Flesh and pungent food is said to promote Tamas a temperament that is full of inertia, stupor, callousness inducing a person to be aggressive and agitated. This contributes to the mentality of violence.
Fruits, vegetable and milk promote a satvic calm tranquil mind which is conducive to spiritual progress. Research studies in the jails of India have proved that vegetarian diet change criminal behaviour for the better. “When the diet is pure the heart and mind are pure.” - (257) Manu Samhita
Food is the source of our body chemistry what we take in affects, our consciousness and emotions. Medically too there is sufficient research evidence now to support that diet influences a person’s behaviour due to their action on the neurotransmitters. And that vegetarian food brings about tranquility, concentration and also makes the body healthy and strong.
It is heartening to note that in the last decade or so, the western countries are turning towards vegetarianism in large numbers for good reasons other than religion. George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) the great dramatist and critic asks ‘While we ourselves are the graves of murdered beasts how can we expect ideal conditions on the earth’.
All beings are terrified of cruelty, pain, and fear of death and are also capable of displaying higher emotions. The response and the sensitivity of the animal nervous systems to the above emotions increase with their higher placement in the scale of evolution.
How is it possible to swallow the carcases of slain creatures, permeated with the violent energy of pain and terror locked up in them during butchering? Harmful hormones and toxic chemicals released in the animal during the fear terror and pain experienced during killing along with the disease causing micro organisms are ingested by the meat-eater.
Converting to vegetarianism is not too difficult. It may be done all at once or gradually. Among them many who have fully adapted vegetarian diet, after for about one year or so about, say that even the very thought of eating flesh is nauseating to them.
Pleasure relates to the body and bliss to the soul. Vegetarianism is food both for the body and soul.
‘Ganesha Chaturthi’ at Sri Sarwartha Sidhi Vinayagar Temple, Modera
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar
The Beauty of Lord Ganesha worship is extra-ordinary in that it is not confined to any particular country or sect alone. Forms of his worship prevailed in the Far East and in the Far West from Japan, China, Mongolia and Peru and also for flung Isles of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the South. In fact, Ganesha is the Lord of beginning, the very embodiment of the material universe. He is worshipped with deep affection by Hindus.
The observance of “Ganesha Chaturthi” burns up all our karma. In whatever form or worship we invoke him, in whatever languages we sing his praises in His Holy abodes, all reach the lines Guru Ganesha, the principle of knowledge, the self of all which lights up everything.
Lord Ganesha’s worship is most effective in illuminating consciousness and hence he is sought after and propitiated by the Hindus as well as by the Vaishnavites, Jairs and Buddhists as the dispeller of obstacles.
The saintes who follow the Sarya and Kriya paths worship Lord Ganesha with meticulous rites and rules of conduct.
Further, observing ceremonial fasts and festivals centuring round temples made famous in the religious scriptures. Fasting on “Chaturthi Day and offering red flowers to his image have been practised by devotees in order to restrain Lord Ganesha from imposing hindrances and also to steer their undertakings to success.
In fact, the observance of “Ganesha Chaturthi” is meant to remove the veil of attachment that covers our hearts and also to get rid of any obstacles in life and work towards achieving one’s goal.
Indeed “Ganesha Chaturthi” and the annual festival of Sri Sarwartha Sidhi Vinayagar Temple at Modera, Colombo 15 were held recently under the chief trustee of the temple Dr. A. S. Kunasingham father.
All the religious rituals during the Ganesha Chaturthi and annual festival were performed by the chief priest of this temple “Sivagama Kiriya Yothi” Shiva Shri K. Somasundara Kurugal with the assistance of several other Archchariyas.
Every Hindu temple has a sanctum dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Hindus bow their heads in reverence and make this first offering to Lord Ganesha in all ritualistic worship. Be it pilgrimage, wedding, Yaga or housewarming Lord Ganesha is the first deity to be worshipped at the beginning of any ceremony.
Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Vigneswara and Pillaiyar are some of the common appellations given to Lord Ganesha. The bulky body of Lord Ganesha stands for the cosmos in its entirety. The huge pot-belly signifies space containing all things and beings of the world. The trunk represents the sensitive reception of cognition. It also signifies the faculty of discrimination.
The broken tusk signifies that he has broken away from ignorance which guides the path of God. The single task also denotes single mindedness in action. The other tusk indicates knowledge.
The Lord of attachment in his hand is the invisible link of unity, binding the multiplicity of things in one hand, he holds a hatches (Parasu), a symbol for the cutting away of vanity. In another hand he holds a goad (Ankusha) symbolising the logic that cuts through illusion in another a noose (pasa) representing the restraint to passion and desires.
The spear like weapon also indicates that he uses it to destroy ignorance in his devotees. The third hand of his holds a dish of Modakam.
This signifies that he distributes the consequences according to the action of the Jeevas. The Modakam also symbolises the fullness of Brahman. The fourth hand of Lord Ganesha represents Abhaya.
Rat is Lord Ganesha’s vehicle. This shows all beings high and low, big and small are the vehicle to the divinity enshrined in the hearts. The rat also stands for time. God is beyond time. The mouse is the appropriate symbol of time.
A common form of worship of Lord Ganesha is rapping at the forehead with knuckles and pulling earlobes with crossed hands. This act helps in the purification to Naadis.
Smashing coconut shows that the hard nut of ego should be cracked and get rid of before God and subsequently prostracted for complete surrender.
Further the camphor that is burnt in front of Lord Ganesha significe that we have to burn our illusion of ego with the fire of true knowledge and leave no residue so that we may merge with God.
Undoubtedly, those who worship Lord Ganesha and observe with meticulous care “Ganesha Chaturthi” will be removed of all their obstacles that stand in their way to attain plentitude and success.
Celebration of Krishna Jayanti
According to the Hindu lunar calendar, Lord Krishna was born on the eighth day (ashtami) of the second (dark) fortnight of the month of Shravana. Five thousand years ago, He incarnated, at the end of the third cosmic era, ‘Dwapar Yuga’ and the beginning of the present era, ‘Kali Yuga’. The divine principle (tattva) of Lord Krishna is most active on this day of the year.
The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated on Krishna Jayanti which fell yesterday, August 24, this year.
His statue is placed in a swing and devotionally offered many sumptuous food dishes, in particular kheer (a sweet dish made from milk, sugar and rice/vermicelli) or halva/sheera (a sweet dish made from semolina, ghee and sugar).
People incorrectly think that Lord Krishna loved butter and so offer butter to Him. In fact, He ate butter because the evil king Kamsa taxed the people, and in order to pay their taxes, they were forced to sell butter.
To prevent these civilians from suffering and caving into the unrighteous demands of the king, Lord Krishna would eat or spill their butter. In doing so, He taught the people to develop a fighting spirit (kshatravrutti) and not to tolerate injustice in any capacity. One should fast the whole day before the celebration at night.
The fast is ended either at midnight by eating the Holy sacrament (prasad) or the next morning by eating an offering of a mixture (dahikala) of curd (yogurt with enzymes retained) with various eatables, milk and butter.
When grazing the cattle along with the cowherds at Vraj (a city in ancient India - in modern day North India), Shri Krishna mixed the lunches of His companions with that of His own and ate it along with them. In keeping with this story, later it became customary to prepare dahikala and break a hanging pot containing curd on the day after Gokulashtami.
Temples are decorated for the occasion. Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, the conch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of Lord Krishna. At Mathura (a city in North India , near the birthplace of Lord Krishna), special spiritual gatherings are organised at this time. Fasting on this day as well as observing Rushipanchami, a vowed religious observance (vrat), reduces the effects of menses, impurity and touch on women.
Significance behind the celebration
Krishna Jayanti is especially significant from the viewpoint of establishing Righteousness (Dharma), and surrendering unto The Lord.
Since we are imprisoned in the Great Illusion (Maya), the Lord incarnates in this prison with us, establishes Righteousness and redeems us from the Great Illusion.
We can only overcome and go beyond the Great Illusion if we surrender unto The Lord, as Arjuna did during the battle of Mahabharata. Where there is Krishna, there is dharma, where there is dharma, there is victory. Since Duryodhana, leader of the Kauravas, did not observe dharma, he did not have Krishna. No Krishna, no victory.
Surrendering unto The Lord
During the battle Lord Krishna uttered 700 shlokas (holy verses) in the form of the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ to convince the reluctant Arjuna to fight his own kith and kin to reinstate Righteousness (Dharma).
The Lord finally uttered the essence of His teachings in the following verse (18/66):
O Arjun! Forsake all your personal beliefs and surrender to me. Do not lament, for I shall deliver you from all sins.
Therefore, to derive maximum benefit from Krishna Jayanti, devotees can daily make conscious efforts through spiritual practice like chanting and engage in prayer to surrender at the Lord’s lotus-feet. Such spiritual practice would equip one to participate in establishing Righteousness.
This is done by spreading the importance of Spirituality to others, removing misconceptions about it and help curb incorrect practices, like irreverence to God or Deities through humor, commercial advertisements, using their names, images, as per one’s capacity.
Increasing devotion unto Lord Krishna
Some of us are unable to perform the rituals and celebrate Krishna Jayanti as described above. Others of us wish to feel closer to Lord Krishna every day and not just on Sri Krishna Jayanti.
Not only is His principle (tattva) most active on Krishna Jayanti, but in present times His energy is completely manifested, and He rushes to the aid of the devotee who surrenders unto Him.
The best solution to the above dilemmas is to repeat Lord Krishna’s Name as follows: “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.”
Chanting (repetition) of His Name invokes His presence within oneself as The Lord and His Name are one. All of the qualities that reside in The Lord are there in The Name.
Thus, repeating His Name will surely herald His presence and blessings in life.
Sri Krishna Janmastami: The Appearance day of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna:
Who is Krishna? The immediate answer is that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How is that? Because He conforms in exact detail to descriptions of the Supreme Being, the Godhead. In other words, Krishna is the Godhead because He is all-attractive. Outside the principle of all-attraction, there is no meaning to the Word Godhead.
How is it one can be all-attractive? First of all, if one is very wealthy, if he has great riches, he becomes attractive to the people in general. Similarly, if someone is very powerful, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very famous, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very beautiful or wise or unattached to all kinds of possessions, he also becomes attractives.
So from practical experience we can observe that one is attractive due to - 1). Wealth, 2) power, 3) fame, 4) beauty, 5) wisdom, and 6) renunciation. One who is in possession of all six of these opulences at the same time, who possesses them to an unlimited degree, is understood to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
These opulences of the Godhead are delineated by Parasara Muni, a great Vedic authority.
Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a historical person who appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago.
Within the prison of His maternal uncle Kamsa, where His father and mother were confined, Krishna appeared outside His mother’s body as the four-handed Visnu-Narayana on ashtami or the 8th day after the new moon.
Then He turned Himself into a baby and told His father to carry Him to the house of Nanda Maharaja and his wife Yasoda in Vrindavan, Mathura where he exhibited his childhood pastimes. He also spoke the Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra which is the universal law to all humanity.
He stayed on this earth for 125 years and played exactly like a human being, but His activities were unparalleled. From the very moment of His appearance to the moment of His disappearance, everyone of His activities is unparalleled in the history of the world, and therefore anyone who knows what we mean by Godhead will accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is equal to the Godhead, and no one is greater than Him. That is the import of the familiar saying, “God is great.”
Since Krishna is all-attractive, one should know that all his desires should be focused on Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the individual person is the proprietor or master of the body but Krishna, who is the Supersoul present in everyone’s heart, is the supreme proprietor and supreme master of each and every individual body.