Anuradha Bhattacharya's Posts (4)

This is literally the “birthday or descent of mother Ganges - Ganga Ma”. Throughout india this festival lasts ten days beginning on the Amavasya (dark moon night) and going through to the dasami tithi (tenth phase of the Moon, the day before Pandava Nirjal Ekadasi) “Festivals connected with rivers are essentially bathing festivals.

Ganga Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of Jyeshtha. River Ganga is worshipped as a mother as well as a Goddess, particularly by people of Uttara Pradesh, Bihar, and Bengal through which the river flows. On this day, if a devotee is unable to visit and bathe in the river Ganga, then Ganga jal (water) kept in most Hindu homes is used for purification. A bath in the river is said to purify the bather of all sins. The Ganga is revered all over India even in places far from its course.

Initially, river Ganga flowed in the heavens. She was brought down to earth by the severe penances of the sage Bhagiratha and that is why she is also called Bhagirathi. According to the story, of the descent of the Ganga, once a number of demons were harassing the hermits by disturbing them in their ascetic duties. During the day, they would be chased into the ocean. But in the darkness of the night, they would emerge from the ocean and start harassing the hermits again. In desperation the hermits appealed to Rishi Agastya. Agastya, known for his gastronomic powers, drank all the water of the ocean.

Though this was done in good faith, it resulted in depriving the world of the water needed for sustenance and the earth became parched and dry. Bhagiratha brought this drought to and end. According to the legend, King Sagara of the Ikshvaku dynasty ruling at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh had two queens, Keshani and Sumati, but neither had a child. Sagara performed severe austerities before his wives could produce sons. But whereas Keshani gave birth to a son called Asmajas, Sumati bore
60,000 sons. Sagara performed the Ashwamedha sacrifice to declare his suzerainty over the neighbouring kingdoms.

According to the prevalent custom, the sacrificial horse was let loose and allowed to wander into the neighbouring kingdoms. If the horse was caught, a battle ensued and the outcome decided the winner. The 60,000 sons of Sagara were following the horse when they saw him enter a cavern where sage Kapila was meditating. Not seeing the horse in the cavern, they presumed that Kapila had captured it. They did not kill Kapila as he was a sage but they started disturbing his meditations. Annoyed at being disturbed, Kapila with a curse burnt the 60,000 sons of Sagara.

Time passed and later Bhagiratha, the great grandson of Sagara, chanced to come across the bones of his dead ancestors. He wanted to perform the shraddha of his ancestors but there was no water available for the ceremony. Agastya having drunk all the waters of the ocean, the country was passing through a severe drought. Bhagiratha prayed to Brahma, the Creator, to end the drought. Brahma asked him to pray to Vishnu, the Preserver, to allow the heavenly Ganga, issuing from His big toe, to come down to earth. Vishnu when prayed to by Bhagiratha agreed, but asked him to request Shiva, the third member of the Hindu trinity of Gods, to allow the torrential rain to fall on his head before it came to the earth as the river was very forceful and if she were allowed to come down unchecked, her fall would split the earth.

Shiva agreed to take the gigantic weight of the cascading Ganga on the matted hair piled high on his head. This ensnared and delayed the progress of the river which, in meandering through the labyrinth of his hair, lost its force and then gently descended to the Himalayas from whence it flowed to the plains bestowing its waters on the parched earth. And that is why the anthropomorphic image of Ganga is shown in the matted hair of Shiva who is also called Gangadhara. Being born in the Himalayas, Ganga is considered the elder sister of Parvati, who is also a daughter of the Himalayas.

According to the Agni Purana and Padma Purana, the Ganga descended to the earth on Ganga Dussehra day and a bath in the holy river on this day is said to purify one of all sins. To die on the banks of the Ganga is considered most auspicious. If that is not possible, then the immersion of the ashes after cremation in the river Ganga is a must, as it then releases one from the cycles of birth and re-birth.

The seven ways of worshipping the Ganga are: by calling out her name, ‘Oh Ganga’; having darshan of her; by toughing her waters; by worshipping and bathing; by standing in the waters of the river; and by carrying clay dug out of the river. Ganga in her anthropomorphic form is shown as a beautiful young woman standing on a crocodile and holding a waterpot in her hands. Her image, with that of the Goddess Yamuna, another sacred river deity, is often depicted on the doors of temples and palaces. In Gujarat, there is a legend according to which Ganga came down to the earth on Rishi Panchami, the fifth day of Bhadra (September) at Tarnetar.

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Srimati Sita Devi is the daughter of the Earth goddess, Bhumi Devi, and central figure of the Ramayana. In Maharishi Valmiki’s own words, Ramayana is known as the noble story of Sita “Sita-ayah Charitam Mahat”.
Her glories are sun by the poet-saint Thyagaraja in his “Sri Janakatayane”
Oh daughter of Janaka, the blessed souls of refugees! Oh Consort of Sri Raghu Rama, bedecked with shining gem-ornaments! Pray, protect me always! You are the wind that destroys the clouds of demons like the hundres-headed Ravana; You are the indweller in the hearts of the devotees; Your Feet shine with the lustre of gems set in the crown of Indra.
King Janaka was the wise and benevolent King of Janakpuri and although a great saintly king he was childless. ‘Rajarshi - a king who lives like a sage: that was how king Janaka of Videha dynasty was renowned. He ruled over the kingdom of Mithila. He looked upon his people with love and affection.
The Finding of Sita Devi in a casket in the Earth:
Janaka maharaj was ploughing a piece of land and then to prepare it for conducting a Yajna (spiritual sacrifice). He unearthed a golden casket in which he found a beautiful girl and was overjoyed. A land ploughed by the yoke is called ‘Sita’, and so he named the baby as Sita. With the arrival of the baby, the king’s good luck appeared to soar up. His queen also gave birth to a daughter who was named Urmila. The royal couple brought up the children with great affection. They gave them a good education. The two beautiful girls, by their noble qualities, good behavior and intelligence, endeared themselves to one and all and grew to become ideal princesses.
Sita grew up and played in the palace of Janakaraj. She became well known for her beauty as well as her devotion. She could often be seen absorbed in the Deity of the Lord of the Surya-vamsa. She would when on her own, sometimes lovingly enact the pastimes of the various forms of the Lord and relish His pastimes. In this way she revealed to those close to her that she was no ordinary young girl.
Her fame like her beauty became well known, and soon it was time for her to be betrothed and then married. As with kshatriya kings of those days Janakaraj organised that all the worthy kings and princes would come, there would be a challenge for her hand, and the victor would become her husband.
The story goes that one day, revered sage Parashurama came to visit king Janaka. He carried a bow with him. He left it at the doorstep of the royal hall and went inside. Sita saw the bow, ran to it and began playing with it as if it was a play-horse. Only those with great physical strength and daring could lift and handle the ‘Vaishnava’ bow. When Parashurama came out, the bow was missing. Ordinary persons could not lift it with ease and he, curiously looking around, spotted Sita playing with it as if it was a play-horse. The sage and the king were astonished.
The great Sage Parashurama, who is a partial incarnation (shaktyavesha avatara) of Vishnu then blessed Sita and said to king Janaka: “My dear king, only a great, and strong person can wed this girl of such capacity. Arrange a ‘Swayamvara’ (where the brides choose their spouses for their prowess) for her and let the most suitable person in the three worlds the marry her.”
[ Source : http://www.prabhupada.org/ ]
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Candana yatra starts on this day, which is celebrated as well as the day on which treta yuga began. Barley, one of the main ingredients for homa, which is the yuga dharma of Treta Yuga, was also created on this day. Ganga devi also descended to earth on this day. Many common people have special puja on this day. One should bathe in a sacred river, give charity, perform japa and offer barley in a sacred fire, and offer barley preparations to the deity.

Akshaya Tritiya day is the very auspicious day - there's no inauspiciousness to be found today so even checking muhurthas is considered unnecessary, so auspicious it is. Whatever one does for devotees, and for Krsna that person will get more benefit and it is eternal benefit and never lost.

He said one story of a brahmana: there was a brahmana who had a very good wife and was poor. Whatever little money he got would get spent somehow. Also he did not have children. So under the strong request of his wife he went to Vasishta muni to know the reason for his suffering. Vasishta muni told him that in his previous life he was very rich and also had many children. But he was very stingy, he was not even spending for his own children. This is the reason for his being poor, also without children. Then that brahmana asked Vasishta muni why he got a good wife. So that Muni replied that somehow with some reason, he observed that the vrata of Vaishaka month for the last 5 days. So he got a good wife and also the brahmana birth. Then the muni advised him to follow at least the last 7 days left of Vaishaka month, with devotion to Lord Krsna.

Since that brahmana observed the vrata of Vaishaka month for that at least the left out 7 days, he got sons, he became rich, ultimately he got Love of Godhead and went back to the spiritual world!

It is important to hear such a story/pastimes as this so that at least by hearing this, we engage ourselves in the service of Guru, the Vaishnavas and Krsna. Thus becoming inspired to always render service the devotee is always the beneficiary of such interaction with the Vaishnavas, one's Guru and Lord Sri Krishna.

Akshaya tritiiyaa: (from the Calendar of the Madhwa Vaishnavas)
The third day in the bright fortnight of vaishaakha is the day of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Parashurama. The icon is decorated with an axe, to depict Him in a heroic pose.

This coincides with the anniversary of passing of Sri Vijayadhvaja Tiirtha, the sixth piiThaadhipati in the lineage of Sri Pejawar Mutt. He is famous for his commentary upon the Srimad Bhaagavata epic. He lived in the 15th century and his vrindavana (samadhi) is in Kanva Tiirtha. There is also a pipal tree by the side of the vrindavana under which he is believed to have written his commentary.

During the tenure of Sri Pejawar MaTha a special festival is arranged in Sri Krishna Mutt on this day and the akshaya paatra given by Sri Madhva is offered a special puuja. This akshaya patra is said to have been given by the Sun god, it is the same pot that mother Draupadi used to cook in. It is said that from the time of turning it upwards for use on a day the pot will provide unlimited amounts of foodstuffs for the satisfaction of the Lord. There is a story in this connection wherein the angry sage Durvasas came to Draupadi demanding foods:

On the Pandavas return to Hastinapur they resided in the palace created for them by the demon Maya Danava. Mayasura built this palace out of gratitude to Krsna for saving him in the forest fire in the Khandava Forest where he was hiding when Agni devoured it. He also presented Bhima with a magnificent fighting club. After the Rajasurya sacrifice was performed, Duryodhana, being always envious of the Pandavas, came to the mansion created by Maya Danava's illusions. Bewildered by illusions of many kinds, Duryodhana mistook the solid floor for water and lifted the end of his garment to walk forward on what he thought was shallow water but it was solid floor, and after a few more steps he fell into waist deep water mistaking it for a solid floor. Proud Duryodhana, who was wearing his crown and a costly necklace was very angry, but when he fell into the water everyone laughed, especially Draupadi and Bhima. Yudhisthira tried to check the laughing of all the women in the palace, by raising his hand and his glances. Lord Krsna however, encouraged it by the suggestive gestures of His eyebrows. Humiliated and swearing revenge, Duryodhana turned his face downwards and went back to Hastinapura.

The Kurus then made a conspiracy to trick Yudhisthira into a gambling match by which the Kauravas (Kurus) could cheat the Pandavas out of everything with the dice made from Sakuni's bones. During the match Yudhisthira lost his kingdom, wealth, jewelry, clothing and finally even gambled and lost his wife. When Dussasana went to fetch the chaste Draupadi, she said she couldn't come to the assembly as she was undergoing her monthly period, and was only dressed in one piece of cloth (a simple 'sari'). Draupadi had a beautiful bunch of hair which was sanctified at the ceremonial Rajasurya Yajna, but Dussasana defiled that sacred lady and grabbed her by her hair just to insult her. When he started to pull off her sari just to make her naked, Draupadi, realizing that she had no hope of help from her husbands as they too had been lost, by Yudhisthira being tricked into upholding mundane moralistic codes and now had no free will to act (though Bhima was transcendentally situated from such sentimental codes his brothers tried to make him restrained to follow Yudhisthira's mood and etiquette). Draupadi then cent per cent, completely surrendered to Krsna, and to the amazement of the assembly, as much 'sari' as Dussasana took from her body, as much again replaced it. Lord Krsna, though protecting his surrendered devotee, decided that for their sinful behaviour the Kurus would be inevitably killed at the Battle of Kuruksetra and all of their wives would too loosen their hair in public, but this time as widows.

When the Pandavas were exiled to the forest for twelve years after a second gambling match, the Kurus made a clause, that after the completion of twelve years the Pandavas had then to spend one year incognito, thus making thirteen years all told. If, during the final year the Pandavas's whereabouts were discovered, they again had to spend another twelve years in the forest.

Because the Pandavas were concerned how to feed the 'brahmanas' who accompanied them to the forest, Srimati Draupadi Devi was given a pot by the sun god called by Aksayapatra. This pot would never be empty until Draupadi had taken her meal and turned the pot upside down. Then it would produce no more for that day. Once Draupadi had finished cooking and had just taken her meal when the Muni Durvasas arrived with many of his disciples. The angry sage Durvasas and his disciples had secretly been asked to go there by the Kauravas who knew that by this time Draupadi would have taken her meal, and if she was unable to offer them anything to eat, she would incur the wrath of Durvasa. Durvasas and his disciples went to the river to bathe and freshen up before taking their meal. Draupadi, full of anxiety, prayed to Lord Krsna to help her. Lord Sri Krsna then told Draupadi that if there was a morsel of food left He would be satisfied if that were offered by Draupadi, His pure devotee with love to Him. Seeing a fragment of spinach stuck to the side of the pot, Krsna asked for it, Draupadi offered it to Krsna, and simply by eating that morsel of foodstuffs, all of Durvasas' men and Durvasa himself became completely full and satisfied, and out of embarrassment slipped away and didn't come to demand a meal from Draupadi as the sinful Duryodhana had arranged for them to do.
[ Source : http://www.salagram.net ]
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Lord Nityananda is the eternal associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rarely is the name Nimai (Caitanya Mahaprabhu) taken without that of Nitai (Lord Nityananda). Mahaprabhu cannot be approached or understood without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who is the cardinal guru of all the universes and serves as an intermediary between Mahaprabhu and His devotees. He is the Lord's active principle in both creation and lila. He is the second body of the Lord, manifesting as Balaram to Sri Krishna, Lakshman to Sri Ram and Nityananda Prabhu to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All other forms and expansions of the Lord emanate from this second body. Nityananda Prabhu is thus the source of Sankarshan, all the Vishu's, and Ananta Sesa. As Vishnu tattva He and Advaita Acarya are worshipped in the same category as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the manifested earthly lila, Nityananda Prabhu is senior to Caitanya Mahaprabhu by more than a decade. He is statuesque, like His Ma!ster, with the whitish complexion of Lord Balarama. His garments resemble a cluster of blue lotus flowers and His effulgence is said to surpass the grandeur of a rising moon at sunset. He has a deep melodious voice, constant singing the glories of Sri Krishna and carries a red stick with benedictions for the devotees, but feared by the demoniac. He has the carefree mood of a wild avadhuta, so absorbed is He in the love of Godhead, and no one knows what He will do next.Nityananda Prabhu was born in Ekacakra, a small village in present West Bengal, around the year 1474. His birthsite is commemorated by a temple named Garbhasva and is visited by throngs of pilgrims today. His father, Hadai Ojha and mother Padmavati, were pious Brahmans originally from Mithila. Nityananda Prabhu was born on the auspicious thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Maga. As a child, Nitai (as Nityananda Prabhu was called), loved to enact the pastimes of Sri Krishna or Lord Rama. He did this so authoritatively and with such rapture, that the entire village would be immersed in the love of Godhead.Nitai's favorite part was that of Lakshman, and He enacted it with so many apparently authentic scenes not described in the Ramayana, that people would wonder if He was making it up or actually relishing His own pastimes. The village of Ekacakra was completely absorbed in the love of little Nitai, where He spend the first 12 years of his earthly life. In the 13th year, a travelling sannyasi, said to be the famous Lakshmipati Tirtha, enchanted by Nitai"s devotion and service, requested Nitai from his parents, as a travelling companion. His parents, bound by Vedic culture, could not refuse the request of a guest and reluctantly parted with Nitai. However, devastated by the separation with Nitai, that Hadai Pandit soon gave up his life.Nitai traveled with Lakshmipati Tirtha for about 20 years, during which He visited all the holy places in the country, reminiscent of the manner that Balarama traveled while the battle at Kurukshetra raged on. Nitai is said to be later on initiated by Lakshmipati Tirtha. He also associated with another of Lakshmipati Tirtha's famous disciple, Madhavendra Puri, who although his godbrother, was revered by Nitai was as a spiritual master. Madhavendra Puri is famous for establishing the sweet truth of Madhurya-rasa which later become an integral part of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Among the other disciples of Madhavendra Puri is Advaita Acarya, and Isavara Puri (the spiritual master of Caitanya Mahaprabhu).Nityananda Prabhu met Caitanya Mahaprabhu in 1506, when He was 32 years old and the Lord 20 years. It is said that when Nityananda Prabhu reached the land of Nadia, He hid in the house of Nandanacarya, to heighten the ecstasy of meeting through separation. Caitanya Mahaprabhu aware of the arrival of His eternal associate dispatched Haridas Thakur and Srivas Pandit to search out Nitai, but they failed. Finally unable to bear the separation any longer, Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself went directly to Nityananda Prabhu and the ecstasy of the meeting was so transcendental that every one witnessing it were awed by the sublime experience. A temple called Sri Gaura-Nityananda commemorates this meeting place in Nadia.Nityananda Prabhu in His role as the original spiritual master, was instrumental in spreading the yuga dharma of sankritana all over the Gaudia desh (Bengal, Orrisa). His mercy knew no bounds, and people fortunate to come in contact with Him were inundated with the love of Godhead. It was by His mercy that Raghunatha dasa, one of the six Goswamis started the famous Danda Mahotsava festival of Panihatti, a tradition that continues to this day, and was thus able to serve Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He extended His mercy to even fallen souls like Jagai and Madhai, delivering them from the sinful lives and protecting them from the wrath of even Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Indeed His mercy knew no bounds, and fortunate were the people who tasted the nectar of His instructions.When Nityananda Prabhu returned to Bengal at the request of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His decided to abandon His avadhuta status and become a grahastha (householder). He married Jahnava devi and Vasudha, the two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhel, who the brother of Gauridasa Pandit (an intimate associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the spiritual master of the famous Shyamananda Pandit). Nityananda Prabhu had a son (Virchandara) and a daughter (Gangadevi) from Vasudha. Soon after Vasudha passed away and Jahanva devi looked after the children. She later initiated Virchandra, and also became an instructing spiritual master to the likes of Shyamananda Pandit, Shrivasa Pandit and Narottama dasa Thakur. Jahnava devi is revered as a Vaishnavi and she established the pre-eminent positon of women in the Vaishanava tradition.Lord Nityananda wound up His earthly pastimes, by merging into the deity of Krishna, known as Bankim Ray, not far from Ekacakra. Vaishanava acaryas emphatically state that people who try to understand Caitanya Mahaprabhu without getting the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu will never succeed. and one must pray very sincerely to Lord Nityananda Prabhu as the adi-guru (original spiritual master) to be delivered to the Lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The presence of Nityananada Prabhu is always felt in the presence of one's own guru, for the guru is considered to be the living manifestation of Nityananda Prabhu's love and mercy, and his sakti (power) is what gives the disciple the ability to perform devotional service and experience spiritual bliss.[Source : http://www.salagram.net ]

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