Vaman Jayanti – 21st Sept 2018

The festival of Vaaman Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Vaman on the 12th day of the bright half of the month of Bhadarvo.

In the 3rd Vachanamrut of Gadhda Pratham Prakran, Lord Shree Swaminarayan commands His Devotees to remember the pastimes of the Lord during His various incarnations and manifestations even if one is always conscious of Him.

Shreemad Bhagwat: Canto 8 – Chapters 15-23

King Parikshit was very much anxious to know the mystery of why Lord Vaman begged for three paces of land from like a poor man from King Bali yet being the proprietor of everything that exists.

Sage Shukdev elaborated that when King Bali; the grandson of Prahalad and the son of Virocana, lost all his opulence and died in the fight with the demigods, Sage Shukracharya, a descendant of Sage Bhrugu, brought him back to life. Due to this benediction, the King became a great disciple and began to serve him with great faith, offering everything he had.

The Bhramin descendants of Sage Bhrugu were very pleased with the King, who desired to conquer the kingdom of Indra (Swarg). Therefore, after performing the necessary principles they engaged him in performing a spiritual sacrifice called Vishvajeet thorough which he received various equipment for fighting.

King Bali was now extremely powerful due to the benedictions bestowed upon him by the Bhramins and thus embarked to conquer Swarg with his divine weapons. The demigods fled the kingdom at the advice of their spiritual master, Sage Bhruhaspti as they were no match for Bali’s strength and valour. He also advised waiting until the situation of the enemies is reversed and leave the heavenly planets (Swarg) and go elsewhere.

The Bhramin descendants of Bhrugu were very pleased with their disciple after his victory in conquer of the entire universe and engaged him in performing one hundred Ashwamedh sacrifices.

Throughout the three worlds, Bali gained great reputation in all directions shone in his position. Thus thinking himself very satisfied, very opulent and prosperous he began to enjoy the kingdom.

Aditi, the mother of the demigods lamented as if she had no protector and spoke to her husband Sage Kashyp. He advised her to perform an austerity by the name of Payovrat strictly following its regulative principles through which the Lord will be please and fulfil her desires.

Due to Aditi conquering her senses and performing this ritualistic ceremony, the Lord became extremely pleased and appeared before her. He agreed to become her son and protect the demigods and thus bestowed His benediction upon her.

On the day Shravan Dvadashi [12th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Badhrapad], during the auspicious moment of Abhijit, Lord Vaman appeared in this Universe.

He appeared in His original form, with ornaments and weapons in His hands and in the presence Kashyap and Aditi, assumed the form of a celibate Bhramin dwarf.

Sage Kashyap performed the necessary ritualistic ceremonies.

  1. Surya Dev (Sun-God) personally chanted the Gayatri Mantra.
  2. Sage Bhruhaspati offered the sacred thread (Yagnopavt).
  3. Father Sage Kashyap offered a straw belt (Kati mekhla).
  4. Mother Earth (Pruthvi) gave Him a deerskin.
  5. Chandra (Moon-God), gave the rod of a celibate (Bhrama-Dand)
  6. Mother Aditi, gave Him cloth for underwear.
  7. Presiding Deity over the heavenly kingdom offered an umbrella.
  8. Lord Bhrama offered a waterpot (Kamandal).
  9. The seven sages (Sapt-Rushis) offered Him Kush grass.
  10. Goddess Sarsavati gave Him a string of Rudraksha beads.
  11. King of the Yakshas, gave Him a pot for begging alms.
  12. Goddess Paravati gave Him His first alms.

Lord Vaman then performed a ritualistic ceremony to the sacrificial fire on the sacrificial field. He then proceeded to Bhrugukaccha located on the Northern bank of river Narmada where King Bali was performing the Ashwamedh ceremony.

He received Lord Vaman with a proper reception and respectful obeisances worshipping Him by washing His divine lotus feet and also performing other ritualistic welcoming ceremonies. After this he offered his respectful prayers and requested the Bhramin-dwarf to ask what whatever He desires.

Lord Vaman asked for a mere three paces of land and the King agreed to fulfil His wish. Sukhracharya came to know of this and immediately approached Bali informing him of the trueness of this Bhramin-dwarf. The king was steadfast on the promise that he made and disobeyed the commandment of his spiritual master hence he was cursed that he shall very soon be bereft of all his opulence. The king never deviated from his determination and according to custom offering water to the Lord gifted of land he had promised.

Thus the Lord began to increase in size and His whole body covered the three worlds. With one footstep He covered the surface of the Earth, the sky with His body and all directions with His arms. The heavenly planets were covered with the Lord’s second footstep and not even a spot then remained for the third one.

Due to Bali’s false pride of his possessions, he promised the Land to Lord Vaman but was unable to fulfil it. Hence the Lord ordered for him to live for a years in hellish life. However Bali wanted to correct his mistake and so he offered his head for Lord to take the third step on.

Due to his great tolerance, the Lord gave him a place unobtainable even by the demigods and also said that he will become King of the heavenly planets during the period of the Savarani Manu.

The Lord ordered Bali along with his relatives and friends to live on the planet Sutala made by Vishwakarma (Architect of the demigods) on Lord’s orders. It is specially protected by the Lord Himself and free from mental and bodily miseries such as fatigue, dizziness, defeat and all other disturbances.

Bali was be able to see the Lord and thus seeing His supreme prowess, the Kings materialistic ideas and anxieties arisen from demonic association were immediately vanquished. The demigods then regained the heavenly planets through grace of Lord Vaman.

This discourse is described in great detail in Shreemad Bhagwat and whosoever hears or recites it is certainly elevated in spirituality and delivered to higher planetary systems or to Akshardham.

The Hemadri Khand of Bhavishyottar Puran also entails this Avatar of the Lord. Furthermore it also contains how one should observe this day’s austerity and ritualistic ceremonies.

Chaturmaas 23rd July – 19th November

Prayer to the Lord prior to taking Niyam:

‘Oh Lord! (or Swami!) – Please give me strength and courage so that I may follow my chosen niyam. Confide in the saints of which niyam you are taking and request them to remind you frequently about your niyam.

Oh Lord! with your grace, I will do….

Devshayni Ekadashi is also known as Padma Ekadashi or Devpodhni Ekadashi. It falls on the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Ashadh (June – July). It is of special significance to all Vaishnav Devotees; followers of Lord Vishnu.

A fast is observed with an aim to control the ten senses and the mind, engaging them in the service of the Lord. A spiritual vigil is performed the entire night where songs in praise of the Lord are sung. This Ekadashi marks the start of Chaturmaas (the holy four month period of rainy season) and devotees take vows on this day to be observed until Prabodhani Ekadashi. In the seventy sixth shlok of The Shikshapatri, Lord Swaminarayan Himself instructs His disciples to undertake extra religious activities during Chaturmaas. These may include, any eight religious activities mentioned by Him in Shikshapatri shloks 77-78.

During Chaturmaas, Lord Vishnu takes rest in Ksheersagar- cosmic ocean of milk – on His serpent bed (Shesh naag) hence this day is known as Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (God-sleeping). The Lord awakens from His rest on Prabodhani Ekadashi (Dev Diwali); eleventh day of bright fortnight of Kartik Month (October–November). This period is known as chaturmaas (“four months”) and coincides with the rainy season.

In the Bhavishyotar Puran, authored by Sage Ved Vyas, Lord Shree Krishna narrates the significance of Dev Shayni Ekadashi to King Yudhishthir just as Brahma; the creator once narrated the significance to his son Sage Narad. The saga of King Mandhata is narrated in this context. His Kingdom faced drought for three years. Unable to find a solution he consulted Sage Angira who advised him to observe the austerities of Dev Shayani Ekadashi. Through the benediction of the Lord, the Kingdom finally received rain after successful completion of the King’s vow.

The following are the best methods of observances to be adopted and followed daily;

1.    Reading religious scriptures

2.    Listening to religiuos scriptures

3.    Reciting songs in praise of his divine qualities

4.    Performing Mahapuja of the Lord’s images

5.    Chanting His Mantra

6.    Reciting His hymns

7.    Performing Pradakshina

8.    Prostrating before God’s image.

 

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 Bhagwan disguised Himself as a doorman and protected Bali Raja from all dangers. As a result of this, Vishnu Bhagwan was not in Vaikunth 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 nowhere to stay. Bali Raja took her in whole heartedly and protected her like she was his sister.
Finally, on the Purnima 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 Bandhan 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 Vaikunth with Laxmiji, but for the Lord to return as a guard for the 4 months of the year during the monsoon months (Chaturmaas).
Sadguru Premanand Swami sings glories of Devshayni Ekadashi in Ekadashi Mahatmya – A Scripture authored by him.