Bheemana Amavasya – Honoring both Prakruti & Purusha

Today is Amavasya (New Moon Day) of the month Ashada of Hindu Calendar, also the last day of the month. It is believed to be the day Lord Shiva was overcome by the devotion of Goddess Parvati and accepted her as his wife. It is celebrated as Bhimana Amavasya in Karnataka (and many other states). It is also referred to as Pati Sanjeevini Vrata or also as Jyothi Bhimeshwara Vrata. It is celebrated for the well being of all the males in a family.

Traditionally, two lamps are made of Red Clay (supposed to be made of Kalikamba) or Thambittu (Wheat Flour) – one symbolizing Lord Shiva and another Goddess Paravati who is considered the Supreme Mother and every other Devis as a form of Parvati. They are first installed on grains (typically Rice) facing east

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Traditional Red Clay Lamps replaced with Silver ones

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The Puja starts going by tying a Turmeric Root to the right lamp (one on the right as we face) that signifies Parvati. The puja installation also has Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon) and Kumbha (Pot).

The lamps are then lit and 9 stranded Gejje Vastra, Gandha (or Sandal) is an essential offering used in this puja. The tambula includes 9 Betel leaves and 9 Betel Nuts (Bettada adike) and a coconut

Gowri dara (also called Rakshe) or Thread smeared with Turmeric paste (9 stranded with 9 knots for Married and 5 stranded with 5 knots for the unmarried) is placed along with Samagri. Granthi puja – for each Strand a puja is performed with an offering, which is subsequently tied by females of the family around their wrists.
Please note that there are variations depending on the region & family practices to the above

After the mandatory Ashotttara Puja of Lord Ganesh (to remove any obstacles), Lord Shiva & Parvathi is worshipped. Uma Maheshwara Ashtottara puja is performed and the Gowri dara is tied around the wrists.

All set. The main part of Puja done. Respects to this Lady
All set. The main part of Puja done. Respects to this Lady
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Daughter gets her Rakshe tied. Along with Blessings that None else can give her

Naivedya includes Karjura (Dates), Cosambari & other usual fruits. Traditional Kadubu filled with coins, staple food grains, & dry fruits is prepared (It is called Bandhara or Treasure Chest) to signify the wealth. Post puja this is placed on either side of the Threshold (Hosilu) and crushed with their elbows by the males of the family to signify abundant flow of material and spiritual wealth into the home.

Wife performs an Arati to her husband for health and long life.

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I get an Arti today 🙂

And then is the much awaited part of the festival – the food. Here is what was on offer at home today.

Traditional Fare, Except Pappad which is usually not made on this festival
Traditional Fare, (except Pappad & Fried Curded Chillies) which is usually not made on this festival

Items: Chitranna (Lemon Rice), Cosambari, Groundnut Chutney Pudi, Midi Uppinakayi (Tender Mango Pickles), Appala (Pappad), Majjige Menasinakayi (Fried Curded Chilly), Hoorna Saaru (Rasam), Kaayi Holige (Obbattu)

The Batting Begins :-)
The Batting Begins 🙂

(Now you know the secret of my figure)

The most important part is Jyothi Bhimeshwara Katha Shravana after the lunch. You can read the legend behind this festival and the story here (click on the link)

The holy month of Shravana begins tomorrow. May Lord Shiva’s blessings be showered in abundance on everyone. It is also launches month long Shravan maasa Rudra Pujas & Satsangs by the Art of Living Pundits (founded by His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) in various locations.

My friend Sindhu (@agnyaa on Twitter) has also blogged on Bhimana Amavasya

||Mrityunjaya Rudraya Neelakanthaya Sambhave
Amriteshaya Sarvaya Mahadevaya The Namaha||

Busting “How Shiva did not recognize his own son” Myth

Ganapati Idol at Home – This Ganesh Chaturthi

The stories in the Puranas contain many incredible and hard-to-believe occurences. But they should not be interpreted as a nursery rhyme. Their language is Shakespearean and laden with great depth and meaning. We need to interpret these stories with a very refined state of mind.

The story goes that Parvati created a boy out of dirt from her body and appointed him to guard the doorstep. The first question that comes is how could Parvati, the Goddess Herself, have so much dirt? Parvati symbolizes the triguna – sattva, rajas and tamas. The entire creation is made up of trigunas. The dosha or imperfections that originate out of the triguna is an obstruction for the functioning of Prakriti. That was the boy that Parvati created to stand guard at the door.

Shiva is Shuddha Chaitanya, pure consciousness. Like the sun does not recognize darkness and cuts through it, Shiva does not recognize dosha and slays the impurity. But Prakriti cannot stay without impurity. So Shiva replaces the dosha with the head of an elephant, which symbolizes knowledge. Through knowledge, all the doshas or obstructions of Prakriti can be taken care of. This is the spiritual and metaphysical meaning of Ganpati being slain. So worshipping Ganpati as the remover of obstacles and the giver of gyana, knowledge is the most amazing depiction of the nature of consciousness.

Going a step further, even this difference between Prakriti and Purusha is done away with. That is why, the Ganpati Upanishad says,

ajam nirvikalpam niraakaaram-ekam
niraanandam aanandam advaita poornam
param nirgunam nirvishesham nireeham
para brahma roopam ganesham bhajema

Ganesha is the only One unborn unmanifest Reality. He is nirvikalpa and advaita – the formless, undivided One. This is the play and display of consciousness within itself.

While Ganpati is certainly the nirakara Parabrahman, he is invoked and worshipped in the mud idol for a period of time for the joy of the devotees. Then the Ganpati is asked to merge back into our heart and the idol is immersed in water. This ritual is observed for the sake of devotees, not for the sake of Ganpati. He who is without form is invoked in a form and then his spirit is invoked back into one’s heart as the idol is immersed.

Shivaratri – Union for Creation

 

It has been miracle galore as far as I am concerned (ever since I took my Art Of Living path seriously) – have repeatedly done 3 days of Absolute Blissful Silence (unthinkable for anyone who knows me) Rocks may absorb water, but Suresh can’t shut his gab would be their response, first up. It can be a fluke Once but remember! I did it so times now during my AOL’s Advanced Course. So it was by design and not by chance. Thanks to HH Sri Sri Ravishankarji life cannot get better (you can follow HIM on twitter :https://twitter.com/#!/SriSri)


Now Now! hear me – another shocker! I am patting on my back as I am writing this. I concluded a day’s fasting successfully too last year. Again! people who know me would forward the same argument, Rock may absorb water but Suresh going hungry is a bigger Myth than those associated with Shivaratri. Anyways, I chose a great occasion of the holy Shivaratri to test my resolve. AOL Satsang teams rocked the city with melodious renditions of our Bhajans (I know it was enjoyed by the town because I have no reports of anyone receiving rotten eggs or chappals so far – nor did I get any ). Apart from the whole day’s fasting – I swear I had nothing but a few cups of TEA the whole day and night, I partook two Satsangs, 1 at a residence and another in a temple on the outskirts of the city (along with my Centre’s team).

This time my whole family was with me and my son so typical of him, stumped all of us asking us, “Why is it that none of our Boy Gods (he called it Boy God’s to mean Male God) have moustaches? All demons in my comics have Moustaches and look terrible” He was insisting me to knock my moutsaches off. Everyone around us were truly left speechless for a moment because, off hand the reply should have been, Bad Guys are shown with Moustaches – but for him his father was not bad  (I agree with his views) For courtesy’s sake (and to my fortune) none replied to him that way.

And this Shivaratri (on 20th Feb 2012) with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar being in Art of Living International Ashram is going to be very special with a Maha Sudarshana Kriya being directly guided by HIM. Don’t miss the Shivaratri special Satsang – an evening filled with Music, Knowledge and Fun 🙂

So the question was left open for the night. Early this morning he was pestering us for an answer and I promptly went and blogged on my favourite e-hangout  (I am sure I will find the answers to his question as soon as people start seeing this).

While at it let me put out the significance of the festival (just a reproduction of what my friends Mrs and Mr. Hiremath of Mississuagua, Toronto sent me)

Shivaratri and Shiva

  1. Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun.
  2. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February – March in English Calendar.
  3. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night (Chaturdashi to Amavasya). 

According to Hindu mythology,

  1. Shivaratri or ‘Shiva’s Great Night’ symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
  2. Many however, believe, Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya – the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Celebrating the festival in a customary manner

  1. Devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with the panchagavya .
  2. Celebrations of Shivaratri Festival mainly take place at night.
  3. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng Shiva temples across the country and spend ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord.

Shivaratri Pooja has been given tremendous significance in Hindu mythology. It is said that ritual worship of Lord Shiva on a Shivaratri day pleases Lord Shiva the most. Devotees further believe that by pleasing Lord Shankara on the auspicious Shivaratri day, a person is absolved of past sins and is blessed with Moksha or salvation.

Merits of Shivaratri Puja

According to Shiva Purana, sincere worship of Lord Shiva yields merits including spiritual growth for the devotees. It also provides extensive details on the right way to perform Shivratri Puja. Shiva Purana further says, Performing abhisheka of Shiva Linga with six different dravyas including milk, curds, honey, ghee, sugar and water while chanting Sri Rudram, Chamakam and Dasa Shanthi pleases Lord Shiva the most.

According to mythology, each of these dravya used in the abhisheka blesses a unique quality .

· Milk is for the blessing of purity and piousness.

· Yogurt is for prosperity and progeny.

· Honey is for sweet speech.

· Ghee is for victory.

· Sugar is for happiness.

· Water is for purity.

Besides, worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri is also considered to be extremely beneficial for women. The festival holds special meaning for the ladies.

They pray to Goddess Parvati also called ‘Gaura’, the giver of ‘suhag’ for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.

While, married women pray to Shiva for the well being of their husbands and sons, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband.

What is significance of Shiva Linga—“The Linga is just a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless – for it has no limbs, no face, no feet, no front or back, no beginning or end. Its shape is like the picture one imagines the Niraakaara (Formless) to be. In fact, linga means – leeyathe (that in which all forms and names merge) and gamyathe (that towards which all names and forms are proceeding, to attain fulfillment). It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful”.

A blog of mine without a story? Impossible So here is a mythological story as to how this practice of Shivratri Vrat came about:

Once there was a hunter, and he one day went into the forest to procure meat for his family by hunting some animal. He wandered up and down in the forest from morning till night in search of game but was unable to shoot any. At last, when night overtook him, he climbed up a Bael tree to escape from a wild animal that was pursuing him, being roused from its lair by the hunter. The animal was lying down at the foot of the tree quite certain that the man would fall down either from sleep or from exhaustion, and that he might eat him. The hunter, exhausted as he was from his exertions and hunger, wished to scare away the animal by throwing handful of bael leaves. These leaves dripping with water on account of the recent shower, fell on a Siva-Lingam that was near. The night happened to be the Maha-Sivaratri night. He had fasted during the whole day since he could not find anything to eat. The drenching rain constituted a bath and his action of throwing the bael leaves on the Siva-Lingam, the wor­ship of Siva on the Sivaratri night. Though his actions were not intentional to worship Siva, yet he is said to have gained heaven as he had observed the Sivaratri – Vratha unwittingly.

The basic principle underlying the observance of the Maha-Sivaratri Vratha appears to be to emphasize the fact that death is sure to follow birth, night is sure to follow day,Pralaya, active cosmic life and so on, and consequently people should always bear in mind while enjoying the one its opposite and regulate their life accordingly. They should not be elated at success nor should they allow themselves to be carried away by despair at failures but always have trust in God and worship him.

Namo Parvati Pathe! Har Har Mahadeo!!!

PS: The photograph is of Lord Shiva at Kemp Fort, Bangalore (very close to the Old Airport)