Episode # 455 – “Kurukshetra” – A sacred place for performing “Pitru-Tarpanam”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Vyaasa indicating the significance of the “Dwaaraka-Kshetra”, which is the divine abode of Bhagawan Krishna Himself! Sage Vyaasa brings this in the context of Sage Naarada advising Yudishtra to go to Dwaaraka and meet Bhagawan Krishna in person, along with his wife and brothers. As part of this, we’ve witnessed the significance of “Pancha-Dwaaraka Kshetras”, right from the “Bet-Dwaaraka” in the western coastline of Gujarat, to the “Naatha-Dwaaraka” in Rajasthan, wherein Bhagawan Krishna is famously referred to as “Shri-Nath ji”. Thus, if we witness closely, the entire western part of our Bhaarata Desha, including the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is a “Punya-Kshetra” as a whole, with enormous amounts of significance. In due course, we’ve witnessed the significance of Pushkar, Mount Abu, Maha-Kaleshwar, Somanath, etc. which are all situated in this western belt. 

Thus, readers should take this as an opportunity to explore and understand these places in-depth and pay a visit to these places to experience the divinity of these places. This is also important because we might be able to read a lot. Apart from this blog page, there is enormous content about these temples and places on the internet, with just a touch of a button today! However, we wouldn’t be able to experience the sacredness and divinity by just reading more and more. For instance, can we enjoy a sweet by just looking at its picture? We should taste that particular sweet and only with this experience we can say that we’re enjoying the sweet, isn’t it? Similarly here also, we can read a lot about all these places, see some nice and scenic pictures of these iconic temples. However, the real experience would come only if we visit these places in person. This is why I’m repeatedly stressing here that all of us should take some time off our busy professional / personal commitments to visit these places and obtain Bhagawan’ divine “Anugraha” through this. 

This is exactly what Yudishtra and the others are going to do now. As Sage Naarada explains about each of these places, Yudishtra is so happy to hear about all the explanations. But Sage Naarada cautions him that he would not be able to get the experience unless and until he pays a visit to these places. Moreover, Sage Naarada stresses upon another important thing to Yudishtra – Whenever we visit a “Punya-Kshetra” like Pushkar, Gaya-Kshetra, and any “Nadhi-Theera Kshetras”, we should ensure that we perform our “Tarpanam” or “Shraadham” for our ancestors (Pitru-Devatas). This is very important as well. When we visit temples, we can perform the “Dhaanam” and other forms of “Dharma” that are apt for those “Kshetras”. However, when we come to the “Nadhi-Theerams”, we should ensure that we perform our “Tarpanam”. This gives enormous spiritual benefits to all of us and in turn, our “Pitru-Devatas” become extremely happy. 

Continuing further thus, Sage Naarada explains the significance of the important “Kurukshetra”, where the massive war is going to take place in the future, between the Paandavas and the Kauravas. Sage Naarada doesn’t disclose that upfront, but he explains the importance of this place to Yudishtra. Sage Naarada explains thus, “Oh Yudishtra! This place called “Kurukshetra” is so significant that even if one thinks / dreams of visiting this place, all his sins would be washed away at that very moment itself! Hence, if you get an opportunity, go and visit this place and perform the “Jala-Tarpanam” (Performing the “Tarpanam” procedure with water) at this place. It would give you enormous spiritual upliftment. Even if you’re unable to visit Kurukshetra, please do not worry! Keep repeating this always in your mind – I want to go to Kurukshetra, stay there for three days and three nights, perform all the “Dhaanam” and “Dharma” and perform the “Jala-Tarpanam” for all my “Pitru-Devatas”! If you keep saying this everytime within yourself, Bhagawan would automatically present you with the opportunity to visit the place!” 

Thus, such is the enormous significance of this place called Kurukshetra! So for today, let us understand this point very clearly and let us wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 454 – The “Dwaraka-Kshetra” – The Divine Abode of Bhagawan Krishna!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Vyaasa talking about the next “Punya-Kshetra” – The “Arbudha Kshetra” or commonly referred to as “Mount Abu” in the North-Indian state of Rajasthan. Here, Bhagawan Vishnu is in the form of a mountain, just like how we’ve witnessed Bhagawan Vishnu in the form of a huge lake at the “Pushkara Kshetra” or “Pushkar”. We’ve also witnessed that this “Arbudha Kshetra” or “Mount Abu” is one of the brothers of the great Himalayan mountains. Even today, Mount Abu is one of India’s most visited pilgrimage centres and whenever we get time, we should make sure to visit this beautiful paradise on earth. 

Moving on further thus, Sage Vyaasa is now talking about the next “Punya-Kshetra” called “Praabhaasa Theertham” or “Praabhaasa-Kshetra”. This is the place from where Bhagawan Krishna transcended back to Vaikunta at the end of the great Krishna-Avatara. All of us might know this story as to how a hunter mistook Bhagawan Krishna’s toe to be a deer! Mistakenly thus, the hunter hits Bhagawan Krishna’s toe and with this, Bhagawan decides that His divine incarnation in this world is coming to an end. All these places that we’re talking about currently are in the western part of our “Bhaarata Desha”, in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Now, moving further west into Gujarat, and as we attain the western seashore, is the famous “Dwaaraka-Patnam”, which is the capital city of Bhagawan Krishna. Sage Vyaasa gives an extensive accord on the Dwaaraka city and how it was built. The Dwaaraka palace would resemble that of Indra’s palace in the “Swarga Lokha”, and Sage Vyaasa explains this beautifully. I’m not going into this discussion at this moment, because we’ve already spoken at length about this during our previous “Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana” project. Readers can have a glimpse of it at their own convenience. Thus, we can see here that Sage Naarada advises Yudishtra to go to Dwaaraka as part of his “Teertha-Yatra” and obtain the divine “Anugraha” of Bhagawan Krishna who is residing there. 

Even today, we have the reminiscence of the Dwaaraka-Kshetra. We call that as “Pancha-Dwaaraka”. The first one is the “Bet-Dwaaraka”, where Bhagawan Krishna is referred to as “Rana-Chod-Rai”. We might be knowing this story – Bhagawan Krishna was running all the way from Mathura, and was being chased by Kaalayavana, who was King Jaraasandha’s brother. Since, Bhagawan Krishna was seemingly “running away” without fighting a war with Kaalayavana and Jaraasandha, He is referred to as “Rana-Chod-Rai” in this place. Next in the list is Gomati Dwaaraka, Dakur Dwaaraka, Kaankroli Dwaaraka and the most important one which is the “Sri-Naatha Dwaaraka”. Here, Bhagawan Krishna is referred popularly as “Shri-Nath ji” and this “Naatha-Dwaaraka” is again situated in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Thus, the five “Dwaaraka-Kshetras” are of extreme significance and all of us should compulsorily pay a visit to these places to obtain the divine “Anugraha” of Bhagawan Krishna! Thus, we can witness here that the western part of our Bhaarata Desha is extremely significant with enormous amounts of Punya-Kshetras lined up one after the other! Apart from the Vishnu Kshetras that we’re witnessing currently, there are Shiva-Kshetras too. There are a few Jyothirlinga-Sthalams such as Somanath, which is extremely revered and respected in Gujarat. Moving further east into Madhya Pradesh, we have the famous “Maha-Kaleshwar” temple in Ujjain, which has enormous significance. The presiding deity here is Bhagawan Shiva in the form of “Maha-Kaleshwar ji”. It is believed to be the center for time calculation during the yester-years. In other words, the local time at this temple was kept as the reference / benchmark for calculation of time at other places. In fact, this place called Ujjain is the birthplace of many eminent scholarly people of those times. 

Moving on further west, Sage Vyaasa explains about the place where River Sindh goes and merges into the ocean. This place is none other than today’s Karachi city in Pakistan. This is an extremely significant place in our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature, but sadly today, this has been completely forgotten. In fact, Karachi is a great “Punya-Kshetra” and was adorned with a lot of temples, which were subsequently destroyed by certain forces, about which it is not worth talking even a single word! Of course, we shall pray to Bhagawan that this place too should regain its spiritual significance sooner or later! 

Next, Sage Naarada is talking to Yudishtra about the famed Kurukshetra-Bhoomi, and how it is extremely significant like Pushkar in terms of “Dhaanam”, “Dharma”, and “Japa”. We should understand here that the Paandavas do not know as yet that the marque battle is going to take place in this very place of Kurukshetra! We’re still very early into the Mahabharata story and the war is far away still! Thus in this way, we’re witnessing Sage Naarada’s conversation going deep into the various “Punya-Kshetras” in the complete northern belt of our Bhaarata Desha. So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall continue this discussion further in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 453 – MOUNT ABU – An important “Punya-Kshetra” of Bhagawan Vishnu!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the significance of the first “Punya-Kshetra” that Sage Vyaasa is explaining about as part of the “Teertha-Yatra” Parva – The Puskhakra Kshetra, or commonly referred to as “Pushkar”. In this place, Bhagawan Vishnu is in the form of a massive lake full of water. The main significance of this “Pushkara-Kshetra” is that, if one chants the “Gayatri Mantra” sitting on the banks of this lake, he / she attains “Moksha”! Thus, the “Gayatri Mantra” has enormous significance in this place. Moreover, if we’re doing any sort of “Dhaanam” or “Dharma” towards other living beings, it is equivalent of performing an “Ashwamedha Yaaga”. Also, any form of spiritual practice performed in this particular “Kshetra”, gives us benefits of over a thousand times more than the usual. This is why, it is believed that it is only with Bhagawan’s divine “Anugraha” will we be able to visit this “Pushkara-Kshetra” and stay here for a day or two to perform our spiritual practices. Thus, such is the importance of the “Pushkara-Kshetra” that Sage Vyaasa beautifully brings out. As mentioned yesterday, Sage Vyaasa has packed into this “Teertha-Yatra-Parva”, an enormous amount of description about various “Punya-Kshetras” across our Bhaarata Desha and we shall talk about only a few important ones here for the moment. We shall take up the discussion on the others at a later context. 

Moving on thus, Sage Vyaasa talks about a few important rivers that adorn our Bhaarata Desha. We’ve of course, spoken about a few of these rivers, but let us witness what Sage Vyaasa has to say in this context – He commences with the rivers that surround the “Pushkara-Kshetra” – The Rivers Narmada and Tapti flow around the Pushkara Kshetra, which have enormous significance. Moreover, if we look at other places in India, apart from the sacred River Ganges and River Yamuna, we have the set of five rivers that flow through the North-Indian state of Punjab. Apart from this, there is River Saraswati which is believed to be flowing underground due to a curse. The River Saraswati is believed to join the River Ganga and Yamuna at “Prayagraj” in the North-Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, if we come down to the south-eastern part of the country, we have River Mahanadi that flows majorly through the Indian state of “Odisha”. Further south, we have the Rivers Godavari and Krishna that flow for a vast majority segment in the South-Indian State of Andhra-Pradesh. Further south, we have our River Cauvery that originates in Karnataka, but majorly flows through the South-Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Furthermore in the south, we have the other sacred rivers like River Paalaar, Cheyyar, Vaigai, Tamraparni, etc. in Tamil Nadu and River Pamba is considered to be extremely sacred in the South-Indian state of Kerala. Thus, if we look at every single state in India, there would be atleast one sacred river that flows through it, which is a unique significance that our country has! 

Moving on thus, Sage Vyaasa explains about the next important “Punya-Kshetra” that is again located in the North-Indian state of Rajasthan, quite similar to the “Pushkara-Kshetra” that we’ve just witnessed. This “Kshetra” is referred to as “Arbudha-Kshetra” in those days, and is referred to as “Mount Abu” today. This Mount Abu is an extremely picturesque place situated amidst the Rajasthan desert, and is referred by Sage Vyaasa as the “Brother of the Himalayan mountains”. Bhagawan Vishnu resides on top of Mount Abu and has enormous significance. Even today, Mount Abu is one of India’s most visited pilgrimage centres and whenever we get time, we should make sure to visit this beautiful paradise on earth. 

So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall continue this absorbing discussion on India’s famed “Punya-Kshetras”! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 452 – Chanting the “Gayatri-Mantra” at “Pushkara-Kshetra” is extremely significant – Sage Vyasa explains!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the discussion on the significance of taking a holy dip in the famous “Nadhi-Theerams” of our Bhaarata Desha. We had witnessed how these sacred rivers are revered and respected all over the country, in the form of “Kumbh-Melas” once in every twelve years. Different rivers in India have their own ways of being revered and celebrated. If we visit these places during the festive times, we would be able to see lakhs and lakhs of devotees thronging the river beds as part of the celebration. The entire course of the river that runs for hundreds of kilometers would be in a great festive mood! This is the significance of the “Kumbh-Mela” festivals that take place regularly in India. Thus, because of all these significances, every inch of land in our Bhaarata Desha is a “Punya-Bhoomi” or a “Punya-Kshetra”. The countless number of massive temples that we have, the countless number of spiritual masters that this country has witnessed till date, the immeasurable significance of our holy and sacred rivers, truly make us understand that we’re extremely fortunate in this birth to be closely associated with our “Bhaarata Desha” in some way or the other. Many of our readers might be living within this “Punya-Bhoomi”, and many others might be residing outside as well. That doesn’t matter much. But if we have reverence and close association with our “Bhaarata Desha” in some way or the other, this is more than enough for all of us! For those of us who reside abroad, we should make it a point to visit our Bhaarata Desha atleast once in a year or once every six months and experience the spiritual offerings that this great country has! 

Moving on thus, after listening to all of these from Sage Naarada, Yudishtra is now going to embark on the “Teertha-Yatra” along with Bheemasena and the others, except Arjuna. We’ve already witnessed the this “Teertha-Yatra” is happening at a time when Arjuna is still in the “Svarga Lokha” and is yet to return back. As we chug along with whatever Sage Vyaasa has talked about here with regards to various “Kshetras”, I shall just highlight certain descriptions of important “Kshetras” and move on. This is because, the “Teertha-Yatra Parva” is extremely huge and has extremely detailed descriptions of a countless number of “Punya-Kshetras”, which might be difficult for us to comprehend at one stretch. We shall take up a much detailed exploration on this context at a later time, but for now, let us just have a glimpse of what Sage Vyaasa has to say with regards to the “Teertha-Yatra” of Yudishtra. Now we shall witness the first “Punya-Kshetra” that Sage Vyaasa describes – “Pushkaram”. This “Pushkara-Kshetra” is situated near the city called Ajmeer in Central India – Amidst the states of Madhya-Pradesh and Rajasthan. Here, Bhagawan Vishnu is in the form of “Teertha-Rupa”, which means, Bhagawan is in the form of water in a huge lake. Amidst this huge lake, there is a cliff dedicated to Bhagawan Brahma, another cliff dedicated to Gayathri Devi, and another small cliff to Bhagawan Vishnu as well. It is believed that if we chant the Gayathri Mantra at that particular place, we get enormous spiritual benefits and upliftment. 

Moreover, in the “Pushkara-Kshetra” it is believed that Bhagawan Brahma is performing His “penance” towards Bhagawan Vishnu, who is in the “Teertha-Rupa”. The entire lake that is present here is Bhagawan Vishnu in its entire entity. Every drop of water is Bhagawan Vishnu Himself! Thus, Sage Vyaasa is explaining here that if one takes a holy dip in this lake that is Bhagawan Vishnu Himself, it is equivalent of performing a massive “Ashwamedha Yaaga”. If we feed someone sitting at the “Pushkara-Kshetra”, it gives spiritual benefits of over a thousand times! It is very difficult for one to travel to the “Pushkara-Kshetra” . It is very difficult to stay there and perform “Tapas” as well. It is extremely significant if we’re performing the “Dhaanam” (Donation) in the “Pushkara-Kshetra”. Thus, performing any spiritual practice in the “Pushkara-Kshetra” is extremely significant and if we get this opportunity, we’re fortunate enough in this birth! 

So for today, let us understand the significance of the “Pushkara-Kshetra” and let us make an attempt to consciously pay a visit to this “Kshetra” as early as possible in our lifetime. We shall continue this discussion forward in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 451 – Every inch of land in our “Bhaarata Desha” is a “Punya-Kshetra” – An important understanding!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed a few important pointers with regards to taking a “Holy-Dip” in a “Nadhi-Theeram” (River bank / Ghat). We should ensure the following important points – Firstly, not encouraging discrimination amongst fellow people who are also taking the holy dip in the river – Secondly, making sure that we bow down into the river waters and taking the dip and not taking bath with a mug or a container – Thirdly, we should avoid taking soaps, shampoos and other chemical items into the river. This would end up polluting the river water, which is extremely sacred – Fourth – We should ensure that we take some small amounts of food items to serve the fishes and other aquatic living beings that thrive in the water. This is a great “Punya-Karma” that we would be performing. Fifth – We should perform our oblations and atleast a “Sandhyavandanam” amidst the river waters, as a token of respect to the river. These are the important points that we should remember when we go to a “Nadhi-Theeram” and readers should make note of them and should follow them meticulously. 

All these points are being stressed again and again because we should understand that our Bhaarata Desha is full of holy and sacred rivers, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. All of us know the significance of river Ganga, and its tributaries. We’ve witnessed this as part of our previous Ramayana project as to how King Bhageeratha brought Maa Ganga down to the earth from Bhagawan Shiva’s head. Such is the significance of the holy River Ganga. Similarly in the central and southern part of India, we have the famous rivers of Godhavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Tamraparni, etc. Each of these rivers have their own significance even from the ancient Ramayana period or before that as well. For instance, when the Tamil Month of “Aipasi” (Mid-October to Mid-November) arrives every year, it is believed that all the significances of all the sacred rivers across our Bhaarata Desha come and rest in the River Cauvery. Thus, taking a holy dip in the Cauvery River during this month is extremely sacred. Even today, if we visit the “Amma-Mantapam” Ghat in Srirangam at Trichy, Tamil Nadu, we would see lakhs of people coming and taking the holy dip in the River Cauvery. 

Similarly, we see a very grand festival called “Kumbh-Mela” being celebrated once in twelve years for major sacred rivers. We refer this important event as “Thulaa-Snaanam” wherein thousands and thousands of people from all over the world flock to the various “Ghats” (Banks) of the sacred rivers to take a holy dip. The “Maha-Kumbh-Mela” is celebrated for River Ganga, and subsequently there are many other “Kumbh-Melas” that keep taking place for various rivers as well. Thus, we can clearly see here that the entire “Bhaarata Desha” is a “Punya-Bhoomi” and a “Punya-Kshetra” as a whole! Every inch of soil in this holy country is a “Punya-Kshetra” and if we’re getting this opportunity to spend our life in this place, what more do we want in this world? We should indeed be extremely thankful to Bhagawan for providing us this golden opportunity to live in this holy and sacred place! 

Of course, there are various challenges that we face every passing day. We have enormous problems, through which we wade through day in and day out. But that should not undermine the significance of our Bhaarata Desha. Readers should think of this seriously – Is there any country in this world which has no problems / challenges? There would not be a single country in this category! Challenges are everywhere and are universal in nature! It is we who’ve to wade through all of these and ensure that we use this opportunity given by Bhagawan to wash off all our “Karma”. Thus, by taking holy dips in all our sacred rivers, we shall be rest-assured that we’re obtaining the divine “Anugraha” of Bhagawan in some way or the other. By doing so, Bhagawan also gets happy because we’re taking the stride and effort to come towards Him. If Bhagawan’s heart melts towards us with happiness, automatically we’re going to obtain the highest “Moksha”, isn’t it? 

So for today, let us think of this point very clearly and let us act accordingly! We shall continue this discussion in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 450 – Important “Do’s & Don’ts” while visiting a “Nadhi-Theeram” (River Ghat)!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important discussion as to some attributes that we’ve to adhere to, when we embark on a tour to “Punya-Kshetras” all across our Bhaarata Desha. We’ve witnessed many important points in these lines – Firstly, there should not be any form of discrimination between fellow “Yatris” (People who travel along with us for the tour). Secondly, we should be ready to give up our luxury requirements such as plush hotel rooms, luxurious and comfortable beds, etc. We should be prepared to stay with all of them together under one roof. The idea here is to increase our focus on Bhagawan, by bringing down the focus on our personal comfort and physical facility. Thirdly, we should not gossip about anything or anybody while being on a “Teertha-Yatra”. We can maybe describe and talk about Bhagawan – This is different. But, talking about personal matters, office politics, etc. during a spiritual tour should be avoided as much as possible. Else, the focus on Bhagawan would be completely lost. Next, when we’re going to a “Nadhi-Theeram” (River Ghat), we should ensure that we take the holy dip in that river only, rather than taking a regular shower in our hotel rooms! This is an important point and we shall expand on this a bit more in today’s episode. 

While going to a “Nadhi-Theeram”, we should abide by certain rules and regulations – Firstly, while we are there, we should make sure that we do not enter the water with our slippers on our feet. This would be a gross insult to the river! We should understand that behind every river, there is a deity or a “Devata”. Going to a river bank is equivalent to visiting a temple to worship Bhagawan. Hence, we should ensure that we remove our slippers at a distance and enter into the waters. Moreover, going with the slippers on affects the purity of the river water. Many others would also be taking a holy dip in the river, isn’t it? That would impact the cleanliness and hygiene of other people as well. We should take care of this aspect as well. Secondly, when we go to a “Nadhi-Theeram”, we should be unmindful of whoever is near us. We should not feel any discomfort with any kind of people around us. Thus, discrimination is something we should completely avoid here as well. 

Thirdly, while we’re taking a holy dip, we should bow down into the river water with our face completely inside for a few seconds. This is a mark of respect to the river and we should ensure that we do this. Many of us might feel scared to do that – What if water enters into our ears or nose or mouth? What if we feel breathless under the water? These questions might keep lingering in our minds, isn’t it? The logic is very simple here – We should take a deep breath (Inhalation), close our eyes, nose and mouth and dip inside. While doing so, water will never enter into any of the “Dvaaras” of our face. Moreover, it is only for a few seconds, and hence, it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, there are people who can hold their breath under the water for a much longer time and such people can afford to take the holy dip with ease. However, for others, this above-mentioned technique should be of some help. Fourthly, many of us have a unique practice of taking bath in the river with a mug or a container. This is an extremely wrong practice and we should avoid this. If we’re in a “Nadhi-Theeram” the only way to take shower is through the holy dip. 

Fifth – Many of us have the practice of using soaps, shampoos, etc. while taking the holy dip in the “Nadhi-Theeram”. Again, this is an extremely wrong practice. By doing so, we’re not only polluting the river, but also poisoning all the aquatic living beings (fishes, snails, etc.) that make a living under the water. We’re not supposed to disturb their regular life while we’re taking the holy dip. We should also ensure that while we take the holy dip, we should feed the fishes and other aquatic living beings with some puffed rice or whatever is available at that place. Sixth – While taking the holy dip into the river, we should pay our salutations and oblations to the concerned “Devata” and to Bhagawan. We shall perform a simple “Sandhyavandanam” too while we’re taking the holy dip, and this would be more than sufficient. 

Thus, these are certain important points that all of us should be mindful about, while we enter into a “Nadhi-Theeram”. Of course, there are many more, but owing to limitations with my knowledge and with time, I’m restricting myself to these important points. We shall discuss the other points as we progress further and when the right context comes. So for today, let us understand these important points and let us follow them meticulously while visiting any “NAdhi-Theeram” next time! We shall continue this discussion further in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 449 – Some important “do’s & don’ts” while embarking on “Teertha-Yatras” – A discussion!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed how our temples and our “Sanaatana Dharma” as a whole has enormous significance and certain vested interests and anti-Hindu elements that are trying to raise their ugly heads today can never even think in their wildest dreams of “destroying” them! It is to be noted here at this important juncture that our Bhaarata Desha in the past has gone through an enormous amount of invasions – Right from the Muslim rulers to the British era. Even though these invaders tried their level best for more than a thousand years put together to destroy our Sanaatana Dharma, they weren’t successful even an inch! If such is the case, who are these listless anti-Hindu elements today, who do not even have an iota of understanding of our greatness? Hence, readers and ardent followers of “Sanaatana Dharma” like all of us, should not even pay heed to all their rantings! We should not waste our precious time given to us by Bhagawan in getting carried away by all their constitutionally illegal activities that they keep performing day in and day out! We should remain steadfast and focused in our approach towards attaining Bhagawan and should never deviate or pay heed to the narratives of  these half-baked crooks! Thus, all of us should come together to embark on “Teertha-Yatras”, visit temples as much as possible, help those temples that are in dire need of facilities and funding and thereby obtain the divine “Anugraha” of Bhagawan in all those places. This is the lesson that all of us should learn from this section of discussion. This is the awareness that all of us should develop and spread amongst our near and dear ones as well, so that they too would get interested in contributing for a noble cause. 

Moving on further thus, we shall now witness some important procedures that are a part of embarking “Teertha-Yatras”. Firstly, when we are embarking on a “Yatra”, we should have the feeling that all the people who come along with us are equal! We should never discriminate between each other. We should never point out to people and say that I’m from an upper class or I’m rich and you are from a lower class and you are poor. This is a wrong attitude to have when we embark on “Teertha-Yatras”. We should always remember that all of us are equal in front of Bhagawan’s eyes! It is the same Bhagawan who had given us this human birth and to the others as well. While giving us this birth, Bhagawan never differentiates between any of us. It is only we who create all these differences according to various parameters that we set, such as family background, financial capacities, etc. Hence, the point is very clear – While we embark on a “Punya-Kshetra” tour, we should develop that maturity to shun all the differences between each other. 

Secondly, when we’re travelling, we should not expect luxury and royal treatment at any place. We should be prepared to endure minimal comfort. We should be prepared to stay in dormitory accommodation with all of them together. At that time, we should not keep demanding that we want accommodation in a 5-star hotel with air-conditioners, etc. If we’re going to demand all these facilities, we have everything at home, isn’t it? Hence, what is the purpose of coming for a “Teertha-Yatra” then? Thus, we should develop the mindset to shun all physical facility and should learn to live with bare minimal facilities for the entire duration of the “Yatra”. Thirdly, we should leave all our personal and professional issues at home and office before we embark on the tour. We should not keep thinking and talking about all these while we’re amidst the “Yatra”. Our focus should only be on Bhagawan, the significance of each temple or ashram or river, and to obtain that divine experience. Fourthly, we should never gossip about anyone or anything while we’re on the “Yatra”. This is also something that all of us should take care of. 

Fifth, and most importantly, many of us have this practice of taking a shower in the hotel / lodge while we go to a “Nadhi-Theeram” (Spiritual places along river banks). This is an extremely wrong practice! If we’ve to take bath in our hotel rooms, why do we even spend so much time and effort to go to these places? Thus, wherever we travel to “Punya-Kshetras” that are alongside holy rivers like River Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, etc. we should ensure that we do our “Snaanam” (Shower) in the river only! We should pay due respect to the river that flows through that place. For instance, if we go to Deva-Prayag or Varanasi or whichever place that falls along the River Ganga’s course, we should ensure that we go to the banks of the river and take the “Snaanam” there only. We should never miss this opportunity. Moreover, it is also widely quoted at various instances in our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature that taking a “Punya-Snaanam” (Holy dip) in these rivers would potentially remove all our sins and make us spiritually pure! Given this significance, we should never miss this golden opportunity. 

Of course, all of us would agree to this point, but we might have our own prejudice – For instance, in many places, the river beds might not be very clean. There would be so much dirt all along the bed. Or, there would be so much crowd, and because of this, we might get “switched off”! We should never get into all these thoughts! We should remember one thing – How do we obtain gold or any other precious metal? Is it readily available underground? The answer is “No”! We only get the “ore” of the precious metal with all possible impurities in it. It is we who processes the ore and turns it into the precious metal that we wear, isn’t it? Similarly, the significance of each “Kshetra” and “Nadhi-Theeram” would be amidst all these “dirt” and “crowd”. It is we who have to take the initiative to purify ourselves by wading through all these. We should develop this mindset within us and it is very important! Hence, the point is very clear – Whenever we go to a “Nadhi-Theeram”, we should ensure that we take the holy dip in that river bed only, and not in our hotel rooms! 🙂 

So for today, let us understand up to this point and we shall continue this discussion further in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 448 – Our “Sanatana Dharma” & temples can NEVER be destroyed by any motivated agenda!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the discussion on “Punya-Kshetras” and why is it important for us to visit them. We’ve viewed this point from a different perspective of the present-day condition of various temples in our Bhaarata Desha. Of course, there are certain temples that are well-maintained and there is also a huge rush of devotees flocking to these temples every day. Moreover, funds for regular maintenance in these temples aren’t really a problem. However, the problem comes for several other temples in various places across the country, be it Vishnu or Shiva temples, that are in almost a dilapidated state, crying for attention! There are several “Punya-Kshetras” across India which have enormous significance in them, but unfortunately, the world doesn’t know about it because of lack of awareness and adequate marketing activities to propagate the significance. Because of this, the number of devotees who visit such temples are very less in number, and as a result, the temple lacks funds even for regular maintenance and for performing regular Pujas. 

Moreover, the other challenge that we face in our Bhaarata Desha is that many temples come under the control of the respective state governments. This can be a double-edged sword – Some temples that come under the ambit of the government are well-maintained, but there are a massive number of temples that are crying for attention! The problem is complicated when the political parties that form governments in the states are anti-Hindu in nature! Some state governments in India and some listless political parties are openly and vehemently propagating against our “Sanaatana Dharma” and are indulging in insulting our age-old traditions and practices. All this is done in the name of “Secularism” in India! Will the same political parties / governments have the guts to do the same to other religions and their places of worship? They would not! People like us who are ardent followers of the “Sanaatana Dharma” have systematically been “soft targets” for such political goons for several years now! These goons run amuck and unleash their anti-Hindu activities in various ways by creating rifts between societies and communities within our Sanaatana Dharma. 

Of course, I’m not denying the fact that our “Sanaatana Dharma” is extremely diverse all across the country with an enormous number of caste systems, communities, societies, etc., but having said thus, it doesn’t mean that we are different in any way! Even though we might hail from different communities or whatever, we’re all beads strung together by Bhagawan in doing selfless “Seva” to Him and to all living beings. All of us are equal and all these so-called “differences” that these useless political parties try to create are only to score cheap political brownie points and cheap publicity, and nothing else. Let us think of it in this way – If someone has to talk about any topic, be it science or politics or religion, etc. he / she should have the complete knowledge about the subject in hand, isn’t it? For instance, if I’m writing this blog on “Mahabharata” every day, and if all of us, readers are reading through and understanding the content of it, all of us together know the subject thoroughly, don’t we? Only if we know the subject in and out, will we become eligible to talk or criticize about it, isn’t it? Rather, if we do not know about the subject fully, it is better to keep our mouths shut! This is what certain political goons aren’t doing! These goons are either half-baked in their knowledge, or a complete “zero” in their basic understanding about our “Sanaatana Dharma”. Thus, without knowing the subject thoroughly, who are these stupids to even open their mouth? 

Moreover, if these so-called secularists are anti-Hindu in nature, why are they running our temples when they come to power? Shouldn’t they be giving the rights and ownership of the temples to the respective “Aadheenams” or other spiritual organizations that can run them more efficiently? If these so-called law-makers are truly secular, why don’t they take churches and mosques under their control? Why is this rule applicable only for our temples and not for other places of worship? Of course, I’m not demeaning any religion here, but demeaning “Sanaatana Dharma” and using this narrative to promote other religions for securing vote banks is what I’m criticizing here! Just because certain political leaders get the mike in their hands and a stage to stand on, would they be talking senseless crap about our Sanaatana Dharma? Therefore, my humble request to these listless half-baked political leaders is – Please go back to your drawing board, take some books about Sanaatana Dharma practices and traditions, read them thoroughly, do some research on it, before taking the mike in your hands! This would be beneficial, both for you as well as for citizens of this country. Just because you’ve to gain political mileage, do not take “Sanaatana Dharma” as a hostage! Let me be very clear here – Irrespective of whatever political ranting that these half-baked politicians do, our “Sanaatana Dharma” would continue to exist forever! Nobody can even think in their wildest dreams of destroying our great “Sanaatana Dharma”! Hence, as ardent followers of “Sanaatana Dharma”, let us not get misled by these half-baked politicos! 

So for today, let us understand this fact, and let us make it a point that we continue visiting as many temples as we can, across our “Bhaarata Desha”. Let us make sure that we “hand-hold” temples that are crying for attention. Let us help these temples in whatever way we can, so that the “Nithya-Pujas” here are happening as prescribed. Let us take this pledge amongst us as we move forward from here on! We shall wait till the next episode to continue our discussion forward! Stay tuned! 

Episode # 447 – Taking care of temples which do not have adequate facilities – A huge “SEVA” for Bhagawan!!!

In the previous episode, we had concluded the discussion on “Teertha-Yatras”, and the crux of the conversation between Bhishmachaarya and Sage Pulasthya, which is the reference point of Sage Narada to answer Yudishtra’s question. In due course, we had also had a detailed elaboration on why we should embark on “Teertha-Yatras” whenever we get time amidst our work / personal schedules. We’ve also understood in yesterday’s episode, the five different “states” of Bhagawan Vishnu and how it is best feasible for all of us to worship Bhagawan in His fifth important state – The “Vigraha Rupa” (Idol worshipping). In fact, this is not only applicable for Bhagawan Vishnu, but for all other important deities of our “Sanaatana Dharma” as well. “Idol worship” is something that is of extreme prominence and the main reason behind it is that, it is difficult for us to worship Bhagawan in the other four states as explained yesterday. In this “Kali-Yuga”, the easiest way of attaining Bhagawan’s divine lotus feet is to worship Him in His idol form, sing in praise of Him and experience His divine “Anugraha”. This is the best way to attain “Moksha” and this is exactly what Sage Naarada concludes to Yudishtra too. 

Explaining the conversation between Sage Pulasthya and Bhishmachaarya, Sage Naarada concludes thus, “Oh Yudishtra! You’ve made an important decision, which is excellent! All of you should embark on a “Teertha-Yatra” immediately and through this, you’re going to gain enormously! Hence, go ahead and experience Bhagawan’s divine “Anugraha” at all the places that you would be travelling to!” We should also take this advice of Sage Naarada very seriously, shouldn’t we? Moreover, we should also understand that while we worship Bhagawan in the “Vigraha Rupa”, more than we going and worshipping Him, He is waiting to receive us with both His arms open! This is the faith that all our Alwars, Aachaaryas, Nayanmars, etc. have had, while establishing one “Punya-Kshetra” after the other, all across the Bhaarata Desha! In fact, there are various references in our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature that at every temple, Bhagawan is waiting for us, rather than we waiting for Him! For instance, in the south, if we happen to visit the Tirupati-Tirumala Kshetra, the crowd is enormous every day, and we would not even be able to stand in front of Bhagawan Venkateshwara for even five seconds! We might have a doubt here – Isn’t this point contradictory in nature, that Bhagawan is waiting for us on one hand, but on the other, we’re being pushed away within just five seconds? The significance of this deity at Tirumala-Tirupati Kshetra is that, if we stand in front of Him for more than five seconds, perhaps, Bhagawan would never leave us from His cusp! If that happens, how will we be able to return back home and manage our personal / professional commitments? 🙂 Maybe it is for this reason, Bhagawan Venkateshwara is pushing all of us out of His Sanctum-Sanctorum within just five seconds! The same can be observed at many other places as well – For instance, in Pandharpur (Bhagawan Krishna’s important abode in the Indian state of Maharashtra) too, one would be able to stand in front of Bhagawan Panduranga (Bhagawan Krishna) only for this same five-second-duration and for the sixth second, we would be pushed out! Some important Kshetras are like this, and we really cannot help! 

However, there are other “Kshetras” wherein Bhagawan can be worshipped at ease and at our own will! We can stand in front of Bhagawan for an enormous amount of time, and there would be nobody to push us out! If we go to all these “Divya-Desam” temples of Bhagawan Vishnu that are located in remote villages, we can have the “Ekaanta-Darshan” of the Sanctum Sanctorm, and in these places, Bhagawan is really waiting for all of us with His hands open to receive us! We should thus make sure that we visit these kinds of temples wherein there isn’t much crowd! Moreover, there are a lot of temples – Both Vishnu and Shiva temples which lack adequate funds for maintenance. There are a huge number of temples which doesn’t even have enough funds for lighting a lamp for the presiding deity. Moreover, there are significant temples in some remote villages which doesn’t even have a proper “Pandit” for performing the regular Pujas for the deities. We, as ardent followers of our “Sanaatana Dharma” should generously come forward and take some responsibilities according to our capacity and financial strength, to take steps and ensure that all the Pujas are in place. We should generously come forward to donate money and other requirements to these temples so that, the deity is adequately taken care of in terms of lighting of lamps, electric lighting of the “Praahaaras”, regular cleaning of the temple premises, etc. If we take such responsibilities, there are no better “Punya-Karmas” that we can accumulate in this birth! We should in fact be extremely happy and feel fortunate that there are these kinds of temples, and Bhagawan is giving us an opportunity to develop these temples and in turn, be of “Seva” to Him! 

So for today, let us think on these lines and let us consciously take a step forward to be of service to temples that are in dire need. We should have the heart to donate generously to these temples so that Bhagawan is adequately taken care of! I’m using these words very cautiously here – More than Bhagawan taking care of us, we also should take care of Bhagawan, shouldn’t we? This is called “Bhakti”! Hence, let us think about this and do the needful! We shall continue this discussion in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 446 – The easiest way of worshipping Bhagawan today is through His “VIGRAHA-RUPA”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important discussion as to why do Mahatmas / Sadgurus keep going from one place to the other constantly and not staying at one place for a longer period of time. We’ve witnessed three different dimensions to this discussion, as per my limited understanding of this subject, however, there might be multiple other angles through which this can be viewed. Readers can explore at their own convenience. We’ve witnessed that Mahatmas keep travelling to establish more and more “Punya-Kshetras”. Every place that they go and every place wherein their divine lotus feet touch the earth would become a “Punya-Kshetra” by itself. This applies not only to Mahatmas, but also to Bhagawan as well. This is why we have so many places where Bhagawan Rama’s divine lotus feet have touched the ground, in the likes of Chitrakoota, Saket, Rishyamukha Parvatha, and all the way till Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka in the south of India. Every place where Bhagawan Rama had visited and set foot, are “Punya-Kshetras” and have enormous significance. Moreover, Sadgurus / Mahatmas travel all around to reach out to their disciples / devotees who are yearning for their divine presence, but couldn’t make it to their ashram / abode. Thus, the Guru goes to the disciple to provide the divine “Anugraha”. Like these, there are many reasons why Mahatmas are always “on the move”, and readers should understand this point very clearly. 

Thus, summing up the whole context, Yudishtra is asking Sage Naarada about the significance of embarking on “Teertha-Yatras” and Sage Naarada in turn refers to an important conversation between Sage Pulasthya and Bhishmachaarya on the banks of River Ganga. The first thing that both of them talk about is to forgo our “Ahankara” and “Mamakara” as we embark on spiritual journeys. We should understand that the presiding deity of every “Punya-Kshetra”, be it Bhagawan Vishnu in His various incarnations like Bhagawan Rama, Bhagawan Krishna, Bhagawan Narasimha, etc. or Bhagawan Shiva or Goddess Devi or Bhagawan Ganesha or Bhagawan Muruga mark their divine presence in their respective “Kshetras” even today. We should understand that these deities do not have the heart to leave these places and till today, all of them keep providing us with their divine “Anugraha”. In fact, as part of the “Shri-Vaishnava Sampradhaaya”, Bhagawan Vishnu is said to have five different “states” – The first state of Bhagawan Vishnu is His divine abode, Vaikunta. Second state is the Ocean of Milk (Paar-Kadal in Tamil). While the third state of Bhagawan Vishnu encompasses all His divine incarnations, the fourth state is the place where He dwells in all the hearts of His ardent devotees. Finally, the fifth state is in the form of “Vigrahas” (Idols) in all the “Punya-Kshetras” that He has designated. 

Of all these five states of Bhagawan Vishnu, we can only worship Him through the fifth state – The “Vigraha-Rupa” (Idol worship). Why is this so? If we’ve to see and worship Bhagawan through our inner self, we’re not great “Yogis” or spiritually realized souls to do all this! We’re normal ordinary people who do not even exhibit 1% of Bhakti towards Bhagawan! 🙂 Secondly, going to Vaikunta and worshipping Bhagawan – Only great saints like Sage Narada, and the others can afford to do that! Even at the end of this birth, we might not be assured of getting a berth at Vaikunta or “Paar-Kadal”, given the amount of “Paapa-Karmas” that we’re accumulating every passing day! Hence, these two are also ruled out for the moment! If we’ve to see Bhagawan as divine incarnations, we’re unfortunately not living at a time when Bhagawan Rama and Bhagawan Krishna were living! Thus, this is also ruled out for all of us! Hence, the only way and perhaps the easiest way of worshipping Bhagawan Vishnu is by going to His temple(s) at various “Punya-Kshetras” and praying in front of His divine “Vigraha-Rupa” (Idol). To make things easier for normal people like us, Bhagawan has also pumped in His divine “Anugraha” into all His “Vigraha-Rupas” across temples, so that we would be benefited in this “Kali-Yuga”! We can always visit these places, worship Him, sing in praise of Him and finally obtain the ultimate “Moksha”. We should always remember that in this “Kali Yuga” that we’re currently living in, the easiest way to attain “Moksha” is through “Naama-Sankeerthanam” (Chanting Bhagawan’s divine names and Mantras). We should hence take this opportunity seriously and do the needful! 

So for today, let us understand up to this point, and with this, we shall conclude the discussion on “Teertha-Yatras”. We’ve spent many episodes discussing the importance of “Teertha-Yatras” and “Punya-Kshetras” and I hope all of us would have gained a fair understanding of the same! From the next episode onwards, we shall move on with what Yudishtra did next and which are the places that the Paandava brothers visited henceforth! Stay tuned for an absorbing accord! 🙂