Monday, September 14, 2009

Benedictory Aspect Of Maya

“LIFE like a dome of many-coloured glass stains the white radiance eternity”- Says the English poet. Shelly in Adonais, an elegy in which he mourns the death of a young fellow-poet keats. Maya is like this dome of many-coloured glass. The Brahman lies beyond this dome. His attribute is the white radiance of eternity. In this article Lalji Bhagat, a young parshad of the Holy-Fellowship successfully unites the poetry of Bhakti – an expression of the Benevolent Maya with the spiritual philosophy of Maya. He shows how the lure of Maya has to be conquered and made to lead the devotee to bliss.
Prof. R. M. Pancholi - Baroda

Maya is one of the most prominent categories in Hindu philosophy. Maya is the cause of visual universe around us which is the result of the Unknown.

If we think critically, all the visible objects and subjects seen by us are nothing but atoms, molecules, electrons and protons in their innermost motion. We know the existence of wind by the movement of the leaves. We know electricity by its light, heat and the motion it makes.

All these phenomena, experienced by us are the result of the working of Maya. In short, the whole creation in which we live and have our being is the working of Maya.

The territory of Maya is very wide. Apparently Maya is an illusion created by the threefold attributes of being – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Due to the force of these attributes one finds it difficult to lean towards the Almighty, as one is tossed about by the illusion of Maya. Maya is that illusory force, which prevents one from knowing the Supreme Lord, Who is eternal and pure by nature. One can swim across the ocean of this Samsara by seeking refuge at His feet and by knowing Him absolutely.

We are accustomed to see the forms which are in continuous change and not the Eternal One from Whom all the forms are manifested. We see shifting forms as Plato’s dwellers in the cave see the shadows on the walls. But we must see the light from which the shadows emanate. We are so much engrossed in the world outside that we cannot think of going within, where there is nothing but the divine bliss. The only question is to know the real self through which we can experience the divine bliss of God Supreme.

Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, in His very first Vachanamrit has given a very lucid exposition of the concept of Maya. According to this Vachanamrit “to establish uninterrupted communion with the divine form of God is the most difficult among all religious practices. This is the supreme state of mind. In short, whatever obstructs a person while meditating upon the form of God, is Maya. Either it may be his mind or the mundane objects.

This is the sum and substance of Maya. But don’t think negatively about Maya, because Shreeji Maharaj quotes the verse from Bhagawad Geeta in Vachanamrit (Loya – 13).

Daivi hyesha gunamayi mama maya duratyaya,
Mamev ye prapadyante mayametam taranti te.
(Geeta A-7, Verse : 14)

The divine Maya of Mine. (consisting of the three attributes) is hard to overcome. But those who take refuge in Me alone, cross this Maya. (Geeta-7-14)

Maya alone is hard to overcome but when it is associated with God, it becomes divinized. For example, the senses are the byproducts of Maya but if they are channelized in the divine service of God, the same Maya would be beneficial to the devotee of God. So do not treat Maya as a paradox but look upon it as a favourable category. It is the only medium through which one can ascend to God Supreme. But at the same time, one must be aware that the mental projection should not turn towards the gross worldly way of life. Otherwise it can bring about total spiritual degradation.

Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan dwells in His ever divine form in Akshardham. He is the Lord of Maya. If one takes refuge in Him, one would be free from the distracting.

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Nectar Of Divine

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Chitra Varta

..........Part - 1.....................Part - 2....................Part - 3...........

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Whats & Whys - 7

Q-1. What is Prasad? What is Naivedya? What is the significance of Prasad on different festivals (e.g. Popcorn on Vasant Panchami)?

A-1. Whatever is distributed among the devotees after Arati ceremony is called Prasad. Prasad is the symbol of the fact that God is pleased with the worshipper and the devotees. In ancient times fruits were placed before the guest by the host to show his happiness at the arrival of the guest. (Prasadchihnani puraha falani – Kalidasa) When we offer Bhog to Shree Hari, it symbolises our perfect dedication to Him. Whatever is offered as food is called Naivedya and whatever is distributed among the devotees is called Prasad. While eating prasada, the following verse is generally recited:

Narayanprasadam tu gruhitva muktibhavatah,
Sarvan kamanvapnoti preetha saayujyamhapnuyat.

After getting the Prasad of Shree Narayana, a devotee would have all his desires fulfilled and after death he would attain Sayujya Bhakti with the Lord.

Thus Prasad reflects the happiness of God so far as the devotee is concerned.

Naivedya is one of the sixteen constituents of devotional practices. Here the devotee dedicates himself to God. This is symbolized by Naivedya offering. That which is worth offering to Shree Hari is called Naivedya (Nivedam arhati iti naivedyam). According to religious scriptures Naivedya is of five types:

Whatever eatables are to be offered as Naivedya should be admirable and sacred. Such eatables should be such as could be swallowed, chewed, licked, drunk and sucked. (else where they are declared as of four types).

According to scriptures naivedya is offered in plates of gold, silver, copper or wood. They are offered also on clean leaves of lotus or banana trees. Naivedya is kept on the right side of Shree Hari, otherwise it would be unedible and water sprinkled on it is as unholy as liquor. Naivedya can be taken as Prasada by anyone. The Prasad of other deities is meant only for the worshipper or the devotees of that particular divinity.

When Naivedya is offered to Shree Hari the following verses are recited:

Naivedyam gruhayatam deva bhakti me haychalam kuru,
Ipsitam me varam dehi, paratra cha param gatim.
Sharkarakhandkadyani dadhikshirghrutani cha,
Aaharam bhakshyabhojyam cha naivedyam pratigruhayatam.

“O God accept Naivedya and make my devotion firm. Give me desired boon, and the supreme state here and in the next life. I have offered crystal sugar, eatables, curd, milk and clarified butter and food worth eating and chewing."

After offering naivedya to Shree Hari water is poured around the plate of Naivedya and sprinkled on it by a Tulsi leaf or a flower. After this, while moving the right hand repeatedly the following Mantra is recited:

Pranaya swaha | Apnaya swaha | Vyanaya swaha |

Udanaya swaha | Samanaya swaha | Brahmen swaha |

“May this offering reach the five types of Pranas like Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana and Brahman.” The Naivedya while being taken to Shree Hari is covered with a clean piece of cloth and then it is removed.

Sour, bitter or putrefied eatables are never offered as naivedya. When food with sweets which we consume is offered to Shree Hari it is called maha Naivedya. Naivedya includes seasonal foodgrains, fruits etc. so popcorn (dhani) is offered on Vasant Panchami day.

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Talase Chhe Mana Maru....

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bolya Shree Hari re . . . . .

The Divine Monologue was . . . . .

Ah! Thus spoke Shree Hari:
Listen, O devoted men and women.
I have a desire to tell you all,
About the truth related to Me.

My figure and My worlds,
My sporting and My muktas.
Are all divine in themselves,
If you have the art to see.

Ah! My eternal Mansion,
Is known as Akshar Dham.
Rich with all the riches,
Beauteous with vital charm.

Brighter than the brightest,
Honoured by the suns and moons.
Yet cool and quiet is light,
Beyond all words to compare.

Ever in human form divine,
I’m always dwelling there.
Gods find it hard to come,
To me, as hard I am to see.

Under My command are all the souls,
Ishwar, Maya and Kaal.
and also Purush Pradhan,
As God I inspire them all.

Endless are the universes,
Created, nursed and smashed.
But once can pluck a blade of straw,
Until I will for that.

O, men and women, My followers,
You should all know Me thus.
Thus I have laid before you,
The truth about Myself.

But I came here for you,
In form as I am there.
In Mansion-Divine, Premanand says:
Dear Lord rained nectar of words.


Those were the days when large number of princely states were there in India. Quite a few of them used to promote music, art etc. in their courts. Once a group of musicians visited Junagadh, one of the important states in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The Nawab of the state said to the musicians : “Ever since I have listened to the heavenly music and devotional songs of saints of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, I do not like, nor approve any other music.” He advised them to visit Bhagwan Swaminarayan, who was residing at Gadhada.

Accordingly they went to Gadhada and met Bhagwan Swaminarayan and informed Him that they had come to listen to the music of His disciple saints and requested Him to fulfill their desire. Bhagwan Swaminarayan called for His musician saints – Swami Premanandji, Swami Brahmanandji, Swami Muktanandji, Swami Manjukeshanandji. All of them arrived, set before Him and tuned their instruments and asked the Lord what they should sing. The Lord was in a different mood. He suggested a raga which was apparently not appropriate for the time of the day. It was afternoon and yet He suggested to sing a morning raga. The saints were most dedicated, loyal and they never had even an iota of doubt about the appropriateness of singing a morning raga in the afternoon and they started with the suggested raga. Slowly, as the music and singing proceeded, the atmosphere got transformed and the signs of early dawn started having an impact on everybody around. The birds started chirping as they do in the early morning and they started heralding the morning. The group of musicians from the Nawab, got extremely impressed by the divinity and depth of the singing of the devotional songs in praise of the Lord.

All these musician – saints were devoted disciples of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and were also composing songs of their own. The songs they have composed are marvelous pieces of abounding love and devotion. They had taken a vow that they would compose at least four stanzas of a song everyday.

Accordingly, one day Swami Premanandji started composing a song. He described with utmost love and ever-fresh devotion how the Lord came to His place, His inner-most self, what beauty it was, what pleasant mood it created. He described what were the vestments and ornaments that the Lord had put on to grace the devotees. How pleasing He was, how jubiliating He was, how blissful He was! Swami Premanandji composed two stanzas of the song describing the beautiful figure of the Lord and Lo! He was lost! What next? He went on searching for words and he ran into the blank, as if the words were escaping him.

He could not complete his pre-set target of four stanzas, he was so much upset, he did not go for his lunch. His absence at the time of lunch was noticed by the Lord. He called for Swami Premanandji and when he came, the Lord started telling how divine He was. It was sudden downpour of absolute Bliss.

Whatever Lord Swaminarayan told, Swamiji put it in the song and four stanzas were completed. He was extremely happy. Lord Himself told and explained His own Divinity. It was the flow of His divine Grace, His Divine bliss, His Divine Self. It was the Divine Monologue! Master’s Monologue!

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal