The last 9 months have been extremely testing of human patience for many and a blessing in disguise for some. Lets continue to seek prayers from the great saints of the past.
First Blog in almost 4 years
Its been a long time coming. I am hoping to clean up and update this site. Till date, this website has reached at least one person in over 120 countries per Google Analytics with a total of 7000+ unique visitors. While this is not an incredibly high number, I sincerely believe that every single second spent on this site does some good to the soul of the viewers, even if it is just a casual view of a single page. This spread of positiveness is where I consider the impact to be the highest. I don't market this website to anyone. If someone brings up the topic of spirituality, I like bringing up my website only then. Over 4000 of the visitors are from India, followed by the US and surprisingly, the third largest group of visitors are from Brazil, which tells me that there is a lot of curiosity about Hinduism in Brazil. Fantastic.
Wish you all a very happy and properous deepavali. Festivals such as these make us who we are.. lets try and use these occasions to build bonding, friendship and love among our famiies, friends and others.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
A new link to a live darshan of the Kashi Vishwanath temple has been posted. I will also add it in the other relevant sections.
A Very Special Day - 3rd September
I was so glad to see this email from someone that I have tremendous amount of respect and regard for - I have never had a chance to meet this amazing man or his team which has done eons of spiritual service but here he was, finding this website on his own and getting in touch and inspiring me to do better:
Dear Friend : You have created one of the most informative and absorbing web site for " the clueless anglicized urban Hindus" . You have stored treasures there . May the most compassionate dhivya dampathis bless you with long life and good health to continue these most appreciated Kaimkaryams for the urban elite rushing along totally unaware of our ancient and rich traditions . Yet, there are so many longing to know more about them and do not have the access ; better still are those , who are trying to live a balanced life that benefits from the scientific culture and spiritual pursuits , wherever they happen to be. Having grown up in the rich tradition bound Tanjore District housing world class temples , where great souls worshipped and where legendary NaadhOpAsakAs thrived , I was " away " from them as I advanced my Scientific nad Engineering education at Chennai , Bangalore and Cambridge, Massachusetts . Then I went on to a satisfying global career at IBM Research . Like Yourself, I felt that so many brilliant minds from our PuNya BhUmi are excelling in their fields all over the world but have not much of an appreciation for our spiritual treasures . It is not that they ran away from them but climbing over the hills of Sanskrit language and vernaculars in which these Sri Kosams are treasured is an arduous task . This is when the web sites like Sundarasimham.org ,ahobilavalli.org , srihayagrivan.org , Srialamelumanga.org , Nadhopasana.org , thiruppavai.org were started . Our team is made up of residents of India , USA , Australia , Singapore with similar interests as expatriates wishing to explore these treasures but also passing it on to the family and friends . We are all very happy to see your reference to the Sundarasimham ebooks in your web site . Thank you very much . The style chosen for introducing them is deliberately" casual"so that the would be readers wont be overwhelmed . Of late , we have moved onto a more formal style in our ebook series since there is no way to use casual style for advanced philosophical treasures . Gaining spiritual strength from their hikes , the readers are slowly starting their climbs to experience the anubhavams of great AchAryAs ,who have bequeathed all these treasures to us as inheritors . Thank you again for your tireless efforts to assemble all these contents and providing links for the searching souls ,NamO SrI HayagrIvAya,V.Sadagopan "
Thank you god
An old presentation that I loved - Reproducing it here.
Happy Birthday - India
India will be celebrating its Independence day this week. to celebrate, lets remember why we all love India so much and celebrate some interesting facts about India:
Source: National Portal Content Management Team
The greatness of Hanuman
I got this beautiful message from the Houston sangha of Swaminarayan on Hanuman Jayanthi, the celebrations for which are coming up soon (March 30). It is reproduced word for word below:
Along with Bhagwan Ramchandra, Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Matsya avatar, the month of Chaitra also witnesses the manifestation of Ramchandra's stalwart devotee Hanumanji, on Chaitra sud Punam.
By the grace of the deities Shiva and Vayu, Anjana (Anjani), wife of Kesari, king of the monkeys, gave birth to Hanumanji. Therefore he is also known as: Anjanisut (sut means son), Anjaneya, Pavansut, Marutsut, Maruti and Vajrang. Pavan and Marut denote Vayu deva. Vajra means indestructible and Indra's weapon. Ang means body.
Once Angira rishi visited Indra in Swarg. Indra welcomed him by arranging a dance by a damsel named Punjiksthala. As soon as she commenced dancing, the rishi closed his eyes to meditate on Paramatma. When the dance ended, the rishi remained silent. Indra then asked him, "O rishi! How was the dance?"
"We were absorbed in meditation of the Almighty. Such dance does not interest us." Indra felt ashamed. However, the ego-filled damsel sneered, "How can such a (fickle) rishi appreciate dancing in Swarg?" Hearing this, Angira cursed her, "Behold! You shall degrade to earth from Swarg. You will be born as a female monkey in the mountain forests."
The whole of Swarg plunged into consternation. The damsel greatly regretted and repented. She repeatedly begged for forgiveness. Finally, the merciful rishi solaced her, "A great devotee of Paramatma will be born to you. He will forever serve Paramatma."
This damsel was the daughter of Kunjar, the king of the monkeys. She married Kapiraj Kesari of Mount Sumeru.
Therefore, Hanumanji manifested as a result of five divine factors:
1. Angira rishi's curse and subsequent blessings
2. Anjani's prayers
3. Shri Mahadevji's (Shiva's) blessings
4. Attainment of Shiva's divine shakti by Vayu deva and
5. The fruit of a Putreshti Yagna
The Shiva Puran cites that since Shiva could not serve Shri Ram in his present form, he inspired the birth of one Rudra from his 11 Rudras, as a monkey, Hanumanji.
Once when Hanumanji was young Surya deva (Sun deity) imbued him with knowledge of countless weapons and mantras. However, his hyperactive nature induced him to think of swallowing the `red, ripened fruit' - the Sun! Before he succeeded, Indra hit him with his Vajra and persuaded him not to. On being hit by the Vajra, his beard - hanu-, became slanted. Therefore he also became known as Hanuman. The "ji" suffix after any name accords respect. Indra then blessed him that he will eternally remain undefeated, victorious. Hanumanji also obtained boons from Varuna deva (water deity) and Yama - deity of death, victory and immortality. From Brahma he obtained the power of inducing fear in enemies, of destroying fear in friends, to be able to change his form at will and to be able to easily travel wherever he wished. From Mahadevji he obtained the boons of longevity, scriptural wisdom and ability to cross the ocean (Padma Puran, Patal Khand, 114, Uttar Khand, 66, Narad Puran, 1.79).
Now Hanumanji attained a supremely formidable form. However as such, he began harassing rishis. Therefore Bhrugu rishi and Angira admonished him that he would forget the ability to use his formidable power and only a divine personality will later guide him to use it appropriately.
Henceforth Hanumanji lived an ordinary simian life in Kishkindha, on Mount Hrushyamuk as Sugriva's advisor. Only when Shri Ramachandra and Lakshman arrived in search of Sita, did the two first meet. (Valmiki Ramayana Kishkindha 1-4). Thus his life turned a new course. Ramchandraji asked him who he was. Gleaning his identity, Hanumanji humbly replied, "O Prabhu! From the body's point of view, I am your das (servant) and From the jiva's view, I am your bhakta."
Pleased with his wise reply, Shri Ram accepted his seva. Hanumanji and Sugriva then gathered and sent a mighty army of monkeys to aid Shri Ram in search of Sita. (V.R.Kishkindha 40-41).
When Hanumanji struck southwards towards Lanka, Ramchandraji gave him his ring. In case he met Sitaji, he would need to show it to prove that he was Shri Ram's envoy. Accompanied by Jambuvan, they all arrived on India's southern shore. Jambuvan graced Hanumanji. This resulted in him recalling his phenomenal power. Uttering "Jai Shri Ram!" Marutsut leaped high across the ocean towards Lanka!
Here, at night, assuming a subtle form, he entered Lanka. He combed through Ravan's palace, yet failed to locate Sitaji.
However during his search his phenomenal level of brahmacharya manifested.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan singularly highlights this in Vachanamrut Jetalpur 2. He avers that while searching for Jankiji (Sitaji), Hanumanji looked at every demoness in Ravan's palace, including Mandodari, Ravan's wife. After leaving, he wondered whether glancing at so many women would affect him (his brahmacharya) adversely? He then realized that he had done this to look for Jankiji by Ramchandraji's command. Additionally, his senses and consciousness by Ramchandraji's grace had not faltered. He then continued his search. In the midst of such allurements, one who remains unallured like Hanumanji, remarked Bhagwan Swaminarayan, is known as a yati.
Throughout the Ramayan one observes that whenever a vexing problem arose warranting diplomacy, Valmiki lauds Hanumanji as a confluence of such virtues as: integrity, valor, intelligence, strength, patience and wisdom. Hanumanji resolved such problems with finesse and devotion. When he finally located Sitaji, to first soothe and gain her trust, since more than likely she'd be frightened and would take him as one of Ravan's mayic form, he began to recite the glory of King Raghu's lineage while hidden among the trees. He then further recited Ramchandraji's glory. Sitaji's misery, loneliness and distress vanished. Charged with joy, she then requested the deity who sang the glory to present himself!
When Ravan's son Indrajit used his miraculous weapons, rendering Shri Ram and Lakshman unconscious, Hanumanji's supreme devotion as the ideal devotee manifested. Advised by the Ayurvedic physician Sushena, to fetch the four types of herbs on mount Dronachal to revive the two, Hanumanji flew there. Not recognizing the herbs, he returned with the whole mountain! This miraculous power arose from his unalloyed devotion to Shri Ram and his brahmacharya.
During Shri Ram's coronation, Sitaji gifted her invaluable pearl necklace to Hanumanji in jubilation. Being a detached and loyal devotee, he cracked a few pearls with his teeth. Not discovering his master inside, he discarded the necklace!
In a packed assembly, when somebody questioned him whether he really had Sita and Ram in his self, he literally tore open his chest to reveal both, in his heart! Seeing such zealous devotion, Ramchandraji embraced him and granted a boon. "Wherever my katha is being recited, you shall always be there... I shall never ever be estranged from you!"
Shri Ramchandraji further added, "O Hanuman! You have helped me countless times. Even if I give my life for you repeatedly, I cannot repay your debt. What then can I give you?" After pausing a few moments he added, "I give you what I possess; I gift you my love and grace!" He then embraced Hanumanji! Such occasions are a true devotee's supreme moments of fulfillment.
Another virtue of Hanumanji that Valmiki lauds is Buddhimataam Varishtham - the supreme among the wise. One well known episode reflects his wisdom. Once Mahadevji visited Shri Ram's court in Ayodhya. Ramchandraji welcomed him by offering a grand seat. He then requested Hanumanji to fetch milk. On fetching the milk, Hanumanji experienced a slight dilemma. Being a pativrata devotee (supremely loyal) of Shri Ram, how could he offer the milk to Mahadevji? Instantly he handed the bowl to his Master. Therefore Ramchandraji pointed out, 'O Hanuman. The guest is Mahadevji. Why do you offer me the milk?'
Instantly Hanumanji replied, "Prabhu! Mahadevji is such a lofty guest that it would not be fitting for a lowly servant as me to offer him anything. It would only be appropriate for you to offer him the milk!"
Bhagwan Swaminarayan lauds his glory as: one who has Pativrata - unalloyed bhakti towards Shri Ram (Gadhada III.16), being ideal in dasatva bhakti (Gadhada II.62) and as supreme yati (Jetalpur 2). Muktanand Swami accords him the titles jitendriya - one who has mastered his indriyas and naishthikendra - one who is a naishthik brahmachari. In the Hindu Dharma, he is rightfully venerated as a deva who is an ideal devotee of Ramchandra Bhagwan. The appellation "monkey god" by non-Hindu writers is a flagrant misnomer, depicting their ignorance. This too applies to Shri Ganeshji, who is also a deva and not an elephant god.
In the Vachanamrut then, Bhagwan Swaminarayan exhorts every devotee to imbibe Hanumanji's three foremost virtues of the ideal bhakta; pativrata bhakti, Dasatva bhakti and Naishthik brahmacharya.
In the Shikshapatri, Bhagwan Swaminarayan advocates Hanuman pujan on Aso vad 14 (Kali Chaudash) and enjoins those afflicted by evil spirits to chant the Hanuman Stotram (Shik. 127, 85).
In all the mandirs of the Swaminarayan Sampraday Hanumanji and Ganeshji are consecrated in their own special shrines in the front of the mandir. He is offered special pujan on Saturdays with oil and white ankada flowers( Calotropis gigantea - Swallow wart )
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir - Houston
Fake Gurus and Path forward
It is a time of turmoil at some level in the spiritual field in India. Many swami's are caught in sting operations living up to a far lower standard than what we would like to see in a guru. I don't belive that there is any need for us to follow any guru that sets a low standard, especially after we find out about him or her. The reason for this is that we have had many great gurus that have just recently passed away who were epitomes of what a great hindu guru should be.
One of the great gurus that comes to mind is Kanch Paramacharya. His work - Deivathin Kural (VOICE OF GOD) is still available for people to read and follow. When such lofty teachings are available, why get upset over as few charltans with siddhis not living upto erxpectations?
March 12th is Sant Tukaram's Jayanti. Tukaram was one of the most well known Marathi poets and a great devotee of Lord Krishna from the 17th century. He wrote abhangs in praise of Lord Krishna in the form of Lord Panduranga which are very popular throughout India even today.
A beautful website is included here for more information on Tukaram.
Video clips from a 1937 movie which won a best film award at the Venice Festival are also included.