Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Monday, December 16, 2013

Annual Report OF LAHARI, 2013

Annual Report of “LAHARI”, 2013

I would like to give some details about what we at LAHARI are doing towards helping ourselves and the society. I thank the parents for being inspiring and motivating to your children. Your support and enthusiasm have helped these children mould themselves into good and noble kids. I am sure they will come to be balanced and mature children as they grow knowing what is right and what is wrong.  I am also confident that having sown the seeds of Bhakti in them, they will grow to spread it and make a difference wherever they go. I would like to brief you about the various activities that we at LAHARI have been doing. It is all because of your patronage and team work.

Conducted Vishnu Sahasranama Competition in February 2013 Judged by Smt. Shanta Vishwanathan

Participated in group chanting during ganesha chaturthi celebrations by seniors and juniors. They chanted
“Ganesha Pancharatnam, Ganga Stortram, and Vishnu Sahasranama. The big honour was that we were “invited” to chant. I had few kids join the sloka class after this performance This means to say that LAHARI kids are making a difference in the life of others and are also inspiring young minds. Good going.

Participated in the Dussera celebrations of White House n the form of skits like “The Akshaya Patram” and “Saints of India” which was well received and appreciated.

Two of our kids participated and won the Gita chanting competition in the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in Ganesha Temple, R.T.Nagar.

Children of LAHARI gave a  bhajan performance for Navarathri in front of the White House temple for Navarathri

Children also participated in the bhajan singing for Dussera celebrations in white house

Senior children participated in the Annapoorna stotram competition held in November 2013.

As part of LAHARI charity drive, we have donated more than half the fees collected to organizations which are doing service to preserve and spread our vedic culture. I have given the website of most of them. You may visit the websites. If you wish to donate to these organizations, please do so. Come to think of it, what we donate in life is just a drop to what service people out there are doing. So, please donate liberally to vedic studies and its promotion.  We are all so gifted in life, let us thank GOD by doing a drop of danam. I am sure all of you are doing charity in some way or the other. Just in case, you want to support vedic institutions which are doing an amazing service towards preserving and spreading vedic studies, you may donate to these organizations below, if you please. The following are the organizations which we donated to

1. Kinchit karam Trust – This is started my Shri.U.Ve Velukudi Krishnan who is doing a great job in spreading shri vaishnavism. He has undertaken many programs which spread and inspire vedic learning. http://kinchitkaramtrust.org/kkt/

2. Kacchi moodoor Archakas Trust – This is an organization which was started under the initiative of Maha Periva of Kanchi. The aim is to support archakas in temples of remote areas. It doesn’t just restrict to pay these archakas but sees to it that they are constantly evaluated on their vedic skills and how much they are able to work selflessly. They have regular exams to keep themselves abreast. http://kmawt.org/

3. Sandeepani gurukulam – Stared by Shri. Muralidhara swamigal. This also aims to spread the vedic learning and also “GO (cow)” samrakshanam. They have undertaken the work of old temple renovation and are doing a wonderful job. Apart from these, they have also undertaken social responsibility in many villages.
Please visit: http://madhuramurali.org

4. Vedaparayana Trust: This was formed with the aim of celebrating the birth anniversary of Shri Adi Shankaracharya, the advaitist. Many homams and veda sadas were conducted as part of this celebration. Many Sanskrit scholars were honoured.

5. Saraswati Vidyalaya Patashala , Mattur, Shimoga: This is another school which promots vedic studies. This is a village which has most of the people talking in Sanskrit. I came to know about this trust through an article in “THE HINDU”. They have their own pathashala which teaches children Vedas, Upanishads and other chants making them good Brahmins. For more details and to donate, please visit: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/tale-of-two-villages/article4581221.ece .It was heartening to see that Sanskrit has its due respect at least in one village of India.

6. Jagadguru Kanchi Mamunivar Trust: Started by an ardent devotee of Maha Periva, Smt. Rajalakshmi Vittal, she along with her husband who are in their 70s are running this trust. Their aim is again to reach and spread vedic studies as much as possible.  My in-laws have been there and have lauded their selfless work and dedication. http://kanchimamuni.org/ourcharity.htm

7. A separate drive to collect money to the temple committee of our White House temple was done and children donated liberally. Thanks to you all.

Apart from the charity to vedic organizations, we also donated to the following

Ashwini charitable trust: an NGO that provides education to underprivileged children from urban slums in Bangalore. They do a lot of sponsorship to deserving poor children. http://ashwinitrust.org/

Sharanya Trust : A government orphanage which is in our own R.T.Nagar premises which houses only 25-30 girl children. These people also are doing a wonderful job. Do visit this once if you haven’t.

So, parents a big thank you for all your help and support. We are all doing a drop service and when each drop in the form of a child comes together, it forms a lake, river and an ocean. So, let us continue this service come what may. Let us hold to our magnificent Hindu Dharma and spread it wherever possible


Friday, December 13, 2013

Stories less heard and said!!

Who was VIDURA??

Vidura is a very important character in the Mahabharatha. He is the embodiment of Dharma. To speak something unpleasant to our loved ones is something which everyone would like to avoid. But Vidura was a person who would say “black is black and white is white”. He never feared to speak the truth no matter to whom he was speaking even if it be the king. But who actually was Vidura?

He was born to a maid servant of Satyavati, (the queen of Hastinapur) through the grace of sage Vedavyasa. He was the embodiment of the GOD of Dharma. But how did he come to live on the earth. Here goes the story.

There was a sage called Mandavya. He was a great renounced soul who had gone beyond the ambits of body pain or pleasure. Once, the king’s treasury was stolen and the thieves who stole them were passing by the hermit, Mandavya’s ashram. They entered the kutir and found the sage in deep mediation. Not knowing what to do, they hid the jewels in the ashram and ran away. The soldiers who were chasing the thieves entered the ashram and found the sage meditating. Suspecting him to a false sage, they captured him and took him to the king. The king was mad at the sage and decided to put him to death. He ordered a trident to be pierced into the sage and this was done. But to everyone’s surprise, sage Mandavya did not die. His was beyond the space of body and since he was in deep meditation, it did not bother him. When he woke up, the king was surprised and was quick to realize his folly. From that day, the sage came to be known as Ani Mandavya (ani means trident). The kind requested pardon and was immediately forgiven for the kind of "stita pragnya" (realised soul) that the sage was. But he surely wanted to know as to why he was punished given the fact that he had not done any bad actions.  What was his karma that bore him this fate. He went straight to dharma devata and questioned him.

The dharma devata said that when the sage was small, he had killed small creatures like ants and insects and was paying for those acts. This enraged the sage and cursed the god of justice saying, “These acts of killing as a child are done due to ignorance and innocence. They cannot be taken as a sin and must be forgiven. Even the shastras forgive mistakes committed by children till the age of 12 years. What to talk of an infant. Since this punishment is unwarranted for, you will be born in the earth to a sudra woman and live your life like a normal human being”. This is the curse which made the dhrama devata  take birth as Vidura. But, though he was born as a human being, he retained his nature of righteousness and justice. Though not a king, he was a great adviser to the king and to the people around him. He was held in high esteem by Bhishma and Lord Krishna himself.

Yudhistra’s Final Exam

At the end of Dwapara yuga, when Krishna avataram ended, Yudhistra was still ruling Hastinapur. He saw that the world was becoming unruly and unworthy to live. Theft, lies, inhumanity started to slowly show up. With Krishna leaving them, he felt a void within himself and a loss vigor to handle things on his own. Yudhistra decided to give up the world and reach heavenly abode soon. He discussed this with his brothers. 

They all decided to install Parikshit (son of Abhimanyu) as the king and leave the world. Having done this, Yudhishtra along with his brothers and Draupadi, their wife left the palace. As they were walking up the heaven, Draupadi felt hungry , thirsty and fell dead. Though the 4 Pandavas i.e. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva repented for her death, Yudhishtra was in total control of his emotions. A few miles away, Sahadeva fell down dead. The four of them proceeded upwards and down fell Nakula. Eventually, Bhima and Arjuna also fell dead and it was only Yudhishtra who ascended to heaven. 

There was a dog which followed them earnestly all the way from the earth. When Yudhistra was about to enter heaven, the door keeper stopped him and said ,” I can allow only you inside and not this dog”. Yudhistra was not ready to give up the dog as it had been earnestly following him. When the dog heard this, it addressed Yudhistra and said, “Oh King, you may well go inside. But before you go, do me a favour. I am been bitten by in numerous insects on my body and am in great pain. Please relieve of this pain and proceed. When Yudhishtra was about to clean up the dog’s body the insects on the dog’s body said. “Oh king, if you remove us, we won’t have anything to eat and will die of hunger. Please find a way for us and leave”. The noble Yudhsitra thought for a minute and said, “Oh insects, leave the dog, you can feast on my body”. 

Having heard this verdict, the dog revealed its true form as dharma devata and blessed Yudhishtra. He took Yudhistra through hell first where he saw his brothers and wife suffering in pain and agony. He then passed through heaven where he saw the kauravas enjoying the luxurious heavenly life. This angered Yudhistra and refused to stay in heaven. He questioned dharma devata as to what kind o fjustice was being done where the noble are punished and evil are rewarded. Dharma devata then calmed down Yudhistra and said that the Pandavas had to spend time in hell for the few lies they had supported during Drona’s death. And the Kauravaas were enjoying heaven for the “Veera gati” (dying during a royal fight) kingsly death they had. They would be then transported to their respective hell and heaven for the bad and good they had done. It was then that Yudhistra calmed down and accepted the verdict.

So, Dharma is the same for all. There is no partiality or favoritism. So, let us be good and do good.
I hope these two stories were new and you all enjoyed reading them


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thoughts on Fear


This is about one of my childhood friends – an extremely talented and popular child in her circles. She would make a name wherever she went. She was a very friendly child. However, in spite of being extremely talented, she was dead scared of the stage.  As a child, whenever she used to go up to the podium to deliver a speech or to enact out a play or to render her dialogues, her feet would shiver, her heart would beat as if she had a pounding staff in there. Her hands would go as cold as dead; her face muscles would constrict making her cheeks red and hot. And once she was done, she would feel as light as a feather. It would always end with a big round of applause.

As she aged, she did mature with the thought that these were just feelings that she had to overcome.  She would make up her mind to be more confident and fearless the next time. Why fear when HE is here? Why fear when she had done her homework? These and many more thoughts would make her more introspective and give her an elated feeling that she was more mature than before.

Come teenage and here she was with more talent in her store. A great mimic, a wonderful orator, an excellent actor, a good singer, a bubbling friend and a very creative person. This is how her people knew her.  She was in her engineering course when she competed in a singing competition. The prelims were held in the auditorium and there she was standing, again, as a bunch of nerves.  Where did the introspection go? Where were those elated moments of maturity? All of them vanished on seeing the teeming row of audience. She sang the song “tere mere milan ki yeh raina” from the movie “abhiman”. She held the paper with the lyrics so tight that her palms began to sweat making the paper all wet.  Though she closed her eyes tight while singing, she occasionally opened to see the audience’s reaction and the judges seem to be very pleased by the song. They were whispering something among themselves and she wondered what it could be. The song was done and again a round of big applause for the song. Few people asked her the lyrics and few others patted her for her voice and “bhava”. She was elated and once again started the introspection with its usual conclusions.

Years rolled by. She is now a working professional in an MNC. And wherever she went, music followed her. She gave performances in office occasions and became a known figure . But before every occasion, she would be one bundle of nerves shivering and her heart beating fast.  It was a known beginning and a known outcome. But did she ever learn? Did her introspection give her any direction and maturity?

Life also goes on like this with fear taking the center stage.But why do we fear?  What is it that goes on in our mind before a performance, while performing? Why is it that even though we are well prepared, we still have a pinch of fear in ourselves? I am just taking one example of where fear can arise.

When we get prepared for some goal, we first start by putting our expectations and outcomes.  A plethora of questions and doubts rises in or minds. And it all begins with the negative thought. Our negative vasanas are so much engraved in our karma that we tend to think all the negatives first. A thought of all positives will be considered as being over confident by us and even elders at home. So, it all starts with the negative thoughts – What if I make a mistake? What if it doesn’t go well? What if I forget? What if people don’t like it? What if no one appreciates?  These and many other questions pour into our little mind, confusing and deluding it. And these result in a physical show of shivering, fast heart beat, reddening of the face, sweating of palms etc. So, are we going to allow this state forever? Are we just going to live with fear all our lives? Is there any way out for this?  THERE IS.

All these emotions are due to our EGO. The feeling of “I” within and associating it with the body is the root cause for all emotions. When we do an act, we do it with the thought as “I am doing it”. “I have to get the benefit”. “It is because of “ME” that I succeeded”. It is this possessiveness that gives rise to emotions like fear, anger, greed and jealousy. In other words, EGO is “Edging God Out”. As long as we associate our actions and the result with the “I” in us, this life is going to be miserable.

Our scriptures, be it the Vedas, or the GITA or the Upanishads, or the dharma shastras – all convey a common message and that is “not to dwell in the fruits of our action”. What we ought to do is : do our work and prepare ourselves for whatever be the outcome. Let us not go into the future and get anxious of what will happen. We have to do our best and for this we have prepare well. When we are ready and our preparations are satisfactory to us, then the fear does come down a bit. I am telling this out of personal experience.

I had enrolled myself for a program in my apartment complex. This was my first classical performance in my apartment. I started to practice in an earnest way. One day, I got to hear Shri. Chinmayananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita- chapter 2, sloka 47. I heard it with great intent. Many a time, we hear these upanyasams and discourses but hold on to the vibrations for a very short period. As time passes, it wiles away and we are back to our old self. This time, I was so impressed by the interpretation, that I decided I had to try and put to practice what he said. So, whenever I practiced for the program, I made sure that I would clear my mind of all thoughts (positive and negative) that would sow the seed of expectations.  Any such thought was “consciously” avoided. Even when I spoke to family members about the program, the result aspect was consciously avoided. Every time my mind drifted towards these thoughts, I consciously brought it back. Oh!!! It was very tough. Hundreds of hooded serpents in the form of thoughts kept hitting my mind and I somehow kept reiterating what Shri. Chinmayananda said, prayed reverently and turned them away. As an outcome, believe me, there was definitely a feeling of calmness and peace within.

I also realized that what a slave we are to our minds. We give to all its whims and fancies with absolutely no control over it. If only we could control the mind, miracles could happen every moment.

On the day of the program, there was a bit of fear which I can say was because of the vasanas; but, surely not because of “not knowing the unknown future”. To my surprise, I found that as I sang on the D-Day, there was no shivering, no sweating, and no redness of my cheeks. The voice came out loud and bold. I received a lot of positive response and appreciation after this program. The feeling was so good – not the feeling of success or appreciation but the feeling of fearlessness, the feeling of “not expecting the unknown”.

Our scriptures are such great storehouses of lessons. They make our life so easy and peaceful. It is we who shun them and make life miserable. If we were to take what is said in a positive way and follow them, I am sure material success will automatically follow along with the spiritual quest.


Thursday, October 3, 2013



Had been to the Ramakrishna Mutt yesterday. The book shelf invited us and in we went to explore the ocean of wisdom. Every book was impressive and each book posed a question to me. The Ramakrishna from the book asked me.."Do you know me". The book on Vivekananda asked me "Have you read me", The philosophical books curiously questioned me "Have you even browsed through me"...and the answer to every question was a "NO". I immediately thought that I will buy all the books and read them one by one. But wait...would I really do it. Or will the books lie in my home library just like all the other books. Is there any difference between the books being at home and here. I would anyway go back to my routine of busy life. Where is the time to read. So, thinking I just picked few small books that would help me cope with my day to day problems. The books on fear, will power and other personality development books.

As I sat rocking in the jhula of my balcony enjoying the cool breeze, I allowed myself to be blown over my the endless thoughts that flowed in and out. I caught one of them and pondered. "Why didn't I buy the books". Atleast, when I see them at home, I would atleast feel guilty of not reading them. Time and again, I would be reminded that there is something for me: something that I have to do for myself , something which will help me introspect and improve my relations, my personalty, my attitude.

All of a sudden the other part of my mind consoled me. "Hey vasu, you are a gruhini, you have a family. You want to abandon your duties and read such things. Where is the time? You are  a wife, a mother, a working professional, a teacher. You adorn so many roles. Where the hell do you have time?. If you keep reading these and introspecting, you think you will do justice to yourself and family? Come on Vasu. These things can be learnt when you grow old. What else will you do when you are old. Don't feel guilty, there is nothing to feel bad about it.

The conflict deepened when the Satvic mind intervened .."Tough you are a working professional, a mother, a wife and a teacher, why do u think u still worry? There are traces of fear, doubt, unhappiness now and then in your life. Why are you not able to balance them? Reading such philosophy does'nt get a detachment from you. No Hindu scripture tells a gruhasta/gruhini to get detached and leave family. Every holy book prescribes that you have to do you duty".

"Oh..yes. ", interrutped the tamasic mind. That is what you are doing!! your duty!!!. When you are already doing your duty without reading the books, why then read them at all."

"Then why are you unhappy? Why is NOT an ever lasting happiness in you.?" The tamasic mind was silent.

There is a difference between doing your duty without understanding what our scripures say and doing our duty after knowing the intention of what the vedas teach. All vedic rituals, vedanta tell us to do our duty but with detachment. It tells us and teaches us about how to do this and what is the outcome by doing duty with detachment. And that is the difference. When you do your duty and expectations, it brings in disappointment due to which anger , hatred, delusion and total chaos in the inner self sets in. And when your inner self is disturbed, it shows up on your outer self too. But when you understand the intention of your karma, and do it selflessly, you tend to avoid expectation thereby reduce your stress, anger which breed positive vibrations. And Success is bound to follow you. So, you see the difference. But, lack of expectation is not a lack of planning and forseeing results. One must plan and execute his/her actions with the goal in mind. You must put in your best for this goal. But the result of the goal must not affect you. Work for the same sake of work with love and dedication. It is indeed difficult but with practise and determination, it surely is possible.

Our great acharyas and rishis have said it all in their teachings. All we have to do is read the, understand, introspect, seek and follow them. The rest will be taken care.

My mind was clear now and I did feel a sense of peace that my confusion was cleared. But if I left it at this, it would be confusion once again. I have to dwell in these thoughts and make an effort to read, grasp, comprehend and practise the rules and teachings by our great teachers. "No time" is an excuse, "NO priority" is the right reason. When we set right priorities, we get the right results.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Greatness of a GURU

GURU - The remover of ignorance

Dronacharya was the teacher for the pandavas and the kauravas.  He taught them the art of warfare - archery, mace fight and others. Though all of them were competent and extremely proficient in their skill, it was Arjuna who won Drona’s heart.  Drona was very proud of Arjuna because of his diligence and commitment to his skill. One day, Drona was so pleased with Arjuna that he promised to make Arjuna the best archer in the world. He proclaimed that he would teach Arjuna all the skills in a masterly way and that no in the world could equal him.

Little did Drona realise that there was another archer in the making. And that was Ekalavya. This boy wanted to learn archery from Drona and approached him for his lessons. Drona turned him down citing his caste as an excuse. This did not dither Ekalavya. He made an idol of Drona and having him as his “manasika” guru, he learnt all the lessons of archery. Drona was totally unaware of this.

Once, when the pandavas were in hunting in the forest, they heard a dog which was repeatedly barking. This annoyed Arjuna and he aimed his arrow in the direction of the sound. His aim was so perfect that the arrow stuck the dog’s mouth and the sound subsided. But to everyone’s surprise, when the pandavas along with Drona went to the spot, they found two arrows. One was that of Arjuna and the other?

They looked around and found a young lad approaching them, with a bow in his hand. He claimed that the other arrow was his and it was his shot that silenced the dog. Arjuna was amazed at this skill and asked Ekalavya about his guru. Ekalavya bowed to Drona present there and pointed to the idol that he had made. Drona too was perplexed at this. This angered Arjuna and was apprehensive about his own mastery now. But Drona intervened and said, “Ekalavya, you claim that I am your guru. Then, where is my guru dakshina”.  Ekalavya was ready to give anything as fees. Drona asked Ekalavya his right thumb as a guru dakshina which was immediately satisfied. This humbled Drona and others. A thumb is a very important organ for people who are learning archery. It is this finger that gives support to the arrow and helps in aiming at the target. Ekalavya had to part with something which was vital to prove his mastery.

Now, a general misconception was that by asking Ekalavya his thumb, Drona had protected himself. He did this to keep up his promise to Arjuna. We would feel Drona did not do justice to Ekalavya. 

But friends, just ponder. If Drona would not have asked for the thumb and Eklavya would not have obeyed, would we have ever known Ekalavya? Ekalavya would have been any other ordinary warrior who fought for Duryodhana in the Mahabharatha war. Would there be any remote chance of upholding Ekalavya as probably greater than Arjuna. That is the greatness of a Guru. At the cost of getting a bad name, Drona lifted his pupil high in the eyes of the world. This is what a guru does. He lifts his student and places him at a peak which gives the student name and fame. All we have to do is surrender like Ekalavya. Have no pinch of doubt : if things will be taken care. Drona did what best befits a guru. He gave Ekalavya a special place in the Mahabharatha inspite of tarnishing his own name. So, not to blame Drona for taking off the thumb from Ekalavya. In fact, after this incident Ekalavya learnt to aim his arrows without the thumb. A double advantage and an added fame.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why Pray?


Prayer is an activity which most of us do in our our daily life. It could be a dialogue between you and the lord or a series of chant praising HIS glory or even a big list of complaints against him.

Generally, prayers are for a specific purpose. A student prays for a distinction in his exams, parents prays for the well being of their children, an employee prays for a good appraisal, old people pray for good health and so on.

What we realize is that our needs keep changing. A teenage boy would never pray for a toy car. Neither would he be sad that his parents refused to buy him his favorite toy when he was 5 years. This is all forgotten. His needs as a teenager are different. So, our prayers keep changing as our needs change.

Change is something that is constant in our life. What a paradox!!!..When success due these changes comes in our lives, happiness sets in. But when our prayers are not answered , we feel dejected and the happiness is gone. So, the happiness that we think is permanent is never so. True happiness always stays. And this true happiness is within us. It is up to us to decide whether we want to be happy or not. Like The BUDDHA said, desires are the root cause of misery, we are happier when we reduce our desires. Having said this, why do we need to pray. We pray for our desires to get fulfilled. When we have to give up desires, then why pray to GOD?

This is where most of us have misunderstood as to what prayers are. A prayer is not for asking favors. It is not a wishlist which GOD has to fulfill. A prayer is a way of thanksgiving to HIM, for keeping us in a state which is far better than millions of fellow human beings. It is asking GOD for knowledge of the self, an earnest appeal to give us unconditional devotion towards HIM and an application to guide us to a GURU who will in turn take us to moksha or salvation.

When we were small, our mothers took care of us, fed us with food when we needed it. We never asked her to give food or clothes. Yet , it was her unconditional love that gave us these comforts. None of us asked our fathers to put us in school so that we got the best education. Fathers did what is best for us. We only had 100% belief that what our parents did was the best for us and no one else could do better than this. There would have been times when parents refused our wishes. We would have got angry and frustrated too. But as parents, they knew that it was not good for us. They had better plans. And all this, we would realise at a latter stage when we are mature enough.

In the same way, GOD is a permanent father and mother, He is the eternal friend of ours. HE knows what is good for us. He gives the best to us. All he wants from us is the 100% belief that HE will take care of us.
This belief is expressed as prayers. This thanksgiving is poured out in our Hindu texts as divine chants. And chanting must be done from the heart not necessarily "by heart". The result of prayers is the mental strength we get when we are faced with problems or success in life. Just because we pray, we will not be devoid of problems. The experience of our success and failures, the joy and sorrow is because of the karma that we have accrued in this birth and many of our previous births. This is inevitable  and we have to face it. No amount of tantra and mantra will help us. But through prayers, we can face them boldly. It is a kind of mental reaffirmation that, what happens to us is for our own good and be it rain or sunshine, we will face it.

If we were to make our own text and thank god everyday, I am sure we will be bored of reading out the same text everyday. But reading our slokas or mantras or other divine texts will give us an elated feeling and an inner confidence. This is because, the chants that we chant are laid out by our great Acharyas who have poured their vibrations into them which still transgresses through various gurus.

But there arises an interesting question. Our vedic texts prescribe various ways to achieve success in life. It prescribed many homams, poojas, vratams for wealth, prosperity, education, and other material pursuits. Starting with Lord ganesha, Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Devi, hanuman - there are innumerable GODs. Each planet is regarded as a deity. Each star is something to be worshipped. Even for a newly purchased vehicle , we have poojas to invoke safety to the driver and the vehicle.

When we say that prayer should be done without an expectation of any return, aren't these done for  a material benefit and above all these are prescribed by the Vedas themselves. Which is right then? and Why are these prescribed?

Well, when a child doesn't want to do his studies, his mother tells him that she would reward him if he did his work like a good boy. The child is drawn towards the reward and does his work. This is likely to become a habit for the child. But if the child sees success out of this in the form of good performance in school, he would definitely give up the reward his mom gave and aim for the higher reward i.e. his academic success.

In the same way, the rituals prescribed by the vedas are to draw man to the spiritual track. It lures man of material accomplishments.Once we are into this fold, we do several poojas and follow other customs which in turn cleans our mind. The poojas we do at home are indeed for material benefit but the ultimate aim of the vedas is not to detain us in this state. It is to elevate man from merely following vedic rituals to a vedantic plane where we introspect and look towards higher ideals in life. The rituals done is a vacuum cleaner that washes the dirt and the dust collected in our mind through several births. Once we are cleaned of these impurities, our prayers will no more be materialistic. We will realise that the higher knowledge is more tastier than mere materialistic success. A prayer will then be for the sake of praying alone and not anything else.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Rama and Krishna - Get your facts right!!!

Get your facts right About Rama and Krishna

A famous accusation on Lord Rama is that he killed Vali from behind. 
1. What right did Rama have to kill Vali when he did not have any enemity with him?
2. Why did he kill Vali in hiding?
3. Why did Rama kill Vali when the latter was fighting with someone else?.

These questions were posed by Vali himself to Rama for which Rama gave justifications.

Vali chased Sugreeva from Kinshkinda without even hearing to his brother's justifications. As a king, he must have listened to what Sugriva said. Sugriva was ready to hand over the kingdom but Vali was not ready to even listen to what Sugreeva had to say. Moreover, he had abducted Sugreeva's wife Rumaa, and had kept her in captivity. According to dharma, Sugreeva's wife was like a daughter to Vali and it is a grave sin to treat his brother's wife is a derogatory way.

2. Rama belonged to the Ikshvaku race. And, Kishkinda came under the preview of his administration. As a responsible kshatriya and an elated member of the race, he had every right to punish a person who was  not performing his duties and to one who was not in the path of Dharma. 

3. Vali was a monkey. In those days, kings went for hunting and killed animals in hiding. Vali was a monkey and his death could be taken as Rama hunting for animals in the forest.  

Another reason I have heard from one of the upanyasams is that Vali always wore a chain given to him by Indra. According to a legend, anyone wearing this chain would have immense strength. and with whomsoever he fought, he would get half the power of the opposing party. In other words, the strength of the opposing party would reduce by half. . If Rama had come in front of Vali and had fought,  Rama's powers being infinite, would not have been reduced to half. Which means  1/2 of infinity which is infinity again. This does not amount to Rama's powers getting reduced. Hence, the boon would have been a false one. To keep up the sanctity of the boon, Rama shot Vali in hiding

So,  henceforth, not to accuse Rama. He is the embodiment of justice and righteousness.

2. Why did Krishna marry 16000 ladies? 

Krishna, the wonder kid and the most lovable GOD is many times in for the wrong reasons. As a child he was always with girls, played pranks with them, danced the rasa lila with them.All these and many more. But many of our own people I mean the hindus, and ofcourse people of other religions, some of them who always wait to find fault with us take this as a good advantage. They see Krishna as a person who always romanced, and married 16000 ladies. Isn't this shameful for a GOD? And we as hindus won't have the inclination even to know the right reason as to why he married 16000 ladies.Is he so lustful? Well, before we answer or feel ashamed of our beloved lord, let us accept that what he has done is for good and that HE can never go wrong. HE is all beyond all emotions. He is the Paramatma and we are all Jeevatmas who need to harbour around him to attain moksha.

The reason for him always with young unmarrried ladies is this.

Married women think that they will be protected by their husbands. Old ladies believe that they will be looked after by their children. Little children think that they will be sheltered by their parents. It is the beautiful , unmarreid ladies who think that the LORD alone is their savior. They relish Krishna as their lover. There is an unconditional love and total surrender in their hearts. And Krishna is a puppet in those hands who completely surrender to him, who do sharanagati to HIM.

Coming to the reasoning for marrying 16,100 girls.

Narakasura was a deadly demon. He had terrified the devas and had bought 16100 maidens from the earth and had kept them captive in his kingdom.It seemed impossible for the devas or other GODs to defeat this demon. It was Krishna along with satyabhama who fought against Naraasura and killed him. Now, the climax. Having freed the 16,100 maidens from this asura, who would be willing to marry them. They have lived with an asura for sometime and however chaste they may be, will this world accept them? Is a man so generous to marry a lady who has lived with another man for sometime?. Even Rama had asked Sita to do agni pravesh to prove her chastity? Sita is a divine being (Now let us not point finger at Rama and make another mistake of accusing him for this act. He did it with reason). Were these maidens equal to Sita? They would perish if subjected to such tests. This is the reason the Lord took them all under HIS umbrella. They were 16,100 souls who were waiting to be one with the Lord. It was his greatness and mercy that he married these ladies and gave them a status in this world. HE is purity personified. HE is the ParaBrahmam, the one who has no attachment to anything or anyone of his creations.

HIS purity of existence also proved as follows. When Uttara, the daughter-in-aw of Arjuna and the wife of abhimanyu, gave birth to parikshit,  he was born as a black mass. Thoug he was protected by the sudarshan chakra of the Lord, the deadly weapon disposed by Ashwattama had burnt the child. It was then that Krishna pronounced that "If he were a true brahmachari, the child would arise". And Lo!!!..the child rose and lived to be one of our country's able administrator. What more proof does one need to realise that Krishna is beyond lust, infatuation etc.

So, next time, if someone charges him of polygamy, let us be bold enough to clear the mis-conception. At the outset, let us answer and accept these facts within ourselves.


Friday, May 24, 2013

My Grandma's Stories!!

My Grandma's Stories !!!

Both my grandmothers were treasure house of mythological stories and spiritual reasoning. My paternal grandmother stayed with us for quite a few years after my grandfather's death. This was a boon to us. She would narrate many stories that we don't get to read in books or hear from others. I shall narrate two stories to you in this post.

First Story: 
Do you know how Gandhari, wife of Dhritarashtra gave birth to a hundred sons? 

When Kunti, wife of Pandu gave birth to Yudhistra, Gandhari felt bad. Being the elder daughter-in-law and having being pregnant for two years, she had not yet delivered. So, in frustration, she hit her womb so hard that she gave birth to a mass of flesh.

Sage Vyasa who happened to be there, filled 101 pots with ghee. Since she wanted a girl child too, he cut the flesh into 101 pieces and put each piece into the pot. In due course, the jars broke and out came 101 children - 100 boys and one girl. They were called as Kauravas since they were born in the Kuru race.
The eldest one was named as Duryodhana. Unfortunately, when he was born, donkeys began to cry, jackals began to howl.There were evil omens around. Sage Vyasa warned this to Gandhari and told her to kill all the sons since she would only have suffering because of these children But the veil of affection overshadowed her and she refused to kill the children. During her resting period, a child was born to dhritharashtra and another lady in the palace. This son was named Yuyutsu., During the Kurukshetra war, it was Yuyutsu who moved form the Kaurava camp to the Pandava camp and supported to Pandavas.

Second story:

2. Karna wanted to learn archery  and master this art. When he approached Drona for the same, he was turned away citing his caste as the reason. Karna in an urge to equal Arjuna in this art, approached Parashurama. Now, Prarashurama was a brahmin and hated kshatriyas. Though a Brahmin, he has mastered the tactics of warfare. His aim was to vanquish Kshatriyas from the face of the earth. Karna in order to become a disciple of Parashurama, lied to him saying that he was a brahmin, Parashurama accepted Karna and taught him the archery skills. Karna became a favourite student of Parashurama. One day, while Parashurama was lying on the lap of karna, a bee came around and disturbed Karna. Karna did not want to wake his guru. He tried to avoid the bee., The bee stung him. He was in great pain. But he didn't move lest he would disturb his guru's sleep. As drops of blood fell on Parashurama. He woke up and was aghast to see the sight. He was very angry with karna and asked him his true identity. A brahmin would never be able to withstand pain. So he doubted Karna to be a Kshatriya (The actual truth). karna then asked for pardon and told him that he was a son of a charioteer (he himeslf did not know his origin). Parashurama was again enraged at a second lie and cursed Karna that he would forget all his master skills when he needed them the most.So, Karna though equal to Arjuna in archery could never get the name and fame that Arjuna got. Two reasons: First, the series of curses he got from may people. Second: the fact that he supported Adharma. No matter how great you are, if you support Adharma, you are bound to lose and get infamy. 

Hope you all enjoyed it

More in next


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time to celebrate???????

Thank you Amma and Appa

Mother - Nature's best gift. How do we repay her. By being one
Father - Child's first and best teacher. How do we repay him. By being one
Siblings - Our own reflections

Recently, all of us celebrated mother's day. And in a few days or months ( i don't know when the exact date is), we will celebrate father's day too. And , we do have a brother's day, sisters day, and of course not to forget the all time special valentine's day.

Why do we go so gaga over it? This is a western culture. The westerners have a reason to celebrate. The kind of lives that the westerns live is not the same as ours. Indian families have a very strong bonding with parents, sisters, brothers  cousin and others. They are a close knitted family.  They live together as one till the time they get married (most of them) and some even after that. Even if they are separated from parents after marriage, the bonding is still strong and healthy. They share their ups and downs with their loved ones. They
always have parents to look up to  brothers and sisters to lean on. But for the westerners, their childhood gets over very soon. They mature and behave like adults too early in life. They separate from parents and lead independent lives pretty soon. One cannot see the close bonding of the family in their families What  I am stating is among the majority of foreigners  There are special cases. So, in order to remember their moms and dads, brothers and sisters, they identify one day where they bond and express their gratitude tho their loved ones.

Now, should we follow what they do? Cant we introspect or even think why we do what we do. We raise a hundred questions about what our elders have told, we think we are very intelligent when we questions our shastras and not find answers, we feel that we need to know answers before we do what we do. Well, why then are we blindly following what the westerners do? have we ever thought of finding reasons for these celebrations?

A mother, a father, siblings, a wife are all who are to be celebrated everyday. Mother is nature's best gift, father is a child's first and best teacher, and siblings are our own reflections  Do we need a day to remember, honour and express our gratitude to them.?

We have to thank god for giving us relationships through whom we can celebrate life.  By thank you, i don't mean, you have sing a Sahasranama to them. Take care of our parents when they need us, give them words of encouragement and appreciation for the little things they do in life. Specially, when they grow old, they need a lot of support and moral strength. Let us be a pillar of strength, This is the way to express our love and gratitude to them.  

Just because the foreigners do something which may be relevant to them, we cannot and should not blindly follow them. why don't we see how relevant it is for our circumstances? When we question the Shastras and our elders , why not question these practices? 

A sheer lack of self esteem, a lack of belief and a dis regard to our customs is all that can be said. We don't respect our own culture. We don't want to give importance to our values because we think it is old fashioned We have got so damned influenced by western thinking that we have lost that pride in our culture. We have to bring it back. And the only way is to follow those easy and small practices which our elders prescribe. Give up these celebrations of mother's day, father's day etc etc.  We are selling our culture to the westerns. It is like telling people openly that we reject our practices  What our seers, Acharyas, forefathers laid to us are precious gems. They are all to be followed. We are the sole beneficiary of following them. No one else will reap the harvest.  So, let us first get started with small ones. Let us not think that we are doing a favour to anyone by doing these. It is for our own good.

I don't mean to say that western influence is bad. As I have pointed out in my earlier posts, they have a lot of positives which we can adopt but we don't seem to be doing it. 

Even birthday celebrations. Why celebrate someone birthday when we all know that one year in our life has reduced. We are indeed one year closer to death.  Do we need a celebration for this?. We write our own name on a cake and cut it on our birthday. Doesn't this seem inauspicious?. We blow candles on a day when we have to light the lamp of knowledge. Doesn't it sound ridiculous?. 

I have seen people spending lavishly on their children's birthdays. If kids ask for one, fine. Celebrate by calling friends and distributing sweets, have some games and entertainment. But make the child understand that this is not all life. Money is not to be wasted.  Take the child to an orphanage or an old age and show him/her how tough life is and how grateful we have to be for what we are. Go to a temple, do a donation, feed the needy, call a missed one , the ideas can go on...I am sure the child will understand ..It is the parents who want the pomp and show.  Just to celebrate because we are growing old is no reason at all.

So, let us be more reasonable in doing or copying someone. A little thought and its relevance to our lives will make life better and meaningful


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Greatness of Vishnu Sahasranama

HIS best gift

Prayer is a wonderful way of expressing our gratitude to GOD and his benevolence. Prayer does not necessaril mean to ask GOD for any favours, it is a thanksgiving for keeping us alive today, for a good health, a peaceful state of mind and the benefits we enjoy than many many under-privileged people. This expression of thanking is done in many ways like chanting slokas, mantras, music, bhajans, harikathas etc etc. Among these, the most easier and affordable way to thank GOD is chanting slokas. Not everyone has a good a voice, not everyone is entitled to chant mantras but everyone has the privilege to chant slokas anytime and anywhere.

All slokas extol the LORD. His/HER greatness. Be it in Mahalakshmi ashtakam, or the ganesha pancharatnam, all of them praise the lord for what he is to us, his/her beautiful form, compassion, mercy, love and many many other qualitites. Among all the 1000s of chants available for us today, one of the most popular slokas is the Vishnu Sahasranama. A 1000 divine names of the lord Vishnu with each name depicting one of his many unique natures. Each and every great saint like Shri Adi Sankara, Shri Ramanuja, Shri Madhvacharya and others have written great commentaries on this.

Why is the Vishnu Sahasranama so important or rather good to chant. ?

When a child returns from school, it loves to narrate to its mother all that happened that day. He would love to tell his mom about his teacher, his friends and the special events at school. If his mom would do something that would make the child happy, the mom would get a lot of praise, a few hugs and kisses for being so special to her child. Little does the child know that all mothers are the same. It always looks towards it mom at times of success or failures. 

In the same way, the Lord is our saviour and protector. He loves to listen to his devotees. When his devotees thank him and sing his praise, he is full of joy. This does not mean to say that GOD has emotions. He is beyond all feelings. The intention is: he wants his devotees to narrate to him, to have 100% faith in his powers. And he is ready to do anything for his bhakta, when we whole heartedly pray to HIM. For example, In gajendra moksham, when the elephant king's leg was caught by the corcodile, it called out to Lord narayana for help. The Lord in Vaikuntam, came so hurriedly from his abode and killed the crocodile to save his devotee. The lord need not have to come all the way from vaikuntam, He could have whirled his sudarshan chakra from his abode and saved the elephant. But the purpose is not that alone. It becomes a necessity to the Lord to appear and show his love to his devotee. When a mother comes to know that her child is not doing well, no matter where she is and how she is, she hurriedly comes to save her child. In the same way, the LORD, a universal mother cannot bear to see his devotees suffering. He is ever willing to help us. All he expects is a 100% faith which we refuse to give him. And that is the cause of all our suffering. 

By chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama, we get our mind cleaned of all our illusions and develop unflinching bhakti.

Who was the first to chant the Vishnu Sahasranama and what are the circumstances that it came into being.? 
There is an interesting story for this. 

After the Mahabharata war, the Yudhistra, the eldest pandava was made king. The first job he did was to visit his grand-sire Bhishma who was lying in the bed of arrows waiting to give up the body and reach his final abode. The pandavas along with Shri Krishna went to Bhishma. Yudhishtra asked the following 6  important questions:

1.Who ("kim") is the greatest ("ekam") Lord ("daivatam") in the world ("loke")?
2. Who is the one ("ekam") refuge ("paraayanam") for all?
3. By glorifying ("sthuvantah") whom ("kam") can man ("manavah") reach the Auspiciousness ("shubam") (peace and prosperity)?
4. By worshipping ("archantah") whom, can a man reach auspiciousness (peace and prosperity)?
5. What ("ko") is, in thy opinion, the Greatest Dharma?
6. By doing japa of what can “creatures” (jantu) go beyond ("mutchyate") the bonds ("bandhanaath") of samsara?

The result of this is the flow of Vishnu Sahasranama from the lips of Bhishma. The beauty of this is that this was chanted in front of the lord himself. The Mahabharata is great in many ways but to us, it has given us two rare and precious gems by which we can attain moksha. The Bagavadgita where the Lord has taken the place of an acharya. The Gita which deals at length about karma, gnana and bhakti is a wonderful dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna  The other is the Vishnu Sahasranama, where the lord is a spectator to his devotee's prayers. A 1000 names of the lord where each name attributes a special quality. Mere chanting gives us immense benefits. What to speak if we knew its meaning while chanting?.

This wonderful piece of divinity can be learnt by anyone. To make it easy, Smt. MS Subbalakshmi has been a virtual guru for lacs and lacs of devotees. Technology is always there helping us in these things too. Google for Vishnu Sahasranama or look for this in you tube. You will find aplenty of this. Regular classes are being held to spread this. As part of LAHARI too,we have uploaded a few parts for the benefit of all.

What will we get if we chant this great sahasranama? Needless to say, we should pray for no benefit. Pray for the sake of praying and not for any favours. Did we ask for good parents, did we ask for a good education, did we ask for all the luxuries. Didn't we get without asking? When all these have come , our needs will be attended too, without asking. He will take care and give what is best for us.  

However, whether you want it or not, chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama gives immense benefit depending with the intention we pray.  The benefits according the phala stuti that comes at the end of the sahasranama are as follows:

That man who hears the names every day or who recites them every day, never meets with any evil either here or hereafter.

If a Brahmana does this, he succeeds in mastering the Vedanta.
If a Kshatriya does it, he becomes always successful in battle.
A Vaisya, by doing it, becomes possessed of affluence.
A Sudra earns great happiness.

 If one becomes desirous of earning the merit of righteousness, one succeeds in earning it (by hearing or reciting these names).

 If it is wealth that one desires, one succeeds in earning wealth (by acting in this way).

 So also the man who wishes for enjoyments of the senses succeeds in enjoying all kinds of pleasures, and the man desirous of offspring acquires offspring (by pursuing this course of conduct).

 That man who with devotion and perseverance and heart wholly turned towards him, recites these thousand names of Vasudeva every day, after having purified himself, succeeds in acquiring great fame, a position of eminence among his kinsmen, enduring prosperity, and lastly, that which is of the highest benefit to him (viz., emancipation itself).

Such a man never meets with fear at any time, and acquires great prowess and energy. Disease never afflicts him; splendor of complexion, strength, beauty, and accomplishments become his.

The sick become hale, the afflicted become freed from their afflictions; the affrighted become freed from fear, and he that is plunged in calamity becomes freed from calamity.

The man who hymns the praises of that foremost of Beings by reciting His thousand names with devotion succeeds in quickly crossing all difficulties.

That mortal who takes refuge in Vasudeva and who becomes devoted to Him, becomes freed of all sins and attains to eternal Brahma.

They who are devoted to Vasudeva have never to encounter any evil. They become freed from the fear of birth, death, decrepitude, and disease.

That man who with devotion and faith recites this hymn (consisting of the thousand names of Vasudeva) succeeds in acquiring felicity of soul, forgiveness of disposition, prosperity, intelligence, memory, and fame. 

Neither wrath, nor jealousy, nor cupidity, nor evil understanding ever appears in those men of righteousness who are devoted to that foremost of beings.

This hymn in praise of the illustrious Vishnu composed by Vyasa, should be recited by that person who wishes to acquire happiness and that which is the highest benefit (viz., emancipation).

Those persons that worship and adore the Lord of the universe, that deity who is inborn and possessed of blazing effulgence, who is the origin or cause of the universe, who knows on deterioration, and who is endued with eyes that are as large and beautiful as the petals of the lotus, have never to meet with any discomfort. 

Wow...looks like a whole bumper offer. Tempts anyone to chant and be blessed. So, let us start learning this at least with the intention of gaining these benefits,  It may seem too long, feel it may take too long to learn, we may be too old to start off. But better late than never.  Even one line or a couplet of lines everyday is enough to start off. Group chanting always helps one to learn faster and easier. 

Let us climb one step. The lord will come down 10 steps and lift us. Let it start as a mundane job, bhakti will slowly flow in. Let it start with a inward force or an unwanted choice. The vibrations and the urge to chant more will slowly flow in. Let us make a beginning today...HE will continue the saga

I would recommend the following website for this great gift of bhishma. It has the sahasranama with meanings too. Also, some recommendations of particular couplets for different nakshatras (birth stars). But please don't restrict yourself to these lines alone. Try learning the entire sahasranamam. Let us try going beyond mere material happiness.

Ram Ram

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What to Chant and What not to???

What are we worth chanting??

Prayers is an integral part of many Hindu households. Each family have their ishta devata, the rites, rituals and regular poojas to these deities are even today done with a lot of devotion and diligence  Apart from our ishta devatas, our religion has given us umpteen slokas and mantras that we can chant. One cannot comprehend all this in one birth. Chants of Ganesha ,Vishnu , Shiva,  Lakshmi,  Durga ma, etc. You name the god, they will have endless sahasranamams and songs, bhajans in their list. Out of the endless collection  the Vedas are undoubtedly a strong guiding force to all human life and is one of the most extolled chants. The vibration, the peace, the ecstasy felt during the chant is something which all of us must experience often. The ups and downs in the chant, the tone of chanting, the length of each syllable, etc are all laid down rules to applaud the greatness of the lord. They have profound meaning and answers to all scientific questions. What our "intelligent" scientists discover today due to their years and years of "re-search", our Vedas have all explained from time immemorial. 

But while it is good to know about all these chants, we should be careful about what we should chant and what we should not. Every chant today has become commercial. All the new swamijis, the new era spiritual leaders accept that anything can be learnt by anyone. For example, a grave and common mistake  which many of them are doing today is reciting the Gayathri mantra which is a very very sacred mantra. This is to be chanted only by men who have had the thread ceremony and have got an initiation from the guru i.e. their father or an acharya. Even those who have got initiation,  the Gayathri or any other mantra must be muttered very sofly and not chanted loudly for other to hear. One must keep the count of the chant in his fingers and with his hand covered. This is the kind of secrecy that one must maintain while chanting

To make things worse, we find this being played loudly in temples themselves, published as ring tones. This is a serious offence we are all committing, the repercussions of which, we will surely face.  While a sloka like Ganesha pancharatnam or Vishnu sahasranamama can be chanted without any initiation, a mantra should 100%  initiated through a guru. A guru can be an acharya, father or husband. It will not have any effect if you don't get it from a guru. Worse, if things are absurdly followed like the Gayathri manta, it will have negative effects on us, our family and our well being. They have in-depth meaning without knowing which we should not venture to chant it. Knowing is good but chanting is not advisable. 

Similarly, the vedas, the upanishads are not to be recited by women. These days, we find that there is a change in this too. While several spiritual leaders may argue that women were once upon a time the knower of all vedas and that they too had upanayanam, shastras do not recommend vedas to be chanted by ladies. These chants are to be told with a certain metre. They have certain ups and downs in chanting, the tone while chanting is important, the length of each syllable etc are not suited for chanting by ladies. Some say that it affects the uterus of a woman. Again, just because the world is changing and we talk about women's liberation, it may not particularly apply to the chanting of vedic mantras. Doing what we think is right will NOT make things right. If we do against what is prescribed in the shastras, then it IS wrong. If  a 100 people do it and claim that is it right under the leadership of a spiritual leader,  sorry friends, it will be NOT become right. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

I am not saying this from my intellect as I am not an intellectual. This is all derived from people who know the shastras, vedas, those who have learned the vedas and shastras in the prescribed manner. And Only those people who wish to protect mankind, will speak out the truth, others will just speak to please our convenience.

So please do not chant or encourage chanting of vedic mantras just because all are doing. Specially, the Gayathri because this is the most popular mantra that is getting changed to the whims and fancies of promoters. So, if you see people promoting them in temples, festivals, and other occasions or places, be bold enough to voice your thoughts to them,  try educating them about the ill-effects. By doing this, you are doing drop service to our dharma. Long live sanatana dharma!!!!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Know Your Ganesha

Interesting facts about Lord Ganesha

Ganesha: The first deity to many, the beautiful child GOD, the naughty looking kid next door and the giver of knowledge, the remover of obstacles. Lord Ganesha is every kid's favorite. His very face is cute and attractive. The elephant face gives him a special aura and this has given the elephant, as an animal, a special status.

We pray to Ganesha as he is believed to be the one who removes obstacles. So, he is the First God getting our first obeisance. Any start to make it good and auspicious, we invoke Ganesha' blessings. There are various kinds of enacting done while praying to this lord. Tapping our temples with our knuckles, doing thopukaranam are some of them. There are enough reasons for this.

Why do we tap our temples with our knuckles?

When Lord Ganesha was entrusted to bring Kaveri from the kamadalam(water pot) of sage Agastya, he took the form of a crow. As the sage was meditating, the crow flew by and hit the kamandalam. The pot fell and water flowed out as the river Kaveri. This upset the sage and he set out to catch the crow. When he was about to catch the bird, the lord revealed his true form as Ganesha. Some stories say that the sage folly and as an act of seeking pardon, tapped his temples asking for forgiveness. This is why, we do the same act of tapping our temples asking the lord to pardon our sins. As we do, we have to say the following sloka:

"Shukla ambara dharam, Vishnum, shashi varnam , Chaturbhujam
Prassan vadanam dyayeth, sarva vigna upa shantaye"

Why do we do thoppu karanam?. 

A rather funny act of holding the right ear with the left hand and vice versa, cross our legs and do some sit-ups. This also has an interesting story.

Once, when Lord Vishnu came to see Shiva, the Lord in his playfull mood, snatched the Sudarshana chakra from Vishnu and put it in his mouth, Lord Vishnu did many things to get it back. Even Lord Shiva could not help him. Finally, Vishnu held his ears with his hands crossed, and started to do some sit ups. This amused lord Ganesha and he laughed out loudly, when the disc fell out. In this way, lord Vishnu got back his chakra. But there are certain things which people do in a wrong way.

How many times should we tap our temples? 

Not too many times. Exactly five times corresponding to the 5 attributes of the lord in the slokam

"Shukla ambara dharam - One who is wearing a white dress"
Vishnum - all pervading
shashi vranam - who is as fair as the moon
chatur bhujam - The four armed
Prasanna vadanam - who has a pleasing face"

This action is said to stimulate certain nerves within the head to catalyze the flow of amrita (nectar) from the sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.

According to shastras, the thoppu karanam must be done only by men and not by women.
And when we do pradakshinam, one need not do 3 or 5 or 7 etc.

Every GOD has a count of pradakshinams. For Ganesha , it is just one. So, you see, He is an-easy-to-please child GOD. Just like how kids are overjoyed by small gifts, Ganesha also gets extolled by our small acts of prayers.

How do we do pradakshinam?

Well, for many of us, it is a marathon race, fast and quick steps. We all do it as a mundane act. Actually, pradakshinam to any god must be done very slowly just like the walk of a fully pregnant woman. And while doing it, we must recite the slokas and concentrate of the meaning of it.

So, the next time we visit a Ganesha temple, let us remember these points and try practicing them.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Rangoli??

Why Kolam???

Rangoli or kolam:  A colourful display of patterns in front of many hindu households  Memories of my mother getting up as early as 4a.m,  cleaning and sprinkling water in front of the house and drag up a beautiful pattern or "kolam" as we generally call it, is fresh in my mind. And if it is festival time, then they get bigger with the "semman" (a red powder) bordering the white powder giving it divine and elegant look. Come margazhi (for tamilians) or dhanur masa as kannadigas call it, the rangolis grow in size and are decorated with all possible colors. In fact, rural people wash their aangan with cow dung and then draw these great designs..

These days, things have changed. People have got busier. They work throughout the day, dead tired towards the end and just can't get off the bed early. Even if they were to get up, this practice in many homes is non-existent as we are welcomed by paper rangolies which are ready made and permanently stuck in front of our houses.

Why is this rangoli or kolam important?

Our shastras always preach us to live and let live. We need to partake or share with everyone, be it human beings or animals. The kolam or rangoli is usually rice power. By putting these patterns in front of our homes, we offer this as a food to ants and other small creatures. In other words, we are doing anna danam - a great danam according to our shastras.

Why cow dung to clean? Cow dung is used as a disinfectant. It wards off certain kinds of bacteria and fungus thus enhancing the cleanliness of the place. Again, we realise that our shastras are so scientific in their approach.

There are many kinds of rangolis - circle kolams, snake rangolis, wedding rangolis, line kolams, dot kolams and many more. Each has a significance and meant for a specific purpose.

As already mentioned, modern times have made these things also easy. We get ready-made rangolis printed in sheet which we neatly stick it outside our homes and avoid the guilt of being non-traditional. This is not right. Rangoli is a must for the house. Only that house where a death has taken place will not have rangoli. A rangoli signifies prosperity and wellness to all members of the family. And sticking sheets can be no excuse for this. Paper surely cannot be eaten by ants and insects. Hence, the whole purpose is defeated.

So, let us get into this habit of setting aside at least 10 minutes for this and decorate our house with a beautiful rangoli. Simple, yet elegant. It increases the vibration of a house and give the inmates and visitors a feel-good factor. Let Goddess Lakshmi enter our house with a smile.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A glance at the Shloka List

Welcome to LAHARI Learning

You can find below the shloka list that is/will be available in the "LAHARI" android app. Please download them and learn it for your benefit.


Shloka Name
Daily Shlokas
Free – Available
Ganesha Pancharatnam
Free – Available
Mahalakshmi Stotram
Paid - Available
Vishnu Sahasranama – Part 1
Free – Available

Shiva Manasa Puja
Paid – Available
Ganga Stotram
Paid – Coming Soon
Free - Available
Lakshmi Ashtottaram
Paid – Coming Soon
Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 12
Paid - Coming Soon
Vishnu Sahasranama – Part2
Paid - Available

Vishnu Sahasranama – Part3
Paid - Available

Vishnu Sahasranama – Part4
Paid - Available

Vishnu Sahasranama – Part5
Paid - Coming Soon

Vishnu Sahasranama – Part6
Paid - Coming Soon

Krishna Ashtakam
Paid – Available
Annapoorna Stotram