New Year marks the inception of another new 12 months which we call by their usual names but name or mode of pointing the year changes; just like 2016 is all set to say goodbye and 2017 is all ready to cast it’s spell on our lives Midnight 31st December onwards.
On this grand occasion, which is very much secular although 🙂 I have marked few points in the timeline of political history of mankind where 1st January rang in and out to be the first day of any year.
The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.
The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”)
January Joins the Calendar
The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.
Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished
In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.
Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored
In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.
We saw the in and out flow of acceptance of January as first month of any year reigning through various colonial imprints. Now, as New Year is celebrated worldwide, let’s go through the ways of names by which it is welcomed and greeted…
When we say “Happy New Year”..
Afrikaans say Voorspoedige nuwe jaar
Arabic greets Kul ‘am wa antum bikhair
Basque rejoices Urte Berri on
Bengali wishes Shuvo noboborsho
Chinese (Cantonese) says Sun nien fai lok
Chinese (Mandarin) says Xin nian yu kuai
Czech greets Stastny Novy Rok
Danish rejoices Godt NytÅr
Dutch celebrates Gelukkig nieuwjaar
Esperanto cheers Bonan Novjaron
Finnish celebrates Onnellista uutta vuotta
French says Bonne année
German greets Ein glückliches neues Jahr
Greek states Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos
Hawaiian cheers Hauoli Makahiki hou
Hebrew greets Shana Tova
Hungarian celebrates Boldog uj evet
Indonesian (Bahasa) wishes Selamat Tahun Baru
Italian wishes Felice Anno Nuovo or Buon anno
Japanese rejoices Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
Korean celebrates Sehe Bokmanee Bateuseyo
Laotian (Hmong) cheers Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab
Latin celebrates Felix sit annus novus
Nigerian (Hausa) cheers Barka da sabuwar shekara
Norwegian wishes Godt Nytt År
Philippines (Tagalog) celebrates Manigong Bagong Taon
Polish cheers Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Romanian calls La Multi Ani si Un An Nou Fericit
Samoan cheers Ia manuia le Tausaga Fou
Spanish wishes Feliz año nuevo
Swedish wishes Gott Nytt År
Thai celebrates Sawatdee Pi Mai
Vietnamese rejoices Chuc mung nam moi
Welsh cheers Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
But altogether it’s a grand beginning of another grand chapter of life filled with all the inseparable ingredients of emotions and allegedly painful yet thoughtful stances supported by cheering moments with near and dear ones, filled with lessons and blessings… Which we very rashly yet dearly claim to be LIFE! ~TheSpiritual~
Have you ever wondered about some of the things like the candy cane, the christmas tree, the stockings we see and are very much familiar with its relation with Christmas? We know that Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. That story is familiar to us all, and embraced by billions around the world.
But what about some of the other things—like Christmas trees and stockings and Santa? And just how many people on Earth celebrate Christmas, anyway?
Wondering, I took a look and found some fun facts.
Here are a few “did you know” kind of things that intrigued me:
The French gave the biggest Christmas present ever in 1886. It was the Statue of Liberty, and they gave it to the United States of America. (The French have one too, a smaller one, in Paris.)
Santa Claus was a real Saint. He lived in Myra in the 300s. Myra is in what’s now Turkey. The German name for SaintNicholas is SanktNiklaus.
The first artificial ChristmasTree wasn’t a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed.
Christmas has many, many names. Do you know some of them—aside from, of course, Christmas; Sheng Tan Kuai Loh (China), or Hauskaa Joulua (Finland), or Joyeux Noel (France); in Wales, it’s Nadolig Llawen, and in Sweden, God Jul.
That “Xmas” stems from Greece. The Greek “X” is a symbol for Christ.
Riga, Latvia was home to the first decorated Christmas tree. The year was 1510. About 36 million Christmas trees are produced each year on Christmas tree farms.
The CandyCane is one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas. It dates back to 1670 in Europe but didn’t appear in the U.S. until the 1800s. The treat we see today, where the shape is Jesus’s hook to shepherd his lambs and the color and stripes hold significance for purity and Christ’s sacrifice, became common in the mid 1900s.
The ChristmasStocking got its start when three unmarried girls did their laundry and hung their stockings on the chimney to dry. They couldn’t marry, they had no dowry. But St. Nicholas, who knew of their plight, put a sack of gold in each stocking and in the morning the girls awoke to discover they had dowry and now they could marry.
The most popular Christmas Song ever is We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The song can be traced back to England, but its author and composer remains unknown.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Print media, broadcast media and everywhere over the Internet, various organizations, NGOs and groups are just hooting and shouting around in forms of campaigns, reviews and protest with a very noble intention of making people aware of the fact that alike Humans, each and every animal is having the right to live the way they are and rather being merciless tyrant we can show our soft and humane sides to these speechless and helpless mortals.
In various Mythological references, be it Indian, Greek, Baltic or Norse; various Gods, Demi Gods and Celestial Beings are mentioned to be taking form of animals and having an animal as their mascot or Vahana which means their mode of transport hence, giving that creature a great importance which in spite of repeated knocking and reminders, majority of people are unable to realise. Let’s review few such Mythological figurine….
Lord Bhairava is having Dog as his Vahana is a Rudravatar.
Lord Agni is having Goat as his Vahana.
Goddess Shashthi, a Goddess related to welfare and betterment of new born and infant kids (a folklore Goddess of West Bengal) is having Cat as her Vahana.
Goddess Bahuchara a deity worshipped by persons of transgender community worldwide, is having Rooster as her Vahana.
Goddess Kalratri, one of the nine incarnations of Parvati worshipped during NAVRATRI, is having Donkey as her Vahana.
Shanidev or God of Justice is having Crow as his Vahana.
Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, is having Sparrow and Dove as her mascot.
Greek Goddess of Feminism and Marriage, Hera, is having Cow as her companion.
Greek God of Fire, Metal work and Craft, Hephaestus, is having Donkey as his sacred animal.
There are various forms of Gods and Celestial Beings like Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, Lord Narsimha, Lord Varaha as per Hindu Mythology; presence of Centaurs, Gorgons, Gigantes, Crocotta and Mermaids in Greek Mythology which hybrid Beings of human and animal form combination clearly illustrates or even we can deduce that Gods also indicate that only Human is not enough for balanced and smooth functionality of Nature.
In childhood, even we have studied as “C for Cat.. not Computer”, ” D for Dog.. not Disk Drive or Data”, “H for Horse or Hen and not Hard Drive”.. Hence, we are having ample time to take care of artificial IT companions of ours which are although very important at the current stance of our life but yet, Nature has showered a beautiful bliss in form of the animal kingdom which is to be taken care of as they are speechless, brainless and now ” Helpless”!
In every epic historical war we see three kinds of warriors ~
First, people who are remembered for their bravery and skills in warfare.
Second, those who are forgotten in the pages of history.
And third and the most important are those chivalrous characters, as charming and brave as anyone can be, they make us feel like a petty mortal in comparison to them. Ashwathama from Mahabharata was perhaps one such warrior, who will always emerge as a huge shark amongst a shoal of pikes.
In spite of the great warfield chivalry and being a great warrior, Ashwathama lastly ended up badly due to his conspiracy of killing the Pandavas in their sleep but instead he executed the sons of Pandavas which converted his Chiranjeevi boon to a curse and unhealed and with intense pain, hunger, thirst and anxiety he is roaming around still today due to curse of Lord Krishna. Hence, the knoll of Karma didn’t spared this Rudravatar also.
If not for Aswathama, the end of the Kurukshetra war would have been very different. We are here today to shed some light on Ashwathama’s heroic personality, and also elucidate upon some shocking facts about his life ~
Ashwathama was the son of Dronacharya and Sage Kripacharya’s sister Kripi
He is best remembered for fighting from the Kauravas camp along with his father in the battle of Mahabharata.
Ashwathama was the avatar or personification of 8 Rudras and hence is one of the Rudravatars
For this same reason there was ruby permanently embedded in his forehead since birth.
Ashwathama was no ordinary warrior
He was the son of the mighty Dronacharya, who had done penance for many years to get a son like him. So severe was his penance that when he asked for a son as powerful as Shiva, the Gods granted it to him willingly.
Ashwathama was the only survivor on the Kaurava’s side in the Kurukshetra war
According to a legend, Ashwathama was asked by Pandavas to fight for them before the war started. But he was a staunch loyalist of Hastinapur, and a loyal subject to King Duryodhana.
But like all good souls, he had a limit to which he could take the scheming and the plotting. By the time the war was reaching its end he totally lost his temper, and got fed up of the games that Lord Krishna was conspiring with the Pandavas in the name of Dharma. He decided to take things in his hand and put an end to the Pandavas story once and for all. After all the Pandavas had killed his father by deceit, and by breaking the rules of the war.
When Ashwathama decided to put an end to the Pandavas, Krishna got really enraged and cursed him to roam the Earth for 3,000 years all alone
He was so enraged at him that he cursed that his wounds will never heal, and he will suffer from all kinds of body ailments. This curse brings us to our next point. Over the years many people and sages have claimed to have met the man himself. There is story doing the rounds of internet, where an Ayurveda doctor in Madhya Pradesh tried everything under the sky to fix a septic wound on the head of a patient. But the bleeding never stopped. The man was tall, dark, handsome and massive.
According to another legend the villagers who live near the old fort in Asirgarh (Madhya Pradesh), believe that he comes every morning to pray to a Shiv Linga in the old fort and offers flowers. Not some time ago even the media got a whiff of this news. Even well-known yogis like Pilot Baba have claimed that they have met Ashwathama in the Himalayas, Living peacefully with a tribe, without a care in the world.
Dronacharya was partial to his son, when it came to imparting lessons on archery
He had ensured that he learnt all the lessons before the others. But as expected Arjun understood the gurus scheme, and conspired with God Varuna to beat Dronacharya at his own game.
Ashwathama was the master of many weapons other warriors could only dream of including the Narayan Astra
In order to take revenge of his father’s death, Ashwathama had used the invincible Narayan Astra on the Pandavas. Besides him only Lord Krishna and his father knew how to use this deadly weapon. But due to Lord Krishna’s timely intervention the Pandavas bowed down to its supremacy, and saved their lives. After the failure of the Narayan Astra, Ashwathama got more enraged and used the Agni Astra on the Pandavas. Although he could not kill the Pandavas he managed to eradicate most of Pandavas army.
In another incident of mockery at the hands of Lord Krishna, Ashwathama had asked Lord Krishna to hand over his Sudarshan Chakra to him, in exchange for the Brahma sutra. Lord Krishna asked him to take it, if he could lift it. The great master was made humble in front of the Lord. We wonder, what was the purpose of showing such a master down. But then God works in mysterious ways.
The mystery surrounding Ashwathama does not end here.
According to the Kannada version of the Mahabharata, Ashwathama got in touch with Parsurama and asked him to save him from Lord Krishna’s curse
And since Ashwathama was only following Lord Shiva’s instructions to exterminate the evil from the world, he took his disciple in readily. This story is confirmed in the Mahabharata. Where it is mentioned that 36 years after the war, the Pandavas saw him with Parsuramaand Rishi Duryasa, on the banks of the river Ganga in an ashram.
The self-controlled person, moving among objects, with his senses free from attachment and malevolence and brought under his own control, attains tranquility.
~ Bhagavad Gita II.64
The law of cause and effect forms an integral part of Hindu philosophy. This law is termed as ‘karma’, which means to ‘act’.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines it as the “sum of person’s actions in one of his successive states of existence, viewed as deciding his fate for the next”.
In Sanskrit karma means “volitional action that is undertaken deliberately or knowingly”. This also dovetails self-determination and a strong will power to abstain from inactivity. Karma is the differentia that characterizes human beings and distinguishes him from other creatures of the world.
Karma of a person can directly or indirectly harm well being of other living entity and on the other hand it can prove to be beneficial too. In both the cases, the anchor point is the will or intention with which the Karma or deed was done and it is the degree of self-realization and perseverance which enables a doer to judge his intentions or wishes to be a nobler or wretched ones.
Many examples from ancient scriptures and examples cites clear reference that Gods, Demi-Gods and other celestial beings who are infinitesimal much more superior to human personification, thoughts and deeds in terms of nobility, righteousness and dignity; were not spared by the Karma-Chakra harsh outcomes and were forced or punished or penalised to lead a life or certain period of life in ultimate hell-like penance and solitude.
Few of such stories are as follows~
Curses have often changed the course of history in Hindu scriptures.
According to the Matsya Purana, the story of the curse in set in the backdrop of war between Devatas (demi gods) and Asuras (demons). Demi gods were led by God Indra and it was an uphill task for the demons to defeat them in many subsequent battles. Having lost several times, the leader of the demons, Shukuracharya (son of the sage Bhrigu) decided to approach Lord Shiva for help to defeat Devatas. He also requested Lord Shiva for Mrita Sanjivani, using which Shiva could bring back the dead. He would also pray to Lord Shiva, to grant Shukracharya, Mritasanjeevani Stotram, a mantra that would make the Asuras invincible.
Meanwhile, he asked the Asuras to take refuge at the ashram of his father, Bhrigu. The Devtas used this opportunity to attack unarmed Asuras. Moreover, if Shukuracharya had been granted the mantra of invincibility, it would have become difficult for them to defeat the Asuras.
In the absence of the sage, the Asuras fled to Bhrigu’s wife for shelter. To protect them, she used her powers to immobilize Indra.
Lord Vishnu used his Sudarshana Chakra to save Devatas.
Unnerved by the immobilization of Indra, the Devas decided to take refuge at the feet of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu decided to enter the body of Indra to save the Devas. Enraged by this, Bhrigu’s wife warned to burn them down to ashes if they did so. Indra instigated to annihilate Bhrigu’s wife, and abiding by Indra’s words, Vishnu used the Sudarshana Chakra to serve her head.
Devastated sage Bhrigu seeing his wife’s condition, cursed lord Vishnu to be born on earth, and suffer the pain of birth and death several times. Because of this curse Vishnu had to take countless avatars on earth and endure all the worldly pain as a price.
Although later Bhrigu revived his wife by sprinkling holy water from his Kamandalu, he was so deeply infuriated and full of vengeance, he decided not to spare Lord Vishnu.
Bhrigu’s curse demanded that Lord Vishnu be born on earth in several avatars, and one of them was that of Krishna. Without Krishna, there would have been no Mahabharat and no Bhagwat Gita.
The curse also made Vishnu feel human emotions such as love, hatred, betrayal and pain of separation.
Hence, the preserver part of the Supreme Trinity was also unable to evade the invincible strokes of Karma-Chakra.
” CurseofSageNarada “
Narada was one of the greatest Bhaktas of Lord Vishnu. His penance and meditation was so strong that nothing perturbed his mind. But even he wasn’t above making blunders and falling prey to pride. He took great pride of the fact that he was above temptation and he had conquered Kamadeva with respect to any kind of worldly desire. At one such instance of boasting, Lord Shiva warned him to keep it to himself and not to go around boasting about it.
Narada took it for jealousy and boasted about his victory over his Kama to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu wanted to humble his pride. On his way back from the Vaikunta, Lord Narada stumbles upon this beautiful city he was never seen before in his travels.
He pays a visit to the city and learns that the kingdom was ruled by a king named Sheelnidhi and that the king was planning to hold a swayamwara for his daughter, who was an ardent devotee of the Lord.
Narada is captivated by the beauty of the princess and seeks Lord Vishnu’s help in wooing the princess. He asks the Lord to give him the face of “Hari,” the face of the lord. Vishnu plays a trick on him and gives him the face of a monkey, Narada had forgotten the fact that “Hari” also meant monkey. So not aware of his appearance, with that monkey face he goes to the palace for the swayamwara. The princess is so lost in the thought of Lord that she sees no one else.
Narada tries desperately to seek her attention. The other princes gathered there make fun of him, only then does he realize the trick the Lord played on him. The princess on the other side does not pay attention to anything or anyone, with single hearted devotion to the Lord prays and finally he fulfills her desire and appears in front of her, and she garlands him.
But before Narada realized that it was all just an illusion created by the Lord to humble his pride he is said to have felt betrayed and cursed the Lord that in one of his avatara he would have to bear the pain of separation from his wife and only a monkey would be able to relieve him of his sufferings. Thus, when Vishnu was born as Rama, Hanuman a monkey helped him to free Sita from the bonds of Ravana.
It is very well understood that Shri Vishnu performed a Noble task to make his devotee void of pride which is a very insatiable and unwanted element of human character in spirituality but in-turn it hurted Narada Muni and Shri Vishnu got cursed. But even in the outcome, Lord Rama is one of the most infallible and respected diety throughout the world and his life is set as example of management in righteous way hence naming his as Maryada-Puroshottam.
” CurseonHanuman “
As a child, Hanuman acquired lots of boons from various gods, and he started using his new-found powers to cause a lot of mischief:
Because of the boons he received and the strength which he gained from them, Hanuman was replete with his own speed, like the ocean. Overflowing with energy, Hanuman fearlessly desecrated the hermitages of great sages. He broke the sacrificial laddles and vessels, interrupted the offering of oblations into sacrificial fires and tore up the piles of bark cloth belonging to the peaceful sages. The mighty Hanuman continued doing such deeds. Knowing that Brahma had made him invulnerable to punishment by brahmanas, the sages tolerated it because of his power.
Although prohibited by [his fathers] Kesari and Vayu, Hanuman went beyond the bounds of propriety. Great sages born in the families of Bhrigu and Angira, who were never overly angry or wrathful, became furious and cursed him in the following way: “O monkey, illusioned by our curse, you will for a long time be unaware of your own strength, by dint of which you harassed us. Your strenth will again grow when you are reminded of your glory.” Thereafter, by the power of the words of the great sages, Hanuman was deprived of his strength.
Hence, even Lord Hanuman was beseeched by the mischievous flaws of his Karma-Chakra.
” CurseontheGreatWarriorofalltimes, ‘Karna‘ “
The curses that were behind Karna’s fall are as follows:
1. Mother Earth’s Curse:
Karna once helped a little girl who had split Milk (or Ghee) on the ground and feared retribution from her mother. A kind Karna helped the girl retrieve the Milk by squeezing and twisting the ground; in essence, Mother Earth herself. So unbearable was the pain, that Mother Earth cursed Karna that she would be of no assistance to him whatsoever and will even try to make him vulnerable in battle.
This resulted in the untimely incident of Karna’s Chariot Wheel getting stuck in mud during his battle with Arjuna.
The Teacher’s Curse:
On the final day of the lessons from Parashurama, Karna unflinchingly bears a scorpion (or bee – which was Lord Indra in disguise) bite, when Parashurama is resting upon his lap. A bewildered Parashurama realizes that Karna can be none but a Warrior and curses Karna that he will forget the knowledge of the weapons, especially the Brahmastra, when he needs them the most.
This curse came into effect when Karna forget the mantra to invoke the Brahmastra while fighting against Arjun in his last day on the battlefield.
A Brahman’s Curse:
Karna, once when practicing the Shabd Bhedi Arrow, mistook a Cow for a wild animal and shoots it down. The Brahman to whom the cow belongs is distraught. He curses Karna that he will be killed by his enemy when his attention is diverted in the middle of a combat.
This curse materializes when Karna is busy removing the chariot wheel from the mud and is shot by Arjuna, on the advice of Krishna.
Hence, such are the fruits of Karma and hence very accurately and with great precision is it said that “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
There are various statements provided by spiritual leaders, inventors and genius personalities which time and again reminds this mankind of the immense and unmatched power of human brain which can turn things either in favour or against the fortune of mortal accomplishments and hence very rightly is said that Fortune favours the Brave. Bravery is shown in deeds and Karma.
Spiritual life begins when we can control our minds. Ordinarily the mind of a conditioned soul in the material world is completely out of control.
For most people, rather than their mind being controlled their minds become servants of their senses. For example if one is walking down a street and sees or smells some very nice food then the tongue is sending messages to the mind telling it that it wants that food to satisfy the sense of taste. So the person, controlled by the urges of the senses, purchases that food and eats it to try and satisfy the whims of the tongue.
In the same way all the senses of the body are demanding the mind to supply their particular objects of gratification so the person is actually out of control. He simply becomes a servant of his senses, trying to satisfy their every whim, but the cruel nature of the material world is that no matter what he supplies in an attempt to satisfy his senses they will never be satisfied. They will always demand more, more, more…
A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. (Bhagavad–gita6.5)
In this sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna is describing the system of meditational yoga to His friend Arjuna. Here, in this verse, Krishna is establishing that the mind is the central point of yoga practice. The purpose of the yoga system is to control the mind and draw it away from attachment to sense objects.
The mind has to be trained in such a way that it can deliver the conditioned soul from the darkness of the material world and bring him into the light of Krishna consciousness.
Material life means being subjected to the influence of the mind and the senses, in fact the pure soul is entangled in the material world only because of the mind’s ego which desires to lord it over material nature. Therefore the mind should be trained so it is not attracted to the glitter of material nature and in this way the conditioned soul may be saved.
One should not degrade oneself by attraction to the things that will satisfy one’s senses. The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence. The best way to disentangle oneself is to always engage the mind in Krishna consciousness. In this verse it is emphasized that one must do this. In this way the mind will elevate one and not degrade him.
It is said: “For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from sense objects is the cause of liberation.”
Therefore the mind which is always engaged in Krishna consciousness is the cause of supreme liberation.
This is a very simple, short and easy to explain point, but it is very essential that we really understand this point and actually bring our mind under control by always engaging it in Krishna consciousness and in this way completely detach the mind from the desires of senses. In this way instead of being servants of our senses (godasa) we can become the masters of our senses (goswami) and this is the prerequisite for further advancement in Krishna consciousness.
Sexual ambivalence has been a recurring motif in figures populating the world of ancient Indian mythology.
Tales in regional folklore as well as the epic texts refer to both deities and heroes as well as non-divine figures changing genders, or manifesting as avatars of the opposite sex, such as Adhanari or Ardhaniswara, one of Shiva’s most popular avatars who is half-man and half-woman. In Vedic literature, the Kama Sutra, too, has spoken of the various branches of the queer community.
It is worth questioning the state of current society – in this context – when alternative sexualities are only now breaking the taboo; being queer is an idea that is slowly assimilating into the fabric of Indian society, and not without considerable outrage and pushback from those who subscribe to other notions of ‘Indian culture’ either. In spite of these, there have been a slew of events in the recent past that have been tangible steps towards being more inclusive of sexual variance in society, giving us hope that we’re moving towards a future where there is enough empathy in each of us to accept sexual ambiguity without the need to validate it to a T.
Bahuchara Mata is one of the pivotal Hindu deities who enjoys the patronage of the transgender and transvestite community in India, with several different tales in folklore depicting unmistakeable gender transformation and thus, shedding the trappings of heteronormativity. While there aren’t any direct references to homosexuality in ancient Hindu literary texts, there are several to the fluid nature of sexuality.
Daughter of Charan Bapal and Detha, one myth tells us about how she was travelling with her sisters in a caravan when a bandit named Bapiya accosted them on the journey. It was common for both men and women of the charan community to kill themselves when faced with the prospect of being overpowered and killed by enemies; and shedding the blood of a charan was considered abominable. The sisters announced Tragu, a form of self-immolation, upon being attacked and legend has it that they cut off their breasts, with Bahuchara cursing Bapiya to a life of impotency unless he dressed and acted like a woman, and worshipped her for the rest of his days. The underlying message here is simple – Impotence or genital mutilation are again recurring themes in tales associated with Bahuchara Mata.
Another myth tells of a king who prayed to the Goddess for a son, who was eventually born impotent. The prince, Jetho, dreamt of Bahuchara one day who ordered him to cut off his genitals, wear women’s clothes and become her servant. Bahuchara Mata has consistently, over these stories, appeared as a figure who identified impotent men and commanded them to do this and serve her. If they refused to assume the attire and mannerisms of the opposite gender, they would be cursed in their next seven incarnations to be born impotent, and thus the cult of devotees who worship Bahuchara Mata grew; a community that is required to self-castrate and remain celibate. The stories also speak of the conflict between body and soul that transgenders go through, in search for their gender identity, a story from ancient times reflecting their state of mind.
Hijra: A term used in the Indian subcontinent to refer to the transgender community.
In yet another of these numerous folk stories, Bahuchara was a princess whose marriage was never consummated. Her husband would, every night, slip away to the forest where he would ‘behave as a woman’ while other versions say that Bahuchara followed him one night and found him having sex with another man. Furious, she castrated him and cursed him, announcing that all men like her husband ought to be emasculated to give them a chance at a better rebirth. This same community of men was also promised protection if they worshipped her.
A manifestation of the Goddess, Bahuchara is a symbol of immense strength and protection to the kinnar community in all of these stories, regardless of whether the story is about the men getting neutered or her being depicted cutting off her own breasts to save herself from the atrocity of rape; her worshippers are staunch believers in non-violence and consider killing of all animals and creatures a sin.
While the primary temple of Bahuchara Ma is located in Bechraji town in Mehsana district of Gujarat, India, the goddess is one of the central religious figures amongst hijras, with many homes having small shrines dedicated to her. Seated on a rooster (to symbolise innocence), Bahuchara Mata is often depicted as a woman who carries a sword on her top right, the abhay hasta mudra (‘showering of blessings’) on her bottom right, a trident on her bottom left and a text of scriptures on her top left.
With the transgender community being recognised in India as the third gender, and the recent election of a hijra mayor, things seems promising and we seem to be moving towards a more inclusive future albeit slowly and not without setbacks. Even as we take these steps forward, though, it is important to remember that it is these stories that have laid the foundation and been a source of strength and faith, a testament to how it is not up to any faction to decide what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’.
Much like the story of Nangeli, the 19th century Dalit woman, it is uplifting to discover in ancient Indian history and mythology traces of a community who are slowly regaining their rightful place in our society.
Similar many other manifestations of transgenderalism are cited in ancient Hindu Mythology scriptures like the gender of Buddh or Planet Mercury, gender bias of Lord Arun and Devi Usha, existence of Arjuna as eunuch named Vrihannala in one year Agyatavasa or exile in Mahabharata, the great transgender warrior Shikhandi and many other incidents incurring curses and illusions will be discussed in my upcoming posts.
All the above mentioned points are the aims and objectives of people practising Yoga nowadays and believes Yoga to be just a form of ancient exercise neglecting its Spiritual importance as Yoga can be YourOnlyGuide to Almighty.
Almighty resides in the soul of each individual and to attain his company it is very much necessary for a person to know Self.
To practice Yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusa-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point. (BhagavadGitaChapter6, Verses13–14)
Today yoga has become fashionable and popular in big cities. However what goes on in modern so-called yoga studios has nothing to do with the real yoga system. In this Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita Krishna, after explaining to His friend Arjuna the importance of controlling the mind, is explaining the meditaional yoga system as a way for him to control his mind.
The yoga system Krishna is teaching Arjuna is the pure and original form of what we know today as HathaYoga or AstangaYoga. However from this introduction by Krishna we can understand that meditaional yoga can not be performed in a group. It is solitary engagement. One has to go to a sacred secluded place and make a sitting place by laying kusha grass on the ground and then covering it with deer skin and a soft cloth. Then the yogi must sit on this asana, or sitting place, and practice yoga by controlling his mind and senses, purifying his heart and fixing his mind on one point.
“Sacredplace” refers to places of pilgrimage. In India the yogis, the transcendentalists or the devotees all leave home and reside in sacred places such as Prayaga, Mathura, Vrindavana, Hrishikesh and Haridwar and in solitude practice yoga where the sacred rivers like the Yamuna and the Ganges flow. But often this is not possible, especially for Westerners.
The so-called yoga societies in big cities may be successful in earning material benefit, but they are not at all suitable for the actual practice of yoga. One who is not self-controlled and whose mind is not undisturbed cannot practice meditation.
One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life. (BhagavadGitaChapter6, Verses13–14)
Here Krishna is informing us an important prerequisite for practicing yoga is one must be completely free from sex life. Most modern so-called yoga societies teach the exact opposite, generally they teach that by practicing yoga one can improve his sex life. But the mind can never be peaceful if it is hankering after trying to satisfy the senses. So one who is still addicted to sex life can not have a peaceful mind and therefore can not practice yoga.
The idea that one can satisfy the senses is false. The actual substance, the actual bliss, is not there in any sort of material sense gratification. Even if there is some momentary pleasure the soul is not looking for momentary pleasure. Our soul is hankering after eternal pleasure. We can not reach the platform of eternal pleasure without making the mind peaceful and the mind can not be peaceful if we are trying to satisfy our senses.
Therefore the greatest enemy of the yogi is sex desire. Sex desire is the most bewildering aspect of maya and it is the shackles or chains that bind us to the material world and force us to take birth and die over and over and over again… The endless cycle of samsara that we can never escape from without become free from the sex desire.
Another important point we learn from Krishna is the object of meditation in yoga. Modern yoga schools are very vague about this. But here Krishna clearly says “oneshouldmeditateuponMewithintheheartandmakeMetheultimategoaloflife.” So the object of mediation for a yogi is Krishna who is present within his heart as the Paramatma or Supersoul. And the perfection of yoga is to come to the platform of Krishnaconsciousness.
The goal of yoga is to know Krishna, who is situated within the heart of every living being as Paramatma, the four-handed Vishnu form. The yoga process is practiced in order to discover and see this localized form of Vishnu, and not for any other purpose. The localized Vishnu-murti is the plenary representation of Krishna dwelling within one’s heart. One who has no program to realize this Vishnu-murti is uselessly engaged in mock-yoga practice and is certainly wasting his time. Krishna is the ultimate goal of life, and the Vishnu-murti situated in one’s heart is the object of yoga practice.
To realize this Vishnu-murti within the heart, one has to observe complete abstinence from sex life; therefore one has to leave home and live alone in a secluded place, remaining seated as mentioned above. One cannot enjoy sex life daily at home or elsewhere and attend a so-called yoga class and thus become a yogi.One has to practice controlling the mind and avoiding all kinds of sense gratification, of which sex life is the chief.
In the rules of celibacy written by the great sage Yajnavalkya it is said: “The vow of brahmacarya is meant to help one completely abstain from sex indulgence in work, words and mind–at all times, under all circumstances, and in all places.” No one can perform correct yoga practice through sex indulgence.
Brahmacarya is taught, therefore, from childhood when one has no knowledge of sex life. Children at the age of five are sent to the guru-kula, or the place of the spiritual master, and the master trains the young boys in the strict discipline of becoming brahmacharis. Without such practice, no one can make advancement in any yoga, whether it be dhyana, jnana or bhakti.
One who, however, follows the rules and regulations of married life, having sexual relationship only with his wife (and that also under regulation), is also called brahmacari. Such a restrained householder brahmacari may be accepted in the bhakti school, but the jnana and dhyana schools do not admit even householder brahmacaris. They require complete abstinence without compromise. In the bhakti school, a householder brahmacari is allowed controlled sex life because the cult of bhakti-yoga is so powerful that one automatically loses sexual attraction, being engaged in the superior service of the Lord.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is said: “Whereasothersareforcedtorestrainthemselvesfromsenseofgratification, adevoteeoftheLordautomaticallyrefrainsbecauseofsuperiortaste. Otherthanthedevotee, noonehasanyinformationofthatsuperiortaste.”
Krishna also stresses that to practice yoga one must be fearless. One cannot be fearless unless one is fully in Krishna consciousness. A conditioned soul is fearful due to his perverted memory, his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krishna.
The Bhagavatam says that Krishna consciousness is the only basis for fearlessness. Therefore, perfect practice is possible for a person who is Krishna conscious. And since the ultimate goal of yoga practice is to see the Lord within, a Krishna conscious person is already the best of all yogis. The principles of the yoga system mentioned herein are different from those of the popular so-called yoga societies.
The practical problem for a would-be yogi in this age of Kali is hardly anyone has an undisturbed and controlled mind and very few people can go to a sacred and secluded place and live there alone to practice yoga and it is very difficult to find anyone who is free from sex desire… And one who is not self-controlled and whose mind is not undisturbed cannot practice meditation.
Therefore, in the Brhan–naradiyaPurana it is said that in the Kali-yuga (the present age) when people in general are short-lived, slow in spiritual realization and always disturbed by various anxieties, the best means of spiritual realization is chanting the holy name of the Lord.
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
So the perfection of yoga, and the only practical yoga system for this age of Kali yuga is the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra:
|| Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare ||
Chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra can be performed anywhere, in any place and at any time. There are no hard and fast rules in regard to this. And the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is so powerful that a sincere chanter can get all the results of yoga very quickly by this simple method. So chant Hare Krishna and be happy!
Life nowadays rests upon the very much artificial pillars of sophisticacy and wealth and pleasure centered activities with the mere intention of attainment of worldy and materialistic pleasure and none of us are having ample time to endow ourselves in the process of Spiritual Enlightenment.
Currently humanity is stuck in a very materialistic civilization which is completely degrading and not at all conducive for the spiritual evolution of the general public.
One of the fundamental causes of this materialistic society is the widespread belief in the completely false theory that life comes from matter. If the people can believe life comes from matter simply by random chance then they can avoid all spiritual considerations completely.
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna completely smashes this idea by asserting that He is the source of everything and that everything emanates from Him. Bhagavad Gita is so clear but because of the tendency of people to be envious, because they do not want to accept anyone is greater them themselves, they reject these very clear statements of Krishna and try and explain them in some other way.
Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. (Bhagavad-gita 7.6)
Everything that exists is a product of matter and spirit. Spirit is the basic field of creation, and matter is created by spirit. Spirit is not created at a certain stage of material development. Rather, this material world is manifested only on the basis of spiritual energy. This material body is developed because spirit is present within matter; a child grows gradually to boyhood and then to manhood because of that superior energy, spirit soul, being present. Similarly, the entire cosmic manifestation of the gigantic universe is developed because of the presence of the Supersoul, Visnu. Therefore spirit and matter, which combine together to manifest this gigantic universal form, are originally two energies of the Lord, and consequently the Lord is the original cause of everything.
A fragmental part and parcel of the Lord, namely, the living entity, may by manipulation of material energy construct a skyscraper, factory or city, but he cannot create matter out of nothing, and he certainly cannot construct a planet or a universe. The cause of the universe is the Supersoul, Krishna, the supreme creator of all individual souls and the original cause of all causes.
These are very radical statements in today’s world. Nowadays ‘educated’ people do not believe in the existence of anything except matter. For them the only thing in existence is the gross material elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Some even don’t believe in ether… So they are like children who do not understand how something works. They are in complete ignorance as to the way the world is functioning. And they are worshipped as great scientists and scholars. This is the world we live in. Complete fools in complete ignorance are telling us that there is no spiritual energy, everything is matter, everything is chemicals and that life comes from a random combination of chemicals.
But we can understand from this verse of Bhagavad Gita that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the source of all life and all matter. So life~~and also matter~~comes from life. It does not come from chemicals or from a primordial soup… Life and matter come from Krishna. Life comes from life! If we can just establish this fact it will be a great step forward for human civilization.
O conquerer of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. (Bhagavad Gita 7.7)
There is a common controversy over whether the Supreme Absolute Truth is personal or impersonal. As far as Bhagavad-gita is concerned, the Absolute Truth is the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, and this is confirmed in every step. In this verse, in particular, it is stressed that the Absolute Truth is a person.
That the Personality of Godhead is the Supreme Absolute Truth is also the affirmation of the Brahma-samhita: the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is Lord Krsna, who is the primeval Lord, the reservoir of all pleasure, Govinda, and the eternal form of complete bliss and knowledge.
These authorities leave no doubt that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person, the cause of all causes. The impersonalist, however, argues on the strength of the Vedic version given in the Svetasvatara Upanisad: “In the material world Brahma, the primeval living entity within the universe, is understood to be the supreme amongst the demigods, human beings and lower animals. But beyond Brahma there is the Transcendence who has no material form and is free from all material contaminations. Anyone who can know Him also becomes transcendental, but those who do not know Him suffer the miseries of the material world.”
The impersonalist puts more stress on “no material form”. But this “no material form” is not impersonal. It indicates the transcendental form of eternity, bliss and knowledge as described in the Brahma-samhita quoted above. Other verses in the Svetasvatara Upanisad substantiate this as follows:
“I know that Supreme Personality of Godhead who is transcendental to all material conceptions of darkness. Only he who knows Him can transcend the bonds of birth and death. There is no way for liberation other than this knowledge of that Supreme Person.”
“There is no truth superior to that Supreme Person because He is the supermost. He is smaller than the smallest, and He is greater than the greatest. He is situated as a silent tree, and He illumines the transcendental sky, and as a tree spreads its roots, He spreads His extensive energies.”
From these verses one concludes that the Supreme Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is all-pervading by His multi-energies, both material and spiritual.
So from these two verses of Bhagavad Gita we can understand it very clearly and very conclusively from Krishna Himself that everything–both the living entities and matter–comes from Krishna and that everything is resting on Krishna just like the pearls are resting on a thread.
So this very simple point (that everything comes from Krishna, that life comes from Krishna, life comes from life) will, if understood and accepted by the general public, take humanity to the next level of spiritual evolution.