Tuesday, March 3, 2009
HINDUISM: THE PANCHARATHA FESTIVAL OF MATALE SRIMUTHUMARI AMMAN TEMPLE!!!
The Pancharatha festival of Matale Sri Muththumari Amman
The Panchaaratha (five chariots) festival and water-cutting ceremony of Matale Arulmigu Sri Muththumari Amman Thevasthanam will be held on Monday 09.03.2009 commencing at 7.30 a.m. and Tuesday 10.03.2009 at 5.00 p.m. respectively.
Matale Sri Muththumari Amman temple.
The Board of Management of the temple has made elaborate arrangements to conduct this year’s festival successfully as in the past. In fact, Matale is an ancient historical town and even pilgrims from South India have visited this holy temple during the olden days and since then the Chariot festival continued from generation to generation where Sri Lankans irrespective of race, religion and caste participate in large numbers.
In Hinduism, the Supreme Lord is represented by Maheswara and His power is represented by His Consort Sakthy. Just as the husband and wife taking care of their family, so also does Siva and Sakthi look after the affairs of the Universe. Sakthi is the embodiment of power. She is the supreme power by which the world is made to function.
Lord Siva without Sakthi is all stillness, silence. It is Sakthi which stirs him to motion and speech.
If Siva symbolises cosmic energy in its passive form, Sakthi symbolises it in the dynamic form.
Further, it is difficult to separate one from the other and hence the concept of ‘Ardha Narisa’. The manifest universe is the handwork of Sakthi.
In fact, the ‘Varaha Purana’ explains Sakthi in the form of Durga as symbolising the hounds of passions, love, hate, greed, vanity, illusion, contempt, envy, jealous - let loose in the strife of the eternal spirit struggling for victory over dying matters and finally sublimating into eternal good and light and these energies finally merging in the body of Durga.
In the Vedic utterances which are incontrovertible and unquestionable has assigned the prime position to mothers among those to be revered. The compassion she shows not only to her children, but also to the community has no parallel.
In fact, Sri Muththumari Amman in Matale has done several miraculous deeds to her devout devotees. Several years ago a woman who lost her Thali during Ther festival got it back with the grace of Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman. It is very often said that “the creator of the Universe Brahma resides in the naval of Lord Vishnu.
Similarly in the hearts of men reside the creative urge and faith of the world. This is clearly evident from the manner the people of Matale pray to Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman. During the ‘Pancharatha’ festival the statues of God Ganesha, God Murga with his consorts, Goddess Muththumari Amman, God Siva-Parasakthi and God Sandeswarar are decorated and illuminated and taken along the streets in chariots followed by poojas, bhajans and archanai by devotees.
The deity therein and her consort.
The chariots are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees with no racial differences where the rich and the poor mingle shoulder to shoulder in pulling the chariots, clustering around the temple where the Goddess preside.
In the tradition of the Hindu literature the ‘Rathas’ or chariots are replicas of the human body.
The deity in the sanctum or on the chariot reminds us of the truth that the God is seated in the heart of each individual. In fact, the high towers of the temple with the marvellous decorations and motifs denote man’s aspirations to Godhood.
During the festival Deities are taken out from the temple decorated and mounted on Vahanas or vehicle like the horse or the elephant, for two reasons.
The first is to help even those who are unable to visit the temple with the Deity’s Dharshan and secondly to show the Maker of all Creations.
The Chariot which represents our body is yoked to four horses (the sense organs) wherein the individual sit, dejected and despondent, driven by the intellect which with the mind guide the horses.
The horses represent human passions and the reins symbolises the necessity or restraining in guiding the passions. The journey of the chariot through the streets is an emblem of progress of life and the lesson is that throughout his life one must control and guide its passion with the help of the soul.
These passions are the driving force of life, but if untrained and unguided will wreck a man’s life. This is the symbolic meaning of the chariot. If one worships Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman of Matale with utter devotion they will undoubtedly receive Her Divine Blessings.
‘God is Love’ and ‘Love is God’. Even Bhagavad Geeta declares that God resides in the hearts of all beings to revolve and His power causes all beings to revolve as though mounted on a potter’s wheel.
Bhakthi is the path of devotion and love to that great power behind all creations, the embodiment of all virtues. Undoubtedly, to a world lost in error and weighted down by forces of darkness of ignorance and arrogance, conflicts and contradictions, trials and tribulations, let us all worship ‘Arulmigu Sri Muththumari Amman of Matale and utter Her pure name and contemplate and surrender ourselves at Her Lotus feet for the progress and success of our lives.
Siva Jayanthi - the birth of the unborn
BK Ram Swarup Brahma Kumaris
Siv-Jayanti or Maha-Sivaratri is a great festival imbued with deep spiritual significance. It is a religious festival sans any festive pomp.
It seems to have lost its great importance and meaning. In fact Siva symbolizes the universally worshipped form of Eternal Light. Siva literally means One who is the World Benefactor of all souls. Sivaratri or Sivajayanti is therefore a memorial of the Divine Incarnation and Divine Acts of the Incorporeal God Father Siva who performs the triple role of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction. The Sivalingum denotes the bodiless and Incorporeal form of God Siva.
The three parallel lines seen in the image of the Sivalingam symbolizes the Divine Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shanker and the dot represents the Eternally Pure, Subtle Light of God.
This supernatural most exalted, extra-ordinary birth of the unborn, God Siva is celebrated in India on Chaturdashi, a day before Amavasya, the pitch dark moonless night, in the last month of the Hindu calendar Falgoon. Ratri signifies the darkness of ignorance when God, the Supreme Being, opens our Third Eye of Knowledge and reveals once again the Spiritual Truth about Himself and His Creation.
He also expresses pure emotions of love, mercy, kindness, compassion and concern for the welfare of the world through Brahma. Brahma is the Kalki avatar and Siva re-establishes the New World Order through him. This is why Brahma is called the Creator. Vishnu is the sustainer of the new Golden Age.
According to the ancient scriptures, it is predicted that the last prophet to descend in the cycle would be called the Kalki Avatar. This is sometimes known as Kalanki or Eklang. Which means defamation. This Kalki avatar would be dressed in white and would be on a white horse. He would receive great defamation, insults and ridicule until the time of revelation.
This is also written in the Book of Revelation- Chapter 3, verse 3, quotes - ‘I will come as a thief in the night and thou shall not know what hour I will come’.
This reveals that His Incarnation and entry would be incognito and unannounced. Verse 4 says that there are few who have not defiled their garments, meaning those who lived a life of purity in thoughts, words and deeds.
This book of Revelation further continues to tell that they will walk with Him dressed in white raiment or clothes worn down to the ankles. It also describes how one should take control of the five senses as well as conquer the five vices of lustful carnal desires, anger, greed, attachment and ego.
These vicious traits have transformed a deity into a devilish being. Nearly all religions also believe that the iron age is a period in human history when mankind in general is steeped into ignorance, degradation, worldly pleasures, vices and immorality and sins. A night signifies utter darkness, deep slumber of ignorance, When there is no Enlightenment of the Self and God.
This Divine mysterious birth is not known to scientists, gynaecologists, physiologists, biologists, physicians and even the layman, in the ancient texts there is a mention of Parkaya Pravesh, i.e. the Supreme Soul’s entry into another one’s body.
That is why He is known as Swayambu, (self born). At present, this is the most auspicious age called the confluence age, that is the end of the vicious, old iron age and the beginning of the new, viceless golden age.
It is the Transit period, a bridge between the old and the new world, when God Siva Himself incarnates to enable souls to imbibe and inculcate divine, moral and spiritual values in order to Divinize the man and establish a new socio-economic, socio-political, socio-spiritual order known as the Golden Age.
Then man will again become a deity. It is mentioned in the Bhagwad Gita, when the Ocean Himself is bestowing every treasure, why should we stop at the pond, lake or river.
In India, there are twelve very famous temples known as Jyotirlingam Maths, which are dedicated to the divine attributes of Siva. When souls pray to God they say Om Namo Sivaya, that is Om means we are all souls and bow down to and worship Siva. No one ever says Om Namo Shanker, because Shankar is the memorial of a Subtle deity.
Apparently Siva and Shanker are distinctly different. Deities are the highest and most elevated creation of God and come into the cycle of birth and death in the physical plane and also experience the fruit of their karma. God does not take a corporeal physical body like human deities. He is free from karmic bondages and remains beyond experiencing happiness and sorrow.
There have been legendary stories depicting how the most revered deities like Sri Krishna and Sri Rama too invoked the blessings of God Siva. He is called the Patit Pawan the purifier.
Deities were pure, divine human beings, completely virtuous, 16 celestial degrees perfect, Maryada Purshottom. They belonged to the Adi Sanatan Devi Devata clan. Only the One God Father can grant liberation and salvation to all souls as He is ever liberated and the Oceanic source of all spiritual powers.
Mother Goddess - Aadi Parasakthi
Thilaka V. Vijeyaratnam
Hinduism is unique in many aspects. For one it is not founded by anyone. Secondly it is a religion which considers Motherhood as divine.
One’s relationship with the mother is very close. Only a mother can forgive a child though a wrong doer. There is a meaningful saying by a Western philosopher, “Because God cannot be everywhere, He created Mother.” Who is so loving, compassionate, forgiving and merciful as a Mother? So it is right in Hinduism to refer to God as Mother - Aadi Parasakthi or Devi is the Divine Mother. In Hindu Parlance she is the energy aspect of Lord Siva.
Said Aadishankarar, “If Sivam joins Sakthi everything is possible. If she leaves Sivam can hardly move.”
Those words sum up what Sakthi (energy) is to Sivam (matter). But one is indispensable to the other. Without Sivam can Sakthi have an existence? She the Mother Goddess Sakthi is the cosmic energy - She is Prakirithi. Siva is Purusha. In the presence of Purusha, Prakirithi creates. Lord Siva is the silent witness while Sakthi does everything. She is the omnipotent power of Lord Siva.
This Divine Mother is seen with ten different weapons in her hands. She sits on a lion. She is Simhavahini, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Dhurga are all her various forms. She is the Power of the Supreme Lord and Her power manifests throughout the universe. The worship of Sakthi the Universal Mother leads to one’s knowledge of the self. Goddess Sakthi sheds wisdom on her devotees.
Adi Sakthi is beyond human understanding. The Upanishad says of Sakthi, “The supreme power of God is manifested in various ways. This power is of the nature of God, manifesting as knowledge, strength and activity.
There is no limit to Her mercy, Her Grace is very great. Her knowledge is boundless. One cannot measure her power nor her glory describe. Her splendour is beyond anyone to describe. She gives spiritual freedom to all.
In the year, there are many days set aside for Sakthiworship. These days were mentioned in an earlier article. The most famous is Navarathri. Nine nights are set aside for Sakthi in the form of Saraswathi in September (The Tamil month of Puratathi - Sept. 15 to Oct. 15).
All these and the mythological stories were written many times over. Kali is another form of Sakthi. Poet Kalidasa, Poet Barathi, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsar were all Kali devotees. They have seen and communicated with the Goddess. They have spoken and written about their experiences. Siva and Parvathi also another manifestation of Sakthi, are found as one form signifying the unity of Purusha and Prorate.
Like God Siva Aadiparasakthi also has many forms. She is Luxmy the Goddess of Wealth, Saraswathy the Goddess of Learning, Durga the courageous, Kali denoting time - kala, Thirupurasunthari the most beautiful one of the three worlds, Puvaneswari the ruler of the universe, Bairavi the powerful, Annapoorani, one who feeds all living beings. According to mythology Thadchayani daughter of Thadchan flung herself into the sacrificial fire when Thadchen was doing a Yaga.
God Siva, whose consort Parvathi’s incarnation was Thadchayani, took her body and danced a vigorous ruthra tandavam - dance of anger. Seeing this, God Vishnu threw His chakra ayutham and cut her body into bits. Different parts of the body of Aadiparasakthi fell in different places in India and they are called Sakthi Centres. There are about 108 such places.
It is said the Amman at Nagadeepa is also one such Sakthi Centre. The places where the Sakthi Centres are at Kanchipuram, Madurrai, Kanyakumari (Cape Comerin) and many other centres. In all there are 51 shrines of Sakthi. Energy can change from one form to another like light energy to chemical energy, electric energy to sound energy and so on. So does Aadi Parasakthi’s many forms.
Take an individual woman. She is seen in many roles - mother, daughter, wife, sister but she is one. Same way with God Siva. A man is a father, a husband, a son, a brother and so on, but he is one. So are Aadi Parasakthi and Lord Siva - many forms but one entity.
There are numerous mythological stories and legends about Mahaluxmy - another form of Sakthi. Aadi Shankarar, sworn to celibacy took only one meal a day. One day he went to the house of one Somadevan and asked for food. His wife Tharmaseeli was surprised, the sanyasi came to their house to beg.
They were themselves poor. She went into the house and searched for something to give the sanyasi. Theirs was abject penury. Finally she found a withered fruit - nelli (Emblica officianalis - goose beri) and offered it to him. The sanyasi realised their state. He prayed to Goddess Mahaluxmy to help the poor family.
The Gooddess appeared before him and said, “This couple were Kubera and his wife Susheelai in their previous birth. They once refused to give alms to an old brahmin. As a result they are suffering this fate now.
However Shankarar pleaded with her saying, “She wholeheartedly gave the nelli fruit to me. So she is absolved of the sin” and begged to have pity on them. He then sang a hymn or psalm containing 21 songs called ‘Kanakathara’. Goddess Mahaluxmy was pleased and cast a benign look at the house, and suddenly golden nelli fruits showered down on the house.
The couple used the riches to lead a life of Dharma.