Kundalini Yoga & Chakras

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The Chakras mentioned in the Tantric literature are six in number. These are independent units carrying on their assigned function. Each Chakra has Shakti controlling its own activity. In addition to these independent Shaktis of each Chakra there is a universal Shakti which has the power of controlling all these Chakras mentioned above. In the physical form she is lying dormant and coiled up like a serpent in an individual. When this is awakened by Yoga practices, the individual gains for himself the power of performing miracles.

The lowermost Chakra, with which Kundalini forms a connection and through which it is able to send impulses, is the Basic plexus called the Muladhar Chakra(In science it is called Gonad gland). It has four branches (Dala) and the shape of a triangle, or, in the words of the Garuda-Purana, the shape of the pudendum pubis (Bhaga). This description tallies very accurately with the description of the Pelvic plexus of the autonomic system, situated near the sides of the rectum. It is a continuation of the hypogastria plexus which bifurcates below into two lateral portions to assume the shape of a triangle; and by contemplation of this chakra the Yogi obtains freedom from disease, knows the past and the future and gains all psychic powers. It also forms connections with the Swadhisthana – the chakra which is situated in the pelvic region or Guhya-desha, just on a level with the root of the penis and is probably the hypogastric plexus.

The Swadhisthana Chakra(In science it is called Solar Plexus ) has six petals or branches. By contemplation of this, freedom from death and disease is obtained. Higher up still, Kundalini forms herself into a plexus, which is known as the Kundali chakra or solar plexus and its location is in the region of the navel. Its direct extension upwards is called Manipura chakra, which can be identified with the plexus of the Coeliac axis. The proximity is so great that no distinction is made between the Kundali and Manipura chakras(In science it is called Adrenal and Pancreas) . The Kundali Chakra is described to be of a red color and to have ten branches. It is called the Lotus of Happiness. By contemplation of this chakra, a Yogi is able to enter into the body of another person; he obtains the power of transmuting metals, of healing the sick, and of clairvoyance.

After passing through these Chakras the Kundalini forces its passage through the Anahata Chakra(In science it is called Thymus gland)   and which has twelve branches and is located in the Hridayadesha i.e. the region of the heart.

This description appears to identify itself with that of the Cardiac plexus of the sympathetic system. By contemplating this lotus, a Yogi becomes clairvoyant and clairaudient and is able to see adepts moving in the air, and gains the power of travelling at will to any part of the world by the exercise of his volition. Of the six important lotuses or plexuses, the one situated in Kantha, the region of the throat (Pomum Adami), known as Vishuddhi or Vishuddhakhya Chakra(In science it is called Thyroid / Para thyroid gland), has sixteen petals or branches. It is probably the pharyngeal plexus of the sympathetic; and it is said to be the lotus of purification. By contemplating this lotus, the whole body is purified of diseases and ailments and a Yogi is able to live a thousand years in external youth. In fact, he is dead to all the outer world, and becomes absorbed in his inner life. The power behind a malediction of a Yogi also depends upon the command of this lotus. Abstract scientific men are likely to laugh at the various powers assigned to the different plexuses. Still,, we have read of things in the ancient Vedic and classical literature which have been proved to be true, Reality of these achievements of a Yogi, time alone would show.

Kundalini then passes to the Agya or Taluka chakra(In science it is called Pituitary gland) i.e. the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic system which is situated at the base of the skull, and thence joins the Sahasrasar Chakra or Ajna chakra(In science it is called Pineal gland) . This chakra is the Naso-ciliary extension of the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic through the ophthalmic division of the fifth cranial nerve, ending in the ciliary muscles of the iris and at the root of the nose, through the supra-orbital foramen. It has two petals or branches and is situated between the eyebrows- It is the spot which is contemplated while undergoing the process of Pranayama. Here is found the great light, the third eye as it is called, and by contemplation of this a Yogi gains wonderful psychic powers. This Chakra is called the plexus of command.

Gayatri Mantra – Meaning and Importance

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“Sandhya” or worshipping at the junctures when day and night meets i.e. the periods of dawn and dusk is considered to be very auspicious in Hinduism. Gayatri mantra is one of the main components of Sandhya. As per the ancient Hindu text, Gayatri is considered as the mother of Vedas. Recitation of Gayatri mantra produces same result as studies of four Vedas. Therefore, pages of scriptures are filled with the praise of Gayatri mantra. According to Manu, the one who recites Gayatri mantra continuously for three years reaches to the state of self-realization and becomes one with cosmic consciousness.

Japa or recitation is said to be of three types – reciting aloud (Vachik), murmuring (Upanshu) and mental recitation (Manas). Each one of these is considered to be better than the previous. When once recites aloud so that others can hear your voice, it is called ‘Vachik’ japa. Similarly, when mantra is chanted in such a way that others cannot clearly understand what is being said and lips make murmuring sound, it is known as Upanshu. However, when one chants the mantra only mentally and meditates on the meaning of mantra, it is called Manas japa and considered to be the best among these. A devotee should recite Gayatri mantra at least ten times in a day in order to get free from all sins.

There is a beautiful parable about the importance of Gayatri mantra in 119th chapter of Shanti Parva in Mahabharata. Pippalad, a Brahmin born in Kaushik gotra, was a very spiritual person. He used to chant Gayatri mantra every day. After reciting Gayatri continuously for thousand years, goddess Gayatri appeared in front of him and said, “I am very happy with you.” However, Pippalad’s son was chanting the mantra at that time and he did not open his eyes. Seeing this, mother Gayatri became even happier and kept standing there. This parable depicts that one should not degrade means, because just means are bound to produce positive results. The one who keeps practicing with concentration and devotion reaches to the ultimate state of self-realization. Sticking to the right means with love and faith brings the right fruit for sure.

After completing the recitation of certain numbers of Gayatri mantra, Brahmin stood up and bowed in front of goddess. He said, “O divine mother! If you are satisfied with my devotion, please give me the strength to continue the recitation of great Gayatri mantra all my life with concentration and love.” Goddess Gayatri bestowed him with her blessings and fulfilled his desires. Brahmin began his chanting again and after hundred more years of gods, Dharma, the deity of righteousness appeared in front of him and blessed him with heaven. However, Brahmin told him, “O god! I need no heaven, nor do I want to enjoy the sensual pleasures in other worlds. My only desire is to enjoy the recitation of Gayatri mantra.” Dharma praised his devotion for Gayatri and went back to heaven.

After a while, king Ikshwaku met him and he, impressed with his devotion, offered him wealth and luxuries. Brahmin did not accept the riches and said, “O king of kings, I need no wealth. However, if you desire something, I can give that to you using the divine powers of Gayatri.” The king asked for all the divine effects and Punya of his chanting. Brahmin did not hesitate for a moment and got ready to give all his virtues. But king said, “I am sorry. I do not want it and was just testing your virtuousness.” Gods became happy with both and showered them with flowers from the sky.

At the end, Brahmin taught him the divine knowledge of Brahman and both of they realized the true nature of self, and reached to the state of super-consciousness. One who chants Gayatri mantra with full devotion like the Brahmin gets his all desires fulfilled and reaches to the ultimate goal.

Meaning of Gayatri Mantra :

Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,

Remover of pain and sorrow,

The Bestower of happiness,

Oh! Creator of the Universe,

May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,

May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

According to Brahadaranyakopnishada, the Gayatri Mantra is based on truth. For truth is based on strength. Strength is breath, and is based on breath. So, Gayatri protects (tra) the wealth (gaya) (the breath!) of those who speak it with earnestness and devotion. When one recites Gayatri on behalf of someone, it protects that person’s breath too! The first foot (aum bhur bhuvah svaha) is said to be equivalent to the wealth contained in the three worlds put together. The second foot (tat savitur varenyam) is said to be equivalent to the wealth contained in the three main vedas. If one were to receive a gift extending as far as there are living beings, that would equal the third foot (bhargo devasaya dheemahi). The fourth foot (dheeyo yo nah prachodyaat) is based on the glory of the sun, whose power and wealth remains unequaled and unrivaled. Hence, there is no amount of wealth that can equal the fourth foot of the Gayatri!

Rudra & Rudrabishekam

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Rudra (Sanskrit: रुद्रः) is a Rigvedic god of the storm, the wind, and the hunt. The name has been translated as “Roarer”, “Howler”, “Wild One”, and “Terrible”. Rudra is “thought” to be an early form of Shiva. By the time that the Ramayana was written, the name Rudra is taken as a synonym for Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably.

Etymology

The etymology of the word rudra is somewhat uncertain. The commentator Sāyaṇa suggests six possible derivations for the word. However, another reference states that Sayana suggested ten derivations.

The Sanskrit name Rudra is usually derived from the root rud- which means “to cry, howl.” According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as “the Roarer”. An alternate etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra (“the Red, the Brilliant”) from a lost root rud-, “to be red” or “to be ruddy”, or according to Grassman, “to shine”. Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means wild, of rudra nature, and translates the name Rudra as “the Wild One” or “the Fierce God”. R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as “Terrible” in his glossary for the Shiva Sahasranama.

The adjective shiva in the sense of “propitious” or “kind” is applied to the name Rudra in Rig Veda 10.92.9. According to Gavin Flood, Shiva used as a name or title (Sanskrit śiva, “the kindly/auspicious one”) occurs only in the late Vedic Katha Aranyaka. Axel Michaels says Rudra was called Shiva for the first time in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad.

Rudra is called “The Archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv which means “to injure” or “to kill” and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”. The names Dhanvin (“Bowman”) and Bāṇahasta (“Archer”, literally “Armed with arrows in his hands”) also refer to archery.

In other contexts the word rudra can simply mean “the number eleven”.

The word “rudraksha” (Sanskrit: rudrākşa = rudra + akşa “eye”), or “eye of Rudra”, is used as a name both for the berry of the Rudraksha tree, and a name for a string of the prayer beads made from those seeds.

The Maruts

Rudra is used both as a name of Shiva and collectively (“the Rudras”) as the name for the Maruts. Gavin Flood characterizes the Maruts as “storm gods”, associated with the atmosphere. They are a group of gods, supposed to be either eleven or thirty-three in number. The number of Maruts varies from two to sixty (three times sixty in RV 8.96.8.).

The Rudras are sometimes referred to as “the sons of Rudra”. Rudra is referred to as “Father of the Maruts” in RV 2.33.1.

Abishegam

“Abhishekam” is religious bathing, literally meaning “sprinkling”. “Abhishekam” forms an important purification ritual in “Pooja” offerings. In “Siva Pujan” many sacred materials are used in “Abhishekam” as per the code of initiation by the Acharya. During the abishekam, devotee is able to see the murti in many different forms and it may also be a way of washing of one’s sins. As Rudra is a very fierce form of Shiva, abishekam may have a significance in cooling of or pleasing of the God.

When Lord Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama, he established Siva Linga at Rameswaram before crossing the sea and performed Rudrabhishek to express his devotion to Lord Siva.

Lord Siva is called ‘Ashutosh’, is pleased with just a little water. What to talk about Rudrabhishek with eleven Dravyas?

Lord Siva is also called |Pranat-Dukha-Dravak: one who melts in the sorrow of his devotees.

Rudrabhishek is to invoke his grace and blessings.

Rudrabhishek is a puja offered to Shiva as he carries serpents all the times in his neck and serpents have great respect for Shiva. Kashi Vishwanath is the place where you can perform this puja. Person must keep yantra at home and do its regular puja as prescribed. You can get Yantra abhimantrit at Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

ARTICLES AND MATERIALS FOR PUJA

· An altar with Sivalinga, Lord Siva’s and Pujya Gurudev’s photos.

· 1 Kalash, 2 big vessels, 4 big plates, 2 small plates, 4 spoons and Panchapatra.

· 2 lamps, 1 big with oil and other small with ghee along with 5 wicks,

· Incense sticks, karpur, chandan, kumkum, vibhuti, akashata.

· Lot of fresh and clean water for Abhishek.

· Naivedyam prepared for offering.

· 3 garlands, loose white flowers, 108 bilwa leaves.

· 3 towels, asanam

· Dakshina to be offered to Lord.

· 11 dravyas – 1 cup of each

· Milk, curd, til oil, honey, sugar, panchamrit (mixture of milk, ghee, sugar, honey and curd), lemon juice, tender coconut water, sugarcane juice, rose water, vibhuti mixed with water.

· 1 small scent bottle.

· Warm water.

4 Betel leaves, 2 supari – placed in a small plate.

Rudrabhishekam Puja – When Lord Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama, he established Shiva Linga at Rameswaram before crossing the sea and performed Rudrabhishek to express his devotion to Lord Siva.This Pooja, where Lord Shiva is worshiped in His Rudra form, is hailed by all Vedic scriptures as one of the greatest Poojas to remove all evils, to attain all desires and for all round prosperity. The Maha Rudrabhishekam is particularly performed for the sake of washing away ones sins and afflictions, for bringing peace, propsertiy and happiness, along with family togetherness.

Ekadasa Rudrabhishekam Pooja – This is a more elaborate Pooja of Lord Shiva. Shiva has eleven forms of Rudra. In this Pooja all the 11 Rudras are worshiped. After the sthapana avahana etc., Laghunyasam is recited. Then Rudra Trishati is recited. Abhishekam is done to each of the 11 Rudras with all the 11 dravyas prescribed. Their 11 consorts are also worshiped . This pooja is performed by 4 pundits and Rudram is recited total 11 times – i.e. one recital for each of the 11 Rudras. It will be done in your name and with your sankalpa i.e. – The specific purpose for which you are getting the pooja performed. Only Pooja is performed and Homa ie fire oblations are not done.

Ekadasa Rudrabhishekam Homa – This is a major Homa of Lord Shiva. Shiva has eleven forms of Rudra. In this Homa all the 11 Rudras are worshiped. After the sthapana avahana etc., Mahanyasam is recited. Then Rudra Trishati is recited. This homa is performed by 11 pundits and each pundit recites Sri Rudram 11 times – i.e. total 121 times Rudrajapa. Abhishekam is done to each of the 11 Rudras with all the 11 dravyas prescribed. Their 11 consorts are also worshiped . After the pooja Homa is performed with the prescribed ingredients and 1/10 the number of japas done in the pooja are repeated. It ends with purnahuti and shanti paath. It is an excellent Homa for all round shanti and success in all undertakings. It will be done in your name and with your sankalpa, i.e., the specific purpose for which you are getting the pooja performed. This Homa will be performed exclusively for you.

Maha Rudram Yajna – This is a once in a lifetime yajna to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and an excellent remedy for all doshas and for all round success in all areas of life. All other rituals are same as in the above Ekadasa Rudra Homam but in this Yagya 121 pundits recite the Rudram 11 times each in one day – i.e., total 1331 recitals of Sri Rudram. Alternately, instead of one day it is also performed by 33 pundits for 4 days to complete the total 1331 Rudra japas. After that Homa is performed with the prescribed ingredients and 1/10 the number of japas done in the pooja are repeated while performing the Homa – i.e., 133 more Rudra japas. Normally apart from the 121 reciting pundits 10 more extra pundits are included in the homa to look after the continuous process of abhishekam and passing the materials plus in case a pundit takes a break to drink water etc as it a very long Yagya.One must be very lucky indeed to get this Yagya performed as it is said that Lord Shiva and His consort Mother Annapoorna bless the performer with all the 8 types of wealth.

The following is the tradition in South India:

Step 1: What is Abhishekam?

Abhishekam is the process of bathing the deity. According to Siva Agamas (pooja rules) abhishekam is considered as one part of the shodashopachara pooja. Siva Agamas give lot of importance to abhishekam in Siva pooja and it makes the ceremonies many times more effective. Your priest may perform Abhishekam by simply using holy water or perform elaborately with milk, curds, honey, ghee, sugar, coconut water, holy ash, sandal paste, fruit

juice etc.

Lord Siva will be pleased by the process of bathing with the prescribed eleven ingredients like water, milk, curd, ghee, honey etc. If you pour a drop of water on the ‘Linga form’ you will receive the blessings of Lord Siva. He will remove all your difficulties and will grace with happiness and joy.

Step 2: Annabhishekam : A Thanks Giving Festival

The seventh month in the calendar is the holy month. According to astrology Sun resides in the house / rasi Libra. The harvesting of paddy in Tamil Nadu would have got completed by this time. People are more interested in thanking Lord Siva with Annam (cooked fragrant rice). They believe that Lord Siva has only created annam (cooked rice) and He alone offers His grace and protects His subjects with annam (cooked rice).

Step 3: Siva Lingam: An Abstract Form of Lord Siva

Since Lord Shiva is widely worshipped in the form of the Siva linga as well as presiding deity, annabhisekam will be performed only to Siva lingam. Siva linga form has three parts. The four-sided lower-most part forms the base and is known as avudai. The ‘Yoni’ or octagonal eight-sided pedestal (mid-part) is provided with a passage for draining away the water or other liquids poured on top by devotees. The ‘Lingam’ or cylidrical shaped top most part remains on the pedestal. The height of lingam is one-third of its circumference. The three parts of lingam symbolize the trinity of Hindu pantheon i.e. Brahma (the creator) resides at the bottom, Vishnu (the preserver) resides in the middle and Shiva (the destroyer) resides on the top.

Step 4: Eleven Ingredients Prescribed for Abhishekam

The Shiva Linga abhishekam is done with the prescribed 11 ingredients:

1) Gingely oil

2) Pancha kavyam (mixture of five ingredients i.e. milk, curd or yoghurt, ghee and cows urine)

3) Panchamrutham (mixture of five ingredients i.e. fruit, jaggery, ghee, honey and sugar candy)

4) Ghee

5) Milk

6) Curd or yoghurt

7) Honey

8) Sugar cane juice

9) Lime juice

10) Tender coconut water

11) Sandal paste

Step 5: Annabhishekam

Annabhishekam is performed next to milk on this specific day. During abhishekam ‘Sri Rudram’ (hymn at chapter 16 & 18 of Yajurveda part of veda) is chanted. Rhythm chanting of the Sri Rudram will purify the entire atmosphere. Sri Rudra has eleven sections. Similarly Lord Siva has eleven forms (Ekadasa Rudra). Annabhisekam will take place mostly in the evening. In some temples it may take place in the noon.

The Sive Linga will be covered with cooked rice. They may even cover the floor of the sanctum sanctorium and may extend up to the steps. They will use the snacks like Vadai, appam to decorate the deity. They will also use vegetables and fruits. As a result the Siva Linga will appear with eyes, ear, nose and mouth. The fruits and vegetables will be piled up on the floor and steps. The ‘harathi’ will be followed. The Siva linga will remain covered with annam for about one yamam, or one and half hours.

Step 6: Lord Siva: Preserver of Annam

Lord Siva is the preserver of annam (Annanam Pathaye Namaha). He is considered as annam and he is also the consumer of annam (Ahamannam .. Ahamannatho). The devotees believe that anyone who witnesses annabhshekam will be relived from the troubles of rebirth.

Step 7: Maha Harathi

Devotees will collect the cooked rice covered around Lingam and immerse it in rivers or ponds. The cooked rice used to cover the base and floor will be collected and distributed to devotees.

After removal of the cooked rice, the Siva Linga will have abhishekam with the remaining five ingredients (Total ingredients: eleven – Five before annabhishekam). After this the main deity will be decorated with clothes and jewels. The Maha Harathi will be shown to the deity. With this the annabhishekam will be concluded.

Summary

Annabhishekam with cooked rice to Lingam is an annual ritual in all Siva Temples. But it is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil. In Thiruvannamalai it is done during ‘Karthigai festival’. In Palani it is done during the Tamil month Aani.