Keys to the Gate

I often post here regarding the goings on of my Facebook friends…This post will be no different. One of my pals on the social networking site posted a link that I’m about to share with you. After poking around only a little, it seems like a pretty good resource – although to be fair, I’m planning to dig a little deeper and research some of the resources that contribute to the site.

It’s called Hindupedia and can be accessed here. I’ve shared below a page I took from there citing the general, broadest scope of Hindu beliefs.

Sanatana Dharma by being a dharma is by definition not dogmatic in its beliefs or faith. Below is a list of key beliefs that are common across most followers of this dharmic tradition.

Reverence for Revealed Scriptures The Vedas are of divine origin. These primordial hymns are the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

All-Pervasive Divinity There is one, all-pervasive Supreme Being, who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality

Three Worlds and Cycles of Creation There are three worlds of existence — physical, astral, and causal — and the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.

Laws of Karma and Dharma Karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words, and deeds — and by obeying the laws of dharma, righteous living.

Reincarnation and Liberation The soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all its karma has been resolved and moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth) has been achieved. Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny.

Temples and the Inner Worlds Divine beings exist in unseen worlds. Temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotion create a communion with these devas, divine beings.

A Path Guided by a Guru A spiritually awakened master, or guru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, aided by personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender to the guru and the divine scriptures.

Compassion and Noninjury All life is sacred, to be loved and revered; and therefore one is expected to practice ahimsa, or “non-injury.”

Diversity of Paths There are many paths that lead to salvation. Although the goal is one, the sages call it by different names and means.

It’s been said that there are as many religions within Hinduism as there are outside of it. Within that context, there are certain to be some (many?) Hindus who adhere to all these core concepts, and some (many?) who hardly grasp any of them. Either way, “vasudaiva kutumbakhum,” the whole world is one family.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti



Taken from Google Image search, "Gay Hindu"

Taken from Google Image search, “Gay Hindu”

Friday was an interesting day for me. The week has pretty much flew by, although Friday not so much. Russia’s been on my nerves in the worst way. It’s not often I recommend obliterating nations, but Russia is pushing it. Even the Middle East with all its own joys doesn’t get under my skin the way Russia is currently. In the Middle East at least they have “good reasons” for their dumb ideaologies. By “good reasons,” I mean religion. Everyone is dictated by Islam in those regions and while it’s not right to be that way either, per se, it’s at least a foundational starting point that can evolve. It’s spiritually misguided logic – it theoretically started out wholesome, and wherever it sits currently, it could also theoretically get back to square one. Russia is different though. The stuff coming out of Russia these days is just mean. Russia’s not saying that Jesus wants them to hunt gays. It’s saying its population is dwindling and gays pose a threat to reproduction and therefore the survival of the nation. That view violates so much common sense and even basic facts that I find it far more offensive than a Muslim who’s ignorant wanting to hunt gays. It’s a fine line, but a distinct one in my mind.

Along these lines, a friend on Facebook reposted something from Vaishnav literature wherein Prabhupad Swami had some pretty harsh words regarding gays, including that we’re lower than even the animals, which are already far lower than humans already. He went on and on as the devotees probed him on this. You can read that blissful knowledge here.

The best part of it all for me was that no one said, “Those are not true Vaishnavs!” One commenter did come close (he’s what another friend would rightly call Kraishnav), but otherwise it didn’t even show up on th radar. This is heard muchly within Abrahamic religions. Whenever Christians hunt people or Muslims bomb them, the other adherents of those faiths are quick to abandon their brothers and very loudly make sure everyone else knows, “They aren’t real Christians!” I’ve even heard a Buddhist monk do this in reponse to some other monks standing up against Muslim oppressors. It seems terribly egoic to me when people turn on their own brothers/sisters like that. It was nice that no one did that – today anyway.

Someone else commented that Vaishnavism is essentially “curried Catholicism.” I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair or accurate assessment, but it’s one I can relate to as having an element of truth to it.

But it all got me thinking… What if one keeps his mouth shut entirely? I mean, the whole event Friday on Facebook was really quite interesting. Somebody said something, others encountered that said thing and said something else in reponse, and then more and more people ended up saying more and more in reponse (in reaction?).

So if I have shitty or hateful or whatever views does it really matter so long as I keep my pie hole shut? My karmas are mine alone (mostly) and if I don’t project them in any manner externally (which, I’ll admit would be nearly impossible to do) then why should anyone else care about it?

I see this happen in the spa I work part-time at. One professional will be having a conversation and since the area is rather open and fluid, conversationsa are often blended and melted into each other, or at least overlapping. This often creates a “mind your own business, nobody asked you” kinda of situation. Prior to those interactions, relative peace is experienced. But is that really peace, or just relative, individualized ignorance?

Here’s what I think the REAL root of it all is: Jnana. And I mean both sides of the Jnana “coin.”

Jnana, I’ve said before, is experiential realization of Truth. It requires work on your part and no one else’s. If I want your advice to check my own thoughts against, that’s one thing. But if I haven’t invested enough work in my own Self, I won’t even really be (experientially) aware of what’s already inside me. This is simultaneously the starting place and the finish line, no joke. But if this doesn’t happen, a person not only has no secure foundation (afterall what’s clearer than your own personal, experiential, realization of Truth?), but also almost certainly has no clear idea of the Goal – also because they’ve not invested the work needed for experiential realization. So if one neglects the work that needs done, and has no realization of the secure foundation (not the same as having no foundation at all), and has no resultant sight of the Goal which would also need to be certain, then he/she is likely to rely on others in ways that the hope-filled think will give direction to their journey – this laziness is grave and is pretty much the reason the self-help industry is booming. Nothing wrong with a book telling you how to reach your higher Self, but just reading won’t work. This almost invariably means that the kind of ineractions I mentioned earlier take place.

To keep moving… What’s all the fuss about gayness and Hinduism? Superficially, Hinduism is pretty much literally the most liberating religion ever. Many religions are quite “free,” but within the context of history and orthodoxy, the freedom found in Hinduism simply can’t be surpassed.

Interestingly, Hinduism has a rich, albeit somewhat obscure, history of gayness. The Faithology website has a page on homosexuality within Hinduism which can be accessed by clicking here – and it does a fair job at detailing exactly what I’m talking about.

The site mentions the “third sex,” which everyone should read about. More popularly, though, the site also offers a few nuggets most might not know about. For instance, the Harihara aspect of God, is a male-male union of Shiva and Vishnu. This can’t exactly be said to be gay, but it’s definitely homosexual (according to a strict definition of the word) and stands in sharp contract to the more obviously hetero blending of “God” in the form of Shiva and Shakti. Also, Krishna’s own son, Samba, actually engaged in homosexual acts (which isn’t the same as being gay, but whatever) and is a known cross-dresser/transvestite. There’s also a version of the Ramayana that details the creation of the god Bhagiratha from lesbian intercourse.

Another WordPress post, also inspired by some of Friday’s interactionsw, was composed by the Facebook friend mentioned earlier who had reposted Prabhupad’s interview transcription. This post can be read here, and takes a myth buster form. In all actuality, the posted I just linked you (as well as my post here) could just about as easily contribute to the strife I was getting at in the beginning of this post.

In theory, we should all be able to hold any view under the sun about any subject under the sun, and it shouldn’t matter. Should it? Why does it? Have I already provided the answer, or do I need you to help enlighten me? Are you sure?

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

A Sweet Girl

Taken from Google Image Search, "Stillness"

Taken from Google Image Search, “Stillness”

The last job I held was at a cancer treatment center and blood specialist. It was really rewarding work, although I stayed for only two years. While there, there was a woman who was my supervisor who is about as mixed a blessing as someone can be.

On one hand, I adore(d) her because she really does have a good heart and I think her commitment to being “traditional” is cute in some ways. She isn’t always the smartest worker, but she always works hard and cares about completing her assignments. She bakes THE BEST confectionary delights – no joke.

On the other hand, she is often immesnely frustrating to work for or with. All finances aside, she’s just about the sole reason for why I ever even left the clinic. I was really happy there, but just couldn’t put up with the manic-depressive way she managed sometimes. I won’t go too much into all that.

Her name is Pam. And one of her goals is to “be a sweet girl.”

I think the story is something like, her mother or grandmother or aunt charged her with this command when Pam was growing up. Pam keeps a post-it note on the front of one of her computer monitors reminding her to be a sweet girl.

I want to be a sweet girl, too. At my new job, in Pam’s memory and for my own subtle benefit, I now also keep a post-it note on the front of one of my computer monitors. Of course, because people sometimes frown on a 33 (almost) year old male reminding himself to be a sweet girl, my note is written in my first second language – German.

It’s interesting how all people can touch you and affect your life… and consequently your karmas. I know I can improve on being a sweet girl. Often I fail miserably. I don’t let it get to me, though – or at least I try not to. It’s infinitely more important to more pay attention, not to the times you’re anything except a sweet girl, but to picking yourself up and trying again for that sweetness.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti



One of the books I bought while in Chicago recently is, “The Book of Ganesha” by Royina Grewal. I’ve only read the introduction and part of the first chapter, but it’s already been really interesting. Some of what I’ve read I’m not sure how I feel about – stuff like the Aryan Invasion Theory, which this book seems to support. But generally, most all of what I’ve read would be classified as myths surrounding Ganesha’s origin. I love this stuff.

After reading through a number of origin stories I came to one I was less familiar with. Actually, I was familiar with it superficially, but hadn’t looked into it much. As it turns out, the following story is one created by Vaishnavs for, what I perceive, are very obvious purposes.

“Such was the popularity of the elephant-headed deity that the Vaishnavas also wished to claim Him as their own and developed myths to establish the connection of Ganesha with Vishnu. One presents Ganesha as an incarnation of Krishna, with Shani instead of Shiva as the agent of beheading. And it is Vishnu who revives Ganesha and grants him his special status.

(And the story goes…)

Shiva advised Parvati, who wanted to have a son, to propitiate Vishnu and observe vratas (fasts and rituals) in his honor for a year. “Then,” he said, “The lord of gopikas, Krishna himself, will be born as your son.” Parvati observed the vrata, and to her immense joy, Krishna was born to her as an infant of unparalleled beauty.

All the gods came to pay homage to Parvati’s new son. The great ascetic Shani, son of Surya, was among them but he kept his eyes cast down and would not look at the child. When Parvati asked him the reason for this, he explained that once he had been so absorbed in the contemplation of lord Vishnu that he had not noticed his wife’s attempts to gain his attention. Furious that her fertile time would pass unfulfilled, she had cursed him, saying that anything his eyes rested upon would be destroyed. It was because of this that he would not look at the child.

Parvati and her attendants mocked Shani, and she demanded that he admire her son. And so with great fear, and only out of the corner of his eye, Shani looked at Parvati’s infant and his glance instantly severed the child’s head. Vishnu, moved by the mother’s grief, flew off on Garuda towards the north. He brought back the head of a young elephant which he joined to the headless body of Parvati’s son, reviving him. Vishnu blessed “Krishna-Ganesha” thus: May your puja be performed before that of any other god. May you be situated in all venerable beings and may you be the best among yogis. This is my boon to you.

Thus ends the Vaishnav origin of my ishtadevata. Does anyone else find it “typical” that Vishnu is in the spotlight so much in this rendition?

1) Parvati had to appease Vishnu to win His favor, which took a year.
2) After winning favor, Parvati is the lucky gal who gets to birth the all-star, Krishna (Vishnu).
3) All the gods paid homage to Her son, who is Krishna/Vishnu
4) An ascetic devotee of none other than Vishnu had the curse (power?) which severed the head of the infant Krishna (an interesting paradox, indeed).
5) Vishnu, who came to adore His own infant form, was also the one who saved the day by getting a new head for the baby AND being responsible for reviving him.
6) A wond’rous boon was afforded the babe, who is Krishna, by Sri Vishnu – just because?

So Vishnu gave the blessing, which was conveniently His own appearance. Then somebody who loved Vishnu “too much” was responsible for the child’s death, which allowed Vishnu – who had arrived solely to adore His own infant self – to become the hero and fix a mess that, at best, He’d only indirectly caused. And as icing on the cake, he gave a boon to His infant self.

Say what?

A better-known version of Ganesha’s origin seems more balanced, impartial, and frankly more reasonable: Shiva (traditionally known as the master of all yogis) had been away for a while meditating (as the master of all yogis would be inclined to do) when Parvati decided to create a child/guardian of Her own body. Shiva comes back and ignorantly makes a mess of the situation because He isn’t aware that the child is essentially His. When Parvati sees the mess, She threatens to annihilate all of existence in Her grief. To prevent this, Shiva ends up with an elephant head, which he installs on the child’s body and restores to life. Then because He’s the one who made the mess to begin with, He not only makes everything right again, but adds icing on top with a boon that requires “sacrifice” on His own part – which is to give Ganesha dominion over His (Shiva’s) gunas, among other aspects of the boon.

I personally find this version to be far less lop-sided than the Vaishnava version. From the beginning it follows basic foundational concepts of Hinduism: Parvati, the Mother, is where everything comes from and it’s from Her body that Ganesha is formed – like everything else in existence. Her very upset threatens the entirety of existence, which makes sense because “everything” is energy, aka Shakti, aka The Mother – which further supports that Ganesha should have come from Her to begin with. Then Shiva, the one who jacked everything up because of His own yogic imbalance, is the rightly one who made everything good again through His own effort and sacrifice – aka the Law of Karma.

And finally what you’re left with is Ganesha: The universal symbol of Hinduism regardless of sect, second only to Om itself – which He’s also uniquely recognized as the embodiment of. His strange form transcends reason and conceptual limitation, just as with Brahman Itself. His form is also a poetic combination of natural and supernatural, magic and mundane, creator and creation – signifying not only the indefinable nature of our Source, but also that He’s the harmony found perfectly situated at the center of every paradox. He rules all karmas, as no substantial action should be started without Him, and no barrier can be erected or removed without Him. He’s known to be the ruler of the Muladhara Chakra and is known to be “centered in the chest where the breath is felt” which tells us that He’s the closest to us, the most easily accessed, the true Starting Point, and intimately connected to our very existence. No other conception of God is worshipped successfully without first worshipping Him.

I could probably go on and on, but I bet you’re about to hurl. Fair enough. Every once in a while I just gotta make a post like this and get it out of my system. Thanks for tolerating.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Devotion Emotion in Spoken Form


While in Chicago recently I picked up a few books on Ganesha specifically. I’ve already made my way through the smallest, which is essentially a booklet. The title is something like Shree Maha Ganesha Siddhi Vrat.

For anyone unfamiliar, “vrat” is the source of the word vow and typically translates as “fast,” meaning to abstain from food for a period of time as a means of purification. The word “siddhi” has many translations and often refers to some beneficent result of having performed some manner of penance. So, loosely, you complete a vrat and achieve some kind of siddhi. My general understanding of siddhis is that they shouldn’t be sought, and can end up being misused or a distraction – but that they can also be quite beneficial, especially when used for others’ good, and can also serve as “milestones” in personal/spiritual progress.

So this booklet details what it indicates is the fool-proof-est way of obtaining a Ganesha siddhi through a very specific vrat. I’m cool with this, aside from the info in the booklet being mostly uninteresting. But something about the booklet kept jabbing me.

Throughout the booklet, instead of telling the reader the right time to intone a mantra, it would instruct the reader and person attempting the vrat to “say the spell.” My first thought is that this is a translation error. My second thought is one of indignation – afterall, mantras aren’t SPELLS, right?

But wait… for a brief period, after Christianity and before Hinduism (and in fact the reason I even encountered Hinduism) I studied paganism and witchcraft. Spellwork was a huge part of this. Anybody will tell you that a spell is something you say to make something happen. On the mundane level, the very foundation of all language is spellwork. More magically, however, we’re talking about something higher than the mundane that we’re still trying to make happen via words. Are mantras any different than spells?

When you break everything down, yes. They are different. But beyond that, from actual formulation clear up through practical application, mantras are as much like spells as they are different. It’s odd. And while we’re at it, “prayer” in other religions is no different. We’re speaking what we want in hopes that something higher or bigger than us will get things moving. I think in my estimation, the biggest difference is that Hinduism cites more than a little science behind the formulation of it’s myraid mantras – something definitely different than the spell an English speaking witch would cast, which more than anything is devotion emotion in spoken form.

How beneficial is it to split spiritual hairs? I’m assuming it’s only as beneficial as knowing whether there’s power behind your actions and words, or whether you’re kind of just making it up.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

India Book House

Every year, it’s not guaranteed that my beloved and I will take a vacation. We do take time off throughout the year, but an actual dedicated vacation is something a bit new to us, after almost a decade of being together. While there are a few other trips on the potential horizon, this past week has been it for the year. We mostly piddled around the house and around town this week, and bounced a few travel plans around – finally settling on a day trip to Chicago. Saturday. My parents came with us, and it really made all the difference. Our plans were basic: Drive to northern Indiana, take the South Shore Line into the city and use the L to get everywhere, everywhere being two comic book shops for my beloved and Chicago’s Little India for me.

What actually happened was that we all carpooled into the city and got confused almost immediately within China Town, parked in China Town, boarded the L there and took it north to Devon Street, where Little India was supposed to have been. The first 20 minutes in the city and the last 20 minutes in the city were probably the most confusing. Luckily, the very first person we encountered was an L employee who was about as helpful as she could have been without actually riding the L with us – and she actually did do that breifly. You can see her below.


As soon as we boarded the L, we shot from the south side to the north and exited as close as possible to Devon Street, which Google indicates is the Little India of Chicago. Unfortunately, what Google doesn’t share is that there’s a good mile (more?) trek from the Loyola stop on the L to where Little India actually begins. On a hot summer day with Midwest humidity, walking a bajillion city blocks is miserable. Just about as miserable, though, is getting to your supposed destination and repeatedly finding only the same kind of stores: Groceries, dress shoppes, and eateries. Occasionally, we’d see a phone place or a salon of some kind, but the variety was lacking in the most disappointing way. Further, here in Indy, puja items are mostly bought at the Indian grocery stores. In Chicago, most of the groceries in Little India are actually more Muslim (Pakistani) than Hindu. In fact, this area of the city is alternately known as “Indo-pak” because of the very prominent Muslim presence. The result, as far as my shopping was concerned, was that none of the groceries we passed carried Hindu puja items like here in Indy. However, the closest thing we found to fulfill my needs actually was a bookstore and it was a treasure indeed!

The treasure trove discovered at the edge of Chicago’s Little India is called India Book House. We were almost passing it before we knew we were upon it, and after checking out a few Ganesha murtis in the window, decided entry was mandatory. The only way our time spent there could have gone better is if I were made of a little more of money than I am. This place was mostly a book store, but also carried a significant array of mandirs, music, DVDs, CDs, and murtis – many of which were of Ganesha. We spent a good hour in the store while I examined every square inch of the place, making sure no Ganesham went unnoticed. I left with five books: Shree MahaGanesh Siddha Vrat, The Book of Ganesha, Srimad Bhagavadgita (I have about 20 different versions of the Gita, but this is the copy most used at my temple here in Indy and I’ve been looking for an exact copy), The Thousand Names of Ganesha (this particular publication is only available for Ganesha, Vishnu, and Shiva), & Ganesha Puja Vidhi (a manual on proper Ganesha puja protocol as published by the Chinmaya Mission Trust.

I also left with no less than eight very unique Ganesha murtis some of which were good ole chaturbhuj forms, but I also nabbed a fantastic panchamukh and a 16-armed Mahaganapati which is likely to replace the Nrityaganapati as the mahamurti in my home’s mandir. I only say these are unique because I search the local stores and the internet on a somewhat regular basis and I’ve either never encountered these murtis before, or I may have seen close resemblances but not exact. Further, while I’ll admit to having spent hundreds of dollars more than I should have, I know from having already looked far and wide that the same murtis in most other places would be significantly more pricey. The multiple hundreds of American dollars that I spent were well-spent, indeed. Below, you’ll see a pic my dad took of me near one of the shelves with Ganesha murtis. I feel like the pic is a little goofy, but considering how exhausted I was from the trek there, the heat/humidity experienced, and then being nearly blissed out at the finds, goofy is what you’re bound to get from me.


Like the L employee, the man and woman who own and work the India Book House were immensely helpful and kind. Well, mostly the woman. The man mostly just tried to sell me on things I’d already spent 40 minutes looking at and decided against. That was annoying. She, however, assisted me numerous times making sure to keep my items at the register, freeing my hands free to grab more Ganeshams. She also gave me a couple swastikas free. And boon of boons! Near the end of my time there, I asked about locating some rakhis for upcoming Raksha Bandhan – one of my favorite Hindu holidays, and one I’ve been slowly preparing for. They didn’t have any, but she took my address and asked how many I wanted and how fancy I wanted them. I gave her all that info and she promised to grab me some directly from India, ship them to my home address, AND insisted I didn’t pay her for this! We’ll see if she delivers on her promise. If so, I’ll be quite pleased to finish my gifts to people! I still regret not getting a pic with them when I had the chance.

I’m not superstitious, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to thanking Ganesha in my mind and heart when we found the India Book House. We’d walked SO far already, had seen mostly useless stores – half of which were strictly Islamic – and were really about to give up, when we very suddenly found ourselves at the storefront. I’ve taken photos of each murti purchased and have posted to my Facebook Ganesha Collection album which can be viewed here, I think.

After finishing up at the bookstore, because we had spent so much time just getting there, it was time to grab lunch and get to some of my beloved’s shopping. We grabbed lunch in Lockerbie Square where I saw a Hare Krishna cross the street wearing a dhoti, neck mala, and t-shirt. He disappeared into an apothocary.

We kept moving and found our way to the comic stores sought after by my beloved. Sadly, he was disappointed by his findings, much as I was with Little India in general. And I’ll admit, for being nicely located in a place like Chicago the comic shops weren’t spectacular. In fact, we’ve been to small town places back in Indiana that had more to offer. After visiting his places and buying more things, we meandered a bit around the city ducking into one place or another and then decided it was time to head home. During our wandering we passed a gurdwara for the Chicago Sikh community and meditation center for Raja yoga of te Brahma Kumaris.

Sweaty and quite exhausted we worked the L back to China Town and left the city. Overall, I’m quite happy to have this memory with my family. I can think of about 50 others I would also have liked to have along for the day, but time like this with just my parents and my beloved is worth more than gold to me.

Excellent blessings were received from my first and most important gurus, my parents, as we enter the Shravan month and celebrate Guru Purnima. I don’t think God actually loves anyone in such a way as to favor them (after all, that would mean the at least occasional negation of karma), but when so many “good” things happen as they did, it’s hard not to feel smiled upon.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Chakra Charlie

On Monday of this week I was at the office in my cubicle and something interesting, and possibly dangerous happened.

It’s not uncommon at all that one could walk by my desk and notice me practicing one mudra or another. Additionally, I often do “from the waist up” yoga at my desk, so that’s another sight some might see when passing.

I had finished with a bit of waist-up yoga and my hands had found their way, quite naturally, to Anjali Mudra. Next, without me even really knowing or realizing what was happening, my hands lowered a bit and came closer near to my body. Simultaneously, my thumbs, while staying together, came away from my hands – pointing almost directly toward my body.

As all of this unfolded, I experienced my thumbs, as a single unit, making contact with my body somewhere a few inches below what many would recognize as the solar plexus. Further, I think because of my body posture right then, my thumbs sank rather deep into that part of my body.

The resulting experience is something I don’t have words for, even still.

Ages ago, as part of diagraming the intersection of spirituality and mundane science, Hindus identified a system of chakras – bodily energy centers. Depending on the background of who you might be consulting, there are a minimum of seven main centers, but you might also find a significantly higher number. As western science has caught up with much of the concepts within Hinduism, a number of “nerve bundles” have been identified throughout the human body – some so concentrated that they’ve casually been called second brains. In fact, it’s because of this that the place I nearly touched recently is often cited as a target in martial arts for incapacitating a person, or even killing them. Below, I’ve included a simple diagram of the primary chakras.

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

I kind of go back and forth between how literal I take this concept. My direct experiences with the chakra system are pretty limited, but I do recall once “feeling” the Muladhara, and I believe more recently the Anahata.

Do you think it’s possible that a spiritual or energetic “thing” can to accessed by means of a physical instrument? Is it possible to touch one’s soul from any of the dimensions we operate within? Can you touch a chakra with your thumbs?

When Prayer Finds You

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

I don’t care for prayer. The whole concept, at least in its common application, bothers me. Why would something like a human have any NEED to talk to god? In my experience, the vast bulk of what’s said to God is selfish (even when we’re praying for other people!) and the act itself is the opposite of listening to/for God, which I find infinitely more beneficial. Plus, if God is really God, It already knows the contents of our hearts and usually by the time that stuff finds its way through the filters of our minds and mouths, it has been twisted anyway. So the idea of sitting down and talking to God seems distracting, arrogant, and quite frankly a bit silly.

Having admitted to that, I want to make a distinction. Hindus pray, too. And often times, informally, our prayers are made of the same stuff as any other person’s. However, we also have a different way of communing with our Source. The Sanskrit verses of our many scriptures are much more than “prayer.” Without going into it much (but I’m going to anyway), suffice it to say that the sounds that make up the Sanksrit language, which Hindus use religiously, are designed such that they each carry a specific vibration – literally a sonic frequency that parallels other frequencies throughout the cosmos and which are immensely subtle. Those subtle vibrations and frequencies correspond with deeper levels of reality (which has been proven by quantum physics), and in that way, when the sounds are sequencially combined and intoned, it’s very literally like sending God a text message.

I think sometimes, similarly, God sends us text messages.

My own established liturgy which I use in worship (of Ganesha) is fairly set-in-stone. It’s not technically, but it rarely alters or is amended. Truth be told, I’m far busier than I’d like, to be able to add more to the menu. However, a day or two ago something popped into my head, quite unexpectedly.

“Om Maha Ganapatim, Manasa Smarami”

And it repeated itself. And has continued to do so. I have a mantra that I employ when I settle down for a bit of japa. But this random addition to my internals has been a welcome addition and has also proven to be a powerful and easy and addicting “walking meditation.”

One of the meanings I found online for it is as follows:

Mahaganapathy! My namaskarams to you. I meditate on You, the Great God Ganapathy. You are the one who is worshipped by great sages such as Vashishta and Vamadeva. You are the son of the Great Lord Shiva. You are always adored by ‘Guruguha’, Lord Skanda. You have a beauty and shine with the brilliance of a thousand ‘manmadhas’ – Cuipds. You are the embodment of peace and tranquility. You love great poetry and drama. You have as the vehicle, as a mount, a small mouse. You love the modhakas, a variety of sweet made of rice and coconut. I bow to thee. My lord, Maha Ganapathy.

To be honest, the first two sentences are actually about all that’s technically said by the phrase itself, but the rest is a mix of implied meaning and meaning attached to translations of the rest of the krithi that this is pulled from.

I was fortunate enough to locate a nice recitation on Youtube. I hope you enjoy.

I chant it to myself frequently these days and I sing it, too. When taking the recycling – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. When walking to the men’s room – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. On a walk with my dogs, sitting in my car, cooking food, or cleaning out the cat box – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. It actually makes for a great cadence to coordinate with one’s footsteps. And the best part is, I never had to make it stick. It was given to me and it was effortless to accept.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

A Study

By far, Hinduism is the only organized religion on the globe that offeres a believer (and nobelievers!) so many ways to access God, or our Source. An obvious way this happens is in the artistic forms of the murtis through which we worship. For those who are prone either to make excessive noise, or interestingly make no noise, japa mantra is an option. This involves recognizing the Source through means of a divine Name and employing Rememberance as we repeat the Name.

Another interesting and abstract way in which Hindus reach within to God is the use of a mandala. For lack of better words, a mandala is sacred geometry. Just like a holy Name, it’s a means of recognizing a way of connecting within. Many cultures and religions employ the concept of a mandala. In Hinduism, the shape of teh mandala as well as what it’s made from or inscribed upon all play a role in the efficacy or “power” of the mandala. Aside from anh hand-drawn manadalas, most of the ones I own are inscribed with red “ink” on gold-plated copper plates.

A recent post by Ek Akshara, from whom I’ve shared before in the recent past, pertained to mandalas. I thought to bring that info here as well.

1.1. What is a maNDala?

The mandala, Hindu in origin, is a graphic depiction of the spiritual universe and its myriad realms and deities much later, first in Tibet [Wylie: dkyil ‘khor or dkyil-vkhor] and China [Màntúluó] then Japan and Korea [Mandara]. The mandala was adopted as a powerful religious icon among practitioners. मण्डल is a Sanskrit term which simply translates to the circle. During the rites, the deity is invoked in the mandala via the mantras. In India mandalas are also on the level of folk art, known as rangoli, alpana, kolam, which was basically influenced by Yantra and mandala.

Unlike maNDala, a Yantra is kept under the deity that is been installed in the temple. Sriyantra is installed in Sringeri. In Nepal it decorates the roof of the temple. Many texts use maNDala and Yantra as synonyms even sometimes words like pitha is used in synonymous to maNDala

1.2. Mandala’s can be broadly divided into two categories – 1] mandala for initiation 2] mandala for siddhi. There are various types of mandala and many scholars tried their best to interpret the inner significance of the mandala. There is the limited surface mandala which is used as pitha for the divine. There is the rajomandala which is nothing but a temporary mandala using powders. Then comes the vastupurusha mandala – a mandala employed in construction and buildings. Ancient temples used the vastupurusha mandala in the construction plans. Varahamihira Brihat Samitha contains a detailed account of vastupurusha mandala which dates back to 6th century.

1.3. The designs employed in the mandala are again varied. The common ones are the Lotus design. The lotus is symbolic of water and can either have one ring of petal or several rings of petals. Normally an asthadala padma and are found in various diagrams, on thresholds of houses and so on. Then there is another nine-petaled lotus arranged in a group of three. There is the grid form of the mandala known as the bhadramandala used in the smarta rituals.

1.4. Ganesapurvatapaniya Upanishad gives an account of the yantra of Ganesha. He sits on the Astadala Padma. The yantras innermost Asthadala is considered to be astabeeja gayatri. The 12 petals adjacent round is the 12 adityas and vowels. Then comes the 16 petals, Purusha which is synonymous to the kala [ 16 parts] and consonants.

1.5. Vishnu Samhita equates a lotus mandala with the heart of the deity and the five colors used in the mandala with the five elements.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


My mother’s a real piece of work, let me tell you. All her life she’s been more self-focused than not, chasing after whatever pleases her – often at the expense of others who might depend on her, or should be depending on her, namely her children.

In large part because of her wanton lifestyle choices, she’s now finding herself middle-aged and not in the best health. In fact, her own mother is now in her 70s, is a widow, and among other things has survived cancer more than a couple times – which has meant the amputation of more than one body part and subsequent reconstructive surgeries – and aside from a bit of gout here and there, is in better physical health than she is.

Among my birth mother’s many health ailments, is the condition of her heart. By the time I knew much about the situation, she already had a fair amount of cardiac gadgetry installed, including a pace maker/defibrillator. Her Potassium levels are consistently an issue, which further strains her heart. Also her kidneys are crap. This also connects to her heart troubles. She’s had battles with heart attacks and strokes and TIAs.

It’s not a good situation, overall. Most of it’s her own fault, and as it happens, she’s a strong candidate for a heart transplant. I feel mixed about that actually. I don’t want her to die, per se, although we’re not terribly close and haven’t been since before I could drive. But I know that many people need life-saving organ transplants – many people who WANT to live and care enough to take care of any organ they may receive. The same cannot be said about my mother. I find it very selfish, not to mention wasteful.

Not long ago she had an “episode” that landed her in the ER of her local hospital. Her cardiologist was present and interrogated her as to why she’d not taken care of getting on the transplant list. A few weeks later, my sister contacted me saying our mother’d finally submitted the papers and had an appointment (today!) to go be assessed. My sister requested that I come along for as much of the assessment as I am able. Although I hadn’t really planned to, I did want to keep informed about the day’s goings on. When I hadn’t heard anything from anyone, I texted my sister. The response that I received this morning from my sister was that my mother’s appointment had been cancelled/rescheduled. Given the urgency of it all, as expressed by my mother’s cardiologist, and factoring in how much she’s dragged her feet all along, I’m certain that this is her doing.

I recall from having worked in oncology that sometimes a person simply does not want to continue living. Considering the results of my mother’s life choices for many years now, I can’t say I’d blame her for thinking along those lines.

In my religion, suicide is frowned upon – I think more for cultural reasons than anything. I’m sure somewhere within all of Hinduism’s scriptures there’s something that mentions the negative karmic results of suiciding. I do know also, however, that there is at least one form of “suicide” which is acceptable to Hindus. It’s called Prayopavesha, and simply put, it’s starving one’s body to death. The rules associated with Prayopavesha are clear. You have to give your community notice and follow a number of other guidelines. This form of suicide is actually quite structured and systematic.

When I consider my mother’s behavior, I feel as though she’s likely a bit scared. It’s understandable, and fear makes people do ridiculous things often. Is it possible my mother is trying to orchestrate her own version of Prayopavesha? My first inclination is that she’s simply not intelligent enough to manage that kind of feat. However, as her POA I’m already aware of her DNR order, and I know that all preimptive anxiety aside, she’s rather okay with “leaving.”

Maybe my mother is so scared of the surgery involved and so very “done” with life, as it has played out for her, that she has decided to cease any major life-prolonging activities. She’s not saying much either way, and instead has chosen to run the few people who are caring for her in circles. I’m mostly not included within that group, but my heart goes out to those who are.

Either way, it’s neither very responsible nor very nice. Actual Prayopravesha would by far be more preferred.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti