Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spiritual Calendar September, 2010

1st September: Krishna Janamashtami

The main purpose of the Lord’s incarnation is for the salvation of saints, destruction of evil and installation of righteousness, says the 'Bhagwad Gita.' Atrocities were on the rise, religion had become a mere farce and the deities were greatly pained. King Kansa terrified of his own death had imprisoned Vasudev and Devki, having killed six of their earlier children.

Krishna is an Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Towards the end of the Dwapar Era, in the Hindu month of Bhadra, the greatly fortunate Mathura witnessed Lord Krishna’s birth on Krishan Ashtami.The nakshatra was Rohini, the planets were at peace with the stars twinkling. Precisely at that moment the Lord was born resplendent with a conch, discus, club and a lotus.

2nd September: Nandotsav

Nandotsav in Gokul

Krishna Janamashtami is followed by Nandotsav, celebrated in various temples all over the country. In the morning after Janamashtami or navami, Bihariji continues to sit in the jagmohan showering his loving tenderness to all. Priests and devotees distribute sweets, fruits, clothes, toys, utensils and coins as part of the festivities. Devotional songs congratulating Nand Baba on the birth of Krishna are joyously sung in unison.

Ladies of the house mark the entrance of their homes with rice paste so as to form small feet of an infant. They are always made pointing towards the house to mark the entry of child Krishna and bring prosperity along with happiness.

4th Septemer: Aja Ekadasi is on a Saturday.

Aja ekadasi is on the eleventh day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada (August – September). It is also known as Ananda Ekadasi and referred to as Shravan Vadi Ekadasi in South India. As the legend goes once there lived a great King known for his truthfulness and popular as Satya Harishchandra. The King was passing through difficult times and sought shelter of the great Shri Gautam Maharshi.The sage asked the king to keep the fast of Aja Ekadsi with reverence.

The Truthful King Harishchandra & Taramati

King Harishchandra observed the fast of Ananda ekadasi with utmost devotion. Soon after, he got back his wife, son and kingdom which he had lost in the past. Above all, the King ruled the kingdom happily and went back to God.

The legend and significance of Aja Ekadasi is explained in the Brahma Vaivartha Purana. Lord Krishna mentions to Yudhisthira. Observing a fast on this day cleanses all the sins of a person and is very auspicious being a favourite day of Lord Vishnu and His consort Shri Lakshmi.

4th September: Thakur Ghansyam Jayanti Utsav

Ghanshyami Enacted the role of Krishna in the Rasa Dance

at his samadhi in the cottage near Madan Mohan temple. Bobo describes him," He used to play the part of Thakurji in the raas mandali (a type of popular drama dealing with the exploits of Krishna.) He was very mischievous, spontaneous and teasing and his sweetly compassionate expressions while enacting Krishna's playful dalliances drew me. Ghanshyam recites the padas with beautiful absorption but is very naughty."

He was greatly impressed by the profundity of Sakhaji's lilas and nikunj vihar (dallying of Radha-Krishna in Vrindavan.)It so happened that when Ghansyamji went for darshan of Bobo's Radha-Krishna they asked him for itra or perfume proving that the yugal carry on with their divine play when true seva is done.

6th September: Shiva Pradosha Fast

Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment.Generally people observe Pradosha Vrata on every trayodashi tithi (13th lunar day falling in Krishna and Shukla Pakshas) in the evening.

Worship of Shiva throughout the night, bathing the Shivalinga with panchamrta (milk, curd, ghee, sugar and honey), homa, japa or chanting of the mulamantra (Aum Nama Shivaya) and praying for forgiveness are the other religious observances. At the end of the vrata one must do parana (break the fast by partaking the offerings).

8th September: Pithori Amavasya on a Wednesday

Goddess Parvati with son Ganesh

Pithori Amavasya is observed on amavasya or no moon day during the month of Bhadrapad. ‘Pith means flour thus leading to the name and married women, especially mothers, worship 64 Goddesses for their children's long life, health and prosperity. In the past, idols of these 64 Goddesses were made of ‘Pith' and special delicacies were offered to them. Saptamatrukas and Ashtamatrukas are also worshipped on Pithori Amavasa.

According to the Marathi calendar this amavasya is celebrated as Pola and falls on amavasya of the Sravan month. On Pithori Amavasya, performing Pitru Tharpan or Pinda daan to dead ancestors is highly meritorious.

8th September: Jayanti of Sivanandaji Maharaj

Shivanandji Maharaj

Shivananadji of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh (8th September,1887 to 14th July, 1963). In the year 1936 he started the Divine Life Society on banks of the holy Ganges in Rishikesh with the main objectives of dissemination of spiritual knowledge and selfless service of humanity.

11th September: Ganesh Chaturti is on a Saturday.

Lord Ganesha

Ganesha, the foremost god of the Hindu pantheon is beheld as the most auspicious God of new beginnings and widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

Ganesha has the head of an elephant on which is perched a delicate tiara, four podgy hands joined to a sizeable belly with each hand holding its own symbolic object. One has a trishul, or a trident, the second an ankush or goad made from his own broken tooth, the third hand elegantly holds a lotus and the fourth a rosary (sometimes replaced by modaks, his favourite sweet).

On Ganesha Chaturthi Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, grants his presence on earth for all his devotees. Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi it is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapada, starting on shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon) sometime between August and September. The festivities last for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi.

The festival ends with ardent entreaties to Lord Ganesha to return the next year with chants of, "Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudcha Varshi Laukar Ya!" (Hail Lord Ganesha, return again soon next year).

13th September: Shri Baldev Chhath on a Monday

Lord Balarama

Palwasur was a demon who ruled Palwal during the reign of the Pandavas. He was killed by Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. In his memory every year a festival is organised in Palwal known as Baldev Chhat Ka Mela.There is also a temple dedicated to Balaram near the railway station of Palwal.

13th September: Lalita Jayanti is on a Monday

Shri Lalita Sakhi

Lalita Devi is the prime ashtasakhi of the eight primary sakhis. The most exalted, she is 27 days older than Srimati Radharani. Inevitably the leader, she is the eldest of Krishna’s gopis. Though a close confidante of the divine couple, she is more inclined to Sri Radhika.

An intimate companion of Radharani, Lalitaji is the khandita with a contradictory and hot-tempered nature. Her complexion is bright yellow and garments the color of peacock feathers. Sri Lalita has adept expertise in arranging the rendezvous of Radha and Krishna and their conjugal fights.

Her mother is Saradi Devi and her father is Vishoka. Her husband is Bhairava, who is a close friend of Govardhana Malla, the husband of Candravali.

15th September: Shri Radhashtami is on a Wednesday

Shri Radha Rani or Kishoriji

Shri Radha was born in Barsana, a suburb of Mathura, as the daughter of Vrashbhanu and Kirti some 5000 years ago.The enthused celebration begins with narrating the divine play of Shri Radha with thousands of padas being sung in her honour. The festive occasion is observed as Radha Ashtami 15 days after Janamashtami of Lord Krishna, on the sacred eighth day of the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar, in the waxing phase of the moon somewhere between (August-September).

On the day of Radha-Ashtami, devotees acquire special sanctions. Radharani's name is not chanted overly due to the possibility of committing errors towards her. Neither are people allowed to enter Radha Kunda which is considered sacred. On the festival of Radhashtami, people ardently wait for midnight to bathe here.

The maha-mantra is a prayer to Shri Radha. By chanting Hare we beseech Hara or Radha to please engage us in Lord Krishna’s service. As Krishna is the source of all manifestations of God, Sri Radha his consort is the source of all shaktis or feminine manifestations of cosmic energy. She is thus the supreme deity in Gaudiya tradition, for it is said that she controls Krishna with her love and that perfect spiritual life is unattainable without her grace.

19th September: Padma Ekadasi is on a Sunday

Padma Ekadasi or Deva-Sayani Ekadasi

Lord Sri Krishna told Yudhisthira, " I shall gladly tell you a wonderful historical event that Lord Brahma once narrated to his son Narada. One day Narada asked his father, 'What is the name of the Ekadasi that comes during the light part of the month of Ashadha'.

'Fasting on this Ekadasi purifies one of all sins and fulfills all desires. Therefore, whoever neglects to observe this sacred fast day is a good candidate for entering into hell. Just to please the Supreme Lord Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, one should fast on this day.'

'Oh son, there was once a saintly king in the Surya Vamsha (Sun dynasty) whose name was Mandhata.Once, however, because of some sin in his kingdom, there was a drought for three years. The great sage Angira Muni then said, "Oh king Mandhata, you should observe a fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha. This auspicious day is named Padma Ekadasi, and by its influence plentiful rains and thus grains and other foodstuffs will surely return to your kingdom."

Lord Sri Krishna concluded, "My dear Yudhishthira, Padma Ekadasi is so powerful that one who simply reads or hears its glories becomes completely sinless. Oh Pandava, one who wishes to please Me should strictly observe this Ekadasi, which is also known as Deva-sayani Ekadasi.

19th September: Vaman Jayanti falls on a Sunday.

The Vamana Incarnation

Vamana Jayanthi is the first appearance day of Lord Vamana, the fifth and the dwarf avatar of Lord Vishnu. This is the first complete human incarnation of Sri Maha Vishnu. It is observed on Shukla Paksha Dwadashi (12th day in bright half) of the month of Bhadrapad.The main purpose of the Vamana incarnation was to restrain the demon king Maha Bali and to restore the rule of Gods on the earth. That is the chief reason why Vamana sent Bali to Pathala Loka.

20th September: Lord Shiva's Pradosha Fast

22nd September: Anant Chaudas

Lord Vishu is Anant (Infinite)

Once when grieved Yudhistra of the Mahabharata, was wandering in the forests, Lord Krishna suggested, “Oh! Yudhistra, you should worship God Anant (Vishnu) ritually. Your problems will be over and you will get back your kingdom. You should observe a fast, in reverence to God Vishnu”.

He narrated the story of Saint Kaunidney,who was married to a godly daughter of a brahmin Sumantu. Once at night she saw a number of women going for worship. She asked the importance and they explained that they were worshipping Anant (Vishnu) and that an armlet with fourteen knots, tied on the arm, blessed the devotee with indefinite happiness.

Idols of Ganesha Immersed in Water

On the night of Anant Chaudas large processions are taken out and idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed in water.

23rd September: Poornima Fast

Purnima or Full Moon Day

The full moon day in a traditional Hindu calendar is known as Purnima, or Poornima. Some devout Hindus observe a fast on this day from morning to evening. The Purnima in September is the Bhadrapad Poornima or Bhadra Purnima and is of great importance. The Bhadrapad Purnima marks the beginning of the Pitrupaksha . The next fifteen day dedicated to observing rituals and rites for dead ancestors, parents and relatives. Some communities start the Shradh rituals from the Purnima day.

23rd September: Baba's Punya Tithi

Shri Manohar Dasji

23rd September: Manohar Baba's Punya Tithi

Manohar Bhaiya was born on the night of Akshay Teej in May, 1919 (Vaishakh shukla chaturthi). Maheshwar situated on the holy banks of the Narmada River in Nimar district of Madhya Pradesh, has the honour of being his birthplace. His father was the family priest of Rani Ahilyabai and hence a learned brahman or pandit.

The grasping prowess of Manohar Baba in the fields of Yajurved, Karamkand and Ayurveda was so sharp that he passed the ‘Kavyatirtha Examination’ in Sanskrit with flying colours. In 1935 the RSS requested him for social work and various philanthropic activities. Quitting the RSS in 1942, he concentrated on daily worship of the Shivlinga by 108 belpatras, learnt Yoga from Guru Rangnaath, imbibed Gayatri paath under the instructions of Great Mahatma Kulkarniji and performed many other religious observances.

The great moment of renunciation surfaced in 1945. A saint came to Maheshwar and chanted the Hare Rama Hare Krishna mantra with such enthused exultation like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that Manohar Baba left for Shri Banke Bihariji temple in Vrindavan, right away.

Manohar Baba reached Vrindavan after eight days.Totally exhausted and famished, he was reluctant to beg for alms since he came from a rich background.However the ordeal got over soon enough because Shri Balkrishan Dasji Maharaj was waiting to embrace him for all times to come. 'Charit Vaibhav' is a biography of Balkrishan Dasji Maharaj authored by our lovable Manohar Bhaiya.

Dredging up old memories, I vividly remember that it was Saint Ushaji of Vrindavan who urged me to bow at his holy feet ever since childhood and am eternally grateful to her for this noble act.

24th September to 7th October: Shradh

Shradh is a ceremony in honour and for the benefit of deceased relatives, observed at fixed periods,and on occasions of rejoicing as well as of mourning. The ritual is performed every year on the anniversary of the death of a person as per the Hindu Calendar during the dark fortnight called Pitru Paksha in the month of Ashwin of the Hindu Vikram Samvat. A ritualistic custom unique to Hindu religion, the Mahalaya Shradh Pitru Paksh fortnight begins with Purnima in the Ashwin month. It is believed that the Shradh performed during this period is highly auspicious as it reaches the deceased relatives instantly making their souls rest in peace.

The Matsya Purana mentions primarily three types of Shradh -one performed daily, another periodically and yet another with purpose (Kamya).The shradh performed for deceased ancestors with a single objective is known as Pitru Paksh Shradh in North and East India, Aadi Amavasai in Tamil Nadu, Karikadaka Vavu Bali in Kerala and Amavasi rituals in other regions.Expiating all sins of our ancestors it helps them attain moksha or salvation.

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