Pitru means ancestors and Paksha means fortnight. Pitru Paksha is the fortnight that belongs to the ancestors. It is the ideal time to worship our ancestors, do Tarpan or Shrādha ritual for them, seek their blessings and pray for their liberation. Pitru Pasha every year starts on the Full Moon (Poornima) of Bhadrapada lunar month and lasts until the following New Moon (Amavasya). This year (2022) it is from Sep 10 through Sep 25. The ancestral plane is closer to the Earth during this fortnight. Think of all your ancestors, your lineage. Offer incense to ancestors. Light a ghee lamp each of these 15 days.
Here are some powerful mantras you can chant for ancestors especially during pitru paksha:
ॐ पितृभ्यः नमः। Om Pitribhyah Namaha
ॐ देवताभ्यः पितृभ्यश्च महायोगिभ्य एव च । नमः स्वाहायै स्वधायै नित्यमेव नमो नमः ॥ Om Devatābhyah Pitribhyah Cha Mahāyogibhya Ev Cha | Namah Swāhāyei Swadhāyei Nityameva Namo Namaha ||
The day when Parashuram, the 6th incarnation of Vishnu was born. He was invincible.
The day when Pandavas received Akshay patra from Krishna. This is the vessel which never ran out of food. Pandavas survived their exile in forest thanks to this Akshay patra. The vessel was inexhaustible.
The day when Sudama visited his long lost “best friend” Krishna after so many years and his life was changed forever by Krishna. His old dilapidated hut transformed into a palace. With Krishna’s blessings, Sudama’s wealth and joy was immeasurable.
The day when Lord Ganesha started writing the epic Mahabharata as dictated by Ved Vyasa. And Ganesha wrote non-stop for three long years until he finished writing the entire Mahabharata! Ganesha was unstoppable.
The only day in the whole year when both Sun (soul) and Moon (mind) are exalted (strong).
Akshay Tritiyatimingsfor 2022: Begins May 2 @ 4:48 pm PST and ends on May 3 @ 7 pm PST.
What to do on Akshay Tritiya? You do things on Akshay Tritiya that you want to grow in your life. Give donation to the Gurus. Share knowledge, books and teachings. Start new projects, buy a new house, embark on an important journey or make plans (buy tickets) for one, start a new spiritual practice, seek blessings of the Gurus, do chanting and meditation and yoga. Plant seeds, touch the Earth, eat dosa, walk bare feet on the beach, do yagyas…Whatever makes you happy 🙂
May this Akshay Tritiya bring inexhaustible joy, health and wealth in your life.
Navrātri (9 nights): The auspicious festival of Navrātri, the 9 nights of the Goddess is celebrated 4 times a year at the junction of 4 seasons. One of those is the Gupta Navrātri. This is celebrated at the beginning of Magha lunar month in Jan-Feb.
Why the Night? Night is the time of Tamas. Tamas is needed as much as Sattva and Rajas. We need a combination and balance of all 3 Gunas. If there were no Tamas, we will have no sleep at night. We feel refreshed and rejuvenated in the morning, thanks to the restful inactive period of the night. Hence, the Navrātri, the 9 nights of the Goddess invite us to go within, be inactive, give a rest to our faculties so we can experience Mother’s nectar.
Saraswati: Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, knowledge, wisdom, arts, music, speech and intelligence. Vasant Panchami is dedicated to the worship of Mā Saraswati. Vasant Panchami also marks the beginning of Spring, as per Vedic calendar. In India, usually a child begins formal education on the day of Vasant Panchami. As per one belief, Mā Saraswati is considered the daughter of Lord Shiva and Mā Durga. As a result, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya are considered her siblings.
Gupta Navrātri2022 timings: First Navrātri begins on Jan 31 at 9:45 pm PST and the Last (9th) Navrātri ends on Feb 9 at 9:40 pm PST
Vasant Panchami (Saraswati Pujā)2022 timings: Starts on Feb 4, 2:15 pm and ends on Feb 5, 2:19 pm PST.
How to honor the Goddess? One can do following things during Navrātri: Fasting. Maun (silence) i.e. do silent meditation these days or at least refrain from talking too much. Chant Devi mantras (see the list below). Perform yagyas (Vedic fire rituals). Honor the fire principle. Durga Saptashati is especially powerful during Navrātri. See the video at the bottom of this article.
Vedic Calendar for 2022 is here. These include all the Full Moons, New Moons, major Vedic Festivals, Transits of planets, retrograde cycles and much more. You can download PDF versions here: https://ganesha-hanuman.com/vedic-calendar/
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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/