Tuesday, June 26, 2012


What is Homa/Yagna?

Homam/Yagnam is a sacred fire ceremony performed by Hindu pundits in temples, homes and working places by involving a sacred fire. Various forms of the Divine gods and Demi-gods are invoked in a sacred fire according to the guidelines in the Vedic scriptures.

Significance of Homa/Yagna:

Homa/Yagna attaches humans to the divine nature by providing them with a way to burn away one’s karma and get closer to the Almighty. Thus, Homa/Yagna is performed by believers of the Hinduism at almost all religious ceremonies and important events.

A Homa/Yagna has a purifying effect not only on the performer but also on the environment. Offering environmental-friendly goods to fire and chanting of mantras re-energizes one’s chakras, producing a re-vitalized and invigorating effect for one’s the body as well as mind that leads to further success by swapping negative energies such as anger, rashness & irrational thinking with positive ones like calmness, tranquility and controlled attitudes.

Cultural Beliefs:

As per ancient Sanatana dharma texts on homa, any offering to Fire (Agni God) is actually an offering to the Sun. Offerings such as ghee, rice, dry fruits, honey, herbs, wood etc. are offered to the sacred fire while reciting Sanskrit mantras.

Mantras are recited to ask Fire God to take the offerings & prayers to the wished-for divinity. For instance, if the host wants to perform a Homa/Yagna for enhancing his/her health, he/she can direct the offerings to the Surya (Sun God). If he/she wants to increase luck and prosperity he/she can ask the sacred fire to take the offerings & prayers to Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi.

Substances Used in Homa/Yagna:

  • Wood (samidhá): Wood has to be dry and free from dust, insects and worms. Wood is cut into small pieces of varying sizes called samidhás depending upon the size of the altar or pit (kunda) in which the yagna is to be performed.
  • Medicinal herbs (Homa/Yagna sámagri)
  • Substances like saffron, musk, agar, tagar, sandalwood powder, cardamom, nutmeg, javitri and camphor.
  • Substances with Healing properties: clarified butter (ghee), milk, fruits, lin seeds, and cereals like wheat, rice, barley, various millet, gram, peas, etc.;
  • Sweet Substances: sugar, dried dates, resin, honey, etc.; Medicinal Herbs: These are used as per the specific requirements.
  • Different combinations of these and/or other special herbs are used for the treatment of specific diseases through yagna-therapy.
  • There are two basic energy systems in the physical world: heat and sound. In performing yagna, these two energies, namely, the heat from yagna’s fire and the sound of the chanting of the Gayatri and other Vedic Mantras, are blended together to achieve the desired physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.
  • Agnihotra farming methods of growing plants in pure and healthy atmosphere and balancing the ecological cycles by performing agnihotra (yagna) in the middle of the farm and using the yagna-ash as a fertilizer. Several experiments have been conducted in the East European countries on the use of yagna ash in soil treatment. These, too, have shown positive effects and potential applications in Agriculture.
  • By performing yagna one can get peace of mind, good health, which improves mental faculties and increases discriminating power, ensuring success in all goings-on.
  • The various volatile oils(sandalwood, camphor and clove.)Get diffused in the surrounding atmosphere along with steam and smoke. Since these oils have distinctly good smells, the foul odors are automatically neutralized.
  • There are non-bacterial parasites like flies, ringworm, dice fleas etc., either get killed or are driven away when they come in contact with volatile oils like camphor, which are diffused in the environment.
Scientific Reason: 
  • Yagna renews the brain cells, revitalizes the skin, purifies the blood and prevents growth of pathogenic bacteria. Agnihotra is basically a healing process.
  • Homa/Yagna destroys harmful bacteria in the environment. Experiments have also shown that a patient suffering from typhoid disease can get rid of this bane by exposing his/her self to the smoke of Homa/Yagna for just half-an-hour.
  • According to Dr. Hafkine, the smoke produced by burning the mixture of ghee and sugar kills the germs of certain diseases; inhaling it from some distance induces secretion from certain glands related to the windpipe that fill our heart and mind with relaxation. 
  • Cow ghee of 10grams used in homam wil produce 1 ton of oxygen. Etholine oxide, propylene oxide, Foramaladeyore are produced When cow’s ghee is burned with rice. Ethelene oxcide and Formaldehyde are used in operation theaters as this gives immunity against. Sacrifice done with cow ghee purifies atmosphere and raises rain(Propylene oxide)

Friday, June 22, 2012



Indians fast regularly or on special occasions like festivals and special days like Ekadashi. On such days they do not eat at all, eat once or make do with fruits or a special diet of simple food. Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. Upa means "near" + vaasa means "to stay". Upavaasa therefore means staying near (the Lord), meaning the attainment of close mental proximity with the Lord.

Cultural belief:

Some people believe that certain stars in the galaxy at certain times of the year can be harmful to individual families. They might bring bad health, misfortune and other evil spirits on earth. To ease the
effect of these stars, people will fast and offer their prayers, to make them psychologically
stronger and able to cope with such misfortunes.Another reason for fasting is based on what their stars say (from their birth). This is recorded in the Janma Patrika (a book that records the position of the galaxy’s stars at the time ofbirth). Many people will fast as guided by the astrologer/priest.

Reasons behind fasting:

It is believed that if your body undergoes sufferings, your sins would lessen. It is like punishing yourself. So, instead of God punishing you, you punish yourself. This would lessen some of your sins and you would have more good times in your life.
It is also believed that if you fast on a particular day that particular deity becomes happy with you and lessens your sufferings. So, if you are in trouble and you go to an astrologer, he would also advise you to do fasting on a particular day depending upon the nature of your problem.

Scientific Reason:

Glucose is the body's primary fuel source and is essential for the brain's functioning. When denied glucose for more than 4–8 hours, the body turns to the liver for glycogen, a storage form of glucose, to be used for fuel. A process called glycogenolysis converts glycogen into a usable form of fuel. At this point, the body also uses small amounts of protein to supplement this fuel. This fuel will last for up to 12 hours before the body needs to turn to glycogen stored in muscles, lasting for a few more days. If glucose is still denied at this point, muscle wasting is prevented by temporarily switching to fat as the primary fuel source, with glucose made as a byproduct during ketosis. The brain can then use this glucose or even ketones as a fuel source, while the rest of the body thrives on primarily fat. The body continues to use fat for as long as there is fat to consume. The body will generally indicate to the faster when fat levels are running extremely low (less than 7% and 10% of body weight for males and females, respectively) with an increased urge for food. Fasts are usually broken long before this point.

If the fast is not broken, starvation begins to occur, as the body begins to use protein for fuel. Health complications associated with fast-induced starvation include electrolyte imbalances, thinning hair, lanugo, cardiac arrhythmia and renal failure. Death occurs if fasting is pursued to the point of complete starvation.

Research suggests there are major health benefits to caloric restriction. Benefits include reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance, immune disorders, and more generally, the slowing of the aging process, and the potential to increase maximum life span.[other health benefits include stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced morbidity, and increased life span.fasting periods contributes to an improvement in the blood lipid profile, including a decrease in total and LDL cholesterol, and a decrease in the LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio. A statistically insignificant reduction in HDL cholesterol was also observed. These results suggest a possible positive impact on the obesity levels of individuals who adhere to these fasting periods.
Changes in blood chemistry during fasting, in combination with certain medications, may have dangerous effects, such as increased chance of acetaminophen poisoning. Excessive fasting for calorie restrictive purposes, accompanied by intense fears of becoming overweight are associated with mental disturbances, including anorexia nervosa. 
  • Fasting leads to cleaning of the intestine, certain fasting (partial) in which change of food is instructed in the custom, which leads to getting variety of micro nutrients from different types of food sources.
  • Rest and a change of diet during fasting are very good for the digestive system and the entire body.Sleeping is improved by having a lighter stomach.
  • Lot of our time and energy is spent in procuring food items, preparing, cooking, eating and digesting food. Certain food types make our minds dull and agitated. Hence on certain days man decides to save time and conserve his energy by eating either simple, light food or totally abstaining from eating so that his mind becomes alert and pure
  • system needs a break and an overhaul to work at its best. The more you indulge the senses, the more they make their demands. Fasting helps us to cultivate control over our senses, sublimate our desires and guide our minds to be poised and at peace.
Ayurvedic Viewpoint:

  • This ancient Indian medical system sees the basic cause of many diseases as the accumulation of toxic materials in the digestive system. Regular cleansing of toxic materials keeps one healthy. By fasting, the digestive organs get rest and all body mechanisms are cleansed and corrected. A complete fast is good for heath, and the occasional intake of warm lemon juice during the period of fasting prevents the flatulence.
  • Since the human body, as explained by Ayurveda, is composed of 80% liquid and 20% solid, like the earth, the gravitational force of the moon affects the fluid contents of the body. It causes emotional imbalances in the body, making some people tense, irritable and violent. Fasting acts as antidote, for it lowers the acid content in the body which helps people to retain their sanity.
Different Kinds of Fasting

  • Hindus fast on certain days of the month such as Purnima (full moon) and Ekadasi (the 11th day of the fortnight).
  • Certain days of the week is also marked for fasting, depending on individual choices and on one's favorite god and goddess. On Saturday, people fast to appease the god of that day, Shani or Saturn. Some fast on Tuesdays the auspicious day for Hanuman, the monkey God. On Fridays devotees of the goddess Santoshi Mata abstain from taking anything citric.
  • Fasting at festivals is common. Hindus all over India observe fast on festivals like Navaratri, Shivratri and Karwa Chauth. Navaratri is a festival when people fast for nine days. Hindus in West Bengal fast on Ashtami, the eighth day of the festival of Durga Puja.
  • Fasting can also mean abstaining from taking certain things, either for religious reason or for the sake of good health. For instance, some people refrain from taking salt on particular days. It is common knowledge that excess salt and sodium causes hypertention or elevation of blood pressure.
  • Another common kind of fast is to forego taking cereals when only fruits are eaten. Such a diet is known as phalahar.   
  • Fasting on Chadurthi makes your life happier and increases the chances of attaining more benefits at work.
  • Fasting on Sankadahara Chadurthi protects you from sudden death and accidents.
  • Fasting on Sashti, Kirthigai protects you from evil forces and from health problems.
  • Fasting on Ekadesi brings you peace of mind and happiness.
  • Fasting on Pradosha fulfills all the desires and makes your life of no wants.
  • Fasting on Shivarathri makes your wishes come true.

Fasting on Ekadashi :

  • According to scientific research, it is known that the air pressure on the earth varies to extreme limits on both the new moon (Amavasya) and the full moon (Purnima) day. This is because of the orbital path combination of the sun, moon and earth.This can be observed by the change in the nature of the tidal waves on the new moon and full moon days. The waves are very high and rough, but from the next day onwards, the waves become calm, an indication that the pressure has also receded.Now, based on this fact, the significance of Ekadasi fasting can be explained in 2 ways:
  • According to science, it takes about 3-4 days for the food that we eat today to reach our brain (for the brain to understand the food intake). Now, if we eat light/fast on Ekadasi days, that intake will reach the brain correspondingly on the New moon/full moon day.
  • On both of these days, the earth pressure is at its maximum, thus leading to imbalance in everything, including ones thought process. So, if the input to the brain is at a minimum, the chances of the brain indulging in any wayward activity due to the high pressure imbalance also becomes minimum.
  • Another explanation for Ekadasi fasting is that compared to any other day of the moon cycle, atmospheric pressure is lowest on Ekadasi days. Thus, this is the best time to fast and cleanse the bowel system. If we fast on any other day, the high pressure/strain may damage our system. Thus, it is advisable that after fasting on Ekadasi, on the immediate next day (Dwadasi), we should get up early and eat as soon as possible.
  • As per both the above theories, the fasting practice on Ekadasi days has a strong scientific base. People who observe the fast are asked to stay away from all types of grains, and to have a light diet of nuts, milk, fruits, etc.


Rangoli is an art drawn in front of the houses. It has its own importance traditionally. This is mostly followed in South India. It is called Rangavalli i.e., Rang – colors and avalli – colored creepers and also Rang + avalli – a row of colors”. Daily in the mornings we could observe that all the ladies drawing rangolis in front of their houses which is considered to be the good luck. This is actually drawn for Goddess Lakshmi like a symbol welcoming her to their homes. Rangoli plays an important role in all the occasions like marriages and festivals. Rangoli is also known as muggu in telugu, kollam in Malayalam. In kerala, we have festival basing rangoli.

Cultural Importance:
Usually, it is believed that a rangoli has to be drawn in front of the house before the males in that house crosses the home. In Andhra, at the time pongal festival, all ladies draw a rangoli and dances rotating around it by singing songs and they place a piece of cow dung decorated with a flower in the middle and place it at the centre of rangoli namely called Gobbemma.

Interesting Facts:
  • Rangoli brings welfare to the family or home by eradicating the evil forces without attacking. The lines drawn are considered as the fear to evils that is why most of the rangolis has a design of star. A dot of rangoli has got a capability of changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
  • The tribes of Amazon forest in Africa will draw a design which is similar to Rangoli in the hunting area. Animals get attracted to the design and become prey. This ritualistic tradition in Africa that they kill animals which they come to them, they won't hurt the animals.
Scientific Reasons:
  • The rounded design of rangoli creates a positive energy in the humans bringing down their negative energy levels. The atmosphere has got both positive and negative energies. We usually advise everyone to think positive as we invite positivity in our nature thinking constructively and we will be optimistic.
  • Rangoli usually attracts the first sight of a visitor to the home, so we draw complex designs of rangoli as it is usual and so the negative energies get struck in that complexity and fail entering the house. By this lives become prosperous.
  • Human senses created in way that if they experience any good thing there body starts to vibrate positively and eliminates negative energy. Need proof? check the feelings of people who went to religious place and check the people who went to graveyard. The design patterns without any sharp edges will calm the mind and gives peace by generating positive energy. People feel good before entering a house and exit good after leaving the house.
  • A rangoli should be mainly drawn using rice flour as it is also considered as a food offered to all the insects. These creatures will satisfy to the food which was offered in front of home and they will not enter into home. The colors used in rangoli will create centrifugal force for dispelling negative thoughts. Now-a-days, the rangoli is drawn using different colors but in our olden days there are only two colors used in rangoli i.e., the white color of rice flour and the red color of brick powder which makes the epic centre for positive energy.

Touching the feet of parents/elders

Touching the feet of parents/elders
In Indian culture people touch the feet of parents, elders and sages, Touching the feet of elders and parents before venturing any new task or assignment, ensures success and confidence. Touching elder’s feet is often refereed as Padhabhivandan or Pranam or Charan Sparsa or Upasangrahan. It is act of showing respect to elders. It is the integral part of sanathana dharma to greet elders like Gods, Teachers and family members. People touch any religious person feet without considering age.According to scriptures, the act of touching feet is a mark of kindness and in return the elders bless the person which reduces their misfortune and calms down the mind.

Cultural Facts:
Touching feet of Elders or Saints is a unification of point of SHRADDHA & KARUNA.
SHRADDHA reduces ego & lower emotions along with Solar plexus chakra. KARUNA activates HEART- CHAKRA of the saints or elders. SHRADDHA increases receptivity of the person, while  KARUNA Start to discharge energy from HEART CHAKRA towards the person who is respective with SHRADDHA.

Touching elder’s feet is sign of respect. People ask blessings of elders by touching the feet, in return elders  touch the head of the person as an act of giving bless. This act also called as 'Ashirvad'. As the elders have more potential energy to bless the children. The elders traveled through many paths, touched many sands and lands, seen many places and experienced many minds by this they have more knowledge and wisdom. Taking blessing from elders we get more energy to fulfill our desires.

In ManuSmiriti it was stated as

People always take blessings of elders at the beginning of new task, special occasions such as birthdays, marriages and festivals. This prostrate before our parents is the acknowledgement of their greatness, recognizing their loves, scarifies and giving respect as act of our gratitude. In India it is a basic etiquette and common manners of giving value to elders.
Types of Touching feet:
It is sort of exercise. There are three methods of touching the feet.
1) Lean forward and touch the feet
2) Sitting on knees
3) Sashtaang Pranaam (lie prostrate before especially deity)

Interesting facts:
  • When an elder feet was touched in turn he need to bless the children by touching their head as act of blessing for long life, wealth and to fulfill their desires.
  • People need to stand before elders in opposite direction and take spinal, head bend towards feet of elders by keeping straight legs.
  • The positive energy of elders flows to children by this gesture and gives enough strength to fulfill their desires.
Scientific Reason:

  • There are some physical, mental developments associated with it. The person is not only benefited with the blessings but unconsciously the person reveals his/her modesty and humble nature.
  • Leaning forward and touching the feet stretches the waist and back bone.
  • Sitting on knees relieves pain of the knees as the person bend his/her knees. All the joints of the body get stretched in the third method which removes stress and cures body pain.
  • Sashthang Pranaam is considered as a good exercise. Stretching forward and lying down on your stomach and bring both your palms in from of you and join them. This posture helps us relieve stress and improves blood circulation. The blood reaches the brain faster, which is good for our eyes.
  • Also, touching the feet reduces ego as it indicates respect and subservience. When the feeling of respect and dedication arouse automatically it suppress the egoistic nature of the person.
  • Human body is a conductor of electricity. It consists of positive and negative energies which flow continuously end to end. Our body when vertically divided into two parts the left side of body posse’s negative currents and right side posse’s positive currents. The two parts collectively forms an electric circuit with positive and negative currents. When we touch the feet of elders by standing in opposite direction the left hand touches left foot and right hand touches right foot. Thus energies met, forms a big circuit and energies flow uniformly without any up and downs. When elders bless the person by touching their head with right hand increases the free flow of positive energy by grounding negative energies. Like a lamp illuminates and lights another lamps without losing its energy a person will not lose their energy by giving blessings to children. This gesture thus gives more strength to blessed person and illuminates positive things in their mind.
Check related article Akshintulu.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Temples Concept


Temple is the place for the worship of a deity. In the Hindu community temple is the focus for all aspects of everyday life. It is the place where God may be approached and where divine knowledge can be discovered. The temple is designed to dissolve the boundaries between man and the divine.

Construction of Temple:

The temple is based on a strict grid made up of squares and equilateral triangles which are imbued with deep religious significance. Vaastu shastras are followed as symbolic, miniature representation. The construction of the temple follows in three dimensional forms exactly the pattern laid out by the mandala. The relationship between the underlying symbolic order and the actual physical appearance of the temple can best be understood by seeing it from above which was of course impossible for humans until quite recently.

The ground plan is that it is intended to lead from the temporal world to the eternal. The principal shrine should face the rising sun and so should have its entrance to the east. Movement towards the sanctuary, along the east-west axis and through a series of increasingly sacred spaces is of great importance and is reflected in the architecture. A typical Hindu temple consists of the following major elements - an entrance, often with a porch; one or more attached or detached mandapas or halls; the inner sanctum called the garbagriha, literally ‘womb chamber’; and the tower build directly above the garbagriha.

Concepts Associated with the Temple:

The darkness of the garbha-grha (sanctum sanctorum), illuminated by a dim burning of lights inside the space, suggests beautifully the idea of mystery that envelopes the universe and the spirit that moves behind the conceal of mystery. Here the space symbolizes the universe, darkness the mystery that envelops it, gloom the conceal of appearances and God, the spirit immanent in the universe. There are two concepts associated with the temple, the gross body and subtle body concepts. The Prasada and the idol are closely interlinked and they are considered as gross and subtle bodies respectively of the temple. The sthoola or gross body comprises the following seven parts.

Garbhagrham siraproktham antharaalam mukham thathha
Sukhaasanam galamchaiva baahuschaivaardhamadapam 
Mahamandapam kukshisyat praakaaram jaanujanghayoh
Gopuram devapaadamsyath yadyetha lakshnam subham

The garbha-graha corresponds to the head of the deity, the anthar-mandala (the inner square where bali-peethas of Devathas are located) His face, the namaskaara-madapa (where vedic chanting is done) His throat or neck, the inner pradakshina-vazhi and naalambalam together (inclusive of yaagasaala, Thitappalli etc which is known as antha-haara) His hands, the vilakkumaatam and area within the outer balikkallu (also known as madhya-haara) His belly, the maryaada or outerwall as knees and ankles and the gopura His feet. In short, every space within the maryaada (outer-wall) of the temple forms part of the sthhoola (gross body) of the principal deity.

The sookshma or subtle body concept, which is related to the idol, is based on aadhaara chakras mentioned in yogic literature. To quote Sir John Woodroffe the life force or praana-sakthi operates in the gross human body through the nervous' system whose central axis is the spinal column beginning from the base of the brain to the bottom of the body situated midway between the perinaeum, between the root of the genitals and the anus'. In this spinal column our yogic ancestors discovered six centres almost corresponding to the nervous plexuses from where all the conscious and unconscious activities originate and proceed. The base or the first plexus situated at the bottom of the body is called moolaadhara or root support'. Sir John Woodroffe continues' Above it in the origin of genitals, abdomen, heart, chest or throat and in the fore-head between two eyes (bhroo-madhya) are the adhishtaana,manipooraka, anaahatha, visuddhi and aajna chakras or lotuses (padmas) respectively The chakras are centres of sakthi as vital force. In other words they are centres of praana-sakthi manifested by praana-vaayu in the living body, the presiding Devathas of which are names for the universal consciousness as it manifests in the form of those centres.

Component unit
Concept and importance
It is made of solid granite stone and exactly square in shape with each side equal to half of the breadth of Jree peetha or equal to padma-pee!ha. The height of the sila is half of the breadth of the aadharasila so determined. There is a small depression at the top centre position for properly, keeping the nidhi-kuritbha. This cavity is filled with grain seeds (paddy etc).
Aadharasila and the grain seeds symbolize moolaadhara and swadhishtaana chakras which are bottom parts of the subtle body. The manthras for installation are OM, RI which are the basic vibration of Brahman and aadi-sakthi, i.e. kundalini-sakthi.. The seeds represent sperm cells of swadhishtaana-chakra.
It is made up of granite stone or copper and filled in with precious stones, gold etc. The circumference (c) of thekumbha is h/6 and its height is c/8. Where h is the height from the basement to vaarotthara.
It is installed by chanting the particular manthra of the deity and symbolizes the manipooraka literally meaning 'filled up with jewels'. The manthra is the pasyanthi state i.e. the vibration that has taken a definite form representing a particular thing or sakthi or energy.
Though the padma is made up of 12 petals as per yoga-s'aasthra, Aacharyans of yoga-thanthra take it as
8 petals (ashtadala-padma) in which all deities can be worshipped by following thanthra. Let its measurements be m, which is h/8; circumference is m/9 and in the shape ofkumbha petals as per the diagram 20.
It represents anaahatha chakra or heart lotus. All letters of alphabet are awakened and made active here. The pasyanthi sabda or vibration here becomes the madhyama or intermediate state ready to project itself tovaikhari (audible) sound.
Koorma is made up of granite stone with its head facing the same direction as the deity is facing. Its measure¬ments are length L=h/12, breadth=L/8, height=L/2
Koorma in Puraanas support the earth and symbolizes a particular form of praana
sakthi or life force which manifests in the activating principle flowing through the nervous system and motivates the organism internally and externally. It is thus a nerve conduit placed in the chest or heart region
It is an empty copper tube connecting the koorma with the napumsaka-sila which is at the level of the ground floor of the garbha-grj.ha. The measurements of yoga-naala show a breadth of 2 angulams at the bottom and 1 angulam at the top.
Yoga-naala symbolises the Visuddhi-chakra the neck region where all vaikhari sabda(sound) are produced in the human being.
It is a granite stone without male or female principles, ie neuter. The sila is square in shape with measurements depending on the size of the idol. At the bottom of the sila there is a hole for fIxing the yoga-naala. Similarly at its top there is a square cavity to fix the peefha of the idol.
The sila symbolises the aajna-chakra, located at the mid-point of eyebrows, which is the coalescing point of male and female principles represented by Pingala and idanaadis. In shortnapumsaka-sila represents the aajna chakra where the 'OM or primordial sound appears in various forms of light to a practisingyogi.