SWAHA International

Hindu based non-profit organisation based in Trinidad & Tobago

SWAHA’s Celebrations (Krishen Janam Ashtmi & Ganesh Utsov)

SWAHA Celebrations

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Ayka Baara Phira To Aawo

Ayka baara phir to aawo

Bana bana bicharnay vaalay

Leelaa dikhaawo Bhagavana

Leelaa rachaanay vaalay

 

Krodhaadi kaama hamako

Banakara asura sataatay

Inasay bachaawo Bhagavana

Jana kee bachaanay vaalay

 

Girivara uthaakay tumanay

Vrajako bachaayaa tumanay

Aba phira vahee samai hai

Natavara kahaanay vaalay.

 

Bana bana charaakay jinakay

Gopaala tuma kahaayay

Gavaayn tumhayn bulaatee

Gaavayn charaanay vaalay

 

Kansaadi ko badha kara

Bhoobhaara ko mitaayaa

Aba paapa baarha hai bhi

Bhoobhaara haranay vaalay

 

Bhakton kee tayra sunkara

Aawo kishora Bhagavana

Duniyaa mayn sukha say bhara do

Shree Krishna naama vaalay

Come one more time, Lord

Show us that divine play

Created by You

As you wandered through the forest.

 

The demons of anger, lust

And others torment us

Guard us against these, Lord

For you are the one who saves the world.

 

You lifted the mountain

Saving the villagers of Vraj.

That time is here once again Lord

Known to all as the great dancer.

 

You are called Gopaal

The one who grazed the cows in the forest

The cows are calling you

You who are the great cow-herd.

 

You destroyed Kans and the other demons

And removed the burden from the earth

Now the earth is once more engulfed in sin

Come and lift the burden once again.

 

Listen to the cries of your devotees

Come and champion their cause

Come, Lord, fill the world with happiness

O Lord Krishna

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The Cause of Manifestation on Earth

5c95464458522308b7ed757b488b1bd3“Whenever righteousness is on the decline and unrighteousness is on the ascendant, then I embody Myself for the protection of the virtuous, for the destruction of unrighteousness and for the re-establishment of righteousness.”

These words of Bhagavan Shri Krishna in Chapter Four, verses 7-8 of Bhagavad Gita ring true from age to age and are borne out clearly in the  ‘leelas’ or dramas  of the various incarnations during their sojourn on earth. Various scriptural texts record the activities of the Lord on earth in His many manifestations. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is one such compilation, documenting at great length, the many ‘leelas’ of the  Divine. In  His manifest form of Shri Krishna, the Lord champions the cause of His devotees, destroys evil and restores the state of righteousness to the world.

Through the example of Bhagavan Shri Krishna, man is provided with a treatise on life. Philosophically represented, Shri Krishna symbolises ecstasy borne out of perfection. Lessons on the paths of ‘karma’, ‘gyaan’ and ‘bhakti’ thread through the myriad episodes as the various characters replicate qualities in light of that need to be illuminated or extinguished. Outlined below are a few of the many characters of Krishna ‘leela’ as they interacted with the Divine manifest on earth. True to His name of ‘Nandalal’, He brought delight and joy by championing the cause of the virtuous, in restoring righteousness and eliminating the unwholesome.  From  the prison cell in Mathura to Gokula or Vraj , wherever Shri Krishna traversed and whatever the circumstances, His ultimate aim was to re-establish order in the world and to bring mankind closer to realising his own Nature, that of Divinity itself. The Shrimad Bhagavat Maha Puraan records the life and times of this manifestation and clearly demonstrates the fulfillment of his purpose on earth. Some of these incidents are as follows:

  1. The poor fruit seller happily handed her fruits to the child Krishna and received in return some handfuls of rice as payment. On returning home she realised that the rice was no longer there. In its place was a bagful of jewels, precious and rare. Her days thereafter were spent in Divine ecstasy and in closer communion with the Lord.
  2. In Mathura, the simple act by Koobja of readily offering her sandal paste to Bhagavan Krishna brought her freedom from the scourge of scoliosis that had rendered her handicapped in many ways. Not only was she physically transformed, but her days from then onwards were spent in chanting only ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna.’
  3. Brahma was delivered from the state of egoism and arrogance that overpowered him when, in His ignorance, saw the child Krishna as a simple ordinary cowherd’s son. He was stunned into reality when He realized that Krishna was Brahm.
  4. Similarly, Lord Indra realized his folly when He set out to drown the villagers of Vraj after they worshipped the Goverdhan Mountain instead of Him, the Lord of rain. Seeing the Lord lifting the mighty Goverdhan and championing the cause of His devotees, Indra recognised Shri Krishna as the manifest Brahm.
  5. Wickedness was allowed to thrive in the presence of demonic characters such as Kans, Pootana, Aghasura, Bakaasur and countless others of Shri Krishna’s time. However, with His timely intervention, Shri Krishna eliminated these negative forces and re-established dharma in the village.
  6. Shri Krishna danced on the head of Kalia, the huge cobra that lived in the Kalindi pond, indicating to humans that the individual ego, portrayed by Kalia Naag,  must be transformed into the Cosmic Ego, represented by  Shri Krishna Himself.

Indeed, countless are the ‘leelas’, the transcendent pastimes of Bhagavan Shri Krishna , in His manifestation as Vyuha Avataar, (transcendental  emanation ) as He sought to exercise different cosmic functions and control the activities of living beings. As one reflects upon them, one can derive ecstasy and supreme Bliss. In this way the journey towards liberation draws closer.

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The Manifestation of Bhagavan Krishna Within

The Supreme Brahman manifests on earth for the following reasons as outlined in Chapter 4, verses 7&8 of Bhagavad Gita:

1) For the protection of the virtuous

2) To destroy unrighteousness

3) For the restoration of righteousness

Manifestations or ‘avataar’ can be classified according to various conditions. Some manifestations of the Lord are:  Vyuha, Guna, Ansha, Leela, Kalaa, Avesh, Kalaa-Ansha,  Poorna.

Shri Krishna, the eighth major manifestation of the Lord is Vyuha Avataar, a transcendental  emanation where the Lord exercises different cosmic functions and controls activities of living beings. He is also considered to be ‘Poorna avataar’ – the one who is complete or possessing the sixteen digits. Also referred to as  ‘Leela avataar, the Lord came to perform the dramas on the world’s stage so man could elicit many lessons for life and learn to make his own life sublime.

According to Bhagavat Puraan, Shri Krishna  appeared on earth in the age of Dwaapar, in a prison-cell,  in the city of Mathura, as the eighth  child of  Devaki and Vasudev. He was then transported across the River Yamuna to the village of Gokula, to the home of Yashoda and Nand who became his foster parents.  Growing up in this rustic agrarian village among the cows and the cow-herds, the child Krishna  performed countless leelas or transcendental pastimes  which created a state of ecstasy in the hearts of the pure and devoted residents there.  At the same time, He used every opportunity to fulfil his mission to destroy unrighteousness, to protect His devotees and  champion their cause.  According to the Divine plan, He brought an end to the reign of evil that was perpetuated by the evil King Kans and his cohorts.

More than a mere allegory, this scriptural episode has deep metaphysical implications, bearing much relevance to our lives and empowering us to achieve our true purpose of self-realisation.   A brief outline of some of the symbolical representations of the manifestation and this incident is as follows:

Shri Krishna -symbolises the essence of the Vedas; cosmic harmony

 Devaki– the cosmic embryo, the manifestation of Om, a representation of the five-fold functions of Brahman

Vasudev– Vedic literature

 Nand– delight borne out of Supreme Bliss

Yashoda– ultimate state of bliss borne out of Supreme Delight

 Mathura: the abode of wisdom

Kans: the age of strife, wickedness and evil

 Gokula: seventh heaven where Shri Krishna sports, a veritable paradise

Yamuna: the stream of karma or disinterested action

Cows– thousands of verses that can be found in the Vedas

 

As the Hindu world celebrates the occasion of Shri Krishna Janam Ashtmi on August 24, 2016, it is instructive to note that the manifestation of the Lord is possible in an abode of wisdom. Even in such an environment, elements of strife and evil can yet run rampant, but not allowed to thrive for all times. The power of the divine transforms and sanctifies.  Transformation of one’s world from a state of worldliness with its attendant negativities of strife, wickedness and evil to a state of spirituality is conducive to the presence of Divinity. Such a state brings the ecstasy that is borne out of delight and bliss. May we all experience that delight and bliss within.

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Brotherly Love

Long ago, in a small village near Mumbai, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table, the father, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost 18 hours daily. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of  Rajin Singh’s sons had a dream. Both Rishi and Sanjeev wanted to pursue their talent for art but they knew fully well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to study.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, the winner of the toss would complete his studies, and in 4 years, he would support his brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines. They tossed a coin and Rishi won the toss and went off to Mumbai.

Sanjeev went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother’s work at the academy where he was almost an immediate sensation. Rishi’s etchings, his woodcuts and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable amounts of money.

When the young artist returned home, the family celebrated. Rishi raised a toast to his beloved bhaiyaa for the years of sacrifice that had enabled him to fulfill his ambition. He said, “Bhaiyaa , the successes I have attained are as much yours as they are mine. Sanjeev bhai, now it is your turn. Go to Mumbai to pursue your dream. I will support you.”

Sanjeev burst out in tears and repeated over and over, “Nahee … nahee nahee, bhaiyaa. I cannot go to Mumbai. It is too late for me. Look, look at my hands!  It is too late.”

The bones in each of his fingers had been smashed at least once.

One day, to pay homage to Sanjeev for all that he had sacrificed, Rishi painstakingly drew his bhaiya’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Haath” (hands) but the entire world renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands”.

By Varun Ramadhar, SWAHA Dharma Jyot Mandali

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TULSIDAS

Tulsidas is known as the one of the greatest poets in the literary world. He is the author of many books but one of the most revered is the Shri Ramcharitamanas.  However, before Tulsidas gained world-wide admiration and recognition he overcame many hardships. Tulsidas was born to Hulsi and Atmaram Dubey in the year 1532  in Uttar Pradesh.  At the beginning of his life, Tulsidas was deemed an unfortunate child as he was born under the ominous star Mool Nakshatra. He lost his parents early in life and was raised by Baba Narhari Das whom Tulsidas accepted as his preceptor. Amazingly, the first word Tulsidas uttered as a child was ‘Ram’. Consequently he was also known as ‘Ram Bola’ by the villagers.

Later in his life, he was married to Ratnavali, but this relationship ended some years later when he developed an inappeasable thirst for the Divine. He renounced all family ties and became an ascetic. His love for Shri Ram was unparalleled. The greater part of each day was spent in intense meditation on this form of God. His insatiable desire to see Shri Ram drove him to undertake a long pilgrimage across India.

Once an emperor heard of the sacrifices and greatness of Tulsidas and demanded that he perform a miracle but he said, “I have no superhuman power. I know only the name of Ram.” Angered by this statement, the emperor imprisoned Tulsidas. With unwavering faith, Tulsidas prayed to Shri Hanuman. Many monkeys entered the court of the emperor and this proved to him that Tulsidas was a saint.

A composer of several popular works, he is best known as the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana based on Shri Rama’s life in the vernacular Awadhi. This text was put to the test by some Hindu scholars who felt that Tulsi should not have done the Avadhi version of Ramayana.The Ramacharitramanas was placed at the bottom of other texts and left in the Vishwanath Mandir. The next morning everyone was surprised to see Tulsi’s text above the rest and the following words stamped over them “Satyam. Shivam Sundaram”.

This convinced the world that this text of Tulsidas had the stamp of approval of the Lord. Today, Tulsi’s Ramcharitramanas is one of the most read scriptures throughout the world.

Some of his other writings include: Krishna Gitavali, Gitavali, Sahitya Ratna, Dohavali, Vairagya Sandipani and Vinaya Patrika. Besides these works, four other compositions by him are quite popular. They are:  Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman Ashtak, Tulsi Tatsai and Hanuman Bahuk. The Hanuman Bahuka literally means The Arm of Hanuman and comprises 44 verses and is believed to have been composed by Tulsidas when he suffered acute pain in his arms at an advanced age. In the Bahuk, Tulsidas describes the pain in his arms and also prays to Hanuman for freedom from the suffering.

As we remember the great Kavi on Tulsi Jayanti on August 09, 2016,it may be quite beneficial  to focus on the lyrics of his compositions as we sing them.

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Beyond The Bond of Raksha Bandhan

raksha-bandhan-inner-bannerRelationships are the essence of festivities in Hinduism.  Almost all Hindu festivals act as a unifying factor in creating closeness in relationships and bringing families, relatives, friends and indeed, the entire community together. The seers of Hinduism created this social system of Rakhsha Bandhan,  not only as a festival of the siblings or for the tying of the ‘Raakhi’ and the gift-giving by the brother, but  also as a celebration of mankind and of humanity. It is a celebration that binds people together in a display of unifying love and harmony. It speaks volumes about this loving relationship that nurtures, protects and uplifts.

In Hinduism this festival is but one expression of the strength and power wielded by the family unit, the most basic institution of society. The celebration emphasises and renews  the close bonds that families share. On this auspicious day, which is usually observed on the full-moon day in the month of Shraavan ( July-August), the sister ties a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist which symbolises the sister’s love and wish for her brother’s well-being. It also signifies the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her throughout his life. The festival serves to strengthen the bond of love between the sisters and brothers, and other family members. It is a day of honour, dignity and respect for women.

But hidden beneath the traditional tying of the knot of protection is the deep significance of the occasion that goes beyond the boundary of just brother- sister relationship. The occasion is also one of a social binding, one that spreads the message of harmonious family and community ties. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbours, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where all members of the community commit to protect each other and the society is considered to be a congregational family. This celebration is one that fosters a sense of fellow feeling and concern. It also demonstrates the concept of unity and harmony among all members of the society. It is a festival that celebrates brotherhood and love.

Additionally, in an age of changing times, women’s roles are no longer confined to the home only, but today they hold the reins of power in the workplace, overseeing huge companies, and steering multi-faceted organizations, even at a national level. In such a setting, the question is often asked whether they need their brothers for protection. The answer lies in the deep regard and tight links that bind relationships in Hinduism. While the sister may no longer need the physical protection with which she grew up, she forever depends on her brother to be an emotional anchor.

Not only is the brotherly bond reinforced, but through this relationship, all forms of powerful fortresses come to the fore to strengthen the bonds of each other, making the entire world one family.

Should not the underlying principle of protection and peaceful co-existence consume man’s being at all times as he constantly strives to promote the feeling of unity and a commitment to all members of society to protect each other and encourage a harmonious social life?

Should the celebration not only strengthen the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcend the confines of the family where we all aim to protect each other, in the full understanding that we are all part and parcel of the same one God?

As Hindus celebrate the occasion of Raksha Bandhan on August 17, 2016, each of us, whether brother or sister, should aim to protect each other, thereby bringing us closer to our own Divinity.

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