Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Why do 'Ekadashi' fasting?

Hindu culture follows something called 'Ekadashi Vrat' or fasting on every 11th day of the lunar cycle i.e. 11th day (eka-dashi) from 'Poornima' as well as 'Amavasya'. Legends are that eating rice on ekadashi day would bring bad omen, also it is believed that fasting on ekadashi day get all our sins forgiven by Lord Krishna. Believe me there is nothing of that sorts and there is no religious reasons behind Ekadashi Vrat. Since we are more of 'God Fearing' people rather than 'God Loving' people our intelligent sages found this unique way of getting it followed by everyone in society for health and spiritual reasons. Let us take the scientific look behind the 11th day of every Lunar cycle.

We know that in India full moon night are called as 'Poornima' and 'New Moon' night is called as 'Amavasya'. This moon cycle is of 15 days - from poornima to amavasya. It is a proven scientific fact that the air pressure in the atmosphere rapidly changes in the surroundings on a full moon day or on the new moon day. The Sun-Moon-Earth combinations in the orbital path, when distances itself at every particular interval (i.e. every 24 hours of for every full circle the Earth rotates). When it occurs, accordingly the pressure in the atmosphere too changes drastically and varies from day to day. One can observe this from the increasing high tidal waves in the ocean. On any given New Moon day or Amavasya the pressure increases in the ocean and the tidal waves are very rough and high. But from the immediate next day onwards the pressure recedes gradually thus improving the atmospheric pressure. So, particularly on the 11th day from New Moon or Full Moon days, the pressure is somewhat very light or nil.

In the Indian Vedic system, there are different methods to calculate a month. One such method is counting from the new moon day known as Amavasya. The period between the new moon day till the full moon day it is called as ‘Sukla Paksha’ or waxing moon; from the full moon day till next Amavasya/new  moon day, it is known as ‘Krishna Paksha’ or the waning moon.  In the celestial phenomena, the Earth as well as moon raises and settles at the same time on Amavasya and from the next day to Amavasya, moon is moving about 12 degree distance from the solar path; on the Ekadasi day, i.e. 11th day from full moon the Moon stays at a distance of about 135 degrees in the solar path that causes lesser gravitation force and thus causing lesser atmospheric pressure. Thus fasting on an Ekadasi day will not affect the body system as also feeling of hunger would be too minimum.

If one has to go with an empty stomach on any other day, the atmospheric pressures will put on him or her more strain wherein on the Ekadasi day, the problem is minimal or nil. So the body never takes the pain while we cleanse the bowel system and thus refreshing the whole body mechanism - specifically the liver/stomach/bowel and the system movements. But on the immediate next day (called as Dwadasi or Dvadasi - i.e. 12th day from Full Moon/New Moon), to avoid any pressure on the body system we must eat food in the morning as early as possible. 

We do fast for health reasons because fasting helps in the detoxification of the body. In medical context, fasting refers to the state achieved after digestion of a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many medical diagnostic tests for blood sugar, cholesterol levels are standardized to fasting conditions. Thus fasting has medical reasons coated with religious significance in India.

Those who observe Fasting on Ekadasi days are keeping fittest health, cleansing their bowel system and mostly free from frequent ailments. Also it’s not about fasting strictly but just to avoid grains and oily (heavy) food. Eat light on this day to remain fit and healthy.

So guys, please don’t be superstitious w.r.t. Ekadashi, its just that it’s the best day for observing fast or eating light/dieting to get the best results.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Why should we visit temples?*

There are thousands of temples all over India in different size, shape and locations but not all of them are considered to be built the Vedic way. Generally, a temple should be located at a place where earth's magnetic wave path passes through densely. It can be in the outskirts of a town/village or city, or in middle of the dwelling place, or on a hilltop.
The essence of visiting a temple is discussed here.

Now, these temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust. The main idol is placed in the core center of the temple, known as "*Garbhagriha*" or *Moolasthanam*. In fact, the temple structure is built after the idol has been placed. This *Moolasthanam* is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum. We know that there are some copper plates, inscribed with Vedic scripts, buried beneath the Main Idol. What are they really? No, they are not God’s / priests’ flash cards when they forget the *shlokas*. The copper plate absorbs earth’s magnetic waves and radiates it to the surroundings. Thus a person regularly visiting a temple and walking clockwise around the
Main Idol receives the beamed magnetic waves and his body absorbs it. This is a very slow process and a regular visit will let him absorb more of this positive energy. Scientifically, it is the positive energy that we all require to have a healthy life.

Further, the Sanctum is closed on three sides. This increases the effect of all energies. The lamp that is lit radiates heat energy and also provides light inside the sanctum to the priests or *poojaris* performing the pooja. The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver. When done in groups, this
helps people forget personal problems for a while and relieve their stress. The fragrance from the flowers, the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy further aiding in a different good aura. The effect of all these energies is supplemented by the positive energy from the idol, the copper plates and utensils in the *Moolasthan*am / *Garbagraham*.

*Theertham*, the “holy” water used during the pooja to wash the idol is not plain water cleaning the dust off an idol. It is a concoction of Cardamom,*Karpura* (Benzoin), zaffron / saffron, *Tulsi* (Holy Basil), Clove, etc...Washing the idol is to charge the water with the magnetic radiations thus increasing its medicinal values. Three spoons of this holy water is distributed to devotees. Again, this water is mainly a source of magneto-therapy. Besides, the clove essence protects one from tooth decay, the saffron & *Tulsi* leafs protects one from common cold and cough, cardamom and *Pachha Karpuram* (benzoin), act as mouth fresheners. It is proved that *Theertham* is a very good blood purifier, as it is highly energized. Hence it is given as *prasadam* to the devotees. This way, one can claim to remain healthy by regularly visiting the Temples. This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments. They were not always superstitious. Yes, in a few cases they did go overboard when due to ignorance they hoped many serious diseases could be cured at temples by deities. When people go to a temple for the *Deepaaraadhana*, and when the doors open up, the positive energy gushes out onto the persons who are there. The water that is sprinkled onto the assemblages passes on the energy to all. This also explains why men are not allowed to wear shirts at a few temples and women are requested to wear more ornaments during temple visits. It is through these jewels (metal) that positive energy is absorbed by the women. Also,
it is a practice to leave newly purchased jewels at an idol’s feet and then wear them with the idol’s blessings. This act is now justified after reading this article. This act of “seeking divine blessings” before using any new article, like books or pens or automobiles may have stemmed from this through mere observation.

Energy lost in a day’s work is regained through a temple visit and one is refreshed slightly. The positive energy that is spread out in the entire temple and especially around where the main idol is placed, are simply absorbed by one's body and mind. Did you know, every Vaishnava(Vishnu devotees), “must” visit a Vishnu temple twice every day in their location.
Our practices are NOT some hard and fast rules framed by 1 man and his followers or God’s words in somebody’s dreams. All the rituals, all the practices are, in reality, well researched, studied and scientifically backed thesis which form the ways of nature to lead a good healthy life.

The scientific and research part of the practices are well camouflaged as “elder’s instructions” or “granny’s teaching’s” which should be obeyed as a mark of respect so as to once again, avoid stress to the mediocre brains.

*I have not written this article, it was sent to me by a friend so I thought to collect it on my blog to share it with everybody.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

What is the logic behind Indian traditional ‘shringar’ (makeup?

After Peepal tree, Sun God, Tulsi plant, Navratra and school punishment logics, this time I have brought for you the logic behind Indian women’s traditional makeup J. We all know, Indian women wear bangles, bindi, payal and earrings commonly and especially after marriage. These days, in the era of fashion and miniaturization everything has changed w.r.t. traditional makeup. The size of bangles, bindi, payal, mangalsootra and earrings have substantially reduced from what they were in the initial days of civilization. We can still see those sizes in some of our mythological TV serials and also some of the tribes and regions of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Women used to wear big, solid silver ‘kadaas’ in their leg and silver or gold ‘Kadaas’ in their hands. The size of bindis was also not this small, it was quite big so as to cover the entire ‘third eye’ area on the forehead, just above the mid point of the two eyebrows. You can still see Brinda Karat and Krishna Teerath wearing such big bindis. Similarly the earrings and the mangalsootras were also big and heavy of solid gold not like the ones in practice these days.

The bangles or the ‘kadaas’ are worn in hands and it continuously applies pressure on the point as depicted in the figure below:

The payal or the ‘kadaas’ are worn in legs and it continuously applies pressure on the points as shown in the figure below:

The ‘mangalsootras’ are worn in neck and it continuously applies pressure on the points as shown in the figure below:

Similarly the ‘bindis’ apply pressure on the third eye area and earrings are worn by getting the ears pierced in the ear lobe area.

Now all these pressure points are the points which when pressed increases fertility both in men and women. These pressure points are used in Acupressure therapy these days to treat fertility related problems in the entire world.

Most of these ornaments are used by Indian women after marriage and the sole purpose of the establishment of marriage institution was child birth and survival of the human race. Probably this was the reason our rishis and thinkers again associated these ornaments with high dignity and made people feel it to be auspicious, pious and Godly. This tradition of ours is only symbolic mark of a rich tradition now and has lost its significance in today’s world of fashion and the mad race of looking beautiful by compromising on its health benefits.

                                -Shitanshu Srivastava

Monday, 11 July 2011

Why did we get this punishment?

Remember the ‘good’ old Indian school punishments? Holding the earlobes with arms crossed over your chests, bending the knees and then sit and then stand and so on till the time Masterji is saying? If you still cannot figure out the punishment just see this picture.
I hope now you remember. Well, this time the topic is the logic behind this punishment only.
Ever thought why the traditional Indian school teachers would give this particular punishment? I believe even majority of the teachers who grant this punishment to their students do not know the reason behind it. This form of punishment has been in practice in our country since the Gurukul time and was given to the students who were weak in studies. That is a different question if now a days teachers grant this punishment for any mistake and not only for studies but originally it was meant for weak students only.
Talking about the logic behind this punishment, it is very interesting to know that this particular posture increases the blood flow in the memory cells in brain and synchronizes the right and left side of the brain to improve function and promote calmness, stimulates neural pathways via acupressure points in the earlobe, sharpens intelligence and also helps those with autism, asperger’s syndrome, learning difficulties and behavioral problems. This has been proven scientifically and you can find scores of links on Google uncle in support,
So, see how helpful this posture is for everyone. Probably this was the reason why our ancestors developed this punishment for us. In the name of punishment they were actually helping out the weak students only.
Probably we have forgotten this ancient method of increasing memory power but the West is now using is very diligently and they are recommending this posture or exercise to treat many a diseases. (http://homeopathyplus.com.au/poor-memory-can-be-improved-by-one-simple-exercise/)
In race of reaching, I don’t know where, we are forgetting our own gifts to humanity. Let’s bring it back. The world is trying it so why Indians, the originators of this posture, should wait?
                                                                                                  -Shitanshu Srivastava

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Why do we have Navratras?

Thanks for accepting the series “The ‘Why’ of Indian Traditions”. So far we have taken up three of our traditions and since we celebrated Navratras this month (April), this issue contains the fourth in the series “Why do we have Navratras”?
As we all know Navratras are a period of nine days celebrated twice a year (April & October) to worship Goddess Durga. Almost all parts of India celebrate Navratras and worship the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga. We keep fasts as per our convenience and worship the Goddess.
Our living style has drastically changed if we compare it to the society hundreds & thousands of years ago. The traditions which we follow in present are not establishments of today but of the pasts hundreds of years. Ever thought, why do we have Navratras, twice a year unlike other festivals like Deepawali or Holi which we celebrate only once a year?
Well, we all know, Navratras fall in the months of April and October every year and if we observe closely both these months are the months of changing seasons. April witness change of season from winters to summers and October witnesses change of season from summers to winters. The eating habits of both the seasons are quite different from each other. In winters where we require more fat to keep the body warm, summers require loads of fluids and light food to keep ourselves active the whole day and fight dehydration due to heat. The human body adjusts itself to whatever we eat in due course of time and exactly what happens in both the seasons, i.e. winters and summers, we get adapted to the food habits. But the change of season has to happen and body again has to adjust to the new food habits of the changed season.
To give enough time to the body to adjust itself to the changing season and to prepare itself for it, a social system was established by linking it to religion. These nine days were marked as a period when people would clean their body system by keeping fasts by avoiding excessive salt and sugar, meditate, remember Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations, gain a lot of positive energy, gain a lot of self confidence & increase the self determination power (yes! fasts are a medium to improve our will power and self determination) and finally get ready for the challenges of the changed season.
The system was established for the benefit of human kind but alas! We have changed the whole meaning attached to it. We think that Navratras are a license to eat loads of oily food because in the name of fasts we eat so much of fat, sugar and other related stuff that instead of cleaning the body system we make it even dirtierL. Actually, our body does not require the amount of food we generally eat and Navratras tries to prove this point only. Once a Britannia tag line, ‘Eat Healthy Think Better’ is truly inspiring so lets eat healthy, remain healthy and keep the actual spirit of Navratras alive not only for a period of 18 days a year but throughout our lives.

                                                                                                                             -Shitanshu Srivastava

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Why do we worship ‘Tulsi’ plant?

I am happy to write this third article in continuation of the series ‘The Why of Indian Tradition’. Today the topic is ‘Tulsi’ plant. In India, Hindu religion has bestowed ‘Tulsi’, with the status of mother. Traditional Hindu families consider it auspicious to plant Tulsi in their homes. They worship it and take every care of it. Also known as ‘Sacred or Holy Basil’, Tulsi, has been recognized as a religious and spiritual devout in many parts of the world.

We, Indians have a special respect for Tulsi. We see this everyday in our family when our mother or grandmother worship Tulsi and offer water to it. This tradition is continuing since ages, we even do not know since when. However, one point is very clear, our brilliant Rishis (sages) knew the benefits of Tulsi and that is why they personified it as a Goddess and gave a clear message to the entire community that it needs to be taken care of by the people, literate or illiterate. Today, we do not do any harm to Tulsi and try to protect it because it is like Sanjeevani for the mankind.

Documented as something being used in many traditional ceremonies, Tulsi plant is thought to open the heart and mind and bestow love, compassion, faith and devotion. With such belief it has been widely used in religious rituals and ceremonies throughout the continents.

Today, inspite of the fact that the mankind has scaled the heights in medicine, the entire medical fraternity world over acknowledges the traditional and herbal characteristics of Tulsi. The properties of Tulsi, which the world has acknowledged today was known to Indians since ages. Tulsi has great medicinal properties. It is an awesome antibiotic and a healthy tea as well. Taking Tulsi everyday as tea or otherwise increases immunity and help the drinker prevent diseases, stabilize his or her health condition, balance his or her body system and most important of all, prolong his or her life. Keeping Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the house. It is said that snakes do not dare to go near the Tulsi. This was reason, in ancient times, people would grow lots of Tulsi near their house. Tulsi also produces great quantity of oxygen which is again most vital for the survival of mankind.

Today more and more people from different walks of life have included Tulsi tea drinking in their daily routines- giving them a more relaxed and refreshed feeling. This wonder plant has been highly classified as something that is indeed organic, botanical, naturally safe, healthy, flavorful, aromatic, relaxing and refreshing.

The properties of Tulsi, which the world has recognized after so much of scientific testing and research was known to us (Indians) for thousands of years. Our Rishis were indeed great—isn’t it?

                                                                                                 -Shitanshu Srivastava

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Why do we worship Sun God?

In continuation of coming up with logical and scientific reasons behind our traditions, this time we will discuss why do we worship Sun God and especially offer water to it in the morning.

Most of us see our parents or grand parents and also even some of us offer water to Sun God in the morning. That is a different question if our ‘mornings’ for offering water to Sun god varies from 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon J, but those who are regular don’t see the timing and do it whatever time it is possible. Ever wondered why do we offer water to Sun God? Is it because Sun has the status of a God in our Indian customs? Is it because our parents or grand parents do and they know better about traditions so we should also follow suit? Or is it because we want to follow it for the sake of following it? Well the reason why our brilliant ancestors followed it had none of these reasons but a very strong logical and scientific reason behind it.

We offer water to Sun God in the morning between 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon as per our convenience with a Lota. When we pour water by raising both our hands towards Sun God a very thin flow of water falls from the Lota and we do not even see towards the Sun because of the strong rays coming from it. While our ancestors would offer water to Sun God at the time of dawn, when the Sun rises, with a utensil which had a wide edge, something like the one in figure 1.1. When the water was offered by raising both the hands towards the Sun God a wide film of flowing water would be made in front of the eyes and our ancestors (sages, saints) would see the Sun God through that film of flowing water. The rays of the Sun coming (filtered from the flowing film of water) at the time of sun rise were not only excellent for their eyes but it would also energize their entire body and soul.

It is a proven scientific fact that the early morning sun rays are good for the human being, after all human body is also a bundle of energy. The human body is made up of five things, air (vayu), water (jal), earth (prithvi), fire (energy) and space (aakash) and the cure of all the ailments of the body is amongst these five things only and the rays of the rising sun are one of these things. Many diseases can be cured by the use of sun rays e.g. ailments of the heart, eyes, jaundice, leprosy and weak mind. Rigveda says, it is sun that wakes one up from sleep. It is due to thesun that all can work and are active. All living beings of the creation depend on the sun. The sun removes physical, mental and spiritual weaknesses and makes one healthy and long lived. The seven colours of the sun are very good and important for the health. If early morning one has a bath and after offering prayers to the Lord one has sun bath and allows the sun rays to fall on one's body then one could free the body of all ailments and increase one's intelligence.

                                                                     Figure 1.1

                                                                                                              -Shitanshu Srivastava