In order to get an idea of the various chemical changes which take place, it is essential to know the various substances offered in Yagya.
Wood has to be dry and free from dust, insects and worms. The wood is cut into small sticks of varying lengths called Samidhas according to the size of the altar or Agnikunda.
The principal types of wood used are the following:-
I. Sandal-wood (Santalum Album) II. Agar and Tagar wood (Aquilana Malaccensis and Valeriana Wallchii) III. Deodar (Cedrys Libani) IV. Mango (Mangifera Indica) V. Dhak or Palash (Butea Frondosa) VI. Bilva (Aegle Marmelos) VII. Pipal (Ficus Religiosa) VIII. Bargad (Ficus Bengalensis) IX. Shami (Proposis Spicigera) X. Gular (Ficus Glomerata)
In addition to wood, various Havishya or Havan samagri are offered in Yagya. This can be divided into the following four groups:
(B) Odoriferous Substances:
These are - saffron, musk, agar, tagar, chandan, illaychi, jayphal, javitri and camphor.
(C) Substances with Healthy Constituents:
These are clarified butter (ghee), milk, fruits and cereals like wheat, rice, barley, til, kangu, munga, chana, arhar, masur or peas.
(D) Sweet Substances:
These usually are - sugar, dried grapes, honey or chhuhara.
(E) Medicinal Herbs:
These are used as per specific requirement. Some common herbs are; Somalata or Giloya, Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, Nagkesar, Mulhati,Red Chandan, Baheda, Sonth and Harad.
Now-a-days Havan samagri is readily available in the market consisting of the following substances in a crude powder form: Saw dust of sandal-wood and pine wood, the agar and tagar wood chips, kapurkachari, gugal,nagarmotha, balchhaar or jatamansi,narkachura, sugandhbala, illayachi, jayphal, cloves and dalchini.
Products of Combustion
At the outset, it can be said that the interpretation of process of combustion in a Yagya in a physical scientific terms is rather difficult due to the following reasons:
(i) The properties of substances which are used are vastly varying; (ii) The conditions under which combustion takes place remain unspecified. The products of combustion depend on the following
Factors like:- (a) The nature of substances used and their proportions, (b) Temperature attained, (c) Controlled supply of air, (d) Interaction amongst the various products formed.
Vapourization of wood: Besides complete combustion of cellulose material of wood, it is also subjected to vaporization. This happens due to the way Samidhas are arranged in the Agnikunda, the conditions of temperature and air supply which prevail in it.
Steam Volatilization of Odorous Substances: The temperature attained in the Kunda varies between 250°C and 600°C, while in actual flames it can go as high as 1200°C to 1300°C. The boiling points of volatile constituents get diffused over in the surrounding atmosphere. Also when cellulose and other carbohydrates undergo combustion, steam is formed in copious quantities by the combination of hydrogen of organic substances with the oxygen. This is how the substances like thymol, eugenol, pinene, terpinol etc., are carried over in the surroundings and the aroma of a Yagya can be smelt even at a considerable distance. In addition to steam, smoke is also given out in copious quantities and solid particles existing in a highly divided state offer sufficient surface for mechanical diffusion. Thus smoke also functions as colloidal particles for diffusion of volatile aromatic substances depending on temperature and direction of the wind.
Combustion of Fatty Substances: The fatty substances used in Yagya are mainly ghee and other fatty substances of vegetable origin. Ghee helps in rapid combustion of cellulose of wood and keeps the fire alight. All fatty substances used are combinations of fatty acids, which volatilize easily. The combustion of glycerol portion gives acetone bodies, pyruvic aldehyde and glyoxal etc. The hydrocarbons produced in the reactions again undergo slow combustion and as a result methyl and ethyl alcohols, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, formic acid and acetic acids are formed.
Photo-Chemical process: When all the volatile substances are diffused in the surrounding atmosphere, these are further subjected to photochemical reactions in the sunlight. This may be the reason why it has been recommended that Yagya should be performed in the presence of strong sunlight. These changes occur in the ultra-violet and other short wavelength regions. The products of fumigation thus go photochemical decomposition, oxidation and reduction. To some extent even CO2 is also reduced to form aldehyde as follows: CO2 + H2O + 112,000 cal. = HCHO = O2
From an environmental angle, reduction of CO2 produced in Yagya as above and liberation of oxygen cannot be overemphasized.
The industrial wastes, rapid urbanization, deforestation, air and water pollution, disturbances in the ozone layer - formation, radioactive waves etc., have destabilized the human, animal and plant life cycles. The ecological imbalance caused by these acts of ‘civilized men’ has resulted into disastrous threat not only to human survival but to the life as a whole on our planet. Till recently it was accepted that research into science can furnish answer to all of man’s problems. Today we find increasing number of diseases including malfunctioning of body organs due to increasing severity of pollution in the atmosphere. Ozone layer depletion has been causing ailments like sunburn, skin cancer, cataracts and weakening of the immune system. Viruses are becoming drug-resistant and showing consistent growth trends.
Experimental studies show that the incidence of physical ailments, sickness and disease are reduced in the houses, where the Yagya (Agnihotra) is regularly performed because it creates a pure, nutritional and medicinal atmosphere. It renews the brain cells, revitalizes the skin, purifies blood and prevents growth of pathogenic organisms. Agnihotra is basically a healing process. ‘Heal the atmosphere and the healed atmosphere will heal you’- is the Modus Operandi. Purification of environment through the constituent electrons of the substances fumigated in the Yagya is an obvious effect of this process. The observation of some distinguished scientists is noteworthy in this regard.
Dr. Hafkine has mentioned that - “mixing ghee and sugar and burning them creates smoke which kills the germs of certain diseases and secretion takes place from some glands related to the wind-pipe, which fill our heart and mind with pleasure. Sugars present in Havishya have great power to purify the atmosphere. It kills the germs of T.B., measles, smallpox and cow-pox, remarks Prof. Tilward. According to Dr. Shirowich, a Russian scientist has remarked that (i) Cow’s milk contains great power of protection from atomic radiation;(ii) Houses having cow-dung covered floors enjoy complete protection from atomic radiation; (iii) If cow’s ghee is put into Yagya fire, its fumes lessen the effect of atomic radiation to a great extent.
The medicinal fumes emanating from Agnihotra have been observed by researchers in the field of microbiology to be clearly bacteria lethal in nature. These eradicate bacteria and other micro-organisms, which are the root cause of illness and diseases. This must be the reason why the incidence of physical ailments, sickness and diseases becomes less in the households, where Agnihotra is regularly performed. Even without going into detailed chemical bacteriology, it can be stated that performance of Yagya leads to purification of air.
Removal of Foul Odours
Under steam volatilization, the various volatile oils get diffused in the surrounding atmosphere along with steam and smoke. Since these oils have distinct good smell, the foul odours are automatically replaced. This aroma can be experienced easily in the surroundings when Yagya is performed due to diffusion of substances like thymol, eugenol, pine, terpinol and oils of sandal-wood, camphor and clove.
Removal of Bacteria
The partial oxidation of hydrocarbons and decomposition of complex organic substances produce formal aldehyde which is a powerful antiseptic. It is also interesting to note that germicidal action of formaldehyde is only effective in the presence of water vapour which is also produced in large quantities in Yagya. The use of formaldehyde spray for disinfecting of walls, ceiling etc., is common and such a spray is automatically produced when Yagya is performed.
The oxidation of hydrocarbons also produces formic acid and acetic acid both of which are good disinfectants. Use of formic acid for preservation of fruits and that of acetic acid in preserving vinegar is a common practice. The antiseptic and antibiotic effects of fumes of Yagya have also been examined by conducting suitable experiments on rabbits and mice and it has been established that fumes emitted in Yagya are powerful antibiotic. Agnihotra ash purifies and cleanses the water making it fit for drinking.
Removal of insects
There are non-bacterial parasites like flies, ringworm, dice, fleas etc., which are harmful to living beings but immune to bactericides. Such insects are generally immune to ordinary reagents; however they either get killed or are driven away, when they come in contact with the fumes of volatile oils like camphor diffused in the environment.
Effects on Plants and Vegetation
The disinfection of air is not only useful to animal life but also helps plant’s life, though the bacteria responsible for diseases in both may be different. The aromatic substances during Yagya get diffused in the air and offer protection to plant life against harmful organisms. This ensures healthy plant growth. Agnihotra’s atmosphere and ash can be used as adjutants in the ‘Natural farming’ methods - also known as the Agnihotra farming methods. It is a holistic concept of growing plants in a healthy atmosphere and maintaining ecological balance by performing Agnihotra (Yagya) in the middle of the farm and using the Yagya - ash as a fertilizer. It is not only safe and productive but also holistic in its approach towards the environment.
Role of CO2 generated in Yagya
Consignment of the wood and other organic maters to flames has been always controversial because of generation of CO and CO2, as well as the increase in consequent ‘green house’ effect. It had been argued that performance of Yagya also produces CO and CO2. It should be noted here that the way in which the Samidhas and Havishya are burnt in Yagya is a process of slow combustion at higher temperature. The burning of coal in factories or in the household fire involves rapid combustion, where oxygen is sucked in large quantities and enormous CO2 is emitted. However, in the slow combustion taking place in the process of Yagya, small quantity of O2 is utilized & a meagre CO2 is emitted that poses no threat to the environment. In fact, whatever CO2 is generated it is readily absorbed by the surrounding vegetation and the CO2 cycle is strengthened.
The other important aspect is the fact that CO2 produced in Yagya is not always free CO2 but it remains mixed with other aromatic oils and antiseptic products. It therefore, acts as a vehicle in transporting such products to distant surroundings. The use of CO2 as a cerebral stimulant to assist the patients suffering from lack of ventilation is common in medical world. Its use to control and cure many mental disorders is also known to medical science. Small amounts of CO2 inhaled by the persons performing Yagya acts as a stimulant and more and more aromatic fumes are inhaled which help in curing mental disorders. Particularly effective results with respect to the elimination or reduction in radiation were achieved through Yagya’s fire and ash. These observations are made by Dr. L. Maela Anatoninhowska of Poland after using P.S.I. techniques.
Why do we regard the sacrificial fire of Yagya as purohit (a priest)? It inspires us to imbibe its five idealistic qualities in our life.
1. Fire has the characteristic of always being hot and bright. We are inspired to lead bright, radiant, active lives like fire, full of wisdom and brilliance. 2. The flame of fire always goes upwards. One may apply any amount of pressure but its flame never goes downwards. It teaches us that despite immense pressures of fear and temptations our flame of wisdom, and foresight should ever be kept-alight and up-turned. 3. Anything coming in contact with fire becomes fire itself. We should also have such a quality of excellence in our character, so that anyone coming in our contact may become refined. 4. Fire accumulates nothing. Whatever is offered in the fire is vaporized. It is scattered throughout in the atmosphere and becomes universal. We should also not accumulate possessions for our selfish ends but utilize all our resources and qualities for advancing the good of the people. We should be generous and lovingly kind. 5. The residue of the fire is ashes. Ultimately physical forms of all human beings are going to be reduced to a handful of ashes. The idea behind applying (ashes of Yagya) on the forehead is that man should always remember the inevitability of death and utilize each and every moment of his life in the best possible manner. These five teachings are known as panchagnividya which the priest (purohit) in the form of fire teaches to every human being. A man is truly blessed if he imbibes these teachings in his daily life by performing symbolic worship in the form of Yagya.
The real purpose of Yagya is to imbibe virtues like self-sacrifice, self-restraint (sanyam), charity, beneficence, generosity, compassion etc. in our daily life. It inspires us to surrender everything, body, mind, ego and soul to God. A Sadhak on surrendering himself to God, who has been described as Yagya-purush in the scriptures, becomes one with Yagya, just as samidhas on being consumed in the sacrificial fire of Yagya become fire itself. In fact the real Yagya is to follow the directions and inspirations of our indwelling divinity and imbibe righteous tendencies. Constant remembrance of the Divine, keeping an attitude of detachment and remaining engrossed in regular sacred studies and devotion amounts to leading a Yagyiya life. Such a person sees the presence of God in everyone, everywhere and becomes free of evil deeds and sins.
Gayatri and Yagya constitute the foundation of the Vedic Culture. While Gayatri imparts wisdom and pure intelligence, Yagya inspires corresponding creativity and actions. In talking of the Vedic age the images of the great rishis performing agnihotra-yagyas instantly flashes before our sight. In those days, apart from the rishis, the rich and the poor, the kings and citizens also had an equally deep faith and respect for Yagya and they used to sincerely participate in and lend wholehearted support for different kinds of Yagyas.
The rishis used to spend at least one-third of their lives in conducting Yagyas. It was a common belief and an observed fact in the Vedic Indian society that Yagya was essential for the refinement of human life from a shudra (i.e. a person living a life driven by animal instincts) to a Brahmin (i.e. a wise, knowledgeable, charitable person), and ultimately to a divine, great personality. Yagyas played an essential role in the all-round progress, prosperity and happiness in the Vedic age. This was indeed natural, as the philosophy and science of Yagya and the different modes of performing agni-yagya were discovered and developed by the rishis based on their deep understanding and in-depth research of the human psyche, the intricacies of the social fabric and the mysteries of Nature.
The brilliance and purity of agni (fire) appears to be a universal symbol for worship. The rituals of different religions affirm this fact. The first mantra of Rigaveda - the most ancient scripture of knowledge on Earth, quotes "agnimaye purohitam", signifying agni as a sacred symbol of God. This is what is referred to in different religious and spiritual scriptures as Brahmateja, Divine Flame, Sacred Glow, Divine Light, Latent Light, etc. The Vedic hymn "agne supatha raye" prays to this omnipotent, supreme power to enlighten and inspire us towards the righteous path. The same is meant in the phrase "dhiyo yonah prachodayat" of the great Gayatri Mantra.
All World Gayatri Pariwar is engaged in multiple reformative and reconstructive activities on the personal, familial, social, national and cultural fronts of life. Spiritual refinement of the sukshma vatavarana has been the predominant focus of this mission and it has endeavoured a Yagya-based movement on the lines of the Vedic tradition to achieve The Yug Nirman Yojana mission of All impossible goal.
This historic mission has emerged from the rigorous tap-sadhana of the Vishwamitra of our times, the rishi of this age – Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya. The devout endeavours and supernormal spiritual eminence of this yug rishi enabled the epochal descent of the otherwise lost and forgotten super knowledge (vidya) of Gayatri and accomplished it as the saviour of the world. This visionary saint deciphered and propagated the divine light of Yug Ïakti Gayatri to reach the masses and also pioneered the revival of the Vedic culture of Yagya so that it could be adopted by every man and woman in the present times too. Like the rishis of yore, his sagacious acumen and saintly heart had understood the enormous problems and crisis of the era through deeper depths. He therefore encouraged eroding of the root cause hidden in the sukshma vatavarana and attempted colossal refinement in every dimension of the gross and sublime environment of life by the spiritual experiments of Gayatri Sadhana and Yagya. Massive number of small and hundreds of grand Yagyas have been organized since the advent of his “Yug Nirman” campaign. The “Sahastranshu Brahm Yagya” performed on the Gayatri Jayanti 1953 was the first spiritual experiment of grand participation of people from all parts of the society. It was the auspicious commemoration of the glorious completion of the twenty-four divine Mahapurashcharnas endeavoured by Gurudev Shriram Sharma Acharya for twenty-four years. This also laid the foundation of the Gayatri Pariwar. A series of distinct Yagyas in Vedic tradition commenced in 1955 in which the Mahamrityunjaya Yagya, Rudra Yagya, VishnuYagya, Indra Yagya, Nava Graha Yagya, GanpatiYagya, Saraswati Yagya, Jyotioma Yagya, Agnioma, and the Gayana Yagya of the four Vedas, etc were performed with the participation of more and more Gayatri Sadhakas. Year 1956 marked the 108 Kundiya Yagyas and grand Narmedha Yagya to mobilize the collective power and enthusiasm of the Sadhakas dedicated towards social reformation and welfare of the masses. Over 20,000 people from all walks of life had participated in these Yagyas conducted by Acharyaji in Gayatri Tapobhumi Mathura. Organization of 108 Gayatri Yagyas across the country was pledged on this occasion to propagate the Gyana of Gayatri and Vigyana of Yagya among the masses. This number increased to 1008 within a year, which included 5 and 9 Kundiya to 108 Kundiya (Maha) Yagyas.
21st June is celebrated as the longest day of the year. The Sun shows up for longer on this day. I visited Northern Europe and witnessed this day celebrated as ‘white night.’ The Sun rises again in a little while after it sets in. I have enjoyed it thoroughly. After that, the sunrise gradually occurs late day by day.
Brothers and Sister, our honourable Prime Minister has transformed 21st June into a historical day by making it an International Day of Yoga. On this day, people across the whole world—rich and poor, young and old—practise Yoga. Yoga is not just a one day exercise but a massive public awareness and mass education campaign to persuade masses why they should make Yoga a part of their daily routine. Gayatri Pariwar is going to hold Yoga sessions at about 100,000 places across India simultaneously. On an average, 1,000 to 10,000 people are expected to participate at each venue, practising Yoga exercises—asanas (Yoga postures) and Pranayama.
We have formulated a one hour programme to convey what good benefits it could bring in our life. The purpose of carrying out a collective practice is to increase awareness about Yoga among people. Yoga is aimed at bringing equilibrium between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. If yoga is adopted by people, each citizen would become a Yogi which in turn will safeguard everyone from getting lured by temptations, wrongdoings, corruption, black money and so on. As a consequence, India will again emerge as an ideal nation, in the same way it was hailed as a golden bird among all in the ancient times.
This time, the whole world will join in. Gayatri Pariwar has its presence in more than 70 countries across the globe. Our representatives will team up with local residents to hold Yoga drills at various places. You will witness how Yoga gifted by India is going to spread worldwide.
Other organizations too are engaged in similar efforts. Patanjali has said, “yogah chittavritti norodhah” i.e. yoga represents controlling the tendencies of the mind which are usually restless. Chitta refers to our subconscious mind. It stores everything including the garbage acquired in previous lives and the current life. Cleansing of subconscious mind is yoga. Even if we can manage to incorporate only two aspects of Yoga namely, Yama and Niyama, we could become idea citizens.
Yoga is a system that refines lifestyle. Our life and lifestyle could become truly transformed, if we manage to ingrain its elements like non-violence, truthfulness, refraining from covetousness, celibacy, dedication to God, and so forth. We would then see its rewards coming to us. That is why I think the exercise of 21 June is very important. We would repeat it every year. The whole world will start embracing Yoga in next five years. In other words, we all will join the Supreme Authority who is beyond any creed, cult or religion, as Vedanta says our refined, resplendent soul itself is the Supreme Being or the Supreme Soul which is one and same in all religions. The head of all the religions is Paramatma, the Supreme Soul who is the integral and indivisible part of all of us, who is the regulator of everyone and everything including our ecology, our personal, social and family life and so on. Yoga is to attain oneness with the Supreme Being. If people can understand these, they would be able to recognize the worth of yoga.
These days, the practice of asanas, postures, hand and leg movements, gymnastics, etc. is being mistakenly believed to be Yoga. These physical exercises are merely one of the many elements of Yoga. The real Yoga involves the coming together of both the micro-cosmos and the macro-cosmos. Their union will enable all goodness in the Supreme Being start trickling down into us. Our Guruji Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya has said, “Upasna is an endeavour to bring and establish in our life, the best virtues and the best tendencies of the Supreme Being.” The more we accomplish it, the closer we move towards God. Yoga helps us to move towards Supreme Being. It helps us to acquire the virtues of Supreme Being. The more virtues we attain, the more we become like the Supreme Being. The individual would attain the vastness and wider capacity of the society.
The environment these days has been thrown out of equilibrium. It has become chaotic and could go wild any time. If there is anything that is capable to restore it, it is the Science of Yoga, the Spiritual Science and not the modern-day science. Therefore, the Science of Yoga should be regarded as belonging to the whole world, not only to a particular religion or a country. Yoga is meant to be for the whole world.
Patanjali explained it through Yoga Darshan and Bhagwan Krishna expounded it through Bhagwad Geeta. All these teachings can be ingrained into life. It only requires making some small changes here and there in the daily routine. Bhagwan Shri Krishna says, “yuktāhāravihārasya yuktaceṣṭasya karmasu; yuktasvapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkhahā (6.17)” Yoga can get rid of misery when our eating habits and lifestyle become just like that of a yogi. Going to bed, the sleep and rising should all happen on time be like that of Yogi. When we wake up in the morning, we should really wake up just like a Yogi, not abruptly at the sound of an alarm clock but feeling fully fresh and showing deep gratitude to the Supreme Being for the gift of a one-day life. Our actions, conducts and interactions should be all like that of a Yogi. If we can realise these, the Yoga would bring an end to our misery. The biggest calamity of these days is that the humanity is inundated with misery. There are all sorts of problems everywhere—physical, mental, spiritual, social, management and so on. Everyone indeed desires to be happy. But how can we attain happiness? In Geeta, Bhagwan Shri Krihna says that the perturbed mind can only attain happiness when it finds peace in the first place. Only Yoga can enable us to have peace. Yoga brings peace. Only after one attains true knowledge, he/she will find peace, so much so that the individual will then experience nothing but bliss. The pleasures we see around are momentary. They are accompanied with anxiousness, greed, the elements that can make us suffer and others too, whether at home or at work. Peace and happiness are the duos that can be attained through Yoga. Yoga gives peace and the peace gives happiness and the happiness gives eternal bliss, one after another.
Therefore, the International Day of Yoga should be celebrated as if it is a priceless blessing. We should celebrate it every year and every day, even if it is just for five minutes a day. Every day we should thank God for being able to practise it. If we continually pursue it, we will realise many accomplishments in abundance. We will stay healthy physically, mentally, spiritually and also environmentally. We will enjoy health, strength, long life and make our life worthwhile. Please do celebrate the International Day of Yoga.
It is difficult to fathom the root cause of the astonishing demonstrations of Gayatri Sadhana. Right from Brahma, the Creator of this universe, down to the present era, all the rishis, saints, spiritual seers and seekers have demonstrated the beneficent effects of the chanting of Gayatri mantra. No other mantra has been worshipped and chanted as much as Gayatri Mantra. Since ages highly elevated souls have been practising Gayatri Sadhana. Thus, a huge mass of highly elevated spiritual energy has been accumulated in subtle celestial spheres (loks) enveloping the earth.
It is a scientific truth that no sound or idea ever perishes. Whatever is uttered or thought today will spread in the space along with its waves and will remain there till infinity in some state or the other. Waves which are most powerful remain specifically alive. Scientists are trying to catch waves set in motion during the Mahabharat battle and those of the music of Tansen. If they succeed, we will be able to listen to sounds of important conversations which took place in ancient times. It will then be possible to listen Geeta directly emanating from the mouth of Lord Krishna. Although, it may not be possible to transform sounds and thoughts into material forms in near future, it is certain that they do not vanish into nothingness. The faith and devotion towards Gayatri which have been nourished by countless persons still exist with all their potentialities in the subtle realm. According to the principle of convergence of all homogeneous elements at one point, the faith, devotion, sentiments and devout austerity of all the devotees have combined to contribute to the accumulation of a huge store of conscious spiritual energy.
Those who are acquainted a little with the science of thinking know that a magnetic field of the type in which a person thinks is created in his mind. This magnetism attracts thoughts of similar nature permeating the entire space and in a short time there is a vast accumulation of similar kinds of thoughts. Persons who think about gentlemanliness become more and more charged with righteous thoughts, virtues, tendencies and nature. In the same way a sinful mind becomes all the more so in a short time. All this happens according to the science of attraction of identical thoughts, according to which thoughts of all divine souls who were devotees of Gayatri right from the beginning of this creation get inter-linked. It is difficult even for a strong man to climb over a high wall but if a ladder or a stair-case is provided, anybody can climb over it easily. With the help of the stair-case built by the devotees of Gayatri in the past we can easily attain the fruits of Gayatri Sadhana .
We get enriched suddenly and spontaneously with all the boons of Gayatri Sadhana for which great seekers in the past had put in extremely hard labor. By these past Sadhanas powerful energy fields have been created in the subtle spheres by tuning into which we can march ahead with great speed. A drop of water, when it falls in the ocean, becomes the ocean itself. A person recruited in the army becomes part and parcel of the army. In the same way, a Sadhak who gets linked with the accumulated power of Gayatri derives all its benefits. No other Ved-Mantra possesses so much radiant and puissant energy as Gayatri Mantra. It is for this reason that immense benefits are obtained through Gayatri Sadhana with the least effort.
Even then we find that most of the people do no take advantage of it although they know its importance. A person may have ample money in his possession but if he does not use it and enjoy it, it can only be considered his misfortune. Gayatri is divine knowledge which has been made available by God to us. Rishis and saints have been directing us at every step in the scriptures to take advantage of Gayatri Sadhana. Yet, if we do not perform Sadhana and get its benefit, it our misfortune and nothing else.
It is absolutely easy to be liberated from sins by Gayatri worship. The forte of Gayatri worship is that when the resonance of the innate powers with its 24 letters occurs within the heart, the satogun (virtue) in thoughts increases day-by-day, and as a result changes occur in the nature and program of the person. One in whose heart virtuous thoughts increase; excellence will also be there in his deeds. A person's nature is not any definite or permanent thing. It keeps on changing according to situations and sentiments. It is not necessary that a person who is sinful to-day will remain sinful throughout life. Similarly it cannot also be said that a person who is a gentleman with good conduct to-day, will remain so in future also. Situations and sentiments can bring about such a change in a person that he will appear completely transformed.
Sin is a type of mental condition and habit. It is within man's power to give up sin by strength of thoughts. The mental strength necessary for the change is provided by Gayatri-worship and the means for inner transformation becomes easily available. Liberation from sins is as easy as taking a bath. It is not correct for a sinful person to think that since he has been on the wrong path till now and adopted sinful thoughts and performed bad deeds, how is his reform possible? This disappointment is ill founded, because every fallen person can rise, and every sinner can become pure.
Many a times it is seen that a man performs wicked deeds because of helplessness, ignorance, bad company, curiosity or force of circumstances. At that time, he does not think that such sin is terrible. Afterwards, with his mental development, the deed appears very horrible. Since those sinful acts were carried out because of wretched mental condition, the related punishment is also small. According to man's conscience, compassion is felt at the time of killing; therefore it is a sin for him. In man's mental situations too there can be small or big variations due to various reasons. During such mental conditions sins committed in mental weakness due to ignorance are not considered serious in the eyes of God although traditionally believed to be so.
Sometimes it so happens that with good intentions, a man performs some deeds which ¬according to traditional code of conduct -are considered very big sins. But when looked at judicially, they are not considered so despicable, but are not only forgivable but the same bad acts become praiseworthy also. When a person kills someone for robbing his wealth, it becomes a terrible sin. A judge of some court of law passes a death-sentence on some anti-social person for protecting the rule of law and an executioner carries out the sentence -they are performing their duties. If someone risks his life to save someone from terrorists and kills them, then it becomes a virtue. All the three have killed, but the killings are with different results, therefore all three are not considered sinful in the same way.
Stealing is a bad act. But depending upon circumstances that too may not really be a bad deed. One who is prosperous and yet unjustly robs others is decidedly a thief. Take another example -in a situation of loss of life through severe hunger, if a person tries to protect his life by robbing something from a prosperous man, it is no big sin. In a third situation by robbing a wicked person of his means, making him powerless and putting such means to good use is an act of virtue. All the three thieves cannot be treated as sinners at the same level. Many a time because of situations, helplessness, and necessity for religious protection or low intellectual development -such acts are performed which appear damnable, but the intention behind them is not sinful. Such acts cannot be termed as sins.
Among those who can be included in the list of sinners, most people are such that they had to perform undesirable acts, because of one of the above reasons, but later on they became normal. They were helpless because of situations, lack of opportunities, and habits, and slipped into wickedness. They would have definitely become good individuals if they were in good situations, or received good facilities and obtained proper means for progress and satisfaction. Howsoever sinful a person is in the eyes of law and public opinion, but in reality the number of sinners in this world is very small. People who became wicked because of the force of circumstances can be reformed because every soul is pure as the soul is a part of God.
Many people think that they have committed so many sins, such wicked deeds and the list of their known and unknown sins is so long, that they cannot be reformed, so how can they achieve salvation? People who think in this manner should know that as soon as they take a vow to walk on the path of good deeds, the old dirty lice-ridden cloak of vices is automatically cast off. By shedding off of sins and desires and sincerely repenting for them, we are liberated from the bad results of our bad deeds. Only those acts of our past births which are destined to become as prarabdha (fate), have to be borne at some time or other during this life. In addition, these can also become the vehicles of more sins. The punishment under God's law of fate can be lightened by not resorting to wickedness and by repenting for earlier sins and it is also possible to be forgiven.
The mental strength through Gayatri-worship definitely helps to remove innumerable bad tendencies, habits and sinful attitudes of the worshipper. Many people ask, "I have so-and-so bad tendency, I have not paid any attention to avoiding non-vegetarian food, I have committed certain bad deeds. Can I be worthy of Gayatri worship?" Such people should very well understand that Gayatri is a kind of soap. When soap has been created for removing dirt, then it is useless to think whether dirty clothes deserve the use of soap. The use of Gayatri is like a spiritual soap to remove bad impressions and influences and dualities and controversies within the mind. Hence a sinful person should not hesitate to use it.
Liberation from evil tendencies is definite and easy with inner transformation. It is not impossible or surprising if today's sinner becomes a saint tomorrow. Authors of scriptures have told this straight-forward tale with great emphasis on the destruction of sins through Gayatri worship. If it is understood that one can be freed from the punishment for past deeds by certain means, then evil people will go on committing sins and then say that now their past sins have been annihilated. They will think of again committing the sinful acts and resort to prayers for destroying the sins. One must remove this misconception from its roots. If man goes on committing more sins, he remains sinful only. There is no question of his sins being washed out through prayers if simultaneously he commits sins also. When man starts despising sinful acts and saves himself from bad thoughts then on achieving this state of mind, he will not have the inclination to adopt the path of sin. He will not expect that God will accept a small bribe of prayers and forgive his continuity of sins.
For the banishment of crimes, the rule of punishment is put into effect when children do something wrong, the mother scolds them, when a disciple becomes tardy, the teacher takes up the cane, when the societal rules are disturbed, the local council dispenses punishment, when the law is broken, fines, jail, or death-sentence is there. God has provided for punishment of sins through punishment in the form of bad luck, bodily ailments and material wants or scarcity. This rule of law is not meant as revenge or a tit for tat, but it is created on the basis of high spiritual science. The reason is that as a result of the unhappiness caused by punishment there is a commotion within man's conscience which shocks him internally and he gives up the faulty path and returns to the proper path.
Through reprimand by others, we are forced to commit penance for our purification. If we willingly adopt these ourselves, willingly undergo penance for our open and hidden sins, then it is innumerable times better compared to the penance forced by others. This way there is neither insult, nor revenge nor dejection -instead, because of wilful penance there is spiritual joy, and our prestige increases in the eyes of others. The fire of the soul is required for the eradication of sins. The creation of this fire gives double benefits, one -destruction of harmful tendencies, sins, two -development, nourishment and increase in divine qualities and as a result the seeker becomes austere, mentally strong and pure.
In the scriptures, willfully repenting for our sins is prescribed by performing various rituals, fasting, pilgrimage etc. If we have committed a sin or a wicked act, then the real solution for removing their ill effects is that we make a firm resolve not to do such a thing again. In addition if a little penance is also performed, then that resolve gets a boost and its implementation becomes firmer. Along with this, an attitude of a virtuous lifestyle gains momentum. In this manner a penance based on the strength of Gayatri can wash out even the biggest of sins.
Is it possible to wash out one's sins or not? When thinking about this question we must very well understand that the soul is clean, pure, unadulterated, knowledgeable and unattached. Transparent glass and transparent vessels are by themselves pure, they do not have any color, but if you put any coloured water in it, then the vessel will look as if it has that color. If water with another colour is added, the color will once again change. Our soul is also in a similar situation. By its very nature, the soul is without any fault, but it appears sinful according to our deeds and thoughts enveloping it. Changing of attitude with Gayatri sadhana can readily purify a sinner. The soul is always faultless and constant -only the mind, chitta (subconscious) and the ego get coloured with various influences, because of which a sinner appears unnatural, wretched and perverted. If a change is brought about in this unnatural condition, it is not difficult for today's sinner to become tomorrow's saint. A man who has spent most of his past life on the wrong path or has whiled away most of his time, cannot achieve any purpose just by feeling unhappy and disappointed. One should concentrate on reforming the remaining part of the life. The king Parikshit had only one week of his life left. He utilized this short period purposefully with full determination and obtained salvation that others cannot achieve in several life times.
It is a surprising truth that compared to the people termed simpletons; those who are active, alert, vital, valorous and diligent are able to achieve spiritual progress faster. The reason is that in people with low vitality, the source of energy has very limited capacity. Even if they remain devotees and of pure conduct, because of less innate energy, their progress is extremely slow. But those who are energetic, and have within themselves the dynamo of vitality and valor will achieve heaps of success. Those who have kept their flag flying high in acts of sin, are definitely powerful, but their energy is misdirected. If this same energy is utilized in good deeds, then they can achieve astonishing success in short time, in that direction also.
Spiritual progress is hard work. Only people with strength, who are industrious and have tremendous courage and enthusiasm, can succeed here. The loving lap of mother Gayatri is always there even for those who are weak or have strayed from the righteous path -even for those who have walked along the road of wickedness and have carried out innumerable bad deeds. If they repent for their past deeds, take a vow not to repeat them, and are eager to walk the righteous path, they can once again get back their natural spiritual qualities and purity. Constant progress on this path is assured through Gayatri worship. Even though all the bad tendencies will not disappear immediately, but they will gradually diminish in proportion to the power of prayers. Gayatri worship invariably results in a constant increase in good qualities, good thoughts and good deeds.
It is evident that the majority of unhappiness in this world is a result of our sins. Many a times our misdeeds produce immediate results. These may manifest in the form of revenge by people whom we have harmed, by social disgrace, or through punishment by the State. Even if someone escapes from these, nobody can save himself from God's impartial justice. It can be easily inferred that physically and mentally handicapped, sub-normal, or chronically ill persons are suffering divine punishment. When carrying out our duties properly, sometimes a sudden crisis confronts us or we fail despite our best efforts, then we are forced to say that this is fate as a result of deeds in our past births.
We should deal with others in the same manner as we expect others to deal with us. We should consciously strive to save ourselves from achieving our interests at the cost of harming others. Gayatri is an alarm-bell that warns us not to walk on the path of sin. God is present everywhere and he does not take sides. Not a single sin of yours remains hidden from him, nor can you save yourself from the effects of any sin. Aum bhoor bhoovaha swaha, these words in the first line of the Gayatri mantra constantly teach us that knowing the God to be omnipresent, we should always deal with others with friendliness, warmth, love, generosity, honesty, helpfulness and kindness. One whom Mother Gayatri has blessed with this attitude will undoubtedly be released from many social afflictions. Friendliness means dealing with others with sincerity. A few crafty people may take undue advantage and cheat us because of such sincerity, but it will never cause much harm. By apparently being fooled in this way, our fame, saintliness and reputation increases, which later on gives much more benefits compared to the temporary harm. A person's hard fate becomes bearable when he has many co-operating friends and well-wishers. Divinely ordained troubles destined to be suffered invariably, will certainly come our way, but with the chanting of the first quarter of Gayatri mantra, which bestows good nature and friendly attitude on us, these too can be borne easily. With the passing away of the near and dear ones, many people become intensely upset and they lament the separation day and night. The reason for this prolonged mourning is entrapment in attachment or moha. The feeling of nearness is a generous and all-encompassing element. Our family members should be considered as God's gift and an opportunity of service. One who thinks in this way will not be unduly upset when the soul of a person performs the normal process of changing the body. If God takes away one medium of service, we can always serve someone else. The principal reason for unhappiness is that because of the shock of the death of someone, we lose our composure and think of the departed soul as our property and consider it a loss in our joy, self-interest, hope etc.
Momentary pleasure is very attractive, charming and tempting. A person with a narrow view-point gets tempted by it and suffers very much like birds tempted by grains that leads to their capture. Gayatri warns us about the pitfalls of this temptation and teaches, "Son, you are not the body, but the soul. Do not obstruct the path of spiritual salvation by becoming a victim of greed, indulgence, desires and temptations. Look to your permanent benefits and interests and sacrifice your momentary pleasure." Sensual pleasures are momentary but their bad effects remain for a long time. The pleasure of being wealthy remains only for a short time, but the wickedness taught by immorally earned wealth, and the thorns sown for the future live on for a long time to haunt us. Such short-sighted persons get trapped into many types of enticements.
One who has faith on Gayatri, becomes far sighted by obeying the second instruction of the Mother in the second part of the mantra. He can clearly see that all kinds of addictions destroy the vitality of life. If he has an addiction he gives it up courageously and cautions others against it. He has control over his lusts and conserves his energy for higher objectives. He follows a busy schedule by being careful that not a single moment is wasted. He loves hard work and becomes a karma yogi. One who protects himself from addictions, bad habits, laziness and indiscipline never suffers ill-health. If a chronic disease has lingered on, that too disappears quickly or becomes less intense. The vitality of disciplined persons is conserved; therefore they lead a long healthy life. Since laziness disappears, the various organs work well till the end. Cheerfulness of mind, earning capacity etc. is firmly linked with good health. Gayatri mantra's second portion removes in no time all the troubles caused by ill-health. Gayatri takes us to that situation in which a person lives in peace and enjoys the benefits of good health-which is his birth right. People say that they do not have free time for self-study, physical exercise, worship, and public service. They cannot spare time for, music, swimming or meeting saints. The reason is only one -such people consider all the above as useless and do not consider them worth any attention. Time is not available only for that work which is considered unimportant. We give priority to the work we consider essential; we finish it first while ignoring others. When the attraction for money is extremely powerful, one does not find time for finer things in life and lofty ideals.
All round development is possible when the attraction for wealth is reduced and earning money is not considered an end but only a means to an end. The following are no less important than earning money -learning, maintenance of health, developing one's worth and capacities, increasing inner enthusiasm by humour, developing one's own nature, to fulfill one's social obligations, to devote one's time for social service and above all -spiritual reflection. For these activities also the same time and energy should be applied as for earning money. But this is possible only when the undue importance given to money is reduced to realistic proportions. Material goods should be given importance only in proportion to their usefulness. Our main direction of aim should be towards attaining good qualities and spiritual development.
Deep thinking removes many tangles in our life and roots out many troubles very easily. The third part of Gayatri mantra has blessed many who were unhappy over shortage of money or family problems. Gayatri corrects their faulty thinking, their eyes open up and they realize their mistakes. Once they start thinking positive, they find that shortage of worldly things actually motivates them for progressing in other directions. They are saved from many worries, burdens and wicked acts. A man with just enough income indeed gains more benefits compared to the man who plunges into day and¬ night activities of earning 'by any means' for possessing a lot of wealth and comforts. When the light of Gayatri illuminates our minds, we see the adversities in a proper perspective.
The message of the fourth portion of Gayatri mantra is that we should intelligently utilize both favourable and unfavourable situations. We should expect the best future but be prepared to face the worst. If we think of difficulties as only challenges for honing our skills, and do not become afraid, then certainly no unpleasant situation can make us unhappy. If we adopt the good habit of remaining cheerful, then we will be easily freed from the depressions. Life is a game to be played with a spirit of sportsmanship. Actors perform various roles on the stage but are personally not influenced by the character which they portray. Life has to be carried on in the same spirit.
When Gayatri takes someone under Her shelter, she makes the fate of such a person bearable so that such devotees quickly become liberated from the burdens of past karma. One may have to go through several bitter experiences in this process. Thus liberated, the soul does not have to be drawn into the vicious circle of births and deaths. On one hand, the burden of past karma is relieved, and on the other hand, his inner purity goes on increasing. This double benefit of Gayatri sadhana makes one progress with great speed towards the ultimate goal of salvation.
What is true meaning of devotion to Lord Shiva? Following are extracts of the Yug Rishi Gurudev Pt. Sriram Sharma Acharya's amrit vani.
Why our devotion is of no avail? I had read it while translating the eighteen Puranas from Sanskrit to Hindi. It clarified to me why our devotion to Lord Shiva does not result in the kinds of miraculous boons our ancestors were receiving? Why don't we see any signs of His generous boons, which were so easily showered in the ancient times on anyone who did tapa for His grace? It is not that people like you and me are per se debarred from receiving such boons; rather, it is the fault in our approach, the half-heartedness of our dedication, insincerity of our devotion and the shaky nature of our faith that hinder accomplishment of our sadhana.
We will have to find out and eliminate our shortcomings, our infirmities. Unless we are honest in our own efforts towards spiritual elevation, how can we gain and demonstrate the immense benefits of spirituality and how could we convince the world that we are the devotees of the Supreme Power and Presence that can change for the better the course of human history and destiny? So, where has been our major mistake? Well, the root cause of our failure is our misconception. We have only seen the external form in the idols of Lord Shiva (and Parvati) and have mechanically followed the customary rituals of worship. We have not understood the philosophy, the true meaning, of devotion to Lord Shiva. What we see in the temples as the idol of God is only like the gross representation of His limited manifestation.
The gross body is only an outer shell; the source of life, the prana lies inside. We ritually put our heads at the feet of the idol; worship it with flowers, sandalwood powder, and what not. We pray before it, sing devotional songs, etc but that is only an external activity. It remains incomplete without the understanding and the linkage with the inner, the subliminal and the true divine power. We should know the subtle and causal forms of Lord Shiva, which when realized in the idol, would make His presence real for us in that gross physical symbol.
What is the inner form of Shiva that we should realize in His idols? What is its philosophy? Well, as symbolized by his round globular linga, He is Omnipresent; the globe, the entire cosmos is His manifestation. If we regard the universe as His emanation and interact with it accordingly, we would be able to touch the bedrock of spirituality and see the limitless expression of God that was projected by Shri Ram and Krishna before their deserving devotees. Their instances teach us that we should regard the whole world as God made manifest.
The round stone worshipped as the pindi of Shiva also indicates this deep aspect of divine philosophy. It reminds us that the cosmic expression is round, it has no beginning or end; an atomic orbit is also round; the earth is also globular. Thus the philosophy of worshiping the pindi implies worshipping the world loving service for global welfare. It also tells us that we should treat others with the same respect and warmth, as we would like to receive from the world, because we are all different sparks of the same Light. If we could understand and adopt this philosophy in life, we would no doubt be the true devotees of Shiva, and our power, our knowledge and our potentials would also become grand like those of His true devotees. Teachings from Shivas Idols in Human Form: Lord Shivas human-image is so beautifully depicted in the scriptures. It depicts the sacred Ganga flowing through His hair lock. But it is symbolic. Here Ganga represents the flow of pure knowledge. Sheer common sense would tell us that a river or spring of water can't flow through ones hair, and if so, the
person concerned would not be able to even stand or walk. Instead, he himself would get swept along these currents.
The depiction of the Ganga of Knowledge on Shivas head is also a philosophical teaching. It implies that if we are the true devotees of Lord Shiva, our feelings and thoughts should be pure, enlightened and of superior quality. A low level of thinking, feeling and a life confined to sensual pleasures, satiating the gross urges and a hunger of the senses depicts an animal like existence. Such people can never be the devotees of Lord Shiva. How could one be accepted as a worshipper of the Omniscient Divine Power if he can't think and feel beyond the narrow confines of selfishness? One who never cares to ponder over and strive for the wider and deeper domains of the society, the nation, morality, ethics and spirituality, one who is not aware of and committed to his duties, can't even be a good human being, let alone a devotee of God.
The principal attribute of a true devotee of the Lord is that the Ganga of pure knowledge flows through his head; that means his mind is illumined and blessed with righteous thinking, which gives peace and bliss to the soul. Attitudes and thoughts of those coming in his contact would also be purified by the sprinkles of this Gyan Ganga. If your mind and heart also begin to evolve in this direction, then only you will have followed the underlying philosophy behind the specific image of Lord Shiva.
We also find a half moon beautifully encircling the forehead of the Lord. Moon is the symbol of soothing serenity. Its presence on Shivas head teaches that a worshipper of Shiva should have a cool, calm and awakened mind. His mind should be stable and strong so that no hardship, adversity or exciting situation could ever perturb his mental peace. Look at the great achievers in human life; they have faced great challenges without losing patience. Those who get anxious or do not have a stable mind cannot do much; they easily get tensed up, or nervous and fritter away their energies and talents. A calm and cool mind alone can contemplate deeply and think rightly. An agitated mind is not dependable. It often triggers one to do what one should not have done; it tends to think erroneously and even immorally.
Today, when the whole world is living under great difficulties and threatening challenges of one kind or the other, it is all the more important that we take shelter at the feet of the ultimate Saviour God Shiva and pray that the moon of piety, peace, balance and equanimity on his head may also inspire patience and serenity in our minds. We should pray him to bless us with inner peace, patience, endurance, and courage. Instead of begging for worldly attainments (as we usually do before any deity), had we prayed for divine inspirations before the infinitely generous Lord Shiva, we would have really acquired real peace and happiness in life and lived gracefully like a true devotee.
The images of Lord Shiva that we see in pictures depict Him wearing a garland of skulls and with dreaded cobras dangling around his neck. The intimate company of deadly poisonous snakes reveals the secret of divinity, which is love everyone; it can turn everyone, even the venomous cruel cobra like foes into good friends. See, even the cobras live so amicably with Him! We should understand and adopt this philosophy of a loving and fearless attitude. The presence of a garland of skulls on the Lords chest reminds us that the face, which we identify ourselves with, for which we feel so proud and remain engaged in decorating and taking care of, is only a structure of bone.
That is its sole reality. We remain deluded and cheated by the covering of flesh and skin around it; not only that, we use cosmetics and what not upon that skin to make our face look beautiful. But have we ever thought about its reality? Just remove the illusive covering and the fact will be obvious for everyone to see. The garland of skulls conveys that we should not let the falsehood and the associated silly attachments cover up our Real Self.
We should learn this important lesson while worshipping Lord Shiva or sitting at His feet.
The ox symbolizes strength, courage and hard work in our (Indian) culture. If you want to become a devotee of Lord Shiva, you will have to be courageous and depend upon your own wisdom and endeavours. No one will open the doors of progress for you. You alone will have to come forward and initiate your ascent in the desired direction.
He lives in the marghat (crematorium)! Why should He do so? Well, this again is a symbolic depiction. It teaches us that we should always remember death. We get so engrossed in the worldly affairs that we almost forget that death could knock at our door any moment and then we will have to leave this world instantly. We seem to remember everything else but this bitter reality of life. If we had remembered the absolute fact that we had to die some day or the other, our attitude towards life would have been different. In that case, we would have cared for what we ought and what we ought not to do? We would have been more alert towards our duties.
A home and a crematorium are alike for a duty-bound, altruist person who has acquired pure knowledge. Such a wise man knows that this moment he is living comfortably in the house but any other moment he would be no more and his body would rest in peace in a crematorium or a graveyard; then he will have new life and a new home and so on. Today’s life would be tomorrows death, which would again turn into new life someday This is how the cycle of life continues Life and death are like the relay games of day and night. Then why should we be scared of death? Rather, we should remember it to make our life more meaningful, more useful, and more enlightened every day.
This is another significant teaching of Shivas Philosophy of Life. If we look carefully and ponder over it, we will find that innumerable teachings are hidden in Lord Shivas manifestations as we see Him in the temples and religious stories.
We often find His depiction in human-like form with a coating of ash on his body. If we knew the righteous attitude of life and the ideal mode of living, the importance of this ash-coating would have been crystal clear to us. The most important implication of smearing bhasm on any part of the body is to recall the Vedic teaching of "Bhasmantaka Goum Shariram" this body is going to become (a heap of) ash one day. That means, this body might either get mixed in the soil or water or fly like the dust particles with the wind. This physical body of ours, which we are so proud of and are so much attached to, is going to be crushed (with the soil) beneath others feet one day. If we are His true devotees, the bhasm on Shivas body should constantly remind us of this ultimate reality and therefore keep us away from the ego and attachments that arise because of our mistaken identity with the physical body.
The Third Eye: The three eyes of Lord Shiva are often the focus of mythological interpretations and mystic curiosity. The third eye symbolizes the source of sagacity pure, discreet wisdom. This center in the human body is hidden subtly in an endocrine gland inside the brain right behind the position (on the forehead) where the third eye of Shiva is depicted. The divine radiations emanating from the third eye instantly burnt the gross body of Kamadeva. It conveys the fact that the insidious force of erotic thoughts and sexual excitation can be instantly checked and eliminated if our discerning prudence is awakened.
The opening of the third eye means awakening of our sagacity and creative activation of our inner wisdom. The third eye is subtly located in the third dimension inside our brain. It teaches us to look into the deeper aspects of every phenomenon, every thought and every experience. Our ordinary eyes (the two eyes on our faces) see only extrovertly; they can only show us our materialistic gains and losses or the worldly affairs in the limited peripheries of our interactions. The needs of the body or the sense organs are easily seen by them. But there is a third eye, which opens inward. It enables us to look deeply in the sublime folds of mind and shows us the world of inner peace, everlasting happiness and absolute truth. This is the eye of foresight and clairvoyance. When a sincere devotee of Lord Shiva seeks refuge under
His grace, he first inspects his own character and conduct to check whether or not he measures up to the virtuous standards with respect to the philosophy of Shiva.
The human-like image of God Shiva is a kind of an ideal model for the true devotee. A potter makes a pot in the desired design by processing and fixing the clay into appropriate mold. The devotee should also try to mould his personality, his attitude, his thinking, his life, etc as per the ideals of his Deity. Our worship and devotional practices have no meaning without commensurate endeavours of refinement and improvement in our thoughts, behaviour and deeds. The Sanskrit word for devotional worship is "Upasana", which literally means sitting nearby. Sitting near the fire makes us feel warm. Similarly, sitting near God should inspire us with His attributes. Sitting in the closed vicinity of a powerful source of energy would bestow the associated significant effects on us only if there is a linkage, a direct connection between the source and the beneficiary. A piece of wood becomes fire only when it sacrifices itself in the fire nearby. This is how "upasana" brings the desired results only if the devotee sets a live linkage of his inner self with the Deity of his worship. For this, he has to discipline and mould himself as per the inspirations of his God. We, the aspirants of the beatitude of Lord Shiva, should also consciously and ceaselessly attempt at transforming ourselves according to the ideals of His manifestation. We should endeavour opening our third eye (that means, awaken our intuitive insight and pure intellect).
The very purpose of murti puja (idol-worship) in Indian Culture is to enable the masses to access and imbibe the teachings and inspirations of divine emanations. Every idol, every symbol of Gods manifestation represented here is indicative of some important teaching related to the spiritual evolution of human consciousness. Today, I gave you the example of Shankar (Shiva) in this context and tried to explain the principles, the occult implications of His worship and devotion. Unfortunately, we often get engrossed in worshipping the gross form the idol of God and consider the performance of some customary rituals, chanting of some prayers etc as all that is required for His devotion. Even if we have read or heard about the occult significance of the symbols of divine manifestations, we don't seem to remember anything. We just want to take shortcuts and regard ourselves great devotees simply by symbolic worship. The word "Shiva" in Sanskrit means highest good. Lord Shiva (Shiva) is the presiding Deity of eternal, auspicious well-being of all creation. But we, the so-called worshippers of Shiva never even think of global good. (Forget about global, we don't even attempt to expand the narrow domain of our selfish interests and engage ourselves in altruistic service and upliftment of the needy around us).
We keep chanting "Om Namah Shivaya" but don't bother to know its meaning; in reality, Shiva (Shiva) is far away from our lives. We don't even know what is the true well-being of our soul or our own life and how to attain it? The japa (rhythmic chanting) of Shivas name will be beatifying if "Shiva" (Highest Good) is embodied in our attitude, aspirations, thoughts and deeds. It is time we realize that worshipping only the external, gross form is no better than not doing anything at all.
Be Blessed by Shivas Grace: The Almighty God of Hindu religion for whom we observe fasting on Shivaratri, perform japa, ceremonial worship, sacred ablution (abhisheka) and what not cant He, the Omnipotent, destroy all evils and eliminate our adversities? Can't He help us in our progress? He indeed can and He will, if we are His deserving devotees.
He loves all of us and wants to bestow all His grace upon us; but it is our infirmities, our vices that hinder or limit the flow of His blessings. His grace is like the water-laden clouds. (The clouds shower the treasure of rains without discrimination wherever they fall). But how much water a pond or a pot would collect from the rain depends upon its own capacity. If we deserve, we will surely be beatified by Shivas enormous generosity. His beatitudes will continue to grow as our abilities, our merits increase and we shall get everything that a true
devotee of Shankar deserves. We discussed today the meaning and philosophy of the gross manifestations of Lord Shiva as described in the Puranas.
Divine beings generate love, peace, beauty, piety, bliss and prosperity wherever they go. You should also adopt and expand such qualities. I wish you all the success in your endeavours to proceed in this direction. Thank you for listening with patience.
This is an age of competition .The increasing competition has made the whole teaching and learning process of today marks-centric. Securing more and more marks has become the first and the last goal of the students. Because of this they are getting more and more away from the real aim of education and in the process losing even their mental balance too. Anxiety, tension, depression etc. are becoming part and parcel of a student’s life today.
We cannot reduce or remove this increasing cut throat competition, but by knowing some underlying secrets and adapting ourselves accordingly we can take study to a higher level. Most of the students fail because they are not aware of the science of study. That is why we often witness the phenomenon that some students in a class seem to study less and still secure higher marks than other more studious types. The reality is that there is not so much difference in their respective intellectual capability as in their different approaches to study. The fact is that study is an art. Indeed, it is not only an art, but a science too. To know ‘how it happens’ is science; ‘how it is done’ is an art. To study any subject, to understand it, analyse it in the mind and finally present it before others is an art which can be learnt and practised by anybody anytime.
The common meaning of study is reading. But its wider meaning is to know about any subject or thing. It does not matter through which process we know about it - by observing, by reading a book, or by hearing about it. Viewed thus, we find that we are always learning. In other words, any activity in which our mind is involved becomes a learning activity. It is also important to know why we want to study. Indeed the main purpose of study is to learn, but there could possibly be many other reasons too. A book is read by many persons and all of them might have different objectives. In fact, how to study the book depends in a large measure on why we want to study that book. Generally there are three broad purposes behind study — for pure enjoyment, to succeed in an examination, and to develop an understanding. The latter two, on many occasions, could overlap. If a student develops his understanding of a subject, he is very likely to secure good marks in the examination too. But still there are many subjects which are studied almost exclusively for examination purpose. The scope to develop understanding in them remains very low. The first cardinal principle of study is that the student must be clear in his mind about why he is reading that particular book.
The seed may be of very good quality, but if not sowed in a fertile land, or on appropriate time, it is not likely to grow properly and give a good crop. Normally, one can study any time, and people do indeed study at different hours of the day. Success is achieved too. But is any thought ever given over what might have been lost in the process? It is quite possible that the success which was gained would have been even greater had the factor of ‘right time’ been kept in mind. To take an analogy, howsoever we might sleep during day time it can never equal the sound sleep which comes only in the night. This applies to study as well. The ideal time for it is in the early morning, because the mind and the body are completely fresh at that time. Rest has already been taken and they are fully energized. The capacity to grapple with the tasks is maximum at that time. Gradually, as the hours pass, and the mind starts coping with the grind of daily chores, its receptive capacity begins to decline. In the morning, an added advantage is that our sensory organs are calm. Concentration has tremendous power. Morning hours provide us – internally and externally – the exact environment which is fully conducive to concentration build-up. As time passes, and we increasingly begin to engage in miscellaneous activities, concentration becomes fragmented.
Positive thinking acts like a good fertilizer for study. Students should study only when their minds are peaceful and happy. Studying with a disturbed and unhappy mind is like ploughing on a rocky surface. Whatever we read and want to keep in mind, it can only be possible with a receptive mind. If we are not receptive about something it is obvious that we would not retain it. If we want to retain it, it means that it is acceptable to us. This acceptance will be still deeper and fuller, if there is reverence for it in our mind and heart.
Another thing. Whatever be the subject, the students should study after first emptying themselves from inside. They should presume, rather feel, that they do not know anything about it. This is not easy, of course. Even the most ignorant are not conscious that they are ignorant. This is the biggest obstacle in the path of knowledge. This consciousness about ignorance is a psychological state of mind. There is a law in science which believes that emptiness has great force of attraction. When the student empties himself and becomes conscious of his ignorance of the matter, he develops within him a magnetic force of attraction which pulls towards it whatever facts he is reading about at that time. One should not confuse this with inferiority complex, which is a different thing altogether. Emptiness is a conscious attitude that whatever we are reading about is unknown to us, or that whatever we are reading or hearing about may give us some new knowledge or insight.
There are many other important aspects to study which, if adopted by students, can make their learning process simple, effective and fruitful. We organize youth groups across UK and kids develop this art and know the science behind it which results in excellent academics and personal skills. This year we are organising an open youth day camp on 2nd August in Kettering. More details can be found on our Facebook page or you may contact one of our branch offices to enrol yourself. This is open to all age groups and is free for all.
The entire Vedic Literature and the sages and savants of the shastric scriptures have given paramount importance to the Gayatri Mantra and have discussed in detail the methods of the japa and sadhana of this great mantra. There is no scripture, which does not sing paeans of the preeminent benefits and supramental effects of this mantra that encompass the personal, global and the cosmic realms of existence. It is said that even if one performs the japa and dhyan (meditation) of this mantra with fervent faith without going through all the prescribed ascetic disciplines of higher-level sadhanas, he attains all the blessings and boons of this mantra.
Not only the immanent inspirations and the marvellous configuration of specific syllables and sonic patterns, the psychological and spiritual core of this Vedic Mantra is also so sound that it appears to be founded on profound scientific basis. Let us look at some of these aspects to understand the impact of its japa. The amazing structure, functions and complexity of the human body has been the center of deep attention for thousands of scientists, biologists, anatomists and physiologists since long.
The japa- sadhana of mantras is therefore practiced to educe supernatural talents and potentials. The preeminence of the japa of Gayatri Mantra lies in its unique intellectual, emotional and spiritual effects in addition to other soul-elevating effects of mantra-japa. This mantra contains the essence of divine knowledge and wisdom. Even its literal translation implies a prayer for the refinement and illumination of our mind and intellect and for well-being of the world. This is why the Vedic Rishis revered Gayatri as Vedmata, Devamata and Vishwamata (the origin of the Vedas, the Mother of godly-beings and the Mother of the whole world respectively). Not only the Hindu religion, but also the follower of other religions and paths of spiritual seeking revere this sacred mantra.
These are gradual steps of the realization through japa- sadhana. Although we don't find the multiple activities and exercises like yoga practices in it, the sadhana process of japa is so effective that just with the sincere performance of this single practice, starting with self-analysis, we can reach the supreme goal of self-realization. The great significance of japa is not due to chance, or without any firm basis. Had it been so, such a large number of devotees and yogis of the Gayatri Sadhana would not have been advised to waste time in practicing more and more japa for longer and longer durations.
The aforesaid principles of psychology and spirituality work towards success of japa. These can elevate the devotee’s personality out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of divine wisdom. The four principles mentioned above work in the subliminal domains of the consciousness to remove the layers of ignorance from the subconscious and thus help in the emergence of light of spirit within the individual soul. Training is an integral part of education. It is indeed the first samskara to be cultivated for personality development. We may never find an educated person who has not undergone training in one form or the other. From nursery rhymes and tables to revision and continuous practice of problem solving in higher classes the process of training by cramming and repetition is very common; this is also necessary for the inculcation of any desired tendency.
The same is true about the impact of japa too; the effects of the mantra-vibrations cannot be felt without rhythmic repetition. The "dhi" element of the Gayatri Mantra refers to prayer for the awakening of intellect. Just uttering it once or twice cannot have the desired effect. Our mind is like a barren, uneven, hard landscape, which frustrates all attempts at its calming and refinement. In order to make the seed of sadhana germinate and sprout, the field of mind needs to be cleared, ploughed and irrigated with the help of japa; one has to peep inside and identify, mercilessly uproot and throw out the debris of accumulated evil tendencies. Sowing the seeds of virtues is not possible without this cleaning of deep rooted negativities. Japa can also be likened to cleaning, sharpening and glazing. Its repeated friction and subtle pressure calms down and cleanses the mind so that it could clearly reflect glow of the spirit.
Every devotee of Gayatri should therefore perform japa everyday for a fixed number of times at a fixed place, during fixed intervals of time. The arbitrary mode of excessive watering on some days and keeping the land dry on the others does not serve the purpose of proper irrigation of field. The same is true of the training of mind by japa. Regularity, sincerity, patience and consistency should be observed in this practice, as far as possible. This should also be continued over a long duration depending upon the sadhaka's inherent tendencies and mentality- till the dawn of the rays of success in the sadhana.
Spirituality deals with enlightening one's thoughts, emotions and intrinsic tendencies. It is the most evolved and comprehensive science of psychological, sociological moral development, and ultimate progress. It brightens the intellect together with inculcation of sensitivity towards fellow beings and towards the grace of nature. There is no place of superstitions, fantasy of escapism in a truly spiritual life.
The Sanskrit word for "spirituality" is "adhyatmam", which means, "Centered and established in the aatma ". Lord Krishna says in Srimad Bhagvad Gita(2/55): " A person who voluntarily gives up all his desires, lusts and ambitions and whose individual soul remains poised in the omnipresent Spirit is called sthitapragya (a person of steadfast wisdom)". Here the meaning of soul is one’s own real self, which is eternal, pure and indestructible. The essence of spirituality is atmagyana- to realize that our true self is the spark of the Cosmic Self-Spirit. To remain unshakably poised in this awareness means spiritual living. It is the ultimate aim of human life. Scriptures and philosophical treatises explain this truth by giving the example of an empty pot and the ether. An empty pot has nothing in it. The ether is also limitless empty space. Therefore the empty space within the pot can be considered as limited ether. If the pot is broken, the space contained in it merges back into the limitless space. Reality becomes apparent when the pot is broken. Similarly all apparently separate entities are mere bubbles over the limitless ocean of Being.
Result obtained while following spiritual path
Fundamental cause of our external circumstances is rooted in our mind;
Experience the dignity, importance and capacity of the soul’s authority;
Responsibility of our rise or fall depend on our-self;
Always remember that we come alone into this world, and we shall go alone.
The path of excellence is such that mostly one must not rely on other people to show direction and provide guidance.
Human mind is full of narrow selfishness, thinking and activities are in the downward direction. A person believing their advice and following it is likely to be trapped in the net of attachment.
Removing and erasing unnecessary and harmful things is considered very important in Hindu culture. To make this philosophy functional Holi festival is celebrated. The prongs, spikes, branches, weeds, squelches lying on the path increase the difficulties for human society and are a cause of suffering for pedestrians. We cannot leave these elements as is on the path or shun our eyes away from them or ignore them.
Therefore on the day of Holi every year, people collectively gather all the spikes and unnecessary bushes from the roads and burn them and celebrate. In the same way drains, potholes, mud, dust, grime, dirt, trash etc. are cleaned. Every nook and corner of the lanes and streets is inspected to ensure that all the dirt which has settled is thoroughly cleaned.
The hidden message of Holi festival is to get rid of accumulated dirt and remove painful elements which are spread on our path. Keeping the outside lanes and streets clean and maintaining pure environment is essential. Otherwise the climate will get distorted and boost epidemic like small pox. Similarly we need to focus on cleansing our inner self, remove mental vices otherwise we will face several undesired consequences in our lives.
Experiencing difficulties on the path is law of nature. Difficulties, disturbances, odds which come in life, help in increasing the awareness, action, attention and cognitive abilities of man. Weapons are sharpened by rubbing them. If they are not scraped they will become blunt and rusty and will not be fit for use. Similarly in life, struggle and friction is needed otherwise life will have no meaning.
Those civilization which have struggled bravely to remove their social, economic, political distortions have progressed and stayed in existence. Those who rely on fate, stay passive and inert, experience poverty, slavery, disease, humiliation, sorrow etc. and finally become extinct.
Hinduism is religion of life and diligence (hard work). Its every festival gives messages of awareness and activity. The message of Holi is - search for dirt inside and outside and clean it. May there be purity all around us and together we clean all the mental, social and political distortions in the path and celebrate collectively. This is the correct way of celebrating Holi. Using obscenity, abusive language, spluttering mud and sludge is sign of brutality and savagery and we should stay away from it.