#AOLShivaratri – Celebrations in Art of Living Ashram

On 17th February 2015, a huge ensemble of Devotees descended on The Art of Living International Ashram to celebrate the Maha Shivaratri in the Presence of Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji.

It began with a ceremonial procession of the Grama Devata (with Utsava Murthy) and installation of the same at the Puja Sthala.

007

011

028

032

It was a sea of humanity at The Art of Living International Centre, gathered in a scale bigger than ever before. It drew devotees from 61 countries. The live webcast had more than 20,000 viewers connected via 6ooo connections with footprints of 104 countries.

019
Starting with a blissful meditation, it was time for the highlight of the evening, the auspicious Maha Rudrabhishekam, performed by Sri Sri. While the atmosphere was filled with the sacred chants, the diverse gathering meditated for the well-being of humanity. This was followed by an evening of music, meditation and wisdom.

092

With the Rudram chants of young pandits reverberating in the entire place, it was a perfect setting for an evening to soak in bliss, evening for Bhajans, evening for delving deeper into the self.

018

108

112

On the significance of Shivratri, Sri Sri said, “One of the factors that affect the mind and its moods is time. Our individual minds follow the rhythm in Nature. For example, the sunrise has a different feeling associated with it than sunset. In the same way, certain days are more conducive for spiritual practice.”

On Shivaratri, the matter and consciousness unite. The subtle and gross worlds come together. And that is the celebration. Shiva is everywhere; there is no place where Shiva is not there. There is not even an atom where Shiva is not there.

When we violate the laws of nature, that is when disturbance and anger happens in nature. All the floods, forest fires, calamities are nothing but the anger of the nature. Nature’s fury. And nature’s fury can only be calmed by the transcendental divine consciousnesses, that is Shiva. Shiva alone can calm down the fury of the nature.

Three types of disturbance are counted: soul, mind, and nature. These disturbances manifest as droughts, earthquakes, floods, and calamities of nature. At another level, these disturbances manifest as restlessness within and lack of direction. When you are in such a situation in life, there is no peace inside and there is no happiness or joy.

Shivaratri is the night when we pray for us to be free from all types of misery: physical, mental, emotional, social, and natural calamities. And bestow peace and wisdom to everyone. Namah means the mind coming back to its center. Manah means the mind going outward. Namah is the opposite. Going back to the origin. The secrets of nature are hidden. Now, we now wifi. But the secret of wifi was there from long time, but it was hidden. It is the blessing of divine that science is developing.

That is what the Vedas say, through your blessing that science gets manifested. Secrets of nature are revealed. Mantras means the secrets in the nature. Shiva is within the mantras. Shiva, you are hidden within the mantras, where no one can reach. And you are the source of all thoughts, positive or negative thoughts that rise in me. You protect us. Kaksha also means the unfathomable universe, which nobody can reach. The secrets of that universe only you can reveal to us.

With this prayer, we pray with our heart and soul for peace in the world, society, happiness in the individual, progress of knowledge and society. Yagyas are done using the five elements from thousands of years. Shivaratri, we perform this yagya from morning to the early hours of the next morning. This morning also we had a pooja.

Divine accepts you however you are. That is why we offer flowers, thorns, leaves in the pooja to signify that God accepts you the way you are.

If you are a fruit or flower, whatever stage of evolution you are (at), the one consciousness accepts you. And that is truth and that is beauty. The synonyms of Shiva are truth and beauty.
Benevolence, truth, and beauty are inseparable.

Know that god accepts you and rest deeply. This is meditation. When you come out of meditation, then work with determination. This is the meaning of Rudra.

Our body is the bow and the mind is the arrow of this bow. The arrow should hit the aim: the eternal consciousness (parama tattva). Our mind should be centered on reaching this goal, then the purpose of this body is fulfilled.

Today is the celebration of nature rejoicing the presence of benevolence, truth, and beauty.

Everyone is enjoying? Thousands of us here and many people have joined us on webcast. All of us collectively when we meditate, we create an electrifying field which will eliminate all negativities and uplift human spirit. Very nice.

Shiva means the most beautiful. Aghora is a word for Shiva, which means most beautiful.

ViruPaksha means there is no form, but there are eyes. Even when you close your eyes, you can still see. Everyone has this third eye, which sees. Not just one, but thousands of eyes. Eyes everywhere.

053

He further added, ” Shivaratri is one of the most significant days to meditate and come in touch with the deepest aspect of our consciousness. It is associated with India but the phenomenon is universal and that is why so many people from all over the world come here to experience it.”

038

Lord Shiva is one whose worship is simplest of all – He accepts flowers or thorns, leaves or stalks. He is calmness personified as also fierce in His form. Truth, Benevolence and Beauty (Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram) is His personification – attributes that are inseparable. By honoring the truth, appreciating the beauty and worshiping Shiva tattva is the easiest route to elevation of one’s life. Lord Shiva accepts you as you are – knowing this and going withing is Definition. Moving from state of “This should be” & “That shouldn’t be” towards “Let It Be”! Accepting what is as it is… is the Mantra for Bliss.

The Bhajans as always was enchanting and elevating the positive atmosphere – obviously with  Dr Manikantan-ji, Dr Nisha Manikantan-ji, Srinivas-ji, Shalini-ji, Chitra Roy-ji and others.

016

149

168

154

Enthusiasts from all over India and abroad – Argentina, China, Brazil, Oman, Kuwait, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Russia, Taiwan were a part of the festivities.

171

173

174

176

All in all – A Blissful Shivratri!!!

|Om Namah Shivaya|

Enjoy 6 Collages of my collection of Pictures

001 Collage

013 Collage

037 Collage

071 Collage

081 Collage

131 Collage

Click here for complete collection of my photographs (uploaded on Facebook)

You can follow Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Twitter

And Like His Facebook Page

#AOLShivaratri 2014 – All about Expansion

This journey in Art of Living and walking to keep pace (or sprinting) with His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has never ceased to Amaze me (I am sure many who have been here would feel the same)

From the Old Ashram which in those days was considered to huge enough to accommodate the entire AOL family, was not enough to take in a minuscule percentage of the Ever-growing One World Family, that it is today.

20131110_155140 (1024x768)
Amphitheater in the Old Ashram

Then came the Vishalakshi Mantap and the Amphi Theater which we thought would definitely cater for ever expanding family atleast for 50 years, and Lo! It was rendered too small even for a weekend Satsang these days.

IMG-20130607-WA0008
Vishalakshi Mantap – The Temple of Meditation
20140126_170309 (1024x768)
Amphitheater in Front of Vishalakshi Mantap

Action moved to the Yagyashala (which was further extended) and even that today appears to be like a One-Room Tenement accommodating 30 member family in a Metro.

IMG-20130606-WA0002
Yagyashala

And came up the Marquee Location in the Art of Living International Ashram, Gurupaduka Vanam last year. I was certain that it would be enough “for ever”

Gurupaduka Vanam – Eve of Shiva Ratri 2013
ShivRatri2013-01
Gurupaduka Vanam – Eve of Shiva Ratri 2013 – 260 Gram Devata Pujas

I ate the humble pie in exactly an year. From comfortable crowd that was accommodated last Shivaratri, every inch of the front stage and back stage was packed with sea of Humanity. Shivaratri 2014 saw record crowds participating in the Maha Rudrabhisheka – 75 countries, and every single state (29) of India was represented here. Presenting Shivaratri 2014 in 4 Collages below:

Collage -01
Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014
Collage -02
Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Ashramites and Sevaks
Collage -03
Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Sea of Humanity
Collage -04
Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Speechless :-O
||Jai Gurudev||Om Namah Shivaya||Enhanced by Zemanta

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

20130806_142642 (1280x960)
Traditional Red Clay Lamps replaced with Silver ones

20130806_142558 (960x1280)

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
20130806_134039 (1280x960)
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.

20130806_143221 (1280x960)
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 Mamaha||