Saturday, 11 March 2017

Rudra and Indra - The Parallels

  

     * Digital painting of Indra in pic above is by Anirudh Sainath aka Molee Art*

   Rudra and Indra - two vedic deities that share a lot in parallel.In fact,the Vedas describe Indra and Rudra as the One with two names. A profound and deep meaning to the link between these two deities will be concluded at the end of this article.

  Foremostly,let's analyse these two deities.Before that,we must understand that in the vedic culture,everything has different dimensions of expressions to it.You cannot limit anything to a single form of understanding.For example, Shiva is seen as a being , yet He is also the formless aspect of the cosmos in the form of Linga.Like this,different dimensions exists.When we talk about Rudra or Indra,we may be talking about different dimensions - more than just limiting them as beings with a form and role.

RUDRA 



Rudra is the usual term used to depict the fierce ( ghora ) aspect of Shiva 

Again,note that Rudra here being 'fierce' can have more symbolisms or understanding than just an angry Lord Shiva.Rudra is also associated with roar ( fierceness - the big bang is often described as a roar - from which creation happened. We often hear stories or puranas on how Rudra does His tandavaa ( dance ) and the universe undergoes the cycle of destruction and birth 

  

   
Shiva is described as Mangalakara or the One who gives prosperity and auspiciousness.The opposite side of it is called Rudra-Akara.These two aspects differ in form and apearance,but we need to realise the oneness or unity that is present in both aspects.We see these two aspects of anger and peace occuring side by side in God as well as in the whole created world.







 Rudra,is very often associated with storm,thunder,rain,weapons and terror.

 The Vedas also adore the mind as Rudra.

INDRA


Indra is the King of Angels of the heavens - this is what we commonly know of.We often see Indra seated on His elephant ( Airavata ) and holding his Vajra - thunderbolt weapon - going for war with the Asuras.

 Yet,Indra in a different dimension is said to be the master of senses.Therefore,Indra here means the indwelling God who is the real master of senses.This dimension of Indra explains why Indra is given much importance in various veda mantras.

  For example,the chamakam portion of Sri Rudram displays this :




  Now let's analyse.Seeing them as beings, Rudra and Indra are both associated with thunder and storm.Both appear warrior-like and fierce.

 In another dimension,the mind is adored in the Vedas as Rudra.The mind contacts the objective world ( outer world ) and experiences it through the function of the five senses.This aspect of the Mind is the Indra aspect.As we had seen, Indra is also  said to be the  master of senses.

 The Indra aspect of the Mind has another capability too.It can master the senses and become aware of the Universal Inner Truth of the multiplicity called the Objective world.This aspect of the Mind is designated as Rudra.

 To put it in a nutshell :

(1) The aspect of the mind which experiences the outer world through the five senses is Indra

(2) The aspect of the mind that can master the senses and become aware of God or the world is Rudra

 This is why the Vedas describe Indra and Rudra as the One with two names.


     A comic displaying how Indra replaces the position of Shiva in His absence...Interesting...very interesting.

   The essence of this article is that from Baghwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Something of my personal expression - I had always associated the thunder and stormy representation of Indra and Rudra to resemble the neuronal activity in our brains. Since the mind is associated with the brain functionality - and the mind is verily associated with these deities... why can't the thunder and roary emphasis of Rudra and Indra not denote the haphazard 'thundering' of neuronal impulses in our brain ?

  By the same token, isn't it wise to calm down the mind so that it is in samadhi -  so as to experience Shiva ? - Just like how Rudra is pled to calm down His fierce form into a calmer and auspicious Shiva form in the Sri Rudram hymn.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Unknown Power of Bhajans



  Bhajans form a crucial component of many religious and spiritual groups,foundations,organisations and so forth.The quintessence of Bhajans and events parallel to it such as Sangkirtanam ( Congregational singing of bhajans ) is the action of interlocking the five senses into pouring out devotion to God via divine songs accompanied by musical instruments,gestures and even dance which is done in a group.The songs often glorify the various divine names of the Almighty and plays the rhythmic repetition of divine names in a musically hypnotising manner.

These events take place in other forms such as nagar-sankirtan - whereby devotees march and dance in the streets - singing the glory of God,thereby purifying the entire aura of a village or town with the vibrations of the divine.

 Another interesting form is that of Akhanda Bhajan-where bhajans are done without break for 24 hours.Spiritual centres that hold this remain vigil for an entire day.

 There is not much need to emphasise on the introduction of Bhajans as many are familiar with it.

 However,unfortunately, myriads of people have a distorted or corrupted view towards Bhajans.This powerful practice  is even made a mockery in Indian movies.So called comedians give cheap remarks synonymous, if not in verbatim to the quotes below :

'' I am afterall a Bhajana party...''
'' Kadhal ( love ) Bhajan            ''
'' Ratri   ( night ) Bhajan            ''

  As if this ain't enough,we have moronic choreographers who portray unsightly dances of our famous drunkard 'heroes' singing in streets,accompanied by singers clad in holy symbols.Because you see,we lack drunkard Indians in the planet-and we need to encourage the young apply it to normalcy.

  Drunk hero and friends dance and sing with a sangkirtan group.The irony of 'Indian' cinema

  Hence,these 'Indian' cinema business powers have much insulted and displayed an ugly view on singing the glory of the Lord - which has been indeed a tradition of  the ancestors of our Indian audience ( oops.... I forgot that tradition meant only Jallikathu.. my bad )... no not Indians,I revoke.The right term is Bharateeyas.. the residents of the great Bharata-now reduced to India housing pests like these Indian cinema business powers.

  Right,this and various other minor factors has deeply enrooted the idea in many that bhajans are a low form of practice - suitable for the handicapped.
Many even claim that bhajans are a slow-path to experiencing god-realisation and such.Others even put other spiritual sadhanas above bhajan.They ask ,' what are bhajans in comparison to practices of hatha yoga,pranayama,chakra awakening,meditating,tratak and so on ? 



    Bhajans may look simple but it does tremendous wonders.Do not perceive anything just by logic.Let us dive in :

1. Bhajans are a superpower karma buster.    

    Sitting with a group and singing out your heart , pouring your devotion to God is simple-yet explosive.Emotion is an extremely powerful tool.The whole world can be controlled by emotion.It can make you cry,smile,laugh and even take over your very life.Such a tremendous gift,used into concentrating our entire life energies and senses towards the supreme,infuses us with indescribable divine energy- which destroys a whole lot of karma,negativities and blockades in you.Bhajans are capable of bursting much more density of doshas,sins,karmas,negativity or whatever you call them than if you light up lamps for the planetary deities.Yes.It is true.

 

2. Bhajans put you in a meditative state.You simply meditate !

   If you cannot meditate by sitting still .. or if you simply find it boring,jump into bhajans.You achieve it in a joyful manner.As stated,you put in your entire attention towards the Lord.All your senses are also directed towards the divine.When you clap hands while singing,you subconsciously block other thoughts from occupying your mind.Each subsequent clap halts the entry of random thoughts.As your mouth sings the glory of the lord,your mind is again subconsciously geared into remembering the lord only.Without even you realising,you slip into a blissful meditative state.The beauty here is = you achieve the prime goal of meditativeness - which is being in meditation without even you knowing you are 'meditating'.



3. Bhajans churn the divine energy and infuse you with it

   When you dance,actively play instruments or simply clap with intensity during bhajans, you churn the divine energy which is getting saturated in you.In other words,you are digesting the divine energy which has built up within you - before it gets wasted or dissipated in some other form.It's like breaking down a large chunk of food with your teeth ( mechanical digestion ) so that absorption in the gut is facilitated.This is why many devotees who casually start dancing with the flow of bhajans start getting very intense and wild - sometimes dancing out of their control ! It is a way of catalysing the divine energy.And when this happens,divine consciousness spikes.Those who cannot adapt to this sudden rise - go into trance.

  4. Bhajans purify the atmosphere-a service to render

 What bliss is there in bhajans! What a demonstration of oneness is it when a myriad throats join in uttering the name of God! The vibrations emanating from them make the heart vibrant. If you sing alone in your shrine, the vibrations return to you as a reaction. But in community singing, what you have is not a reaction but a wave of vibrations. They enter into the atmosphere and purify the polluted air. The atmosphere today is polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment of anti-biotics, as it were.  (Sai Baba, Jan. 1995, 26)  


 In a nutshell,do not feel ashamed to sing the glory of God in a crowd.You do not need to know the science of devotion and bhajans.You do not need to know your spiritual level or closeness to enlightenment.You need not know your sins and virtues.Just involve and sing out loud.Throw yourself to the ultimate with bhajans.Once you have rendered yourself empty and devoid of self-identity,God flows into you.Your body,mind and system is now a tool for the divine to manifest.

 This is the beauty of Bhajans - which implements devotion- the  sweetest and pleasantest way to Godhood.

  It is beautifully put that - ' devotion is the sweetest experience that even God yearns to experience

   However,on the contemporary,it is difficult for people to even have love for God- then how would they amplify this love through bhajans ? Because remember- Bhajan without love is futile ! Whatever has been expressed in this article works with only total involvement and love.

                                              Keep chasing.....

So how to invoke love ? simply surrender.Think of Him until He overflows you with love.Don't leave Him.God can be a naughty child.Chase ( Think of.. ) Him till He has no choice left...

                                      Till He has no way out  !

    

Monday, 30 January 2017

Why did Lord Shiva behead Ganesha ?



 Many of us are well aware of the story of Lord Ganesha - notably His transcendence from a boy to an elephant-headed cutie.



 The Purana illustrates as to how Mother Parvati created a boy as Her guardian,who did not permit Lord Shiva for entry.Lord Shiva then beheads the boy after a series of events.Then an elephants head was unionised with the body of the boy - who became Ganesha ! 



  Interestingly,there is a temple in Poonthotam near Kumbakonam , India where the main deity - Lord Ganapathy, is in the form of a boy with a human head - denoting the form He had prior to His elephantine form. 



               Pic : Adi Vinayagar Temple, Poonthotham


 So why Did Lord Shiva behead Ganesha - His own son after all ?

  Puranic stories cannot be perceived just by the logical mind.They are not mere stories or fairytales.They are very profound and expound various messages,insights and inspirations.

  Puranas convey the truths of the cosmos through a story - such that even a layman can grasp it.This does not mean that puranas are 'created' by a sage to convey some form of a moral message in parallel to Aesop's Fables ( ok that just got me into a feel trip to my childhood.. I used to read Aesop's Fables ) ..Coming back... these are true events as well.They are both symbolic and a reality.This is the intelligence of the creation.

  So what is the insight conveyed here ?  

    As we know,the boy was created out of Mother Parvathi.It is exemplified as

 ' Mother Parvati creating an idol of a boy out of Her body's dirt and breathing life into it '. 

This is how the boy was born. 

 We must understand that Mother Parvathi is Shakti.Shakti is the play and maya of the existence.Without Shakti - there is no movement or action.Shakti plays the game of the universe with the five elements.If you notice,the entire creation and all that you observe is merely consisting of the five elements - fire,water,air,ether and earth. These five elements are also represented by the Panchakshari mantra -   ' Na , Ma , Si , Va ,Ya '.

  Shiva is the absolute consciousness.Shiva is nothingness from which something is created.Shiva does not merely denote a deity or a being.That is only one dimension of what we call as ' Shiva'. Shiva is the 'observer' - The consciousness which exists in everything.With Shakti,Shiva can be expressed into action and movement.

This is symbolically shown in the picture below 

 
   Mother Kali - the ferocious expression of Shakti is seen stepping on Shiva, who lies below her feet. This is an ingenious way of depicting the state of Shiva as Shava ( corpse ) without Shakti. Only when Shakti acts ( stepping ) on Shiva ( consiousness ) - can live sustain or creation play it's game.

  So when the boy was created, He existed as only a Shakti aspect- as He was wholly created from Mother Parvathi. Lord Shiva's trisulam ( trident ) chopping of His head - denotes the infusion of Shiva aspect into the boy - making Him a complete Ganesha with both Shiva and Shakti aspect - well balanced.
  



 Lord Muruga - the brother of Ganesha also expresses Shiva-Shakti in another unique way. Muruga was created from Shiva's third eye. When Lord Muruga was preparing to go for a war with the demon Tarakasura , Mother Parvathi gifted Him the 'vel'.
The vel is from Mother Parvathi and resembles 'Shakti'. So even Muruga had His Shiva aspect equalised by the Shakti aspect.

 This is why in some cultures,Lord Muruga is seen as the same as Lord Shiva.In Nepal,Lord Muruga is worshipped as ' 6-headed Shiva'. They are in real the one and the same - just different expressions. 


 This is the yantra ( machine portraying the geometrical aspect of the deity ) for Lord Muruga.It is portrayed as two triangles -which is a very evident resemblance of Shiva - Shakti union.

The triangle pointing upwards denotes shiva and the other - shakti.





Another symbolism for the beheading scenario is the sacrifice of ego.The human head resembles ego and ignorance.This is expressed as the ignorance of the boy to recognise Lord Shiva as His father ( it indicates our ignorance in identifying God or seeking godhood )  Only when Lord Shiva beheads the head ( ego ) with the trisulam,is the boy enlightened into supreme-consiousness and with His elephant head ( which resembles intelligence or wisdom ) , He could recognise Lord Shiva as His Father ( depicting god-realisation )



 The elephant is symbolically used as a sign of wisdom and intelligence.They are indeed very sharp and divinely beings.They are very alert to the happenings in the nature and surrounding.Elephants are also well-known for their discrimintive skills and memory.An elephant can discriminate a particular sound from other similar sounds rather easily.




 Hence,it also shows how we should opt to get rid of our ego,and discriminate good from bad, and attain godhood.



                     
                    Video : Ganapathi Atharva Sirsam tutorial video

  The Ganapathi Atharva Sirsam is perhaps the most important veda mantra for Lord Ganesha.Also known as Ganapathi Upanishad- this hymn has a portion which describes the form of Ganesha as below :

एकदन्तं चतुर्हस्तं पाशमङ्कुशधारिणम्
रदं वरदं हस्तैर्बिभ्राणं मूषकध्वजम्
रक्तं लम्बोदरं शूर्पकर्णकं रक्तवाससम्
रक्तगन्धानुलिप्ताङ्गं रक्तपुष्पैस्सुपूजितम्


Eka-Dantam Catur-Hastam Paasham-Angkusha-Dhaarinnam |
Radam Ca Vara-Dam Hastair-Bibhraannam Muussaka-Dhvajam ||
Raktam Lambo[a-U]daram Shuurpa-Karnnakam Rakta-Vaasasam |
Rakta-Gandha-Anulipta-Anggam Rakta-Pusspais-Supuujitam ||

Meaning:


11.1: (The visible Form of Ganapati is as follows) His Face has a single Tusk (Ekadantam); He has Four Hands (Catur-Hastam); with two of His Hands, he is holding Noose (Pasha) and Goad (Ankusha),


11.2: With His third Hand He is holding a Tusk (Rada), and with His fourth Hand He is showing the gesture of Boon-Giving (Varada Mudra); His Flag is having the Emblem of a Rat (Mushaka),


11.3: His Form is having a Beautiful Reddish Glow (Raktam), with a Large Belly (Lambodara) and with Large Ears like Fans (Shurpa Karna); He is wearing Red Garments (Rakta Vasam),


11.4: His Form is annointed with Red Fragrant Paste (Rakta Gandha), and He is worshipped with Red Flowers (Rakta Pushpa), 
 



Click here to read on the benefits of chanting Ganapathi Upanishad



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