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Reconnecting With Our Inner Light

October 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Divali will be celebrated on Thursday 23rd October 2014 with the reverence and festivities that we have grown accustomed to over the decades. As a religious occasion, this day now forms part of the national, cultural psyche of our country as persons from many different creeds participate in the deferential lighting of deeyas and related activities. Divali is celebrated at the personal level, the family level, the community level and the national level as well as within the various ministries, offices and institutions of the country. Indeed, the festival is recognised and celebrated globally.

What is the appeal of Divali and what is the message that renders this occasion so relevant to all regardless of their beliefs? Divali carries the message of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Such a universal message and theme is undeniably relevant to all persons and societies as the innate good nature of humans continues to fight its way to the surface. The world must come to realise that good in the form of proper ethics, principles, self governance and positive behaviour is critical to the wellbeing of economies and societies. This issue came to the forefront globally several years ago when the world economy was brought to its knees because of a lack of ethics, principles and self governance.

Darkness, ignorance and evil are the root causes of the mayhem we are seeing in our society today and are at the foundation of the negativity we see manifested in the behaviour of humans. There is need to address these atrocities by bringing about transformation through illumination.

Divali is one such occasion where this positive message can be shared with all humanity. The blessings of Lakshmi Mata build our inner sources of power and we are able to project this inner light onto the external reality and change it. We all have different sources of inner power but that of principle-consciousness stands as one of the most fundamental sources. If we are devoid of a sense of right and wrong, good and bad and so forth, then we are doomed to inflict pain upon others through our actions. When we are principle-conscious, all our actions are aligned with that which is good and positive and this is reflected in our actions and behaviours.

This auspicious occasion should serve as an opportunity to reaffirm a positive life filled with goodness. In the world we live in, it is very easy to become cynical and lose hope in humankind and even in our own selves. However we should take courage from the saints of old and the ancestors who ploughed through, regardless of the challenges. The enemies may change form on the surface but the commitment required remains the same. As the old adage goes, the darkest hour is the one just before dawn.

SWAHA calls upon the national community to embody this message of Divali and connect to our inner goodness and light. Let us all develop our principle-consciousness and let our inner light and goodness reflect on the outer reality. Let us bring about transformation and give hope to all who may have lost their way. Jai SWAHA Mata.

By Pt. Jaidath Maharaj

SWAHA SEA Successes in 2014

October 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm

The preparation period for Secondary Entrance Assessment examination is an intense one that pushes our children beyond all boundaries, awakening in them the great heights of their potential and testing their persevering mettle and resilience. Many of them rise to the challenge and shine brilliantly in the sky of success. Meet some of our SWAHA SEA successes as they recall their Standard Five experiences:

SWAHA Sanatan Brahma – Raveena Priyanka Mohan – St. Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando

SWAHA Sanatan Brahma – Joel Armoogam – Presentation College, San Fernando

SWAHA Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali – Ravindra Ramharrack – Vishnu Boys’ College

SWAHA Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali – Sarojini Beharry – St Augustine Girls’ High School

SWAHA Gyaan Bhakti Mandali – Anjali Singh – Couva East Secondary

 

  1. What was your recipe for success?

Joel: Hard work, determination and everlasting will to succeed along with the support of my parents, who made every effort to ensure my success.

Raveena: Hard work and prayers.

Ravindra: Simple. Study hard and pray sincerely.

Sarojini: Diligent prayer, constant revision, yoga and exercise, sufficient rest and sparing time for recreation. I would also catch up on a movie from time to time.

 

Anjali: Not giving up. I kept trying, praying and doing past papers again and again.

  1. Who or what was your source of inspiration?

Joel: My parents and my teacher helped inspire me to keep working hard and to reach for the stars.

Raveena: My family, teachers, classmates, all inspired me to work hard.

Ravindra: The advice of my parents inspired me to keep working.

Sarojini: My mom motivated me by rewarding my efforts. This took the form of a planned trip abroad right after S.E.A.  She always said to me, “No  pain, no gain” and “Much effort means much reward.”

 

Anjali: Because of my parents’ support and guidance as well as my teachers’ commitment I was successful. I also think because of my family’s love I was able to get through this part of my life.

  1. What advice can you offer to students who are preparing for their SEA exams in the years ahead?

Joel: Do lots of practice papers, revision and don’t give up. Always have faith in yourself. Always make God part of your life.

Raveena: Work hard and have faith in God.

Ravindra: Study hard, pray and manage your time wisely.

Sarojini: Always put in the extra effort, work hard and to strive for excellence.

Anjali: Work hard and reach for the stars.

Congratulations to all of you and best wishes for a brilliant secondary school experience!

 

 Raveena Priyanka Mohan - St. Joseph’s Convent

Raveena Priyanka Mohan – St. Joseph’s Convent

 

Anjali Singh - Couva East Secondary

Anjali Singh – Couva East Secondary

Sarojini Beharry - St Augustine Girls’ High School

Sarojini Beharry – St Augustine Girls’ High School

Ravindra Ramharrack - Vishnu Boys’ College

Ravindra Ramharrack – Vishnu Boys’ College

Joel Armoogam - Presentation College

Joel Armoogam – Presentation College

Swaha Awards Scholarships for Excellence

October 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Swaha Inc. is not only an organisation that promotes religion and culture but also builds a proper foundation of education and ‘seva’ (service). In this light, the Swaha Board of Education saw it fit to award scholarships to two deserving students of the Swaha Hindu College. The College’s administration and staff collaborated towards selecting two Form Six students who were outstanding not only in the sphere of academics but also in the fields of culture, school life and all-round discipline.

The first scholarship, named after the Shankaracharya of Swaha His Holiness Pt. Hari Persad, was awarded to Monique Lake. Monique performed very well at CSEC level and she was also awarded first place in the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago’s monologue competition entitled “Do the right thing always”.

Aneisha Persad received the Chandrawti Persad Scholarship for her excellence in academics and school life. Both students have high aspirations and have shown discipline, duty and dignity during their stay at the college. We wish these two young ladies all the best and Bhagwan’s blessings as they start their new journey in life.

Shashti Devi Meets Priyavath

October 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Priyavath wanted to spend his life in serving the Lord and was not interested in getting married. He continued to do penance but Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked, “Why are you not following your dharma? You should get married so that you will have a son to sit on the throne after you die.”

Lord Brahma advised Priyavath to get married. He followed this advice, returned home and got married to Malathi. They began a happy marital life. Though years passed away, they did not have any children.

After some years and intense sacrifice, Malathi became pregnant. After nine months the baby was not born. One year passed and yet still the baby was not born. It was after 12 years that the baby was ready to be delivered. However, the baby was born dead. Both Priyavath and Malathi were saddened and could not bear their grief.

Then he carried the dead child’s body to the cemetery where he began to cry out his grief to the Lord. The Goddess Shashti Devi appeared before him. Priyavath was stunned. He did not recognize her and asked, “Who are you? Why are you here in this place of the dead?”

Shashti Devi said, “O King, I am the consort of Lord Skand. I have come here to tell you this: Happiness, peace, prosperity, having kids or not having kids, lifespan of the kids, immortality of kids, everything is based on one’s karma (deeds). Why are you crying? I will give life back to your child.”

As she did so, the child’s eyes were opened and he smiled. He was named Suvatra. Before leaving Shashti Devi informed Priyavath that the child would be an excellent son. He would be a good ruler with all kinds of skills and respect for the holy books. She then disappeared.

Not too long after, a custom was introduced that whenever there is a newborn child everyone should worship Shashti Devi on the 6th day. From then onwards it became a custom.

Jaago Maa! Free me from Maya!

October 1, 2014 at 7:24 am

With the increase in focus on materialism everywhere, the power of worldliness subsumes man to such an extent that his entire life is bound by his senses, which guide his perceptions, inferences, qualities and choices. Everything is valued solely on the scale of material worth and so the accumulation of wealth grows and grows. Yet there is one particular inner hunger that is never satiated by anything from this collection. It cannot be bought. This natural yearning for true peace, for independence and liberation within, can only end when we realize our own Divinity. This realization is, indeed, the destination of our human birth.

Whether conscious or unconscious of this fact, we are all on the journey towards this realization, but many of us are blinded by the power of delusion or ‘maya shakti’. This power identifies with worldliness, materialism and objectivity. ‘Avidyaa’ (ignorance), attachments, fears and insensibility all germinate and thrive most healthily from it as the individual ego takes prominence. However, sooner or later, such a temporal state loses its attraction and we yearn for our natural destination.

Many are the tools provided in Hinduism that can be utilized to lift ourselves from such an illusory condition and shift the focus away from materialism, guiding us towards spirituality. One of these methods is the worship of Devi, which brings about a greater awareness of the power of will, knowledge and action that steers us towards a state of ‘chid shakti’ or a heightened state of consciousness. In this state, we become imbued with ‘anand shakti’, a peaceful and blissful energy that directs the will or ‘ichhaa shakti’ towards positive, virtuous, pure and ‘sattvic’ (pious) interests of life. Knowledge or ‘gyaan’ is imbibed, which translates into appropriate activities or ‘kriyaa’.

‘Chid shakti’, the power of pure consciousness, identifies with Divinity. Intelligence, intuition and awareness of the Absolute are facets of this form of energy. In one’s own life this power is manifest in one’s every thought, speech and activity. Negative tendencies are brought under control and positive qualities such as compassion, truthfulness, forgiveness and non-aggression replace them. One focuses on subjectivity. The individual ego is transformed to the ego of consciousness, the Cosmic Ego and the spiritual aspirant is drawn closer to the destination of self-realisation.

Our purpose on earth is to redirect the urge towards the path of spirituality, to move from the unreal and to allow the individual ego to identify with the cosmic ego. The worship of the Divine Mother brings us ever close to fulfilling this purpose.

As we observe the most auspicious period of Nav Raatri (September 24 – October 2, 2014), we should all resolve to awaken the Divinity within, to relieve us from the noose of materialism that has entangled many aspects of our lives.

As we call out in ardent supplication ‘Jaago Jaago Ma’, the compassionate Devi Ma will steer us towards realizing the higher self, the state of positive qualities, purity and awareness. No doubt she will transform the ‘maya shakti’ into ‘chid shakti’, the state of pure consciousness.  We will move closer toward  our destination of self realisation.

Remembering to Honour Our Ancestors

September 8, 2014 at 6:50 am

Sanaatan Dharma has always stressed the importance of remembering and honouring our ancestors (purvaj) in a meaningful way. To this end, the period of Pitra Paksha, the dark fortnight in the month of Aashwin (September/October), is set aside for the remembrance of our departed ancestors (pitris). During this period, Hindus are advised to refrain from beginning any important projects, or from engaging in yagyas and major ceremonies such as the vivaah sanskaar (marriage) and the upanayan sanskaar (janeu).

Due to these necessary restrictions, however, there is often confusion and sometimes fear about pitra paksha. I wish to emphasize that it is not that this is an entirely inauspicious period, but rather, that it is very auspicious for offering worship in the name of our ancestors. It is important to note also, that all nitya karma, our essential daily worship including the offering of jal to Surya Dev and the lighting of the deeya at sandhya should continue as normal.

Our scriptures remind us that we all have five debts to repay, one of which is the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to our ancestors. One could never accurately measure the extent to which our modest but mighty forebears have influenced Hindu values and morals. They have engendered in us a sincere love and appreciation for our religion. The numerous religious and spiritual practices that they cherished and nurtured have provided an impetus for us to persist along the path towards spiritual perfection. And, significantly also, one cannot ignore the fact that the material wealth that many enjoy today is due largely to the effort and industry of our ancestors. Thus, there is the obvious need to show our gratitude for all that we have been blessed with by making special offerings in their name.

Furthermore, one of the five daily obligations (panch maha yagyas) of all Hindus is the performance of pitri yagya. This does not necessarily mean making physical offerings but may simply refer to the upholding of tradition or the continuance of spiritual practices bequeathed to us by our ancestors. This is said to be absolutely essential; yet today there seems to be a breakdown in the moral/ethical value system left by these extraordinary individuals. It is also meant to serve as a reminder, which is heightened during pitra paksha that we all exist at both the gross and subtle levels. The performance of these simple practices – such as facing south and offering tilanjali (water and black till) or engaging in pitri havan – all help to ease this passage from the physical to the subtle planes of existence. The giving of daan or charity in the name of the ancestors is said to also be very propitious at this time.

One must also understand that every offering that is made in the name of our departed ancestors is actually received by the Divine Lord – Aryamaa Pitra. What our ancestors receive are the blessings that would have accrued from such offerings. Shree Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita (Ch. 9.16) that “I am the offering to the departed….I am verily the act of performing oblations into the fire.” What greater acknowledgement of the efficacy of worship during pitra paksha is there than the Shree Krishna saying that He “is the offering to the departed”.

Pitra paksha offers us the unique opportunity to receive blessings while, at the same time, praying for the continued evolution and elevation of the souls of our departed loved ones. We pray that the souls of our ancestors may find peace and lasting fulfillment. I exhort all to observe Pitra Paksha from September 9 – 23, 2014.

By Pt. Ishwar Madho Maharaj

Who Are The Real Victims?

September 6, 2014 at 7:08 am

While the public servants have a shoulder to lean on, the question begs, ‘on whose shoulder does the common man cry?’ In recent days the nation has once again witnessed another upheaval thrust upon our citizens by the directives of others, resulting in stress, inconvenience, desperation and loss to many.

Without a doubt, health and safety standards are priorities at a work place, but what are the standards required of workers in their capacity as public servants?  Their primary paid responsibility is to citizens and to nation: to serve, serve and serve.  The common saying that ‘Work is worship, Duty is God,’  needs to be studied carefully by public servants who have been directed to sign, leave and collect a salary, drawn from the very citizens’ taxes. This leads us to wonder what has suddenly opened the eyes of workers to these same conditions that they have been tolerating for decades. What is the agenda?

 

The daily ordeal that citizens are made to endure is a most painful one and their tears surely will not be in vain. Poor folk undergo severe sacrifices: leaving home in the wee hours of the morning, in some instances, travelling long distances, standing for hours in the waiting line and then to be denied service. This is most disparaging.  Does the union or the public servants spare a thought for those whom they are paid to serve? Who is there to fight the cause of the ordinary man? Which union ensures that the poor man does not lose his flight because of closure of some office?  Will the union look after the health and safety concerns of the patient who has missed his medical appointment abroad on account of union action? Who is there to protect the rights of the common man? I ask, who should be held liable for the inconvenience, distress and financial losses experienced over the past weeks by many unfortunate citizens who dared to request a service that is duly theirs? Where is the conscience, the spirituality and the desire to earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work?

 

However, it should be borne in mind that shutting down offices for such a long time, without an iota of consideration for those on the other side of the counter, is plain blackmail, unjustified, dishonest and unspiritual.  While industrial action can be considered a tool of workers’ uplift, there is a limit to everything.  Of course, this can only be derived from one’s genuine commitment to the cause that is being fought. Cause of country, workers and service must come before self.

Most certainly, the kind of coverage that the Immigration shutdown has attracted recently reeks of a scent that not does augur well for our people.  Apart from the negative impact this problem is creating locally and internationally, the repercussions would be felt long after settlement has reached. Should egoism, greed, arrogance and self-centredness be allowed to continue to feed on this situation? It is a sure recipe for instability, further unrest and dissent in other quarters. A breeding ground for new criminals, I dare say!

Can we not make some sincere attempts to enter into mature, intelligent mediation and bring resolution to this issue?  Can we not allow sanity and humanity to guide our leadership style? Of course, people, country, service and spirituality must be at the root of any bargaining process that hopes to end in satisfaction for all. As long as these conditions prevail, there is hope. If not, the backlash of the pressure that is being placed on the nation will leave little time for attrition or change.  Should we not take the route of building instead of burning the bridges that uphold our national watchwords of discipline, tolerance and production?  If not, we will become victims of our own misdeeds.

Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad

Spiritual Head

SWAHA