Ganesh Chaturthi …. A very interesting insight ….

We are all familiar with the story on how Ganesha became the elephant-headed God. Shiva and Parvati had been celebrating and Parvati becomes dirty. When she realizes this, she removes the dirt from her body, creates a boy out of it and asks him to keep guard while she bathed. When Shiva returned, the boy could not recognize him and obstructed his passage.
So Shiva chopped off the boy’s head and entered. Parvati was shocked. She explained that the boy was their son and pleaded with Shiva to save him at all costs. Shiva then instructed his helpers to go and get the head of someone who was sleeping with the head pointing to the north. The helpers then got the head of an elephant, which Shiva affixed to the boy’s torso and Ganesha was born!
Does this story sound strange? Why should Parvati have dirt on her body? Didn’t the all-knowing Shiva recognise His own son? Was Shiva, the epitome of peace, so short-tempered that he cut off the head of his own son? And why an elephant head on Ganesha? There is a deeper meaning to all these.
Parvati is symbolic of festive energy. Her becoming dirty signifies that celebration can easily become Rajasik or feverish and can take you away from your center. Dirt is symbolic of ignorance and Shiva is symbolic of the Supreme Innocence, Peace and Knowledge. So when Ganesha obstructs the path of Shiva, this means that ignorance, which is an attribute of the head, does not recognize knowledge. Then knowledge has to overcome ignorance. This is the symbolism behind Shiva chopping off the boy’s head.
And why the elephant head? Elephant represents both gyan shakti and karma shakti. The principle qualities of the elephant are wisdom and effortlessness. The enormous head of the elephant signifies Wisdom and Knowledge. Elephants don’t walk around obstacles, neither do they stop at them. They just remove them and keep walking straight on – signifying effortlessness. So, when we worship Lord Ganesha these elephant qualities within us are kindled and we take on these qualities.
Ganesha’s big belly represents generosity and total acceptance. Ganesha’s upraised hand, depicting protection, means, “Fear not – I am with you,” and his lowered hand, palm facing outwards means – unending giving as well as an invitation to bow down – symbolic of the fact that we will all dissolve into earth one day. Ganesha also has a single tusk which signifies one-pointedness. Even the implements Ganesha wields are symbolic. He carries in his hands, the ‘Ankush’ (signifies awakening) and the ‘Paasa’ (signifies control). With awakening, a lot of energy is released, which without proper control, can go haywire.
And why does Ganesha, the elephant-headed God travel on something as small as a mouse? Isn’t that so incongruous? Again there is symbolism that runs deeps. The mouse snips and nibbles away at ropes that bind. The mouse, which gradually nibbles away, is like the mantra which can cut through sheaths and sheaths of ignorance, leading to the ultimate knowledge represented by Ganesha.
Our ancient Rishis were so deeply intelligent that they chose to express Divinity in terms of symbols rather than words, since words change over time, but symbols remain unchanged. Let us keep these deep symbolisms in mind as we experience the omnipresent in the form of the elephant God, yet be fully aware that Ganesha is very much within us. This is the wisdom we should carry as we celebrate Ganesh Chaturti.
-Happy Ganesh Chaturthi… Have a wonderful week ahead
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Guruji and SIMI

 

From Bau’s blog

This happened in Kerela…

Sri Sri gave an audience to the SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India) leaders. Four leaders from SIMI came to meet Sri Sri at the residence of one of the organizers. Following their entry, an air of tension enveloped the hall where hundreds were waiting to meet with Sri Sri. Naseeb, one of the devotees, guided them to the room where Sri Sri was sitting with a few of us. They (the SIMI leaders), were dashing youths in their mid 20’s. One of them was carrying the holy Koran. They were little stern and stiff. Their eyes were fixed and seemed to reflect an inner fire. They looked prepared to repulse anything that Sri Sri would tell them and most unlikely to listen to reason.

 

Sri Sri was His usual smiling self.

The stage was set. It had all the signs of a classic confrontation. On one side were the brash youth – intemperate, impatient, driven by ideology and out to prove their superiority. On the other was a youthful, realized sage, unperturbed, offering sane explanations that echoed an uncommon depth and breadth of understanding. Those of us in the room, were eager to see how Sri Sri would deal with these firebrands. Sri Sri embraced them and offered them chairs to sit. There was not an iota of difference in His attitude. Any casual onlooker could be forgiven for thinking that Sri Sri considered these gentlemen as amongst His most ardent devotees. Perhaps the only difference that we could see was that they were seated on chairs while the rest of us were on the floor! For us, it was yet another opportunity to witness the unconditional love that Sri Sri exemplifies.

 

The leader of the group spoke first. He asked

SIMI: You had wanted to meet with us.

SRI SRI: Yes. I wanted to understand why your organization was opposed to the Anandotsavam.

SIMI:  We thought that holding an Anandotsavam (celebration) on December 6th was a deliberate move to insult our religious sentiments. Do you know about our religion?. Do you believe in the Koran at all?

SRI SRI:  Yes of course.

SIMI: (Not expecting this answer, pointing to the Koran, they shot the next question) We believe that Koran is the only knowledge. What about you?

SRI SRI: This is one amongst the various knowledge revealed to man from time to time.

SIMI: But God has said this is the only knowledge. The way of the Koran is the only way. There is no other way.

SRI SRI: This message can be found in scriptures of all religions. In the Vedas it is said “Naanyah Panthaah Ayanaaya Vidyate” meaning “There is no other way but the way of Truth!” The same is said in the Bible, Jesus says, “To go to my father, you have to go through me. I am the only way”.

SIMI: But our scripture says worshipping any form or idol is evil, it is blasphemy.

SRI SRI: What is Good and Evil after all? It is relative. Relative existence is not the complete picture For example: Milk is good, but too much milk can kill you. Poison is harmful, but a drop of poison can save your life. Most lifesaving medicines have poison written on them! These are neither absolutely good nor bad they are just there. Truth transcends duality, and God is the Absolute and only Truth. So, where is the place for evil?

SIMI: Yet you Hindus worship many Gods, whereas our ideal is there is only one God and His message is what is required to go to heaven.

SRI SRI: There is only one god in many forms…

SIMI: (Restless and unwilling to listen to any explanation, they interrupted Sri Sri.) But the Koran says you should only worship Allah who is formless whereas the Hindus worship idols which are only stones.

SRI SRI: At this, Sri Sri suddenly asked them: Do you honour the Koran?

SIMI: (They seemed a little taken aback at this question from Sri Sri and with a righteous air answered). Yes, it is God’s word!

SRI SRI: Do you honor the Mecca?

SIMI: Yes, of course! That is our sacred place.

SRI SRI: So also, Hindu’s honour God’s creation as God. Just like sound (Koran), the crescent moon, Kaaba and the month of Ramadan are sacred for you, Hindus consider the River Ganges, the Himalayas, Saints as sacred. See, a picture of your daughter is not your daughter, but you still adore the daughter’s picture. When you see the picture aren’t you reminded of your daughter?

(They nodded a yes)

SRI SRI: So also, a symbol is not God but is honoured as God. This sense of honouring and sacredness makes you awake and alive. That is why the ancient Rishis said to feel the entire creation and your whole life as sacred. They considered God as omnipresent, as inseparable from His creation; like the dance and the dancer.

Sri Sri elaborated further – Spirit loves diversity. Is there only one type of vegetable or fruit? God created many type of fruits and vegetables. There is not just one type of tree, not just one type of snake, cloud, mosquito….Even you change your dress for different occasions. So how could this consciousness that manifested this whole creation be monotonous? There is only one God in many forms. Only one God is advocated. When you accept the variety of Divinity, you cease to be a fanatic and fundamentalist. A pregnant silence filled the room as they looked at each other expecting the other to speak. Then as a face saving measure, the SIMI leader replied, “I will need to go and consult my higher scholars.” With a compassionate expression on His face, Sri Sri said: Never mind, (with a wave of His hand) forget about religion. We are all human beings. Let us have a peaceful society. Let us focus on development.

SIMI: No No No! What are you saying? You are talking about this world. What we do here is immaterial. The Koran tells us that what matters is what you get in eternal life and not to worry about material life. By doing service to the society you will simply remain here. You have to obey Allah. Allah is the only God and Mohammed is the last prophet.

SRI SRI: At this Sri Sri stopped them and after a pause asked them: Do you think the Sikh Gurus are not prophets. Isn’t Mirabai a prophet? What about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu?

Once again, there was silence. Their expressions had changed. The rigidity had weakened and in its place was some confusion/uncertainty. Sri Sri seemed totally at ease unmindful of the challenges posed at Him.

SIMI: No! You can go to heaven only if you believe in Allah and the Koran.

SRI SRI: No my dear – there was Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak, Jesus, Shankara… Do you think they are not in heaven? If not, then I would rather be with them!

SIMI: You are such a nice person, but we pity you because you cannot get the truth. You can’t go to Allah. You can’t be rewarded by Allah. God will never show mercy on you.

SRI SRI: Never mind. (with a mischievous smile ) I will be with these people (Shankara, Jesus, etc.)

(Even as we were admiring Sri Sri’s patience and objectivity, we were concerned at the wrong indoctrination that these youths had been subjected to. We also observed a few others who were in the room were getting a little restive, possibly wondering why Sri Sri was spending so much time with these people who were obviously not at all receptive and that too when hundreds were waiting outside just for a glimpse of Sri Sri.)

SIMI: Do you know, that over 1400 years ago, in the middle of the desert, God revealed the secrets of creation. Even when there was no science, God said that the Atom is the smallest particle!

SRI SRI smiled and said: Yes, the same is there in the shaastras too which were known more than 10,000 years ago. In the shaastras it is said that the Earth is over 19 billion years old! Truth is beyond time and space. It is not confined to one time or one place One needs to have a scientific spirituality.

As if to conclude the conversation Sri Sri gave them Ladoo as prasad. By now there were traces of a smile on their faces. When they were about to leave He gave them a hug. They definitely seemed to be less stern than earlier. Could their attitude have changed? We wondered whether this (‘changed attitude’) would persist or would they go back to their old fanatic ways. But one thing was for sure, Sri Sri had made an impression that they would not forget!

Later, while Sri Sri was having His lunch, someone asked Him, “Why is that Islam is producing so many terrorists all over the world? No other religion has given rise to so many terrorists in the world. What is the reason?”

SRI SRI: Look at the commitment and the fire in them. Take the good from them and learn what you should not be doing. Don’t label them as bad people. They have not been imparted the knowledge of Vedanta. (Then as He was adding ghee to the chilli powder) He smiled and said “In this creation, there is a place for everything.”

Talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – 6th December 2008 , Napean Sea Road , Mumbai

It is obvious that when the society is attacked, and we lose our near and dear ones, it causes a lot of sorrow. It also causes fear. But if we keep reeling in this sorrow and fear, and the anger that comes along with, then life moves towards the path to perdition. But suppose we want to channelize this energy and prepare to face this war bravely, we need to first calm the mind and come to a state of equanimity.

We need to become ‘Sam-darshi’ (One whose vision is equanimous). At this Priyadarshini Park, let’s all pray for those who have departed, and let’s take a pledge to be ‘Sam-Darshi’, the equanimous one. 

Today we are all angry with the politicians, or with our system. Our police lack the necessary arms and ammunitions. We still find ourselves stuck with old outdated concepts. Entire Mumbai seems angry.  I would say in one way this is good, that we at least have woken up.  We are no longer ready to take the ‘Chalta Hain’ attitude. For so many years India has seen terrorist attacks in different places, but for the first- time the entire community, especially the youth, have woken up. But I would like to say that changing one person, trading one minister for another, is not the solution. A new minister swearing into some position would take 6 months just to understand the whole system. So we all need to think on how to make our system stronger.  Just by reacting out of anger, and targeting one community in our anger is fruitless.  We cannot blame an entire community for a wrong.

Firstly, we all need to come together and pledge that we shall work for protecting our country.  And let’s also resolve to first examine the qualifications of those who we elect.  We need social leaders who are ‘Satya-Darshi’ (Truthful), ‘Sam-Darshi’ (Equanimous), and ‘Door-Darshi’ (Farsighted).  We need to protect our country from those who manipulate issues for their personal gains and lead by playing ‘Vote-Bank’ politics.

Secondly, we will resolve to not act out of anger, but instead channelize our dynamic energy for the betterment of the society. We will also expose all those who are supporting violence, no matter what religion they belong to. We will get rid of the mentality which asks us to protect people from our own religion, or community, even if they are doing wrong. This is very important. Sometime we protect the faulty people in our families. We will not do this anymore.

I just returned from Arunachal Pradesh in the morning. We need to send this message to all our neighboring countries that India is ONE. China is asking for Arunachal Pradesh, I would like to tell them, “Why are you just asking for Arunachal Pradesh, ask for the whole of India! We consider the entire world ours, why are you stuck only with Arunachal Pradesh then?” We will never allow this separation to happen! We are not ready to cut one thumb out and give them, but we are ready to give our entire hand to shake! India is ONE and will remain ONE. We might have different religions, communities, languages and cultures, but underneath all this diversity, every Indian is ONE. We need to send this message to Pakistan, Bangladesh or any other nation. We will not allow them to play with us anymore.

Today when Mumbai is attacked we all have woken up, but you go to Assam and see the condition there.  5 districts there are suffering from continued violence. Lakhs of people had to flee from their houses and are living in camps. The situation in Assam is completely hand crafted by politicians. But we never get to see this in our news. Today, we shall pray for not just the victims of Mumbai alone, but for the victims of terror and extremism everywhere in India.

We are proponents of Peace, but we also are the descendants of Guru Gobind Singh. Today, we need ‘Sant-Sipahi’ (The Saint who is a Soldier). We don’t need just saints, we don’t need just soldiers, but people who are both. Every human here shall be a Peace Messenger, and a Peace Soldier. Peace Soldiers are those who have dynamism and a will to stop the wrong. Peace Soldiers are those who expose the wrong deeds and doers in the society, and stand in protest.

Today is Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s anniversary. We all must remember the good work done by him in starting the movement against ‘Un-touchability’. Even today, some villages of India are practicing Un-touchability. This should be immediately curbed.  Nowhere in our scriptures has un-touchability been advocated. In India, we have a tradition of worshiping the feet (Paada-Pooja). In fact in the west the feet are considered low and un-holy. Washing the feet, worshiping the feet has always been a sign of reverence in our culture. Just like the body has different organs, the society has different castes philosophies and religions.  But all of them ultimately represent that One Divinity. Remember this fact. Never think that our scriptures, our religion is superficial. There is immense depth in our ‘Shastras’.  Sometimes we see that there is a huge valley between what is written in the scriptures and what is seen in our daily practice. Islam, what it actually says and the way it is practiced today is completely different. Same goes for the Vedic knowledge.  Our Vedas say that all humans are one, and yet we see casteism and un-touchability practiced in places. These practices have no religious significance whatsoever. This should be stopped.

So we need to bring a wave of social transformation, and each one of us here will need to take responsibility for the same. Can we all do it? Raise hands – all those who would like to join hands for this task. Yes, we all can do it. But one thing we need to remember again is that we should not act out of anger. When I went to Iraq and met some ministers there, and told them that by practicing meditation we can pacify our anger, they requested me to not pacify the anger of their people! They want their citizens to stay angry till they don’t take their revenge from America. I was shocked! Anger will always lead you to remorse.

Peace does not mean inaction. We want a revolution, but we want a Peace Revolution. Mahatma Gandhi advocated Peace, but he did not just sit back and let injustice happen. Out of peace, he took action.  The essence of entire Geeta is this – Fight with equanimity. Today, this message of Geeta is applicable to Mumbai. Mahabharata, which happened 5200 years ago, is now repeating itself again. We are again seeing a ‘Dharam-Yudha’ (A Battle for Religion). And in this battle, all the nations of the world, except a few, are with us! And even those nations, which are not with us, it’s only select people from those nations who are not with us.

Their own missiles are now shooting back at them. Let’s not make this mistake ourselves. Whenever I have traveled to Israel, I have been told by the Jewish leaders there that India is the only nation in the world where a Jew has never been attacked! India is known for its tolerance and peace. India is the only nation on the planet, which has advocated peace and welcomed people from all religions and countries with arms wide open. But what has happened this time has left us hurt and wounded. However, we shall not let this stain our spirits – We shall overcome. Are you all with me?

We will not let go of our culture, our nature – which is peace, which is non-violence. But with this philosophy of non-violence and peace, we shall teach such a lesson to all the terrorists, that they will not even know what hit them!

And I would like to ask all the media and the journalists to pay some attention towards the North East provinces of India. There is a lot of violence happening there. Our media does not show these incidents at all. Each state there is gripped with violence. People are living in fear. We have completely forgotten those people. They only see Mahatma Gandhi’s name in the currency bills, otherwise there is no reflection of his principles there.

I would like to say to all the families who have lost their dear ones that the soul never dies. Those who have departed us have merged with the divine, and their souls are still with you, with us, with the entire nation.  Hence we should not sit and shed tears for them, for they are martyrs. Everyone will die, including us. But they have sacrificed their lives to wake us up and make us realize that others should not need to suffer, that this should not happen again. Know that once you drop the body, there is no more suffering to the soul. However, people who are left behind on the planer suffer for their loss. Now this sorrow that you might feel should be channelized properly. Don’t go in depression. We are conducting Trauma Relief Workshops everywhere. All those who saw these attacks, and are suffering with the traumatic impressions it leaves in the mind, need to learn pranayams and meditation to flush this negativity out. So ensure all those who you know are feeling dejected and scared, even just by seeing these proceedings in TV, attend these Trauma Relief camps and learn meditation, so that they can once again be filled with hope, enthusiasm and happiness.