Tag Archives: Hinduism

The auspicious Purushottam Month comes to an end

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Purushottam Month, which had started on 17th of June, 2015 has come to an end today, the 16th July, 2015.  Purushottam Month is also known as Adhik Maas (Extra Month). Vaishnava Calender which follows the Lunar route usually has 28 or 29 days in a month which results in roughly 10 less days in a year. So, after every 3 years, comes an extra month of 30 days which is considered to be highly auspicious. This entire month is considered highly auspicious to express deep love and devotion towards Lord Shri Hari as he is the Purushottam and the month is dedicated to Him. Vaisnavas, all over the world take great advantage of this highly beneficial month and completely immerse themselves in devotional services with complete surrender of mind and soul.

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Purushottam Month is considered to be the best of all other months in Hinduism. This month is dedicated towards worshiping of Lord Vishnu and his Avatars. Vaishnava devotees follow many rules and disciplines this month as an offering of their love and devotion towards the Supreme Lord. Most of the devotees give up all sorts of materialistic pursuits and completely immerse themselves in faith and devotion. Everything that they do, they do it with only one motive and that is to raise in spiritual life. These are a few of the disciplines they follow during this month. I’m not an expert in this vast nectar of knowledge. I wish to write down all that I have learnt from my visits to Temple and attending classes there.

1. Reading of Bhagwad Gita, specially of chapter 15, which is also known as Purushottam Yoga and also of Srimad Bhagwatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita.

2. Offering of ghee lamp to their Lordships and singing of the Chaurashtam, throughout the month.

3. Singing of Jagannath Ashtakam (Rath Yatra – The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath falls on 18th July, 2015)

4. Offering of donation and charity to the Vaishnavas, Brahmanas and also to the poor and needy people.

5. Waking up early in the morning and offering prayers to Lord Krishna and Goddess Tulsi.

6. Attending Mangal Arati (Morning Prayers) everyday in the Temple.

7. Eating of prasadam (Food after having offered to God).

8. Singing of Vaishnava bhajans like ‘Jaya Radha Madhava Kunja Bihari’, ‘Radha krishna Pran Mora jugala kishore’, Radha-kripa Kataksh, Nandanashtakam etc

9. Taking a dip in a Holy River like Ganga, Yamuna or Godavari specially when Jupiters transits to Leo zodiac sign. When it is not possible for people to take a dip in any of these holy rivers, they can also sprinkle water form any of these holy rivers or also of water from Radhakund from Vrindavan.

10. Chanting of the Holy Name with divine consciousness.

Many devotees eat only one meal a day and many others eat only fuits and milk. They completely dedicate their time towards  chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord and in singing the glory of the Lord.

As this month is specially loved by Lord, all the prayers surely reach him and all are devotees are blessed by him which results in more love and devotion for the Lord.

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This year, something very interesting has happened. The dates of Purushottam Month has coincided with the date of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Purushottam Month will be celebrated next in May, 2018.

Finally, I would like to say that I’m the most ineligible person to write anything on such a huge topic. I have made an attempt based on all the articles that I have read the entire month and attended classes at our temple – ISKCON Bahrain.

Anyone interested in knowing on this topic can visit: http://www.iskcondesiretree.com/profiles/blogs/the-glories-of-purushottam

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‘The Madhurashtakam’ – A Prayer Song that will fill your Heart with Joy

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There are many prayer songs, dedicated to my Lord, which I love to listen over and over again.  One such prayer song is ‘The Madhuastakam’. Every time, I listen to this prayer song, my heart gets filled with joy, delight and devotion.

‘Madhuram’ is a Sanskrit word. It is an adjective which describes something to be divinely sweet or beautiful. ‘Ashtakam’ is also a Sanskrit work which means, ‘a verse of 8 lines’.

This particular verse sings the charm and glory of Lord Krishna and describes him as a Lord who embodies sweetness, beauty and magnificence.

In these verses the word ‘Madhuram’ has been repeated after each word and exhibits  a divine feeling which will bound a devoted heart feel more love and devotion of the Supreme Lord.

I hereby, out of deep love for the song publish the lyrics of the song:

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Text1
adharam madhuram vadanam madhuram
nayanam madhuram hasitam madhuram
hridayam madhuram gamanam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His lips are sweet, His face is sweet,
His eyes are sweet, His smile is sweet,
His loving heart is sweet, His gait (walk) is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 2

Text2
vachanam madhuram charitam madhuram
vasanam madhuram valitam madhuram
chalitam madhuram bhramitam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His words are sweet, His character is sweet,
His dress (garment) is sweet, His posture is sweet,
His movements are sweet, His wandering (roaming) is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 4

Text3
venur madhuro renur madhurah
panir madhurah padau madhurau
nrityam madhuram shakhyam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His flute-playing is sweet, His foot-dust is sweet,
His hands are sweet, His feet are sweet,
His dancing is sweet, His friendship is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 5

Text4
gitam madhuram pitam madhuram
bhuktam madhuram suptam madhuram
rupam madhuram tilakam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His song is sweet, His drinking is sweet,
His eating is sweet, His sleeping is sweet,
His beautiful form is sweet, His Tilaka (mark on the forehead) is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 6

Text5
karanam madhuram taranam madhuram
haranam madhuram ramanam madhuram
vamitam madhuram shamitam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His deeds (activities) are sweet, His conquest (liberating) is sweet,
His thieving (stealing) is sweet, His love-sports are sweet,
His oblations (offerings) are sweet, His countenance is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 8

Text6
gunja madhura mala madhura
yamuna madhura vici madhura
salilam madhuram kamalam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His gunja-berry necklace is sweet, His flower garland is sweet,
sweet is the Yamuna river, and sweet are her rippling waves,
her water is sweet, and sweet are the lotus flowers also,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 7

Text7
gopi madhura lila madhura
yuktam madhuram muktam madhuram
dhristam madhuram shistam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His gopis (cowherd girlfriends) are sweet, His pastimes (plays) are sweet,
His union (meeting him) is sweet, His deliverance (rescue) is sweet,
His sidelong glances are sweet, His courtesy (etiquette) is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.

Lord 9

Text8
gopa madhura gavo madhura
yastir madhura shristhir madhura
dalitam madhuram phalitam madhuram
madhur-adipater akhilam madhuram

His gopas (cowherd boyfriends) are sweet, His cows are sweet,
His cane (herding-stick) is sweet, His creation is sweet,
His victory (trampling) is sweet, His accomplishment (fruition) is sweet,
Everything is completely sweet about the Lord of Sweetness.
|| iti srimad vallabha-acarya viracitam madhurastakam sampurnam ||

|| Thus ends the the eight stanza hymn madhurastakam composed by Sripad Vallabha-acharya ||

Here, I would like to add links of two youtube videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVE2qeBYvb4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3H-Mut-0VQ

Reference: http://www.harekrsna.de/madhurastakam-e.htm

Importance of Cows in Hinduism

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I have seen the film PK recently. Though, I appreciated the film to a great extent for showing a broader perspective towards the practice of religion, I would like to express my opinion on the point, when a man says (in the film) that feeding a cow will enable him to get a job. I agree to this, getting a job requires educational qualification, skills and experience in a particular field. Any amount of religious practice without the required skills and qualifications cannot fetch anyone any job.

But, it was not proper on the part of the producers to raise the issue of feeding cows here and associate it with getting a job. Hindu scriptures strongly recommend the practice of feeding cows. It is considered to be highly beneficial to feed a cow, not materialistically but spiritually.

Probably, feeding of cows won’t bestow any materialistic benefit like getting a job but it will surely help a person advance spiritually. And when a person advances spiritually, the soul gets purified and God always resides in a purified soul. Such a person is always conscious of the presence of God and acts in the mode of goodness. In the mode of goodness, a person does good deeds and is blessed by God.

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When I was young, I remember, my father used to make me sit beside him and tell me many religious stories, religious principles and values of Hinduism. He is the one who has taught me to love and respect my religion. I would to write all that I have learnt from him as a child. But, now I would like to write about the importance of a cow in Hinduism.

It is believed that we  should bow down before four mothers  the first is our own mother, who has given us birth, second is Goddess Durga, our Motherland and finally Go-Mata (‘Go’ in Sanskrit means ‘Cow’). In Hinduism, Cow has got the status of a mother. I have also read it is written in the Vedas that Cows should be protected and taken care of same like one’s mother.

Some may like to find logic here saying that cow is considered equal to a mother because it gives us milk.  But, in Hinduism, there are many other reasons behind accepting cows as divine beings.

Lord Krishna during his appearance on Earth has taken care of the cows as a cowherd boy. With this act, the Lord has given us a message that he loves cows and as devotees of Lord Krishna, it is our duty to worship cows and it is our responsibility to protect cows.

Shri Krishna Jansmashtami Celebrations at ISKCON Bahrain

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Last 10 days, we were in a mood of bliss and celebration. The celebration was of Shri Krishna Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Shri Krishna. All the 10 days, classes were held, at our Temple, on the appearance of Lord Krishna on Earth. There were cultural programmes held. There was a dance by small children, where my little daughter participated as Radharani. There was Quiz based on the book, ‘Krishna- The Supreme Personality of Godhead’ and ‘Acting Competition’. All devotees had an enjoyable time, completely immersed in divine bliss.

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His Grace Hari Shauri Prabhuji had come all the way from Mayapur, India to grace the occasion. He was present here for the final 4 days. He is a library in himself. He has been the secretary of Srila prabhupada and has shared many memorable moments from the life of Prabhupada and his association with him. It was a great opportunity for us to have him with us in bahrain and just to listen to him gave a feeling as if Srila Prabhupada himself is always there with us.

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On the first day of his arrival, he took a class on Srila Prabhupada and then he spoke about Scientific Evidences of the Existence of God. It was a highly intellectual class and would be understood by very senior devotees. This topic was explained on Friday morning class. Friday evening, he spoke about Bhakti Vinoda Thakur. He showed images of the house, temples of Shiva, his hand written books etc. Saturday morning, he discussed about the poems written byBhakti Vinoda Thakur.

 

Saturday evening, he showed us a slide show of the latest library which he has started in Kolkata. The primary aim of the library  is to preserve the Vedas and Vedantic literature for the future generation, which will also act as evidences.

Sunday, the 17th of August, 2014, was the day of Shri Krishna  Janmashtami. Evening after the aarti, Prabhuji took a class. Later, there was abhisekam of their Lordships followed by Archana. Abhishekam is usually done with panchamritam which includes milk, honey, curd, coconut water, mango pulp juice etc. After that, their Lordhips are decorated int he best of clothes, jewellery and flowers. Temple was over-crowded andSankirtan too was going on. The best part was the 12 am aarti. As Lord appeared at mid-night, devotees observe fast till mid-night. When the curtains were removed for darshan, Lord appeared so magnificently beautiful. The darshan, after fast is holy auspicious and wonderful. I had tears of emotion in my eyes. I felt, this fast is completely worth as I got such a beautiful darshan of my Lord.

On Monday, Nandotsav was celebrated. It was also the appearance day of Srila Prbhuapada. Evening, after abhishekam, Prabhuji took a class on Srila Prabhupada. After that, there was a song presentation by all the young girls followed by aarti of PrabhPada. During the aarti, a prayer song offred to Guru was also sung.

There was a small round of Dahi-Handi which was enjoyed by children. The evening concluded in prayers offered to Lord Narsimha Dev, followed by honouring of Mahapprasadam.

What can we learn from Ramayana?

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The Ramayana is an Epic poem from India written in Sanskrit language. The epic derived its name from the name of its hero, ‘Lord Rama’ and ‘his journey’ which in Sanskrit is ‘ayana’[Journey]. The journey of Lord Rama represents the journey of virtue over vice. [Good over evil]. It is believed that the text was written during the Treta Yuga [the second yuga out of the four Yugas as per Hinduism].

The Ramayana is considered to be an Itihasa which means a narration of past events mainly with the intention of teaching moral values of life to the mankind. The Ramayana teaches human values and righteousness [Dharma].

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two epics from India. The Ramayana, written by Hindu Sage Valmiki, is one of the important texts of Hinduism. Valmiki’s Ramayana is an epic poem consisting 50,000 lines. According to Hinduism, Lord Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The main purpose behind the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Rama is to teach human beings, the path of righteousness [Dharma]. The epic poem Ramayana is said to be a ‘Smriti’ which means ‘memory’.

The Ramayana is composed of verses called ‘Sloka’. These verses are grouped into chapters called ‘Sargas’. Each ‘Sarga’ [chapter] depicts an event. The chapters are grouped into books called ‘Kaandas’. The word ‘Kaanda’ [Book] also means a particular phase in the course of the entire story.

The entire story of Ramayana [Journey of Lord Rama] is divided into seven books:

  1.  Bala Kaanda : Book based on life as a Youth. It consists of 77 chapters.
  2.  Ayodha Kaanda: Book based on life in the city of Ayodha. It consists of 119 chapters.
  3.  Araya Kaanda: Book based on life in Forest during exile. It contains 75 chapters.
  4.  Kishkindha Kaanda: Book based on life in the Kingdom of Holy Monkeys. It contains 67 chapters.
  5.  Sundara Kaanda: Book depicting the adventures and glorious deeds of Hanumana. It has 68 chapters.
  6.  Yuddha Kaanda: Book illustrating the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana, representing the forces of good and evil..
  7.  Uttara Kaanda: Book based on Luv and Kush, the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita.

Ramayana teaches the duties and responsibilities of each relationship.

It portrays ideal relationships like the ideal son, the ideal brother, the ideal husband, the ideal wife, the ideal king and the ideal devotee.

Lord Rama is the epitome of righteousness [Dharma]. He embodies everything that is good, positive and divine. He is known as the ‘Mariyada Purushottam’ which means ‘He, who is the greatest of all men’. The teachings of Ramayana are relevant .in all ages and for everyone to follow a path of righteousness.
The most important lessons of Ramayana are:

1. Humility: To be humble and treat everyone with respect.

2. To maintain a calm and peaceful mind devoid of anger.

3. To maintain good company. It is not enough to have a good heart, we need to be careful while choosing friends.

4. Lord Rama portrays a persona of ‘eternal optimist’. The lesson here is to be an optimist and respond positively even in adverse situations.

5. When rewarded by Lord with all the goodness of life, it is important not to get lost in the comforts of material life and forget to express gratitude to the Lord.

6. Hanuman represents devotion, determination, courage and single-minded focus to accomplish a task. Another very important point is that Hanuman’s focus is only on his duty and not the reward. Similarly, we are supposed to focus on our respective duties and not fix our minds on the rewards or benefits.

7. Hanuman always attributes all his accomplishments to the Lord and was totally free form pride or arrogance. As human beings, we should attribute the credit of a work done to the blessings of God.

The teachings of Ramayana are endless. It is a true goldmine of knowledge. The principles of Ramayana are beyond any boundaries of time or place. By following these precious principles of life, we can uplift ourselves from ignorance to light.

 

I have earlier published this article in two parts in Expertscoloumn. Here are the links:

http://expertscolumn.com/content/ramayana-epic-poem

http://expertscolumn.com/content/teachings-ramayana

 

Rath Yatra – The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath

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Rath Yatra celebrations at ISKCON Bahrain

Rath Yatra celebrations at ISKCON Bahrain

Rath Yatra is a festival celebrated in Jagannath Puri, Orissa in India. Puri is famous for the Jagannath Temple situated there. Jagannath Temple is one of the Char Dhams which means one of the four Holy places or shrines of Lord Vishnu. Thousands of devotees visit the town of Puri in Orissa to have a darshan or glimpse of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balaram.

Lord Vishnu or Krishna is worshiped here in the form of Lord Jagannath -The Lord of the Universe. Once in a year, it is believed that the Lord along with his brother and sister, come out of the Temple and meet his beloved devotees.

On the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya, the construction work of the Chariots start. On the day of Rath Yatra, the chariots are decorated with beautiful flowers and the idols of Lord is brought out with proper rituals and worship. The tender heart of the devotees melt to see the beautiful form of the Lord. It is believed that anyone who receives a glimpse oft he Lord on this very auspicious day will be always blessed by the Lord.

ISKCON [International Society for Krishna Consciousness] centers all over the World celebrate this day with devotion and with proper accordance to the rules, in almost all the centers.

Rath Yatra -The Chariot Festival of the Lord

Rath Yatra -The Chariot Festival of the Lord