Happy Makar Sankranti 

  
Makar Sankranti is celebrated as a very important festival in India. Sankranti literally means “movement.” Everything that we recognize as life is movement. Fortunately, people who came before us have moved on, and people who come after us are waiting for us to move on – don’t have any doubts about this. The planet is moving and that is why it churns up life. If it were still, it wouldn’t be capable of life. So there is something called movement in which every creature is involved, but if there has to be movement, this movement has to be housed – this movement can only happen in the lap of stillness. One who does not touch the stillness of his life, one who does not touch the stillness of his being, one who does not know or has not tasted the stillness within and without, will invariably get lost in the movement.
Movement is pleasant only to a point. The planet earth is moving gently in such a beautiful manner – it is only changing seasons. Tomorrow, if it just speeds up, throttles up a little bit, then all our seemingly balanced minds will become imbalanced, everything will spin out of control. So movement is beautiful only to a certain point. Once it crosses that point, movement becomes torture.

The Significance of Makar Sankranti: 

The significance of the Makar Sankranti festival is that it marks the day where there is a significant movement in the zodiac – the arrangement of the earth’s dial around the sun – and this movement brings about a new change in the way we experience the planet itself. There are many sankrantis through the year; the two significant ones being Makar Sankranti, and right opposite, after summer solstice is Karka Sankranti. In between, there are many Sankrantis – every time the zodiac sign changes, it is called a Sankranti to suggest the movement of the planet, to understand that our life is sustained and nourished by this movement. If this movement ceases, everything about us will cease. On the 22nd of December, the solstice happened, that means in relation to the sun, the movement or the tilt of the planet reaches its maximum. Now, from this day onwards, the northern movement is strong. Things really start changing upon the earth. From Makar Sankranti onwards, winter is being relieved step by step.

This movement is also a significant aspect in the way we reap from this planet. There was a time when human beings could eat only what the earth offered. Then we learned how to get what we wanted from the earth; this is called agriculture. When we were hunting and gathering, we only picked up what was there. It is like when you were an infant, you ate or swallowed whatever your mother gave you. When you became a child, you asked for what you wanted. So we grew up a bit and started demanding and getting what we wanted, but still, you can only get what you want to a point that She is willing. If you stretch it beyond that, you will not only not get it, you will get something else. That is called industrialization. Agriculture is coaxing the Mother to give what you want. Industrialization is ripping her apart. I am not speaking against something. I want you to understand the way our minds are transiting, the way human activity is transiting from one level to another.
So this is a day when we remind ourselves that everything that we are is what we take from this planet. I see everywhere in the world, people are talking about giving. I don’t know from where they give. You can only take – either you take gently or you grab. Did you come with your own property from somewhere? What is there to give? You can only take. Everything is offered. Take sensibly, that is all there is.

The harvest festival: 

 The Makar Sankranti festival is also known and referred to as the harvest festival because this is the time when harvesting is complete and there are big celebrations. This is the day we acknowledge all those who assisted in making the harvest. The farm animals play a huge role in harvesting, so the following day is for them and is called Mattu Pongal. The first day is for the earth, the second is for us and the third is for the animals and livestock. See, they are placed a little higher than us because we exist because of them, they do not exist because of us. If we were not here, they would all be free and happy. But if they were not here, we couldn’t live.
These festivals are a reminder that we need to craft our present and our future in a conscious manner. Right now, we have harvested the previous year’s crop. How to create the next one is being consciously planned by taking the animals also into a consultative process. You should see how it happens in remote villages. There are only a few remote ones left because in the last few years, everyone has a cell phone and even Internet kiosks. But in the remote parts of India, you must see how the future crops are planned in the village. It is something so amazing and fantastic. I have had the fortune of being a part of this and these meetings are done in such a way that the animals are also there. It is not that someone is going to ask them what to do, but they are also very much a part of these meetings. How they evaluate how the animals in the village are, what age they are, how strong they are, can they take something up or not, is a very beautiful and organic process.

Cosmic connect: 

So Makar Sankranti is a festival for harvest. But there are celestial and spiritual connotations to it as well. It arose from certain yogic practices that common people took up in ways that were relevant to them. This time is most important for yogis to make a new, fresh effort in their spiritual process. Accordingly, people who have family also make a fresh attempt in whatever they do in their lives.

Many aspects of the yogic system were evolved and developed based on the connection between the celestial system and the human system, in order to make use of the changes in position that happen in an incremental way, from moment to moment, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.
For example, the number 108 is significant in many ways in the construction of the human system and the larger solar system. Traditionally, if you wear a mala, it has 108 beads. If you chant a mantra or go around an energy space, it is 108 times. This is because there are 108 things that one needs to do if one wants to have a complete mastery over the human mechanism. In the human body, there are 114 chakras or points where the nadis or energy channels meet in the body. Of these 114, 2 are outside the physiological framework. Of the 112 chakras that are within the physiological framework, actual work needs to be done on 108. If you manage to activate these 108, the remaining 4 will naturally open up.
This is also beautifully manifested in the planetary system in which we live. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance between Sun and Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The distance between Moon and Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. And there are 108 padas (steps) in one lunar year. Planet Earth takes 13 ½ lunar revolutions or one solar year to complete its orbit around the Sun. In this orbit it arranges itself in 27 nakshatras or 108 padas, almost like the beads of a mala. Makar Sankranti marks the completion of and the beginning of a new cycle.

Makar Sankranti – Festival of movement:

So Makar Sankranti is a festival to recognize the movement, movement being celebration, movement being life, movement being the process of life and the beginning and the end of life. At the same time, the word ‘shankara’ is used to remind you that the one behind this, Shiva, is a still one; stillness is the basis of movement. Though all the other planets are moving, the most important one is not moving. If the sun also takes a walk, then we are in trouble. He hangs there not moving. That is why everybody else’s movement is okay. But his stillness is relative because the whole solar system may be moving; the whole galaxy may be moving. So beyond that, the space which holds all this is absolute stillness.
When a human being makes the necessary effort to touch the stillness within himself, only then he knows the joy of movement. Otherwise, people are bewildered by the movement of life. Every change that happens in their life they suffer. These days, the so-called modern life is like this ¬– any change means you must suffer. Childhood is tension, puberty is great suffering, middle age is unbearable, old age is abhorred and feared, and death is celebration – no that is pure terror. Every stage of life is a problem because people have a problem with movement, not understanding that the very nature of life is movement. You can only enjoy and celebrate movement if you have one leg stuck in stillness. If you know what stillness is then movement would be a pleasure. If you do not know what stillness is, if you have no contact with stillness, movement is bewildering.
People are trying to track the movement. Looking at the stars, looking at lines in their hands and looking at all kinds of signs including the tea leaves. People want to read the movement of their lives somehow. This struggle with movement, this paranoia about movement, is happening because there is no taste of stillness. If there was a taste of stillness in you, movement would not disturb you. It is something which sets a certain rhythm. Every rhythm has a beginning and an end; every movement has a beginning and an end. Movement means that which is in transition. Stillness means that which always is. Movement means compulsiveness, stillness means consciousness

The significance of Makar Sankranti is that it is the time to remind ourself  that celebrating movement is possible only when there is a taste of stillness within us.

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Love-Letters like no other

 From India‘s Forgotten Feminist, Savitribai Phule to life partner Jyotiba phule 

On January 3, 1831, 176 years ago Savitribai Phule, arguably India’s first woman teacher and forgotten liberator was born. With the first school for girls from different castes that she set up in Bhidewada, Pune (the seat of Brahmanism) Krantijyoti Savitribai as she is reverentially known, by the Indian Bahujan movement, blazed a revolutionary trial. There have been consistent demands to observe January 3 as Teachers Day. Without her, Indian women would not have had the benefits of education.

 

To mark the memory of this remarkable woman we bring to you her letters to life partner Jyotiba. Jyotiba and Savitribai were Comrades in Arms in their struggle against the emancipation of India’s disenfranchised people.

 

Translated from the Original Marathi with an introduction Sunil Sardar

Reproduced here are the English translation of three important Letters – (originally in Marathi and published in MG Mali’s edition of her collected works, Savitribai Phule Samagra Wangmaya) – that Savitribai wrote to her husband Jyotiba in a span of 20 years.

The letters are significant as they write of the wider concerns that drove this couple, the emancipation of the most deprived segments of society and the struggle to attain for them, full human dignity and freedom.

This vision for a new and liberated society – free from ignorance, bigotry, deprivation, and hunger – was the thread that bonded the couple, arching from the private to the personal.

Theirs was a relationship of deep and shared concerns, each providing strength to the other. When large sections of 19th century Maharashtrian society was ranged against Phule’s reconstructive radicalism, it was the unfailing and shared vision and dedication of his life partner that needs have been emotionally sustaining. In our tribute to this couple and the tradition of radical questioning that they harboured, we bring to our readers these letters.
1856. The first letter, written in 1856, speaks about the core issue: education and its transformative possibilities in a society where learning, had for centuries been the monopoly of the Brahmins; who, in turn, used this exclusive privilege to enclave, demoralize and oppress. Away at her parental home to recuperate from an illness, Savitri describes in the letter a conversation with her brother, who is uncomfortable with the couple’s radicalism.

 

October 1856

The Embodiment of Truth, My Lord Jyotiba,

Savitri salutes you!

 

After so many vicissitudes, now it seems my health has been fully restored. My brother worked so hard and nursed me so well through my sickness. His service and devotion shows how loving he really is! I will come to Pune as soon as I get perfectly well. Please do not worry about me. I know my absence causes Fatima so much trouble but I am sure she will understand and won’t grumble.

 

As we were talking one day, my brother said, “You and your husband have rightly been excommunicated because both of you serve the untouchables (Mahars and Mangs). The untouchables are fallen people and by helping them you are bringing a bad name to our family. That is why, I tell you to behave according to the customs of our caste and obey the dictates of the Brahmans.” Mother was so disturbed by this brash talk of my brother.
Though my brother is a good soul he is extremely narrow-minded and so he did not hesitate to bitterly criticize and reproach us. My mother did not reprimand him but tried instead to bring him to his senses, “God has given you a beautiful tongue but it is no good to misuse it so!” I defended our social work and tried to dispel his misgivings. I told him, “Brother, your mind is narrow, and the Brahmans’ teaching has made it worse. Animals like goats and cows are not untouchable for you, you lovingly touch them. You catch poisonous snakes on the day of the snake-festival and feed them milk. But you consider Mahars and Mangs, who are as human as you and I, untouchables. Can you give me any reason for this? When the Brahmans perform their religious duties in their holy clothes, they consider you also impure and untouchable, they are afraid that your touch will pollute them. They don’t treat you differently than the Mahars.” When my brother heard this, he turned red in the face, but then he asked me, “Why do you teach those Mahars and Mangs? People abuse you because you teach the untouchables. I cannot bear it when people abuse and create trouble for you for doing that. I cannot tolerate such insults.” I told him what the (teaching of) English had been doing for the people. I said, “The lack of learning is nothing but gross bestiality. It is through the acquisition of knowledge that (he) loses his lower status and achieves the higher one. My husband is a god-like man. He is beyond comparison in this world, nobody can equal him. He thinks the Untouchables must learn and attain freedom. He confronts the Brahmans and fights with them to ensure Teaching and Learning for the Untouchables because he believes that they are human beings like other and they should live as dignified humans. For this they must be educated. I also teach them for the same reason. What is wrong with that? Yes, we both teach girls, women, Mangs and Mahars. The Brahmans are upset because they believe this will create problems for them. That is why they oppose us and chant the mantra that it is against our religion. They revile and castigate us and poison the minds of even good people like you.

“You surely remember that the British Government had organised a function to honour my husband for his great work. His felicitation caused these vile people much heartburn. Let me tell you that my husband does not merely invoke God’s name and participate in pilgrimages like you. He is actually doing God’s own work. And I assist him in that. I enjoy doing this work. I get immeasurable joy by doing such service. Moreover, it also shows the heights and horizons to which a human being can reach out.”

Mother and brother were listening to me intently. My brother finally came around, repented for what he had said and asked for forgiveness. Mother said, “Savitri, your tongue must be speaking God’s own words. We are blessed by your words of wisdom.” Such appreciation from my mother and brother gladdened my heart. From this you can imagine that there are many idiots here, as in Pune, who poison people’s minds and spread canards against us. But why should we fear them and leave this noble cause that we have undertaken? It would be better to engage with the work instead. We shall overcome and success will be ours in the future. The future belongs to us.

What more could I write?

With humble regards,
Yours,

Savitri

 

1868. The Second letter is about a great social taboo – a love affair between a Brahman boy and an Untouchable girl; the cruel behavior of the ‘enraged’ villagers and how Savitribai stepped in. This intervention saves the lives of the lovers and she sends them away to the safety and caring support of her husband, Jyotiba. With the malevolent reality of honour killings in the India of 2016 and the hate-driven propaganda around ‘love jehad’ this letter is ever so relevant today.
29 August 1868

Naigaon, Peta Khandala

Satara

The Embodiment of Truth, My Lord Jotiba,

Savitri salutes you!

I received your letter. We are fine here. I will come by the fifth of next month. Do not worry on this count. Meanwhile, a strange thing happened here. The story goes like this. One Ganesh, a Brahman, would go around villages, performing religious rites and telling people their fortunes. This was his bread and butter. Ganesh and a teenage girl named Sharja who is from the Mahar (untouchable) community fell in love. She was six months pregnant when people came to know about this affair. The enraged people caught them, and paraded them through the village, threatening to bump them off.

 

I came to know about their murderous plan. I rushed to the spot and scared them away, pointing out the grave consequences of killing the lovers under the British law. They changed their mind after listening to me.

Sadubhau angrily said that the wily Brahman boy and the untouchable girl should leave the village. Both the victims agreed to this. My intervention saved the couple who gratefully fell at my feet and started crying. Somehow I consoled and pacified them. Now I am sending both of them to you. What else to write?
Yours,

Savitri 

1877. The last letter, written in 1877, is a heart-rending account of a famine that devastated western Maharashtra. People and animals were dying. Savitri and other Satyashodhak volunteers were doing their best to help. The letter brings out an intrepid Savitri leading a team of dedicated Satyashodhaks striving to overcome a further exacerbation of the tragedy by moneylenders’ trying to benefit. She meets the local District administration. The letter ends on a poignant note where Savitribai reiterates her total commitment to her the humanitarian work pioneered by the Phules.

 

20 April, 1877

Otur, Junner

The Embodiment of Truth, My Lord Jyotiba,

Savitri salutes you!

The year 1876 has gone, but the famine has not – it stays in most horrendous forms here. The people are dying. The animals are dying, falling on the ground. There is severe scarcity of food. No fodder for animals. The people are forced to leave their villages. Some are selling their children, their young girls, and leaving the villages. Rivers, brooks and tanks have completely dried up – no water to drink. Trees are dying – no leaves on trees. Barren land is cracked everywhere. The sun is scorching – blistering. The people crying for food and water are falling on the ground to die. Some are eating poisonous fruits, and drinking their own urine to quench their thirst. They cry for food and drink, and then they die.

Our Satyashodhak volunteers have formed committees to provide food and other life-saving material to the people in need. They have formed relief squads.

Brother Kondaj and his wife Umabai are taking good care of me. Otur’s Shastri, Ganapati Sakharan, Dumbare Patil, and others are planning to visit you. It would be better if you come from Satara to Otur and then go to Ahmednagar.

You may remember R.B. Krishnaji Pant and Laxman Shastri. They travelled with me to the affected area and gave some monetary help to the victims.

The moneylenders are viciously exploiting the situation. Bad things are taking place as a result of this famine. Riots are breaking out. The Collector heard of this and came to ease the situation. He deployed the white police officers, and tried to bring the situation under control. Fifty Satyasholdhaks were rounded up. The Collector invited me for a talk. I asked the Collector why the good volunteers had been framed with false charges and arrested without any rhyme or reason. I asked him to release them immediately. The Collector was quite decent and unbiased. He shouted at the white soldiers, “Do the Patil farmers rob? Set them free.” The Collector was moved by the people’s plights. He immediately sent four bullock cartloads of (jowar) food.

You have started the benevolent and welfare work for the poor and the needy. I also want to carry my share of the responsibility. I assure you I will always help you. I wish the godly work will be helped by more people.

I do not want to write more.
Yours,

Savitri

(These letters have been excerpted with grateful thanks from A Forgotten Liberator, The Life and Struggle of Savitrabai Phule, Edited by Braj Ranjan Mani, Pamela Sardar) 

Happy New Year 

 
By the command of the Indestructible Being, minutes, hours, days and nights, stand apart. By the command of the Immortal Brahman, months, years, seasons and solstices stand apart. He who knows this Indestructible Being is a liberated sage or Jivanmukta.
Time rolls on. New becomes old and old becomes new again. Today is the New Year’s day. God has given you another chance this year to enable you to strive for your salvation. Today man is. Tomorrow he is not. Therefore avail yourself of this golden opportunity, struggle hard and reach the goal of life. Make the best use of every moment of this New Year. Unfold all latent faculties. Here is a chance to begin life anew, to grow and evolve and become a superhuman or a great dynamic Yogi.
On this glorious New Year’s day make a strong resolve to wipe away all the old worldly Vasanas or tendencies and bad impressions and to control the senses and the mind.
Know the value of time. Time is most precious. Utilise every second profitably. Live every moment of your life for the realisation of your ideal and goal. Do not procrastinate. That “tomorrow” will never come. Now or never. Abandon idle gossiping. Kill egoism, laziness and inertia. Forget the past. A glorious and brilliant future is awaiting you.
Equal vision is the touchstone of knowledge. Unselfishness is the touchstone of virtue. Oneness is the touchstone of Self-realisation. Humility is the touchstone of devotion. Therefore, be unselfish, humble and pure. Develop equal vision. Be in tune with the Infinite.
Satyam (truth) is the seed. Ahimsa is the root. Meditation is the shower. Santi (peace) is the flower. Moksha (salvation) is the fruit. Therefore, speak the truth, practise Ahimsa and meditation. Cultivate Santi. You will attain the final emancipation or freedom from the trammels of births and deaths, and enjoy Eternal bliss.
Be thou a spiritual warrior of Truth. Put on the armour of discrimination. Wear the shield of dispassion. Hold the flag of Dharma. Sing the song of Soham or Sivoham. March boldly with the band of Pranava—Om Om Om. Blow the conch of courage. Kill the enemies of doubt, ignorance, passion and egoism and enter the illimitable kingdom of blissful Brahman. Possess the imperishable wealth of Atma. Taste the divine immortal essence. Drink the nectar of Immortality.
May this bright New Year’s day and all the succeeding days of this year and all the future years also bring you all success, peace, prosperity and happiness. May you all tread the path of Truth and righteousness! May you enjoy the eternal bliss of the Absolute, leading a divine life, singing Lord’s name, sharing what you have with others, serving the poor and the sick with Atma Bhava and melting the mind in silent meditation in the Supreme Self. 

 

Happy Father’s Day 

My Child……
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29 Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourage. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39 Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…will you be my child? John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32
… … …Love, Your Dad

Almighty God 

 

Happy Environment Day 

Nature nourishes us; Revere Nature
Ancient scriptures state that we have five sheaths: physical environment, physical body, mind, intuitive sheath or subtle environment and the Self. Our connection with the environment is our first level of experience and one of the most important. If our environment is clean and positive, it positively impacts all the other layers of our existence. As a result, they come into balance and we experience a greater sense of peace and connection within ourselves and with others around us.
An intimate relationship with the environment is built into the human psyche. Historically, nature — mountains, rivers, trees, the sun, the moon — have always been honored in ancient cultures. It’s only when we start moving away from our connection to Nature and our selves, that we begin polluting and destroying the environment.
It is a popular misconception that damage to ecology is an inevitable byproduct of technological progress. But the two need not be mutually exclusive. The purpose of technology is to harness Nature, to bring information and comfort to human beings. When spiritual and human values are ignored, technology brings pollution and destruction, instead of comfort. The role of spirituality is to help maintain harmony in the environment, while allowing technology and science to grow. This is the challenge of the present century.
We need to revive the ancient practice of honoring and conserving Nature. Looking at Nature, we can take our lessons in environment preservation. There are so many species in Nature – the birds, reptiles, mammals; all these different species are hostile towards each other and yet Nature balances them out. Nor will you find pollution in a forest despite so many animals living there together. It is amazing how Nature digests waste material and produces something more beautiful. Similarly, it is not technology and science that pose a hazard, but the waste material generated by technological and scientific processes. We need to find methods to minimize and recycle the waste.
The greatest pollutant is, of course, human greed. It comes in the way of preservation of ecology, as it gives higher priority to quick profit and quick results over eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Greed pollutes the subtle environment and mind of man with negative emotions and impressions. Pollution permeates both the physical and subtle environment. An angry person exudes anger which spreads to others around him. It is a chain reaction. At the root of all wars is a compounded negativity of emotions. Often we are not aware that something that is anti-environment is also anti-health.
We need to attend to the human psyche which causes pollution, whether physical or emotional. If compassion and care are kindled within the Self, they reflect in the environment and a sense of sacredness follows. People should be encouraged to treat the planet as sacred, to treat trees and rivers as sacred, to treat people as sacred and to see God in Nature and in people. This will foster sensitivity; and a sensitive person can’t but care for Nature.
Spirituality checks greed. It elevates one’s consciousness and brings a sense of caring and commitment for the whole planet. Spirituality elevates our consciousness. It opens our eyes to the beauty of Nature, encourages us to honor Nature and life and helps bring more joy and celebration into our lives. A spiritual outlook and sensitivity is essential to foster environment consciousness.
Nature nourishes us and it is important that we take care of it. A healthy future for our coming generations depends on how we care for our environment in the present.

Happy Mother’s Day 

Only resting in Mother are we safe.The mother is the ideal of love; She rules the family, she possesses the family.
The beginning of life was in the mother’s breath. Our first words are taught by her lips. She is our first teacher and Guru. It is she who wiped our first tears. She is the queen of the house. She illumines the home through the glory of motherhood.
The position of the mother is the highest in the world, as it is the one place in which to learn and exercise the greatest unselfishness. The love of God is the only love that is higher than a mother’s love; all others are lower. It is the duty of the mother to think of her children first and then of herself. Blessed, indeed, is the man who is able to look upon woman as the representative of the motherhood of God. Blessed, indeed, is the woman to whom man represents the fatherhood of God. Blessed are the children who look upon their parents as Divinity manifested on earth.
Of all feminine types, the mother is pre – eminent. The mother stands by her child through everything. Wife and children may desert a man, but his mother never! Mother, again, is the impartial energy of the universe, because of the colourless love that asks not, desires not, cares not for the evil in her child, but loves him the more. And today Mother – worship is the worship of all the highest classes amongst the All.
Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father.

A bit of Mother, a drop, was Krishna, another was Buddha, another was Christ. The worship of even one spark of Mother in our earthly mother leads to greatness. Worship Her if you want love and wisdom.

Sai Ram 

Happy Buddha Jayanthi 

‘Om Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma-Sambuddhasa!’ ‘Honour to the Blessed One, the Holy One, All-Wise!’

Buddham saranam gacchami:

Dhammam saranam gacchami:

Sangham saranam gacchami:

To the Buddha for Refuge I go: 
To the Teaching for Refuge I go:

To the Order for Refuge I go:

Buddha was born on the border of Nepal about 620 B.C. and died about 543 B.C. at Kusinagara in Oudh.
Buddhism was founded by Gautama Sakya Muni, the rebel child of Hinduism. It sprang up directly from Hinduism. Buddha never thought of founding a new religion. He made no new discovery. He was proclaiming only the ancient and pure form of religion which had prevailed among the Hindus.
The pure and noble religion of the Vedas and the Upanishads had degenerated into dead forms, unmeaning rites and ceremonies. The Brahmins claimed honour merely by their birth. They neglected the study of the Vedas and the practice of virtue. The Brahmins were treated with undue leniency, and the Sudras (the servant class) with undue severity. In order that flesh-eating might have the sanction religion, animals were slaughtered and sacrificed in Yajnas (ceremony where sacrifice is offered). Such was the state of society at the time when Buddha appeared. His tender and loving heart could not bear the shedding of so much innocent blood in the sacred name religion. Buddha declared that merit, and not birth, determined the position of a man in society. The persecuted Sudras joined him in large numbers and he unconsciously became the founder of a new faith.

Buddhism is the religion of earnest, undaunted effort. Buddha demands from you faith in your own Self, in your own latent forces. Without this faith, nothing can be achieved. The first words of Buddha, after his Enlightenment, were: “Wide open are the gates of Immortality. Ye that ears to hear, release your faith.”

Buddha, The Apostle of Ahimsa and Love :

Buddha was the greatest benevolent man or humanitarian which the world has ever produced. He is one without a second. Benevolence and humanitarianism are the key-notes of all religious movements of the world; but, the benevolence and humanitarian spirit and work of Buddha stand unrivalled in the religious history of the world.

Buddha abandoned his kingdom and went about begging his bread through the streets of India, and preached for the good of men and animal. He had a heart as wide as the sky or the ocean. He did not want heaven. He did not want money or throne. What an exalted selfless Yogi he was!
Many Rishis and prophets have preached the doctrine of love and Ahimsa, but there has never been, in the entire history of the world’s ethical thought, a greater affirmation of the principle of Ahimsa and love than has been done by Buddha. No one has possessed such a tender, kind and merciful heart as Buddha. Hence, he is enshrined even now in the hearts of millions of people. His heart throbbed severely and melted when he saw a little suffering in an ant or a worm or a dog. He gave up his body as food for a hungry ferocious animal in his previous birth. Several acts of kindness done in several births made him a Buddha in his last birth.
The Noble Eightfold Path:

The gospel of Buddha is simple, and yet wonderfully profound. Buddha analyzed all experiences, and the world process as it appears to all of us, with a scientific frame of mind. He found out that everything is mutable, changing, and impermanent or transitory. There is suffering, disharmony, discord and discontent everywhere in life, on account of the impermanence or transitoriness of things around. This universal experience of sorrow or Dukka is the starting point in Buddha’s thought. Buddha did not preach pessimism. He was wonderfully optimistic. He emphatically asserts that there is a way out of sorrow, and a heaven of eternal bliss, within the reach of every man.

The four cardinal truths or principles which Buddha preached are: that there is suffering in the world; that the cause of suffering is Tanha or craving; that the extinction of craving leads to cessation of suffering; and that this extinction of craving can be achieved by the Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddha lays great emphasis on the way of life. He avoids the two extremes of self-indulgence and self- mortification, and prescribes the Middle Way. He said: “There is a Middle Way, O recluses, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathagata (epithet for the Buddha)-a path which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana.”

What is this Middle Way? It is the Noble Eightfold Path which constitute, so to say, the entire ethical code of Buddha.

The Noble Eightfold Path consists of the practice of:
Right belief or right understanding or right views;

Right aspiration;

Right speech;

Right conduct or right action;

Right living or right means of livelihood;

Right exertion;

Right mindfulness or attentiveness; and

Right concentration or meditation.

These are the eight steps in the Way of Life presented by Buddha which annihilates suffering of all kinds and leads to the attainment of Nirvana or emancipation. The Noble Eightfold Path destroys lust, anger, greed, malice and other evils, and purifies the heart. Then dawns Bodhi or Enlightenment which bestows perfect everlasting peace, eternal bliss and immortality.

The word ‘Nirvana’ literally means ‘going out’. It signifies a spiritual experience full of peace and bliss, which is characterized by the ‘going out’ from the heart of the three fires of lust, ill-will and dullness.
Nirvana is not utter annihilation. Nirvana is total extinction of all that is base in us.
Buddha insisted upon the inexorable Law of Cause and Effect. He said to the people that they lived in a world in which causes always produce their natural and necessary effects and that the consequences of their conduct would, therefore, follow them wherever they went. He said that virtue has its own reward and vice its own punishment and that whatever is done inevitably reacts on the character and through the character affects for weal or woe the destiny of the Soul.
The religion of the Buddha is a pathway to the Nirvanic beatitude. It is a way, and not a creed. It is a scheme of spiritual development, and not a set of doctrines.

Buddha—The Preacher of Practical Religion :

Buddha came to the world to show the path of righteousness, to destroy the path of error, and to break down sorrow. Buddhism is not agnosticism or atheism. Buddha did not deny God. He only said: “Do not bother about questions like ‘Is there God?’, ‘Do I exist?’, ‘Is the world real or not?’. Do not waste your time and energy in useless discussions. Become a practical religious man. Purify your heart. Control the mind. Lead a virtuous life. You will attain Nirvana or emancipation or eternal bliss.”

To accuse Buddha as an atheist or agnostic is simply foolish. Buddha found no use in metaphysical wrangling. He declined to enter into metaphysics. Is there God or no God? Is life eternal or non-eternal? These questions were set aside as not requiring an answer for the attainment of Nirvana. The immediate great problem for Buddha was suffering and annihilation of suffering. He asked his followers not to bother about transcendental questions. He set aside all those things which did not help towards the attainment of the goal. He thought it wise to give his followers a way, and not a creed. He thought that speculation about the nature of the ultimate reality was an unnecessary drag on the path of truth and spiritual attainment. The vital and fundamental thing is not to discuss about the ultimate, but to tread the path which takes man out of the world of pain and suffering into supreme abode of eternal bliss and immortality. The nature of the ultimate truth is beyond the reach of mind and speech. If Buddha refused to define the nature of the Absolute, or if he contended himself with negative definitions, it is only to show that the Absolute or the Ultimate is above all definitions.
Buddha’s Teachings :

Lord Buddha preached: “We will have to find out the cause of sorrow and the way to escape from it. The desire for sensual enjoyment and clinging to earthly life is the cause of sorrow. If we can eradicate desire, all sorrows and pains will come to an end. We will enjoy Nirvana or eternal peace. Those who follow the Noble Eightfold Path strictly, viz., right opinion, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right employment, right exertion, right thought and right self-concentration will be free from sorrow. This indeed, O mendicants, is that middle course which the Tathagata has thoroughly comprehended, which produces insight, which produces knowledge, which leads to calmness or serenity, to supernatural knowledge, to perfect Buddhahood, to Nirvana.
“This again, indeed, O mendicants, is the noble truth of suffering. Birth is painful, old age is painful, sickness is painful, association with unloved objects is painful, separation from loved objects is painful, the desire which one does not obtain, this is too painful – in short, the five elements of attachment to existence are painful. The five elements of attachment to earthly existence are form, sensation, perception, components and consciousness.
“This again, indeed, O mendicants, is the truth of the cause of suffering. It is that thirst which leads to renewed existence, connected with joy and passion, finding joy here and there, namely, thirst for sensual pleasure, and the instinctive thirst for existence. This again, indeed, O mendicants, is the noble truth of cessation of suffering, which is the cessation and total absence of desire for that very thirst, its abandonment, surrender, release from it and non-attachment to it. This again, indeed, O mendicants, is the noble truth of the course which leads to the cessation of suffering. This is verily the Noble Eightfold Path, viz., right opinion, etc.”  

~Swami Shivananda