In the West we lovingly celebrate days dedicated to our parents. These days are known as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. On these days we go to our parents and greet them. We are expressing our gratitude to them for being the instruments of our birth in a body temple and for facilitating the play of the soul on the altar of the earth. Gratitude is the charm in life that diminishes ego and brings love. The Taittariya Upanishad (I:2:2) declares, matr devo bhava, pitr devo bhava, acharya devo bharva: “Love mother as the Divine, love father as the Divine, and love the guru-preceptor as the Divine.” The guru-preceptor is considered the mother and the father at the same time, because guru is the instrument for spiritual rebirth (dvija) of the person. Initiation is the rebirth, and guru’s guidance and practical instructions are the divine nourishment for our spiritual life.
For several thousand years in India people have been celebrating Master’s Day ― the Guru Purnima. It is a day dedicated to the divine guru-preceptor who has dedicated his or her life to the spiritual evolution of the disciple children. On this day, disciples come to the guru-preceptor and offer thankfulness with love and devotion for what has been bestowed on him or her through the grace of the master and his teachings.
This Guru Purnima, the Master’s Day, falls on the day of the full moon in the month of July. This is the birthday of the great sage Maharshi Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata, (which includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Bhagavatam, the Brahmasutras, eighteen Puranas, and the editor of the Vedas. (For details on the life of Vyasa, please see Soul Culture Vol 7.3, p.20-28.) On the full moon day there is light in the day as well as night, symbolizing knowledge or enlightenment. Just as the light dispels darkness, so ignorance disappears with knowledge. Self-knowledge is the light that makes us free from the groping darkness of suffering and unhappiness in life.
The Mundaka Upanishad (1:2:12) directs, tad vijnanartham sa furm eva abhigacchet samit-panih srotriyam brahma nistham: “For acquiring the knowledge of That, let him only approach, with the sacrificial fuel in hand, a guru-preceptor who is learned in the scripture and established in Brahman.” Here, two qualities of the divine preceptor are highlighted as: srotriya, a person with Self-knowledge, and brahmanistha, one who is always absorbed in God consciousness.
With the Firewood
In the Vedic age, the rishis lived in hermitages usually situated in the forest on the bank of a river or a mountainside where there was an abundance of firewood. Similarly, the disciple approaches the guru-preceptor with firewood for sacrificial fire. The guru-preceptor is a burning flame, burning with the eternal light of knowledge and the warmth of love. This flame can burn everything it touches, including all negative propensities. If a disciple is like dry firewood, free from all ego, he or she will readily catch fire and be purified. Conversely, the student who is full of ego is like wet wood, which only makes smoke. In wood, fire is hidden, unmanifest.
The Upanishad speaks:
"tilesu tailam, dahhiniva sarpih
apah stroasu aranisu ca agnih"
Like oil in the sesame seed, butter in milk, water in the river stream, and fire in the wood, so the soul is unseen in each person’s life. Upon meeting the guru-preceptor, dry firewood and fire unite. This is a sacrificial fire ― an offering of all negatives with a prayer for purification. When ignorance is offered into the light and heat of love, the offering becomes a holy communion of transformation.
Chaturmasyam, the Holy Four Months
In India, July to September are considered the monsoon months, when there is extreme rain and flooding. In the old times, spiritual aspirants were usually wandering mendicants traveling far and wide, as was the guru-preceptor. They were usually monks, never attached to any place, who roamed and distributed the divine nectar of knowledge. But during the four-month rainy season, the guru-preceptor and the seeker disciples lived in one place and underwent rigorous training. This tradition known as chaturmasya-vratam is found even today. It begins on the Guru Purnima.
Although the lives of the teacher and the disciple are united for life, for truth, these four months in monsoon have a deep spiritual message. After the scorching summer months, tropical, torrential rain brings new life to plants, flooding the river and cooling the earth. Every person is scorched with tri-tapas: adhibhatiaka (material), adhidavivika (psychological), and adtyatmita (unforeseen) sufferings. Through the guru’s grace, the disciple’s mind is freed from hatred, anger, jealousy, ego, and so forth with the outpouring of divine love. This is rain. With showers of love, the tree of life is blossoming and fruitful. Knowledge dawns. Just as the flooded river rushes toward the ocean, individual life consciousness merges in the ocean of cosmic consciousness.
The four months training enable a disciple to be equipped with the fourfold qualities of discipleship (sadhana chatustayay) and purify or even eliminate the fourfold inner instruments (antah karana catustaya).
The fourfold qualities of the disciple are:
1.Viveka ― discrimination to know what is good and bad, to know what is real and unreal;
2.Vairagya ― no attachment, to live a life of inner detachment;
3.Shrama damadi sat sampati ― the sixfold wealth of mind control, control over the senses, love for a higher purpose of life, faith in the teachings of scriptures and teachers, forbearance, and balance in life;
4. Mumuksutvam ― desire for liberation.
The four inner instruments are:
The Guru and the Disciple
The relationship of the guru-preceptor and the disciple is divine, aiming only at Self-unfolding. They serve each other to their own ability, and the goal is always spiritual. During the four-month training period, the disciple through service and humility, learns the spiritual lifestyle under the direct supervision of the master. The master works to transform the life of the student by removing ego and ignorance.
There is a beautiful story about Sage Vyasa and his disciple Jainini. Jainini was a great scholar and a sincere disciple of Sage Vyasa, but he had some ego regarding his own intellectual knowledge. One day Sage Vyasa was dictating on a scripture and Jainini was taking notes. Sage Vyasa composed a verse making the point, valavad indriya gramam panditan apakarsant: “The senses are so powerful that the man of knowledge also sometimes commits mistakes.”
Upon hearing this, Jainini thought, “It is not possible. If a person is a man of knowledge, how can he be overpowered with the temptation of the senses? Rather, he will overcome them.” With this thought, he modified the verse to say, valavad indriya granam panditanapakarsanti: “Even though the senses are powerful, the man of knowledge is free from mistakes.”
Omniscient Sage Vyasa did not impart anything. He wanted to teach the disciple the truth of life in a different way. That afternoon, Sage Vyasa told Jainini that he must leave for some urgent work to a distant place, and he might be absent for several days. He entrusted Jainini to take care of the sacrificial fire. Then Sage Vyasa left. That evening after prayer Jainini retired to the room of the sacrificial fire to meditate. There was a storm and rain outside and very strong wind. Jainini heard someone knocking at the door. He opened the door and saw a pretty, young woman. He inquired what he could do for her.
She said, “I am on the way to my village, but because of the rain and storm I cannot go. Can you please give me shelter for the night?” Jainini, out of hospitality, allowed her to come inside and spend the night in the cottage. The young woman said that it was not good for a brahmachari (celibate) to be in the same room at night. So, Jainini went out and tried to sleep outside.
Now, the play of delusion started. Jainini sat silently, but his mind was running toward this youthful woman and her beauty. He thought to himself, “It would be good to spend the lonely night conversing with her.” So he knocked on the door and told her that it was cold outside, and it would be nice to be inside.
She protested, but Jaimini insistently entered anyway. He tried to talk with her and was constantly looking at her, which she did not like. Slowly his senses were growing powerful and clouding his conscience. He went close to her and touched her and told her that he wanted them to be together for a while.
She said, “You are a brahmachari, you should not think like this. It is not good.” Being blinded with passion, he touched her feet and asked for her approval. She at last agreed with the condition that he should bend down and walk like a horse, and she would sit on his back, and he should make seven rounds near the sacrificial fire. Then he could have her. Jaimini agreed.
While Jaimini was trying to walk like an animal with the woman sitting on his back, she started murmuring the verse that Sage Vyasa dictated in the morning that Jaimini had modified, “Even though the senses are powerful, a man of knowledge does not commit mistake.” When Jaimini heard this, he realized his own weakness. He stood up to leave her, but her two big arms clasped him and held him. They were not the tempting arms of the maiden, but the arms of his loving guru, Sage Vyasa.
Thus Sage Vyasa taught his disciple the truth of life and how to be always careful and watchful in every step of life. The guru transforms the life of the disciple to make it more spiritual and precious.
Let the blessings of God, Sage Vyasa, and all divine masters shower the life of each spiritual seeker and empower them to reach the goal of life. With abundance of peace, bliss, and joy on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima, the Master’s Day, let us all offer the flower of devotion and love at the Divine feet of the Master and seek their divine guidance in every step of our lives.
Source:Prajnana Mission| Kriya Yoga Institute
Once, Indra-The king of gods, was riding on his white elephant Airavata when he came across Durvasa-Muni, a sage who presented him with a blessed garland, called “the garland of fortune.” Lord Indra accepted the gift and placed the garland on Airavata's trunk, the smell of which irritated the animal. The smell compelled Airavata to drop the garland of flowers to the ground. Durvasa-Muni was insulted and in turn outraged by the act, and hence decided to curse the entire Devaloka to be bereft of all strength,energy and fortune.
Following the incident, several battles were fought between the Devas and the Asuras led by Bali. Since the Devas had turned powerless, they could do nothing but lose every battle. Lord Vishnu then came up with an idea: he asked all the Devas to treat asuras with diplomacy and form an alliance with them to attain the elixir of immortality while lying about sharing equal halves of it.
The Devas worked as per plan and eventually began churning the Ocean (Samudra Manthan) using Mount Mandara as a churning rod and Vasuki -The serpent king as a churning rope. Several herbs were cast into the ocean for this purpose, which helped produce many great objects and beings including:
1. ‘Chandra’ ( Moon)
2. ‘Parijat’ , a tree in the Paradise of Lord Indra
3. ‘Airavata’ , a multi-tusked elephant for again Lord indra
4. ‘Kamadhenu’ , a cow which provides desired objects
5. ‘Uchchaihsravas’ the white horse for Lord Indra
6. ‘Sankha’ the conch of Lord Vishnu used for victory
8. ‘Laxmi’ , goddess of wealth
9. ‘Rambha’ , the apsara (celestial beauty) for heaven
10. ‘Ratnas’, ( gems and jewels )
11. ‘Kalpavriksha , a tree fulfilling one’s wishes
12. ‘Dhanwantari’, the physician for all Gods.
13. ‘Mada , a goddess
14. ‘Amrit’ (the nectar drinking which one becomes immortal) in a golden chalice ( Kumbha).
Not only did the churning produce all things beautiful, but it also produced a pot of the most toxic poison known to mankind; the 'Haalaa-hala' poison. This poison was said to be powerful enough to wipe-out the entire existence and creation. All the Asuras and all the gods were terrified by this newly created poison, and this fear led them to rush to Lord Shiva; as they were aware that only Lord Shiva was powerful enough to consume the poison without getting affected even slightly.
Upon the request of the gods, lord Shiva consumed the entire pot of Haalaa-hala. Just as he was about to consume the poison, Lord Shiva's wife, Parvati, choked Lord Shiva and held his throat to prevent the poison from entering his belly. The poison was rightfully so powerful that it turned the Lord's throat blue, and for this very reason Lord Shiva is also known as the Neel-kanth.
The Devas were advised to keep lord Shiva awake throughout the night and make sure the poison doesn't affect his health. In order to keep him awake, the Devas danced and sang songs of appreciation around him. Lord Shiva was obliged by this act and blessed them all at day-break and hence, even today, this night is celebrated every year as Shivaratri.
At the end of the Samudra-Manthan, Dhanvantari the divine physician, appeared with a Kumbh of immortal nectar in his hands. The demigods, being fearful of the demons' ill intent, forcibly seized the pot with and entrusted its safety onto four Gods - Brahaspati, Surya, Shani, and Chandra.
Asuras, after learning that their part of the agreement has not been kept, battled the gods for 12 days and 12 nights and during which, a few drops of the elixir fell at four different places, namely; Nasik, Ujjain, Haridwar and Allahabad. These four places are since believed to have acquired mystical powers. Because 12 days of Gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans; the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years in each of the four places - banks of river Godavari in Nasik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar, and at the Sangam of Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, where the drops are believed to have fallen. Millions of devout, come together to partake in ritualistic bathing and ceremonies to cleanse themselves of all sins.
...and as per the story of Samudra-Manthan goes, the Devas lost the pot of elixir to Asuras, since all their powers had fallen victim to Durvasa's curse. Assessing the situation, Lord Vishnu with his brilliant mind, shape-shifted into a beautiful woman 'Mohini' to allure and distract the Asuras. And as planned, Lord Vishnu gained possession of the pot of the elixir and handed it back to the Devas.
Yama, The ultimate companion.
the ‘twin’ as it would interpret to from the original Sanskrit name,
Born of the Sun-god and wife Usha.
Yamaraj is said to be the immediate sub-ordinate to the trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva
for they are considered to be the creators of the multiverse according to the Brahman aspect.
Death is one of the first few truths we are all made aware of,somehow we all fear demise.
some choose to believe it’s a friend that we’ve never met
but are all sure to, each to his own day.
ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिंम् पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ।।
oṁ tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭi-vardhanam ǀ
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt ǁ
Mahamrityunjaya mantra translates to 'The great death conquering mantra',it originally belongs to the 'Rig Veda' which is the oldest religious text still in use.
The Mahamrutyunjaya Mantra is a prayer to Lord Shiva, the three eyed one/'trymbaka'.
the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra can be put into simpler words as,
Om,We worship and adore the three eyed one,
who is fragrant and nurtures all of life,
may he rid us of all worldly bondage
like a cucumber is severed from the creeper by its gardener
and free us from the fear of death,
for the sake of immortality.
Rishi Markandeya was the first discoverer of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra,
he was the only one in the world that was aware of the mantra and the power it possesses.
The tale of 'Kalantaka' (slayer of death)
is a tale depicting the power of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra.
Rishi Markandeya's parents Rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati,
were both devotees of Lord Shiva and Prayed to him for the blessing of begetting a son,
The Lord granted their wish but with two choices,
they could either bear a gifted son with a life span of only 16 years,
or one with low-intelligence but a longer life.
Rishi Mrikandu gladly chose the former and was blessed with a son
but one who'd die at the age of 16.
The son, Rishi Markandeya grew up to be a great devotee of Lord Shiva
he did not stop his worship of the 'Shivalingam' even on the day on which he was destined to die, Even 'Yama' the god of death himself was unable to take Markandeya's life due to his devotion and continual worship of Lord Shiva, Yama himself came upon earth to take away Rishi Markandeya's life and he swung his noose aimed at Markandeya in the act to kill him, but it by accident or fate landed around the 'Shivalingam', out of which Lord Shiva appeared in full fury and attacked Yama for his act, Lord Shiva beat Yama to his demise.
Although later he revived him under the condition that Rishi Markandeya would live on forever,hence blessing him with Immortality.
Markandeya later gave the mantra to Sati,
who was the Wife of Shiva and one of the eighty-nine daughters of Daksha,
the eleventh son of lord brahma.
in order to release 'Chandra' (the moon) from Daksha's curse,
as he was furious about Chandra favouring only one of his daughters 'Rohini'
and neglecting the others.
by the recitation of the mantra the effect of the curse of Daksha which would slowly kill the moon, was slowed down.
Shiva then took 'Chandra' and placed it upon his head thus Lord Shiva is also called 'Somnath'-protector of the moon god.
Mahamritunjaya is considered to be amonst the most powerful mantras,
and is chanted at spiritual ceremonies, for better mental, emotional and physical health.
the Mahamritunjaya mantra is also chanted to attain moksha / salvation and and is a prayer to Lord Shiva to strike-off untimely death , The mantra re-links consciousness to its deeper and limitless nature to heal, protect and rejuvenate .
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
How the god's defeated the demons in a battle for the elixir of immortality.
Once, Indra-The king of gods, was riding on his white elephant Airavata when he came across Durvasa-Muni a sage who presented him with a blessed garland, the garland of fortune as he would call it, Lord Indra accepted the gift and placed it on Airavata's trunk, Airavata was irritated by the smell of it and dropped the garland to the ground, Durvasa-Muni was outraged by the act and in the heat of his anger cursed the entire Devaloka to be bereft of all strength,energy and fortune.
Following the incidence, several battles were fought between the Devas and the Asuras led by Bali, since the devas had turned powerless, they could do nothing but lose every fight, Lord Vishnu then came up with an idea, he asked all devas to treat the asuras with diplomacy and form an alliance with them in order to attain the elixir of immortality and lie to them about sharing equal halves of it.
The Devas worked as planned and then started the Churning of the Ocean (Samudra Manthan)using Mount Mandara as a Churning rod and Vasuki -The serpent king as the churning rope,
Several herbs were cast into the ocean and the proccess produced many great objects and beings which included,
Kalpavriksha - the enchanted wish-fullfilling tree
Kaustubha - the most precious Diamond in the world
Uchhaishravas - the divine white horse
Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and fortune
Airavata - the white elephant
Sura - the goddess of wine
Not only did the churning produce all things nice,
it also produced a pot of the most toxic poison in the world , the 'Haalaa-hala' poison powerful enough to wipe-out entire creation, all Asuras and the gods were terrified by the pot and in a fix they rushed to Lord Shiva, considering him being the only one powerful enough to consume the poison without being affected.
Upon the request of the gods, lord Shiva drank the entire pot of 'Haalaa-hala', just as he was about to gulp it down his throat Lord Shiva's wife Parvati Choke-held his throat in-order to stop the poison from entering Shiva's belly, the poison was so powerful that it turned the Lord's throat blue,for this reason Lord Shiva is also known as Neel-kanth.
The devas were advised to keep lord Shiva awake throughout the night to make sure the poison doesn't affect his health, in order to keep him awake they danced and Sang songs of appreciation, Lord Shiva was oblidged by this act and blessed them all at day-break, Even today this night is celebrated every year as Shiva-ratri.
At the end of Samudra-Manthan, Dhanvantari - The divine physician appeared with a pot of the elixir of immortality in his hands, the Devas and asuras both chased Dhanvantari to get the possession of the elixir, but the devas lost to Asuras as all their powers had fallen victim to Durvasa's curse but Lord Vishnu with his brilliant mind, Shape-shifted into a beautiful woman 'Mohini' to allure and distract the Asuras and gained possession of the pot of the elixir and handed it back to the Devas!