Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA -164/3

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

Bharatiya Mandir, New York, Ny

Middletown, New York, 10940

The other story is that Mooshika was a Gandharva (celestial musician) who inadvertently stepped on the feet of a Rishi. The Rishi got angry and cursed him to become a mouse. After his temper cooled, the Rishi felt bad and told him that even though he was a mouse, everyone, including the Gods, would prostrate before him. Then Ganesha took the mouse to be his mount. The symbolism here is that Ganesha, with His huge body, cannot go into nooks and crevices. So the
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mouse, which is small, can go into those small places. Thus, with the help of Mooshika, Ganesha is able to overcome all obstacles. Scientifically speaking, this is a very good example of symbiotic existence!!
Swan – is Goddess Saraswathi’s mount. The swan represents the qualities of the Goddess, namely wisdom, grace and beauty, along with music and fine arts.
Peacock – is Skanda’s mount. Skanda is also known as Karthikeyan, Subrahmanya, or Murugan. The peacock represents splendor and majesty, and also arrogance and pride because of its beauty. By making it His mount, Skanda teaches man not to be proud or arrogant over external beauty.
Owl – is Goddess Lakshmi’s vahana. She represents wealth and fortune. The owl is a wise bird. Goddess Lakshmi is teaching man to be careful and use his fortune wisely.
Lion – is Devi Durga’s mount. The lion is majestic yet fierce and so is Devi Durga. The story goes that the demon Mahishasura defeated the Gods in a fierce battle and the Gods went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and the other Gods put forth their energies and thus Durga was born as an amalgamation of all the energies. She was so powerful that she needed an equally powerful Mount. So king Himavan (God of the Himalayas) gave her the Lion as a mount. Using the power and heroism of the lion, Durga used her Shakti to vanquish Mahishasura.
Nandi or Nandikeshwara – is a bull and he is Lord Shiva’s mount. He is also the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva’s abode. Nandi is very quiet and benign, and he signifies single-minded devotion. Nandi is the foremost disciple of Lord Shiva. He is the principal Gana of Lord Shiva as well. In several Shaivite temples, Nandi is depicted sitting facing the inner sanctum. One has to first seek Nandi’s blessings before going into the temple. The story of how Nandi became Lord Shiva’s vahana is very interesting. Once there was a farmer named Shilada. He did not have any children. He was a devout devotee of Lord Shiva. So he prayed to Lord Shiva, who appeared before him and asked what he wanted. Shilada asked for a son and the Lord said “you will have one soon.” Shilada was overjoyed and went home. Several days later, when he was plowing his land he found a handsome baby with a golden hue. He heard a voice from above telling him “Shilada, take this baby and bring him up well”. So, Shilada brought the baby home and named him Nandi. He taught him all the languages and scriptures. Nandi grew up to be a very learned man. One day two sages came to Shilada’s house and Shilada told Nandi to look after their needs well. The sages were very happy. When Shilada and Nandi fell prostrate at their feet for blessings, the sages only blessed Shilada with long life. Shilada was upset and asked the sages why they did not bless Nandi with long life. The sages were very sad but told Shilada that his son would not live long. When Nandi heard the news from his father he told him not to worry. Nandi went to perform penance and appease Lord Shiva. Nandi closed his eyes and began his penance in the river Bhuvana. Lord Shiva was very happy and appeared before Nandi and told him to ask a boon. When Nandi opened his eyes, he was mesmerized by Lord Shiva’s beauty and wisdom emanating from his body. The first words from Nandi’s mouth were “Lord, I wish to be with you
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forever.” Lord Shiva agreed and Nandi became Lord Shiva’s vahana. He also became Lord Shiva’s friend, gatekeeper, administrator, and the recipient of Devi Parvathi’s protection.
Garuda – is an eagle and is the vahana of Lord MahaVishnu. He is usually worshipped along with Lord Vishnu, sometimes separately. Garuda is known for his immense strength and strong ethics. He applies this philosophy to correct evildoers. He is regarded as the king of birds. He is depicted as having a golden body, red wings, a prominent beak, and a crown on his head. The following legend illustrates how he became Lord Vishnu’s mount. Garuda was born as the son of Sage Kashyapa and Vinata, who was King Daksha’s daughter. Kashyapa had another wife named Kadru. There was always rivalry between Kadru and Vinata. Once, Kadru won an argument with Vinata and imprisoned her in a place that was guarded by huge serpents, which were Kadru’s children. When Garuda came to know about this he came immediately to free his mother from the prison. But the serpents would not allow that. They said that Garuda should bring them Amrita (), the nectar of immortality. Only then would they release Vinata. Garuda agreed and went to look for Amrita. The Gods had hidden the Amrita inside a ring of massive fire that covered the sky. Surrounding that were two fierce serpents. Garuda managed to mangle the serpents and take the pot of Amrita. He carried it in his mouth without swallowing it. En route he met Lord Vishnu and made a deal with Him wherein Lord Vishnu granted Garuda immortality without drinking the Amrita. Garuda, in turn, promised Lord Vishnu that he would become His mount as soon as he delivered the Amrita to the serpents as promised. A little while later, Lord Indra, the King of the Gods, came along the way and Garuda made another deal with him, which would enable Indra to take the pot of Amrita back with him to his abode (Swarga), where it rightfully belonged. Garuda came to the serpents with the Amrita and gave it to them. The serpents were overjoyed to see the nectar of immortality. They released Vinata. Then Garuda asked them to take a bath before drinking the Amrita. As soon as the serpents went for their bath, Indra swooped down and carried the nectar away. The serpents were angry but could not do anything except lick the few drops of the nectar that had fallen on the grass. The grass was so powerful and sharp that their tongues split. That is the reason that serpents have a forked tongue. But even the few drops of the Amrita were enough for the serpents to attain immortality. Snakes shed their entire skin to symbolize their immortality. As promised, Garuda went back and became Lord Vishnu’s devoted vahana and a very good friend of the Gods.
In most of the temples of Lord Vishnu, a special area is created for Garuda and special Pujas are done for Garuda.
There are also separate temples for Nandi in several parts of India. The biggest Nandi temples are in Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh; Brihadeshwara temple in Tamil Nadu; Bull Temple, Bangalore, Karnataka; Chamundi Hills in Mysore, Karnataka; Hoysaleshwara in Halebidu, Karnataka; Shantaleshwara temple in Kerala; Nandi temple, Madhya Pradesh; Kedhareshwara temple in Balligavi, Karnataka, and Hampi Bazaar in Karnataka.
As you read this, you will see how the legends are intertwined with many characters we see throughout Hindu Mythology.
“Hindu Gods and their vehicles” – wikipedia.com
Anna Dallipicola, “Directory of Hindu Lore and Legend,” 2004
Yutling Lee, “Hindu Gods and their vahanas” – Orissa Review, 2003
Pradeep Kugan, “Durga in sacred literature”
Earnest Wood and V. Subrahmanyam, “Garuda Purana,” 1918
Other miscellaneous books
Contributed by Dr. Padma Sundaram
The 24 Gurus of Lord Dattatreya
Lord Dattatreya is known as Gurudeva Datta. He is the Guru of all Gurus. He is the Supreme Guru. As an incarnation of the Paramaatma or Supreme Spirit,
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Lord Dattatreya came down to earth to spread the universality of true religion. He descended on this earth to establish Satya (the universal truth), Rta (the cosmic order), and Dharma (the perennial principles) in all their entirety.
Lord Dattatreya is an ancient incarnation of the Trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. He is a complete and perfect manifestation of the three primordial energies and the three primary Gunas (qualities) of Sattva (positivity, goodness and wholesomeness), Rajas (passion, energy and movement), and Tamas (negativity, lethargy, darkness and ignorance). He encompasses all these Gunas and, at the same time, transcends all these Gunas.
Lord Dattatreya is an Avadhuta, the Supreme Philosopher and ever-anchored in Spirit. He is Avadhuta, he who has shaken off from himself all worldly feelings and obligations. He is dispassionate and detached from the worldly goings-on and assumes the form of a total and supreme recluse.
Though being the Guru of all Gurus, Lord Dattatreya Himself spoke of His twenty-four Gurus. In the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna speaks to His disciple Uddhava about a discussion between Lord Dattatreya and King Yadu. Lord Dattatreya said, “The Self alone is my Guru. Yet I have learnt wisdom from twenty-four other individuals and objects. So they are also my Gurus. They are: earth, water, fire, air, sky, moon, sun, pigeon, python, ocean, moth, bumblebee, honeybee, elephant, deer, fish, prostitute, osprey, baby, maiden, serpent, blacksmith, spider, and wasp.” Lord Dattatreya said the following about each of His Gurus:
1. Earth - I learned from Mother Earth forbearance, firmness, patience, forgiveness and doing good to others as she does even when people and other creatures trod over her.
2. Water – I learned from water the quality of purity and movement. Water is the source of life and it purifies everything, especially when it is holy like the Ganga. Water flows unceasingly. If it stops it becomes stagnant. One has to always keep moving forward. At the same time, water teaches me humility. Water always flows to the lowest place possible, teaching me to be humble.
3. Fire – I learned from fire to glow with the splendour of self-knowledge and austerity. Like fire, I should accept everything, both good and bad in this world, and reduce everything to ashes by the fire of knowledge, while remaining pure myself.
4. Air – I learned from air that I should not be attached to anyone though I move among several people in this world. The air wafts over flowers and thorns alike, but remains unaffected. Similarly, I should not prefer flowers over thorns or friends over foes, and I should remain unaffected by one and all.
5. Sky – I learned from the sky that the Atman (Self) is all-pervading and yet has no contact with any object.
6. Moon – I learned from the moon that birth, growth, youth, old age and death are only changes brought to the body by the time-spirit and these changes are not to the soul at all. While the moon waxes and wanes, it never loses its essence, totality or shape. All the phases of life are just transitory, and I should not lose consciousness of the Self during these phases.
7. Sun – I learned from the sun that I should gather knowledge from various sources, transform that knowledge into practical wisdom, and share it with all without exception. The sun shines brightly over the earth, evaporates the water with its rays, transforms the water into clouds, and sheds rain over forests, rivers, seas, cities, and valleys without exception.
8. Pigeon – I learned from the pigeon not to have any attachment. A pair of pigeons nested in a tree with deep attachment for each other. They had offspring and nourished them with great affection and attachment. One day, the parent pigeons saw their children caught in a fowler’s nest. The mother pigeon flung herself on to the net to save the children and got caught in the net herself. The father pigeon did the
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same and got caught in the net as well. The fowler killed them all.
9. Python – I learned from the python to be always content. A python does not make itself miserable by running after food. It eats whatever comes to it. Once it has eaten it lays still for days not worrying about its next meal.
10. Ocean – I learned from the ocean that I should always maintain my discipline and never cross my limits. The ocean accepts the waters from all rivers and streams but never overflows its boundaries. Whatever temptations, difficulties or troubles a person faces, he should remain unmoved like the ocean.
11. Moth – I learned from the moth to control the sense of sight and to fix the mind on the Self. Just as the moth rushes towards the flame without any distractions, I must fix my mind on the Self and concentrate on it in order to achieve it.
12. Bumblebee – I learned from the bumblebee that I should only take a little from anyone and not be a burden on anyone. Instead I should also help and enrich the people from whom I take something. A bumblebee takes only a few drops of nectar from any flower. It hums and provides enjoyment to the flowers. It also pollinates the flowers and helps them prosper.
13. Honeybee – I learned from the honeybee that I should not hoard possessions. The honeybee hoards more honey that it needs. Finally, the honey-gatherer seeks out the place of the honeycomb and carries all the honey away leaving nothing for the honeybee. Such is the situation of a miser who hoards wealth. He neither enjoys his riches nor donates to charity. Finally someone else takes away all his wealth.
14. Elephant – I learned from the elephant to be careful with my passions and desires. The male elephant was attracted to the female elephant (the bait) and blinded by lust, and in the process of going to her, fell into a pit that was covered with leaves and branches. Worldly charms arouse our sensory impulses, and in the process of pursuing those impulses, our mind gets trapped and enslaved, even though it is powerful.
15. Deer – I learned from the deer not to listen to sensuous music. A deer is alert but it is easily attracted by the hunter’s flute music and gets caught. Similarly one should not listen to sensuous music lest one’s mind gets trapped in the worldly goings-on. One should only listen to songs about God.
16. Fish – I learned from the fish not to be greedy and covetous. The fish that is covetous of food becomes an easy victim to the bait. Similarly the man who is greedy for food or other possessions loses his independence and gets ruined.
17. Prostitute – I learned from the prostitute Pingala that abandonment of desires leads to contentment. Pingala used to constantly and eagerly wait for her customers. When they did not come as she expected, she would become frustrated and could not sleep at night. She became tired of waiting and getting frustrated. One night, she stopped waiting for her customers and entertained only those who came to her and felt contented. She slept peacefully that night. I learned that abandonment of desires leads to contentment.
18. Osprey – I learned from the osprey that the secret of survival lies in renunciation, not in possession. The osprey had a piece of flesh in its mouth and was being pursued by many other strong birds. When the osprey dropped the piece of flesh, all the birds left the osprey alone and rushed towards the flesh. By giving up attachment to that possession, the osprey obtained relief.
19. Baby – I learned from the baby that I should demand only when I really need something. A baby
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Some Upcoming Special Mandir Events Maha Shivaratri
Sunday, March 10
Holi/Dhuleti – Festival of Colors
Sunday, March 31
Ugadi/Gudi Padwa– New Year (Kannada, Telugu, Marathi)
Wednesday, April 10
Mata ka Jagaran
Saturday, April 13
Tamil New Year / Vishu
Sunday, April 14
Sri Rama Navami
Saturday, April 20
Sri Hanuman Jayanti
Thursday, April 25
Bharatiya Mandir Anniversary Celebrations
Sunday, May 5
Sri Srinivasa Kalyana (wedding celebrations of Lord Srinivasa / Venkateshwara / Balaji)
Sunday, May 12 (tentative)

Om Tat Sat

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


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