Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA -114

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

Shri Gaayatri Mandir, Minneapolis, MN 

Shri Gaayatri Mandir
2555 NE California Street, Minneapolis, MN, 55418 USA

Thanks for visiting SGM's website.  We sincerely hope you find the information you are seeking and please know, we are always looking forward to your involvement so that collectively we can work towards becoming better individuals, strengthening our families and creating a better community.  This is all in the process of striving for God Realization.
Founded in March, 1993, SGM strives to "foster the development of spirituality, religion, education and culture within the community." The temple has established four central objectives, which include:
i) Spiritual Development, ii) Membership Growth, iii) Youth Development, and iv) Cultural Promotion
Please join in weekly Sunday Satsangh, 9 - 11am

Brief History
The SGM was registered with the State of Minnesota as a non-profit organization in March 1993. The organization started with a few members congregating at one of the founder's residence.  After the rapid growth in attendance, satsangs were held at the Geeta Ashram in Brooklyn Park through, June 2004 and now at SGM. 

Format of the Sunday Satsang
The weekly satsangs are held every Sunday from 9:00 – 11:00 am.  The service includes chanting of dhoons, meditation, havan, recitation of chapter 12 of the Bhagavad-Gita / Hanuman Chaleesa, discussion /lecture, bhajans, and aarti.  This is a unique opportunity for members of the community to participate in puja, join in chanting, and understanding the teachings of the scriptures.  

Ongoing Activities
  • Bhajan Sammelan - Bhajan Sammelan is a monthly event of the SGM where members of the community gather at a host family's residence to sing bhajans, dhoons, and kirtans for two hours (5 - 7pm). This event has been used in the past to celebrate a graduation, house opening, birthday, birth of a child, and just a way to have singing at one's residence or other appropriate venue.
  • Celebration of Major Hindu Festivals - Diwali, Holi, Maha Shivaraatri, Krishna Janamashtmi, Hanuman Jayanti, Naavraatri, etc.
  • SGM Tutors - Need help with your homework?  We are extremely pleased to be able to provide tutoring service to the general community. Please call any of the Board members and you'll be connected to an appropriate tutor.
Bhajan Sammelan is a monthly event of the SGM where members of the community gather at a host family's residence or at SGM to sing bhajans, dhoons, and kirtans for two hours (5 - 7pm). This event has been used in the past to celebrate a graduation, house opening, birthday, birth of a child, and just a way to have singing at one's residence or other appropriate venue.
Our Bhajan Sammelan Coordinator is Anita Ali.  She can be reached at 612-724-9674 and at  premkumariaali@gmail.com

Lessons on Hinduism

   Lesson of the Day – Shri Gaayatri Mandir – Ramraj (Ram) Singh
 Note: Some lessons are taken from websites and publications. We recognize and thank our sources for valuable information.
Lesson 1:    Who was the founder of Hinduism?
Answer:     No one founded Hinduism.
Lesson 2:    What are the roots of Hinduism?
Answer:     Hinduism is a revealed religion but the revelation is internal. It is the result of the questionings, experiences, and collective wisdom of sages and saints over the ages.

Lesson 3:    Since Hinduism is a “revealed” religion was the name” Hinduism” revealed to the            World?
Answer:     No. The name “Hinduism” is a Western construct which has become accepted by Hindus as well as non-Hindus. It is believed that the name Hindu was used by invaders of India who could not have correctly pronounced the name Sindhu (river).

Lesson 4:    Why our religion was not given a name at the beginning?
Answer:     Religion is not an isolated concept in Indian culture. It permeates all life. Hindu culture is inclusive. We respect all faiths. This is the reason why a Hindu should never ask another person, “What is their religion?” It is considered impolite to do so.

Lesson 5:    Are there Prophets in the Hindu religion?
Answer:     No. We have incarnations of God such as Rama, Shiva, Krishna and the Universal Mother.  And, throughout the ages we have great teachers and poets such as Kabeer Dass, Tulsidas Valmiki, Ved Vyas and Kalidasa.

Lesson 6:    Are there Commandments in Hinduism?
Answer:     No, there are no Commandments in Hinduism. Hinduism has rules of righteous conduct known as Dharma. We do not have a common creed.
Lesson 7:    What is Dharma?
Answer:     Dharma is the path of righteousness, and living one’s life according to the codes of conduct as described by our saints and sages in our scriptures. It is the conduct that upholds harmony and truth in individuals and society.

Lesson 8:    What are the rules of righteous conduct in Hinduism (Dharma)?
Answer:     The ancient sage Manu prescribes 10 essential rules for the observance of Dharma:
  1. Patience (dhriti).
  2. Forgiveness (kshama)
  3. Piety or self- control (dama)
  4. Honesty (asteya)
  5. Sanctity (shauch)
  6. Control of senses (indraiya-nigrah)
  7. Reason (dhi)
  8. Knowledge or learning (vidhya)
  9. Truthfulness (satya)
  10. Absence of anger (krodha)
Manu further states that “Non-violence, truth, non-coveting, purity of body and mind, and control of senses are the essence of dharma.” Therefore, dharmic laws govern not only the individual but all of society.

Lesson 9:   Discussion on the shooting and murder of six members of the Sikh Temple at Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Lesson 10:  Which is the holy book or sacred scripture of Hinduism? Do Hindus have a sacred text like Christians have the bible?
Answer:    Hindus have several holy texts but no one enjoys primacy over the others. Five of the most important holy books are
  1.  The Vedas – The Rig Veda, The Sama Veda, The Yagur Veda and The Atharva Veda.
  2.  The Ramayan – The most popular of Hindu epics, composed by Valmiki and depicts the story     of the royal couple of Ajodhya – Ram and Sita and a host of other characters.
  3.  The Bhagavad Gita – The most well- known of the Hindu scriptures, called the “Song of the Adorable One.”
  4.  The Puranas – There are 18 “major” Puranas ( Maha Puranas). The Puranas play a vitally important role in the construction of contemporary Hinduism for it is in these works that many of the stories and concepts central to Hindu dharma are to be found.
  5.  The Upanishads – meaning “sitting down near” or “sitting close to,” and listening closely to the mystic doctrines of a guru or spiritual teacher.

Lesson 11:   Why Hindus have so many Gods?
Answer:     We have only one God (Brahman). What we see are the many manifestations of the divine, with many names such as Bhagwan, Prabhu, Ram, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Hanuman, Durga, Shiva, Saraswati, etc.
Lesson 12:    Why some of Hindu Gods have many heads, eyes and hands?
Answer:      The Divine, being infinite, cannot be limited in either name or form. The heads, eyes and hands are symbolic representations of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence, respectively.

Lesson 13:     Why Hindus pray to so many idols?
Answer:       We do not have idols and we do not pray to idols. We have images (murtis) of different aspects of God. We pray before them, not to them. Each murti helps us to focus our attention on the particular God. The icons of the early Christian church do the same thing. Other faiths have angels; we have devas and devis.

Lesson 14:     Do you have to be born a Hindu?
Answer:       No. You can be a Hindu if you identify with the cultural and social values of Hinduism. There is no formal admission or initiation ceremony into Hinduism like baptismal for Christians. Hindus do not wish to proselytize. This undermines the mutual respect we have for other religions and can cause disharmony.

Lesson 15:     We repeat the word “Shanti” three times after our prayers. What is the meaning of
Answer:       “Shanti” means peace. All our devotions end by chanting “Shanti” three times, wishing for peace in the three worlds (earth, heaven, and the lower regions) and for all living beings.

Lesson 16:      We repeat the word ”OM” at the beginning of every prayer, in meditation, and scripture reading. What is the meaning and significance of OM?
Answer:       OM or AUM is the symbol of the absolute. Om is very important in Hinduism. The symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism – omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. OM, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why OM is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breadth. In Katha Upanishad 1, it is stated that whoever knows this syllable OM (AUM) obtains all that she/he desires. This is the highest support. Whoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma.

Lesson 17:     A devotee wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper and complained that it made no sense going to the temple, and the pandits and religious leaders were just wasting their time. He said that he had gone to the temple for over 30 years and heard more than 3,000 mantras. But for the life of me, he said, I can’t remember a single one of them.
Answer:       The editor replied, “I have been married for over 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked over 32,000 meals for me. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this…. they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to live do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Like-wise, if I had not gone to the temple for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today.

Lesson 18:     Who is Goddess Mother Durga?
Answer:       The Mother Goddess is known variously as Durga, Bhavani, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati – and her other manifestations. The name “Durga” means “in-accessible and she is the personification of the active side of the divine “shakti,” energy of Lord Shiva. In fact, Mother Durga represents the furious powers of all the male gods, and is the ferocious protector of the righteous, and destroyer of the evil. Mother Durga is usually portrayed riding a tiger, and carrying weapons in her many arms.
 Every year during the lunar months of Ashwin and Kartik (September and October), Hindus observe ten days of ceremonies, rituals, fasts and feasts in honor of the Supreme Mother Goddess. It begins with the fast of” Navaratri” and ends with the festivities of” Dusshera.”

Lesson 19:     What is the Hindu view of reincarnation?
Answer:       Everything in this world is governed by the cyclic law of nature. The sun rises, it sets and rises again. There is creation, existence, dissolution and recreation. Humans are subject to the same universal law. We are born, we live, we die and we are re-born again. This is called Samsara or reincarnation. It means transmigration through a sequence of individual lives.
Karma – (action, the law of cause and effect) binds us to this cyclical process – Samsar. This attachment is called Karmabandha. To liberate oneself from Karmabandha and to attain Moksha, there are four options: (1) Raj Yoga – establishing union with the supreme (Brahman); (2) Gyaan Yoga – Pursuit of knowledge (self-realization); (3) Bhakti Yoga – Devotion to a personal God; and (4) Karma Yoga – Selfless action that benefits the world. Notable exponents of these Yogas are respectively, Swami Vivekananda, Parmahansa Yogananda, Meerabai, and Mahatma Gandhi Ji.

Lesson 20:    Each year Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali with much devotion and merriment.   What is the significance of Diwali?
Answer:      Diwali is a celebration of Light over Darkness, Knowledge over Ignorance and the triumph of Good over Evil. Diwali or Deepavali means “Cluster of Lights.” Diwali is celebrated on the last day of the dark half of the lunar month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar.
Divine Mother Lakshmi is worshipped at Diwali. The Holy Vedas states: “God is not only Father but Mother also.”  Mother Lakshmi born out of the ocean of milk, is the Goddess of beauty, light, knowledge, purity, wealth and good fortune. Mother Lakshmi is celebrated in our daughter, sister, sister-in-law, niece, aunt, wife and mother.
Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the demon King Rawana, the end of 14 years in exile, and the triumphant return of Lord Rama to assume his rightful place as King of Ayodhya. Millions of diyas (lights) showed the way to the Holy City of Ayodhya, itself aglow with lights on Diwali night.
Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesh, in the company of Mother Lakshmi are worshipped at Diwali. We pray to Mata Saraswati, goddess of learning, temporal and spiritual, and goddess of music and the arts. We pray to Lord Ganesh the all- powerful God of wisdom and good fortune, the remover of obstacles, for his blessings for success to attend all our undertakings.
Goddess Lakshmi visits every home of her believers on Diwali night, and lives in that home which is beautiful and clean, where peace, harmony, knowledge and goodwill dwell, and where beautiful lights brighten the home to welcome everyone.
Goddess Lakshmi holds lotus flowers in her hands. The lotus flowers represent purity. The roots are in the mud, but the beautiful flower remains above dirty water. Live a lotus life. Be in the world, but unaffected by impurities. Her other hands are giving. As Goddess of wealth, Mother Lakshmi shares her wealth with everyone who worships her. She blesses us with wealth, happiness and prosperity.
At Diwali, we celebrate the blessings of the Light of Knowledge – Knowledge which provides answers to the questions-what, where, why and how. Knowledge makes us humble in that young or old, we are all students in the school of life, and of the mystery of the universe. Knowledge sheds light on our path made dark by ignorance. Knowledge is the key to freedom from bondage and from conflicts. Knowledge is the key to harmony and peace, the key to personal inner peace. Diwali lights are our prayer, as in this Sanskrit verse in the Upanishads:
                 Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya;
                 Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya;
                 Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya.
              Lead us O Lord from Falsehood to Truth
              From Darkness to Ignorance to the Light of Knowledge;
                 From Death to Immortality.

Lesson 21:   Today (November 11) is Veteran’s Day. What is the connection between veterans and our ability to attend mandir and worship freely?
Answer:   Veterans fought in many wars to preserve the freedom we in the USA enjoy to attend our mandirs, churches, masjids and other places of worship. People in many other countries are not this fortunate. Some veterans paid the ultimate price giving their lives defending our freedom. We tip our hats to our veterans and families for their sacrifices. Thank you for a job well done. We will never forget your service.

Lesson 22:    Mother Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of wealth. If we pray with bhakti and Mother Lakshmi is pleased with us, what forms of wealth can she grant us?
Answer:      Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth. She will honor and grant requests from devotees who worship and pray to her with bhakti. Mother Lakshmi can grant requests for the sixteen forms of wealth - Knowledge, intelligence, strength, valor, beauty, victory, fame, ambition, morality, gold and other wealth, food grains, bliss, happiness, health and longevity, and virtuous off-springs.

Lesson 23:  Goddess Mother Lakshmi is seen holding lotus flowers in her hands. Her other hands are for giving and represent her many manifestations or different forms. What are the different forms of Mother Lakshmi?
Answer:    This concept of Goddess Lakshmi in her different forms is referred to as the Ashta-Lakshmi.  The eight forms of Ashta -Lakshmi are believed to fulfill the sixteen human necessities and desires through their individual nature and manifestations. The eight divine forms of Ashta - Lakshmi are:-
1.       Aadi-Lakshmi (The Primeval Goddess) or Maha Lakshmi (The Great Goddess)
2.       Dhana-Lakshmi or Aishwarya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth). The Money Lakshmi (money and gold)
3.       Dhaanya-Lakshmi (Goddess of Food Grains). Giver of riches and agricultural wealth.
4.       Gaja-Lakshmi (The Elephant Goddess). Giver of animal wealth like cattle and elephants.
5.       Santana-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Progeny). Bestower of offsprings.
6.       Veera-Lakshmi or Dhairya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Valor and Courage). Bestower of courage and strength to overcome difficulties in life.
7.       Vidya-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Knowledge). Bestower of knowledge of the arts and sciences.
8.       Vijaya-Lakshmi or Jaya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Victory). Bestower of victories not only in battles but also in conquering everyday hurdles in order to be successful in life.

Lesson 24:  How many times a day do Hindus pray?
Answer:    We do not have a set number of times to pray. We pray anytime and anywhere. We pray when we wake up in the morning and before going to bed. We pray in our home, in mandir, at work or school, while driving, traveling, resting, or before attempting a special task. We pray during pujas and yagyas, and whenever we feel the need to communicate with our God. We pray to thank God and to ask for blessings.

Lesson 25:  What is Karma?
Answer:    The law of cause and effect forms an integral part of Hindu philosophy. This law is known as karma which means to “act”. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines it as the “sum of a person’s actions in one of his successive states of existence, viewed as deciding his fate for the next.” In Sanskrit karma means “volitional action that is undertaken deliberately or knowingly.” This also dovetails self-determination and a strong will power to abstain from inactivity. Karma is the differentia that characterizes human beings and distinguishes humans from other creatures of the world.
The theory of karma harps on the Newtonian principle that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. Every time we think or do something, we create a cause, which in time will bear its corresponding effects. And this cyclical cause and effect generates the concepts of samsara (or the world) and birth and reincarnation. It is the personality of a human being or the jivatman – with its positive and negative actions – that causes karma.
Karma could be both the activities of the body or the mind, irrespective of the consideration whether the performance brings fruition immediately or at a later stage. However, the involuntary or the reflex actions of the body cannot be called karma.
Every person is responsible for his or her own acts and thoughts, so each person’s karma is entirely his or her own. Occidentals see the operation of karma as fatalistic; but that is far from true since it is in the hands of an individual to shape his or her own future by schooling his or her present.
Hindu philosophy, which believes in life after death, holds the doctrine that if the karma of an individual is good enough, the next birth will be rewarding, and if not, the person may actually devolve and degenerate into a lower life form. In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to “dharma” or what is right.
According to the ways of life chosen by a person, his or her karma can be classified into three categories. The satvik karma, which is without attachment, selfless and for the benefit of others; the rajasik karma, which is selfish where the focus is for gains for oneself; and the tamasik karma, which is undertaken without heed to consequences, and is supremely selfish and savage.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11, verse 64, states “The self- controlled person, moving among objects, with his senses free from attachment and malevolence and brought under his own control, attains tranquility.”

Lesson 26:  How can I be an ideal Hindu?
Answer:    Being an ideal Hindu simply implies living a righteous life by obeying the basic tenets of karma, i.e. believing in what is right in order to attain salvation from this world. This is a very difficult task and it is an on-going and life-long process. We are encouraged to do our best, practice self- control, and live a good life.
Here are twelve requirements or suggestions for being an ideal Hindu (anyone can add to this list):-
1.       Rise up from bed before sunrise.
2.       Complete morning ablutions and bath.
3.       Pay homage to the family deity.
4.       Spend 10-15 minutes each day praying, meditating and reading/reciting from the scriptures.
5.       Prepare breakfast and consume only after offering the same to the family deity.
6.       Then throughout the day execute the tasks pertaining to one’s profession or job with complete devotion, sincerity and honesty for the maintenance of the family.
7.       In the evening perform group prayers in the family shrine along with all the members of the family.
8.       This is followed by supper and obeisance to the family deity before retiring to bed.
9.       Besides this daily routine, an ideal Hindu is advised to visit the mandir/temple as often as possible and participate in devotion.
10.   Observe important Hindu festivals with due reverence, and go on pilgrimage to holy places.
11.   A Hindu is expected to give charity, help the needy, respect the elders in society, and scrupulously pursue the path of moral rectitude in both personal and social life.
12.   Compassion, consideration for others, love, sympathy, non-violence, should be the ruling words in the life of an ideal Hindu.
Tips:  Some tips to help you achieve your goal of becoming an ideal Hindu:-
(a)       Avoid the seven deadly sins of wrath, envy, pride, covetousness, gluttony, sloth, and lechery.
(b)      Family deity can be any god or saint whom you consider your own true god.
(c)       Have faith in God and believe in yourself.

Lesson 27:  As the year 2012 comes to an end and we start a New Year, what would you like to accomplish in 2013?
Answer: If you don’t know where you are going, you will never arrive there. God has endowed us as human beings the ability to think and reason. As such, it is our responsibility to determine where we were (in 2011), where we are (in 2012), and where we are going (in 2013). All of us want to improve our status in life, and to do so, we must stop and do some introspection. What are some of the things we are proud of this past year? What did not go well for us, and what changes we need to make to improve our well-being?
The start of a New Year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people create New Year’s resolutions. A new year often feels like a fresh start, a great opportunity to eliminate bad habits, and establish new routines that will help us grow psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially, physically or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of January, many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.
Ten Tips for Goal Setting:-
1.       Choose specific realistic goals.  Every year, millions of people resolve to “lose weight” or “get in shape” during the next year. Instead of selecting such an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on. For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds in the first three months, or running a mile a day for the first two months. Choosing a concrete, achievable goal also gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to achieve your goal over the course of the year. Goals must be specific and measureable. 
2.       Just pick two or three goals you definitely need to work on:  You may choose a “health goal,” a “financial goal,” and a ”social or educational” goal. Of course, you can always revisit your goals and make changes if and when necessary.  Focus your energies on these goals rather than spreading yourself too thin attempting a number of different objectives.
3.       Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve:  Planning is an essential part of achieving any goal. Experts suggest that you should spend some time planning out how you will tackle a major behavior change. You can start by writing down your goals, making a list of things you might do to achieve each goal and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. You also need to prioritize the goals and determine which ones are more important for you to work on.
4.       Start with Small Steps:  Taking on too much is a common reason why so many New Year’s Resolutions fail. Dramatically slashing calories, over-doing it at the gym, or radically altering your normal behavior are sure-fire ways to derail your plans. Instead, focus on taking tiny steps that will ultimately help you reach your larger goals. If you resolved to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing your favorite junk foods with more nutritious foods or work on portion control. While it may seem like a slow start, these small changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of long-term success.
5.       Avoid Repeating Past Failures: Another strategy for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions is to not make the exact same resolutions year after year.” If people think they can do it they probably can, but if they’ve already tried and failed, their self-belief will be low.” However, if you do reach for the same goal you tried in the past, spend some time evaluating your past results. Which strategies were the most effective? Which were the least effective.  What prevented you from keeping your resolution in the past years. By changing your approach, you will be more likely to see real results this time.
6.       Remember That Change is a Process: Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks or months? It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember that this is not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to change a behavior, it is something that you will continue to work on for a long time.
7.       Don’t let Small Stumbles Bring You Down: Encountering a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. It is not how many times you fall, it is how many times you are able to get up and move on that makes you a successful person.  If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, don’t view it as a failure. The path toward your goal is not a straight one, and there are always going to be challenges. Instead, view relapses as learning opportunities.
8.       Get Support from Family and Friends: Yes, you have heard this advice a million times before, but that is because the buddy system actually works. Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. Explain what your goals are to your family members or close friends, and ask them to help you achieve your objectives. You will be amazed how helpful they would be.
9.       Renew Your Motivation: During the first days of your New Year’s Resolutions, you will probably feel confident and highly motivated to reach your goals. Because you have not really faced any discomfort, failures, or temptations associated with changing your behavior, making this change might seem all too easy. After dealing with the reality of the sacrifices needed to achieve your goals, your motivation to keep your resolutions will probably start to dwindle. When you face such moments, remind yourself of exactly why you are making the sacrifices. What you have to gain by achieving your goal (no pain no gain).
10.   Keep Working on Your Goals: By February, many people have lost their initial spark of motivation that they felt immediately after making their New Year’s Resolutions. Keep that inspiration alive by continuing to work on your goals, even after facing setbacks. If your current approach is not working, re-evaluate your strategies and develop a new plan.

My appeal to all of you is to remember God and include Him in your goals/resolutions. Consider spiritual goals that will bring you closer to God. You will never regret it.
         Best wishes setting your goals /resolutions and keeping them through the New Year.
                           A better life awaits you!                 

Lesson 28: The Gayatri Mantra: Inner Meaning and Significance for Hindus?
The Gayatri mantra is one of the oldest and most powerful Sanskrit mantras. It is believed that by chanting the Gayatri mantra and firmly establishing it in the mind, if you carry on your life and do the work that is ordained for you, your life will be full of happiness. This is considered the most important prayer for Hindus.
The word “Gayatri” itself explains the reason for the existence of this mantra. It has its origin in the Sanskrit phrase “Gayantam Triyate iti. It means that Almighty God may illuminate our intellect, which may lead us on the righteous path. All the problems of a person are solved if he is endowed with righteous wisdom. Having far-sighted wisdom, a man is neither entangled in avoidable calamity nor does he tread a wrong path. A wise man intuitively finds solutions to his problems. Those who lack this clear-sightedness find themselves always facing problems and ever living from crisis to crises. The worship of Gayatri mantra bestows the boon of righteous wisdom. The teachings of and the powers incorporated in Gayatri mantra fulfill this purpose. Righteous wisdom starts emerging as soon as Jaap of this mantra is taken up as a Sadhana.
The Gayatri mantra is composed of a meter consisting of 24 syllables – generally arranged in a triplet of eight syllables each. Therefore, this particular meter (tripadhi) is also known as the Gayatri Meter or “Gayatri Chhanda.”
    “Om bhurbhuvah swah tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat”
Om!  -   Brahma or Almighty God
Bhuh  -   embodiment of vital spiritual energy (Pran)
bhuvah -   destroyer of sufferings
swah  -   embodiment of happiness
tat    -   that
savituh   - bright, luminous like the Sun
varenyam - best, most exalted
bhargo   - destroyer of sins
devasya  - divine
dhimahi  - may imbibe
dhiyo    - intellect
yo      - who
nah     - our
prachodayat – may inspire
In short, it is a prayer to the Almighty Supreme God, Creator of the entire cosmos, the essence of our life existence, who removes all our pains and sufferings and grants happiness beseeching His Divine Grace to imbibe within us His Divinity and Brilliance which may purify us and guide our righteous wisdom on the right path.
Gayatri Mantra is the Best Divine Prayer Hymn in the World – Dr. Howard Steingeril, American Scientist.
Dr. Howard Steingeril, an American Scientist, collected Mantras, Hymns and Invocations from all over the world and from all religions, and tested their strength in his physiology laboratory. He concluded that the Hindu Vedic Gayatri Mantra is the most rewarding scientifically. That the Gayatri Mantra produced 110,000 sound waves per second. This was the highest, and found it to be the most powerful prayer hymn in the world. The combination of sound and variation in the sound waves and its particular frequency is capable of developing specific spiritual potentialities. The Hamburg University initiated this research into the efficacy of the Gayatri Mantra both on the mental and physical plane of CREATION…
The Gayatri Mantra is now being broadcast daily for 15 minutes from 7 P.M. onwards over Radio Paramaribo, Surinam for the past two years, and also in Amsterdam, Holland for the past six months.
I respectfully commend the Gayatri Mantra to you.  Gayatri Mata’s blessings to all.

Lesson 29:  Prasada: Divine Food Offering: Part 1
In Hinduism, food plays an important role in rituals and worship, and the food offered to god is called “prasada.” The Sanskrit word “prasada” means “mercy,” or “peace”or the divine grace of God.
We can make the preparing of food, the offering of food to God, and the eating of the food offered, into a powerful devotional meditation. If, as a meditative discipline, we offer our food to God with devotion before eating it, not only are we not implicated in the karma involved in acquiring the food, but we can actually make spiritual progress by eating the offered food. Our devotion, and God’s grace, subtly transforms the food offered from material nutrition to spiritual mercy or prasada.
Preparation of Prasada: First, Bhagwan only accepts purely vegetarian offerings – offerings that are acquired without pain and suffering on the part of any creature. So, we have to strictly avoid any meat, fish and eggs.
Bhagawad Gita, Chapter 9, Shloka 26, Bhagwan Krishna says:
                   “PATRAM PUSHAM PHALAM TOYAM
                     YO ME BHAKTYA PRAYAC CHATI
1.       Approach the entire prasadam ritual with devotion and reverence. You are preparing food for the Lord’s pleasure.
2.       Offer only fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy products, ghee. Avoid using pre-packaged foods since they sometimes contain chemicals and may have been prepared in environments that are not worthy of food offered to the Lord. Food for the Lord should be void of garlic, mushrooms and onion.
3.       Clean your kitchen or cooking area. Take a bath. Use plates, bowls and cups that are kept as dedicated utensils for the Lord. As you prepare food, contemplate devotion to God.
4.       Never taste the food before it is offered to God. The preparing of prasada is done as an active devotional meditation. So, the goal is to prepare delicious foods, not with our own satisfaction in mind, but thinking only of the satisfaction of God. Therefore, He should be the first to “taste” the fruits of our labor.
5.       Offer the prepared food, arranged pleasantly on the Lord’s special dinnerware with a simple prayer, such as,”My Sweet Lord, please accept this food.” As you ring a bell three times, repeat a prayer to your guru and to the Lord. Chant and sing praises to the Lord.
6.       After you have offered the food to the Lord, wait about five minutes. Remove the food from the special plates, wash them and put them away. Now you can enjoy food blessed by Bhagwan, which frees you from karma. While eating the prasada, always be conscious and aware that you are partaking in the special grace of Bhagwan. Eat with reverence, and enjoy!
If we can follow all of the above guidelines and, most importantly, maintain a meditative consciousness of love and devotion for God as we are performing these activities, Bhagwan will gladly accept our offerings.

Lesson 30:  Prasada: Divine Food Offering: Part II
In Bhagawad Gita, Chapter 9, Shloka 26, Bhagwan Krishna says to Arjuna, “If one offers me with love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.”
 The main prasada that is offered at pujas and other religious functions is Mohanbhog. “Mohan” is  Krishna, and “bhog” is offering. Therefore, mohanbhog is food for Krishna. Another item that is offered to Krishna is “panjeerie”.  As we prepare and offer mohanbhog and panjeerie to Bhagwan Krishna, and other prasada items to different deities, we follow the same steps and guidelines as mentioned in Lesson 29.
When we do pujas for special deities, we offer a variety of fruits including bananas, dungs, pineapple, pomegranite, coconut, lime and nutmeg as prasada. Another popular prasada item is “rote”for Hanuman Ji.
Since items used as prasada are offerings to God, it is important that we not only prepare them and offer them with devotion, but we share and consume prasada in a joyful and graceful manner.  Prasada is offering to our Lord. We accept prasada in the name of the Lord.  We never place it on the ground where everyone walks. If we have to, let us place prasada on a clean table or a mat dedicated for that purpose.
Prasada should be served in portions that can be eaten at the puja site. If we are going to take prasada away from the premises, then it should again be treated with respect because it was offered to God and He is sharing it with us. I believe that it is wrong to dispose of prasada in the garbage. If you cannot consume all the prasada that you have, share it with other people, or with birds and animals. However, be careful and do not put items out that are harmful to the animals. You may also dispose of prasada in running water.
As we know, some of the main prasada items are prepared with flour and sugar. Too much of these items may not be good for the health of devotees, especially those suffering from diabetes or similar ailments. My recommendation is that we cut down on the amount of these items shared with devotees after pujas, and that we make available prasada that devotees can take with them if they so desire.

Lesson 31:  Bhagwan Shiva: Interesting Facts
1. Bhagwan Shiva is the most powerful and fascinating deity in Hinduism. He represents death and dissolution. Shiva is one of the godheads in the Hindu Trinity, and known by many names - Mahadeva, Pashupati, Nataraja, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhairava, Bhole Nath.  Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu deities. Hindus recognize this by putting Shiva’s shrine in the temple separate from those of other deities.  Shiva is worshipped as a phallic symbol called the "Shiva Lingam.” He is considered the easiest godhead to appease because He is an ocean of compassion.
2. The Sanskrit word Shiva is an adjective meaning auspicious, kind, gracious. As a proper noun it means "The Auspicious One.” He is synonymous with Om.
3. He rides on "Nandi," the bull decked in garlands.
4. The holy river Ganges (Gangadhara- bearer of the River Ganga) flows from Shiva's head and through His matted hair (jatin).
5. Shiva is "Shakti" or power. Shiva is the destroyer, the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon.
6. The Lingam represents Shiva’s energies necessary for life.
7. Shiva is depicted with a ”third eye” with which He burnt Desire (Kama) to ashes. He has a crescent  moon tucked into His hair. Around the neck is a coiled serpent representing Kundalini or the spiritual energy within life. He carries a trident in His left hand in which is bound the "damroo" (small leather drum).Shiva also carries a deer in one hand indicating that He has removed the Chanchalata of His mind.  He sits on a tiger skin and on His right is a water pot. He wears "Rudraksha" beads and His whole body is smeared with ashes. Shiva is said to be fair like camphor or like an ice-clad mountain.
8. Shiva destroys in order to create; since death is the medium for rebirth into a new life. He is the dissolving force in life. The opposites of life and death, and creation and destruction both reside in His character.
9. Shiva is referred to as "Neelkanta." At Samudra Manthan, the “Churning of the Ocean,”Bhagwan Shiva came forward in a calm disposition and drank the Halahala (poison) so that His devotees can sustain peace and find the nectar of immortality. Goddess Parvathi, Bhagwan Shiva's consort who was present as Shiva was drinking the poison, stepped forward and strangled His neck, and prevented the poison from spreading all over His stomach which contained the entire universe. The poison was so potent that it changed the color of Shiva's neck to blue. The poison had the power to destroy the entire universe.
10. Bhagwan Shiva's favorite day is the 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun.
11. According to the Puraanaas, the Kailash Peak of the Himalayas is the abode of Bhagwan Shiva. Varanasi (Benares) is considered as the city specially loved by Shiva. This is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India.
12. As the Lord of creatures, Shiva is metaphorically called Pashupathi and His fearless nature is euphemised as Sarpabhushana. His posture in meditation is ascribed to Him as the head of Yogis (Yogiraja) who practice various spiritual feats to attain salvation.
13. Shiva is considered the "Pure One," or the One who is not affected by the three Gunas of Prakrti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas). He is also considered the One who purifies everyone by the very utterance of His name.
14. Bhagwan Shiva, as a family man, has a spouse, Parvati , daughter of the Himalayas, and known variously as Tripura Sundari, Uma, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and Narayani. Shiva has two sons, Ganesha and Veerabhadra.
15. Five is a sacred number of Shiva. One of His most important mantras has five syllables – namah sivaya. Shiva’s body is said to consist of five mantras called the pancabrahmans. As forms of God, each of these mantras has its own name and distinct iconography – Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusa and Isana.

 Lesson 32:    Vasant Panchami: Significance and Observance
Vasant Panchami, sometimes referred to as Saraswati Puja, Basant Panchmi or Shree Panchami, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Mata Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, art and culture.  It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of "Panchmi" of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha, which falls during January - February. "Vasant" comes from the word "spring," as this festival heralds the beginning of the spring season.
Mata Saraswati represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. Saraswati means one who is possessed of infinite knowledge of the universe, of words, their objects and relations.  Saraswati is another feminine name of God and is the manifestation of “Gyaan Shakti” – the power of speech and wisdom. In short, she represents learning, knowledge and speech. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the "Saraswati Vandana"often begin and end Vedic lessons.
Saraswati is the daughter of Bhagwan Shiva and Goddess Parvati (Durga). It is believed that Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing the four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus - the symbol of true knowledge - in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the veena. She is dressed in white - the symbol of purity - and rides on a white swan - symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity and discrimination. The learned and the erudite attach greater importance to the worship of Goddess Saraswati. As a practice, only educated people worship her for knowledge and wisdom. They believe that only Saraswati can grant them "moksha" - the final liberation of the soul.
It is believed that on this day of Vasant Panchami, goddess Saraswati was born. Hindus around the world celebrate Vasant Panchami with great fervor in temples, homes, and even schools and colleges. Saraswati's favorite color white assumes special significance on this day. Murtis of the Goddess are dressed in white clothes and are worshipped by devotees adorned in white garments. Saraswati is offered sweets which are served as "prasad" to all people attending the puja. There is also a custom of ancestor worship known as "Pitri-Tarpan" in many parts of India during Vasant Panchami. Also, on this day, Brahmins are invited for lunch, and the god of love, Kamadeva is worshipped.
The most significant aspect of Vasant Panchami is that it is also the most auspicious day to begin laying the foundations of education - how to read and write. Pre-school children are given their first lesson in reading and writing on this day. All Hindu educational institutions conduct special prayers for Mata Saraswati on Vasant Panchami. It is also an appropriate day to inaugurate training institutions and new schools - a trend made famous by the renowned Indian educator, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), who founded the Banaras Hindu University in India on Vasant Panchami day, 1916.
During Vasant Panchami, the advent of spring is felt in the air in India, as the season undergoes change. New leaves and blossoms appear in the trees with the promise of new life and hope. Vasant Panchami also announces the arrival of another big spring time event in the Hindu calendar - Holi, the festival of colors.
The following popular "pranam mantra" or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees chant with utmost devotion, eulogizes the goddess of knowledge, arts, music and culture:
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney!
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey!!
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobita, Mukta Haarey!
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bharati Devi Namohastutey!!
Om Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!
The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:
“May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
And whose pure white garland is like the frosty dew drops;
Who is adorned in radiant white attire,
On whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
And whose throne is a white lotus;
Who is surrounded and respected by Gods,
Protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance."
          May peace be unto all.                   

Lesson 33:  Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude: Lead a More Enriching Life
The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today is to start being grateful for what you have right now. No gesture is too small when done with gratitude. Gratitude can be practiced no matter what is going on in your life, and everyone has something to be grateful for. By concentrating on what’s good and giving it your energy, you attract abundance. If you focus on what’s lacking in your life – money, time, good health, positive relationships, resources, a better job – you will never have enough and you will never be happy.
“Gratitude opens the door to abundance consciousness because it gets you to the source, which is the source of all things,” says Deepak Chopra, world-renowned mind-body healing pioneer, author of more than 65 books and co-founder of the Chopra Foundation. Dr. Chopra reminds us that you open the door to power, wisdom and the creativity of the universe, all through gratitude.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra founded the Chopra Center to help others reach a state of peace, health and well-being. Many of his teachings and meditations focus on cultivating gratitude, which he says can impact more than emotions – it can also benefit physical health. In fact, scientific studies have shown that those who have grateful outlook on life, get sick less often, exercise more, sleep better, and have more energy.
The intention and the action of gratitude is the inner symphony of the heart. It opens to sing with thanks for the smallest of things. To hear a bird sing, to see a child laugh, to receive a friend’s affection – all are invitations to practice the attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the kind of loving thanks which touches another’s heart in a place where they will allow you to reside for a long time.
Whatever your state in life is right now, it can improve, and the first step is to become more grateful. Luckily, living a grateful life is just a few thoughtful moments away. If you want to lead a life of gratitude, try these three tips from the Chopra Center:
  1. Write it down: Every day write down five things you are most grateful for. There is power in the words you write – even simple things like “fresh flowers” or somebody holding the door open for me.” Writing moments of gratitude down helps you focus on the good in your life, rather than what you don’t have – and, in turn, makes life brighter and more fulfilling
  2. Take a gratitude walk: Set aside some time (10, 15, 20 minutes) each day and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, a mall, around your office or around the block. Pay attention to your senses – everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting – and see how many things you can find to be grateful for. Doing so can improve your mood and make you open to the abundance around you.
  3. Be intentional:  If you wake up in the morning and consciously look for things to be thankful for, you’re more alive and receptive to the goodness that comes in your life. When you allow yourself to feel gratitude in the present moment, in the now, what I promise you is that the spiritual dimension of your life will begin to change. It opens up, it expands, and you just grow with it.
I hope that by sharing these insights with you, I am able to inspire you to see yourself, connect with yourself, and own yourself more fully. Whether it’s finding strength in a tough situation, changing an outlook, or gaining clarity on your own life’s purpose, you understand that there is a greater power guiding you. When you tap into it, you have that power, and it is your real responsibility in life – nobody else’s – to change your life and make it better.
                    Best wishes leading a more enriching life

Lesson 34:     Holi- Legends and Celebrations
Holi, also known as Phagwah or The Festival of Colors, has several legends and reasons for celebrations. The most popular legend is the story of King Hiranyakashipu and his son, Bhakta Prahlada. In Lesson 35 we will discuss this royal legend. In Lesson 34 we discuss three other popular legends of Holi:-
  1. Barsana ki Holi, celebrated in memory of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Lord Krishna was
very sad about his dark complexion and wondered why Radha and other gopis were so fair. One day, his mother Yashoda playfully suggested that he could smear colors on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any color he wanted. Fascinated by this idea, Krishna proceeded to do so and thus, introduced The Festival of Colors.
    Lord Krishna is believed to have popularized the festival by playing pranks with Radha and the gopis. In Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna and in Vrindavan, Holi is celebrated with special pujas and the traditional custom of worshipping Lord Krishna. Here, the festival lasts for sixteen days.
  1. Legend of the Invicible Dhundhi – In the kingdom of Prthu, there was a very ugly and terrible ogress called Dhundhi . Dhundhi was once a religious person and had performed penances and secured several boons from the deities that made her almost invincible. However, due to a saraap (curse) from Lord Shiva, Dhundhi was not immune to the pranks and abuses of young boys as she was to weapons and arrows.

Although she was at one time a very religious person, Dhundhi had a mean streak in her. She loved to devour innocent children. After several children were missing from the village, word got out that Dhundhi had captured and devoured them. One day, the courageous boys from the community became intoxicated from drinking bhaang and chased Dhundhi out of the village beating drums, making loud noises, and hurling insults and obscenities at her. They continued until she left the village for good. All the children were now safe to play and move freely in their community. The expulsion of the ogress Dhundhi from the village on this day is another reason for celebrating Holi.

  1. Legend of Kamadeva: The God of Love and Passion - The legend has it that Lord Shiva’s partner Goddess Sati died after her father, King Daksha insulted Shiva. Lord Shiva got extremely miserable after this incident and sat down for deep meditation. Bhagwan Shiva abandoned everything including his responsibilities for the world. Soon, the entire world fell out of balance which worried the other gods. Sati was reborn as Goddess Parvati and married Lord Shiva, but she could not penetrate Lord Shiva’s deep trance. That is when she went to Kamadeva, the god of love and passion, and asked him to help bring Lord Shiva back to his normal self. Kamadeva heard her pleas and despite knowing that it would not make Shiva happy agreed to help.

Kamadeva then struck Lord Shiva with his love arrow. Of course, Lord Shiva was very angry. He opened his third eye and burnt the god of love into ashes.  However, the arrow left the effect of love on Lord Shiva and later he granted the love god Kamadeva immortality.
    Later, Kamadeva’s wife prayed to Lord Shiva to bring back her husband and Shiva accepted her request and brought Kamadeva back to life. In South India, on Holi, people worship the love of god, Kamadeva for his sacrifice. Holi is celebrated as the sacrifice of the love god, Kamadeva.

Lesson 35:   Holi (Phagwah) – Hindu Festival of Colors
Holi – the festival of colors, is undoubtably the most fun-filled and boisterous of Hindu festivals. It’s an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and of course, lots of bright colors. Holi is also regarded as a celebration of unity and brotherhood – an opportunity to forget all differences and celebrate without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or sex. It is one occasion when sprinkling colored powder (gulal) and colored water (abir) on each other breaks all barriers of discrimination so that everyone looks the same and universal brotherhood is re-affirmed.
History and Meaning of Holi:

 Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi’s precise form and purpose display great variety. Originally, Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring. This aspect still plays a significant part in the festival in the form of the colored powders (gulal). Holi is a time when man and nature alike throw off the gloom of winter and rejoice in the colors and liveliness of spring. Spring is for everyone. It is the time when the rich mingle with the poor, the ugly with the pretty, and the weak with the strong, all seeking happiness after the night of the full moon when holika, a bond fire, planted forty days before is burnt and the cruel winter is conming to an end.
The Legend of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada and Narasimha:
The legend commemorated by the festival of Holi, involves an evil king named Hiranyakashipu who had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance (sacrifice), after which he had demanded that he not be killed “during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by man nor an animal; neither by astra or shastra.” Consequently, he grew arrogant and considered himself immortal. He attacked the Heavens and the Earth, and demanded that people stop worshipping Vishnu and start praying respectfully to him. Those who did not obey his orders were imprisoned or killed without mercy. He even imprisoned the Devas and the Rishis. Everyone was terrified with his mystic powers and they all went to Lord Vishnu for help. Bhagwan Vishnu gave them the relief when he told them that Hiranyakashipu and his wife Kayadhu will bring forth a son to be called Prahlada, and this son will become the cause of Hiranyakashipu’s death. So all the Gods and Goddesses waited to see when Prahlada will be born and how he would become the cause of death of Hiranyakashipu.
As years passed by, Kayadhu, the wife of Hiranyakashipu, gave birth to a son, Prahlada in the Ashrama of Narada Muni. Sage Narada used to tell stories of Lord Narayana to the child Prahlada. Hearing the glorious tales, Prahlada became a devotee of Lord Narayana. Hiranyakashipu who wanted everyone to worship him was greatly disappointed by hearing his own son chanting the names of Maha Vishnu. To change the mind of Prahlada, the king sent his son to the Ashramam of Shukracharya’s sons Shaku and Amarka. However, they were also unsuccessful in breaking the solid devotion of Prahlada to Vishnu.
All the efforts of Hiranyakashipu to change the mind of Prahlada were in vain. At last, he was so angry with his son, he decided to kill him. In spite of several threats of harm from his father, King Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued offering prayers to Lord Vishnu. Prahlada was poisoned by the king, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants, yet remained unharmed. He was put in a dungeon with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu’s attempts to kill his son were fruitless. Each time Hiranyakashipu tried to kill Prahlada Lord Vishnu’s magical hands were there to protect him. Finally, the king ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s demoness sister, who could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burnt by fire. She was blessed with a shawl that could prevent fire from harming her. Prahlada readily accepted his father’s orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to ashes, while Prahlada survived unharmed.
At this point King Hiranyakashipu was seething with anger. The king challenged Prahlada and asked where his Narayana can be found. Prahlada replied, “My Vishnu is omnipresent and there is not a single place Narayana is not found.” The king was furious and got up from his throne and asked Prahlada, “Can you show me Vishnu in this pillar as well?” Prahlada said, “Yes, He is there!” The king drew his mace and struck the pillar. With a thundering sound the pillar cracked and Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Lord Narasimha – in half man half lion form. The furious Narasimha grabbed Hiranyakashipu, pulled him to his lap and tore open his body with his claws to kill the asura. Lord Narasimha chose this way to kill Hiranyakashipu so that Lord Brahma’s boon could not be offended. As Hiranyakashipu’s death wish and Brahma’s boon, Lord Narasimha was neither a man nor an animal, the time was twilight, neither day nor night, he sat on the threshold of the room, keeping the body of the king on his thighs, used his nails to kill the demon instead of astra or sasthra. After killing the demon Hiranyakashipu, Lord Narasimha was furious and was pacified when his devotee Prahlada prostrated before him and touched his feet. Prahlada was crowned as the next king by Lord Narasimha.
On Holika Dahan (evening before Holi), at a specified time people gather at a special location in town where Holika was planted 40 days earlier, and build a huge bonfire. Prayers are offered and the elder in the community or a selected person
lights the bonfire. Early on Holi day people return to the site of the bonfire and celebrate by rubbing ashes on each other to celebrate the death of the wicked Holika. Later, the celebrations continue with colored powder (gulal) and colored water (abeer) being showered on each other. Families and friends share special food, drinks and gifts. Chowtal is sung in homes, mandirs and communities and there is grand merry-making. At Holi (Phagwah) we celebrate the triumph of good over evil. If we truly believe in Lord Vishnu (like Bhakta Prahlada did), his magical hands will always protect us from all evil.
From my family to yours, have a safe and Happy Holi. May the spirit of Bhakta Prahlada always be with you. 

Our leadership team consists of:
Ramoodit Kimal
Radhika Persaud 
 Vice President
Sunita Shivnarine 
Geeta Gerau 
Anita Ali
 Bhajan Sammelan Coordinator
Devi Doobay 
Youth Coordinator


Nicola Balram
Youth Representative
Bhanmatie Ramlall
Special Events Coordinator

Bhai Ramjas Singh
Public Relations Coordinator


Pt Totaram Doobay
Pt Latchman Persaud

Shri Gaayatri Mandir, Minneapolis, MN 

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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