Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meaning of Maha Shivaratri: Significance of Tripurandaka, Vibhuti and Gangaajal

Maha Shivaratri is a festival of great spiritual significance to Hindus. Prayers are undertaken by devotees throughout the night. Yet how many of us understand what makes it a holy occasion? It doesn't have anyt marketing jazz or feel-great frenzy to it like many other festivals. Yet Maha Shivaratri is one of the most spiritually powerful festivals you just shouldn't miss.

According to Hindu scriptures, observing night long prayer has been declared by Lord Shiva himself. This is cited as His answer when Parvati Devi asked him which rituals performed by his devotees pleases him most. It is also believed that those who observe Maha Shivratri correctly will be greatly blessed and that they will attain moksha.



Here are some interesting points to explain the spiritual significance of Maha Shivaratri, .taken from various discourses rendered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

1. Shiva means 'auspiciousness.' Maha Shivaratri should be spent in the constant contemplation of God.

2. According to Hindu scriptures, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind. It keeps waning. That is why all the Chaturdashis (14th days of the dark half of every month) are called Shivaraathris. The Chaturdashi of the Magha month is called Maha Shivaratri. This is a day of special dedication to Lord Shiva. 

3. On Chaturdashi day (14th day after the full moon), the moon sheds fifteen of its sixteen digits/aspects. This makes it a most auspicious time for contemplating on the Eternal Divine. 

4. Maha Shivaratri is an auspicious night because the mind can be made to lose its hold on man by night long prayer. The energy that is received by the devotee is tremendous and divine, particularly at midnight. 

5. The three horizontal ash lines across Lord Shiva's forehead has a spiritual significance for humanity. These lines are called Tripurandaka. As mentioned in the Brihajjabaalopanishad, the three lines represent the Trinity, the three fires and the three worlds.

6.  Vibhuti (sacred ash) is the mark of Lord ShivaAs per Hindu scriptures, Lord Shiva smeared himself with ash after he reduced Manmadha (demi god of Desire/Kama) to ashes.When one wears Vibhuti, the belief is that He (Lord Shiva) has applied it to our brow to remind us that we are Divine by nature and we should burn away material desires and ego.  

7. Also, wearing Vibhuti is a gentle reminder to give up desires, ego, sense of ownership over possessions/relationships and to prepare oneself for Moksha.

 8. The significance of Gangaajal is that it represents the controlled outpouring of life-sustaining holy waters for the benefit of all creatures in the Universe. 

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who chant the Mahamrirtyunjaya mantra with sincerity and faith. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who are in various phases of finding their own mantras to move and grow in life. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Find Your Story Idea with a Magic Blender (not Blunder!)

The best writers get their story ideas from crazy, unexpected places. If you don't believe me, read Stephen King's book 'On Writing.' You may also want to read my previous posts on 'How to transform a blank page into a chrysalis, a work of art' and 'What do you want from your writing?

So, what's still holding you back from exploring fabulous story ideas? 

Maybe the thought that there's nothing left to learn in a world where everything is written about already? 

This reminds me of an apt quote from Avvaiyar, "What we've learned is like a handful of earth, what we are yet to learn is like the whole world." Profound, isn't it?

If you are still on the lookout for story ideas, Barry has an answer for you and yup, it tucks in a dash of magic. Here you go:

Imagine you have a magic blender. And you carry it with you all day as you go about your life. And stuff falls into it: Sounds, names, words, smells, people, actions, everything. And every now and then, you stumble and hit the puree button and whatever’s in the blender at that moment gets pulped into one big, chunky mass. That’s an idea. – Barry Lyga 

(You can visit his website right here http://barrylyga.com/ & follow Barry on Twitter @barrylyga)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life's Challenges: Accept or Resist - What's Your Choice?

"To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. Learn to accept the impermanent nature of all things and conditions. Life flows with ease."-  Eckhart Tolle

Think like a writer. Every para is  garland of words, carefully woven together for a purpose. The purpose is usually leading you to a situation of conflict, heartbreak or pain. So, you already know (whether you are a reader or a writer) that it is hiding just around the corner, waiting to pounce on you at exactly the moment when you lower your guard.

It's just a matter of time before it hits you - pain, discomfort, conflict, problems.

So, in a way, I have always resisted and fought against situations that create conflict or discomfort within or around me. A sense of 'survival' sets in - but this doesn't mean that I go and fight with each and everyone who stands in my way. Far from it! I don't ever hold individuals responsible for conflicts as much as the situations that pave the way to trigger clashes of egoistic minds. I work towards creating situations that don't lead people to let their monstrous egos take over. 

The point is: I strongly resist what is bound to happen. You cannot control people or situations no matter how strongly or sincerely you work towards it. 

Simply put, being a control freak isn't good for your growth, happiness or well being. 

But let me come back to my earlier point - Think like a writer.

A writer lets the words flow into wounds, bursts of laughter, soft clouds of candy like romance, angry bursts of thunderstorms and so on. Point is this - the writer does not resist in the act of creation. The writer rejoices in creating light out of darkness, meaning out of nothing and a sense of justified order out of chaos.

Why can't we, spiritual aspirants, be able to do the same? Why are we tempted to resist? Why do we lose temper?

Answer is - the ego is not yet conquered and we live in a state of mind-body duality. 

To resist the present and to worry about the future is so much a part of our self-created world of fears. We need to let go of our fears first - only then we will be able to enter a state of accepting the present fully and living through it fully with the awareness that 'This too shall pass.'

Have you thought about this: What do you tend to resist in life when it comes your way or do you begin to resist even before it manifests? Do you feel happier and comfortable with yourself when you resist something or do you feel like you have taken on the world's load of dirty work?

What do you gain or lose by resisting the present challenges that life throws at you?

Do share your thoughts. I'd love to know. 

Other Posts (As the Wise ones say, Old is Gold)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How to listen to your thoughts to become fully involved in the present

"When you listen to a thought, you are not only aware of the thought but also of yourself as the witness. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence - your deeper self - behind or underneath the thought as it were." - Eckhart Tolle (The Power of NOW)

You don't change overnight. A series of events build up towards creating an opportunity for change. And yes, that's how it all started with me. Like a bolt from the blue, I started to crave for silence. I began to focus on NOW instead of the past or the future. 

Action Plan: Create a time slot to meditate

YES it worked! Here's how silence helped me to understand myself better.

The more I began to practice silence, the more peaceful I began to feel. Through silence and meditation, I began to love myself more, be less critical of my actions and become more involved in the present

There were moments when I wondered: Am I going crazy with meditation? That is when I wrote this post on Meditation: Signs of Progress and How to identify a Real Vision from a False One. I also wrote on Raja Yoga and the Four Paths to Divinity in Hinduism.

                                           (Image courtesy: www.pexels.com)
                                    Leveraging the Power of Now
Some weeks later, I read Vishnu's blogpost on The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It was an excellent read and I ordered the book. I understood I am on the right track. Whatever is happening within me NOW is happening for my well-being and spiritual growth. 

Reality bites. At one level, I am resisting change. At another level, I am flowing into the present in a powerful way. 

So, in this wrestling match between the mind, thoughts and myself - who gets the trophy? Who wins at all?

From Noisy Chatter to Silent Watcher
These are the changes I have experienced:

1. I have become a 'silent watcher of my thoughts.'

2. I am intensely conscious of the present moment and involve myself fully in it.

3. As I bask in silence, I can experience a powerful presence around me. 

When thoughts subside and recede like ripples, I have experienced a fleeting interval whereby there are no thoughts at all - where I, the mind and body, has ceased to exist. That is a most powerful experience. 

I don't want it to end. But it does. 

Gems of Wisdom from Eckhart  Tolle's book 'The Power of NOW'
Eckhart  Tolle captures the essence of thoughts in a beautiful way:
  • When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream - a gap of no-mind. At first, the gaps will be short [I am in this phase], a few seconds perhaps but gradually they will become longer [GREAT! Am heading there soon!]
  • When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with the Being which is usually obscured by the mind.
  • It is not a trance-like state. [This doubt had been troubling me. In those blissful intervals of thoughts ceasing to exist, I had wondered if I was in a trance.]
  • You are fully present. Be totally present.
  • Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence that is coming from within you but is not the physical 'You' . [This I have experienced strongly during meditation.]
Enough about me. Tell me your thoughts on meditation or any technique that you follow to still the noisy chatter of thoughts? Are there any interesting teachings that inspire you? Have you tried something new in the spiritual realm to connect to your Higher sense of awareness and energy field? 

It could be something small, but as long as you are doing it with sincerity, the winds of change will blow. Your life is set to change. I'd love to know how you are all set for this big change in your life too. I am waiting.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What do you want from your writing? Make that your definition of success

For years, as a writer, I have been lost in a jungle of my own making – thoughts that juggled a hundred ideas but took me nowhere, among other things. 

In January 2014, I told myself firmly, “That won’t do. You will sit down and write.” The moment I became firm, I began to write. Not at the pace that I want to. Still, I can honestly say that a majority of the stumbling blocks have been overcome.

Then I read this thought provoking post by Jane Friedman who argues that one must answer this question to grow as a writer: “Do you know what you want from your writing?”

Jane Friedman cites broad and general examples that enthusiastic writers tend to cite. “Fame,” “Livelihood” and “I want to be heard” are among them. I began to feel dejected. These are not my reasons. Does that make a non-serious writer? Maybe I should just write instead of getting into a philosophical rut about why I want to write in the first place.

But let me not jump the gun. We are talking about THE Jane Friedman here and you simply can’t take her words lightly! So, lets go back to it, shall we? You can also follow Jane Friedman on Twitter. 


Then she makes some pertinent points for us to consider: [Please note that the following are points that Jane Friedman has cited in the article highlighted above. You can read all her writings on Jane Friedman's website here]

1. Imagine what it would be like if you achieved your goal.
Often, the very fact that you can do this easily, or the trouble you find with such visualization, can be a clue as to whether or not this is actually what you want.

2. Difficulty in visualizing what life would be like if you achieved your goal may mean that goal is still a little too general.

3. You should have a single, specific thing, the thing you really want from your writing, the thing for the sake of which you want everything else.

4.  Express that goal in a single sentence. 

5. Remember: It’s the single most important sentence you will ever write. It is your crie de coeur, your battle cry. It will sustain you and provide a compass for your entire writing journey.

6. This is your definition of success, the only definition that matters to you from this moment on.

Now after reading this, I sit down to answer this question. I realize that it isn't as easy as it sounds. There are lots of reasons why I want to write. For example: Stories to share, Secrets to reveal, Dreams to unveil, Learning to let go by writing in words. 

The more I think about it, I ask myself: does any of this define why I want to really write? Nope. I need to figure it out. Boil and simmer it down to one sentence. The sentence that can chart my journey ahead as a writer. Get off to a good start.

Yet this is a question I haven’t thought about seriously. But now I feel the need to do it and to find my battle cry. 

See it this way. As a writer, I am now focused on my own way to define my success.

Will you join me and share what your definition of success is? Waiting to hear from you.   

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading this post. Please Share this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people in a positive way. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

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Love means to see the one you love happy

Every day is a new beginning to celebrate one's love. 

Yet some uncomfortable questions arise: 

  • How open are we to love? 
  • Do we take the one we love for granted?
  • Is there something that can be done to bring happiness to yourself and the person you love? 
  • Sometimes, can letting go be the best option? 

Love - a much maligned, abused word. How many times have we heard it, said it and not meant it? Billion? Zillion? Or have you hesitated to say it at all? Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones who have experienced love in a most beautiful way? Good for you! That is the way it should be.

But if you have been let down by some one you love, don't let it define the rest of your life or make you feel worthless. Far from it - you have learned something and you WILL move on to a happier self though it may not seem evident at the time. Remember this, no matter what happens: Nothing is permanent - not even our troubles. 



How to love with all the passion and truth in you? Here's what I believe works best: Mean what you say. Say what you mean. That's the only way to demonstrate love.

And for me personally, this is my favorite definition of love and it's from none other than Nicholas Sparks: "Love means to see the one you love happy. True love means that you care for another's happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be."

Over to you - how do you define love in your life? Is there a quote, an expression or experience that brings you closer to your quest for love? Do share it here. I'd love to know.

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