Rakshabandhan – 3rd August 2020

“Raksha” means protection, “bandhan” means bound or binding.

Raksha Bandhan celebration, started tens of thousands of years ago. Bhavishya Puran cites a story that the devas once battled with the danavas (demons) for twelve years. However, the devas lost, including the mighty Indra. So they prepared to fight again. On this occasion, Indrani tied a raksha (protection) on her consort Indra, after extolling Raksha Bandhan’s glory. Indra then attained victory.

This celebration was first celebrated by the wife tying the Raksha Sutra on the husband for his protection. It was first tied by Indrani to Lord Indra. In ancient times a woman tied a ‘raksha’ on her husband’s wrist to protect him from evil. Gradually this changed; she tied a ‘raksha’ on her brother’s right wrist, to protect him from evil influence. She visits her home and performs his ‘pujan’ by applying kumkum and rice grains on his forehead. In return the brother gives her a gift and vows to protect her too. Today the ‘rakhadi’ itself ranges from a coloured cotton, diamonds, gold, string to exquisitely decorated balls of various sizes and materials. During the battle of Mahabharat, Queen Kunti tied a raksha on her grandson Abhimanyu to protect him in battle.

When the demon King Bali’s devotion won over Lord Narayan, he was compelled to leave his abode, Vaikunth, to stay in Bali’s kingdom in Sutal loka . When Lord Narayan failed to return, his distressed consort Lakshmi arrived in Sutal on Shravan Purnima. She accepted Bali as her brother by tying a raksha (a sacred cord tied around the wrist of the right hand ) which protectes from disease and evil. In return, Bali asked her to wish for a boon. She requested Narayan’s return. She grieved that despite having a consort she was experiencing premature widowhood in Narayan’s absence. However, the Lord had pledged to eternally protect Bali, by guarding his door. To resolve his dilemma, Brahma and Shiva agreed to guard Bali for four months each, while Vishnu (Narayan) would guard him for the auspicious four months – Chaturmaas – beginning from Ashadh Sud Ekadashi and terminating on Kartik Sud Ekadashi, usually from Mid- July to Mid-November. The festival of Raksha Bandhan commenced when Lakshmiji tied the ‘rakhadi’ on Bali Raja. Since Bali Raja offered devotion by sacrificing everything to the Lord, the day is also known as ‘Bali-eva’ or ‘Baleva’ for short.

Shraavan Maas – 21st Jul 2020 – 19th Aug 2020

Shravana is the holiest month of the year for Devotees. All devout followers of Sanatana Dharma around the world observe austerities in this month with great reverence and devotion. Each day of the month has its own significant value.

Somvaara – Monday – known as Shravan Somvar, is a special day for Lord Shiva.
Managalavaara – Tuesday – Gauri (Paravati) is worshipped in every home, especially by newly married women.
Buddhavaara – Wednesday – are dedicated to Lord Buddha (Buddhvara)
Guruvaara – Thursday – days for worshipping Spiritual Masters (Gurus)
Shukravaara – Friday – every home worships Lakshmi and Tulsi
Shanivaara – Saturday – are for Hanuman and Balaji
Ravivaara – Sunday – Sun God is worshipped

 

In the Shikshapatri Slokha 76, Lord Shree Swaminarayan states:-

All my disciples shall perform additional religious duties during the four months of monsoon (Chaturmaasa).  Those who are incapable shall perform them during the month of Shraavana

 

The four holy months of Chaturmaasa are special auspicious times for pleasing God by offering extra devotion.

It is known that any religious activity performed during these months is more fruitful than any other time. People observe various austerities (Niyams or Vratas) as per Shikshapatri Shloka 77 – 78.

However, out of these four months it is stated that the month of Shravana is most auspicious. Various divine festivities such as Hindola, Rakshabandhan and Janamashtmi are celebrated in this month.

Hindola Utsav 7th Jul 2020 – 5th Aug 2020

The Hindola utsav is celebrated from Ashadh Vad 2 to Shravan Vadh 2. The origins of the divinity of Hindola go back to Vrindavan, 5000 years ago where the Gopis swayed Lord Krishna on a decorated swing. The Hindola utsav has a special status in the Hindu dharma due to this event because of the divine joy of rocking the almighty Lord for His pleasure. The back and forth motion is expressive of bliss, a flight away from the mundane worries of the world. The swinging motion creates elation and identification with spirituality. One experiences a tranquil state of mind because of the immersion into His lustrous murti swaying back and forth. The act of seating the idol upon the Hindola is in itself one of veneration.

During Swaminarayan Bhagwan’s time, once whilst in Vadtal, a decorative Hindolo was tied to a couple of mango trees and the devotees rocked the Bhagwan back and forth. Bhagwan became so pleased that He blessed the devotees by showing his twelve divine forms for this whole month.

During this month the Chal (mobile) murti of Bhagwan is seated upon the Hindola (decorated swing) and swayed back and forth to commemorate the event. Devotees sing hindola bhajans, and the whole mandir is charged with the extra vibrancy and energy of the extra special bhakti that surrounds this utsav. The Hindola is decorated differently everyday with great grandeur and splendour, using a variety of colours, shapes, form and material. Satsangis perform daily aarti of these richly decorated Hindolas for the blessing and merit of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan also often sat on a swing tied between two tamarind trees in Laxmivadi in Gadhada.

If you would like to donate for the Hindola Utsav, you can do that through our online option. Please click on the button below to donate.

Chaturmaas 1st Jul 2020 – 26th Nov 2020

The Origins of Chaturmaas

King Bali was the grandson of Prahladji, and grew up with the guidance of his grandfather which gave him a good sense of righteousness and bhakti. When King Bali succeeded his grandfather, he became King of the Demons. Bali Raja’s kingdom expanded quickly in all directions, even up towards heavens and this made the Demi-gods (Devtas) very nervous. There was peace and prosperity in Bali Raja’s kingdom, with all the people living happily and without fear from any crime.

With guidance from his Guru (Sukracharya), Bali Raja decided to conduct an Ashwamedh Yagna. The fruits of this yagna included being able to banish Indra and take over his world (lok). Indra and the other demi-gods went to Lord Vishnu and it was at this time that He said that He would take care of everything. During this yagna Bali Raja had vowed that he would not refuse anything that anyone asked from him. It was at this time that Vaaman Bhagwan came to Bali Raja’s kingdom and asked for 3 steps of land from him. Even though his Guru told him not to agree, Bali Raja stuck by his vow and agreed to give the 3 steps of land promptly. Vaaman Bhagwan then increased His physical size to the extent that with the 1st and 2nd step He measured all the worlds and the sky. For the 3rd step Bali Raja offered himself and was banished to Paataal when Vaman Bhaghwan placed His foot on his head. Vaaman Bhagwan was impressed with Bali Raja’s unselfish devotion and unwavering dharma, and so granted him a boon where he was allowed to visit his kingdom once every year to make sure his subjects were still happy. Thus Bali Raja is one of a few who are chiranjivis (lives for eternity).

As Bali Raja was a true devotee of Vishnu, Vishnu Bhagwan brought him back from Paataal and promised to protect him until the next era. Here, Bali Raja would be crowned as Indra. Vishnu Bhaghwan disguised Himself as a doorman and protected Bali Raja from all dangers. As a result of this, Vishnu Bhagwan was not in Vaikunt and Laxmiji became restless. She took on the form of a Brahmin woman and claimed that her husband had gone away for a large length of time for work, and that she has no where to stay. Bali Raja took her in whole heartedly and protected her like she was his sister.

Finally, on the Puranima day of Shravan, the Brahmin woman tied a colourful string of cotton on the wrist of Bali Raja, praying for protection and happiness (this is how Raksha Bandan came to be). Bali Raja was touched by this and granted her a wish. She immediately looked at the guard and asked for Him, as that was her husband. It was at this point that both Vishnu Bhagwan and Laxmiji revealed their true identities. As Bali was a virtuous man, and a protective brother he requested that Lord Vishnu go back to Vaikunt with Laxmiji, but for the Lord to return as a guard for the 4 months of the year during the monsoon months (chatur maas).

Sadguru Manjukeshanand Swami has composed the above saga of King Mandhata in poetry format for the purpose of singing and remembering the Lord’s benedictions. Sadguru Premanand Swami too sings glories of this Ekadashi by composing Kirtans for DevShayani Ekadashi.