Happy Diwali | Lakshmi Puja on Thu, 23 October 2014

DEEPAVALI or Diwali means “a row of lights”. It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik (hindu month), followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.

According to the legends Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, was incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi. From that day she is worshipped as the symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is also said that on this very day Lord Vishnu rescued Goddess Lakshmi from the prison of Demon king bali and for that reason Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.

In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, “Have you had your Ganges bath?” which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges. Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere.

This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees. Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m. ) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives. In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love.

Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O Children of God! unite, and love all”. The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.

On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.

This year celebrate the Festival of Lights (Diwali) on Thu, 23 October 2014
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Swastika – an auspicious mark

Why do Hindus use the swastika on auspicious occasions?

The swastika is a benedictory or auspicious mark in the form of a cross, the four arms of which are bent at right angles. Besides Hindus, other communities and religions also consider this mark auspicious. It is therefore customary to make this mark before any auspicious ceremony or function.

In the Ganesh Puran it is said that the swastika is a form of Lord Ganesha. It is necessary that this be made before beginning any auspicious work. It has the power to remove all obstacles. Those who ignore it may fail. It is therefore customary to make all beginnings with the swastika.

The Swastika is also known as ‘Satiya’, which is a symbolic of the Sudarshan Chakra. People also consider it as a symbol denoting plus (+). That makes it a symbol of prosperity. The four dots around the swastika are symbolic of the four directions around us.

Religious texts explain that the eight arms of the swastika are symbolic of the earth, fire, water, air, sky, mind, emotions and feelings. The four main arms point in four directions. They represents the four eras- Satyug, Tretayug, Dwaparyug and Kalyug. They also represents the four castes – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. They represents the four ashrams of life too – Brahmacharya, Grihast, Vanprasth and Sanyas. The four arms are also symbolic of the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharm (righteousness), arth (prosperity), Kaam (passion) and moksha (salvation). They are also symbolic of the four faces and four hands of Brahma and of the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, YajurVeda, Sam-Veda and atharva-veda. They are also symbolic of the four constellations – Pushya (8th), Chitra (14th), Shravan (22nd) and Revti (27th).

In one of the hymns in the Rig-veda it is said that the swastika is symbolic of Surya (Sun). In the Amarkosh, it is referred to as a pure and auspicious blessing.

In this way, the swastika is really symbolic of all the directions and of Gods and auspicious circumstances. One must appreciate its importance and adopt it as a part of everyday life.
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On this Diwali Ma Lakshmi may visit your Home * Conditions Apply

Maa Lakshmi is said to be unsteady and transient and does not stay at one place for long. Since everyone desires that She stay within the home permanently, prayers are offered to Maa Lakshmi. It is believed that the art of attracting Goddess Laxmi through devotion is secret and difficult to achieve. This is because of a strict direction by Vishvamitra, who directed that the procedures must be kept secret and taught to a capable successor only at the end of one's life.

It is believed that during the churning of the ocean by the gods and the asurs when Lakshmi appeared, Indra offered prayers that pleased Her. In blessing, She told him that whoever receives the 12-letter mantra from him and repeats it devotedly during the three prayers everyday shall attain prosperity like Kuber. This was the beginning of prayers to Ma Lakshmi.
In the Ravana Samhita, Ravana has said that devotion to Lakshmi is an outstanding devotion, and that he learnt it from Kuber, the God of Wealth. He said that with that knowledge he was able to make Lanka prosperous.

In the Mahabharata, Udyogparv, it is said: Patience, self-control, control over the senses, compassion, gentle speech and holding no grudges against friends and others promote glory and prosperity.
In the Goraksh Samhita, Guru Gorakhnath has also described devotion to Lakshmi a outstanding. Lord Krishna stressed that through devotion to Lakshmi great prosperity can be attained as He did in Dwarka. In the Hitopadesh, 178, it is said: Whoever is enthusiastic, active, capable in his work, not addicted to vice, grateful and devotedly friendly shall find that Lakshmi voluntarily comes to reside in his home.
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Why Lakshmi never stays firm at a particular place ?

A person whose clothes and teeth are dirty, who eats too much, speaks harsh and unpopular words, countinues to sleep even after the sunrise, Lakshmi deserts such a person, even it may be Lord Vishnu Himself, who supports a wheel in his hand.

In 'Anushasam Parva' of Mahabharata:

Once with the welfare of mankind in mind, Pradyuman's mother Rukmani asked Goddess Lakshmi,"Devi, what kind of people and places please you to reside with them?"

Lakshmi responded, "I reside with people who speaks moderately, are efficient, do not lose their temper, are devoted, grateful, have control over self and are generous. I always live with people who are virtuous, religious, those that respect the elderly, are pure at heart and wise and forgiving. I live with women who serve their husbands, who are forgiving, truthful, balanced, simple and virtuous. They must respect the gods and Brahmins. I live with all those who are endowed with virtuous qualities. Wherever yagyas are performed, prayers are offered to gods, cows and Brahmins are cared for, I never leave those homes."

Goddess Lakshmi further tells Rukmini that 'O friend! I abhor and dislike such a person and desert him, if he is unabashed, quarelsome, has great penchant for sleep, is malicious, dirty, mentally restive and careless. If anyone has, even one of the said drawbacks or bad habits, I never hesitate to discard and desert such a person.'

In  the Mahabharata, Shantiparv, 225, it is explained that once when King Bali opposed the Brahmins after eating offensive food, Lakshmi immediately left his palace. She said, "I detest those who steal, are addicted, impure and restless. I am living Bali's palace even though he is devoted to me."

There is an adage that 'opportunity knocks at one's door once only'. If the recepient fails to seize the opportunity and utilise it, he is a dismal loser. Such careless persons repent through out their life, once they lose the opportunity, and also that the Goddess of wealth also does not co-operate with a callous and careless person.
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Why Laxmi Rides on an Owl Carrier ?

There are two Lakshmis. One is very near and dear to Lord Narayana, and Her carrier is Garuda. She rides on Garuda with Narayana. The shadow of that Laksmi is the diety of wealth, and She rides on an owl carrier. Why?

It is symbolic concept. Laxmi goes on Her own mostly to bless those who aspire for wealth, money and material prosperity. The owl is the symbol of wisdom in the West but in Hindu philosophy it is the symbol of stupidity. And of course it is nocturnal creature. So, in our context we can assume that it points to foolishness and darkness.

Owls cannot see during the day. That Laksmi, on that carrier, goes to any bad person, any unqualified person, lusty person, or wicked person. She may go anywhere. And, if she will go to any qualified person, she will make him blind. He will not be able to see anything that is paramartha, that which is transcendental. Those who are very wealthy will always be blind, and that Shadow of Laksmi will take him here and there. The fact that you are worshipping wealth shows that you are fond of that owl.

Hindu philosophy firmly believes that spiritualism is the true human endeavour and the goal of life is the union with Creator. The pursuits of material gains is looked down upon as a stupid act of a person who has not seen the light of the spiritual wisdom to know that the real treasure is love for God.

However, if that wealth comes to you, you will become blind. We should always be careful about these things. Only the ignorant seek gold, gems and riches that will keep them trapped in the birth and the death cycles for ever.
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