Monday, February 25, 2013

Mahima Dharma - Joranda Mela

Hi Readers,

Today, is the auspicious day of Agnisama Purnima( full moon night) the day when Joranda Magha Mela is done with full phase.I am going to write about Mahima Dharma(Mahima Cult). People of Odisha and neighboring states must be well acquainted with Mahima Dharma . I am going to write it so that anyone who has never seen or heard of Mahima could get a simple understanding of what is Mahima Dharma. 

If you happen to see a Baba( typical Hindu priest) in Saffron clothes, having knotted hair on his head, using a palm leaf umbrella to protect from Sun and singing Bhima Bhoi's devotional song, and eating from a earthen pot or from leaf plates and sleeping under open sky near burning log or Dhuni, you can conclude he is a Mahima Baba. Mahima Baba's look more or less like the Naga Sadhu's. The difference is in their belief of God. Mahima Dharma entertain no caste-ism. They do not worship any Idol and believe in Supreme power who has no form or shape. They eat once a day before sunset and get up early at 4am and do Surya darshan. They do not stay in a particular place for two consecutive days and do not beg food from same family twice consecutively. Mahima dharma bans adultery. 

It resembles Christianity in its belief of one god and one caste, but its God is Alekh or the Supreme power. They practice truth and non-violence and believe in immortality and re-birth. 

The philosophical truth on which Mahima Dharma was founded is that " The ultimate reality is one and only one." Mahima Dharma was propagated by Mahima Baba or Mahima Gosain. The religion which he preached through some of his disciples is pure monotheism identical with the doctrine of the Vedanta or Upanishad. The Sanyasi in Mahima Dharma are broadly divided into two catagories, Kopindhari Mahima Samaj and Balkadhari Mahima Samaj. The Kopindhari Mahima Samaj Sanayasi have no more gradation while Balkadhari Mahima Sanyasi are broadly divided into three catagories, the Bairagi Sanyasi, Apara Sanyasi and Para Sanyasi.

Main Temple at Joranda- Mahima Gadi

During 18th Century, Mahima Goswain had done great penance in Himalaya and then he reached Puri. By that time Swami settled on the dusty road of Puri. People used to ask him queries on their well being and, surprisingly, it all happened to true. From Puri Swami moved to hill caves of Khandagiri, Dhauligiri, Nilagiri etc. near Bhubaneswar (capital of Orissa state). During those days Swami lived on water alone for 12 years and people used to call him Nirahari Gosain. In 1838 Swami moved to Kapilash hill of Dhenkanal district of Orissa and spent 21 days in atma yoga samadhi (unification of human mind) with Balkal of kumbhi tree  leaving cloth on a huge round stone. The great seven-hooded snake spread its hood covering His head. The nearby area of the forest was illuminated by the luster of the body of Swami. On the 21st day a tribal, Sadananda of nearby Deogram village, discovered and witnessed the magnificent atma yoga samadhi of Swami and served fruits for 12 years during the stay of Swami at Kapilas hill. Swami was known was Phalahari Gosain on those days. Next Swami spent 12 years with cow milk alone rendered as service by the ruler of Dhenkanal: those days King Bhagirathi Bhramarbar Bahadur. Both king and queen had the luck and opportunity to witness Swami on top of Kapilas hill and served milk on new earthen pots.

During those days Swami moved to Kakanpada village of Rairakhol with his first disciple sidha Govinda Baba and made his appearance to blindBhima Bhoi and blessed him with eyesight. Bhima visualised Swami and next moment with all humbleness prayed Swami to make him blind again as the torture of mankind was intolerable. Swami blessed him for composing poem on Nirguna Brahma to spread the Mahima cult. Swami then went back to Kapilas hill. The journey of Swami to Rairakhol was through sky not by foot.
After spending 12 years in Kapilash hill Mahima Prabhu travelled around 24 years as Brahmabadhuta  and spread Mahima Dharma in Orissa and neighboring states before taking samadhi at Joranda, Dhenkanal, of Odisha on the 10th day after the new moon of 1876. The place where Mahima Swami disappeared (merged Himself in the Mahanityapura) is called Mahima Gadi. It is the heart of all Mahima movement around world.

I had visited Joranda Gadi some 8 yrs ago with my family. My grandfather was a follower of Mahima Dharma. It was a wonderful experience to visit the temples with just a big lamp within. We stayed in the ashram of Baba whom my Grand father had followed. The Baba served us their meal which had less spices, salt and sugar in it. I got one day to watch them closely. It was a wonderful experience. We also saw the Sandhya Arati at the Mahima Gadi and returned from Joranda. 

Burning of Jajnan Khund on  eve of Magha Mela

Today, as it stands to be the most important day of Mahima Dharma, huge crowd of devotees have reached Joranda to celebrate the annual festival Magha Mela. During the Joranda Mela several religious rituals are being performed by the priests and the people of this religion. One such prime ritual is the burning enough amount of ghee in Jajnan Khund. The people believes that this yagan will in bringing peace back to the earth. The devotees offer their prayer to their god by saying.‘Alekh Brahma’. They believe that all these devotion will refine our earth and will provide the people with all their basic needs that are required for in their daily lives. It is during this period that the initiation for promoting "Bairagi" to "Apara Sanyasi" (superior caste of disciples in Mahima Sect) takes place.

Pranika aarata dhukha Apramita 
Dekhu dekhu keba saahu
Mo jibana pachhe narke padi thau
Jagat udhar heu...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ashok Sundari - Daughter of Lord Shiva

Sometimes back Ashok Sundari made an appearance in TV serial Devon ke dev in Life Ok. I had never heard of Shiva fathering a daughter before. From my childhood I knew Shiva and Parvati had only one son whom Shiva had fathered "Karthik" and Ganesha was son of Parvati alone as he was brought to life from the turmeric paste idol that Parvati made before bathing.

I tried searching for Ashok Sundari in net and found out that she is rarely known. In fact, her name does not appear in Vedas and Purana's. She is mentioned in Gujarati folk lore and was created by Parvati in same way as Ganesha. 

Parvati had created Ganesha out of the turmeric paste (ubtan) that she used to bath. She created a baby boy and then gave him life and called him Ganesha. She wanted Ganesha to protect her and not let anyone enter her bathing place without her consent. In same way, Parvati created Ashok Sundari out of a tree, to find a companion in her. She named her Ashok Sundari, meaning one beautiful lady who can take all grief and sorrows. 

In north India, Kartikey is known as Shiva's elder son and Ganesha younger, however, in south particularly in Tamil Nadu, Ganesha is known to be the elder son of Shiva and Kartikey his younger son. 
In Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, one occasionally comes across Jyoti, the goddess of light, who emerges from Shiva’s halo and is the physical manifestation of his grace. She is commonly associated with Kartikey.
The idea of devotees ‘creating’ gods and goddess is not unknown to Hinduism. Few realize that Santoshi-maa did not exist in the Hindu landscape before the famous film in the 1970s. Is Ashok Sundari the next of our 330 million gods?
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