Art of Living Wisdom.

Recordings of eclipses are available in texts, temple inscriptions, copper plates and legends of the land. Through the times, we see continuity in the understanding and recording of eclipses.

Animation_October_8_2014_lunar_eclipse_appearance

 

Why were our ancients interested in eclipses? Why did they learn to predict eclipses?

Dos and Donts surrounding eclipse

We see there are many elaborate dos and donts surrounding eclipses which have been a tradition of this civilization. Some interesting ones that have continued to this day are

 

  • eating food atleast 4 to 6 hours before an eclipse and not carrying forward food cooked prior to an eclipse
  • the use of Dharba grass to protect food items and other perishables
  • protection of pregnant women from the rays of sun during solar eclipses
  • not seeing solar eclipse with the naked eye

Advice for Pregnant Women

Scientists have shown today how during a Solar Eclipse, the amount of Ultra Violet rays and other cosmic rays reaching the earth are higher. These rays are harmful to the foetus. Hence pregnant women were advised to cover themselves and stay indoors during an eclipse to protect the foetus from these rays. Even today pregnant women are advised to stay away from radiation exposure of all kinds for example X Rays.

Contamination of Food

The increased exposure to such rays also contaminates food. Carrying forward of food cooked before an eclipse is therefore not advisable. Further more, there is the need to ensure that all food in one’s stomach is digested before the start of an eclipse.

 

Using Dharba grass

The antidote for preventing the food from contamination by radiation has been the practice of covering food with Dharba grass. This points to our ancients having used the Dharba grass as a shield to absorb the unwanted radiations in the atmosphere, especially those arising during eclipses.

Dharba grass absorbs X Rays

Nascent, independent research on Dharba grass has revealed its ability to absorb X Rays. These early finds make Dharba grass a very promising field of study.

 

We see a good grasp of astronomy, physics, biology and mathematics all rolled into the practice of predicting eclipses and the traditions followed during an eclipse. This holds good for a host of other astronomical observations and traditions followed too.

 

Donations During Eclipses

De Dhaan Chute Grahan – is a slogan one got to hear on the streets about 4 to 5 decades, during the time of eclipses.

 

It means Give Alms To Release The Eclipsed.

 

It was a common practice in India to give donations during eclipses and other cosmological events such as:

 

  1. Ayana, Solstices – Dakshinayana, Summer Solstice and Uttarayana, Winter Solstice
  2. Vishnuvrata Equinoxes – Mesha Vishu, Vernal Equinox and Tula Vishu, Autumnal Equinox
  3. Grahana, Eclipses – Surya Grahana, Solar eclipse and Chandra Grahana, Lunar eclipse
  4. Amavasya, New Moon
  5. Yugadi, New Year

 

Many explain that such Dhana were given in the superstitious belief that the donor will gain relief from the evil forces that were capable of even devouring the Sun and the Moon.

 

On the contrary, we find from traditional literature that the people were well aware of the scientific nature of these cosmological events. They could predict their occurrences due to their understanding of the motions of the earth, moon and various planets as well as their proficiency in Mathematics, which is needed to model these motions and calculate dates for their occurrences in advance.

 

Dhana for noble causes was given on these significant days as these days were considered as markers of time and hence would be easily remembered over time.

 

Every king, landlord, zamindar, royalty made it a point to give Dhana every year from their accumulated wealth. Various kings like Krishnadevaraya, Harshavardhana and others, repeatedly gave Dhana every year and during such events as eclipses.

 

Many temple inscriptions speak about such Dhana, endowments made to the temple and thereby to the people at large, on the occasion of eclipses.

 

Eclipses continue to happen and many just ignore them. Inscriptions continue to remain as evidences of the ones gone by but are hardly known to many.

 

The request for alms on eclipses is no longer heard on the streets. Neither are there donors, nor are there receivers on this day.

 

But misconceptions about the Indian perception of eclipses continue to loom large in everyone’s minds.

 

Rahul Kaimal

bharathgyan@gmail.com

www.bharathgyan.com

Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

After Chanda and Munda were slain, Shumbha sent his most powerful Asura Raktabija along with a huge army to attack the Devi and her army of all the shaktis (energies). A ferocious war broke out. Maa Kali with her spear and skull-topped staff killed thousands of Asuras. Seeing the Asuras being killed ruthlessly by the Devi and her shaktis, Raktabija strode forward to fight in wrath.

Raktabija had received a boon that whenever a drop of blood from his body will drop on the surface of the earth, immediately there would arise innumerable Asuras, equal in form and power to him. Elated with this boon, Raktabija entered into the battlefield with great force in order to kill Kali and Ambika Devi. The Devi struck Raktabija with different weapons and soon there were thousands of Raktabijas in the battlefield with similar forms and weapons. Then Ambika Devi said to the Kali, “O Kali, open your mouth quickly, and no sooner I strike Raktabîja with weapons, you would drink off the blood as fast as it runs out of his body. O large-eyed One! You would drink off all the jets of blood in such a way that not a drop of it escapes and falls on the ground.” Then Kali, hearing thus the Devî’s words, began to drink the jets of blood coming out of the body of Raktabija. Devi Ambika began to cut the Demon’s body into pieces and Kali, went on devouring them. All forms of Rakatabija;s and finally Raktabija himself was destroyed. When the dreadful Raktabija was thus slain in the battle, the other Asuras fled away trembling with fear. Then the final fierce battle between the Asura Kings and Devi started. Soon Devi cut off the heads of first Nishumbha and then Shumbha with her axe. The glory of the Gods was thus restored.

Meaning of the story:

Raktabija represents the deep impressions (seeds of past action or karma) inside our consciousness which we carry since birth. When the past karma gives any fruit it becomes reason for still many more future karmas. Our karmas are also related to karmas of others around us. Thus the forest of karma is immeasurable. Lord Krishna has said, ‘Gahana Karmano Gatih’ (Unfathomable are the ways of Karma). We are never a master of our own life because of these deep impressions inside which govern our life at a very subtle level. True freedom is freedom from all these impressions. Maa Kali is said to be the ruler of time and death. Time is ‘Now’ and death is ‘Completion’…..Realizing each moment is complete in itself.

Drinking of each drop of Raktabija’s blood by Maa Kali signifies total awareness in action. When there is uninterrupted awareness in action (karma) such action (karma) becomes free from any residual impressions. This is being in the present moment. This is being 100%. The energy (Shakti) that arises with the practice of Pranayama, Meditation, Sudarshan Kriya etc. helps us in erasing all the past impressions. With regular practice of these techniques awareness level increases, vacillations of mind in past & future reduce and mind stays more and more in present moment.

‘Shumbha’ is doubting oneself and ‘Nishumbha’ is doubting others. Doubts arise when the life force energy (Prana Shakti) inside is low. Look at small children. They do not doubt anything because they are full of energy and enthusiasm. Negative forces come up only due to lack of Shakti. When you are full of energy and enthusiasm none of these Asuras (demons) can come near you. ‘Shumbha’ and ‘Nishumbha’ were killed only after killing of ‘Raktabija’. Doubts about self and others can be totally eliminated only when one realizes one’s true nature. Only when all past impressions have been annihilated, one can realize the Self.

This battle is also called ‘Maha Yagna’ because it is the great purifier. Since time immemorial this ‘Maha Yagna’ of Devi is going on!

May Maa Ambika bless all of us with victory in this Maha Yagna!

Sixth Navadurga : Devi Katyayini

On the sixth day of Navaratri, Devi Kathyayini is honoured and worshipped. Kathyayini represents the nurturing aspect of the Divine Mother. She embodies the values of sharing and caring. Young girls pray to Devi Kathyayini for good husbands. Marriage comes with a sense of security, commitment, togetherness, team spirit and belongingness. She signifies the finer qualities of being in a relationship. The ultimate relationship is the union with the Self.

Salutations to Devi Katyayani!

katyayini

 

यादेवीसर्वभुतेषु लज्जारूपेण संस्थिता  

नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः १६


Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Lajjaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||16||

1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Modesty,
16.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again

 

यादेवीसर्वभुतेषु शान्तिरूपेण संस्थिता  

नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः १७

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||17||

1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Peace,
17.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.

 

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु श्रद्धारूपेण संस्थिता  
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥१८॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shraddhaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||18||

18.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Faith (in Higher Self),
18.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again

Also Read :

SIGNIFICANCE OF NAVARATRI 

DEVI MAHATMYA 

DEVI MAHATMYA – STORY OF MADHU KAITABH

DEVI MAHATMYA – STORY OF MAHISHASURA

DEVI MAHATMYA – STORY OF SHUMBA NISHUMBA – PART 1

 

Jai Gurudev

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

Two Asuras named Shumba and Nishumba defeated the Gods and drove them out of heaven again. The gods prayed to the Devi for help. Devi appeared as Parvati and out of Parvati’s physical sheath (kosha) emerged form of Devi Ambika. Because she came out of the kosha, she is also called Kaushiki. The Devi was very beautiful and resplendent with the brightness of a million moons.

When Chanda and Munda, the two chieftains of Shumbha and Nishumbha, saw the Devi they told their masters of her celestial divine beauty and they added that since Shumbha and Nishumbha owned everything that was beautiful and precious in all the three worlds, they should also possess Kaushiki. Thus persuaded, Shumbha and Nishumbha sent a messenger to Devi to get her consent to marry one of them. Devi was furious on hearing the proposal and replied: “I made a promise to myself to marry him who defeats me in battle. If either Shumbha or Nishumbha wishes to marry me he shall have to defeat me in battle.”

Hearing Devi’s reply, Shumbha and Nishumbha got very angry. They summoned one of their bravest chieftains called Dhumralochana and sent him to capture and bring Devi to them. Dumralochana took sixty thousand fighters with him and attacked Devi. However, Devi reduced him to ashes with a mere sigh of the sound ‘hum’. Thereupon his fighters attacked her with all kinds of weapons but Devi’s lion killed them all. Thus Dhumralochana and his army were destroyed.

Shumbha then sent Chanda and Munda to destroy the Devi. Chanda and Munda took with them an array of elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers. Devi became very angry, and out of her frowned forehead emerged Kali wearing a garland of skulls, armed with a sword and noose. Her eyes were red and her tongue was lolling out generating fear in the hearts of the demons.

She destroyed the army of Chanda and Munda in no time. Seeing their army destroyed, Chanda rushed at Kali with great ferocity and hurled all kinds of weapons such as spears and chakras. Kali could not be hurt. Kali subdued Chanda and Munda with her subtle paasha or noose of light and then slayed both of them.

Devi Ambika told Kali that since she killed Chanda and Munda in the battle, she will be known as Chamundi.

Meaning of the story:

“Shumbha” means doubting oneself and “Nishumbha” means doubting others. Combination of Shumbha and Nishumbha means doubting everything, doubting at every step. When the mind is clogged with doubts about one self or others, there is no mental peace. Doubts drain the life force energy and strangulate growth. Life cannot progress if we doubt everything. That is why these are called kings of the Asuras.

“Dhumralochana” – “Dhumra” means smoke and “lochana” means eyes – smoky eyes. Dhumralochana means one who has no clarity of perception. As we accumulate stresses we lose the clarity of perception. Saying “hmm” dissolves barriers in the mind. Breathing techniques, Sudarshan Kriya free us from stresses and allow us to see things as they are. Lion indicates valour. All imaginary problems (perceived with distorted vision) disappear just by showing a little valour.  (Devi’s lion kills all fighters).

“Chanda” and “Munda” – Chanda means opposite head. Chanda will oppose anything you say. Chanda is one who cannot agree with anything. (Argumentative people) “Munda” does not have a head at all. He will not listen. Whatever you tell to him, it will all go in thin air. There is no reasoning at all. Wrong logic and perception prevails. The noose of light used by Devi represents wisdom. True knowledge purifies mind like fire along with establishing the mind in the light of the Self. True knowledge is irrefutable special logic (Vitarka). You can’t oppose or reason such knowledge. It simply uplifts.

Fifth Navadurga : Skandamata

On the fifth day of Navaratri we honour the Divine Mother in the form of Skandamata the fifth Navadurga. Skandamata is the mother of Skanda or Subramanya. She is depicted as riding a lion. She possesses four arms out of which two hold the lotus flowers.  One of her hands is always in the boon-conferring gesture and with the other she holds her son Skanda in her lap.  This signifies courage and compassion. Skanda is the skillful one. Often with skill arrogance comes. But here the skill is combined with a humility that nurtures innocence.

Salutations to Devi Skandamata !

Skandamata Maa

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु तृष्णारूपेण संस्थिता  
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥१३॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Trssnnaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |

Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||13||

13.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Thirst,

13.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

 

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु क्षान्तिरूपेण संस्थिता  
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥१४॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Kssaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |

Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||14||

14.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Forbearance,

14.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु जातिरूपेण संस्थिता  
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥१५॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Jaati-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |

Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||15||

15.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Race,

15.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

Also read :

SIGNIFICANCE OF NAVARATRI 

DEVI MAHATMYA 

DEVI MAHATMYA – STORY OF MADHU KAITABH

DEVI MAHATMYA – STORY OF MAHISHASURA

Jai Gurudev

Sanjay Sabnis