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Have a Blessed Day....



Tirupati, the Home of Lord Venkateswara has long been the destination of many a newly wed couple. The temple is believed to have a particular signification for newly weds as it is believed to be place where Lord Venkateswara married Padmavathy.
An interesting tale forms the backdrop to the temple. Quarrels are not unknown between happily wed couples and the divine ones are no different. Following a spat with Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi left her heavenly abode and came down to the earth. Here she stayed in a hermitage on the banks of the Godavari.
Missing his beloved, Lord Vishnu went to search of her and this search brought him to earth. Ultimately his quest brought him to the Seshadri hills where he stopped to rest in an anthill. Upset by the separation between Vishnu and Lakshmi, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva decided to intervene. Taking the guise of a cow and a calf they went to live at the place of a Chola king.
The cowherd took them everyday to graze in the Seshadri hills where the cow would secretly visit the anthill where Vishnu was living without sustenance. Emptying her milk, the cow would then return to the palace.
The cowherd was angry as the cow never yielded any milk to him. He watched movements carefully and his explorations brought him to the anthill. In trying to ascertain what lay beneath the anthill, he struck it with an axe thus injuring Vishnu on the forehead.
In search of herbs to heal the wound, Lord Vishnu wandered far and wide. His wanderings brought him to the Shrine of Sri Varahaswamy - the third incarnation of Vishnu as a boar. Here, he sought permission to stay, but Varahaswamy wanted a rental to be paid; Vishnu pleaded that he was poor now and needed rent free accommodation. To reciprocate this gesture of goodwill, he said he would tell his devotees to worship Varahaswamy before they worshipped him. The contract sealed, Vishnu built a hermitage and lived there waited on by a devotee, Vakuladevi who looked after him like a mother. In a nearby kingdom ruled King Akasha Rajan. Childless for many years, he had one day found a beautiful baby girl sleeping on a golden lotus in a golden box while ploughing the fields. He had named her Padmavathy. A beautiful and accomplished girl, Padmavathy had been granted a boon in her earlier birth that she would be married to Lord Vishnu. One day, Vishnu, who had been renamed Srinivasan by his devotee and foster mother Vakuladevi, went hunting in the forest. His wandering led him to a garden with a pond. Srinivasan was thirsty and tired. After drinking from the pond, he rested in the shade of a tree. Soon the soft singing of Padmavathy who was dancing in the garden with her companions roused him. He was stunned by her beauty and drawn to her. She too seemed to be drawn to him, but the angry attendants thinking him a mere hunter drove him away.
Depressed and unhappy he poured his troubles out to Vakuladevi. Now for the first time, he revealed to her who he really was and also told her the story of Padmavathy.
In the meanwhile, Padmavathy was dreaming of Srinivasa. She had no idea who he really was and knew that her parents would never let her be married to a hunter.
Srinivasa urged Vakuladevi to approach Padmavathy's father, Akasha Raja, with the marriage proposal. In the meanwhile he disguised himself as a soothsayer and went to the court of Akasha Raja. There, he assured Padmavathy that the hunter she had fallen in love with was no ordinary man but the Lord and told her that the worries would soon be over. Padmavathy too poured out her heart to her parents. At about the same time, Vakuladevi arrived with the marriage proposal. After consulting with the sages Akasha Raja accepted the proposal and invited Srinivasa to attend the wedding on Friday, the 10th day of Vaikasi.
Srinivasa now had arrangements to make. He sought a loan of one crore and 14 lakh coins of gold from Kubera and had Viswakarma, the divine architect create heavenly surroundings in the Seshadri hills.
The day of the wedding arrived, Lord Srinivasa was bathed in holy waters and dressed in jeweled ornaments befitting a royal bride groom. Then he set off in a procession for the court of Akasha Raja. There Padmavathy waited radiant in her beauty. Srinivasa was hailed with an arthi and led to the marriage hall. There the queen and King washed his feet while sage Vasishta chanted the Vedic mantras. Soon the wedding was over and it was time for Padmavathy to take leave of her parents.
Together, they lived for all eternity while Goddess Lakshmi, understanding the commitments of Lord Vishnu, chose to live in his heart forever.
Tirupati, today, stands as a special place, commemorating the marriage between the two. Everyday, a kalyana utsavam celebrates the divine union in a celebration that stretches to eternity. Even today, during the Brahmotsavam at the temple, turmeric, kumkum and a sari are sent from the temple to Tiruchanur, the abode of Padmavathy. In fact Tirupati is rarely visited without paying a visit to Tiruchanur.
In the light of this background, it has become the favored destination of many newly wed couples who pray for a happy wedding - a wedding like that of Srinivasa and Padmavathy.


History Behind How Tirupathi Temple Comes

On the Tirumala Mountain, Lord Srinivas lived with Bakula, Luxmi and Padmavati for many years. The King, Aksharaj, meditating on Srinivas left this world. At that time, difficulty came upon the kingdom. After Aksharaj had departed, his son, Vasudan, he considered that he was the rightful king. But there was a problem because Aksharaj shared the kingdom with his brother, Thondaman, for all those years.
Thondaman said that, “It was our agreement. Originally, Sudarma, our father, wanted to divide the kingdom in half for both of us, but due to our love for one another we wanted to rule together, so we have been doing this so now I should rule with you”.
But Vasudan said, “Is it in writing? Where is it in writing? How can you prove it?”
It wasn't in writing. So Vasudan declared that his uncle was lying and that he would be the sole king. So there was a disagreement. The disagreement escalated, different people of the kingdom were taking either person's side and soon it came to the point where it was going to be a fratricidal war.
On the battle there was Thondaman's army, and Vasudan, the son of Aksharaj's army. How sad? This is the age of Kali. If you don't put things in writing, nobody knows what is truth. And we see this happening even amongst devotees today, people make agreements, people make policies, and then as years go by, different people have different versions of what was agreed on. And then there is fighting with battles, and brothers become enemies and god brothers become hateful, and everything is finished.
Srila Prabhupada warned us, it happened even in Gaudiya math. Prabhupada said when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was present, it was the most powerful, united preaching team, nothing could stop it. It had the capacity of just spreading Krishna Consciousness, pure love of God, throughout the world. But after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur departed, and even just before he departed, there was conflict over who would get different properties? Over who would get different positions? Over who would get different facilities? And after he left, there was battles in the courts, and even battles with fists. And everyone believed they were right. It was just different interpretations and miscommunication. And the Gaudiya math was splintered into dozens of different branches, and Srila Prabhupada tried in every possible way to unite, to unite his god brothers again, and when he saw that it was not possible, he took the mission of his guru maharaja to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, he himself at the age of seventy with nothing and he did it.
Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai!!
So yes, here is a loving uncle and a loving son fighting over property and position. So they both wanted Srinivas on their side. So Srinivas went to Padmavati, He said “Who's side should I be on?”
She said, she was so sad about this war, so sad, but she said still, “Vasudan is my brother, he is closest to me. You cannot go against him”.
So Srinivas gave His conch shell and His Sudarshan chakra to Thondaman. And He said He would be on the side of Vasudan.
So the fight was raging but there was a problem. Thondaman saw that because Srinivas was on the other side none of his soldiers would fight enthusiastically, because they all loved Him. How can you fight against the ultimate object of your love? So his army was being destroyed, he was losing the battle simply because no-one wanted to fight against Srinivas. So he got so mad, he got so angry. Some say it was Thondaman, some say it was the son of Thondaman, that he took the chakra, the Sudarshan chakra that Srinivas gave them, and threw the chakra, threw Vishnu's chakra at Vishnu. And it hit Him, and Vishnu fell to the ground. It was His Lila, and He appeared lifeless. And everyone stopped fighting then, and they all gathered around and they were all crying and praying, “Please come back, come back, come back Srinivas, come back”. And at that point Thondaman and Vasudan was thinking, “What nonsense are we doing fighting? Look what the result of the fight is? That Srinivas is injured, He may be killed”.
They were all crying and weeping and the news came to Agasya Muni's ashram, and Padmavati ran to the scene with Agasya rishi. And she was weeping and crying, and seeing that everyone's hearts were melting and then Srinivas came back into consciousness. And they both said, everyone said, “Whatever You say Srinivas, we will do ”.
So Srinivas said, “We will divide the kingdom in two parts, and Vasudan, you be the king here and Thondaman, you be the king here, and forever you'll live in harmony with each other.” And that took place.
After some days, Srinivas approached Thondaman, who was a very, very great and dear devotee. And said, “In the place that Lord Varahadeva gave me, on the top of the mountain of Tirumala, build a glorious temple for Me, that is where I will reside”. Thondaman, with great efforts, built the original temple of Tirumala. Srinivas, Lord Narayan, resided in that temple with Luxmi Devi and Padmavati.
And at one time, very historical event, Srinivas said to Thondaman and the great rishis and sages that were gathered that, “As of now, I have speaking freely with human beings, acting as one of you, but the age of kali is progressing; I will no longer speak to just anyone. I will manifest My body as a deity, and whoever comes to worship Me with sincere devotion, I will deliver them from their sins and I will elevate them to Vaikuntha”.
Then Srinivas stepping on the altar of the temple manifested the vigraha of Sri Venkateshwara.
Sri Venkateshwara Bhagavan Ki Jai!!
Much louder please. Sri Balaji Maharaj Ki Jai!!!

Acharyas Tells Greatness About Tirupati Temple

The greatest of the acharyas climbed this mountain with their own feet, as we are going to do tomorrow, eager for the darshan of Sri Venkateshwara. Shankaracharya came here to worship, and later on the great Vaisnava Acharaya, Ramanujam. Ramanujam declared according to the sastras that these seven hills are Vaikuntha on earth. Ramanujacarya was living in Sri Rangam but singing the songs and the hymns of the Alvars, always put him in a trance of ecstatic love. And one time while reading the glories of Tirumala and the Lord, Sri Venkateshwara, he told his devotees “We will go there”.
He came to the foot of the hill, and performed his bhajan, giving lectures on the Absolute Truth.
One of his disciple, Anantacharya, he was living up there on the Lord's order, taking care of a garden, knowing that his guru was down at the bottom of the mountain, he came down and asked him “Please come up, please come up”.
But Ramanujacarya said, “How can I put my feet on that mountain, it is non-different than Ananta Sesha, it is Ananta Sesha's body. It is Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. I cannot go”.
But he said, “Ramanujam, my gurudeva, if you do not go then nobody will go. Even the pujaris, if you, the most holy and saintly and pure of all beings, are not willing to put your feet on the mountain then what is our position? The pujaris will come down; no pilgrims will go up there. Balaji will be up there all alone. You must come, please.”
So on the persuasion of the devotees, Sri Ramanujacarya climbed. As he was climbing, one of his spiritual masters, Sri Shaila Purna, came with garlands and Prasad, to greet Ramanujam, when he was just close to the top of the mountain.
Ramanujacarya said to his senior, elder guru, he said “Why did you come with all this load of Prasad and garland yourself? Why didn't you just send a junior devotee to do this? You are very old and it's very difficult for you.”
Sri Shaila Purna responded that, “Yes, it is the proper etiquette for me to send a junior devotee, but I looked in all directions, and I could not find a single soul junior to myself. I am the junior most; I am the most neophyte of everyone so I had to do the chore myself”.
This is what a guru of Ramanujacarya was speaking. Sri Ramanujacarya's heart melted with the humility of a true Vaisnava. He stayed on the top of the hill for three days, having the darshan of Sri Balaji in great ecstasy.
It is explained that over a period of time Balaji has four hands, over a period of time, the Vaisnavas worship Him as Vishnu, but the Shivaites worship Him as Lord Shiva. The followers of Shankaracharya consider that Balaji is Shiva. And the followers of Ramanujam and others consider Him Vishnu. So should we put the drum of Shiva and the trident in his arms, in His hands? Or should we put the conch shell and the disc? There was a dispute and you know how religious people can be when there is a dispute over theological issues. It was a heated debate. Ramanujacarya proposed a solution, he said that, “All followers of Shankar, you put Shiva's drum and Shiva's trident before the deity and I will put the conch shell and Sudarshan chakra before the deity, and then we will all leave the deity room and lock the doors so no one has any possibility of coming in. And in the morning we will open the door and see which symbols the Lord is holding”.
Can you imagine the intensity of that night? I didn't read this but I don't think anyone slept that night, because this was in South India, this was like the ultimate deity. Is it Shiva or Vishnu?
In the morning, the doors were opened and Sri Venkateshwara was holding the symbols offered by Sri Ramanujacarya of the conch shell and Sudarshan chakra.
Venkateshwara Bhagavan Ki Jai!!!

Sri Ramanujacarya descended from the hill, he was about to depart for Sri Rangam, Sri Shaila Purna offered to teach Ramanujacarya Valmiki Muni's Ramayana for one full year in Tirupati. Ramanujacarya remained here in Tirupati for that year studying Sri Ramayana.
Sripad Madhavacharya came here to Venkateshwara's mandir, resided for some time and worshipped Sri Balaji with great love and devotion with his disciples. Sripad Vallabhacharya came here and worshipped Sri Balaji with his disciples.
In Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat we find Nityananada Prabhu's pilgrimage, He came to Tirumala to worship Sri Venkateshwara with great love and devotion.
And in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He walked up the same path we will be going tomorrow and in the presence of Sri Venkateshwara, in ecstatic love, He offered His prayers, He danced with His arms raised inducing every one around to chant the Holy Name.

So many of our beloved acharyas worship this place, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, if we are fortunate we will see the lotus footprints of Lord Chaitanya that He installed here. And Srila Prabhupada, himself, came here. It is written about it in his biographies to take the darshan of Sri Balaji and he was very, very deeply impressed, in fact he told devotees that we should learn how to manage a temple very nicely and worship the deities so beautifully from Venkateshwara temple.

Today, after lunch Prasad, which will be served if I ever end this long lecture, we will be visiting the temple of Padmavati.
Tomorrow, for those with the strength, providing there's no cyclone rains, by Yoga Maya's potency, Christmas is such an immensely crowded place, time for Tirupati. More people come here on pilgrimage than any other temple in the entire world. Even though it is so difficult to get to. And Christmas time is a time where people all around have holidays. So this place should be swarming with hundreds and thousands of people, millions of people.
However, because there are cyclones in Andhra Pradesh the vast majority of people are afraid to come. So the last few days I've been living on the top of the Tirumala Mountains and there's hardly anyone there, it's a great benediction. I mean, whoever suffering from the cyclone we definitely offer our prayers and our sympathies and pray for the Lord's compassion upon them, but at the same time there is some, some good that we can.
So tomorrow those who are fit, we will leave at 4'o clock in the morning, and the meeting place will be announced. And we will, following in the footsteps of Sri Shankaracharya, Ramanujacarya, Nityananada Prabhu, Lord Chaitanya, Prabhupada drove off, so those who drive will be following in the footsteps of Prabhupada.
And tomorrow, we will be having the darshan of Sri Venkateshwara Balaji. And the darshan is very fast, it is not like Radha Govinda temple, where you can stand all day long and chant prayers. In Venkateshwara temple you only get a few seconds and you are, “chalo chalo”, you are pushed forward. But it's amazing. Sometimes people stand in line for 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, just stand in line for all these hours, they have to bring tiffins and just eating while standing in line, sleep at night where they are in line, just to get a three-second darshan, “chalo, chalo”. And in certain ways, in some people they shave their heads. There is a certain hall where they shave heads, hundreds and hundreds of people a day, men, women, everyone. As a traditional offering amongst the devotees of Balaji, an offering of surrender.
Sometimes, when things are too easy to achieve we take it cheaply or as they say, for granted, but things that are very hard to achieve we meditate on its value more deeply. So this is one of the wonderful experiences about Venkateshwara, so much trouble to come here and then to get up the hill and then to stand in line and then just a second or two and then you are whisked away, but for that second or two, just offering the deepest, heartfelt prayers, praying for mercy, and beholding the form of the Lord, with much intensity, that is what we should do. Factually, that is how we should behold the deity all the time. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in Jagannath Puri, standing and gazing upon Lord Jagannath there will be tears pouring from His eyes, His limbs trembling, and however much time He was standing before Jagannath it was never enough, that is love. What should we pray?
Na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi.
In the line of Lord Chaitanya and the six Goswamis, our prayer is for eternal service, our prayer is for pure, unalloyed love, we want nothing else. My Lord, if You want to embrace me, or trample on me, or make me brokenhearted by not being present before me, as You like, I am Your servant, unconditionally.
Many business people have become wealthy by praying to Balaji, by offering gifts to Balaji, many sick people have become healthy by offering their hearts to Balaji, but we do not want Karma-mishra bhakti, we do not want liberation, the desire of the jnana-mishra bhaktas, we want suddha-bhakta, we want pure devotion. What is pure devotion? Samsaddhir Hari tosanam, my Lord, how may I please You? Let me just be Your servant, unconditionally. That is my ultimate ideal, my ultimate aspiration, and even in the footsteps of Vedavati, if I have to suffer for yugas, I will never give up the hope of the shelter of Your lotus feet, in this spirit, let us worship the Lord and chant His holy names.


Lord Mahavir

Lord Mahavir was the twenty-fourth and the last Tirthankara of the Jain religion. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankaras were born as human beings but they have attained a state of perfection or enlightenment through meditation and self realization. They are the Gods of Jains. Tirthankaras are also known as Arihants or Jinas.

Tirthankara - One who establishes the four fold order (Monk, Nun, Layman, and Laywoman) of religion.

Arihant - One who destroys his inner enemies like anger, greed, passion, ego, etc.

Jina - One who conquers his inner enemies like anger, greed, passion, ego, etc.

The followers of Jina are known as Jains.
Mahavir was born in 599 B.C. as a prince in Bihar, India. At the age of 30, he left his family and royal household, gave up his worldly possessions, including clothing and become a monk.

He spent the next twelve years in deep silence and meditation to conquer his desires and feelings. He went without food for long periods. He carefully avoided harming or annoying other living beings including animals, birds, and plants. His ways of meditation, days of austerities, and mode of behavior furnish a beautiful example for monks and nuns in religious life. His spiritual pursuit lasted for twelve years. At the end he realized perfect perception, knowledge, power, and bliss. This realization is known as keval-jnana.

He spent the next thirty years travelling on bare feet around India preaching to the people the eternal truth he realized. He attracted people from all walks of life, rich and poor, kings and commoners, men and women, princes and priests, touchables and untouchables.

He organized his followers, into a four fold order, namely monk (Sadhu), nun (Sadhvi), layman (Shravak), and laywoman (Shravika). Later on they are known as Jains.

The ultimate objective of his teaching is how one can attain the total freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death, and achieve the permanent blissful state of one's self. This is also known as liberation, nirvana, absolute freedom, or Moksha.

He explained that from eternity, every living being (soul) is in bondage of karmic atoms, that are accumulated by its own good or bad deeds. Under the influence of karma, the soul is habituated to seek pleasures in materialistic belongings and possessions. Which are the deep rooted causes of self-centered violent thoughts, deeds, anger, hatred, greed, and such other vices. These result in accumulating more karma.

He preached that right faith (samyak-darshana), right knowledge (samyak-jnana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra) together will help attain the liberation of one's self.

At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows:

Nonviolence (Ahimsa) - not to cause harm to any living beings
Truthfulness (Satya) - to speak the harmless truth only
Non-stealing (Asteya) - not to take anything not properly given
Chastity (Brahmacharya) - not to indulge in sensual pleasure
Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) - complete detachment from people, places, and material things.

Jains hold these vows at the center of their lives. The monks and nuns follow these vows strictly and totally, while the common people try to follow the vows as far as their life styles will permit.
At the age of 72 (527 B.C.), Lord Mahavir died and his purified soul left the body and achieved complete liberation. He became a Siddha, a pure consciousness, a liberated soul, living for ever in a state of complete bliss. On the night of his salvation, people celebrated the Festival of Lights (Dipavali) in his honor.

Significant points of the life and teachings of Lord Mahavir.
The spiritual power and moral grandeur of Mahavir's teachings impressed the masses. He made religion simple and natural, free from elaborate ritual complexities. His teachings reflected the popular impulse towards internal beauty and harmony of the soul.

His message of nonviolence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), non-stealing (Achaurya), celibacy (Brahma-charya), and non-possession (Aparigraha) is full of universal compassion. He said that, "A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect power (Anant-virya), and perfect bliss (Anant-sukha)." Mahavir's message reflects freedom and spiritual joy of the living being.

Mahavir was quite successful in eradicating from human intellect the conception of God as creator, protector, and destroyer. He also denounced the worship of gods and goddesses as a means of salvation. He taught the idea of supremacy of human life and stressed the importance of the positive attitude of life.
Lord Mahavir also preached the gospel of universal love, emphasizing that all living beings, irrespective of their size, shape, and form how spiritually developed or under-developed, are equal and we should love and respect them.
Jainism existed before Mahavir, and his teachings were based on those of his predecessors. Thus, unlike Buddha, Mahavir was more of a reformer and propagator of an existing religious order than the founder of a new faith. He followed the well established creed of his predecessor Tirthankara Parshvanath. However, Mahavir did reorganize the philosophical tenets of Jainism to correspond to his times. Lord Mahavir preached five great vows while Lord Parshva preached four great vows.

In the matters of spiritual advancement, as envisioned by Mahavir, both men and women are on an equal footing. The lure of renunciation and liberation attracted women as well. Many women followed Mahavir's path and renounced the world in search of ultimate happiness.

In a few centuries after Mahavir's nirvana, Jain religious order (Sangha) grew more and more complex. There were schisms on some minor points although they did not affect the original doctrines as preached by the Tirthankars. Later generations saw the introduction of ritualistic complexities which almost placed Mahavir and other Tirthankars on the throne of Hindu deities.

Idol Worship

The idols of twenty-four Tirthankaras in the temple are the same because they represent the quality and virtues of Tirthankaras not the physical body. However, at the bottom of each idol a unique symbol is placed to differentiate them. Lord Mahavir's idol is recognized by the symbol of a lion.
Prayer of Jain religion:

Every day Jains bow their heads and say their universal prayer, the Navkar-mantra. All good work and events start with this prayer of salutation and worship.
Namo Arihantanam: - I bow to the enlightened souls
Namo Siddhanam: - I bow to the liberated souls
Namo Ayariyanam: - I bow to religious leaders
Namo Uvajjayanam: - I bow to religious teachers
Namo Loe Savva Sahunam: - I bow to all monks of the world

Eso Panch Namukkaro:   - These five salutations are capable of
Savva Pava Panasano:    destroying all the sins and this is
Mangalancha Savvesin    the first happiness among all forms
Padhamam Havai Mangalam:   of happiness.

In the above prayer, Jains do not ask for any favors or material benefits from their Gods, the Tirthankaras or from monks and nuns. They do not pray to a specific Tirthankara or monk by name. By saluting them, Jains receive the inspiration from the five benevolent for the right path of true happiness and total freedom from the misery of life.


Lord Gautam Buddha & His Life

Buddha, meaning 'one who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality' was the title first given to Lord Buddha. It was about 2500 years ago when Prince Siddhartha Gautam left all the worldly pleasures to attain the reality of life, and became the Buddha - the enlightened one. It was a state in which the Buddha gained an insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that had set Him on his spiritual quest in the first place.

Early Life
Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal as a son of Shuddhodhana, the king of Kapilavastu and his Queen, Mayadevi. Unfortunately, Mayadevi died only seven days after the birth of Siddhartha and so, He was brought up by His stepmother, Gautami. It is interesting to note that when Siddhartha was born, the astrologers had predicted that the prince would renunciate the comforts of the materialistic world and instead, opt for a path of His own. When the King Shuddhodhana came to know about the prediction, he naturally became extremely cautious and tried to prevent a thing that was bound to happen, and he did not let Siddhartha even move out of the palace. It was the deepest desire of the king that his son would fulfill his father's dream one day by becoming a King.

The Turning Point
When Siddhartha had grown into an intelligent young man, He moved out of his palace one day, and saw certain things that changed the entire course of His life. He first saw a very old man who could barely walk, a sick man who was in A severe pain, and lastly a corpse. Since, He had never been exposed to pain before, these sights affected him immensely, although His charioteer tried to explain Him that pain and death - both were inevitable.

This entire episode turned His life and His heart compelled Him to evaluate His life completely and then, He began the search for the reason of existence. King Shuddhodhana got perturbed by whatever his son was going through and therefore, he arranged Siddhartha's marriage with a young and beautiful princess, Yasodhara. For some time, Siddhartha again got involved into the worldly pleasures, but somewhere at the back of His head, He had still not forgotten what He had seen! It was soon after the birth of son Rahul, that Siddhartha on a starry night, left His wife and son in deep sleep and left the palace.

Lord Gautam Buddha A Quest for Light or Truth
Siddhartha was only 29, when He had left home. For some time, He moved around the entire country meeting various sadhus and saints in His search for inner peace. It was during this period that Siddhartha lived the life of a hermit and involved Himself in rigorous ' tapasya' in order to comprehend the reason for life and death. A time came when He realised that it was useless to torture one's body while finding the truth, and then, He denunciated the method of tapasya and fast.

Then one fine day as Siddhartha reached Bodh Gaya and being very exhausted, He took a seat under the shade of a peepal tree and closed His eyes. It was then He felt a divine light coming within Himself. This was the turning point in His quest as He realised that the truth is within every human being and to search for it outside was baseless. After this incidence, He came to be known as ' Buddha' or the enlightened one.

The Right Path and Immortality
For 45 years, Buddha spread His message of spiritual life to not only His disciples but the common people as well. He gave emphasis on the purification of mind, heart and ultimately, soul by following the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths and the Five Perceptions. This path included the right speech, understanding, determination, deeds, efforts, awareness, thinking and living. As per Buddhism, if one follows these paths, one could overcome desires, which were the reason for all the grieves and miseries.

After spreading His message to the world successfully, Buddha died at the age of 80 years in 483 BCE. at Kushinagar, India. Today, Buddhism has a strong following in various Asian countries and is gradually finding its feet in some of the western countries as well.


Swami Vivekananda : Life and Teachings

  Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.

With Sri Ramakrishna
At the threshold of youth Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. It was at that time he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors at college. One day in November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. He straightaway asked the Master a question which he had put to several others but had received no satisfactory answer: “Sir, have you seen God?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intenser sense.”
Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love. Thus began a guru-disciple relationship which is quite unique in the history of spiritual masters. Narendra now became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar and, under the guidance of the Master, made rapid strides on the spiritual path. At Dakshineshwar, Narendra also met several young men who were devoted to Sri Ramakrishna, and they all became close friends.

Difficult Situations
After a few years two events took place which caused Narendra considerable distress. One was the sudden death of his father in 1884. This left the family penniless, and Narendra had to bear the burden of supporting his mother, brothers and sisters. The second event was the illness of Sri Ramakrishna which was diagnosed to be cancer of the throat. In September 1885 Sri Ramakrishna was moved to a house at Shyampukur, and a few months later to a rented villa at Cossipore. In these two places the young disciples nursed the Master with devoted care. In spite of poverty at home and inability to find a job for himself, Narendra joined the group as its leader.

Beginnings of a Monastic Brotherhood
Sri Ramakrishna instilled in these young men the spirit of renunciation and brotherly love for one another. One day he distributed ochre robes among them and sent them out to beg food. In this way he himself laid the foundation for a new monastic order. He gave specific instructions to Narendra about the formation of the new monastic Order. In the small hours of 16 August 1886 Sri Ramakrishna gave up his mortal body.
After the Master’s passing, fifteen of his young disciples (one more joined them later) began to live together in a dilapidated building at Baranagar in North Kolkata. Under the leadership of Narendra, they formed a new monastic brotherhood, and in 1887 they took the formal vows of sannyasa, thereby assuming new names. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda (although this name was actually assumed much later.)

Awareness of Life’s Mission
After establishing the new monastic order, Vivekananda heard the inner call for a greater mission in his life. While most of the followers of Sri Ramakrishna thought of him in relation to their own personal lives, Vivekananda thought of the Master in relation to India and the rest of the world. As the prophet of the present age, what was Sri Ramakrishna’s message to the modern world and to India in particular? This question and the awareness of his own inherent powers urged Swamiji to go out alone into the wide world. So in the middle of 1890, after receiving the blessings of Sri Sarada Devi, the divine consort of Sri Ramakrishna, known to the world as Holy Mother, who was then staying in Kolkata, Swamiji left Baranagar Math and embarked on a long journey of exploration and discovery of India.

Discovery of Real India
During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses. He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses. The immediate need was to provide food and other bare necessities of life to the hungry millions. For this they should be taught improved methods of agriculture, village industries, etc. It was in this context that Vivekananda grasped the crux of the problem of poverty in India (which had escaped the attention of social reformers of his days): owing to centuries of oppression, the downtrodden masses had lost faith in their capacity to improve their lot. It was first of all necessary to infuse into their minds faith in themselves. For this they needed a life-giving, inspiring message. Swamiji found this message in the principle of the Atman, the doctrine of the potential divinity of the soul, taught in Vedanta, the ancient system of religious philosophy of India. He saw that, in spite of poverty, the masses clung to religion, but they had never been taught the life-giving, ennobling principles of Vedanta and how to apply them in practical life.
Thus the masses needed two kinds of knowledge: secular knowledge to improve their economic condition, and spiritual knowledge to infuse in them faith in themselves and strengthen their moral sense. The next question was, how to spread these two kinds of knowledge among the masses? Through education – this was the answer that Swamiji found.

Need for an Organization
One thing became clear to Swamiji: to carry out his plans for the spread of education and for the uplift of the poor masses, and also of women, an efficient organization of dedicated people was needed. As he said later on, he wanted “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.” It was to serve as this ‘machinery’ that Swamiji founded the Ramakrishna Mission a few years later.

Decision to attend the Parliament of Religions
It was when these ideas were taking shape in his mind in the course of his wanderings that Swami Vivekananda heard about the World’s Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. His friends and admirers in India wanted him to attend the Parliament. He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his Master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. Another reason which prompted Swamiji to go to America was to seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses.
Swamiji, however, wanted to have an inner certitude and divine call regarding his mission. Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock-island at Kanyakumari. With the funds partly collected by his Chennai disciples and partly provided by the Raja of Khetri, Swami Vivekananda left for America from Mumbai on 31 May 1893.

The Parliament of Religions and After
His speeches at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as an ‘orator by divine right’ and as a ‘Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’. After the Parliament, Swamiji spent nearly three and a half years spreading Vedanta as lived and taught by Sri Ramakrishna, mostly in the eastern parts of USA and also in London.

Awakening His Countrymen
He returned to India in January 1897. In response to the enthusiastic welcome that he received everywhere, he delivered a series of lectures in different parts of India, which created a great stir all over the country. Through these inspiring and profoundly significant lectures Swamiji attempted to do the following:

 to rouse the religious consciousness of the people and create in them pride in their cultural heritage;
 to bring about unification of Hinduism by pointing out the common bases of its sects;
 to focus the attention of educated people on the plight of the downtrodden masses, and to expound his plan for their uplift by the application of the principles of Practical Vedanta.

Founding of Ramakrishna Mission
Soon after his return to Kolkata, Swami Vivekananda accomplished another important task of his mission on earth. He founded on 1 May 1897 a unique type of organization known as Ramakrishna Mission, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of Practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, rural development centres etc, and conducting massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.

Belur Math
In early 1898 Swami Vivekananda acquired a big plot of land on the western bank of the Ganga at a place called Belur to have a permanent abode for the monastery and monastic Order originally started at Baranagar, and got it registered as Ramakrishna Math after a couple of years. Here Swamiji established a new, universal pattern of monastic life which adapts ancient monastic ideals to the conditions of modern life, which gives equal importance to personal illumination and social service, and which is open to all men without any distinction of religion, race or caste.

It may be mentioned here that in the West many people were influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s life and message. Some of them became his disciples or devoted friends. Among them the names of Margaret Noble (later known as Sister Nivedita), Captain and Mrs Sevier, Josephine McLeod and Sara Ole Bull, deserve special mention. Nivedita dedicated her life to educating girls in Kolkata. Swamiji had many Indian disciples also, some of whom joined Ramakrishna Math and became sannyasins.

Last Days
In June 1899 he went to the West on a second visit. This time he spent most of his time in the West coast of USA. After delivering many lectures there, he returned to Belur Math in December 1900. The rest of his life was spent in India, inspiring and guiding people, both monastic and lay. Incessant work, especially giving lectures and inspiring people, told upon Swamiji’s health. His health deteriorated and the end came quietly on the night of 4 July 1902. Before his Mahasamadhi he had written to a Western follower: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body, to cast it off like a worn out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere until the whole world shall know that it is one with God.”


Ram – the story of Lord Rama

 Lord Rama

Lord Rama is known by all Hindus, the world over, as the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Rama was the perfect avatar of the Supreme Protector Vishnu. Ram has always been a well loved God among all the Hindu deities because of the several moralistic and virtuous characteristics that he brings along with him.
Sri Rama is the epitome of how a man should be. He symbolizes the ideal man full of values and morals. Rama is also referred to as the Maryada Purushottama, which when translated means the idealistic man.
Lord Rama was put on the earth to destroy the evil forces of those times and bring about morality and virtues.
Lord Rama had several wonderful characteristics. He always spoke the truth. Rama had a tremendous sense of morality. Lord Rama was not only the ideal son but also an ideal husband, and most important of all an ideal king to his subjects.
Rama and Sita, both of them are widely accepted by all Hindus to be actual historical figures that are loved and revered by Indians all over.
Rama and Sita are the two main characters of the great Hindu epic of Ramayana. The Ramayana is also known as the Romance of Rama. It was written by the ancient Sanskrit poet Valmiki.
All Hindus believe that Rama lived in the times when life was not good. The historians purport another belief that was not defined until the 11th century AD. Then Tulsidas, wrote another wonderful version of the Sanskrit epic "Ramayana” and turned it into "Ramcharitmanas". This was the writing that greatly etched in the minds of the Hindus all the characteristics that Lord Rama is popular for. Rama, the god went about to give rise to various devotional groups.
Shri Rama was a man who was full of virtues from head to toe. Lord Rama was kind and compassionate. He was also magnanimous and sensitive to the way everyone felt around him. Lord Rama looked handsome and conducted himself well. Shri Ram had a wonderful personality. He was born into a noble family and was the son of a king and conducted himself thus. He was generous, chivalrous and not afraid to speak the truth. He was very simple and down to earth.
Lord Rama is considered as an exemplary son who is unequalled in the world. He resembled his father, Dasaratha in every way and had wonderful good qualities.
He never lied. He always respected learned men and scholars and elders. People loved him and he adored them in return. He was just how a king should be.
He could reach out to the people with his charming personality and touch their very souls.
He was attractive and had all the qualities of a king's son. His subjects loved him and that was without any doubt.
Lord Rama’s superior qualities were showcased in the way he lived.
Lord Rama is considered to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was specially put on the earth to kill the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama is known for his wonderful personality and simplicity and every Indian man would love to emulate him.
Shri Ram is one of the popular and famous gods of the Hindu religion and was loved by millions of Hindus of all ages..
Lord Rama is one of the commonly worshipped gods of the Hindu religion and no Hindu shrine would ever be complete without the idols of Rama and Sita in it.
Shri Ram is known as a part of Lord Vishnu. He is considered to be the preserver of the Universe. Ram is the great lord of Hanuman, who helped him in getting back his wife Sita from the clutches of the demon Ravana.
Lord Rama shared a wonderful relationship with all around him. He was the obedient son to his father Dashratha the king of Ayodhya. He was a wonderful brother to all his brothers but especially was devoted towards his younger brother, Lakshman. He dearly loved his wife Sita and his children Luv and Kush. He proved to be a wonderful friend to Hanuman. He treated his subjects like his children and they in turn worshiped the ground that he trod on.


Lord Vishnu -The preserver

 Lord VishnuWhen you look at the three Hindu gods you find that they are made up of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Hindu god Vishnu is considered to be the preserver and protector of making of the world.
Lord Vishnu is known as the god for forgiveness and compassion. He ensures that he does goodness for all, and the influential control allows him to preserve the universe and maintain righteousness throughout the universe.
The Hindu god Vishnu is often shown seated on the wound serpent.
Lord Vishnu has his companion Lakshmi massaging his feet. The Hindu God Vishnu never sleeps and is always represented in idols as the one in a good mood. At the same time, Lord Vishnu does not like people who think no end of themselves and have a great ego.
You will notice that in most mythology and religious books the Hindu god Vishnu is shown with four weapons. All of these four weapons are symbolic of something.
In one hand Vishnu holds the shell. In the second hand, he holds the disc. In the third hand Lord Vishnu holds the club that has to be used as a weapon. And in the fourth hand you will notice the lotus. The Hindu god Vishnu has a bow and a sword. All of these weapons that Vishnu holds are there to help him in his endeavors.
In this world, there is a balance maintained between the two forces of the good and evil. They are evenly matched in the world.
However, there are times and instances when these balances are destroyed an evil demon get stronger than the good ones.
This is the time when Lord Vishnu receives a request by the other gods asking for help. Then god Vishnu reinvents himself in to one of the Vishnu avatars, which is a human form to set the equilibrium right again.
Altogether, the Hindus recognize the nine Vishnu re-incarnations. These are generally recognized as Vishnu avatars. Sometimes folks also believe that in the other Indian epics the main characters could also be the avatars of Vishnu.
According to what is mentioned in the holy book of the Purana, Vishnu is the ultimate god and to be found everywhere. If you are looking for the reality then that is represented by Lord Vishnu.
The Hindu God Vishnu is shown as a four-armed male and this is the way that his powerful presence is showcased.
The way Lord Vishnu’s image is made, and he is made to look is quite different from those of other gods. The color is blue, which means that Lord Vishnu can be everywhere just like the blue sky or ocean. Vishnu also represents the time without end and a never ending supremacy. This is the reason why Vishnu is always depicted as blue.
The Hindu god Vishnu has the mark of sage Bhrigu's feet and the srivatsa mark on his chest. These stand for his partner Lakshmi.
Lord Vishnu always has a crown on his head, which shows his followers his eventual power and authority. He is always shown resting on the snake who is the eternal and a snake that can never ever die.
The nine avatars of Lord Vishnu that are shown are of different kinds and go on to show Vishnu as the preserver.
The very first incarnation of Vishnu is that of the fish. When Vishnu is shown in this form, he has saved the Saint Vaivaswata. This is similar in the story to the Noah in Biblical times.
The second incarnation of Vishnu shows him as the Turtle. The other incarnations of Vishnu show him as the boar, the lion, the dwarf, the holy cow Kamadhenu. The last two incarnations of the Hindu God Vishnu show him as the Gods, Krishna and Buddha.
The tenth incarnation of Vishnu that is Kalki has still not taken birth and is yet to come. The Hindus believe that the time when the earth becomes too bad to live on and mankind will resort to all kinds of evil deeds then that will be the time when, lord Vishnu will come to the earth as a person. He will be seated on a white horse and this image is worshiped as the tenth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.