Monthly Archives: September 2020

Adhika Maasa (Purushottama Maasa) -Significance

There is a difference in calculation between the solar and lunar calendars. After 32.5 months of the lunar calendar, there arises a discrepancy of 30 days (1 month) which has to be included in the lunar calendar to perfectly align it with the solar calendar. This month is called as ADHIKA MAASA (Extra Month). Each month has its own presiding deity. However Adhika Maasa did not have any presiding deity. Adhika Maasa approached Lord Vishnu and said, “Lord, there is no presiding deity allotted to me. I am known as “extra” and “unwanted” month. Everybody totally ignores me and no one associates anything auspicious with me.” The Lord heard Adhika’s plea and said, “Do not worry. I myself as PURUSHOTTAMA – “the Best of Beings”, will be the presiding deity of Adhika Maasa.” Hence the Adhika Maasa is also called as Purushottama Maasa. All the divine glories associated with the Lord are therefore associated with Adhika Maasa.

The Adhika Maasa is an extra month that Prakriti or Mother Nature has given to mankind which comes after every 32.5 (nearly 33) months. Normally an individual is constantly engaged in sheer worldly pleasures and materialistic activities all through the months, year after year. The call of our great Rishis is that atleast in the Adhika month we should refrain from all materialistic activities and devote the entire month to religious and spiritual activities. Hence in this month vivaaha, gruhapravesam, naamakarana etc are not celebrated. Importance is given to Japa, Tapas, Upavasa, Puja, Homa, and Dana. All the merits acquired by performing pooja, japa, tapa and dana in the other thirty three months put together collectively can be acquired by performing the same in just this one Adhika Maasa. Lord Brahma once weighed all the sadhana he had pursued prior to his work of creation with the sadhana performed in the Adhika Maasa. The scales tilted in favour of the sadhana undertaken in the Adhika Maasa!

Reading of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Geeta, Bhagavatham, Ramayana, Chanting of Stotras like Vishnu Sahasranama, Lalitha Sahasranama, Aditya Hridaya, Hanuman Chalisa, chanting the 15th chapter (Purushottama Yoga) of the Bhagavad Geeta, etc., attending Satsanghs, undertaking pilgrimage to various holy places are also taken up during this period. Lighting Akhanda Deepa (day and night) all through the Adhika Maasa which represents the “initiation of spiritual knowledge in an individual” is also undertaken during this period. There are Adhika Maasa Vratas and Vows prescribed for this month. Any noble and virtuous activity taken up during this Adhika Maasa is supposed to give Adhika-phala (extra merit). 

33 (thirty three) is a number associated very closely with the Adhika Maasa, since this extra month comes after 33 (32.5 to be precise) lunar months. If we have not performed our religious activities and charity during the last 33 months, it is atoned for now by doing the same 33 times in the Adhika Maasa. Therefore chanting of a specific mantra 33 times or in multiples of 33 is normally undertaken. When fruits, tamboola (betel leaves), or sweets are offered to the Lord the number prescribed is again 33 or multiples of 33. Similarly when dana or charity is given, it is 33 or in multiples of 33. This is supposed to take care of the lapses on our part in our religious activities and charity during the previous 33 months. 

Amongst the danas, “Anna-dana” (food distribution to the needy) is supposed to be very important. A unique feature of Adhika Maasa is “Apoopa dana” – the dana of “Athirasa” (Apoopa in Sanskrit). It is a deep-fried sweet-dish prepared by using rice flour, jaggery and ghee – a wholesome nutritious delicacy. Traditionally, 33 apoopas are given in charity every day along with 33 fruits, 33 betel leaves and 33 coins. If it is not possible daily, this unique dana is done atleast once during the Adhika Maasa. Apoopa dana is considered equivalent to prithvi-dana!

The glory and uniqueness of the sacred Adhika or Purushottama Maasa was narrated by Lord Narayana to Sage Narada, and by Sri Krishna to Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas.

[This year Adhika Maasa begins on 18th Sept 2020 and ends on 16th October 2020]

Charity must come from one's sense of abundance. True charity springs from a sense of oneness between the giver and the recipient. - Swami Chinmayananda

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Sri Krishna and Vasudeva: Absolute Surrender

Sri Krishna was born as the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudeva on the rainy Ashtami night in the prison of Mathura. At that very moment Lord Vishnu appeared in front of them. Seeing the Divine Form of the Lord, the overjoyed couple prostrated to the Lord. Sri Hari told them to carry the new born baby to Gokula, leave the child with Yashoda, the wife of Nanda and bring their just born girl child back to Mathura.

When the Lord asked Vasudeva to carry him to Gokula, Vasudeva did not even for a moment stop to question the Lord how it would be possible for him to go when he is chained in a locked prison. He just accepted what the Lord told him. Absolute surrender to the Lord and implicit obedience to His words are the marks of true devotion. When devotion and surrender are total and complete, everything falls into place. It is now the Lord’s responsibility to take charge and accomplish whatever He wants. Hence the chains snap, bolts unlock, the prison doors open and the security dozes off! HARI CHITTA SATYA !!

When Vasudeva stepped outside with baby Krishna placed in a basket over his head, it was not at all conducive for him. It was pitch dark outside and raining very heavily – there was thunder and lightning. But still Vasudeva did not step back. His complete devotion and total surrender to, and implicit faith in the Lord kept him moving ahead. River Yamuna in floods represents our samsara wherein we are being tossed up and down by the pairs of opposites, like heat and cold, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, honour and dishonour, likes and dislikes, etc.

Vasudeva entered the waters with the Lord-in-the-basket on his head. The waters kept rising and further rising. But he still continued to move ahead. The waters came up to his chest, and then slowly up to his mouth. A little dirty and muddy water went into his mouth also. Still further when the waters rose almost up to his nose, the Lord knew that it spelt disaster to Vasudeva and slowly put His tiny foot outside the basket. Krishna’s big toe was exactly in line with Vasudeva’s nose. Yamuna Devi respectfully touched the Lord’s toe and immediately the waters went down! She could not rise beyond the Lord’s toe. The waters therefore could not reach Vasudeva’s nose and he was saved. 

Similarly, if we keep the Lord and His remembrance in our mind and intellect (carry Krishna on the head) and then enter into the waters of life, difficulties, challenges, troubles, hurdles and obstacles will come enroute. They may even give us a lot of pain and sorrow (reach our mouth) and create a crisis situation for us. But if the problems try to completely shatter and destroy us (water rising to the nose), the Lord immediately comes to the rescue of the devotee (the Lord put His toe out of the basket) and protects him from completely getting shattered and destroyed. The Lord takes him safely across the turbulent waters of samsara and provides a conducive environment for his spiritual growth (the Lord is taken to Gokula). 

When the “Lord’s Will becomes our Will”, when we recognise the Lord alone as the “Doer” accomplishing everything through us who are nothing but His chosen instruments, and when we are able to recognise the Lord alone as the “Enjoyer” of the fruits of our actions with “Krishnarpana Buddhi“, then and then alone “Sri Krishna Janmotsava” becomes meaningful for us in our life. Sri Krishna becomes our “Gathi” — the GOAL of Self-realization to be reached and the PATH to be pursued by a seeker.

Sri Krishnaya Tubhyam Namaha!

Lord Krishna is both the way and the goal. He alone is our Gathi. To meditate upon Him with all our mind and to awake to the State of Krishna-Consciousness is to awake to a larger, vaster, infinite awareness of the meaning of life. - Swami Chinmayananda

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Ganesha and Analasura

Lord Ganesha

Analasura was a rakshasa who was very powerful and invincible. His very name ANALA means “fire”. His eyes were fiery. His very breath would burn and destroy everything it came in contact with. And his mouth emitted fire. He had a boon from Brahma, the Creator that no weapon whatsoever could harm him. Arrogant and vain, that he had conquered death and become immortal, Analasura went about torturing and harassing people on the surface of the earth as well as the gods in heaven.

Tired of Analasura’s endless attacks on them, all the devatas went to Vaikunta to seek the Lord’s help. Lord Vishnu told them that his Sudarshana Chakra cannot destroy him and told them to invoke Lord Shiva. All of them went to Kailasa and told Lord Shiva the havoc that Analasura was creating. Lord Shiva too told them that his mighty Trishul would not be able to counter the evil rakshasa. Lord Ganapati who was also present there heard everything. He immediately told them all not to worry and he would destroy the demon. Lord Vinayaka challenged the rakshasa to a dual war. The rakshasa fought fiercely and rushed forward in his huge form towards Ganesha.

The Lord immediately assumed his huge cosmic (virat) form. He caught hold of Analasura and swallowed him up. As a result of this, the heat generated in Ganesha’s stomach became unbearable. To reduce the heat, Lord Varuna showered water on him. Sankara tied the snake which is cold to the touch around Ganesha’s waist, Lord Chandra, the cool moon sat on his head and Lord Vishnu gave the lotus which is always in water to his hands, but none of them were capable of removing the tremendous heat which was consuming Ganesha. 

A group of Rishis who were performing a yagna heard of Ganesha’s trouble. They came there with a bunch of Durva Grass which they were using for their yagna. They tied twenty one blades of Durva grass into a bundle and asked Ganapathi to swallow it. The moment the Durva grass entered his stomach, the heat and the burning sensation completely subsided. Lord Ganapati was so happy at the marvel of this divine creation of the Creator! Durva grass seemed so insignificant amongst the created, and yet, so profound were its benefits. Ganapati declared that in future whoever worshipped him with the offering of Durva grass would earn his grace and blessings for sure.

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Glory of Durva Grass

Once Sage Kaundinya’s wife asked him why the Durva grass was given so much of importance and had become almost indispensable in the worship of Lord Ganapathi. Kaundinya Rishi explained to her the immense benefits of using the Durva grass. 

But Kaundinya’s wife was not totally convinced. So the Rishi gave her a bunch of twenty one blades of Durva grass and asked her to go to Lord Indra and bring back gold in exchange for its weight. She was surprised, because the bundle of grass hardly weighed anything!  But since the Sage had told her, she decided to go to Lord Indra. On approaching him, she showed him the bundle of grass and asked for gold in exchange for its weight. On looking at the sacred bundle of grass in her hands, Indra who knew fully the glory of Durva grass asked her to go to Kubera, the treasurer of the heavens. The Rishi’s wife approached Kubera and asked for gold equivalent to the weight of the bundle of grass. The scales were brought. The Durva grass was placed on one pan and Kubera tried weighing it with gold on the other pan. All the gold that Kubera had was put in the pan, but the scales did not tilt even a little! The Trimurti’s Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came there and added their assets too, but still the pan did not tilt. Sage Kaundinya’s wife then realized the glory of Durva grass – it was priceless! Truly incomparable and incomprehensible!

The very word “Durva” means “to bring that which is far away closer or nearer to us”. Its absorption capacity as well as transmitting capacity is enormous. When Durva grass is offered to the Lord, the aura and the divine vibrations associated with the deity is absorbed by Durva. When this Durva is received as prasad by the devotee, the very same aura and divine vibrations is transmitted to us. It also protects us by cutting off the negativity in the environment. Even the most powerful nuclear radiations can be blocked by Durva grass. Durva has purificatory properties. Hence it is dipped in water and that water is sprinkled to cleanse the environment. This is the reason why Seeta placed the blade of grass between her and Ravana while addressing him. It acted as a shield between her and the rakshasa. And in addition, it has lots of medicinal value and is used in a number of ayurvedic therapies. Durva Bhasma (ash) has the capacity to nullify the adverse effects of the navagrahas.

Prathama Pujya Lord Ganesha acknowledged the glory of Durva grass and gave it the prime importance in his worship.

Everyone has a precise place in the scheme of created things. Each one has an importance and none is to be despised.. There is no redundancy in the Lord's creation; not even a single blade of grass is unnecessarily created. - Swami Chinmayananda

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