20th SEPTEMBER 2015 SADHANA SPIRITUALITY GANESH AND SRI KRISHNA PUJA VRATS DETAILS

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sadhana and Spiritualising Everything

Question: I am so bogged down with a lot of things—I hardly have much time after work (at office and home). How could I find time for sadhana (=spiritual practice)?

Answer: “The life of a spiritual seeker is Sadhana-oriented. To him, there is NO such thing as time for Sadhana AND time for other activities. All activities ARE sought to be transformed by him into Yoga. His living itself becomes Sadhana, becomes Tapasya (=austerity).. The Sadhak (=seeker) gathers guidance by observing men and matters closely… The intelligent seeker then begins to see a divine purpose in EVERY incident in his life. He begins to feel, to sense, the guiding hand of God, the protecting power of the Guru. He, then, feels grateful, feels encouraged and steps up his Sadhana… If you can perceive the working of the Lord’s hand EVEN  in your day-to-day life, in matters big and small, you may know that you HAVE progressed considerably in the spiritual path, that you are considerably purified.” (pgs. 113, 115, “My Journey to God’s Kingdom” by N. Ananthanarayanan) [The writer was a direct disciple of Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh]

Answer: “Throughout the day’s activities, be WATCHFUL that you do NOT become lost in the mental restlessness of worldliness. Inwardly, take the Name of God. Stirve to keep your mind busy thinking of God. This practice Paramahansaji called “spiritualizing” thought… By spiritualizing thought, one gradually spiritualize one’s actions, so that everything one does becomes a form of meditation. One’s whole life should be a continuous spiritual experience.” (pgs. 71-72, Only Love by Daya Mata) [The author was a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda].

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What is Ego? Do Spiritual people have ego?

Question 1: Everyone in spiritual life talks about ego, and that it is the greatest impediment when it comes to attaining God. What, actually, is ego? How does it cause trouble to us?

Answer 1: “Ego… is the self-asserting principle…born of ignorance…It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman, It is the ego which is the ROOT CAUSE of ALL human sufferings and births and deaths.” (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 2: How do we know whether we have ego? Or, whether we are acting out of egoistic tendencies? Are there are definite signs of the existence of ego?

Answer 2: “…ego identifies itself with the body, mind, prana, and the senses. Wherever there IS ego, there are mine-ness, SELFISHNESS, LIKES and DISLIKES, LUST, ANGER, greed, HYPOCRISY, PRIDE, JEALOUSY, delusion, arrogance, conceit, impertinence, vasanas (=tendencies), trishnas (=cravings)…”   (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 3: How do we get rid of this ego that causes so much trouble?

Answer 3: “…destrouction of thought, DESIRES, cravings, mineness, selfishness, JEALOUSY, PRIDE, LUST is really destruction of mind or egoism. Control of SENSES also is annihilation of the mind or egoism.” ( (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 4: Do people who are in spiritual life or who practise religions have ego?

Answer 4: “This egoism assumes a subtle form. The gross egoism is NOT so dangerous as the subtle egoism.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 5: I have known people who claim that their religion is the truest and the rest are bogus, or they claim that their group, congregation, church, mosque or temple is genuine and the others, although they may belong to the same religion, do not belong to the true path of and to God. Are they actually working under the influence of ego?

Answer 5: “..Institutional egoism is a subtle form of egoism. The man identifies himself with the institution and gets ATTACHED to the institution or cult. He has no broadmindedness or catholicity.”  (pgs. 44-45, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 6: How to easily detect ego as it is so subtle and abstruse?

Answer 6: “The working of egoism is very mysterious. It is VERY difficult to detect its various ways of working. It NEEDS a SUBTLE and SHARP intellect to find out its operation. If you practise INTROSPECTION DAILY in silence, you WILL be able to find out its mysterious ways of working.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 7: In your answer to Question 2 you said if we identify ourselves with the body, mind, senses, etc., it is an indication that we have that lurking ego in us. If this is so, what about our feelings regarding foreigners, strangers and people who do not belong to our society, culture, etc. Is that feeling of seeing the difference between us and others in terms of nationality, attainment, class, status, etc., the work of ego too?

Answer 7: “The seed of this ego is the differentiating intellect or Bheda Buddhi… This ego likes his own birth, place, and district, people of his district, own mother tongue, his own relations, and friends, his own ways of eating, mode of dressing. He has his own predilection and preferences, He dislikes others’ ways of eating, dressing, etc. (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda).

Question 8: You see, I have spiritual friends—great spiritual friends, who are excellent advisers, guide and counsels. They have the little tendencies that you have described. Does it mean they too have the ego?

Answer 8: “It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman… This ego wants to exercise POWER and INFLUENCE over others. He wants TITLES, prestige, STATUS, RESPECT, prosperity, house, wife, children. He wishes to domineer and rule over others. If anybody points out his defect his vanity feels offended. If anyone praises him he is elated. This ego says, ‘I know everything. He does not know anything. What I say is quite correct. What he says is quite incorrect. He is inferior to me. I am superior to him.’ He forces others to follow his ways and views.”  (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 9: It, indeed, is subtle and dangerous. But how to destroy it?

Answer 9: “This ego lurks like a thief when you start introspection and self-analysis. It will ELUDE your grasp and understanding. You must be alert and vigilant. If you obtain the GRACE of the Lord through JAPA, kirtan, prayer and DEVOTION, you CAN EASILY kill this ego.”  (pg. 46, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lord Ganesha by Swami Sivananda

Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first. His Names are repeated first before any auspicious work is begun, before beginning any kind of worship.

He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Siva, and the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya. He is the energy of Lord Siva, and so He is called the son of Sankara and Uma. By worshipping Lord Ganesha, mothers hope to earn for their sons the sterling virtues of Ganesha.

The Elephant-Head

The following story is narrated about Lord Ganesha’s birth and His having the head of an elephant. Once upon a time, at bathing time, the Goddess Gauri, the spouse of Rudra, created Ganapati as a Suddha, or pure white being, out of the mud of Her body, and placed Him at the entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anybody inside and went for a bath. Lord Siva Himself returned home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Siva got angry and cut off Ganesha’s head, taking Him for an outsider. Gauri came to know of this and grieved much. Siva ordered His servants to bring the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head northwards. The servants made a thorough search end found only an elephant in that position. The head of the elephant was cut off and brought before the Lord. Siva joined the head of the elephant to the body of Ganapati.

Lord Siva made Ganapati worthy of worship by men at the beginning of all their undertakings—marriages, journey, expedition, study, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha, should take place on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada (August-September).

Symbolic Philosophy of Lord Ganesha’s Form

Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins. He is the foremost among Brahmacharins or celibates.

He rides on the Vahana, the small mouse. He is the Presiding Deity of the Muladhara Chakra.
He is the Lord who removes all obstacles in the spiritual path and brings worldly success. So He is called Vighna Vinayaka. His Bijakshara is Gang. He is the Lord of harmony and peace.

Lord Ganesha represents OM or the Pranava. Pranava is the chief Mantra of the Hindus. Nothing can be done without uttering it. Hence the practice of invoking Lord Ganesha before beginning any rite or work. The two feet are His Jnana Sakti and Kriya Sakti. Lord Ganesha has the elephant-head as that is the one figure in nature which is of the form of Pranava.

Riding on the mouse represents that He has killed egoism. He holds Ankusa. This represents that He is the Ruler of the world. This is the emblem of Divine Royalty.

Ganesha is the first God, Adi-Deva. Mouse is a small creature. Elephant is the biggest of all animals. Riding on a mouse and wearing the head of an elephant denote that He is the Creator of all creatures, from the biggest elephant to the smallest mouse. Elephants are very wise. Wearing the head of an elephant indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the process of evolution. The mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man. That is the reason why Ganesha has a human body, the head of an elephant, and mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.

He is the Lord of Ganas or groups, such as the group of elements, the group of senses, the group of Tattwas. He is the head of the followers of Siva.

The Vaishnavas also worship Lord Ganesha. They have given Him the name of Thumbikkai Alwar, i.e., Alwar with the proboscis.

Lord Ganesha’s two Saktis are Kundalini Sakti and Vallabha Sakti.

Legends Connected With Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha is very fond of Modaka, sweet balls made of rice. On one Ganesha Puja Day, He was going from house to house, accepting the offerings of Modaka. Having eaten a good number of these offered to Him, He set out moving on a mouse at night. Seeing a snake, the mouse got afraid and stumbled, with the result that Ganapati fell down. The stomach burst open and the Modakas came out, but Ganappati stuffed the Modakas into the stomach, and catching the same snake, tied it round His belly. Seeing all this, the moon in the sky heartily laughed. Ganapati was annoyed at the behaviour of the moon and pulled out one of His tusks and hurled it against the moon and cursed that no one should look at the moon on the Ganesha Puja Day.

If anyone looks at the moon, he will earn bad name or censure or ill repute. If anyone happens to see the moon on that day by mistake or by chance, if he repeats or hears the story of Lord Krishna’s clearing His character in respect of the Syamantaka jewel, he will be free from that ill-repute or blame. Lord Ganesha was pleased to ordain thus. Glory to Lord Ganesha! How kind and merciful He is unto His devotees!

Ganesha and His brother Lord Subrahmanya or Kartikeya had once a dispute as to who was the elder of the two. The matter was referred to Lord Siva for final decision. Lord Siva decided that whoever would make a tour round the world and come out first to the starting point had the right to be the elder. Lord Subrahmanya flew off at once on His vehicle, the peacock, to make a circuit of the world. But Ganesha went round His parents and asked for the prize of victory. Lord Siva said: “Beloved and wise -Ganesha! You did not go round the world”. Ganesha replied: “No, but I went round My parents. My parents represent the manifested world”. The dispute was settled in favour of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha was thereafter acknowledged as the elder of the two brothers. Ganesha got a fruit as prize for this from Mother Parvati.

In the Ganapati Upanishad, Ganesha is identified with the Supreme Self. The legends that are connected with Lord Ganesha are recorded in the Ganesha Khanda of the Brahma Vaivarta Purana.

Ganesha Mantra And Ganesha Gayatri

Without the grace of Sri Ganesha and His help, nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without His support, grace or blessing.

During Aksharabhyasa (teaching of the alphabets), the child is initiated into His Mantra of Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah in Maharashtra and other places. Then only the alphabet is taught.

The following are some of Lord Ganesha’s most common Names: Sumukha, Ekadanta, Kapila, Gajakarnaka, Lambodara, Vighnaraja, Vinayaka, Dhoomraketu, Ganadhyaksha, Balachandra, Gajanana, Vakratunda, Surpakarna, Heramba, Skandapoorvaja, Siddhivinayaka, Vighneshwara. He is also known as Maha Ganapati. His Mantra is Om Gam Ganapataye Namah. Sadhaks who worship Ganesha as their Ishta Deva, repeat this Mantra or Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah.

Ekadantaya Vidmahe Vakratundaya Dheemahi Tanno Danti Prachodayat: this is Ganesha Gayatri. The devotees of Lord Ganesha can do Japa of this Mantra also.

Ganesha Chaturthi And Ganesha Vrata

Ganesha Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday of Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It is observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada throughout India. Clay figures of the Deity are made, and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, are thrown into water.

The yearly Ganesh Chaturthi Puja that is thus observed throughout India is the festival version of the Ganesh Vrata that has become enjoined as a compulsory observance, as a matter of tradition. Apart from this annual Puja, the Ganesh Vrata—also known by the name of Siddhi-Vinayaka Vratam—is done as a special Vrata for the attainment of some particular end in view, usually for clearing oneself of false and unjust accusations and charges, recovering lost objects, regaining lost status, and removal of obstacles in an enterprise. It is to be performed on the fourth day of the dark fortnight. It consists of elaborate worship of Lord Ganesha with Shodashopachara (a 16 step worship) and various offerings, after appropriate Sankalpa (desire).

The divine sage Narada prescribed this Vrata to Sri Krishna who wished to wipe off the dishonour of the charge of stealing the Syamantaka Gem. Much later, Krishna instructed Yudhishthira to perform this Vrata at the time of the Mahabharata war. This renowned Vrata was effectively celebrated by the Devas to obtain Ambrosia on the eve of churning the ocean, by Damayanti to find her lost husband, by Lord Rama to get back Sita, by Indra to defeat Vritra Asura, by Bhagiratha to get down the celestial Ganges, by Draupadi and by Samba to get cured of incurable disease.

He who performs this Puja with faith, devotion and concentration obtains all that he desires and attains the Highest Abode.

May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path and bestow on you both Bhakti and Mukti!

Source: pgs. 38-42, Hindu Gods and Goddesses by Swami Sivananda

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fasting on Ganesha Chaturthi

Each lunar month in Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis*. [The fourth day of the bright fortnight is called “Chaturthi”; and “Tithi” means “lunar day”]. According to Hindu scriptures, Chaturthi Tithi belongs to Lord Ganesha. The Chaturthi after Amavasya (=new moon) is known asVinayaka Chaturthi and the one after Purnimasi (=full moon) is known as Sankashti Chaturthi.

Serious aspirants, especially those whose “chosen deity” is Lord Ganesha, fast twice a month on the said two Chaturthis. The most significant of these fasts isGanesha Chaturthi. Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. On this auspicious day, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha (the period after new moon, and at Madhyahana Kaalam (=midday). Therefore, Ganesh Puja is preferred during Madhyahana.

The scriptures, to wit, Agni Purana and Ganesha Purana, have said that one ought not to see the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. If one, however, does it creates Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank (=false accusation of stealing something).

According to Ganesha Purana, on Chaturthi the placement of the Sun and the Moon is in a manner that it encourages us to do things that can be detrimental to our progress. To avoid such situations, you must worship Lord Ganesha and observe a fast in honour of him.

Observation Of Fast On Ganesh Chaturthi
Lord Ganesha is the Lord of wisdom, knowledge and peace. He removes all forms of hardship.

Aspirants who observe this fast should take bath early in the morning. The fast is observed from dawn to moonrise. According to smriti kaustubha, the sankanthara vrata has to be done without eating food and water. Now smriti kaustubha grantha says that the vratha has to be broken at the moonrise time after doing puja to the Lord. For those who cannot observe the fast owing to medical condition or other compelling reasons, the Smriti allows them to drink water but not too often. The common vrata paribhasha says, “Drinking too much fluid (often, even water), eating tobacco, or betel nuts, or betel leaves, or any other activity prohibited by vrata” will break the fast. One cannot smoke or consume alchohol or eat meat of any kind during vrata or after breaking the fast, and the fastcannot be broken with meat products.

Are menstruating women allowed to observe this vrata?
The Nirnaysindhukar clearly addresses this issue: whenever sutaka (ashoucha) appears one can continue doing vrata by following sharirika dharma. It means you can observe the fast. Do manasika (in your mind) puja but actual puja can be performed on your behalf by their family members. They can take sankalpa on your behalf.

How you should worship Lord Ganesha

  • Cleanse your body: Taking a bath in the Name of the God is said to wash away the sins and miseries of life. It brings happiness, health, wealth, increases progeny and salvation.
  • Offer white flowers: Offering white flowers to the Lord brings success and fame.
  • Offer Arugam grass (=Cynodon dactylon, also known as dūrvā grass, Dhoob, Bermuda grass, dog’s tooth grass, Bahama grass, couch grass, and scutch grass): Offering Arugam grass brings good luck, prosperity and children.
  • Offer vermilion: Offering Vermilion or Sindoor brings good fortune.
  • Light incense: Offering incense brings fame.
  • Offer sweets (Laddoo): Offering sweets will help you fulfil your desires.
  • Mantra Pushpanjali: Offer flowers to Lord Ganesha and ask His forgiveness for the mistakes you have made.

Here is a list of Chathurthi in the coming year. Keep this list handy so that you don’t forget the dates, and ensure offering pooja to Lord Ganesha on these pious days.

Sankashti Chaturthi during 2014-2015

  • 29th August 2014 (Friday) Ganesha Chaturthi
  • 12th September 2014 (Friday)
  • 11th October 2014 (Saturday)
  • 10th November 2014 (Monday)
  • 09th December 2014 (Tuesday) Angarki Chaturthi
  • 8th January 2015 (Thursday) Sankat Chauth
  • 7th February 2015 (Saturday)
  • 9th March 2015 (Monday)
  • 8th April 2015 (Wednesday)
  • 7th May 2015 (Thursday)
  • 5th June 2015 (Friday)
  • 5th July 2015 (Sunday)
  • 3rd August 2015 (Monday)
  • 1st September 2015 (Tuesday) Angarki Chaturthi
  • 1st October 2015 (Thursday)
  • 30th October 2015 (Friday)
  • 29th November 2015 (Sunday)
  • 28th December 2015 (Monday)

Note: If Sankashti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday it is called Angarki Chaturthi and it is considered highly auspicious.

What is the significance of Angarika Chaturthi

Once in Kailash, Lord Shiva was immersed in great Penance (Tapasya). While in penance, three drops of sweat fell from his fore head on the ground. The sweat drops transformed into a child with red complexion, with four arms. The Earth gave this kid to Sage Bhardwaja. As he was given by Earth he was named as Bhauma, “The son of Earth”.

When Bhauma was in his teens, Sage Bhradwaja told him about “Ganesh Mantra”, and explained to him how it should be chanted. Sage Bhardwaja advised Bhauma to go to the banks of Narmada and perform Penance or Tapasya to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha.

Bhauma performed great penance in honour of Lord Ganesha, reciting the Ganesh Mantra. Lord Ganesha, after few years, pleased with the penance, appeared before Bhauma on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha, i.e., on the fourth day of waning phase of the moon.

Lord Ganesha made Bhauma the head of Mangala Loka. Lord Ganesha also said that Bhauma would become famous by the name of Angaraka. Lord Ganesha further added that, those who observe the Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat on a Mangalavara (=Tuesday) would be blessed, much more than what they get if they fast on normal Sankashti Chaturthis.

Lord Ganesha also declared that a Sankashthi Chaturthi which would falls on a Mangala Vara or Tuesday would be known as Angarika Chaturthi or Angaraka Chaturthi.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sri Krishna’s Avatar

Question 1: What is the purpose of Sri Krishna’s avatar (=incarnation)?

Answer 1: “Avatara is a DESCENT of God for the ASCENT of Man. A RAY from the Hiranyagarbha descends on earth with mighty powers to keep up the harmony of the universe. The work done by the Avataras and their teachings produce a benign spiritual influence on human beings and help them in their upward divine unfoldment and Self-Realisation…. Many Avataras have discharged one function, but Krishna’s activities were MANY-SIDED. He is styled as the Purnavatara, or the Complete Incarnation.” (pgs. xxiii-xxiv, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings by Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh)

Question 2: Did Sri Krishna have any sons?

Answer 2: Yes, he had 16,108 wives, and each of them begot him 10 children.

Question 3: If I want to find out more about Sri Krishna, where could I get that information from?

Answer 3: Bhagavata. The author of this book is Vyasa… There are many commentaries on this book. Sridara Swami’s commentary is the most famous and AUTHORITATIVE one. (pg. xxxv, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings by Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh)

Question 4; There are some people who say that Lord Krishna is ONLY an ordinary man. Some even find fault with his life and character. They even go to the extent of saying that he is not the Lord of the Universe, not an avatara but a passionate cowherd boy who lustfully played with the Gopis.

Answer 4: “Those who find fault with the Lord have NO idea of His greatness and glory, as they have not practised Yoga, as THEIR faults have not been purged by the practice of Yama and Niyama, and as they have NOT taken recourse toSatsangs with sages. They have NO REAL insight into Adhyatmic science. (pg. xlii, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings by Swami Sri Sivananda maharaj of Rishikesh)

Question 5: So, what is the fate of those find fault with the Lord, calling Him names, and deriding Him as a passionate man?

Sri Krishna answers: “Those devoid of reason think of Me as an ordinary human being having taken a body from the unmanifested state on account of Prarabdha. They know NOT My supreme nature, imperishable, most excellent. [Gita 7:24].

“The foolish disregard Me, when clad in human semblance, IGNORANT of My supreme nature, the great Lord of beings. empty of hope, empty of deeds, empty of wisdom, senseless, they verily are possessed of the DECEITFUL, BRUTAL, DEMONIACAL nature [Gita 9: 11-12].

“They, ENWRAPPED in darkness, think wrong to be right and see things in perverted light. These men know neither action nor renunciation, neither purity nor right conduct, neither truth nor unrightness. They do NOT know what ought to be done and what ought NOT to be done. DELUDED, birth after birth, they WANDER in the worldly mire of Samsara, SUFFERING innumerable ILLS AND MISERIES, and NEVER attain salvation.” (pgs. xlii-xliii, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings by Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh)

Question 6: Is there a condensed version of the Bhagavata, especially for busy people?

Answer 6: “It is very difficult for busy people to go through the whole of Bhagavata. Therefore, I have CONDENSED Sri Krishna’s Life, Lilas and teachings in (my book “Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings”) in a MOST palatable and tasteful form. Even if you study ONE or TWO pages DAILY, you WILL develop devotion towards the Lord and attain eternal peace, bliss and immortality.” (pg. xliii, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings by Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5241th Birth Anniversary of Lord Krishna

Krishna Birth – 18th July 3228 BCE

Krishna Death – 18th February 3102 BCE (the start of Kali Yuga)

According to above time lines Lord Krishna lived for 126 years and 5 months. If we had Gregorian calendar at the time of Lord Krishna’s birth it would had been 23rd June -3227 on Gregorian calendar. Panchang data show that on 18th July 3228 BCE during Nishita or Hindu midnight both Ashtami Tithiand Rohini Nakshatra were prevailing.

Fasting Rules on Krishna Janmashtami

Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Krishnashtami,Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi.

According to the scriptures, one should observe strict fast, i.e., without food and water on the day of one’s Ishta-Devata. However, if one is not able to observe it owing to medical conditions or other disabilities, then, one ought to follow the rules set for Ekadashi fasting: no grains should be consumed during Janmashtami. And according to Smartha Sampradaya, one breaks the fast the next day after Sunrise: when Ashtami Tithi andRohini Nakshatra are over.

Most of the time, Krishna Janmashtami is listed on two consecutive days. The first one is forSmarta Sampradaya and other one is forVaishanava Sampradaya. Vaishanava Sampradaya date is the latter one.

Many people will notice unanimity in North India on choosing the day to celebrate Krishna Janmashtami. The reason behind this unanimity is the institution of ISKCON. TheInternational Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as ISKCON is founded on the principles of Vaishnava traditions and most followers of the ISKCON are the followers of Vaishnavism.

ISKCON is one of the most commercialized and global religious institutions that spend money and resources to promote ISKCON brand and ISKCON culture. In North India, therefore, most people observe Janmashtami on the day chosen by ISKCON. Many people who are not the followers of Vaishnavism don’t even understand that ISKCON traditions are different and the most appropriate day to observe Janmashtami fasting might not be same as that of ISKCON.

Smarta followers who understand the difference between Smarta and Vaishnava sectarian don’t follow ISKCON date to observe Janmashtami fasting. Unfortunately ISKCON date to observe Janmashtami is unanimously followed in Braj region and most common people who just follow the buzz observe it on the date followed by the ISKCON.

People who are not the followers of Vaishnavism are followers of Smartism. Hindu religious texts likeDharmasindhu and Nirnaysindhu have well defined rules to decide Janmashtami day and those rules should be followed to decide Janmashtami day if one is not the follower of Vaishnava Sampradaya. Ekadashi fasting is one of the good examples to understand this difference. Rules to observe Ekadashis’ fasting are also different for Smarta and Vaishnava communities. However there is more awareness about different Ekadashi rules followed by Vaishnava sectarian. Not only Ekadashis, Vaishnava fasting day for Janmashtami and Rama Navami might be one day later than Smarta fasting day.

The followers of Vaishnavism give preference to Ashtami Tithi and Rohini Nakshatra. The followers of Vaishnavism never observe Janmashtami on Saptami Tithi. Janmashtami day according to Vaishnava rules always fall on Ashtami or Navami Tithi on Hindu calendar.

However rules followed by Smartism to decide Janmashtami day are more complex. The preference is given to Nishita or Hindu midnight. The preference is given to the day, either Saptami Tithi or Ashtami Tithi, when Ashtami Tithi prevails during Nishita and further rules are added to include Rohini Nakshatra. The final consideration is given to the day which has the most auspicious combination of Ashtami Tithi and Rohini Nakshatra during Nishita time. Janmashtami day according to Smarta rules always fall on Saptami or Ashtami Tithi on Hindu calendar. 

Source: Pundits at Dhrik Phanjng

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Can Japa be Done in Public?

Question: I have seen people chanting on their chanting beads (=rosaries) in public places, and on the trains and buses. Is this practice all right?

Swami Satyananda Saraswati answers: “First of all, the practice of Japa should NOT be done in front of ANYBODY, especially a non-practitioner. It is a different matter if five or ten people are sitting together in a room and all of them ARE practitioners; then, it can be done…. it is natural law that when psychic acts are performed before others, they LOSE their POWER; therefore, the rule has always been that japa (=chanting) should be done in absolute secrecy and NOT as a show. That is one COMMON error in japa.” (pg. 159, Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati)

Note: Swamiji was a direct disciple of Swami Sri Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh.

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