Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Next on the list is doing Pooja to God. It is said that we should not eat anything that has not been offered to God. Offering food to God is an essential step in doing Pooja.
I'm not saying that you should do Pooja for an hour or two daily. We can choose how long we want to/ afford to spend doing the Pooja. Even if we are in tearing hurry to get on with our daily routine, like going to the office, we should plan to spend at least 5 min in pooja. We should find time at least to light a lamp near the picture or figurine of God, likes to doopa sticks, offer 2- 3 fresh flowers and offer 4 to 5 dry fruits or sugar candy, with a concentrated mind. Pray for the well being of all the life forms, fall in the h feet of god and be on our way. Those who have time in hand can do the Puja in an extensive manner as described in books. It all depends on how much time we can set aside for this they should make it a habit to do this daily. All this requires mainly is the mindset.
But what it takes is a well thought out plan. It should not become a stress. Instead the focusing our mind on God and making it quiet, we should not start getting angry and agitated because this is not ready or that is not available. There is no point in doing a puja in a hurry in such a way that the mind does not get quiet. If you find that time is not available, it is better to shorten the puja and do that at a quiet mind.
As seen in earlier the Puja must be done by the males while the ladies help that process. If we do like this, the entire family will benefit. But i we see that this puja is delegated to the ladies usually.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There was a boy who went to a Guru Kula seeking Vedic education. Looking at him the teacher had an intuition. He gave him the work of looking after the three fires in his household. He was teaching Vedic lessons for the other students, but this boy was left alone with the fire. Being a good student, the boy was not really bothered that he was not being instructed. Since he has been given a work to do, he diligently did that job.

Thus several days passed. Days became weeks and still, he was not called to any class. One day the boy was just leaving the fire place in the three agnis started talking among themselves. "This boy has been here for years but has not received any Vedic education. What shall we do?" "He has served us very well!" said another. "Let us impart him the knowledge!" said the third. The fires called out to the boy and he came in. He fell in front of them seeking the blessings which they duly gave. With the blessing of the Fires, Brahma vidya came to him in entirety.

The teacher who had gone out came back at this juncture and saw that the boy was shining with knowledge. He asked the boy what happened. The boy replied in all humility that the fire was talking to each other and when he entered and fell in front of them, they blessed him. The teacher immediately understood everything. And was immensely pleased that is initial assessment was right.. He blessed the boy and sent him home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

agni upasana.

Next comes the agni upasana.

While the sun is helping us indirectly the fire helps us directly in several ways. The physical fire that we see is influenced by its own Devata and is called Agni. The fire worship is of various forms. The basic form is aupasanam. The ritual itself takes about 5 min in the morning and the evening. Preparing this fire takes anywhere from 5 to 10 min. After the marriage through a ritual this worship is started. This fire is maintained continuously as long as one lives. It is in this agni that several rituals are performed later.

One might be hesitant as this which will inevitably produces smoke. But the sastras have defined which smoke is good and which is bad. Any smoke from ritual fires is good for health.

This upasana is not just for Brahmins. Others can also do with a small change in the mantra, namaha replacing swaha.

Generally, it is said that these rituals are to be performed by the males and female have no right. Here is one glaring exception. Up to 7 times (3 1/2 days) consecutively, the ladies can do this aupasana homam if the husband is away. It doesn't matter if the husband is not in the house . The Agni Devatha will remain alive in the physical fire. But if the wife is not in the house when the ritual is to be performed the devatha will not be present in the physical fire. One will have to do a small procedure again to make it alive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

from sunrise to...1

Our forefathers have linked each and every action that we perform to God.
As soon as you're awake in the morning we should recite the names of Lord Vishnu who is the God protecting us. After clearing our bladder and gut we should brush our teeth.
Taking the sunrise as six o'clock the best time for any mantra japa or meditation is four o'clock in the morning. More on this later.
The time for the morning bath is when you see the reddish sky in the East. This is called Arunodaya time. If you're wondering whether bathing is a karma, it certainly is. This becomes all the more important if we are taking bath in a river or in any holy waters. There are even special sankalpas for them.
Next comes the worship of the Sun. Though most important for the Brahmins, it should be done by one and all, including ladies. The only difference is how it is done.
Here I give the methods and mantras that is applicable universally.

Take a little water in your right hand and drink it. Stand facing east.
Make a cup with both your hands take water in it and having recited the sloka end it by throwing the water towards the sun. (So better choose the place where you're doing this). The best place would be a water body or a clean ground. If you're forced to do it in doors that a water drop in a clean vessel; you can dispose of the water later.

Gaṇādhipa surādhyakṣa cintāmaṇi Gaṇēc\'vara
siddhidāyaka vighṉēca\' gru\'hāṇārghyam namōstutē.

Gaṇapatayē nama: idamarghyam.
Gaṇapatayē nama: idamarghyam.
Gaṇapatayē nama: idamarghyam.

rajju-vētra-kacā\'pāṇē kāc\'yapē Garudāgraja
arkka-sūtāruṇa-svāmiṉ gru\'hāṇārghyam namōstutē.

aruṇāya nama: idamarghyam.
aruṇāya nama: idamarghyam.
aruṇāya nama: idamarghyam.

ēhi sūrya sahasrāmcō\' tējōrācē\' jakatpatē
aṉukampaya mām bhaktyā gru\'hāṇārghyam namōstutē.

sūryāya nama: idamarghyam.
sūryāya nama: idamarghyam.
sūryāya nama: idamarghyam.

Having done this, we offer our namaskaras .

1) mitrāya nama: , 2) ravayē nama:, 3) sūryāya nama:
4) bhaṉavē nama:, 5) khagāya nama:, 6) pūṣṇē nama:
7) hiraṇyaGarbhāya nama:, 8) marīcayē nama:, 9) ādityāya nama:
10) savitrē nama:, 11) arkkāya nama:, 12) bhaskarāya nama:

After this is our prayer. The meaning of which is, “Oh Sun, remove my sins, grant me a long life, health and an end to my illnesses. Grant me wealth, intellect and moksha.”

kāma-krōdhadi bhir-mūDā pātakam nu karōmyaham
sarva-pāpa-kṣayam\' kru\'tvā rakṣa mām dyumaṇē prabhō
āyur-ārōgyam aic\'varyam\' jñāṉam vittam prayaccha mē
svarGam apyapavarGañca jaGatīc\'vara bhāskara

PS: Ladies should avoid doing this when they are having the periods.
The sun is the ultimate source of energy. Even if we are eating non-vegetarian food, that animal ate a plant source. The plants make food directly from the Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the sunlight – for we are thankful to the sun, who gives the energy that we need.

Monday, March 14, 2011

If I do all these what do I get?

Looking at the lengthy list, one might start wondering how all these things are going to help us go towards God or any spiritual elevation.
Performing these ceremonies in one's lifetime will give one what is called atma gunas. This means virtues that qualify an elevated soul. All karmas lead to the purification of mind and intellect such a mind is capable of receiving godliness. This will lead to revelation of the true nature of the man.
We are all born with three runas -debts. Runam a something like money borrowed, which needs to be returned.
The first is what we owe to devas. According to the legends God created devas and mankind and told them to help each other. The devas hold control over the natural forces like sunshine, rain. They make rains and we reap the harvest. This food sustains us. So we need to pay back the devas. This we do by performing rituals which please them like Pooja homa etc.
The second is what we owe to the risis. The risis obtained the Vedic mantras and gave them to us. We are using this mantras in conducting rituals mentioned above. Therefore we owe them. This we can pay back by helping the sustenance of Vedas. We can do this by reciting the Vedas if we qualify for that, or by helping those who are learning, teaching Vedas. This help can also be by bodily effort or by donation of money or kind to vedic schools.
The third is what you owe to our forefathers. I want to stress this here as we see many people suffering a lot, not knowing what the cause is. Almost throughout the world there are rituals to appropriate the Manes. Agnihotram thathacaryar has complied a huge book on this subject that is yet to see the print..
We must strive to pay back these debts in our lifetime.

Okay. Enough of preamble . Let us get to the classification of karma.
There are actions which need to be done daily, and these are called nitya karma. The examples are the daily bath, Pooja, et cetera.
There are actions which need to be done on occasions and these are called naimitya karma. Examples are rituals concerned with our birthday, marriage anniversary, et cetera.
The actions that may be done to get something that we desire and these are called kaamya karma. Examples are plenty right from the need to get out of debts to desiring a progeny.
The list of daily actions is a long one, starting from early morning, eight o'clock. We will see them on by one in the coming posts.

Friday, March 11, 2011

karma of husband and wife.... what is the difference?

A genuine doubt could be that this list looks male oriented.
And you would be right.. Karma is mainly centered around the male. The husband is expected to carry out the karma with the help of the wife.
Don't let this fool you into thinking that the female is unimportant for any karma.
As long as the person is not married, there is no restriction in what he has to do. But once he is married, the rest of the rich ones can be carried out only when the wife is present. Actually the sankalpa is done along with her. In some rituals like srouta karma the wife also does the sankalpa. Once the wife is dead, the person can no longer carry out most of the rituals.
So that for the bias.

One may ask how the ladies benefit from, karma yoga.
They benefit by carrying out that part of the duty by getting things ready for the rituals. Since they have a lot of household duty to look after at the same time, they are not burdened with any duties during the rituals.

The sastras are loaded against the males.

When the husband does any good karma, 50% of the punya goes to the wife. On the other hand if he does anything bad hundred percent of the papa remains with him.
One might expect, the wife to be treated similarly. But it is not so. Through any good karma, if any, punya arises hundred percent of that remains with her. If by chance she does anything wrong. 50% of the papa goes to the husband. Isn't that strange?
So let us not fool anybody claiming that the ladies are discriminated wrongly, they are discriminated, Yes, but see how!

Now back to the 40 purification rituals.
Of all these 40, the one and only karma that is done with any enthusiasm is the first one. Alas! It is done with enthusiasm for the wrong reasons. It is no longer a serious business with a view to get a good progeny, but carried out for fun.
The rest of the rituals have been slowly disappearing and taking a different form.
Ever since the invasion by the moguls, the kshatriyas have been fighting wars and slowly they have deviated from the vedic traditions. The vaisyas have been traveling to all corners of the world in search of wealth and have naturally deviated from the traditions and rituals. These two classes on account of these, learn and practice the Vedas no more.
Actually the fourth class, that of workers were not expected to follow the Vedic tradition, but follow the family traditions which they do admirably even today.

The Brahmins had departed from the Vedic tradition to a large extent, and have gone on to seek money, position and power. When they did that they lost the respect of the society. So many reasons are cited for this deviation right from lack of support of the society for vedic studies to active antagonism. Much debate has arisen as to who is a Brahmin. Going by strict definitions we can hardly count any. Still there are a lot of people who have the potential to be a Brahmin.

Let us not get into any debate as most of them are non-productive or counter-productive. Let each of us present question ourselves what our duties are and try to do that. The problems arise when you start deciding what others duties are. Let us not get into that trap.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

40 purification ceremonies

For the Hindus 40 purification ceremonies have been described. They are called samskaras.
Let us see a table listing all these.
The first is garbha dhana – this one is to ensure the progeny.
Pumsavanam -
seemanthonayanam – these two are meant to ensure the birth of a good child.
Jatakarma – this is done after the child is born.
Namakaranam – this is the naming ceremony.
Anna prasanam- in this ceremony child is is given the first solid food
chaulam – in this ceremony.. The boy is ceremoniously given a tuft as his hair style.
Upanayanam – this ceremony is to take the child near a teacher to learn Vedas.
Praajapatya vratam
Saumya vratam.
Aagneya vratam
Vaishvadeva vratam. - all these four are karmas which are done before and after learning the particular section of vedas.
Samavartanam – is the ceremony by which one leaves the stage of brahmacarya and is ready to take up the responsibilities of the house holder.
Vivaha – the marriage.
Deva yagna, Pitru yagna, Manushya yagna, Bootha yagna and Brahma yagna – these are primary responsibilities of a householder. We can see what these are later.
Paka yagna are seven in number and in all cooking the food and offering it to the God.
Havir yagna what also seven in number involve offering a different item to God.
Soma yagna are again seven in number and involve offering juice of a plant to gods.
The last one is called antiyeshti and is the final ceremony involved with the body.
So that is a total of 40.
Quite a lengthy one right? So that ends this post.
Something does not  look right?
More on this later....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

karma route

Karma route
As I look at the old Tamil blog writings on karma, I see that I've had an unique opportunity and introduction. The particular post starts with saying that my friend from Pondicherry and had just called and asked how I knew that it was going to rain today. I had replied that it was really no surprise. We had just then completed a gayatri japa yagna. The conclusion was a gayatri homam. The program goes like this. Each person does one thousand and eight Gayatri everyday for the prescribed period. They keep an account of the number of japa in an prescribed card. After the four months period on a fixed day we do homam. We had started the program around nine o'clock in the morning and finished the program around one o'clock. After settling everything and a return home it was nearly 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
The night came and started getting cloudy. When we had real heavy rains for about half an hour. My Pondicherry friend had been a witness to the homam and when we're chatting I mention that it will rain that day. That is why he asked how I knew. I replied that it usually rains on the day of homam.
We checked with the meteorological Department and found that 4 cm of rain fell that night in half an hour.
We do our duty we are bound to get the result. It is as simple as that.
We start our posts with this little anecdote.

We need to understand karma a little bit. It differs a lot from Bhakti. Bhakti is common to all while karma is not. There is no bhakti for King that is different from the common man. This is because the most important factor in bhakti is the mind which everybody has.

But karma is not like that. Here actions are important. For action you need the knowledge, effort, money, which differs from person to person. Therefore, our forefathers have divided the actions in large chunks and codified who has two to do what. This is mainly a division of labour among the society. This is akin to the temple car being fooled by the entire village. It is important that the temple car comes back to the stage. It's not really important who is to doing what. The workforce. The way that according to the capacity of the class of persons. This was called varnasrama dharma. When the work was carried out by the same family for generations, there was an expertise that was developed and people took pride in what they were doing. We have come a long way from the days of codification and it is very difficult to judge whether this is classification is to be persisted with. One has to decide what one needs to do himself. If we stop dictating to others what they must be doing and do our duty we will go a long way in avoiding unnecessary clashes.