^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^




"Let me tell you a story. Once a rich man was passing through a forest, when three robbers surrounded him and robbed him of all his wealth. After snatching all his possessions from him, one of the robbers said: 'What's the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him. 

' Saying this, he was about to strike their victim with his sword, when the second robber interrupted and said: 'There's no use in killing him. Let us bind him fast and leave him here. Then he won't be able to tell the police.' Accordingly the robbers tied him with a rope, left him, and went away.

"After a while the third robber returned to the rich man and said: 'Ah! You're badly hurt, aren't you? Come, I'm going to release you.' The third robber set the man free and led him out of the forest. When .they came near the highway, the robber said, 'Follow this road and you will reach home easily.'

'But you must come with me too', said the man. 'You have done so much for me. We shall all be happy to see you at our home.' 'No,' said the robber, 'it is not possible for me to go there. The police will arrest me.' So saying, he left the rich man after pointing out his way.

"Now, the first robber, who said: 'What's the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him', is tamas. It destroys. The second robber is rajas, which binds a man to the world and entangles him in a variety of activities. Rajas makes him forget God. Sattva alone shows the way to God. It produces virtues like compassion, righteousness, and devotion.
Again, sattva is like the last step of the stairs. Next to it is the roof. The Supreme Brahman is man's own abode. One cannot attain the Knowledge of Brahman unless one transcends the three gunas."

Source:  "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" 

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STORY:  "The  Elephant God"

"Let me tell you a story. In a forest there lived a holy man who had many disciples. One day he taught them to see God in all beings and, knowing this, to bow low before them all. A disciple went to the forest to gather wood for the sacrificial fire. Suddenly he heard an outcry: 'Get out of the way! A mad elephant is coming!'

All but the disciple of the holy man took to their heels. He reasoned that the elephant was also God in another form. Then why should he run away from it? He stood still, bowed before the animal, and began to sing its praises. The mahut of the elephant was shouting: 'Run away! Run away!' But the disciple didn't move. 

The animal seized him with its trunk, cast him to one side, and went on its way. Hurt and bruised, the disciple lay unconscious on the ground. Hearing what had happened, his teacher and his brother disciples came to him and carried him to the hermitage.

With the help of some medicine he soon regained consciousness. Someone asked him, 'You knew the elephant was coming – why didn't you leave the place?' 'But', he said, 'our teacher has told us that God Himself has taken all these forms, of animals as well as men. Therefore, thinking it was only the elephant God that was coming, I didn't run away.' 

At this the teacher said: 'Yes, my child, it is true that the elephant God was coming; but the mahut God forbade you to stay there. Since all are manifestations of God, why didn't you trust the mahut's words? You should have heeded the words of the mahut God.'

"It is said in the scriptures that water is a form of God. But some water is fit to be used for worship, some water for washing the face, and some only for washing plates or dirty linen. This last sort cannot be used for drinking or for a holy purpose. 

In like manner, God undoubtedly dwells in the hearts of all – holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous; but a man should not have dealings with the unholy, the wicked, the impure. He must not be intimate with them. With some of them he may exchange words, but with others he shouldn't go even that far. He should keep aloof from such people."

Source: "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" 

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A god and a demon went to learn about the Self from a great sage. They studied with him for a long time. At last the sage told them, "You yourselves are the Being you are seeking." Both of them thought that their bodies were the Self. They went back to their people quite satisfied and said, "We have learned everything that was to be learned; eat, drink, and be merry; we are the Self; there is nothing beyond us." The nature of the demon was ignorant, clouded; so he never inquired any further, but was perfectly contented with the idea that he was God, that by the Self was meant the body. The god had a purer nature. He at first committed the mistake of thinking: I, this body, am Brahman: so keep it strong and in health, and well dressed, and give it all sorts of enjoyments. But, in a few days, he found out that that could not be the meaning of the sage, their master; there must be something higher. So he came back and said, "Sir, did you teach me that this body was the Self? If so, I see all bodies die; the Self cannot die." The sage said, "Find it out; thou art That." Then the god thought that the vital forces which work the body were what the sage meant. But.after a time, he found that if he ate, these vital forces remained strong, but, if he starved, they became weak. The god then went back to the sage and said, "Sir, do you mean that the vital forces are the Self ?" The sage said, "Find out for yourself; thou art That." The god returned home once more, thinking that it was the mind, perhaps, that was the Self. But in a short while he saw that thoughts were so various, now good, again bad; the mind was too changeable to be the Self. He went back to the sage and said, "Sir, I do not think that the mind is the Self; did you mean that?" "No," replied the sage, "thou art That; find out for yourself." The god went home, and at last found that he was the Self, beyond all thought, one without birth or death, whom the sword cannot pierce or the fire burn, whom the air cannot dry or the water melt, the beginningless and endless, the immovable, the intangible, the omniscient, the omnipotent Being; that It was neither the body nor the mind, but beyond them all. So he was satisfied; but the poor demon did not get the truth, owing to his fondness for the body.



Durga Puja, the festival of Bengalis is the worship of 'Shakti' or the divine power. Worship of Goddess Durga is based on the following Myth where Durga symbolizes the divine power.

Mahishasura, the king of Asuras, through years of austerities, was once granted a boon by Lord Bramha, that no man or deity would be able to kill him. The immense power filled in him the urge to rule over the world. He started to terrorize heaven and the inhabitants. He pervaded the world with his battalion of Asuras and plundered and ruthlessly killed the people. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Gods were driven from heaven and Mahishasura usurped the throne.The Gods scared and unable to combat him, requested Lord Shiva, Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu to stop Mahishasura's tyranny. In answer, the three Gods combined their divine energy and summoned up a feminine form so brilliantly glaring that it illuminated the heavens. This combined power fell on the residence of Sage Kattyana in the krishna chaturdashi (fourteenth day of new moon) in the month of Ashwin (September-October). From the glow emerged Devi Durga, a beautiful yellow womanwith ten arms riding a lion. Despite her grace she bore a menacing expression, for Durga was born to kill. Fully grown and armed by the gods, beautiful Durga was named "Kattyani" as she is born in the ashram of sage Kattyana. The sage worshipped her for suklasaptami, asthami and nabami tithi then on the tithi of Dashami she killed Masishasura. She was sent forth against Mahishasura armed by symbols of divine power; Vishnu's discus; Shiva's trident; Varuna's conchshell; Agni's flaming dart; Vayu's bow; Surya's quiver and arrow; Yama's iron rod; Indra's thunderbolt; Kubera's club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from Himalayas.

A fierce battle took place. Finally when Mahishasura in the guise of a buffalo charged against Durga, the Devi beheaded the buffalo and from it emerged Mahishasura in his original form. Durga pierced his chest with the trident and relieved the world from the evil power. That is why she is 'Durgatinashini Durga', our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and establishes peace and prosperity on earth.We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of 'Shakti' (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives. But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance the Bengalis embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. Goddess Durga is welcomed to the earth as our daughter who annually visits her parents' home. Durga stays for four days-Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami along with her children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband's abode on Vijaya Dashami.Durga's mode of journey to the earth is detailed in scriptures. The modes, an elephant, a horse, palanquin, boat all signify luck or omen which influence the life on earth. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horse back indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery.The worship of Devi Durga in the month of October however owes its origin to Krittibas Ojha's "Ramayana". Sree Rama hastily worships Durga, the goddess of 'Shakti', just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. According to Puranas, King Suratha used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama prepones the Puja and worships the Devi in autumn and that is why it is known as 'Akal Bodhon' or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among Bengalis and in Bengal.

Durga Puja 2011:
This year the goddess Durga arrives on an elephant and departs on a palanquin .Goddess Durga's arrival on an elephant signifies good harvest while her departure on a palanquin signifies an outbreak of epidemic. 
DATE                           FESTIVAL
4th October 2011           Durga Puja - Saptami
5th October 2011            ,,           - Mahashtami
6th October 2011            ,,            - Navami
7th October 2011            ,,           - Vijaya Dasami


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