Hari Aum !
Mataji Vanamali concerned about the modern generations total lack of knowledge about Hinduism, has formed a trust called Adiveda.
Hinduism has long been neglected by its own. Our great culture and history are being forgotten - thanks to foreign influences and our own ignorance and neglect. Something which was once proclaimed as the Santana Dharma is now met with cynicism and ridicule. We do not understand the greatness of our culture and this will be the cause of our downfall.
Adiveda aims to spread the message of the Sanatana Dharma amongst our children.
Towards the same efforts, Mataji writes regularly on the Adiveda blog - explaining the science and significance of different aspects of the Sanatana Dharma. We ould be very grateful if you could read, share on social media platforms and engage in conversation on the blog.
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Thank you once again.
Love and Blessings,
Adiveda Team, headed by Vanamali Mataji
Adiveda, B-1, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi-110014 • 9873741017 • 9833112881
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The Hindu Way of Life
Written by eminent author and spiritual teacher Vanamali Mataji, it covers the fundamental knowledge a child must have.
Download a PDF of the book
A Long, Forgotten History Of India As One Of The Most Creative Civilisations That Ever Existed
The outpouring of creation made Indian civilisation the most attractive of cultures in the world. Echoes of this tradition of great ideas need a revival.
Full article on Swarajya Mag
Onam or Thiruvonam is a festival that is celebrated in the month of Chingam or Shravana in the southern state of Kerala. Lord Vishnu is the harmoniser in the Hindu Trinity made up of Brahma, the creator Vishnu, the harmoniser and Shiva, the destroyer. Vishnu is supposed to have taken ten incarnations to uplift the world and free it from the thraldom of the demons.
The whole festival of Onam centres round the story of the fifth incarnation of Vishnu known as Vamana. There was once a demon king called Mahabali who conquered the heavens and forcefully evicted the devas or demi gods, led by their king, Indra. The unhappy gods went with their woes to Vishnu who promised to help them to get their domain back. He took birth in a Brahmin household on the full moon day of the month of Shravana under the star known as Shravana which is called Thiruvonam in Malayalam. Soon after his birth he took on the form of a twelve-year old boy. Boys of that age are invested with the sacred thread (refer the article on Raksha Bandhan). The little boy who was called Vamana due to his dwarfish size was invested with the sacred thread and given all the accoutrements of a Brahmachari or a celibate student. He held a staff in one hand and an umbrella in the other and he was supposed to go and beg for his food as is customary for a Brahmachari who had just been invested with the holy thread.
He was informed that the great king of the land, Mahabali was holding a huge fire ceremony or “Yaga” to which everyone had been invited. It was a good opportunity for the little Brahmachari to go and beg from the king of the land.
Vamana set out purposefully towards the palace but it is said that at every step he took the whole of the earth shook as if to proclaim his grandeur. Such was the splendour emanating from Vamana, that when he reached the court where the king and all the sages and other great souls were assembled, it is said that the king, even though he was the emperor of all the worlds stood up to welcome him. Mahabali went forward to receive him and gave him a seat of honour. Respectfully the king requested him to ask for any boon he liked. “I can give you anything on this earth or in any of the other worlds,” he said proudly.
Vamana smiled his mysterious smile as if he thought, “This man is offering this small speck of land known as the earth to me, who am the master of this cosmos. I must curb his pride. Meekly he said, “All I want are three steps of land.”
Mahabali roared with laughter and said, “I thought you were an intelligent boy but I see now that you are only a child. You have come to the palace of one who owns the whole earth and heavens and you are stupid enough to ask for only three steps of land.”
Vamana replied, “Only the person who is satisfied when all his needs are met with, can be said to be truly content. In fact, such a person is indeed a king. What is the use of having more than one really needs? What would I do with it? I want only three steps of land.”
Mahabali agreed and proceeded to solemnise the promise with some water which he took in the palm of his hand and was all set to pour it into Vamana’s little palm. Immediately he was stopped by Shukracharya, his guru (spiritual guide).
“Mahabali!” he said, “This little boy is none other than Vishnu who has been sent by the devas to defeat you. It is some trick. Do not give him anything!”
Lord Vishnu as Vamana Taking a Step...
Mahabali replied, “I deem it a great honour that Vishnu, the great god of all the worlds has come to beg from me. Moreover, I will never go back on the promise I made to him even if it means death for me!”
Vamana was very happy to hear these wonderful words coming from the mouth of this asura (demon), who he felt was truly his devotee. Suddenly, the little body of the dwarf started to enlarge until it became a gigantic figure whose head could not be seen since it soared above the earth. With one step he measured the whole earth and with the other, all the heavens. Then in a thunderous voice he boomed, “Where is the third step that you promised me O Mahabali!”
Without turning a hair Mahabali whispered, “O Lord if you will only return to your original size you can place your little foot on my head and thus enable me to keep my promise of giving you three steps of land.”
Vamana promptly returned to his original size and placed his sacred foot on the bowed head of the great king who was determined to keep his promise despite all odds. He pressed his little foot down on the crowned head of the king and sent him along with his retinue to the nether world in which he was installed as the sole emperor. The devas were re-installed in their heaven.
Turning to king he said, “O Mahabali! You are indeed a noble soul and will be known as one of my greatest devotees even though you have been born in the clan of the asuras (demons). I have great admiration for you and I promise that I myself will become your gate keeper and see to it that no enemy shall ever conquer you.”
Mahabali then begged him to be allowed to return to the land he loved at least once a year. Vamana agreed and it is said that Mahabali returns every year on Thiruvonam day to the land of Kerala to bless his people. Of course, he is always accompanied by Vamana who comes before him to make everything ready for his arrival. Due to this both the asura king Mahabali and Lord Vishnu as Vamana are welcomed by the Keralites during Onam. This makes Onam a unique festival in which the victor and the vanquished are both worshipped at the same time.
This is the true background story of the festival of Onam which is celebrated to honour the fifth incarnation of Vishnu known as Vamana and to show the greatness of the king who kept his promise even though he knew that great harm might come to him. This is the attitude which all rulers of any country should have, to see to the welfare of their people before their own welfare and to keep the promises made by them to the citizens of the country they rule. This is the glorious tradition of the land of Kerala and every Onam is a fulfilment of the promise made by Vamana to help them provided they kept their promises like Mahabali.
Hindus follow the lunar month made up of twenty-eight days. On each day of every month one star will be in ascendance. A lot of importance is given in our horoscopes to the star on which we are born. That is what decides our physical and mental quality. The word Onam is a shortened form of Thiruvonam which is the Kerala version of the star known as Shravana in Sanskrit. Vishnu in his form as Vamana was born on this day, the full moon day of the month of Shravana on the star called Shravana or Thiruvonam. The place where the holy feet (Trikkal) of Vishnu touched the earth came to be known as Trikkal kara. This later degenerated to Thrikkakara.
The idol of Vamana was installed in the temple of Trikkakara on this day centuries years ago. It is in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. Even though this is purely a Hindu festival it is celebrated by all Malayalees (those who belong to the state known as Kerala in S.India) both Christians and Muslims.
On the eve of Onam when the star known as Uttradam is in ascendance all Hindus houses in Kerala invite Lord Vishnu in his form as Vamana to come and bless their house. A pyramidal clay figure with four sides and a flat top is made and this is known as Trikkakarappan or the Lord of the temple of Trikkakara which is Vamana. This unique four-sided figure is supposed to represent the four stages in the life of the human being. In modern days when people have no access to clay, we find that these structures are made of wood and sold in shops. The little idol of Trikkakarappan is placed on a banana leaf on which mystic symbols have been drawn with rice flour. Floral arrangements in beautiful patterns are made round the figures. It’s normal to make two smaller versions of Trikkakarappan and keep them on either side of the main idol. These three idols are supposed to represent the three steps of land requested by Vamana.
The actual festival begins ten days before Thiruvonam on the star called Hastha or Attham. From that day onwards, children collect wild flowers and make lovely arrangements outside the house. This is called a “pookalam.” Each day of the ten-day festival is represented by the “pookalam”. Originally the pookalam consisted of ten concentric rounds. These ten circles were meant to represent the ten avataras or incarnations of Lord Vishnu. On the first day called “attham” the “pookalam” would only have one round, the next day it would become two rounds and finally on Tiruvonam day there would be ten rounds. On the first day the round would be made of one single colour, on the second day two colours and so on till the final day when ten colours were used. Nowadays this tradition is rarely followed, and more importance is given to the design and variety of flowers. People buy bunches of flowers in the market and make huge “pookalams” of every size and shape and even use coloured powders as they do in the “rangolis” (designs made with coloured powders) in N. India.
This year Onam falls on the 25th August. It is going to be a rather watery affair for the Keralites since Kerala has been flooded with torrential rain and overflowing dams for the past two weeks. Of course, it is to their credit that all of them drowned their continuous bickering over caste, creed and religion and joined together in an amazing show of co-operation and good will despite the overwhelming odds that faced them. All three fighting forces of the country went there to help but the Keralites did not wait for help from the centre but mustered up their own forces and had already set up a huge help line which penetrated all the nooks and corners of the state. Money poured in from every quarter including UAE states which are peopled by thousands of craftsmen from Kerala. Even the fishermen joined the crowd and were able to use their trained skills in the use of small boats to manoeuvre their craft into small lanes which had turned into tributaries of the roads which had become gushing rivers. In some ways this was a well- deserved retribution for the Malayalees (Keralites) who, despite their intelligence are always bickering with their neighbours and had even denied water to the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu. So now they have received the karmic back lash, for their actions and have been deluged by the very waters that they had denied to others. Another point is that the Keralites are on the whole inclined to take an inordinate pride in their intelligence and their ability to overcome any problems. Of course, it is true that they did deal with the problems in a most intelligent and mature fashion, as we know prevention is always better than cure. The government had been told of the approaching monsoons and of the danger that the state would face if the dams broke. That was the time when they should have started letting out the water of the dams slowly to reduce the pressure. Had this been done the damage would have been much less. They opened the dams when they were nearly bursting, and the rains were at their heaviest. This was the reason for such the unexpected deluge. This has also taught them a lesson to be more generous with their water and give to those who are less fortunate.
All our experiences are meant to teach us some lesson or other. Hopefully the whole country has learnt a good lesson from this.
The flood waters have receded and I’m sure the Keralites will pick up the threads which had been left undone and make the best of what is left of their national holiday of Onam.
Happy Onam to All
The festival known as Raksha Bandhan falls on the full moon day of the Sanskrit month of Shravan which normally comes in August. This year 2018, it falls on 26th August. The word “Raksha” means to protect and the word “bandhan” means a bond or tie. The whole ritual centres on the tying of a silk or cotton thread round the wrist of a person. This thread is known as a “raakhi”. Originally this was just a red or yellow thread denoting the vibrancy of life but now you find many types of fancy bracelets are being used as “raakhis”.
This particular day has been popularised by the great poet Rabindranth Tagore to promote a feeling of unity and commitment to all the members of the society and includes a solemn promise to protect each other in times of calamity. But as time passed this has become a day to promote fraternal love between siblings especially brothers and sisters. The sisters tie the raakhi round the right wrist of their brothers, who promise to protect them at all times. The sisters in turn pray for the well-being of their brothers. Girls even tie raakhis round the wrists of their boy-friends but the rule is that one can never marry the person on whose wrist you have tied a raakhi since he has automatically become your brother. The raksha bandhan ceremony as is performed in most houses is symbolic of the everlasting bond between brothers and sisters even though they may live in different continents and oceans may separate them.
The tying of a thread which has been blessed by a priest or great soul has a great significance in Hinduism. The priest would bless the thread using mantras and tie it round the wrist of the devotee who needed protection from evil forces.
Before the commencement of a puja or ritual or fire ceremony it is customary for the priest to tie this consecrated thread round the wrists of those who are attending the ceremony. By this the devotee pledges his devotion to the deity and the deity in turn protects the devotee from all harm.
In olden days wives used to get a thread blessed by the priest and tie many talismans on it and put it on the wrist of their husbands before they set out for war. In the Mahabharata war you find that all the great heroes had this thread tied on them before they set out every day for the battle.
Actually, there is a lot of esoteric meaning behind the tying of this sacred thread. Hindus tie it as a pledge to continue with their practice of the ancient dharma or moral values of their culture. It binds them to a life- time of practicing the values of harmony and peaceful coexistence.
In the villages it’s normal to put imprints of hands on the sides of the entrance door of the house and stick raakhis on them. In S. India this is the day when Brahmins change their sacred thread which is something they wear to help them to remember that they are now born into a new life. They have to remember the fact that they have a deep bond with the divine and the responsibility to keep up the sacred traditions of their culture and pass it on to the new generation. This bond is revived every year by taking on a new sacred thread which is ceremonially put by the priest across their right shoulder.
This ceremony should not be taken lightly as a ritual of not much consequence but as a sacred covenant made with God to live a life of purity. It is actually a promise to live in accordance with the laws of nature and to help purify the elements as well as those who live on this earth made up of the elements.
On the morning of Raksha Bandhan day one should prepare oneself both physically and mentally. One should take a bath and sit in meditation for a while and make a vow to observe a life of purity in thought, word and deed. Thus, the main aspect of Raksha Bandhan is the surrender of one’s own self to God for He is indeed the true brother whose strong arm alone will protect you from all harm at all times.
Hari Aum Tat Sat