Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Meaning of VISHNU Ji

Other Names: Narayana, Rama, Krishna, Vishweshwar, Balaji, Lakshmipati, Shesh-Shayee, Satyanarayana, Lakshmi-narayana and hundreds more.
Other forms of Vishnu: Vishnu is depicted in many forms. Since he s the one who has taken avtar as Rama, Krishna, etc. These are many popular forms of these Avatars. He is also shown as reclining on a great Serpent (Shesh Naag), with Lakshni nearby, in “Ksheer Sagar”.
Significance: Vishnu is one of the three main aspects of the supreme Lord; the other two are Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu represents the principle of preservation of the universe in its dynamic form. All things in the universe come to existence, stay for a while and then get destroyed of dissolved. This is true without any exception. It is true not only for things, but also for being, ideas, events, concepts etc. it is due to the power of Vishnu theat things remain in existence. His Shakti Lakshmi of prakriti (nature).
Incarnations: Since Vishnu is the preserver of the universe he takes incarnations and comes to Earth when necessary to preserve the good and to remove the evil. Thus, he restores the balance. Men who live by followings Dharma (eternal Values), are also doing similar things as Vishnu. Rama and Krishna are the most adored and worshipped incarnation of Vishnu among Hindus. Rama establishes an example of an ideal human being (events described in Ramayana). Similarly Krishna’s incarnation shows the various paths leading to divine-love and God-surrender while living in the world (the Bhagavat Geeta, the Mahabharat and Srimad Bhaagavat Purana). By carefully studying and understanding the events in the lives of these incarnations and following their messages, we also can become God-like while still alive.
Vishnu is reclining on a serpent (shesha naag) and is floating on an ocean. The ocean represents the infinite, inactive/dormant consciousness (Chid Shakti), while the serpent is the active, awakened consciousness. This means that there is a hidden capability in us and only a small portion comes on the surface as thoughts, which make us act in the world. Weapons in the hand of Vishnu are for preservation; lotus represents perfection and manifestation of qualities already within us; the crown, gadaa (mace) and rich decoration represent His royalty, meaning we ourselves are like kings and already possess power and wealth. The conch shell is a symbol of the sound of OM, (eternal joy).
Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, near the feet of Vishnu symbolizes that all wealth really belongs to the divine and should be used protection and preservation of the universe. She is always with Vishnu, meaning wealth follows people who are engaged in noble work. All other’s wealth is transitory.
Vishnu-Sahasra naam is a collection of the thousand names of Vishnu, each pointing to his divine quality. Devotees of Vishnu recite these names daily to remind themselves to cultivate such qualities.
Images of Vishnu and Lakshmi have great symbolism and provide a message to all who want to live a life full of prosperity of material wealth, joy and harmony, and progress in spiritual path as well.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Meaning of Lord Shiva

Other Names of Shiva: Mahadev, Shankar, Shambhu, Neelkantha, Bholanath, Kailashpati, Umapati, Rudra, Ishaan, Ishwara and hundreds more.
Other forms: Shiva-Linga, Nataraj, Ardha-narishwara, Dakshinamurti.
Significance: Shiva is one of the three main aspects of the supreme/divine, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva means auspiciousness. Shiva represents the principle of dissolution. Everything in the universe that has a name or a form is perishable. Shiva is the original cause process working that makes dissolution possible. Due to this, he at times is incorrectly referred to as the God of destruction. Dissolution is a necessary process or creation.
Shiva is depicted in a sitting, meditative pose, or in a family setting with consort Parvati and sons Ganesh and Kartikeya and surrounded by Nandi (Bull) and Ganas. Shiva is the God with utter simplicity and austerity. His clothes, sacred ash (vibhuti) smeared on the body, long hair tied together in a knot, snakes around the neck and His arms are decorated. He is an embodiment of Tapas, Vairagya and Knowledge. He is always meditating on the welfare of the universe. What do all of these means to us?
Ganga symbolizes Child-Shakti (pure consciousness, wisdom) or knowledge flowing from heaven to earth. She comes down to Earth through Shiva (auspiciousness). Wisdom descends only through the medium of auspiciousness. The crescent moon symbolizes complete control over mind and the third eye, which is usually closed, symbolizes pure Knowledge which burns away all dualities when opened. Sacred ash on the body signifies spiritual wealth left over after dissolution of all worldly desires. The blue neck of Shiva points to his extreme compassion for the world. He is holding poison in the neck and not completely swallowing it.
Trishula (trident) shows that he is beyond three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas), beyond three sates of consciousness, and beyond past, present and future. Beats of damaroo (drum) sets the cosmic rhythm by which the universe maintains its dynamic harmony and balance. The snake is a representation of Kundalini Shakti (mystic spiritual energy) and also represents a poisonous animal. Shiva immune to its poison. Nandi (bull) is a vehicle of shiva and signifies Dharma as well as pure ananda (joy). Tiger skin represents slain ego (ahankar) and control over all lower nature.
In the form of Dakshinamurti, Shiva ia sa universal teacher who imparts knowledge by silence.  In the form of nataraj, dancing Shiva represents the cosmic laws of the dynamic universe –a universe continuously in motion but not out of balance. In the form of Ardha-Nareeshwara, Siva represents simultaneously both male and female principle working together to manifest the universe. In the form of Linga, Shiva is depicted as form-less ultimate reality, the self who is fully absorbed in his own self. There are twelve famous and ancient jyotir-linga spread across India.
There is an ancient saying:       Shivam bhutva Shivam Yajet, which can be generally translated as “meditate on become like Shiva”. In the famous shloka of ‘Shiva mansa pooja’ connection of Shiva to ourselves is made clear: my own atman is Shiva, my own pure Budhhi is Parvati, my own prana is nothing cut Ganas, and my own Body is Shiva’s abode….and there for whatever I do let it be an offering of pooja to Shiva (my own Atman). An image of Shiva once understood in its true sense, can be a source of great inspiration for all to improve themselves. 

Meaning of SARASWATI Ji

Other Name: Sharda, Veena-Dharini, Vageshwari
Saraswati is usually depicted as sitting on a lotus flower, holding a veena instrument and clad in white clothes, with a white swan nearby as her vehicle.
Significance: Saraswati literally means one who gives essence (Sara) of the self (Swa). She is the Goddess of spiritual knowledge and wisdom, and is the consort/power of Brahma the creator, who needs all the knowledge to create a universe. It is through her grace that that one gains vidya (knowledge, wisdom), and learns kalaa (arts and skills). She is the goddess that shines through our intellect (Buddhi) and Goddess of speech (Vani). Her white cloths represent purity since knowledge has to be pure, without any confusion and misunderstanding. Veena, the musical instrument is a symbol of the joy and harmony that arise with wisdom and knowledge.  A white swan symbolizes discriminating intellect, i.e. the ability to grasp the essential and leave out the trivial. (A swan is believed to have the power to separate milk from water and take only milk). A peacock is a symbol of perfect beauty which is inherent in wisdom. Her seat, a fully blossomed lotus flower, represents Child-Shakti, the pure consciousness (the middle term of sat-chit-ananda) in which all knowledge resides. The four hands of Saraswati represent four aspects of our mind Mana, Buddhi, Ahankar and Chitta.
The symbolism means that saraswati is our own inherent wisdom which is lying dormant within us and once the mental chattering and agitation stops our mind becomes calm and peaceful. Then the pure buddhi, the discerning intelligence (out own inner wisdom) starts revealing itself with a soft and convincing voice; doubts vanish and clarity remain.
She is rayed to and invoked by all. Children recite prayers to her before beginning studies and those who are in pursuit of self-development also seek her blessings.
Of the three Goddess worshiped during Nava-Ratri festival, last three days are for Saraswati. It is only after Durga (Kaali) has removed obstacles (negativity) and Lakshmi has established harmony and balance in our external lives that our mind turns towards acquiring wisdom (Saraswati).

Meaning of Lakshmi Ji

Other Name: Kamla
Other forms: Surrounded by plenty of material wealth (Gold, coins etc.), elephants, and oil lamps (Diya). Sometime, when shown with reclining Vishnu, She is shown near his feet (Shesha-shayee Vishnu).
Significance: Lakshmi is the shakti (Power) of Vishnu, the preserving aspect of the supreme Lord. It is through her that the universe and hence, popularity she is worshipped as the mother Goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is also the mother Goddess or beauty, harmony and balance.
Lakshmi’s origin is connected with churning of cosmic ocean by two groups, divine force on one side and anti-divine forces on the other side. It simply means our successes and material prosperity comes as a result of constant efforts, sometimes very hard efforts.
She is seated on a red lotus, which represents the spiritual foundation from which all material creation manifests. It means all potential can be turned into actualities by our own inner power. When she is shown at the feel of Vishnu, it means her powers are really his, and are to be used for his purpose. Our own real self (Atman) is no different than the supreme Lord so, Atman has should also use out shakti (Wealth etc.) to help the world. By excessive hoarding of the wealth and not using it for the benefit of world, we are not contributing to the work of Vishnu. Elephants pouring water signifies inexhaustible divine wealth and when wealth out and other abilities are used for other/divine purpose, they continue grow.
Of the three goddesses worshiped during Nava-Ratri festival, middle tree day are specifically for Lakshmip pooja. It is only after Durga (Kali) has removed obstacles (negativity), that Lakshmi can establish prosperity, harmony and balance in ourselves, and only then can our minds turn towards still higher things such as acquiring wisdom (Saraswati).

Meaning of Hanuman Ji

Other names of Hanuman: Mahavir, Maruti, Pawan-suta, anjaneya, ram-doot, Rama-das, Kesari-nandan and many more.
Other forms of Hanuman:  Sometimes hanuman is shown flying with one hand holding up a mountain; He is shown opening his chest with His own hands and showing Rama and Sita sitting in His heart.
Significance: Hanuman is one of the most popular Hindu deities. He is an embodiment of service (Seva), devotion (Bhakti) and surrender (samarpan, egolessness). He is an incarnation of shiva. He is also considered the son of wind-god (Maruta) son of Anjani Devi. He has a high chin (hence the name Hanuman) and a long tail like that of monkey. In physical characteristics he looks sub-human, but his qualities are divine/super human, which all of us aspire to have. He is endowed with tremendous physical and spiritual strength, courage and valor (hence the name mahavir), fearlessness, devotion to Rama and sita, (hence the name Rama-das, Rama-doot etc.) high intelligence, truthful speech, ocean of knowledge and other good qualities. He is in complete control of all his senses.
Hanuman is worshipped by all especially those who are engaged in games and sports and those who are engaged in hard yogic practices.
Hanuman carrying a mountain in his hand shows his tremendous devotion to carry out the task given by his master, Lord Rama.  Opening his chest to show there is nothing other than Rama and Sita in His heart shows that He is totally surrendered to his lord (egoless). His very humble pose in Rama-darbar shows that he is a servant of Rama; this represents a calm, controlled and concentrated mind surrendered to truth, which is otherwise restless like a monkey. Like hanuman, we should strive to serve our lord (our true self, Atman), by bringing our mind, buddhi under the control of our own soul.
As son of wind-god (Marut) he symbolizes the power of breath (Pranayama), since breath and mind are directly connected. His success in location and contacting Sita(pure Buddhi) in the forest, means it is the calm and controlled mind that can discover our inner hidden (or imprisoned) potential.
Essence of Hanuman chalisa, the famous forty verses which are recited by millions of hindus everyday, give a very good description (Summary) of the qualities and deeds of hanuman in the Ramayana and it’s chanting will remind us to achieve great qualities of:
a.      Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strengths
b.     Vast knowledge (Gyaan Gun Sagar), super, intellect (Vidya)
c.      Humility, service to Ram (Soul).
d.     Fearless, Selflesseness, egoless with attitude- nothing is impossible.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Meaning of Durga Mata

Other Names: Kaali, Bhawani, Amba, Sinha-Vahini, Shera-Vaali, parvati and hundred more.
Other forms: Sometimes Seated on a lion, sometimes shown as kali
Significance: Durga literally means formidable of inaccessible. As kali she represents the fierce and terrifying aspect of the divine which is terrifying to only those who are evil doers or anti-divine. As parvati or amba she is a loving mother to those who are pious and to devotees. Durga is that spiritual energy in ourselves, when invoked, swiftly and thoroughly uproots negative tendencies/sanskaras in us. This energy works with a decisive force.
Durga is Shown sitting on a lion or tiger with eight (sometimes ten or eighteen) hands, with weapons. The trident, Sword, bow and arrow, mace (gadaa), discus (Chakra) all are weapons of different kinds and used in different situation. They represent various power and capabilities, hidden within us, to overcome negativity and allow positive to blossom.
The Lion/Tiger symbolize uncontrolled animalistic tendencies in us (such as anger, arrogance, vanity, greed, prejudice, jealousy, desire to harm others etc.), when allowed to go unchecked, such tendencies will bring harm and even total ruin to one’s own self. These tendencies need to be first controlled, with firm and determined efforts (force), and then turned into positive qualities. Durga’s various weapons represent determined and forceful strategies and action to control one’s harmful tendencies, which are then replaced by joyous and beneficial tendencies, mind, as tamed lion/tiger, is a wonderful thing.
Conch (Shankha): it is trumpeted to announce to the devotees not to be afraid of the terrible aspects of durga and also to cast fear in the hearts of the evil doers. In our lives, this assurance comes in the form a guru, a good book, or just a deep down self-conviction.
The blessing hand is an assurance of victory in the battle against evil tendencies. In other words, one’s self confidence/faith in the victory of good over evil is symbolically represented by this gesture.
A lotus in one hand represent purity and fullness. Though outwardly she looks terrifying, there is no animosity in her. She is dispassionately doing her work of “cleaning” her children as mother would do. So, if we do our work as dispassionately, the lotus symbolically assures us that we also will fully develop our potential.
Durga is one form of shakti (Power) of the supreme Lord I His Shiva aspect. She is not separate from Shiva. Similarly our powers are part of us and come from within. There are other powers of the Lord, such as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Maheshwari and many more. Since atman (our true self) in essence is the same as the Lord, these powers are also of Atman. By proper control and training of ourselves, by various well developed systematic methods such as yoga, and by guidance we can invoke these powers and become better beings.      

Meaning of Ganesha

Other Names :  Vinayak (Knowledgeable), Vidhneshwara (remover of obstacles), Gajanana(elephant faced) or Ganpati (a leader). He has leadership qualities and with his grace, it is believed that no undertaking can fail due to subjective or objective obstacles.
Ganesh has an elephant’s head which symbolizes sharp intelligence and big thinking. An elephant’s life is full of radiance, which comes from dignity and self-esteem. Also, the elephant share his food by scattering some around, indicating the sense of generosity.
Large ears and a small mouth indicate that one should talk less and listen more, retaining only the positive and constructive things. The large ears also represent continuous and intelligent listening to the teacher while the small eyes indicate sharp vision, concentration and foresight.
Ganesh’s trunk is the symbol of high strength, efficiency and adaptability. It can move the biggest obstacles and yet be infinitely gentle in handling delicate objects. Even the tusks on ganesha are used as symbols for deeper meaning. The partial tusk signifies intelligence and the full tusk represents faith. Both intelligence and faith are needed to progress in life, however, the intelligence often falls short in providing answer to life’s burning questions.  When it falls short, faith in God and ourselves can lead us in life successfully.
Ganesh’s four hands have four objects
·  Ankush (elephant driver’s iron rod or axe) it indicates to us to cut off all bonds of attachments and restrain desires and passions.
·  Paash (cod or rope) symbol of restraint and punishment it represents pulling you nearer to the truth.
·  Modak a food which is dry and hard form the outside and sweet from the inside as well as nourishing.  This signifies that hard work brings joy, satisfaction and nourishment to our souls.
·  Ashirwaad (blessing) illustrates that Ganesha blesses and protects us on our spiritual path to the supreme.
A man of perfection must have a “Big belly” to stomach peacefully, as it were, all the experiences of life. Ganesha is able to digest all good and bad things without losing control, the small legs indicate that one should not move hastily or rush into anything. Each step must be slow, deliberate and well thought out.
The mouse sitting by the beautiful, fragrant ready-made food is looking up at Ganesha, shivering with anticipation, but not daring to touch anything without his command. Although a mouse is a small animal with tiny teeth, it can bring disastrous losses by gnawing and nibbling. Similarly, there is a “Mouse” within each personality, which can eat away even a mountain of merit in it and this mouse is the power of desire. Ganesha is one who has so perfectly mastered this urge to acquire, possess and enjoy this self-annihilating power of desire, that the mouse is completely held in obedience to the will of the master.