Bhakti yoga shri Krishna speaks to His friend Uddhava by Sri Swami Sivananda

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BHAKTI YOGA

Shri Krishna speaks to His friend Uddhava by Sri Swami Sivananda
O Uddhava, neither Yoga, nor knowledge, nor Dharma, nor study of the Vedas, nor austerity nor renunciation propitiates Me or wins Me, so much as unswerving devotion to Me. I, the beloved Atman, am attained only by undivided devotion and faith.

How can the mind be purified without devotion to Me which is characterised by melting of the heart, the hair standing on end and tears of joy trickling  down the cheeks?

A devotee of Mine whose speech is broken by sobs, whose heart melts, who without shyness weeps profusely, or laughs or sings loudly and  dances, not only purifies himself but purifies the whole world!

Just as gold blown in the fire loses its impurities and regains its real form, so also the mind shakes off its impurities and its tendencies of Karma and desire by means of devotion to Me, and attaining to Me, regains its own  true form.

The more the mind is purified by listening to my sacred stories and the  repetition of My names, the more it sees the subtle essence of things and  the subtle Reality. Therefor, think of Me  and your mind and heart will be merged in Me alone!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

George Feurstein- Aesthetic Vedanta - Foreword

For Sri Caitanya and his followers, bhakti is the ultimate aesthetic experience, or rasa, which is beauty and joy eclipsing all other emotions.

The Bhakti-Yoga , the spiritual path of love/devotion, revolves around the cultivation of ecstatic self-surrender, yielding the graceful gift of rasa. The devotee reexperiences the divine rasa-lila in deep meditation, when the mind’s walls have crumbled and the heart stands naked before the Beloved, whose sweetness (madhurya) knows no end. Liberation in love is not mere isolation from the drama of ephemeral existence (samsara) but freedom from the ego-personality and the empowerment to participate consciously and ecstatically in the eternal lila (play) of the divine. The liberated devotee does not rest content with reaching the summit of spiritual practice but, seeing the divine in all beings and things, happily returns to the valley of life to bear witness to the supernatural beauty in everything. In a way, he or she never leaves the valley but discovers the summit of spirituality amidst daily life: love melts down the distinction between sacred and profane, and in full bloom can be at least as potent a mind-harnessing tool as conventional yogic meditation. In love, all the energies of the soul are focused into a single laser beam that reaches across the gap between the artificial boundaries of the intellect , uniting the devotee’s heart with the ever-pulsing heart of the Beloved.


Puja Ritual
Pu means punya, the highest merit, and ja means jata, to give birth. Puja means the actions which give birth to the highest merits.

Solitary yogic visualization (dhyana) of deities with mantra recitation (japa) but without physical objects is the pure rite. Based on faith, it requires only loving desire for God or Goddess ,and object representating that deity, ad something to give the deity as a way to express one’s loving desire.

Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagawat Gita (9.26): “ He who offers ne a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water out of loving devotion, that I accept as given by a disciplined self out of loving devotion.”

Through puja rites, people and Gods establish relantionships among themselves based on reciprocity, and the more each gives and takes, it is believed, the more each participantes in the being of the other.

The Bhakta, or loving devotee, through a lifetime of such Bhakti, the desirous participation in the being of a God, Bhaktas will be purified. Their self-centered anxiety to protect themselves will gradually give away to satisfying trust in the God and freedom from all suffering.

The simple lay rites of making offerings of flowers and water, and receiving both darsan (the sight of the deity) and prasad (the sanctified food offerings) may be called puja. More specifically, however, puja consists of elaborate forms of worship performed in the home by the householder and in the temple by special priests called pujaris who are designated for that purpose. These rites involve the presentation of a number of articles of worship, called upacaras (honor offerings) to the deity. The number of upacaras presented may vary, but sixteen is considered a proper number for a complete puja. The upacaras include food, water, fresh leaves, sandalwood perfume, incense, betel nuts, and cloth. They are the type of hospitality offerings with which one would honor a guest, or a revered elder , or a king. An important upacara is the honoring of the deity with light (arati).

Ishtadevata is the chosen deity.

“ Let the earth be at Peace, the atmosphere be at Peace, the heavens be filled with Peace. Even further may Peace extend, Peace be to waters, Peace to all vegetation, peace to all Gods of the Universe, Peace to all Gods within us, Peace to creative Consciousness, Peace be to Brilliant Light, Peace to All, Peace to Everything, Peace, Peace, altogether Peace, equally Peace, by means of Peace.”

 



Hindu Deities
“ Without a form, how can God be meditated upon? If She/He is without form, where will the mind fix itself ? When there is nothing for the mind to attach itself to, it will slip away from meditation or will glide into a state of slumber. Therefore the wise will meditate on some form.....”

from Vishnu Sanhita ( Sanskrit ritual text )


“Tvameva mata ca pita tvameva

Tvameva bandhusca sakha tvameva

Tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva

Tvameva sarvam mama devadeva.


You alone are Mother and Father, you alone are friend and relative. You alone are knowledge and wealth. Oh my God of Gods, you alone are everything. “

Brahma - symbolizes the aspect of the Supreme Reality that brings forth the creation. He is the first member of the Hindu Trinity that also includes Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. His divine consort is Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and knowledge. Goddess Saraswati provides Lord Brahma with knowledge that is necessary for the process of creation. 
Brahma is usually conceived as a bearded, four-faced, four-armed deity. In popular images, He carries a rosary in the upper right hand, a book in the upper left hand, a kamandalu (water pot) in the lower left hand, and bestows grace with His lower right hand. The four faces represent the sacred knowledge of the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva), and this is the most prominent feature of any image of Brahma. The four faces, therefore, symbolize that Brahma is the source of all knowledge necessary for the creation of the universe. The four arms represent the four directions and thus represent the omnipresence and omnipotence of Lord Brahma. 

Vishnu represents the aspect of the Supreme Reality that preserves and sustains the universe. Although there are variations in images and pictures of Lord Vishnu, He is generally symbolized by a human body with four arms. In His hands He carries a conch (shankha), a mace (gada), and discus (chakra). He wears a crown, two earrings, a garland (mala) of flowers, and a gem around the neck. He has a blue body and wears yellow clothes. The Lord is shown standing on a thousand-headed snake (named Shesha Nag), and the snake stands with its hoods open over the head of the Lord. His consorte is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of fortune and abundance.

Lord Vishnu is also known by other names, such as Vasudeva and Narayana. The following ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are described in Hindu mythology and are popular among Hindus. These incarnations reveal the help rendered by God during various stages of human evolution. As shown below, the first two incarnations are in the animal form, the third one is half-human and half-animal, and the fourth and the subsequent ones are all in human form. These incarnations relate to human evolution from aquatic life to human life, and are consistent with the modern theory of evolution suggested by science: 

Matsya (fish)---saves Sage Manu from floods and recovers the Vedas from demons.

Kurma (tortoise)---sustains the earth on his back.

Varaha (boar)---brings the earth back from the bottom of the ocean where it was dragged down by a demon, known as Hiranyaksha; Varaha kills the demon.

Narasimha (man-lion)---kills the demon King Hiranyakashipu, who was planning to kill his own son, a devotee of Lord Vishnu.

Vamana (dwarf)---the first human incarnation of the Lord, kills the demon King Mahabhali, who had deprived the gods of their possessions.

Parasurama (the warrior with an axe)---saves Brahmins from the tyranny of the arrogant Kshatriyas.

Rama---kills Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.

Sri Krishna---the most popular incarnation; Krishna's contributions throughout his life include the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.

Buddha---Hindus consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and accept his teachings, but do not directly worship him.

Kalkin (a man on a white horse)---this incarnation is yet to come and will mark the end of all evil in the world.

Shiva dissolves the universe for creation of the next cycle so that the unliberated souls will have another opportunity to liberate themselves from bondage with the physical world. Lord Shiva protects the souls from pain and suffering He is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed, and anger. He grants boons, bestows grace and awakens wisdom in His devotees. The symbolism discussed below includes major symbols that are common to all pictures and images of Shiva venerated by Hindus. Since the tasks of Lord Shiva are numerous, He cannot be symbolized in one form. For this reason the images of Shiva vary significantly in their symbolism.

The unclad body covered with ashes: the unclad body symbolizes the transcendental aspect of the Lord. Since most things reduce to ashes when burned, ashes symbolize the physical universe. The ashes on the unclad body of the Lord signify that Shiva is the source of the entire universe which emanates from Him, but He transcends the physical phenomena and is not affected by it.

Matted locks: Lord Shiva is the Master of yoga. The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.

Ganga :the most sacred river of Hindus. According to tradition, one who bathes in Ganga (revered as Mother Ganga) in accordance with traditional rites and ceremonies on religious occasions in combination with certain astrological events, is freed from sin and attains knowledge, purity and peace. Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground.

The crescent moon: is shown on the side of the Lord's head as an ornament, and not as an integral part of His countenance. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Lord Shiva is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time.

Three eyes: Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, "three-eyed Lord"), is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye. The two eyes on the right and left indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye in the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva's third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye.


Half-open eyes: when the Lord opens His eyes, a new cycle of creation emerges and Ganga :the most sacred river of Hindus. According to tradition, one who bathes in Ganga (revered as Mother Ganga) in accordance with traditional rites and ceremonies on religious occasions in combination with certain astrological events, is freed from sin and attains knowledge, purity and peace. Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground.

The crescent moon: is shown on the side of the Lord's head as an ornament, and not as an integral part of His countenance. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Lord Shiva is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time.

Three eyes: Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, "three-eyed Lord"), is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye. The two eyes on the right and left indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye in the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva's third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye.

Half-open eyes: when the Lord opens His eyes, a new cycle of creation emerges and der in the universe.

Rudraksha necklace: Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudra also means "strict or uncompromising" and aksha means "eye." Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He uses His cosmic laws firmly - without compromise - to maintain law and order in the universe. The necklace has 108 beads which symbolize the elements used in the creation of the world.

Trident (Trisula): a three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana). The trident also symbolizes the Lord's power to destroy evil and ignorance.


Damaru (drum): a small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest. When a damaru is vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together by resonance to create one sound. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation. According to Hindu scriptures, Nada is the source of creation.

Nandi: the bull is associated with Shiva and is said to be His vehicle. The bull symbolizes both power and ignorance. Lord Shiva's use of the bull as a vehicle . The bull is called Vrisha in Sanskrit. Vrisha also means dharma (righteousness).

Tiger skin: a tiger skin symbolizes potential energy. Lord Shiva, sitting on or wearing a tiger skin, illustrates the idea that He is the source of the creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe. Of His own Divine Will, the Lord activates the potential form of the creative energy to project the universe in endless cycles.

Cremation ground: Shiva sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world. Since birth and death are cyclic, controlling one implies controlling the other. Thus, Lord Shiva is revered as the ultimate controller of birth and death in the phenomenal world.

Shiva Nataraja dancing in a ring of fire reveals the many aspects of this god in one visual symbol. The flaming circle in which he dances is the circle of creation and destruction called samsara ( the earthly round of birth and death) or maya (the illusory world). The Lord who dances in the circle of this changing world holds in two of his hands the drum of creation and the fire of destruction. He displays his strength by crushing the bewildered demon underfoot. Simultaneously, he shows his mercy by raising his palm to the worshiper in the “fear-not” gestured and , with another hand, by pointing to his upraised foot, where the worshiper may take refuge. It is a wild dance, for the coils of his ascetic’s hair are flying in both directions, and yet the facial countenance of the Lord is utterly peaceful and his limbs in complete balance. Around one arm twines the naga, the ancient serpent which he has incorporated into his sphere of power and wears now as an ornament. In his hair sits the mermaid River Ganga, who landed first on Siva’s hair when she fell from heaven to earth.

The dance performed by Lord Shiva is know as Tandava, which despicts his violent nature as the distructor of the universe.

The Linga is one of Shiva’s symbols, and consists of two parts: the vertical stone shaft, which may be seen as the male component, Siva, and the circular horizontal base, called a yoni or pitha, which is the female component, as a drain to carry away the water offerings poured upon the linga. Togheter the linga and yoni form the Shiva-Sakti symbol of the divine unity. The one who is commonly called Siva is seen in the linga as both Siva and Sakti, male and female, divine spirit and divine matter, transcendent and immanent, allof and active.

   


Known by many names - Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhole Nath .Shiva is believed to be at the core of the centrifugal force of the universe, because of his responsibility for death and destruction. Shiva is the dissolving force in life. But Shiva dissolves in order to create, since death is the medium for rebirth into a new life.

Hanuman who is regarded as the embodiment of service and devotion by his valor and heroic deeds, which is inseparable from the glory of Ram. Hanuman possessed all the virtues, including his vast knowledge of the Vedas, Puranas, music, wisdom and power. He performed incredible super human heroic feats, but it is not as much for these feats that he is worshipped as for the fact that he embodied humble service and devotion to Lord Ram through these feats. His physical strength was accomplished through his spiritual strength. Whatever works he did, these were entirely devoid of any ego or any self-motive, and, at the same time, he was always aware of his insignificance.

Those who have read the story of the Ramayana can well appreciate the role of Hanuman. His character and service were above any doubt and Ram showed his confidence in him by giving his ring to Hanuman to be shown to Sita in Lanka as an identification that he came to her as Ram's messenger. Hanuman flew over the ocean to Lanka and on his way he was tested and obstructed from time to time from the three possible quarters -from space (air) , from the ocean {water) and in Lanka (on land). Every time he won the battle through his wisdom, power and faith.

He met with Sita in Lanka and killed some of the demons. He was tied up and brought before Ravana and was insulted, but he took it simply as a play of his Lord and, paying much more significance to his mission, he didn't care at all, and burnt Lanka. His ultimate aim was one-pointed, that was for carrying out Ram's work continuously till its success. And till then, he didn't care to take any rest, saying, "How can I have any rest until I complete the mission assigned by my Lord Ram?" Finally he was successful and victorious.


Ganesha the elephant-deity riding a mouse has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth.

Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.


The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.
Ganesha is also the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various magnificent manifestations. "All Hindus worship Ganesha regardless of their sectarian belief.
Praise to Lord Krishna
“Salutations to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Lord, who is the Indweller of  our hearts, who is Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute, who is the Soul of this universe, who bestows Immortality on His devotees, who is the source for everything and who took a human form for the benefit of the gods and His devotees, to destroy wickedness and to establish righteousness.

Lord Krishna appeared as Para-Brahman before the sages, as the supreme  Reality before the Yogis, as the Lord of Beauty before the Gopis, as Warrior  before the warriors, as a child before Vasudeva and Devaki, as the Lord  of Death before Kamsa, as King of kings before the kings.

Lord Krishna is styled as one who steals butter, because he used to eat butter stealthily in the houses of the Gopis on account of his extreme  love for them. But he really steals the evil thoughts of devotees and fills  their minds with divine thoughts. This stealing of butter was a sport (Lila) when he was a boy, to instil delight in the hearts of the Gopis who were His devotees. The Gopis liked this immensely. They were  eagerly expecting Krishna to come and eat their butter. He really steals  or captivates the hearts of His devotees, making them forget the world, drawing their minds towards His blessed feet and making them enjoy everlasting  peace and bliss. Lord Krishna says in  the Gita, "I give My devotees the Yoga of discrimination."
The flute is the symbol of Pranava. It is this flute that attracted the  devoted Gopis, the maidens of Vraja to meet their beloved Lord on the banks of the sacred Yamuna. The divine melody of the flute was enchanting. It had wonderful power. When it entered the core of the heart through the cavity of the ears, it made the hearer forget all his dear relations, the world, and even his own self. It made the hearer dance in ecstasy and filled  his heart with pure love. The sound of this divine flute thrilled the heart with rapturous delight and instilled new life and joy. It produced God-intoxication in all beings and infused life even in insentient objects. The sweetness  of the music was unsurpassed. He who heard once the music of Krishna's  flute, cared not for the nectar of heaven or the bliss of Moksha.
The flute and its music had stirred the souls of the Gopis. The world was nothing to them. They felt irresistably  drawn towards Sri Krishna. They had neither shame nor fear in leaving their  homes. There was a soul-awakening in them. Their mind was not of this world.  Their husbands and brothers stopped them in vain. Who can resist the torrent of divine love for the Lord? “

The love that the Gopis bore towards Krishna was a divine love. It was the union of souls. It is the union of the Jivatman with the Paramatman. It is the blending of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul.

Goddesses Devi, Shakti, Maya or Prakriti
“ Shakti is the sorrowless state. The wakeful mind is Shakti. Shakti is love. The fullness of strength is Shakti. Shakti is bliss brimming over . The light of thought is Shakti. Shakti is the work that represents itsfelf. Ecstasy of liberation is Shakti.

Shakti’s power lies hidden in the world. Inertia flees at Shakti’s approach. Shakti is the sweetness of ripe fruit. The thought that approaches God is Shakti. Shakti is the joy in music. The weapon that destroys snakes is Shakti.

Shakti is the glowing fire of Love in the hand of ash-smeared Shiva, lord of mountains.

Shakti is intuition that enriches life. The might that protects the world is Shakti. Shakti is the force that prevents regression. Austerity of steadfast mind is Shakti. Shakti is victory that negates a fall. The force that scans the sky is Shakti. Shakti is the fount that evades fate. The light that lights the heart is Shakti.

Kali - The fearsome goddess of time.The love between the Divine Mother and her human children is a unique relationship. Kali, the Dark Mother is one such deity with whom devotees have a very loving and intimate bond, in spite of her fearful appearance. In this relationship, the worshipper becomes a child and Kali assumes the form of the ever-caring mother. Kali is the fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess Durga.

In the battle with evil , Kali was so much involved in the killing spree that she got carried away and began destroying everything in sight. To stop her,Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet. Shocked at this sight, Kali stuck out her tongue in astonishment, and put an end to her homicidal rampage. Hence the common image of Kali shows her in her ferocious mood, standing with one foot on Shiva's chest, with her enormous tongue stuck out.

Kali is represented with perhaps the fiercest features amongst all the world's deities. She has four arms, with a sword in one hand and the head of a demon in another. The other two hands bless her worshippers, and say, "fear not"! She has two dead heads for her earrings, a string of skulls as necklace, and a girdle made of human hands as her clothing. Her tongue protrudes from her mouth, her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are sullied with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of her husband, Shiva.
Kali's fierce form is strewed with awesome symbols. Her black complexion symbolizes her all-embracing and transcendental nature. Says the Mahanirvana Tantra: "Just as all colors disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in her". Her nudity is primeval, fundamental, and transparent like Nature — the earth, sea, and sky. Kali is free from the illusory covering, for she is beyond the all maya or "false consciousness." Kali's garland of fifty human heads that stands for the fifty letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes infinite knowledge.

Durga - Represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. Durga, also called Divine Mother, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego.
The worship of Goddess Durga is very popular among Hindus. She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of Her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya.

In Her images, Goddess Durga is shown in a female form, wearing red clothes. She has eighteen arms, carrying many objects in Her hands.

Durga rides a tiger indicating that She possesses unlimited power and uses it to protect virtue and destroy evil. A conch in one of the Goddess's hands signifies the ultimate victory of virtue over evil and contains the sound of the sacred syllable AUM.


Other weapons in the hands of Durga such as a mace, sword, disc, arrow, and trident convey the idea that one weapon cannot destroy all different kinds of enemies. Different weapons must be used to fight enemies depending upon the circumstances. For example, selfishness must be destroyed by detachment, jealousy by desirelessness, prejudice by self-knowledge, and ego by discrimination.

Sati and Parvati - The wife of Shiva and the mother of Kartikeya and Ganesha. Sati is an earlier aspect of Parvati. Sati’s father, Daksha, disapproved of the union of Shiva and Sati. After their wedding, at a yagna (sacrifice), being performed by Daksha, Shiva was scornfully ignored by his new father in law. Heartbroken and humiliated after her father insulted her eccentric, ash-smeared, serpent-slinging husband Shiva, Sati destroyed herself by jumping into the sacrificial fire. Inconsolable at the death of Sati, Shiva wandered the earth like a madman, carrying Sati’s body on his shoulder and dancing in frenzied despair. Terrifying all creation he danced around the earth seven times. Unable to console Shiva, the Gods resolved that they would revive Sati, who was then reborn as Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayan mountains. Shiva had renounced the world and retired to Mount Kailash, where He practiced a hard penance. Immersed in meditation, Shiva was immune to the presence of Parvati who was performing an arduous tapasya to catch His attention.
Parvati asked Madan/Kama the God of love for help. He told her to dance in front of Shiva. While Parvati danced, Madan shot an arrow laced with flowers at Shiva, whose concentration broke. When Shiva opened his eyes Parvati was his first vision. Shiva too began to dance with Parvati and as the gods watched the couple in bliss, their fears were laid to rest.

Parvati lured Shiva into marriage and away from asceticism. He became a householder and she became his shakti, the creative force of the cosmos.

In Mount Kailash their ardour was intense, the gods were worried about the child who would be born from this union. Shiva’s seed dropped on the banks of the Ganga (the river who flows through his matted hair). This is the lingam that is worshipped all over India. Their first child was Kartikeya or Subramanya. Kartikeya would fight the demon Taraka, rescue the world and then return to Parvati and Shiva.
Parvati’s second child was Ganesha. Legends say his birth was determined by Parvati's desire for privacy. She wanted to bathe and created a son from the sweat of her body. She asked Ganesha to guard the door. When Shiva returned to their living area, Ganesha confronted him. Shiva who was unaccustomed to being blocked at his doorstep fought Ganesha and beheaded him. When Parvati saw her son lying beheaded, she was furious and demanded Ganesha be brought back to life.
Shiva sent his hordes to bring back the first head of an animal who was sleeping with his head to the North. They brought back the head of Airavat, Lord Indra’s elephant. Ganesha was given primary status as a god and Parvati was appeased.
She is constantly beside Shiva, watching him as he dances the dance of bliss, admiring him in his deeds of annihilation, joining him in games of dice or playing with their two sons, the elephant headed Ganesha and the warrior Skanda (Kartikeya). Shiva and Parvati, whose love is deep and abiding, represent the paradigmatic divine family. Shiva and Parvati are often united in a single form known as Ardhanari (literally half man-half woman) to represent the concept that the divine is both male and female.

Lakshmi - The goddess of fortune and prosperity. She is described as golden-hued, as radiant as gold, and as replendent as the sun. She sits on a lotus, bedecked with lotus flowers, and appears as lovely as a lotus. She emerges as one of the treasures from the churning of the ocean and chooses Vishnu as her consort. When she arose from the ocean, she was sprinkled by elephants with waters of the Ganges and other sacred rivers.

   


Cascades of gold coins are seen flowing from her hands, suggesting that those who worship her gain wealth, both material and spiritual. She always wears gold embroidered red clothes. Red symbolizes activity and the golden lining indicates prosperity. Lakshmi is the active energy of Vishnu, and also appears as Lakshmi-Narayan - Lakshmi accompanying Vishnu.
As a female counterpart of Lord Vishnu, Mata Lakshmi is also called 'Shri', the female energy of the Supreme Being. She is the goddess of prosperity, wealth, purity, generosity, abundance, and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. She is worshipped as a goddess who grants both worldly prosperity as well as liberation from the cycle of life and death.

Radha - The Divine Goddess, the embodiment of love, passion and devotion. Radha's passion for Krishna symbolizes the soul's intense longing and willingness for the ultimate unification with God. Shri Krishna is the soul of Radha and Radha is the soul of Shri Krishna. She is the visible form or Shakti of Shri Krishna. She will remain a mystery until one experiences Her divine touch. She is Krishna’s worshipper as well as His deity, whom He constantly worships.

Radha is recognized as the loveliest of all the cowgirls. y The word “Radha” means the greatest worshiper of Krishna. Radhika's ocean of love for Krishna, is the original source of all the love found in the gopis, and in all devotees of God. Since Radha's love is the greatest, she gives the greatest pleasure to Krishna. 'Krishna enchants the whole world, but Srimati Radhika enchants even Him. Therefore, Radha is the Supreme Goddess.' In Vrindavana, people are accustomed to chant Radha's name more than Krishna's name.

Radha's love for Krishna is all consuming. She is the personification of the highest love of God, and by her grace the soul is connected with divine love. The relationship between Radha and Krishna is the example of the highest and purest love, an indissoluble union of the highest intermingling and completion.y Exotic India

Radha is married and still cannot resist Krishna's call. In being with Him she risks social censure, alienation and humiliation. But this is a relationship of such passion that all worldly attachments dissolve into cosmic consciousness. Music is the voice of their illicit love. Krishna's flute melodies are so powerful that they embodied the energy of the cosmos. At the sound of his flute playing, the gopis "jump up in the middle of putting on her makeup, abandon her family while eating a meal, leave food to burn on the stove, and run out of her home to be with Krishna". In the embrace of Krishna, the gopis, maddened with desire, found refuge; in the love of Krishna our hearts find liberation.

In the relationship of Radha and Krishna, love reigns supreme. They have surrendered to the Power of Love. The supreme object of devotion, Krishna, worships the embodiment of devotion, Radha. Together, Radha and Krishna enjoy eternal pastimes of transcendental love.




Radha and Krishna Lila
In the twelfth-century poem, Gita Govinda (Love Song of the Dark Lord), the love affair of Radha and Krishna was beautifully set to words and music. Having once experienced the ecstasy of divine love with Krishna, Radha is separated from Him and yearns with single-minded intensity for reunion. The poem is interpreted metaphorically in terms of the longing of the human soul for the divine. The final reunion symbolizes the bliss of salvation.

“ You charm the whole world, it’s true, but Radha’s charm captivates you.

The world pays homage to you, it’s true, but a mere glimpse of Radha and your heart is lost.

Your songs and your flute attract the three worlds, but Radha’s words put all these to flight.

Yor pervade the world with your fragrance, it’s true, but our Radha’s perfume steals away your heart. “. Jayadeva, Gita Govinda, 12th cent.

Sri Krishna is the incarnation of Rasa (essence) and Sri Radha is the incarnation of Bhava (divine emotion).

Sri Caitanya taught the doctrine of love in separation as means of union with the Absolute. The yearning that is characteristic of separation from one’s beloved is the intensity with which one must cultivate spiritual life.


Separation and union are two banks of the river of love. Separation serves to accent union, and union holds within itself the fear of future separation.
“ As dawn approached, Radha and Krsna went arm in arm from their forest cottage, about to step into the cow pasture on their way home. At that time, Syamasundara, the beautiful dark boy, fearing the imminent appearance of the sun and the arrival of Radha’s mother-in-law, Jatila , suddenly removed Radha’s arm from his shoulder. It was as though the joy of their union ended at the junction of the forest and the pasture, where the kingdom of anxiety began. Radha had obtained a great treasure in the form of Krsna’s arm, with the help of the general of eagerness. Yet now, as they arrived at the edge of Vraja, a more powerful soldier, doubt, had defeated this general and forcefully removed her treasured possession. When the doubts that threatened Radha and Krsna refused to allow them to continue on to their homes in union, their pain in separation caused their friends who were leading the way to sigh and break out in tears.”
Krsna is then the object of love and Radha is the vessel of perfect love.
Radha is love’s embodiement, whom we are to follow if we are to love Krsna in the most comprehensive manner. They are the example of love that we are to follow.

Passive love, servitude, fraternity, parental love, and conjugal love thus form the direct modes of loving Krsna within bhakti-rasa.

The fact that Krsna performs miraculous acts is ordinary, the fact that God acts like a human is extraordinary. He does so because it is in human life that one can understand love. Human life is special,not merely because it comes with the power of reasoning , but more so because in human life one can realize one’s potential for love. When both God and soul meet face to face in human life, love makes her appearance as well, along with Krsna and Radha.

HANUMAN CHALEESA



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