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Maha Shivaratri, which literally translates to “great night of Shiva” is a Hindu festival largely celebrated in India as well as in Nepal. The festival is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha according to the Hindu calendar. The day is celebrated to venerate Lord Shiva, an important deity in Hindu culture.
According to the Puranas, during the great mythical churning of the ocean called Samudra Manthan, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. The gods and the demons were terrified as it could destroy the entire world. When they ran to Shiva for help, he in order to protect the world drank the deadly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. This turned his throat blue, and since then he came to be known as 'Nilkantha', the blue-throated one. Shivaratri celebrates this event by which Shiva saved the world.
In Hindu philosophy, destruction is considered to be an intense force that shatters delusions and inadequacies bringing forth constructive change through purification. The most powerful member of the triumvirate, Lord Shiva the Destroyer is observed as a complex godhead whose existence fuses conflicting elements. He is believed to be the core of the centrifugal forces of the cosmos due to his role in death and destruction. He dissolves elements in order to create and hence propels the cycle of birth and death. The most formidable deity of the Hindu pantheon is the ultimate seat of ‘Shakti’ and cataclysmic power. With multiple incarnations portraying different shades of Lord Shiva, each has cults which are present across India and South East Asia - in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and other places.
This stunning set of portraits by Brooklyn-based photographer Joey L puts us face to face with religious ascetics who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of spiritual liberation. Starting in Northern Ethiopia, Joey has traveled the world searching for wandering monks and spiritualists. The latest installment of his Holy Men series features holy men, or sadhus, living in Varanasi, India. All of the world’s faiths have their own forms of ascetics, but the ascetics of the Hindu faith are known for sometimes extreme acts of self-denial, such as keeping a single arm aloft for months or even years.
Most of the portraits focuses on aghori, a sect known for engaging in postmortem rituals such as covering themselves in human ashes, meditating on corpses or crafting jewelry from human bones. “The Aghori have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion,” says the photographer.
Ganga Sagara Mela celebrates the holy union of the River Ganges with the Bay of Bengal. The festival is celebrated to honor the occasion of King Bhagiratha bringing down the River Ganges from the heavens above to join with the oceanic waters of planet earth. This festival of confluence is celebrated on the sacred day of Maha Sankranti. This is when the sun starts moving away from the Tropic of Capricorn towards the northern hemisphere.
Over six lakh devotees from far and wide visit the holy confluence point on this day. They dip in the waters by the island of Sagara, off the eastern coast of Bengal. The island is by the confluence of the two water bodies. It is here that one can find the ashram of Kapila Deva, who was an incarnation of Lord Krishna. Devotees offer their prayers to the River Ganges and sing hymns by the waters. There is a huge fair with pujas, stalls, music and renditions of bhajans and keertans, during the time of festivities.
While most of the Mahavidyas are beautiful and alluring, Dhumavati is the only one who is not good looking. She is widowed and is set in a cemetery. She is covered with smoke too. There are many legends and stories that are attributed to her.
One popular legend revolves around Goddess Sati’s hunger pangs. She was so hungry that she asked Lord Shiva to get her something to eat. But he refused, as he is not a householder. She had to repeat the request but it went unheeded. She was so famished that she devoured Him! Once she had swallowed her husband, He was upset. He requested her to let him out. She did with lot of hesitancy. Shiva had no other option but to curse her. He said she would become a widow and undergo all the things that a widow goes through! When Sati heard of this there was a lot of smoke emitting out from all over her body. Her entire beauty was now enveloped with the smoke. She became ugly and looked like a widow indeed. She would now be called Dhuma (smoke) or Dhumvati. The Goddess separated from her husband and lived in solitary existence. She prefers the crow and her new abode became the cremation grounds.
Goddess Saraswati’s birthday is celebrated every year as Saraswati Puja, on the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. The festival honors the Supreme Deity of Wisdom and Learning and is also known as Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami, the welcoming of spring time. Thus, this auspicious day has of religious, seasonal and social meaning. It is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm in homes, schools, colleges, and temples alike. The epitome of knowledge and consciousness, Goddess Saraswati is also considered the mother of the Vedas. Her chants known as Saraswati Vandana often start and conclude Vedic teachings.
There is nothing like a Goddess scorned. And in case of Bagalamukhi (called the One who checks the mouth), she can be a towering personality to behold. While she protects her devotees, she can be the face of evil in case of any wrong doer. She is the eighth of the ten forms of the goddess known as dashamahavidya. Some ancient scriptures also call her crane faced. She is focused on her intent and gaze like the crane who waddles in the waters looking at its target. Those who pray to her whole heartedly, get the same kind of physiognomies to silence their enemies. But they can be granted their wish only when they are able to fulfill the rituals and manage to appease her long enough to grant a blessing.
It is believed that the source of all existence is the female energy. In fact humankind itself has a profound archetypal need for a mother’s protection since time immemorial. Goddess Shakti is the absolute representation of the female divinity as the power that resides in all life as consciousness, mind, matter, energy, elation, and serenity and equally in destruction, disturbance and violence. She transcends everything as a boundless and formless presence without any limitation. This is why the Divine Mother is known as Arupa. She exists in the form of the Dasa Maha Vidya, each of who is an approach to divine knowledge as the Wisdom Goddesses. Dasa Maha Vidya is also known as the ten great secrets or Guptas, the fourth being Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. She is also known as Adi Shakti, an earlier form of Goddess Shakti.
Vasant Panchami is an important Indian festival celebrated every year in the month of Magh according to the Hindu calendar. Celebrated on the fifth day of Magh, the day falls somewhere in the months of February or March according to the Gregorian calendar. The significance of the day lies in the worship of Goddess Saraswati, symbol of wisdom and also the onset of spring season.
In society today there is much talk of death and dying because of the premature loss of life due to crime, cancer, AIDS, and the increase in suicide, famine and wars. Recent topics such as living wills and euthanasia also have brought the subject of death and dying more to our attention. Even though many people are uncomfortable talking about death, especially their own of that of someone close, it is one experience of our lives we know will occur with certainty. The least certain is the time when it will happen. Because of this utter uncertainty about the time of death, we need to be prepared for it at all times.
Tithi pravesh chakra is one of the cornerstones of Vedic astrology and was hidden in tradition of SJC until the knowledge was given out by Pt. Sanjay Rath. Vedic astrology widely uses the solar return chart or the surya varsha pravesh chakra to predict the event of a year and this is widely known as Varshaphala. However, from time immemorial the scholars and pundits of India used the Tithi based calendar to reckon time, since the time needs to be reckoned from both the luminaries, as they represent two different aspects of our self.
The nakshatras are the apparently fixed bodies in the Zodiac, where the planetary system moves with them placed in the background. Among the Rasi and the nakshatras, the former is overlorded by the Sun, whereas the latter is overlorded by Moon. This implies that the Rasi shows the environment we would be placed with at different times in our life and what we get out of it, on the other hand, the nakshatras govern the different state of mind we shall be having at various times. Even the actual events are important in our life, taking a person-centric view point; our reactions to them also matter equally. Hence the study of the nakshatras is well warranted.
Foreword in the First Edition (3rd August, 1926)
by Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
This brochure contains the essence of true Vaishnavism as revealed in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Geeta, the Bhagavata etc., and their teachings put into practice by Shri Chaitanya Deva. Four things may stand in the way of realising the truth laid herein - the cloaks of (high, or low) birth and station, (proficiency or deficiency in) worldly knowledge, and (beautiful or ugly, male or female) form. The Over-soul within Whom all individual souls are contained and to Whom all souls knowingly or unknowingly submit, confutes our tricks and talents. The words for every soul who speaks from that life must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own art. When the walls of time and space are taken away we lie on one side to the boundless deeps of spiritual nature and attributes of the Supreme Lord, find that there is another youth and another age than that which is measured from the year of our worldly birth and realise that the scale of the soul is one and the scale of the senses and, understanding - the agents of the material mind - is another.
What is a mantra and how does it work?
Mantras are powerful sounds. Mantras are the sounds that when chanted produce great effects. These are chanted repeatedly and that is called japa. Japa is a key part of Hindu prayer.
Mantras are very rich in their meaning. While doing japa one can meditate on the mantra and its meaning. As the mind dwells more and more into that meaning, the mantra conditions the mind and takes it up to higher states and forms the path to the great liberation - eternal bliss.
The knowledge of Vedic Astrology has come down to us from the Vedic slokas. These slokas have been deeply studied and realized by our Siddhas in ancient times. Hence, through them we learnt about the Universe, and the waves of energy that impact our lives. They suggested practical ways to diffuse negative energies of planets in our lives and how to seek blessings of good energies.
In "Vyasa and Valmiki" Sri Aurobindo refers to a “recent article of the Indian Review” on the date of the Mahabharata war praising it as “an unusually able and searching (or almost conclusive) paper”. It was Velandai Gopala Aiyer’s “The Date of the Mahabharata War” published in Vol. II, January-December 1901 of this monthly journal (Indian Review) edited by G.A.Natesan. Sri Aurobindo was obviously fully convinced by Aiyer’s arguments, because elsewhere he writes, “It is now known beyond reasonable doubt that the Mahabharata war was fought out in or about 1190 B.C.”
The beautiful temple of Lord Muruga at Tiruttani crowns a single rock 700 feet above sea level. It is situated amidst a range of hills with a dramatic panoramic view. This sacred place is on the Madras-Bombay route, 13 kilomters from Arkonam and 84 kilometers from Madras.
Around this town are famous religious places such as Kancheepuram (Banares of the South) on the South, Sholingar and Vallimalai on the West, the popular and renowned pilgrimage centre, Tirupati (otherwise called Balaji) and Kalahasti (with its Vayu Lingam) on the North and Tiruvalangadu (of puranic fame) with Lord Nataraja on the East.
Every full moon day, I recollect my experiences at Tiruvannamalai. Today 17th November 2013 was no exception. Today is Karthika Pournami/Deepam. A day I wished to be at the Lord's feet. I am almost 5,000 km apart. How I wished to get the darshan of Lord Arunachaleshwara on this special day and perform the Holy girivalam. It was a fasting day. I stepped out of the apartment to see that the roads were wet and all the vehicles were soiled. It had rained. I looked up to the sky and it was covered with ashen clouds,The otherwise fiery Sun God was today hidden behind the clouds. Might be the prayers of the imams. The flower beds and green patches of grass were looking brighter, may be because the layer of dust was washed out.
Lord Jagannath of Puri occupies a significant position in the socio-cultural and religious history of not only Orissa, but also India. The early history of Lord Jagannath is very difficult to know because of non-availability of facts and recorded history. Therefore it is difficult to bring out the real picture of Sri Jagannath during the ancient period.
What is known is that Puri is one of the foremost religious centres of India. While the culture of Sri Jagannath is still shrouded in mystery, many well known scholars and researchers are also trying to bring out the origin of Sri Jagannath. Eminent scholars have attempted to document the relation of Jagannath culture with Jainism, Buddhism and other cults.
Our pilgrimage began in Cochin on September 17, 2013 about 2:00 p.m. My wife, son and I headed towards Coimbatore to get the blessings of my aunt and uncle before traveling to Tiruvannamalai the next morning [Coordinates: 12.2200° N, 79.0700° E]. September 18, 2013 (Wednesday) was Pournami (full moon day) and it would extend up to September 19th (Thursday) evening.
There was joy and excitement in the air. This was going to be our first trip to Tiruvannamalai and our very first Girivalam. I wanted to arrive in Tiruvannamalai by 1:00 pm so that my wife and child could get some rest before we went for darshan at 5:00 pm and then on Girivalam.
During the drive, my wife and son asked me many questions and I replied "Wait, it's going to be a unique experience."
Latest Files from Downloads Section
Mar 04 2014 09:05 PM Authentic training on preaching Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Learn the hidden treasure of important verses, as well as Vedic techniques for memorization. A 14 day course on the Bhagavad Gita given by Atmatattva Das. Recorded in Los Angeles, California, in 1993.Part One: Part Two:...
Feb 17 2014 11:01 PM Aditya Hridayam mantras chanted in Sanskrit in MP3 format. Mantra for worshipping Surya (the Sun).
Jan 22 2014 04:12 PM "The cause of excessive joy for shaktas". The book was compiled in the 17th century by Raghuradj Duvedjidvar. Contains stotras, kavachas and more.
Dec 14 2013 03:28 PM The book titled "Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary" in English in PDF format.
Dec 14 2013 03:15 PM The book titled "Manual of Ayurvedic Massage" in Spanish in PDF format.
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Ayurveda, Health and Wellbeing 09 Mar 2014
I seek kind guidance from experienced ENT - ear ailment professionals with reference to a strange phenomenon that is prevailing in my right ear since last September, 2013. I happen to catch cold easily. One fine day in September, 2013 a rattling sound began to generate practically every mi...
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Vedic Astrology (Jyotisha) 08 Mar 2014
hi can you do kundli vishleshan for me. I want to be an actor .i am very desperate in life to get name, fame and money will i get them if i do hardwork will my luck support me??. will i get a chance and be successful in that field . if not, what would be suitable career for me . will i be rich an...
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To me, 2013 was disastrous ... Any views???
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Vedic Astrology (Jyotisha) 07 Mar 2014
DOB- 9/01/1961 time- 4:35am Place - midnapore,westbengal - India he is undergoing Shani Mahadasha actuall problem is he is drinking alcohol in regular basis. Tried Many things but nothing helped he had taken many loan because of this he is currently under huge debt what to do . health prob...
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