RELIGION – THE PATH TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

We all follow our religions, follow the rituals and also preach about it. But do we actually live our religion, do we actually follow it? I have asked this question to myself several times in the past and it is only now in the recent past that I have got all my answers to faith and religion. It is a common practice among us that we follow rituals all our lives that our families introduce us to when we are small. We read Holy Scriptures, we chant hymns and we keep praying all our lives but do we actually relate to what we are doing, do we feel anything or is it just a mechanical task that we perform for years. There was a time when I kept fasts at least three days a week, I chanted so many mantras and regularly went to the temple. In spite of all this I never found peace and happiness, I felt I did not get any results and that God did not care about me. Life grilled me and taught me many lessons, would like to mention that the lessons were quite tough and gave me a hard time. I gave up on my so called religious life and became an atheist thinking that God favours the lucky ones and abandons the ones who suffer. Life took its own course much against my resistance to the changes but whether we like it or do not like it we have to follow the course. Until and unless we learn the lessons life wants us to learn, it will keep repeating those lessons. We have to fair well in those lessons and that is where our religion is our guide. Even though I did not feel the depth of the sentence, I said it several times that Hinduism is a way of life. Actually now that I can understand the meaning of what I said, I say that Religion is a way of life. Every religion in the world conveys the same message but even though we read our religious books several times, we fail to comprehend the message in it. We read the story and the events in it but we are not able to understand the message in it because if we did we all would live us One Big Family and not differentiate ourselves on the basis of nationality, religion, cast, creed, sex and status.

I read lot of books of different genres, attentively watched religious TV shows and I started reading the Gita and indulged in lot of contemplation when one fine day that I would call my lucky day suddenly I understood that ‘Religion is about Living our Life, Living Life the Righteous Way’. One has to take the righteous path in order to follow his religion. Our Gods and all the Prophets have all taught us to walk the path of righteousness, come what may, they never emphasized on following rituals blindly, instead rituals were established to lead a pure life. Rituals are habits to lead life in a certain way, the right way. That is what we Hindus call the ‘Karma’- It is the way that one leads his life. The Gita is the book that if one follows he will be leading nothing but a life filled of peace, fulfillment, happiness and above all righteousness and will be attracting only positive karma. The Two chapters in it, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga, explain how a person can lead an enriched life having a strong faith. Not only the Gita but all wise men have advocated living life in a way that is beneficial not only to you but the entire mankind. The path is really simple with a simple philosophy. Be happy and make others happy. To be happy one needs to be at peace and to attain that, you must be righteous in your actions, you must be good towards your fellow human beings, you must help them with whatever limited resources you have, charity is not only about donating money but you can do that by your services too. Making a small difference to someone’s life or just bringing a smile to his face is something that gives you happiness. I have learnt that happiness and prosperity increase in manifold when you share it. You should never harbor negative thoughts; you should not be judgmental or form opinions about anyone because even we are not perfect. If a person is vice, first try to be good to him and if he is beyond repair, abandon him otherwise he will influence you, to counter his actions, you will become negative. Be a strong follower of principles, be unsparing because it is light that engulfs darkness, you do not have to be ashamed if you are different. Every single day you must try to improve, be open and alert to new learning that comes your way. We should be like babies, full of curiosity, no inhibitions and pure at heart. One must start his day with prayers as it is a means to purification and strength to carry on. Prayers instill faith and faith in yourself and God or the Universe makes you accomplish everything that you want in life. The universe is full of possibilities and wants to give you everything you want, it’s a friendly place, it just wants you to love it, love yourself and its inhabitants and it will give you back everything manifold.

My Karma is to love, be happy and to spread happiness among my fellow beings. What will your Karma be?

© Trisha Malika Ghosh. 

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Nine forms of Goddess Durga

VASANTA NAVARATRI IS ALSO CALLED AS CHAITRA NAVARATRI AND RAM NAVARATRI DURING WHICH WE WORSHIP THE NINE FORMS OF GODDESS DURGA

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Vasanta Navaratri is celebrated during springtime in the lunar month of Chaitra (March-April) and ends with Ram Navami.  Lord Rama who was born on Ram Navami is the ideal concept of human perfection and is called ‘Maryadapurshottam’ with a perfect sense of duty, sacrifice, discipline, equanimity, love and kindness. Sarvesh Pundit the chief priest of a temple in Aligarh says, “He is believed to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.” That is the reason Vasanta Navaratri is also called Ram Navaratri. Vasanta Navaratri and Ram Navami are widely celebrated in Northern India.

Navaratri are the nine auspicious nights dedicated to worship Goddess Durga and her nine forms. Prof. Madhu Datar a learned spiritualist says, “She is a form of ‘Shakti’ who is the omnipresent power in the entire universe. She is the primordial or primeval energy of nature but the devotee of her positive qualities finds her most benign, kind, merciful and she blesses with grace and enlightenment.” According to ancient scripts, Goddess Durga manifested herself into three major forms namely, Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali who are the active energies of the divine trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. These three forms of the Goddesses further manifested themselves into three more forms each, thus leading to the nine forms of Goddess Durga. These nine forms are termed as Navadurga. These forms are the life phases of Ma Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva (Mahesh).

The nine forms of Goddess Durga are:

  1. Shailputri is the First Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 1st day of Navaratri. Sati the daughter of King Daksha immolated herself and was born to King Himavan as his daughter Parvati.  He was the King of the Mountains so his daughter came to be known as ‘Shailputri’.
  2. Brahmacharini is the Second Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 2nd day of Navaratri. When she took birth as the daughter of Daksha, she was a great Sati and her unmarried form is known as Brahmacharini. Brahmacharini means one who practices devout austerity. She is the magnificent embodiment of Goddess Durga with great powers and divine grace. She is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace upon all devotees who worship her. She is the path to emancipation (Moksha).
  3. Chandraghanta is the Third Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 3rd day of Navaratri. When she got married to Lord Shiva, she wore a ‘Chandra’ or half moon on her forehead in the shape of a ‘Ghanta’ or bell and came to be called as Chandraghanta. She is worshipped for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life.
  4. Kushmanda is the Fourth Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 4th day of Navaratri. She is considered the creator of the universe and is believed to reside at the centre of the Sun as the principal source of all energy.
  5. Skandamata is the Fifth Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 5th day of Navaratri. She came to be known as Skandamata when she became the mother of ‘Skanda’ or Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by the gods as their commander in chief in the war against the demons.
  6. Katyayani is the Sixth Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 6th day of Navaratri. When she destroyed ‘Mahishasura’ the demon, she came to be known as Katyayani.
  7. Kaalratri is the Seventh Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 7th day of Navaratri. She is the fiercest Goddess among all the forms of the Navadurga. When she removed her outer golden skin to fight the demons Shumbh and Nishumbh, she became very dark and came to be known as Kaalratri. Her gesture of protection assures us of freedom from fear and troubles. She is also known as ‘Shubhamkari’ – one who all auspicious.
  8. Mahagauri is the Eighth Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 8th day of Navaratri. She was extremely beautiful, very fair complexioned at the age of sixteen, and that is why she is known as Mahagauri. Her power is unfailing and instantly fruitful. Her worship is believed to redeem her devotees of all sins of the past and present and are purify them.
  9. Siddhidatri is the ninth and the last Navadurga Goddess, worshipped on 9th day of Navaratri. She has supernatural healing powers. When Lord Shiva worshipped Maa Adi Parashakti for creation, he cleared different levels of Shakti and the Goddess appeared in ‘Saguna’ form (with virtuous qualities) from the left half of Lord Shiva and was called Siddhidatri.

NOTE: The article has been published in The Times of Aligarh (The Times of India) on April 14, 2013. Hence, the copyright of the article is owned by The Times of India. Anyone who tries to copy, use or reproduce the article in any way will be liable to legal action.