Shukra Ojas and Varna

The word Varna वर्ण has several meanings in Sanskrit, ie quality, paint, description, narration, class, word, vowel, unknown quantity, syllable, species, sound, sort, shape, renown, praise, property, quality, outward appearance, order, one who wards off, musical note, mantle, lustre, lid, measure, gold, form, figure, cloak, beauty, character, commendation, cloak, etc. (It does not mean ‘caste’ as is understood today. A Dharmic society does not have a caste system like we are forced to follow today.)

Our ideal society is based on the four Varna, Vipra or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. This enables the people and the society as a whole to maintain Dharma. Dharma at its simplest is the ‘right foundation’. Each one of the 4 Varna is essential as it performs critical functions in the society. If even one of them does not function properly, the entire society collapses, which is evidently happening today. Neither Varna is greater or lesser, all four are highly interdependent. If anyone disparages a Varna as ‘lower’ and another Varna as ‘higher’ then he does not follow Dharma. 

In Jyotish, the planetary forces/ graha, the signs/ rashi and the lunar mansions/ nakshatra are assigned Varna. Varna is essential for deciphering the mindset of the person and this criteria is especially used during matching charts for marriage. The varna of the lunar mansions of the birth Moon and the ascendant degree/ Lagna and to some extent Rahu have a more significant effect on your mindset/ behaviour. Varna should be considered especially for questions related to the profession and finances. Even while prescribing remedies you can use Varna as an indicator.

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To understand the Varna concept first, we need to understand Shukra and Ojas.

  • Shukra शुक्र has several meanings, the Daityaguru Shukracharya / Venus, lucid, white, wealth, sperm, spotless, pure, era, light, plant, essence, gold, clear, bright, good actions, clear liquids etc.
  • Ojas ओजस means splendour, vitality, power, strength, support, appearance, manifestation, lustre, light, water, ability, style, energy, expression, emphasis, etc.

The four Varna, Vipra or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are based on the energy dynamics that exist within the mind and body. This is reflected in the person’s outward behaviour, his preferred activities and most significantly in his profession. eg a teacher, soldier, carpenter and a businessman have different mindsets and behaviours. Thus earlier, the Varna of a person was never determined by birth but always by profession which is the expression of the Nakshatra, graha and rashi varnas in the chart. True Varna is chart specific.

Now to recap the seven ‘substances’, the Dhatu of the human body (this post). The seventh Dhatu in sequence is Shukra Dhatu. Shukra is used for three essential activities,

  1. Shukra dhatu is essential for reproductive activity. It is consumed to produce the physical sperm/ Shukra and ova/ Shonit and to charge these very valuable cells with the necessary ‘energy’ so that they can create equally highly energetic offspring in the future. This is the link between generations and consumes Shukra dhatu and its energy.
  2. A second use of Shukra is to fuel your interactions with everyone and everything around you. One is obviously when you are engaging in physical intimacy as a part of the reproductive process. And the second is the not so obvious but very much there energy use when you interact with anyone, living or non-living around you. eg when you talk to the grocer, there is an exchange of emotion, speech, non-verbal cues, money, groceries and also energy. eg if you are interacting with several hundreds of people on a daily basis, more of your Shukra dhatu gets drained. eg if you interact with non-living items all the time, eg you are a blacksmith and always around machinery, even then the drain on the Shukra dhatu is comparatively more.
  3. Any surplus Shukra dhatu remaining after these above two activities, is very slowly converted into Ojas.

Ojas is the finest essence of energy, the culmination of all the ‘food’ that you have taken inside your body /mind. Thus the production of Ojas also depends on your having a balanced/ satvik diet, a proper digestive system/fire, a regular routine, ie physical exercise like Yogasan and the regular spiritual practice which is a mental exercise, etc. The quantity of Ojas produced completely depends on the quantity of Shukra dhatu available for further refining (that is why several higher level yogic practices emphasise on using Shukra dhatu to the minimum by restricting activities 1 and 2 above). Ojas is a very precious resource and Ayurved recognises two types of Ojas – Para Ojas located at the Ajnya chakra and the Apara Ojas which circulates in the body. 

With this basic background, let’s analyse the energy dynamics of the four Varna.

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This is how Shukra and its refined form Ojas, is linked to Varna. The four Varna are Vipra, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

The Shudra शूद्र use the energy of the Shukra dhatu within their bodies ‘to produce’. The power of their physical work creates material produce and this is the core of a vibrant Dharmic society. A society cannot sustain without this ‘production’ power of Shukra. The root द्र in Sanskrit means produce, material, flow, sourced from, etc. And the शू indicates that this production is appropriate, exact, auspicious etc. Every activity involving physical labour is the domain of Shukra operating through the Shudra Varna. This Shukra performs all sorts of work, from the very basic physical labour to specialised jobs with specific skills, eg the skilled work needed to produce agricultural crops, manage animal husbandry, manufacture goods, machine work in industries, sewing clothes, making shoes, making gold ornaments, all this is the exclusive domain of the Shudra, the ‘auspicious material’. This is how they preserve Dharma within themselves and in the society. They expend very significant amounts of Shukra dhatu as they interact more with inanimate objects eg machinery or plants eg agriculture or animals eg animal husbandry etc who are all on the lower consciousness scale.

Next, the Vaishya वैश्य are required to use the energy of their Shukra dhatu to interact with others, to trade, to determine the exact value of material things, to exchange value and to thus add to the prosperity of the overall society. The keyword of this Vaishya Varna is ‘value’, wherever this word is used it is the domain of the Vaishya. Several types of goods produced by the power of Shukra in the Shudra Varna need to be first valued then traded, bartered or exchanged for other goods. This is a typical function requiring special skills, ability, confidence etc. And this is how the Vaishya varna works to preserve Dharma in the society and within themselves. Their Shukra dhatu is used to interact mainly with other human beings while bargaining, trading etc and thus there remains a greater surplus for conversion to Ojas.

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Kshatriya क्षत्रिय use the energy of this same Shukra dhatu to govern and protect the individual, the society and thus Dharma. They have to learn and practice marital Vidyas, learn politics, governance, the mental skills to plan wars, enforce law and order, catch criminals, to judge and to punish them, to rule and properly manage a kingdom, its people and its assets. They are required to take on physical wounds and mental trauma, to hurt or kill others, also to leave their own physical bodies on the battlefield or while fighting against invaders and criminals. They have to use their minds to plan for death and destruction of those who attack the society and Dharma, they strategise and implement aggressive and defensive strategies. They are also required to govern with a dispassionate mindset, management at the highest level. A lifetime of sober and violent energies for protection of Dharma in the society and also within themselves. Again the primary interaction is with other humans so there remains a reasonably good quantity of Shukra dhatu for processing into Ojas.

Vipra use the energy of their Shukra dhatu to learn, practice and teach the Ved, the Vidyas like Jyotish, Ayurved etc, various subjects, philosophy, also maintain temples, perform pujas for families, manage schools/ Gurukul, teach children, advise the king, counsel those who come to them for help etc. By doing this, they ensure that Dharma prevails within themselves and in the society. They have to study and gain necessary knowledge and skills. Also to perform a lot of pujas, both personal and public, follow several personal rules regarding behaviour, interactions etc. Their primary interactions are with their deity who is on an exceptionally higher energy level. Also they are required to live a strict, regimented satvik lifestyle. Thus they retain significant surplus Shukra dhatu for conversion to Ojas. This Ojas is then used in their own Dharmic growth and for sharing with their students, devotees, everyone else in the society. The Brahmin varna is bound by the rules of Dharma to share this energy. So as they interact with the devotees of the deity, the families for whom they perform pujas, their students, people who do ‘namaste’ to them, in fact, everyone in the society who comes to the temples, they are required to give the blessings/ ashirwad and pass on the energy.

Finally the Sanyasis. These are spiritual aspirants who have taken formal Sanyas, ascetics. The Sanyasi are not a part of the society so they are not required to interact with anyone from any group within the society. They do not have a Varna, they are not required to have children or to interact with any other person. Their only interaction is with their deity, their mantra, their sadhana, ie their chosen spiritual path. The Shukra dhatu within their bodies is almost completely converted to Ojas. This then becomes Para Ojas, the undefinable ‘spiritual beauty’ that high level Yogis and Gurus radiate.

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There was a question on Varna, the answer for which became too long for a comment. This analysis on the Shukra, Ojas and Varna has not been posted anywhere till now, and this was told by my Guru. I have analysed my sample charts observed and these people, their behaviour does match the Varna. (Those who are studying Jyotish open your sample chart collection and analyse your self/ friends/ family members with this perspective.)

Devbhasha Sanskrutam is a palimpsest, layers of meanings to be applied as per the intellect and the situation. The reference point, the context, the perspective is very important. All words in Sanskrit are titles, complete descriptions based on the meanings of the vowels and the consonants. The meanings of the Akshar are fixed, linked to the movement of the pran in the chakras within the Sushumna. Thus there can be no ambiguity in the meanings of Sanskrit words. Unfortunately our Sanatan Dharm concepts have been distorted and twisted on purpose by the invaders in an attempt to damage our culture. To really understand what we are all about, Sanskrit is essential. All our books are in Sanskrit. (Avoid reading books written by a non-Hindus who claim to translate, decipher or otherwise explain concepts from our Dharma and our Sanskruti).

(This is the first time on the internet, that Varna and Nakshatra Varna have been analysed in depth. Do read the next post on the Nakshatra Varna and how to use it in Jyotish).

Anteyshti Dharma and the Shmashan

For a follower of Sanatan Dharma his life on this Martyalok is sandwiched between the 1st and the 16th Sanskar.

  • The Garbhadhan is the mantra of conception, where the parents-to-be invite individual soul of the baby-to-be for its incarnation here on Martyalok. Mantra power the intention and Agni carries it to the designated jivatma, fortifying it and then bringing it into Martyalok, establishing it within the astral bodies of the parents-to-be.
  • And after the designated lifetime of work is done, it is back to Pitrulok with the last Antim Sanskar, the Anteyshthi. The rightful heir offers the discarded physical body/sthool sharir to Agni at the Shmashan bhoomi. The mantra power the intention and Agni carries the jivatma back to Pitrulok.

We adore Agni, the Jaatved, the primordial energy, the power of motion. He is the start, the continuation, the end of illusion and also exists beyond the end of illusion.

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The Shmashan श्मशान is a high energy environment superficially turbulent and dangerous but subtly silent and very still. On the energy level, the Shmashan bhoomi is a specific location, ‘made with mantras’, ie we do not perform Anteyshthi at any random place. There are criteria for selection and a process which changes the energy of a generic plot of land into a Shmashan. A flat land with flowing water/ sea next to it. Mantra are used to invoke and install the energies of the Shmashan Devata here and only then it does it become a Shmashan bhoomi. Bhagwan Mahakaal, Devi Shmashankali and their Gan are present here in all their fierce awareness.

This physical land resonates with the inner Maha Shmashan at the third eye. This is why doing Sadhana reduces all attachments to the created world. You offer your Karma (imbalances) and Vasana (conditionings, desires) to Bhagwan Mahakaal sitting at your 3rd eye in your own Maha Shmashan. As your accumulated baggage burns, you realise that your family, job, identity, everything is an illusion. As the limited self ego burns the Eternal Advaita emerges. When you do your daily pujas, the act of applying Bhasma to your forehead indicates your intention to resonate with the Bhagwan Mahakaal within you.

After physical death, the soul has to safely traverse from the Martyalok to the Pitrulok. Burning the body in the Agni, in a proper Shmashan, with the proper mantra and by the correct heir gives a tremendous energy boost to the departed soul, helping it reach Pitrulok easily. If this is not done systematically, the jivatma suffers and sometimes remains trapped here in Martyalok as a ghost.

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There are a few rules to be followed in a Shmashan bhoomi. The energies are violent, catastrophic and dangerous, so women and small children are generally not allowed inside. They are more susceptible to this turbulence and can more easily influenced by the entities who reside here. (This not a fantasy, am sure everyone has seen what happens when a living person gets influenced by an entity.) Only exception to this rule is when the Guru allows them to enter here under his protection. This Bhoomi is the visible environment of the 8th house, death, occult, final exits, dangerous travel through unimaginable routes, destruction, conscious fire, Agni etc. The energies of the purest Vishuddha Tamogun or the destructive Tandav are clearly evident available here.

Even for the men who go there for the Anteyshthis of their family/ friends should be careful as this land creates a temporary but intense sense of detachment, this is called Shmashan vairagya. Seeing the bodies of loved ones being consumed by the Agni is in itself an unsettling experience on the physical level. Added to this is the continuous bombardment of energy as the energies of the Shmashan are the gateway between the Martyalok/ Pitrulok. Plus the intense energies of the spirits and other beings who reside here. Very rarely, this Shmashan vairagya can get so intense that it can convert into genuine Vairagya and the person does not return to the society, ie takes up Sanyas and remains as a devotee of Shri Mahakaal.

If you go here on specific times, nights, midnights, twilights or even midday, you will see occult aspirants doing their practices. The Agni of the Anteyshthi and the Shmashan bhoomi is very high energy, very quick results can be achieved here. But quick results always means extreme danger, tremendous energy, strict rules, high levels of control and rapid transformations. Best keep a safe distance from such aspirants in this location.

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Boys above the age of 6yrs, ie after wearing the Yajnopavit sutra and doing their Gayatri mantra can go to the Shmashan if there is an Anteyshti in their family. If they participate in some way, they will get merit/ punya from the activities here. Helping out at Anteyshtis of family members, friends, people in the neighbourhood, etc is a chance to balance karma before the departed jivatma leaves for Pitrulok. This type of Punya especially ensures the birth of healthy children and the continuity of the lineage. For those who go to the Shmashan, remember that it is the domain of the Bhagwan Mahakaal. So before going there, ensure that you have created the proper mindset within your self. Pray to him, ie recite your personal mantra or the Mahamrytunjai mantra etc. Offer a few coins to the Shmashan. Then do whatever you have come here to do. Avoid unnecessary interactions with strangers or unnecessary activities here. When you go back home, sprinkle Ganga water or clean water on yourself, wash your hands, feet, face (ideally take a bath) before entering your house. This refreshes the aura, ie the occult energies you have picked up from the Shmashan are replaced by your regular aura.

In the past decade, the media is subtly encouraging women to perform Anteyshti for their departed family members. A woman is not the proper heir for this purpose and her doing this subtly damages her and her future generations. Also the departed soul is deprived of the complete merit / punya from the Anteyshti Sanskar of the body it has discarded thus may face obstacles on its onward way. And by doing this, she will have prevented the proper heir from performing his duty, another negative against her. (If you know someone like this around you, observe for yourself how her life unfolds.)

The proper heir for these activities is the nearest male relative from the same gotra. There will be some cultural differences but the following is generally applicable.

  • For a man, this would be his son, adopted son, grandson, paternal brothers and their sons, etc.
  • For a married woman, this is the men from her husband’s gotra, ie her husband, her son, adopted son, grandson, husband’s brother and his son etc.
  • For an unmarried woman, this would be the men from her own gotra, ie her father, her brother and his son, her male cousins from her father’s side and their sons etc.
  • If the deceased has no sons and has daughters then the daughter’s husband or her son can perform the Anteyshthi (but not the daughter herself).
  • And if there is no male relative of any sort to do this final Sanskar for the departed soul, then any man can perform it with due respect in his heart.
  • If this too is not possible, then the attendants at the Shmashan will take on this responsibility and help the jivatma reach Pitrulok.

Whoever does this, gets a huge chunk of punya /merit for himself and his entire family.

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Another unsettling trend in these recent times is that if the son is abroad then the deceased’s body is kept in a morgue till he arrives. The morgue is the filthiest place imaginable with negative entities of the higher sort roaming around in search of victims. Leaving your loved one’s physical body here is equivalent to putting his individual soul alone with no protection in a jail with hardened criminals. The practices that we follow after physical death are intended to protect both, the family members and the departed jivatma, and there is a reason for everything, these are not meaningless ‘rituals’.

The Anteyshti should be performed as soon as practically possible. The nearest eligible male who is available at the spot should perform it and close the issue. The departed soul cannot be left lingering around semi-attached to the body, as during this time it is susceptible to attacks from the several negative things roaming around in this Martyalok. It needs to go to the Pitrulok as soon as possible, to first rest and then to continue its activities there.

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Generally physical death is projected as a sad event. But if you deeply think, it is not really sad. Whatever work the individual soul had decided on before entering Martyalok, it has successfully completed it and is now going back. We come here to work off our karma, not for entertainment. As per some local traditions, drums are played, people are called to sing bhajans etc while taking the dead body to the Shmashan bhoomi.

Then there are several misconceptions regarding the people who serve in the Shmashan. That they are unclean or somehow impure. This is incorrect. On the energy levels they are practically the Gan of Bhagwan Mahakaal, so do respect them. They maintain the Shmashan bhoomi, His residence. They live and work in an environment where normal people think twice before going. They have the capacity to remain calm in the face of such intense catastrophic turbulence. They are on a different level of spirituality which regular people cannot even imagine. Nor understand. If you cannot respect them then at least do not insult them.

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A bit on Sanyasis. Sanyasis formally discard the society and dedicate themselves to finding the Self. I have mentioned in some post that a Sanyasi can neither be considered to be ‘alive’ nor ‘dead’. And every follower of the Sanatan Dharm is supposed to take on Sanyas-ashram at the last quarter of his/her life, ie accept Sanyas. Ever wondered how Sanyas is ‘taken’? It is described beautifully in the Mahabharat, the Sanyas ashram of the Pandavs and their wife Draupadi.

Agni is the foundation of Sanatan Dharma. Every householder after his/ her Vivah sanskar has to maintain the Agni of their vivah for a life time, it embodies the Gruhast ashram. It is used to perform the daily Agnihotra and all the other pujas/ yajnyas where Agni is needed. All the Sanskars which follow their marriage in their and their unmarried children’s lives are performed using this same Agni. Even for the Anteyshti of a family member this same blazing Agni is taken to the Shmashan in an earthen pot.

In the Mahabharat, the Pandavs assiduously kept their Agni throughout their long and eventful life. Can you imagine the power of this continuously burning Agni? Even in the one year of Ajnyatvaas, when it would have been difficult to maintain it, the Agni was sent to their father in law Dhrupad’s home where he maintained it for them. But at end, when the Pandavs and their wife took up Sanyas ashram, this Agni was ‘taken’ within them. ie in a formal setting, this Agni of the Gruhast ashram of the Pandavs and Draupadi was put into water, extinguished. An Agni burning, blazing for decades, physically extinguished and ‘taken inside into oneself’. They had taken their Anteyshti Agni within themselves. Now onwards the Pandavs and their wife Draupadi were technically Sanyasi, they would continually burn in the fire of their own Anteyshthi until they exited the physical shell.

And it is the same thing when someone genuinely takes up Sanyas even today, he formally takes within him the conscious Agni of his own Anteyshthi. His tiny sense of the individual self is continually being consumed by the Anteyshthi which he has himself lit in his own third eye, in his own Mahashmashan. He has awakened the Shri Mahakaal within him, who will burn out his sense of ‘jiv’ and thus the ‘Shiv’ within will be evident. This is why they are not considered to be residents of either martyalok nor pitrulok, they are ‘existing’ continually in their own Maha shmashans.

My Sat Guru had formally taken Sanyas at the age of 17yrs.

My grand Guru, Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj’s samadhi is at the Banganga Shmashan bhoomi, Mumbai, right on the Sindhu sagar (Arabian Sea). My Sat Guru and his Guru-brothers would go here very often with their disciples, (this pic is over 20yrs old). My Guru’s Guru-brother Shri Ranjit Maharaj’s samadhi was subsequently made at the same place.

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(There were a few questions on Anteyshthi and the Shmashan bhoomi, thus this post)

Simple Sangeet Sadhana 

I am getting comments from readers who seem to be dejected in life. And with the nature of the current Time/ Kaal, as indicated by the current planetary influences, several of us are genuinely feeling demotivated.

However the easiest way remaining centred and focussed is to adopt a ‘daily routine’. This regular practice, helps you subtly ‘bind’ your life together, one day at a time. Just as the drop of water falling on a rock, for a hundred years destroys it, so does your daily routine destroy negativity in your life. Our Dharma has prescribed several such practices, starting with the Surya Arghya in the morning to lighting a deepak before the Tulsi plant in the evening. I have written about several such small daily practices (index page).

But my readers apparently want an even simpler practice. Thus this post.

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Devi Sarasvati gives her ashirwad/ blessings in two major forms. One is when you are alone, sitting on your Asan and doing your Mantra given to you by your Guru. eg the daily Gayatri mantra sadhana. And the second is when you are singing out aloud either alone or with a group of similar minded people or playing your musical instrument, ie performing Sangeet. This activity is also ingrained in our Dharma in the form of the numerous bhajans, kirtans, aartis etc that we sing daily. eg the Bhajan mandali groups. It is also the responsibility of every parent to teach his/ her child to sing, this helps the child understand ‘Bhava’, ie emotion and makes his/her life richer in the future.

Sangeet is a Sadhana in itself. Music is directly connected to the Naad and ultimately leads to Laya. Naad is the intelligence which creates Om and thus the manifested creation. And as every student of music knows, Laya is the complete absorption of the student into the Swar/ notes, Raag/ melody and Taal/ beat of the Sangeet/ music. As you become one with the emotion that the song expresses, its melody, its beat, you lose your limited sense of the individual self and briefly experience a small part of that Eternal Self. This brief touch of the Eternal then pulls you along even more strongly till eventually you realise Moksh especially if you practice it daily.

If you are not feeling inspired to do any personal spiritual practice, then the only option that remains is to sing out aloud. If you feel that there is nothing more left to do in this world, then the only thing that you must do is to sing.

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Ideally everyone should take up Music. And this is how you can very easily make it a part of your life.

Sing a song of your choice aloud, daily, for a lifetime. Just one song per day, ie 5-10 mins of your time. Even if your voice is toneless, dull, boring, cracked, untrained, makes you cringe, etc yet you must sing out, aloud. And record/ listen to your own singing (also share this audio with your loved ones if you wish.) You can choose movie songs, bhajans, stotras sung like songs, classical music, street-type of music. Sing any thing which you feel like singing, but it should have the following components. 

  1. Words, ie the Shabd – Your chosen song should have lyrics which express a mood, ‘Bhav-geet’. It has to convey, a ‘rasa’, an essence, an emotion, ie happiness, sadness, longing, devotion, anger etc. Check out movie songs, these cover a wide range of human emotions, choose one which resonates with your current mood. Random words stuck together is not a song, avoid this stuff. (You can also sing in Aakaar, ie vocalise just the sound of ‘aaaa’ in the chosen beat/melody, but attempt this after 1yr of the daily song practice.)
  2. Beat, ie the Taala – Every song has a tempo, ie you can clap your hands in time with it. So first try to tap your foot along the beat of the song you choose to sing. Taala is an entire concept by itself, an entire subtle philosophy of the ‘Taa’ and ‘La’ akshar and what they stand for. 
  3. Melody ie the Raag – You are required to sing a song, ie your voice should reach into the notes/ Swar – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni…, you are supposed to modulate your voice. This rhythm of the sound notes, their melodious ‘movement’ is called Raag in Bharatiya classical music. There are over 800 Raag and further about 400 Ragini in our music. Generally old movie songs from all Bharatiya language are set to the melody of the Raag. Performing rap or reciting in a plain monotone is not ‘singing’, avoid this.

Choose your songs and sing loudly, confidently. Try to pronounce the words clearly, follow the beat and the melody the best you can. And it is perfectly ok if you miss a beat or sound off-tune, you are after all learning how to sing. Try to hear your own voice with your own ears as you sing the songs. Becoming aware of your own voice is a big achievement in spiritual practice. This daily song will also help you practice ‘hearing’. Ultimately your ears have to be trained to ‘hear’ the fundamental sound of Om, the Anahata Naad, the ‘unstruck’ sound and the daily song will help you achieve this with time. Try to feel the sound vibrating in your throat, chest, upper abdomen. With time, you will sense that these sound vibrations are actually emanating from your navel/ Nabhi. When this happens, you will have completed a very significant phase in your Sangeet Sadhana.

Sound evolves from Silence in 4 distinct phases (Para, Pashchanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari). When you start feeling the vibration of the ‘sound’ in your navel, it means that you are now becoming aware of the Silence ie reaching towards the point of Para. Here ‘Silence’ does not mean ’emptiness’, it is not shunya. Silence here is the Poorna, the ‘completeness’, the conscious energy which has the potential to create anything and everything. Poorna is Advaita.

And if you critically analyse, as you sing, you are using the power of Silence strategically intertwined with the Sapta-Swar, Sa, Re…. Ni in a melodious, rhythmic format and also generating some emotions along the way. So with each song that you sing, you are subtly cleansing your own self, getting rid of the impurities in your astral body, moving forwards towards the Self. Singing is not a task, it can never be by force, you sing because you enjoy singing. You are singing for your own self, for your own enjoyment. This emotion in your mind generates very deep happiness on the inside. And happiness / Anand is also the Advaita.

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Once you get into the habit of singing your daily song, you will notice several positive changes about yourself. First your lung capacity will increase, ie you can breathe more deeply into your lungs. This helps your heart and your physical body will benefit. Singing out aloud helps elevate the mood, you feel fresh, active yet relaxed. Your brain is learning something new daily and also practicing it, ie producing the sound from the throat, this helps it remain active and alert. Your confidence will increase, public speaking will become easier etc.

One song per day means that in one year, you will have 365 audio clips with you. After this one year, again listen to the first song which you had recorded and compare. Analyse your performance, your voice quality, ability to follow a beat, to stick to a rhythm, the power of your voice etc. Then analyse your personality, you have changed dramatically in this one year. This one year mark is going to be an eye-opener for you as you analyse your own performance. 

Now, if you feel like it, you can start learning Bharatiya classical music under a proper teacher. Our music is categorised under Uttar Bharat aka Hindustani and Dakshin Bharat aka Carnatic. Uttar gives more importance to the essence and Dakshin is more focussed on the purity of the technique. Both are fundamentally the same concept expressed in two different ways. Both are equal, so choose whichever appeals to your mind.

Or you can choose to learn a musical instrument. Our instruments are generally of three basic types

  • stringed – eg Veena, Sitar, tambora, Ektara, Santoor, Sarangi, Gopichand etc.
  • wind – bamboo flute, Nadaswaram, Shehnai, Pungi
  • percussion (made of either metal or stretched leather). – Damaru, tabla, mrudangam, Dhol, etc.

Bharatiya instruments are designed to evoke Bhav, emotion from the inner depths of the mind. If possible, try to go to concerts where artists are performing the Raag live, or playing our Bharatiya instruments live, you will understand what I mean here. There is a depth to our Raag and to our instruments, the generated sounds are deeply absorbed within, they are healing in nature. (Hearing the same sounds through the electric speakers is also good but it does not give the same depth.)

Musical instruments are called ‘वाद्य’ Vadya in Devbhasha Samskrutam. Vadya means something that is played or sounded and it also means ‘speech’. So the basic Vadya that each one of us always has with us is the throat. This is the greatest of all musical instruments and everyone must use it, ie sing. There are fancy courses on ‘voice training’ these days, but the easiest ‘voice training’ is to train your throat to sing the notes/ Swar – Sa Re Ga…. in their correct frequency. Eg if your base note Sa is at D# then you must be able to consistently vocalise this same D# frequency as Sa. You can use a tanpura/ tambora app for training your mind/ throat or there are mobile apps which you can use to monitor the frequency of your base note. Again do all this after 1yr of singing your daily song.

In my opinion the most difficult instrument is the bamboo flute. This is called Bansuri in Uttar and Venu in the Dakshin. There are no keys, no strings, nothing inside it, nothing outside it. Perhaps this is why Bhagwan Krishna held the Bansuri / Venu to his lips. You can play the bamboo flute only if your mind is relaxed and your breath is perfect. Each hole has the capacity to play notes in 3 different pitches and both the regular and flat notes. It is your control over your mind and breath, that creates the specific note you want to play. It is an extraordinary instrument (even keeping a bamboo flute in the house is brings auspiciousness.)

Sangeet derives from the Ved. The technical name is Gandharva ved and it is one of the 4 upa-ved, ie is is a supplement to the Ved. The Ved themselves are understood and experienced through the lens of Music, thus Sangeet has a very high value in our Dharma and our life. This term ‘Gandharva’ is the understanding which brings near the Eternal Auspiciousness, creates that relationship, perfumes with the eternal aroma etc. Music is sometimes called Gandharva vidya and just like any other vidya it has its Para and Apara versions, ie it can grant you realisation of the Self or it can grant you material and worldly successes. How to use a Vidya is as always your own choice.

Sound is conscious and intelligent. and has its own undeniable power. eg Once, my Guru told me to sing Raag Bhairav in the searing heat of the afternoon. Bhairav is an early morning raag which uses shuddha Madhyam Ma while the afternoon Raags use Teevra Madhyam Ma. As I sang naturally, the first Ma I sang was Teevra! I stopped and then with conscious control sang in the correct Raag Bhairav at a time where it does not flow naturally. Another eg, when I get back home, it is the time for the evening Raag Yaman, so if I play my flute without thinking anything, the fingers automatically play a melody with the Swars in Yaman as is suited to the time/ Kaal.

Sangeet is very intricately connected to the Kaal, ie conscious energies of Time and if you take efforts and excel in the Gandharva vidya, Kaal / Time too will flow favourably for you. 

Point being, Sangeet has its own power, it is a Vidya, an Upa Ved and a Sadhana. If you take one step in its direction, the Gandharva ved will pull you 100 steps onwards. Even if you think that singing a movie song daily is silly, do it. It is the first step towards the Para. And it is perhaps the most delightful route that you can think of.

So sing as you flow towards your Self.

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Kuldevata and Ishtadevata 

Kuldevata

Every family belonging to Sanatan Dharma has a Kuldevata, ie a family deity. This ray of the divine eternal specifically protects your family and must be worshipped as per culture and tradition. Your this body, in fact your current existence, is derived from your ancestors and you maintain this with the blessing of the family deity. There are references to the Kuldevata in several of our Puran. Also examples in ancient history where kings built temples of their Kuldevata. The Kuldevata demands pujas at auspicious events, eg before solemnising a marriage in the family, at the birth of a child, at Yajnopavit sanskars, a yearly puja at the temple of the Devata etc. 

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In the current times several of us live physically away from the hometown. ie regularly going to the Kuldevata temple may not be practically feasible. So if you really cannot make it then here are some via media which you can adopt,

  1. Offer the fruit, coconut, sweets, sari/cloth, money, specific items etc to a local temple whereve you are and think of your Kuldevata with all intensity. Request him/ her to accept it as you have offered these items to him from your heart. Even if this is not at his actual temple this does work if you have deep gratitude for him in your heart, ie your intention/ Sankalp is pure.
  2. Keep the offerings in a separate bag in your own puja ghar. Think of your Kuldevata and sincerely tell him that you have kept the offerings ready and whenever he calls, you will go to his temple and offer him these exact offerings. When you do this generally something unexpected helps you complete your pilgrimage soon, eg a few days off or some bonus money.
  3. If your extended family members still reside in your hometown then you can request them to offer the yearly offerings to the temple on your behalf. For this you must make a full set of offerings, ie cloth, money, sugar crystals etc which can be sent by post to your family member’s house. Before sending the items everyone in your family should pray to the deity and touch the offerings before packing them securely. 
  4. Keep in touch with the pujari Brahmin family of the temple and from time to time send some offerings, money, Dakshina to the temple and request them send the prasadam to you by post.

Another more serious problem is that several of us have forgotten the Kuldevata’s name itself. Forgotten the ancestral village. Or the elders of the family are dead. Either way the identity of this deity is lost to you which is highly unfortunate. So here is something you can do to help yourself,

  • Make a small pindi (small rounded mound) of the purest soil you can find. Or take a green coconut with the peduncle intact. Keep this with due respect in your puja ghar, adorn it with a nice cotton cloth, saffron, turmeric, unbroken rice, flowers etc. Intend that your Kuldevata, whoever he is, resides in this and do its puja just as you would do the puja of a regular moorti. You can keep this as a full-time set up or a temporary set up for specific days, ie during auspicious events, festivals etc. Generally what happens is if your intention is pure enough, there will be hints on the identity of the deity, ie dreams where you see the temple, deity’s moorti, hear his name, or his mantra/stotra etc. When this happens, if you want, you can get a proper moorti of your deity and put this coconut / soil in flowing river or sea. 

For women, after you get married, the Kul devata for you is now of your husband’s family. During the Vivah sanskar, the bride formally does the final pujas of her birth family Kuldevata. And immediately after marriage she does the first pujas of her new family deities.

(The Gram devata is the deity of the village where your family has its ancestral home. Generally the oldest temple in the village. So if you go to your ancestral village do go to this temple too.)

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Ishta devata

Ishta devata is the deity which you personally feel drawn to and want to worship. But this does not mean that you forget your Kuldevata. First puja is always offered to the Kuldevata, for protection of the family, the departed ancestors and the future generations. In some cases, the Kuldevata can also be worshipped as the personal Ishta devata. Your Guru, if a genuine Atma jnyani Mahapurush, a Jivan Mukt Satguru can also be adored as an Ishtadevata.

Jyotish gives some pointers on the Ishtadevata. Let’s first use the basic birth chart D1,

  • The Deity connected to the 9th house of your basic birth chart helps you live a balanced life as per Dharma. He ensures that you get the benefits of the 9th house as and when you need them. Your role in this process is a bit passive as even if you do the bare minimum it will be enough to trigger the 9th house benefits. This is an ongoing background life time support. 
  • The deity connected to the 5th house of your birth chart helps you fructify the sadhana you perform in your life. To reap these benefits you are required to be active, ie do your mantra, jap etc. After you complete it will you get the huge and evident result, all at once.
  • Functionally benefic planets placed in the 1st 5th 9th houses of the birth chart and the deities linked to them can also be a choice for the Ishta devata as they protect and help you grow.

But if you have the exact birth time available then open the divisional charts. 

Birth chart Aleister Crowley

Navamsha Aleister Crowley

BPHS Chapter 33 shloks 63-74 Using the D9 Navamsha chart to find the Ishta devata 

  • First find the Atmakarak, ie the planet who has traveled the highest degree in any sign. In our example chart it is Saturn at 27deg 24mins. 
  • In the D9 chart, he shifts to Virgo navamsha. This is called the karakamsha navamsha. 
  • Check if any planet placed in the sign 12th from the karakamsha. Here it is Leo and it is vacant.
  • So we try the second option given in the BPHS. Find the Amatyakarak, ie the planet who has travelled the second highest in any sign in the D1. This is the Sun at 27deg 10min. 
  • Locate the Sun in the D9. He is in Virgo navamsha. Now count the 6th sign from Virgo. This is Aquarius and it has a planet, this is Jupiter.
  • So our example Aleister Crowley, could have worshipped the deity linked to Jupiter as his Ishta devata. 
  • (If there are no planets in either of these two locations then the planetary owner of the sign can be used to locate the Ishta devata. Eg here Leo – Sun or Aquarius – Saturn. This is not given in BPHS but can be inferred in practice)

BPHS chapter 16 shloks 17-21 – The D 20 is seen for spiritual progress so you can choose a deity from here. Either the one associated with the ascendant degree’s Vimshamsha or the deity of the Atmakarak planet’s Vimshamsha. (This is not given in the BPHS explicitly but I have seen in several cases that this deity is very close to the person and always willing to help especially so if you are doing tantra sadhana)

Let’s do this with the example. A bit of math. One division in D20 is equal to 1deg 30min. In the example,

  • Ascendant degree at 15deg 55min Cancer sign (even sign) – Devi Pingalaa
  • Atmakarak Saturn at 27deg 24 min (even sign) – Devi Mangalaa

Sequence of deities for even signs – Daya, Megha, Chinnashirsha, Pisachini, Dhumavati, Matangi, Bala, Bhadra, Aruna, Anala, Pingala, Chuchuka, Ghora, Vaarahi, Vaishnavi, Sita, Bhuvaneshi, Bhairavi, Mangala, Aparajita.

Sequence of deities for odd signs – Kali, Gauri, Jaya, Lakshmi, Vijaya, Vimala, Sati, Tara, Jvalamukhi, Sveta, Lalita, Bagalamukhi, Pratyangira, Sachi, Raudri, Bhavani, Varada, Jaya, Tripura, Sumukhi.

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Now for the deities associated with the planets. This is always a source of confusion so I am directly copying from the BPHS.

BPHS chapter 2 shlok 1-13 – The general Vishnu Avtars connected to the planets.

  • Surya Sun – Shri Ram avtar
  • Chandra Moon – Shri Yadunayak Krishna avtar
  • Bhoomiputra Mars – Shri Nrusimha avtar
  • Somasuta Mercury – Shri Budha avtar
  • Vibhudejya Jupiter – Shri Vaman avtar
  • Bhargav Venus – Shri Bhargav Parshuram avtar
  • Bhaskarputra Saturn – Shri Koorma avtar
  • Sinhikeya Rahu – Shri Sookara Varaha avtar
  • Ketu – Shri Meen Matsya avtar

(One point to be noted – the Budha avtar is not the generally known Siddhartha Gautam. As per the BPHS the actual Budha Avtar of Bhagwan Vishnu was before his Krishna avtar. We can only wait for more texts to be translated or recovered or brought into the public domain to know more about this Avtar.)

BPHS chapter 3 shlok 18 – General deities/ Adidaivata connected to the planets

  • Sun – Bhagwan Agni
  • Moon – Bhagwan Varun
  • Mars – Bhagwan Subrahmanya
  • Mercury – Bhagwan Vishnu
  • Jupiter – Bhagwan Indra
  • Venus – Bhagwati Sachidevi
  • Saturn – Bhagwan Brahma

BPHS Chapter 33 shloks 63-74 – The planets in the 12th from the Karakamsha or 6th from the Amatyakarak’s position and the deities/ Adidaivata

  • Sun and Ketu – Bhagwan Shiv
  • Moon and Ketu – Devi Gauri
  • Venus and Ketu – Devi Laxmi
  • Mars and Ketu – Bhagwan Subramanya
  • Mercury and Sun – Bhagwan Vishnu
  • Jupiter – Bhagwan Shiv
  • Rahu – Devi Durga in her Tamasic form
  • Ketu – Bhagwan Skanda or Bhagwan Ganpati
  • Saturn if inauspicious – Tamasic deities
  • Venus and Saturn if inauspicious – Tamasic deities

Point is, there are several deities which can be chosen as per the BPHS. Choose one who appeals to you. Generally while you are thinking about this, you will get some signal ie in your dreams or some shakun, ie omen which will help you discover your Ishta devata.

Finally do read this one post on the real nature of the deities. The deities are not ‘gods’, they are conscious aware and intelligent energy, a ray from the same Non dual source. You are also a ray from that very same source. As you express your gratitude to them on the outside, you in fact enhance your own energy on the inside.

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Deepavali Utsav of Sanatan Dharma

A very short post on Deepavali.

Deepavali or Deepotsav is not a tradition nor a ritual nor a celebration nor a way of life.

Deepavali is Dharma.

Every follower of Sanatan Dharma is required to follow these specific Dharmic activities in these days. These days are overloaded with energy which must be channelised into our lives, our bodies, minds and souls in a positive way. You have to invoke energy of the highest levels, call on the Eternal Consciousness and generate positive intentions. The power of this time, space and the mantra power your intention and turn your desires into reality. This happens only once a year so make the most of it.

ॐ दीपज्योतिः परंब्रह्म दीपज्योतिर्जनार्दनः।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं संध्यादीपः नमोस्तु ते॥ ॐ 

This week long Deepotsav starts with

Rama Ekadashi – Ashwin Krishna Ekadashi – Here we do pujas of Devi Laxmi in her form named ‘Ramaa’ रमा. This word means opulence, splendour, good fortune, wife, the one who is constantly engaged in happiness, also the one who constantly grants us happiness. We request the Devi to keep us always happy and ensure prosperity in all forms in our life.

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Govatsa Dvadashi – Ashwin Krishna Dvadashi – on this day we do pujas of a desi humped cow and her calf and we feed them sweet food, ie chapati with jaggery is also a good option. This is in gratitude for all that the cow does for us, from giving us her milk to energising our surroundings by her mere presence. Being grateful is the first step towards the divine, genuine gratitude is a rare emotion, so try to feel this today for the Go who nourishes us on so many levels.

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Dhana Trayodashi – Ashwin Krishna Trayodashi – on this day we do pujas of Bhagwan Dhanvantari. We request him to free us from all types of aliments, ie the Aadhyatmik, Aadhidaivik and Aadhibhoutik sources of pain, to keep us healthy and grant us Arogya, complete health and Ayusha, complete life. We also request him to grant us the Amrut, ie the essence of non-death.

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Naraka Chaturdashi – Ashwin Krishna Chaturdashi – on this day Shri Krishna killed Narakasur and freed the 16000 women who were imprisoned by him. The esoteric meaning is that we pray to the Eternal controller of the Mahapran of this Universe to energise the 16000 nadis in our body, to remove all blockages in them. To elevate our consciousness from the merely human to the Eternal. We request him to annihilate the Narakarur, ‘the dissonance/karma that the individual soul/ jivatma suffers under’. We request him to take up his Sudarshan chakra, ie use the power of time/space in motion, to remove all Adharma and to establish Dharma in our life.

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Deepavali Amavasya – Ashwin Amavasya – this is the biggest and the most powerful Amavasya of the year. The radiance that the Devi is clearly shines forth. Everyone must do pujas of the Devi in some form on this Amavasya. Depending on the cultural context, Devi Laxmi or Devi Kali or Devi Lalitatripursundari or any other form of the Devi Prakruti is worshipped on this day. This day comes only once a year, make the most of it.

The Chaitra month is the start of the solar year, so we worship Shri Ram in this month. Our new year still begins with the day when Shri Ram was crowned as the King of Ayodhya. As per the Valmiki Ramayan, Ravan was killed on Phalgun Amavasya and Shri Ram Rajyabhishek was on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, a new era. So our new year even today is in remembrance of our King, Raja Ram. We reaffirm the King is always Raja Ram, none other. Then Ram Navmi is a celebration of his birthday also falls in this month. This month is the best for performing Satyanarayan puja. 

And exactly 6 months later is the Ashwin month. The lunar energies are at the maximum, so we worship the Devi in all her forms. We celebrate the Ashwin Navratri, the brightest energy of the Devi, either the Dasha Mahavidya are worshipped or the Nav-Durga. Vijayadashmi is the puja of Devi Durga as she vanquishes the Mahishasur, ie ‘the great dissonant energy of the limited self ego’. The Kojagiri Pournima of the Sharad Rhutu is exclusively for pujas of the Moon.

So Ashwin Amavasya is the day when the Devi is all powerful, listening and ready to give you what you desire if only you ask her. So make it a point to request and ask her to give you what you really desire.

ॐ शुभं करोतु कल्याणं | आरोग्यं धन संपदा | शत्रुबुद्धिः विनाशाय | दीपः ज्योतिः नमोस्तुते || ॐ 

Tripur, Tripurari, Tripursundari

Kartik Shukla pratipada.

On this day the husband gets gifts for his wife and she in turn blesses him with all auspiciousness. Children do namaskar to their elders and are given gifts / blessings on this day. Businessmen start their new financial year on this day, they do pujas of their workplace and of the account books. Devi Shri is willing to give all prosperity to all new endeavours started on this day.

  • Bali pratipada – In Dakshin Bharat, this day is for remembering Raja Mahabali. We think of him with gratitude and respect and request him to grant us his specific power, knowledge, wisdom, humility and his ability to completely surrender to the Eternal Divine. (River Narmada is the dividing line between Uttar and Dakshin Bharat)
  • Govardhan Puja – In Uttar Bharat, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja. The mountain Govardhan is worshipped, we request protection and nourishment from him. Also Shri Krishna is worshipped as the eternal protecter of Dharma.

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Yama Dvitiya – Kartik Shukla pratipada. This day is called Bhai dooj or Bhau beej. On this day sisters bless their brothers with all auspiciousness. The brothers get their sisters gifts and promise their protection.

This day is in remembrance of Bhagwan Yam and his twin sister Devi Yamuna. Yam is the ability to control and Yamuna is the ability to use this controlled power in the right way. These two are the children of Suryadev and his wife Devi Sanjana.

In Sanatan Dharma, the woman always has more power to give on the energy levels. And the men have more power to give on the physical levels. So it is her responsibility to protect her brothers, husband and children with her energy. And it is their duty to protect her in the physical sense. There is always a fair exchange of energy in Dharma. 

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During the Deepotsav, we cook sweet dishes with our own hands, offer them to everyone, share them with our relatives and loved ones. The house is decorated, garlands/ toran of marigold flowers and mango leaves are tied on the doors. Paper lanterns are hung outside the house. Earthen lamps with sesame oil are lit and placed inside and outside the house at the evening twilight. We draw Rangoli /Kolam outside the main door, these designs are from the mandala derived from the Shri chakra. The household deities are worshipped with all devotion. We wear new clothes, go to the local temple and offer our prayers to the deity who protects our town. Elders are respected and children are given gifts. Firecrackers are burst and there is a general feeling of happiness and exhilaration all around. These are beautiful days.

During Deepotsav we request our deities, ie Devi Ramaa, Shri Dhanvantari, Shri Krishna, Shri Yam, Devi Yamuna, Devi Mahamaya to establish Dharma and help us walk the Dharmic path. But this can happen when we also behave in a way that assures Them that we are serious about what we are asking. So if you feel it in your hearts, do this following scheduled Dharma everyday of your life, no exceptions.

  1. In the morning after you have a bath etc, give Argya to the Sun, ie a cupful of water poured in the direction of the Sun, with a simple ‘Om Suryaya namah’. Sun is the visible source of energy be grateful to him.
  2. For 5 mins, do the puja of your Kul-devata/ household deities, ie offer flowers, light a sesame oil deepak, recite your mantra or sing your favourite bhajan, ring the bell, blow the Shankh etc and put a tilak on your forehead. Kuldevata is the protector of your family, ancestors, children and your house, show your gratitude to him.
  3. Maintain a Tulasi plant in your house. In the evening, light an agarbatti/ incense stick before the plant and request Devi Laxmi to bring prosperity to your house. A living Tulasi plant is the establishment of Devi Laxmi, ie ensures prosperity and Satva gun in your life.

Do this yourself and encourage your spouse and children to do this much for Dharma daily. Also your relatives, nieces, nephews and other families and children whom you know. Each one has to to his own bit in establishing Dharma in our lives. If we follow Dharma ourself, the society too will follow it. Start on the Dharmic path, live your life as per Dharma and Dharma will protect you.

Thus praying that the Devi Mahamaya grants us all Dharma in this week long celebration of Deepavali utsav and establishes Dharma in our life.

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

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