Significant Features of Hinduism

Om

Om

Hinduism is an ancient religion, and it contains lot of temples situated all over the world. Many great rishis and saints have been born as Hindus, and most of the ancient kings have contributed their wealth for the purpose of building temples, and they are considered as very pure and pious, and they had the divine vision of the deities also. Famous saints like AdiShankara, Ramanuja and Madhwacharya had contributed a lot to Hinduism through their holy works.

Famous Rishis like Narada, Veda Vyasa and his son Sukha, and the twelve alwars had initiated the “VISHNU BHAKTI” in the minds of the people. Similar to them, the great Nayanmar saints have preached the importance of “SHIVA BHAKTI” amongst the people, and lot of teachings are available from many saints and sages, and the Bhagavat Gita teachings of Lord Krishna acts as a divine guide for all the people in the world, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.

The 14th and 15th Century Varkari Saints and the great Madhwa saint Sri Vyasaraja had contributed a lot to Hinduism, and made it to reach at its highest peak. Apart from great saints and scholars, each and every ordinary Hindu people got great bhakti on the deities, and they considered the divine deities as their own relatives, and used to worship them regularly.

However after the invasion of the Muslim rulers in India, most of the Hindu people were forcibly converted into Muslims, and those who disobeyed, were murdered by them. Ancient chaste and pious ladies have sacrificed their lives in order to escape from the clutches of the Muslim kings and their soldiers. Then again during the British rule, the British people also forcibly converted lot of Hindus into Christians, and made them to compulsorily worship Lord Jesus Christ in the Churches. Due to these sufferings lot of Hindus were converted into Muslims and Christians, and some of them were also preached, and still preaching against Hinduism.

Though the situation is slightly improved at this present scenario, still most of the Hindus are disinterested in worshipping the deities in the Hindu temples. They are also raising lot of questions about our Puranas and other holy texts. In order to get proper clarification of their doubts, they must have to approach some learned scholars, temple priests and divine discoursers.

Only if the Hindus sincerely believe their gods and goddesses, Hinduism would flourish in the near future. The rise and the fall of Hinduism, is in the hands of Hindus only.

In Amman temples, offering of Koozh is considered as a sacred act by the South Indian Hindus, and Koozh is a food item prepared using Ragi flour, and it contains good nutritional values. It would be mostly consumed by the people in Tamil Nadu. Some people used to consume this food item, as their morning food, and it would give chillness to our body. It is also sold by the Street Vendors in some parts of Tamil Nadu.

Koozh would be offered along with Ghee Pongal and Sweet Pongal to goddess Amman also called as Mariamman, during the month of Aadi. It is also served to the participants during the times of Mariamman festivals. Koozh offering is very famous in Angala Parameswari Amman Temples like Samayapuram Mariamman Temple, Melmalayanur Angala Parameswari Temple and Erode- Keerakara Veedi- Angalamman Temple. These temple ammans are worshipped as Kula Deivam by large number of devotees. During the Aadi month, devotees from all parts of Tamil Nadu, would visit these holy temples, and would offer Koozh, and Pongal as Prasad to the holy mother goddess. In General, similar to feeding sufficient food to our human mother, we are offering various kinds of Prasad items to the divine mother goddess. We are offering these items as a part of showing our love and affection on them.

Amman temples are considered as very powerful, since most of the temple idols are self-emanated idols. Amman would usually appear in the dreams of the ancient kings or queens or to the ordinary people and would tell a particular place, and would ask them to dig that place. At the time of digging, the devotees used to find the beautiful idols of the pious mother, and after that, they would build a temple for her in that place. In course of time, the temple would be visited by large number of devotees, and through their help, the temple would be converted into a big temple, and pujas and abhiskhekhams would be properly done in those temples.

Palani panchamirtham, is the most important ‘prasadam’ offered to the Tamil god Lord Muruga, at the Palani Murugan temple,and it had been certified as the best Prasad item, and delicious food product.

This panchamirtham is prepared using fresh bananas, jaggery, ghee, and honey. It is highly appreciated by the devotees, for its rich taste, and also for its flavour and divine significance.
The holy panchamirtham is prepared using modern equipment, and no physical touch is there while preparing this Prasad item and it would be prepared in hygienic conditions. Devotees can get panchamirtham as a prasadam in Palani Temple, and they can also procure it from the temple Prasad centres. Most of the Devotees health problems were cured after consuming this divine panchamirtham.

This Prasad item is offered by the temple management to its devotees since few centuries, and during the times of Kings rule in Palani, Panchamirtham would be prepared under their direct supervision, and if the king found any fault on the temple staffs, he would severely punish them at that time. But nowadays, such kind of strict supervision is not there, and the temple staffs are also preparing this stuff in a good manner.

In ancient times, it is believed, that after the preparation and offering of the Prasad in the shrine of Muruga, Lord Muruga itself used to taste the Prasad, and would leave some evidence for his presence. But nowadays due to the great influence of Kali Purusha, some devotees are not showing their true love and attachment on Lord Muruga, and some of them are worshipping Lord Muruga only for name sake. That’s why at the present situation, God is not showing his true form to his devotees, and only a very few of them, would be able to witness his divine presence in the temple shrine.

Perumal temple’s Pulihora(Tamarind rice) and Daddojanam (Curd Rice), is famous for its aroma and taste, and especially in Parthasarathy and Sri Rangam Temples. This food items would be prepared in the temple kitchen by the cooking staffs, with much dedication and devotion in mind. In some temples, devotees are allowed to distribute the Prasad, prepared from their homes, amongst the devotees.

During ancient times, when the caste discrimination was at its peak, at the request of their non-Brahmin friends, the Brahmin children would give some portion of their Tamarind rice and curd rice to them. During the time of the great Vaishnavite saint Sri Ramanuja, he used to give the Srirangam temple Prasad to all classes of people, irrespective of their caste, creed and community. It is best to consume curd rice after consuming tamarind rice, since the food would get easily digested in our body. The system of preparing variety rice in the temples was followed since ancient times. In some places, the kings would order the temple priests to prepare large quantity of curd rice and tamarind rice, in order to be distributed to all the devotees present in the temple.

In all the Perumal Temples, after the preparation of curd rice and tamarind rice, it would be offered as Naivedyam to Lord Vishnu, and then it would be neatly packed, and offered as Prasad to the devotees. If the devotees want to consume more quantity of the Prasad, then they would have to approach the Prasad stall in the temple, and must pay the prescribed price for the Prasad items and can get the required quantity. In general the parents would take their children also to the temples, at the time of distribution of the Prasad items, since usually children would be very much interested to eat the divine Prasad items, than that of their parents.

Water Dhanam is considered as the best dhanam in Hinduism as well as in all other religions. It is considered as the most important dhanam than that of Annadhanam, since without consuming water, we cannot eat food. Sometimes we may get scarcity of water especially during summer season.

Though the governments are providing water through water tankers, it is very difficult for them to quench the thirst of the entire people. Drinking water cans are available at all places, but we can able to get it only by paying the prescribed amount for the water cans.

Most of the people are constructing Borewell in their houses/flats in order to get water easily. Before some 30 years, most of the people would dig wells in their houses, and they used to get water through their wells. In ancient periods, people would easily get water just by digging 20 to 30 feet in their ground. That time, there were no Industrial establishments, concrete houses and pollution. People would joyfully spend their life, by taking bath from their well, and would breathe clean and fresh air.

But in this present scenario, even if we visit the homes of our friends and relatives, we would get shyness for asking water, since most of the people are buying water from the shops by paying their money. During summer season holidays, or in the weekends, we can put a chair and a table nearby our homes, and can distribute water and butter milk at free of cost to the tired travellers. We can also prepare RagiKuzh and fruit juices, and can offer it to those people who would be busily passing in our streets.

Every year millions of people from all over the world are dying due to drinking contaminated water. Hence we have to carefully spend the water, and must preserve it for future purposes. Giving water to a thirsty person is like giving life to him.

True devotees are those who would dedicate their soul and their entire body on the almighty. For becoming a true devotee, constant practice on spirituality is needed. Bhakti would not come in our hearts just like that, for getting sincere bhakti on the almighty we must practice a step by step approach in our life.

First we have to visit the temples at our young age along with our parents, then we have to learn to do the method of puja, and also memorise the mantras by the seeing the Sloka Book. Then in the next stage, we have to learn to do meditation on the almighty, and must have to try to see him in our soul.

A true devotee is one who worships his favourite gods or goddesses or even spiritual gurus as their saviour. Even spiritual gurus like Kanchi Mahaperiyava, Raghavendra and Sai Baba can be worshipped by us in the form of god, since they are the divine messengers sent by the god for the purpose of spreading the bhakti amongst the people.

True devotion must be of selfless in nature. While worshipping the god, we should not pray to the god only for our goodness, but we must have to pray to him for the wellness of the entire world. As per the sayings of Lord Krishna in his Bhagavat Gita, “if you show selfless bhakti and love on me, then I will be with you forever in your life”. Likewise we have to always keep the sweet memories of the god in our mind.

The great Bhakta Prahlada and Dhruva had showed their sincere bhakti on Lord Vishnu, and due to that, they have attained the highest position in the universe. Sage Narada and Veda Vyasa had incarnated in this earth, to spread the greatness of the Lord by the way of devotional writings and also by the way of conveying divine messages to various saints and sages.

Graha Pravesham is a type of Hindu ceremony which is performed when an individual or a family enters into a new home. During this ceremony, various pujas and homams would be done, in order to glorify the new home. Sometimes it would be performed even before the entire completion of the construction of the home. A learned Hindu priest or an astrologer would give a suitable date for performing the Graha Pravesh ceremony.

Among the various pujas, Vastu Puja would be done to Lord Vastu Bhagavan, in order to please him, and also to ward off the evil spirits from the new homes. Ganapathy homam, Dhanvantri Homam, Lakshmi Narasimha Homam also would be done to please the deities. Mostly Grah aPravesh would be done during January month (Thai month), and August month (Avani month). Graha Pravesh would not be done on Tuesdays and other inauspicious days.
Mostly it would be done during early morning, and before doing this ceremony, worship must be made to Lord Ganapathy and Lord Surya Bhagavan, in the form of Surya Namaskaram.

In ancient times, people would grandly celebrate the Graha Pravesh ceremony when they purchase a new home, which would be mostly a big sized one, and all the relatives of the family members would participate in the event. Most of the people would be either self-occupied or would be engaged in agricultural activities, and they would be having their own farm lands. And they delightfully celebrate this ceremony along with their large number of friends and relatives.

Nowadays most of the people are purchasing flats, and they celebrate this ceremony only with a limited number of their relatives and with their family members. Most of the couples would be having either one or two children, and they would be employed, and most of them are doing this ceremony for a formality only.

Even at the time of performance of puja, Ganapathi Homam and other homams, their thoughts would be about their office only, and they would hurriedly participate in the function, and after the end of the function, even without eating proper food, they would run into their offices, due to their busy schedule. But we cannot blame them also, since nowadays, due to the increase in cost of living, most of the women are employed, in order to earn for their livelihood.

It is suggested for the people who buy new homes, to worship the holy gurus Shirdi Saibaba and Guru Raghavendra Swamigal, before the start of the Graha Pravesh ceremony, in order to live in their new built homes in a peaceful and prosperous manner.

Griha dana means donating our land to others. Grihadana is in practice since ancient times, and it is considered as a noble act in Hinduism. According to legend, Lord Parasurama had donated almost the entire earth to Rishi Kashyapa. The three basic human needs are: food, clothing and shelter. Next to food and clothing, shelter is essential for all the humans. If we didn’t have a proper place to live in this world, then our life would become a tragedy. Living in the streets and busy roads would cause danger to our life and to our family, and we would have to face threats from anti-social elements and as result, our life would become a total failure.

Hence if any person donates at least a small portion of his land to poor people and to street dwellers, their praise would make him to live a long life with a healthy body. Nowadays lot of real estate owners are selling their lands at affordable prices. Though we cannot get back the returns immediately, we can buy it from them for future investment purposes, and also we can donate our land to charitable institutions like orphanages, old age homes, Mental Homes etc.

According to my suggestion, whenever if we buy an acre of land, we have to construct at least a small temple for Lord Vinayaka in our land, since if we pay our respects to the first god Vinayaka, then the remaining portion of our land would be properly utilized by us.

The 17th century Madhwa saint Guru Raghavendra Swamigal had got the Mantralayam village from a Muslim ruler, and apart from that, he has received lot of lands from many kings, including Muslim kings. We can also donate money with regard to the construction/repairs and renovation of the temples. Giving money for repairs and renovation of the temples is also considered as a part of Grihadana. We can also donate our lands for the purpose of constructing schools, colleges and Veda Patasalas. Most of the people would be writing the will in favour of their children only, and that is correct also. But before writing the will, we can donate some lands for temples and mutts, in order to get the grace of the divine almighty and the divine gurus.

If we happily donate some portion of our lands to temples/churches/mosques, then in our next birth, there is no need to worry about our stay place. By the way of donating our lands for a noble purpose, we would get the blessings of the earth mother Ma Bhudevi and her consort Lord Vishnu.

“OM”
WRITTEN BY
R.HARISHANKAR

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