All about 14 – Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata

Ananthanatha Devesha Anantha Phaladayaka; 
Ananthamurthy Vishwathman Ananthaya Namo Namah

Padmanabha Swamy Temple - Karkala

Padmanabha Swamy Temple – Karkala

Anantha Chaturdashi is observed on the 14th day of the Waxing Phase of moon (Shukla Paksha), in the month of Bhadrapada of the Chandramana Calendar (Lunar Calendar) in honor of Lord Vishnu in the lying posture (Ananta Shayana) on the bed formed by Anantashesha (Adishesha – the serpent with 1000 hoods). The Vrata performed on this day is thus called Ananta Padmanabha Vrata.

“Ananta” : indicates that which is endless. Shesha means that which remains after everything ends. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (10:29) “anantahcha asmi naaaaaam” (Among Nagas I am the Ananta). Ananta’s 1000 heads symbolizes Jnana (Knowledge) and heightened state of Awareness. Lord Vishnu reclining on the bed formed by coiling of Ananta, indicates Ananta as a Perfect Yogic posture, uniting opposing forces of Stira (Rigidity) and Sukha (Comfort) Ref: Patanjali Yoga sutra : “Stiram Sukham Asanam“.

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Beautiful Full Moon Lit Bangalore Skies – Ananta Chatrudashi Moon

Background : When Yudhistra asks of  Lord Krishna for solutions for easing of their suffering and regaining their kingdom and wealth, Lord Krishna advises performing Anantha Padmanabha Vrata every year for 14 years on the 14th Day of Bhadrapada Month, as prescribed in the Bhavishyottara Purana. At the end of 14 years and the vrata has to be concluded with Udyapane.

Seven number of Darbha (Kusa) Grass is tied together to represent 7 hoods of Anantha.  Lord Vishnu is worshipped with 14 types of pushpam (flowers), 14 types of patram (leaves), 14 types of Phalam (fruits). 28 numbers of Atirasa/Kajjaya forms the Naivedyam (Sweet made of Jaggery and Wheat/Rice Flour) of which 14 is given away as daana (charity to Brahmin).

Another important requirement of Naivedya (and all Prasada) is that it has to be soft (maybe it is practice limited to some) – there are no hard sweets or eatables prepared on this day.

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14 types of Flowers, 14 types of Leaves and 14 types of Fruits
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Lord Anantha Padmanabha – decked in all Splendor
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The Puja Set-up
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Archana to the Murthi
Anantha Gantu (Knot)
Anantha Gantu (Knot) The Rangoli in front of the Peetha

Another important aspect of this vrata is the Dora Granthi darane (also called Ananta Daara). Puja is performed with Turmeric, Kumkum, Akshate and other rituals to this sacred thread made of 14 strands with 14 knots which is then tied on the right hand  which acts as a Raksha to the wearer and this is worn until replaced the next year. (In some families unmarried children wear the earlier year’s daara worn by the parents which is replaced by new ones). Generally it is worn on the right wrists by both men and the women (our practice). But there is a practice of women wearing it on their left wrists while the men wear it on the right wrist.

Thora Granthi (Men) - Anantha Dhara
Dora Granthi (for Men) – Anantha Daara
Thora Granthi (for Women) - Anantha Daara
Dora Granthi (for Women) – Anantha Daara

The puja culminates by recital of Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama Stotram, Purusha Sooktam, Sri Vishnu Sooktam & Mahamangalarati.

Here is me enjoying the prasada with my children 🙂 after the puja.

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The Prasada
Perdoor Ananta Padmanabha Swamy Temple - Udupi
Perdoor Ananta Padmanabha Swamy Temple – Udupi

Shaantaakaaram Bhujaga-Shayanam Padmanaabham Suresham
Vishvaadhaaram Gagana-Sadrisham Meghavarnam Shubha-angam
Lakshmi-Kaantam Kamala-Nayanam Yogibhir-dhyana-gamyam
Vande Vishnum Bhava-Bhaya-Haram Sarva-Lokaika-Natham

May Lord Vishnu Bestow Happiness to all!

All the pictures above clicked after puja performed by Sindhu -ji’s family. She is an ardent follower and Faculty of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living. Admirable fact is that this joint family despite leading a life in a city like Bangalore celebrate all festivals in a traditional manner.

Futile Outside-Cleansing Inside

There was this boy who thought he was being pestered by his father when he was asked to chant Bhagavad Gita everyday.

He demanded of his father “What is the point when I don’t understand a word of Samskruth it is in written in”

“Just do as I say, Son” replies the father. “you don’t lose anything anyway by chanting it”

A reluctant but choiceless son begins his Chanting practice everyday. A couple of weeks passes by. Apart from the fluency in chanting, he still doesn’t see any benefits or point in continuing this meaningless exercise.

He decides to rebel and goes back to his father, “It simply is torturous going through the motion with no benefits. Pardon me, with due respects to you, I don’t intend to continue this henceforth”

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Father smiles and asks the boy, “See that basket (Tokri) there. Now use it and get water from river and fill this tank ?

Son see the futility of using this leaky basket but agrees nevertheless, anything to escape chanting Bhagavad Gita by rote. He picks it and goes to the river and fills water and walks towards the tank but water is drained out by the time he reaches there. He decides to do this a bit faster

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No matter how fast he was, he was disappointed that he could not add more than a few drops into the tank, let alone fill it.

With a sense of resignation he goes back to his father and says, “I failed to achieve much but what was the point? When you well knew I could not fill the tank with a leaky basket)

Father smiles and replies, “Son, you really think that yours was a wasted effort? No! Look at the basket now. Your effort cleaned it as is now it is as good as new. Bhagavad Gita chanting seemingly appears pointless to you, but effects would be similar – It cleanses you!”

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During my National High School days, Bhagavad Gita Chanting was an essential part of our compulsory morning School Prayers (Starting with Namaste sate te jagat kaaranaaya… which in itself is an amazing sloka to begin the school day with).

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Though not so enthusiastic at that time, “Compulsory for Attendance marking”  left us with no choice but to be a part of it. Led by either Sri KT Sundara Sampath Kumarachar (KTS) and Sri Alasinga Bhattachar (SAB), two of my Samskrutha teachers who lead the chanting session, I vividly remember once Sri KTS saying, “Lord Sri Krishna intended and offered different levels of knowledge/instructions starting with basic level meant for every seeker and then building on it to take a more serious and observant seeker to Elevated levels” It did not make any sense to me at all. It was more of those naughty, not-so-complimentary nick names for those abbreviations KTS & SAB that was more interesting 😉

I also recall when SAB elucidated what KTS said on another day. Bhagavad Gita has a level for everyone like that milk fed to calf first. After milking the cow it is collected in cans which is more elevated (and deeper). Then it has cream and when churned further it gives out Butter and on slow heating gives out Ghee. Each level of more clarified, deeper and purer essence.

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It is Bhagavad Gita discourse time these days from His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in The Art of Living Ashram. If you ever been here one of these days you would agree that, in HIS inimitable simple style,  He is elevating us to the next level of understanding Bhagavad Gita. Somethings that a few intellectuals with limited knowledge (even with the so called Science which itself has been proved and disproved again and again) would never understand. You want to see how beautiful the world is, with the guidance of  a Master, look through my eyes you will know the truth.

||Jai Gurudev and Jai Sri Krishna||

You can follow Sri Sri Ravishankar on various Social Media here (look for Verified mark for official accounts):

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PS 🙂

I am on twitter https://twitter.com/surnell and on FB : https://www.facebook.com/SureshEn (Profile) and https://www.facebook.com/surnell (Page)

True Mantra

Couldn’t avoid reacting (though my Master Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living says it is a bad habit in the spiritual path) to a few characters for no rhyme and reasons keep harping on some stupid problem of theirs on another of my favourite discussion forum and a spiritual community. It is said some people have simply decided to revel and enjoy being miserable and here is one person who fits this example to the “T”. As a timely reconfirmation and the reasons why I should recover and move on I received a nice story which I am posting here for the sake of retaining it for posterity. A story with loads of hidden and obvious messages equally applicable to both proponents and skeptics. Here we go…

Once there was a king who was very fond of flowers. He had bought a lot of expensive pots with beautiful & fragrant flowers. He had them arranged in the courtyard just next to his bedroom & hired a person to take proper care of them.

Once that fellow broke one pot by mistake while arranging them. The king became furious to hear about this. He was a cruel & senseless king. He sentenced his servant to death for this pity mistake. He was ordered to be hanged after two months. The king’s minister pleaded mercy for the poor fellow but he did not listen. To find death inevitable, the poor servant started praying to God.

 

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Meawhile the king declared a reward for anyone who could repair the broken pot & make it exactly same as it used to be. Many people came & tried their luck but in vain.

How could a broken pot be repaired exactly like before? How could any doctor bring back life to a dead person? This mortal human body also is irrepairable. Even if a surgeon tries his best to put back the broken parts, it can never be the same; there is always some imperfection remaining. Similarly a kite when torn apart can never be made to look like before even if one applies all kind of glues. How could anyone ever do this?

The servant on the other hand was counting his days. He would every now & then pray to God to somehow make king’s mind change so that his life is spared.

A month passed by like this. Then a saint visited that city. He heard about this reward which the king had declared for anyone who could repair the broken flower pot. He also learnt about the death sentence given to the poor servant who broke it.

That saintly person went to the king’s court & said “I take the responsibilty of joining back your broken pot. Show it to me” The king took the saint to his palace where all the flower pots were kept. The saint looked deeply at the broken pot. He also looked at all the other two dozen unbroken pots. He passed a divine smile towards the king. Then he asked for a stick. The servant brought him one. As soon as he got it, he started breaking all other flower pots. For sometime, the king totally confused at this scene kept wondering what is this way of repairing. May be this saintly person knows some new method. Then he looked at the saint who was standing fearlessly after having broken all the pots. He yelled “O saint! what have you done?”

The saint replied “I saved the life of two dozen poor people who at some point in time would have broken these pots.”

The king became furious & ordered that the saint be trampled under the feet of an elephant. The saint was a spiritually enlightened person. He had deeply experienced the teachings of the Vedas. He believed firmly in the universality of the soul & its oneness with GOD. He knew that the physical body is bound to be destroyed someday while the inner soul can never ever die. He’d never get frightened by even the worst of the worst situations since he was beyound death & birth.

An elephant was brought in front of him. The saint peacefully lied down on the ground & meditating on “So..hum.. Shivo..hum” (I am That.. I am Shiva ..The supreme lord) “Supreme Lord is prevalent all around. The elephant is also the supreme lord & so is its master. The king who ordered this execution is also the supreme lord & the one lying down on the ground is also the same supreme lord.” “The lord itself is playing with its own various forms. So..hum” “The minister standing in the corner is also the dear lord & the soldier holding a sword in the hand is also the same lord. The whole public watching this is also the supreme lord having taken various forms from tiny kids to veiled women.”

The blissful saint continued meditating like this visualizing the presence of supreme lord in every body around him. The master of the elephant whipped it hard but the elephant simply refused to go near the saint. Another elephant was brought in. But he also stopped within two feet of the meditating saint. His master also tried hard but in vain. The king finally gave up & asked the saint “Do you know any kind of mantra which brings every elephant under your control?” The saint smiled & said ” I do not know any mantra to control an elephant but I do know the mantra to control the self. I know the mantra of love”

No matter how bad one may think of you or make plans to hurt you, but if you do not think bad about him, then nothing in the world has the power to do bad to you. He may keep cursing you in his heart but he will never be able to do bad to you.

The saint said: “Oh King! When I lay straight then thinking about the Dear God in the elephant, you & me, I started loving Him & thought of good things to happen to the elephant. I thought of welfare of the elephant & you.

If I would have thought bad for you, then your bad qualities could have become powerful. If I would have felt jealous of you, then jealousy could have become powerful inside you. If I would have felt hatred for you, then hatred could have become powerful inside you. But friend! why should I pollute my heart by having hatred & jealousy for you?

I have got over ignorance by the grace of my Guruji. That is why the elephant could not hurt me even when it was pecked to do so again & again. If the destiny of the body would have been to die in this way, then nobody could have stopped the death. In that case even if you were protecting this body, it would not have lived longer. If destiny did not have this kind of death, then how does it matter if ten kings like you get annoyed! What harm can anybody do? Even if you get pleased how does it matter! I’ve done the work that I intended to do.

This body can die any second. It cannot become immortal. When this body is mortal then how can the pots become immortal. These will get destroyed & will vanish one day. The plant shall also die. You are taking the life of a servant for a plant which will anyway die soon. Therefore using the stick I broke all pots to give you a lesson that these are mortal objects. Do not ruin the kindness of your heart by having attraction for these immortal things.”

The king was highly influenced by the words of the saint. He came down his throne & begged for forgiveness. He cancelled the death sentence on the servant. Then he took “Guru Mantra” from the saint & set his journey on the road to God.

PS: The picture above is of His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji in one of those playful moments with Maheshwara, the Ashram Elephant