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LATEST EDITION
Friday, July 31, 2015
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Guru Purnima Celebrations this Year on the Day of the 'Blue Moon': Guru Purnima, the day to remember one's 'Guru, the Dispeller of darkness!



The first Full Moon after the Summer Solstice on 21 June that falls in the month of Ashadam/Mithunam in the Hindu Calendar (July as per the Gregorian Calendar) is celebrated as 'Guru Purnima', a day to celebrate one's Guru/Teacher. But this year 'Guru Purnima' falls in the month of Shravanam/Karkkidakam and is celebrated on the day of the 'Blue moon', the 2nd full moon in July, on 31 July – the month of July this year had two full moons, 2 July and 31 July. Days accumulate every year in relation to the Gregorian calendar due to the short lunar months (29.5 days) leading to two full moons in one month, which occurs every 2.7 years and that year will have 13 full moons, in stead of the usual 12 – the second moon in the same month is called the 'Blue moon', or the 3rd of the four full moons in a season – the last Blue moon was in 2012 and the next in 2018!

It has been documented that there are seven blue moons in 19 years (One in 2.7 years), but there are different theories why the second moon in the same month is called the 'Blue moon', when the moon is not actually blue in colour, though it could happen due to the ash in the atmosphere from forest fires or Volcanic eruptions making it to appear blue! Or perhaps to mean a rare event, as in “Once in a blue moon”, but then it is not that rare as it occurs every three years or so! Whatever the theory is, nothing could take away the blissful beauty of the 'Blue moon' that was revealed in the sky tonight, though I had to wait till around 10:30 PM tonight due to the dark clouds! The celestial beauty was still visible, just as beautiful in the morning sky at 5:30 AM, just starting its descend and finally took its exit by 5:45 AM – and my thoughts were with Neil Armstrong, Edwin Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who set foot on its surface on 21 July 1969 – "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.", as Neil Armstrong said!


Summer Solstice on 21 June is the longest day for people in the northern hemisphere -- the sun appears to stand still at the same height because of the Earth's tilt -- the sun shines directly on the Tropic of Cancer, the 'Summer Solstice' and the opposite happens in December when the Solstice is in the southern hemisphere with the sun shining on the Tropic of Capricorn, while the northern hemisphere has the 'Winter Solstice'! The sun is at the highest point in the sky at noon during the summer solstice, making it the longest day, and the sun is at its lowest in winter, making it the shortest day! The Sun starts its 'Southern journey' the day after the Summer solstice, the 'Dakshinayan', time for meditation, reinvention and purification for us, and the Sun's 'Southern journey', starts the day after the 'Winter solstice' in December, the 'Utharayan', time of enlightenment. According to the Hindu Belief, Utharayan is Daytime for the gods and Dakshinyan is night, as our one year is one day for the gods, six months of day and six months of night!

The word 'Guru' is derived from two words in Sanskrit, 'Gu' meaning darkness, and 'Ru' meaning dispeller, 'Dispeller of darkness or the one who removes darkness of ignorance leading the students/aspirants on to the path of enlightenment! The day of Guru Purnima is considered one of the greatest moments, the day when 'Adiyogi, Lord Shiva', after 84 years of meditation on the banks of Kanthisarovar in the Himalayas started his teaching to the 'Saptharshis' (Seven Sages), around 15,000 years ago ! The Saptharshis took the knowledge, the 'Yoga teaching' that offered the possibility of attaining greater knowledge beyond what physical nature can achieve, and how to evolve consciously by meditation and yoga practice, to all corners of India! Lord Shiva is generally considered the 'First Guru or the 'Adiyogi', and this day is also celebrated by many to honour Sage Vyasa, who edited the four Vedas (Rigveda,Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharva veda), who also wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata; and the Buddhists honour Buddha on this day.

The day of the first full moon after the Summer solstice is a time when Earth and all life upon it are most receptive to the cosmic energy and its possibilities. In addition to having religious importance, this festival has great importance for Indian academics and scholars, irrespective of their religion or social status. Indian academics celebrate this day by offering gratitude to their teachers and receive their blessing, and it is also a day to remember past teachers and scholars, or read their books or teachings, especially for those away from their teachers. It is considered the best time to begin one's spiritual lessons and traditionally, the aspirants start their spiritual 'sadhana' and meditation from this day. This day is of deep significance to the farmers too, as it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, that ushers in fresh life in the fields – it is believed that potatoes and other vegetables planted on the night of the Full Moon give the best harvest!

The day of 'Guru Purnima' is also a time for self-assessments, to throw away the negative vibes, to have pure thoughts always and a decision to improve one's own life, and to help fellow beings in need, which must include protecting women and children and the elderly in our society! The righteousness of Shiva and his Yogic Virtues, and teachings of our Gurus (Mother, Father and Teachers) should be looked on as a 'Focus' in life, drawing energy from the 'Shivam' and the teachings of others to achieve greater things in our lives. The next six months during the 'Dakshinaayan' is time for meditation, reinvention and purification for us, and also to strive for evolving and experiencing the 'Divine' in each of us which may be dormant in us, to better one's life on this planet Earth! On this day more than any other day, I pay homage to all my teachers, my parents who started me on my journey and all those from whom I have learned over the years through their books, articles or even conversations!
Have a Peaceful day, taking stock of one's life and paying tribute to our parents and teachers!
©EMenonJuly2015

 

FEATURED ARTICLE FROM THE ARCHIVES

Yog, according to Swami Ramdev
by Elizabeth Menon link to this article...recommend this article to a friend...

Swami Ramdev can solely take the credit for changing the image of yoga and its practice. In other words, this is Yoga, according to Swami Ramdev! He is neither the front man of a Rock 'N' Roll band nor he is a magician or an actor, but he has the looks, charisma, the body, movement and the capacity to alight an entire stadium with his presence. He doesn't stalk the stage like a panther, but mostly he sits in Padmasana or Vajrasana, except when he is worshipping the sun or walking on his hands! He does magical things with his abdomen, but only with the use of fresh air and a bit of muscle power.

He is a celestial being completely detached from worldly pleasures and committed to serving the humanity; he has this great desire to change the world into a 'Healthy world' with no illness. And how does he plan to do this? Just with the aid of controlled breathing and fresh air, otherwise known as 'Pranayama'. Swami Ramdev, who brought Pranayam to the forefront, believes in 75%of Pranayama and 25% Asanas to remain healthy and get rid of diseases, quite different to the earlier concept of Asanas being the main component and thereby giving Pranayam a subsidiary role! Though Pranayama was known to be an essential part of Yoga practice, it was seldom given the pride of place it deserved.

He does not preach religion, but the divine power surrounds him like a halo and anyone who comes near him feels that power and draws on that infinite energy. In spite of all these attributes, this saint of a man, almost celestial is very humble but has the power to hold an audience in the palm of his hands by doing just a little Nouli! (For the un-initiated few, Nouli is the magical massaging movement of one's 'Intestines'). If anyone is wondering if such a person exists, 'The saintly golden wonder from India', His Holiness Swami Ramdev who has transformed India to wake up to a healthy tomorrow, is the answer! Swami Ramdev was initiated in the ascetic order on the banks of the sacred River Ganga. He established Divya Yog Mandir Trust in 1995 with the help of Muktanand Maharaj and Acharya Balkrishen. His kindness, loving nature and dedication to serve humanity have won him an enormous following in India and all over the globe, just within a short span of 6-7 years! He is highly proficient in Ayurveda and Vedic philosophy, Sanskrit and yog practice.

Yoga is an ancient Indian art that has been in practice for over 5000 years. But it was Saint Patanjali who compiled it so that the common man could understand it and called it the Ashtanga yoga, the eight yogic practices, that brings about the positive way of thinking. Swami Ramdev follows in the footsteps of Maharshi Patanjali and he brought it to the masses, in the form of simple Pranayam and Asanas. One must understand that 'Yoga' is not a religion and the word 'Om' is not part of only the Hindu religion, but the Buddhists and Gregorian Monks used it as the sacred sound for chanting; Yog is oneness with the divine, a holistic approach to the art of living through commitment and understanding.

Manipulation of breathing pattern will improve transmission of impulses resulting in functional changes leading to an increase in immunity and finally an evolved state of eternal bliss -- various systems in the body improve maintaining good health, treatment of various ailments to those who are in poor health, and also help to get rid of habits such as smoking and alcoholism. The benefits are endless to those who complete these chosen exercises. Diseases like asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, Tinitis,obesity, allergy and Hay fever, migraine, diseases pertaining to lungs, heart and brain are cured by doing Pranayam, at least 5 to 15 minutes, twice daily; improvement in Parkinsons disease, eye sight and memory also are noted; hair loss and premature greying are relieved by rubbing ones nails -- impulses are sent through the pressure points -- there were quite a few at the workshop in London whose hair turned black just by following this technique, and they had the photos to prove it, but one needs to have determination and the perseverance to do it every day!


There were many patients in the audience at each venue who were completely cured of various ailments such as asthma, hypertension, migraine, diabetes, high cholesterol, hay fever, fibroid uterus, crohn's disease, skin conditions such as leucoderma, psoriasis, eczema, ovarian cysts, and improvement in nervous disorders. I was amazed at the revelations at the workshop I attended; there were even consultant physicians, surgeons and GPs who were disclosing details of cure among their relatives and patients. The unmistakable improvement in spinal ailments, paralysis and especially in Parkinson's was reassuring to many of the sufferers who attended the venue.

It was overwhelming to witness the benefits of Pranayam in fibroid uterus, ovarian cysts, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, fibrosis of lungs, rheumatoid arthritis, frozen shoulder, migraine not responding to any treatment, various malignancies. etc, narrated by the patients themselves in most instances, showing benefits within 4-9-12 months. (Graves disease, carcinoma of prostate and bladder were among the cases disclosed) These patients had the test results with them taken prior to starting Pranayama and during, at regular intervals. (Anulom Vilom, Kapal bhati and Basthrika are most beneficial). Obesity showed remarkable improvement, loosing from 5- 11 kilograms and even up to 40 kilograms in a few, in 4-12 months! These revelations are quite difficult to believe until one has witnessed it and even I was sceptical in the beginning. His desire to meet all doctors attending the workshop was highly commendable; the conference was arranged where medico-legal points were discussed and the need for evidence-based medicine was stressed. Most doctors were of the opinion that publication of data from Swami Ramdev's clinical trials is of paramount importance.

It is important that everyone understands the real meaning of yog and the practice of its various techniques to correct the imbalance of Prana (Life force) and physique, which will then be reflected in the body, mind and intellect. Therefore, the presence of Swami Ramdev and his yog workshops in the UK was a blessing in deed. These workshops were of colossal magnitude, attended by people of multinational origin. Language was no barrier as Swami Ramdev is beyond any language; his presence was enough motivation for the adoring crowd and they followed his every single word and magical move!

Swami Ramdev was in total control of what went on at each session and he conducted it with such grandeur that, three hours of asanas, Pranayama, teaching of philosophy and Ayurved felt like only a few minutes! His wonderful sense of humour kept the audience captivated and the seven Pranayama: Bastrika, Kapal-bhati, Anulom Vilom, Bahya Pranayama, Omkar japa, Udgeethu Bhramari and asanas were conducted like a well choreographed works of art. Though there are various methods of Pranayama and Asanas, Swami had selected seven methods of Pranayama that can be completed in about 20 minutes and a few highly useful Asanas, which would give maximum benefit. His unique wonderful sense of humour was evident at every session through the week.

The benefits and the real meaning of Kapal Bhati (Glow on the fore head/ healthy glow) were quite evident on Swami Ramdev! I could not help thinking that one does not need to go to a gym to get a perfect body, just one look at the 'Treasure chest of India' was enough to convince anyone that he is a living advertisement for Pranayama, to achieve the 'Perfect triangle' and the tummy to die for! (No disrespect to Swami, of course). Swami Ramdev believes that spinal and joint injuries with the careless use of weights at a gym could be avoided among youngsters, by practicing Asanas and Pranayama. His kindness and empathy with each person at the venue was unmistakable and the blessing he bestowed on each of those who were suffering was ecstatic to witness. His captivating mannerisms, his charisma and the way his arm goes up in the air when he wants to stress a point, almost a 'Mercurial gesture', reminded me of the Rock 'N' Roll legend with an inimitable voice! Swami's extensive and thorough knowledge of allopathic medicine, acupressure and Ayurved only add to his greatness as a Yogic Master. Yoga is the new way of living and that should be the first to add on when one makes 'Lifestyle changes' for a healthy and peaceful life!

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