Sunday February 18, 2018

Nabakalebara: When Gods take rebirth

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By Nithin Sridhar

Photo Credit: @PratyashaNithin
Photo Credit: @PratyashaNithin

Yesterday was Jagannatha Rath Yatra, one of the most important days in the celebration of Nabakalebara in Odisha. Nabakalebara is one of the unique festivals celebrated in the Hindu religion.

Once every 19 years, the old idols of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Sudarshan are replaced with new idols. The idols made of wood represent the bodies that the Lord and his family occupy. And once the bodies become old, they are discarded and replaced with new bodies.

The whole ritual is all the more interesting because it is rooted in the most basic philosophy of Hinduism: Karma and re-birth. Can there be a better illustration of this phenomenon than Gods themselves showing this by example?

Surajit Dasgupta, a senior journalist, writes on Twitter: “The Lord demonstrates how soul passes from one body to another by being the subject of change Himself.”

One should remember that in the Bhagavad Gita (2.22), Lord Krishna (with whom Lord Jagannatha is identified) says:As after rejecting worn-out clothes a man takes up other new ones, likewise after rejecting worn-out bodies the embodied one (i.e. the Self/Atman) unites with other new ones.”

In other words, every person who has a birth will eventually die and further he will also be reborn again. Just as people change objects like shoes, clothes, or machines (in factories) when they have decayed, likewise, the Self changes its bodies once they have become useless. It takes on new bodies to fulfill its Prarabdha Karmas.

In the case of Lord Jagannatha and his family, their bodies (idols) are made of Neem wood that decays just like human bodies. Hence, by this ritual of Nabakalebara, the Lord is allowed to take on new bodies while his Self or the Tattva/essence called as “Tattvapadhartha” remains the same.

The fact that the outer bodies change but the inner essence remains the same is stressed by Lord Krishna as well. In Gita (2.21-23), he says that the Self is indestructible, eternal, birth-less, and un-decaying, and it cannot be cut, burnt, or be harmed in any way. That is, Atman, the innermost Self, is eternal, without birth and death, it is only the outer body which has birth, decay, and death.

Therefore, a person should not be attached to his body and possessions, but should dive deep into his innermost Self. The Hindu Puranams speak about various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, who takes birth as various living beings: fish, boar, half lion, dwarf, and human. These incarnations clearly depict one fact of life that death is inevitable, but it is not the end.

Just as Gods reincarnate from time to time for upholding dharma (righteousness/duty), people take re-birth to fulfill their own svadharma. So the biggest message of Nabakalebara festival is that when the old bodies are discarded, one should not feel sorrow. One should not be afraid that one must die. Instead, one must let go of the attachment to the body.

One must celebrate, like the celebration of the rebirth of Jagannatha, one’s own eventual rebirth in a new body. One must celebrate that one is finally being able to discard the old and useless body and will be able to take rebirth in a new body that would be fit to practice dharma and other purusharthas (human life purposes).

Glossary:

  1. Nabakalebara: It means “New Body”.
  2. Karma: Literally it means “actions”. It refers to the sum total of all actions, the past, present and future as well. Karmas are divided into three categories: Sanchita- actions accumulated from previous lives, Prarabdha- that portion of Sanchita, that are presently giving fruits in this life, and Agami- the present exertion of free will, that will give fruits in future.
  3. Tattvapadhartha: Literally “essential material”, and it refers to the essence or the innermost Self/Atman that manifests as Jagannatha.
  4. Purusharthas: The four hold purpose of life: Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha.
  5. Svadharma: The duties that a person is obliged to perform in his life, based on his temperaments and station in life.
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Life Lessons We All Should Learn From Lord Shiva

There are lot's if life lessons that one can learn from this Hindu deity

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There are many life lessons that one can learn from the philosophies of Lord Shiva. Wikimedia Commons
There are many life lessons that one can learn from the philosophies of Lord Shiva. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • Lord Shiva is the supreme Hindu Deity
  • He is a symbol of peace and tranquillity
  • There are lot’s if life lessons that one can learn from this Hindu deity

Lord Shiva as everyone knows is a Hindu God. He is one of the Trinity and is the principal deity of Hinduism.  God Shiva is considered the “destroyer of evil and the transformer” of the world. The Birth and history of Lord Shiva are topics of great discussions and confusions.

Lord Shiva is one of the principle deity of hinduism. Wikimedia Commons
Lord Shiva is one of the principle deity of Hinduism. Wikimedia Commons

Lord Shiva is known to have no end and no beginning, yet, the origin of his birth is a much sought-after topic for several generations. Many ‘Puranas’ claims Shiva to be ‘aja’ meaning the one who has no birth. Some other scriptures claim that Lord Shiva was born out of Lod Narayana or Lord Vishnu. However, the authenticity of all the claims remain unclear, and there is still a solid mystery which surrounds the origin and birth of Shiva.

Shiva is also known Mahadev, i.e., the gods of all gods and rightly so. Throughout the Hindu mythology, Shiva has been portrayed as a tranquil and peaceful figure who grants all prayers of his followers and devotees. His another name is ‘Bhole Bhandari’ because of his innocent nature.

Lord Shiva is known for his peace and tranquillity. Pixabay
Lord Shiva is known for his peace and tranquillity. Pixabay

However, other than his peaceful nature, the other thing Lord Shiva is famous for is his flaring temper. Indian mythology is full of stories about Lord Shiva causing mass destruction due to his anger. The opening of his third eye is said to cause mass destruction.

Also Read: Enigmatic Mount Kailash: The abode of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva’s appearance is a beautiful shade of blue because of him consuming the poison from the sea to save the world. However, just like his body is shades of blue there are many shades to his personality as well. Here are few life lessons of Lord Shiva that we all need to take a note of.

  • Come what may never tolerate the evil. Being destroyer of the evil himself, Shiva teaches us to never tolerate or bow down in front of the evil.
  • Self-control is the key to living a fulfilled life. Excess is of everything is bad and losing control ourselves is worse. One should always have a control over themselves to live a successful and fulfilled life.
  • Materialistic happiness is temporary. To be happy, be adjustable like water. Shiva says that attaching our happiness to earthy, material things won’t give us long-lasting happiness.
  • Keeping calm is very important. Lord Shiva used to meditate for hours and is easily the epitome of calmness and that’s what he advocates too.
  • Desires lead to destruction. Shiva believes that desires lead to obsessions which in turn leads to destruction. Never desire more than what you deserve. Be happy with what you have and work hard for what you want to achieve.
  • Respect your family. Lord Shiva is husband to Goddess Parvati and father to Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. He respected his children and especially wife a lot. Respecting one’s  family is very important for living a successful life.
  • Control your ego and let go of pride. Ego prevents us from achieving greatness. Let go of your pride and control your ego to live a fulfilled life.
  • Everything is temporary. Everything in this world is temporary. Time changes as do we and our choices and desires. It is better to let go of all the ‘moh maya’ and live in the moment happily with what we already have.