Archives for posts with tag: astrology and behaviour

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From my earlier posts we are already familiar with the universal prohibitions arising from the nature of the Tithi ( Hindu Lunar day), the daily Chaughadias ( hourly change in auspicious and inauspicious phases of the day) eclipses etc. The longer term prohibitions become more significant as they affect Hindu social life and commercial activity over extended periods as contrasted with the shorter term prohibitions which pass quickly from hour to hour or Lunar day to Lunar day. These prohibitions relate to ‘universal effects’ as contrasted with ‘individual effects’ which are the concern of the horoscope of an individual or sometimes of a national unit.These universal prohibitions, applicable to all are governed by the following astrological or astronomical events:

DAKSHINAYAN

The fundamental precept of long-term prohibitions arise from the belief that when the Sun is in Uttarayan (Norther swing) moving from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer, it is an auspicious time  as the Sun becomes stronger and empowered with every passing day. The commencement of this process is marked by the great festival of Makar Sakranti ( entry of the Sun into Capricorn) mid January, with great rejoicing, kite flying and feeding cattle around town. When the Sun is in Dakshinayan ( southern swing) moving from Cancer to Capricorn, its rays grow weaker, losing power and the time is less auspicious. This is marked by Kark Sakranti ( entry into Cancer), mid July. If this were strictly observed or enforced, no auspicious activity like marriage, inauguration of temples , entry into a new home, ceremonial tonsure of a child’s hair, coronation or assumption of important office etc etc  would be astrologically recommended during a six month period during each year. Fortunately, relief has been provided in the month of Margsheesh ( November-December) but only till the Sun enters Sagittarius ( Dhanu Sakranti) in mid-December when the prohibition becomes total as in this month the Sun is at its weakest in the year.  This period is called the Malmas, the dark month.The prohibition ends with Makar Sakranti and suddenly there are marriages everywhere once again. Even a former Governor of Rajasthan state waited till Makar Sakranti before assuming office.

SHRAAD

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Soon after the Dakshinayan phase commences, come the further prohibitions on account of Shraad. These are observances which are not festive but equally essential. We are said to be born with two types of obligations: debts to the gods ( Dev Rinn) and those to the ancestors ( Pitri Rinn). Dev Rinns are discharged through prayer and ritual and the first half of every day is for that. Pitri Rinn is discharged through ritual observances for ancestors and the latter half of the day is appropriate for that. Both are to be undertaken with the Sun as witness, therefore preferably between sunrise and sunset.

The Shraads commence with the full-moon of the month of Bhadrapad and end with the no-moon of the month of Ashwin, generally falling in the month of September each year, prior to the Sharad ( Winter) Navratra ( discussed in the post on fasts). This is a fortnight during the year which is reserved for deceased ancestors. Ancestors include three generations of parents, grandparents and great grand parents and uncles, aunts and siblings who have no progeny other than yourself to honour them. That which is done with Shraddha, faith, is Shraad. During the Shraads all other auspicious and festive events are prohibited. Each of the fifteen Shraad days is dedicated to the ancestor who died on that Tithi. Prayers and offerings to ancestors consist of preparations of rice, lentil and milk and the favourite food of that ancestor if known and then distributed to five beings – a cow, a crow, a dog, ants and a beggar – called the Panch Gras. Thereafter Brahmins are fed. This upholds an ancient tradition of feeding all manner of beings before consuming ones righteous repast. Through the mouths of these beings the ancestors are satisfied and honoured. mahalaya-ama-nIt is believed that the ancestors are permitted to visit the mortal world from their realms as spirits during this period to observe whether they are still loved and remembered. Most people observe these rituals meticulously as it is believed that one will be blessed with progeny and they will be assured long life and a successful career only if the ancestors thus honoured bless the family. The principle is that you are only entitled to future generations if you care to remember and honour your past generations – sounds quite logical.

DEVSHAYAN

images (9)Growing up in an Indian home one often hears the remark ‘sorry we can’t celebrate the wedding for the next few months, the god’s are asleep’. This was always intriguing. how possibly did the gods go to sleep? Of course one was familiar with the strict timings observed in temples when the gods awaken in the morning to the chanting of Mantras and the afternoons when the curtains are drawn or gates closed when they are resting, bathing or being presented with offerings of food. The timing for worship and divine audience  Darshan, was fixed in the morning and evening hours. If you came at the wrong time your worship would be without viewing the deity of the temple. Thus one was familiar with the concept of divine rest periods. But the prolonged rest for months on end in the lunar calendar was another matter and once again had stellar origins.

The period of divine rest or inactivity falls between two Ekadashis ( eleventh Tithis). Beginning with the Ekadashi in the Indian month of Ashad, Shukla Paksh ( lunar ascending phase), falling generally in June-July, it extends to the Ekadashi falling in the month of Kartik, Shukla Paksh. The first Ekadashi is popularly known as Devshayan Ekadashi ( Divine rest Ekadashi), signalling commencement of Devshayan Dosh (divine inactivity affliction) and the second one is called Devauthni Ekadashi ( Divine awakening Ekadashi) signalling end of the afflicted months.

Hindu-God Vishnu imageAs the Devshayan Dosh runs more or less concurrently with the Dakshinayan, the prohibition becomes strengthened further and no one dares to breach it by arranging any auspicious activity then. After the Devuthni Ekadashi, cities in India suddenly spring to life for a month, squeezing in a spate of marriages and events. Roads become so crowded with marriage processions and bridegrooms on horseback and elephants moving with their dancing and singing entourages that traffic happily comes to a standstill, unless of course you have to take a flight or a train. Mass marriages are also the order of the day for people of humbler means.

MALMAS

A month later, despite the prohibition arising from ‘divine rest’ having been lifted, another prohibition arises on account of the Sun entering Sagittarius and once again there is a complete lull on the Hindu social calendar. The entire sub-continent pauses till the Sun leaves Sagittarius and enters Capricorn on Makar Sakranti when its Uttarayan phase begins. Then all is well again for another six months, though short-term prohibitions do crop up from time to time. the Pundit is your trusted guide through all this. The question arises why the Sun’s entry into Sagittarius is deemed unfortunate. Of course the obvious explanation is that it is the month in the year when it is the least empowered having moved to its southernmost point and therefore inauspicious. But there is also a mythological basis for Malmas being inauspicious.

Jupiter, lord of Sagittarius, is the divine mentor and Guru of the demigods. When a royal personage, like the Sun enters the abode of his Guru, he must humbly conduct himself as a disciple and assume a lower seat from him, which he does not find pleasant. This causes him discomfort and being thus reduced in stature he is not his radiant self and in such a state cannot be expected to confer auspiciousness on celebrations. Marriages therefore are avoided during this period. also deferred are important trading and commercial transactions. Indeed, the Indian stock market itself is affected by these distant and invisible cosmic events and it is only after Malmas has passed that the stock market assumes full momentum again.

  Once, being in a hurry I installed a statue of my father in the village square at considerable cost with a stone carved canopy, despite warnings by the Pundits. Within days I was informed that a wayward truck had hit the canopy and that it had shattered, though the statue only suffered minor damage as it too was toppled to the ground. Could have been an unfortunate co-incidence – who knows? 

While the presence of a visible Full-Moon engendering a feeling of auspiciousness and a clearly visible eclipse or transit of a comet arousing fear and being interpreted as evil, may be understandable, the occurrence of a cosmic event which is not visible and can only be known through calculation of movement of the Sun affecting something as mundane and material as the stock market is most remarkable and shows the dominant influence of stellar phenomena on Indian culture and civilization. One cannot escape the feeling that India invisibly reels under a stellar spell.

ADHIKMAS

The third major prohibition period is the additional  month which we saw had to be inserted within  a month in the lunar calendar every three years. Generally Adhikmas ( additional month) falls in late summer or monsoons and therefore in the period of Dakshinaya and the Devshayan, thus not creating an additional period of prohibition but this may not always be so, when the prohibition period would grow even longer than it is. Apart from the prohibition of marriages, during this month, the scriptures  demand that one prays more, fasts, sleeps on the floor, eats only once a day and is charitable.

JUPITER IN LEO

The entry of Jupiter in Leo is another signal for prohibitions. Again we go back to the relationship of Jupiter and the Sun in Indian lore. As the Guru of the Indian Olympus enters Leo, abode of the Sun, the Sun begins to feel the same discomfort having to act deferentially to his Guru and marriages are once again avoided during Jupiter’s sojourn in Leo. However as this would mean no marriages for a whole year because that is the period that slow-moving Jupiter remains in the Sign, the Pundits have found a way out of this impossible prohibition by restricting it to a shorter duration when Jupiter enters a segment of three degrees of Leo from 13 degrees 20 minutes to 16 degrees 40 minutes called the Navmansh of Leo, thereby limiting the prohibition to less than two months.

COMBUST JUPITER AND VENUS

Other prohibitions are associated with periods during which Jupiter or Venus become ‘combust’ ( get too close to the Sun as viewed from Earth). A ‘combust’ planet cannot exert its benefic influence and becomes a source of negativity, therefore inauspicious during such phases. During such phases also, marriages are avoided. fortunately with the Sun’s movement onwards as also that of faster moving planets, the combust status remains only for a short duration.

From the foregoing it should become abundantly clear that planning a calendar event in India is no joke and the astrological almanac is the arbiter for fixing the timing of auspicious and inauspicious events with the assistance of the Pundit – those who take this lightly do so at their own peril!

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Gandhi observing fast of silence

The Hindu calendar is as full of fasts as festivals, with fasting being obligatory on most festivals. A fast can be total and stringent or of a limited nature. for instance a fast can prohibit the consumption of certain cereals, milk and its products, types of vegetables, particularly onion and garlic and other root vegetables and recommend  consumption of alterante edibles. Fasts can also include other prohibitions, like abstaining from drinking water,  avoiding eating consuming meat,abjuring violence, impurity, untruthfulness, sleep, gambling and sex, and observing silence.  Milder fasts allow eating of fruits and drinking water and milk. 

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The Buddha fasting before enlightenment – Gandhara sculpture

Fasts are undertaken primarily for spiritual evolution but also aim particularly to absolve one of sins committed, to overcome astrological afflictions, alleviate suffering and disease, achieve material well being, for the peace of deceased ancestors and to secure a place for oneself in divine spheres, Devloks. in the afterlife- that is, to attain the goals of Arth ( wealth and material wellbeing), Kama ( pleasure and love), Dharma ( religious and moral duties) and Moksha ( liberation and spiritual release and evolution, the ultimate aim of life). different fasts are directed at propitiating particular deities. Fasts are also undertaken during festivals

 

THE TITHI

Fasts generally fall into categories depending on the Tithis ( Lunar Days). An earlier post dwelt at length on this complex concept, which define the days of the Hindu lunar month. In a brief review let us try and grasp the import of the Tithi. The Tithi is a unique creation of the Indian mind based less on what is visible and more on calculation. India’s is perhaps the only civilization whose mentors conceived of recording the passage of time from day to day by relying on a formula of calculation rather than the visible movements of heavenly bodies. Most cultures  in antiquity conceived of days commensurate with the presence of the Sun in the sky and nights with its absence or again the visible phases of the Moon in the night sky. Not so the unique Indian sages and astrologers. For them the Tithi, the Indian equivalent of a day and a night was in fact a matter of calculating the difference in the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon. Quite an abstract way of defining the passage of days but one that would satisfy their  need for accuracy in recording the passage of time. There is a practical logic behind the exercise to define the passage of days in the month. Indian sages and astrologers saw that the Sun and the Moon would pass around the earth through 360 degrees. When the longitudes of the Sun and Moon were coterminous, it was a No-Moon and they fixed this Tithi as Amavasya ( noting that the difference in the longitudes was zero). When the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon placed them at 180 degrees apart, it was Full-Moon and they called the Tithi Purnima ( noting that the difference in longitudes was 180 degrees). They also noted that in between the two there would be 15 segments of 12 degrees on either side, each constituting a Tithi. Thus after Amavasya as the Moon’s longitude moved 12 degrees away from the Sun’s, the first Tithi  of Shukla Paksh ( ascendant phase of Moon) would commence and last till the Moon moved another 12 degrees further out. Of course meantime the Sun’s longitude would also have moved, though at a much slower pace. The second Tithi would commence when the Moon’s longitude was another 12 degrees away from where the Sun’s longitude had now moved to. Thus they devised the formula of subtracting the actual longitudinal positions of the Sun and the Moon and dividing the balance by 12 to arrive at the Tithi in either of the two phases. Furthermore, the Moon generally takes 2 hour to move a degree and it generally traverses 12 degrees in 24 hours, which is also the approximate time taken from one Sunrise to another, therefore an appropriate formula to measure the passing of days.

 

EKADASHI ( Eleventh  Tithi )

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The most popular fasts are those falling on Ekadahsis, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The legend goes that he was in a slumber in a cave after a furious battle with a demon. The demon pursued him there and sought to slay him as he slept. A glorious power in the form of a goddess then arose from the slumbering Vishnu’s being and slayed the impertinent evil force. That goddess is worshiped on Ekadashis as the benign force that removes all obstacles. The fast is undertaken to purify the mind, strengthen faith, remove obstacles. The demon represents our negativity which accost us as we ‘slumber’ unaware that we are becoming subject to temptations. Thus the Putrada Ekadashi fast helps in bringing forth male progeny, the Papkusha Ekadashi fast requires one to remain silent, cleansing the mind and washing away sins, the Kamada Ekadashi fast ends all sorrows and so on – different Ekadashis for different gains arrive once each month.

TRIYODASHI  ( Thireenth Tithi )

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Credit: Trishul Das’ – vedicgoddess.weebly.com

The other common and recurring fasts are called Pradosh (ending afflictions), falling on Triyodashis dedicated to Lord Shiva. The fast is observed after an early morning bath with prayers to Lord Shiva and recitation of mantras and ritualistic placement of lamps in eight directions. Triyodashis falling on Saturdays are observed for the birth of a son, Mondays for relief from debt, Fridays for gaining wealth, fortune and a good spouse, Sundays for a long life. According to legend on Triyodashis the gods assemble at Mount Kailash the abode of Lord Shiva. Sarasvati the goddess of learning and fine arts plays on a Veena, Brahma the creator of the world plays on the cymbols, Vishnu the sustainer on a Mridangam and a galaxy of gods join Lord Shiva the god of gods in a dance. Theircombined blessings fall upon the fasting devotee.Those engaging in a fast, if poor are blessed with riches, if ignorant gain knowledge, if without issue with a son, wives do not get widowed, widows become spiritually enlightened and longevity is ensured.

2DHANTERAS KE MAUKA SE  BARTAN KI DOOKAN SAZIThe fast of Dhanteras (Wealth – Thirteenth) also falls on a Triodashi in the month of Kartik (October-November), waning-half, is dedicated to Yamaraj, Lord of death. On this day every Hindu housewife fervently goes shopping to bring home a metal utensil. Shopkeepers have a field day displaying pots ans pans and all manner of kithen utensils, shining bright on stands right into the streets. What is actually recommended is to bring home a silver utensil but the token purchase of a metal one is accepted. download (1)At the entrance of the home grain should be placed in a container as an offering to Lord Yama with a lamp facing south, his direction, to the recitation of Mantras. A dip in the Yamuna river is also highly recommended since Yamuna is the sister of the dark lord. The story (Katha) goes that once Yama asked his attendants what they disliked most about their job. Prompt came the protests that they felt deep remorse at snatching away souls of the young, particularly of one newly wed who had hardly a chance to taste the pleasures that mortal life had to offer. They pleaded with him to be told how such premature deaths could be averted. Lord Yama then proclaimed that those who fasted and lit a lamp in his honour on Dhanteras would not suffer such a plight. however most people just buy the utensil in the belief that this would bless them with riches but the real purport of the fast is to ensure that there are no premature deaths in the family.

CHATURTHI  (Fourth Tithi)

7175971_f496Yet another popular and recurring fast is the Chaturthi. Its lord is Ganesh, the elephant headed deity, remover of all afflictions and obstacles. according to scriptures the Chaturthi is in fact the mother of all Tithis. The Panchangs (calendar and almanac) show the precise time each month for fasting on chaturthis, depending on the rising of the Moon. women fast to ensure long life for their husbands. the principle Chaturthi falls in the month of Bhadrapad( August/September) commemorating the ‘birth’ of Ganesh. On this Chaturthi looking at the Moon is prohibited as it brings bad luck in the shape of false allegations. The legend goes that the Moon once burst out laughing on seeing the elephant headed God and had to suffer grave consequences for his misplaced merriment.

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Another important Chaturthi, popularly known as Karvachauth falls in the month of Kartik ( October/November) this is the years most important observance undertaken by wives to ensure a long life for their husbandsa and their unflagging love. They pledge fidelity and dress in their bridal finery fasting without water or food from dawn till the siting of the Moon. They look at the Moon through a grain strainer and then at their husbands transferring the Moon’s radiance to them. The fast strengthens marital bonds reminding both partners of their obligations towards one another. The fast and the rituals are observed with unwavering resolve across the land. women gather together, sing and perform rituals as they fast.

cow-and-krishnaThe Bahula Chaturthi in the month of August is devoted to revering the cow as the best-loved animal of Lord Krishna and one that gives freely of milk, like nector from the gods. On this day of fasting no milk or milk products are consumed as the cow’s milk must go to its calf alone. This fast is undertaken by both men and women for the protection and wellbeing of their progeny.

 

TRITYA  ( Third Tithi )

The Akshya Tritiya, also called Akha Teej in local parlance falls during the month of Vaishakha (April/May -spring) dedicated to the loving consort of Lord Shiva – Gauri. Akha Teej means the indestructible Teej. All sacrifices made on this day whether in charity, penance, ritual prayers and baths in the Ganges have an enduring quality in conferring results on devotees. this is a day most auspicious for marriages and mass marriages are performed to reduce costs for those of humble means.628x471

Other popular Teejs occur during the month of Shravan ( July/August – onset of Monsoons) when women swing and sing, apply Henna on their hands and visit their parents, receive gifts and pray to Lord Shiva’s consort. the Gangor festiavl is also celebrated on a Teej falling in the month of Chaitra  ( April) when again women worship Gauri the daughter of the mountains and consort of Shiva, to ensure long life for their husbands and marital bliss and progeny.

POORNIMA  ( Full-Moon – Fifteenth Tithi, ascendant phase)

Poornimas are also good for fasting as they help to make one temperate, particularly as the Moon is believed to arouse carnal passions. the most auspicious Poornima occurs in October and is called Sharad Poornima. On this day it is believed that the Moon is in its most empowered state in the year and its rays are like nectar. It is therefore ethe practice to pray to the Moon when it is  high and to leave a rice pudding in a salver throughout the night in moonlight to absorb its rays. It is then eaten the next day by the family assuring health and good fortune.

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The Poornima in the month of Phalgun is celebrated with the burning of Holika fires symbolically destroying the evil aunt who took the boy devotee Prahlad in her lap with hypocritical love in the hope that he would be destroyed but perished in the attempt on account of divine grace. the day after India rocks with the festival of Holi.

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In the month of Chaitra (April) the Poornima marks the ‘birth’ of the mythical monkey faced Lord Hanuman of the Ramayana. He is considered the epitome of faith and devotion, the one who when asked where is your Rama, tore open his chest and showed the questioner his beloved Rama there. Hanuman is one of the most popular of gods. It is said that he was blessed by Rama with perpetual spiritual presence on the mortal plane and therefore devotees feel he is more accessible to them.

In the month of Vaishaka (April/May) the Poornima marks the birth of the Buddha. The Poornima in the month of Jaisht marks the birth of the great saint Kabir and the Poornima in Kartik the birth of the Sikh Guru Nanak. In the month of Ashad the Poornima is dedicated to all sages and mentors, called Guru Purnima. On this day one is expected to respect and serve ones Gurus and conduct oneself with devotion, simplicity, cleanliness,gentility, discipline and restraint It is also an occasion to receive blessings from elders and teachers.

AMAVASYA   ( No-Moon – fifteenth tithi – descending phase )

Amavasya fasts are essentially for helping ancestors in the after life. we are not aware what trials they may be undergoing in the intermediate worlds, depending on their Karmas, before reincarnating. the descriptions in the Garud Purana are intimidating to say the least and a close approximation to Dante’s nether worlds. thus fasting and setting aside token foods and offerings go directly to them and help them through their trials. During the fortnight of the Shrads beginning in the month of Ashwin after Poornima till the following Amavasya ( September ), the focus is entirely on fasting for the release (Moksha) of the Pitr – ones forbears. Other Amavasyas falling during each month are also devoted to helping ancestors.

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The Vat-Savitri amavasya falling in the month of Jyestha has a particular and romantic significance linked to the popular myth of the extraordinary princess Savitri 9radiant with the light of the sun). Savitri fell in love with Satyavan, a prince. Unfortunately his natal chart ominously pointed to an early and premature death.The king tried to dissuade his daughter from marrying Satyavan but she remained adament. satyavan’s parents had also become dispossessed of their kingdom and sought refuge in a forest. To add to their woes they ahd also beocme blind and helpless. she joined them in their humble forest dwelling under a Banyan tree and served them with utmost devotion. One day Satyavan went out to cut wood. Knowing that his days were numbered she accompanied him. He was suddenly afflicted with pain in the head and descending the tree put his head in her lap and died. Then there appeared before Savitri the Lord Yama, god of death riding his buffalo with attendants, come to claim Satyavan’s soul. Satyavan’s soul was led away but Savitri followed the terrible lord of death unafraid. He commanded her to return but she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of time. No one had ever followed the fearsome lord and Yama was impressed with her courage and determination and granted her a boon. She asked for the restoration of the sight of her husband’s parents. Grnating it, Yama proceeded on with Satyavan’s soul in tow. But Savitri still followed. then exasperated, Yama granted her a second boon. She demended the return of their kingdom. Again this was granted. But she still purdued the terrible lord. Impressed with her perseverance he granted her one final boon provided she did not ask that he be brought back to life. Now Savitri asked that she be allowed to bear Satyavan a hundred sons. at this point Yama released the soul of Satyavan without which the boon could not be effective. Satyavan thus came alive in her lap under the Banyan tree.

On this Amavasya, married women pray for the long life of their husbands and for marital happiness. It is the custom to place two baskets under a Banyan tree, one with five types of grain and the figures of Lord Brahma and his consort the goddess Savitri and in the other images of the lovers Savitri and Satyavan. After ritual prayers to the baskets , Lord Yama and the Banyan tree, women circumambulate the Banyan chanting Mantras and listen to the legend of Savitri and Satyavan, thus ensuring marital bliss for themselves. The significance of the Banyan regarded as a divine tree, is that it is said to embody Brahma the creative force of the material world in its roots, Vishnu the sustaining force in its trunk and Shiva the annihilating force at its crown.

 

PANCHMI  (Fifth Tithi)

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Panchmis are dedicated to the divine serpents whose lord is Sheshnag, the hydra headed cosmic serpent over whose coils the great lord Vishnu reclines, perpetually meditating on sustaining creation, while the great serpent’s hood forms a crescent-shaped umbrella over his head. Sheshnag and other serpents are worshipped on this day. Serpents are drawn on either side of ones home  and legends of serpents are heard through ritual prayer. This ensures that the house shall never want in food. the most important Panchmi is Nag-Panchmi falling in the month of Shravan ( waning half0 and is celebrated throughout India with fervour and devotion.

The Panchmi falling in the month of Magh (waxing phase) however is dedicated to the goddess of learning, knowledge and fine arts. Sarasvati. It is also the harbinger of spring and is called Basant (spring) Panchmi. On this day infants are taught their first alphabets and it is auspicious to begin an academic course.

DOOJ  ( second Tithi)

Another popular fast and festival is Bhaidooj (the Dooj for brothers). In the month of Kartik the second Tithi flling in the waxing half of the month is dedicated to strenthening amity between brothers and sisters. The legend goes that on this day Yama, the lord of death ate at the house of his sister Yamuna, symbolized now as the river that flows by the national capital delhi. On this day one finds brothers hastening to their sisters’ homesto feast on a meal specially prepared by them. It is said that he who on this day is fed by his sister, the epitome of kindness, shall be blessed with wealth, honour, long life and spiritual evolution.

OTHER FASTS

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Lord Rama Credit; whoa.in

Fasts are also rigorously observed on particular festivals to commemorate the ‘birth’ of Avatars Ram and Krishna and the unmanifest Universal consciousness, Shiva on Shivratri. We have seen in the previous post that Ram’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on Ramnavmi, the Navmi (Ninth Tithi) that falls in the month of , Chaitra (waxing half) which is the first month of the Hindu New Year, after Navratra, the first nine nights. while there is no historical record of the birth of the Avatar that has captivated the imagination of the entire land, his influence is so great that every other town and village bears the imprint of his name or that of persons in the story of his life, the epic Ramayana. Millions also carry his name in some form or other. There is even a natal chart of the great Avatar which shows the Zodiac signs of his birth and even the placement of planets and Nakshatra ( asterism) in which the Moon was at the time of his birth. Whether one can deduce the historical time when the planets and Zodiac Signs were so configured, is a matter which should be an interesting subject of research. For Hindus, he is more real than any historical event. Indeed if we were successful in a fixing a historical time for his birth, it would only devalue his legendary status. It is perhaps better to leave his persona in the mists of legend and myth.

Likewise Krishna, the other great Avatar that followed him, has also a natal chart, equally precise supporting the patterns of his earthly life. the existence of these natal charts, handed down by tradition from remote antiquity is astonishing. How were precise horoscopes drawn up for legendary Avatars of whose birth no historical records exist? After all horoscopes are based on the Panchang ephemeries and the hair splitting calculations of Tithis, and coordinates of planets at any time can be said to be more significant than historical dates in the Gregorian calendar.

The fast commences on the first day of the month and concludes on the Ninth Tithi, Navmi thus called RamNavmi. It includes chanting of Mantras, reading of the Ramayana, respecting elders, speaking the truth only, showing love for members of the family, avoiding quarrels, abstaining from sex and engaging in prayer. The observance of the fast results in the fulfillment of all worthy wishes, sins are absolved, the soul briefly liberated.

The Navmi of the following month of Vaishakhi is dedicated to Rama’s wife Sita, the epitome of feminine purity, virtue and sacrifice, the archetype of Indian womenhood. Her father the great wise king Janak, failing to have an issue prayed for one. While tilling the earth in a royal ritual to appease the rain god his plough struck a golden casket embedded in the earth which upon being opened revealed a beautiful baby girl. Thus she was named Vasundhara, daughter of mother earth. The observance of the fast is believed to equal acts of charity like gifting of land to the poor. the fast helps in cleansing the vehicle of the soul.

Krishna’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on the Ashtmi (Eighth Tithi) in the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad. worshipers fast during the day and stay up till midnight, the hour of the birth of the celestial Avatar in the prison of his maternal uncle the demon king Kansa who had been told that his sister would bear his nemesis. Accordingly he confined his sister and brother-in-law in the dungeons and on every birth dashed the child to the earth with laughter – but at the birth of the ninth child,  the Avatar, the prison keepers fell asleep, the prison doors flew open and Krishna’s father carried him to safety leaving him in the foster care of friends. The event is celebrated across the land in temples and homes as JanamAshtami or Ashtmi of birth. 

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Krishna and Radha Credit: taringa.net

The following Ashtami of the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad celebrates the birth of Krishna’s beloved but unwed consort, Radha, the epitome of the female romantic. In all temples Krishna is shown with playing the flute with Radha amorously standing beside him. According to most traditions they must be worshiped together. Worshiping Krishna alone is not auspicious. There is a mystical tradition according to which fasting on her birth day and chanting her name is equal to making all the major pilgrimages and results in acquiring great knowledge and prosperity. Fasts in honour of Radha bring happiness, honour, wealth and admirable qualities in the worshipers.

The Ashtami in the waning half of the month of Ashwin provides for a fast called the Jeevatputrika and is observed for the well being and long life of progeny and grandchildren.

The unique significance of stellar events in the life of a Hindu is further highlighted by the fact that the occurrence of festivals on different Tithis have enhanced results when the Moon is in certain Nakshatras ( the 27 Asterisms conjoining with the Zodiac Signs). Thus while the festival of Ramnavmi always falls on the Ninth Tithi of the waxing half of the month of Chaitra, if at that time the Moon is in the Nakshatra Punarvasu ( viewed from earth ) then that Ramnavmi becomes specially auspicious. This is because it would replicate the stellar configuration of the ‘actual’ time of Rama’s birth.This configuration is referred to in the ancient treatise the Agastyasamhita attributed to the great sage Agastya in whose hermitage Rama spent time during his exile. The configuration shows the Moon in Punarvasu, while the Sun is in the Sign Aries and the ‘birth’ takes place with the zodiac Sign Cancer  rising above the horizon, becoming Rama’s ascendant Sign. All planets are so placed that they cast benign aspects on the ascendant Sign to herald the birth of the Almighty Spirit on the mortal plane as an Avatar. This reminds one of the Star rising over Bethlehem  portending the birth of Christ the saviour. Likewise the other Avatar Krishna’s birth Tithi becomes doubly auspicious if on that Ashtami the Moon is in the Nakshatra Rohini.

Care has to be taken not to fast or commence prayers during a festival when it falls on a ‘mixed’ Tithi i.e. the same solar day. Thus prayers and fasts may have to be postponed at the commencement of the Hindu New Year  if the First Tithi, the Pratipada, for instance, happens to be joined to the preceding Amavasya ( No-Moon) on that day, which is the commencement also of the Navratra or nine auspicious nights of empowering prayer top the goddesses. Commencement of prayers and the ritual setting up of the altar on a mixed Tithi under the mistaken impression that the this is the day, can invite grave misfortune. In the religious texts the Goddess makes clear that she does not forgive those who commence such prayers at an inauspicious time. The importance for householders to possess the Panchang calendar therefore cannot be overemphasized. It clearly gives from day-to-day the type of Tithi on that solar day of the Gregorian calendar, the precise time of beginning and completion of aq Tithi on a certain day, down to the minute, the precise time of the entry of the Moon into a certain Nakshatra and time of exit and therefore the correct time of commencement of prayers.. You simply cannot assume that the New Year celebration and prayers of Navratra will commence at past midnight or the dawning of the day. The Panchang will tell you at what moment of the night or day the New Year will commence and it remains most advisable to take a good look at the Panchang for precise timings or then consult a Pundit in advance.

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Demon Ravana in prayer for empowerment Credit: srinistuff.com

Fasts are a form of sacrifice. As one makes sacrificial offerings to ritual fires, to lord Agni ( god of fire) or other deities so too with fasts of abstention, sacrifices are offered. This act of sacrifice leads to empowerment. In Hindu myths and legends a recurring theme is that of demonic forces undertaking fasts to oblige the gods to grant them boons. when a severe penance is undertaken the spiritual forces are left with no option but to grant boons. Demons then ask for boons of invincibility and immortality and thus empowered let loose a regime of terror on the pious. Ravana the adversary of Lord Rama was one such, a great devotee of Lord Shiva who through penance and prayer acquired powers superior even to the demi-gods. Thus the belief exists that fasts will inevitably produce rewards.

The Hindu calendar we see is full of fasts and festive occasions as the Christian calendar is of saints. We cannot possibly mention them all here. The broad categories and important fasts which are universally observed and some lesser known ones of interest have however been covered in this post.

 

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According to Hindu astrology the effects of stellar phenomena can be divided into two categories. The first is general, applicable broadly to all people universally and the second is particular, affecting only the individual.  The particular effects are determined on the basis of the individual’s horoscope ( more on this in a later post). The general effects for the entire populace are determined by the ascending and descending phases of the Moon, the nature of the Lunar Day ( Tithi ), the movement of the Sun on its northern and southern journeys, the movement of certain planets in certain constellations, the presence of the Moon in certain Asterisms ( Nakshatras ) on a particular day of the week, the passage of the eight sections of a day ( Chaughadias ) each of an hour and forty minutes duration, with different auspicious and inauspicious characteristics and effects.

SindhiTipno20121-248x300The general effects are annually made available in a traditional calendar ( Panchamg ) , which declares the effects for each day of the year.These effects also determine festivals, prohibitions and fasts and auspicious timings to undertake social, economic and personal activity and times and periods when certain activities are to be avoided.

Thus for instance the full-moon is auspicious, the no-moon is not. The Moon’s ascending phase is more auspicious than its descending phase. Certain Tithis ( days of the Lunar month ) are auspicious, others are not. Most of the months on the Sun’s northern journey are favourable whereas many months on its southern journey are not. The movement of certain planets in certain constellations are favourable while other movements are not. The presence of the Moon in certain Asterisms on certain days are auspicious while its presence in others are not. Some sections of the day are favourable for certain activities while others are not and so on.

Let us first look at one of the most important of the general effects which determine the festivals, which gladden the heart of the poorest and the richest equally throughout the year and become the heart, soul and inspiration for Indian culture, religious observances and joyous celebration, ones very raison d’etre.

HINDU DEVOTEES CROWD AROUND CHARIOTS IN PURI

juggannath festival for Krishna, Puri – Orissa

India is a land of numerous festivals – it is a wonder that any work ever gets done – if you are not careful more often than not you would arrive at a bank on a festive holiday about which you had no clue. There are festivals of colour, festivals of light, of prayers and processions, pilgrimages, holy dips and fasts. By and large this is a pious land immersed in faith. Processions of the goddess astride a lion slaying a demon in the east at Kolkata, of giant images of the elephant headed god Ganesh in the west at Mumbai, blessing the congregations as they are carried to the sea for immersion, of Shiva and Shakti ( creative force and its energy ), symbols of fertility at the Gangor festival as they are carried in palanquins preceded by musical bands and dancing worshippers in the north at Rajasthan and the great chariots of Krishna at Jaggannath ( from which the English word juggernaut is derived), lord of the universe, pulled by thousands of devotees at Puri in the east, to name only a few. Celebrations of the birth of Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Ganesh ( deemed astrologically rather than historically), Buddha, Mahavir (Jainism), Nanak (Sikhism) and a host of lessor known deities and saints fill the calendar with festivities and fasts. But behind this apparent diversity of celebrations is the unerring hidden pattern which is again determined by stellar configuration on the one hand and earthly seasons on the other. the two combine to provide relevance to seemingly unrelated celebrations of succeeding festivals. It is the lunar almanac that determines the day on which the festival arrives.

One of the most important festivals is the Navratra, the nine nights ( currently in progress). These ‘nine nights’ occur twice during the year. Basant Navratra, the nine nights of spring and Shardi Navratra, the nine nights of winter. It happens that every year as we look at the Gregorian calendar, unlike christmas arriving regularly on 25 december, Navratra commences on different days of the solar year as the timing is fixed from the lunar calendar on the basis of Tithis, lunar days. The lunar year commences on the first day of the lunar month of Chaitra, in the Shukla Paksh, the ascendant phase of the Moon. The month of Chaitra occurs in April. The month is named after the Asterism in which the Moon is located on Full Moon in any month.  In April on full moon day the Moon is located in the Asterism ( Nakshatra) Chitra and the month is christened Chaitra. Other months also likewise derive their names from the Asterisms. During that month the Hindu New Year begins on the first day after No-Moon or Amavasya, when the moon begins its journey of empowerment till the following full Moon. That first day , the New Year’s day is also the first day of Navratra, the nine nights of spring. This New Year Day celebrates the onset of spring and the empowerment of good through the worship of the nine goddesses of the nine nights. the devout engage in fasts. During his current official visit to the USA Prime minister Modi of India appears to be observing precisely such a fast.

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Credit: coastaldigest.com

When President Obama invited him to a private dinner at the White House, Modi accepted only hot water, enjoining all present to enjoy their dinner in his honour! Modi was observing the Navratra fast.President Obama however in deference to his Indian guest also chose not to eat.

The Navratra festival signifies the onset of the New Year, not just prayers to the goddesses. it is not surprising that the Government of India’s financial year begins not on the first of January but on the first of April, conforming to the arrival of the harvest and the commencement of the Indian lunar Year.

On the ninth day, furthermore, a major festival is celebrated, the astrologically determined birth of Lord Rama, Ram Navmi. The empowerment of the goodnesses bears fruit with an event which connects the spiritual world with the mortal one through the incarnation of the Formless Absolute ( Nirakar) into a mortal being, one with form ( Akar), in the person of one of India’s most popular spiritual personages, Rama, the human incarnation, the Avatar, the ideal man, the perfect husband, the exemplary King, the archetype of selflessness, sacrifice and morality and no less a god, visible and incarnate in flesh. Thus the lunar year begins with nine nights of empowerment of the forces of good culminating in the commemoration of the birth of the divine spirit into our imperfect world, the birth of Rama. Indeed an auspicious way to begin the year.

The second Navratra arrives after the passage of six months on the first day of the ascendant phase of the month of Ashwin called the Ashwin Shukla Pratipada, generally falling in September/October and culminating on the tenth day in the great festival of Dussehra, commemorating the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king of Sri Lanka, Ravana. Ravana is the archetype of vanity, hauteur, egotism, hedonism, arrogance, indiscretion, lust, immorality and disregard for righteousness. Rama’s ultimate victory and slaying of Ravana becomes the victory of good over evil. Ravana had abducted Rama’s consort Sita  confining her in Sri Lanka, enamoured by her beauty. Here again the process of empowerment of the forces of good through prayers and fasts to the nine goddesses culminates in the burning of giant effigies of Ravana and his two brothers amid much rejoicing the length and breadth of India. The Prime Minister of india stands by at a public celebration at  the Ramlila grounds in Delhi as Rama’s symbolic arrow is released by him piercing the giant image of Ravana which goes up in flames and fire crackers to general rejoicing. Astrology, mythology, spirituality and the seasons come together to define yet another landmark in India’s lunar calendar and national life.

1376755521-devotees-immerse-an-idol-of-goddess-durga-in-the-buriganga-river_1545636During Navratra in West Bengal, numerous prayer enclosures called Pandals are erected in cities, villages, hamlets and homes to worship the goddess Durga. Clay images of great artistry, clothed in brochades and adorned with ornaments show her riding a lion and slaying the demon Mahisasur ( the buffalo demon  who emerges from the head of a buffalo) a form assumed to dupe her. She holds a spear in one of her numerous hands carrying all manner of weapons and thrusts it into his muscular chest as her lion steed sinks its teeth into his buffalo form. Her face radiates extraordinary beauty and firm resolve to rid the world of evil. virtually every street and quarter vies with the other to erect a more magnificent tableau of the goddess. Every night worshippers congregate and make offerings amidst chanting, wafting incense and lighting lamps. The Shakti cult is strong here, the cult of pure female energy personified by the goddess, the active principle of the Universal absolute.

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immersion of the goddess

After nine days of intense worship during the ascendant phase of the Moon, on the ninth, the tableaus of the goddess are carried to the Ganges for immersion in great processions. In the North in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat and elsewhere likewise the goddess assumes great significance and daily prayers are performed in every home and temple.

b_id_417315_ganeshIn the west particularly in Mumbai, the Lord Ganesh who has a beatific, charming and endearing elephant head, is the principal deity and during the month of Bhadrapad on the fourth Tithi of the ascendant phase of the Moon, generally falling in September, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated. Here again giant clay images with numerous others in all sizes are carried to the ocean for immersion. it is interesting that the festival is celebrated on a Chaturthi ( fourth Tithi ) which happens to be ‘Rikt’ or ’empty’ Tithi and therefore most inauspicious. however, being the lord of all things auspicious, his celebration on such a day is quite appropriate because he helps to dispel the negativity of the empty Tithi with his august presence.

Diwali-diyasThen arrives the festival of lights, Divali when Indian homes stir with a myriad earthen lamps lining wall after wall from mud huts to princely mansions and the night awakens with fire crackers which sound like guns and mortars being fired during a war throughout the night. If one did not know better one might think that war had been declared. That is the visible part of the festival. What is not so visible is the alter at the heart of every home, the hallowed temple corner. Laxmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity sits enthroned amidst flowers and incense, bejewelled and resplendent. This is the most holy of nights, a celebration which combines the spirit of Christmas and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. but strangely on this night the Moon is not auspicious at all being absent. Dipavali the festival of lights falls on an Amavasya. Generally Amavasyas ( No-Moon) are reserved for thoughts of departed ancestors and is a time when dark spirits are believed to roam the pitch black night. Why have the premier celebration of the year on such a night? Well, it is not because lighting lamps and flooding the place with lights would look good on a night that is really dark. Again one could argue that like Ganesh, the goddess Laxmi would dispel all dark forces with her enormous resources of positive energy. But that again is not the reason for the paradox.

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Lord Rama sita and Laxman in exile

It is explained that this is because it commemorates the return of Lord Rama from exile, to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after slaying the demon king Ravana and gaining victory over the forces of darkness. But why should Rama decide to return at such an inauspicious time like No-Moon? The answer is simple. His first duty was to his deceased father who died of grief in his absence during his years in exile. An exile to which king Dashrath himself had sent his son, with anguish. It happened at the time when Rama was to be anointed heir to the throne and the kingdom and palace were preparing for the joyous event. The night before the grand ceremony for which the waters of all of India’s sacred rivers had been collected for the annointment, Manthara the evil maid of Dashrath’s youngest of three queens, Kaikeye  told her that she was being naive in showering so much love on Rama ( the son of the queen-mother Kaushalya and eldest son of Dashrath) and giving support to his succession, which she should try to wrest for her own son Bharat. This produced a change of heart and she finally sought the fulfilment of two boons  promised her by Dashrath in the past after she saved his life during a battle. The first boon was that Rama be exiled to the forests for fourteen years. The second that Bharat be declared the heir.  Incidentally this evil turning of the mind of the righteous and favourite  step-mother of Rama, on whom she had always doted, was not of her own doing but providentially ordained to unfold the legend of the Ramayana for the benefit of mankind. Dashrath was distraught, unable to retract his promises to his wife and unable to countenance the exile of his most beloved son. Rama refused any suggestion of opposing the unwarranted punishment and  to honour his father’s word prepared for exile shedding his princely robes for that of a monk and prepared to leave armed with a bow. The tragedy was compounded when Sita his bride, despite much persuasion, insisted on accompanying him barefooted into the forest. Sita, who had always enjoyed the comforts of a princess was ready to sacrifice all wordly comforts to be with her beloved spouse. To add to the gloom, Rama’s inseparable step-brother Laxman, always impetuous, furious with his father, decided to join the exile. The great tragedy of the Ramayana had begun.

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Credit: india-forums.com Dashrath inadvertently kills Shravan Kumar the ideal son

After their departure, Dashrath pined away for his son repeating the word Rama from morning to evening and hating himself for having sent his saintly son into exile. Ministers were later despatched  to trace them and enjoin them to return but Rama refused to dishonour his father’s word to Kaikeye. Dashrath died of grief and too late Kaykeye realized her fatal folly. Dahshrath’s death in fact fulfilled a curse placed upon him in his youth by an aggrieved blind sage. Then, on a hunting expedition he let fly an arrow towards a movement in the bush. Alas, it was no animal but a boy fetching water from a pond for his thirsty blind parents. In dying the boy Shravan Kumar ( an ideal son) reproached  the King and asked him to carry the water to his parents. When the boy’s father learnt of the tragedy he cursed Dashrath that he too would suffer separation from his son and die in anguish.

bharat-and-paduka1Bharat was away during these tragic developments, on return was anguished by what his mother had done, refused the throne and set off to find his brother and bring him back, adding ‘had Bharat never been born”. But Rama refused to return before the passage of the stipulated fourteen years of exile and Bharat returned to administer the kingdom carrying Rama’s footwear clasped to his breast and placed them on the throne of Ayodhya.

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Rama slays the demon Ravana

It is to such an Ayodhya that Rama returned after the exile and slaying of Ravana on the No-Moon night, grieving over his father’s torment and wishing first and foremost to pray for his soul. This is the explanation for Divali occurring on an Amavasya, when prayers are offered for the dear departed. However, his return from exile and victory over Ravana is a cause for much celebration and India rejoices with lamps fire-works crackers and prayers.

The paradox is thus explained. Once again we have mythology, lunar configurations, religious ritual and festive celebration joining together in the formulation of a festival, holding multiple meanings and having many depths. and yes, Divali arrives every year precisely on the night of the No-Moon of the month of Kartik, generally in the month of November. Very precise timings are indicated for commencement of prayers to the goddess of wealth. Tradesmen open their new ledgers for the ensuing year. In many parts Divali also marks the commencement of the New Year for trade and commerce among traditional merchant communities. Prayers are held not only in homes but also at shops and factories where the picture of goddess Laxmi hang near the safe and at counters for receiving payments.

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Credit: sanatansociety.com LAXMI goddess of wealth

Things are never precisely what they seem in India. The goddess Laxmi is not merely the consort of Lord Vishnu, the maintainer of the universe but has a link to Lord Rama too. We must not forget that Lord Rama is in fact an incarnation ( Avatar ) of Lord Vishnu and Laxmi his consort is incarnated as his spouse, Sita. Many levels, many worlds, many meanings enrich the fabric of the celebrations. All these diverse impressions, stellar, mythological, religious, transcendental, ritualistic, commercial, sociocultural, stir constantly in the Indian psyche, whether rustic or elite, naive or sophisticated, traditional or modern, with equal viguor.

holi3_2518539kAnother seasonal festival is Holi. This festival of colour is celebrated at the end of March on the day after the full moon, the first day of the month of Chaitra. At Holi people dance in the streets throwing colour at one another, drink spicy milk laced with Marijuana and throw all inhibitions to the winds. You may well encounter rowdy youths moving around town in open trucks and wagons totally smeared in colour, dripping wet, occasionally stark nude and fully inebriated.

Holi-revelry-via-fotopedia.com_ Disguised in vivid colours, groups of revellers lustily embrace all and sundry in anonymity.

No one really minds being thoroughly wet, coloured and high as they have the sanction of the festive season. At this time the winter harvest has been collected and there is time and reason for merriment.

A day before Holi at every street corner Holika fires are lit and residents circumambulate them placing ears of green corn and barley fresh from the harvest against the smouldering embers. The legend goes that the demonic king Harinyakashyap weary of his son Prahlad’s unrelenting devotion for Lord Vishnu, sought to destroy him. His sister Holika had the boon of being impervious to fire and so he asked Prahlad to sit in her lap in a ritual fire in the hope that Prahlad would perish – such was his hatred for his god fearing son. Prahlad an exemplary Bhakt ( loving devotee) in Hindu lore, remained untouched by the flames by divine grace whereas the aunt despite her boon, perished on account of her evil intentions. The ashes of Holika fires symbolize the purity of faith and are considered holy ( no pun intended).

teejprocession-4_080311042944With these ashes, prayers for the festival of Gangor commence. This is the worship of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati also known as Gan – Gor, the male and female creative principle, icons of productivity and fertility, conferring progeny on worshippers. The prayers conclude about a fortnight later on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya ( third Tithi of the month of Chaitra’s ascendant phase).  This is a festival mainly observed in Rajasthan with great processions of Shiv and his consort. In Jaipur capital of Rajasthan the procession carries a magnificent image of the goddess in a palanquin through the streets to the delight of tourists. Women fast to create love in the hearts of their husbands and to ensure that widowhood never befalls them, while unmarried girls fast to find the perfect spouse, much like Gauri’s spouse Lord Shiva.

These are some of India’s famous festivals in the North, though there are numerous other festivals the length and breadth of this holy land. If you are a tourist you would not want to miss joining in the amazing spirit and spectacle of the festivals.

 

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Credit: vedichealing.com

Mars – Mangal is both feared and admired. his name in Hindi and Sanskrit is synonymous with the auspicious and blissful happiness. A common blessing is ‘ be ‘Mangalmaya’ or blessed with good fortune. Equally there is the Mangal-Dosh or Mars affliction which has to be warded off and guarded against, particularly in the selection of a suitable spouse.

Mars is pictured as being youthful, virile and muscular, amber eyed and martial, with a fiery and violent temperament, a flushed countenance and wearing red garments. He is also large hearted, generous and courageous and is the commander-in-chief of the planets. He is also the god of war and celibate. He is also referred to as Angarika ( one who is red and Bhauma ( son of Bhumi, the Earth). He likes meticulous organization. His steed or vehicle is the Ram.

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Lord Shiva – God of gods

The legend goes that Lord Shiva, ‘Devadidev’ – God of gods, wiping his brow cast beads of perspiration upon the Earth, thus creating the persona of a child. The Earth, Prithvi (Also Bhumi as terra) troubled by upheavals caused by quakes on account of demonic activity sought Shiva’s help to restore tranquillity. He then gave her the child arisen from his brow to rear and bring up, as a means of gaining equanimity and peace. When the child had grown to fine maturity under her maternal love and care she brought him back to Lord Shiva. Shiva then named the child Mangal, the auspicious one, and told her that she would now have to separate from him as her work was done and that his place was in the Zodiac from where his sterling qualities would help mankind in its evolution. He consoled Prithvi that she must not be anguished as Mangal would always be in the Zodiac visible to her. Shiva then commanded him to assume his place in the Mangal Lok or Martian world in the Zodiac which was even superior to the Shukra Lok the Venetian World.

Mars in Jyotish astrology is considered a malefic of the first order. But like other planets it is in fact an agent of ones Karma for ones ultimate spiritual evolution. The malefic effects are meant to cleanse us of our accumulated negativities. We are taught lessons through adversity. It is a paradox that we are apprehensive of an entity whose name signifies the auspicious. What is probably feared is what is due from ones accumulated Karma and wrong doing.

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Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: sanatancociety.com

Mars is significator of strength, energy, siblings younger to oneself and things that emerge from the earth like property in the shape of buildings. He is also the significator of  war, battle, soldiers, weapons, enemies, arguments and debates, athletics, beasts of prey, scientific, technical and mechanical abilities.The qualities he represents are strong will, unscrupulousness, self confidence, determination, brashness, enthusiasm, heroism, organizational skills, strong administrative abilities and an independent spirit, a passionate nature and generosity. Physically he represents virility, testicles, blood, bone marrow, muscles and the head.

What marriage councellers in India are particularly on the look out for is the placement of Mars in the horoscope. If it is in the first , fourth, seventh, eighth or twelfth House of the Moon chart ( called the Janma Kundli  – the Sign at birth is called the Lagna Kundli – to clarify the two,  the birth chart shows the Zodiac Signs at birth in the 12 Houses of fortune – the Moon chart places the Sign in which the Moon occurs at birth in the first house and then rearranges the succeeding signs accordingly in the 12 houses – quite complcated  – different charts are used for different aspects of ones life for a more focussed assessment) it is indicative of premature death of the spouse, divorce or an incompatible marriage, unless the spouse in question too is a ‘Manglik’ with Mars in one of those stigmatized Houses. This has high priority among Hindus and is one of the most frequent reasons for consulting astrologers and Pundits and for refusing offers of marriage which otherwise appear suitable on all counts. In all arranged marriages, and the majority in India are arranged, on account of Caste and class considerations, an exchange of horoscopes is mandatory to see if the charts are compatible or  incompatible, particularly the issue of the placement of Mars. Some ‘Manglik’ girls remain unmarried because they cannot find a suitable spouse with compatible charts.

imagesMars is exalted in Capricorn and debilitated in Cancer. the Sun Moon and Jupiter are considered friendly to Mars for a Horoscope, Mercury is inimical and Venus and Saturn are neutral. The metal associated with Mars is brass, the gemstone is the red coral ( called Mangal among indian jewellers, in high demand and frequently worn to balance adverse Mars in the horoscopes ) , his element is fire, his direction is the south and his season is summer.

 

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Mangal Yantra

 

 

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Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: sanatansociety.com

Jupiter, Brihaspati has an exalted place among the planets. There are references to him even in the Rig Veda, the earliest known Hindu scripture.. In Puranic legends he is the Acharya or spiritual mentor of the demigods, the one to whom all turn for advice in a crisis. Thus he is known as Devguru, Guru of the gods. In the Hindu calendar Thursday is dedicated to him and is therefore called  Guruvar, day of the Guru. It is a day on which all activities associated with Gurus are undertaken . The spiritualism he represents is doctrinaire and ritualistic Brahmanism. He is a philosopher par excellance, representing all sacred scriptures and is the epitome of wisdom. He is therefore regarded as the most benefic and auspicious of planets. His ‘vision’ is like nectar wherever it falls in a horoscope, being inherently benefic. Where the Sun represents the Atma or soul, Jupiter represents the Jiva, the soul incarnated.

He is significator of religiosity, faith and spiritual devotion, morality, behavior, charity, respect for elders, compassion, benevolence and a dispassionate outlook. He is also significator of fortune and fame, wealth and progeny. He also represents a mild and adaptable nature inclined towards reason, adherence to law, honesty, sincerity, common sense and lack of prejudice. This would include clerical, intellectual, academic, judicial and legal establishments and vocations. The part of the body under his influence are the thighs.

A positive presence in the horoscope would indicate that the subject has accumulated favourable Karmas in preceding lives, which are likely to manifest in the present one through fortuitous events and unexpected gains.

Jupiter is visualized as being heavy bodied, stout chested and fair-complexioned. He has a peaceful disposition and modest demeanour and is forgiving by nature. His vehicle is the elephant. He is friendly to the Sun, Moon and Mars, neutral to Saturn and inimical to Mercury ( foster son) and Venus, his counterpart among the Titans ( Asuras) who it will be remembered was supportive of the Moon’s elopement with his wife Tara.

However, being the most benefic of planets does not mean that he will not be responsible for any adverse events in the life of the subject whose horoscope is under consideration. Like all planets, Jupiter too can be well placed or adverse for a chart and when adverse can create major turbulence. Like other planets he too can become a ‘killer’ or Marak. But this does not mean that he has any inherent evil .Planets are mere tools in the divine programme to help one reap the rewards and punishments of ones Karma and the punishments or adversity is not so much judgemental as reformative, facilitating the cleansing of the soul for its evolution from one lifetime experience to another. Thus an adverse Jupiter may be merely a means of teaching lessons through adversity for the subject’s good and be no more than corrective in nature. Like-wise a favourable Jupiter would enhance ones capability in certain areas to enable one to deliver ones full potential in a field, again enabling further progress and evolution of the soul.

Jupiter’s stone is the yellow Sapphire worn in a ring to offset his adverse effects or enhance his favourable presence in a horoscope.

Lord Brihaspati

Lord Brihaspati

 

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