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Ganesha (Vinayaka) Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated on the occasion of birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, who is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. It is the day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. Ganesh Chaturthi. In 2012 Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on 19 September.
The festival, also known as Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shuklachaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending onAnant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius,[3] Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Fiji.

Sri Ganesha
Traditional stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva returned and, as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged, severed the head of the child and entered his house. After realizing that he had beheaded his own son, Lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha's head. In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God. 

festival Dates:
The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 or 12 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi. This festival is observed in the lunar month of bhadrapada shukla paksha chathurthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha.

Ganesha Festival:
Ganesha is worshiped for 10 days from Bhadrapada Shudha Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash.
Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others. In Mangalore, there is a belief that the eldest son of the home should be present during pooja.

Outside India:
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the UK by the migrant Hindu population as well as the large number of Indians residing there. The Hindu culture and Heritage Society, UK - a Southall based organisation celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time in London in 2005 at The Vishwa Hindu Temple. The Idol was immersed in the river Thames at Putney Pier. Another celebration organised by an Gujarati group has been celebrated in the Southend-on-Seawhich attracts over 18000 devotees. Annual celebrations also take place on the River Mersey at Liverpool.
The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, an organisation of Hindus based in the US organises many such events to mark the Hindu festivals.It is also celebrated by various associations of Telugu speaking people viz.,Telugu Association of North America, Bay Area Telugu Association and Balaji Temples across USA.
The Philadelphia Ganesh popularly known as PGF is the largest Sarvajanik (fully contributed by public funds) Hindu festival in North America. Since 2005 the festival is conducted every year in Bharatiya Temple, Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The 10 days are marked by processions, devotional programs, cultural events, India filmi-orchestra and a weekend carnival. While the Marathi community plays a big role in organising the festival, participation from all communities such as Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, North Indian, Bengali etc. is seen as the reason for its success and uniqueness.
In Canada, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by associations of Marathi-speaking people viz. MBM in Toronto, MSBC in Vancouver, etc.
Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Puja was held in the 7 Cascades Valley next to Henrietta village by the Bhiwajee family who is still celebrating this pious festival for more than a century. Over the years the festival gained such popularity on the island that Mauritian government has attributed a public holiday for that day.

It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated. Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630-1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire. The Peshwas, the de facto hereditary administrators of the Empire from 1749 till its end in 1818, encouraged the celebrations in their administrative seat Pune as Ganesha was their family deity (Kuladevata). With the fall of the Peshwas, Ganesh Chaturthi lost state patronage and became a private family celebration again till its revivial by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event. Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesha as "the god for everybody", and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order "to bridge the gap between Brahmins and 'non-Brahmins' and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them", and generate nationalistic fervour among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Under Tilak's encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.
Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org



Vishwakarma is the Hindu presiding deity of all craftsmen and architects. He is believed by Hindus to be the "Principal Universal Architect", the architect who fabricated and designed the divine architecture of the Universe, the Lord of Creation.

Son of Brahma, he is official builder of all the gods' palaces. Vishwakarma is also the designer of all the flying chariots of the gods, and all their weapons.

The Mahabharata describes him as "The lord of the arts, executor of a thousand handicrafts, the carpenter of the gods, the most eminent of artisans, the fashioner of all ornaments ... and a great and immortal god." He has four hands, wears a crown, loads of gold jewelry, and holds a water-pot, a book, a noose and craftsman's tools in his hands.

Vishwakarma's Architectural Wonders:
Hindu mythology is full of Vishwakarma's many architectural wonders. Through the four 'yugas', he had built several towns and palaces for the gods. In "Satya yuga", he built the Swarg Loke, or heaven, the abode of the gods and demigods where Lord Indra rules. Vishwakarma then built the 'Sone ki Lanka' in "Treta yuga", the city of Dwarka in "Dwapar yuga", and Hastinapur and Indraprastha in the "Kali yuga".

Vishwakarma Puja:

Vishwakarma Puja-2012
Hindus widely regard Vishwakarma as the god of architecture and engineering, and September 16/17 every year is celebrated as Vishwakarma Puja- a resolution time for workers and craftsmen to increase productivity and gain divine inspiration for creating novel products.

Vishwakarma Puja is also associated with the buoyant custom of flying kites. This occasion in a way also marks the start of the festive season that culminates in Diwali.

COURTESYen.wikipedia.org, hinduism.about.com



Sri Ramakrishna
In a certain place the fishermen were catching fish. A kite swooped down and snatched a fish. At the sight of the fish, about a thousand crows chased the kite and made a great noise with their cawing. Which-ever way the kite flew with the fish, the crows followed it. The kite flew to the south and the crows followed it there. The kite flew to the north and still the crows followed after it. The kite went east and west, but with the same result. As the kite began to fly about in confusion, lo, the fish dropped from its mouth. The crows at once let the kite alone and flew after the fish. Thus relieved of its worries, the kite sat on the branch of a tree and thought: 'That wretched fish was at the root of all my troubles. I have now got rid of it and therefore I am at peace.'

As long as a man has the fish, that is, worldly desires, he must perform actions and consequently suffer from worry, anxiety, and restlessness. No sooner does he  renounce these desires than his activities fall away and he enjoys peace of soul. 


A SADHU under the instruction of his Guru built for himself a small shed, thatched with leaves at a distance from the haunts of men. He began his devotional exercises in this hut. Now, every morning after ablution he would hang his wet cloth and the kaupina (loin-cloth) on a tree close to the hut, to dry them. One day on his return from the neighbouring village, which he would visit to beg for his daily food, he found that the rats had cut holes  in  his  kaupina.  So  the  next  day  he  was obliged to go to the village for a fresh one.   A few days later, the sadhu spread his loin-cloth on the roof of his hut to dry it and then went to the village to beg as usual. On his return he found that the rats had torn it into shreds. He felt much annoyed and thought within himself "Where shall I go again to beg for a rag? Whom shall I ask for one?" All the same he saw the villagers the next day and re-presented to them the mischief done by the  rats.  Having  heard  all  he  had  to  say,  the villagers said, "Who will keep you supplied with cloth every day? Just do one thing—keep a cat; it will keep away the rats." The sadhu forthwith secured a kitten in the village and carried it to his hut. From that day the rats ceased to trouble him and there was no end to his joy. The sadhu now began to tend the useful little creature with great care  and  feed  it  on  the  milk  begged  from  the village. After some days, a  villager said to  him: "Sadhuji,  you  require  milk  every  day;  you  can supply  your  want  for  a  few  days  at  most  by begging; who will supply you with milk all the year round? Just do one thing—keep a cow. You can satisfy your own creature comforts by drinking its milk and you can also give some to your cat." In a few days the sadhu procured a milch cow and had no occasion to beg for milk any more. By and by, the sadhu found it necessary to beg for straw for his cow. He had to visit the neighbouring villages for the purpose, but the villagers said, "There are lots of uncultivated lands close to your hut; just cultivate the land and you shall not have to beg for straw for your cow." Guided by their advice, the sadhu took to tilling the land. Gradually he had to engage some labourers and later on found it necessary to build barns to store the crop in. Thus he became, in course of time, a sort of landlord.

And, at last he had to take a wife to look after his big household. He now passed his days just like a busy householder.

After  some  time,  his  Guru  came  to  see  him. Finding himself surrounded by goods and chattels, the Guru felt puzzled and enquired of a servant, "An ascetic used to live here in a hut; can you tell me where he has removed himself?" The servant did not know what to say in reply. So the Guru ventured to enter into the house, where he met his disciple. The Guru said to him, "My son, what is all this?" The disciple, in great shame fell at the feet of his Guru and said, "My Lord, all for a single piece of loin-cloth!"   
SOURCE: The Parables of Sri Ramakrishna



Chapter 5; PART-I


October 27, 1882
Master's boat trip with Keshab:
Keshab Chandra Sen
IT WAS FRIDAY, the day of the Lakshmi Puja.  Keshab Chandra Sen had arranged a boat trip on the Ganges for Sri Ramakrishna. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon the steamboat with Keshab and his Brahmo followers cast anchor in the Ganges alongside the Kāli temple at Dakshineswar.  The passengers saw in front of them the bathing-ghat and the chandni.  To their left, in the temple compound, stood six temples of Śiva, and to their right another group of six Śiva temples.  The white steeple of the Kāli temple, the tree-tops of the Panchavati, and the silhouette of pine-trees stood high against the blue autumn sky.  The gardens between the two nahabats were filled with fragrant flowers, and along the bank of the Ganges were rows of flowering plants.  The blue sky was reflected in the brown water of the river, the sacred Ganges, associated with the most ancient traditions of Aryan civilization.  The outer world appeared soft and serene, and the hearts of the Brahmo devotees were filled with peace. 

Master in samādhi
Sri Ramakrishna was in his room talking with Vijay and Haralal.  Some disciples of Keshab entered.  Bowing before the Master, they said to him: "Sir, the steamer has arrived.  Keshab Babu has asked us to take you there." A small boat was to carry the Master to the steamer.  No sooner did he get into the boat than he lost outer consciousness in samādhi.  Vijay was with him. 

M. was among the passengers.  As the boat came alongside the steamer, all rushed to the railing to have a view of Sri Ramakrishna.  Keshab became anxious to get him safely on board.  With great difficulty the Master was brought back to consciousness of the world and taken to a cabin in the steamer.  Still in an abstracted mood, he walked mechanically, leaning on a devotee for support.  Keshab and the others bowed before him, but he was not aware of them.  Inside the cabin there were a few chairs and a table.  He was made to sit on one of the chairs, Keshab and Vijay occupying two others.  Some devotees were also seated, most of them on the floor, while many others had to stand outside.  They peered eagerly through the door and windows.  Sri Ramakrishna again went into deep samādhi and became totally unconscious of the outer world. 

As the air in the room was stuffy because of the crowd of people, Keshab opened the windows.  He was embarrassed to meet Vijay (see picture), since they had differed in certain principles of the Brāhrno Samaj and Vijay had separated himself from Keshab's organization, joining another society. 

The Brahmo devotees looked wistfully at the Master.  Gradually he came back to sense consciousness; but the divine intoxication still lingered.  He said to himself in a whisper: "Mother, why have You brought me here? They are hedged around and not free.  Can I free them?" Did the Master find that the people assembled there were locked within the prison walls of the world? Did their helplessness make the Master address these words to the Divine Mother?

God dwells in devotee's heart:
Sri Ramakrishna was gradually becoming conscious of the outside world.  Nilmadhav of Ghazipur and a Brahmo devotee were talking about Pavhari Baba.  Another Brahmo devotee said to the Master: "Sir, these gentlemen visited Pavhari Baba.  He lives in Ghazipur.  He is a holy man like yourself." The Master could hardly talk; he only smiled.  The devotee continued, "Sir, Pavhari Baba keeps your photograph in his room." Pointing to his body the Master said with a smile, "Just a pillow-case."

The Master continued: "But you should remember that the heart of the devotee is the abode of God.  He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He especially manifests Himself in the heart of the devotee.  A landlord may at one time or another visit all parts of his estate, but people say he is generally to be found in a particular drawing-room.  The heart of the devotee is the drawing-room of God.

Attitude of jnānis and bhaktās:
"He who is called Brahman by the jnanis is known as Ātman by the yogis and as Bhagavan by the bhaktas.  The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen.  The jnani sticking to the path of knowledge, always reasons about the Reality, saying, 'Not this, not this'.  Brahman is neither 'this' nor 'that'; It is neither the universe nor its living beings.  Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady.  Then it disappears and the aspirant goes into samādhi.  This is the knowledge of Brahman.  It is the unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory.  All these names and forms are illusory, like a dream.  What Brahman is cannot be described.  One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person.  This is the opinion of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta philosophy. 

"But the bhaktas accept all the states of consciousness.  They take the waking state to be real also.  They don't think the world to be illusory, like a dream.  They say that the universe is a manifestation of God's power and glory.  God has created all these - sky, stars, moon, sun, mountains, ocean, men, animals.  They constitute His glory.  He is within us, in our hearts.  Again, He is outside.  The most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this - the twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings.  The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to become sugar.  (All laugh.) 

"Do you know how a lover of God feels? His attitude is: 'O God, Thou are the Master, and I am Thy servant.  Thou art the Mother, and I am Thy child.' Or again: 'Thou art my Father and Mother.  Thou art the Whole, and I am a part.' He doesn't like to say, 'I am Brahman.'

Attitude of yogis:
"The yogi seeks to realize the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul.  His ideal is the union of the embodied soul and the Supreme Soul.  He withdraws his mind from sense-objects and tries to concentrate it on the Paramatman.  Therefore, during the first stage of his spiritual discipline, he retires into solitude and with undivided attention practises meditation in a fixed posture. 

"But the Reality is one and the same.  The difference is only in name.  He who is Brahman is verily Ātman, and again, He is the Bhagavan.  He is Brahman to the followers of the path of knowledge, Paramatman to the yogis, and Bhagavan to the lovers of God."

Distant view of Dakshineswar seen from Belur Math Ganga bank
The steamer had been going toward Calcutta; but the passengers, with their eyes fixed on the Master and their ears given to his nectar-like words, were oblivious of its motion.  Dakshineswar, with its temples and gardens, was left behind.  The paddles of the boat churned the waters of the Ganges with a murmuring sound.  But the devotees were indifferent to all this.  Spellbound, they looked on a great yogi, his face lighted with a divine smile, his countenance radiating love, his eyes sparkling with joy-a man who had renounced all for God and who knew nothing but God.  Unceasing words of wisdom flowed from his lips. 

Reasoning of jnanis:
MASTER: "The jnanis, who adhere to the non-dualistic philosophy of Vedanta, say that the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, the universe itself and all its living beings, are the manifestations of Śakti, the Divine Power.  If you reason it out, you will realize that all these are as illusory as a dream.  Brahman alone is the Reality, and all else is unreal.  Even this very Śakti is unsubstantial, like a dream.

"But though you reason all your life, unless you are established in samādhi, you cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of Śakti.  Even when you say, 'I am meditating', or 'I am contemplating', still you are moving in the realm of Śakti, within Its power. 

Identity of Brahman and Śakti
"Thus Brahman and Śakti are identical.  If you accept the one, you must accept the other.  It is like fire and its power to burn.  If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also.  You cannot think of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to burn without fire.  You cannot conceive of the sun's rays without the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun without its rays. 

"What is milk like? Oh, you say, it is something white.  You cannot think of the milk without the whiteness, and again, you cannot think of the whiteness without the milk. 

"Thus one cannot think of Brahman without Śakti, or of Śakti without Brahman.  One cannot think of the Absolute without the Relative, or of the Relative without the Absolute. 

"The Primordial Power is ever at play.  She is creating, preserving, and destroying in play, as it were.  This Power is called Kāli.  Kāli is verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kāli.  It is one and the same Reality.  When we think of  It as inactive, that is to say, not engaged in the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, then we call It Brahman.  But when It engages in these activities, then we call It Kāli or Śakti.  The Reality is one and the same; the difference is in name and form.

"It is like water, called in different languages by different names, such as 'jal', 'pani', and so forth.  There are three or four ghats on a lake.  The Hindus, who drink water at one place, call it 'jal'.  The Mussalmans at another place call it 'pani'.  And the English at a third place call it 'water'.  All three denote one and the same thing, the difference being in the name only.  In the same way, some address   the Reality as 'Allah', some as 'God', some as 'Brahman', some as 'Kāli', and others by such names as 'Rama', 'Jesus', 'Durga', 'Hari.' "

SOURCE: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna;