Author Archives: illuminatelifetoday

Swāhā versus Swadhā (Gods versus Ancestors)

We are in the middle of 16-day period of honoring and remembering our ancestors, known as Shrādh or Pitri Paksha, There is a difference in the way we give offerings to Gods versus how we give offerings to our ancestors.

Offerings to Gods through SWĀHĀ: When we chant vedic mantras and then make an offering to the fire God (Agni dev), we say “Swāhā” at the end and then give offering. Why do we say Swāhā and what does that mean? The word Swāhā comes from ‘Su’ and ‘Āhve’. Su means good and Āhve is an invitation. Hence, through Swāhā we invite the Gods who are embodiment of goodness and Dharma and request them to accept our offerings. According to Shiv Purāna, Daksha prajāpati (progenitor) had many daughters. One of them was Swāhā and she was married to Agni dev (fire God). It is said that Agni dev accepts food only from his wife Swāhā. And according to another legend, all the Gods have appointed Agni dev as their provider of food. In other words, all the Gods will accept food only from Agni dev. So this means if we want to offer anything to the Gods, a) we offer it to Swāhā, b) then Swāhā accepts from us and gives it to Agni dev and then c) Agni dev accepts that offering from Swāhā and gives it to the respective Gods.

Offerings to Ancestors (Pitris) through SWADHĀ: Daksha prajāpati (progenitor) had another daughter named Swadhā who was married to the Pitri dev (lord of ancestors). The Pitris or ancestors accept offerings only through their wife Swadhā. Hence, we use the word Swadhā instead of Swāhā when we offer anything to the ancestors. Another legend says that Swadhā devi is manas putri (mind-born daughter) of Brahmā.

Merely by chanting the word Swadhā 3 times, we can connect with that shakti, with that power who is so close to our ancestors and will clear out our karmic debt to the ancestors. One can also chant the Swadhā stotram that I have given below.

All days during this fortnight of Pitri Paksha are important for honoring ancestors but especially Ashtami (8th lunar day), Trayodashi (13th lunar day), or when Moon is in Magha Nakshatra and most importantly Amavasya (New Moon) – these days are even more potent and our offerings will reach our ancestors and we will receive their blessings.

Om Swadhā Swadhā Swadhā,
Amit Garg


Swadhā Stotram

स्वधोच्चारणमात्रेण तीर्थस्नायी भवेन्नरः। मुच्यते सर्वपापेभ्यो वाजपेयफलं लभेत्॥
स्वधा स्वधा स्वधेत्येवं यदि वारत्रयं स्मरेत्। श्राद्धस्य फलमाप्नोति कालस्य तर्पणस्य च॥
श्राद्धकाले स्वधास्तोत्रं यः श्रृणोति समाहितः। लभेच्छाद्धशतानां च पुण्यमेव न संशयः॥
स्वधा स्वधा स्वधेत्येवं त्रिसन्ध्यं यः पठेन्नरः। प्रियां विनीतां स लभेत्साध्वीँ पुत्रं गुणान्वितम्॥
पितृणां प्राणतुल्या त्वं द्विजजीवनरूपिणी। श्राद्धाधिष्ठातृदेवी च श्राद्धादीनां फलप्रदा॥
बहिर्गच्छ मन्मनसः पितृणां तुष्टिहेतवे। सम्प्रीतये द्विजातीनां गृहिणां वृद्धिहेतवे॥
नित्या त्वं नित्यस्वरूपासि गुणरूपासि सुव्रते। आविर्भावस्तिरोभावः सृष्टौ च प्रलये तव॥
स्वस्तिश्च नमः स्वाहा स्वधा त्वं दक्षिणा तथा। निरूपिताश्चतुर्वेदे षट् प्रशस्ताश्च कर्मिणाम्॥
पुरासीस्त्वं स्वधागोपी गोलोके राधिकासखी। धृतोरसि स्वधात्मानं कृतं तेन स्वधा स्मृता॥
इत्येवमुक्त्वा स ब्रह्मलोके च संसदि। तस्थौ च सहसा सद्यः स्वधा साविर्बभूव ह॥
तदा पितृभ्यः प्रददौ तामेव कमलाननाम्। तां सम्प्राप्य ययुस्ते च पितरश्च प्रहर्षिताः॥
स्वधास्तोत्रमिदं पुण्यं यः श्रृणोति समाहितः। स स्नातः सर्वतीर्थेषु वेदपाठफलं लभेत्॥
॥ इति श्रीब्रह्मवैवर्त्ते महापुराणे द्वितीये प्रकृतिखण्डे नारदनारायणसण्वादे स्वधोपाख्याने स्वधोत्पत्ति तत्पूजादिकं नामैकचत्वारिंशोऽध्यायः ॥ स्वधास्तोत्रं सम्पूर्णम् ।
स्वधा, स्वधा, स्वधा


Ganesha Chaturthi – Aug 21/22, 2020

Life is full of obstacles. From the moment we wake up, we have to take care of bodily needs such as hunger and thirst. Not only do we face obstacles in worldly affairs such as livelihood, relationships etc, we also face obstacles in our sadhana and spiritual work that we do. And we face obstacles connected with our body as well – disease and old age. If we look at the life of Ganesha, his very existence represented obstacles. But he turned it around. He transformed every single obstacle into a huge blessing. For instance, soon after his birth, Ganesha’s head was cutoff by Lord Siva. In exchange of his own severed head, he received the head of an elephant which represents wisdom. That is why Ganesha is known as Vighna Hartā, the remover of obstacles.

Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated as the appearance day of Lord Ganesha. It falls on the Shukla Chaturthi (4th lunar day of bright half) of Bhadrapada month every year. Ganeshotsav (festival) ends after 10 days on Ananta Chaturdashi (14th lunar day) with immersion of Ganesha statues in flowing water. Here are Timings for Ganesha Chaturthi, 2020:

  • US Pacific: Aug 21 (Fri) 10:34 AM till Aug 22 (Sat) 7:30 AM
  • India: Aug 21 (Fri) 11:04 PM – Aug 22 (Sat) 8:00 PM
  • Australia AEST, Sydney: Aug 22 (Sat) 3:34 AM till Aug 23 (Sun) 00:30 AM

Ganesha was born on Chaturthi. So Chaturthi Tithi represents obstacles as well as removal of obstacles if we surrender to Ganesha. If we start some new project or journey on Chaturthi for example, we may face obstacles but we could turn those obstacles around into the biggest of blessings if we keep Ganesha in our minds and in our hearts. Every Chaturthi (4th lunar day) belongs to Ganesha and is auspicious for fasting and chanting Ganesha mantras.

Mythology: Once up on a time, baby Ganesha was hanging out under the sky at night. It was the Chaturthi Tithi. Chandra (Moon) saw this baby with elephant head and made fun of his appearance. Chandra was immensely proud of being very beautiful himself. Lord Ganesha cursed Chandra that whoever looks at him on this day (Chaturthi), will have some Mithya Dosha or false accusation against them. So it is advised never to look at Moon on Chaturthi Tithi. Instead, it is highly recommended to worship Ganesha on Chaturthi. It is also very beneficial to chant 11 or 21 or 108 names of Ganesha.


21 Names of Lord Ganesha

ॐ सुमुखाय नमः / ॐ गणाधीशाय नमः / ॐ उमा पुत्राय नमः / ॐ गजमुखाय नमः / ॐ लम्बोदराय नमः / ॐ हर सूनवे नमः / ॐ शूर्पकर्णाय नमः / ॐ वक्रतुण्डाय नमः / ॐ गुहाग्रजाय नमः / ॐ एकदन्ताय नमः / ॐ हेरम्बराय नमः / ॐ चतुर्होत्रै नमः / ॐ सर्वेश्वराय नमः / ॐ विकटाय नमः / ॐ हेमतुण्डाय नमः / ॐ विनायकाय नमः / ॐ कपिलाय नमः / ॐ वटवे नमः / ॐ भाल चन्द्राय नमः / ॐ सुराग्रजाय नमः / ॐ सिद्धि विनायकाय नमः

Om Sumukhāya Namah / Om Ganadhishāya Namah / Om Umā Putrāya Namah / Om Gajamukhāya Namah / Om Lambodarāya Namah / Om Harasunavey Namah / Om Shurpakarnāya Namah / Om Vakratundāya Namah / Om Guhāgrajāya Namah / Om Ekadantāya Namah / Om Herambarāya Namah / Om Chaturhotrai Namah / Om Sarveshvarāya Namah / Om Vikatāya Namah / Om Hematundāya Namah / Om Vināyakāya Namah / Om Kapilāya Namah / Om Vatave Namah / Om Bhāl Chandrāya Namah / Om Surāgrajāya Namah / Om Siddhi Vināyakāya Namah


On Ganesha Chaturthi, people make statue of Ganesha with clay and do Prana Pratishtha of this statue. Prana Pratishtha means invoking the Divine energy to enter into this statue and turn this piece of clay into a living deity. Then worship this deity (which is not just a statue anymore) for the next 10 days and then immerse it in flowing water on the 10th day. This process of immersion is called Visarjan. We create beautiful things and then let them go. No attachment. That is the law of nature. Here is complete Puja Vidhi for Ganesh Chaturthi: Here.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!!! Ganapati Bappa Morya, Mangala Murti Morya!!!

Solar versus Lunar Eclipse

We are in the midst of eclipses. Solar and Lunar eclipse always come together with a 2-week gap. Solar eclipse takes place during a New Moon and Lunar eclipse takes place during a Full Moon. We had a powerful Solar eclipse on July 2, 2019 and we will have a big Lunar eclipse on July 16, 2019. See exact times in my Vedic Calendar here.

What is the fundamental difference between Solar eclipse and Lunar eclipse? What should we do during an eclipse?

Sun is the king of the solar system. Sun represents our soul. Solar eclipse is a time when Sun is engulfed / swallowed by Rahu or Ketu (the nodes of the Moon). Sun is the source of Light. Rahu and Ketu are shadow planets (no light). Rest of the 6 planets (Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn) receive their light from the Sun and simply reflect that light back. So when Sun is eclipsed by Rahu or Ketu, all the other 6 planets will be in the dark, they will not receive any light from the Sun. Solar eclipse is an eclipse of the Soul. It is a big deal.

But usually Lunar eclipse seems to have more impact on us than a Solar Eclipse. Why is that? Moon represents our mind. Moon (mind) reflects the light of the Sun (soul). On every Full Moon (eclipse or not), our mind experiences an emotional overflow. But on a Full Moon when Moon is eclipsed, our mind seems to have lost touch with our soul momentarily. So not only there is emotional overflow during a Lunar Eclipse but also there is no guidance from the Sun (soul). We may feel lost or overwhelmed.

So what do we do during a Lunar eclipse? There is no external light to guide us. Our mind has lost touch with the soul. First of all, we need protection of the mind. How do we do that? Through Mantras. The word Mantra comes from Man (mind) + Tra (protection). Mantra is something that protects our mind. So doing mantra during an eclipse is extremely important. Secondly, since mind is eclipsed, we need to try and go directly to the source, reach the soul without support of the mind. Just Be. Meditate. Discover our pure Self. Practice dissolution of our mind and body.

Namaste,
Amit

24 Sages and 24 Gods of Gāyatri Mantra

Upanishads are part of Vedas and are known as Vedānta (‘anta’ means ending). They are philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality, which is known by various names: Ātman, Brāhman, Om, Pranav, Parabrahma, Supreme Consciousness etc. There are over 200 Upanishads surviving today. One of them, Gāyatri Rahasya Upanishad is a dialog between sage Yājñavalkya and lord Brahmā. This Upanishad talks about the secrets and divine power of Gāyatri Mantra.

There are 24 letters (akshar) in Gāyatri Mantra. Each letter of Gāyatri Mantra is associated with a different Shakti (divine power), different Devatā (God), different Rishi (sage), different Tattva (element), different Mudrā, different Avatār (incarnation) and even different flower. All these are elaborated in Gāyatri Rahasya Upanishad. Here in this article I am presenting one sloka (verse) from that Upanishad, as translated by my Gurudev Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharya in his monumental work 108 Upanishads (Title: १०८ उपनिषद्, सरल हिंदी भावार्थ सहित).


24 Letters of Gāyatri Mantra:

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः। तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो  देवस्य धीमहि। धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्॥
२४ अक्षर: १) तत्,२) स, ३) वि, ४) तु, ५) र्व, ६) रे, ७) णि, ८) यं, ९) भ, १०) र्गो, ११) दे, १२) व, १३) स्य, १४) धी, १५) म, १६) हि, १७) धि, १८) यो, १९) यो, २०) नः, २१) प्र, २२) चो, २३) द, २४) यात् |

Om Bhoor Bhuvah Swaha Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayāt.
24 Letters: 1) Tat, 2) Sa, 3) Vi, 4) Tu, 5) Rva, 6) Re, 7) Ni, 8) Yam, 9) Bha, 10) Rgo, 11) De, 12) Va, 13) Sya, 14) Dhee, 15) Ma, 16) Hi, 17) Dhi, 18) Yo, 19) Yo, 20) Nah, 21) Pra, 22) Cho, 23) Da, 24) Yāt.


24 Gods and 24 Sages Associated with 24 Letters of Gāyatri Mantra:

प्रथममाग्नेयं द्वितीयं प्रजापत्यं तृतीयं सौम्यं चतुर्थमीशानं पंचममादित्यं षष्ठं गार्हपत्यं सप्तमं मैत्रमष्टमं भागदैवतं नवममार्यमणं दशमं सावित्रमेकादशं त्वाष्ट्रं द्वादशं पौष्णं त्रयोदशमैंद्राग्नं चतुर्दशं वायव्यं पञ्चदशं वामदेवं षोडशं मैत्रावरुणं सप्तदशं भ्रातृव्यमष्टादशं वैष्णवमेकोनविशं वामनं विंशं वैश्वदेवमेकविंशं रौद्रं द्वाविंशं कौबेरं त्रयोविंशमाश्विनं चतुर्विंशं भ्राह्ममिति प्रत्यक्षरदैवतानी |

प्रथमं वासिष्ठं द्वितीयं भारद्वाजं तृतीयं गार्ग्यं चतुर्थं उपामन्यवं पञ्चमं भार्गवं षष्ठं शाण्डिल्यं सप्तमं लौहितमष्टमं वैष्णवं नवमं शातातपं दशमं सनत्कुमार एकादशं वेदव्यासं द्वादशं शुकं त्रयोदशं पाराशर्यं चतुर्दशं पौण्ड्रकं पञ्चदशं क्रतुं षोडशं दाक्षं सप्तदशं कश्यपं अष्टदशं आत्रेयं ऐकोनविंशं अगस्त्यं विंशमौद्यालकं एकविंशं आंगिरसं द्वाविंशं नामिकेतुं त्रयोविंशं मौद्गल्यं चतुर्विंशं अंगिरसं वैश्वामित्रमिति प्रत्यक्षराणामृषयो भवन्ति |

~ Gāyatri Rahasya Upanishad, sloka #5


As described in the above sloka, names of Devatās (Gods) associated with each letter of Gāyatri Mantra are as follows:

1) Agni, 2) Prajāpati, 3) Soma (Chandramā), 4) Ishān, 5) Āaditya, 6) Gāhrapatya (Agnivishesh), 7) Maitra, 8) Bhaga, 9) Āryamān, 10) Savitā, 11) Twashtrā, 12) Pushā, 13) Indrāgni, 14) Vāyu, 15) Vāmdeva, 16) Maitrāvaruna, 17) Bhrātrivya, 18) Vishnu, 19) Vāmana, 20) Vaishwadev, 21) Rudradev, 22) Kuber, 23) Aswini Kumār, 24) Brahmadev.

And names of Rishis (sages) associated with each letter of Gāyatri Mantra are as follows:

1) Vasishtha, 2) Bharadwāj, 3) Garg, 4) Upamanyu, 5) Bhrigu (Bhārgava), 6) Shāndilya, 7) Lohit, 8) Vishnu, 9) Shātātap, 10) Sanatkumar, 11) Ved Vyās, 12) Shukdev, 13) Parāshar, 14) Paundrik, 15) Kritu, 16) Daksha, 17) Kashyap, 18) Atri, 19) Agastya, 20) Udyālak, 21) Āngiras, 22) Nāmiketu, 23) Mudgal, 24) Vishvāmitra from Angirā lineage.

Devatās (Gods) and Rishis (Sages) are very intimately connected with each other. Through their penance and deep meditation, Rishis awaken the shakti of Devatās. These Rishis were highly enlightened beings who realized wisdom of the Vedas through their intense meditation. Simply chanting Gāyatri Mantra takes us closer to these Rishis as well as Gods and gives us a taste of nectar of their wisdom and blessings.

Birth of Pāṇḍavas, the Heroes of Mahābhārata

This story is from the epic Mahābhārata. The Mahābhārata is a legendary narrative of the Kurukṣetra War and describes the heroic lives of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes. It also contains immense philosophical and devotional wisdom. Biggest treasure in Mahābhārata is Bhagawad Gitā, which is a dialog between Lord Shri Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Gitā is a 700 shloka (verse) scripture in which Lord Sri Krishna teaches about selfless action, dharma, bhakti (devotion) and ways of achieving moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).

Pāṇḍavas were born around 3,200 BCE. They were the five sons of King Pāṇḍu, hence they were known as the Pāṇḍavas. One day while hunting in the forest, Pāṇḍu shot arrows and killed two deer embracing each other. Those deer were actually a sage and his wife who had transformed their body. They cursed Pāṇḍu that he will die if he ever embraces a woman. Hence, he could never have a child.

Fortunately, Kunti, the older wife of Pāṇḍu, received a boon from Sage Durvasa. The boon was that by chanting a specific mantra, she could invoke any God and immediately give birth to a child. Pāṇḍu asked her to invoke the mantra. Kunti did so 3 times and as a result conceived three sons. She first invoked Yama, God of Dharma and conceived Yudhishthir as a result. Yudhishthir was known as Dharma-rāj. He was the most righteous and truthful person alive. Then Kunti invoked Vāyu, God of wind and gave birth to Bhimasena. Bhimasena or Bhima for short was thus known as Vāyu-putra (son of wind). He was mighty powerful like the wind. Lastly Kunti invoked Indra, the King of Gods and conceived Arjuna. Thus, Pāṇḍu and Kunti had three sons: Yudhishthir, Bhima and Arjuna. Pāṇḍu also had another wife, Madri. Madri also used Kunti’s mantra and conceived two sons of her own – Nakul and Sahadev. They were twins and were the sons of the Gods Ashwini Kumars, the Divine Physicians. This is how the five Pāṇḍavas came into being.

Birth of Pāṇḍavas in English:

Namaste,
Amit

Pandavas

2018 Festival Dates

5 days of Diwali celebration begins tomorrow, November 4, 2018. The first of these 5 days is celebrated as Dhan Teras. This day is also known as Dhanwantri Trayodashi, the appearance day of lord Dhanwantri who came out of the Ocean with a pot of amrita (nectar) in his hand on this day. Please see below exact dates and times for Dhan Teras and Diwali for India and USA (PST).

You can also find this information on my website here: https://ganesha-hanuman.com/vedic-calendar/

Calendar Dates

Namaste,

Amit

Yoga & Jyotish

“Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) gives us the knowledge to know our Karma and Yoga gives us the path to reach eternal joy. If we don’t overcome the Karma of the mind and body, how can we remove the obstacles to the path of the soul? This book bridges this gap between Jyotish and Yoga with very deep understanding of the human body, mind and soul.” ~ Souvik Dutta, AIAC Guru.

It is the first book of its kind that combines Yoga and Jyotish. We are all unique individuals with a unique footprint of Karma in the past lives which gives us our unique body and mind in this lifetime. Our Karma is shown by our astrological chart. This book offers guidance on how to tailor your Yoga Practice with the tools of Yogāsana, Prānāyāma, Mudrā, Maṇtra and Āyurveda based on your Rising Sign in your Horoscope.

Available here for purchase.

Om Shanti,
Amit Garg

Book CoverJPG

Book Back cover

Akshay Tritiya – Parashuram, Sudama, Yudhishthir

Coming up this week is Akshay Tritiya – this is the only day in the whole year when Sun and Moon both are exalted. Exalted means dignified and feeling strong. Sun and Moon are the luminaries. Sun gives us light during the day and Moon gives us light during the night. Sun is the King of the day and Moon is the Queen of the night. Akshay means that which cannot be destroyed or decayed. So, any work done on Akshay Tritiya grows. It is one of the best days to start projects, give donation, start education, take vows, make promises, initiate mantras and start taking herbs. 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Parashuram was born on this day and he became a Chiranjivi – one who never dies and lives forever. Sudama visited Lord Krishna on this day with a handful of rice and their friendship is immortal. Yudhishthir received Akshay patra (bowl that provides food for eternity) from Lord Krishna on this day to feed pandavas.

Akshay Tritiya Timing for 2018:
PDT: starts 3:19 pm April 17 (Tuesday) and ends 1:00 pm April 18 (Wednesday)
India: starts 3:49 am April 18 (Wednesday) and ends 1:30 am April 19 (Thursday)

Within the lunar day of Akshay Tritiya, sthir lagna (fixed rising sign – especially Taurus) is best for initiating things but if you don’t know timing for sthir lagnas for your location, the entire lunar day of Akshay Tritiya is good. Remember, Tithis (lunar days such as Akshay Tritiya) have nothing to do with sunrise or day of the week. Tithis start at exact same moment everywhere on Earth and end at same exact moment everywhere.

New Moon – new beginnings
This month’s New Moon is taking place at 7:00 pm PDT on April 15 ( Sunday) in the sign of Aries. New Moon takes place when Sun and Moon are exactly at the same point in the zodiac. Sun is our father and Moon is our mother. A child is born only when father and mother come together. Union of Sun and Moon every New Moon signifies this birth of a new cycle. This particular monthly cycle will be an Aries cycle. See which house is Aries in your birth chart or horoscope and that house or area of life will have focus and powerful energy throughout the next 29 days or so. For example, if Aries is in your 4th house, then you will have powerful energy at your disposal this month to heal your mother, renovate your house, start projects at your place of residence etc. Within Aries, this New Moon is taking place in the lunar mansion (Nakshatra) of Ashwini. Ashwini symbolizes healing. Deity of Ashwini are Ashwini Kumaras – the celestial healers. They go around and heal the Gods. So a big theme for this next cycle is healing.

Om Shanti,
Amit Garg
https://www.ganesha-hanuman.com/

Siva, Tripurantaka – the slayer of 3 cities of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas

The demon Taraka was killed by Kartikeya, the son of Lord Siva. His 3 sons Tarakaksha, Vidyunmali and Kamalaksha were furious and wanted to take revenge. They worshiped Brahma and asked for a boon of immortality. Brahma said he cannot grant that. They came up with a clever idea. They asked from Brahma for 3 cities which will float in the heavens, the skies and the earth plane respectively. These cities can only be destroyed when all 3 are aligned in straight line and can be destroyed only by a single arrow and that too shot by none other than lord Siva himself. Brahma granted them their wish. So gaining virtual immortality, the 3 demon brothers started creating havoc. Gods pleaded to Siva and Siva agreed to help. Vishwakarma, the celestial architect designed the heavenly chariot. Sun became the right wheel and Moon the left wheel, Vishnu entered the arrow of Siva and Brahma was the charioteer. Siva went on the chariot and at the exact time when 3 cities were aligned when Pushya Nakshatra was rising on the horizon and at the Muhurata of Abhijit, Siva shot the arrow and destroyed the 3 cities.

From that point on, Siva received the name Tripurantaka, the slayer of the 3 cities.

Siva is the divine archer. He is the spirit. Three cities represent the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. All three gunas have to come to a state of equilibrium (in a straight line) before the divine archer (Siva) can shoot the arrow of wisdom (Vishnu) and kill (harmonize) all three cities (gunas) and thus give redemption to the jivatma or embodied soul. The time has to be ripe for such liberation, so the arrow has to be shot at the right moment / Muhurata.

(Image: exoticindiaart.com)

Tripurantaka - Exotic India

Who is Siva?

Siva is not just the destroyer. He is Brāhman, He is Purusha, He is Sadāsiva, He is pure consciousness. He drank halāhal (the poison coming out of the churning of the Ocean) to save humanity. Will a destroyer do that? He brought holy river Gangā on earth by carrying her weight in his matted hair. Will a destroyer help nourish the earth?

He is not just the destroyer. He is all five: the Creator, the Preserver, the Destroyer, the Māyā (illusion) and the Grace. The word Siva means the auspicious one. He embraces everyone. He is Pashupati, the lord of all creatures. For Siva, there is no good or bad, there is no right or wrong. He is the friend of demons and ghosts. He wears snakes around his neck and carries a skull as his begging bowl. He smears ashes of the dead on his body and dwells in cremation grounds and icy caves of the mountains. Kubera (the king of yakshas), Ravana (the king of demons) and Shukra (the guru of asuras) are among his greatest devotees. There is nothing inauspicious when we are talking about Siva. And there is nothing else other than Siva. Om Namaha Sivāya.

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