Monday, November 30, 2009

The Gospel Of The Dirty Hand

When Hindu society was dominated by the upper strata of society-the rich, the royal class and the priests, Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan spread the true catholic spirit of Hinduism among the have-nots, the exploited and the fallen. He taught the dignity of labour to the upper classes, not by precepts alone but by example as well. Hinduism had declined because the followers had cultivated dislike for manual labour and condemned and degraded those who worked physically, to meet the most important needs of society.

The scavengers were considered dirty and the labourers were looked upon as inferior. When Hinduism was on the verge of collapse, Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan saved it as he worked with the workers, volunteers and labourers.

During His Vana-Vicharan, He served a saint who was on death-bed and saved his life. As a spiritual apprentice at Loj, He used to make dung-cakes for fuel. He begged for the saints, fetched water, cooked food and even carried heavy loads on the head over a great distance. He distributed foodgrains to needy at Anna-Kshetras.

He carried bricks on His head for the construction of the temple at Vadtal. Such 32 bricks in the temple of Shree Lakshminarayan Dev are still a source of inspiration to all.

On the outskirt of Vadtal there was a small lake called Dharu Talavdi. It was too small to meet the growing needs of the ever-increasing number of pilgrims as well as the local population. Shri Hari Himself carried mud on His head in order to deepen and widen the lake to the surprise of Narubha Pant, the Chief Minister of the then Baroda state.

So great was the enthusiasm of Shree Hari that He even embraced workers whose clothes were already splashed with mud! This soiled His valuable dress, with variegated muddy designs. At times Shree Hari used to stand on a large brick and survey the work of excavation.

As the work of excavation by Harijans (untouchables) of Chhani (near Baroda), was most outstanding, Shree Hari presented the same brick to Teja Bhagat, the prominent devotee among them. The brick is still preserved for Darshan at the Swaminarayan Temple at Chhani. When the Gadhada temple was being built, Shree Hari carried even stones on His head.

As a result of constant heavy rain in the village Sarangpur, the central supporting beam of a barn had come down from one side, almost pressing to death a herd of cattle. Shree Hari rushed there and held the beam on His shoulder till the rescue-party came there and saved the trapped cattle!

At times He would cook vegetables like brinjals for a vast multitude of devotees and saints, allowing His valuable dress to be soiled by the soot of kitchen and powder of spices.

He ran to the threshing fields of Dada Khachar to save the food grains collected there before it rained heavily. He used to nurse sick saints personally and wounded assistants (Parshads) with devotion.

And all this He did, though hundreds of saints and thousands of devotees were at His beck and call round the clock to serve Him. He mixed freely with the devotees of all classes, catching them by the hand, touching their shoulders and heads and even embracing them!

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Nectar Of Divine

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Chitra Varta - Kala Bhagat

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal


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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Jivan nu Dhyey

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Marvels of Tilak

The Tilak Mark on the forehead has great significance in Hinduism. The Tilak Mark symbolizes the choice-deity (Ishta-Deva) of the bearer of the mark. Advaitavadins, the followers of Shankaracharya make three horizontal parallel lines with the holy Yajna-ash, on the forehead. This mark on the forehead is known as Tripundra. It is suggestive of their formless Brahman. The Tilak mark of the followers of Vishishtadvaita has a curved lower line which symbolizes the self and the two lines on it symbolize the two holy feet of Bhagwan Vishnunarayan and the red line is suggestive of Lakshmiji.

Shreeji Maharaj improved upon this same Tilak and placed a solid red round mark between two lines joined from below by a semi-circle. These lines on the forehead are made by Gopi-chandan (Light yellow thick chalk-sticks made from holy mud found near Dwarika). Thus He started a distinguishing Tilak mark for all His followers. Shree Hari Himself made such a Tilak mark on the forehead of Nityanand Swami to show to the followers the exact dimension and location of Tilak mark on the forehead to establish uniformity. Shreeji Maharaj has commanded all His followers to make such Urdhva-Pundra Tilak with a sign of round chandla within, with Kumkum.

He commanded, “the solid circular sign of Chandla within Tilak should be made from Gopichandan or from the Kumkum graced by Radhikaji or Lakshmiji.” (Shikshapatri : Verse – 54).

The two vertical lines of Tilak-Chandla suggest the two holy feet of Shree Hari and the red round mark of Kumkum suggests Radha-Lakshmi the divine power, ever abiding at the holy feet of Shree Hari. Thus Tilak-Chandla suggests that we are under the protection of the divine power of God, the divine Brahman. Our life should ever remain dedicated at the feet of God. This symbolizes Vishishtadvaita philosophy.

Lakshmi is also called Shree, which means beauty and prosperity. He who has got this Tilak-Chandla on his forehead has his own unique charming personality. This leads him to the goal of prosperity-both material as well as spiritual. Urdhva-Pundra Tilak is a constant reminder of the ideal of raising the self for final beatitude. Thus Tilak-Chandla is not a sign of theocratic segregation, but there is a great spiritual secret hidden behind it.

Once Mr. Forbes, the then civil judge at Ahmedabad was shocked to see the great Gujarati poet Dalpatram without the Urdhva-Pundra Tilak on his forehead as usual. He asked him about the cause of his sad mood.

Mr. Forbes said, “I am shocked to see your bare forehead without the usual Tilak-Chandla mark!"

The poet laughed and said, “O God! Today I performed my daily rituals and then I sat before the barber for being shaved. Then I had to take bath again which washed away the Tilak Chandla mark!"

Tilak adorns the Satsangi. All over Gujarat the impression about the Satsangi was that, this mark-bearer Satsangi was non-violent, truthful and honest. The impression still persists round the world.

With the influence of modern education and western culture there are two classes of followers, who hesitate to bear this Tilak-Chandla mark. The first class consists of students and the other is that of young men engaged in trade and industry. There are two reasons for such hesitation. First reason is bashfulness and hesitation and the second reason is the fear lest one does not come up to the ideal of Shreeji Maharaj. Generally a person may be tempted to behave wrongfully but if he has the constant warning signal of Tilak-chandla, he would refrain from such behaviour. Tilak-Chandla should be done for obeying the command of Shree Hari and with the clear understanding that it symbolizes, that we are the followers of our Ishta-Deva Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan.

The members of the army and many of the institutions wear a badge for their identification and they feel proud of wearing such badges. They never hesitate to wear them nor condemn them. In the same way, we should look upon the Tilak mark as a sign of “Our Holy Fellowship” and be convinced about the command of bearing Tilak-Chandla mark and feel that, it would secure greater love for our Ishta-Deva. Shree Hari would certainly bless us and favour us.

When a woman marries, she cancels the name of her father and substitutes her husband’s name and feels proud about that. So, since we have established relation with Shree Hari, why should we be ashamed of bearing Tilak-Chandla, a mark of divine communion?

In the modern world many Satsangis have the practical difficulty of maintaining Tilak-Chandla at schools, colleges, offices, factories, shops etc. Their complaint is genuine. Shreeji Maharaj has shown such persons an alternative: at least all such followers can have Tilak-Chandla mark at home and while at the place of religious festivals. This was the remedy shown by Shree Hari when His saints were violently harassed by fanatics antagonists during the later part of the 18th century.

Psychologically speaking, meditation daily upon this sign of Tilak-Chandla will create a permanent mental image before us. When we have this Tilak-Chandla on our forehead or we have a mental picture before us, it would certainly apply a brake whenever we would be on the wrong path of life. Even if we think in this way, we would find that Tilak-Chandla would lead us to all-round progress in life.

Someone may argue : “It would be better not to have Tilak-Chandla than to behave immorally while bearing Tilak-Chandla mark.” There is no logic in this argument. This justifies avoidance of Tilak-Chandla and behaving against religion. There is no reason for discarding Tilak-Chandla which would certainly warn us against wrongful actions earlier or later. Tilak-Chandla is like the signaling system of a railway train. The engine-driver won’t argue that signaling system is not necessary for him as he has eyes to see the railway track. Even when the signaling system is correct, he has to keep his eyes wide-open and remain very cautious and alert. So even after bearing Tilak-Chandla, the Satsangi has to remain alert in following the commands of Shikshapatri. Every command of Shree Hari is for the benefit of all beings. So one should think thus : “By following the command of Shree Hari, I bear Tilak-Chandla with a keen desire to please Him.”

Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Nectar Of Divine

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Chitra Varta - Tiger

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Nirvighna Bhakti no Upay

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Design & Concept : Jnan Baug, Vadtal

Jivan Muri Hamari

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