Shami Patra & its Significance for Vijayadashami

India is a country where everything in the creation is revered – both living and non-living. Every festival or celebrations includes this aspect in some form or the other.

After the holy nine night, the Navaratris, Vijayadashami is a day to Celebrate Victory of Good over Evil. While every region has its own unique flavour and significance for the day, this is a piece discussing a ritualistic practice – Worship of Shammi Vruksha (Tree) and giving Shammi Patra (Banni ele in Kannada) to others.

Source: Wikipedia

Some scientific facts (sourced from Web):

The binomial Botanical name of  Shammi Tree is Prosopis cineraria, which is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is native to arid portions of Western Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, including Afghanistan, Iran, India, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is the state tree of Rajasthan and Telangana in India. A large and well-known example of the species is the Tree of Life in Bahrain – approximately 400 years old and growing in a desert devoid of any obvious sources of water.It is also the national tree of the United Arab Emirates.

Religious Significance:

Shami, is highly revered among Hindus and worshipped as part of Dasara festival. This tree takes importance during the tenth day of Dasara Festival when it is worshipped in various parts of India. Historically among Rajputs, the Ranas, who were the high priest and the king, used to perform the worship and then they used to liberate a jay which was considered the sacred bird of Lord Rama. In the Deccan, as part of the tenth day ritual of Dasara, the Marathas used to shoot arrows on to the leaf of the tree and gather the falling leaf into their turbans as a custom.
In Karnataka (and many other places too), Banni mara is believed to be the tree where the Pandavas hid their weapons during exile and revered and worshipped on Vijay-Dashami day. Banni mara or the Shammi Vruksha holds a special place in the Mysore Dasara where its worshipped on the Vijay-dashami day.
In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are known to have spent their thirteenth year of exile in disguise in the kingdom of Virata. Before going to Virata, they are known to have hung their celestial weapons in this tree for safe keeping for a year. When they returned after a year, they found their weapons safe in the branches of the Shami tree. Before taking the weapons, they worshipped the tree and thanked it for keeping their weapons safe.

The Legend ( in Karnataka)

There lived a very poor destitute child Shamivruta who despite being an orphan was an epitome of good qualities. In the same place existed a Gurukul (India Traditional School) called Sisu managed by Guru Mahaana. Hardworking and diligent Shamivruta came to the Gurukul and began his education with extreme sincerity and commitment. He also had Prince Vrukshita, son of the Maharaja of that Kingdom as his classmate.

Art of Living – Gurukul

As Guru Mahaana used say, Good Education demands a lot of humility and would also mean going hungry at times to acquire knowledge – Shamivruta followed this unscrupulously but Vrukshita used to believe that “enthusiasm and knowledge can be acquired only when the stomach has no hunger. Else a student is as good as a breathing dead body”

Years flew past and their education in Gurukul Sisu came to an end and it was time for everyone to move out to face the real world and put their knowledge to worldly use. Before they embarked on to their native places, Guru Mahaana says that he will come to each one of them in due course for receiving his Gurudakshina (Reverential Offering/Gift made to a Guru in return for knowledge imparted).

One day Guru Mahaana arrives at the palace of Vrukshita who had become the king by the time. He receives the Guru with ceremonies befitting a royal reception. He wanted to gift his Guru something that no one should have given before or no one can gift later.  He also wanted the Guru to realize the worth of this royal student who is now the king. He then loaded the Palace elephant with chests of Gold Coins, Gems and Jewels sent it along with the Guru. He then secretly followed the Guru just to witness the misery of Shamivruta – who would surely be repenting due to his inability to give anything to his Guru

As Guru Mahaana reaches Shamivruta’s humble hutment, he receives his Guru with utmost devotion and offers him Milk and fruits. He enquired about the wellbeing of the Guru. Despite knowing he has nothing to offer, Shamivruta tells his Guru to ask anything and he ensure that is  made available. To everyone’s surprise Guru Mahaana demands Shamivruta to give him a complete Shami Tree with fully grown fresh green leaves from the Garden of his backyard. Shamivruta who believed that there is nothing Greater than a Guru and nothing beyond death, offers it to the Guru right away and takes him to the backyard.

As soon as Guru Mahaana touches the tree, all the leaves on the tree turns into Gold coins. And it started dropping down from tree one by one growing into a huge heap. Surprisingly, tree was still not bereft of leaves.

Guru Mahaana then tells, “Even a leaf given with love is equivalent to Gold compared to any gift given out of pride” He then summons Vruskhita and tells him that Gold may be available anywhere, but it can never buy Love, and Good relationship. He then asks Vrukshita to seek forgiveness from his friend Shamivruta. Since both of them become one and thick friends due to the greatness of this tree – it was came to be known as Shami Vruksha after both of them.

Thus began the practice of giving Shami patri or Banni ele, (leaves) on Vijayadashami to symbolize a gift equivalent to gold but filled with love. We say “Banni Bangaaravaagona” while handing over leaves – which has two meanings. Literally it means – Come, let us become Gold – but symbolically it means, let us be like the Banni/Shami Gold relation

|Banni Bangaaravaagona|

Shanitrastu, Pushitrastu, Thushtirastu.

May you be blessed with Peace, Prosperity and Contentment.

On this auspicious occasion, please watch this video – a message from the Art of Living‘s Founder  Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji

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Yashwant Sinha – Hate Blinds Him

When Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha wrote a piece in The Indian Express, he forgot a golden rule – to verify facts. When you are in extreme level of hatred towards someone, you miss basic verifiable data as friend Kiran KS points out in his Facebook Post which is reproduced below verbatim except for some formatting edits

I read Yashwant Sinha’s article on Indian Express. Anti Modi gang in full celebration mode. But let’s do some fact check..

Pic 1) Yashwant Sinha says “Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades”.
Fact: 2016 PE investment at 10 year PEAK!
{Source: Business World}

Pic 2) Yashwant Sinha: “industrial production has all but collapsed”.
Fact: IIP is healthy b/w 2014 and 2016. Picking up again this quarter.
{Source: Trading Economics}

Pic 3) Yashwant Sinha:: “agriculture is in distress”.
Fact: Kharif and Rabi production in India is at its highest level ever!!
{Source: IBEF}

Pic 4) Yashwant Sinha: “construction industry, a big employer of WF, is in the doldrums”.
Fact: Iron & Steel consumption at record high!
{Source: IBEF}

Pic 5) Yashwant Sinha: “the rest of service sector is also in the slow lane”.
Fact: 39% growth in IT services over 3 years!!
{Source: TheDollarBusiness}

Pic 6) Yashwant Sinha: “exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress”
Fact: Exports growing even after demonetization!
{Source: Trading Economics}

I will stop here. Yashwant Sinha missed the facts badly in an effort to target Arun Jaitley directly and Narendra Modi indirectly.

Navaratri Navadurga -Forms, Chakras & Mantras

Compilation of  articles received this season for quick reference. Thanks Chethan Mng

Day 1 of Navarathri – Shailaputri
One of all nine forms of Devi Durga is worshipped every day in Navaratri. The first form of Maa Durga is Shailaputri, who was born to the King of Mountains. “Shaila” means mountain and “putri” means daughter. Hence, she is called Shailaputri – the daughter of mountain. Maa Shailaputri, an absolute form of Mother Nature, is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. She is also referred to as Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva and mother of Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya. The image of Maa Shailaputri is a divine lady, holding a trishul in her right hand and lotus flower in her left hand. She rides on Nandi, a bull.

Maa Shailaputri is the goddess of the muladhara chakra or root/basal chakra, and upon awakening this Shakti one begins their journey to spiritual awakening and to their purpose in life. Without energising the muladhara chakra one doesn’t have the power and strength to do anything worthwhile. It is said that one should worship Maa Shailaputri to make full use of the precious human life. Therefore, this Avtar of Goddess Durga is worshipped on the first day of Navratri.

Chant this mantra to worship Maa Shailaputri…

वंदे वाद्द्रिछतलाभाय चंद्रार्धकृतशेखराम |
वृषारूढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्री यशस्विनीम्‌ ||

Vandē vāddrichatalābhāya candrārdhakr̥taśēkharāma |
vr̥ṣārūḍhāṁ śūladharāṁ śailaputrī yaśasvinīm‌ ||

Day 2 of Navarathri – Brahmacharini
On the second day of Navaratri, Maa Brahmacharini – a manifestation of Maa Durga – is worshipped. The form of Goddess Brahmacharini is extremely radiant and majestic. Maa signifies love and loyalty, wisdom and knowledge. She holds a rosary in her hight hand and a Kamandal in her left hand. She wears Rudraksha. The word “Brahm” refers to Tapa (penance) – Her name means “one who performs Tapa (penance)”.

She was born to Himalaya. Devarishi Narada influenced her thoughts and as a result, she practised tough penances as she was determined to obtain Lord Shiva as her divine consort. She spent hundred of years eating very little or nothing at all, but her penance was so pure and had so much strength, power that it caused great disturbance in all the three worlds. Her desire to obtain Lord Shiva as her divine consort was eventually fulfilled.

Goddess Brahmcharini blesses you with great emotional strength and you may be able to keep your mental balance and confidence even in the darkest hour. She inspires you to hold on to your ethics and march on the path of duty. By the grace of Maa Brahmacharini, you strive to move forward in life without getting disheartened by the numerous challenges coming your way. Her blessings help you get rid of selfishness, ego, greed and laziness. Maa Brahmacharini governs the Swadhisthana Chakra and upon awakening of the same the mind of the seeker moving upward, establishes in this Chakra. This chakra helps in maintaining the devotion and dedication in a steady manner.

Chant this mantra to seek Maa’s divine blessings…

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ ब्रह्मचारिणी रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नम:।।
दधाना कर पद्माभ्याम अक्षमाला कमण्डलू।
देवी प्रसीदतु मई ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा।।

Yā dēvī sarvabhūtēṣu mām̐ brahmacāriṇī rūpēṇa sansthitā |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namō nama: ||
Dadhānā kara padmābhyāma akṣamālā kamaṇḍalū |
Dēvī prasīdatu ma’ī brahmacāriṇyanuttamā ||

Day 3 of Navarathri – Chandraghanta

Maa Chandraghanta is the third manifestation of Devi Durga and is worshipped on the 3rd of Navratri. Since she has a Chandra or half moon, in the shape of a Ghanta (bell), on her forehead, she is addressed as Chandraghanta. A symbol of peace, serenity and prosperity, Maa Chandraghanta has three eyes and ten hands holding ten types of swords, weapons and arrows. She establishes justice and gives Her devotees the courage and strength to fight challenges.

Her appearance may be of a source of power which is always busy killing and suppressing the bad and wicked. However, for her devotees, Maa is serene, gentle and peaceful. By worshipping Maa Chrandraghanta, you will open the doors to great respect, fame and glory. Maa also helps you attain spiritual enlightenment. Her idol, which symbolises both beauty and bravery, gives you the strength the keep the negative energy away and repels all the troubles from your life.

You need to follow simple rituals to worship Goddess Chandraghanta. You should first worship all the Gods, Goddesses and Planets in the Kalash and then offer prayer to Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya and Goddess Saraswati, Lakshmi, Vijaya, Jaya – the family members of Goddess Durga. The pooja should be concluded by worshipping Goddess Chandraghanta followed by a heartfelt prayer to Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Maa Chandrghanta governs the Manipuraka Chakra that embodies the change from simplicity to complexity

Chant this mantra to worship Maa Chandraghanta…

पिण्डज प्रवरारुढ़ा चण्डकोपास्त्र कैर्युता |
प्रसादं तनुते मह्यं चंद्र घंष्टेति विश्रुता ||

Piṇḍaja pravarāruṛhā caṇḍakōpāstra kairyutā |
prasādaṁ tanutē mahyaṁ candra ghanṣṭēti viśrutā ||

Day 4 of Navarathri – Khushmanda

Maa Kushmanda, the fourth Avatar of Goddess Durga, is worhipped on the 4th day of Navratri. Her name means ‘the cosmic egg’ and she is considered the creator of the universe. As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu was able to start creating the universe when Maa Kushmanda smiled like a flower which blossomed with a bud. She created the world from nothing, at the time when there was eternal darkness al around. This Swarup of Maa Durga is the source of all. Since she created the universe, she is called Adiswarup and Adishakti.

She has eights hands in which she holds Kamandul,bow, arrow, a jar of nectar (Amrit), discus, mace and a lotus, and in one hand she holds a rosary which blesses her devotees with the Ashtasiddhis and Navniddhis. She is also known as Ashtabhuja. She has a radiant face and golden body complexion. Maa resides in the core of the Sun and thus controls the Surya Lok.

Maa Kushmanda represents Anahata Chakra in spiritual practice. The divine blessings of Maa Kushmanda helps you improve your health and wealth. She removes all the hurdles and troubles from your life and enables you to get rid of all sorts sorrows in life. Maa brings light into darkness and establishes harmony in your life.

Chant the following mantra to worship Maa Kushmanda…

सुरासम्पूर्णकलशं रुधिराप्लुतमेव च ।
दधाना हस्तपद्माभ्यां कूष्माण्डा शुभदास्तु मे ॥

Surāsampūrṇakalaśaṁ rudhirāplutamēva cha |
Dadhānā hastapadmābhyāṁ kūṣmāṇḍā śubhadāstu mē ||

Day 5 of Navarathri – Skandamata
The 5th day of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Skandamata, the 5th manifestation of Goddess Durga and the mother of Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by the devatas as their commander in chief in the war against the demons. The image of Devi Skandamata portrays Her holding Lord Skanda in his infant form and a lotus in her right hand. She has four arms, three eyes and a bright complexion. She is also called as Padamasani since She is often depicted seated on a lotus flower in a her idol. She is also worshiped in the form of Parvati, Maheshwari or Mata Gauri. The left arm of the goddess is in a pose to grant boons with grace to her devotees.

The legend says that Tarkasur, a great demon, once pleased Lord Brahma with his great devotion and extremely tough penance. He asked Lord Brahma to shower His blessings and make him immortal. Lord Brahma denied him this blessing, saying none can escape death. Tarkasur acted smart and asked for the death by the son of Lord Shiva, since he thought Lord Shiva would never get married. Tarkasur started tormenting the people on the earth. Fearing his strength would cause destructions, the devatas requested Lord Shiva to get married. He agreed and married Goddess Parvati. Their child, Lord Kartikeya/ Skand Kumar, demolished Tarkasur. Devi Skandmata is a symbol of the mother-son relationship.

By worshipping Her, you get immense love and affection from her and gets all his desires fulfilled. You may attain supreme joy even in this very mortal world. Her worship automatically includes the worship of Lord Kartikeya (in his child form). Maa Skandamaata resides in the Vishuddhi Chakra,  symbolizing the aspects of creativity and communications.

Chant this mantra to worship Goddess Skandamata…

सिंघासनगता नित्यम पद्माश्रितकरद्वया |
शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्द माता यशश्विनी ||

Siṅghāsanagatā nityama padmāśritakaradvayā |
śubhadāstu sadā dēvī skanda mātā yaśaśvinī ||

Day 6 of Navarathri – Katyayini

The 6th day of Navaratri festival is dedicated to Maa Katyayani, the 6th Avtar of Goddess Durga. Once there was a great sage named Katya and it was his wish that Maa Durga be born his daughter. He practiced austere penance for several years to please the Gods. The trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – got enraged and they designed Goddess Durga, who was an end result of the abilities of all deities. Since she was born to Katya, she was called Katyayani.

Maa Katyayani has 3 eyes and 4 hands. She holds a sword in Her one left-hand and a lotus in another. The other 2 hands respectively show protecting and allowing actions. If you make vow of fasting and worshipping her, she would bless you with the husband you have wished and prayed for. If a lady’s marriage is getting delayed due to one or the other reason, she may worship Maa Katyayani to remove obstacles that may be causing delays in her marriage.

Maa also blesses you with better health and wealth. By worshipping Maa Katyayani, you may develop great strength to fight all disease, sorrows and fears. In order to destruct the sins accumulated over your several lives, you should religiously worship Maa Katyayani.  Maa Katyayani is ascribed to the sixth Agnya chakra or the ‘Third Eye Chakra.’

Chant this mantra to worship Goddess Katyayani…

कात्यायनि महामाये महायोगिन्यधीश्वरि । 
नन्द गोपसुतं देविपतिं मे कुरु ते नमः ॥

Kātyāyani mahāmāyē mahāyōgin’yadhīśvari |
Nanda gōpasutaṁ dēvipatiṁ mē kuru tē namaḥ ||

Day 7 of Navarathri – Katyayini – Kaalratri

The 7th day of Navaratri is dedicated to Maa Kaalratri, the 7th Avtar of Maa Durga. Here, Kaal means time and death and Kaalratri means the One who is the Death of Kaal. Maa Kaalratri destroys ignorance and brings light into the dark. Well, this form also depicts the dark side – the super power that creates havoc and removes all things bad and dirty. But to Her devotees, She brings calmness and courage.

Maa Kaalratri has dark complexion. Donkey is Her mount, She has bountiful hair and four hands. One of the two left hands holds a cleaver and the other holds a torch, and the right two hands are in “giving” and “protecting” mudras. She has three eyes emanate rays like lightning and Her necklace is shining like thunder. When She inhales and exhales air, flames appear through Her nostrils. Ganesha advises you to wear Blue, Read and White colour on this day.

Maa teaches us that sorrow, pain, decay, destruction and death are unavoidable and cannot be ignored. These are the truths of life and denying them is futile. We must accept their presence and significance to realise the fullness of our being and our potential. Maa Kaalratri governs the Crown Chakra or Sahasraara and provides the Siddhi to the seeker

Chant this mantra to worship Maa Kaalratri…

वाम पादोल्ल सल्लोहलता कण्टक भूषणा |
वर्धन मूर्ध ध्वजा कृष्णा कालरात्रि भर्यङ्करी || 

Vāma pādōlla sallōhalatā kaṇṭaka bhūṣaṇā |vardhana mūrdha dhvajā kr̥ṣṇā kālarātri bharyaṅkarī ||

Day 8 of Navarathri – Mahagauri

The 8th day of Navaratri is dedicated to Maa Mahagauri, the 8th Avtar of Maa Durga. The legend has it that Maa Mahagauri liberated the world from evil forces. She has three eyes and four hands. Her lower right hand holds a trishul and the upper right hand is in the mudra of allaying fear. Whereas her lower left hand is in a pose of granting boons to Her devotees and she is holding a damaru in Her upper left hand.

She has extremely fair complexion and therefore Maa is compared with the conch, the moon and the white flower of Kunda. Radiant and compassionate, Maa Maugauri is usually depicted in a white or green saari and riding a bull. She is also known as Shwetambardhara. Maa Mahagauri purifies the souls of Her devotees and removes all their sins. She has a calming effect on the lives of Her devotees and she also helps them improve their knowledge.

Worship Maa Mahagauri to be free from the clutches of the material world and to remove sorrows from your life, for She will lead you to the path of virtue and inner power.

Chant this mantra to worship Maa Mahagauri…

श्वेते वृषे समारूढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः |
महागौरी शुभं दद्यान्त्र महादेव प्रमोददा ||

Śvētē vr̥ṣē samārūḍhā śvētāmbaradharā śuciḥ |
mahāgaurī śubhaṁ dadyāntra mahādēva pramōdadā ||

Day 9 of Navarathri – MaaSiddhidatri

The last among the nine Avtar of Maa Durga, Maa Siddhidatri, is worshipped on the 9th day of Navaratri. Maa Siddhidatri grants Her devotees all sorts of achievements and is capable of giving all sorts of occult powers. She is the possessor of 26 different wishes (Siddhis) which She grants Her worshipers. The legend has it that the Lord Shiva got all those Siddhis by worshipping Maa Shakti. With Her gratitude the half body of Lord Shiva became that of Maa Shakti, and therefore he was called as Ardhnarishvar.

This Avtar of Maa Durga removes ignorance and provides knowledge to Her devotees. She is also worshipped by Deva, Gandharva, Asura, Yaksha and Siddha. Maa sits on Kamal (Lotus) and rides on the lion. She has four hands and holds a Gada in the lower right hand, a Chakra in the upper right hand, a lotus flower in the lower left hand and a Shankha in the upper left hand.

Her glory and power are infinite and worshipping Maa Siddhidatri on the final day (the ninth day) of Navaratri bestows all Siddhis to Her devotees and also marks the successful completion of the Navaratri festival.

Chant this mantra to worship Maa Siddhidatri…

सिद्धगधर्व यक्षाद्यैरसुरैरमरैरपि।
सेव्यमाना सदा भूयात सिद्धिदा सिद्धिदायिनी।।

Sid’dhagadharva yakṣādyairasurairamarairapi |
Sēvyamānā sadā bhūyāta sid’dhidā sid’dhidāyinī ||