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Hindola Mohotsav

This festivals is celebrated yearly during the Chaturmass (Monsoon Season) between Ashadh and Shravan (July – August). A “Hindolo” is a swing. A Chal (Mobile) murti of HariKrishna Maharaj, known fondly as “Lalji” (A childhood form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan), is placed in the Hindolo.
The arrival of these festivities usher a new wave of devotion within the hearts of the Devotees. For the whole month, the murti of the Lord is placed in a decorated swing and pulled to and fro with a string by devotees.
When Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan had completed 32 days after His manifestation upon the earth, His parents Dharmadev and Bhaktimata celebrated the festival of Dolarohan (i.e. placing the child for the first time in a cradle and rocking the cradle). It was the eleventh day of the bright half of the month Vaishakh. The cradle was tastefully and luxuriously decorated. The cradle was rocked fondly by all the members of the family.
This tradition of rocking the cradle later on was transferred to the tradition of rocking the swing (Hindola) for God Himself. The Hindola is hung on a beam of wood and the rope or the chain is profusely woven with multi-coloured and fragrant flowers. At times the Hindola is box-type with many doors. This Hindola is also tastefully painted and coloured.

Nishkulanand Swami skilfully constructed a twelve door Hindola of wood and painted it with artistic designs. It was brought to Gnan Baug at Vadtal and was supported by a strong wooden beam amidst two mango trees and hung by ropes. This hindola is preserved as prasadi at the Vadtal Temple. The ropes and the Hindola were tastefully decorated with flowers. A silken thread was tied to the Hindola and Shree Muktanand Swami was first to gently rock the Hindola while singing an appropriate Kirtan composed by him. Thousands of devotees had gathered and all desired to sight the Lord and offer their garlands. The Lord mercifully assumed many forms and appreared at all twelve doors of the hindola. It was proving difficult for all devotees to garland the Lord personally so He also mercifully stretched His stick on which He accepted the garlands.
This festival is symbolic like many other festivals within the Sanatan Dharma.
1. The Hindola – represents Maya (Illusionary power of the Lord) or our worldly materialistic life
2. Wooden beam represents the Ishwar (The Supreme Personality of Godhead)
3. The four ropes which the hindola is hung by represent – four-fold activities of human life
Dharma (Righteous Duties), Artha (Wealth), Kama (Desires) and Moksh (Salvation)
4. The metalic rings represent from which the ropes are hung from represent – Purusha and Prakruti
The primal motive force essential constituent of the Universe
5. Base of the Hindola represents – Earth.
6. The twelve doors represent – twelve months (Kartik – Aaso)
7. The fragrant and colourful flowers represent – the virtues and good conducts in life.
8. The silk thread represents – Prana (Life).
9. The to and fro movement of the Hindola represents – the ups and downs in life
Slow and swift movements are enjoyable but sudden and harsh movements lead to catastrophe.
When Lord Swaminaryan is swung to and fro lovingly by the devotee in the Hindola of life, he experiences true transcendental bliss.

Chaturmaas

Chaturmaas 2016 Niyams by Bhuj Saints for all Devotees:

Prayer to the Lord prior to taking Niyam:
‘Oh lord! (or Swami!) – Please give me strength and courage so that i may able to follow my chosen niyam. Confide in the saints of which niyam you are taking and request them to remind you frequently about your niyam.
Oh Lord! with your grace, I will – Do 5 extara malas (Chanting of the maha mantra on a mala with 108 beads, Ideally one made out of Tulsi).

Devshayni Ekadashi is also known as Padma Ekadashi or Devpodhi Ekadashi. It falls on the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Ashadh (June – July). It is of special significance to all Vaishnav Devotees; followers of Lord Vishnu.
A fast is observed in aim to control the ten senses and the mind, suing them to perform service of the Lord. A spiritual vigil is performed the entire night where songs in praise of the Lord are sung. This Ekadashi marks the start of Chaturmaas (the holy four month period of rainy season) and devotees take vows on this day to be observed until Prabodhani Ekadashi. In the seventy sixth slokh of The Shikshapatri, Lord Swaminarayan Himself instructs His disciples to take extra religious activities during Chaturmaas. These may include, any eight religious activities mentioned by Him in Shikshapatri shloks 77-78.
During Chaturmaas, Lord Vishnu takes rest in Ksheersagar- cosmic ocean of milk – on His serpant bed (Shesh naag) hence this day is known as Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (God-sleeping). The Lord awakens from His rest on Prabodhani Ekadashi (Dev Diwali); eleventh day of bright fortnight of Kartik Month (October–November). This period is known as chaturmas (“four months”) and coincides with the rainy season.
In the Sage Ved Vyas authored Bhavishyotar Puran, Lord Shree Krishna narrates the significance of DevShayni Ekadashi to King Yudhishthir just as Brahma; the creator once narrated the significance to his son Sage Narad. The saga of King Mandhata is narrated in this context. His Kingdom faced drought for three years. Unable to find a solution he consulted Sage Angira who advised him to observe the austerities of DevShayani Ekadashi. Through the benediction of the Lord, the Kingdom finally received rain after successful competition of the King’s vow.
The following are the best methods of observances to be adopted and followed daily as rules:-
1. Reading religious scriptures
2. Listening to religiuos scriptures
3. Reciting songs in praise of his divine qualities
4. Performing Mahapuja of the Lord’s images
5. Chanting his Mantra
6. Reciting his hymns
7. Performing Pradikshana
8. Prostrating before God’s image.

The Origins of Chaturmaas
King Bali was the grandson of Prahladji, and grew up with the guidance of his grandfather which gave him a good sense of righteousness and bhakti. When King Bali succeeded his grandfather, he became King of the Demons. Bali Raja’s kingdom expanded quickly in all directions, even up towards heavens and this made the Demi-gods (Devtas) very nervous. There was peace and prosperity in Bali Raja’s kingdom, with all the people living happily and without fear from any crime.

With guidance from his Guru (Sukracharya), Bali Raja decided to conduct an Ashwamedh Yagna. The fruits of this yagna included being able to banish Indra and take over his world (lok). Indra and the other demi-gods went to Lord Vishnu and it was at this time that He said that He would take care of everything. During this yagna Bali Raja had vowed that he would not refuse anything that anyone asked from him. It was at this time that Vaaman Bhagwan came to Bali Raja’s kingdom and asked for 3 steps of land from him. Even though his Guru told him not to agree, Bali Raja stuck by his vow and agreed to give the 3 steps of land promptly. Vaaman Bhagwan then increased His physical size to the extent that with the 1st and 2nd step He measured all the worlds and the sky. For the 3rd step Bali Raja offered himself and was banished to Paataal when Vaman Bhaghwan placed His foot on his head. Vaaman Bhagwan was impressed with Bali Raja’s unselfish devotion and unwavering dharma, and so granted him a boon where he was allowed to visit his kingdom once every year to make sure his subjects were still happy. Thus Bali Raja is one of a few who are chiranjivis (lives for eternity).

As Bali Raja was a true devotee of Vishnu, Vishnu Bhagwan brought him back from Paataal and promised to protect him until the next era. Here, Bali Raja would be crowned as Indra. Vishnu Bhaghwan disguised Himself as a doorman and protected Bali Raja from all dangers. As a result of this, Vishnu Bhagwan was not in Vaikunt and Laxmiji became restless. She took on the form of a Brahmin woman and claimed that her husband had gone away for a large length of time for work, and that she has no where to stay. Bali Raja took her in whole heartedly and protected her like she was his sister.

Finally, on the Puranima day of Shravan, the Brahmin woman tied a colourful string of cotton on the wrist of Bali Raja, praying for protection and happiness (this is how Raksha Bandan came to be). Bali Raja was touched by this and granted her a wish. She immediately looked at the guard and asked for Him, as that was her husband. It was at this point that both Vishnu Bhagwan and Laxmiji revealed their true identities. As Bali was a virtuous man, and a protective brother he requested that Lord Vishnu go back to Vaikunt with Laxmiji, but for the Lord to return as a guard for the 4 months of the year during the monsoon months (Chaturmaas).

chaturmas 2016 chaturmaas letter 2016

Hanuman Jayanti & Maruti Yagna

According to the tales narrated in the Puran, Sage Narad once performed immense penance in the Himalayas for attainment of further spiritual enlightenment. The demi-gods tried to break His penance but were unsuccessful in doing so. Sage Narad was bound by ego when He came to this realisation and boasted to (Bhrama, Vishnu, Mahesh) about His achievements. This ego had to be broken for Narad’s own welfare in devotion.

Narad visited the kingdom of King Sheelnidhi where He fell in love with princess Shirmati and wanted to marry her. He came to know that the King had organised a Swayamvar (where a woman chooses her future husband among host of eligible suitors). He went to Lord Vishnu and asked him to make him as handsome as the Lord Himself. Lord Vishnu granted him the handsomeness of his physic but made his face look like a monkey.

Hastily, Narad came to the Swayamvar and took to His seat. The princess was aghast when she saw Narad who looked very ugly with His monkey face. Later Narad came to know of the trueness of His physic and in an emotional outburst cursed Lord Vishnu that He will suffer separation from His wife when he takes a human form. The Lord humbly accepted this curse knowing this will be the future event in the great epic of Ramayan. Narad later realised his mistake and also said that with the help of monkeys, Lord will be able to locate His wife’s whereabouts and be able to rescue her.

Anjani and Kesari performed penance on Lord Shiva to attain a son. They were blessed when Lord Shiva appeared and gave them a boon that His divine energy will be born through Anjana with assistance from Vayu Dev (Demi-God of Wind).

When Maruti, devoured the Sun seeing it as a big red tasty fruit, the whole world became engulfed in darkness. Indra broke Maruti’s jaw (Hanu) with his Vajra weapon. Unconcious Maruti was later given boons of powers and valour by various Demi-Gods and was then famously known as Hanuman.

Facts about Hanuman Ji:

Hanuman is known as the 11th incarnation of Lord Shiva, whose purpose of advent on earth was in the Tretayug to serve Lord Shree Ramchandra.

Later in Dwaparyug, He served Lord Shree Krishna during the Mahabharat by resting on Arjun’s charriot and protecting it from destruction. In Kaliyug during Lord Swaminarayan’s time, He served Him both during childhood and forest adventures (Van Vicharan).

Hanumanji is one amongst the seval Immortals (Chiranjeevi) as mentioned in the Bhaktchintamani in a conversation between Dharmadev and Bhaktimata. Until the start of the next Satyug, He is present in divine form ever engaged in the service of the Lord and also protecting His devotees.

In various Vachanamrut, Lord Swaminarayan praises Hanuman for His stauch and chaste devotion.

Gopalanand Swami established the idol of Hanumanji in Sarangpur where till today Hanuman Ji breaks the sorrows of those who seek His help. The entire discourse for this event is described in great detail within the 10th Kalash of Harileelamrut by Acharya Viharilalji Maharaj of Vadtal.

Ram Navmi & Shree Swaminarayan Jayanti

On the day of Chaitra Sud Navmi, Samvat 1837, at 10.10pm, all the planets were at its usual positions and Vasant season was ongoing. It is in this circumstances that Almight Shree Swaminarayan Bhagwan was born to Bhaktidevi and Dharmapita inoder to uproot unrighteousness and establish Ekantik Dharma for the benefit of millions and millions of souls. On this very special day, all Satsangis should do an Upwaas. All Swaminarayan Mandirs worldwide carry out the Birthday aarti at about 10.10pm and then distrubute the prasadi of panchamrut and pinjaari.

On the same day in Tretayug, Shree Ramchandra Bhagwan was born to Kaushalyamaa and DashrathRaja at 12 noon. Therefore we should do the aarti of Bhagwan at 12 noon on Chaitra Sud Navmi. Swaminarayan Bhagwan has emphasised his followers to do the Ram Navmi Vrat in both Shikshapatri and Satsangi Jeevan

Maha Shivratri

SHIVARATRI UTSAV

In the Shikshapatri ‘Codes of Conduct’, authored by Supreme Personality Shree Swaminarayan Himself, He instructs His followers about reverence and worship of Lord Shiva:

Slokh 23 – When passing by temples of Lord Shiva and other Deities, one shall bow to them and pay due reverence to the Deities therein.

Slokh 47 – No distinction shall be made between Narayana and Shiva, as they are both proclaimed as Brahmaswarupa (Above all material modes) by the Vedas.

Slokh 79 – They shall devoutly observe the austerities on Ekadashi, Janmashtmi and other birth anniversaries such as Shivaratri etc. and celebrate them with great reverence.

Slokh 84 – My followers shall regard the five Deities named here with reverence – Vishnu, Shiva, Ganapati, Parvati and the Sun.

Slokh 149 – In the month of Shravana, they shall worship Mahadeva with reverence, with Bilva-Patras and the like, or request others to worship Mahadeva on their behalf.

Furthermore, in the First Vachanamrutam of Loya, which are the divine words of the Supreme Personality Himself, He says, ‘I have great respect for Shiva because He has renounced the world, mastered Yoga and a great Devotee of God’.

In the 12th Canto of Shreemad Bhagwatam, Ved Vyas states the following:

…Vaiṣṇavānāḿ yathā Shambhuḥ –

Shiva is the greatest of Vaishnavas

 

Therefore a humble devotee, desiring to please the Supreme Personality should devoutly worship Mahadeva. Devotees desiring to further their faith and reverence unto their Ishtdeva attain blessings from Mahadeva and the other four deities mentioned in Slokh 84 above.

Tulsi Vivah

This day marks the marriage of Lord Vishnu (Shaligram) with Tulsi Devi.

Vrinda, the daughter of Kushdhvaj, married the son of the Ocean Demi-God, Jaalandhar. Vrinda was very beautiful and chaste wife (Pativrata). This made Jaalandhar very powerful. He started harassing pious being all over the world with his atrocities.

Once he saw Devi Parvati and looked at her with lustful eyes. He challenged Lord Shiva to engage in a fight with him. Shiva was unable to gain victory over him due to Vrinda’s protective power over Jaalandhar. Parvati pleaded to Lord Vishnu to put an end to Jaalandhar and the only way to resolve this was to break Vrinda’s chastity.

Lord Vishnu took the form of Jaalandhar and stayed with her whilst the original was engaged in a fierce non-ending battle with Shiva. Thus, the vow of fidelity was unwittingly broken by Vrinda and Lord Shiva was able to annihilate the demon.

When Vrinda came to know about this, she cursed Lord Vishnu to become a black stone, which came to be known as Shaaligram. Lord Vishnu too cursed her to become a tree and hence Vrinda came to be known as Tulsi (Holy Basil).

Lord Vishnu gave Tulsi a boon that every year of Kartik Sud Poonam will be celebrated as their marriage ceremony which is known as Tulsi Vivah.

Diwali

Deepavali or Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in Sanatan Dharma which, comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Deepavali means a continuous line of lamps (‘Deep’ means light, and ‘avali’ means a continuous line). Thus, this is the time to celebrate with brightness.

This festival is regarded as a celebration of life and also an occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. This day marks the last day of the Sanatan Dharma Calendar year.

 

Why Festival of Lights?

It is known as such due to the ways of its observance. The festival is celebrated with activities like holding dazzling fireworks displays, lighting rows of candles and earthen lamps around individual homes.
What happened during Diwali?

In the Era of Tretayug, Lord Ramachandra was sent into exile for 14 years by the orders of His father, Dasharath. Whilst in exile the evil demon king of Lanka, Ravana abducted Devi Sita with deceit. The Lord became victorious by annihilating him on Vijaya Dashmi. The people of Ayodhya longed for His return and when He did, they celebrated the homecoming by brightening their homes with earthen lamps and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner celebrating victory of good over evil in the honour of their king.

Total Lunar Eclipse

This total lunar eclipse is fully visible in Dar es Salaam. The total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon, as the moon turns red.

Penumbral Eclipse begin – 28 Sep, 03:11:47AM
Full Eclipse begin – 28 Sep, 05:11:12
Penumbral Eclipse ends – 28 Sep, 08:22:31

Jaljilani (Parivartni) Ekadashi

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Those who observe vrat (fast) on this Ekadashi, and do poojan of Vamanji, will benefit from fruits equivalent to that of doing pooja to Brahma, Vishnu, and Shivji.

During the time of Treta Yug, there was a demonic family, from whom was a King named Bali. However, he was still a dear follower of God. He carried out bhakti, performed pooja on a grand scale, and carried out great yagnas in the name of the Almighty. One day he approached and had a discussion with Indra, which heated up and eventually led to them fighting. Bali emerged as victorious and took over the kingdom of Indra. Indra along with many other Devtas, were very distraught at the actions of King Bali, and came to Vishnu Bhagwan for a solution. Lord Vishnu decided and assured everyone that everything will return to normal and that He will take a form of a Brahmin dwarf so that he could approach Bali and request alms.

Shree Vamanji, took form on this earth, and went to meet King Bali. When Vamanji saw him he asked Bali for alms. Bali, bemused by the sight of a dwarf, in turn asked what He would like to receive. Vamanji calmly replied, “I want to take three footsteps of your Kingdom.” Bali laughed at the request, and said, “By all means, take three footsteps.” At this moment, Vamanji began to grow to a size larger than that of a giant, and proceeded to take His three footsteps. From His first step, he covered the Earth and the surrounding cosmos, with His second step, he covered the Heavens; and remained His third step. He asked Bali, where He should place it. Bali, renowned for his generosity and charity, placed his head at the feet of Bhagwan. Bhagwan pushed Bali deep into the earth with his third step.

Nevertheless, Bhagwan was still pleased by the devotion and surrender Bali showed. He promised Bali that He will always reside in Bali’s kingdom, where later on in time the King installed a Murti of Vamanji. Thus highlights the importance of performing pooja to Vamanji on this Ekadashi.

On the day of Parivartni Ekadashi, Bhagwan continues to rest for the period of monsoon in the middle of the ocean on the head of Shesh Narayan until Kartik Sud Prabodhini Ekadashi. This day carries great importance for those who observe their Vrat accordingly, as it is a day to wash away one’s sins.

‘Parivartini’ means ‘of change’ and represents the time when Shesh-Shayi Narayan (form of God laying on the serpent Shesh), changes His side and faces the East.

We should all do darshan of Bhagwan and try to give items such as yoghurt, rice and silver coins as alms. We should also try to stay awake through the night, and practice devotion to Shree Hari by singing His glory and keep our utmost faith in Him for it is only these actions that can help us in achieving moksha.

This day is traditionally celebrated, by placing Bhagwan in a wooden boat and floating him on water. It is reminiscent of the time when Krishna Bhagwan took the gopis of the village on a boat ride across the sacred River Yamuna.

Ganesh Chaturthi

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Lord Swaminarayan instructs His followers in the 84th verse of the Shikshapatri to offer obeisance to Vishnu, Shiva, Ganapati, Parvati and the Sun. Shatanand Swami honoured Him in the 77th mantra of the Janamangal Namavali (Aum Panchayatan-Sanmanaay Namah) which highlights the Shikshapatri verse.
In the 127th verse of the Shikshapatri, Lord Swaminarayan instructs the Acharyas (Spiritual heads of the Nar Narayan Dev and Laxmi Narayan Dev diocese) to perform worship of Ganapati on the fourth day of the bright half of the month of Bhadrapada and that of Hanuman on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Ashwin.
As per the Ganapati-Khanda of the Bhramavaivarta Purana, Ganapati/Ganesh is considered an incarnation of Lord Shree Krishna and has been established as first worshippable deity amongst the Gods.