A festival for Self – Development
Many festivals are celebrated on this Full Moon Day
Just as Dipawali (the festival of lights) is very special for merchants, Shravani Poonam (the full moon day of the month of Shravana) too is so very special for the Brahmins. They celebrate it as the New-Year Day. They wear a new holy thread on this day; offer libations of water to the Seven Great Rishis; and make a resolve to remain firm in undertaking spiritual journey to attain Supreme Knowledge that endows one with equanimity and Supreme Bliss. The sailors offer coconuts(Narial in Hindi) to the Sea-god praying for their protection. Therefore, it is also known as the Nariali Poonam.
On this day, a thread is tied round the wrist of brothers by the sisters with a resolve for protection (Taksha or Rakhi) from the evil during the coming year. Sometimes friends also tie it round the wrist of their friends. This is also the incarnation day of Lord Hayagriva; and the ‘Sanskrit Language Day’ too is celebrated on this Poonam. The language – that gives us good samskaras (pious traits and cultural values) is Sanskrit, which means “caltured”, the language of the Vedas. It is also known as the ‘Deva Bhasah’ or the language of the gods. Its script is known as ‘Devanagari’. This is known as the most precise and richest of all languages. Sanskrit language and our culture make life religious and cultured; they save us from perverted hedonistic tendencies and bring us closer to the Nature; establish us in a state of Samadhi. They take us further ahead by helping us transcend the effect of Prarabdha )that part of the accumulated effect of past deeds which has begun to take effect with the creation of the present physical body) to finally make the Jivatma (the individual soul) one with Paramatma (Supreme Soul).
The Day to make a resolve to attain Spiritual wealth
The festival of Shravani Poonam is meant for ‘Self –devlopment’. Your body is already developed, but it will be left behind in the end. In order that the individual soul doesn’t come to grief after death, you ought to develop it spiritually. It should not be that Nature pushes you in the womb of lower animals like horse, donkey, dog, cat, or throws you into the infernal world of ghosts or demons after your death according to her own laws. Humans have found an answer to each and every problem posed by the Nature. Nature created biting cold, and we invented sweaters and coats. Nature brought windstorms and typhoons, and we countered it by constructing houses and buildings. We invented fans and air conditioners to protect against scorching heat to summer. Likewise, Shravani Poonam is an occasion to make a resolve to strive for protecting oneself from Nature’s cycle of birth and death by attaining the spiritual wealth of Self-Knowledge.
This is the festival for self-development. So, on this festival of Nariali Poonam, Raksha Bandhan or Shravani Poonam, which gives us the message of awakening, we should make a firm resolve to attain Divine Joy, Divine Knowledge and Divine Love in this life itself. Set a higher goal in your life, ‘I shall not become pround and arrogant in the state of happiness. I shall not be affected by pain and pleasure. One who experiences pain can never get rid of sufferings; and one who enjoys pleasures can never escape fears and emptiness of life. Make a resolve on this day for self-development, ‘I’ll practice elongated chanting of Divine Name followed by a brief period of silence everyday to overcome restlessness of mind. Also, I shall practice breath-counting exercise – mentally chanting Divine Name while inhalation and counting the breath while exhalation.
Raksha Bandhan: A Day for the Exchange of Good Wishes
God is hungry of bhava, (devotional attitude). Similarly, when a sister has a sublime bhava (mental attitude) for her brother, the latter too is filled with sublime bhava for her. The brother’s love finds expression in giving a sari or some utensil or any other thing to his sister. In love, the thing given as gift does not count. And it has been the outlook of the Indian culture that love doesn’t demand anything from the beloved but gives something to him/her and feels joy by making him/her happy. A sister filled with pure and innocent love for her brother ties a cotton thread charged with her pious resolve round the wrist of her brother if she cannot afford a precious Rakhi. Love is so infectious, so amazing and so true that it naturally creates similar reverberations in the heart of the brother as well, who too then given something to her.
The thread that is tied on this day by the sister to her brother, and by friends to one another is charged with the power of a great resolve, ‘May we remain ever free from all sorts of mental, physical, intellectual diseases and hurdles in progress.’ Although the thread tied is a tiny one but the resolve carried by it works great.
While celebrating Raksha-bandhan, the sister should first apply a tilak on the forehead of her brother and have sublime bhava, ‘May my borther become Trilochana, (a three-eyed person). He should not get enamoured by the world seen with two physical eyes and die a miserable death. Rather he should open the third eye, the eye of Knowledge. He should know how to kindle the Light of lights and be even-minded in pains and pleasures.’
येन बद्धो बलि राजा दानवेन्द्रो महाबल: |
तेन त्वां अभिबन्धनामि रक्षे मा चल मा चल ||
“I am tying on your hand this Raksha, with which the most powerful and generous King Bali himself was bound; many this thread remain unbroken and protect you!” The sister should recite this Mantra while typing the Rakhi round her bother’s wrist with a resolve for protection of her borther. (The disciple should chant ‘Rakshabandhanaam’ in place of ‘Abhibadhanaami’ while binding the Rakhi around his Guru;s wrist). When Shachi, the consort of Indra, found that even after 12 years the war between the demons and the gods was still not conquered by her husband, she consulted Brihaspati, the Guru of gods. As per Brihaspati’s instruction she tied a holy thread around the wrist of Indra for protection of Indra. Then Indra gained victory over the demons by the power of this Raksha (protection). Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, too tied a Rakhi around Abhimanyu’s wrist; and the latter continued to fight till the thread was intact. Abhimanyu was killed after the thread was broken.
If you own sister, it is well and good; otherwise, you may request any Indian woman to be your sister and get benefit of her good resolve. Once, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was in a foreign country. With the festival Raksha Bandhan round the corner, he got anxious and began to search for a