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Showing posts from October, 2007

Devaprasnam in Kerala Temples

Devaprasnam is an astrological ritual performed in the temples in Kerala primarily to know the ‘divine opinion’ regarding the functioning of the temple. A chief astrologer selected by the temple authorities decides the time and method of the Devaprasnam ritual. The divine opinion too is revealed by the chief astrologer.Thought of a Devaprasnam arises when there are difficulties in the day-to-day functioning of the temple and when corrupt practices are noticed in a temple. Devaprasnam also suggests solutions for the problems faced by the temple. There are several variations in the Devaprasnam ritual and the most famous one performed in major Kerala temples is the Ashtamangalya Devaprasnam. There are numerous rituals associated with the Devaprasnam and also there are several astrological calculations involved in the ritual. The astrological ritual is usually performed by a senior most astrologer, who is widely respected in the field. The prasnam is usually headed by the main astrologer …

Hindu Faith in Politics and Governance

Gandhi an example of Hindu faith in politics’ is an article written by Shreyas Limaye in The Daily, Washington. As the title suggests, the article talks about core values attached to Hinduism and the role these values had played in Indian politics and governance. Some excerpts from the articleA devout Hindu himself, Mahatma Gandhi turned to religion to instill inner strength and courage among his followers and to lead them in the struggle against the British colonial rulers of India.…Hinduism suggests a four-fold path encompassing realization of both material as well as spiritual values (purushartha). Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are the four ideals a Hindu attempts to achieve in life. Artha and kama are attaining livelihood and fulfillment of pleasures in life. Dharma is the way of living a moral, just and disciplined life whereas moksha is the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation of soul.Dharma is not a rigid code of conduct. Within a general framework of moral values, dharma is…

Science behind Hindu Fire Walking Ritual

Many devotees who partake in Hindu fire walking ritual do not get burned. There is also a popular belief that those who are blessed by Amman will not suffer burns. But in normal case, if a person walks on fire he/she will suffer burns. So what saves these ardent devotees of ‘Amman’? Coal from wood has less thermal capacity. This means less heat is transferred to the feet while walking on fire.The period of contact between burning coal and feet is for a very short period. Many people walk briskly.The bed of burning coal is different from a metal sheet and there are numerous pores or vacant areas in a bed of coal.The bed of burning coal is not a hard surface like a sheet of metal or road, as a person walks the coal displaces.The ash from the coal acts as an insulator. The thick layer of ash on the coal bed is often hidden as the ritual is performed at night. The same bed of burning coal when viewed at day time will clearly show a layer of ash.Many people believe that the entire exercis…

Fire Walking Ritual in Hinduism

Fire walking is an important ritual practiced by certain sections of Hindu society. The ritual involves walking over a bed of coals. The ritual is known as thimithi and is mainly practiced by Hindus in South India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and South Africa. The ritual is primarily dedicated to ‘Amman’ – an important female deity associated with Shakti cult in South Indian and Tamil Culture.

The fire walking ritual is an act of self-purification. For some devotees it is part of a vow in which the devotee promises to walk on fire in exchange for a wish or blessing granted by Amman. Devotees believe that if they are blessed by Amman then they will come out unscathed. Fire walking is also part of Theyyam dance ritual in Northern Kerala.
Interestingly, in some areas Thimethippu or Thimeethi (fire walking) is referred as Poo Methippu or Pomethipu (flower walking). The name due to the orange color of coal, which looks like flowers. The ritual is mainly performed by men. Some men ca…

U G Krishnamurti Sayings

You never question the solutions. If you really question the solutions you will have to question the ones who have offered you those solutions. But sentimentality stands in the way of your rejecting not only the solutions, but those who have offered you the solutions. Questioning that requires a tremendous courage on your part. You can have the courage to climb the mountain, swim the lakes, go on a raft to the other side of the Atlantic or Pacific. That any fool can do, but the courage to be on your own, to stand on your two solid feet, is something which cannot be given by somebody. You cannot free yourself of that burden by trying to develop that courage. If you are freed from the entire burden of the entire past of mankind, then what is left there is the courage.All I am saying is that the peace you are seeking is already inside you. Anything you do to free yourself from anything for whatever reason is destroying the sensitivity, clarity, and freedom that is already there.U G Krish…

Shvetashvatara Upanishad Quotes

With earnest effort hold the senses in check. Controlling the breath, regulate the vital activities. As a charioteer holds back his restive horses, so does a persevering aspirant restrain his mind.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 2.9.

The soul is born and unfolds in a body, with dreams and desires and the food of life. And then it is reborn in new bodies in accordance with its former works. The quality of the soul determines its future body--earthly or airy, heavy or light.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 5.11-12
Than whom there is naught else higher, than whom there is naught smaller, naught greater, the One stands like a tree established in heaven. By Him, the Person, is this whole universe filled.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.9
From Brahman's divine power comes forth
All this magical show of name and form;
Of you and me,
Which casts the spell of pain and pleasure.
Only when we pierce through this magic veil
Do we see the One who appears as many. Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4:5

Quotes on Upanishads by Raimundo Panikkar

The Upanishads proffer an invitation to a higher life of contemplation, to the enormous and risky adventure of finding the Lord, who can neither be spoken of nor identified with any objective or subjective reality.... The Upanishads attempt to resolve the dilemma by propounding the way of self-realization, the personal discovery of the hidden treasure. The Lord is within and without, personal and impersonal, moving and unmoving, ‘Being and Non-being.’ He is the Lord precisely because he is not limited by any one pair of opposites.Raimundo Panikkar

Ramana Maharshi Quotes

There is no greater mystery than this, that we keep seeking reality though in fact we are reality. We think that there is something hiding reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous! A day will dawn when you will laugh at all your past efforts. That which will be the day you laugh is also here and now.
‘Heart’ is merely another name for the Supreme Spirit, because He is in all hearts. The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe.
Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.
You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.

The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other t…

Stick fight ritual at Mala Malleswara Swamy temple in Devaragattu, Andhra Pradesh

Brutal stick fight is an unusual ritual observed Mala Malleswara Swamy temple at Devaragattu near Aluru in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. The ritual is part of banni procession held on Dasara or Dusshera. Bloodshed, injuries and death due to this ritual is a common occurrence.Around 20 villages in the region take part in the ritual. The villagers divide themselves into groups and try to carry away the idols of Mala Malleswara Swamy temple to their village. The weapon used to attack and defend is stick. The victorious village will take the idols of Mala Maleswara Swamy temple to their village and conduct pujas and return the idol to the temple. Officials have been trying hard to put and end to the ritual but all their efforts have failed and the ritual was held this year too. But the district administration has been able to bring down the intensity of the fight and this year there was very few injuries. Dear reader sex is part of life and Santana Dharma does not consider discussin…

Mondays of Kartik Month Dedicated to Lord Shiva – Kartik Mahina Somvar Vrat

Mondays in the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November) are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shiva devotees observe the Kartik Monday Vrat or fasting. Early morning dip in Yamuna River and Ganga River is considered highly meritorious.
The Mondays in the month is also highly auspicious for Lord Vishnu devotees and is known as Kartika Damodara. But generally the Mondays in the month Kartik are noted for Lord Shiva worship. Many people make it a point to visit Lord Shiva shrines on the Mondays of the month.
The importance of Somavar Vrat in mentioned in the Skanda Purana and is performed for the well-being of the family.
Those undertaking the Karti Somavar Vrat do not consume food after sunrise. Some people opt for a liquid diet or fruit diet and others go for the traditional strict fasting of without food.
Puja is performed early in the morning. The puja begins with prayer to Lord Ganesh. A picture of Lord Shiva or Shivling is used for the prayer. It must be noted here that according to Hind…

Ramayana Comic from Thailand

In the recently concluded Frankfurt Book Fair 2007, Amarin, a publishing house from Thailand, received a lot of international attention for its comic version of the sacred Hindu epic, ‘The Ramayana.’ It seems the original Ramayana has been re-interpreted to adapt the needs of modern day western comic readers. The covers of the comic displayed on Amarin website indicates that Rama and Demons have got a modern look and are quite similar to the heroes and villains that we find in X-men, Superman and other modern comics. The summary provided in the website suggests that there has been no re-interpretation of the original story. The only change that is happening is in illustrations mainly in the way in which backgrounds, villains and heroes are depicted.

Sayings of Rameshbhai Oza

Life should be dynamic, full of movement, flowing endlessly like the mighty Ganges. Life's movement should be channeled in the right direction. Life becomes a burden for many people because it has lost its dynamism. For them life is not like a flowing river. It is a static, turbid puddle. Understand that action gives movement to life, knowledge gives it direction and devotion bestows the inspiration to life's journey.Rameshbhai OzaRameshbhai Oza is internationally renowned for his discourse on Shrimad Bhagwadam, Bhagavad Gita, and other Hindu scriptures.

Karva Chauth a Symbol of Love for Modern Professional Women

Ever wondered how a modern professional woman views the Karva Chauth vrat or fasting ritual? Some women see this fasting for the wellbeing of the husband as servitude. Many modern women don’t agree to the traditional ideas associated with Karwa Chauth but instead they see the whole ritual as a symbol of love. In a thought provoking article in the Washington Post Anu Kumar, a vice president of marketing with Bank of America, shares her thoughts on Karva Chauth and why she observes the ritual. Some excerpts from the articleTradition says if a wife eats before moonrise during Karwa Chauth, her husband may die. Not that any of these modern, professional women believe that, but still...…I still treasured the memories of Karwa Chauth. But I began to feel conflicted, too. I was in college -- emboldened to reassess old beliefs and assumptions -- when I first questioned the servility implied by this holiday. Indian women have a reputation for submission to their husbands as it is, and this tra…

Carl Sagan on Hinduism

Hinduism is the only ancient religious tradition on the Earth which talks about the right time-scale. In the West, people have the sense that what is natural is for the universe to be a few thousand years old, and that billions are numbers no one can understand. The Hindu concept is very clear. Here is a great world culture which has always talked about billions of years.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), American Astrophysicist


Carl Sagan on the Hindu concept of beginning and end of universe

Prayer to Goddess Saraswathi

Saraswathi Namasthubhyam,
varade Kama roopini,
Vidhyarambham karishyami,
sidhir bhavathu me sada.My salutations to Goddess Saraswathi,
Who can take any form,
Who is the giver of all boons,
And I start learning now,
With the prayer to her,
To make it very effective

Tayumanavar Quotes

It is easy to tame the rogue elephant.
It is easy to tie the mouth of a bear.
It is easy to mount the back of a lion.
It is easy to charm poisonous snakes.
It is easy to conquer the celestial and the noncelestial realms.
It is easy to trek the worlds invisible.
It is easy to command the angelic heavens.
It is easy to retain youth eternally.
It is easy to enter the body of others.
It is easy to walk on water and sit in burning fire.
It is easy to attain all of the siddhis (yogic powers).
But to remain still is very, very difficult indeed.
When is the day to be
That I attain the Supreme Bliss
Which devotees true, all, attained,
Whom neither Good nor Evil ever sought.Tayumanavar (1706-1744), Tamil saint, mystic and poet

Becoming Hindu Priests

Young Hindu boys getting trained to become priests in a School of Vedas in New Delhi is discussed intelligently by Rama Lakshmi in this article in the Washington Post. The residential VedicSchool is located in a busy area in Delhi and here amidst all distractions of materialism, the young boys are studying to become a link in an unbroken tradition whose exact origin is yet to be pinpointed.The day for this young priest trainees begin at 4:45 AM
Rama Lakshmi writesSriram Sharma, a thin 13-year-old with large eyes and a shy smile, folds his sheet and mat and stacks them on the open stone shelf on the wall. He then steps tentatively into the cold shower and comes out shivering and chanting under his breath. Sriram has lived at the school for more than two years, memorizing and reciting the hymns from the Hindu religion's oldest texts, called the Vedas. After six more years of training at the School of Vedas, he will become a Hindu priest who can perform prayer rituals involving fi…

Kalabau on the Maha Saptami of Durga Puja

On the Saptami Day of the Durga Puja, a Banana or Plantain tree is taken to a nearby pond or river and is cleaned and decorated like a bride. Special pujas are done by priests and this banana tree is referred as ‘Kolabau’ or ‘Kola Bou.’ Kalabau is considered to be the bride of Lord Ganesha. The ritual is also referred as Nabapatrika and many people do not appreciate Kalabau being referred as the bride of Ganesha. Many feel origin of Nabapatrika practice can be traced to the agrarian society of East India. The Nabapatrika consists of nine leaves and they are used in the ritual.The Kalabau ritual is an elaborate one and the stem of the banana tree is draped in a sari and the leaves are left uncovered. The ‘kolabau’ is brought back in a procession and it is placed near Lord Ganesha in the Durga puja pandal.

Guru Nityachaitanya Yati Quotes

If there is a spiritual teaching which is beneficial to people, it should be beneficial when one sits in a closed room where there is no one to offend him and it should be beneficial right in the market place where he is confronted by so many problems and people. All through he should be able to keep up his spiritual light as his eternal guide, under all circumstances, in all places, and in all kinds of social and nonsocial situations. Otherwise I do not see any value to that wisdom.

Buddhi, or the intellect, is the greatest friend to take us up to the door of realization. And then it becomes the greatest stumbling block. It won't leave you, it holds on to you, making demands for one more logical ramification. And thus you are caught by the very reason that was helping you to come that far. For this reason Shankara and Narayana Guru have called it the grandham; grandham is a grandhi which means that a book becomes a binding knot.

The scripture itself, which is meant to guide, fin…

Is Durga Puja Performed at Home?

Why is Durga Puja not performed at home? Why is Durga Puja a community affair? How to perform Durga Puja at Home? These are some of questions for which people are trying to find answers. Firstly, Durga Puja is largely a community festival. It is today more of a social event even though the festival has religious roots. The entire community in an area pays homage to Goddess Durga on the day through the community pujas. This does not mean that Durga Puja is not held at home. Zamindari households perform Durga Puja at home. Even today there are several Zamindari households which maintain the tradition of performing Durga Puja.Elaborate rituals are the main reason for not performing Durga Puja at home. A Priest is a must for performing the elaborate rituals. It is very hard to get a priest during Durga Puja period. Many Durga Puja committees are finding it difficult to get a qualified priest during the puja period.Durga Puja idols are huge and they are costly too. Miniature Durga idols ar…

A list of Popular Durga Puja Pandals in Kolkata in 2007

The Durga Puja Pandal themes in 2007 in Kolkata have garnered worldwide attraction thanks to the Durga Puja Harry Potter Pandal controversy. Traditionalists scoff at the Durga Puja theme but major puja committees in Kolkata compete against each other to attract the maximum crowd. The healthy competition among the Puja Pandals create a treat for the eye to see something totally unexpected; at times some forgotten page from India’s history and other times touching some burning issues.There are no criteria for this list. It is purely based on unique themes and that are attracting attention of people and media.The Durga Puja pandal at F.D. Block in SaltLake based on the HogwartsCastle pandal, replica of Harry Potter's school of magic, has already become famous and popular due to the 2 million rupees copyright infringement case. This Pandal is being discussed around the world and is sure attract a large crowd. The Suruchi Sangha Puja in New Alipore is based on Gujarat’s famous Bhunga h…

Vivekachudamani Quotes and Teachings

Quotes and teachings from the famous Vivekachudamani text of Adi Shankaracharya.  Vivekachudamani is an important literary work that delves into the Advaita philosophy.
The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness. (Verse 22) Clouds are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the same agency. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone. (Verse 172) The dull-witted man thinks he is only the body; the book-learned man identifies himself with the mixture of body and soul. But the sage, possessed of realization through discrimination, looks upon the eternal Atman as his Self and thinks, “I am Brahman (the Self of all)”. (Verse 160) The pain of something like a weight on the head can be removed by others, but the pain of things like hunger can be put an end to by no-one but oneself. A sick man is…

Navratri Dandiya Raas and Sex

For the past couple of years, newspapers and visual media have been reporting about the rise in the sexual activity during Navaratri Dandiya Ras in Gujarat. In the past week, this blog has attracted several visitors on the topic even though the Dandia Ras related post had nothing to do with sex. So what’s the whole issue of this Dandiya Sex? Young boys and girls make use of the freedom they get during the Navratri nights to indulge in sex. The Dandiya dance goes on till midnight and into the wee hours of the morning. And it is no more a secret that a minority of teenagers make use of freedom provided by the religious festival to indulge in sex with their girlfriends. Reports appearing the newspapers and visual media suggest that there is an increase of 25 to 30% condom sale during the Navratri period in the cities in Gujarat. Hotels too make huge profits during the period as room rates for an hour ranges from Rupees 200 to 500. There is also a rise in the number of abortions in Guja…

Official Website of Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain

The famous Lord Shiva temple in Ujjain now has an official website. The MahakaleshwarTemple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, is one among the twelve Jyotirlingas and is also famous for the Kumbha Mela.
The Mahakaleshwar website has a Hindi and English version and the front page has a slide show of the famous Shivling of Ujjain. There is also soothing bhajan in the background. 
If you are using a dial-up internet connection, then you will have to be a bit patient as the web site will take some time to load. 
You will need Shockwave Flash Embedder installed to view the slide show.
The official website is

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Quotes – Sage Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi on Self

Sage Yajnavalkya decided to renounce his householder’s life and distribute his wealth among Maitreyi and Katyayani.
Thereupon Maitreyi, his wife, said, ‘Sir, if indeed this whole earth full of wealth be mine, shall I be immortal through that?’
‘No’, replied Yajnavalkya, ‘your life will be just like that of people who have plenty of things, but there is no hope of immortality through wealth.’
Then Maitreyi said, ‘What shall I do with that which will not make me immortal? Tell me, sir, of that alone through which I can attain immortality.’
Yajnavalkya said, ‘My dear, you have been my beloved (even before), and you say what is after my heart. Come, take your seat, I will explain it to you. As I explain it, meditate on its meaning.
It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.
It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one’s own sake that she is loved.
It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear,…

Swami Sivananda Quotes

Religion gives solace to the weary pilgrim in this earth plane. It explains life's mystery to him. It shows the path to the immortal abode.

Be what you say. Say what you are. Be simple like a child. The greatest truths are the simplest; and so are the greatest men.
Sadhana (spiritual practices) is catching hold of one ideal and sticking to it at all costs, even at the risk of life.
Brahman or the Absolute is ever free. Know this. Know this and be ever!
The real spiritual progress of the aspirant is measured by the extent to which he achieves inner tranquility.

He who sows courtesy reaps friendship; he who plants kindness reaps love.
Do all the good that you can, in all the ways you can, to all people you can, at all times, with all zeal, strength and love.
Practice non-injury. If you injure any creature, you really injure yourself, because only one Soul dwells in all beings.
Destruction of desire is ‘Moksha’, or final emancipation.
Become a child. Then alone th…