March towards the Sun of Self...
(Makar Sankranti: 14th January)
From Makar Sankranti or the great festival of Uttarayana day the dark night starts becoming shorter and the bright day starts becoming longer. Let us also resolve on this day that we too will diminish the dark tendency of desires from our lives and increase the noble tendencies of selfless service and realization of God.
Message of Samyak Kranti- Right revolution
Makar Sankranti – Samyak Kranti. There are many revolutions in society, i.e. to progress by toppling one another through unhealthy cut-throat competition, violence, etc. However Makar Sankranti gives the message of right revolution and not of violence. My progress lies in the progress of all. My education lies in the education of all. My health lies in the health of all. My joy lies in the joy of all. If one would wish to become happy by exploiting others then he is on the path trodden by Alexander, Hitler, Kamsa and Ravana. However, one should follow the path adopted by Shri Krishna who took with him even the cowherds of Vrindavan, and ensured their progress alike his own. “Step together, express together.” Step together means think not discordantly but harmoniously with others. This way it would be ensured that all shall tread the path of God-realization and sooner or later co-operate with one another.
How to celebrate Uttaryana festival?
Result of giving charity, doing penance, japa and taking a holy bath on this day is more than that done on other days. Eat with moderation on the previous night. Secondly, taking a little Panchagavya (a mixture of five cow products, i.e. milk, urine, dung, ghee and curd) on this day is considered as a destroyer of sins and especially meritorious. It eradicates the diseases of the body right from the skin to the bones. If one can’t make and take Panchagavya, then he should massage his body before bath with an unguent made by mixing a little each of cow dung, urine, sesame seeds, turmeric powder and gooseberry powder or else use Saptadhan Ubatan (an unguent made from flours of wheat, rice, barley, sesame seeds, green gram, and black lentil) instead. Those who do not take bath early in the morning on this day, remain poor and sick for seven births. It has been mentioned in scriptures that one who takes bath before sunrise on this day gets the merits of donating ten thousand cows. Also meditation on Sun god (mentally with the eyes closed) and praying to Him for long and healthy life on this day is highly effective.
Virtuous acts performed on this day are comparatively more fruitful. On this day one should offer sesame seeds and rice to Lord Shiva. Or else, one may give oblations of water mixed with sesame seeds and rice to Lord Shiva. It is better to skip night meal on Uttarayana Day. However, those who have children should not observe a fast on this day. On this day the one who uses sesame seeds in the following ways gets the desired fruit in this world and the other.
(1) To take bath with water mixed with sesame seeds. (2) To massage body with
unguent made of sesame seeds. (3) To offer oblations of water mixed with sesame seeds to Pitris (ancestors). (4) To do fire sacrifice with offering of sesame seeds. (5) To donate sesame seeds. (6) To eat sesame seeds.
However, the Knowledge of sesame seeds being highly beneficial should not prompt one to overeat the same. It is prohibited to eat sesame seeds and foods containing sesame seeds at night.
Worship the Sun god
aum ÍdityÍya vidmahe bhÍskarÍya dhÐmahi. Tanno bhÍnuh pracodayÍt. Offering arghya to the Sun-god while chanting this Surya Gayatri mantra is believed to be much beneficial. However, one can also offer arghya with the chanting of commonly known mantras like –‘Aum suryÍya namah’ ‘Aum ravaye namah’ etc.
For the protection of health one should practise the following regimen: While worshipping the Sun-god offer arghya to Him using a copper ewer while chanting the Surya Gayatri mantra. Apply a tilaka on your forehead with the soil where the offered water has fallen. Along with the japa of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra take about six draughts of water left intentionally in the ewer. Before taking the Íchamana one has to chant the following verse:
AkÍla mrityu haraÕam sarva vyÍdhi vinÍshanam; Surya pÍdodakam tÐrtham jathare dhÍrayÍmyaham.
“I am hereby holding in my stomach the pious water from the holy feet of Sun god, Who is capable of saving us from untimely death. May this water in my stomach remove all the diseases; and may all my external
enemies and obstacles, and untimely death etc. be removed by the grace of the Sun god.”
Using his will-power Grandsire Bhishma had waited for the pious period of Uttarayana while lying on a bed of arrows. He didn’t give up his life-breath despite having to bear the pain of the arrows and became a witness to even that pain.
King Yudhishthira asks questions to Grandsire Bhishma, and the latter answers them while lying on the bed of arrows. How marvellous the equanimity of this valiant hero of India is! What an exemplary courage to bear all physical and mental agony as well as to trample over all sorts of adverse circumstances! How supremely glorious our culture is! Has anyone ever heard of such an instance anywhere in the world?
Uttarayana is also a day to remember that great man. This day also inspires us to attain equanimity, wisdom and spiritual glory of the Self even while having to lie upon a bed of the arrows of adverse circumstances. Any adversity of the world cannot ever annihilate your real Self; not to talk of the adverse circumstances, even death cannot destroy You!
This world cannot destroy My Existence; for it owes its existence to Me, I don’t owe my Existence to it.
This was exemplified by Bhishma.
Pious Message of Uttarayana
Sun god represents our Self-God. Just as the Self-God illuminates (knows) our mind, intellect, body and the whole world; similarly, the Sun illuminates the entire world. However, verily the sun of your Self
illuminates even the sun. Who knows whether this is sun or not? “I”.
My message for the Uttarayana is this –when you wake up in the morning, remember the Lord with devotional love and pray, ‘O Lord! However and whatever I am, I am but Yours. You are Truth Absolute, so please impart right inspiration to my intellect; so that I don’t fall into the abyss of sorrows by taking wrong decisions. May we not create problems for society, relatives, parents, family, neighbours, and other people by indulging in wrongdoings.’ If you so resolve, the Lord will help you immensely. God helps those, who help themselves. God helps only those who pray to Him and love Him. And they alone, who are blessed with the divine grace, can come to hear the satsang discourses delivered by His beloved saints.
“One can never meet a saint without Shri Hari’s grace.”
(Sri Rama Charita Manasa)
-Sant Shri AsharamJi Bapu