Monday, July 31, 2017

Spiritual Calendar: August, 2017

3rd August, 2017: Putrada Ekadashi

Lord Vishnu is Propitiated

This Ekadasi is specially observed by married couples for getting healthy children. A popular legend mentioned in the Puranas indicates that a King was able to beget a son by observing Putrada Ekadashi. After bathing early in the morning, the idol of Lord Vishnu should be bathed with curd, milk and water. Prayers should be done using roli, chandan, dhoop and deep.

It is also highly commendable to feed poor children and old people on the day.

The significance of Putrada Ekadashi was narrated to Yudhishtira by Lord Krishna and is found in the Bhavisyotara Purana.

Ekadasi is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is observed on the 11th day of the waning and waxing phase of moon in the traditional Hindu calendar.

5th August, 2017: Shani Pradosh Vrata

Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight for propitiating Lord Shiva. With His blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. It is said that on this day all gods and goddesses assemble at Mount Kailash to worship Lord Shiva.

When a Pradosha Vrata falls on a Saturday, it is known as Shani Pradosh.According to Hindu astrology and horoscope, Lord Shani is believed to create problems for people in life. By observing a vrat and offering prayers on Shani Pradosh, one can escape from the ill effects of Lord Shani
7th August, 2017: Raksha Bandhan

 Lord Krishna Saves Draupadi's Honour

 Rakhi is a very famous festival for brothers and sisters. At Vrindavan, the one-month long sawan stuti of Lord Shiva and jhulan utsav of Thakurji that started on Guru-Poornima comes to an end.

According to Hindu Calendar Rakhi falls on Shravan Purnima (full moon day) which corresponds to July-August in the English Calendar.

Krishna and Draupadi: An incident concerning Krishna and Draupadi from the epic Mahabharata is centred on this festival. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had torn a strip off her silken sari and tied it around Krishna index finger to stop the flow of blood. Krishna was so touched that he promised to repay the debt and did so during the Vastra Haran of Draupadi. In the assembly of King Dhritarashtra when Yudhishthir lost her in gambling, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree, to save her pride.

The legend of Lord Yama and his sister Yamuna: Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Yama, the Lord of death and Yamuna his sister. Yamuna tied a rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved that he declared that whoever got a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection would become immortal.

11th August, 2017: Ganesh Sankashti Chaturthi

 Lord Ganesha

 This day is celebrated every lunar month on the fourth day (tithi) of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or waning phase).

Many devotees of Lord Ganesha observe a fast (vrata) on Sankashti Chaturthi for the entire day and this Sankashti fast is broken after taking darshan of Moon followed by worshiping of Lord Ganesha.

When Sankashti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday, it is known as Angaraki Chaturthi and it is considered even more auspicious.

13th August, 2017: Hal Shashti

 Lord Balarama

 This is the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the first expansion of the dark-hued Krishna. Devotees offer special prayers to Balarama, the icon of duty, honesty and simplicity to receive spiritual strength from Him.He incarnated on the full moon day of Shravana.

Balaram, Balarama and Sankarsana are some of Lord Baldev's other names. Balaram had incarnated as Lakshman in the Treta Yuga which came before Dwapar.

He is considered the incarnation of Sheshnaag, the thousand-headed snake on whom Lord Vishnu sleeps throughout periods of dissolution of the world.Because he was drawn from Devaki's to Rohini's womb, He is known as Lord Sankarsana. It is a common belief that he bestows riches on this materialistic world.

Balaram is also famed as Haldhar, the god of the farmers.They devotedly worship the plough, his weapon, before undertaking any task.

15th August, 2017: Shri Krishna Janamashtami

 badhai ho, badhai ho, badhai ho sabhi ko bhagwan Shri Krishna ke
 janamotsav ki badhai ho !

Celebrations are to be held at Sri Banke Bihari ji Temple, all the temples of Vrindavan, Gokul, Mahavan, Mathura, ISKCON and the world over.

 Lord Vishnu Incarnates as Krishna

The main purpose of the Lord’s incarnation is for the salvation of saints, destruction of evil and installation of righteousness as explained in the 'Bhagwad Gita.' Towards the end of the Dwapar Era, in the Hindu month of Bhadra, Mathura had the great fortune of witnessing Lord Krishna’s birth on Krishan Ashtami. Atrocities were on the rise, religion had become a mere farce and the deities were great pained. King Kansa terrified of his own death had imprisoned Vasudev and Devki, having killed six of their earlier children. The seventh child was to be the Lord Himself.
Shri Radha-Krishna, Our Yugal Sarkar at Gaura Colony.

 Our Yugal Sarkar, Shri Radha-Krishna at Gaura Colony

 Parampoojaya Susheela Bahinji shall lead the utsav at Gaura-Colony in front of our Yugal Sarkar or Thakurji.The search of the impassioned soul for union with god is centred within earthly Vrindavan. Its enraptured village girls representing Krishna's hungering devotees are passionately drawn to dark-hued Krishna's lyrical softness, innocent pranks, beautiful adornments and serene sensuality which add to His madhurya or sweet love.

Krishna's playful dalliance is nitya or eternal. One aspect of Lord Krishna’s enigmatic persona which distinguishes him from all other deities is his lila or divine play which makes him both human and divine at the same time, and becomes him ,most of all.Delighting in play he endears himself and brings joy to all his devotees.

15th August, 2017: Independence Day

 Wishing all Indians at Home & those Living Abroad a Very Happy Independence Day

16th August, 2017: Nand Mahotsav

 Shri Radharaman ji on Nandotsav

Krishna Janamashtami is followed by a day full of pomp and joyous abandon where Nandotsav or Nanda Mahotsav is observed in various temples all over the country. In the morning after Janamashtami or navami, Bihariji continues to sit in the jagmohan showering his blessing and loving tenderness to all. Priests and devotees distribute sweets, fruits, clothes, toys, utensils and coins as part of the celebrations. Devotional songs congratulating Nand Baba on the birth of Krishna are delightedly sung in unison.Everybody feels that the dark-hued Krishna has been born today and revels with enthused exultation.

 Footprints of Child Krishna
The ladies of the house mark the entrance of their homes with rice paste so as to form small feet of infants. They are always made pointing towards the house which is believed to mark the entry of child Krishna to their abodes and bring prosperity along with happiness.

18th August, 2017: Aja Ekadashi

 Raja Harishchandra & Rani Taramati

 Aja Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada (August – September).

As the legend goes once there lived a great King known for his truthfulness and popular as Satya Harishchandra. The King was passing through difficult times and sought shelter of the great Shri Gautam Maharshi.The sage asked the king to keep the fast of Aja Ekadsi with utmost devotion.

King Harishchandra observed the fast of Ananda Ekadasi. Soon after, he got back his wife, son and kingdom which he had lost in the past. Above all, the King ruled the kingdom happily and went back to God.

19th August, 2017: Shani Pradosh Vrat

 Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight for propitiating Lord Shiva. With His blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. It is said that on this day all gods and goddesses assemble at Mount Kailash to worship Lord Shiva.

When a Pradosha Vrata falls on a Saturday, it is known as Shani Pradosh.According to Hindu astrology and horoscope, Lord Shani is believed to create problems for people in life. By observing a vrat and offering prayers on Shani Pradosh, one can escape from the ill effects of Lord Shani

24th August, 2017: Hartalika Teej

 Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati

 This is a three-day festival, celebrated by women in honor of Parvati, in the month of Bhadrapad. By praying to Parvati on these three days, unmarried girls hope to get a husband like Shiva. Married women pray to her for marital bliss. According to Hindu mythology, Parvati was in love with Shiva. Being an ascetic however, Shiva was not aware of her. Parvati performed penance in the Himalayas for many years before Shiva finally noticed her. Realizing the depth of her love and devotion, he agreed to marry her .Since then Parvati has been worshipped as Haritalika.

Women and young girls maintain nirjala vrata on these three days, and keep awake all three nights. This is symbolic of the penance which Parvati undertook to get Shiva as her husband. They offer food to Brahmins and young girls.

25th August, 2017: Shri Ganesh Utsav

 A Beautifully Crafted Idol of Lord Ganesha

Brilliantly crafted idols of Ganesha are brought home about ten days in advance on Ganesh Janam Utsav which marks the birth of Lord Ganesha.There He sits in state till Anant Chaturdashi (15th Sept) when he is devoutly immersed in water.In almost every neighbourhood a brightly decorated Ganesha idol is made and worshipped for all of the ten days.On the day of the Ganesh festival laddoos and modaks which are Ganesha's favourite sweets are distributed and Ganesha temples are crowded with devotees.

27th August, 2017: Shri Lalita Shashti

 Prime Ashtasakhi Shri Lalita Devi

Lalita Devi is the prime ashtasakhi and the eldest amongst Krishna's gopis. As per astrological calculation,Shri Lalita Sasti or the date of her birth falls on the day before Sri Radhashtami.Though a close confidante of the divine couple, she is more inclined to Sri Radhika.

An intimate companion of Radharani, Lalita is the khandita with a contradictory and hot-tempered nature. Her complexion is bright yellow and garments are the colour of peacock feathers. Her mother is Saradi Devi and father is Vishoka. Her husband is Bhairava, who is a close friend of Govardhana Malla, the husband of Candravali.

29th August, 2017: Shri Radha Ashtami

 Shri Radha Rani

As Krishna is the source of all manifestations of God, Sri Radha His consort is the source of all shaktis or feminine manifestations of cosmic energy. She is thus the supreme deity in Gaudiya tradition, for it is said that she controls Krishna with her love and that perfect spiritual life is unattainable without Her grace.

The most revered occasion for the denizens of Barsana, its celebration begins with chanting the lilas or playful dalliances of Sri Radha with thousands of padas being sung in her honour.

The festive occasion is observed 15 days after the Janmashtami of Lord Krishna. It falls on the eighth day of the Bhadrapada Month in the Hindu calendar, in the waxing phase of the moon somewhere between (AugustSeptember). Sri Radha was born in Barsana, a suburb of Mathura, as the daughter of Vrashabhanu and Kirti.

29th August, 2017: Swami Shri Haridas Jayanti

 Swami Shri Hari Das

On this day after the rajabhoga arti in the evening at 4 0'clock there is rasa in the temple of Shri Banke Bihari ji. Svami Shri Hari Das realized God in the form of Shri Bankey Bihari, starting the tradition of and initiating his disciples into rasopasna bhakti. He is also known as Adya Acharya of Raas Leela tradition.

 Lord Krishna Braids Radha Rani's Hair

Nidhivan as well as the Banke Bihari temple are beautifully decorated with flowers, flags and buntings. In the afternoon, around 4:30 PM, the Rasa Lila is enacted in the courtyard of the temple, only once a year. The theme of the lila is veni guthan, that is, Krishna makes up the hair of Radha and ties it into a lovely nice braid. The lila is based on one of the compositions of Swami Haridas from Shri Kelimal:

In the evening a grand procession, called chav, is taken out from the temple. It consists of several brass bands, other musical performing groups, decorated elephants, high flags and kirtan mandalis. Goswamis participate in a group singing devotional songs, celebrating the birth of Swami Haridas in a style known as samaj gayan. Many gifts such as the prasad of Bihariji are carried to be presented to Swami Haridas. It is as if Bihariji is going to greet Swami Haridas on this auspicious occasion.

The procession heads for Nidhivan, the place of Swami Haridas’s penance and appearance of Bihariji. On arriving here the prasad sent by Bihariji is offered and the Rasa Lila is enacted late into the night; the only day when devotees can stay in Nidhivan so late in the evening. On the conclusion of Rasa Lila, there is aarti performed and devotees disperse chanting:

'jai jai shri kunjbihari shri haridas, jai jai shri vrindavan nidhivan vaas |'

29th August, 2017: Maharshi Dadichi Jayanti

 Maharshi Dadichi

 It is is dedicated to Sage Dadhichi an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and a descendent of Sage Angira. Sage Dadhichi was born on the Shukla Ashtami day (waxing phase of moon) in the Bhadrapad Month (August –September).

Legend has it that the devas who were losing a battle to the asuras were advised to use weapons made of Sage Dadhichi's bones to win the battle. Devas requested Sage Dadhichi for his bones. The humble saint readily agreed and went into deep meditation as his soul merged with Brahman. That is when the devas made use of the bones of Sage Dadhichi to fight the Asuras and triumphed.

In the Dadhichi Samaj special pujas are held on the day.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

'Prem Rasamrit Dhara': Letter No: 11

Shri Dham Vrindavan

Dear Darshan,
vilsatu vilase priyasya |

 The Ineffable Beauty of Krishna

“He is very dear to us” this is sufficient enough as an answer to your question. A repository of happiness and the alleviator of sorrow, Krishna can never cause pain to us. If we are feeling so it is the fault of His ineffable beauty, His madhurya, His infinite affection, His tender age and fresh youthfulness and His being the Supreme Lover of beautiful cowherdesses, His reddish slanting eyes, the sweetness of His joyous laughter and lips soaked in rasa, His adeptness in the art of charming people, the exquisite beauty of His chubby cheeks, His broad chest adorned with the vanamala, kneelength arms, eagerly desirous of embracing His beloveds along with beauty pervading every fiber of His being . .Distressed at our inability of gathering up the ineffable beauty of Krishna, is what makes us feel the anguish of separation. Actually, He is eternally dear to us and all the activities of Krishna are also eternal. Transience can’t even touch Him. He simply does not know how to part from us after being found.  Infinite affection is His very nature. He does not even like listening to words like separation, parting and so on. Then how can one believe that He performs the lila of making us suffer the anguish of separation.

The Sakhi Has Become One with Dark-hued Krishna

How much truth is there in the anxious sakhi lamenting about the anguish of separation from Krishna. Dark-hued Krishna’s indestructible entity pervades every thought, body, mind and fiber of her being.” Hugging Krishna to her heart, she is pining for Him. The sakhi singing the tale of separation has actually become one with Krishna,’jit dekhun tit Shyammayi hai’-Wherever I look I see Krishna, the colour of the condensed sky.” It was then decided that feeling separation from Krishna is another name for an emotional yearning for the Supreme Lover/, which seeks fulfillment.

 Krishna Pervades every Particle of Braj

Dark –hued Krishna pervades every particle of Braj then how can the torturous anguish of separation stray there.
We can just not gather up His beautiful body and sweetness even if we want to that is why it seems like a state of separation. As far as I can understand He simply does not. approve of the anguish of separation. In case he does then that Thakur must be belonging to some realm of opulence.

Supreme Lover Krishna Embraces His Beloved

We can’t forget the fact that He is a premi, a Lover. When the Premspada, the Supreme Lover, does not want separation and wants to tightly bind the beloved in the noose of His embrace, constantly relishing the rasa of her lips, then how can the dear Lover even dream of forgetting this sweet bond?  It is only the ineffable beauty of Krishna beauty which keeps making us feel a sense of separation , even on being bound in a tight embrace. The sakhi’s intense love and an ardent longing for rasa makes her labour under this misapprehension. In reality she is highly fortunate, and a lovingly passionate amorous woman. This unfortunate state can’t affect her even in her dreams. The rules of this realm are confusing. The one who has found Krishna also says she has not attained him, whereas the one who has not found Him keeps complaining that she have not got Him. Saying so is a strange custom in this divine realm .They have not found Krishna is the very nature of those who have attained Krishna and drunk the rasa of Krishna’s love.

A Sakhi Longs for Krishna

How can she be a beloved if she hasn’t found the Supreme Lover or is separated from Him.The chakor[1] has not even dreamt of being separated from the moon. 

 Black Bee Sucks Nectar of the Lotus

The large black bee has not known the anguish of separation from the lotus. 

Night Bird Chakor Thrives on Moonbeams

The chakor bird always longs for and thrives on moonbeams and the moonbeams are linked to him. No one has ever seen them crying due to separation. But of course, being thirsty and forever longing for each other is their permanent state. And so this lack of satisfaction and longing for more seems like separation. Who can possibly explain this state? That realm is full of crazy sakhis smitten by Krishna, all of them have drunk bhang. There is no one else there who can make  them understand things or admonish them. And that’s it! All of them are constantly infatuated by Krishna.

Dark-hued Krishna with His Beloved in a Kunja

(2)The Supreme Lover and His beloved are sitting in joyous abandon with their feet dangling in a water body. That kunja is enclosed by dense creepers and loaded with the fragrance of khas and rose flowers. The sakhis are attached to creeper thickets like honey bees. Both Radha-Krishna are engrossed in sweet mutual conversation and absorbed in the sweetness of their entwined limbs. They are both bound in a tight embrace during the momentum of their talk, finding an opportunity to relish the rasa of their lips. The gust of a cool slight breeze makes them vigilant at times and encourages them to dally romantically once again.

A Bumble Bee Hovers Over Shri Radha's Lotus Face

How  were they to know that there were would be a hindrance even in this? Suddenly a humming black bee, passionate to relish rasa, got entry into the nikunja along with the gust of wind, guided by the couple’s exuding bodily fragrance; and ended up breaking the silence of the secluded ambiance. Beloved Radha’s deep trance was broken. She woke up-and was startled because of having a timid nature. Though the hindrance by the bumble bee was not desirable but this would have probably happened to accentuate the speed of this particular dalliance. Hence beloved Radha, bound in a close embrace, could not stop the greed of the black bee. He hovered really close to Shri Radha’s lotus face, sometimes humming over Her braid and coming dangerously close at other times, drawn by her bodily fragrance and buzzing close to her cheeks. 

Beloved Radha Tries to Drive Away the Bumble Bee

 Priyaji was so scared whereas mischievous Supreme Lover Krishna kept sitting indifferently. One wondered what He was thinking of as he watched that intoxicated black bee? It seemed that He too was experiencing a new ardent longing. Bewildered Priya ji was trying to ward off the black bee with both her hands. Afraid of the black bee, She was taking refuge in the Supreme Lover’s embrace. Sometimes with the edge of Her saree and at times with the Supreme Lover’s pitambar[2]  She was trying to drive off the bee but the bee did not want to be chased away. When beloved Radha was very exhausted the Supreme Lover could not tolerate it. Driving away the black bee, He said,”Priya, Madhusudan[3] has gone away. Don’t be scared now.” Priyaji had to just hear this sentence and she fainted in His embrace. Krishna could not understand what had happened. He tried very hard to bring Her back to consciousness but it did not work.

Sakhi Lalita Helps out Shri Radha-Krishna

Ultimately Krishna called out to dear sakhi Lalita and she immediately presented herself. On hearing Him out she grasped the entire situation. Softly she whispered in beloved Radha’s ears,”Ladli, get up!Dark-hued Krishna has come back and is sitting right next to you. Keeping your head on His strong soft thigh, He is playfully caressing your hair.” Beloved Radha opened Her eyes on hearing these words and saw Krishna bending over Her lotus face. A new wave of love gushed forth, leading to a fresh romantic dalliance. Observing them with a graceful glance, Lalita ran out of the kunja, letting them soak in the passionate dalliance of rasa.   

Rasa Pervades the Realm of the Supreme Lover & His Beloved

Such is the rasa of that realm. Even on being embraced by Krishna’s, just by hearing ‘Madhusudan has gone away’ Shri Radha fainted, pained by the agony of separation. Now if that Beloved says,” The Supreme Lover is harsh and torments me, He goes away after meeting me’ in which way is it a valid complaint. In reality, the anguish of separation is as depicted in the above episode and it sets the stage for a more passionate romantic dalliance.

A Cowherdess Bearing the Agony of Separation

How far is some cowherdess living in this prakritik world and keeping the bond of prakriti intact, correct in trying to prove that she is suffering the agony of separation due to some love realization;  without meeting the Supreme Lover, without reaching that divine realm, without once being bound in that tight embrace. 

 Taking Refuge in Supreme Lover Krishna's Embrace

 By taking absolute refuge in the embrace of that Supreme Lover once she will become the woman suffering the anguish of separation in the realm of infinite joy. The one who is in union with Krishna is the one who suffers the pangs of separation.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Krishna

sangam virah vikalpe varmih viraho na sangamastasya
ek ev sange virahe tanmayam jagat ||

There is eternal union in the state of separation says Shri Mahaprabhu Chaitanya Dev .

A River Merging Into the Ocean

Love is the ocean and love is the river in the realm of prema. Have you ever heard about the anguish of separation on the river merging into the ocean? Similarly that cowherd maiden, the river, merged into the broad chest of Krishna, the blue ocean, and remained there. The merging [4]of the river and ocean is seen as the great union. There is no question of union and separation here! The flood and ebb tides of love play began to rise and fall and continued doing so.

Waves of Union & Separation Coexist in the Divine Realm

Rippling waves of union and separation kept rising and falling, she had become a beautiful part of that sweet realm. Romantic Dalliance, dalliance, dalliance. Smitten by Krishna’s madhurya and sidelong glance of those moments of sweet union she did not bother about the social constraints of her household. A traveller of the nikunja path, she kept beautifying the embrace of the Supreme Lover. Then why are you bent on blaming Him for no reason or are you putting this allegation on the Supreme Lover so that He can do something to erase this complaint of yours. 

Maan Lila

Or have you entered the state of some maan lila [5] that you are putting an allegation on Him in your sulky mood of affectionate jealous anger. 

Supreme Lover Krishna

Supreme Lover Krishna would merely be laughing on hearing this accusation.

                                                                  Jai Radhe

Yours Manohar Das

[1] Chakor: ([1]a type of partridge trad supposed to live on moonbeams)
[2] Pitambar: yellow coloured garment, worn by Krishna
[3] Madhusudan: the word madhu has come to refer to both the bumblebee and Krishna. Just as bees tend to enjoy the honey of the lotus, Krishna enjoys the honey of His devotees’ love.
[4] Merging: Just as the river keeps flowing forever towards the ocean, the devotee’s consciousness keeps flowing forever towards the Lord. This emphasis on the flow aspect helps us see the union aspect in a new light. The union is not a merger of beings, but a meeting of hearts. When two hearts unite in love, they remain two and yet become one. That is the mystery of love, a mystery that finds expression and resolution in the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

[5] Maan lila: One of the ways in which Radhika pleases Krsna is by entering into the loving stage called maan, Her sulky mood of affectionate jealous anger towards Him. Sometimes Her maan has no external cause, and sometimes it has a cause.