With the Divine Blessings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Athi Rudra Maha Yagna, Navarathri Homa and Durga Puja will be held from Oct 13-23, 2015 at Sathya Sai Grama, Muddenahalli.
This Maha Yajna is being performed for Loka Kalyana, for the good of all mankind as well as to ensure universal peace and prosperity. It is indeed our good fortune that such a grand Vedic ritual propitiating both Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti is being performed in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the very embodiment of Shiva–Shakti, the Absolute Cosmic Energy in its entirety.
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During the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna held at Puttaparthi in 2006, Sathya Sai Baba said, “The Vedas establish the goal and purpose of human life. Everything concerning creation, sustenance, and dissolution of the universe are contained in the Vedas. Rudram is generally understood as a synonym to Lord Easwara. In fact, it is the essence of all the Vedas. The Namaka emphasises the aspect of detachment whereas Chamaka, stresses the aspect of desire. But the essence of both aspects is one, what is to be discarded and what is to be desired? Evil is to be discarded and good is to be desired. Both are essential. The Athi Rudra Maha Yagna protects and fosters the divine nature in human beings, while rejecting and diminishing the demonic qualities. Thus, it works for the welfare of humanity. This Yagna is conducted to realise the Atma Tattwa. If you continue to perform this Yagna, soon the people of the entire world will become united.”
The Athi Rudra Maha Yagna will be performed at Muddenahalli from October 13 to October 23, 2015. Along with the Yagna, prayers will also be offered to the ‘Lingam’, which Baba says is “the symbolic form of Godhead, the simplest sign of Emergence and Mergence.” A milk-white Amrutha Shila Lingam from Jaipur, Rajasthan will be installed in the mantap. There will be 11 Homa kundas (fire altars) in the Yagnashala (place of performing Yagna and 140 Vedic priests from various parts of Southern India will come together at Muddenahalli to participate in the Yagna. An idol of Lord Shiva in meditation at Mount Kailash will be installed at one end of the mantap for devotees to behold his familiar form. The Yagna and poojas are being performed for Loka Kshema and Loka Kalyana, for Universal Peace and Well-Being.
‘Yagna’ means sacrifice, ‘Athi’ and ‘Maha’ mean great. Athi Rudra Maha Yagna is the highest form of worship of Rudra, Lord Shiva. During the period of 11 days, Sri Rudram will be chanted 14,641 times. Eleven recitations of the Namakam, followed by one recitation of the Chamakam is called Ekadasha Rudram. Eleven Ekadasha Rudram make a Laghu Rudram; eleven Laghu Rudrams make a Maha Rudram and eleven Maha Rudrams constitute Athi Maha Rudram.
From the first to the eleventh day (October 13 to October 23), each morning there will be Aruna Parayanam and Mahanyasa Parayanam followed by Panchamrita Abhishekam of the sacred Lingam. Then, Sri Rudra Parayanam (chanting of the Sri Rudram) along with Sri Rudra Abhishekam of the sacred Lingam will take place. Thereafter, the priests seated around 11 Homa kundas will perform the Sri Rudra Homa, offering oblations into the Homa kundas, as they chant the Rudra mantras. This will be followed by Sri Sai Gayathri Homa and Ashtavadhana seva. Every afternoon the Ritviks will recite the Krama and Ghana patha. This will be followed by discourses on the Srimad Bhagavatham and talks by eminent scholars. Devotees will then be blessed with Baba’s Divine Discourse. Bhajans and Maha Mangala Arathi will follow.
On the last day of the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna (Friday, October 23), after the Sri Rudra Homa, Jayadi Homa which is done as part of the concluding ceremonies will be performed before the grand finale, the Maha Poornahuthi. Sanctified water from the kalashas in the Yagnasthala will be poured onto the Divine Lingam during Kumbhabhishekam. The Athi Rudra Maha Yagna will conclude with Baba’s Divine Discourse.
Baba says, “Pooja, Yagna, and Homa are arranged in order to help you to learn the everlasting, abstract Yagna, which every one of you has to do, to save yourselves from fear, grief and anxiety. You must pour the egoistic desires and emotions, passions, impulses and acts into the flames of dedication and devotion”.
A homa is a ritual in which an offering is made into a sacred agni (fire). Fire is an element that is always pure irrespective of the nature of the substance coming in contact with it. During the homa, as appropriate mantras are chanted, herbs, twigs, fruits, grains, ghee are poured into the agni, generating intense vibrations that strongly influence the environment and contribute to Universal Well-Being.
At Muddenahalli, the Divine Plan for the Navarathri this year includes a daily homa to reach out to celestial deities and seek their blessings for the entire Universe. These will be collective prayers for Loka Kalyana – welfare of nature, fauna and flora, for timely rains and purification of body, mind and heart.
Sahasra Modaka Ganapathi Homa (Tuesday, October 13): The first Homa is a prayer to Lord Ganesha. In this Homa, an offering of a thousand modakas, Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet, is made and we pray that He removes all obstacles.
Pavamana Homa (Wednesday, October 14): This Homa is performed for purification and for atonement, and is a prayer to several deities including Agni, Soma, Indra.
Sri Medha Dakshinamurthy Homa (Thursday, October 15): Sri Dakshinamurthy, an aspect of Lord Shiva, is the Universal Teacher. Medha means knowledge and in this Homa we pray to the Guru to bestow Jnana.
Chandika Homa (Friday, October 16): We pray to Chandi who is the powerful, mighty Supreme Goddess to invigorate us and ensure our success.
Navagraha Homa (Saturday, October 17): The nine entities – Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sun, Moon, Rahu and Ketu – are said to have a significant influence on Earth and her beings. The Navagraha Homa is performed to appeal to these entities to be benevolent.
Saraswathi and Lalitha Homa (Sunday, October 18): During this Homa, we pray to Goddess Saraswathi for our intellect to be awakened.
Maha Mrutyunjaya Homa (Monday, October 19): This is a prayer to the nurturing aspect of Lord Shiva for health and longevity, as a healthy body is a pre-requisite for undertaking the journey to transformation.
Durga Homa (Tuesday, October 20): We pray to the invincible Mother to grant us strength and valour, to face and fight our inner enemies.
Dhanvantari and Vishnu Sahasranama Homa (Wednesday, October 21): Lord Vishnu sustains the Universe and Vishnu Sahasranama compiles 1000 names of the Lord. Chanting these names brings great blessings. The Homa invoking Dhanvantari, generates positive energy and we seek good health.
Laksha Sai Gayathri Japa Purassara Homa (Thusday, October 22): The Sai Gayathri is our supreme mantra. During this Homa, Sai Gayathri will be chanted, seeking Baba’s Love and Presence to be with us at all times, as His Grace is all we need to overcome every trial and to stay on course on the road to transformation.
Sri Gayathri Homa (Friday, October 23): Baba has often said, “Gayathri is Sarvadevata Swaroopini and Sarvamantra Swaroopini (Embodiment of all Gods and Mantras),” and has emphatically given the Divine Command that everyone must chant the Gayathri mantra each day. In this final Homa of the Navarathri celebrations, we pray to the “Mother of Vedas” for her protection and Grace.
‘Nava’ in Sanskrit has two meanings: nine and new; ‘Rathri’ means night. Baba has said that man is in darkness, being consumed by the demons of Kama (desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Mada (pride) and Matsarya (envy). These have to be “overpowered and transmuted by purification of the mind and illumination of the soul”. Such transmutation needs great strength, which indeed is the very ‘Shakthi’ invoked and worshipped during Navarathri.
At Muddenahalli this year, devotees will have the unique opportunity to participate in the festivities of the traditional Durga Pooja in the exquisitely decorated Sri Sathya Sai Auditorium which will be decorated with adorned ceilings, imposing pillars that will creatively alter the auditorium to the perfect setting for the Durga Pooja. The idol of Ma Durga worshipped during Navarathri depicts her as Mahishasura Mardini, the destroyer of the demon Mahishasura. The ardent worship by priests from Bengal with Shodashaopacharapooja (worship with sixteen items), Bhog (food offering) and Dhunichi Arati (waving earthen bowls containing the burning incense), will be accompanied by the fervour roused by the spirited Dhakis playing the Bengal country drums, the dhak. The sacred sound of Chandipath, the reading of the 700-verse Devi Mahatmya describing the victory of Ma Durga over Mahishasura, will positively stir the listeners.
Kumartuli in northern Kolkata is famed for its skilled, pious clay potters who make the most magnificent Pooja idols. Particularly awe-inspiring is the moment on Mahalaya, the new moon day prior to the Navarathri, when after deep meditation, the potter paints the third eye of the Goddess in one swift stroke called ‘Chokher Daan’. Shri Mohan Banshi Rudrapal, one of the finest and much respected idol makers, is making these idols for Muddenahalli.
The captivating rituals that devotees can witness are:
- On the Pratipada (October 13) a kalasham is installed and prayer to the Divine Mother is offered to bless the kalasham
- On Panchami, the fifth day (October 18), the auspicious Bodhan is performed to awaken the Divine Mother
- On Shashti, the sixth day (October 19), the rituals include Adhivas, an invocation ceremony and Amantran, an invitation requesting the Mother to accept the Pooja
- On Saptami, the seventh day (October 20), the sacred ‘Prana Pratistha’
- On Ashtami, the eighth day (October 21), besides the regular rituals, the delightful Kumari Pooja is performed during which pooja is offered to a young girl envisioned as the human manifestation of Ma Durga
- The transition from Ashtami to Navami (October 21) marks the time for the momentous Sandhipooja which is the most important of the Durga Pooja rituals. At this hour, Ma Durga assumes the powerful form of Chamundi and slays the twin demons, Chanda and Munda, heightening the devotee’s resolve to act firmly on the path to transformation. A sacrificial offering of fruits and vegetables is done, along with the lighting of 108 lamps
- On Dashami, the tenth day (October 22), the Divine Mother is bid adieu during Baaron by married women. Ma Durga is offered Arathi, sweets and sindhoor, before she sets out on her journey back to Kailash along with her children, and is taken for the holy immersion