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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The word rudraksha comes from the ancient Sanskrit words, “Rudra” and “Aksha.”

Rudra is a more fierce aspect of Shiva and “aksha” means teardrop. Hindu tales speak of Shiva, the great contemplative mystic, looking down at humanity and crying true tears of compassion. In that moment, the rudraksha tree was created. When one visits India, it is not unusual to see many of the inhabitants wearing a rudraksha bead in the form of a necklace, bracelet or pendant.

The rudraksha bead is said to possess mystical and divine qualities. The necklaces which can be very short or extremely long consisting of many rudrakshas are worn by devotees and sadhus. In fact, in the jungles, one can see various sadhus wearing nothing but their loincloths and their rudrakshas. In Benares, the religious devotees are burned in a simple cloth unadorned except for their rudrakshas. Belief is that one who wears the rudraksha is untouched by sins and thus protected from all impure thoughts or deeds. For thousands of years, rudrakshas have adorned the bodies of saints and sages in their quest for enlightenment and liberation.

In accordance with the Ayurvedic system, wearing rudrakshas can have positive effects on the heart and nerves and relieve persons from stress, anxiety, palpitations, and lack of concentration. Known for its anti-aging effect and electro-magnetic properties, there is some anecdotal evidence that people with blood pressure problems benefit from the rudraksha.

This attractive Rudraksha Mala with Tassel has 108 rudrakshas. Why the number 108? Hindu mythology has it that there are 108 Hindu deities and each deity has 108 names. In truth, at the heart of many religions and astrology as well, there is always some reference to the spiritual number 108 in their beliefs. The number 108 is also thought of as the number at which, when doing recitation of mantra, one comes to a quiet and concentrated place within their mind. Thus, it is customary when reciting a new mantra, that one counts at least 108 times at each sitting.

At its center is what is known as the Guru bead. As you start counting your rudrakshas, when one approaches the Guru bead again, one skips over the Guru bead and begins to count backwardly over the rudrakshas to the number 108. To secure the beads, traditional knotting between the beads has been added.

This Rudraksha Bead Pendant, coming from a rudraksha tree in India, carries the Om symbol, bringing together two spiritual symbols: one of devotion and compassion from the rudraksha and one of remembrance and silence with the Om sound. The contrast of the silver Om with the rudraksha is quite striking and noticeable and you may wear it with a cord or silver necklace around your neck. It is a remembrance for you how the Great God Shiva reached into his heart of compassion and felt for humanity. These days wearing a rudraksha mala, bracelet or pendant almost seems like a necessity so that our prayers may go out into the world and our compassion reach the hearts of man.

This Rudraksha Bead Bracelet is extremely popular because of the small and rare size of the rudrakshas. It is attractively worn around the wrist and will receive much notice. It is then that you may convey to people the story of Shiva and his undying love for humanity, most noticeably that he took the form of Hanuman to show his humility and compassion. As you shake hands with others or reach out to feed someone who is underprivileged, you are in effect reaching out with the hands of Shiva and doing his work. The rudraksha is a symbol of extended kindness and service. You may remove and put it on easily with the elastic.

May the Holiness and Benevolence of Shiva bless you as your wear his tears of compassion!!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Imagine a voice that connects your spirit to God. That is the talent of Krishna Das. Steeped in Hindu spirituality as well as having a remarkable connection to spirit, Krishna Das sings full-hearted to his guru Neem Karoli Baba.

In 1968 he was influenced by a group of his friends to visit Ram Dass in 1968. Inspired by his meeting with Ram Dass, Krishna Das then traveled in 1970 to spend two years as a devotee to Neem Karoli Baba in Northern India. When his visa expired, Krishna Das returned to the States two years later.

Krishna Das’ unique contribution to music is his avant garde approach in updating musical accompaniment to traditional Hindu chanting and singing, arising from his roots stepped in the traditions of jazz, blues and rock and roll. Krishna Das’ debut album, One Track Heart integrates and combines the classical genres of eastern music with western overlays.

In Krishna Das’ Flow of Grace (2 CDS AND book) in the first CD,, he painstakingly introduces the novice to the Hanuman Chalisa, which he has sung for over 30 years, placing slow and patient emphasis on the pronunciation of this extended song. The Hanuman Chalisa as sung by Krishna Das is a rollicking prayer to Hanuman, the devotee of Ram. It is a 40-stanza piece, replete with joy and devotion to the great God Hanuman, the magnificent representation of humility and bravery. The next CD of the Hanuman Chalisa contains the many renditions and styles of Krishna Das’ singing of the Chalisa, again integrating a straightforward kirtan approach with a more western rendition (“Good ole Chalisa”). For those who have sung this Chalisa, one recognizes the utter joy that springs forth from the heart of Krishna Das in reciting this prayer to Hanuman.

There is also a 73-page book that contains both pictures and stories of Hanuman, Krishna Das’ guru, Neem Karoli Baba and others.

This title of the CD Heart Full of Soul by Krishna Das is so reflective of the voice of Krishna Das. Together with a soulful deep voice reminiscent of a father’s influence, Krishna Das once again brings a full-hearted approach to his chanting. Again synthesizing the western influence, these two discs are set against a background of acoustic instrumentation. We also see the deep-seated desire of Krishna Das to bring kirtan outside of the traditional satsang into the world at large. The music by Krishna Das is so reflective of the influence of his guru, Baba Neem Karoli, that one imagines oneself in the presence of Maharaji, as he was respectfully called by his devotees, and feels the blissful connection that Krishna Das feels to his own Guru. This music will enrich your soul and open your heart.

Pilgrim Heart captures the essence of Krishna Das in his music: that of an open and young heart always voyaging on the path in search of connection to his spirit and Guru. Utilizing as a backdrop, drums, sitar, vocals and synthesizer we see again the merge between western sounds and Eastern “bhakti” philosophy. This time Sting is featured in two composition, one of which, “The Ring Song” is an amalgam of the 1950’s pop culture.

In any of the music of Krishna Das, you are treated to full-throated warm, encompassing sound that sings entreatingly and humbly to the Divine and at the same time touches deeply the heart and soul of any spiritual seeker

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Many people ask what is the difference between prayer and puja? Or some have even gone further and asked what is the difference between prayer, puja and meditation? Meditation is considered a more passive way of opening oneself up to the divine spirit. If one sits quietly and attends to the breath, the focus can quiet the mind and one can be more receptive to the spirit that descends or ascends, as it will.

In prayer or puja one also is receptive in the sense that one is willing to take the time to pray in any moment but it is more active in that one offers one’s prayers or pujas verbally up to the spirit. In actuality, the mind is used more actively; instead of trying to still the meanderings of the mind, one actually focuses and controls the mind to recite a prayer. In other words, there is no attempt to quiet the mind.

Puja, which is an Indian word, is a more elaborate form of prayer. If one looks for similarities in western culture, one might observe the rituals used in the Catholic Church. Pujas, as conducted in ashrams or other spiritual communities, also participate in a ritual. In Durga Puja, a popular known puja, one constructs what is known as a dhuni, a squared off space dug into the ground that holds burning wood into which ghee and rice are offered to ask the gods and goddesses during puja to not only remove one’s imperfections, but to render blessings. In the Catholic Church, one similarly might offer up one’s sins to the priest residing in the confessional and receive absolution. So the similarity in both the Catholic and Hindu tradition is the confession of one’s impurities or character defects, offerings perhaps in the form of ghee or tithing and then some form of cleansing or absolution It is pretty standardized and you would be challenged to see any difference in the particular churches.

In a Judao-Christian ritual, the priest or rabbi is seen more as an intermediary between God and the sinner. The priest is asking God on behalf of the sinner, for his divine forgiveness. Contrariwise, in the puja, it is more as if the pujari is but the one who conducts the ceremony for the benefit of the devotee, but does not ask for the removal of his imperfections. That is for the devotee to do by, in some cases, throwing rice into the dhuni. On behalf of the devotee, the puja is perhaps making a devotional offering sanctioned by the devotee. The devotee, however, neither needs nor asks for an intermediary between him and his God or Goddess and has a direct relationship to his God or Goddess from whom he seeks some kind of comfort or blessing.

During the puja the devotees are encouraged to express their own passionate outpouring of devotion. It is often a wonderful and dramatic representation. While doing Indian puja, there seems to be more active and non-standardized participation in the ceremony. The devotee is encouraged to ring bells , light incense, sing wholeheartedly, offer water in a prayer bowl, do prostrations, take from the ‘light,” and even apply shiva lines to one’s face to respectfully mimic his God during the puja. There is also a more colorful backdrop to the pujas. The Gods and Goddesses are usually covered by some bright, colorful fabric that is chosen by the particular pujari, which is draped lovingly over the murti or statue. During the puja, each murti has his or her own particular pujari and thus each person has the honor and ability to create his or her devotional ceremony fitting to the murti. At this puja the devotee might even see fit to drape his murti or statue in a blanket; such an action speaks of the anthropomorphic conception that a devotee has for his particular murti. In this case his thought might be that he is attempting to shield his particular murti from the cold. Thus one sees the very personal relationship at puja. It has sometimes been likened to that of a favorite and revered aunt or uncle. Unlike sitting passively and reciting prayer, in puja one participates by ringing the bell, bowing down sometimes on full prostration, pranaming devotedly, and sometimes adorning one’s face with lines invoking the various gods.

Puja might be likened after all to a very whole and participatory experience in which one’s self is mightily engaged in worship. You can learn more about pujas and prayers at Ma’s India Spiritual Gift Store.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Journaling is the practice of writing within a journal one’s deepest thoughts and feelings. One can gain a clearer perspective of one’s life as she reads her journal. It is at best an intimate and in-depth overview of one’s life; for the spiritual person, who works at becoming more detached and loving, when journaling, it is easier to see how progress is made over a long time. From a health perspective, journaling is a wonderful way to relieve stress as well as one releases old thoughts and feelings from one’s psyche.

Ma’s India is carrying some journals that by their covers are reflective of what the spiritual aspirant is looking for by journaling. One can also see that journaling becomes a spiritual discipline similar to doing japa or chanting. It is a meditative tool designed to bring the aspirant into a quiet, reflective space within himself or herself. Scientific research has shown that journaling in fact by engaging both the right and left-brains enabled people to release previous traumas in their lives by the integration of the experience.

In the Om Journal, journaling focuses one’s mind on the eternal sound of Om, the sound that reverberates throughout the cosmos, hence enabling one- pointedness. This Om Journal encourages anyone as they perform journaling to perhaps write Rams in a singular, methodical fashion promoting focus and clarity, invaluable aids to facilitate deep meditation.

The Kali Journal can be for anyone desirous of journaling under the influence of Kali with a mind to destroying any attachments with which they may be struggling. This Goddess Kali so brightly rendered on the cover becomes the protector of their thoughts as they do their journaling. Quotes are inserted every 16 pages to further the inspiration of the journaler.

Finally, with the Ganesh Journal with its wonderful picture of hand-painted Ganesh on its cover, as one continues journaling, one may think of removing the obstacles in one’s life by focusing on clearing one’s mind of any impediments to spiritual growth while under the aegis of the great God Ganesh.

The Om and Ganesh journals are on hand-made paper and are eco-friendly.

May you use these journals as your companions to the wonderful path of self-discovery.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

It would be mundane to suggest that this extraordinary book In a World of Gods and Goddesses should be consigned to a coffee table as opposed to being part of a museum. Yet this large 17 x 17 book of spiritual art by Indra Sharma can certainly grace any surface that bears it. Indra Sharma has for decades painted scenes from sacred events of Hindu mythology as well as myriad forms of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses within the Hindu pantheon. His paintings of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses have been described as both prayer and puja. To see these Gods and Goddesses in brilliant color in this book is similar to visiting a renowned museum of art. The text by James H. Bae is a brilliant exposition and combination of Hindu lore, mythology and religion of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. We are treated to the many pieces of art of Mr. Sharma that have long been available to the Indian population in forms of books, calendars, treatises, religious art. Vishnu, Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesh, and Kali are but a few of the various Hindu Gods and Goddesses rendered in individual pages that might even be removed from the book for separate suitable framing. A true treasure trove of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Considered by some to be an aspect of Kali, this Durga Statue stands in her own power amongst Hindu Gods and Goddesses as an embodiment of the creative feminine force of Shakti. She represents beauty, compassion and fierceness as shown by her ten arms carrying weapons while maintaining a meditative smile and practicing her mudras. Always depicted within the Hindu pantheon of Gods and Goddesses as the goddess riding a lion or a tiger, Durga shows through her fearlessness, her mastery over humanity’s lower nature and her conquering, by her purity, the evil of mankind. This 9-inch brass Durga statue with amazing detail can sit upon any puja and be that Hindu God and Goddess that protects from any evil that might beset the true devotee.

Known to be the most beloved and gentle representation of love within the Hindu Gods and Goddesses is our sweet Krishna known to appear to all the Gopis in the form in which they found most desirable. In the mythology of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, he shows himself to be both fierce and loveable within the same incarnation. From assuming different forms in dance and protecting cowherd villagers from an angry manifestation of rain by the God Indra, these youthful stories of Krishna in Krishna, Lord of Love told by James Bae, we are treated us to an enchantment of stories about love and devotion of the great God Krishna. Wonderful for children’s bedtime stories.

There are many renditions of Kali within representations of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. She is shown as black and fierce, shiny and pale, and many shades of fierce from subdued to passion. Here we see a Krishna like influence of Kali through the blue color and perhaps we may even liken her to a Kali Shyama representation. We see this 11-inch light Blue-Skinned Kali Statue standing on Shiva, showing her confidence, bravery and power as Shakti subduing and consuming the great God Shiva. When one witnesses this Goddess, one can evoke one’s own mastery over evil in the world.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ramana Maharshi, born 1879, is considered one of India’s foremost spiritual teachers for his authenticity as a selfless guru here on earth for the divine purpose of bringing others to realization. When Ramana Maharshi was a teenager, a sudden and unmistakable fear of death overcame him. The shock and the fear of his imminent death served to bring Ramana Maharshi to an undying awareness of the Self. Leaving his home and all that was familiar to him soon after, he came to Tiruvannamalai where he worshipped the holy hill of Arunachala as the seat of Shiva. He had the sustained and unremitting knowledge that while the material body dies, the Self cannot be touched by death. Through his practice of self-inquiry, Ramana Maharshi outlines a method of self-inquiry by which one can finally experience the true nature of the Self.

In the book The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi we are treated to a radical foreword by Carl Jung, a man educated in scientific pursuit, acknowledging and inquiring into the radical assertion by Ramana Maharshi that the purpose of spiritual inquiry is the dissolution of the Self. To accomplish this place of realization, Ramana Maharshi offers the simple practice of saying “Who am I?” and in this book he gives in great simplicity and detail, spiritual instruction as to how one is to engage in this practice. The subjects of Practice, Experience, Renunciation, Attainment, Self-Inquiry, etc. are some of the topics written with an eye to a beginning layman’s experience. The words of Ramana Maharshi are at once profound and explanatory.

In The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi edited by his great and brilliant devotee, writer Arthur Osborne, there is gathered together Ramana Maharshi’s original works: Self-Enquiry, Upadesa Saram, Five Hymns to Arunachala and two sets of Forty Verses, together with various other works. Throughout his works, we witness how Ramana Maharshi constantly admonishes his followers to embrace the path of awareness and self-inquiry in their daily lives and not to just reside as a sadhak in meditation. Nearly everything Ramana Maharshi wrote was in response to a request or to meet a need of a devotee. For the interest of the reader, Arthur Osborne gives, in great detail, the genesis of each writing from the remarkable teachings of Ramana Maharshi.

This spiritually significant book entitled Talks With Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness is a series of dialogues between the Master Ramana Maharshi and his devotees from 1935 through 1939. Each dialogue is prefaced by an informative introduction to the particular devotee asking his questions of Ramana Maharshi. We see how Ramana Maharshi constantly points the dialogue back to the inquiry into the self. For example, as one devotee asks, “Do I need to become a sadhu in order to achieve self-realization?” Ramana Maharshi responds, “Who is it that thinks he needs to become the sadhu?” Again directing the questioner back to the Self, Ramana Maharshi instructs the seeker that the true realization of happiness lies in the realization of the Self.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian born Yogi and Yoga guru. Born in 1893, Yogananda traveled to the United States and taught many westerners about meditation and Kriya Yoga through his influential writings. As a young child Yogananda was seen to have a quest for experiencing spirituality far beyond the norm. At the age of 17 Yogananda met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. To Yogananda, this meeting was a, “rekindling of a relationship that lasted many lifetimes.” After many years of schooling, Yogananda traveled to the United States and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920. Through this fellowship and his teachings, Yogananda taught his students the direct need for truth, as opposed to blind belief. He used Kriya Yoga to express many of his views.

To understand Yogananda, it is best to start at the source. The Autobiography of a Yogi , by Paramahansa Yogananda is a wonderful autobiography. In this book Yogananda chronicles his exciting life teachings and experiences. You will read about Yogananga’s time with many saints, his remarkable childhood and the ancient science of Yoga. Yogananda uses his life as an example to show others about spiritual paths, journeys and realization. Also included in this autobiography is extensive material from Yogananda from his final years. This material cannot be found in the first edition of the book. For many years Yogananda traveled throughout the United States giving speeches and speaking to others about Yoga, and many other topics. Yogananda often spoke without the use of notes, which showed tremendous character of the man. In the book Man’s Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yoganangda, you will find many of his talks and speeches that were later brought together in a book form. Among the topics covered in this book are, how seekers first found God, the universality of Yoga among many others. Available at a great low price, this book will bring inspiration and understanding to any reader.

Throughout time people have talked about karma and reincarnation. People have strived to truly understand these experiences. In his book, Karma and Reincarnation , Yogananda offers his insight on how these experiences can help us achieve the highest fulfillment of life. This book offers fascinating responses from Yogananda to some of life’s toughest questions. As Yogananda explains karma, death and reincarnation, he also talks about the deeper meaning of every soul. This fascinating collection will surely have you reading cover to cover.

There are many different individuals associated with Yoga that truly bring out their unique views and wonderful thoughts of meditation. Yogananda is surely one of the most influential Yogi’s in the world to this day. We have many other books associated with Yogananda available, along with many different Yoga products. You can view them all today at lg-share-en-7405420

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