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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, certain jeweled ornaments worn around the neck were mainly called “lockets.” I don’t recall those pieces of memorabilia designated as “pendants.” They occupied a special sentimental place in your heart and upon your person. When you touched them, you would feel that special close contact with whomever’s picture was safely ensconced in such locket or pendant. In these lockets could be found locks of hair, pictures of your most beloved parent, sibling or other relative; or if you were especially lucky, a picture of a favorite saint. In the 1970’s I remember a friend of mine whose ashes were consecrated in a specially made locket which some of us wore around our necks to commemorate our special friendship with this man.

Nowadays deity pendants such as those displayed in Ma’s India, have similar purposes, but the picture of the beloved is on the outside for all to see. These deity pendants have multipurpose uses. Some deity pendants might be considered merely ornamental as with jewelry.

Some deity pendants are considered amulets for self-protection. The Kali Pendant Necklace is one such deity pendant. Consuming demons that represent the ego, one need not be afraid of anything with Kali.

Another deity pendant represented might be the Shiva Necklace (painted) beautifully encased in pewter. This powerful God sitting in deep meditation upon Mount Kailash sits firmly against evil and those who would distract him from a peaceful and solitary contemplation.

Another feminine deity pendant representative of a protective amulet would be the Durga Deity pendant. Durga is another representation of Kali but seen as less fierce to those who know nothing about her. In reality, she is as fierce as Kali but with a different visage to hide her true identity from those who might not take her seriously. Durga is the true Mother of all the goddesses and on her deity pendant is pictured standing supreme upon her lion above all others.

Some who wish to use the deity pendants as mere ornaments, might consider the Lakshmi Resin Deity Pendant and the Saraswati Resin Pendant, both stately in faux marble resin, although when one is a true student of the Hindu goddesses, one sees that although they are worshipped for prosperity and the arts, these goddesses are just as capable of fierceness and protection. One might also consider the colorful and feminine Painted Lakshmi Deity Pendant as another choice.

For those who wish to cultivate the attributes of Ganesh, may we suggest Ganesh Pendant Necklace in sterling silver as their deity pendant, a powerful invocation of the Great God Ganesh. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles and is the fierce representation of loyalty. When one chooses Ganesh as her protector in a deity pendant, it is as if a whole army has come to her aid.

And of course, for those who wish to call upon Ganesh’s equally as fierce trusted humble ally, there is the Hanuman Necklace (painted) deity pendant, showing this representation of humility and perseverance, beautifully and stylistically encased in pewter.

For those desiring to follow the feminine Christian path in choosing a deity pendant, there is the saintly St. Therese of Avila Necklace who in 1970 was finally honored for her work in founding a convent and order of nuns and the Guadalupe Pendant beautifully rendered in faux white resin marble.

Whatever deity pendant you choose, there can be no mistake if one follows the yearnings of the heart.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Lord Ganesh is always invoked at the start of any ceremony or when launching new endeavors. He is a patron-deity of the arts and the lord of beginnings. Ganesh is worshipped first at all Hindu occasions and festivals.
Ganesh appears as a pot-bellied figure. For some, he might appear to be less imposing. But for those who truly know this deity and seek his protection, Ganesh can be gentle and affectionate but also quite fearsome, making him a formidable ally and protector. When one invokes Ganesh, it is said that one must be careful not to ignore him at some other time. Not only is Ganesh known to be the remover of obstacles, but as one who places obstacles in front of somebody who needs to be checked in their behavior. There are many legends as to how Ganesh acquired an elephant head. One of the most popular is that Parvati, wife of Shiva, took a bath and asked Ganesh to stand guard. When her husband Shiva asked to enter the bathing room, Ganesh opposed him. Shiva in his rage cut off Ganesh’s head. Parvati, sorely distressed by this action, asked Shiva to replace it and so Shiva did with the head of the first living being he encountered: an elephant. It is interesting to note that Ganesh, sometimes like his father Shiva, appears in murtis as the Dancing Ganesh.

Ganesh has four hands, holding a shell, discus, club and water lily. His elephant head has only one tusk. Similar to other India gods, he has a “vehicle,” in his case a rat. The rat is sometimes shown at the foot of Ganesh. Other times, Ganesh is seen astride the rat.

Ganesh is also a popular figure in Indian art. He is portrayed as sitting, standing, dancing, engaging in acts of heroism against demons, and playing with his family as a boy or other contemporary situations.  

Ganesh evokes quite a bit of affection and laughter. In fact, unlike other murtis, he is popularly portrayed as Baby Ganesh and seen as crawling or lounging. He has an adorable countenance and is considered one of the most popular murtis for children to place on their pujas so that they need not feel intimidated by other larger-appearing gods.

A lesser-known quality of Ganesh is that he is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word “buddhi” is now translated as intelligence or wisdom. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesh. One of Ganesh’s names in the Ganesha Purana is Buddipriya or lover of wisdom. Ganesh with large ears also indicates his ability to listen to others with fine discrimination and intellect.

Within Kundalini yoga, Ganesh resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara or base chakra. Ganesh holds, supports and guides all the other chakras, governing the forces that propel the wheel of life. When one has Ganesh as her ally and friend, one is standing on solid ground.

May you have success in all future and present endeavors: May Ganesh blesses you with prosperity and wisdom. Om Sri Ganesh!

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Shiva means “Auspicious One” and is also known as Rudra, the “Feared One.” He is silent in his presentation as the contemplative Shiva and fierce in his incarnation as Rudra. In the tradition of Hinuism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God, and those who worship him are known as Shaivites.

One of the most interesting things is that Shiva is represented in so many different forms. He sits as a contemplative on the Banks of the Ganga and on top of Mount Kailash or dances as Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva, upon the Goddess Maya, the demon of ignorance. An even simpler form of Shiva is the Shiva lingham, an esoteric representation of Shiva. To the devotees, the Shiva lingham represents the last form to be seen before dissolving into the arms of God. 

A beautiful God, Shiva is usually pictured with his eyes half closed with the River Ganga wrapped in his hair, carrying a trident. Sometimes he is depicted with a Third Eye with which he burns desire. Known as the “one with matted hair,”Shiva smears his body with ash, thus symbolizing his connection to the cremation grounds. This connection to the cremation grounds attracts a fierce and ascetic devotion amongst Shiva’s followers.

It is also mythologized that Shiva wrapped the Ganga in his hair so that when the Ganga took incarnation, she would not flood and destroy the world. A deeper symbolism would be that Shiva is entwined with the beautiful Goddess Ganga and together with her, watches over humanity,keeping it foremost in his mind even while deep in contemplation.

A lesser known and most powerful aspect of Shiva is that he took the lowly form of Hanuman so that in that incarnation, he presents not just a lofty, detached form of God, but humility in the form of the lowly monkey. However, in this form of Hanuman, Shiva does not lose his fierceness and in fact Hanuman, now known as Bhajarangi Hanuman, is shown carrying the mountain as he travels to save Sita from the evil Ravenna.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva represent the three aspects of the Divine: Brahma, the creator, Vishnu as the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva as the destroyer. It is believed that if Shiva were to put his foot down in his form as Nataraj, the world would be destroyed.

The question arises as to how one might pray to any of these triune forms. Would one pray to Brahma for help in creating, to Vishnu for preservation and maintenance of one’s life or to Shiva, for change or transformation of one’s life in a drastic, tumultuous fashion? It is comforting to know that as one progresses upon the spiritual life, one may reach out to any one of these Gods for help on their path, such is the wisdom and compassion of the Hindu religions for their devotees. There is no fundamentalism and one is encouraged to pray to any God one wishes. They await your prayers. Om Namah Shivaya!

For these and more Shiva books and statues visit Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.

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