Archive for the ‘Hindu deities’ Category

The greatness of Saturn part 1

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series of weekly blog posts you can read it here “sharing The Greatness of Saturn” It’s well worth reading before you dive into the story. This series of posts is inspired by Svoboda’s book: “The Greatness of Saturn – A therapeutic Myth”.

Setting the scene

The Heroic King Vikramaditya once ruled the city of Ujjayani. He was an intellectual philanthropist of a king who protected his citizens like his own family and they in turn looked to their king as a father. He was a righteous man anxious to relieve his subjects of their misery. When he ruled goodness and right conduct permeated every corner of his kingdom.

A man of wisdom and insight who radiated the luster of the the guardians of the 10 directions, King Vikrama drew all the greatest minds of the age to his court like bees drawn to a particularly sweet flower. As bees help a flower to multiply so the king multiplied his own knowledge by drawing these experts into discussion and debate on the issues of the day. The king would consult his court of sages, ritual specialists, strategists and pundits and they would extensively deliberate and debate before finally reaching consensus.

One day the king sat serenely in his finely decorated court, the incense coiling silently around his throne. There had been much debate that morning until a question that was dear to the king’s heart was raised: Which of the nine planets is paramount? The assembled court possessed many great mages who had traversed the vast ocean of astrological knowledge and upon whom had been bestowed the blessings and benefits of the various astrological deities. Each planet had a champion represented at the court in whom the attributes of the celestial beings was embodied.

Stillness descended then on all sides as a space was cleared and the experts gathered to each make their presentation to the benevolent and wise king.

Lord Surya

The Sun

The Sun’s champion stepped forward to speak first as the Sun is the brightest of planets. His broad confident face was framed with mane like hair. His steady burning eyes radiated dignity, power and authority. As he spoke his proud and modestly arrogant voice boomed out across the space: “The Sun is superior among all the planets, and he becomes pleased with whoever reveres him consistently. Among the planets he is God incarnate in solar form. Those who regularly and devotedly remember the Sun lose all their worries, disease and poverty – for unwavering worship of the Sun destroys all obstructions and fulfills all cherished desires!”

The Sun wears red flowers and saffron coloured clothes. He carries a red lotus in his hand. His metal is gold or copper and his Gem is ruby. In the body he rules the bones. On earth the Sun rules over Sunday and in the heavens he rules the constellation of Leo.

The Sun’s vehicle is a chariot drawn by 7 green horses. The 7 haritas represent the 7 vedic meters: Gayatri, Tishtup, Anushrup, Jagati, Pankti, Brihati and Ushnik.

There is no reckoning of time without the Sun, and without time there can be no poetic meters, no seasons and no rhythm in the world. The year is the wheel of the Sun’s chariot. That wheel has 12 spokes which are the twelve months. Each month has it’s own deva (deity), apsaras (celestial dancing maidens), Rakshasas (protectors), Serpents, Yakshas (demi gods), Rishis (seers) and Gandharvas (celestial musicians).

Each deva is a divine being who occupies the Sun’s mansion during that month and presides over the sun then. These devas increase the Sun’s own superb splendor with their own divine characteristics. The Rishis compose hymns with which to eulogize the Sun. The gandharvas and apsaras serve the solar deity with song and dance. the yakshas and their attendants worship his rays. The serpents carry the Sun and the rakshasas follow him. From sunrise to sunset the Valakhilyas, the 60 thousand thumb-sized Rishis, surround the Sun and lead him on.

The 12 solar devas are the 12 Adityas the sons of Aditi. The 12 Adityas are: Vivasvan, Aryama, Pushan, Tvashtri, Savitri, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, Shakra and Urukrama.

The Sun’s champion went on to recount numerous tales of the greatness of the Sun. I’ll share one with you: One day the notoriously peevish Rishi Durvasas visited Krishna in his capital city Dwaraka. Lord Krishna welcomed him and showed him every courtesy but Krishna’s son, Samba mocked the ill-tempered Rishi. At first Durvasas managed to control his temper out of respect for Krishna but Samba continued to tease him. Finally Durvasas lost his cool and cursed the boy with white leprosy. On hearing this Krishna went to Durvasas and begged his pardon asking him how the curse could be lifted. Durvasas answered: “Have the boy follow the Sunday Vow and worship the Sun.” Samba did so faithfully and when he was cured he built a beautiful temple to the Sun in gratitude.

The Sun’s champion then addressed the king saying “It is therefore wise to perform regular, disciplined worship of the omnipotent Lord Surya Narayana. By doing the Gayatri the Brahmanas obtain clear discrimination and by doing the sun salutations (surya namaskara) yogis gain health, strength and awareness. Those who regularly repeat the sacred Aditya Hridaya hymn conquer all their foes as surely as Lord Ramachandra slew Ravana in battle. It is to that Sun that I prostrate myself at dawn each morning.”

Next week’s blog post: The moon.

Sharing the greatness of Saturn

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Shani GrahaA couple of weeks ago I borrowed Svoboda’s The Greatness of Saturn from a friend. After reading the introduction I realised that the story is best shared. Svoboda writes: “Anyone who takes on a story takes on the responsibility of passing it on.” He also writes: “Some might call it chance that you selected this book to read; I believe instead that it selected you, that you and it were destined to meet.”

In the spirit of his words I’ve decided to do my bit to share the story of the Greatness of Saturn as a series of weekly blog posts. I’ve set aside the time and space to do this each week on Saturday morning – the traditional Ashtanga rest day. ‘Saturnday’ is also the day governed by Saturn so it seems a fitting day to begin.

A thereapeutice myth

The book’s sub-title is: “A therapeutic myth”. Svoboda’s introduction makes for a fascinating analysis of the fading position of myth in Western society. In order to fully experience the therapeutic benefits of the tale he invites us to create a sacred space in which to interact with the story. I invite you to do the same.

A space for Sadhana

  • Create a sacred space in your home where you will read the story, remove any distractions, turn off your phone etc…
  • Try and sit at the same time of day each time
  • Bathe before you sit, or at least wash your hands, face and feet
  • Light a candle or a lamp
  • Burn some agreeable incense
  • If fresh flowers are available – make an offering of one or more
  • When you sit down place a small amount of something sweet in front of you – this will absorb some of the vibrations as you read or listen – when you’ve finished reading consume this and it will help you further digest the story more deeply
  • Sound is important – even if you read silently try and pronounce the words and names as if you’re saying them out loud
  • Experience the fullness of the tale, enter into it and allow it to enter into you.

About Shani

To wet your appetite I thought I might share some interesting aspects of Saturn or Shani as he’s known. Shani is son of Surya (Sun God) and his wife Chhaya. He’s the elder brother of Yama the Hindu god of death.

When Shani first opened his eyes at birth the sun went into eclipse which shows Shani’s powerful influence in astrology. He’s known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous. He’s also known as the greatest punisher of those who follow the path of evil, betrayal and unjust deeds. He’s dark in colour and wears black. He holds a sword, arrows and two daggers and his mount is a crow.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

Here is the first post in the series: The Greatness of Saturn part 1

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Rock on Hanuman

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Hanuman worshipping Rama and Sita

Happy birthday Hanumanji!

The word out on the street is that it’s Hanuman’s birthday – So rock on Hanuman! Check out Tim Miller’s blog post about this most auspicious time. Not only is it full moon but it’s also Easter! I particularly like this part of Tim’s post: “Hanuman is considered to be the embodiment of what ayurveda calls the ‘three vital essences’ – Prana, Tejas, and Ojas. Prana is the life force, the Air element that gives us energy, intelligence and adaptability. Tejas, the purified Fire element, gives us glowing health, strength and courage, and penetrating insight. Ojas, the essential Water element, keeps us juicy in mind, body, and heart and gives us endurance and devotion.”

The Hanuman Chalisa and other prayers are usually offered to Hanuman during a dawn puja when it’s said that Hanuman’s power during this time is amplified over a 1000 times.

Origins of the Hanuman Chalisa

The great sage Tulsidas wrote the Hanuman Chalisa while imprisoned by the Indian Emperor. On completing the verses of the Hanuman Chalisa an army of monkeys started menacing the city of Delhi. The story goes that the Emperor tried unsuccessfully to control the monkeys with his forces and finally realised that they were the manifestation of the wrath of the Monkey God Hanuman. He released Tulsidas and the monkeys stopped their mischief immediately. Check out the Hanuman Chalisa on Wikipedia.

Hanuman is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He’s worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. He’s a devoted disciple of Lord Rama and also the only deity not afflicted by Shani (Saturn).

A couple of songs for your iPod today: Rock on Hanuman by Mc Yogi and Sita Ram from Narayani’s beautiful 2nd albumn Maatri Sharanam.

Jay Hanuman!

Lakshmi Goddess of Light

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

I know that the economic recession has been declared as officially over but my finances certainly don’t reflect that. In fact things are tighter now for us than they have been for at least 8 years. With this in mind one of my teachers suggested I practice a Mantra to invoke Lakshmi the Hindu Goddess of wealth. The Mantra should be chanted 108 times and is: “Om Shriim Namah”
lakshmi

Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. Being the consort of Vishnu, the preserving principle, Lakshmi also signifies love and grace. While Lakshmi is generally worshiped to achieve success, she does not reside long with anyone who is lazy or who desires her only as wealth.

She is the power of diversity and also the mother of desire (Kama – check out the post on Nishkama Karma for more on this). Though many deities are associated with the purity of the lotus, Lakshmi above all represents this purity. As the consort of Vishnu, she appears with him in every one of his incarnations, mainly as Radha to Krishna and as Sita to Ram.

Find this interesting? Check out the post on Surya the Sun God. He’s the deity invoked with the Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations at the beginning of the Ashtanga Yoga practice.

Surya

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

SuryaThe Sun Lord Surya is the king of all planets. He is represented as a warrior king in a chariot, driven by seven horses that represent the colours of the rainbow. He holds the lotus of purity in 3 hands and grants fearlessness with the fourth. His charioteer is the beautiful Lord of Dawn.

Surya is purifying male energy, stable, selfless, strong and authoritative. The sun god provides vitality, immunity, prosperity, cheerfulness, ambition and fame. Surya is the first manifestation of the supreme principle. he also stands for ritual sacrifice as he burns with a fire made of his own body.

Source: 2008 Amber Lotus Calendar – Hindu deities

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