Balaji Temple

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BALAJI MANDIR, BRIDGEWATER, NJ Hindu Temple & Cultural Society of USA, Inc. Sri Venkateswara Temple (Balaji Mandir) & Community Center (Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organization.) 780 old Farm Road, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. Ph: (908) 725-4477 http://www.venkateswara.org #1 This is not an official publication of the temple. Welcome to Balaji Temple, Bridgewater NJ With this booklet, you may take a leisurely walk Among gods, goddesses, people, priests, volunteers…. You may gawk at the gods and goddesses; you may point your fingers; You can Ah and OO; you may admire their fake jewelry and the hairdos; You may even dance in front of the Lord of Dance. No offence is taken by gods. They are glad you are here. The Floor Plan is the centerfold. Please make any comments or corrections.

Transcript of Balaji Temple

Page 1: Balaji Temple

BALAJI MANDIR, BRIDGEWATER, NJ

Hindu Temple & Cultural Society of USA, Inc. Sri Venkateswara Temple (Balaji Mandir) & Community Center

(Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organization.) 780 old Farm Road, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. Ph: (908) 725-4477

http://www.venkateswara.org

#1

This is not an official publication of the temple.

Welcome to Balaji Temple, Bridgewater NJ

With this booklet, you may take a leisurely walk

Among gods, goddesses, people, priests, volunteers….

You may gawk at the gods and goddesses; you may point your fingers;

You can Ah and OO; you may admire their fake jewelry and the hairdos;

You may even dance in front of the Lord of Dance. No offence is taken by gods.

They are glad you are here.

The Floor Plan is the centerfold. Please make any comments or corrections.

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I hope you like the tour guide and make all the stops, stoops, and peeks.

The custom forbids you to enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum.

If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to write me.

The email is in the pamphlet.

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj, M.D; F.R.C.P (Canada)

Retired pediatrician.

[email protected]

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http://www.lotussculpture.com

July 25 2009: 10th ANNUAL INDIAN-AMERICAN FESTIVAL as held on July 25th &

26th 2009 at Garden State Exhibit Center Somerset NJ 08873 USA and organized by The Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of USA, Inc. 780 Old Farm Road, Bridgewater NJ 08807. The admission to the events was free. The temple staff brought out a snazzy All Color Festival Souvenir given away free to the attendees.

The Festival Logo, the temple staff declared, is 'United We Stand' with Indian and American flags.

This was a real big event for the organizers, the temple and the community. It was held in a humongous hall with a ton of vendors participating in the festival. There were stalls for arts and crafts, jewelry, clothes, dress, insurance.... There was one stall selling freshly pressed and filtered sugarcane juice. Behind the entertainment area was the food court. The performance stage was huge with lighting and sound systems.

The stage performance kickoff started with National Anthems (US and Indian). At one point there was a presentation of local elected officials, office holders and aspirants on the stage. Henal Shaw and Matthew Young from Bridgewater High School received HTCS Bridgewater Educational Scholarship 2009 awards. The entertainment was by far the best geared up for the occasion. Tots just out of diapers staged their dance performance to the glee and glow of parents and audience. It was all dance, dance and dance by tots, teens and in-betweens. In the past years, the dancers bravely and patiently danced on the stage in the temple grounds with the sun beating down on them and beads of perspiration mixed with mascara running down their tender faces. The members of the audience tried to dodge the sun by shifting

from one chair to the next under the tent. Now it is all changed. It was AC through and through. The sun decided to stay outside.

Balaji temple Logos.

The stage and the performers were adroitly managed by the emcees. The judges were assiduous in watching and scoring the performance. There was a good mix of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Bhangra, Rajasthani, Hindi and Garba performed by individuals and groups. The get-up-and-go of the participants was palpable. The quality of performances was extraordinary and the credit goes to the organizers, the Dance Schools and choreographers. Bharatanatyam dominated and claimed its preeminent place on the stage. The stories from timeless Indian mythology were a delight to watch as they unfolded before your eyes. The dance schools, teachers and the performers seem to have a fascination in portraying Lord Krishna in their presentations. His presence is easily recognized by His perennial youth, hairdo and flute.

The audience seemed to have enjoyed the presentations, remaining very disciplined and appreciative. Their appreciation remained muted sometimes when it came to hand clapping and encouragement of tots, teens and in-betweens. There were very little Ahs and Oohs and yet the small fry deserved them. We ( me included) are to a certain extent dour and sour dough not willing to rise to utter exclamations. My eyeball estimate was that there were about a thousand or more in the audience and the shopping stalls. As the day went by, the crowd was waxing. The

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ladies clustered around jewelry and clothing stalls. I saw a few clusters of whites in the front and right watching the performance. There was of course a constant influx and efflux of patrons. The parking was free. There were acres of cars parked all over the grounds in the parking lots.

There was a play area for the children. I didn't see any clowns walking on stilts. It was a welcome pleasant evening at the festival.

The Temple has received approval for construction of The Cultural Center which will sit on 20,500 sq.ft and have state of the art Theater/Auditorium with 470 to 643 seats, a mechanical platform, green rooms, sound systems, lighting, class rooms, library, kitchen, dining room and the whole nine yards.

The main feature is the Temple expansion towards the flagpole, besides the priest housing, and direct entrance from and exit to Route 202/206.

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

Jan 1, 2007: The New Year Celebration started with the invocation of all deities including the

principal and central Deity Lord Venkatesvara for the welfare of the people of the world. The

devotees of South Asian Origin, some non-Asian spouses, and other celebrants came by the

busloads. The administration of the Temple arranged a 5-minute short bus trip for the devotees

from the Sanofi-Aventis parking lot adjacent to the Temple. The magnetic Lord Venkatesvara,

the adjacent main Highway, the convenient humongous rented Sanofi-Aventis parking lots,

convenient bus trips, the genial nature of the priests, volunteers, administration, and the in-house

eatery contributed to the mega-turnout of swelling throngs of devotees. The constant drizzle

seemed to have had no effect on the turnout, which was actually greater than previous years. The

wait in line was sweet and short (10-20 minutes). The highlight of the day was the privilege of

receiving Dharsan of Lord Venkatesvara in the Sanctum Sanctorum. This was no ordinary

Dharsan. Lord Venkatesvara was an exhilarating, spine-tingling, awe-inspiring, benignant and

supremely satisfied divine Being dispensing grace to His devotees. The accouterments, the floral

arrangements, the wonderful Maalas, the weapons, the discus, the conch and the rest vied with

each other to look their best; they all sparkled only because He was wearing them. The Lord

made the priests look good at what they do. That Face, that Supreme Face shone like a million

suns with self-assured radiance and a distinct irrepressible gracious smile because of ever-present

Sri abiding on His chest. There were many Archana Sponsors for Lord Venkatesvara and other

deities. The line snaked from the basement of the temple to the first floor like coils of Adisesha

and ended up at the Sanctum Sanctorum. It looked like the Empyreal Highway to Heaven

(Vaikuntham, Paramapatham-- வைகுந்தம்). The young, the old, the infirm, men and women

on crutches and wheelchairs, and moms with babes in arms came into the sanctum with devotion

etched on their faces. Many, young and old, scraped the dust off the sill of the doorway to the

Sanctum and applied it to the forehead as a mark of humility, respect and devotion. The dust of

the devotees' feet is sacred in Vaishnava tradition. Of course the devotees performed stick-like

eight-limb prostration (Ashta-Anga-namaskaram) that made them look that much taller from the

toes to fingertips. Humility expressed by prostration makes the devotees look taller than while

standing. Taller did they look before the Divine EGO (AHAM), when their ego was down on the

floor in eight-limb prostration. The children even without prompting from parents performed

Sashtanga Namaskaram before the Lord. After Dharsan, the never-ending 70-people long Sesha-

serpentine queue slithered to the tables of priests and volunteers who dispensed Tirtham, Sadari,

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and Prasadam of raisins. That is where the devotees picked up the Archana coconuts and apples.

As far as I know, there were no untoward incidents, all because of grace of the Presiding Deity,

Lord Venkatesvara. End of report.

Nammalvar, the Srivaishnavas believe, was the incarnation of Visvaksena, the Commander in

chief of Vishnu. At various times he was regarded the incarnation of Kaustabha jewel of Vishnu

or Vishnu Himself. Srivaishnava devotees receive the feet of Vishnu in the form of Sadari.

Nammalvar is the premier Srivaishnava saint-poet who had visions of Sriman Narayana and in

whom Sriman Narayana revealed Himself as the devoted poet-singer. Sadari is the corpus of his

devotional work (Tiruvaymoli) and Nammalvar holding the feet of Narayana on his head.

Receiving Sadari with bowed head and humility is getting the essence of His devotional poetry,

attaining and holding onto the feet of Sriman Narayana for the express purpose of Mukti

(liberation).

The lay out of the floor plan is at the end of the article. Print this article and take it with you to

the temple for your use. Your suggestions are welcome.

Here is an article giving you some basic information about Balaji Temple, Bridgewater, NJ. This

material is intended for the use of all visitors, both Hindus and Non-Hindus. The pictures except

for the Temple Tower are not photos of temple sculptures.

This material is neither official nor unofficial but my own presentation of the Temple. Welcome

to the Bridgewater, NJ Balaji Temple, whose presiding deity is Venkatesvara, the Lord of the

Hills, one of the many names of Vishnu. The temple celebrated Kumbhabishekam in 1998

(installation, purification, consecration ceremony). The flagpole (Dhvajastambham) near the

entrance to the temple is in line with the main deity. The Hindu Holy Trinity consists of Brahma,

the Lord of creation, Vishnu, the Lord of preservation and Siva, the Lord of destruction; these

correspond to birth, life and death in an individual or the cosmos. Inside the temple there are

shrines housing many deities clustered around the Central Deity. The Bridgewater Balaji Temple

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is truly a multi-denominational temple within Pan-Hinduism celebrating most deities: Ganesa,

Mother Goddess, Siva, Vishnu besides syncretic Ayyappa, regional Murugan and His consorts,

Satyanarayana, a personification of Tapas and austerity, the giver of prosperity to individual,

family, friends, relatives, and community, and one of many manifestations of Vishnu.

Satyanarayana Viratam (religious vow, fasting...) observance invites and invokes Ganesa for

removal of obstacles, Lakshmi for prosperity, Vishnu, Siva and Parvati, the Sun god, grantor of

good health, Indra, the nine planets and Ashtadikpalas, the eight guardian angels of directions. If

you want to observe Satyanarayana Viratam, make enquiries within the temple. Lord

Venkatesvara is worshipped in his youthful form and splendor; thus He is Balaji (Bala + Ji =

youth, child, infant + honorific way addressing god or an elder). The original Venkatesvara

Temple is in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India and serves as the prototype of the deity in the

Central Shrine. The eponym Venkata means many things. Vem + Kata = Dire sins + redeeming

power = destroyer of sins of those who worship Him. Vem + Kata = Ambrosia + plenitude =

Giver of wealth. Ven + Kadan = Burn + debts = Paying off debts. The temple is built according

to traditional South Indian style. The tower is a pyramid facing the rising sun (East) and housing

at its base is the entrance door. You may notice a tall flag-staff (Dhvaja-stambha) in front of the

main entrance and the central shrine. This is where the devotees relinquish and abandon the

negative thoughts.

The temple entrance is guarded by Dikpalas, the guardians of the four quarters. The tower, its

many stories, and the inner shrines are an example of recursive pattern of self-same fractals. The

Chola-style tower is decorated with semi-divine beings, sometimes holding weapons. You may

notice an elevated broad walkway (Prakaram) around the temple complex; this is meant for

circumambulation of the temple starting on your left. Don't be overwhelmed by the thronging

gods, goddesses, priests, volunteers, and devotees in the temple. Even

the children appear very disciplined inside the temple. I never saw

children running around and playing hide-and-seek inside the temple.

They seem to sense the holiness and sacral ambience of the temple. It is

a festive day everyday here when family and friends come to worship.

You may not find a holier and nicer place than this on this day. Here you

will find even nicer priests. You will see obeisant devotees bend their

heads receiving the Sadari on their heads. Don't be afraid to take the

holy water from the dispensing priest, drink it and apply the remains on

your head, and be suffused with divine grace. Don't forget to relish the

Prasada (rice, butter and brown raw sugar cooked and served to the

Lord).

Take a look at fig. 1a. It is Garuda, the mount of Vishnu, the larger one

in silver and the smaller one in stone. Let me tell you the less known

story of how Garuda saved his mother Vinata held as a hostage and slave

by his step mother, Kadru, who demanded that if Garuda delivered the

Nectar of Immorality, she would release his mother Vinata. Kadru knew it was impossible to

bring The Nectar because it was in heaven heavily protected by guardians, two fire-breathing

serpents and a spinning wheel with razor-sharp spokes. Garuda destroyed the guardians and

disabled the serpents by flinging dust in their eyes, flying between the spokes, retrieved the

Nectar and rescued his mother.

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Take a look at the fig.17a the thousand-headed Sesa. It is the

theriomorphic serpent form of Vishnu. Garuda, the snake-eating

bird and Sesa are friends and serve Vishnu. Sesa is the humongous

serpent that supports the whole universe on its hood. Sometimes the

earth feels the tremors, when Sesa moves its hood. The longitudinal

body of Sesa and its coils are symbolic of endless revolutions of

time. A commonly held belief is that Sesa is the theriomorphic form

of Balarama, the brother of Krishna (Vishnu's incarnation). Sesa,

meaning Remainder, in an act of renewal, destroys the universe by

its fiery breath, all under the supervision of Vishnu.

A verse to live by: Bhagavan Says, "Abandoning all duties, surrender unto Me only. I shall

deliver you from all sins. Do not lament." --Bhagavad Gita. Sarama Slokam C18.V66

Don't be confused

when you look at

the different

sectarian marks on

the forehead and

other parts of the

body of the priests

and visiting

votaries. Just an

important note: The

Catholic Rituals are

imports from India.

Watch what the

priests do and you

will know what I

mean. Go to

TILAKAM

http://www.bhagav

adgitausa.com/tilak

am.htm for more

information on the

sectarian marks.

These are the external marks of their affiliation to a particular sect. There is one God, Brahman

who is Pure Consciousness and manifests as gods and goddesses or Ishta Devata, deity of your

liking. He is One and many are His manifestations. Take a Broadway play; you may see one

actor playing many roles; you know in your mind that he is one person playing many roles. The

same is true of Brahman and the subsidiary gods. Would you be satisfied with a nameless,

formless generic god (Brahman)? Would you buy a generic car with no name and with only

wheels, roof, steering wheel and an engine? Certainly not. You want a brand name car loaded

with options. The same is true of gods: a brand name god with great benevolence. You may

choose one god from among many gods for worship. You may even worship all deities who

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emerged from that nameless and formless Brahman. Lord Venkatesvara is the Central Deity.

This is not the picture of the deity in the temple. See the Floor plan. He is #1.

As you enter the temple, you see the largest shrine wherein abides Balaji. The Presiding central

deity is carved out of black granite or red igneous rock standing on a lotus pedestal. The first

thing that strikes is the white sectarian mark on His forehead. It is called Namam or Tiruman. He

sees intently at His devotee; His physiognomy is one of joy, comely smile, inner tranquility and

outer happiness.

He has wavy curly hair. He has four arms, two posterior and two anterior. The posterior upper

arms are held up, the right one holding the Discus and the left one holding the Conch. The right

anterior lower hand is bent at the elbow and held in a supine position with the open palm

pointing to His feet; the hand position is known as Varada Mudra Hasta pose (Boon-giving

hand). The left anterior lower hand is straight down, prone, bent at the wrist and resting lightly

just below the left hip in Katya Vilambita Hasta which signifies that the Lord protects and

blesses His devotees. (Katya = panegyric; Vilambita = hanging; Hasta = related to hand) = Hand

that protects the devotees who sing His panegyric or pay homage. Note that the left thumb is

parallel to His hip. His divine consort Lakshmi rests on His right anterior chest, indicating Her

special status. You heard the expression, "I hold you in my (spiritual) heart." Now you know His

consort's place. Holding of the weapons is not for His protection but for the protection and

reassurance of the votaries. He is God ; He does not need any protection. WYSIWYG principle

(What You See Is What You Get) applies here. When the devotees see the weapons, they are

reassured that He does the fighting for them to kill the demons in us. He is the armed SuperCop

keeping peace in this unruly world. Then you may ask with justification, "Why all this suffering,

wars, unrest....?" Suffering results from Karma. He dons the Yagnopavitra (sacred thread),

necklaces, waist girdle, snake-shaped armlets and anklets. The Surya Katari (golden sun-sword)

stands in front of His legs in the middle, hanging from His belt. He sports Kavachas (Cuirass or

armor; gold or silver plates) on various parts of His body. He loves to wear Vanamala, garland of

wild flowers and Tulasi seed Mala (Sacred Basil garland). The devotees express their Bhakti

(devotion) to Vishnu in many ways. They chant His many names, fall prostrate at His feet, sit

and meditate, do small services around and inside the temples. The priests do the ablutions, and

put the robes, decorations, garlands on Him; after waving the lights before Him, the priest brings

out the light on a plate. People cup their hands on the flame and apply the Light to their eyes and

head, invoking the Spiritual Light of Wisdom to descend on them. This is followed by Thirtham /

Tirtha / nIr (தீர்த்தம = நீர் sacred water used in worship) which is dispensed from the silver

spoon for sipping and application over the head. Then comes SadAri, which is made of silver,

looks like a crown and has the emblematic footwear of Vishnu at the top. The priest applies the

Sadari on the head of the devotee who takes it with bent head and humility. Receiving the dust of

His feet on the head is a mark of submission to the will of Vishnu and a sign of devotion and

Prapatti (taking refuge in God). Would you be afraid to receive and consume the consecrated

Host from the Catholic priest? In like manner don't be afraid to consume Prasadam given by the

priest. The Prasadam comes in two forms: 1) cooked rice, butter and unrefined raw sugar, 2)

raisins, nuts…. Let me explain the meaning of Prasadam. It is like Host and yet is different.

Prasadam is Divine Grace or favor. Prasadam is the remnants of food served to deity and later

distributed to the devotees. By eating Prasadam, one is infused with His Grace and favor, which

is receiving divine wisdom and spiritual consciousness, weakening the materialistic existence,

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expunging the sins, going to His kingdom, heaven, Vaikuntham or Paramapadam (Vaishnava

heaven) and attaining eternal life in close proximity to the Bhagavan.

OM NAMO NARAYANAYA. OM NAMO BHAGAVATE

VASUDEVAYA. HARI OM. OM SRI RAMAYA NAMA.

#2 Ganesa in the Floor Plan. Lord Ganesa: As you go past

the second door into the main hall of shrines, you see on your

immediate left, a shrine housing Lord Ganesa, who is the god

of wisdom and has an elephant face, a pot belly, a broken

tusk…. He is the Lord of beginnings and Siddhidatta, the

Giver of success. Ganesa means the Lord of Ganas, the

heavenly hosts. He appeared like any other anthropomorphic

baby at birth. Things happened; the elephant head took the

place of the human head by transplantation, performed by

Vishnu under extenuating circumstances to bring him to the

present form. Please go to Ganesa

http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/GANESA.htm to learn

why He has an elephant face. OM SRI

MAHAGANAPATAYE NAMAH

Mother Goddess Ambika: Ambika = Mother. Right behind Lord

Ganesa you will see another shrine housing Ambika (#3), who is

the Mother of Ganesa. She is the divine consort of Siva. She goes

by many names: Parvati, Gauri, Uma, Sati, Kali, Durga….

Ambika's birth is out of this world. Find out how and why. There

once was a buffalo-demon who was more powerful than gods and

so was always attacking them. He is appropriately called a

buffalo-demon. Have you seen an angry, testosterone-charged

buffalo bull-dozing its way in a rough-and-tumble ram-through?

(Recently on TV, I saw a few buffalos in the African plains

running helter-skelter from charging ambush of tigers on the hunt.

(Ambush or streak of tigers and pride of lions) One calf

accidentally fell in to the near-by river, chock-full of crocodiles.

One tiger was pulling the calf by its front foot and a croc was

pulling the calf into the river by a hind foot. As this tug of death

was going on for the calf, buffalos by the hundreds appeared from

out of nowhere and hedged the tigers between them and the river

of crocs. The calf was pulled out of the water by the tiger from the

deathly mouth of the croc. In the mean time in a show of strength

by numbers, a testosterone-charged angry buffalo charged one

tiger with its horns and threw him in the air. Landing hard, the

humiliated tiger and the rest of the ambush of tigers with their tails tucked in humiliation

between the hind legs simply streaked away like pussycats. The rescued calf joined the herd) The

demon had a boon that conferred guarantee against death from god or man. The gods had to

come up with a solution. They assembled, put their heads together and created a Force from their

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Tejas (power, splendor, male energy). (What a sight to see when all these gods, some having four

heads, doing the head bunt to come up with a solution.) The splendor emanating from the gods

coalesced, congealed and created a divine woman who had amassed all the power of all the gods.

The demon and the boon stipulated that the demon was immune from death in the hands of god

or man (and NOT a woman); now you know his attitude towards woman. Ambika was her name,

who could vanquish any man, god or demon. Eventually, She did defeat and kill the demon and

the enemies of gods. The Jains (an offshoot from Hindu religion, just like Christianity is an

offshoot from Judaism) adopted Ambika as their own deity. One should remember that these

demons (Passion, Anger, Greed…) afflict us and the goddess helps us vanquish these demons.

Siva in the Form of Lingam (#5): As you go past Ambika, you will see a bigger shrine housing

Lingam (an Obelisk) and a miniature sitting bull statue (#4) in front of the shrine facing the

Lingam and having its ears cocked up. Nandi (happy one, bull) is His Vahana (transport);

Coomaraswamy suggests that Nandi is the theriomorphic form of Siva. Linga means sign,

symbol. Lingam = Li + gam = to dissolve + to go out. He is the ultimate Reality into whom the

living beings dissolve and out of whom they emerge again. It is the recycling of the soul with a

body.

The question comes up why

Lingam is the way it looks.

Let me explain. If there is

smoke, there is fire. The

smoke is the sign that fire is

present. When you see

Washington Monument, you

think of Washington, though

the monument does not look

anything like Washington.

The monument, everyone

decided, should be

stupendous and elegant to

honor the First President of

the young nation. Just like Washington Monument is an abstract form of President Washington,

Linga is an abstract form of Siva and a generative principle. Siva, according to Saivites, is the

First God; He is the Father of all beings; He is the First One to say, "Aham" meaning I, the First

I in the Universe. There was no one else in the universe except His Sakti (Power by His side).

Thus, 'Siva and Sakti' is a unitary force from which the First I (through Sakti) became He, She,

and It, which cover everything in the Universe; I or One became many. Lingam is an obelisk

well grounded in a labial vestibular pedestal and the aniconic form (Niskala) of Siva. The three

white stripes, sandalwood, red dots, and the serpent at the base of the lingam have significance.

Go to http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/lord of dance.htm LORD OF DANCE

#5a depicts Lord Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. #5b depicts Siva and Parvati in anthropomorphic

form mounted on a silver bull. Take a look at the table. Sivalingam is present in all the elements;

there is one temple for each element celebrating Lingam in its elemental form.

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Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva form the Holy Triad. In most of the temples, Siva is portrayed as

Lingam, His abstract Form. Only in pictures, he has anthropomorphic features.

www.bhagavadgitausa.com/primer_in_Saiva_siddhanta.htm

Here is a pictorial depiction of Lord of Dance with its symbolic meanings of various features of

dance frozen in metal. Enlarge image to read the fine print.

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Just behind the Linga Shrine in the corner, you will see syncretic

Ayyappan, divine being born of Hara and Hari also called Hariharan or

Harihara Putra (Hari-Hara son). He has all the spiritual qualities of both

Vishnu and Siva. He was divine by birth, royal by upbringing and

spiritual in pursuit. He was found by king Rajasekhara during a

hunt; since the king had no son, he took him and raised him as his own.

The king belonged to Pandalam Dynasty which ruled parts of South India

between 1200-1500 CE. He was known for his bravery, asceticism and

spiritual enlightenment. He disappeared near Sabarimala and a temple

exists now in His name. Ayyappan #6 in the floor plan; #7 another

Lingam behind the main shrine of Lingam; #8 Lord Murugan and His

Consorts (Powers). #9 Murugan and consorts mounted on Silver

Peacock.

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The image next to Lord Ayyappan is that of Lord

Murugan with His consorts Valli and Devayanai,

who are in the shrine behind the Lingam Shrine.

Murugan or Skanda is the brother of Ganesa with

the elephant face. In North India He is known as

Skanda, Kanthan in Tamil. He carries a spear,

thus Vel Murugan. Vel = spear; Murugan =

youth. He has six faces; there are many legends

associated with the six faces. In Palani Temple,

He is portrayed as shaven with a staff and bears

the name, Dandayuthapani, the bearer of the staff. The

spear is the piercing spear of spiritual wisdom. The spear

destroys the demons in our mind and gives liberation to the

virtuous and the devoted. Murugan's mount is a peacock and He is seen here sitting on it with

His consorts. Shanmuga's (Murugan) six heads are symbolic of divine power, wealth, fame,

strength, detachment from passion, and knowledge.

(Next to the shrine, you will see huge silver bull on

which are mounted Siva and Parvati, on your way

out of the corridor behind Linga Shrine. This is #5b

in the floor plan. Here you see elephant-headed Ganesa, Siva, Parvati and Murugan

from your left to right. The ever-present bull is sitting below them. Aru padai

Veedu: There are six holy temples in six places in Tamil Nadu for Murugan. The

most famous composition on Murugan (Kanthan) is Kantha Puranam by

Sivachariyar.

Lord Satyanarayana (#10) is another form of Lord Vishnu who is commonly

worshiped by Hindus in their homes along with family and friends. The worship is

performed usually on a full moon (purnima) day of the month. People worship by

reciting the gracious story of the Lord which was once told by Lord Vishnu himself to sage

Narada for the benefit of mankind. The Lord's grace is described in a Hindu book called Skanda

Purana. He has four hands like Lord Vishnu; however, his fourth hand does not hold a lotus

rather it is extended upward to bless people. By Hindunet.org

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#11 and #12 are Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, the consorts of Sri Venkatesvara of Balaji Temple.

Take a stroll past all deities until you go behind the Central

Shrine in the hall. When you face the smaller shrines, they

are behind the back wall of the Central Shrine. On your left

is the shrine of Lakshmi, also known as Sri Devi; on your

right is the shrine of Bhudevi. Both are the consorts of Lord

Vishnu residing behind the Central shrine. Sri Devi is the

goddess of wealth (Goddess of El Dorado) and prosperity

and Bhudevi is the goddess of earth. Look at the elaborate

hairdo of Bhudevi.

Durga #13: Go past Sri Devi and Bhudevi, you will see a white statue of Durga (warrior

goddess) sitting on a lion and holding many weapons in Her many hands. She and Kali are the

other manifestations of Ambika, the consort of Siva. Mantra: Om Sri Durgayai Namah

http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/durga.htm. for more details.

http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/Kali.htm. Next to the

Coconut breaking station, you will see three metallic statues in

a small shrine. The central one in the higher pedestal is Durga, the warrior goddess with Lakshmi

to her right and Sarasvati to her left. Sarasvati is the goddess of learning, arts and sciences and

holds Veena, a stringed instrument.

These three goddesses form a configuration which helps the human soul get rid of the Malas

(impurities), gain spiritual knowledge and attain liberation or Moksa. Durga is a demon killer

(Kriya Sakti). Demons are the Tamasic (Dark) demons in our mind: Kama, Krodha, Lobha,

Moha, Mada, Matsarya (desire, anger, greed, delusion, pride, and envy). Once Durga kills these

demons, Lakshmi (Ichcha Sakti) takes over the mind and helps us get rid of Rajasic Vikshepa

(False perception; distraction; to and fro oscillations of the mind; gales of desire blowing in the

mind) which are hard to remove from the mind. Lakshmi helps man acquire the Will Power

(Ichcha Sakti) and get rid of remnants of desire and false perception by Upasana (worship). What

is left is ignorance meaning spiritual ignorance. Spiritual enlightenment is infused by Sarasvati

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(Jnana Sakti). The eradication of impurities, desires and ignorance with the help of these three

deities is celebrated for nine days and nine nights, 3 days and 3 nights for each deity (Navaratri =

nine nights). It takes nine days and nine nights to defeat these demons. Nine manifestation of

Mother Goddess (Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika,

Lalita, and Bhavani) are celebrated over nine nights. The tenth day is Vijayadasami, meaning

victory (over the demons of the mind; realization and emancipation) on the 10th day. It is

celebrated in the beginning of summer and winter. In Puranas, the demons are described as living

beings. Mantras: Om Sri MahaLakshmyai Namah. Om Sri Durgayai Namah. Om Aim

Sarasvatyai Namah.

Read more on the desires of the mind and spiritual ignorance and their personification as

the buffalo demon morphing into an elephant or vice versa etc; desire is compared to an

animal. DEVI MAHATMYAM. www.bhagavadgitausa.com/devi_mahatmyam

3.38: As the smoke envelops the fire, as the dust covers the mirror, as the womb covers the

fetus, so passion (desire) obscures the wisdom. Bhagavad Gita C3V38.

Removal of Avarana and Vikshepa. Avarana = Veiling caused by spiritual ignorance. Vikshepa

= oscillating mind of desires, scattering, tossing, throwing, discharging. Spiritual Ajnana,

Avarana and Vikshepa are linear elements. Ignorance and Avarana are like a cataract in the eye

preventing Light (of Wisdom) reaching the eye and brain (soul). This veil or cataract prevents

the Light of Sat and Cit of Brahman from reaching the soul. They are impediments to spiritual

progress. In the absence of spiritual wisdom (Saktinipatam = descent of Wisdom as in Saiva

Siddhanta) coming into the soul, the mind jumps from one desire to the next illustrated by the

morphing of the desire-demon from an elephant to a buffalo. When one desire is killed, another

desire pops up in its place in an endless fashion. It is the whipping gale of desire, its many

variants, permutations and effects. On a philosophical note, Vikshepa Sakti is driven by Ajnana

(ignorance) and desire. Mind is the stage wherein the Vikshepa demon jumps from one desire to

the next in an endless fashion. One desire morphs into another one when you kill the preceding

desire. It is removed by Nishkama karma, action without expectation of

rewards or desireless action. As in cataract extraction, you remove this

ignorance by Avarana Bhanga (removal of the veil [cataract] by

Upasana, worship). To illustrate this concept of eradication of the

clonal colony of desires, Mahalakshmi sucks the marrow dry and drinks

the last drop of blood of the demon (of desires) so he does not shed any

more blood and make more clones of himself (desires) arising from the

dripping blood. Mahalakshmi presides over this stage and overcomes

Rajasic Avarana and Vikshepa. The end result is enlightenment. Note:

Ancient Indian seers had an idea of cloning. Whenever the demon shed

a drop of blood, that drop of blood became another demon.

The next shrine shows Lakshmi-Narayana, the manifestation of the

Central deity Vishnu and the goddess of fortune. This conjoined form of

Lakshmi and Narayana (Vishnu) depicts that in the Supreme State, Vishnu is one with His Sakti

(power) Lakshmi. They are one Supreme Being without distinction. Narayana means He in

whom abide the waters (of creation). Remember the amniotic fluid surrounding the unborn fetus.

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Similarly, His waters of Creation are called the Causal Ocean. Universes emerge from His sweat

pores. Narayana is no other than Vishnu, the Presiding Deity of the Temple. Just a note: Vishnu

has at least 1008 names. The priests chant His 1008 names (Sahasranama). I bet your parents,

friends and family have special endearing names for you; thus you have many names. Because

He is the Supreme God, the devotees chant His Mantra to invoke Him: "Om Namo

Narayanaya." It means, Om, Prostrations to Lord Vishnu or Narayana. See Lakshmi-Narayana

#16: the couple with crowns.

The next shrine is that of Radha-Krishna (#17). Here Krishna is the Supreme Soul

of the universe and Radha is the individual soul. The love that the individual soul

has for the World Soul and their interrelationship is portrayed here as that between

Krishna and Radha. All individual souls (Monads) emerged from the World Soul;

we are related to him every which way you can think of. The individual soul pines

for the Greater Soul and wants to merge with Him-liberation from the world of

misery. In its highest form, it is called Krishna Prema--

Love of Krishna. #17a is the Sesa the humongous cosmic serpent in

silver, described in the beginning.

We are in one way pulled by the forces of material world and in

another way pulled by the spiritual force of the Great Soul. This is

like love. The magnetism between man and god is compared to love

between man and woman; in this instance it is called Krishna Prema

(love of Krishna). Gitagovindam glorifies this relationship in songs

which can be compared to the Hebrew Song of Songs. The Christian Church says the sensual

imagery of the Biblical "Song of Songs" symbolizes Christ's love for His Bride, the Church. Ref:

Woodroffe, Garland of Letters, page 182- 183. Krishna is one of the Avatars of Vishnu. Go to

http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/Gitagovindam

Rama is the central persona of the Great Epic, Ramayana.

Rama (#18) is an incarnation of Vishnu and this scene shows

from left to right Hanuman on his knee with both hands held

together in homage and reverence, Lakshmana the brother of

Rama and his constant companion, Rama in the middle and

Sita, Ramah's wife. Ramachandra = Rama beautiful like the

moon. Rama was a prince ready to ascend the throne; palace

intrigue by his step-mother deprived him of his kingdom, and

He was banished to the forest. During his stay in the forest in

South India his wife Sita was abducted and taken to Ceylon,

the modern Sri Lanka. Hanumat, the leader of ape-like beings

joined Rama with his troops and helped Rama locate and

recover Sita from the demon-king Ravana. If you have seen

the movie, Planet of the Apes, you will have an idea of who Hanumat looked like. In the battle,

Ravana died; Rama rejoins His wife. Hanumat or metronymic Anjaneya (named after his

mother) became the most revered devotee of Rama. The foursome are called Ram Parivaar

(Rama's family). The meditation Maha Mantra of Rama and Krishna is as follows: Hare Rama

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Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare; Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

#18a = The Silver elephant, the mount of Rama.

The next shrine that you see is the Shrine of Hanumat or Anjaneya

(#19) right across from the Rama's Shrine to the right. You can

recognize Him by His physiognomy as described earlier. He is heavy-

jawed and so named Hanumat. You see him carrying a mountain peak

in His hand and is poised on a flight to see Rama in the battle field.

Ramah during the battle was exhausted and so needed a tonic to fight

battle fatigue. Anjaneya flew to Himalayas and not knowing the herb

needed for recuperation, broke the mountain top where it grew and

brought it to Rama, who recovered from eating the herbal medicine.

There is no devotee as sincere as Hanumat is. He is the epitome of

devotion to Rama and thus, has a place in the House of Worship and in

our hearts. His Mantra is Om Sri Hanumate Namah.

Swami Vishnu Devananda says: Hanumat is the perfection of devotion. He is the greatest and

the most selfless devotee of Lord Rama. In the Hindu tradition, he is considered to be a semi-

deity, for he is the son of the wind-god and an Apsara, Anjana. He possess strength and courage.

You will see a raised platform with a cluster of figurines in the

north-east corner of the temple premises. These are the

Navagrahas-nine planets, which are under the purview of the

Mother Goddess and other deities. It is the Hindu belief that the

planets have an impact on an individual's life, the community and

the nation. They are clustered around the Sun and all of them are

facing in the four directions, not seeing each other. Here in the

picture the configuration appears different.

Their configuration and relative positions are according to

Agamas. The Sun is in the Center. #20 to the right

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The following figures are

not in the temple. This is

the famous dance of Siva.

His right ear ring fell on

the floor while He was

dancing. In a fluid

movement, he picked up

His earring with His right

toe from the dance floor

and put it on his right ear.

See the ring on the right

big toe. See the grace,

fluidity, the dynamic pose

and the still head in all his

movements. The dwarf

under His foot is

Apasmara Purusha, an

embodiment of spiritual

ignorance. He is the Yogi

of all Yogis. He has a

third eye of wisdom in

the middle of the

forehead. Sometimes, fire

emits from his third eye.

His eyes are the Sun, the

Moon and the Fire. Saiva

Siddhanta philosophy is

one of the most

celebrated one in the

world of religions.

Primer in Saiva Siddhanta

He is white as snow and

His wife is black like eye-

lash liner (Mother

Goddess Kali). Mahakali

is the one who swallows

Time, and the Mother of

all beings and gods.

Daksina means "south,

gift, right." Yama is the

Lord of death and lives in

the south. He is afraid of

taking Kali's devotees to

Yama Loka, the abode of

death, so She is called

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Daksina Kali. The other explanation says that She offers the gift that guarantees liberation. The

third explanation says that She is Daksina Kali because she plants her benign right foot on Siva

over his chest where the heart is. She places her dangerous left foot on the demons and the

wicked who succumb to Her wrath. Kali in the cremation grounds (Smasana Kali) has Her left

foot forward in the company of ghosts, ghouls, jackals, and fearsome companion

Mothers. (Mothers: Think of Charlie's Angels with skills like deathly Martial Arts.) Another

plausible explanation suggests that south-facing Daksina-Siva or -Bhairava adulates and

worships Kali. The town where there is Kali temple is called Daksinesvar. When you ask

devotees which Kali they prefer, the informed ones prefer Kali with left foot forward (Vama

Kali), because a devotee rises above the good and the bad, renounces the world and achieves

liberation quickly. Her third eye strikes terror to the demons and the wicked. The three eyes

represent triads: the sun, moon and fire; the past, present, and future. Third eye stands also for

eternal wisdom. The demons are the demons of the mind as said

before. By this time, you would have noticed that there is a lot of

symbolism in Hindu imagery.

Balimaharaja usurped the kingdoms of Heaven and earth., thus

angering gods. No one could vanquish him. Gods complained to Lord

Vishnu that Bali vanquished them, took and ruled the heavens. Vishnu

is the God of gods. He listened and devised a plan to conquer him

without blood-shed, because Bali was His devotee. He took birth

(incarnation) in a Brahmana family; He was a dwarf and his name was

Vamana, who most likely suffered from Growth Hormone Deficiency.

In this case, Vishnu willed that He became a dwarf to dupe, whoop

and scoop. His size fooled the king. Lord Vishnu knew that Bali was a

generous King. He asked the king for a piece of land equal to three

strides of His feet. Little did Bali knew the trick up the sleeve of

Vishnu. Bali's Chief priest Sukra warned the king not to accede to His

request. Bali being a generous and magnanimous king, agreed to

donate land equal to three strides to the dwarf. Immediately, Lord

Vishnu expanded to High Heavens and beyond, measured the earth in

one stride, the heavens in the 2nd stride and had no land for the third stride. He demanded Bali

for the third stride of land. He had no land and pointed to his head as the land. Immediately

Vamana put his foot on Bali's head and pushed him down to the Nether world. (See the inset:

Vishnu measured the earth and heavens and Bali ready to offer his head as the third piece of

land.) Bali was not killed and the Lord made him the king of the nether world and restored the

Heavens to the gods. This is one of the most celebrated Avatars (Incarnation) of Vishnu, because

there was no violence. When you go around the main shrine, you will see little statues depicting

the Avatars of Vishnu. By the way, Vishnu is a strict Vegetarian. He does not accept animal

sacrifice. He is a thoroughly benign God of Vaishnavites and all humanity.

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Here are the important Vaishnava Mantras. Please go to Srivaishnava mantras for more

details.

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About the author:

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj, M.D; F.R.C.P (Canada) is a board certified pediatrician in active practice until

the end of 1998. He immersed himself in study of Hinduism in depth. He has sufficient knowledge and

understanding of Hindu religion that he is confident to publish this book. He kept the words simple,

supple, illuminating and to the point, while retaining the original flavor, beauty and grace. Compound

words in Sanskrit are a nightmare for the beginner, as they are spliced together compactly in one

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continuous stretch of characters. He parsed the compound words into digestible syllables or words with

superscripts and sequential numbers and rearranged the words in the verse in a readable form in English.

In this book, he claims ownership of shortcomings and cedes the rest to Bhagavan.

This book is good for students, and devotees reading the Bhagavad-Gita in Satsang (true company). Two

verses nestle in two boxes in one page with no break or carry-over to the next page. Diacritics help the

reader enunciate the words like a Sanskritist. The English words are reader-friendly. Wherever there is a

need for elaboration, an addendum supports it.

Simplicity, authority, universality, and profundity are the hallmark of the Bhagavadgita, the Bible of the

Hindus. The Bhagavadgita is the Song of the Lord. It provides guidelines for daily living with no dogmas

and ritual overtones. It encourages and supports your individuality. It also explains the consequence of

errant ways. Total surrender to Bhagavan releases the devotee from the ills of life on earth. Hinduism as

a term is an external appellation from non-Hindus. Its true name is Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law or

Eternal Order) commensurate with Rta (Cosmic Order). The beauty about the Bhagavadgita is its appeal

is universal.

Bhagavadgita in Sanskrit, Transliteration, and Translation

ISBN: 9781440176418. Published Nov 2009

Available in bookstores (Barnes & Noble.com; Amazon.com....)

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