Shiva : From a mom’s eye

shivaToday is Mahashivrartri, the most auspicious day for the Lord Shiv(Shiva) devotees. Shiva the undisputed most respected and at the same time the most fearsome god in Indian culture.

There are lots of legends about the significance of Mahashivratri like the marriage of lord shiv and goddess Parvati, the day when he saved the earth by consuming the poison etc.

I was brainstorming how I should explain Shiv to my kids ( A daunting task I know , because people spend  their lives to understand the essence of it, I know I am not going to divulge in to philosophical aspects or dig in to the religious fundamentals). My aim is simple how to make the little mind understand what we worship and how to relate it to the real world.

SHIV (शिव ) can be explained as combination of 3 hindi letters : sh (श) + i (इ )+ v (व)

Sh denotes “Shareer”  (शरीर ) body our physical self, I denotes “Eeshwar” (ईश्वर ) the God , the supreme or the power and V denotes “Vaayu” ( वायु ) literal meaning of Vaayu is air ,the life or the movement. So basically Shiv is the God , the knowledge or the power within us .

The day this knowledge or conscience within us stops working meaning the I or (इ ) is no more the SHIV becomes the Shav(शव ) a Hindi word for death body, meaning the body becomes life less. Thus to be alive keep growing your knowledge and feed your conscience it will help you lead to be the Shiv and not turn in to Shav.

Shiv is depicted with loads of adornments and each of them to my understanding has its own significance (Note : This is how I perceive through what I have read and relate to teach my kids)

1) Ganga River : Shiv is shown holding River ganga on his head (there is story related to it you can find on internet). Ganga or Ganges is supposed to be one of the most Holy river in Indian culture. Ganga represents knowledge , try to grasp as much knowledge as you can from everywhere (nature,books,tv,plays,movies,games). Yes, you can learn from any and everything if you keep your mind open and have willingness to learn. The most basic characteristic of a river is that it flows continuously, similarly try to learn throughout your life just like the flow of the river try to pass the knowledge to the next generation , to others basically if you know something don’t keep it to yourself share with others and help everyone grow.

2) Moon : Shiv adorns Crescent shaped moon on his head.Indian calendars have always been based on the positioning of moon.Hence moon signifies time . Always keep time in mind , be conscious about the importance of time and work accordingly. Once a time gone its gone forever so give your best to each and every moment. When having fun enjoy it to the fullest, when studying give your best ,basically live every moment to its fullest because time will never be the same.

3) Trishul/Trident : Shiv is always depicted with trishul or trident as his weapon. The three prongs of trident depicts Knowledge (ज्ञान) , Action (कार्य) and Will(शक्ति /इच्छा ). This means that as an individual you should use your knowledge to direct your will in performing the best of actions. Meaning you can accomplish any action or task by nurturing your will with the knowledge you gain. You can use your knowledge as your weapon by performing the right actions.

4) Third Eye : Shiv has a unique feature – his third eye on the forehead. The basic function of eyes are to see , We see the physical stuff around us through our eyes, physical meaning like trees , mountains, river,lakes, a person through his outer appearance, but one needs to use the mind’s eye meaning conscience , meaning learn to observer beyond what is physical. Don’t just rely on what you see but learn to use your conscience too.

5) Damroo/The Drum : Shiv holds damroo (डमरू ) an hourglass shaped drum in his hand. The way you create sound through it is by shaking it and its done in a unique style the top becomes bottom and then vice-versa. This means nothing in this world is going to remain as is , change is inevitable. Learn to accept it ,  just like how Himalyas were once within the sea and then came out similarly change is bound to happen that’s the rule of life. Learn to adapt yourself to changes and also not to be proud of your achievements as everything changes.

6) Snake : Snake means always be vigilant be aware of what goes around you .Snakes don’t have external ears (again not going in the biological details) but still they can feel the vibrations and watch the movements hence just like them be aware and alert of what goes around you.It can also be represented as ego, meaning tame your ego in such a way that it becomes your adornment.A humble soul is always respected and appears beautiful than a loud mouth.

7) Tiger skin : The tiger skin represents power, lust or our desires. Shiv sits on tiger skin hence signifies that one should always have control on their desires and power. The path to success is through self control.

9) Blue Throat: The legend is that Shiv held poison in his throat to save the whole world . Holding the poison in his throat turned his throat blue hence the name “NeelKantheshwar”(Lord with the blue throat). Just like shiv try to control your anger in throat. When we get angry knowingly or unknowingly we start using words which we might regret later. Words spoken in anger can act as poison for the one whom they are spoken to, it can spoil your relations forever. Hence learn to control your anger , learn to hold your words in your throat.

Hope we can all inculcate these qualities not only in us but in our kids and make this world a happy place.

Happy Mahashivratri

BASANT PANCHAMI:Festival of India

Basant Panchami or  Vasant Panchami :

saraswatiAn Indian Festival dedicated to Maa Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, music, arts and culture. Vasant or Basant means Spring basically representing the spring season whereas Panchami means the fifth day so Vasant Panchami basically is a festival that falls on the fifth day of spring (Magh month)per hindu calendar.
Goddess Saraswati represents  serenity and calmness. She is generally shown seated on a white lotus, wearing a pure white silk sari and holding a book in her lower left hand. Her four hands denote four facets of human personality namely mind, intellect, alertness and ego. The lotus on her hand or her seat symbolizes true knowledge. Her ride is a white swan which is known for its peculiar capability of separating water from the milk. While the four hands denotes how attainment of knowledge can help us to balance mind,intellect,alertness and ego in life the swan indicates that we should have the ability to discriminate the bad from the goods. The white swan of Saraswati is symbolising Sattwa Guna (purity and discrimination). 
Basically the knowledge we gain in our life should help us not only to discriminate between right and wrong but also how to tame our ego and lead towards the path of intellect.
Spring represents a new beginning when most of the plants bear new blooms many plants come out  of the stage of dormancy hence this is the day when mostly kids are taught for the first time to read and write…basically they start the formal education.Its a big day for students and is celebrated in almost all the educational institutions.It’s considered as an auspicious day to begin the process of learning. Special prayer for Goddess Saraswati are conducted on this day. It is also a great day to inaugurate training institutes and new schools – a trend made famous by the renowned Indian educationist Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), who founded the Banaras Hindu University on Vasant Panchami day in 1916.
The colour yellow also plays an important role in this festival.
People usually wear yellow garments, Goddess Saraswati is worshiped in a yellow dress. Yellow represents spiritual knowledge and also natures bounty is mostly overshadowed in this colour in the form of fruits and flowers.
After worshipping the Goddess generally the offerings of fruits and flowers are given and following mantras are recited:
या कुन्देन्दु तुषार हार धवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणा वरदण्ड मण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना ।
या ब्रह्माच्युत शङ्करप्रभृतिभिर्देवैः सदा पूजिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा ॥
Yaa Kunda-Indu Tussaara Haara Dhavalaa Yaa Shubhra-Vastra-Avrtaa
Yaa Viinnaa Vara-Danndda Mannddita-Karaa Yaa Shveta-Padmaasanaa |
Yaa Brahma-Acyuta Shangkara-Prabhrtibhir-Devaih Sadaa Puujitaa
Saa Maam Paatu Sarasvatii Bhagavatii Nihshessa-Jaaddya-Apahaa ||
Meaning:
1: (O Mother Saraswati), Who is fair as a Jasmine flower and Moon and White as Snow and Who is Dressed in White Garments,
2: Whose Hands are Adorned by the Veena and Staff symbolising Boon-Giving and Who is Seated on a White Lotus,
3: Who is always Adored by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the other deities,
4: Kindly Protect me, and Remove my Ignorance.
PUSHPANJALI:
 The popular ‘pranam mantra’ or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion on this day:The kids should recite this mantra while offering flowers and fruits to Goddess Saraswati

Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||

Meaning : Om Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
Meaning:
1: Om, Lead us from Unreality (of Transitory Existence) to the Reality (of Self),
2: Lead us from the Darkness (of Ignorance) to the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
3: Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
4: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
May the Goddess of Learning always shower her blessings on us..
May the desire of learning never leave us till we reach our grave
May we be wise to understand right from wrong
May we be grounded enough so as the ego never creeps in our mind and heart..

Dussehra or Vijayadashmi : Old festival in a new light

RaavanDussehra (दशहरा ) or Vijayadashmi (विजयादशमी ) is an Indian  festival celebrated just after “Navratri” (9 days of celebration of Goddess of power,wisdom,and wealth) in all parts of India.

Ask any Indian about the significance of Dussehra and most probably the most common answer will refer to Lord Ram’s victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravan(रावण) and basically signifies victory of good over evil.Mostly this day effigy of Raavan is burnt and he is shown with the 10 heads .

This is how we understood the Dussehra festival up until now. The festivals or rituals were created as checks and balances for the survival of the community.In order for the common people to follow these checks and balances , they were introduced as customs/rituals and people followed it as part of their tradition. But with ever changing and developing society all these rituals/customs need to be understood in a new sense or a new light.This is the only way we can make the younger generation understand why we do what we do.This is how they will understand the significance of our age old traditions.

Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit Dasha(दस/दश) -hara(हरा ) literally means removal/defeat of ten (Dasha(ten) and Hara(defeat)).

In todays perspective the 10 heads of Ravan represent 10 bad qualities that one should try to remove. We all have these qualities/bad qualities in us
1.  EGO (ahamkara)- अहंकार
2. ATTACHMENT (moha)-मोह
3. SELFISHNESS (Swarth)-स्वार्थ
4. ANGER (krodha)-क्रोध
5. HATRED (ghrina)-घृणा /नफरत
6. PRIDE (Mad)-मद
7. JEALOUSY (irshya)-ईर्ष्या
8. GREED (lobha)-लोभ
9. LUST (kama)-काम
10. INSJUSTICE (Anyaay)-अन्याय

These are all traits of human nautre. All of us have either some of these traits or all of these traits and there is no denial to this universal truth.Some amount of few of these traits should definitely be developed in a human being like attachment (for parents, for family, for loved ones,for country etc), pride (for what you are and what all you represent people,country etc). Basically where there is pride , there is attachment, where there is attachment , there is selfishness , so the point is we all possess these traits more or less.Hence some amount of few of these qualities are must ..especially in today’s world..but “अति किसी भी चीज़ की बुरी “..meaning Too much of a good thing turns out bad or harmful too.

To live the precious “LIFE” (we have been blessed with) happily, attachment(to family and loved ones) is required to some extent….politeness and humbleness are must…but not to the extent that it crushes…”Self Respect” but too much of it may lead to EGO and PRIDE…which is not good…similar points go for all the above mentioned.I guess for every person…that level/bar varies.All in all in a nutshell..BALANCE of these is the MANTRA of HARMONY IN LIFE ….:-)

May we all can strive for winning(vijaya) over these 10(dashmi) demons within us . Wishing all a very happy Dussehra !!!!

 

दहन कागज़ के पुतले को रावण का नाम देकर कर भी दिया
तो दशहरे के मायने नहीं समझे हैं तुमने ,
मन के अंदर बसी दुर्भावनाओं का दहन हो तो सही मायने में दशहरा  है ,
प्रेम भी तुम में द्वेष भी तुम में
राम भी तुममे ,रावण भी तुममे ,
गुण भी तुम में ,अवगुण भी तुममें ,
विचार करो गहन किसका करोगे  दहन
क्योंकि राम भी तुम में रावण भी तुम में
प्रण करें की एक अवगुण का नाश  हो ,
बाहर नहीं किन्तु अपने अंदर के रावण का विनाश हो

-प्रीती मिश्र तिवारी

3-october-2014

Lord Ganesha – The Elephant God: Lessons from a Mom’s eye

Tanjore_GaneshaLord Ganesh or The Elephant God as known in the western world (due to his elephant head) is the god of removal of Obstacles.Easy to please and hence the first one to be worshiped in any and every kind of pooja or beginning of a new good venture/task.

Lord Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.There are several stories of his birth or how he got his elephant head. I won’t go in the details of it, but if you need the info do post the comment and I will be happy to explain.

Like every Indian rituals that have some scientific base to it similarly every Indian deity represents something. Lord Ganesh not only is the removal of all obstacles, but also teaches many lessons through his idol. One of the first few lessons that we teach our little ones is body parts , Have you ever wondered when they grow up a little bit and are able to understand basics you can include it and teach them some of the basics of life. Here are few things that can be taught through Lord Ganesh’s body parts :

Head : The big head of Lord Ganesh teaches to think big. Have good thoughts in the mind. Rather than entangling your mind in worldly affair ,think up and beyond that. It can also be interpreted as think out of the box.

Mouth : Mouth of Ganesh is small and in worldly affair it teaches individuals to think more use the brain more but speak less, meaning to use your words wisely.Talking less and after thoughtful thinking will land you in less troubles and also take you towards the path of success and calmness.

Large Ears : The large ears of Ganesh symbolizes to be alert in life. Pay attention to the details and always be open to grasp knowledge from whatever source you can.It also means get opinions from all and then pick the best ones.This might give you a chance to ponder upon some of the aspects that you might have never registered.

Little eyes : The head of Ganesh is so big yet he has so small eyes. The reason for this is that even though one has to utilize maximum efficiency of his or her brain and think out of box, but once you have taken a task in the hand never loose focus from it. Focus is the basis for success in life , one can be good in so many things but concentrate on what you can do best and then focus all your energy in the same direction.

One tusk : One tusk of Ganesh has also given him the name “Ek Dant”. Elephant tusk is very strong in nature. We all go through many good and bad experiences in life be it people or be it incidents, hence it teaches one to be strong enough to make wise judgments and retain the good and leave the bad behind. There is no point in wasting your energy and sulking over the wrongs but to be strong and hold on to good and move on.

Trunk: Trunk represents strength, flexibility and adaptability of mind. The Ganesh’s trunk is sometime turned left which symbolizes the moon energy of the body (Ida nadi) which denotes calmness,tolerance,patience. When the trunk is twisted on the right side it represents sun energy of body (Pingala nadi) which in turn symbolizes masculinity and fierceness with which one can attain worldly happiness. The other name for right sided trunk Ganesh is “Siddhi Vinayak”. Most of the temples have right sided trunk idols of Ganesh, but in homes its suggested to always keep idol in a sitting pose and with left sided trunk. The way to find if the trunk is right or left sided is not from the end turning of trunk but in what direction the trunk is turned at the very beginning.Very rarely you will find a straight trunk Ganesh which signifies Sushumna Nadi and represents ultimate happiness or destination.

Big Belly : Lord Ganesh is also always shown with big belly. The big stomach means one should know how to digest the good and bads. People may say favorable things to you and they may also say things that might hurt you. Giving some one “piece of mind” should not be your ultimate aim, but to take the negative in without it bothering you and moving on is what is the sign of intelligence. It also tells you not to get involved in the gossips or tattle tale.

Mouse : Mouse by nature is very restless and it represents our mind or desires.If desires are not controlled properly they can lead you to wrong path. You need to make wise judgments in life  so as not to land in any troubles.The way you can tame your mind or desires is by always using your brain. Hence Lord Ganesh is seen riding the mouse indicating how our desires are have very little significance if we know how to control them and lead in the right direction.

 

Happy teaching and Happy learning !!!

Om Ganeshay Namah !!

Raksha bandhan(Rakhi) : Details

RakhiRaksha Bandhan or Rakhi , personally one of my favourite Indian festivals. It makes me all nostalgic ,remembering my childhood days. They say to experience the beauty of certain things , you need to experience them personally . This holds true for this beautiful bond. You need to have that beautiful relationship to share (whether biological or made by choice) to experience this beautiful bond of brother and sister. I don’t think there is any other culture in the world that celebrates this beautiful bond.

I have been  lucky enough to be blessed to celebrate this beautiful relationship year after year. To this day I remember the first time I got to celebrate this festival. My little heart was full of joy and excitement. When I realized that I will be getting a sibling soon..I remember singing the song “kali re kali re tu to kali kali hai, gora sa ek bhayia maa dilane wali hai , laane wali hai ” . I used to sing it so often, I still remember one of our neighbouring aunt who was expecting around the same time too..her hubby called me and recorded my song in their tape recorder :-). I remembered the whole song. So lucky I was that I was blessed with a baby brother exactly 6 days before rakhi. That year rakhi was on 4th august. I remember getting mehendi done on my tiny little palms by my masi. I woke up so early to see the color of my mehendi and then getting the mustard oil and heat massage on my palm from my dad to get the color of mehendi dark :-). I still remeber the first rakhi I got and tied on those chubby lttle wrists. It was a small silver rakhi. I wonder where it is now, if its still safe with my mom. I need to ask her. I still remember cuddling him tight, holding him on my lap and covering him and myself both in a warm shawl in the cold winter days. We fought ,we loved , we argued with each other , we defended each other.We fought for the same pen,pencil but when time required we shared our savings for each other.

Coming back to the festival Raksha Bandhan : combination of two words “Raksha” meaning “Protection” , “bandhan” meaning “Bond”. Hence, raksha bandhan is also called Bond of Protection. The sister ties the raksha thread on the brother’s wrist wishing for his long life , success ,protection from all evils and in return the brother promises safety and security of his sister.

You will find many historical stories on raksha bandhan/rakhi. I won’t go in to the details of that but will shed light on how rakhi was celebrated in vedic culture.During that time it was not limited to the bond of brother and sister, there are example Lord Krishna’s mom tying the Raksha sutra to Krishna. A guru tying raksha sutra to his disciples etc.

At that time Rakhi was made of below given following 5 items tied together in a small silk cloth and then the cloth along with the sacred thread called Mauli or kalwa is tied on the wrist of an individual.

1) Durva ( a type of grass) : Durva the sanskrit word for Bermuda grass is considered sacred. While Tulsi is considered sacred to krishna , durva is considered sacred for Lord Ganesha. Significance: The way bermuda grass grows quicky and spreads around faster and a single seed of it can propagate in to thousands of seeds similarly its wished that your family line flourishes and prospers. The way the “Durva” grass spreads quickly similarly I wish your good qualities and fame spread in all directions.Since the Durva is sacred to Lord Ganesha (the god of removal of all obstacles) may he remove all the obstacles from your life.

2)Akshat (The whole grain rice mixed with turmeric).Akshat means the one thats is not broken, akshat in Pooja rituals is referred to the whole grains of rice mixed with turmeric.Just like Akshat may you remain unharmed.

3)Kesar(Saffron) : Saffron is strong in nature . It assimilates and brings its properties in to milk/water whatever it is added to.May you be as lusturous as saffron and may with your good qualities inculcate the same goodness in everyone around you.

4)Chandan(Sandal): The basic quality of sandal is to provide fragrance and provide coolness and freshness.Just like sandal may there be calmness in your life and may your good qualities spread around just like the fragrance of sandal.

5)Sarson ke daane(Mustard seeds) ; Mustard seeds are tiny but they are strong in flavor. May you become as strong as to be able to remove all the problems of society.

 

The Resham or silk thread has got its own significance, its lusturous, it provides warmth and even though its very fine, it is very strong.Hence Rakhi’s were mostly made of silk thread, signifying the love and warmth and the strong bond shared by the two individuals.With the marketing bursts and companies trying to come up with new ideas the rakhi’s are undergoing lots of changes, but a simple resham rakhi is still the best per me 🙂

.Its believed that the first rakhi was tied to King Bali by goddess Lakshmi.The Shlok generally recited during tying rakhi (also called Raksha sutra is )

Rakhi Mantra in Hindi
Rakhi Mantra in English

The meaning of Raksha Mantra is as following –
“I tie you with the same Raksha thread which tied the most powerful, the king of courage, the king of demons, Bali. O Raksha (Raksha Sutra), please don’t move and keep fixed throughout the year

It has alreday been a long post hence I might some day post the story related to raksha sutra some other day .

One thing is change has to be part of customs in order for them to be carried on for generations, Olden times families used to be large hence more or less all were fortunate to be blessed with sibling bonds of brothers and sisters. With time the families becoming smaller in size and going nuclear way, it is must that we do not limit this festival as a bond between just brothers and sisters but celebrate it more as BOND OF PROTECTION and LOVE between SIBLINGS.

May all the siblings in world admire,love and respect each other. May they appreciate the beautiful bond in which the almighty has tied them and value it .

 

Best wishes to all.

INDIAN FLAG : History and Significance

india-flag-a4

India’s Independence Day (15th August ) and Republic Day (26th January) are major milestone dates for every Indian, be they the citizens of India or Expats. We all reminiscent the old school days when we looked forward to these dates. I am not sure how much we understood the significance of these dates but the biscuits and candies we got , the shiny white school uniform we wore, the parades, the flag and that pride on every one’s face all made those 2 days very special.

I know the internet will flood with all the patriotic pictures, poems and articles. I was wondering what should I write or post and then the thought came why not write on the history and the significance of the flag. I know what the flag of my kids motherland means but do my kids know what my motherland flag signifies. Not to say we love both the countries flag and have a deep respect for each but to know a little about them is good, Right ??

SIGNIFICANCE : INDIA as is always mentioned is a very vibrant and colourful country and so is it’s flag the tricolored Indian flag commonly called “TIRANGA“. Tirangaa is comibination of 2 words “Ti” meaning Three and “Rang” meaning color. Hence Tiranga means “Tri-Color”.

The Top most “Saffron” color signifies Courage. The middle “White” signifies peace and Harmony. The Wheel in the “Navyblue” with 24 spikes called “Ashok Chakra” is  Also called wheel of Dharma , It signifies continuous progress  24 hours of the day. The “Green” Represents Land of agriculture hence prosperity and fertility.

AshokChakra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ashok Chakra was taken from Ashoka pillar in Sarnath. It was Part of Ashok Stambh (Ashoka pillar) that has 4 lions facing in different direction with wheels at the bottom. The four lions were adopted as India’s National emblem and Wheels were adopted in the National Flag.

AshokChakra-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORY : National Flag Evolution :

Flag

 

 

 

 

 

Ist Flag: was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green and said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta.

IInd Flag: was very similar to the first flag except that the top strip had only one lotus but seven stars denoting the Saptarishi; was hoisted in Paris by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907 .

IIIrd Flag : had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars in the saptarishi configuration super-imposed on them. In the left-hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star in one corner. Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted it during the Home rule movement in 1917.

IVth Flag : was made up of two colours-red and green-representing the two major communities i.e. Hindus and Muslims, prepared by an Andhra youth during the session of the All India Congress Committee which met at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijayawada) took it to Gandhiji. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.

Vth Flag : A resolution was passed in 1931 adopting a tricolor flag as our national flag. This flag, the forbear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the center. It was, however, clearly stated that it bore no communal significance and was to be interpreted thus.

On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the Dharma Charkha of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag.

It’s an honour and pride to watch the Tiranga Unfurl and Flutter in the blue sky .

Guru Poornima : Significance

GuruGuru Poornima: My face book page and What’s app messages are flooded with Guru Poornima wishes , yes today is Guru Poornima. Another Indian festival that is loosing its meaning and celebrations amidst many others.It made me decide that I need to write on this festival to explain the importance/significance.

Guru Poornima is celebrated in the month of Ashadh(per Hindu calendar) around July -August time frame during the full moon day (Poornima). The Day actually was celebrated to pay homage to Rishi (Saint) Ved Vyas. He was the Saint who edited 4 Vedas, the 18 puranas, Mahabharat, Srimad Bhagwatkatha. He was also the one who preached Dattatreya who is considered Guru of Guru.

The word “GURU” has been included in English dictionary too and used in colloquial english too to refer to a subject matter expert. Now a days Guru is also the term used for teachers.

The most common Shloka in sanskrit to show respect towards Guru is :गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः 

Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vishnur-Gururdevo Maheshvarah |Gurureva Param Brahma Tasmai Shrii-Gurave Namah ||1||

Exact Translation:The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru Deva is Maheswara (Shiva),The Guru is Verily the Para-Brahman (Supreme Brahman); Salutations to that Guru.

Meaning:The Guru is  Brahma (G of GOD denoting Genrator) like Lord Brahma he generates Knowledge within us. The Guru is Vishnu (O of GOD denoting Operator) like Lord Vishnu he operates/drives us to the right path by enlightening us in the form of ideas and knowledge. The Guru is Shiva (D of GOD denoting Destroyer) like Lord Shiva he destroys the ignorance within us and paves way for the inner enlightenment. Thus a true teacher is like an ultimate GOD and we pay respect and salute to that Teacher.

Coming back to the question : so the teachers who taught us are they GURU ??

Well per my understanding it depends, if you got guidance from them (apart from academics or subject matter then yes) . The teachers who impart subject knowledge are like “Acharya’s.In ancient India the saints with subject  matter expertise were called Acharya like ayurveda acharya’s Sushrut, Charak. The teacher of military arts for kaurava’s and pandava’s Dronacharya.

GURU : is made by combination of 2 root words of sanskrit (Gu + Ru). Gu meaning darkness and Ru meaning dispeller. Hence the destroyer of darkness is GURU. Now the darkness can be of ignorance , of arrogance , of pride , of all the negative qualities within you. The one who helps you overcome these negativities within you is the GURU. The term mostly is used for your spiritual guide the one who awakens or enlightens the inner soul within you. In Bhagwad Gita too Arjun accepts Shri Krishna as GURU as he guides Arjun when the latter is in doubt.

How do I explain significance of it to my kids.. You know the history and logic of Guru Poornima but how do you explain it to the little ones?? The lessons of spirituality or negativity within you or coming out of negativity or growing up spiritually with the guidance of GURU is a concept hard for them to understand. I read about an example of Sun and Moon in the internet. Moon has no light of its own, but on poornima /full moon it dazzles by reflecting the light of Sun , similarly  if you get a true GURU (Sun) , the guidance from him/her will enlighten you and you will shine by imbibing the learning’s from him/her in your life.

We did a little experiment today, we took few seeds and planted them. I asked them what will the seed turn in to and their answer was plant . We talked that the seed needs water, air and sunlight to grow in to a plant. The sunlight is a must just the air and water won’t help plant to grow , the Sunlight is a must because it initiates the process of photosynthesis which helps in providing the food. Similarly a true GURU acts as SUN which helps us to initiate the process of photosynthesis (food for our mind/soul) within us. It helps us to come out of our cocoon of selfishness, ignorance ,pride and makes us a humble and good Human being. Parents can act as GURU too if they are able to guide their kids in right direction.

Salute to the GURU’s in our life who have taught us right from wrongs , helped us awaken our innerself let’s follow what is right and pass it to the next generation and make this world a beautiful place. LET’s begin from US ….

गुरु गोबिंद दोउ खड़े , काके लागूं पावों , बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोविन्द दियो बताय

Guru gobind dou khade,kaake lagoon paavon, Balihari guru aapne ,gobind diyo batay ..

Meaning : I was standing in front of my Guru and God, I was in dilemma who to salute first and God told it’s the GURU first…that’s how significant is THE GURU in our LIFE.

Namaste (The Indian Greeting)-Meaning and Significance

“Namaste” – what does it mean ? Why is it said? What is the significance? These questions must have came in your mind sometime, especially If you are an Indian or have been around an Indian , you must have surely heard the word “Namaste”. It’s the Indian Hello 🙂 . On a serious note it is an Indian way to greet when you meet someone. You bring your both palms together in the way that fingers of each palm touch each other pointing upwards , thumbs closer to your chest and you gently bow down your head a little bit.

Why I decided to write about “Namaste”? Well, my kids were lucky enough to go to a school that has very varied diaspora. Quiet obvious when you are part of such varied community, as much as you learn about other cultures, you are answerable to your own culture too :-). WhenNamaste I had to tell what “Namaste” truly stands for I decided why not to share it with all .

The word “Namaste” (नमस्ते ) is combination of two Sanskrit words “Namah” (नमः ) and “Te” (ते ). “Namah” means Salute or Bow or Adore. Literal meaning of “Te” in sanskrit is “They”  , but in here it’s used as You or You all. Hence, Namaste means “I Bow to you” or ” I Salute You”. In Vedic culture it was believed that there is GOD(supreme power) within every living oraganis/zm. Namaste meant I Bow to the God within you.Another way to explain it is ,and which I personally believe, is better way to explain is : Let’s discuss a situation, you go to a party and start greeting people, what are the first few thoughts in your minds …. (The looks of the other fellow, the kind of dress/clothes the person is wearing, how they are carrying themselves, the way they are talking/eating etc.) The point is that we immediately try to analys/ze a person and start being judgemental, before even trying to know the person. When you say “Namaste” it means “I bow/salute the Supreme power within you“. Not judging you as an individual , I am keeping my mind open and ready to welcome you.

The word “Namah” can further be segregated in to “Na” and “Ma”. Na –  meaning no/not/negating and Ma – meaning Mine. Hence meaning, its not mine. It negates the feeling of supremacy or the ego of an individual. Thus, making the person humble enough to accept /welcome the other individual.Joining the palms together signifies we all are one.

Another word quiet commonly exchanged with “Namaste” is “Namaskar”. Namaskar (नमस्कार) is again made of two Sanskrit words “Namah” ( नमः )  and “Sanskar”(संस्कार) .Namah – I already mentioned above and Sanskar – The words literal meaning is hard to find but its a process of transforming a person in to outstanding personality by guiding/developing good conscious, good thoughts, good conducts in him/her. Namaskar hence meaning I bow to all the good qualities within you.

When you greet a person by saying “Namaste” not only it enriches the environment with positivity but also the  danger of passing germs is reduced significantly. It certainly is not just a gesture of respect but a sign of gratitude too. When greeted with its true essence it surely brings positivity between the two individuals.

Hope the next time you greet some one it is in the true essence and when some one asks you about Namaste , you are ready with a detailed answer 🙂

 

 

 

NEW YEAR (Per Hindu calendar)

The new year per hindu calendar begins with the month “Chaitra”, also celebrated as First day of Navratri. India Culture has major importance for “Navratri”. Nav- meaning Nine and “Ratri”-meaning nights, so basically its a festival of 9 nights celebrated twice in a year Spring & Autumn, Basically its an important transition weather wise and Of Solar movement.Though, the dates of navratri are calculated based on lunar calendar.

Astronomically speaking, the March equinox occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is known as the vernal, or spring, equinox, and marks the start of the spring season.

The New Year per Indian calendar is celebrated by almost all the religions/regions across the India with different name.In South it is celebrated as “Ugadi”,In Maharashtra and Konkan region as “Gudi Padwa”, In Punjab as “Baisakhi”, in Tamilnadu as “Puthandu”, in Assam as “Bohaag Bihu”, in West Bengal and parts of Tripura as “Pohela Boishakh”. Ugadi word is believed to be orginated from word “YUG + AADI” meaning begining of new era.

HOLI : HOW AND WHY ??

As we were getting ready to get in the festive moods of Holi , my 8 year old asked why we light fire on Holi and I realized I have to write about this festival 🙂

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“HOLI” a vibrant and colourful festival of INDIA. Generally celebrated around the month of March – April  is also known as “Faag” or “Phagwaa” .

Let’s go first with HOW holi is celebrated.It’s mainly celebrated for 2 days the first day is celebrated by lighting fire in the evening time. People go around the fire seeking blessings. This is called “Holika dahan“. To my understanding this name was derived from the mythological story of King Hiranyakashyap and his son Prahald who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.”Holika” was the name of King’s sister who entered the blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap (with the thought that Prahlad will be killed and since she had a boon to enter fire unscathed she will be saved.) Prahlad was saved by God and Holika was burnt in fire. “dahan” in hindi means burnt(combustion in literal word) ..hence the name “Holika dahan“.

The next day is celebrated in most of the India as “Dhuredi/Dhulandi” or “Rang Panchami“. Apart from making various delicious preparations the way this day is celebrated has transformed a lot, though the basic aspect of “playing with Colors” remains the same. Many other mythological tales related to Holi are about Lord Krishna and Radha, Ogress Pootna and Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and Kaamdeva.The basic moral of these stories is be truthful,honest and fight from evil.

Culturally people believe that this is the day when every one forgets the hatred, misunderstanding etc and makes a fresh start by applying colors to each other and hugging each other. The aim is to bring every one closer and tie them in the thread of “UNITY” through this festival.

Coming to scientific part as to WHY “Holi” is celebrated there are various reasons to it, this is the time when weather changes from cold winter to onset of spring, people are generally lethargic and because of the weather transition there is growth of bacteria in the environment and in the human body, hence when people do parikrima around fire(meaning circumambulate around fire) because of the heat the bacteria within the body and the ones present in environment die.The fun and Frolic associated with Holi, the brisk movements , loud music etc, play a vital role in rejuvenating the Human body.

During olden times people used organic colours basically turmeric & flowers of Tesu/palaash/dhhak/Kinshuk (Butea monosperma) were used to make colours. Turmeric acts as antiseptic and apart from other good elements its loaded with Vitamin,C,E,K etc. hence is a wonderful immunity booster. Similarly Dried flowers of palaash are crushed and soaked in water all night and used to play for holi, this acts as a very good protection from various skin diseases apart from various other medicinal benefits. There is a whole new stream of science called “chromatics” that explains how different colours play different roles in Human life and impact us in various different ways. So hope you enjoyed your Holi with your loved ones in its True spirit “with love and loads of Colors” !!!