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GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA

Founder President:
H.H. Swami Hari Har Ji Maharaj


MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE 2014-2016

President:
Shri Chandru Binwani

Deputy President:
Datuk Fateh Chand

Vice Presidents:
Shrimati Tangamani Menon
Dato Ramesh Kodammal

Honorary General Secretary:
Shrimati Usha Devi

Honorary Assistant Secretary:
Shrimati Vanita Rani

Honorary Treasurer:
Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot

Honorary Assistant Treasurer:
Dr Thilla Chelliah

Committee Members:
Shri Mahadev Lalchand
Shri Prabhat Kumar
Shri Tilak Raj Sharma
Shrimati Asha Devi
Shrimati Sarinder Kumari
Shri Kishan Kumar Agarwal
Shri Rajani Kumar Naidu
Ms Anjanna Kukreja
Shri Jagmohan Kumar
Shri Hetish Sharma


EDITORIAL BOARD

Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot
Shrimati Tangamani Menon


FEEDBACK

E-mail: drbhanot@bhanot.net



SACRED THOUGHT
December 2014       Volume 42 Issue 4
For internal circulation only


Contents

Contents
Building Renovations: Update and Appeal
Editorial Note
Bhagavad Geeta: All 18 Chapters by Swami Hari Harji
From the President's Desk: Geeta Dham
Practising Simplicity
Experience of Bliss
Lessons from the Geeta (18)
Geeta for Beginners: Grieve Not!
The Contrasting Characters of Rama and Ravana
Names of Mahabali Hanuman
Calendar of Festivals for 2015
Geeta Jayanti in Pictures
Bhajan Video with Lyrics: Kabhi Ram Banake
Recipe: Mattar Kachori
Major Upcoming Events
Recent and Upcoming Activities

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The views and opinions expressed in the eSacredThought magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Editorial Board or the Management Committee of Geeta Ashram Malaysia.


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Geeta Ashram
Building Renovations
 

Progress Report as at 15 December 2014

With construction works progressing on the new extension, the building continues to evolve into a beautiful temple.

Three new domes have been constructed at the front portion of the building. Fourteen decorative columns have been completed inside the new extension. Work on six decorative columns at the front of the building is expected to be completed soon. New brick walls with window frames have been constructed on both sides of the existing prayer hall. The toilets on the first floor have been demolished to make way for the new staircase. Electrical works are in progress.

These renovations will accomodate a more spacious prayer hall, a larger dining hall, two classrooms, a library, a new office, a conference room and twelve dormitories for visitors. The upgraded building will boast state-of-the-art facilities and modern decor.
 
We thank all donors who have contributed towards the Geeta Ashram Malaysia Building Renovation Fund. Please give your fullest support in cash and kind towards making this project a reality. For further information, please call:

1. Chandru Binwani (President)+6 012-382 4228
2. Datuk Fateh Chand (Deputy President)+6 019-239 3376
3. Dato Ramesh Kodammal (Vice-President)+6 016-394 9800
3. Tangamani Menon (Vice-President)+6 014-645 4799
4. Usha Devi (Hon. Secretary)+6 013-393 9858
5. Dr D K Bhanot (Hon. Treasurer)+6 012-329 1216

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Geeta Ashram Building Renovations

The three domes at the new front portion of the building

Picture of an earlier phase of construction

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EDITORIAL NOTE

Acknowledgement
With this 8th issue, the eSacredThought completes its second year of publication. We have received tremendous support from devotees in various parts of the world. We always welcome feedback in the form of suggestions, comments and constructive criticism. We also invite devotees to contribute articles, reports, jokes, photographs and other material for inclusion in this publication.
 
At this juncture I would like to express my gratitude to Professor U Prasad. President of the Apex Body, Geeta Ashram/Geeta Dham, for his unwavering support, sincere fatherly advice and up-to-date news on Geeta Dham activities. His response to any requests or queries is always very prompt and precise. His devotion to the Lord is very clearly expressed in his words, deeds and thoughts - an inspiration for spiritual novices and beginners exploring the teachings of the Bhagavad Geeta.
 
Bhajans
A new bhajan is presented in every issue of eSacredThought. We try as far as possible to include a video together with the lyrics of the song. We hope that readers, especially the younger ones, will try to learn and practise singing these bhajans. Bhajan-singing is an expression of love and devotion to the Lord, and assists one in evolving up the spiritual ladder.
 
Bhagavad Geeta Recitation by Swami Gurudevji
The video of the recitation of all 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Geeta by Swami Hari Harji Maharaj will henceforth be included in every issue of this publication to encourage devotees to listen to, memorise and recite the divine verses.
 
Articles for eSacredThought
Those contributing material for inclusion in eSacredThought are reminded to keep their contributions short, preferably not more than two pages in length., and to vet their articles for correctness of language and substance.
 
Dr D K Bhanot


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Listen to
All 18 Chapters of the Bhagavad Geeta



Recited in his own melodious voice by
Swami Hari Harji Maharaj

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FROM THE PRESIDENT'S DESK: GEETA DHAM

Professor Emeritus Dr. U. Prasad
President, Geeta Dham Trust
u_prasad@hotmail.com

Respected Geeta devotees,
JAI SHREE KRISHNA, JAI GURUDEV

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the 117th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS OF OUR MOST REVERED GURUDEV BHAGWAN, will take place at Geeta Dham Tinwari, Jodhpur, on 3-6 March 2015. I very well know that you all look forward to this very auspicious day which grants you a grand opportunity to pay your special obeisance to your most beloved Gurudev, in the company of fellow Geeta devotees, at your Guru's Dham. Leaving behind all your routine worldly affairs, you spare one week in a year to be at a place where you are obliged to concentrate on all adhyatmik affairs and recharge your batteries, as Gurudev used to say.

Dear Geeta devotees, this year we have made some changes in the program to make it more interesting, besides being more enlightening, and more participatory. The number of speeches has been reduced. Thus it will be less taxing for you. Nonetheless you will find the talks from erudite scholars and highly evolved swamis even more rewarding. It gives me great pleasure in mentioning that besides Revered Swami Shree Nityanand Giri Ji Maharaj from Kailash Ashram, Rishikesh, and Revered Shree Devanshu Goswami Ji Maharaj from Chaitanya Ashram, Vrindavan, we shall also have the privilege of listening to Padmashri Dr Kailash Chander Aggarwalji, Head of Narayan Sewa Sansthan, Udaipur. They have confirmed their participation in the celebrations and to deliver pravachans on Geeta philosophy. All of them have travelled extensively abroad and have been delivering spell-binding pravachans. Shree Devanshu Goswami Ji Maharaj has also consented to participate in the evening satsangs on 3 and 4 March, and will be delivering talks based on Bhagavad Katha. This has specially been arranged so that the Lord's message is conveyed through katha, which is more easily understood.

VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM: On 5 March morning from 10.00 to 10.45 am you will have the rare opportunity to hear very clearly (on audio-tape) PRAVACHAN BY HIS HOLINESS SHREE 1008 SWAMI HARIHARJI MAHARAJ, OUR MOST REVERED GURUDEV. I am sure you will be thrilled to hear him in his own grand style. The message given by him through this pravachan is very enlightening, to say the least.


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LADDOO BHOG: For Laddoo Bhog for Lord Shree Hanumanji, participating devotees will be provided a thali with laddoo and a lamp to offer laddoo after each chaupai (one round with samput paath). This will be held in the afternoon on the 5 March. On that same evening at 7.15 pm there will be HOLIKA DAHAN. As usual, on the last day (6 March) there will be SAMPOORAN GEETA HAVAN and GURU-PADUKA POOJAN followed by HOLI CELEBRATIONS and PATOTSAVA at SHREE HARI HARESHWAR MAHADEV TEMPLE.

INTERNATIONAL GEETA CONFERENCE: We shall also be holding the 28th International Geeta Conference. This year's theme is: BHAKTI KE DWARA SIDHHI-PRAAPTI: GEETA KI DRISHTI SE (ATTAINMENT OF PERFECTION THROUGH DEVOTION ACCORDING TO GEETA).

In addition to all the above mentioned activities we are arranging for Yoga sessions to be conducted by one of the most respected Gurudev’s disciples, (Shree Maliji from Geeta Ashram, Jath) well proficient as YOGA-TEACHER on 4th & 5th morning. In the late evenings there will be Variety entertainment, Bhajan-Sandhya, and Ek saam Gurukul ke naam, a presentation by our own students at Gurukul Geeta Dham .

REGISTRATION charges will include BOARD & LODGING (3-7 March 2015). TRANSPORT will be provided on 3 March from Jodhpur airport / railway station to Dham, and also for return on 6 & 7 March from Dham to Jodhpur. Delegates travelling from Delhi by rail may consider leaving Delhi on the 2 March by Delhi-Jaisalmer Intercity Express (Train no: 14659) which leaves Old Delhi railway station at 1735 hrs and arrives at Tinwari railway station at 0715 hrs the following day. On return they could take the Jaisalmer-Delhi Intercity Express which leaves Tinwari at 2100 hrs and arrives at Delhi at 1110 hrs the following day. Transport will be available both ways.

ALL ARE WELCOME for these celebrations.

With best wishes for a happy, prosperous and peaceful NEW YEAR 2015,

Yours, in the service of Guru, Geeta and Gopal
Professor Emeritus Dr U Prasad
President, Apex Body Geeta Ashram / Geeta Dham


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PRACTISING SIMPLICITY
by Siddheshvari Didi (Radha Madhav Society)

Simplicity is extremely attractive and desirable. Think how comfortable you feel when wearing simple clothes. What a relief it is to kick off the high heels after a party or loosen the tie after work! You start to relax the moment you slip into your pajamas. After indulging in fancy food for a while, we crave simple food such as curd and rice or bread and butter. People leave behind the comforts of home and pitch a tent in the woods just to revel in the simple pleasures derived from Nature. Everyone is attracted by the individual who is simple; someone who doesn't put on airs. In literature it's a struggle to read long-winded, complicated sentences that forget when to stop. Simple and straightforward paragraphs are interesting to read. People often reminisce about the 'good old days' when life was simple.

Be careful, however, not to confuse simple with simplistic. A simple theory is not to be regarded as simplistic. A simple person should not be thought of as a simpleton. A simple way of doing something is not the 'dumb' way of doing it. On the contrary, its utter simplicity proves its greatness.

Of all the ways to be simple, the greatest is to be simple at heart. An individual with a simple heart is able to mingle with people of every color, religion, nationality, family background and social status, treating them all alike. A simple person does not feel insulted when condemned by others, nor does she get puffed up with pride when being honored. The greater the individual, the simpler he is. True simplicity is the measure of a great person.

Everyone desires simplicity, but not everyone attains it. The reason is that simplicity is a by-product of devotion to God. If you are wondering about the relationship between God and simplicity, wonder no more. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, "God is infinitely simple."

Yours,

Didi Ji (s_didi@radhamadhavsociety.org)


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EXPERIENCE OF BLISS
by Swami HariharJi Maharaj (translated by Dr Abhay Prasad)

Formation of the human body with attainment of "MANOMAYA KOSHA (MENTAL-SHEATH)" from "ANNAMAYA KOSHA (PHYSICAL-SHEATH)" is a unique event. In evolution, species prior to human beings possessed "Annamaya Kosha (Physical-sheath)" and "Pranamaya Kosha (Energy-sheath)". Development of "Manomaya Kosha" is unique to the human body, and it imparts the right to perform actions. It is the duty of the human body to perform actions based on consideration of truth and falsehood, understanding of sin and merit (virtue), determination of duty, and under the guidance of wisdom. The human being primarily performs actions.

The worldly cycle of the person starts with the formation of "Manomaya Kosha". The ongoing development culminates in the formation of "Manomaya Kosha", and the flow is temporarily halted. The person then moves about in a state of sleep known as "sansara".

In this "sansara" the role of actions is of greatest importance. It is said that "jaisi karni waisi bharni" - as you sow, so shall you reap. As one wants so he obtains. Strange actions also have results (fruits). Special actions lead to special fruits. Peculiar "desires" lead to peculiar enjoyments. On attaining the human body, one becomes predominantly action-oriented and thus gets cut off from his inherent nature. He gets removed from the provisions of creation. Generally the person becomes a slave to difficult problems or situations. It is desirable that he does not get entangled in the worldly web or "Mayajaal". In difficult situations, one starts leading a modified lifestyle and gets entangled in worldly phenomena in different ways. Living in these situations, moving about in the dream-world, the person gets exhausted, disinterested and finally distraught, losing all the zest of life. All his hopes are dashed, and he spends his time in a depressed state.

The mind or "chitta" becomes heavy with dissatisfaction and feelings of atonement. In such a situation, if one surrenders to the invisible supreme power, then the feeling of "doer-ship" in his mind or the ego of the "self" gets dispelled and the jeeva becomes awakened and is enlightened, is able to be removed from the duality of happiness and unhappiness, and is able to experience "BLISS".


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LESSONS FROM THE GEETA (19)
by Shri Ashok Lal Bherumal

He whose undertakings are free from desire, whose actions are burnt up by the fire of wisdom, him even the wise call a man of learning. (BG4:19)

In all our actions, there is always a motivating factor. Your actions may be good but if your motivations are impure, such an action has negative reactions. For example, I am donating some money to a charity - in this case my action of "donation" is good. BUT, the reason I am donating is that I want my name to be acknowledged and announced to one and all, that Mr. X has donated this amount of money for this charity.

"He whose undertakings are free from desire", Krishna says in this verse, such a person only can be called a "pandit". In general parlance, "pandit" is one who wears the orange/yellow robes and serves in a temple or ashram. But again, we should not judge by the outward appearance. In this verse, the person who is labeled a "pandit" is clearly defined as (1) one whose undertakings are free from desire and (2) one whose actions are burnt by the fire of wisdom. So the "pandit" is a description of the internal conditioning - one who is equipped with the right knowledge and uses this knowledge to guide all actions, one who understands that it is the motive and not the actions that cause our downfall.

In the example given above of the person who donates money, having a prior selfish motive, what happens when there is no acknowledgement forthcoming? It leads to a sense of disappointment and dejection. On the other side if acknowledgement is given it leads to a sense of elation. Dejection leads to agitation of the mind, while the experience of elation make us feel good - wanting to relive that experience again and again. When this is not happening, we are bound to face disappointment.

Thus, each and every thought and action should be for one's betterment and spiritual advancement through righteousness, rising above likes and dislikes since everything we are doing is to repay all that we have received. An attitude of gratitude must prevail. We consider whatever we have in life as a gift from God, to be repaid through actions with an attitude of gratitude - living to give. Such an attitude can be cultivated through constant reflection and recognition of the needs of others rather than always looking at our own needs.

Having renounced attachment to actions, ever content, without any kind of dependence, he does nothing though he is ever engaged in work. (BG4:20)

Whenever we reflect on what we don't have , there always arises a sense of emptiness. If ever a question is asked "Why are we unhappy", the answer is "We are unhappy because we are always thinking of what we don't have". It is this very cause of unhappiness that drives us to action until we "get what we want" - causing the release of agitation from the mind, resulting in happiness. Agitation recurs when we reflect on something else that we don't have in life, and this thought drives us again to more action.


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Therefore, peace of mind is found not in the pursuit of more but in a higher understanding of being "content" with what you have. It is not an attitude of indifference or sense of helplessness, but rather a concept of "developing an attitude of contentment while being engaged in action for a higher cause, not for the mundane worldly pleasures which are fleeting and impermanent". This attitude of contentment must be cultivated through knowledge and sharp intellect by constantly reflecting on the very impermanent nature of the world. We want our happiness to be permanent, but when this happiness is dependent on impermanent objects, how can this happiness be anything but impermanent? Arthur Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher, is best known for his book "The World as Will & Representation" in which he posits that our world is driven by "dissatisfied will" continuously "seeking satisfaction". His famous saying is "It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else".

Krishna says our happiness and peace of mind should not be dependent on anything external. Therefore, work must never be avoided but always driven by a higher cause, never for selfish gains.

Having no hopes, his mind and self controlled, giving up all possessions, performing bodily action alone, he commits no sin. (BG4:21)

"Having no hopes" and "Giving up all possessions" sounds like the life of a renunciate. But Krishna is giving this advice to Arjuna - a warrior, a man of action and also a family man. Is Krishna advocating that we give up all hopes and possessions? In the very previous verse he had said "ever engaged in work!" and in this verse also he says "performing bodily actions" meaning engaging the physical body, mind and intellect in carrying out all duties in the service of society, but with the right attitude. What is that attitude? "Having no hopes" means not focusing on our unborn future, and "giving up all possessions" means always reflecting on what we have accumulated from the past till now. Our mind never stays in the present, putting full effort and concentration on our action but constantly digging up past bitter memories and sad experiences, or unnecessarily projecting our thoughts into the future, thinking that such and such a thing may happen and this may affect our very action itself. "Planning" for the future is not wrong. It makes one efficient in the present. But "worrying" makes one deficient in the present. "Giving up possessions" means "giving up thoughts of possessions" - thoughts like "this is mine", "this I have gained", etc. which only generate more ego and pride. The great sage Shankara says in one of his works: "Don't take pride in youth, beauty and friends, for time is the greatest thief which takes away all this. In time, youth passes, so does beauty, and even friends can become enemies."

"Sin" is a very scary word to many. But "sin" means nothing but mental agitation or any action that is a barrier to your spiritual growth. By constantly digging up past memories that we cannot change and constantly worrying about the future (instead of having faith), we cause our actions to be defective. Therefore, says Krishna, "be in full control of your body, mind and senses". Lay out your goals in life, have faith in God, and be very alert in all your actions, focusing on the present. Do your best and leave the rest (in the hands of God). Whatever actions you do, let God decide on the result or fruit of your actions.


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THE GEETA FOR BEGINNERS: GRIEVE NOT!
by Shree Peter Ganglani, Geeta Ashram Canada

There is a certain quality which is a prerequisite for all seekers in their Spiritual journey. Arjun has this quality ingrained within him!

Bhagwan Shri Krishna patiently listens to Arjun throughout Chapter 1 and even lets him continue to speak his heart out at the start of Chapter 2. Arjun is overwhelmed with despondency and overcome with compassion. His eyes are filled with tears and sorrow as he expresses his dilemma. He finally becomes silent after saying "I will not fight". But before Arjun says "I will not fight" he respectfully expresses the following sentiment (the prerequisite quality) to the Lord in Verse 7:

kaarpanya dosho pahatasva bhaavah | pricchaami tvaam, dharmasamoodha chetaah
yac chreyah syaan nishchitam broohi tanme | shishyas teham shaadhi maam tvaam prapannam

Translation: My very being is overpowered by the sense of cowardice, my understanding (as to duty) is confused. I ask Thee, tell me for certain, which is better. I am Thy disciple; pray instruct me. I seek refuge in Thee!

It should also be noted here that Chapter 4 verse 34 states: "Attain this knowledge by prostrating yourself at the feet of the wise, rendering them all forms of service, and question them with a guileless heart; those wise seers of truth will unfold that knowledge to you."

When Arjun falls silent, that is when Shri Krishna starts to speak in Verse 11 (with a smile on His face): " You grieve over those who should not be grieved for, and yet, you speak like the learned. Wise men do not grieve over the dead or the living."

This marks the beginning of Lord Krishna's sermon at a most crucial moment in the epic war of Mahabarata - a most crucial moment for Arjun, and a most crucial moment in the Lord's message for all humanity! Shri Krishna consoles Arjun by saying "Grieve Not!". This by itself is the core of the Bhagavad Geeta. We should not succumb to grief, because grief does not solve anything - it only aggravates the situation. This message of "Grieve Not!" implies that we should smile under all circumstances, for we have no control over life & death. The living shall eventually have to pass on. The physical body is mortal, and the soul is immortal. Those who know this truth never lament over something they have no control over. Those who do not acknowledge this truth live in gloom and become pessimistic and negative. Life has to be faced with reason and not ignorance!

Chapter 2 Verse 12 states: "Never was there a time when I was not, nor you, nor these lords of men, nor will there ever be a time hereafter when we shall cease to be." Lord Krishna explains that we should not grieve because the soul does not come into existence only with the birth of the body, nor does it die with the death of the body! The Atman (soul) is eternal. It has always existed, and it will never cease to be. The soul has no beginning and no end. That which is eternal should not be grieved for.

Verse 13 states: "Just as the soul in this body passes through childhood, youth and old age, so does it pass into another body; the steadfast is not deluded." The Lord further


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explains that just as the soul passes through childhood, youth and old age, it also goes through yet another stage - death. These stages involve only the body - the soul remains unaffected! Through death, the soul merely takes up another body and discards the old one.

Verse 14 goes on to state: "O son of Kunti, the contacts of the senses and their objects, which give rise to the feelings of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, etc., are transitory and fleeting; therefore, Bharata (Arjun), endure them!" The Lord says that pain and pleasure, as with heat and cold, are caused by the contact of the senses with the objects of senses. When we see something beautiful or ugly, or when we hear something melodious or harsh, or when we taste something delicious or bitter, and so on, we invariably experience pain or pleasure. The very object which gives pleasure at one moment can cause pain at another. No pain or pleasure lasts forever. Therefore, we must learn to endure these experiences.

In order to come out of an experience with a glitter of gold, we need to undergo the same process which gold goes through to attain its purest form! We are often convinced that by adhering to prescribed rituals (e.g. going for satsang, performing Aarti and so on) we should qualify to be classified as 24K gold. But the process of God-Realisation goes beyond just performing rituals. We need to conduct ourselves in accordance with the scriptures. When we encounter sorrow or pain, instead of saying "What did we do to deserve this?" we should take stock of our actions and inactions and remember that the Lord Himself has stepped in to guide us in the right direction. He is our heavenly Goldsmith who wants to convert us into 24-karat Gold. Rather than fighting the process, we should endure the pain and surrender to the will of God.

There was this lady who went to the pool to learn swimming. Somehow, she slipped and fell into the deep end of the pool. She panicked and started struggling in the water. The more she struggled, the deeper she sank. Finally, after the instructor had rescued her, he told her that, in order to learn how to swim, you must first give yourself up to the water. You must learn to let the water carry you. Once you do this, you will never sink again. How beautifully said! The next time we are in trouble, let's not go through an unnecessary struggle. This does not mean that we should not face the situation. Our requirement is to perform our duty well. But if things still do not turn out as per our expectations, then, and only then, should we take comfort in the fact that episodes of pleasure and pain are both transitory and fleeting. They will certainly come to an end when the time is right. All we need to do is to learn to endure them. In other words, we must learn to give ourselves up to the 'waters' of life, meaning 'the will of God'.

In conclusion, we should take comfort in the knowledge that God only puts his deserving devotees through this process - not everyone is that lucky! What appears to be day to the ignorant is looked upon as night by the wise, and what is looked upon as sorrow by the unwise is looked upon as a blessing in disguise by the pure at heart! There is a lot of discomfort at the beginning, but the end result is beautiful! Fortunate indeed are those who have had the blessing of undergoing this process under the guidance of a Spiritual Master! There is no peace of mind, nor happiness for those who fail to accept this process of purification. They live in gloom and depression. Life should be lived with reasoning and by counting our blessings and thanking the Lord for everything that comes in our path. Grieve not, my friends!


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THE CONTRASTING CHARACTERS OF
RAMA AND RAVANA

An essay written by Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot
as an end-of-semester assignment for the Oxford University Online Course on Hinduism

The Ramayana is one of two main literary works of Hindu scriptural value, the other being the Mahabharata. Both of these great works are more than just narrative accounts of events, as they have certain consistent themes running through each of their intricate plots.

The Ramayana is primarily concerned with the dharma (the righteous path) of character and conduct. In fact, Valmiki's Ramayana de-emphasises the divine nature of its hero, Rama, preferring to highlight its central theme of adherence to dharma.

Valmiki gets his message across, not through passages of scriptural instruction, but rather through the storyline and the portrayal of its range of characters in different settings. It is not surprising then that Rama has been depicted as a very human albeit perfect personality in a major portion of Valmiki's Ramayana, making the hero a very relevant and relatable role model for mankind to emulate.

The Ramayana is the story of the Rama-avatar, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who descends to earth to deal with the many problems created by Ravana and the other evil rakshasas. Vishnu takes the form of Rama, the eldest of four sons born to the ageing King Dasaratha of Ayodhya and his three queens after the performance of a yajna (sacred ritual) to seek offspring.

Rama plays the role of a perfect human being exemplifying absolute dedication to dharma. The life he leads, his response to different situations and the manner in which he deals with others all provide a unique lesson in the dharmic way of life, which includes the duties and conduct of a good son, a loving husband, a devoted brother, an ideal king, a true friend and a noble enemy.

As an adolescent, Rama displays courage and valour when he helps fend off the attacks of various rakshasas harassing the sage Vishvamitra. He further demonstrates his strength and determination when he goes on to win princess Sita's hand in marriage by lifting, stringing and then breaking the great bow of Shiva. Even before this feat, Sita is already captivated with his graceful frame and virile beauty.

The people of Ayodhya admire and love the young Rama for his charm, kindness, generosity, compassion, wisdom and statesmanship. His aura and charisma make everyone feel relaxed and happy in his presence.

Rama encounters a cruel twist in his life when King Dasaratha's plans to appoint him as the yuvaraja (crown prince) are disrupted by his step-mother Kaikeyi's adamant demands, under instigation from her maid Manthara, that in fulfillment of two old promises made by Dasaratha, her son Bharata be appointed the yuvaraja and Rama be banished to the forest for fourteen years.


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While the grief-stricken Dasaratha plunges into a state of despair, Rama remains unaffected and accepts the turn of events without any grudge or anger, dismissing any desire on his part for power, wealth or pleasure. He is more concerned with upholding his father's word and honour, thus demonstrating a sense of filial loyalty, adherence to satyam (truthfulness) and detachment from worldly desires. When, in desperation, the king tries to persuade Rama to overthrow him and to usurp the throne, Rama rejects this advice, making it obvious that his obedience does not take precedence over his own adherence to dharma.

Departing for the forest, dressed in simple bark attire, Rama is accompanied by his wife Sita and his half-brother Lakshmana, who insist on going into exile with him. Here we see Rama's simplicity and the deep affection and loyalty that exists between the two brothers.

The lamenting citizens of Ayodhya, in an outpouring of their keen fondness for Rama, try to accompany their beloved prince along the route out of the kingdom, all the while imploring him to return to Ayodhya. But the royal trio finally slip away from the crowd under pre-dawn darkness, and head for the forest region of Chitrakoot.

Meanwhile, Dasaratha succumbs to his state of utter grief and passes away. Bharata goes to Chitrakoot to break the sad news to Rama, and tries to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya to take his rightful place as king. But Rama stands firm on Dasaratha's pledge to Kaikeyi. Bharata then brings back a pair of Rama's sandals to be placed symbolically on the throne of Ayodhya. Here is another expression of sincere cordiality and mutual respect between Rama and his brothers.

After Bharata's visit, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita relocate to the dense Dandaka forest and, ten years later, move to Panchavati. They visit the ashrams of various rishis (sages), and encounter and kill a number of rakshasas who have been harassing the rishis. This is part of the Rama-avatar's mission, but Sita does at times express her reservations about the need for unprovoked killings.

When Surpanakha, Ravana's sister, appears in Panchavati, her amorous advances are scorned by the two brothers and she tries to attack Sita. Under Rama's instructions, Lakshmana retaliates by cutting off her nose and ears. Surpanakha seeks revenge and appeals to Ravana for sympathy. At the same time she arouses his carnal instincts by giving titillating descriptions of Sita's unparalleled beauty, and thus coaxes him to abduct Sita for his own sensual needs.

Some critics might express doubts about how Rama, committed to dharma, could insult, humiliate and maim a woman offering him her love. Such views ignore the fact that Surpanakha is a rakshasi, and the Rama-avatar's mission is to destroy such embodiments of evil.

Rama's devotion to Sita is revealed when he tells Surpanakha that “my wife is here with me, and I do not care to live the life of a man with two wives”. When Sita goes missing, Rama's expressions of anguish and sorrow betray his unwavering love for his wife. He is utterly devastated, in total contrast to his emotional restraint when leaving Ayodhya.


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Learning of Sita's abduction from Jatayu, Rama seeks help from Sugriva who promises to help rescue Sita in return for being restored to his position as king of the monkeys. Hanuman, one of Sugriva's close associates, crosses over to Lanka and discovers Sita's whereabouts.

The strategy used by Rama to kill Vali, who has not only usurped his brother Sugriva's throne but also stolen his wife, may be a point of contention. But Rama justifies shooting the fatal arrow from behind a tree by asserting that Vali is a downright criminal who deserves no mercy.

Rama metes out justice with compassion, but wrongdoers deserve the appropriate punishment. He holds no selfish motivation in his recourse to violence. He fights not for personal gain but to uphold dharma.

Ravana is finally defeated and killed in a fierce battle, and Sita is rescued. But Rama accepts Sita back only after she has entered a fire (agnipariksha) to prove her chastity. Rama's identity as Narayana is then proclaimed by Brahma, although Rama himself appears unaware about it.

Rama points out to Sita that he waged the grim battle against Ravana not out of mere attachment to her but to discharge his duty as a kshatriya. The primary reason for his appearance as an avatar is to destroy the wicked Ravana. Perhaps Rama is here trying to emphasise his adherence to karma-yoga, desireless action with a simultaneous sense of duty and renunciation.

Returning to Ayodhya, after fourteen years of exile, Rama begins his reign with Sita at his side. Some citizens begin to cast doubts upon Sita's fidelity. To avoid possible repercussions, Rama takes the painful step of banishing Sita to Valmiki's ashram, where she gives birth to twin sons.

Questions arise regarding Rama's motive in getting his wife 'out of the way'. As her husband, he appears to be shirking his duty to stand by her, simply to safeguard his own reputation. On analysis, however, Rama does not really abandon Sita so that he can enjoy life. He is in fact more grief-stricken than any of his critics. His actions illustrate the personal sacrifices expected of those in political or regal power, and portray the sanctity attached to accepted standards of ideal kingship in those days.

Later in the story, having witnessed her sons accepted by Rama, Sita defies an attempt to make her take another oath of purity, preferring to seek final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumi. Sita may be a loving and caring wife, but Rama certainly does not have a submissive partner in his marriage.

Rama's life story is a lesson in limitless sacrifices, selfless service, unbending integrity and unfaltering truthfulness. Rama never sacrifices dharma in pursuit of artha (prosperity) or kama (pleasure). The bow and arrows that Rama always carries symbolise the need to be alert and not to accept adharma passively.

The villainous Ravana, on the other hand, is the absolute antithesis of Rama, always giving priority to the fulfillment of his own selfish desires and unrepentantly dominated by his greed and sensual impulses.


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Born to the sage Visravas and his wife Kaikesi, a Daitya princess, Ravana is partly Brahmin and partly Daitya. His paternal grandfather, the sage Pulastya, is one of the ten Prajapatis (mind-born sons) of Brahma, while his maternal grandfather, Sumali, is king of the Daityas (a race of asuras).

As a youth, Ravana has an aggressive and arrogant temperament, but he is nevertheless an exemplary scholar. Under Visravas's tutelage, he masters the Vedas and the arts of the kshatriyas. Unfortunately, he also acquires the ethics of the Daityas from Sumali.

After intense penance (tapasya) to Brahma, Ravana is granted absolute invulnerability and invincibility against Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas and other such beings. Contemptuous of mortal humans, the hubristic Ravana fails to seek protection against them. This Achilles' heel ultimately seals his fate at the hands of the very human Rama.

His steadfast devotion wins him the divine sword Chandrahasa from Lord Shiva on condition that it may not be used for any unjust cause. It rightly disappears when Ravana uses it against Jatayu.

Ravana is a man of high learning, posh sophistication and wide knowledge. He is wealthy and powerful, and a lover of music and beauty. A pious man, participating regularly in religious rituals, he nevertheless sinks to the depths of moral depravity as a murderer, kidnapper and debaucher, all as a result of his unrestrained lust, desire and vicious rage.

Assuming leadership of Sumali's army, Ravana's sights are set on capturing the city of Lanka, ruled by his half-brother Kubera. Visravas, aware of Ravana's invincibility, advises Kubera to surrender the city to Ravana who proves to be a benevolent and effective ruler. The highly ambitious Ravana then conducts a series of military campaigns to conquer the worlds of the humans, celestials and asuras.

A man of unbridled sexual prowess, Ravana violates numerous women even in his younger days. Married to Mandodari, he maintains a harem of thousands of women captured from his conquests. This constant addiction to sensual pleasure leads him to his greatest sin and his ultimate downfall. Vedavati, a young ascetic who is ravished by Ravana, is subsequently born as Sita, and becomes the cause of his destruction.

Ravana's ire is aroused when Rama single-handedly destroys the rakshasa colony of Janasthana. His rage is further inflamed by the humiliation and mutilation of Surpanakha. Driven by intense anger and the illicit lust stirred by Surpanakha's descriptions of Sita's exceptional beauty, Ravana contrives to abduct and seduce the virtuous Sita against the sound advice of the rakshasa Maricha.

Ravana tries to tempt the captive Sita with his power and wealth, imploring her to submit to his amorous desires. But he treats her with courtesy, decorum and respect, and refrains from using any kind of physical force on her.

When Hanuman, in search of Sita, gets the opportunity to enter Ravana's luxurious chambers at night, he is confronted by a scene that portrays the decadent lifestyle of the rakshasa king. He finds Ravana sleeping in the aftermaths of an orgy, deeply


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intoxicated and surrounded by beautiful women who serve him as objects of sensual enjoyment.

This provides an insight into the adharmic lifestyle led by Ravana, a sensualist whose goal in life is to enjoy pleasures of the kind Hanuman encounters in this scene - a palatial home, abundant food, intoxicating drinks, fine clothes, costly jewels and beautiful willing women. Wealth, sensuality and unrestrained enjoyment of pleasure lead to anger, envy and enmity towards others, something the Ramayana teaches through its portrayal of Ravana.

With war inevitable, Ravana is very sincerely advised by his younger brother Vibhishana to return Sita to her rightful husband. This rouses Ravana to a feverish pitch of rage. He dismisses Vibhishana, and boasts about his victories over the gods, his desire to enjoy the pleasures of the world and his enchantment with Sita.

Ravana, dominated by desire, anger and pride in his wealth, status and power, discards good advice even from someone who has his interest at heart. Advice based on virtue and justice elicits rage and enmity in a person like Ravana. He responds only to his own selfish impulses with total arrogance, and finally pays for it with his life.

When Ravana is finally killed in the great battle that follows, Rama consoles the grieving Vibhishana by saying that 'Ravana fought like a true warrior and fell fighting like a hero'. Here we must not forget that his violence is not motivated by any commitment to dharma, but rather by his selfish desire for pleasure, power and prestige.

Clearly the two main characters of the Ramayana, Rama and Ravana, represent opposite extremes of the spectrum of morality and personal conduct. Rama is an icon of pure virtue or dharma, while Ravana symbolises stark evil or adharma.

Rama's character is intricately interwoven with the storyline and message of the Ramayana, and personifies the values and features of the kind of dharma advocated by Valmiki. In fact, Rama's character can be taken as a definition of the dharma envisioned by Valmiki, resting on a reverence for truth, honesty, justice and commitment to family values. The portrayal of Rama in the Ramayana overflows with examples of truthfulness, honesty, concern for the welfare of others, restraint, modesty, subdual of anger, wisdom, good manners, firm resolve, generosity, kindness and tolerance.

Ravana's character, on the other hand, has little to offer in the form of dharmic instruction, being dominated by an obsession with artha and kama. The villain of the Ramayana is depicted as being preoccupied with the accumulation of power, prestige and material wealth and with the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. He is equipped for this type of lifestyle by his aggressive, rageful and arrogant temperament; his ambitious, greedy, lustful and selfish nature; and his ruthless, wicked, contemptuous, jealous and disrespectful trait.

The Ramayana is an exercise in learning by example, and it is left up to the individual, after reading the treatise, to selectively emulate the right characters and to instill the right values into every strand of life.


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NAMES OF MAHABALI HANUMAN
by Swami Gita Maateshwari (Gita Bhaskar) (translated by Dr Abhay Prasad)

The glory of Shri Hanuman Ji is beyond comprehension, unfathomable and beyond description. None can compare with his power and strength. Goswami Tulsidas has sung his glories in the Hanuman Chalisa. Every verse is an exposition of his glory.

The Bhagavad Geeta also has a reference to Hanuman Ji. He is present in his form in the emblem of the flag on Arjuna's chariot, and Lord Hanuman is referred as "Kapidhwajah". It was Lord Hanuman's compassion that granted victory to Arjuna in the war.

Although Lord Hanuman is known by a thousand names, one hundred and eight of his names are of chief importance. Out of these, twelve are renowned and are extremely effective and miraculous. The devotee who remembers and recites with full faith these twelve names gets his kind attention immediately. Hanuman Ji is very pleased with such a devotee and grants his wishes quickly. These names can increase longevity as well as grant all worldly happiness. These twelve names are in the following shloka:

Aum Shree Hanuman Anjani Suta Vayuputrau Mahabalah;
Rameshta Falgun Sakhah Pingakho Amit Vikramah;
Uddhikramanesha Sitasokvinashakah;
Lakhmanpraandaata cha Dusgrivasya Darpahah

This shloka contains the following twelve names: 1. Hanuman 2. Anjanisuta 3. Vayuputra 4. Mahabala 5. Rameshta 6. Falgunsakha 7. Pingaksha 8. Amitvikram 9. Uddhikraman 10. Sitashokvinashan 11. Lakshmanpraandaata 12. Dusgrivdarpaha.

By reciting these names regularly, without fail one is able to attain proximity to Ishtadeva (Shri Krishna). One who recites these names eleven times in the morning is blessed with increased longevity. A person who recites these names in the afternoon becomes very rich. Reciting these names in the evening grants happiness and satisfaction for the family. On remembering these names at bedtime grants victory over one's enemies. Recitation of these names also gives miraculous benefits in court matters. Reciting the sloka even once gives easy passage for a positive result in any work.

At Dalhousie, a lady wept before Swami Muktanand Ji and related her story, that she had three children, her husband had died and her brother-in-law was witholding her due rightful share. She was thus unable to educate her children. Swami Ji advised her to recite one mantra of Geeta and the twelve names of Hanuman Ji. This had a miraculous effect in just one day. The brother-in-law invited her and gave her the due share. She was also given due respect. Other similar experiences have been observed and cannot be easily explained.


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It has been mentioned in the shaastras that Lord Hanuman cannot be defeated by anyone. He is one of the eight divinities who are deathless and ageless. Lord Hanuman is the only deity who is present in his form even in this Kaliyuga. Wherever there is 'katha' and 'kirtan' of Lord Rama, Lord Hanuman is the first to arrive and the last to leave. Lord Hanuman was born on Tuesday (Mangal) and he provides good auspicies (mangal) to all those who perform penance and worship him on Tuesdays. The person is granted all happiness and recognition by the state and is blessed with a son. One should partake only wheat (roti) and gur (jaggery), only once, on that day. Both wheat and gur are red, Lord Hanuman's favourite colour. Tuesdays are also ideal for performing charity (daan). The vrata may be performed for 21 weeks or even more. It is even more effective if performed for 81 weeks. All the demerits of an individual are destroyed. One should offer red flowers or garland to the Lord. The vrati should wear red clothes. One should light a lamp using sesame (til) oil. The Hanuman Chalisa should be recited repeatedly (at least seven times) with devotion. One should have food only after offering 'bhog' to the Lord. One can read the Mangal Vrata Katha or listen to it. This is extremely beneficial for girls and women, bringing happiness for their husbands and facilitating the bearing of children.

There was a Brahmin couple who were childless. Both were devotees of Lord Hanuman. The Brahman went to the jungle, worshipped Lord Hanuman and asked for a son. His wife started observing 'Mangal vrat' at home. In the evening she would worship Lord Hanuman with red flowers, reading Hanuman Chalisa repeatedly, reciting the twelve names of names of Hanuman Ji, feeding on wheat and gur after offering it to the Lord. Once, her 'nirjala vrata' intervened on a Tuesday, on which she was not to partake water or meals. So she neither prepared food nor did she offer anything to the Lord. She made a resolution that she would take food herself only after offering 'bhog' to Hanuman ji the following Tuesday. She stayed hungry and thirsty for seven days. She became extremely weak and lost consciousness the following Tuesday. However, Lord Hanuman was extremely happy with her devotion and resolve. He appeared before the Brahmin lady and said, " O Devi, I am very pleased with your devotion and resolve and shall grant you your desired boon today. This beautiful child will take utmost care of you." When the lady got up she saw a very beautiful glowing child in her lap. She remembered her dream and then understood that her child was a blessing from the Lord. She named her child 'Mangal'. When the Brahman returned from the jungle he was surprised to see this beautiful child playing in the courtyard. The lady told her husband the facts, however he was not convinced. He felt that his wife was of ill character. This was a further test for the lady. One day the Brahman was going to fetch water from the well. His wife asked him to take Mangal along with him. The Brahman thought of getting rid of the child and threw him into the well. When he returned home, his wife was shocked to find the child missing. She started weeping and continued to do so. Then the Brahman thought of telling her the truth. Just then the boy came running home shouting 'Mother, I have come'. The lady was extremely happy and embraced the child. The Brahman was quite perplexed and could not understand anything on seeing the child alive. At night Lord Hanuman appeared in his dream and told him that the child was a blessing for him and his wife, he should not have ill-will towards his wife, and he should take full care of the child Mangal. The Brahman was very happy. He got up and saluted Lord Hanuman and asked for forgiveness from his wife.


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CALENDAR OF FESTIVALS FOR 2015
Compiled by Pandit Satyavan Mishra (satyavan.mishra@gmail.com)
January 2015

05 Paush Poornima
08 Ganesha Chaturthi
14 Makar Sankranti
20 Amavasya
24 Vasanta Panchami

February 2015

03 Magha Poornima
17 Maha Shivaraatri
18 Amavasya


March 2015

05 Falgun Poornima
05 Lighting Holi Fire
06 Holi
20 Amavasya
21 Navraatri (Begins)
28 Ramnavami
April 2015

04 Poornima
04 Hanuman Jayanti
18 Amavasya



May 2015

04 Poornima
18 Amavasya




June 2015

02 Poornima
16 Amavasya




July 2015

02 Poornima
16 Amavasya
31 Guru Poornima



August 2015

14 Amavasya
29 Poornima
29 Raksha Bandhan



September 2015

05 Shri Krishna Jayanti
13 Amavasya
28 Poornima
28 Shraadha (Begins)


October 2015

12 Amavasya
12 Shraadha (Ends)
13 Navaraatri (Begins)
22 Navaraatri (Ends)
27 Sharaadha Poornima

November 2015

09 Dhan Teras
10 Hanuman Jayanti
11 Deepavali
25 Poornima


December 2015

11 Amavasya
21 Mokshadaa Ekadashi
21 Geeta Jayanti
25 Poornima



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GEETA JAYANTI IN PICTURES



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BHAJAN VIDEO WITH LYRICS
Kabhi Răm Banake Kabhi Shyăm Banake



KABHI RĂM BANAKE KABHI SHYĂM BANAKE

Kabhi Răm banake kabhi Shyăm banake
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă

Tum Răm roop men ănă
Sîtă săth leke dhanush hăth leke
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă
Kabhi Răm banake ...

Tum Shăm roop men ănă
Rădhă săth leke murli hăth leke
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă
Kabhi Răm banake ...

Tum Shiv ke roop men ănă
Gauran săth leke damaru hăth leke
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă
Kabhi Răm banake ...

Tum Vishnu roop men ănă
Lakshmi săth leke chakar hăth leke
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă
Kabhi Răm banake ...

Tum Ganapati roop men ănă
Ridi săth leke sidi săth leke
Chale ănă Prabhuji chale ănă
Kabhi Răm banake ...




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RECIPE: MATTAR KACHORI
http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2010/09/01/mattar-ke-kachori-spicy-puff-pastry/

Mattar Kachori, a delicious fried puff pastry filled with spicy green peas, is a mouth-watering snack that can also be served as part of a main meal. Kachoris can be served plain, with a variety of chutneys, or with aloo dam. This recipe will make 12 kachoris.
 
Ingredients for crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour or maida)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
Approximately 1/2 cup chilled water
 
Ingredients for filling:
1 cup green peas
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon coriander powder (dhania)
1 teaspoon fennel seed powder (sonf)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon shredded ginger
1/2 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to your taste)
Oil to deep fry
 
 
Method:
To make the crust: Mix the flour, salt and oil in a bowl. Add the chilled water slowly while mixing with your fingers. Do not knead the dough which should be very soft but not sticking to fingers. Cover the dough and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes.
 
To make the filling: Heat the oil in a frying pan, add green peas, stir-fry until peas are tender. Add ginger, coriander powder, fennel seed powder, chili powder, mango powder and salt. Stir-fry for another few minutes. While stir-frying the peas, mash them with a spatula, and let the filling cool to room temperature.
 
To make the kachoris: Lightly knead the dough, and divide it into twelve equal pieces. With your fingers flatten the edges of one piece of dough and make it into an approximately 2-inch circle, leaving the centre a little thicker than the edges. Mould the dough into a cup and place 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre. Pull the edges of the dough to wrap the filling. Proceed similarly with all 12 pieces of dough. Place the filled dough-balls on a clean and dry surface with the seam facing up, let them sit for 3 to 4 minutes, then using the base of your palm, slowly flatten each of them into a 3-inch circle. Heat 1.5 inches of oil in a frying pan. To check if oil is ready, put a little piece of dough in the oil - it should sizzle and come up very slowly. Fry the kachoris on medium heat. Do not overcrowd the kachoris in the frying pan. After they are puffed, slowly turn them over. It takes about 3 minutes to fry each side. Fry until golden-brown on both sides. If fried on high heat, the kachoris will get soft and will not be crispy.


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26
GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA: Recent and Upcoming Activities
by Shrimati Tangamani Menon

Regular Weekly Activities
Everyday A short pooja is performed at sunrise and sunset.
Tuesdays 8.00-9.00 p.m. Hanuman Chalisa recitation (5 times) & related anecdotes by Panditji
Wednesdays 7.30-9.00 p.m. Better Living Yoga Course for Householders from a holistic approach based on theoretical and practical aspects of the Patanjali Yoga system being offered by Ms. Nirmlah Dahvy.
Thursdays 7.30-8.45 p.m. Bhagavad Geeta study and discussion classes in English by Mr. Ashok Bherumal.
Fridays 7.30-8.30 p.m. Sanskrit classes by Panditji
Saturdays 6.00-7.00 p.m. Hindi classes by Panditji   7.30-8.30p.m. Geeta Recitation classes by Panditji
Sundays11.00 a.m.-1.00 p.m. Geeta satsang, bhajans, recitation and explanation of seven verses of the Geeta. (b) 11.00 a.m.-12.30 p.m. Children’s class conducted by Ms Asha Devi & Mr Chandru Binwani.

Panditji was away on leave from 9 to 17 November 2014
Every Purnima all 18 chapters of Geeta are recited followed by a get-together and sharing of prashad (pot-luck style) brought by devotees. Upcoming Purnima dates are: 5 January, 3 February (Thaipusam) & 5 March 2015 (Holi).

Celebrations during the 4th quarter of 2014:
Hanuman Pooja
(13 Sept - 21 Oct 2014)
Culminated with special abhishek and pooja on 25 October 2014
Geeta Jayanti
(15 Nov - 2 Dec 2014)
Daily evening satsang with Geetahavan on the final day in the morning
Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Pooja
(31 Dec 2014)
Ushering in of New Year with offering of Tulsi leaf/flower while chanting the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu

Upcoming Events
5 March 2015Holi celebrations together with Guruji's birthday (lighting of Holi fire & Guru puja).

Community Services
Mobile Geeta brought to your home/venue on request anywhere within the Klang valley consisting of:
(1) A one hour satsang, or (2) 2 ˝ hours recitation of the entire Geeta

Hosting a Sunday Satsang:
In commemorating a birthday, anniversary or simply in memory of loved ones, devotees may host a Sunday satsang lunch. Please contact the Ashram at Tel. No. 79564267 (9.30 am - 12.30 pm) for info / reservations.