वैदिक ज्योतिष, अपने आप में एक पूर्ण विवादित प्रश्न !!

-Mr. Kanuj Bishnoi, General Secretary, Advanced Research Organisation of Micro Astrology (AROMA)

KBMr. Bishnoi did Vedic Acharya as Guru-Shishya Parampara in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He worked towards expanding his knowledge in divine science of Vedic Astrology, formulated a five-rule theory of Vedic Astrology, conducted workshops on understanding the various important aspects in life through Vedic astrology and also on ancient Bhrigu-Nandi Nadi Samhita. Honored by many organizations as a Vedic healer & Vedic Vaastu expert. He is visiting professor of many Astrological institutions in major Indian cities and has published several articles in Jyotish magazines & journals.

वैदिक ज्योतिष जैसे गूढ़ विषय पर लाखों लोगों की अपनी-अपनी विवादित राय है कई लोगों की दृष्टि में ज्योतिष सिर्फ भ्रम फैलाने का कार्य है, कई लोगों की दृष्टि में लोगों को ठगने का माध्यम तो कई लोगों की राय में यह कोई विद्या ही नहीं है, सिर्फ भ्रामकता है, तो कई लागों की राय में यह एक परिपक्व एवं शास्त्रोक्त विद्या एवं कुछ लोगो की दृष्टि में समय व्यतीत करने का एक सशक्त माध्यम लेकिन वास्तविकता यह है कि यह एक परिपूर्ण एवं शास्त्र सम्मत विधा है और पूर्ण रूप से नक्षत्रों एव ग्रहों पर आधारित ज्ञान है, जो हजारों वर्षों से विद्यमान है।
सम्पूर्ण जगत के सजीव जीव-जन्तु, प्राणी मात्र एवं समस्त जल, थल, अग्नि, वायु एवं आकाश ये पंच तत्व भी नक्षत्रों एवं ग्रहों द्वारा संचालित होते हैं। इन नक्षत्रों एवं ग्रहों, राशियों का ज्ञान ही ज्योतिष विज्ञान है। हमारे पुरातन वेदों में इसे वेदों के नेत्र कहा गया है न सिर्फ भारतवर्ष में अपितु अन्य कई देशों में वहां के संतों एवं दार्शनिकों ने ग्रहों और नक्षत्रों का अध्ययन कर भविष्य के प्रति अपनी भविष्यवाणियां की हैं। यूनान के प्रसिद्ध भविष्यवक्ता नास्त्रोदोनोमस एवं कीरो के नाम से शायद ही कोई अनभिज्ञ होगा, उन्होंने भी ग्रहों एवं नक्षत्रों का अध्ययन कर भविष्य के प्रति लोगों को सचेत किया है। लंकापति रावण ज्योतिष विद्या का महान ज्ञाता था और ग्रहों की चाल एवं नक्षत्रों के ज्ञान से वह भली-भांति परिचित था एवं जानता कि उसका और उसके परिवार का क्या हश्र होना है। आदरणीय पराशर होरा शास्त्र, भृगु संहिता,रावण संहिता, लाल किताब, ताड़ पत्रों पर लिखा नाड़ी सूत्र इसके जीवंत उदाहरण हैं। इन सबकी सत्यता एवं वर्तमान में होने वाले मानवीय जीवन पर इनके प्रभाव को झुठलाया नहीं जा सकता है। हां, ये बात जरूर है कि वर्तमान भौतिक युग में कई पाखंडियों ने इसे धन कमाने का माध्यम बना लिया है और वो येन-केन-प्रकारेण लोगों को मूर्ख बनाने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ते। इस कारण लोगों का इस पर से विश्वास उठता जा रहा है यहाँ हमें जरूरत है इस प्रकार के पाखंडियों से बचने की, न कि हजारों वर्षों से चली आ रही हमारी पुरातन शास्त्रोक्त विद्या से किनारा करने की।
ज्योतिष एक सशक्त माध्यम है जीवन जीने का। एक अच्छे ज्योतिषी की अच्छी राय से हम न सिर्फ भविष्य के प्रति सचेत हो सकते हैं, बल्कि हमारे जीवन की आगामी रूपरेखा भी तय कर सकते हैं। आज वर्तमान समय में दुनिया बहुत तरक्की कर चुकी है, व्यापार, अध्ययन एवं धन कमाने के कई नये द्वार खुल चुके हैं। एक अच्छे ज्योतिष की सलाह से हम उचित एवं हमारे ग्रह-नक्षत्रों के हिसाब से अनुकूल व्यापार, विद्या या नौकरी का चयन कर सकते हैं। यहां पर नकारात्मक विचारधारा एवं ज्योतिष को संदेह की दृष्टि से देखने वाले यह कह सकते हैं कि जो होना है वही होगा, चाहे कितना ही प्रयास कर लीजिये, भाग्य से अतिरिक्त कुछ नहीं होगा। मुझे उनकी उक्त बात से नाइत्तफाकी नहीं है अपितु मैं भी इस बात का समर्थन करता हूं कि जो होना है वही होगा। भाग्य का लिखा टल नहीं सकता है, लेकिन मैं ये भी कहना चाहता हूं कि मात्र भाग्य के सहारे तो हाथ पर हाथ रख कर बैठा नहीं जा सकता है। “कर्म तो प्रधान है ही” महाभारत में श्री कृष्ण ने भी यही कहा है कि कर्म प्रधान है, इसीलिए हम अपना प्रयास, अपना कर्म करते रहे।
planets
जब हम रोग-ग्रस्त हो जाते हैं तो डाक्टर के पास जाते हैं, किसी कानूनी झमेले में फंस जाते हैं तो वकील के पास जाते हैं लेकिन मात्र ये सोच कर कि जो होना है होगा, बैठे तो नहीं रहते। एक डाक्टर भी अपने मरते हुए रोगी को जिसके बारे में वह अच्छी तरह से जानता है कि वो बच नहीं सकता, फिर भी उसकी आखिरी सांस तक वह अपना प्रयास जारी रखता है। एक वकील कमजोर से कमजोर मुकदमे में भी अपने पक्षकार को बचाने हेतु अपनी पूरी ताकत झोंक देता है। जब हम उन पर विश्वास कर सकते हैं तो एक अच्छे ज्योतिषी और ज्योतिष विद्या पर क्यों नहीं? एक अच्छा डाक्टर भी लम्बी-चौड़ी मेडिकल जांचों के बाद ही इस निश्चय पर पहुंच पाता है कि मरीज को क्या एवं किस अंग से सम्बन्धित रोग हो सकता है। लेकिन एक अच्छा ज्योतिषी मात्र आपका जन्मांग  (जन्म समय पर भचक्र में ग्रहों की स्थिति का विवरण) अर्थात जन्म-कुंडली से यह बता सकता है कि व्यक्ति को क्या तथा किस अंग से सम्बन्धित रोग कब होगा तथा वह कब तक एवं किस तरह पूर्ण रूप से ठीक होगा या नहीं होगा। यह भी एक अच्छा ज्योतिषी ही बता सकता है कि मुकदमे में आपकी जीत होगी या हार, वकील साहब सिर्फ मेहनत कर सकते हैं, मुकदमा लड़ सकते हैं, लेकिन हार-जीत का फैसला मुवक्किल की स्वंय की किस्मत पर है, जो आपको सिर्फ एक अच्छा ज्योतिषी ही आपका जन्मांग देख कर बतला सकता है।
ज्योतिष एक महान विधा तो है ही, बल्कि इसे जीवन जीने का एक प्रबल सहारा भी जानना चाइये । यह इन्सान को जीने का सहारा प्रदान करता है उसे भविष्य के प्रति सचेत करता है, उसको जीने के प्रति एक आस बंधाता है। जब हम किसी परेशानी में होते है या जीवन के बुरे समय से गुजर रहे होते हैं तो किसी ज्योतिषी की शरण में जाते हैं और ज्योतिषी हमारा जन्मांग देखकर बताता है कि इतना समय आपका खराब है, उसके बाद यह परेशानी खत्म हो जायेगी तो उसके इतना कहने और इस आस एवं उम्मीद में कि कुछ समय की बात है, यह समय भी सत्कर्म करते हुए निकल जायेगा और इसके बाद हमारा अच्छा समय आयेगा, यही आस से हमारे में जीने की और उस समस्या से रूबरू होने की शक्ति एकत्रित करने लगती है और हम चाह कर भी कोई गलत कदम या गलत फैसला नहीं लेते। अब बताईये इससे अच्छा और जीवन जीने का सहारा क्या हो सकता है? एक विद्वान ज्योतिषी की अच्छी राय से हम हमारे भविष्य की रूपरेखा बना सकते हैं।हमारे बच्चों को उनके ग्रह अनुकूल क्षेत्र में भेजकर उनका भविष्य उज्जवल बना सकते हैं। अल्प समय के लिए आयी हुई परेशानियों को टाल कर पारिवारिक विघटन से बच सकते हैं तो फिर इस विद्या या इसके जानकारों पर भरोसा क्यों नहीं कर सकते?
आज बड़े से बड़े क्षेत्र और अनेको राष्ट्रों में ग्रहों और उनसे मानव जीवन पर पडऩे वाले प्रभाव और सृष्टि के विकास में उनके योगदान पर अनवरत अध्ययन एवं अनुसंधान जारी है। अमेरिका के नासा तक में हजारों वैज्ञानिक रात-दिन खगोल शास्त्र अर्थात एस्ट्रोनोमी के अन्तर्गत ग्रहों एवं नक्षत्रों के प्रभावों का अध्ययन एवं अनुसंधान कर रहे हैं। स्वंय हमारे देश के माननीय उच्चतम न्यायालय ने अपने एक फैसले में इसे विज्ञान माना है और उसी की बदौलत आज हमारे देश में कई यूनिर्वसिटीज ने इसे अपने पाठ्यक्रमों में शामिल किया है। आज कई विश्वविद्यालयों में इसके कोर्स एवं उपाधी कार्यक्रम चल रहे हैं। अत: ज्योतिष को पूर्णतया विज्ञान सम्मत वैदिक विधा जानना चाइये । इसमें किसी प्रकार की शंका की कोई आवश्यकता नहीं है बल्कि मैं तो यहां तक कहना चाहूंगा कि प्रत्येक इंसान का प्रत्येक परिवार का जिस प्रकार पारिवारिक डाक्टर, पारिवारिक वकील, पारिवारिक कर सलाहकार होता है, उसी प्रकार एक पारिवारिक ज्योतिषी भी होना चाहिये, जिससे कि समय-समय पर हम जानकारी लेकर भविष्य के प्रति हमारा मार्ग प्रशस्त कर सकें ।
आज अधिकतर सोशल साइट्स जैसे फेसबुक, ट्विटर, व्हाट्सअप आदि पर कॉपी-पेस्ट करके अपने को बड़ा ज्योतिषी सिद्ध करने वालो की बाढ़ आई हुई है और ये पोस्ट्स जन-सामान्य तक पहुंचती है इनमे वर्णित ज्योतिष की ऊंटपटांग व्याख्या एवं उपायों से समाज को गलत सन्देश जाता है । इस कारण समाज और ज्योतिष को जो हानि पहुंच रहीं है उसका कोई हिसाब रखने वाला ही नहीं है । ये सही है कि “ज्योतिषी भी शिक्षक, चिकित्सक और वकील जैसा और सही कहूँ तो जनसामान्य के लिए इन सबसे अधिक उपयोगी है” लेकिन कोई भी चिकित्सक, वकील, टीचर यदि फर्जी डिग्री लेकर इसको अपना व्यवसाय बनाता है तो वो अपने क्लाइंट के जीवन से खिलवाड़ के साथ-साथ उस से बेईमानी तो करता ही है लेकिन व्यवसाय को भी बदनाम करवा कर उसके साथ “नकली” शब्द और जुड़वा देता है। अन्य तीनो व्यवसायों की नियमन संस्थाएं जैसे मेडिकल काउन्सिल, बार काउन्सिल, शिक्षा परिषद आदि है जो सरकार की निगरानी में चलती है एवं उनमे जालसाजी करने पर दंड का प्रावधान है। उसी प्रकार क्या ज्योतिषी को समाज में आ कर अपने उपाय बताने से पहले किसी नियमन संस्था के अंतर्गत नहीं आना चाहिए ? और यदि कोई इसमें फर्जीवाड़ा के द्वारा प्रवेश कर जनसामान्य के जीवन से खिलवाड़ करता है (जो कि इस समय नब्बे प्रतिशत से अधिक कथित ज्योतिषी कर रहे है) तो उसको क़ानून के अंतर्गत लाकर कठोर दंड का विधान क्या नहीं होना चाहिए ?
आज वैदिक ज्योतिष को अधिकतर “कथित ज्योतिषी” धार्मिकता और पाखंड से जोड़कर एवं इससे भयभीत करके अपनी दुकानदारी चला रहे है । यदि वैदिक ज्योतिष को उसका उचित सम्मान दिलवाना है और उस से जन-सामान्य अधिकाधिक लाभ प्राप्त कर सके इसके लिए अत्यन्त आवश्यक है कि ज्योतिष को व्यवसाय बनाने से पहले एक नियामक संस्था हो जो प्रमाणित करे कि ज्योतिषी नियमानुसार व्यवसाय के लिए उपयुक्त है एवं यहाँ पंजीकृत किये बिना कोई भी ज्योतिष को व्यवसाय ना बन सके इसके लिए एक नियामक संस्था के गठन हेतु सरकार से मांग की जानी चाहिए।

Concept of New Year (or Calendar) in Vedic System (Part- II)

Continued from Part-I

Vikram Samvat (Chaitraadi):

After winter season, agriculture starts with spring, so spring equinox is generally a starting point of another system of calculating years. It coincided with sun’s entry in Mesha (0 degree in the zodiac) in 285 AD. Now it is on 14th April. After 25 years since his coronation, Vikramaditya (82BC -19 AD), the king of Ujjayini, started Vikrama samvat in 3044 kali or 57 BC from spring equinox when the sun entered in Mesha (at the initial point of Ashwini) in the lunar month of Chaitra Krishna paksha (Dark half). But later on, the commencement of Vikrama Samvat was postponed to 15 days and celebrated from auspicious Chaitra Shukla Paksha Pratipada, the starting day of Vasant Navaratra (9 sacred autumnal days of Goddess Durga).

In present time, it falls 15 days after Holi (on Phalgun Shukla poornima or full moon). This tithi (i.e. the 1st day of Chaitra Shukla) is known as epoch and copiously termed as Kalpadi (the 1st day of Kalpa) & Yugadi (1st day of Yuga) in Hindu scriptures and astronomical texts. In ancient astronomical texts, this tithi is referred as the first day of creation. It is also celebrated as the Matsya-Jyanti since according to Puranas, it was the day when lord Vishnu reincarnated himself as Matsya to sail the ship of Manu across the Pralay (the great flood). In north-west region of India especially in Rajasthan this tithi is also celebrated as Gana gaur or Gana gauri. Couples offer their prayers to goddess Gauri (manifestation of Durga). In Maharashtra and south India this tithi is also celebrated as Gudi Padawa. Currently, Vikram Samvat 2072, known as Keelaka, is moving on the verge of its end on 7th April 2016. The New Vikram Samvat 2073 will be started from 8th April 2016. The name of New Vikram Samvat is Saumya.

Do’s & Don’ts of this month:

  • Offer prayers to the goddess Durga.
  • According to various Grihya-Sutras, oil-massage considered as an auspicious work in this month.
  • Eat Neem leaves with Gud (the condensed form of Sugar cane).
  • Milk, Curd, Ghee & Honey must be avoided in this month.

Vikram Samvat (Kartikaadi):

There is another Vikram Samvat which is being practiced in Gujarat, starts from Kartika Shukla Pratipada and thus called as Vikram Samvat Kartikadi. It is believed that keeping the suitable conditions for trading through sea voyages in mind, King Vikramaditya himself started this calendar as well for the trading purpose in Gujarat from this month. It begins from the 1st day of Kartik Shukla Paksha, just after Deepavali. Apart from Vikram Samvat there are; Srishti (creation) samvat, Parashuram-samvat, Yudhishthir Samvat and Kali Samvat.

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Parashurama Samvat (6177 BC):

Parashuram Samvat started from the time of killing of Kartveerya or Sahasraarjun by lord Parashuram.  Incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Parashurama took place in the Treta of descending period which started from 9,102 BC. Since he born in 9th treat during this period, thus his period starts from 9102-8×360=6,222 BC. According to Mahabharat, in 6177 BC he killed the Kaartiveerya Arjun which is the advent of Parashuram Samvat. It is called Kollam in Kerala, starting in 6,177 BC.

Yudhishtihir Samvat(3139 BC):

According to Brihat Samhita(13/3), when Saptarshi (Ursa Major) was in Magha Nakshtra (Regulus), Yudhisthir was crowned in 3139BC. Hence the Yudhishthir Samvat started from 3139BC.

Kali Samvat (3102BC):

KaliYuga Started after 36 years of lord Sri Krishna’s demise in 3102 BC on Magh Shukla Pratipada (17/18 February). Hence, 5117 years have passed since the Beginning of Kali Samvat or Era.

Shaka and Samvatsara are 2 different Scenario:

As the word Samvat has been used in previous paragraphs, one must know that Samvatsar and Shaka; these two words are being used in same meaning because of ignorance. Even Shalivahan- shaka is frequently called as ‘shaka-samvat’ which has no meaning. It can be either ‘shaka’ or ‘samvat’. The word Shaka is used in astronomical texts for calculation. In Vedas the word Shaka is used for ‘the bundled form of kush’. A kush (straw) is a thin line shaped object and a symbol of small unit in counting. By making bundle, ‘kusha(Panini 4/108) becomes stronger, and is called shaka {powerful (Panini 5/16)}. Thus total count of days (ahargana) is called shaka, and the year system starting from a point is also called ‘shaka’. Shaka is considered related to Shaka tribe or the Shaka–dvipa (continent) which surrounds or is adjacent to Jambu-dvipa as per puranas. But no Shaka in India, was started by Shaka invaders. It is only a misconception of ignorant historians. Actually it was Shalivahana, the grandson of Vikramaditya who started the ShalivahanaShaka in 78 AD after defeating the Shaka invaders. Apart from Shalivahana, there are shakas in name of Shudraka in 756 BC, Shri Harsha shaka in 456 BC, Kalchuri or Chedi shaka in 248 AD etc.

The Christian Era or Eesavee Samvat:

The Julian, now Gregorian calendar does not start with the exact points of sun’s entry in the zodiac signs. This is commonly called Christian calendar. It was started by Julius Caeser, emperor of Roman Empire in 45 BC after 10 years of Vikram Samvat. He wanted to start the year on winter solstice, but the practice was to start month from new moon day all over the world. So despite his order, the year started 7 days after winter solstice in Puash Krishna of 10th Vikram Samvat. The original intended day of start of year was called Christmas.

-Dr. Shyam Deo Mishra, Assistant Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi

Concept of New Year (or Calendar) in Vedic System (Part- I)

-Dr. Shyam Deo Mishra, Assistant Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi

mishraDr. Mishra is National Coordinator of Jyotish at Mukta-Swadhyaya-Peetham (Institute of Distance Education),  Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi

“Time never marks its beginning with a thunderstorm”, this quotation of Thomas Mann does indicate the lack of concepts of the beginning of time in western world which often termed as Epoch, Era in historical parlance. While in Bharatvarsha, numerous eras have been in practice since Vedic period. The most ancient eras like; Brahma-Samvat, Srishti-Samvat, Kartikeya Samvat etc are purely the concept of prodigious Indian mind and no such era is being mentioned in any other civilization. Such concepts not only emphatically establish the antiquity of Aryan or Indian civilization but also indicate its height of advancement in academic, social and political perspective. As mentioned before, several Samvatsaras or eras described in Vedic and Pauranic scriptures were being practiced in India and being followed by other cultures with subtle changes according to their suitability. Before defining several Samvatsaras its concept must be understood first.

Samvatsar:

In Vedas, the word Samvatsara (short form is Samvat) is used for year. The definition of Samvatsara is ‘Samvasanti ritavah yasmin’ means ‘in which Ritu or season does reside’. Hence Samvatsara is the collection or cycle of seasons. Now the question is that why the word ‘ritavah’ used to define the meaning of Samvatsara or how Ritu does related to Samvatsar? Actually the answer is in the word itself which is derived from the root verb ‘tsara(Bhwaadi-gana, 554) that means ‘to move in hiding (Chhadma or Vakra) or curve’. We know that the Earth’s curved motion in its elliptical orbit constantly changes its direction that causes seasons or Ritus. One must understand that the primary cause of life on earth lies on her constantly changing seasons. Therefore ‘Samvatsar’, the originator of seasons, also called as ‘Prajapati’.  In the space of solar system there are 6 zones of varying energy which are called as ‘Vashatkara’. Parallel to 6 Vashatkara in space, there are 6 seasons on earth, each extending to motion of sun in 2 signs (60 degrees). The word Varsha or Sharad clearly manifests its relation with Ritu (such as ‘Varsha’ & ‘Sharad’) or season. Aitreya Brahmana (7/17)  defines the Samvatsar- It means, there are 360 Ahaani (24 hours) or 720 Ahoraatraas (days & nights) in a year (Samvatsar).

Happy Chaitra Vikram Samvat 2071 and Happy Navratri 2014 by Vikrmn CA Verma 10 Alone

Synonyms of Samvatsar are Samvat, Vatsara, Varsha, Haayan, Shaka, Sharad, San etc. Each synonym ensconces different meaning, form and usage of Samvatsara in it. Another meaning of Samvatsara is Sam+vat+sarati (Sameekrirooopena saranti yasmaat kaalaat sa Samvatsara) that means the period from which everything start from the balanced state. In other words, it is a particular point of time from which all move accordingly and simultaneously. In fact, when a king wanted to start a particular Samvatsara or Samvat he tended to release his subject from all kinds of debts. Thus new financial year, and later on, the academic sessions etc did start from the commencement of Samvatsara. Hence, all our activities, financial year, academic sessions, festivals etc tends to move along with Samvatsara. It also means ‘a series of sequential years’ that started from a phenomenon like Yudhishthir Samvat, Kali Samvat, Vikram Samvat etc.

The Cause of the beginning of Samvatsara:

There must be a social, sacral, gracious or political cause behind the commencement of any Samvatsara. Several sacrifices (Shraut & Smaart Yaag) like ‘Aagraayaneshti’, ‘Navaanneshti’ ‘Chaaturmaasya’ etc tended to start at the beginning of Samvatsar.  Whenever a king wanted to introduce a new Samvat or era he had to amortize all the debts of his subject. This uniqueness of introducing a new Samvat makes Indian civilization more sublime than rest of the world.

The time of the start of Samvatsara (or Era):

In Vedic tradition, the start of any era (Samvat or Shaka) generally coincides with particular celestial phenomena. Why? It is because our ancestors had a strong belief that there is a direct relation among time, planetary motion and mundane world. Some of those copiously mentioned phenomena which used as the commencement points of any Samvatsar are:

  1. Vernal equinox (Vasanta Sampaat) – When sun comes at equator on 23rd March (Visuva-din).
  2. Summer solstice (Dakshinayana) – When sun reaches at the farthest point in his northward motion and starts southward journey on 23rd June.
  3. Autumnal equinox (Sharat Sampaat) – When sun crosses equator on 23rd September.
  4. Winter solstice (Uttarayana) – When sun reaches at the farthest point in south and starts northward journey on 22nd December.

Based on these phenomena, there are several systems (or ways) used to manifest a year or Samvatsar. For an instance, one of the calendars starts from the Uttarayana or winter solstice. It is the beginning of divyadin (day of devas). Bhishma Pitamaha waited for 58 days after falling on the bed of arrows on 10th day of Mahabharat war in 3139 BC. As it is start of ‘divya-dina’, it is commonly called as ‘Bada-dina’. As solar year starts with this month so Krishna in Gita (10/35) said that he is Margashirsha among months. It is called ‘Agrahayana’ because it is starting month (agra) of ‘Hayana’ or year. Year or hayana has two halves or ayans: Uttarayan and dakshinayan. Since equinoctial point is moving backward in about 26,000 years (300 in about 2000 years) therefore in Bhaarateeya chronological history, almost at intervals of 2 or 3 thousand years one can find the commencement of new system of calendar.

to be continued….

Imparting Indian Culture : A Global Perspective – II

Continued from Part-I

The Inwardness of Indian Mind

How to convey this idea of Indian spirituality to the student of Indian Culture or to an audience? Perhaps through the second characteristics “inward looking” or inwardness. Inwardness means to live from within outwards both individually and collectively. Individually it means not to live in the surface physical, vital or intellectual being but in inner subliminal or spiritual mind or soul, which can intuitively see or feel or perceive the inner invisible realities behind the outer visible forms. Collectively it means to create a society based on psychologic and spiritual principles, which felicitates the inner psychological and spiritual development of the individual towards his spiritual destiny.

Every outer activity, even something mundane like economics, is the outer expression of some inner psychological needs or forces, and these psychological forces are in turn the expression of some cosmic and spiritual truth or forces. The Vedic social ideal is to make the whole collective life of man a conscious expression of these deeper and higher psychological, cosmic and spiritual forces. We may convey the idea of the spirit as the source and goal of this inwardness and spirituality as the quest for this deepest and innermost truth of the spirit in every activity of human life.

spirit

In ancient India, philosophy for the sage and seer is the intellectual expression of his spiritual experience.  For others or for the collectivity, philosophy is a means for the intellectual being of the individual and the collectivity to receive, hold or assimilate the truth of the spirit as much as they can, with whatever limitations or imperfections. Religion in ancient India is the attempt to communicate the truth of the Spirit to the instinctive and emotional being of the masses through concrete symbols, images and legends.  Through philosophy and religion, the spiritual truths discovered by sages through spiritual experience were made accessible to the intellectual and emotional being of the community or in other words, we may say light of the spirit descends into the intellect and emotions. This may lead to much dilution of the spiritual truth, but at the same there is a greater diffusion of the truth of the spirit into the masses.

Towards a Balanced Approach

However the student of Indian Culture should not be given the impression that ancient Indian Culture is a total success or something perfect or complete. It was a great attempt to create a civilization based on a spiritual vision.  But the attempt was only a partial success with some glaring failures. It was a great success in religion, philosophy and culture. But in society and politics, the attempt broke-down and went astray somewhere in the middle. In society, Indian attempt achieved only what Sri Aurobindo describes as “half-aristocratic, half-theocratic feudalism” (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Works, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, SABCL, Vol.14, Foundations of Indian Culture Pg.335) with the caste system as its last result. In politics and government the attempt to govern politics by dharma couldn’t be sustained after the epical age. As Sri Aurobindo describes this attempt to govern outer life by Dharma –

“But the difficulty of making the social life an expression of man’s true self and some highest realization of the spirit within him is immensely greater than that which attends a spiritual self-expression through the things of the mind, religion, thought, art, literature, and while in these India reached extraordinary heights and largenesses, she could not in the outward life go beyond certain very partial realisations and very imperfect tentatives,—a general spiritualising symbolism, an infiltration of the greater aspiration, a certain cast given to the communal life, the creation of institutions favourable to the spiritual idea. Politics, society, economics are the natural field of the two first and grosser parts of human aim and conduct recognised in the Indian system, interest and hedonistic desire: Dharma, the higher law, has nowhere been brought more than partially into this outer side of life, and in politics to a very minimum extent; for the effort at governing political action by ethics is usually little more than a pretence” (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Works, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, SABCL, Vol.2 Karmayogin, Pg.210).

 The main aim of the political thought of Ramayana and Mahabharatha is to uplift politics to a higher level by harnessing it to the yoke of Dharma or in other words, dharmic elevation of the political life of the community. But in later ages Dharmic aims were subordinated to the practical and economic interests, Artha. This Indian term Dharma is a pregnant concept with a multidimensional significance. But in general we may define Dharma as the values, ideals or ways of living derived from the higher laws of life or Nature, which leads to the higher evolution of humanity in the mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual domains of consciousness.

So while it is necessary to highlight our past achievements, the student should also be given a very unbiased and objective assessment of our past failures. In fact our emphasis should be neither on our past achievements nor our failures but on the future work to be done by India. The factors or causes behind our achievements and failures have to be brought out in such a way that it gives a clear direction to the future work to be done.

So our aim in the education of Indian culture should be not to create a narrow-minded and sentimental patriot, but someone who is imbued with the essential spirit and genius of India but at the same time with a broad global outlook which can understand and appreciate the greatness in other cultures.

-Mr. M.S. Srinivasan, Senior Research Associate, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, India.

Rediscovering Rama (Part-II)

sita-with-luv-and-kush-CH85_l

Continued from Part-I

Even if, for the sake of argument, we do take into account the interpolation of the Uttara Kanda as part of the Ramayana, the story of Sita’s banishment cannot be read to be sexist or oppressive.  It is rather a tale of pathos, tragedy, and sympathy for the plight of both Sita and Rama.

Nowhere in the Ramayana do the main characters truly doubt Sita’s purity. What is being shown, however, is the fickleness of public perception, and the lesson being taught is the need to pay heed to the words and concerns of a king’s subjects, the duty to put the interests and desires of the subjects of one’s kingdom above the desires of the king and queen themselves. Lakshmana in many ways fills the role of everyman in the poem: his anger at the agni pariksha and banishment of Sita, his anger at Dasaratha for depriving Rama of his crown, his sense of despair when he must leave Sita at the forest, these are what we all feel upon reading the Ramayana.  This is indeed what the poet Valmiki intends us to feel.  The ability of Rama to, however, transcend these feelings, to put Dharma first, above his own heart and heartbreak—that is what makes him stand apart as the Maryada Puroshottam and what makes his reign forever hallowed as Rama Rajya.

Even in the worst moments of Uttara Kanda, the cruel, heartless Rama that others would have us believe hatefully cast away Sita simply does not exist.  There is a beautiful passage that describes the bliss shared by Sita and Rama during their time back in Ayodhya after Ravana was vanquished:

Rama and Sita would spend the second half of every day together in Rama’s Ashoka-grove, enjoying heavenly music and dance and partaking of gourmet food and intoxicating drinks.  It is said, Taking in his hand the pure nectar of flowers as intoxicating as the Maireyaka wine, Rama…made Sita drink it, just as Indra does Sachi…Seated in the company of the celebrated Sita, [Rama] shone with splendour like Vasishta seated along with Arundhati.  Rama, steeped in joy like gods, afforded delight thus day after day to…Sita, who resembled a divine damsel.’ (Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana (With Sanskrit Text and English Translation), Gita Press, Gorakhpur (Sixth Edition 2001), Book 7, Canto 42, Verses 19 and 24 (Volume 2, p. 819))

It is at such a moment that one day Sita informs Rama that she is pregnant.  Delighted at this revelation, Rama asks her to name a desire of hers that he will immediately fulfil.  Sita responds, O Raghava! I wish to visit the holy penance-groves and to stay, O Lord!, at the feet of sages…living on the banks of the Ganga … This is my greatest wish that I should stay even for one night in the penance-grove of those who live only on fruits and (edible) roots’ (Id., Verses 33-34, (Volume 2, p. 820).  Rama promises that she will be taken there for a visit the very next day.

Immediately afterwards, in the evening, Rama is informed by a spy of negative gossip surrounding Sita.  Rama is told that he is being rebuked by the people of Ayodhya as follows:  ‘Why does not Rama censure [Sita], who formerly had been forcibly carried away by Ravana? … Such conduct of our wives shall have to be suffered by us also, since whatever a king does, the subjects follow’ (Id., Canto 43, (Volume 2, p. 821).

When the gossip has been confirmed by others, Rama summons his brothers and tells them of the news.  He attests to his own certainty of Sita’s purity:  ‘To convince me Sita at that time entered the fire:  before you, O Lakshmana (son of Sumitra), Fire-god, the bearer of oblations to gods declared that Sita was free from sins, so also Vayu, who dwells in the sky, (so also) proclaimed the two—sun and moon, before the gods, Sita free from sins, before all the Rishis.  In Lanka, Sita, (Pure of conduct), has been handed over to me by Mahendra (the lord of gods), in the presence of the gods and the Gandharvas and my inner conscience bears testimony to her purity and nobility’ (Id., Canto 45, (Volume 2, p. 824).

However, it is the danger of infamy and the risk it poses to his ability to rule effectively that causes Rama to drive away Sita.  He tells his brothers, ‘O heroes among men, afraid of ill-report, I can even give up my life or all of you together, O bull among men, how much it is incumbent to leave Sita.  All of you see me submerged in the ocean of sorrow.  I do not see any greater misfortune than this’ (Id., Canto 45, Verses 13-16 (Volume 2, p. 825).

It is not doubt about Sita’s chastity that drives Rama towards this terrible deed but rather the dread realization that in order to safeguard his kingdom and his reputation among his subjects, he must go against what he knows to be true in the depths of his inner conscience.  The takeaway here is not that wives are easily discarded but rather the terrible price Dharma often exacts upon us, and more specifically, how beholden even the most powerful of kings are to the most humble of subjects.  It is after all in Rama Rajya that even a dog has a voice in court.  (Once, a dog appeared in Rama’s court to complain of being beaten by a man, and Rama duly gave the dog justice and punished the perpetrator).

One may also speculate that in accordance with the ancient principles of Garbhasamskar (prenatal education), Rama may have wanted to protect Sita from the distress of being surrounded by such poisonous rumours.  Stress and anxiety is not desirable during pregnancy, as every thought, feeling, emotion, action of the mother has tremendous impact on the child in the womb.  It may be that the ashram of Vasishtha was the best place for her during this part of Sita’s life and the best environment in which to raise Lava and Kusha to become the great heroes they grew up to be.

The Ramayana shows us that the king is beholden to the lowest of his subjects, even a crass, gossip-mongering person.  The cost of infamy, of earning a bad name before his subjects no matter how unfairly, is too dear to pay for a sovereign whose first duty must be to safeguard the interests of his kingdom and to preserve his reign.  A celebrated Sanskrit shloka proclaims, yatha bhumis tatha toyam, yatha bijam tathankurah / yatha deshas tatha bhasha, yatha raja tatha praja (As the land so the [ground] water; as the seed so the sprout; as the region [country] so the language; as the king so the people).  This is the entire theme of the Ramayana.  Rama must always hold himself to the highest standards, to be above reproach (even unfair reproach), to serve as the role model that the king is meant to be.

As  Sri Aurobindo advises in his writings on the Epics of India, while dealing with the human personality of Rama, one must take into account the  spirit  of his age and race:  I  consider myself  under  an obligation to enter into the  spirit,  significance, atmosphere  of  the Mahabharata, Iliad, Ramayana and  identify  myself with  their  time-spirit before I can feel what their heroes  were  in themselves apart from the details of their outer action’ (Volume: 22-23-24 [SABCL] (Letters on Yoga), 419).  It is of utmost importance that we must have a thorough knowledge of the yugadharma of the age of Ramayana and interpret the events accordingly.  We create needless confusion and conflicts when we interpret ancient texts in the context of present times and present yugadharma.  When interpreted in light of the yugadharma of the age of the Ramayana, it is clear that every action of Rama was flawless and he followed the maryada of the yugadharma.

Indeed, Rama’s life is meant to exemplify that of Maryada Purushottom.  He is the best among men who scrupulously observed and honoured the relevant ethics, customs and mores of the society in which he lived.  He is the one worthy of emulating—an ideal son, an ideal husband, an ideal brother, an ideal king, an ideal protector of Dharma, an ideal friend, who placed Dharma and honour above all else.  In this, Rama is different from Krishna.  Rama is Maryada Purushottom, whereas Krishna is the Sampoorna Avatar who often had to break the strictures of Dharma in order to protect Dharma.  Both are Vishnu, but their roles are different.  It is said that to approach Krishna, one must first worship and follow Rama.  Only then is one qualified to worship Krishna.

This is the worldview of Dharma that underpins Hindu thought and literature.  It is in stark contrast to Western individualistic romanticism that valorises the story of King Edward VIII of England who abdicated the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.  In Hindu Dharma, a kingdom is not a toy or privilege to be thrown away at whim.  The totality of a king’s life must be devoted to his kingdom above all else; that is his svadharma that he must perform at all costs.

While the plight of Sita is truly terrible—she is perhaps Hinduism’s most famous and revered single mother—Rama is no less a victim.  He never takes another wife, so devoted is he to Sita.  Rather than take a second wife, he has an image of her constructed to be placed next to him during yajnas (because yajnas can only be performed by a man in the company of his wife).  Nor is his action in any way misogynistic.  It is not that Sita is badly treated because she is a woman and therefore inferior; in fact, later on in the Uttara Kanda, even Lakshmana is banished for the sake of preserving Rama’s honour and Dharma.  His entire life, Rama had to sacrifice that which was most beloved to him for the sake of Dharma—in order to protect his father’s word, he gave up the kingdom; similarly, when taking into account the Uttara Kanda, Rama has to sacrifice Sita and Lakshmana, those who were the closest to him.  As the Mahabharata instructs us, “For the sake of the family, the individual may have to be renounced; for the sake of the community, the family may have to be renounced; for the sake of the country, the community may have to be renounced; for the sake of the Self, the whole world may have to be renounced.”

My reading of the Valmiki Ramayana transformed my life.  I now turn to Rama for comfort, solace and peace, and always find it in his tender, compassionate gaze.  To know the love of Rama, simply chant the divinely powerful mantra, ‘Om Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’.  This is one of the most powerful mantras, and the reason it is so often recited at the time of death is because of the ultimate peace it bestows upon the atman.

Do not just take my word for it.  Rediscover Rama on your own.  Dive into the ocean of the primary sources of the Ramayana.  It is a travesty that today the publication of our primary source texts and their authentic translations are languishing, while popular but unauthoritative interpretations or retellings are proliferating, leading to confusion and misperceptions of the truths of our shastras and Hindu tradition.  We must learn the Ramayana from the lips of Valmiki himself; the likes of Devdutt Pattanaik and Amish Tripathi cannot suffice or substitute.  We must go back to the source texts and traditions of Dharma to rediscover the glories of our Itihaasas and our deities.  With respect to Valmiki Ramayana, I would recommend the following as English sources (much better sources are available in Hindi and other vernacular languages; unfortunately, the choice in English is still rather limited): the Gita Press, Gorakhpur English translation of the unabridged text; the verse-by-verse translation provided on www.valmikiramayan.net; Kamala Subramaniam’s English translation (which although abridged is quite comprehensive) of the text; and Lectures on the Ramayana by V.S. Srinivasa Sastri.

– Ms. Aditi Banerjee, Board of Directors, World Association for Vedic Studies

Rediscovering Rama (Part-I)

– Ms. Aditi Banerjee, Board of Directors, World Association for Vedic Studies

Aditi 2Ms. Banerjee is a practicing attorney at a Fortune 500 financial services company.  She specializes in corporate tax law and worked in the New York and London offices of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.  She co-edited the book, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America.  She has published several essays on Hinduism and the Hindu-American experience in publications such as Outlook India and Swarajya, including “Hindu-Americans: An Emerging Identity in an Increasingly Hyphenated World”, which was included in The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America since 1945 and “Hindu Pride”, which was included in Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America: A Short History (Religion in American Life). She earned her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and received B.A. in International Relations, magna cum laude, from Tufts University.

Rama is one of the most exalted figures in all of Hinduism, yet we find him very much maligned today.  Scholars like Wendy Doniger accuse Rama of abandoning Sita because he was afraid of becoming a ‘sex addict’.  Movies like Sita Sings the Blues and Fire reinforce this stereotype of Rama as a patriarchal misogynist who oppressed and abused Sita.  Such interpretations have skewed public perceptions into thinking of Rama as a woman-hating, stuffy, self-righteous, sexist god-king.

In the face of such anti-Rama propaganda, it is hardly surprising that Rama has become unpopular in some pockets of the Hindu community.  As soon as his name is but uttered, modern Hindus immediately denounce him for his cruelty towards Sita.  But it is time that we start the process of rediscovering his glories, his true, effulgent nature, the sweetness and nobility of his personality and the manifold reasons why he is Maryada Purushottom.

A strange twist of events led me to Rama.  I have always been a devotee of Krishna, and up until several years ago, I thought of Rama as a stern, overly serious prince who could never laugh, sing or dance—in short, as a sad contrast to my ever mischievous and world-delighting Krishna.

Then, one day, my spiritual preceptor suggested that I add a particular picture of Rama to my puja room.  As I started worshiping that image, my heart began to soften towards Rama.  At the same time, I was reading a biography of a powerful siddha yogi who was a devout follower of Rama, and something interesting happened.  My iPod used to be on shuffle mode and I had thousands of songs to cycle through so that no one song repeated very frequently, but while I was reading that book, a particular kirtan on Rama (the Sri Ranamana Sankirtan as sung by monks of the Ramakrishna Mission) kept repeating on the shuffle mode, at least once a day and sometimes even more often.  That kirtan entranced me and made me love Rama and feel close to him.  I took it as a benediction from that great yogi.

Finally, I felt that I should read the Valmiki Ramayana.  I was determined to not rely on commentaries or popular retellings or heavily abridged versions, but to instead go for the most authentic translation that I could find in English of the unabridged text.  In delight, I discovered the Gita Press Gorakhpur translation.  I started reading it, and I was amazed.  Reading the Valmiki Ramayana is unlike reading any other book in the universe.  It fills you with tremendous peace and serenity.  The poetry of it is so pretty and poignant; the characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman, and so many others, shine forth with their idealism and nobility.  Most of all, the depiction of Rama is so utterly different from the vilified version of Rama fed to us by mainstream culture and media.

Valmiki’s Rama is tender, full of valour and noble idealism, deeply loving towards all of his family, a kind, compassionate, gentle young prince.  At the end of the war, when Indra grants him a boon, Rama asks that all the vanaras (members of the monkey army) who selflessly gave their lives for him in the war against the rakshasas be brought back to life.  That is the kindness of Rama.

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The love and adoration Rama has for Sita is unparalleled.  In their time together, he is ever solicitous of her comfort.  One of the most renowned commentators of the Valmiki Ramayana, the eloquent orator, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, describes the time they spent together in Ayodhya immediately after their wedding as follows:

‘The Poet has no words good enough to describe the closeness of the union, of the ways in which husband pleased wife and wife pleased husband. …  They read each other’s thoughts readily; in fact these told each other what they wanted.  The tongue and the lips did not play any part nor perhaps did the eyes; heart spoke to heart.  Hridaya and hridaya commingled.  The desire of each was known to the other.  It is difficult to say who loved whom the more’ (Lectures on the Ramayana, The Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Madras Samskrit Academy, 2006 (pp. 23-24).

One of my favourite stories from the Ramayana is the story of the crow.  Once, in Chitrakuta, Rama was sleeping with his head in Sita’s lap.  A crow appeared and pecked at Sita’s chest with its beak, causing her discomfort.  When Rama saw the suffering of Sita, although it was not serious, he became as enraged as a hissing snake, and with eyes rolling in anger, he took a blade of grass and charged it with the power of the Brahmastra missile, making that blade of grass blaze forth like the fire of universal dissolution, and hurled it at the crow.  Such was Rama’s devotion to Sita.

When Rama learns of Sita’s abduction by Ravana, he is so distraught and devastated, so utterly lost without her, that he can hardly function for his grief.  It is Lakshmana who has to rouse him to anger, to fight, to take action to win her back.  Sastri again describes this beautifully:

‘We have seen already that the love that drew Rama and Sita together was most remarkable.  When she was lost to him there was no limit to the grief that he bore … He could not find any rest being away from her.  He nearly went mad.  He wandered from place to place in the forest.  He raved.  He implored the trees and hills and rivers.  He threatened the gods with destruction of the world.  He threatened to take his own life.  Lakshmana was hard put to it to comfort him in this extreme sorrow’ (Id., p. 26). 

This is not the mark of a misogynistic man; this is the story of a man who deeply loved his wife but who simply loved honour (Dharma) more.

And that brings us to the event that has become the stick with which modernists so gleefully beat and defame Rama today—the banishment of Sita to the forest after their return to Ayodhya.  The main point to be made here is that the entire section of the story in which this incident takes place, the Uttara Kanda, is not accepted by experts of the Ramayana as part of the original Valmiki Ramayana.  In other words, the main crime of which Rama is accused is not even part of the original tale!  It is held to be a later interpolation.

The original version of Valmiki Ramayana ends after the Yuddha Kanda, upon Rama’s victory over Ravana and his and Sita’s triumphant return to Ayodhya.  The phala shruti of the Ramayana is also included at the end of the Yuddha Kanda, making it the logical ending point of the story since the phala shruti must occur at the end of a text and not in the middle of it.  Further, in the summary retelling of the Ramayana that is included in the Mahabharata, no mention is made of the incidents (including the banishment of Sita) that take place in the Uttara Kanda.  Finally, there are references to certain kingdoms and peoples in the Uttara Kanda that identify the verses as being of later origin than the original Ramayana.

Part 2 of this blog will examine the events of the Uttara Kanda and show how, even taking into account that later interpolation, Rama cannot be accused of being a misogynist or in any way evil or oppressive.

to be continued…..

 

Ganesh/Janus, and the Lost Hindu/Vedic Secrets of Christmas and New Year’s Eve (Part-II)

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Continued from part-I

On a more subtle level of understanding, why would Janus/Ganesh be worshipped as the old year leaves and the new one begins? What is a year? It is time. Then who is old man time? Time is Saturn, whom the Greeks called Chronos, hence the word chronology. It is well known in India that Saturn, who in Sanskrit is called Shani, is the Lord of time and also the placer of obstructions or impediments. In time, things that once served us become rigid or fossilized and then become obstructions on our path. We then need to throw them out and make some new resolutions. We need to remember to be child-like again, like a baby, worship the baby with an elephant’s head, Ganesh/Janus, to remove the obstacles and give us a fresh start so we can make more progress.

In the extreme, the poor man’s method of forgetting the past has been alcohol, so we see it is used and often abused in ringing in the New Year. The wearing of masks to celebrate New Years is related to our removing the layers of not self that may have accumulated over the year. It is related to the masks or faces that Janus/Ganesh presents to us, asking the question: “Who are you really? Then why do we celebrate Janus/Ganesh in the aftermath of the Winter Solstice? What is the meaning of the longest night of the year and it’s opposite the Summer Solstice, the longest day? The ancient thinkers called those two days the gates of the year. If you include the Autumnal and Vernal Equinox in March and September, you can see Janus/Ganesh Quadrafons, the four headed Ganesh. But the two gates in June and December are the most famous.

In India it is believed that the two solstices divide the year into two parts, the time from December to June when the days are increasing and the days from June to December when the nights are increasing. From this perspective, the two solstices are “gateways” to the realms of dark and light. The two times of year are called in Sanskrit the Uttarayana and the Dakshinayana, or the Northern way and Southern way. It appears that the “yana” of Sanskrit is the same as the “Jana” of Latin. The other name for these two times of year is Devayana and Pitriyana.

The Devayana or realm of light, is the place where the Angels or Devas, the Divine helpers reside. In the material world you could call this place Heaven. It is closer to God or Brahman the Divine light. The apex of Devayana is Brahmaloka, the golden planet of the Creator. This path leads back to the eternal, spiritual and transcendental realm. The gate to the realms of Light opens the day of the Winter Solstice and remains open until the night of the Summer Solstice. At that moment the Dakshinayana or dark gate opens. The path into darkness is called Pitriyana or the path of the ancestors. The implication is that one’s ancestors are often still bound in darkness resulting from previous actions that have produced negative consequences. As a result, they still reside in Pitriloka or in material places within the darkness of matter.

In the Vedas it is said that a yogi who leaves their body during the time from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice cannot achieve liberation and must take birth again. Conversely, those who leave their body during the time from the Winter Solstice to the Summer Solstice can achieve liberation by going out through the Deva gate. In the Mahabharata there is a well known story that the great warrior Grandfather Bhisma lay for days on a bed of arrows waiting for the Winter Solstice gate to open before he would leave his body. He had been given the power to leave his body at will and so waited for the Northern gate to open and then ascended to the Deva realm.

These then, are the two gates that Janus/Ganesh is looking at and guarding with his two heads. The two heads in their original form of Janus Geminius also conceal a further mystery. That form was a male and female face wearing a single crown. This form of Ganesh is often depicted in the spiritual art of India. The male and female are Shiva and Parvati, who are Father and Mother God as well as Father and Mother Nature. Shiva is also called Mahadeva or the Greatest of the Divines and Yogesvara or the Supreme Yogi. He is the ruler of the Devayana path. Parvati or Durga is the Mother matter and place of birth of all beings. She is Mother Nature and the keeper of the dark material energy, the Womb of Life. Thus she is the ruler of the Pitriyana path, of birth and our ancestral relations. It is those relationships that we celebrate during the festivities of the Winter Solstice/Christmas.

According to the Vedic knowledge, the two Persons of the Divine are an inseparable couple who love each other endlessly and are perpetually embraced. Like the yin/yang symbol of the Taoist philosophy, Shiva and Parvati, the light and dark of this world are elaborately intertwined. In India, their conjoined form is depicted in many ways. In one of these, they share one half of each other’s body. That form, called Ardineshvara shows the upper quarter of Shiva on the left with the upper quarter of Parvati on the right. On the lower quarter, Parvati’s leg is on the left, beneath Shiva’s torso and his leg is the quarter on the right beneath Parvati’s upper body. They are shown as dancing together, becoming each other and yet retaining their distinctive identity and individuality. They have two heads with one crown.

Often this cosmic form is depicted with Ganesh’s face on the front, between the faces of Shiva and Parvati. In that way he represents the transitions or gateways between the various states within matter, light and dark, past and future, birth and death. In other words, he is worshipped first at the beginning of every new thing or phase of being. He is Janus/Ganesh, the Lord of transitions or progress as we move through time which presents itself as a series of portals or new opportunities which requires us to move on and forward from what we were in the past. In our New Year current celebration, we say good-bye to the old man (the same Saturn Janus gave shelter to) of the previous year and usher in the baby of progressive possibility through Ganesh/Janus. That Janus gave shelter to Saturn is due to his being the remover of obstacles and whereas Shani (Saturn) is the placer of them. In fact, both Shani and Ganesh are angels (Devas) according to the philosophy of Hinduism but they have different functions.

At another level, Ganesh is depicted in the Yoga Philosophy as the deity in charge of the first chakra of the seven chakras that are depicted within our body’s energy system. That chakra is called Muladhara and is related to the earth element. The earth element passes in through our mouth while carrying the light or life force (in our Northern gate) and then, after giving us life, passes out through the Southern gate (our anus). This is Ani again or the annual circle of living. The year cycle is replicated in our body as the two gates of our cycle of life. In the cosmic body it is the same. In India it is said that the cosmos is actually a great person or form of God, called the Jagat Purusha or Cosmic Person. We are the microcosm and He/She the Jagat Purusha are the macrocosm. On January 1st, Ganesh/Janus guards the gate or transition from the first chakra where we begin as a baby on the earth, toward our ascent through the six chakras until we ascend to Heaven at Midsummer Night’s Eve, the Summer Solstice. The seventh chakra is the 7th Heaven, where Mahadeva and Mother Parvati live surrounded by all the Devas and holding their favorite child Janus/Ganesha.

There are of course, many more such mysteries and whole volumes in the Vedas, related to Ganesh, Shiva, Parvati and their relation to our lives, the cosmos and beyond. This article has just been one small exploration into the origins of the Hindu/Vedic origins of world culture that have become shrouded in the mists of time. Many of our now unconscious rituals and actions and most of our speech and ideas have their origin in the great cultures that preceded us. Rome was one of those cultures and India which preceded Rome and Greece is a rich storehouse of ancient wisdom that is still relevant today.

Fortunately for us, the culture of India is still intact, so a study of the world in the light of its teachings and history can reveal the roots and depth of meaning behind many of our now forgotten beliefs and customs. May Janus/Ganesh make the way straight before you, remove the obstacles to your progressive unfoldment and open the gate to your Divine aspirations. May you pass safely through the solstice gate and find no obstacles as you cross the threshold of the New Year.

Om Gam Ganapataye Om Namaha.

May Lord Ganesh bless you with success.

– Mr.Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi), Founder of VASA, Canada, USA