Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spiritual Calendar, March 2011

All the dates given below are as per the Banke Bihari Panchang of Vrindavan

Lord Shiva's Tandava Nritya

2/3rd March, 2011:Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Shiva is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha or waning phase of the moon in Phalgun (Hindu Calendar). Along with keeping a fast, cold water and bel patra (leaves of the wood apple tree) are offered to the lingam during the day. The festival is celebrated by traditional offerings such as bathing Shiva in milk, panchamruta (milk,curd,ghee,sugar and honey[the symbols of sustenance]),one after the other in succession; or anointing the lingam with vermilion (kumkum), white consecrated rice and askshata, (symbols of fertility or creation), when Shiva is worshipped as the god of dissolution.

The three principal reasons for Shivratri are:

Sadashiv, the Cosmic Form of Shiva

1] Sadashiv, the cosmic form of Lord Shiva, appeared as 'Lingodbhav Moorti' precisely at midnight on Maha Shivratri. That is why all Shiva devotees keep vigil during the night of Shivratri and do abhishek of the Shivalingam (the form in which Shiva is worshipped). It is the night when Shiva performed the tandava nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Lord Vishnu is Born as Krishna

It is believed that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Krishna, was born in Gokul in the middle of the night on Janamashtami, 180 days after Shivratri. Amazingly the circle of one year is divided into two by the festivities of Shivratri and Janamashtami.

Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati

2] Lord Shiva was married to Goddess Parvati on Shivratri. Shiva without Parvati is an absolute 'Nirgun Brahman' (formless static God), whereas with Parvati, or purna-shakti, the most complete form of the divine feminine energy, He becomes the 'Sagun Brahman' for his dedicated devotees.

Shiva as Neelkantham

3] On Shivratri, Lord Shiva became 'Neelkantham' or the blue-throated one by swallowing the deadly poison, halahala, that came up when the devas and asuras churned the sea to obtain the nectar of immortality. Even a drop of the poison would have annihilated the entire world but Shiva held it in His neck, which turned blue with its impact.Ever since Shivratri is celebrated as a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting us from destruction.

Sri Hari

2nd March, 2011: We have the monthly Sri Hari Kirtan from to 7 pm at Hari Vrinda Dham preceded by the Ramayan Path and chanting of Om Namah Shivay.

Sri Banke Bihari, Vrindavan

4th March, 2011: The Phalgun Amavasya or the new moon day falls on a Friday. Devotees throng to the Sri Banke Bihari Temple on every Amavasya and since this is the holy month of Phalgun, the rush will be much greater. It is the last day of Krishna Paksha or waning phase of the moon in Phalgun as per the Hindi calendar.The Amavasya is also popular as Maha Shivaratri Amavasya as the day prior to Amavasya is celebrated as the festival of Maha Shivaratri.

Shri Radha-Krishna Playing Holi in Vraja

20th March, 2011: Holi. In fact Holi, the festival of colours is a great celebration for the devotees of Shri Radha-Krishna in Vraja. From Basant Panchami the sprinkling of gulal or red coloured powder starts in Vrindavan and continues up to Holi on 20th March; the celebration continues for a span of 41 days. Romantic dalliances of Shri Radha-Krishna, constantly prevail in the nikunjas of Vrindavan, banks of the Yamuna and at the wells of Braj Bhoomi.This ethereal land rejoices with tinkling anklets of gopis and resounds with the dark God, Krishna, fluting in its blossoming pastures.

Highly revered Susheela Bahenji, a great saint of Vrindavan, has requested all of us to reach on:

Shri Radha Rani or Kishoriji

The Lath Maar Holi in Barsana

14th March, 2011: The Holi of Sri Radha at Barsana. As we celebrate the love of Radha and Krishna, madhurya or sweet love translates into ananda and comes the realization that everyone is ultimately a nayika searching for Krishna. Sri Radha above all of the other cowherdesses of Vrindavan and above all the other souls of the world ultimately emerges as the supreme object of Krishna's passionate love.

Lord Balram & Dark-Hued Krishna

15th March, 2011: Lord Krishna-Balram Holi in Nandgaon, is on a Tuesday. Nandgram is the village of dark-hued Krishna's foster father, Shri Nandrai ji. Highly revered by Vaishnavas, the place invokes their devotional service. At the time of gaucharan or grazing cows, in the garb of Natwar, Lord Krishna ventures from Nandgaon to the forest where green pastures, pristine water and dense foliage abound with the passionate singing of birds.

Bhaktimati Usha Bahenji says, “ In joyous abandon, Sri Krishna-Balram along with their sakhas daily go to graze cows, the wealth of their tiny village. Their mother splendidly decks the two brothers, packing chhak for their meal.”

16th March, 2011: Sri Banke Bihari ji Holi at Vrindavan, is on a Wednesday. In the first shloka of 'Pratah Stava' written by Nimbarkacharya ji:

smarami yug keli-rasabhishiktan

vrindavan suramneeymudar-vriksham.


yugmanghri-renu-kanikanchit sarvsatvam.

Acharya Shri exults that Shri Vrindavan is the land where the divine enjoys himself without the restraints of divinity , where Shri Radha-Krishna dally romantically. Herein poetry becomes practised religion as we live out stories from the cosmic world of Krishna.

Sri Radha-Krishna In Vrindavan

He enthuses, ' I meditate upon Vrindavan which is steeped in the play between Radha and Krishna as they move into the mazes and mysteries of love. Vrindavan reigns supreme in the entire mandala or mystical circular region. Each kunja-nikunja (bower), every part of the greatly fortunate Vrinda landscape, banks of the Yamuna, pastures of Krishna's flute-play, market places, lanes and mountain passes are all adorned with Shri Radha-Krishna's winsome dalliances.

Lord Vishnu Manifests as Krishna in Pastoral Vraja

We ought to visit Vrindavan on any day till 20th March, 2011, which is Holi.The in-dwelling Vishnu, manifests in the most beautiful setting:pastoral Vraja and the wilds of Vrindavana. Its forests, groves, bowers, Shri Yamunaji and Shri Giriraj captivate us, making us long to relish Krishna's divine play which is both real and illusionary, human and divine at the same time.

Bobo ji's Yugal Sarkar or Sri Radha-Krishna

Usha Bahenji's yugal sarkar or Sri Radha-Krishna are coloured with gulal on their pedestal, from Basant Panchami to Holi.

14th March, 2011: Meen Sankranti as per the solar calendar. Sankranti means the entry of the sun from one zodiac to another. In Meen sankranti the sun enters the Meen Rashi (Pisces.)

Lord Vishnu

30th March, 2011: Papamochini Ekadasi is on a Wednesday Ekadashi is the Goddes that arose from Lord Vishnu to fight and defeat the demon Mura. When she defeated the demon, Lord Vishnu was pleased and said that anyone who would keep the Ekadashi fast would be expiated from their sins and attain moksha (salvation).

Papamochani Ekadasi is observed on Chaitra Krishna Paksha Ekadashi day in North Indian Calendar.This is the last of the Ekadashi vrats of the Hindu Year.The fast of Papamochani Ekadashi expiates the sins of devotees. Literally paap means sin and mochani stand for the remover. The katha or legend of Paapmochni Ekadasi is mentioned in the Bhavishya Uttara Purana as a conversation between Lord Krishna and Yudhishtira. Charity and fasting are important aspects of the vrata.

Lord Shiva
31st March, 2011: Lord Shiva's Pradosha Fast. Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings one's desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. Generally people observe the Pradosha Vrata on every trayodashi tithi (13th lunar day falling in Krishna and Shukla Pakshas) in the evening. Please offer plain water and bel patra to Lord Shiva. The bel patra or leaf of the wood-apple tree represents the three eyes of lord Shiva and the three gunas.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Vinay Patrika: Kashi Stuti [22]

Raag Bhairav

The Kashi Viswanath Temple

Seia sahit saneh deh bhari, kaamadhenu kali kaasi |

samani sok-santaap-paap-ruj, sakal-sumangal-raasee ||1||

marjaada chahunaor charanbar, sevat surpur-baasee |

teerath sab subh ang rom sivling amit abinaasee ||2||

antarain ain bhal, than phal, bachh bed-bisvaasee |

galakanbal baruna bibhaati janu, loom lasati, saritaisee ||3||

danddpaani bhairav bishaan, malruchi-khalgan-bhayadaa-see |

loladines trilochan lochan, karanghant ghantaa-see ||4||

manikarnikaa badan-sasi sundar, sursari-sukh sukhmaa-see |

svaarath parmaarath paripooran, panchkosi mahimaa-see ||5||

bisvanaath paalak kripaaluchit, laalti nit girijaa-see |

siddhi, sachee, saarad poojhin man jogvati rahti ramaa-see ||6||

panchaachhree pran, mud maadhav gabya supanchandaa-see |

brahma-jeev-sam raamnaam jug, aakhar bisva bikaasee ||7||

chaaritu charti karam kukaram kari, marat jeevgan ghaasee |

lahat parampad pay paavan, jehi chahat prapanch-udaasee ||8||

kahat puraan rachee kesav nij kar-kartooti kalaa-see |

tulsi basi harpuree ram japu, jo bhayo chahai supaasee ||9||

Kamadhenu, the Sacred Cow

In this Kaliyuga (the age of spiritual darkness) one must lovingly serve the Kamadhenu of Kashi, throughout one's life. She is the one who annihilates sorrows, griefs, sins and diseases, being the treasury of all kinds of prosperity. ||1||

The Kashi Vishwanath Shivlingam

The boundary surrounding Kashi on all four sides are the beautiful feet of this Kamadhenu. Gods residing in paradise do service to her feet. All the pilgrimage sites here are her sacred body parts and the indestructible countless shivlings (lingams in which form Shiva is worshipped) are the fibres of her being. ||2||

Kamadhenu,the Cow of Plenty, Pictured with Her Calf

The inner spheres (central part of Kashi) are the mammary glands of Kamadhenu.The four fruits of wealth, religion, pleasure and moksha (salvation) are her four teats. Those who have implicit faith in the Vedas and Shastras (sacred scriptures) are her calves. Only trusting people who reside in her can attain the ambrosian milk of mukti or salvation; the ravishing river Varuna (Vedic deity regarded as god of the waters) is enhancing Kashi's beauty like the Kamadhenu's dewlap and the very same river looks splendid as her tail. ||3||

Lord Bhairav

The punisher Lord Bhairav (a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation) is her horns, and with these horns she forever frightens the wicked who think of doing sinful acts. Lolark Kund and Trilochan (a pilgrimage site) are her eyes and the holy site of Karnaghanta is the bell hanging around her neck. |||4||

Manikarnika Ghat of Kashi

Manikarnika (one of the ghats in Varanasi) is her beautiful moon-like face and her splendour is the bliss obtained from Shri Ganga, which alleviates the suffering of mankind. Abounding with the joys of bhoga (enjoyment or suffering as per our past good or bad deeds) and moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death), Kashi's five kos parikrama or circumambulation is her grandeur. ||5||

Lord Vishwanath & Goddess Parvati Blessing Kamadhenu

The kind-hearted Lord Vishwanath (Lord of the universe, a title of Shiva) protects and nurtures her and the affectionate Jagjjanani Parvati (mother of the world), forever loves her; all the eight siddhis (acquisition of supernatural powers by magical means), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge, music and the arts, consort of Brahma) and Indrani (wife of the god Indra) worship her; while goddess Laxmi, the preserver of the world, keeps looking at her for favours. ||6||

'Namah Shivaya', this panchakshari (composed of five syllables) incantation is her five pranas or vital breaths. Whereas Lord Bindu Madhav (a title of Vishnu) is her delight.

The Panchaganga Ghat in Kashi (Varanasi)

The Panchganga Teerth which consists of five streams (Kasari, the Kumbhi, the Tulsi, the Bhogawati and Saraswati) are her five products (milk,butter, ghi,urine and cowdung.) Whereas 'Rakaar' and 'Makaar' ,the two consonants of Lord Ram's Name, are her creator Brahma and her soul. ||7||

She grazes on the grass of the good and evil deeds of living beings who die here. Because of which they attain the same pure milk of spiritual perfection (salvation) which detached mahatmas of the mundane world ardently long for. ||8||

Lord Vishnu

It has been written in the Puranas (ancient religious texts) that Lord Vishnu put together all his artistic skills and sculpted her with his own hands.

Goswami Tulsidas, Chanting the Name of Lord Ram in Kashi

O Tulsidas! If you want to reach the heights of religious rapture then chant the name of Lord Ram while staying in Kashi. ||9||

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vinay Patrika: Yamuna Stuti [21]

Raag Bilaval

Goddess Yamuna

Jamuna jyon jyon laagee baarhan |

tyon tyon sukrit-subhat kali bhoophin, nidari lage bahu kaarhan ||2||

jyon jyon jal maleen tyon tyon jamgan mukh maleen lahaai aarh na |

tulsidas jagdagh javaas jyon anghmegh lage daarhan ||2||

As the Goddess Yamuna began to swell the warriors of goodness began scorning and ousting the Raja of Kaliyuga ||1||

River Yamuna in Vrindavan

During the rains when the waters of Goddess Yamuna gradually became polluted, the faces of yamdoots (Yama's messengers who bring the souls of the dead to judgement, and thence to their final destination) also steadily blackened. Ultimately they were left without a ray of hope. Who could they possibly take to yamlok (the world of Yama, hell) now?

Goswami Tulsidas

Tulsidas says that the instant Goddess Jamuna began to gush forth, the cloud of virtuousness burnt the thorny shrubs of sins and reduced them to ashes ||2||

Vinay Patrika: Ganga Stuti [19]

Raag Raamkali

Goddess Ganga

Harni paap tribidh taap sumirat sursarit |

bilsati mahi kalp-beli mud-manorath-pharit ||1||

sohat sasi dhaval dhaar sudha-salil-bharit |

bimaltar tarang lasat raghubarke-se charit ||2||

to binu jagdamb gang kalijug ka karit ?

ghor bhav apaarsindhu tulsi kimi tarit ||3||

Goddess Ganga is Like the Kalpalata in This Material World

O Goddess Ganga ! The instant one does your smarana (concentrates upon you by imaginative recollection) you annihilate sins and the threefold suffering of mankind, which is psychological, spiritual and physical. Blossoming with the fruits of joy and our hearts' desires, you adorn the earth like the kalpalata (one of the fabulous plants of Krishna's paradise that grants all wishes.)||1||

The River Ganges Looks Ethereal

Your white gushing stream so much like the moon, sweet like ambrosia and full of the waters which liberate us from death, looks ethereal. Absolutely pure waves so similar to the pristine 'Ram Charit' (the story of Lord Rama) are rising in your waters ||2||

Goswami Tulsidas

O Jagjananni, (mother of the world) Goddess Ganga! If you did not exist one never knows what atrocities Kaliyuga (the present age of spiritual darkness) would have committed. And how would this Tulsidas have ever swum across the ocean of this terrible and impassable mundane world?