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Friday, February 26, 2010

At Ma’s India we meet a lot of people interested in meditation. They usually come into our store after a darshan meditation given by our guru Ma Jaya, full of enthusiasm for the practice of meditation. Some are beginners, some are intermediate meditators and some are more advanced. We have meditation tools available for every degree of practice.

The beginning meditation practitioners want all the tools, and for them, we recommend The Meditation Kit. Contained within this meditation kit is a sandalwood mala, incense with holder, bell, sacred water cup, 4 track mantra CD and a 28 page illustrated guide book. In that guidebook of meditation, there is instruction on breathing, mantras, mudras, and a very complete guide for any meditator.

Devdutt Pattanaik has written a series of introductory books on Hinduism which are of great service to the beginning meditator if they are interested in Hindu lore and mythology; for example: Shiva: An Introduction; Devi: An Introduction; Vishnu: An Introduction and Hanuman: An Introduction. All of these books are written in simple narrative style reducing the complexity of Hindu lore to something immediately understandable and lucid.

For intermediate meditators who wish to learn more about Hinduism and devotion, we recommend to them a series of books such as Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, a wonderful readable tale of the relationship of Krishna and Arjuna as it is played out in the journey of the Bhagavad-Gita. Also recommended is Hindu Gods and Goddesses by W.J.Wilkins, a composite of the pantheon of gods and goddesses replete in Hindu literature. If one is looking for a particular god or goddess to offer their devotion to, one might wish to purchase Lakshmi – An Introduction, or Hanuman by Chitralekha Singh, two of the most popular deities in Hindu lore and mythology. Also a wonderful read is the seminal epic book, Ramayana, by the foremost authority in Hinduism, William Buck. These are but a few of the many books on Hinduism represented at Ma’s India.

Some more advanced meditators who perhaps have been meditating for quite sometime usually desire some more esoteric study. We immediately direct them to the most renowned expert on mantras, Thomas Ashley Farrand, in his book Chakra Mantras wherein he teaches the use of mantras in activating our secret chakras. This is truly a seminal book on mantras during meditation. Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi is an innovative book telling of how a simple placement of your hands and fingers can allow you to clear space energetically, think more positively, ease tension and even relieve flu symptoms and asthma.

And for the most seasoned and serious mediators truly interested in esoteric books, we recommend Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Robert Svoboda, a life journey tale of a master teacher into the rare world of Tantrism and Aghora III: The Law of Karma, which brilliantly speaks of karma and how it relates to everyman in his search for truth. These are experiential views into a world rarely seen by western eyes. There are a host of accompaniments to meditation such as the Meditation Pillow Cushion, an extraordinarily comfortable and popular cushion filled with buckwheat hulls to ensure a good meditation. Made with a removable cover, this meditation cushion offers structural support as well to the meditator. As one becomes more interested in meditation, it is interesting to note that the meditator can travel to certain meditation sites or retreats and bring along their Portable Zafu Meditation Cushion which is inflatable, durable and can be easily used outdoors as well as indoors. 

There are many other accompaniments to meditation such as oils, incense, bells and tingshas. The Auroshika Incenses made at the Sri Aurobindo ashram in India capture nature’s finest scents in their incenses. We particularly love Auroshika Sandalwood Indian Incense since sandalwood is the most popular and widely burned incense in meditation practices. 

Topped off with Om Tingsha Cymbals to bring you into a deep meditative feeling, you will be ready to receive that which you desire from your meditation practice.

Om Shantih Swaha!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lavender is one of the most healing and multi-faceted herbal scents ever. Its history is renowned and respected. Its uses are myriad. Used singly or in combination with other herbs, lavender is the sine qua non of scents. A native of the Mediterranean and widely distributed throughout Southern Europe, lavender was widely used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs not only for mummification, but scented baths and soaps. Lavender tea is a popular tea used at tea salons in England and other sophisticated places. A little known fact is that Queen Elizabeth 1 was fond of lavender conserve and drank lavender tea to alleviate her migraines. In medieval times lavender was used medicinally as well as antiseptically. It was not until the Renaissance that lavender fragrance was considered an important quality and began to be used in oils, pomanders and other dried arrangements. A wonderfully scented herbal oil with lavender buds is Sun’s Eye Lavender Bouquet Herbal Oil. Used on the body or the forehead to improve a headache, this lavender oil is sure to lend an aura of calmness to whatever stress a person is undergoing. Another popular and widely used oil is Triloka Lavender Essential Oil, which can be considered both uplifting and calming. This lavender oil subtly permeates the air with pleasurable and therapeutic aromas. French lavender is a wild plant with a scent resembling balsam with a mix of rosemary. Auroshika Lavender Indian Incense is made with French lavender and when its scent is diffused throughout the room, it can refresh, cool, purify and heal the psyche.

Because lavender has so many relaxant qualities, it is believed that when placed upon the chakras, it can open the recipient to esoteric and mystical experience. Ma’s India carries Third Eye Chakra Anointing Oil, Crown Chakra Anointing Oil, Heart Chakra Anointing Oil and Solar Plexus Anointing Oil. As one is anointed with these healing oils, one enters into a sacred space, receiving divine Inspiration and enlightenment. With each one of these Chakra Anointing Oils, lavender is mixed with other herbs to produce the desired outcome for each chakra.

Finally, there is the subtle scent that emanates from the Love Reiki Energy Candle made from a combination of patchouli, rose, lavender and Dragon’s Blood, for attraction that will bring love and romance into your sacred space. Close your eyes and allow your consciousness to settle back into these wonderful floral scents and dream of the Elysian Fields.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What a wonderful word is “puja,” pronounced “poo-ja” It has a soft comforting sound indicating its meaning also. In Sanskrit the word puja means the act of worship, or however one divines one’s worship. The person who performs the puja is called a “pujari.” The spiritual significance of puja is to offer one’s unworthiness or obstacles in one’s path to any deity or Higher Self that one chooses. Puja can be a silent worship, or an outward chanting, or the recitation of any words or actions that indicate the spiritual offering of one’s self. Doing puja is also the act of worshipping. When one does puja, one brings one’s mind and spirit to the occasion. In that regard, it is wise to have a place within your home or office on which you hang pictures or place sacred symbols. You might call those symbols “puja articles.” Now typical puja articles, and the most simple of with which you can not do without, are a candle, a bell, a stick of incense and of course something with which to light the candle. The puja article of a “bell” can be a simple ringing bell. Or it can be a bell known as a tingsha. Tinghshas are wonderful in that they are two brass plates sounding together to produce a long resonant sound that reverberates in the body well after it has been struck.

One of my favorite sounds is the tingsha because it is similar in feeling to the sound of Om in that it produces the same inner reverential feeling, It is as if one clasps one’s hands together in a reverential attitude and pranams or bows before one’s deity during the puja. Also similar to the feeling of sacredness is the sound produced by the Tibetan Bell Bowl, another similar puja article. As one rolls the stick around the rim of the bowl, one is transported by its melodic otherworldly sound into spiritual reverence. As one lights the candle,rings the bell, and lights the incense, one can then call upon the deity for whomever you feel spiritual regard.

Another wonderful puja adjunct is the offering to be made to the special deity. It is sometimes customary to offer fruit or cookies or other confections to the deity. After the puja is done, the confections or fruit become prasad or blessed fruit because it is customary to think that your deity has taken notice and blessed your offering. Choosing a sacred deity or Guru upon which to gaze on one’s puja becomes a wonderful adventure. One might be drawn to, for example, a picture of Nityananda, Ma Jaya or Neem Karoli Baba because that particular Guru is somebody with whom you might resonate most deeply. In that regard, one might wish to place the statue of Ganesh alongside Nityananda as another puja item because it was felt that Ganesh was Nityananda’s vehicle or the form through which he blessed people in many ways.

Other ways in which to do puja is through song or chanting, and reading relevant scriptures, prayers for the well being of others or other acts of charity that one performs in every day life. Pujas may be performed by some who have ongoing difficulties, grief or sorrow in their lives and sometimes it is merely to give thanks for continuous health and prosperity.

Whatever the reason one has for doing puja, the unsaid desire is to perform puja all day long carrying the name of your God within your heart. Om Namah Shantih!!!

Find these and more puja items at Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sandalwood has long been an important accompaniment to religious and spiritual ritual. Sandalwood paste is integral to rituals and ceremonies, marking religious utensils and decorating the deity statues. After offering it to the specific deity in the ceremony, sandalwood is thereupon distributed to devotees who also apply to their forehead, neck or chest. It is the priests’ duty to prepare the paste since it is considered a duty fit only for the pure. It is actually quite arduous to prepare the sandalwood paste since it requires grinding pieces of the wood by hand upon granite slabs. Water is then added resulting in a thick paste.

The fragrance of sandalwood is quite captivating and resonant in spiritual overtones. It has been known to enlighten the spiritual mind of the devotee, providing concentration for mediation and prayer. When one smells this sandalwood fragrance, it is mythically thought to transport one to the heavens. In fact, sandalwood has been reputed to be the favorite of the gods. It has been used in oils, incense and perfume.

As shown below, sandalwood is also used for the purposes of treating many ailments, both homeopathically and allopathically.

This Tibetan Sandalwood and Turquoise bracelet is most artfully designed. It is rare to see a bracelet with such simplicity and elegance. The sandalwood beads are of an unusually large size, hardly seen in mala bracelets with a beautiful large turquoise bead acting as the guru bead. Both the turquoise stone and the sandalwood stones in the bracelet give an earthy and connected feeling. Strung with elastic renders this sandalwood bracelet easily accessible to counting for meditative purposes. Sandalwood comes from a small tree that grows primarily in India and Tibet. Wear this sandalwood bracelet to bring beauty, elegance and spirituality to your life. Blue Pearl Sandalwood Oil is very fine sandalwood oil. It is used for spiritual purposes such as oiling murtis and religious statues and some devotees or meditators use it as a perfume or scent on their person so that they may be reminded of their spiritual meditative life. We recall the original meaning of “blue pearl” as expressed by Swami Muktananda who indicated that when one sees this tiny blue light in meditation, they are seeing the form of the inner self. To experience this is the goal of life.

Alternative and medical uses of sandalwood are for treatment of problems relating to the urinary tract, as tonic for stimulating the immune system and for the treatment of chronic bronchitis. It can also be topically applied for acne, chapped lips and dry skin. The aroma of sandalwood oil is used to treat depression, tension and stress. Sandalwood oil also blends well with frankincense, geranium, lavender, myrrh and clary sage.

Burning these Sandalwood Incense Cones is similar to ringing a bell to call one’s god or goddess to their meditation. Used to enhance deep, contemplative states, sandalwood is considered to be the most popularly burned incense for meditation. One needs only to smell a whiff of the sandalwood fragrance to be called to a deep meditative state. The fragrance of these sandalwood incense cones are particularly pungent and resonant.

Sandalwood scent is believed to transform one’s desires and maintain a person’s alertness while in meditation.

Chandrika Sandalwood Soap contains the newly popular coconut oil with extracts from sandalwood fragrance. Unlike conventional soap products, this Chandrika sandalwood soap gently moisturizes as it cleanses and will not irritate the skin. It is a gentle emollient and in fact conditions and smoothes the skin. This scented sandalwood soap is very popular for those desiring not to have harmful additives in their cleansing products.

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