About Sharanya Dinesh

Hello all, I am a Behavioral Counsellor and Psychotherapist as far as my academics and professional acumen goes. But inherently I am simply a seeker. A seeker trying to better myself everyday. Living my life to the fullest before death catches me by surprise. I attribute my whole life and its learning's to my spiritual guru. Almost all the articles are personal experience or inspiration derived from great seers words Meditation has dynamically changed my life. And I feel duty bound to mention the websites so that all my readers feel the urge or get inspired to go through them and change their lives too. Even one person who attempts this is a very small token of Gratitude from my side for showing me the way of Life. Not just living but being Alive, even after you die... Love always. http://www.sahajmarg.org/ http://www.heartfulness.org/ I am also an online therapist, you can meet me on : www.proventherapy.com

Posts by Sharanya Dinesh:

FASTING

FASTING

Amongst all the rituals I have practiced, my longest association as a practitioner and an observer has been with fasting! For as long as I can remember my mother fasted on Friday; ‘Santoshi Ma vrat’. This weekly ritual continues; because of her health and growing years, she has given herself some latitude. Presently, she does not eat anything sour; tomatoes, lime and the like are banned on Fridays, and she has her dinner before sunset. Luckily, for devout Hindus, dieting is a piece of cake.  We have a God assigned for every single day of the week and to appease them we fast on their day. Call it hilarious or illogical or just the whim of a staunch devout (an impressionable child who believed in the power of prayer);  I started fasting when I barely 16years old. Since I did not have a specific favourite God, I fasted on Saturday (the day I am born). This day is said to be ruled by Saturn. So, to appease the devil Himself to keep me out of harm’s way; I opted for this day. I very judiciously continued this ritual till I got married. Apart for the fervent hope that I was guarded from the evil influences of Saturn, fasting helped me stay slim. I was diligent, judicious and had absolute faith in what I was doing. Every Saturday, I woke up earlier than usual, went to the temple to offer my prayers before beginning my day. When in college hostel, my friends very concernedly had something nice and warm waiting for me when it was time to break my fast. Call it fate or that my years of fasting had rendered Saturn effectively powerless; I entered a family where food plays the most pivotal role. Thus, ceased my days of fasting.

Many years later, my colleagues were fasting for ‘Karwa chauth‘; and my reconnect happened. On an impulse, even I fasted that karwa chauth. This is a fast women keep for the longevity of their spouse. I was transported to my childhood days; my mother fasting, sitting in front of our temple singing bhajans, cooking prasad and humming a bhajan to herself, she used to be smiling and engrossed. Despite the empty stomach and extra work her countenance glowed; devoid of stress and zero sign of weakness. She read the ‘katha’, explained the significance to us; she had knowledge of the why of every small ritual. It was a very learning experience for us; and I probably wanted to relive all that, after so many years. But, throughout the day our discussion revolved around how hungry we were, what gift we would receive from our spouse, would our spouse return home early from work, was the spouse also keeping a fast for his wife, whether the moon would rise early (to be able to offer prayers and break the fast) or it would be a long arduous wait. So many discussions, yet none revealed the reason why this fast was so important. It threw no light on the essence nor the significance of this fast. It was about new clothes, jewellery, mehendi, the torture of fasting… To make it even more hilariously meaningless, my dear husband (totally distraught that I had kept a fast for his long life!) bought me a beautiful gold necklace set but could not make it home till past midnight! So, I ‘broke the fast’ sans ‘pati-dev’, happily ate dinner with the kids and was fast asleep by the time he could get away from work. Such was my reunion with fasting.

The next day, my guilt ridden better half made many snide jokes about this ritual, saying it was a big sham, fasting itself is a big sham, as per him. Even though he sounded disrespectful and was very rudely questioning the veracity of a very sacred ritual; his statements were undeniably true. He was voicing what I had experienced yesterday. Where was the faith; the simple honesty with which we practiced such rituals?  None of us seem to dwell on the reason anymore. We superficially follow ‘old traditions’ and grumble about the inconvenience such rituals cause to our daily life.

This lack of knowledge has made a mockery of these rituals. We keep fasts today for krawa chauth, vat savitri, bhai dooj, chhatt… but we all look drained and weary; our heart is not in it. The glow and radiance my mother had on her face; I have not seen it in a long time. Thus, began my journey of trying to figure out the true reason for fasting; the etymology of fasting; if I can call it that.

Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from food, food and drink too (absolute abstinence) for a period of time. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism or Hinduism, every religion has one common denominator for advocating fasting. Fasting is a way of purifying oneself. Abstinence from food, drink and physical proximity is a way cleansing the body, mind and soul.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity says, ‘The purpose of fasting is not to suffer, but according to sacred tradition to guard against gluttony and impure thoughts, deeds and words. Fasting must always be accompanied by increased prayer and almsgiving. To engage in fasting without them is considered useless or even spiritually harmful. To repent for one’s sins and to reach out in love to others is part and parcel of true fasting’.

Islam believes, ‘By fasting, whether during Ramadan or other times, a Muslim draws closer to God by abandoning bodily pleasures, such as food and drink. This makes the sincerity of their faith and their devotion to God (Arabic: Allah) all the more evident.

Jainism states that, Self-starvation by fasting is supposed to help shed karma. Santhara (Self- starvation leading to death), the individual gets ample time to reflect on his or her life. The goal of Santhara is to purify the body and, with this, the individual strives to abandon desire.

Buddhism advocates the Middle Path, asking the followers to avoid extremes of indulgence and self- mortification too.

Sikhism is the rare path which does not promote fasting. ’Human mind requires the wisdom, which can be achieved by contemplating on words and evaluating it, torturing body is of no use’.  If you keep fast, then do it in a way so that you adopt compassion, wellbeing and ask for the good will of everyone: ‘Let your mind be content, and be kind to all beings. In this way, your fast will be successful. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 905; 299)

One religion realized how farcical this sacred ritual would become and decided to stay away from it altogether. We stopped contemplating long ago; torturing our body without understanding the wisdom; fasting has become a mere charade.

Sources: wikipedia

Love Divine

Love Divine

When I had newly joined meditation my preceptor (trainer) would always emphasise on knowing the reason; ‘why’ I had joined meditation. This Spiritual path gives exactly that which one seeks, nothing more, nothing less. So, she would always caution me, ‘Be careful what you ask for, and know exactly how and who you aspire to be.’  She would at times pose this query too, ‘Who is your spiritual Master to you?’ Rather, who do you see your Guru as; mother, father, friend, distant relative, God..?’

Why I had joined meditation was a very easy answer for me. But, who the Guru was, that proved to be a very dynamic and tricky query.

Over the last few years I have seen the answer to both the questions change many times.

Initially, my applications or the chits in my begging bowl were seeking redemption, reprieve from my self-constructed hurdles and walls, like anger, irritability, compare and compete attitude, the list goes on. A year or so later I noticed that the nature of my applications had altered. I had begun to seek less for myself and more for others, immediate family and friends. I felt a bit hesitant asking for myself. The mindset was different and my aspiration from myself had also morphed. Moreover, another observation was that I had to be extremely cautious (like my preceptor had warned) about what I was seeking. I did get exactly what I asked for! The more the years of meditation in me, the more discerning and aware I was forced to become. Frivolous pleas and ephemeral demands would be answered even before I could properly articulate the request; more so if that plea was for me.  My earnest please made for others also came to fruition. It was as if every time I put up an application a counter challenge was dangled in front of me; asking, ‘Is this all you can come up with? Is this what you set out to attain on this Path?’

What I was asking and what I should have asked or whether this ‘asking’ was worth it or not seemed to clash perpetually. I was forced to weigh each application and assess its true worth. For every application, I was contemplating to put in the begging bowl, I started asking these two decider questions, ‘will this be the last of its kind?’  The answer was always, ‘No’. The next question that came was, ‘So, can this be resolved without placing it in the begging bowl?’ The answer to this was always in the affirmative! Undoubtedly, it would take time and effort, but no issue seemed extreme or worthy enough to be placed in that bowl. My faith told me that He would give it all without asking, if it was so ordained. Likewise, He would assuredly take away all the pain too, without my having to place anything in the begging bowl. If challenges still cross my path, or anyone’s path, then self – effort to overcome or forbearance to endure them was imperative. Secondly, the faith to surrender the result to Him was also necessary. For any worldly problem, I had no business picking up the begging bowl at all.  This was not why I had joined this path for. Thus, the bowl departed. I am learning and attempting to balance my life between optimum self -effort and absolute surrender.

Coming to the trickier query now.

The day I joined meditation I dutifully placed the photo of my Guru in my temple, alongside my many Gods. After a few months, on this journey of self-realisation, God and Guru on the outside seemed to distance me from my Self. Secondly, Guru as God seemed totally out of bounds, unreachable for me. How could I ever become God! ? I sought a closer connect, a more achievable and palpable one.

 Consider your Guru to be your mother, this is advised in our scriptures. The relationship between a mother and her child is said to be the most unconditional and selflessly giving relationship. This was a bit of problem for me though; I am a mother, and I don’t think I am capable of being selfless or unconditional ( much to my misery). I try to be, but expectations creep in and spoil it all. So, Guru as God and then as mother for a very short period and then it gradually shifted to Guru as my mentor cum friend. Friend cum Mentor was akin to Arjuna and Krishna’s relationship with each other, and I was happy.  Further introspection led me to the next question; was this bond just friendship or much more?  When Arjuna cried out, O lord, help me! Krishna appears and rescues Arjuna. And, when Arjuna wailed, O Friend, guide me!’ Again, Krishna only appears, to show the way. So, whichever role Arjuna sought his Lord in, Krishna adjusted Himself to fit that role. He could be a friend, brother, mother, any person/ object too, who Arjuna identified with.

Then it dawned on me; I was limiting the potential of the limitless with my own limitedness!! (Does it make sense?) He can be everything and everyone to me. His role was dependent on me and my thinking.

The Master’s Presence is an expression of his total love for us. What he gives us, totally, without any reservation, without anything being asked for in return, is Himself.  Lover means, one who loves. And a divine lover is one who loves divinely; that means without reservation, without limitation, without anything to restrict it. ( P.Rajagopalachari)

It has taken me many years to finally come to one final answer to the second question; who is my Master to me? He is… And the one unchanging relationship I aspire to establish with the Divine, is that of Divine Love. 

Busily Lazy!

Busily Lazy!

“Often what we think of as the things ‘wrong’ with us are only expressions of our own individuality…… To try to be like another is to shrivel our soul.”

 

In the last one year, my life has shifted from being overwhelmingly busy to absolute boredom. In India, despite being a housewife, I felt I was the busiest person on the planet. I was actively involved in many things I liked to do and my life felt like it had some purpose. Meditation and my Mission play a pivotal role in my life. Naturally, my whole day simply flew doing something or the other pertaining to my Mission. 

 

In the past, I do not remember complaining once about my husband’s continuing absence and extra devotion to his work at the cost of totally neglecting the family. I juggled all the household duties the best I could, giving total precedence to Mission work. Since I always had some Mission related work waiting for me; I finished the rest of these daily chores with alacrity, rather they seemed to take care of themselves with ease, and I always had time to do what I really loved doing.

 

 I managed free time to devote to my hobbies, like learning music, reading, writing and sketching. In a nutshell, tending to the kids, my volunteer work combined with time spent in my hobbies, I never had room to sit idle. With ease and some magical power that comes from passion, I was able to pursue my hobbies, accomplish my household chores and be an active volunteer too.  I am actually trying to describe is ‘myself’: me and my whole self, my individuality manifested through my activities during the day, all of which vests on one word, Mission.

 

The past year brought a conflicting and discordant change in ‘me – myself’.  The one thing which kept me going, happy and purpose – filled disappeared. This move overseas brought with it changes and new challenges I needed to adapt to. The country and its culture were new to me, so it became more or less like a rebirth. The last one year was a different kind of discovery; more about the place, people, my daughter’s school, her life and routine. Thus, volunteering or working for the Mission was not an option. Every other routine was the same; household chores, tending to my daughter and with zero Mission work I was either writing or sketching or practicing music.  Without wasting any time, I located my Ashram in London (later in Dublin, Ireland which is where I am living presently); started attending Satsangh and put my name down for volunteer work. It was then a matter of time, I was assured; that I would surely get some Mission work and be busy again the way I loved to be. Until then I was determined to keep myself busy and learn to be happy and cheerful like I was back home. This thought process barely worked for about 2months.

 

I am inherently a shy person; and this was not India. I hesitated to repeatedly go and seek ‘work’. Anything I volunteered for, the rules were different here and I needed some clearance or the other. That meant another long wait of maybe 6months or so! I still tried to remain unfazed and kept going with the thought of ‘As long I am busy, I am happy, with or without Mission work’.  Work never came; I stopped asking, I busily kept waiting for them to ask….and ended up becoming busily lazy.  Gradually, my attendance reduced, I was too busy being lazy and conjured some lame excuse to stay home; skip ashram.

 

With this busily-lazy change came to light other changes. My life, with all the busy schedules and never ending chores, seemed very purposeless and devoid of ‘life’. The spark was gone. My complaints about my husband’s absence became incessant. With or without reason, I demanded to be sent back home. I could not see the reason why he brought us across seven seas and dumped us in this ‘hellhole’! (No disrespect to Dublin, it is a beautiful place, but my heart did not belong here and I was tired of being busily-idle!). My husband was perplexed, I had more work here, yet I complained of being free! I was in one of the most developed, clean countries of the world, yet I was unwell, falling sick, and forever complaining. 

 

Back home, with my volunteering work, I had to snatch time to pursue any of my hobbies. Here I could live a calm, planned life, not be disturbed and pursue every hobby, whim and fancy to my heart’s content. Yet, I was unhappy, and most of my household chores were untended to. Some work or the other remained pending. I was forgetful and started to procrastinate. With such a busy schedule in India every chore happened like clockwork. Magically, I found spare time to pursue my hobbies too. Here, I stopped music altogether. I dabbled with writing, a bit of jibber-jabber about everything and very soon it was tedious to write. The last few months my sketching too has come to a standstill. I was so busily – lazy that I never found ‘time’ to accomplish the basic household chores.

 

With my individuality lost, the comparisons began. I compared myself to others, they were all busy working, earning and seemed to enjoy life. I was sitting at home doing nothing which was depressing and very demoralising. I hurriedly started hunting for a job, any job. Work to keep me busy; get me out of this dreadful busily-lazy state. Then I read this:

 

“This is our uniqueness and what is special about us. Nature never repeats itself. …..We are meant to be different. When we can accept this, then there is no competition and no comparison. … We have come to this planet to express who we are.”

 

Thus, the past year has been one roller coaster ride of emotions. A learning year, keeping me busily busy with me- myself!  This new year heralds a new me. I comprehend that Mission work and my eagerness to spread my Master’s word is what is unique to me. How can that be copied from anyone? I am making friends, putting up flyers wherever it is allowed, to spread His word!

 

I have made small break throughs too. I am doing my Mission work again, not as actively as I aspire for, but I am hopeful and success is assuredly within reach. I have resumed writing, because my writings best express who I am. THIS is me, my true identity. And, I am happy again being busily-busy.

 

Note:  Most of my recent articles are self-deprecating, introspective and seriously one track! The whole year I seem to be reminiscing about my poor self, happy self, good self and all the many selves I suddenly seem to have countenanced in my whole persona. This will be my last one friends, this new year I assure you, you will see a new me, a positive me and a focused me. Here is to new beginnings and bidding adieu to the old me…

 

Dublin Diaries-4

Dublin Diaries-4

Labour of Love

Whilst writing about our friendly neighbourhood ‘cabbie’ friends, many other comparisons sprung to mind.  India and Ireland are replete with comparable contradictions (another jumble-word which jumps to mind). Don’t know whether it makes sense or not but I will try to frame the scene and elucidate better. I get all dewy eyed when I think of how much India is losing out on, and how much room for improvement we have and yet… With half the resources and one tenth or even less manpower, this country has emerged as a developed nation. The only difference is in the attitude.

From the moment I wrote that cabbie article, I have been wracking my brain to recollect one such memorable, informative or light hearted incident that I have had the pleasure of being a part of, in all my countless taxi experiences in India. Sadly, I can recall many unsavoury instances! I may have a few good ones too if I try hard and for long; but the point I am trying to make here is; I have not met a single, and I repeat, a single auto-driver who enjoys being an auto driver! A single taxi driver who loves his work and is happy with his job! Not just the taxi drivers, most people in my country seem to be stuck at their jobs. The joy on the faces I see anywhere I go in Dublin is in stark contrast to the harried, frowning expressions I encounter in today’s India. The people here seem to enjoy what they do, be it a menial job (did not dare to write ‘no-brainer’) like managing the cash counter at the local grocers or sitting behind the HR desk in an IT firm.  I can assuredly say that picking dead leaves all day to keep the streets clean cannot be a dream job. Yet, the Irish seem to add wit and joy to it; make it enjoyable for themselves and for the people they encounter.  Till I came to Dublin I never dreamt that being a taxi driver could be a chosen or happy job either. Yet every taxi driver is intelligent, very politically aware, witty and always smiling!

What the Hindu philosophy teaches us, about the Shat Sampatti (Sama:  the ability to control the mind, think objectively. Dama: applying the will to help control the mind, keeping the vices at bay, doing regular sadhana to succeed in this endeavour. Only if Dama is practiced properly, the will power will increase and therefore Sama can be achieved with relative ease.  Uparati: Being able to rise above all the dualities; even relinquish the feeling of ownership. Attain a state of balance and stability. Titiksha: The attitude of forbearance which refuses to be affected or shaken by pain and suffering.  Every situation is accepted with calm and equanimity; not moan with pain, rather endure with a smile.  Shraddha and Samadhana, the six behaviour traits) the Irish apparently live the first 4 Sampattis admirably.

Our Wild Atlantic tour this summer brought to fore many more comparisons. Somehow, our country despite having it all, seems to be lacking in everything. I accede that the natural beauty here is unparalleled but after completing the whole 10day tour I could only pick a handful of distinctively different places! Crag Caves, Hooks’ lighthouse, Skellig Island and then the countless spectacular beaches and mist laden mountains.  India has Himalayan peaks, the greenery in Kerala, beaches of Goa, desert in Rajasthan, the list can go on, each distinctively unique and memorable.  However, the upkeep, maintenance and efforts put in by the Irish government and the Irish themselves, to retain the pristine beauty is laudable, and that is the contrast point. Our monuments; I don’t think I need say anything. The Irish have more to tell with the little they have; the tourist guides kept us enraptured. They spun a yarn about every brick in the wall and leaf on the tree!  We visited the Hooks Lighthouse and were smitten by the guide. We visited the Ferns Castle in Wexford and the yarn spun by the tourist guide had us reeling all week! This fort is not even a fort really, barely a wall remains, the rest of the structure is long gone and yet the guide went on and on and he had more to tell!  The Irish have their own unique brand of dry humour and they brandish it with great panache.  All the places became more beautiful and embedded in our memory because of the guides and their narratives. That brings me to the comparative. I dreaded hiring a guide in India. They lack the enthusiasm and zest, their command over the language is pathetic, they simply rattle off the facts in a well-modulated drone.  In no time, I skitter away from the group and wander onto a personal discovery journey. ‘Athithi devo Bhavah’ (Guest is God) is our belief and the Irish are living it. Could it be the labour of love question again?

Another interesting thing that came to my notice was that we work round the clock, the only country in the world which is a willing beast of burden.  Rest of the world says they work five days a week and diligently work five days only.  We can say anything but the world knows that we are willing donkeys.  Maybe, this lack of work ethic never allows us to imbibe Labour of love attitude?

Like I have mentioned many times before; weather here is dismal, perennially wet, cold, and least propitious for any vegetation or agricultural produce. All they have is different kinds of cheese, meat, liquor of course and potatoes! On the other hand, India is bestowed with all the natural resources, we enjoy every season; each state in India boasts of a different cuisine, integral to its agricultural produce and prevalent culture.  Irish are known world over for their music, liquor, and their carefree nature.  A cabbie said, ‘The Irish smile just because they wish to, it is more for themselves rather than to please others’. Today, what are we known for? It’s the only country in the world which has it all, natural beauty, culture, history, resources, manpower… God’s couldn’t have been kinder and more biased towards my country! Even with everything in our favour we remain a third world, developing nation. Abundance has proved to be detrimental to our progress, individually and as a nation, simply because we lack the attitude. We probably need to learn to love first, give ‘labour of love, a fighting chance; and then the right attitude hopefully comes….?

Upanayanam

Upanayanam

In the long list of rituals, I have participated in, clueless and totally ignorant about what and why I was being a part of it, Upanayanam tops the list!

The first I heard about Upanayanam was in the context of my marriage; my husband -to -be got the thread ceremony done a day before our wedding, because per him it was ‘licence to marriage’!  I found it illogical and hilarious, but with a missing spirit of inquiry, I gave no further thought to it; it was another of the never-ending rituals we have in our Religion.

A few years later, I was an active participant in the Upanayanam of my brother – in – law. This time around the reason was very contradictory; my brother was keen on pursuing the path of sanyasi. Upanayanam was imperative to enable him to join the tutelage of an able guru. The same ritual for two different reasons! This comes back to me now as I attempt to elucidate below the essence of this amazing ritual.

Upanayanam (Yajnopavita, sacred thread) is the 10th samskara (rites of passage) in the 16stages of life. It marks the acceptance of a pupil by a Guru; initiate the process of learning, dwell into the study of Vedanta and evolve. From the medieval Indian texts to the present day Upanayanam is restricted to the upper caste (varnas), namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishya varnas, and is performed only for the boys.  Whereas, the Vedic period texts show that Upanayanam was encouraged for all members of the society, even shudras and women. Everyone wore the thread to indicate their status in their household. Today, it is a worldly ritualistic festival of sorts, performed only for the elite Brahmin boys!

In Hindu traditions, a human being is born at least twice — once at physical birth and second at intellectual birth through teacher’s care. Verily, the sacred thread ceremony indicates that the person has started to learn the sacrifices (Yajnopavita). The pupil is given the primary set of instructions (Brahmopadesha) and the student is declared as Dvija (born again). Traditionally, this ceremony is solemnized at age 8 amongst Brahmins, 11 years amongst Kshatriyas and age 12 among Vaishyas (Apastamba Gryha, 1.1.1.27 states that the maximum age to complete this ceremony is 24), unlike my husband, who got his thread ceremony done a day before our marriage, where he was 28!  Luckily for him, Gautama Gryha Sutra and other ancient texts state that there is no age restriction and anyone of any age can undertake the Upanayanam. The Baudhayana Grihya sutra in verses 2.5.8 and 2.5.9 states the teacher to “let him initiate, to school through Upanayana; a Brahmin in spring, a Kshatriya in summer, a Vaishya in autumn, a Sudra in the rainy season; or all of them in the spring.”

Every state in India has a different name for this ritual. The ceremony is called Munja or Mounji-Bandhana (literally, tying of the munja, sacred thread) in the state of Maharashtra. This name finds its origin in the name of a grass called Saccharum munja (Bengal cane). This grass is used to make a girdle that is tied around the waist of the child. In Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and in several areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the sacred thread is known as the “Janoi” or “Janeva”. Many other names (varying by region and community), are Bratabandha, Janivaara, Jandhyam, Poita, Pūṇūl, Janeu, Lagun, Yajnopavita, Yagyopavit, Yonya and Zunnar. The other Sanskrit term being Avyanga.

The “sacred thread” is a thin cord, composed of three cotton strands. The strands symbolize different things depending on the region. Like, in the Tamil Hindu community, each strand is for each of the three trinity of goddesses, Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

As per the ancient Sanskrit texts the term Upavita was originally meant to be any upper garment (as stated in verse 2.2.4.22–2.2.4.23 of Apastamba Dharmasutra) or, if the wearer doesn’t want to wear a top, a thread would suffice.The proper manner of wearing the upper garment or thread, is from over the left shoulder and under the right arm.

The idea of wearing the upper garment or sacred thread, and its significance, extended to women.This is reflected in the traditional wearing of sari over the left shoulder, during formal occasions and the celebration of rites of passage such as Hindu weddings. It was also the norm if a girl undertakes the Upanayana ceremony and begins her Vedic studies as a Brahmavadini. They wore a thread or upper garment over their left shoulder. Those girls who chose not to go to a gurukul were called Sadyovadhu (literally meaning, one who marries straight). However, the Sadyovadhu, too, underwent a step during the wedding rituals, where she would complete Upanayana, and thereafter wear her upper garment (saree) over her left shoulder.

The invocation of tranquility, Udaka Shanti marks the beginning of Upanayanam. This is to invoke happiness and peace in the place. Invoking the blessings of ancestors is the second step. The blessings of the ancestors upto the Atman (the last 3 generations) and Brahman (beyond the 3 generations) are invoked to bless the sacred thread.

Preparations for learning marks the third step. The student is expected to learn to be simple in food, dress and learn to control his urges. Student should learn to submit as well as to seek, taking a solemn vow to learn and to acquire knowledge; this is the fourth step. The father (the first teacher) and the guru together whisper the Gayatri Mantra into the boy’s ear. This ritual is conducted carefully done, under the wraps, so that the boy pays total attention and not a single syllable is missed. This is the penultimate step.

The last step is explaining the significance of Upanayanam (second birth); concentrate on learning by seeking out and devote his entire time to build up his body and mind.

In Nepal, a slightly different ceremony is held which combines ‘चूड़ाकर्म‘ (choodakarma) (tonsure, shave the head) and Upanayana saṃskāra locally known as Bratabandhabrata meaning promise, bandhan meaning to be bound) It is held among the Bhramin and Kshytreya hill communities in Nepal.

Rajbali Pandey compares the Upanayana rite of passage to Baptism in Christianity where the person is born again unto spiritual knowledge, as the ceremony marked the initiation of the student for spiritual studies such as the Vedas.

Another veil lifted; every time I dive into our scriptures I am rendered nonplussed. Our predecessors seem to have lead the most modern lives yet stayed utterly simple and rooted to values and ethics. They understood the scriptures correctly and strived to live them, manasa, vacha, karma.

Sources:

http://creative.sulekha.com/upanayanam

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanayana

 

Present in the Present

Present in the Present

My last article titled Present in the Past evoked this (copy- pasted below) from my dear editor.

“This made me feel really sad! It’s all well and good to take ownership of our state of mind and spirit but it’s another thing to undermine the huge trauma of being uprooted, the incredible grief, loss of identity and isolation that comes with it, especially when where you have come from holds such meaning and significance.

I relate to this because 20 years down the track, I still struggle with cultural conflicts, identity crisis and a deep sense of loss with all things familiar and as the memories are now fading, there is a sense of anger too.

I know and understand what you are saying in terms of learning the lesson and meant to help you grow spiritually. But, I wonder if it is way too simplistic and you saying I have to now live in the NOW will make the rest of your readers (such as myself!) feel like we are just not wanting to help ourselves.

I do agree (although I wish I could dispute) that ultimately taking ownership and stopping the blame game is the only way forward…!!

Definitely a bit of a sad story for me…Leaves me wanting to say but! but!

If even one reader is in sync with my editor’s thinking; the onus is on me to explain myself better . To begin with, the article was meant to be leading towards self – inquiry, and not to evoke sadness. If it comes across as sad, I humbly apologize.

Secondly, the article seems to undermine the trauma of being uprooted, loss of identity, being alone in an unknown land… this is not my intention at all.  I am not belittling the emotional upheaval one goes through when thus uprooted. Having said that, I wish to clarify a little bit here; these days all of us willingly come abroad in search of greener pastures, a better life. I am yet to meet a person who has gone abroad to study and has come back to India after completing their studies. They have stayed on, desperately hunted for any form of employment, married abroad and settled abroad. They undoubtedly miss their country, true, but not so much that they return to their homeland. To connect this to my view point, this ‘living abroad’ is per se a self-made choice. At the risk of sounding brutally honest, it is a willing ‘loss of identity’ and adapting to the new culture. Most of us living abroad seem to be reminded of our culture or the Indian traditions when its festive season or in some religious context! I do not relate to the present show of Indian culture abroad nor am I very comfortable with the way religion is being showcased! Thus, I have no authority to comment on anything I know I am mentally disconnected with.

More importantly, I was less commenting about others and more trying to dwell upon myself! For a spiritual aspirant like me, I feel it is less about the place, people or even culture for that matter. It is simply about the self; and this is what I wish the reader to read into. I came abroad because my husband got his job here. As simple as that. I was living the best lifestyle, indeed the best life back home, my greenest pasture, as it were. I never had nor do I currently feel any need or longing for a life abroad. Yet, I have been put in this situation. Before making the big shift, I had mentally prepared myself. All thanks to meditation, I thought I could be happy anywhere in the world. If I was moving away it meant that I had completed my role in my present place, a new role was awaiting me.

Since coming here, especially after the novelty and activity of discovery in the first few months, I sensed a lull within me, as if life had been snuffed out. That’s when the pondering (self-inquiry) began.  The feeling of being uprooted, isolation and incredible grief that my editor mentioned; I seriously had thought I was way past all that. Home is where your heart is, and heart is where you help the heart love into being, making its home! So, what was I struggling with, why was I angry and where did this sense of ‘nothing to look forward to’ stem from for me? It dawned on me that I was still not looking at the bigger picture. I was talking big but not living it. One change of place, a slight shift from my comfort zone and all my calm, equanimity and wisdom seemed to fly out the window.

Again, I agree with my editor, it is not as simplistic. But, it was not meant to be, which is the truth I had missed too. It took an effort on my part. Some introspection and a lot of courage to look at the mirror and face the reality of what I saw. To answer the last part, about getting the feeling of not wanting to help oneself; I don’t think we do not want to help ourselves. More accurate is the assumption that we are lost and we do not know what exactly can help us! We try everything and most of it gives ephemeral peace and solace. In no time the hunt is on again, because the restlessness creeps in. “In vivekachudamni verse 11 Swami Dayanand Saraswati writes: There is always romanticism in spiritual pursuit. You want to be something special, something different. There is a value for this romanticism. When you see through this romanticism you are objective. This is vairagya.” That is exactly where I think meditation gives me the edge! I know I can walk my way out of any dark hole, I just have to stay calm, introspect and look within.  I am practicing something unique, I am trying to become someone unique, challenges will assuredly be unique too, right? I needed to ‘see’ beyond all this, become objective.

Now, only if I started living in the ‘now’ and stopped being ‘present in the past’ would I be able to figure that out. That’s the omniety, the whole nine yards of what I wanted to translate to the reader.

Present in the Past

Present in the Past

“My Master used to say that the family is the best environment for spirituality, because it is in the family that  you learn love and sacrifice. Now, if you divorce your wife, what is the sacrifice? Or if you abandon  your children, what is the sacrifice? That is why I was so angry. The environment we have is what is necessary for our spiritual development. Like when a mango tree grows in a certain place and then you take it and plant it in the mountains, it will not grow….”  

One of the many reasons which had driven me to the doorstep of meditation was my anger. Anger about everything and angry with everyone. I was unhappy with the way my life was slipping through my fingers. I was moving from one debilitating day to another. My continuous thought process then was how I was merely living but not alive, purposeful. I had so many plans, so many things to do and yet somehow my circumstances or responsibilities seemed to tie me down. I was vegetating and dwelling in the past and the dreary web I found myself in. I kept blaming my family for burdening me and pinning me down in a helpless situation. I was not being allowed to evolve, I was like the caterpillar going through the longest larva stage, yet to turn into a butterfly.

Meditation helped me do away with all that baggage and “blame the other person” attitude. Today, I have grown wiser and hopefully become a much calmer and better human being.  I have learned my lessons; thus the feeling of being trapped has disappeared. I feel free, purposeful and alive. I have lots to do, I have accomplished many goals and aspirations. Maybe that’s the reason I had to go through the drudgery and boredom so that I could appreciate my new self. Without any changes in my life (on the outside), I had blossomed and changed into a little butterfly! In the same set of circumstances, just with a new mindset, better self -awareness (of the person I am, my inside), I am able to be happy and alive.

These last few months I kept reminiscing about my busy days and I wonder why I am here, in Dublin. I have no work, I know no friends nor have any acquaintances, I am stuck at home twiddling my thumbs or switching the TV channels; becoming a couch potato.

Everything happens for a reason, live it, love it, learn from it…I know everything happens for a reason, but I wish I knew what the reason was, because the hardest thing is waiting for the understanding of the reason. Because, nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.

This move from India to Dublin, Ireland has forced me to remember the above quotes again. I have come to acknowledge in the last one year here that I am once again standing on the same threshold where I was before joining meditation. Not exactly the same threshold, but the mindset or the thought process seemed to wander in the same downward spiral. My observation is that I am more and more inclined to be ‘present in the past’. 

The first few months were busy and flew with getting acquainted with this beautiful city and its wonderful people.  Unfortunately for me, this country is the size of one Indian state, and the whole population is less than the population of a state in India! It was impossible for me to stretch my ‘new place euphoria’ beyond three months, even 3 months is a big stretch. Thus, with the honeymoon period gone, my ‘present in the past’ days became incessant. 

I was always acknowledged the fact that I would have very little active life-work here in Dublin. Yet, the new, post-meditation me was confident that I would find ways and means to be busy and happy; find some avocation to keep myself occupied and actively engaged. But now, almost every second day I find myself in a state of limbo and I feel trapped. I want to go back to my busy life. This thought process invariably brings back my question as to why, why am I here!? What is my role in this place?

I feel like that uprooted mango tree! I was happy and blooming there, in India. But, Master also said,’ that the family is the best environment for spirituality, because it is in the family you learn love and sacrifice……. Because the environment which we have is what is necessary for our spiritual development.’ Today, I have been re-planted here, in a totally new environment. Thanks to my meditation I am not angry nor have I begun the blame game. But my quest has begun. This shift to Dublin was to be able to be together again, as a family. For the last few years I had become comfortable being on my own. This big shift is something I needed to accept and adapt to. I had to learn to be at home without feeling trapped. I keep writing about this wonderful place and give the impression of being very happy and busy, but I keep cribbing and complaining to my better half about being stuck; holed up in this ‘god forsaken place’! There is a duplicity in me and my expression of self. That needs to go. In India, doing what I wanted was a piece of cake. I did not have to struggle or move away from my comfort zone. This place; I need to re-learn everything and from this environment that I am in today.  Meditation must help me be calm and with equanimity, anywhere and with anyone. This simple change of place has made my world so topsy-turvy. I am undoubtedly better than before but there is room for change still. May be that’s why I am here, to do away with the duplicity, get out of my comfort zone and learn again, afresh and anew. I am actually learning so much here, from the place and people, I need to bring some purpose to this learning and put it all to practice. For all this to fructify, I have to put a stop to my ‘present in the past’ state.

 Learn to be present in the present, accept the change and be alive now, in the now.

Circle of life

Circle of life

 

With my spirit of inquiry mood in full swing and to continue the momentum, I started watching a Television show titled Upanishad Ganga. I urge every reader to watch this show. It is exceedingly aesthetic, very informative and engrossing. This episode titled ‘stages of life’ set me on a different train of thought. We, human beings were always insecure. We had this fear that the minute we are born, we get separated from God, the source. (My Spiritual guru says, Fear is our first samskara!) Our purity starts to get compromised from that very instant; probably that’s the reason why we made these 16 stages; purification steps from birth to death. The moment we are separated from the source till the time we re-merge with the source (hopefully, we are never sure) in the same pristine pure state.  

 

Trying to lift the veil over the 16 sanskaar (Sacraments of life); Garbhadhana (Conception) is the first one. Invocation by parents; a fervent prayer for a child to fulfil the obligation; procreation regarded as imperative for paying off debts to forefathers.  It’s funny, is it not; we do not want to leave the world without leaving a little bit of ourselves! So, we yearn for an offspring, we prefer a male child; only a boy has permission to light the pyre! The beginning itself is with a desire.

 

 Second samskara is Punsavana (Fetus protection); performed during the third or fourth month of pregnancy when the moon is in a male constellation, particularly the Tishya-nakshatra. This symbolises a male child (like I said; a male child is always the first choice). A priest recites Vedic hymns to invoke divine qualities in the child.

 

This is followed by the third samskara; Simantonayan (literally meaning hair-parting. Shrimantham is the more popular known term now; baby shower is the term used in the western world).

 

The significance of this samskara is to bring prosperity to the mother (satiate all her cravings and keep her smiling and happy) and long life to the unborn child. It also wards off evil influence.

 

Then comes the child birth; our fourth samskara, namely Jatakarma. These rituals are performed at the birth of the child. It is believed that the moon has a special effect on the newly born. In addition, the constellation of the planets – nakshatras – also determine the degree of auspiciousness. If birth occurs during an inauspicious arrangement, the jatakarmas are performed to ward off their detrimental effects on the child.

 

Namkaran (Naming ceremony) is the fifth samskara.  Based on the time of birth of the baby, an astrological chart is drawn and the child is named on a day fixed by caste tradition. As per Hindu religious tradition the child is usually named after a deity, holy place or a saint as a constant reminder of the sacred values that name stands for.

 

Nishkrama (First outing); after the first 90 days the baby is allowed to step out. Which marks the sixth samskara. The first outing of the baby is usually to a temple, holy place accompanied by the father or elders in the family.

 

Annaprashan (First feeding with solid food) is the next sanskara and marks a very important occasion. This is usually the 5th month or after the child crosses the 6th month. This ceremony also indicates that the baby is ready to be weaned away from the mother.

 

 Mundan is the eighth samskara and the last samskara before the baby turns one. This is performed during the first or third year of age when the child’s hair is removed by shaving, again in some holy place, after seeking an auspicious date and time. 

 

Karnavedha (Ear piercing) is the ninth samskara and is performed in the third or fifth year. This ceremony was practiced for both, boys and girls. The essence of this ceremony was to enable the child to listen to what is good, have the courage to leave or let go of baseless information.

 

The tenth samskara is Upanayanam; the Sacred thread ceremony. Interestingly, this ceremony used to be performed for all varnas (castes). Another interesting change that has come to light that girls also were introduced in this ceremony. Now, it is only the male child and the Brahmin caste which performs this ritual with great fanfare! This ceremony introduces the male child to a teacher to receive education and marking the entry of the child to Brahmacharya.

 

 Vedarambha or the Study of Vedas is the eleventh stage and this is performed at the time of Upanayana or within one year. The Guru teaches the Gayatri Mantra. In the olden (Golden) days the child used to be sent to Gurukul and spend the coming decade or so under his tutelage.

 

 Samavartana is the twelveth stage which marks the returning home of the child after completion of education. By this time the child is an adult, about 25years of age and which gives the natural progression to our next samskara; vivaha.

 

 After upanaynam marriage is the next big event and the child (now an adult) is ready for the grihastha ashram. Marriage enables the person to achieve the four endeavours of life (purusharths) Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire) and moksha (salvation). The whole cycle of this child, now an adult will have the chance to pay off ancestral debt; procreate. The real test of life is said to begin in this stage.

 

Completion of duties the couple is ready or needs to prepare for renunciation; vanaprastha the fourteenth samskara. This samskara is performed at the age of 50 to celebrate the departure from the householder stage to the Vanaprastha stage when the person begins to engage in spiritual activities. This graduates to sannyasa, our fifteenth samskara, and is performed after the vanaprsatha stage.

 

 After completing all the worldly responsibilities, the couple hand over the reins and live a life engaging in spiritual practices. This brings us to the closure, the sixteenth samskara, antyesthi or cremation. This samskara is performed after death by his or her descendants.

 

These 16 stages are a purification process; we knew all along that the minute He separates us from Himself we are at a severe risk of never ever making it back with the same purity. Thus, from birth to death; beginning to the finish line it is a preparation, to go back whence we came from, the full circle of life.

 

 Sources:

Ganga Upnishad, Chinmaya Mission

Hindu rites and rituals

 

Cheap and Dear

Cheap and Dear

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated–Thomas Paine.(1737 – 1809).

Whenever I write I play some background noise, any noise; a random movie or songs or a television show, some noise. This habit helps me focus on my work and sometimes I hear a dialogue, some lyrics or an advertisement which grabs my attention and it triggers a separate introspective train of thought. The above quote is one example of my ‘grabbed attention’ and what ensues is the ‘train of thought’.

I was writing about ‘Irish Independence’; the heavy price they paid to fight the British, the bloodshed and the loss of life they endured and yet held their ground; how dear freedom is to them. I had just started to ‘Google’ and learn a little bit more about how the Irish had fared post regaining their precious freedom and what post war struggles followed, how did they make it to the prestigious and proud ‘developed’ nations genre.  That’s when I heard the actor say, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:……” The accent was different and I could not fathom the rest. But the little I had heard was ample to catch my attention and my hands involuntarily moved on the keyboard to ‘Google’ the quote.

These profound lines are by Thomas Paine, agonizing over the pain and rage he felt during their war; The American Independence from The British.  The pain in the above lines is one voice expressing the feelings of the whole nation; patriots’ cry and despair; the willingness to lose their lives to win freedom.  Involuntarily my mind went to our long drawn 200 years of struggle; war for our independence and how much this subjugation had cost us. From The Golden Bird (Sone ki Chidiya) renown to our present label of a third world country, we paid dearly for our freedom.

Even at a personal level Thomas Paine’s words are poignantly true.  We seem to value something only when we do not have it or we earn it the hard way. As long as we have something at our disposal we have no value for it, and we esteem too lightly.

Being the second child in my family I have always been ‘told’ what to do. My dad would give me a set of instructions and as if that didn’t suffice, he would then summon my elder sister and make her my policeman. To add to my misery I was not allowed to boss over my younger sisters because they were too young! Here, I was the older one and so I should adjust and understand, see reason and make them comprehend too. Throughout my childhood I remember rebelling against this domination and wanting to break free of this ‘imposed discipline’. Discipline meant shackles or bondage for me and I instinctively shied away from rule books.  The more I rebelled the more I landed myself in trouble and this resulted in more restrictions, more monitoring and lesser freedom! This yo-yo game of ‘wanting to break free’ and ‘getting ensnared into captivity’ continued for very long.

My craving for freedom was as ardent as that of Thomas Paine’s. My fight to break free was continuously making me more rebellious, prone to indiscipline and further mischief!  The more I struggled the more strict my Dad was forced to be and it became cyclic. Much later did I realize that I had failed to see the yawning difference between ‘Freedom’ and ‘Freedom with Discipline’.

If I wanted to be free, given the choice to make my own decisions, then I had to learn discipline. Discipline comes naturally to them who have some interest in the self. I had to become judicious first; have the wisdom to exercise my freedom prudently and not squander it away. My indiscipline and mischief forced my dad to put me on a tight leash, I understand that today. The day I showed some maturity and responsibility he was more than happy to see me fly.

The trip down my personal memory lane ended there and my mind revisited Thomas Paine’s lines.  My mind came back to our country and brought me back to my question about us; where did we miss the bus? It took us two hundred years to gain freedom.  We paid the steepest price. Yet have we really honored our martyrs? The blood, sweat and toil lost in gaining freedom for us; is it being squandered in vain? Have we as a nation assimilated the truth that freedom is dear and needs to be valued and cherished?

When I see the monuments and heritage sites abroad, I am filled with awe and admiration at the way they have been maintained and showcased. Unwittingly a twinge of sadness grips me. We have so much more to offer to the world, with all the sites of the world put together, our country alone may have more places worth a visit. To me, India is undoubtedly the most beautiful place on earth. Be it natural wonders or architectural magnificence, we had it all, in fact the glory we had lured the world to our country. Today, our past glory has cast a heavy cloud upon us. We barely have any trace of our past glory yet we keep singing about some long lost past. There is so much unrest and disorder. As a child, I did not learn to discipline myself, yet kept craving for independence; similarly most of my countrymen I encounter are rebelliously independent and sadly untouched by discipline. We deface our monuments with impunity. The callousness we show towards our public property is pathetic. We are very indignant if someone corrects us, we are a free nation today and it is nobody’s business to say anything to us!

Makes me wonder if we got our freedom cheaply?  We seem to esteem it too lightly.

Note: I started writing about Ireland, but went off course again. What is written is just the way the thoughts ran in my head, ruminating in writing.  In the wake of the changes that have happened in my country, I thought it the apt time to upload this article.

Kalash Pooja

Kalash Pooja

My spiritual guide, my Master, recently published a post on Speaking Tree titled “Fasting and Autophagy: Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Research Intersect”. This brought back many memories and I pulled out my long forgotten notes; all the diligent studies I had done to understand the true significance of so many rituals I blindly followed in the past.

I have already written about Lighting the lamp, Prasadam, Idol worship and Bhajans. All these rituals have a profound meaning and done in true spirit and with perfect understanding, they should result in achieving our ‘goal of life’.  Another such ritual which I mindlessly followed was Kalash Pooja. This article is an attempt to understand the true significance of this important ritual.

It is believed that before the creation came into being, Lord Vishnu was reclining on His snake-bed in the milky ocean. From His navel emerged a lotus from which appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world.
And Lord Vishnu held Kalash filled with nectar during Samudramanthan (churning of the ocean). All deities are believed to reside in the kalash.

Since then the kalasha is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom and immortality. The Purna-Kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance and “source of life”. It is also called Soma-Kalasha, Chandra-Kalasha, Indra-Kumbha, Purnaghata, Purna-Virakamsya, Bhadra ghata, or Mangala ghata.

We find a kalash in the hands of Hindu deities Brahma, our creator, Shiva our destroyer and teacher, Laskhmi our goddess of prosperity. Every auspicious occasion, be it Gruh Pravesh, Gauri pooja, Deepawali , marriage and  even to celebrate the arrival of a new born, we perform kalash pooja.

I enter this home with a kumbha; fill it with ambrosia and anoint

All those who drink of this heavenly water and protect this home.

I enter this house to dwell in it. ( Atharva veda: 3.13.7-9-5000BC)

The Kalash and its adornment have a very symbolic meaning for every occasion. To welcome the new born Kalash represents material things: a container of fertility – the earth and the womb, which nurtures and nourishes life. The mango leaves associated with Kama, the god of love, symbolize the pleasure aspect of fertility. The coconut, a cash crop, represents prosperity and power. The water in the pot represents the life-giving ability of Nature.

For Gruh Pravesh and other household functions, a silver or brass face of the Goddess is attached over the coconut of the Purna-Kalasha. In this form, the Purna-Kalasha symbolizes the Goddess as the manifestation of mother earth with her water, minerals, and vegetation.

Other interpretations’ of the Purna-Kalasha associate with the five elements or the chakras. The wide base of metal pot represents the element Earth, the expanded centre is water, neck of pot is fire, the opening of the mouth is said to represent air, and the coconut and mango leaves: ether. In context of chakras, the Shira (literally “head”) – top of the coconut symbolizes Sahasrara chakra and the Moola (literally “base”) – base of Kalasha – the Muladhara chakra.

The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and the sentient beings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy behind the universe. The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisheka. The leaves and coconut represent creation. The thread represents the love that “binds” all in creation.
On some occasions the Kalasha is filled with coins, grain, gems, gold, or a combination of these items instead of water. The coronet of 5, 7, or 11 mango leaves is placed such that the tips of the leaves touch water in the Kalasha. These leaves are known as leaves of deity’s seat. The coconut is sometimes wrapped with a red cloth and red thread; the top of the coconut is kept uncovered. A sacred thread is tied around the metal pot. The Shira is kept facing the sky. The kalash is used for creating seat for invoked deities during the puja ritual. The water inside the kalash keeps this seat pure till the ritual of Pranapratishta (invoking deity into an image, idol, coconut or betelnut). Thus, the invoked deity principle stays for a long period.

Putting a coin is symbolic of sacrifice. Through this medium there is sacrifice of wealth and jiva (embodied soul)’s attachment is reduced. This qualifies the worshipper to benefit more from the sattvikta of puja ritual. A copper coin is put in the kalash. The copper has more capacity to project sattvik frequencies. It helps in emanation of sattvik frequencies present in the water into the atmosphere.

The betel nut kept in the kalash is to enhance sattvik and rajsik components in the water of the kalash. This increases the capacity of the water to emit manifest principle of deity. The betel nut contains particles related to absolute earth element which are useful in binding of sattva particles related to sattva component. This then easily helps in retaining the sattvikta of water for a long time. Five precious stones like pearl, diamond, emerald, blue sapphire, ruby and gold are also added to the water of kalash. The five precious stones and gold have capacity to attract and emit the principles of five superior deities. This benefits the worshipper. But with changing times the use of five precious stones and copper is reduced and replaced by alloys which are spiritually less beneficial.
The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka) of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple.

There is a world of depth, meaning and essence to every ritual. Everything that was said and done during our Vedic period had the backing of science, logic and reasoning. It has sadly deteriorated with time and gone into oblivion today. Every ritual I have performed in the past would have fructified if I had done them myself, with full awareness and knowledge, the essence of what I am doing and why. I was always sincere but lacked the jijnasu quality, the spirit of inquiry was missing. Meditation (I have come back to Meditation, I know:) ) has made me aware of this yawning gap between my actions and ignorant actions!

Action is purification of the mind; not for gaining (knowing) the truth. Knowledge of the truth is by inquiry alone; not even a little knowledge is gained by crores of action. Vivekachudamani (5.11)

Sources:

http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.ie/2013/05/kalasha-symbol-of-cosmic-womb

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalasha

http://bharathkidilse.blogspot.ie/2009/10/kalasha