Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Navratri Celebration in Kerala



Unlike Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala celebrates only the last three days of Navratri. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi are of utmost importance for the Keralites. This South Indian state that tops the literacy rate in the country, considers these three days as the most auspicious time to initiate learning. They place books, musical instruments (if any) in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami. The books are worshipped and people pray to the Goddess for granting them wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading.

Navaratri Sadhana – Receiving Devi’s Grace


Navaratri will be celebrated from the dates of September 25 to October 3 in 2014, and will culminate with Vijayadashami on October 3. These nine nights celebrate the Divine Feminine, and are a time of great festivity in India. Sadhguru looks at the significance of the festival and the many ways in which it is celebrated in India.
Sadhguru has also created a special sadhana for this period to help a devotee become more receptive to Devi’s grace.

Sadhguru: In the yogic culture, the summer solstice which falls in the month of June marks the beginning of Dakshinayana, which means in the Earth’s sky, the Sun begins to trace a southward movement in the northern hemisphere of the planet. Similarly, the winter solstice which falls in the month of December marks the beginning of Uttarayana or the northern run of the Sun. The half of the year from the beginning of Uttarayana in December to the beginning of Dakshinayana in June is known as gnana pada. The other half of the year from the beginning of Dakshinayana to the beginning of Uttarayana is known as the sadhana pada.
The southern run is the phase of intimacy or the feminine. The earth is acting out her role as a woman. Festivals concerned with the feminine energy are celebrated only in these six months. The whole culture of this land was attuned to this. Every month, there is a festival of some kind.
In this feminine half of the year, September 23rd marks the autumnal equinox, and the first Amavasya or new moon after this is known asMahalaya Amavasya. Mahalaya Amavasya is a special day dedicated to making an offering (shraadh) to express our gratitude to all the previous generations of people who have contributed to our life.
Mahalaya Amavasya is also the beginning of Devi’s time. The quarter from the Amavasya to the beginning of Uttarayana in December is known as the Devi pada. In this quarter, the northern hemisphere of the planet becomes “gentle” because it is the quarter where the northern hemisphere receives the least amount of sunlight in the year. So everything becomes subdued; it is not “on” in a big way.

Worship of the feminine

The day after Mahalaya Amavasya marks the first day of Navaratri andDussehra, which is all about the goddess.
The nine days of Navaratri are classified as per the three basic qualities oftamas, rajas and sattva. The first three days are tamas, where the goddess is fierce, like Durga and Kali. The next three days are Lakshmi related – gentle but materially-oriented goddesses. The last three days are dedicated to Saraswati, which is sattva. It is related to knowledge and enlightenment.
To approach these nine days, and every other aspect of life in a celebratory way is most important.
Tamas means inertia. Rajas means activity, passion. Sattva, in a way, is the breaking of boundaries, dissolution, melting and merging. Among the three celestial objects with which the very making of our bodies is very deeply connected – the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon – Mother Earth is considered tamas. The Sun is rajas. The Moon is sattva.
Tamas is the nature of the Earth, and she is the one who gives birth. The gestation period that we spend in the womb is tamas. It is a state that is almost like hibernation, but we are growing. So tamas is the nature of the Earth and of your birth. The moment you come out, you start activity – rajas begins. And if you are aware enough or fortunate enough, sattva will touch you.
Those who aspire for power, for immortality, for strength, will worship those forms of the feminine which are referred to as tamas, like Kali or Mother Earth. Those who aspire for wealth, for passion, for life and various other gifts that the material world has to offer, naturally aspire towards that form of the feminine which is referred to as Lakshmi or the Sun. Those who aspire for knowledge, knowing, and transcending the limitations of the mortal body, will aspire for that aspect of the feminine which is referred to as sattva – Saraswati is the representative of that – or the Moon.
These nine days are arranged in this way because it is after all from the earth that we arise, and we could live an active life which is rajas – the second nature of the Devi. The third one may come your way or may not. If you have to bring her down into you, you have to strive. Otherwise she will not get down to you. Kali is on the ground. Lakshmi is sitting on a flower. Saraswati is riding a peacock.
To approach these nine days, and every other aspect of life in a celebratory way is most important. If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. The secret of life is in seeing everything with a non-serious eye but absolutely involved, like a game.

Celebrate Navaratri with us at the Isha Yoga Center from September 25 – October 3, 2014. Each day of Navaratri includes special abhishekams, poojas, Maha Aratis followed by classical dance, folk and music performances every night.
-ishafoundation.org

Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata to be lit on September 25

Photo: Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata to be lit on September 25

UDHAMPUR: As usual the Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata would be lit at village Ghordi in tehsil Ramnagar of the Udhampur district on the occasion of first Navratra  on 25th September, 2014.

It was disclosed by the President of Merhada Mata Management Committee, Mr. Bharat Bhushan Sharma during the meeting held at Ghordi.

Mr. Sharma informed that the Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata would remain at village Ghordi for public darshan upto 27th September, 2014 and would be carried forward to Merhada Mata on 28thSeptember, 2014 early in the morning followed by thousands of devotees chanting bhajan and kirtan on the occasion of 4th Navratra.

Merhada Mata is situated on a hillock about 15 km from village Ghordi and is also a beautiful tourist resort where thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit throughout the year to pay obeisance.

Similar Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mara would also be lit at village Barmeen  on the occasion of first Navratra  which would remain at village Barmeen upto 29th September for public darshan and would be carried to Merhada Mata on the occasion of 6th Navratra on 30th September, 2014 early in the morning followed by thousands of devotees chanting bhajan and kirtan.

Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata to be lit on September 25

UDHAMPUR: As usual the Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata would be lit at village Ghordi in tehsil Ramnagar of the Udhampur district on the occasion of first Navratra on 25th September, 2014.

It was disclosed by the President of Merhada Mata Management Committee, Mr. Bharat Bhushan Sharma during the meeting held at Ghordi.

Mr. Sharma informed that the Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mata would remain at village Ghordi for public darshan upto 27th September, 2014 and would be carried forward to Merhada Mata on 28thSeptember, 2014 early in the morning followed by thousands of devotees chanting bhajan and kirtan on the occasion of 4th Navratra.

Merhada Mata is situated on a hillock about 15 km from village Ghordi and is also a beautiful tourist resort where thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit throughout the year to pay obeisance.

Similar Akhand Jyoti of Merhada Mara would also be lit at village Barmeen on the occasion of first Navratra which would remain at village Barmeen upto 29th September for public darshan and would be carried to Merhada Mata on the occasion of 6th Navratra on 30th September, 2014 early in the morning followed by thousands of devotees chanting bhajan and kirtan.

During US Visit, a Fasting PM Narendra Modi Will Only Have Tea, Lemonade

Photo: During US Visit, a Fasting PM Narendra Modi Will Only Have Tea, Lemonade

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a Navratri fast during his visit to the United States beginning later this week and will only have water, tea and nimbu pani or lemonade while there.

During his six-day trip, US President Barack Obama will host dinner for Mr Modi and there are other engagements planned over meals including breakfast with leading American CEOs on September 29.

However, PMO sources said his fast won't impact any engagements he will have during his official visit to the US.

"He will only consume lemonade with some honey and a cup of tea every day," a senior official in Mr Modi's office told Reuters, adding, "He has been fasting for the last four decades and does not want to change this pattern even while he is travelling."

"He wakes up at 4 a.m., meditates, prays and carries his own bottle of lemonade with him," said another government official who has worked closely with Mr Modi for 12 years.

During US Visit, a Fasting PM Narendra Modi Will Only Have Tea, Lemonade

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a Navratri fast during his visit to the United States beginning later this week and will only have water, tea and nimbu pani or lemonade while there.

During his six-day trip, US President Barack Obama will host dinner for Mr Modi and there are other engagements planned over meals including breakfast with leading American CEOs on September 29.

However, PMO sources said his fast won't impact any engagements he will have during his official visit to the US.

"He will only consume lemonade with some honey and a cup of tea every day," a senior official in Mr Modi's office told Reuters, adding, "He has been fasting for the last four decades and does not want to change this pattern even while he is travelling."

"He wakes up at 4 a.m., meditates, prays and carries his own bottle of lemonade with him," said another government official who has worked closely with Mr Modi for 12 years.

The curious mind, which has, so far, identified itself with its conditioning, thoughts, and own conceptions, yearns to transcend itself, to know the truth about the truth, to reach the unreachable. Meditation, is a step to introduce this mind to the truth.



The curious mind, which has, so far, identified itself with its conditioning, thoughts, and own conceptions, yearns to transcend itself, to know the truth about the truth, to reach the unreachable. Meditation, is a step to introduce this mind to the truth.

{The Yogi and the snake}

THE ABODE OF LORD SHIV

Photo: THE ABODE OF LORD SHIV, 
great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world's most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain's remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey. 

How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten. 

Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Like many of the Hindu gods, Shiva is a character of apparent contradictions. He at once the Lord of Yoga and therefore the ultimate renunciate ascetic, yet he is also the divine master of Tantra, the esoteric science that regards sexual union as the most perfect path to spiritual enlightenment. According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja, the sacred herb known in the west as marijuana, Hindus do not interpret Shiva's behaviors as contradictory however, but rather see in him a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. For a Hindu, to make the arduous pilgrimage to Kailash and have the darshan (divine view) of Shiva's abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion. 

Kailash is sacred to other religions as well. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation. Followers of Bon, Tibet's pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen. Additionally, Bon myths regard Tise as the sight of a legendary 12th century battle of sorcery between the Buddhist sage Milarepa and the Bon shaman Naro Bon-chung. Milarepa's defeat of the shaman displaced Bon as the primary religion of Tibet, firmly establishing Buddhism in its place. While the Buddha is believed to have magically visited Kailash in the 5th century BC, the religion of Buddhism only entered Tibet, via Nepal and India, in the 7th century AD. Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the 'Precious One of Glacial Snow', and regard it as the dwelling place of Demchog (also known as Chakrasamvara) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo. Three hills rising near Kang Rimpoche are believed to be the homes of the the Bodhisatvas Manjushri, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara. 

Pilgrims to Kailash, after the difficult journey getting there, are then confronted with the equally arduous task of circumambulating the sacred peak. This walking around the mountain (clockwise for the Buddhists, counter-clockwise for Bon adherents) is known as a Kora, or Parikrama, and normally takes three days. In hopes of gaining extra merit or psychic powers however, some pilgrims will vary the tempo of their movement. A hardy few, practicing a secret breathing technique known as Lung-gom, will power themselves around the mountain in only one day. Others will take two to three weeks for the Kora by making full body prostrations the entire way. It is believed that a pilgrim who completes 108 journeys around the mountain is assured enlightenment. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar. The word 'manas' means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet. 

photo artist : harsh kumar

Additional notes on Tibetan pilgrimage: 

For Tibetans, pilgrimage refers to the journey from ignorance to enlightenment, from self-centeredness and materialistic preoccupations to a deep sense of the relativity and interconnectedness of all life. The Tibetan word for pilgrimage, neykhor, means "to circle around a sacred place," for the goal of pilgrimage is less to reach a particular destination than to transcend through inspired travel the attachments and habits of inattention that restrict awareness of a larger reality........By traveling to sacred sites, Tibetans are brought into living contact with the icons and energies of Tantric Buddhism. The neys, or sacred sites themselves, through their geological features and the narratives of transformation attached to them, continually remind pilgrims of the liberating power of the Tantric Buddhist tradition.......Over time pilgrimage guidebooks were written, giving instructions to pilgrims visiting the holy sites and accounts of their history and significance. These guidebooks, neyigs, empowered Tibet and its people with a sacred geography, a narrated vision of the world ordered and transformed through Buddhist magic and metaphysics. 

Kelly, Thomas and Carroll Dunham and Ian Baker; Tibet: Reflections from the Wheel of Life; Abbeville Press; New York; 1993

THE ABODE OF LORD SHIV, 

great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world's most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain's remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey.

How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten.

Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Like many of the Hindu gods, Shiva is a character of apparent contradictions. He at once the Lord of Yoga and therefore the ultimate renunciate ascetic, yet he is also the divine master of Tantra, the esoteric science that regards sexual union as the most perfect path to spiritual enlightenment. According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja, the sacred herb known in the west as marijuana, Hindus do not interpret Shiva's behaviors as contradictory however, but rather see in him a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. For a Hindu, to make the arduous pilgrimage to Kailash and have the darshan (divine view) of Shiva's abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion.

Kailash is sacred to other religions as well. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation. Followers of Bon, Tibet's pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen. Additionally, Bon myths regard Tise as the sight of a legendary 12th century battle of sorcery between the Buddhist sage Milarepa and the Bon shaman Naro Bon-chung. Milarepa's defeat of the shaman displaced Bon as the primary religion of Tibet, firmly establishing Buddhism in its place. While the Buddha is believed to have magically visited Kailash in the 5th century BC, the religion of Buddhism only entered Tibet, via Nepal and India, in the 7th century AD. Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the 'Precious One of Glacial Snow', and regard it as the dwelling place of Demchog (also known as Chakrasamvara) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo. Three hills rising near Kang Rimpoche are believed to be the homes of the the Bodhisatvas Manjushri, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara.

Pilgrims to Kailash, after the difficult journey getting there, are then confronted with the equally arduous task of circumambulating the sacred peak. This walking around the mountain (clockwise for the Buddhists, counter-clockwise for Bon adherents) is known as a Kora, or Parikrama, and normally takes three days. In hopes of gaining extra merit or psychic powers however, some pilgrims will vary the tempo of their movement. A hardy few, practicing a secret breathing technique known as Lung-gom, will power themselves around the mountain in only one day. Others will take two to three weeks for the Kora by making full body prostrations the entire way. It is believed that a pilgrim who completes 108 journeys around the mountain is assured enlightenment. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar. The word 'manas' means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet.

photo artist : harsh kumar

Additional notes on Tibetan pilgrimage:

For Tibetans, pilgrimage refers to the journey from ignorance to enlightenment, from self-centeredness and materialistic preoccupations to a deep sense of the relativity and interconnectedness of all life. The Tibetan word for pilgrimage, neykhor, means "to circle around a sacred place," for the goal of pilgrimage is less to reach a particular destination than to transcend through inspired travel the attachments and habits of inattention that restrict awareness of a larger reality........By traveling to sacred sites, Tibetans are brought into living contact with the icons and energies of Tantric Buddhism. The neys, or sacred sites themselves, through their geological features and the narratives of transformation attached to them, continually remind pilgrims of the liberating power of the Tantric Buddhist tradition.......Over time pilgrimage guidebooks were written, giving instructions to pilgrims visiting the holy sites and accounts of their history and significance. These guidebooks, neyigs, empowered Tibet and its people with a sacred geography, a narrated vision of the world ordered and transformed through Buddhist magic and metaphysics.

Kelly, Thomas and Carroll Dunham and Ian Baker; Tibet: Reflections from the Wheel of Life; Abbeville Press; New York; 1993

Pictures of Lord Shiva from Manikaran temple, H.P

Photo: thanks paramjit kaur for this pic of Shivparvati from Manikaran. H.P.

 Pictures of Lord Shiva from Manikaran temple, H.P

Photo: Thanks Paramjit kaur for this pic of Lord Shiva from Manikaran temple, H.P.

Photo: thanks paramjit kaur for this pic from Lord Shiva temple at manikaran, H.P.