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    Thread: Worship of the Goddess

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      Default Worship of the Goddess

      The feminine aspect of God is unique to Hindu worship, and can hardly be found in any other major religion, but perhaps only in indigenous religions of nature worship. The Hindu trinity of Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva without their Shakti is useless. Such is the power of Shakti, the feminine aspect of God.

      The link below provides a beautiful understanding of the worship of the Goddess in Hinduism.

      http://www.infinityfoundation.com/manda ... ameset.htm

      Worship of the Goddess in Hinduism
      by Sarah Caldwell

      © By Sarah Caldwell, Harvard Divinity School

      Sponsored by 25th Anniversary Conference of the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh, 2000

      Yaa devi sarvabhuteshu buddhi rupena samsthitaa
      Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namaha

      To that goddess who dwells within all beings in the form
      of intellect, I bow again and again and again

      – Chandi Path (Devi Mahatmya), Ch. 5, v. 20

      On a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I wandered through the Indian art gallery. Ensconced against the southern wall of the gallery stands a glorious life-size granite image of the goddess Durga, voluptuous, lithe and graceful, her foot poised delicately on the severed head of the buffalo demon Mahishasura. Visitors meander past casting bemused glances at her soft yet powerful body and her knowing smile. Of all the images of Hindu deities, it is perhaps this conflation of supreme power and tender loveliness that most arrests the visitor's eye and challenges our concepts about the divine. It was a similar image of Durga that first caught the eye of Professor Tom Coburn, a distinguished scholar of Sanskrit who has translated the great scriptural account of Devi's triumphs, the Devi Mahatmya, in his book Encountering the Goddess. In an article written for the Indian journal Manushi, Professor Coburn has described his initial enchantment with Durga, a love affair that led to a lifetime of distinguished scholarship and study.

      South Asian religions have given birth to some of the loveliest and most sublime images of feminine divinity the world has ever seen, as well as some of the most mysterious and powerful. These range from graceful miniature paintings of Sita pining for her beloved husband Rama, or Radha awaiting a tryst with Krishna in a forest grove to imposing images of Durga and Kali gracing south India's stone temples. In villages throughout the subcontinent, Devi takes the form of a simple rock, a mound of mud, a wooden carving, a bronze statue, a painting, a poster, a sword, a tree, as she receives the loving attentions of worshippers, blesses homes and agricultural fields, and watches over the fate of her children. Of the world's living religious traditions, it is only in Hinduism that such extensive worship of divinity in the female form may be found.

      The Hindu goddess in all her myriad of forms has also been celebrated in poetic verses of praise for many centuries. The ancient Tamil classic, Cilappadikaram, eulogizes its benighted heroine, Kannaki, who in her rage at a king's injustice, tore off her left breast and burned the city of Madurai to the ground before rising to the sky as a goddess. The exquisite Gita Govinda of Jayadeva details in verses heavy with longing and love the ecstatic union of Krishna with the beautiful Radha. In pleading, begging, railing, desperate lines, the Bengali Ramprasad Sen explores the depth of love and despair that is the love of the dark Mother Kali. The Saundarya Lahari (often attributed to Adi Shankara) details the magnificent, radiant form of the Devi as queen of the universe, and reveals the esoteric meaning of her form as the Sri Yantra, the geometric pattern of energies that describes the inner workings of the universe.

      Yet the Hindu apperception of the feminine divine goes far beyond even this almost infinite wealth of images and poetry. Hindu philosophy also includes sublime and intellectually sophisticated theologies of the Goddess. Shakta theology in particular, unlike any other living religious tradition, attributes supreme divinity, power over creation, all speech, nature, mind, and liberation, the universe itself, to Devi, the Goddess, who exceeds even the great gods Shiva, Vishnu, Indra, and Brahma, upon whose bent backs she sits in glory. In astounding philosophical terms, Shakta theology propounds a doctrine that unites devotion to the goddess's supremely attractive feminine form with subtle apperception of the inner workings of the universe. Furthermore, tantric religious traditions provide specific means for ritual worship of and yogic meditation upon the goddess, directing the worshipper to a state of complete identification and union with her. These precious traditions of Hinduism, kept secret and revealed only to a few initiates for millennia, are beginning to be known better today and to be shared with a wider circle of devotees. Within this great tradition lie the potential seeds of a revolution in the way human beings conceive of our world, ourselves, and one another. It is well worth studying and understanding the great tradition of goddess worship in Hinduism, for the benefit of oneself and humanity at large...

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      Default Re: Worship of the Goddess

      Soundarya Lahari
      A small description about this powerful verses sung in praise of the Devi (Goddess).

      The story goes like this:

      When Adi sankaracharya visited the Kailash (abode of Lord Shiva and Parvathi), Shiva gave to Sanakaracharya the soundarya lahari, which is nothing but a collection of 100 verses in praise of the Sakthi (Goddess Parvathi).

      Sou in sanskrit is 100 and when one sings or reads this with full devotion, one can enjoy the bliss, hence the name soundarya lahari.

      The first 49 verses is called Anandha Lahari and the remaining 51 verses is Soundarha Lahari.

      On his way back to Earth, Shiva's vehicle (Nandhi) snatched the first 49 verses. When Adi Sankara was praying to Goddess Sakthi to help him get the songs in full, Sakthi asked Sankara to start writing the missing 49 verses by himself.

      Hence the first 49 verses describes the beauty of the Devi and the balance songs are used to describe the destroying powers of the Devi. Even today, for certain ailments, these are very powerful and found to have curing powers.

      I happen to listen one of Shri Mataji's speech recently in which She explains about Soundarya Lahari in just two words:-

      YOUR MOTHER IS ATHI ROUDRA, ATHI SOWMYA...

      Means she is all powerful to destroy any negativity at the same time

      She is eternally beautiful/kind.

      The famous music composer Illayaraja (from Tamil film industry) has composed a beautiful song in tamil which is nothing but one verse of Soundarya Lahari. The song Janani, Janani.. even today this song is played as an opening song by all light music troupe.

      This song is full of vibrations..

      Happy reading...

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      Default Re: Worship of the Goddess

      Our Divine Mother Sai exists in all beings in the form of truth, love, compassion, intelligence, spiritual wealth and beauty.

      Her Divine Shakti which is pure and imperishable energy exists in all and in every form.
      Durga Puja is the most popular Hindu festival in which Lord Shiva, the Creator, the Sustainer and the Destroyer is adorned as Devi, the Divine Mother Durga.

      The Lord is immeasurably merciful, loving, caring, affectionate, sweet and gentle. As He fondly and without fail looks after all the needs of His children, His devotees look upon Him as Devi, Mother.

      In the spiritual field also, the aspirant who is a spiritual child approaches the Lord as Mother. The purpose of his existence is to identify himself with the Eternal Spirit, to realize his inner divinity and to unite himself with the Divine so that they become ONE. His spiritual sadhana starts with worshpping the mother as God.

      During the first three days of Navaratri (Nine Nights) the Divine Mother is worshipped as Durga. We pray to Mother Durga to remove and destroy all our negative qualities, our defects, our failings, our shortcomings and our sensual desires. We ask the Mother for Purity of character, action, thought and word.

      Once the process of elimination and purification is complete, the next step is to forge a transcendent spiritual personality endowed with pure, saatwic and divine qualities. To acquire this spiritual wealth, the aspirant worships the Divine Mother as Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu and the Giver of the boons of prosperity and bliss, for the second set of three days.

      After the completion of these six days, the aspirant becomes fit to receive Supreme Knowledge and Wisdom from Saraswati Mataa, who is the very embodiment of Divine Knowledge.

      The tenth day, VIJAYA DASAMI, marks the victory of the liberated soul from the clutches of the material and illusory world. God and I are ONE.


      JAYA SAI DURGA MATAA!
      JAYA SAI LASKHMI MATAA!
      JAYA SAI SARASWATI MATAA!

      [The Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Curepipe, Mauritius is celebrating Durga Puja (or Navaratri) from the 19th to the 27th of October this year. All are welcome to be with us on this very auspicious occasion.]

      At the Lotus Feet of Sai

      Anita

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      Default Re: Worship of the Goddess

      Nine Goddess
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saibabane ... QDMzQ0MDA-

      Literal meaning – ‘nine nights’, this nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvin is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu Calendar and is hence the most celebrated time of the year. Although it has different names in different parts of India, it is celebrated by Hindus from all regions. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm as the conquest of good over evil. Every region has its own myths and reasons to explain this.

      The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshipped:
      Durga :goddess beyond reach;
      Bhadrakali the auspicious power of time;
      Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world;
      Annapurna: giver of food and plenty;
      Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess;
      Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death;
      Chandika or Chandi: violent, wrathful, furious;
      Lalita: playful; and
      Bhavani: giver of existence.
      The festivities culminate on the tenth day, called variously Vijayadashmi, Dushehra when people in most parts of the country burn effigies of Ravana, Meghanatha and Kumbhakarna.

      Some people fast on all nine days, eating only fruit and milk dishes. Some fast only on the eighth or ninth day. As the festival is dear to the mother goddess, on the eighth or ninth day many people invite over nine young girls from the neighborhood. These girls are treated as the goddess herself. People ceremonially wash their feet, worship them and then offer food to the "girl-goddesses".

      On the first day of the Navaratras, grains of barley are planted in the puja room of the house. A small bed of mud is prepared in which barley seeds are sown after a small puja has been performed. Every day some water is sprinkled on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. The seedlings are placed on their caps, behind their ears, and inside books to bring good luck. This custom suggests a link to harvesting. The sowing and reaping of barley is symbolic of the "first fruit". Soon after this festival, the sugarcane crop is harvested and the winter crops are sown.

      The Legend

      This festival commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon, Mahishasur. Endowed with power by the blessing of Lord Shiva, the demon started destroying innocent people. The gods then invoked Goddess Durga and asked for her help. The goddess, astride a lion, fought with the demon and cut off his head.

      According to one hypothesis, in ancient times, this was a festival intended for the Kshatriyas. After the four-month long monsoon when military activity was not possible, this was considered a good time to start afresh on one's conquests. For nine days before starting on the war journey, kings prayed to the nine different aspects of Devi or Adishakti. They also prayed for their arms and ammunition. The tenth day was when the journey for the conquest began.

      The origin of this custom can also be traced to the Ramayana. According to it, Rama had to pray to the nine different aspects of Devi to be able to kill Ravana. He then accumulated enough power to kill Ravana on the tenth day, which was called Vijayadashmi or Victory Day. Since then, the tradition of praying to Devi for nine days has continued and was especially pronounced amongst the Kshatriyas who believed that by doing so, they too would be able to defeat the most powerful enemy.

      Today, it is celebrated more for its mythological significance and reaffirms the Hindu faith in the triumph of good. Even today, the nine different forms of the goddess are worshipped. Though several communities of Hindus are staunch vegetarians, Navaratri is one exception. On the eighth day, many communities, especially Gurkha and other hill tribes who are believers in the Devi cult sacrifice an animal. This blood sacrifice is a form of thanksgiving to the goddess for a wish that has been granted. People often sacrifice a buffalo symbolic of the killing of Mahishasura by Durga

      In Bengal, this period is celebrated as Durga Puja. . Groups and residents’ associations in towns and cities erect beautiful marquees, where they install the idol of the Mother Goddess. In Calcutta, as also other places, there are competitions held and the most beautiful and creatively done marquee gets a prize. For all the nine days, the marquee becomes the center of all activity where cultural events and competitions are organized every day.

      In Gujarat, this is the time for the joyous Garba and Dandia dances and people pour out at night to participate in this community festival. Women and girls in all their fineries dance around the garb a pot, clapping their hands in rhythmic movement. The pot is decorated with flowers, betel leaves, and has its mouth covered with a coconut.

      In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, the next three to Durga and the last three to Sarasvati. The nine-day celebration is compartmentalized in certain parts of the country, dedicating three days each to a trinity of goddesses: to Durga the goddess of valor, to Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and to Saraswati the goddess of knowledge.

      The one thing that remains constant in most parts of the country is that daytime is exclusively for prayers, fasting, and solemnity while the nights are spent in joy and revelry. Men, women, and children, who have fasted during the day, have a light repast of fruit or other non-cereals at night before going out to enjoy the festive season.

      In Punjab, people organize Jagrans to sing devotional songs all night in praise of the Mother Goddess. Solemnity and piety mark these nine days as even those Punjabis who do not keep a fast, stop eating non-vegetarian and impure food items like onion and garlic.
      Another part of the Navratri celebrations is the Ramlila. In places like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, almost every locality has its own group of actors re-enacting episodes from the life of Lord Rama. This is probably because, the day after Navratri, i.e. on the tenth day of Ashvin called the Vijaya Dashami, it is said that Lord Rama killed Ravana and other demons to rid the earth of evil.

      Rituals

      The tempo of life changes perceptibly in every family, in markets, in Mata’s temples, long before the festival commences. In homes, the corner or room reserved for puja becomes the scene of intense preparation. A coconut, saffron or sandalwood paste, a garba (perforated earthen pot), a kumbh (earthen pot), grains of wheat or barley, ghee (clarified butter) or mustard oil for a lamp that will burn incessantly all through the nine special nights, are placed in readiness for the ceremonial ritualistic initiation of the festival.

      Housewives draw designs and emblems with rice flour, turmeric powder-and vermilion. Each of the motifs symbolizes abundance and represents hope for the future.

      The eagerly awaited first day of the festival witnesses a flurry of ritualistic activity. On a small platform of fresh earth in front of the idol of the Mother Goddess, all the things collected for the puja are placed and the lamp is lit. As evening falls, people gather around the sacred flame that is constantly fed with ghee or oil, and soon, mellow voices singing bhajans can be heard from home after home.

      On Lalita Panchami (the fifth day), children gather all the books in the house before a sacred lamp and invoke the blessings of Saraswati. It is also the occasion for all artisans to lay down their tools before the goddess and seek her benediction upon their trade.
      On the eighth and ninth days of the festival, yagnas are performed as a final act of farewell that marks the termination of the ceremonies. Ghee or clarified butter, a sweet concoction of rice cooked in condensed milk (paayas or kheer) and sesame seeds are traditional items used in the yagna to the chanting of mantras conveying the theme–"This is my offering to God".

      On the tenth day or Vijaya Dasami, more popularly known as Dussehra, enormous effigies of Ravana stuffed with firecrackers are torched with flaming arrows to the delight of throngs of revelers.

      People read "The Devi Mahatmyam" (Glory of Divine Mother) having 700 Mantras on Shri Durga Mata.

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      Default Re: Worship of the Goddess

      Worship of the Lakshmi principle of God

      http://www.koausa.org/Gods/God6.html

      Goddess Lakshmi
      Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. The word ''Lakshmi'' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksme, meaning "goal." Lakshmi, therefore, represents the goal of life, which includes worldly as well as spiritual prosperity. In Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi, also called Shri, is the divine spouse of Lord Vishnu and provides Him with wealth for the maintenance and preservation of the creation.
      In Her images and pictures, Lakshmi is depicted in a female form with four arms and four hands. She wears red clothes with a golden lining and is standing on a lotus. She has golden coins and lotuses in her hands. Two elephants (some pictures show four) are shown next to the Goddess. This symbolism conveys the following spiritual theme:

      The four arms represent the four directions in space and thus symbolize omnipresence and omnipotence of the Goddess. The red color syinbolizes activity. The golden lining (embroidery) on Her red dress denotes prosperity. The idea conveyed here is that the Goddess is always busy distributing wealth and prosperity to the devotees. The lotus seat, which Lakshmi is standing upon, signifies that while living in this world, one should enjoy its wealth, but not become obsessed with it. Such a living is analogous to a lotus that grows in water but is not wetted by water.
      The four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma (righteousness), kama (genuine desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (liberation from birth and death). The front hands represent the activity in the physical world and the back hands indicate the spiritual activities that lead to spiritual perfection.
      Since the right side of the body symbolizes activity, a lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma. This leads to moksha (liberation), which is symbolized by a lotus in the back left hand of Lakshmi. The golden coins falling on the ground from the front left hand of Lakshmi illustrate that She provides wealth and prosperity to Her devotees. Her front right hand is shown bestowing blessings upon the devotees.
      The two elephants standing next to the Goddess symbolize the name and fame associated with worldly wealth. The idea conveyed here is that a true devotee should not earn wealth merely to acquire name and fame or only to satisfy his own material desires, but should share it with others in order to bring happiness to others in addition to himself.
      Some pictures show four elephants spraying water from golden vessels onto Goddess Lakshmi. The four elephants represent the four ends of human life as discussed above. The spraying of water denotes activity. The golden vessels denote wisdom and purity. The four elephants spraying water from the golden vessels on the Goddess illustrate the theme that continuous self-effort, in accordance with one's dharma and govemed by wisdom and purity, leads to both material and spiritual prosperity.
      Goddess Lakshmi is regularly worshipped in home shrines and temples by Her devotees. A special worship is offered to Her annually on the auspicious day of Diwali, with religious rituals and colorful ceremonies specifically devoted to Her.
      - Bansi Pandit





      Lakshmi Bhagwati

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      Default Re: Worship of the Goddess

      Divine Visions of Gods and Goddesses

      http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resourc ... duism.html

      God and Gods of Hinduism
      Devotion to God and the Gods of Hinduism is known as Bhakti. It is an entire realm of knowledge and practice unto itself, ranging from the childlike wonder of the unknown and the mysterious to the deep reverence which comes with understanding of esoteric interworkings of the three worlds. Hinduism views existence as composed of three worlds. The First World is the physical universe; the Second World is the subtle astral or mental plane of existence in which the devas, angels and spirits live; and the Third World is the spiritual universe of the Mahadevas, "great shining beings," our Hindu Gods. Hinduism is the harmonious working together of these three worlds.
      The most prevalent expression of worship for the Hindu comes as devotion to God and the Gods. In the Hindu pantheon there are said to be three hundred and thirty-three million Gods. Hindus believe in one Supreme Being. The plurality of Gods are perceived as divine creations of that one Being. So, Hinduism has one supreme God, but it has an extensive hierarchy of Gods. Many people look at the Gods as mere symbols, representations of forces or mind strata, or as various Personifications generated as a projection of man's mind onto an impersonal pure Beingness. Many Hindus have been told over and over that the Gods are not really beings, but merely symbols of spiritual matters, and unfortunately many have accepted this erroneous notion about the Gods. In reality, the Mahadevas are individual soul beings, and down through the ages ordinary men and women, great saints and sages, prophets and mystics in all cultures have inwardly seen, heard, and been profoundly influenced by these super-conscious inner plane beings. Lord Ganesha is such a being. He can think just as we can think. He can see and understand and make decisions - so vast in their implications and complexity that we could never comprehend them with our human faculties and understanding.

      "Great indeed are the Gods who have sprung out of Brahman

      -Atharva Veda

      A Hierarchy of Gods Guide Hinduism

      A unique and all-encompassing characteristic of Hinduism is that one devotee may be worshipping Ganesha while a friend worships Siva or Vishnu or Kali, yet both honor the other's choice and feel no sense of conflict. The Hindu religion brings us the gift of tolerance that allows for different stages of worship, different and personal expressions of devotion and even different Gods to guide our life on this earth.

      Hinduism is a family of four main denominations - Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smartism - under a divine hierarchy of Mahadevas. These intelligent beings have evolved through eons of time and are able to help mankind without themselves having to live in a physical body. These great Mahadevas, with their multitudes of angelic devas, live and work constantly and tirelessly for the people of our religion, protecting and guiding them, opening new doors and closing unused ones.

      In the Vedas, God is called Brahman, the Supreme Being who simultaneously exists as the absolute transcendent Parabrahman, as omniscient consciousness or shakti power and as the personal prime Deity. The word Brahman comes from the Sanskrit root Brh which means to grow, manifest, expand, referring to the Brahman Mind of pure consciousness that underlies, emanates and resonates as all existence. Brahman is simultaneously Purusha, the Primal Soul. He is perfection of being, the original soul who creates/emanates innumerable individual souls - including the Gods. Some Gods, such as Lord Ganesha, did not undergo evolution as we know it, but were emanated as mature Mahadevas whose minds simultaneously govern and interpenetrate specific orders of space and time. They are so close to Brahman that they fulfill their cosmic functions in perfect accord with God's wisdom, intent and action.

      "He who is beyond all exists as the relative universe. That part of Him appears as sentient and insentient beings. From a part of Him was born the body of the universe, and out of this body were born the Gods, the earth and men."

      Rig Veda

      As God and the Gods are individual soul beings, so too is humankind. The soul body is a body of light which evolves and matures into the likeness of Purusha Brahman just as the seed of a tree one day becomes a tree. Within this body of light and consciousness exist, without beginning or end, the two perfections of Parabrahman and Satchidananda. Satchidananda is the superconscious mind of the soul body - the mind of Brahman. Parabrahman is the inmost core of the soul. We are That. We do not become That.

      "He who sparkles in your eyes, who lights the heavens and hides in the souls of all creatures is God, your Self."

      - Siva Yogaswami of the Natha Sampradaya

      Our soul body is slowly evolving. Man has five bodies, each more subtle than the last. Visualize the soul of man as a light-bulb and his various bodies or sheaths as colored fabrics covering the pure white light. The physical body is the outermost body. Next comes the pranic body, then the physical body's subtle duplicate, the astral body. Then there is the mental or intellectual body in which one can travel instantaneously anywhere. Then comes the body of the soul. This is the body that evolves from birth to birth, that reincarnates into new outer sheaths and does not die when the physical body returns its elements to the earth. The soul body eventually evolves as the body of golden light, the golden body of the soul. This soul body in its final evolution is the most perfect form, the prototype of human form. Once physical births have ceased, this soul body still continues to evolve in subtle realms of existence. This effulgent body of the illumined soul, even after Nirvikalpa Samadhi, God-Realization, continues to evolve in the inner worlds until the final merger into Brahman.

      "When beholding by this yoga, he beholds the Gold-colored maker, the Lord, the Purusha, Brahman, the cause."

      - Maitrayana Upanishad

      Do God and the Gods have Gender?

      Esoterically, it must be admitted that none of the Gods has a wife. Their consorts are not to be considered as separate from them, but as aspects of their being, as their shakti or power. The Mahadevas who live in the Third World cannot be likened to men and women who live on the earth. They exist in perfectly evolved soul bodies, bodies which are not properly differentiated by sex. They are pure beings made of pure consciousness and light; they are neither male nor female. To better understand these Divine Gods, we sometimes conceive them as being the man if they are strong in expression or the woman if they are gentle and compassionate. There are no husbands and wives in the vast, super-conscious realms of the Third World. The husband/wife notion is a puranic myth. The term Goddess can refer to a female perception or depiction of a Third World being (Mahadeva) in its natural state, which is genderless, or to a Second World being residing in a female astral-mental body. For example, Lakshmi and Sarasvati are not wives of Vishnu and Brahma, but personified powers of a sexless Deity who extends abundance and learning through the motherly empathy of a female form. And many of the village deities who protect children and crops are actually souls living close to earth in the astral plane, still functioning through the astral female or male body that is a duplicate of their last physical body.

      "They meditate on Her to become immortal. The Lord of immortals blesses you. He who wears the Ganga and contains Her - strive to reach Him."

      - St. Tirumular of the Natha Sampradaya

      Communicating with God and the Gods

      It is in the Hindu temple that the three worlds meet and devotees invoke the Gods of our religion. The temple is built as a palace in which the Gods live. It is the home of the Gods, a sacred place unlike every other place on the earth. The Hindu must associate himself with these Gods in a very sensitive way when he approaches the temple. Though the devotee rarely has the psychic vision of the Deity, he is aware of the God's divine presence. As he approaches the sanctum sanctorum, the Hindu is fully aware that an intelligent being, greater and more evolved than himself, is there. This God is intently aware of him, safeguarding him, fully knowing his inmost thought, fully capable of coping with any situation the devotee may mentally lay at his Holy Feet. It is important that we approach the Deity in this way - conscious and confident that our needs are known in the inner spiritual worlds.

      The physical representation of the God, be it a stone or metal image, a yantra or other sacred form, simply marks the place that the God will manifest in or hover over in his etheric body. It can be conceived as an antenna to receive the divine rays of the God or as the material body in or through which the God manifests in this First World. When we perform puja, a religious ritual, we are attracting the attention of the devas and Mahadevas in the inner worlds. That is the purpose of a puja; it is a form of communication. To enhance this communication we establish an altar in the temple or in the home. This becomes charged or magnetized through our devotional thoughts and feelings which radiate out and affect the surrounding environment. You can feel the presence of these divine beings, and this radiation from them is known as shakti.

      Shakti is a vibration. It is first experienced in the simple physical glimpse of the form of the Deity in the sanctum. Later that physical sight gives way to a clairvoyant vision or to a refined cognition received through the sensitive ganglia within your nerve system: the chakras. Through these receptors a subtle message is received, often not consciously. Perhaps not immediately, but the message that the shakti carries from the Mahadeva manifests in your life. This is the way the Gods converse. It is a communication more real than the communication of language that you experience each day.

      How God and the Gods Help Us

      Visiting a Hindu temple, receiving the shakti from the majestic Gods of our religion, can altogether change the life of an individual. It alters the flow of the pranas or life currents within his body. It draws his awareness into the deeper chakras. But the change is slow. He lives with the experience for months and months after his visit to the temple. The devotee comes to know and love the Deity. The Deity extends sublime psychic assistance, but never tests or punishes a devotee. Shakti coming from the great temples of our Gods can change the patterns of karma dating back many past lives, clearing and clarifying conditions that were created hundreds of years ago and are but seeds now, waiting to manifest in the future. Through the grace of the Gods those seeds can be removed, if the manifestation in the future would not enhance the evolution of the soul.

      "As the worshipper sees the image of his Deity in stone, clay, wood, or painting, then the God grants light from the Self completely of His own accord. Thus as fire from wood, the moon casts its reflection in the water pot spontaneously."

      - Karana Agama

      If a temple or shrine is not available for worship, then it is possible to establish a communication with the Deity through visualization. Take for example, Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed governor of nature, dharma, science and knowledge. Worship of Lord Ganesha is immediate; to think of His form is to contact Him. Close your eyes for a second, visualize His murthi or form and a direct communication has begun. This is like punching in a code on a computer terminal which gives immediate access to a central supercomputer. All information and answers to every question are now available. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can use the computer terminal of our brain and code in the divine image of Lord Ganesha. We have complete access to His grand computer mind which has been programmed over eons of time and naturally encompasses the intricacies of the universe in all its ramifications and simplicities.

      Toward Ultimate Communion: Yoga

      Hindus look to God and the Gods for very practical assistance - from affairs of employment, family, heart to knowledge both secular and superconscious. A Hindu devoutly believes that the Gods from their dwelling in the Third World are capable of consciously working with the forces of evolution in the universe and they could then certainly manage a few simpler problems. He devoutly believes that the Gods are given to care for man on the planet and see him through his tenure on earth and that their decisions are vast in their implications. Their overview spans time itself, and yet their detailed focus upon the complicated fabric of human affairs is just as awesome.

      It is through the sanction of the Gods that the Hindu undertakes the practice of yoga - that orthodox and strictly Hindu science of meditation that leads to union of the many with the One. Yoga is the culmination of years of religious and devotional service and can only be successful with the support of the Gods who are the sentries guarding the gates of the various strata of consciousness. This sanction, once obtained, can and does allow the kundalini force within the core of the spine to safely rise and merge with the Supreme that all Hindus know is the Absolute - timeless, causeless, and spaceless. But first much work has to be done, much work and worship.

      Finally, it must be clearly understood that God and the Gods are not a psychological product of the Hindu religious mind. They are far older than the universe and are the fountainheads of its galactic energies, shining stars and sunlit planets. They are loving overseers and custodians of the cosmos, earth and mankind. The Hindu cosmological terrain envelopes all of humanity. It is not exclusive. Hinduism has historically accepted converts from other religions and adoptives (those with no previous faith) into its knowledge and practices. The Vedic rishis spoke of guiding strangers into the full embrace of the Sanatana Dharma, "the Eternal Path" and into the universal sanctuary of the Hindu pantheon. A vedic rite called vratyastoma purified those returning to Hinduism and Swami Vivekananda declared, "Why, born aliens have been converted in the past by crowds, and the process is still going on." Each citizen of earth so interested has the option of entering the Hindu religion.

      God and the Gods of Hinduism was created and published by Himalayan Academy, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa HI 96746

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