Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ashoka Astami

Hi Readers,

Today is the auspicious day of Ashoka Astami the eighth day from new moon day in Chaitra Masa, this is the eighth day of Vasant Navaratri as well. On this day, Goddess Maa Durga is worshiped in  her Maha Gauri form.This is also believed that Sri Ram had worshiped Goddess Durga during Vasant Navaratri to defeat Ravana. As Maa Shakti is believed to have protected Ravana, Ram had worshiped her continuously to appease her and get boon to defeat Ravana in the battle of Lanka. Ram had worshiped both Lord Shiva and Maa Shakti to get this boon. On the auspicious day of Ashoka Astami (Ashoka meaning the one who removes and protects from hurdles and sorrows), both Lord Shiva and Maa Shakti had blessed Lord Sri Ram and had removed all his sorrows.

In Odisha this day has special significance, due to Rukuna Rath Yatra (the famous car festival of Lord Lingaraj in Bhubaneswar).According to folklore, Lord Sri Ram had worshiped Lord Shiva at Rameswaram, and when Lord Shiva wanted him to ask for what he wants , he wanted Lord to visit Rameswaram for five days, thus Lord Lingaraj in his Chandrashekar form visited Rameswaram in his chariot Rukuna. The folklore also has another version, in which Lord Lingaraj and Maa Bhubanswari had travelled to kill Surasura.

Rukuna Rath or chariot has one special significance, as it does not return once it moves in one direction. So, the devotees pull this chariot till the Rameswar temple. On the Bahuda yatra ( return of Lord Lingaraj to Lingaraj temple) the decoration in front side is removed and is placed in back side and pulled back.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Do you believe in destiny?

Few days back in daily newspaper, I came across two articles based on life. One was about the attitude that we have towards our life and the other is about thinking. Sometimes, we think a lot and expand the issue which is in fact not so significant. I hope each one of us would have experienced this sometime or other. We worry unnecessarily and try to eliminate the problem itself.

However, life is not about eliminating problem, it is more about controlling problem and working through it until we come up with something or somewhat better off situation. Sometimes, we get angry on people just because we have been carrying a bad image of them with us. But, we need to question our self first, Am i good? Am I perfect? No body is perfect nor can ever be. The degree of being perfect varies. And also the values differ.

I may not like someone who boasts around or someone who goes on manipulating things. While there could be another individual, who would judge the same person as someone who could get the work done by any means. For me, getting the work done by good means, may it take lot of time and energy is worth but for the other person, getting work done is important over how it is done.

Life is always good, until the sky falls on our head and we stop breathing. There are hundreds of people who are starving, do not have proper clothes,shoes to wear, don't have a roof over their head. But, still they are alive. Have you ever watched a street children being way happy when someone offered them chocolate or ice-cream? There is happiness in them , that sparkles with that joy of getting something that they longed to have. It is as though they won a gold medal in a race.

Few days back there was a story in newspaper about one kidnapped child who was later united with his two mothers. He was kidnapped and was given to another lady who wanted to adopt a child. The lady took good care of this child, even in a better way than his real mother. The child soon forgot  image of his real parent and when reunited did not wanted to go back. The lady who adopted him, had lost her husband to one accident and her only son to an incurable medical condition. She runs a small catering business and had nothing that could inspire her. Her mother wanted her to adopt a child so that she could think it as her aim in life and lead a normal life. Though, not very rich, she had abundance motherly affection that she gave to two adopted children.
People like her are true inspiration. They have not only overcome hurdles but also have shed light of hope on many who undergo challenging circumstances. Sometimes, we really do not know what destiny has for us. But, yes we need to learn responding to challenging circumstances than reacting to it.

The journey of Ratnakar to Valmiki

Valmiki the saint who narrated epic Ramayan and who was the guru of Lav and Kush (Rama's son),used be a well known bandit named Ratnakar.

Though born in to a bhramin family, Ratnakar had turned bandit by being with bad company of others. He used to loot the people who would travel through the lonely paths of wood. He was destined to become the great sage Valmiki, the transformation of Ratnakar to sage Valmiki is an well known and inspirational story that motivates one to give up all the bad qualities and become a better person. The story of transformation of Ratnakar bandit to sage Valmiki is as below :-

One day, Narada Munni was crossing by the wood where Ratnakar used to reside and loot people. When he saw Narada, he challenged Narada to stop. Unafraid by him, Narada turned to him and said, " Look brother, I do not possess anything that you would like to take.Why are you engage in killing innocent people. There is no sin greater than killing another fellow mate. And for whom you are committing such heinous crime?

Ratnakar was accustomed of watching frightened faces that used to cry and beg for his mercy. Ratnakar, was astonished to see Narada, he was not bit afraid and moreover had courage to question him. He was impressed by Narada and answered, to feed my large family, I loot people and take their wealth.

Narada replied: " Brother, go and ask them, if they are willing to share your sins for whom you are committing these sinful actions. And don't think that I would run away, if you don't believe me then you an tie me with this rope to the tree. Remember, everyone repents for their part of sin after death."

Ratnakar after tying Narad with the rope went to his home and asked everybody the same question: " Is anybody ready to share my sins?" The same reply came from each member of his family:" It is your duty to look after me, to feed us. It is not my concern as to by which method you earn wealth, so why should I share your sins?"

Ratnakar was disillusioned. He who was toiling, committing sins, taking risks, day and night for them and here they were not even ready to share his sins. He saw the futility of his actions he had been committing. Ratnakar went back to the forest and untying Narada fell at his feet and started crying and said: O learned man ,how can a mean person like me achieve salvation?

Narada after thinking for a while asked him to chant the name of God Rama but for Ratnakar even pronouncing it was difficult. When Narada saw that even after trying very hard, Ratnakar was not successful in his attempts to chant Rama's name, he asked him to pronounce it backwards that is 'Mara' and then Narada went away. Ratnakar started to chant 'Mara, Mara' sitting there. He continued with this chant for 4 days, months, years and even Yuga! He did not get up for a single moment, even opened his eyes. His body was so still that termites made his body their home and his whole body was covered with them. Lord Brahma after being by his penance blessed him and gave him the name Valmiki because of the termites, which are called Valmik in Sanskrit.

One, who was a cruel bandit, whose only duty was to kill became the most noble sage because of the effect of chanting God's name though backwards.

We all have enormous power inside us, if we want to perform anything we can do it, be it the most difficult task of transforming from a cruel bandit to sage with the grace of god.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A rich man and his 19 horses.

Once upon a time, a rich man owned 19 horses. In his last will and testament he had written that upon his death, half the horses he owned should go to his only son; one fourth to the village temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The village elders could not stop scratching their heads. How can they give half of the 19 horses to the son? They puzzled over this dilemma for more than two weeks and then decided to send for a wise man who was living in a neighboring village.

The wise man came riding on his horse and asked the villagers if he can be of any help to them. The village elders told him about the rich man's last will and testament which stated that half of the (19) horses must be given to his only son, one fourth must go to the temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The wise man said he will immediately solve their problem without any delay whatsoever. He had the 19 horses stand in a row next to one another. Then he added his own horse as the 20th horse. Now he went about giving half of the 20 horses – that is ten horses to the son. One fourth of 20- that is 5 horses were given to the temple committee. One fifth of twenty- that is 4 horses were given to the faithful servant. Ten plus five plus four made 19 horses. The remaining 20th horse was his own which he promptly mounted, spoke a few inspiring words, and rode back home.

The villagers were simply dumbfounded, full of disbelief and filled with admiration. And the parting words of the wise man were inscribed in their hearts and minds which they greatly cherished and passed on to their succeeding generations till today.

The wise man said: In our daily lives, in our daily affairs, simply add God’s name and then go about facing the day’s happenings. Ever come across problems in life that are seemingly insurmountable? (Like the villagers, do we feel that such problems cannot be solved?).

The wise man continued: Add the God in our daily lives and the problems will become lighter and eventually will disappear. In the manner of the ice which, with the addition of the heat principle will turn into water, and that will eventually evaporate as steam and disappear. And how do we add God’s name  in our daily lives? Through prayers, filled with true love and devotion with sincerity of purpose and dedication that only total faith can bring about. Meditation is a powerful means of directing the mind towards God.

But without true love and devotion entering into it, it remains like a boat without water. It is not difficult to push a boat that is floating in water, but extremely hard to drag the same boat on dry land. In the same way, if our life’s boat floats on the waters of true love and devotion, we can sail easily in it. The principle of love of God and devotion with total faith, (like water) makes easy the voyage of our lives. When the mind is pure and the heart full of simplicity and holiness, such a devotee becomes an instrument in the service of the Lord.
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