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



Today is Ganga Puja. Sri Ganga-puja, also known as Sri Ganga-dushara (she who removes inauspiciousness), appears in the month of Jyestha (May/June) on the 10th day of Sukla-paksa, or the waxing fortnight of the full moon. On this day, Maharaja Bhagiratha’s desire of bringing Ganga to this mortal world was finally fulfilled as the sacred river descended from Lord Siva’s blessed
Mother Ganga Devi 
head at Mount Kailasa. The River Ganga then flowed through the Himalayas behind Maharaja Bhagiratha’s chariot and entered Jahnu Rsi’s asrama. Afterwards, he successfully let the Ganga to Rasatala, in the lower planetary system, to liberate the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara.

As stated in the Narada Purana (Uttara-bhaga 40.21): ‘It was on the tenth day in the bright half of the month of Jyestha, when the day of the week was Tuesday and the constellation was Hasta, Ganga descended to the mortal world.’ Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi, or the descendent of Bhagiratha.

Then there was Jahnu-saptami, also known as Ganga-saptami (April 28), when Ganga entered the sacrificial arena of Jahnu Rsi and distribute his meditation. Out of anger, he drank the Ganga and later released the river through his ear (there are other accounts how he released her).

But according to the local tradition in the Rishikesh area, Ganga-saptami is celebrated as the day Ganga descended from the celestial region onto Lord Siva’s matted locks then a few drops of Ganga fell from his head onto the Himalayas. Ganga-dushara is celebrated as the day Ganga liberated the sixty thousand sons of Sagar.

 And in the Kasi (Varanasi) area, Ganga-saptami is celebrated as the day Ganga descended from heaven to earth and Ganga-dushara marks the day Ganga reached the plains of India at Haridvara. Ganga-dushara is also known as Ganga-dasahara (she who destroys tenfold), so devotees bathe in the Ganga ten days prior to this day which destroys the sins of ten life times.

Narada Purana (Uttara-bhaga 38.17-19) describes when and where Ganga manifests herself within the three planetary systems during the Vedic calendar month: ‘In the beginning of the dark half of the month, Ganga is present on earth for ten days ending with the sacred Amavasya day. From the first to the tenth of the bright half of the month, she is present in the netherworlds. Beginning with the eleventh day in the bright half and ending with the fifth day in the dark half, she is always present in heaven for ten days.’ In other words: From the 6th dark day to Amavasya (new moon), Ganga is on earth. From the 1st bright day to the 10th bright day she is in the netherworlds. And from the 11th bright day through Purnima (full moon) to the 5th dark day she is in heaven.

Sri Ganga-devi personally appeared to Maharaja Bhagiratha before the river descended from Brahmaloka onto Lord Siva’s head. Ganga then descended onto the Himalayas prior to Jahnu Rsi swallowing the river. Later, Jahnu released Ganga, which marks the rivers re-appearance. Afterwards, Ganga descended to Rasatala, liberating Sagar’s sixty thousand sons. Then Ganga appears as Bhogavati in the netherworlds before appearing as the Vaitarani encircling Pitrloka.

Sri Ganga Devi continually appears in her unlimited pastimes for the pleasure of the devotees. Regardless which day one accepts as the appearance day of Ganga, or the day the river descended onto this planet, Mother Ganga’s pastimes are always appearing throughout the three worlds, which is one reason she is known as Tripathaga Ganga.

COURTESY: dandavats.com



Thursday, November 16, 1882
The Master had come to Calcutta.  In the evening he went to the house of Rajmohan, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, where Narendra and some of his young friends used to meet and worship according to the Brahmo ceremonies.  Sri Ramakrishna wanted to see their worship.  He was accompanied by M. and a few other devotees.
The Master was very happy to see Narendra and expressed a desire to watch the young men at their worship.  Narendra sang and then the worship began.  One of the young men conducted it.  He prayed, "O Lord, may we give up everything and be absorbed in Thee!" Possibly the youth was inspired by the Master's presence and so talked of utter renunciation.  Sri Ramakrishna remarked in a whisper, "Much likelihood there is of that!" Rajmohan served the Master with refreshments.

Sunday, November 19, 1882
It was the auspicious occasion of the Jagaddhatri Puja, the festival of the Divine Mother.  Sri Ramakrishna was invited to Surendra's house in Calcutta; but first he went to the house of Manomohan in the neighbourhood.

The Master was seated in Manomohan's parlour.  He said: "God very
much relishes the bhakti of the poor and the lowly, just as the cow relishes fodder mixed with oil-cake.  King Duryodhana showed Krishna the splendour of his wealth and riches, but Krishna accepted the hospitality of the poor Vidura.  God is fond of His devotees.  He runs after the devotee as the cow after the calf."
The Master sang:

And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age;
When love awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul.
Then he said: "Chaitanya used to shed tears of joy at the very mention of Krishna's name.  God alone is the real Substance; all else is illusory.  Man can realize God if he wants to, but he madly craves the enjoyment of 'woman and gold'.  The snake has a precious stone in its head, but it is perfectly satisfied to eat a mere frog.

"Bhakti is the one essential thing.  Who can ever know God through reasoning? I want love of God.  What do I care about knowing His infinite glories? One bottle of wine makes me drunk.  What do I care about knowing how many gallons there are in the grog-shop? One jar of water is enough to quench my thirst.  I don't need to know the amount of water there is on earth."
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Surendra's house.  Many devotees had assembled there, including Surendra's elder brother, who was a judge.

Futility of reasoning
MASTER (To Surendra's brother): "You are a judge.  That is very good.  But remember, everything happens through God's power.  It is He who has given you your high position; that is how you became a judge.  People think it is they who are great.  The water from the roof flows through a spout that is shaped like a lion's head.  It looks as if the lion  were bringing the water out through its mouth.  But look at the source of the water! A cloud gathers in the sky and rain falls on the roof; then the water flows through the pipe and at last comes out through the spout."

SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "The Brahmo Samaj preaches the freedom of women and the abolition of the caste-system.  What do you think about these 
Brahmo Samaj

MASTER: "Men feel that way when they are just beginning to develop spiritual yearning.  A storm raises clouds of dust, and one cannot distinguish between the different trees-the mango, the hog plum, and the tamarind.  But after the storm blows over, one sees clearly.  After the first storm of divine passion is quelled, one gradually understands that God alone is the Highest Good, the Eternal Substance, and that all else is transitory.  One cannot grasp this without tapasya and the company of holy men.  What is the use of merely reciting the written parts for the drum? It is very difficult to put them into practice on the instrument.  What can be accomplished by a mere lecture? It is austerity that is necessary.  By that alone can one comprehend.   

"You asked about caste distinctions.  There is only one way to remove them, and that is by love of God.  Lovers of God have no caste.  Through this divine love the untouchable becomes pure, the pariah no longer remains a pariah.  Chaitanya embraced all, including the pariahs.

"The members of the Brahmo Samaj sing the name of Hari.  That is very good.  Through earnest prayer one receives the grace of God and realizes Him.  God can be realized by means of all paths.  The same God is invoked by different names."

Master on Theosophy:
SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"
MASTER: "I have heard that man can acquire superhuman powers through it and perform miracles.  I saw a man who had brought a ghost under control.  The ghost used to procure various things for his master.  What shall I do with superhuman powers? Can one realize God through them? If God is not realized then everything becomes false."

November 1882
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Sri Ramakrishna arrived in Calcutta to attend the annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj, which was to be celebrated at Manilal Mallick's house.  Besides M. and other devotees of the Master, Vijay Goswami and a number of Brahmos were present.  Elaborate arrangements had been made to make the occasion a success.  Vijay was to conduct the worship.

The kathak recited the life of Prahlada from the Purana.  Its substance was as follows: Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada's father, was king of the demons.  He bore great malice toward God and put his own son through endless tortures for leading a religious life.  Afflicted by his father, Prahlada prayed to God, "O God, please give my father holy inclinations."

At these words the Master wept.  He went into an ecstatic mood.  Afterwards he began to talk to the devotees.

MASTER: "Bhakti is the only essential thing.  One obtains love of God by constantly chanting His name and singing His glories.  Ah! What a devotee Shivanath is! He is soaked in the love of God, like a cheese-cake in syrup.

"One should not think, 'My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.' God can be realized by means of all paths.  It is enough to have sincere yearning for God.  Infinite are the paths and infinite the opinions.

The pure in heart see God
"Let me tell you one thing.  God can be seen.  The Vedas say that God is beyond mind and speech.  The meaning of this is that God is unknown to the mind attached to worldly objects.  Vaishnavcharan used to say, 'God is known by the mind and intellect that are pure.' Therefore it is necessary to seek the company of holy men, practise prayer, and listen to the instruction of the guru.  These purify the mind.  Then one sees God.  Dirt can be removed from water by a purifying agent.  Then one sees one's reflection in it.  One cannot see one's face in a mirror if the mirror is covered with dirt.

"After the purification of the heart one obtains divine love.  Then one sees God, through His grace.  One can teach others if one receives that command from God after seeing Him.  Before that one should not 'lecture'.  There is a song that says:

You have set up no image here,
Within the shrine, O fool!
Blowing the conch, you simply make
Confusion worse confounded.
"You should first cleanse the shrine of your heart.  Then you should install the Deity and arrange worship.  As yet nothing has been done.  What can you achieve by blowing the conch-shell and simply making a loud noise?"

Vijay sat on a raised stool and conducted the worship according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj.  Afterwards he sat by the Master.

MASTER (to Vijay): "Will you tell me one thing? Why did you harp so much on sin? By repeating a hundred times, 'I am a sinner', one verily becomes a sinner.  One should have such faith as to be able to say, 'What? I have taken the name of God; how can I be a sinner?' God is our Father and Mother.  Tell Him, 'O Lord, I have committed sins, but I won't repeat them.' Chant His name and purify your body and mind.  Purify your tongue by singing God's holy name."

SOURCE: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna



Phalaharini Kali Puja is a religious occasion dedicated to goddess Kali and is observed on the new moon night of Jyeshtha in the Bengal and Hindu calendar. On this day, special puja rituals are performed in Bengal and in other Eastern parts of the country. In the famous Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Phalaharini Kali Puja begins at 9.00 pm and continues well past 1.00 am.
Sri Ramakrishna's Shodashi Puja

It is said that Mother Kali, being pleased with worship offered on this day, will destroy the effects of karma causing future births. On this day, Sri Ramakrishna performed the Shodashi Puja, worship to Sri Sarada Devi invoking the Divine Mother in her as ever forgiving and gracious.

IT WAS THE 5th of June, 1872*, the day for the special worship of Phalaharini-Kali, or the Deity as Mother Kali destroying the effects of the past deeds of beings. The Kali temple of Dakshineswar was en fete with ceremonial decorations. By night, when the worship of the Divine Mother was to take place, a good crowd had gathered in the temple, and everywhere there was singing and excitement characteristic of temple festivities.

The doors of the Master's room remained closed. The noisy crowd had not invaded its precincts; for people were busy with many things outside, and besides, the Master had not yet become very widely known. Within the room, too, preparations were being made for the Master to perform the worship of the Divine Mother that day. A boy named Dinu, a distant nephew of his, brought the Bilva leaves, while Hriday made the necessary arrangements for the rite. The Master had asked the Holy Mother beforehand to be present in the room at the time of worship. At 9 p.m. she arrived. The others had by that time finished the arrangements and left the room, leaving the Master and the Holy Mother alone within.

Now the worship began. The Master sat near the western door of his room facing the east. After he had finished the purification of materials and other preliminary ceremonies, he beckoned to the Holy Mother to take her place on the seat set apart for the Deity. It was a low stool with ritualistic drawings on it, kept towards the right of the worshipper, and she sat on it facing the west. She was already in a mood of spiritual fervour, and obeyed the Master's directions as one under hypnosis. The Master now sprinkled her several times with holy water, and then addressed the following prayer of invocation; 'O Divine Mother, Thou eternal Virgin, the mistress of all powers and the abode of all beauty, deign to unlock for me the gate of perfection. Sanctifying the body and mind of this woman, do Thou manifest Thyself through her and do what is auspicious.'

Then he identified the Holy Mother with the Deity through the ceremony of Nyasa, which consists in touching the different parts of the body with appropriate Mantras and identifying them in mind with the different parts of the Deity. After that, he offered her worship with sixteen items, as one does before the divine image. In the course of it he applied red paint to the sides of her soles, put the vermilion mark on her forehead, dressed her with a new cloth, and placed a little of sweets and betel-leaf in her mouth. Knowing that she was naturally of a very bashful disposition, a disciple once asked her whether she did not feel any hesitation or shyness when the Master did all this to her. She replied, 'No. I saw him, no doubt, doing all this, but I had no inclination to utter a word even.'

In fact, all through the worship the Holy Mother was in a state of semi-absorption, and at the close of it, in deep Samadhi. The Master, too, was in an ecstatic mood while doing the worship, and by the time it came to an end, he also was absorbed in Samadhi. Thus in that transcendental union of the spirit, the worshipper and the worshipped realized their identity of being as Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.

A long time passed in that state of spiritual absorption. It was only when the second watch of the night had fairly advanced that the Master regained a little of physical consciousness. Then he resigned himself completely to the Divine Mother, and in a supreme act of consecration, offered to the Deity manifest before him, the fruits of his austerities, his rosary, himself and everything that was his. He then uttered the following Mantra: 'O Goddess, I prostrate myself before Thee again and again-before Thee, eternal consort of Siva, the three-eyed, the golden-hued, the indwelling Spirit in all, the giver of refuge, the accomplisher of every end, and the most auspicious among all auspicious objects.'

The worship (Note:The form of worship Sri Ramakrishna performed is technically called Shodasi Puja. The term requires a little explanation. It does not mean, as is sometimes interpreted, 'the worship of a girl of sixteen.' For the matter of that, the Holy Mother was eighteen or more at the time of this worship. It really means the worship of the Divine Mother as Shodasi - the third of the ten Mahavidyas known as Kali, Tara, Shodasi, Bhuvanesvari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi and Kamala. The Divine Mother is called Shodasi in this aspect probably because she is conceived as a wonderfully beautiful girl always aged sixteen. In this worship one can use as the emblem of worship either a picture, a pitcher, an earthen image, a Yantra (ie a ritualistic drawing), or a young woman) was now over. Towards the close of it Hriday came into the room. After regaining normal consciousness, the Holy Mother saluted the Master mentally, and walked away to her room in the Nahabat.

The significance of this great rite on the lives of these two souls can hardly be over-estimated. For Sri Ramakrishna it signified the final triumph of the spirit over the body, the destruction of all that is animal in man, the recognition of Divinity even where the ordinary man is least disposed to see it. It marked the successful conclusion of his spiritual strivings, and his establishment of the status of a divine man.

In the life of the Holy Mother, too, it had a significance of equal importance. It symbolized her participation in Sri Ramakrishna's life in a twofold sense. It has already been stated how the Master, at the very time of his marriage, gave a powerful stimulus to his wife's spiritual growth by the prayer he addressed to the Divine Mother. That had brought about a gradual transformation in her, obliterating from her mind even the last vestiges of the lower nature, so that when she again reappeared in the concluding act of the drama of his spiritual endeavours, he found in her a fitting partner in life, well-matched with him in every respect. And so by the performance of that great rite, in which he surrendered all his spiritual practices and their fruits before the Deity whom he identified with the Holy Mother, he virtually made her a participant of all his austerities and spiritual attainments. It is sometimes asked why the Mother did not perform various forms of devotional practices like the Master. The answer to this apparently puzzling question is to be found in the Shodasi Puja, by virtue of which the Holy Mother became a full sharer in the spiritual glory of the Master. Indeed, as we shall see, she did practise a good deal of austerities afterwards, but they were not so for mental purification or for spiritual attainment; they were mainly intended as an example to others or for the benefit of her disciples. To use an analogy of the Master, she resembles in this respect the type of plant that bears fruits first, and then the flowers. As the spiritual counterpart of the great world-teacher Sri Ramakrishna, she had no need to re-enact the same scenes of the one common drama which they were together staging before mankind. She had other parts to play by way of fulfilling and supplementing the Master's work.

In another sense also the Shodasi Puja is a landmark in her life. It made her a vital part of Sri Ramakrishna's mission. In that rite the Master invoked in her the presence of the Divine Mother-the same Supreme Energy that was manifesting Itself through his own personality. Henceforth, just as in the case of the Master, her body and mind became the venue of expression for that Energy. Her future actions were all, therefore, devoid of any personal object, but meant to fulfil the great mission that was being worked out through the Master. She and the Master could henceforth be described as two bodies actuated by the same spirit - the Divine Mother. As we shall see, for the rest of her life she helped the Master in his work through personal service. After his passing away, his mantle fell on her, and through a long period of spiritual ministry she fulfilled what he had left unfinished.

* Regarding the exact date of this event there are two versions. The Holy Mother arrived at Dakshineswar for the first time in March, 1872. According to the version of Swami Saradananda in his biography of Sri Ramakrishna, the worship took place about one year after this, ie on the Phalaharini-Kali Puja of 1873, the date of it being 25th May. In the Bengali book entitled Mayer Katha, V 01.2, the Holy Mother is reported to have said that it took place about a month and a half after her arrival at Dakshineswar. In that case it would be on the occasion of the Phalaharini Kali Puja of June, 1872.

Click here to listen "Significance of Sri Ramakrishna's Sodashi Puja" by Swami Prasannatmananda of the Vedanta Scoiety of Berkeley