From the festivals of the Kumbh Mela, Ganga Dussehra, Kartik Nahaan to the after-death ceremonies performed by Hindus, on these special occasions, the preceptors of Hinduism continue to place heavy emphasis on visiting the waterways or worshipping Ganga Maa by immersing themselves. Why? Do we really believe that one’s sins are washed away? If so, how much? Are we then free of our karma? The answer is no; for far too long such illogical, brain-washing explanations have formed part of the emerging tides of philosophy and spirituality.
If Kartik Nahaan were seen as such, then the numbers at the seaside would stop dwindling every year that passes, regardless of whether the occasion falls on a weekend or holiday. Again, this is a case of Hinduism being marketed! As a result, the product becomes seasonal and one of convenience. Why is it that Divali is given a public holiday and not the other, just as important, Hindu religious festivals such as Kartik Nahaan? Perhaps this is because it would be impractical and unproductive to do so but the point remains, whether we accept it or not, that being a Hindu is every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year! It comes naturally. It’s a belief system that permeates every cell and atom in the universe and, sooner or later, you become attuned to it.
This leads to the concept of immersion. We all have two births, our biological and spiritual. The second, spiritual birth, which other religions have also incorporated into their belief systems, is the immersion or use of water to channel one’s life to a higher purpose. This divine act allows the soul to rejoice in the awakening that one has now accepted, to rigorously and ritualistically satiate the soul’s desire to attain ‘moksha’.
Many different types of people, along many different paths, undertake this spiritual journey. Some are as swift as a horse and some as slow as a snail. Some may take the path through densely populated forests while some journey through unobstructed terrains. We must, however, appreciate the need to begin moving in this direction. By ritualistically immersing ourselves in the oceans, we renew the vow to remain committed to this spiritual journey.
If one were to ask any pilgrim what is the best part of visiting India, they might attest to the experience of bathing in the cool Ganges water. Where else can one literally bathe in the divine’s presence? Which other spiritual experiences can surpass this? It is a step forward in the soul’s unending quest to merge into the ocean of non-duality and attain oneness with the divine. This is why the largest confluence of people on the planet converges on the banks of the Ganga to gain such an experience in their lifetime. Awake and arise! Let not another opportunity pass us by! The festivals that allow people to visit the ocean are among the most important for awakening in this age of Kalyug. Have you had your bath of spirituality?
Kartik Nahaan will be celebrated on November 6 this year.
By Pt. Balram Persad, Upa-Paramacharya, Swaha
SWAHA Incorporated invites each and everyone to Kaartik Nahaan celebrations 2014
Date: Thursday 06 November, 2014
Venue: Cocal Estate, Manzanilla (approximately 10 minutes from the TIDCO Resort). SWAHA banner will indicate spot.
Time: 9AM – 12Noon
Come join in this spiritually charged morning of devotions which would include inspiring discourses, kirtan and bhajan led by the Spiritual Leader of SWAHA, His Holiness Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad and assisted by other dynamic Pundits of SWAHA.
Devotees can make offerings to Vishnu Bhagavan and Ganga Mata.
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.