Many of you would have seen yesterday’s slideshow of the flag raising. We are sharing some of those photos again today, along side the traditional excerpts from the Saiva Dharma Shastras on the meaning of the change of seasons which guide our lives as we walk on the Saiva Neri path.
REFERENCES TO “jivana” in the Saiva Dharma Shastras
Beginning with Hindu New Year in mid-April, three seasons of the year divide our activities into three great needs of humankind--the learning of scripture in the first season, Nartana Ritau; the living of culture in the second season, Jivana Ritau; and the meditating on Siva in the third season, Moksha Ritau. Thus we are constantly reminded that our life is Siva’s life and our path to Him is through study, sadhana and realization. In ritau one, we teach the philosophy; in ritau two, we teach the culture; and in ritau three, we teach meditation.
117 The Second Season: Jivana Ritau
During Jivana Ritau, the rainy season, from mid-August to mid-December, Living with Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture is the primary text. The key word of this season is work. The colors are rust, copper-maroon and all shades of red--rust for earthy preservation, copper-maroon for fulfillment and red for physical energy. The Aadheenam’s 60-foot flag pole flies the rust-colored dhvaja, symbolizing environmental care. Copper-maroon and all shades of red adorn our smaller flags. This is the season of honoring and showing appreciation for those in the vanaprastha ashrama, life’s elder advisor stage.
The focus is on preserving what has been created, manifesting goals and fulfilling plans made in the past. Inwardly the emphasis is on direct cognition and caring for the practical details of the external world. Practicality is a word much used this season. In the monasteries and the missions, there is a big push on studying the sutras of Living with Siva and these Saiva Dharma Shastras. The format of the mission satsanga changes into one that in fact helps everyone live and breathe with Lord Siva through personal adjustment to the aphorisms of Living with Siva, which define tradition, culture and protocol. Gurukulams are established or renewed to teach the 64 kalas for boys and girls. All work hard to perfect and strengthen Saivite culture in the life of each member.
Kulamatas, grihinis and their daughters should think ahead and make plans to send talented children to dancing, singing and art schools for special courses, and ponder ways to make this possible through scholarships and special funds. It is a time of building and repairing and caring for what has been built, planted or created in any realm of life. It is a physical time, of exercise and exertion in the Bhuloka, a magnetic time for action and willpower, of finishing all jobs started since the first ritau. On the farm, there is harvesting of the land’s fruits as we celebrate abundance. In the missions during Jivana Ritau, the shishyas can form tirukuttams, and thereby visit students’ homes, see how they live and meet their families.
119 Festivals, Realms of the Second Season
Krittika Dipa is the major festival of Jivana Ritau. This grand event, conducted by the family missions, is open to members, Academy students and to special guests by invitation, including honored dignitaries of the island, neighbors and friends of the Church. Ganesha Chaturthi and Skanda Shashthi are also conducted by shishyas on the Island. The Aadheenam Realms of this period are: 1) San Marga, the straight path to God, with its rudraksha, neem, konrai and bilva forests, and Agni Mandapam. 2) The Wailua River, with its Nani Kaua Waterfall and Pond, Bali Hai Falls and Ganga Sadhana Ghats. 3) Pihanakalani Trail--legendary Hawaiian path toward the volcano, beginning at the Aadheenam and continuing past the Orchid Pavilion of Religions to the Teak Tree Turnaround at the edge of Rainbow Amphitheater.
400 Jivana Ritau Bhajana Satsanga
Jivana Satsanga is from mid-August to mid-December. This is the season when those in the vanaprastha ashrama are especially honored. All turn their attention to the special gifts of knowledge and experience that are the legacy of our elders in the community. We listen to their vision, their high-minded work in the broader community in guiding the dharma within the broader social and spiritual and political arenas. We encourage garlands to be brought to these satsangas, then offered with words of kindness and respect to those who have been through so much and who now have an awakening wisdom by which all within the Church can be guided along the right path by those among us who have grown naturally into the subtle duties of vanaprastha dharma.
1. Activities begin with Ganesha arati by the padipalar of the day. He then leads the group in chanting the Gurudeva Namaskara Veda Mantra.
2. Then the padipalar conducts satguru padapuja.
3. Sutra Meditation: The teaching period for this four-month season emphasizes Living with Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture. This is the time when we ignite the fire of progress among this holy band. The goal is to strengthen each member’s commitment to upholding all the vowed sutras for the coming year in public and private life and all sadhanas they have been given to perform. Therefore, a thirty-minute meditation is held, guided by the pechalar, on the meaning of vrata and the need for prayashchitta or penance when a vrata is not upheld. The sutras should all be in front of each devotee in written or printed form. During the meditative, reflective period, each one writes down on paper any sutras or neglected sadhanas they need to strengthen their commitment to fulfill. A positive plan for perfection is made, first through inner commitment and then actual change. These papers are kept by the devotee and looked at each night before sleep. They are finally burned in a full-moon havana when all penances have been completed and guilt has disappeared. This tantra demonstrates that each one is responsible to himself for applied metaphysical practices and consciously recuperating sadhanas that were neglected along life’s pathway. This is the Natha way of self effort to attain Self Realization.
4. Sutra Discussion: After the meditation, the group forms one or more chakravalas for sutra discussion, with men and women separate. This constitutes the 45-minute study period. A full disclosure is made by each one to all others as to how well he or she has been living up to the Nandinatha Sutras. During each bhajana satsanga of Jivana Ritau, a reading is given of five chapters of Living with Siva, beginning with chapter one at the first satsanga, then six through ten at the second, and so on, in order. By the end of the season the first sixty chapters of the book will have been read.
5. Announcements are then given by the pechalar, focusing on the goals of this ritau, the areas of emphasis indicated for the season.
6. Next is a 30-minute time for cultural events, videos, recordings, singing Natchintanai, dancing, seminars and classes on the myriad cultural arts.
7. The satsanga concludes with a 30-minute period of socializing and sharing prasada.
GLOSSARY REFERENCES TO “jivana” in the Saiva Dharma Shastras
Jivana Ritau: The rainy season, from mid-August to mid-December, when Living with Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture is the focus of study.
livelihood: Svajivana. Subsistence, or the means of obtaining it. One’s profession, trade or employment. See: dharma, caste, varna dharma.
satsanga: gathering in the company of good souls to worship devoutly and sing loudly in praise of God, Gods and guru. In the Church, satsanga has two main forms: the weekly bhajana and the monthly havana satsangas. The bhajana satsanga has three variations per year in accordance with the three climatic seasons: Nartana, Jivana and Moksha ritaus.
Bodhinatha continues with his weekly series of commentaries on The Path to Siva. In this past Sun One talk, he elucidates the four key beliefs in Hinduism, the three pillars of Sanatana Dharma and Gurudeva's three stages of faith. Primary to Hinduism is the key belief that God is within each of us. To have a well-rounded understanding and experience of Hinduism, to make spiritual progress, adhyatma vikasha, we need scripture, humility, temple worship, devotion. To fully experience God we need the guru to give the spark for meditation and deeper wisdom.