Monthly Archives: October 2013

Story of Diwali | Rama, Sita, Laxmana | Deepavali – Part 2 of 4

Here we continue the story of of the first Diwali.

King Dasaratha was getting old and he was contemplating retirement. The idea of passing his reign on to his eldest son, Rama, pleased him greatly. But as fate would have it, Queen Kaikeyi ordered that Rama be banished from the kingdom and was sent  to live in exile for 14 years. In his place, she wished that her son, Bharata, take the throne.  Because of a prior promise he had made to Queen Kaikeyi, King Dasaratha was obligated to do her bidding. However, shortly after Rama’s departure, the mighty king (Dasaratha) died of a broken heart.  

The exile of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana

The exile of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana

Dressed in simple garments, Rama, accompanied by his wife, Sita (an incarnation of the Goddess Lakshmi), and his brother, Laxmana, set forth into a new chapter of their lives. Surrounded by the blue sky, the fertile earth and the many plants and animals that inhabited the forests, they adjusted easily to their new lives.

One day, in the forest, Sita was intrigued by the sight of a golden deer in the distance.  Mesmerized, she asked her husband Rama to go and look into it. (To be continued…)

 

(Go to part 3)

(Go back to part 1)

donate to badarikashrama

 

Story of Diwali | Vishnu, Brahma, Rama, Dasaratha, Ravana | Deepavali – Part 1 of 4

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the one of the most important festivals celebrated in India.  It is celebrated on the darkest night of the year, and honors the victory of light over dark, good over evil.  The story of the first Diwali goes like this.

Evil Demon Ravana

Evil Demon Ravana

A mighty demon, named Ravana, was harassing the sages and causing destruction on Earth. In desperation, the sages approached Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu knew that this particular demon had been blessed by Lord Brahma to remain impervious to any attempts on his life by gods or demons, so he manifested himself on Earth in the form of a man. To mankind, he was known as Rama, son of King Dasaratha. But to both the gods and the demons alike, he was recognized as an incarnate of Lord Vishnu.

Noble King Dasaratha, Father of Rama

Noble King Dasaratha, Father of Rama

Dasaratha, a noble descendant of the Solar Dynasty of Mankind, was a just and generous king of a territory called Kosala, of which the city of Ayodhya was its capital. He had three beautiful wives whom he loved very much. Unfortunately, none of them had given him a son. So, in desperation, he performed a sacred fire ceremony (yagna). Pleased by his devotion, the gods granted him four sons. About a year later, his first wife, Kausalya, gave birth to Rama. His second wife, Kaikeyi, gave birth to Bharata. And his third wife, Sumitra,  gave birth to twins, Laxmana and Shatraguna.  The births were celebrated far and wide, and the years that followed were filled with delight and joy as King Dasaratha and his queens witnessed the growth of their children.

To be continued…

(Go to part 2)

donate to badarikashrama

Diwali | Deepavali | Festival of Lights | Indian New Year

Happy Diwali to All

Happy Diwali to All

Diwali is the biggest Hindu holiday of the year. It has great cultural and religious significance to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, in India and throughout the world.

For many, it is considered the Hindu New Year, because it is the time when the light of knowledge and justice returned to a land that had been subdued by the darkness of ignorance and wrongdoing for a very long time.

Loosely translated, Diwali means Festival of Lights in Sanskrit. After cleaning their homes thoroughly, Hindus decorate them with small earthen oil lamps, called diyas. They also create rangoli and burn firecrackers. Some people buy new clothes to wear and replace old metal kitchen utensils with new ones. Gifts of traditional Indian sweets, precious gems, gold, and silver, are exchanged with friends and relatives.

Technically, Diwali is celebrated over a period of five days. However, many Hindus only celebrate it on the third day, the day dedicated to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, Prosperity, and Longevity. Home and community temples are refurbished and decorated. Diyas are lit, and elaborate prayer ceremonies are performed. After partaking in the Blessed Food, people sing songs, play games, and feast together.

donate to badarikashrama

Navratri Day 9 | The Worship of the Goddess Siddhidarti

Maa Siddidatri, the ultimate manifestation of Durga

Maa Siddidatri, the ultimate manifestation of Durga

On the nineth day of Navratri we worship the Goddess Siddhidatri. Siddhi means perfection and Dhatri means “one who gives.” Thus the Goddess Siddhidatri is the one who gives her devotees perfection in all ways. She bestows on them spiritual power and worldly achievement. She is considered the most powerful form of Durga, which is why she is worshipped on the last day. Once you have worshipped all other forms of the Devine Mother, you are ready to worship the ultimate, most magnificent form of the Goddess among the Navadurga (the nine avatars of Durga).

If the devotee worships Goddess Siddhidarti with full devotion and pleases her, all wishes are fulfilled and all fear and pain is eliminated. Through Her the devotee can satisfy and control all his or her desires. The Goddess ends greed and superfluous temptations. After obtaining “Siddhi,” the devotee will achieve an enhancement of their personality, and want for nothing.  And only through the Goddess Siddhidarti can one clear all the doubts in their mind and have the true realization that everything is from the same supreme source, thus achieving true freedom and peace.

donate to badarikashrama

Navratri Day 7 | Worship of Goddess Kalaratri | Chamunda | Chandi

Seventh day of Navratri: Goddess Kalratri

Seventh day of Navratri: Goddess Kalratri

The Seventh Day of Navratri begins with the blessings of Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Kalaratri is believed to be the seventh shakti (power) of Goddess Durga in some parts of India.  In other parts they worship the Goddess Chamunda (also known as Chandi or Chandika) on the seventh day of Navratri. These two Goddesses have very similar characteristics so I’ll describe them both.

Goddess Chamunda is kind and compassionate to her devotees, but she symbolizes disaster, destruction, death and distress of Mother Nature.  Because of her power, she was the Goddess worshiped by many of the royal families of India.  There are disputes about Goddess Chamunda’s physical form, so there aren’t many paintings or sculptures depicting her.

Goddess Kalaratri is the One who is dark as night.  Kala means black and ratri means night.  She is know as “the Death of Kaal (Time).”  She removes darkness and destroys ignorance.  She reminds us that life has a dark side.

Goddess Kalaratri is the most violent and fiercest avatar of Goddess Durga.  Her appearance alone is enough to invoke fear.  She has a very dark complexion and her bountiful hair waves in fits around her.  Her upper left hand holds a gleaming sword, and the lower left hand holds a weapon for destroying negativity.  Her other two hands are in protection postures.  She has three fearsome eyes and flames spill out from her breath.  Her neck is adorned with a necklace of flashing lightning.  She rides a donkey, who is the symbol of loyalty.

Though the appearance of Goddess Kalaratri is horrible, she is extremely generous to those who worship her with devotion.  She is known by her devotees as “the One who does good,” because she is the unprecedented granter of boons.  She grants freedom from fear, pain and suffering.  Through her, her devotees attain power, position, and fame and prominence.  She also protects her devotees from negativity within and without themselves, and evil people.

donate to badarikashrama

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Part 3 of 3

 

On Tuesday Oct. 8, 2013 a book was published called “I am Malala.”  It’s the incredible story about an incredible young woman fighting for the rights of women, and for anyone who rights to education is being denied.  Today Oct. 11, 2013 she may be the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history.    Here is the rest of her story.  (Go back to part 1, part 2)

Malala’s public profile rose even further on December 19, 2011 when she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.  At this event Mala announced she hoped to found a national party of her own to promote education.

“The prime minister directed the authorities to set up an IT campus in the Swat Degree College for Women at Yousafzai’s request, and a secondary school was renamed in her honor.By 2012, Yousafzai was planning to organize the Malala Education Foundation, which would help poor girls go to school.” (By Wikipedia)

As Malala became more recognized, she and her family faced more danger.  Death threats against her and her father were published in newspapers and slipped under her door.  Then on October 9, 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman while returning home on a school bus.  She was in critical condition for a few days and as soon as her condition improved enough she was sent to London further treatment and intensive rehabilitation.  Following the incident 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a statement against those who tried to kill Malala, but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill her and her father.

The attempt on Malala’s life propelled her cause onto the global stage.  The United Nations started a global education program for girls called “I am Malala,” demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015.  And this year the Malala Fund was created to provide education to girls around the world. This Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, the Nobel committee announces the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala has been nominated for this honor.

There are many organizations fighting the same fight as Malala.  All children, rich or poor, of any race, have a right to a basic education.  Badarikashrama is one of those organizations engaged in the fight for education for children.  Please support them so they can continue to support the children they serve.

On her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013, Malala addressed the United Nations in New York.  In her speech she stated, “They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said. “And then, out of that silence, came thousands of voices.”

Beatiful Malala Yousafzai

Beatiful Malala Yousafzai

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Go back to Part 1)

(Go back to Part 2)

donate to badarikashrama

Navratri Day 6 | We worship the Goddess Katyayani

Goddess Katyayani

Goddess Katyayani

On the sixth day of Navratri we worship the Goddess Katyayani in some parts of India, and the Goddess Bhairavi and Maha Kali in others.  The sixth day of Navratri also marks the last day of the worship of the aspects of the Goddess Lakshmi.

Goddess Katyayani is both benevolent and malevolent.  She can bless and destroy.  She is the essence of love but becomes furious when the brutality of evil increases. It is believed that Goddess Katyayani persistently battles against those evil and deceitful entities to protect the universe.  She rides a lion or tiger, has three eyes, and her skin is gold and her face is radiant with divinity.  She has four arms.  Her upper left hand carries a lotus flower, the bottom left carries a sword.  Her other two hands are in defending and blessing positions.

If you worship the Goddess Katyayani with faith and devotion, you will attain four virtues: Artha (wealth), Dharma (duty), Kama (love), and Moksha (salvation).  You are given the wisdom to see your negative characteristics and the power to then destroy them.  When the Goddess is happy with you, she eliminates all your pain and suffering in the world.  Disease, sorrow, and fear disappear.

donate to badarikashrama

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Part 2 of 3

On Tuesday Oct. 8, 2013 a book was published called “I am Malala.”  It’s the incredible story about an incredible young woman fighting for the rights of women, and for anyone who rights to education is being denied.  Yesterday I started my introduction of her.  Today I’d like continue the story.

Later in January 2009 the Taliban outright banned girls from schools.  They had already blown up over a hundred girls’ schools and the night before the ban the air was filled with the sound of artillery fire.  The next day, Malala couldn’t go to school, but she also read for the first time excerpts from her own blog that had been printed in the local paper.

Even after her school was shut down Malala continued to study for her exams.  She hoped that her school might re-open, but in February they still remained closed.  In solidarity with the girls’ school, the private boys’ schools also decided not to open until February 9.

On February 21st, the local Taliban leader announced that he was lifting the ban on girls’ education but the girls must wear burgas.  But only a few days later Malala blogged that there was yet another skirmish between the military and Taliban.  She wrote “People are again scared that the peace (that was recently announced) may not last for long.  Some people are saying that the peace agreement is not permanent, it is just a break in the fighting.”

On March 9th, Malala wrote that she had done well on a science paper, and also mentioned that the Taliban were not searching vehicles like they had been.  Her blog ended on March 12, 2009.

Soon after her blog ended, Malala and her father were asked by a New York Times reporter named Adam B. Ellick if they would like to film a documentary.  She was also introduced to President Barack Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Hollbrooke.  In her meeting she pleaded with him saying, “Respected ambassador, if you can help us in our education, so please help us.”

Meanwhile, Malala’s father was issued several death threats from the Taliban leaders because of his own work as an activist for education.  After the documentary Malala was interviewed all over the world and her BBC blogging identity was revealed in Dec. 2009.  She also began appearing on television to advocate education for girls around the world.

Beatiful Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Go back to Part 1)

(Go to Part 3)

donate to badarikashrama

 

 

Navratri Day 5 | We adore the Goddess Skandmata

five of Navratri: Skandmata

five of Navratri: Skandmata

On the fifth day of Navratri we worship the Goddess Skandmata.  She is the deity of the solar system and is known to give joy to all.  Anyone who worships her with full devotion and faith on the fifth day of Navratri is showered with immense happiness and prosperity.  The goddess in this form is very beautiful with a golden complexion.  She has four arms and sits upon a lion.  She is very protective of her children, so if they are in danger she fights the demons from atop her loyal, powerful mount.  She carries a lotus in two of her hands and her divine children on her lap.  She showers all her motherly love on her devotees and fulfills all their desires, blessing them with supreme joy and bliss.

donate to badarikashrama

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Part 1 of 3

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Yesterday a book was published called “I am Malala.”  It’s the incredible story about an incredible young woman fighting for the rights of women, and for anyone who rights to education is being denied.  Today I’d like to introduce you to her.

Here story began in 1997, when she was born to loving parents in a small town in Pakistan called Mingora.  There she grew up with her two younger brothers, her parents, and two pet chickens.

She was educated mostly by her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a poet, school owner, and an educational activist himself.  He ran a group schools known as the Khushal Public School.

Thus Malala’s love for education began very young.  It was like it was in her blood.  As a young girl she told her father she wanted to be a doctor.  But they would spend hours late into the nights talking about politics.  He felt his daughter was truly something special and encouraged her to become a politician rather than a doctor.

Over the years of her childhood the Taliban at times prohibited girls from going to school.  In late 2008, Malala started to speak about education rights when her father took her to Peshawar to speak to a local press club.  The speech was covered by newspapers and television channels all over the region.  Her question to her audience was “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”

At the very beginning of 2009, Malala’s father was asked by a BBC reporter out of Pakistan if any women at his school would write about their life under the Taliban.  Other students volunteered, but where quieted by their parents that feared for the lives of their families.  Eventually, Ziauddin Yousafzai permitted his own daughter to agree to the project.  She was in the seventh grade at the time.  Fearing for her safety, the BBC editors insisted that she write under a pseudonym.  They chose “Gul Makai” which means “cornflower” in Urdu and is the name of a character in a Pashtun folktale.  Starting then, Gul Makai blogged for the BBC in opposition to the Taliban, drawing their militant rage.

(Go to Part 2)

(Go to Part 3)

donate to badarikashrama