Thursday, 2 February 2017
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.
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
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 च 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 ||
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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