Come, dive into the ocean of the glories of Shri Ganesh with puja, kirtan, bhajan and inspiring discourses by pundits of SWAHA.
Feature address will be delivered by His Holiness Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad, Spiritual Head of SWAHA.
Receive the blessings of Shri Ganesh, the Lord of beginnings and Remover of obstacles.
In a recent publication on comparative religious study, Dr. Rajiv Malhotra in his book- Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, has brought forward a most comprehensive and objective approach to the ever changing interaction between religion and humankind. In the coming months, a number of think points will be brought to the fore for us; for the modern man to ponder and brainstorm, as we seek intellectual development informed only through proper understanding of philosophy, history, science and religion.
Sanaatan Dharma has always been one that emphasises the divine experience that comes from within. It is not limited to any one historic event or events. It is not realised by or associated with any prophet, adept, philosophy, race, geographical location or institution. In History-centric religions, not Sanaatan Dharma, the human is always subordinate to GOD. Dr. Malhotra says,
“…while unusual individuals or prophets can attain direct contact with the divine, it is always initiated by the divine form from without and not through a person’s own spiritual practice or discipline…Since the prophets are the only channel for knowing God’s will, human beings would live in the darkness if they do not study the history of the prophets.”
By contrast, he continues…
“…the Gita argues that only knowledge free from dualism can enable one to see the undivided spiritual nature in all living entities. Knowledge which apprehends all beings as a multiplicity, without underlying unity, is of a lower order. For example, knowledge of Buddha’s life story, or those of the enlightened sages are not necessary for Buddhist principles to work.”
We are continually impressed upon to understand Sanaatan Dharma at a deeper intellectual level through various studies. It creates a sound, stable and unflinching devotee who can instead realise his/her spirituality with greater grit and determination through knowledge in this modern day and age.
Pt. Vasistha Persad
Sukha karataa dukha harataa mayraa
Ganapati baabaa moriyaa
Aao Prabhu mayray aao
Mangala murati aao
Jaya jaya kaara huee jaga andara
Ghara ghara mayn hai tayraa mandira
Prayma kee jyoti jagaanay vaalay
Mayray mana kee jyoti jalaao
Aao Prabhu mayray aao …
Saaray jaga kay tuma ho svaamee
Ganapati baabaa antaryaamee
Saba kee bigaree banaanay-vaalay
Mayray bigari bahaano
Aao Prabhu mayray aao …
Bala buddhi saba tayree dayaa say
Riddhi siddhi nava niddhi tayray dayaa say
Saba ko paara lagaanay vaalay
Mayray naiyaa paara lagaao …
Come, my Lord Ganapati.
Shower blessings upon me.
Victory to You, who is the In-dweller, who resides in every home, in the temple within. You kindle the light of love within all.
Come Lord and kindle the light in my mind.
You are the master of the entire world.
You dwell within everyone’s heart.
You are the Remover of everyone’s woes. Come Lord and destroy my imperfections.
By Your grace I attain strength and intelligence.
You are the fountain of success and good fortune.
You are the One who takes man across the ocean of mundane existence that is this world.
Please take my boat across.
The festival of Ganesh Utsov is an eleven-day period of rich religious and spiritual significance set aside for the special worship of Lord Ganesh. Observed in the month of Bhadrapad (August-September), this ‘utsov’ or festival is marked with celebrations the world over. This year, the festival begins on September 04, 2016 and will culminate on September 17, 2016, the full-moon day.
Lord Ganesh is known by various names such ‘Siddhivinayak’ (The bringer of success), ‘Vighna vinaashak’(The remover of obstacles) and ‘Vakratunda’(The elephant-headed one). During this auspicious period, devotees perform worship to this form of Divinity, make various offerings to Him and praise Him through the medium of mantras, kirtan, bhajan and various scriptural verses. Supplications are made to Him as the remover of obstacles, the bestower of wisdom, knowledge and ‘vivek’, the power of discrimination. His intervention is also sought for success at the commencement of undertakings.
The final day of the festival ends with Visarjan or final immersion which signifies the effort to realise God within, to merge the individual soul with the Super Soul, God Himself.
Ganesh Bhagavan- The Discriminative Power
The deep philosophical truths entrenched in Hinduism are a rich source of guidance to man’s perennial search for enlightenment for they serve as firm foundation blocks, purposeful maps and necessary reference points on the route to fulfillment, order and justice for all. The symbolism surrounding Lord Ganesh, the Remover of obstacles and Bestower of wisdom and Success, is a clear expression of some of these truths, found to be greatly applicable and much needed in the world today.
One of the names of Ganesh Bhagavan is ‘Gajaanan’-the elephant- headed Lord. This form of the Lord is portrayed as having a human body with an elephant- head. The elephant trunk itself symbolises ‘vivek’ or the discriminative power. It is that power or ability to distinguish the real from the unreal, right from wrong and the transitory from permanent aspects of one’s existence. With the tool of vivek we are equipped to successfully confront challenges, to face problems fearlessly and to overcome obstacles, whether they are caused by ‘daihik’ (physical), ‘daivik’ (supernatural) or ‘bhautik’(environmental) factors.
One of the major obstacles that overwhelm us is that of the duality or distinction that we envision in almost everything as we tread along this earthly sojourn. The merging of the elephant head and human body of Lord Ganesh indicates the state of non-duality or non-distinction which we should all strive to attain. It suggests the melding of the individual with everything and everyone so that there is unity among all. We become one with the world, thereby according equal consideration and non-differential treatment to our fellow-man. This awareness evolves into a continuing expansion of consciousness that ultimately leads to the one Absolute and Infinite Brahman. We become one with the world so that we give equal consideration and non-differential treatment to our fellow-man. The Mahavaakyas express this non –distinction in the maxim: ‘Aham Brahm Asmi- God and I are one’.
The question, then, is what causes this division and exclusivist attitude that sometimes direct our behaviour? Too often , ‘avidyaa’ or ignorance is allowed to navigate our lives as we construct our world with the blocks of partiality, mistrust and various prejudices. We miss the true significance of this concept of unity in duality, of acceptance and tolerance of each other. Various likes, dislikes, fears, attachments and egoism, borne out of ignorance consume our world. We fail to apply the discriminative power dispassionately as we stumble on obstacles at every step on the journey of life. We become judgemental and subjective as rifts, both psychological and emotional, are created. We cut ourselves off from true awareness. We perceive ourselves as separate entities from our fellow-man and deny ourselves opportunities for embracing harmony, love, bonding and unity. Of course, such circumstances offer very little hope for spiritual progress.
The period of Shri Ganesh Utsov reminds us of the power we wield over our own lives when we weigh our challenges on the scales of ‘vivek’, when we display resilience and fortitude in the face of obstacles and when we acknowledge the fact that each of us is part and parcel of the same Divinity. Indeed, it is often said that obstacles are seen when we take our eyes off our goal. At this wonderful time of rejoicing, for this is what ‘utsov’ signifies, what is required is a change of VISION, not just the scenery. We need to clear the veil of maya or illusion that blinds us from acknowledging that relationship we share with each other. Scriptures declare: ‘Eshwar ans jeev avinashi –we are all part and parcel of that one God’. Each of us is divinity personified . As we celebrate this occasion, we ought to recognise this and resolve to refuse to submit to the lower tendencies of anger, lust, greed, jealousy, and arrogance as we interact with others. We should choose, instead, to demonstrate peace, sincerity and respect as we strive for success. We must arm ourselves with the sword of vivek and aim to destroy the asuras (demons) of negativities that distract us as we travel the God-ward path.
As we worship and receive the blessings of Lord Ganesh during this most auspicious period of rejoicing, our lives will certainly be blessed with vivek and wisdom so that we reach beyond ourselves and harmonise our lives with that of the cosmos.
“No religion, perhaps, lays as much emphasis on environmental ethics as does Hinduism. It believes in ecological responsibility and says like Native Americans that the Earth is our Mother. It champions protection of animals, which it considers also have souls, and promotes vegetarianism. It has a strong tradition of non-violence or ahimsa. It believes that God is present in all nature, in all creatures, and in every human being regardless of their faith or lack of it.” Dr. David Frawley.
With the negative impacts of Climate Change increasing each year and being felt even by us here in Trinidad and Tobago, let’s take a minute to understand the main causes. Two (2) largest contributors are the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by human activity – burning of hydrocarbons to provide electricity for homes, buildings, communities and cities and to power vehicles and other means of transportation all over the world, compounded by the uncontrolled deforestation of our natural forests. Trinidad and Tobago has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emission Country Profile Report for 2013, as a “carbon intensive economy”. T&T’s carbon dioxide per capita emissions are among the highest in the world, ranking 2nd in 2010 behind Qatar. (worldbank.org).A state of the climate report issued by NOAA Wednesday said that July 2016 was Earth’s warmest month in records dating to 1880 and this is predicted to re-occur next year.
This doesn’t reflect well on us as a people and society and with the ever increasing demand on our natural resources to provide energy, we can understand that, if we don’t become pro-active managers of our ENERGY CONSUMPTION,WASTE and WATER, we will only be adding to the doom of the future.
So what can we do as Hindus, as a community to ensure a cleaner, healthier and sustainable planet for our children, grandchildren and generations to come? Firstly we need to look at ENERGY and means of REDUCING ENERGY CONSUMPTION within our homes and where possible, in our community temples. Here are just a few tips (other than the norm) that we can adopt without needing to redesign home or building:
- Start with changing the five (5) most frequently used light fixtures with energy efficient bulbs (ENERGY STAR rating). These bulbs use 70-90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and produce significantly less heat which keeps rooms a lot cooler. Battery operated, wireless, motion sensored lights are becoming increasingly popular and affordable option;
- Use ENERGY STAR appliances – especially refrigerators, freezers, televisions and AC units which require a lot of energy. This results in substantially lower electrical bills as well;
- Surround the building with more plants and shady trees – they provide clean air and cooler surroundings;
- Use window screensand awnings where possible to reduce direct light/heat into rooms;
- Install sky lights and/or sun tunnels in most frequently used rooms in your home to allow natural lighting through roof hence reducing and even eliminating the need for lights during the day – this is quite effective;
- Optimize natural ventilation – Keep one or two windows which take in air preferably from shady surrounding areas open;
- Cool smartly!
- Install solar panels – solar energy is a clean and renewable source of energy (more on this topic later).
“As we strive to become more environmentally conscious and sustainable Hindus, together let’s spread the awareness and become Pioneers for a healthier more sustainable environment, carrying on our sacred duty of preserving nature.”
New technologies are quickly emerging so do ensure you keep posted on which ones you may be able to utilize in your homes/temples. If you wish to learn more about how buildings can transform and help save the Planet, and an action plan for Trinidad and Tobago, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWAHA – Vice President
BSc. Eng, PMP,Living Building Ambassador(International Living Future Institute)