Arathi – A Ritual in Light – Children Of Light

arathi09jul02SaiKulwantArathi -Prashanti Nilayam

Om Jaya Jagadheesa Harey
Swami Sathya Sai Harey
Bhaktha Jana Samrakshaka
Bhaktha Jana Samrakshaka
Parthi Maheshwara
Om Jaya Jagadheesa Harey

Victory to The Lord of the Universe, To The Lord, Who destroys grief, evil, and miseries of life and Who guards and protects us. Victory to Lord of Lords.

The prayer-song Arathi is often (but does not have to be) sung at the close of a devotional singing (bhajan) session.The word refers both to the song-prayer and the waving of a camphor flame to a Deity. Arathi is sung and performed to develop highest love for God and to express devotion. In Hindu temples, one may find Arathi being sung and performed to various aspects of God, such as Ganesha, Durga, and even the Ganges river. Correspondingly, there are different versions of the Arathi song.Arathi is sung and performed at the end of each darshan in Prasanthi Nilayam, while a camphor flame is waved in a slow circle, facing Bhagavan.

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aartisArathi – Hindu Temple

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Arathi

During my journeys through India, I am often amazed by the puja and Arathi worship performed by people of the Hindu faith, from the high caste Brahmin down to the lowly beggar merchant at some curb side altar. Even before work can begin, Puja (worship) is performed to the chosen deities, such as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Sarawati, goddess of wisdom, or Krishna, Shiva or others. Sometimes, puja has even been done to objects in daily use, to computers and stoves, to cars, washers, and dryers – in acknowledgement of the supreme Intelligence and to honour the power that makes them work. So what is Arathi? It’s a ritual in light which completes the puja worship ceremony.

Puja consists of offering flowers, such as tiny, delicate petals of heavy scented jasmine, often accompanied by fresh fruits to the chosen deity. Joss sticks are then lit and clouds of incense fill the air with aromatic fragrance. Often bells or gongs, conches, and cymbals are sounded as the sacred flame is lit. And with tremendous devotion and intense concentration, the light ritual is then performed. In a graceful, slow clockwise motion, the light is waved in front of the deity three times, and then offered to the worshippers. They in turn, offer their outstretched hands to the flame, which they consider to be the blessings of the deity. The Arathi tray is then placed before the altar where the worshippers can pass their hands over the flames. Often at the side of the Arathi tray, – beside the flame, are objects such as turmeric, representing wealth, Kumkum, which signifies auspiciousness; rice, for abundance; and sometimes gold. Frankincense, myrrh and dhoop – a kind of incense made of medicinal herbs are lit to purify the environment

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. The Arathi is an esoteric ritual, but its purpose is really very simple. One of the meanings of the word Arathi is “to take delight in the object of worship.” Another, is that the light cleanses the soul and awakens our inner spiritual energy, which in turn helps with daily meditation. To merge with the Light is representative of our small selves giving way or melting into the larger Self, and is the real purpose of worship. The Guru or Master, tells us time and again, the significance of Arathi is the symbol of  becoming one with the light, and being purified by it and while doing so, to let it scatter light and love to all around, leaving us as nothing; no more to be born into a worldly life of pleasure and pain’. This brings us to the quintessential expression of the Arathi ritual which is the prayer,  “Jyota se Jyota,”  in which the Guru’s grace is invoked to awaken our inner awareness.

Arathi is a discipline and an art, it brings harmony, inspires devotion and sanctifies the worshippers. Arathi contains the sublime mystery of worship, in which we use forms to experience that which is beyond all forms. For God is both form and formless,  “Saguna and Nirguna.”

At home, I have nothing as splendid as a puja room, or even an Arathi lamp, and the custom of offering flowers, fruits etc. seems so out of place in my  living room, especially during the bleak Winter months when the garden has few flowers. I make do with a simple candle which I light early in the morning and sit down before, for just a few moments in quiet meditation, then offer a few wishes God-ward, for peace in our time.


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You tube with the Arathi ritual with Arathi chant. Please folks who do not understand the Hindu faith, a wee word. God  in Hinduism is both the formless and  God in form. The Gods and Goddesses are only aspects of the One Formless God.. Thank you.

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Arathi on the Ganges river - the Ghats,Varanasi
Arathi on the Ganges river – the Ghats,Varanasi

Light As Consciousness – Children Of Light

“I am all that you think, all that you say, everything hangs on me, like pearls on a thread. I am the earth set, and the fires heat. I am appearance, and disappearance. I am the tricksters hoax. I am the radiance of all that shines, i am time grown old. All beings fall into the night, and all beings are brought back in to daylight. I have already defeated all these warriors. He who thinks he can kill, and he who thinks he can be killed, are both mistaken. No weapon can pierce the life that informs you. No fire can burn it, no water can drown it, no wind can dry it. Have no fear, and rise up, because I love you…..”

— Sri Krishna speaking to Arjuna –

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 Chapter 5 part 3. Bhagvad Gita

25. Holy men reach the Nirvana of Brahman: their sins are no more, their doubts are gone, their soul is in harmony, their joy is in the good off all.

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The Light as Consciousness

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The light, which is equated with the Supreme and is suppose to be the
consciousness of life, is described in the Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7.

“There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth. Beyond us
all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in our hearts.

Due to our outward-turning senses, tendencies, and attachments to the fruits of action, we are unable to turn our eyes inward, at least, until compelled by external circumstances. But we must be able to do so somehow, if the lower self is to become one with the Ultimate Being.

Using an illustration from the Mundaka Upanishad Swami Vivekananda says:

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“Two birds of golden plumage sat on the same tree. The one above, serene, majestic, immersed in his own glory; the one below restless and eating the fruits of the tree, now sweet, then bitter. Once he ate an exceptional bitter fruit, then he paused and looked up at the majestic bird above: but he soon forgot about the other bird and went on eating the fruits of the tree as before.

Again he ate a bitter fruit, and this time he hopped up a few boughs nearer to the bird at the top. This happened many times, each time the “hop up” brought him nearer to the bird at the top. This happened until the lower bird came to the place of the upper bird at the top, and lost himself.”

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He found all at once that there never had been two birds, but that he was all the time that upper bird, serene, majestic and immersed in his own glory…

But this union with the Divine is not as easy as it appears in words. The journey is filled with obstacles, darkness and ignorance, misleading visions and egotism. Therefore, in the Katha Upanishad, Yama, the God of Death, tells the young boy Nachiketa, who seeks to know what lies beyond death, that the spiritual path is for the “lionhearted” and not the sheep.

Whether it be the blindingly luminous vision of Christ that Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul) saw on his way to Demascus or Arjuna’s vision of Lord Krishna in the Cosmic Form on the battle field of Kurukshetra, the experience of the transcendental Reality has often been associated with brilliance, splendor and light.

Fascinating and awesome as such visions might be the experience of light ought not be to the final goal. If that were so, the Bhagavad Gita would have ended with the Eleventh Teaching. But it does not.

According to Krishna Himself, the Supreme state in that which the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor the fire, for it is the Light of Pure Consciousness. These words are analogous to those found in the Svetasvatara 6.14 and Katha Upanishad. 5.15.

excerpted from Parobola Mag. ‘Light’ – May 2001

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Dear Readers,

Hindu Mystics either see Maya as something to be transcended or as the Veil through which God manifests him/herself. As we gaze at a beautiful landscape or stunning landscape, God is ‘boded forth’, as Johannes Scotus put it. Another way of looking at Maya, not as a prison barring us from God but a prism through which we experience God.

Vedic Song – Inspirational Quotations

Although there are many Vedas written, the most important is the Rig, which contains over 1,000 hymns directed to the gods. The content of these hymns includes praises, blessings, sacrifices, and curses.  These hymns are the major way in which the Aryan people praised their gods.  The subject of the hymns is the personification of the powers of nature.

The hymns are written in poetic form:

“This light hath come, of all the lights the fairest,
The brilliant brightness hath been born, far-shining,
Urged on to prompt the sun-god’s shining power.
Night and Morning clash not, nor yet do linger.”  (Bloomfield 30)

Here is another Vedic Song, I would like to share with you.

There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that one in the beginning; that was the first seed of Mind/Consciousness. Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom found the bond of existence in non-existence.

Their cord was extended across. Was there below? Was there above? There were seed-placers; there were powers. There was impulse beneath; there was giving-forth above.

Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.”

– from THE RIG VEDA trans Wendy Doniger ISBN 0140449892

The Master’s Boon – Myths and Legends

 

elephant drawing

 

The Master’s Boon

 

The young devotee, Meher, approached the Master, Maha Ramdas with awe and a great deal of humility. “Will you let me sit at your feet and learn from you, Oh wise one?” he asked.

“Of course,” replied Maha Ramdas . “But you may not like my method of teaching, it might not agree with you.” Meher answered, “Great Master, I want to learn and I am willing to undergo any task to find God.”

 “Yes, I know how you feel,” said the Master. “But you will find my commands and the discipline of this Ashram very difficult to follow – many have come before, and left because of my strict methods.”

Meher, though, was convinced that he would be perfectly obedient to anything the Master commanded. After only a few months of living with the Master, however, he had grown discontent and was no longer sure. The Master, although renowned for his wisdom, was often capricious and even cruel; all the last-minute changes in plans and schedules,the relentless discipline, the uncertainty of how the Master would react to anything, the intense effort to fathom his ways in the hopes of pleasing him, proved too much for Meher and he ran away.

Although he had run away from the great Master, he did not want to give up his search for God. One lonely night he prayed for a new Master, and to his surprise, the next morning he was guided to a great Yogi who was another prominent teacher of the day. He asked the Yogi to be his new teacher and Master.

 “Perhaps I have found my true teacher at last,” he thought to himself. But that night, as Meher was looking at the moon, he saw, to his amazement, the face of Maha Ramdas shining back at him.

Sorrow gripped him as he returned to the Yogi’s house to rest. The next morning he bluntly asked the Yogi: “Are you going to make my life miserable; will you be a hard task master…?” “Never,” said the Yogi – looking at him with a wry smile. Meher  relaxed a little.

“Then you will accept me as your disciple?”

 “First ask me why I won’t be strict with you and make your life miserable,” said the Yogi. This surprised Meher, “Well, tell me why?”

 “Because I would not love you and care for your well-being as Maha Ramdas cared for you. And whether you like it or not, he not I, still commands your heart, so it really is of little use asking to become my disciple. You should return to your Master who is waiting for you.”

Meher knew these wise words were true. He sadly left the Yogi, and returned to the Ashram of Maha Ramdas who accepted him back with much love. Soon he learnt to surrender to the wisdom of Maha Ramdas’s ways, and in time he became a great saint.

– Anon

Melting into Presence at Kodaikanal – Sathya Sai Memories


A Special Moment


“You are so lucky,” my companion said after Swami had returned to his home. I had just told her how happy I’d been a few minutes earlier while waiting outside the ashram in Kodaikanal.

My companion was envious because I’d left early to line up for afternoon darshan. Arriving at the ashram at about 1:30, I stood with a few other ladies by the lakeside. Then suddenly a crowd of students came out of the main building and stood by the green canopy for a photo session. Some of the students assembled outside of the darshan area when a flash of orange appeared from there midst. It was Swami. He was posing for photos right there in front of us.

We began to wave eagerly at him and he waved back. I moved forward and in sheer glee waved to him with all the enthusiasm I could muster. He waved back copying my wide wave. Delighted I waved again, this time taking it slowly, then again with both hands. Swami responded in exactly the same way. I believe we stood waving for about three to four minutes before he finally signalled to the students to return to the building.

Then Swami, himself, returned to his house.

It was a wonderful feeling to have Swami wave so playfully. It felt like for just a few moments, I had him all to myself.