Thursday, 6 September 2018

Shraddha ... a ritual above all rituals

How well or how ridiculously it is done today is a different matter, but there is a whole science of what to do at different steps. One of the first things people traditionally do if someone dies is, they will tie the big toes of the dead body together. This is very important because it will tighten up the muladhara in such a way that the body cannot be invaded by that life once again. A life that has not lived with the awareness that “this body is not me” will try to enter through any orifice of the body, particularly through the muladhara. The muladhara is where life generates, and it is always the last point of warmth when the body is cooling down.

The reason why traditionally, we always said that if someone dies, you must burn the body within an hour-and-a-half or a maximum of four hours is because life tries to get back. This is also important for the living. If someone very dear to you died, your mind may start playing tricks, thinking that maybe a miracle will happen, maybe God will come and bring them back. It has never happened to anyone, but still the mind plays up because of the emotions that you have for that particular person. Similarly, the life that has exited the body also believes that it can still get back into the body.

If you want to stop the drama, the first thing is to set fire to the body within one-and-a-half hours. Or to be sure the person is dead, they have stretched it to four hours. But the body should be taken away as quickly as possible. In agriculture communities, they used to bury, because they wanted their forefathers’ bodies, which are a piece of soil, to go back to the soil that had nourished them. Today, you buy your food from the store, and do not know where it comes from. Therefore, burial is not advisable anymore. In earlier times, when they buried in their own land, they always put salt and turmeric on the dead body so that it quickly dissipates into the soil. Cremation is good because it closes the chapter. You will see that when there is a death in the family, people will be crying and wailing, but the moment cremation happens, they will become quiet, because suddenly, the truth has sunk in that it is over. This does not only go for the living but also for the disembodied being who has just exited the body. As long as the body is there, he or she is also under the illusion that he can get back.

There are many rituals to see that you can somehow put a drop of sweetness into such a non-discerning mind so that this sweetness will multiply many fold and they will live comfortably in a kind of self-induced heaven. That is the idea behind the rituals – if they are done properly.

I am sure most of you have heard of runanubandha, which indicates a physical relationship. Whenever you touch someone – either because of blood relationship or sexual relationships, or even if you just hold someone’s hand or exchange clothes – these two bodies will generate runanubandha, a certain commonality. When someone dies, traditionally, you are seeing how to completely obliterate the runanubandha. The idea of putting the ashes in the Ganga or in the ocean is to disperse them as widely as possible so that you do not develop runanubandha with one who has departed. For you to continue your life, you must properly break this runanubandha. Otherwise, as it happens in modern societies, it will affect your physical and mental structure. Children up to eight years of age are immune to these things – nature has given them that protection, but adolescents will suffer immensely when we do not take care of the dead properly, because the energies of disembodied beings are always there and the first ones that they go after are adolescents because they are the most vulnerable. You see in the world today how much upheaval people are going through during adolescence.

One of the reasons why adolescence is more of a struggle today than it was in previous generations is that we are not properly taking care of those who have departed and these runanubandhas are all over the place. It is like loose software everywhere, and it always affects adolescent life most.

But what to do? How do you grind your emotions into powder and sprinkle it? I don’t think it is possible to cut off your emotions.

Emotions are a different, secondary aspect to life. It is the physical sameness, the runanubandha with the dead that you want to eliminate, because this can cause sickness and mental derangement, among other things. Emotion by itself is not damaging. If you had a beautiful relationship with someone and now the person is no more, it is healthy to cherish the beauty of that relationship rather than suffer. But if the runanubandha is there, it weakens your body and your mental structure in such a way that instead of cherishing all the beautiful things that happened between two people, you are suffering, and not only that – it will lead to a certain derangement of life. To avoid that, we try to destroy the physical memory alone. It is not only that you cannot forget the emotional and psychological memory, you should not forget it either. Someone who meant so much to you – why should you forget them? You must cherish that relationship forever.

The holiest of all Shraddhas and the rituals done after death for the upliftment of the soul is to perform the practice at the Baisi Pahacha (the 22 steps that lead to Lord Jagannath Temple). Its a duty and spiritual obligation for our fore-fathers and ancestors so that their souls get liberated to the highest of heavens.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Stages of Death ... a Cosmic Phenomenon

Within 21 to 24 minutes from the moment when a doctor would declare a person as dead, samana starts exiting. Samana is in charge of maintaining the temperature in the body. The first thing that happens after death is, the body starts cooling down. The traditional way of checking whether someone is dead or alive is to feel the nose – they would not check the eyeballs and other parameters. If the nose has gone cold, they concluded that he is dead.

Somewhere between 48 to 64 minutes after someone is considered as dead, prana exits. Between six and twelve hours after, udhana exits. There are tantric processes through which we could revive the body before udhana exits. Once udhana has exited, it is practically impossible to revive the body. Then, somewhere between eight to eighteen hours, apana exits. Subsequently, vyana, which is the preservative nature of prana, will start exiting and may continue to do so for up to 11 to 14 days if it is a normal death – that is if someone died of old age, because life became feeble. For that period of time, certain processes will continue in the body; there will still be some element of life. If someone died in an accident, when the life within was still vibrant – unless the body is totally crushed – the reverberations of this life will continue somewhere between 48 and 90 days.

During that time, there are things you can do for that life. Your experience of death is that someone is gone, but the experience of that being is that he or she has exited the body. Once they have exited the body, you have no business with them anymore. You cannot recognize them anymore, and if they came back, you would be terrified. If people you love died and would pop up again, there would be terror – not love, because your relationship is with their body or with their conscious mind and emotion. Once someone dies, those two aspects are left behind.

The mind is just a bunch of information that has natural tendencies which find expression in a certain way. When someone dies, there is no more discernment, no more intellect. If you put one drop of pleasantness into their mind, this pleasantness will multiply a million fold. If you put one drop of unpleasantness, that unpleasantness will multiply a million fold. It is a little like with children – they go out to play until they are exhausted and cannot go on anymore, because they do not have the necessary discernment as to when it is time to stop.

After death, discernment is completely absent, even more than in a child. Then, whatever quality you put into the mind, it will multiply a million fold. This is what is being referred to as heaven and hell. If you go into a pleasant state of existence, it is called heaven. If you go into an unpleasant state of existence, it is called hell. These are not geographical locations - these are experiential realities that a life which has become disembodied is going through.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

GANJAPPA CARDS .. A Rare Nearly Extinct Handicraft

GANJAPPA CARDS .. A Rare Nearly Extinct Handicraft

These are very rare cards almost extinct. These are made on special order. It takes an expert craftsman to make the card in 15 days working 5 hours a day.
Artworks used on Ganjapa cards are Pattachitra painting. Pattachitra motifs and patterns with figurative representations of dancers and other people, and of the Ramayana, Dasavatara of Hindu god Vishnu, and other deities of Hindu mythology are painted on the round cards.
The card making procedure resembles that of Pattachitra. Layers of glue made by grinding tamarind seeds are pasted on cloth are applied and dried. Circular shaped cards then are carved using hollow iron cylinders. Two circular sheets are joined together to make a card. After drying natural dyes made of lac, limestone (for white color), coal-carbon (for black) and tamarind (for yellow) are used to paint figures.
A brilliant handicraft item to archive for lifetime. These masterpieces can be ordered exclusively at

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Deva Snana Purnima : June 28 Thursday' 2018

Deva Snana Purnima also known as ‘Snana Yatra’ is an auspicious bathing festival for Lord Jagannath devotees. It is observed on the ‘Purnima’ (full moon day) of the ‘Jyeshtha’ month in the traditional Hindu calendar. Deva Snana Purnima is a significant ritual just prior to the world renowned Rath Yatra of the Jagannath Temple, in Puri. During this ritualistic bathing ceremony, the deities of the Jagannath Temple, namely, Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are worshipped with full devotion and dedication. The ceremony is observed in a traditional way with full grandeur and is also one of the most anticipated rituals of the Lord Jagannath Temple. Some even observe this festival as the birthday of Lord Jagannath. Devotees from different parts of the country come and witness this unique event.

Significance of Deva Snana Purnima:

The festival of Deva Snana Purnima holds immense religious significance for Lord Jagannath devotees. According the Hindu legends, it is believed that during the ritualistic Snana Yatra, the deities get fever and take 15 days solitary confinement. The idols appear for public viewing, only after getting reenergized. As mentioned in the ‘Skanda Purana’, King Indradyumna arranged this bathing ceremony for the first time, after the deities were installed in the Jagannath Temple. The devotees of Lord Jagannath believe that by merely getting the ‘darshan’ of their lord on the day of Deva Snana Purnima, will free them from all their sins of present and past lives. Thousands and thousands of devotees, visit the Puri Jagannath Temple for this occasion, every year.

Rituals during Deva Snana Purnima:

On the day of Jyeshtha Purnima, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are taken put from the ‘Ratnasimhasan’ of the Jagannath Puri Temple, early in the morning.

The idols are escorted in a procession that is witnessed by thousands of devotees, and brought to the ‘Snana Bedi’ or the Bathing altar. This procession is called as ‘Pahandi’ procession that is bought alive with the sounds of chanting mantras and beat of ghantas, drums, bugles and cymbals.

The water used for bathing the deities is taken from the well, present inside the Jagannath Temple. Prior to the bathing ceremony, few puja and rituals are performed by the priests. A total of 108 pitchers of herbal and aromatic water are used to bath the three main deities of the Jagannath Temple.

After the completion of the bathing ceremony, the deities are then dressed up in ‘Sada Besha’. Later in the afternoon, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are dressed again as ‘Hathi Besha’ (as a form of Lord Ganesha). A special Bhog is prepared as offering to the Lord on the day of Deva Snana Purnima. Again in the evening, the deities appear for ‘Sahanamela’, to enable public viewing.

Later during the night, the three main deities retire to the ‘Anasar’ House, located in the temple complex. During the ‘Anasara’ period, the devotees cannot see their Gods. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra then appear for public viewing only 15 days after, that is, the day just before the famous Rath Yatra.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lord Lingaraj Temple

The Lingaraja temple is said to have been built first by the ruler Yayati Kesari in the 7th century who shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar. Bhubaneshwar remained as the Kesari capital, till Nripati Kesari founded Cuttck in the 10th century. Inscriptions from the period of the Kalinga King Anangabhima III from the 13th century are seen here.

Structurally, the Parasurameswara temple at Bhubaneshwar is the oldest, dating back to the middle of the 8th century, and the Lingaraja is temple is assigned to the 10th century. The  nata mandir and the bhog mandir of the Lingaraja temple are of later origin.

Legend has it that Shiva revealed to Parvati that Bhubaneshwar - or Ekamra thirtha was a resort favoured by him over Benares. Parvati in the guise of a cowherd woman, decided to look at the city herself. Two demons Kritti and Vasa desired to marry her. She requested them to carry her upon their shoulders, and crushed them under her weight. Shiva, then created the Bindu Saras lake to quench her thirt, and took abode here as Krittivasas or Lingaraja.

The Temple: The vast Bindu Sagar lake is the center around which are located the multitude of temples of Bhubaneshwar.  The Lingaraja temple is located in  a spacious courtyard covering over 250000 sq feet and is bounded by fortified walls. Its tower rises up to 180 feet and is elaborately carved. 

The Shivalingam in the sanctum of the Lingaraja temple rises to a height of 8 inches above the floor level, and is 8 feet in diameter. The Bhagawati temple is located in the northwest corner of the courtyard. There are several other shrines and temples in this vast courtyard.

Worship: A total of 22 worship services are offered each day. Once a year, an image of Lingaraja is taken to the Jalamandir in the center of the Bindu Sagar lake.

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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Lord Lingaraj Prasad

The image of Lingaraja is abluted with water (called mahasnana) several times a day and decorated with flowers, sandal paste and cloth. Hemlock or hemlock flowers which are generally offered in other Shiva temples is not allowed in the Lingaraja temple. Bilva leaves (Aegle marmelos) and tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) are used in daily worship. Offerings of cooked rice, curries and sweets are displayed in the bhogamandapa (hall of offering) and the divinity is invoked to accept them amidst scores of chanting of Sanskrit texts. Coconut, ripe plantains and kora-khai are generally offered to Lingaraja by the pilgrims. Bhang beverage is offered to Lingaraja by some devotees especially on the day of Pana Sankranti (Odia new year).

The Lingaraja temple is open from 6 a.m. to about 9 p.m. and is intermittently closed during bhoga (food offering) to the deity. During early morning, lamps in the cella are lit to awaken Lingaraja from his sleep, ablution is performed, followed by adoration and arati (waving of light). The temple is closed at about 12 noon until about 3.30 p.m. A ceremony known as Mahasnana (ablution) is performed once the doors are closed, followed by pouring of Panchamrita (a mixture of milk, curdled milk, clarified butter, honey and ghee) upon the deity for purification. At about 1:00 p.m., a ripe plantain is divided into two, one half is offered to Sun god and the other half to Dwarapala (the guarding deities in the doorway). Between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. the food offering called Ballabha Bhoga (breakfast containing curdled milk, curd and vegetables) is offered to the deity. The consecrated food is carried to the temple of Parvati and placed before her as an offering, a practice commonly observed by the orthodox Hindu housewives. At about 2 p.m., the Sakala Dhupa (morning's offering of food) takes place. After the food is offered to Lingaraja, the offerings are carried to the temple of Parvati to serve her. An offering called Bhanda Dhupa is carried out at 3:30 p.m. at the hall of offering. This food is later offered by the inmates to the pilgrims as Mahaprasada.

A light refreshment known as Ballabha Dhupa is offered to the deity at around 4:30 p.m. At around 5:00 p.m., Dwipahar Dhupa (mid day meal) is offered. At around 7 p.m., another offering called Palia Badu is placed before the deity. Sandhya arati (waving of lights in the evening) is performed during that time. Another light meal called Sahana Dhupa is offered at around 8:30 p.m. After the meals, the ceremony of waving light (arati) is performed before the deity. At 9.30 p.m., the last service of the day, Bada Singara (the great decoration) is performed when the deity is decorated with flowers and ornaments after which a light food offering is made. A wooden palanquin is laid in the room, incense is lighted, drinking water is served and prepared betel is placed. Panchabaktra Mahadeva comes to the palanquin and returns to his own abode after the arati is performed. This is a bronze image of Mahadeva having five faces and Parvati in his lap. Each of these ceremonies is accompanied by ritual observances and recitations of mantras (Sanskrit texts) specified for each occasion.

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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Services Rendered By Various Mathas in Lord Jagannath Dham, Puri

1. Emar Matha: Provides Chamara and Canopy Seva.Chandrika made of flower are supplied daily.

2. Uttar Parswa Matha : Offers daily Mohan Bhoga (made of coarse flour and sugar) to distribute among the devotees.

3. Trimali Matha : Offers Bhoga during Chandan Yatra.

4. Raghabadas Matha : Offers Bhoga at the time of Ballav (Morning Tiffin), Chamar and Alata seva. Hativesa on the day of Snana Purnima.

5. Jaganath Ballav Matha : Associates with many rituals of Lord, such as Ramanabami, Dola Yatra, Dayanachori, Lakha Vindha, Dussahara. Provides lotus flower for decoration of Lord and ornaments made of flower.

6. Govardhan Matha : Chief of Muktimandap Pandit Sabha and gives final opinion on Niti and rituals of Sri Jagannath temple.

7. Badachhata Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva,Kirtan at the time of daily Puja, and Chandan Yatra, to recite some traditional songs at the time of Mangal arati and Bada singhar.

8. Radhakanta Matha : Cleaning of Gundicha temple before Car Festival.

9. Jhanjapita Matha : Offers seva and puja at the lotus feet of Lord inside the compound wall of the temple.

10. Bada Odia Matha : Provides Ballav Bhoga (Morning Tiffin) of Lord. Alata and Chamar Seva.

11. Dakhinaparswa Matha : Canopy Seva and Chamar Seva.

12. Revasa Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

13. Gangamata Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

14. Radhavallav Math a : Alata and Chamar Seva.

15. Ramji Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

16. Sana Chhata Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

17. Goswami Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

18. Venkatachari Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

19. Nua Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

20. Mangu Matha : Alata and Chamar Seva.

21. Labanikhia Matha : Sports of Lord during Krishna Janma.

22. Kapadia Matha : Provides dress materials.

23. Dasavatar Matha : Cultural function

24. Sunagoswami Matha : Flower garlands for decoration.

25. Sivatirtha Matha : Provides tooth brush for Lord.

26. Mahiprakash Matha : Provides tooth brush.

27. Darpanarayan Matha : Offers flower garlands.

28. Gopaltirtha Matha : Hati Vesha for Lord Balabhadra.

29. Rani Matha : Provides decorated Tahia

30. Nandimata Matha : To stick jari in patta

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