•Highly creative people tend to have fluid, flexible, adaptive minds. Here are three statements that creative people can make easily and which you learn by regular practice •Admit It When You Are Wrong >The first is simply, “I was wrong.” Many people are so concerned with being right that all their mental energy is consumed by stonewalling, bluffing, blaming and denying. If you’re wrong, admit it and get on to the solution or the next step. •Three Benefits of Pausing >Pausing before you speak has three specific benefits. The first is that you avoid the risk of interrupting the prospect if he or she has just stopped to gather his or her thoughts. Remember, your primary job in the sales conversation is to build and maintain a high level of trust, and listening builds trust. When you pause for a few seconds, you often find the prospect will continue speaking. He will give you more information and further opportunity to listen, enabling you to gather more of the information you need to make the sale. •Face Up to Mistakes >Second, non-creative people think that it is a sign of weakness to say, “I made a mistake.” On the contrary, it is actually a sign of mental maturity, personal strength and individual character. Remember, everybody makes mistakes every single day . •Be Flexible With New Information>The third statement that creative people use easily is, “I changed my mind.” It is amazing how many uncomfortable situations people get into and stay in because they are unwilling or afraid to admit that they’ve changed their minds. . •Be Willing to Cut Your Losses >If you get new information or if you find that you feel differently about a previous decision, accept that you have changed your mind and don’t let anyone or anything back you into a corner. If a decision does not serve your best interests as you see them now, have the ego-strength and the courage to “cut your losses,” to change your mind and then get on to better things •Action Exercises >Here are two ways you can break out of narrow thinking patterns and become more creative. First, be willing to admit that you are not perfect, you make mistakes, you are wrong on a regular basis. This is a mark of intelligence and courage. Second, with new information, be willing to change your mind. Most of what you know about your business today will change completely in the coming years so be the first to recognize it
Napoleon Hill ‘s The Fifteen Laws of Success
1. A Definite Chief Aim. This will teach you how to save the wasted effort which
the majority of people expend in trying to find their life-work. The goal is to
forever to do away with aimlessness and to fix your heart and hand upon
some definite, well conceived purpose as a life work.
2. Self-Confidence. Self-confidence will help you master the six basic fears
which most of us pick-up in life – the fear of Poverty, the fear of Ill-Health, the
fear of Old Age, the fear of Criticism, the fear of Loss of Love of Someone and
the fear of Death. The goal is to learn the difference between egotism and real
self-confidence which is based upon definite, usable knowledge.
3. Habit of Saving. Will teach you how to distribute your income systematically
so that a definite percentage of it will steadily accumulate, thus forming one of
the greatest known sources of personal power. According to Hill no one may
succeed in life without saving money. There is no exception to this rule, and
no one may escape it!
4. Initiative and Leadership This law will show you how to become a leader
instead of a follower in your chosen field of endeavour. It will develop in you
the instinct for leadership which will cause you gradually to gravitate to the top
in all undertakings that you participate.
5. Imagination will stimulate your mind so that you will conceive new ideas and
develop new plans which will help you in attaining the object of your Definite
Chief Aim. This law will show you how to create new ideas out of old, well
known concepts, and how to put old ideas to new uses.
6. Enthusiasm will enable you to ‘saturate’ all with whom you come in contact
with interest in you and your ideas. Enthusiasm is the foundation of a Pleasing
Personality, and you must have such a personality in order to influence others
to co-operate with you.
7. Self-Control is the ‘balance wheel’ with which you control your enthusiasm
and direct it where you wish it to carry you.
8. The Habit of doing more than paid for is one of the most important lessons
of the Law of Success. This will teach you how to take advantage of the Law
of Increasing Returns, which will eventually insure you a return in money far
out of proportion to the service you render. The true leader is one that
continually practices the habit of doing more work and better work than that
for which he or she is paid for.
9. Pleasing Personality is the ‘fulcrum’ on which you must place the ‘crowbar’
of your efforts, and when so placed, with intelligence, it will enable you to
remove mountains of obstacles. To develop as a leader it is vital to possess a
10. Accurate Thinking is one of the important foundation stones of all enduring
success. This teaches you how to separate ‘facts’ from mere ‘information’. It
teaches you how to organise known facts into two classes: the ‘important’ and
the ‘unimportant’ fact.
11. Concentration is all about how to focus your attention upon one subject at a
time until you have worked out practical plans for mastering that subject.
Concentration will teach you how to ally yourself with others in such a manner
that you may have the use of their entire knowledge to back you up in your
own plans and purposes.
12. Co-operation will teach you the value of teamwork in all you do. Co-operation
will teach you the value of co-ordinating your own efforts with others by
putting aside friction, jealousy, strife, envy and cupidity.
13. Profiting by Failure will teach you how to make stepping stones out of all
your past and future mistakes and failures. It will teach you the difference
between’ failure’ and ’temporary defeat’, a difference which is very great and
very important. It will teach you how to profit from your own failures and by the
failures of others.
14. Tolerance will teach you how to avoid the disastrous effects of racial and
religious prejudices which mean defeat for millions of people who permit
themselves to become entangled in foolish argument over these subjects,
thereby poisoning their own minds and closing the door, to reason and
investigation. This law is the twin brother of the law Accurate Thought, for the
reason that no one may become an accurate thinker without practicing
tolerance. Intolerance makes enemies of those who should be friends,
destroys opportunity and fills the mind with doubt, mistrust and prejudice.
15. Practicing the Golden Rule will teach you how to make use of the great
universal law of human conduct in such a manner that you may easily get
harmonious co-operation from any individual or group of individuals. The
Golden Rule is essentially, to do unto others, as you would wish them to do
unto you if your positions were reversed.
Most of the Hindu customs are acts followed with a feeling of religiosity. From the cradle to the cremation ground, and for a time even after the body has been cremated the life of a Hindu is a round of customary rituals and ceremonies known as samskaras (sacraments). Regarding the exact number of these samskaras there is a great divergence of views among the smrti writers [ Ancient Hindu law-givers such as Manu, Gautama, Yajnavalkya and others.]. According to some, sixteen samskaras, as they are nitya (usual) must be performed, and the rest twenty-four as they are naimittika (special) ones are left to choice. They are observed by almost all castes, with the use of Vedic text by Brahmans and others, and with Pauranic text by the rest. The chief of these customary rituals are those at birth, thread-girding, marriage, pregnancy and death. The garbhadhana (girl-wife’s coming of age) ceremony, which used to be once performed separately and with great pomp as then girls were married at an early age, has now become a part of the marriage rite and receives scant attention.
For her first confinement the young wife generally goes to her parents’ house. It is her privilege to do so. As a rule a pregnant woman is given whatever food she desires for and her longings (dohale) are noticed and promptly satisfied by the family elders. She is, however, advised to abstain from abnormally hot or hard- to-digest food. At the inception of labour-pains she repairs to an inner chamber in the house which has been swept clean and kept warm, dim-lighted and free from draught. A midwife generally known to the family and reputed for her skill in midwifery is called in and she attends the parturient from then onwards for ten or more days. The delivery usually takes place on the floor, no cot being used. After delivery, the position of the mother is not changed for some time. If the child is a boy the midwife beats a metal dish and the joyful news is carried to friends and kinsfolk with distribution of packets of sugar. When parturition is delayed so to cause anxiety, it is still a practice among the ignorant to solicit help of bhagats or mantriks for their esoteric charms or specific prescriptions. As soon as the child is born cold water is sprinkled over it to ‘awaken’ it. After a while the midwife ties the child’s umbilical cord with a cotton thread a few inches away from the navel and severs it with a knife, touches the wound with ashes and lays the child on a supa (winnowing fan). She then rubs the mother and child with turmeric and oil, bathes them with hot water, swathes the child in cloth bandages and leaves them to rest on a cot under which a small fire of live coals is set. The mother is given butter and myrrh pills, and the child is dosed with a few drops of castor oil and honey. Myrrh-incense is burnt and waved all over and the mother is purified with a fumigation of Vavding (Embelia ribes) and Balant-shopa (anise) in the room. All visitors sprinkle some drops of cow’s urine on their feet before entering the lying-in room as a precaution against evil spirits trying to enter with them. The after-birth is put in an earthen pot with a pice, a little turmeric and red powder, and buried in a hole dug outside the mother’s room and near the bath-water drain. The mother starts suckling the child only from the fourth day and the child is for the first three days nursed by giving it the end of a rag resting in a saucer of rice-broth and molasses to suck. During the period the mother is fed on saltless vegetarian diet. On the fourth day the mother and the child undergo a special bath and thence the mother starts suckling the child, herself taking to a full nutritious diet.
Panchavi and Sathi.
The first ritual as such in an infant’s life comes on the night of the fifth or sixth day after birth. The ceremony is known as the worship of Pancavi (Mother Fifth) and Sathi (Mother Sixth) and is observed among all communities. It is not a Vedic samskara and as such the configuration worshipped and the offerings made differ according to region, community and family. But a common belief exists that those nights are full of danger to the new-born child, and only by worshipping Mother Fifth and Sixth can the child be saved from convulsive seizures and most other forms of disease which are believed to be the work of evil spirits lurking in the lying-in room to attack the child.
The mother is held impure for ten days and no one except the midwife touches her. The family observes suher (ceremonial impurity) for the period. On the eleventh day the mother and the child are given a purificatory hath, their clothes washed and the whole house is cleaned. The walls and the ground of the lying-in room are smeared with a mixture of cowdung and water, the bathing place is washed and turmeric, red powder, flowers and lighted lamp are laid near it. The midwife is presented with a lugade, coli and money. The mother is cleansed of the impurity by a sprinkle of pancagavya or tulasi water, and men change their sacred thread. Many of these practises, however, get naturally avoided in case the woman has her delivery in a modern nursing home or lying-in hospital which now-a-days forms part of urban life and necessity.
In rural parts the mother worships the well when she goes thereto fetch water for the first time after her parturition. She offers turmeric and red powder to the well, makes obeisance and returns home with a well-cleaned pot filled with water.
The barse or naming ceremony which is generally held on the 12th day in the evening after birth is an important event in the child’s life. The karnavedha (boring of the ear-lobes) ceremony may take place in the morning that day or it may be postponed to the sixth or twelfth month. In the evening women neighbours, friends and kinswomen who are invited to attend the naming drop in, each with a present for the child and the mother. The child is then ceremonially cradled and named and the function closes with the distribution of boiled gram and packets of sweetmeat to the assembled.
The next ritual consists of the hair-cutting ceremony known as caula or cudakarana as mentioned in the Hindu Samskaras. It is also customary with many Hindu backward communities to give ceremonial attention to the first shaving or cutting of the child’s hair (javal) and is based on the belief that the hair with which the child is born are impure. At present among Brahmans the rite is usually gone through in the case of boys at the time of upanayana (thread-girding).
Among the well-to-do it is customary to celebrate the child’s birthday every month during the first year and then annually for some years. Even the various stages of development in the child, such as, learning to turn on one side, crawling, sitting, standing, etc., are sometimes celebrated by the family with feasting.
The thread-girding ceremony or munja as it is popularly known is a samskara prescribed for all Hindus claiming a place in the first three varnas (caste-groups). In essence it is a purificatory rite initiating a boy to bramhacaryasram (stage of student-hood). In Kolaba the castes besides Brahmans which are supposed to gird their boys with sacred thread are Prabhus and Sonars. Recently the ceremony is found to have been observed by Varus. Marathas generally are not known to perform the ceremony but some wear the sacred thread renewing it yearly in the month of Sravana. The Caukalshis wear the sacred thread during the marriage ceremony but at no other time.
On going through this ceremony the boy becomes a brahmacari (an unwed religious student) and from then one should pursue Vedic study at the feet of his guru for some years, completing which, should undergo the samavartana (return) ceremony. But, as the present custom goes, the samavartana or the sod-munj ceremony as it is called, follows the thread-girding without much lapse of time, the whole ceremony coming to a close within a day.
In order to convey an idea of the rites of upanayana in the days of the grhya sutras the ceremony as contained in the Asv. gr. sutra (which is among the shortest) is set out here in full: “Let him initiate the boy who is decked, whose hair (on the head) is shaved (and arranged), who wears a new garment or an antelope skin if a brahman, ruru skin if a ksatriya, goat’s skin if a vaisya; if they put on garments they should put on dyed ones, reddish-yellow, red and yellow (for a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya respectively), they should have girdles and staffs (as described above). While the boy takes hold of (the hand of) his teacher, the latter offers (a homa of clarified butter oblations) in the fire (as described above) and seats himself to the north of the fire with his face turned to the east, while the other one (the boy) stations himself in front (of the teacher) with his face turned to the west. The teacher then fills the folded hands of both himself and of the boy with water and with the verse ‘we choose that of Savitr’ (Rg. V. 82.1) the teacher drops down the water in his own folded hands on to the water in the folded hands of the boy; having thus poured the water, he should seize with his own hand the boy’s hand together with the thumb (of the boy) with the formula ‘by the urge (or order) of the god Savitr, with the arms of the two Asvins, with the hands of Pusan, I seize thy hand, oh! so and so; with the words ‘Savitr has seized thy hand, oh so and so’ a second time (the teacher seizes the boy’s hand); with the words ‘Agni is thy teacher oh so and so’ a third time. The teacher should cause (the boy) to look at the sun, while the teacher repeats ‘God Savitr! this is thy brahmacari, protect him, may he not die’ and (the teacher should further) say ‘Whose brahmacari art thou? thou art the brahmacari of Prana. Who does initiate thee and whom (does he initiate?) I give thee to Ka (to Prajapati). With the half verse (Rg. III 8.4.) ‘the young man, well attired and dressed, came hither’ he (the teacher) should cause him to turn round to the right and with his two hands placed over (the boy’s) shoulders he should touch the place of the boy’s heart repeating the latter half (of Rg. III. 8.4). Having wiped the ground round the fire the brahmacri should put (on the fire) a fuel stick silently, since it is known (from sruti) ‘what belongs to Prajapati is silently (done)’, and the brahmacari belongs to Prajapati. Some do this (offering of a fuel stick) with a mantra ‘to Agni I have brought a fuel stick, to the great Jatavedas; by the fuel stick mayst thou increase, Oh Agni and may we (increase) through brahman (prayer or spiritual lore), svaha’. Having put the fuel stick (on the fire) and having touched the fire, he (the student) thrice wipes off his face with the words ‘I anoint myself with lustre.’ ‘May Agni bestow on me, insight, offspring and lustre; on me may Indra bestow insight, offspring and vigour (indriya); on me may the sun bestow insight, offspring and radiance; what thy lustre is, Oh Agni, may I thereby become strong; what thy consuming power is, Oh Agni may I thereby acquire consuming power. Having waited upon (worshipped) Agni with these formulas, (the student) should bend his knees, embrace (the teacher’s feet) and say to him ‘recite, Sir, recite, Sir, the Savitri’. Seizing the student’s hands with the upper garment (of the student) and his own hands the teacher recites the Savitri, first pada by pada, then hemistich by hemistich (and lastly) the whole verse. He (the “teacher) should make him (the student) recite (the Savitri) as much as he is able. On the place of the student’s heart the teacher lays his hand with the fingers upturned; may Brhaspati appoint thee unto me’. Having tied the girdle mind follow my mind; may you attend on my words single minded; may Brhaspati appoint thee unto me’. Having tied the girdle round him (the boy) and having given him the staff, the teacher should instruct him in the observances of a brahmacari with the words ‘a brahmacari art thou, sip water, do service, do not sleep by day, depending (completely) on the teacher learn the Veda’. He (the student) should beg (food) in the evening and the morning; he should put a fuel stick (on fire) in the evening and the morning. That (which he has received by begging) he should announce to the teacher; he should not sit down (but should be standing) the rest of the day.” [P. V. Kane, History of Dharmahastra, Vol. II, Part 1, p. 281.]
Hindus consider vivaha (marriage) as one of the sarirasam-skaras (sacraments sanctifying the body) through each of which every man and woman must pass at the proper age and time, and as such they think it is obligatory on every person to marry. As a sacrament a marriage can be established only after undergoing certain rites and ceremonies, and these marriage rituals, at least among the higher castes are the same as elsewhere with minor variations. The present-day customs and ceremonial practices observed by Hindus regarding marriage fall in three broad classes, viz., (1) The traditional form generally used by professional priests for conducting marriage ceremonies of Brahmans and allied Classes. It is mainly based on rites prescribed in the grhyasutras and in it Vedic mantras are freely used. (2) The pauranika form which is essentially the same as (1) but in it Puranic mantras instead of Vedic ones are used. (3) Modern forms which are variants of (1) and (2) and preached by sponsors of movements of reformism or revivalism among the people [ Following instituted bodies are known to have preached such forms:- (1) Arya Samaj, (2) Prarthana Samaj, (3) Satya Shodhak Samaj, (4) Hindu Dharma Nirnaya Mandal, and (5) Hindu Missionary Society.]. Even when the ceremony is celebrated in the traditional way, the general tendency now-a-days, is towards curtailing ritualistic details to the extent of winding up the ceremony in a day or two thereby aligning it with the modern form.
A marriage alliance is arranged or settled generally by the parents or guardians of the groom and the bride concerned, and as Kanyadana or giving a daughter in marriage is considered meritorious among the higher castes, it is always the bride’s parents or relatives that take the initiative in the match-making. Social conditions, however, among advanced classes have now changed a great deal. Among them a practice of letting the would be couple to go for a walk and be together to know each other is followed. But this is an innovation and not the people’s custom. The custom of consulting and comparing horoscopes of the girl and the boy is gradually falling into disuse, as the parents of the couple hold that considerations of dowry or good looks are more important than the agreement of stars, and settle the marriages according to the pritivivaha or love form in which no consultation of horoscopes is required. Monetary considerations almost invariably dominate a marriage settlement. But regarding it no uniform rule prevails. Some castes put a price on the bride, others on the bridegroom and there are some who do not put a price on either of the two. Generally among higher castes hunda (dowry or property which a woman brings to her husband) is paid by. the bride’s parents to the bridegroom. Among castes not in the first flight the bride’s parents usually take deja (bride-price). It may be noted here that the dowry demanded from the bride’s father is under the guise of vara daksina-money the donee receives from the donor to fulfil the purpose of a dana (gift). In some communities, especially among the middle class educated families of the Kayastha Prabhus in the district, dowry forms a supervening consideration in a marriage settlement. Among high class Marathas marriage is very costly. The bride’s father must give a large dowry to the bridegroom, and in return the bridegroom’s father must present valuable ornaments to the bride. Even the well-to-do gets harassed if he has many daughters. In proportion to the position of the family, the father has to spend on his daughter’s marriage, running into debt from which he seldom frees himself.
According to the orthodox way of life there exist a number of restrictions on a marriage selection. Rules of endogamy (i.e., rules restricting marriage within the group) prohibit marriage outside the caste or sub-caste; rules of exogamy which operate within the endogamous group prohibit marriage between sapindas (blood relations), sagotras and sapravaras (same eponymous groups). Brahmans and allied communities generally claim gotras and pravaras and abide by gotra and pravara exogamy. Non-Brahman communities have kuli (stock), devak (totem) and surnames as exogamous divisions. Maratha families have devaks or sacred symbols, which appear to have been originally totems, and affect marriage to the extent that a man cannot marry a woman whose devak reckoned on the male side is the same as his own. The religious restriction on sapindas is extended to seven degrees on the father’s side and five degrees on the mother’s side, but the prohibited degrees of kindred for marriage beyond the agnates (related on the father’s side) vary according to the custom of the community. Marriages among families of the same gotra are now made permissible under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, but marriages among, sapindas are totally prohibited by law as well as by custom. As regards cross-cousin unions, except that of the brother’s daughter with the sister’s son which is tolerated or even preferred among some castes other types are generally disallowed. Marriage with a wife’s sister is allowed, and brothers may marry girls who are sisters. Polygamy, which was once allowed and practised, is now prohibited by law [Social usage in relation to these marriage rules is being considerably affected by recent legal enactments, namely, (1) the Child Marriage Restraints Act of 1929, as amended by Act XIX of 1938, which prohibits marriage of boys under 18 years of age, and girls under 14 years of age; (2) the Hindu Marriage Disabilities Removal Act (XXVIII of 1946), which validates marriages between parties (a) belonging to the same gotra or pravara or (b) belonging to different sub-divisions of the same caste; and now the extensive alterations made by legislation embodied in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, abrogates and over-rides all the rules of Hindu Law concerning marriage previously applicable to Hindus.].
When primary negotiations are complete the formal ceremonies of vadhu pariksa (inspection of the bride) and sakharpuda (betrothal) are gone through. On an auspicious day a select party on the boy’s side arrange to visit the girl’s house with due notice, and there at a tea-party on interviewing the girl make her a present of an ornament and new cloth (sadi, etc.,) and distribute sweets among the assembled as a mark of their approval. The fathers of the bride and the bridegroom settle the dowry (vara daksina) and the presents (varopacara) to be given to the bridegroom by the bride’s father. These items may be entered into an agreement and its copies marked with kunkum and exchanged between the two fathers. The muhurta auspicious day and hour for the wedding, is then determined. and fixed giving due consideration to the tdrdbala, candrabala (i.e., the happy and powerful influence of the birth-stars) of the wedding couple.
The friends and relations of the bride and the bridegroom now start giving each kelvan (congratulatory) feasts. Lagna-mandaps, marriage pandals, are erected at both the houses. Printed invitation cards or letters are distributed or posted, and a formal invitation ceremony and procession called aksat may take place a day or two before the marriage. Halad, i.e., besmearing the boy and the girl with turmeric powder is considered as an important ceremony among the lpwer castes.
On the marriage day or on the day previous, as a prelude to the vivaha (wedlock) ceremony a number of propitiatory rites are gone through both at the bride’s and the bridegroom’s. Punyahavacana (holy day blessing) which is conjoined with devakasthapana (guardian-enshrining) and in which the boy and his parents (and the girl and her parents at the girl’s house) participate is performed at about seven in the morning. This is followed by nandi-sraddha, an auspicious rite requesting the spirits of the forefathers to be present in the house and bless the wedding, and mandapa-devata pratistha, i.e., establishing the booth-spirits. When the time for marriage draws near, the girl’s father accompanied by his priest goes to the boy’s house, and gives him formal invitation to his house to hold the marriage.
Meanwhile the bride who may be clad in the orthodox fashion in yellow sadi known as astaputri or vadhuvastra and a short sleeved backless bodice, sits before Gaurihar (the marriage god which is an image of Siva and his consort Gauri) in the house, throws a few grains of rice and sesamum over the image, and prays with words, “Gauri, Gauri grant me a happy wifehood and long life to him who is coming to my door.”
In the actual marriage ceremony, there are numerous stages of which, the following are the principal:-(1) Simantapujana, i.e., reception and adoration of the bridegroom at the entrance of the town. (2) Vadhugrha-gamanam, i.e., going to the place of the bride. (3) Madhuparka, i.e., a respectful offering made to a guest or the bride-groom on his arrival at the door of the father of the bride. (4) Parasparaniriksna, i.e., the ceremony of gazing at each other through the screen called antarpat, and of garlanding the bride-groom by the bride. (5) Kanyadana, i.e., the ceremony of giving the girl in marriage. (6) Vivahahoma, i.e., offering of oblation by throwing ghee into the sacred fire in honour of the marriage. (7) Panigrahana, i.e., ceremony of taking by the hand. (8) Lajahoma, i.e., throwing parched grains into the consecrated fire. (9) Saptapadi, i.e., the ceremony of bride and bride-groom walking together seven steps round the sacred fire after which the marriage becomes irrevocable.
The vivahahoma ending in saptapadi is the operative and essential portion of the ceremony. On completion of the last step the actual marriage is considered to be complete. The concluding ceremonies that follow are varat, the homeward return of the bridegroom with the bride in a procession, and grahapravesh, i.e.. the ceremonial home-entering of the newly wed.
1 – The Nameless Tao – Wu-ming – Recognizing the unity of all things starts you on the path to true abundance.
2 – Nature – Tzu-jan – Learning to receive opens the door to your greatest good.
3 – Ease – Wu-wei – Following the path of least resistance brings success with ease.
4 – Flow – Ch’i – Circulating the energy in your life strengthens health, deepens relationships, and generates wealth.
5 – Power – Te – Honoring your innate dignity and actualizing your inborn abilities is the road to authentic power.
6 – Harmony – Yin/Yang – Balancing yin and yang eliminates stress and brings peace of mind.
7 – Leisure – Jen – Taking time to be, to grow, and to nurture your relationships gives you the strength to persevere.
8 – Beauty – Li – Achieving your destiny is a matter of trusting and embracing the organic pattern of your life.
Vedanta is the wisdom of the Vedic sages. For thousands of years it has inspired people to find solutions to the problems of life and thus reach the highest fulfillment. As a philosophy of living, Vedanta has been tested and verified in the lives of countless seekers, saints, and prophets of India. The Vedanta way is decisive and its practices are based upon science and reason.
For centuries the Vedanta philosophy was kept carefully guarded by saints and ascetics living in forests and mountains, and never made public. They thought that the teachings would be diluted and misunderstood by the masses, who were prone to believe not in truth but in myths and miracles. In matters of spirituality and religion, truth is often sacrificed to fiction and make-believe. A rational and realistic approach is rare. Religious texts are filled with eulogy, exaggeration, doubtful myths and loving legends. The average person regards scriptures as infallible, forgetting that the scriptures are in fact remembered words and experiences written down by human beings.
Vedanta reminds us that the course of life is mysterious. It is plagued by ceaseless changes and uncertainties. Pain, suffering, illness, old age and death are harsh realities that cannot be ignored or avoided. Vedanta maintains that problems and solutions go together; one cannot exist without the other. If nature presents a problem, it also points toward a solution. In suggesting solutions Vedanta does not deal with the occult or miraculous and does not cater to fads, whims or pious imaginations. According to Vedanta, our happiness depends upon peace of mind, peace of mind on self-control, and self-control on awareness of our true Self.
The wedding day starts with a prayer invoking Lord Ganesh whose divine grace dispel all evils and promotes a successful and peaceful completion of the ceremony.
Grah Shanti (Worship to the Nine Planets)
This is a prayer to the nine planets of our Solar system. Ancient Indian studies indicated that various celestial bodies have an influence on the destiny of every individual. The effect of the nine planets is meant to be the most profound. During this puja the Gods associated with these planets are asked to infuse courage, peace of mind and inner strength to the bride and groom to help them endure life’s sufferings.
The Welcome (Parchan)
The bride’s mother welcomes the bridegroom with a garland and she then escorts him to the mandap. The father of the bride washes the right foot of the bridegroom with milk and honey. At the end of the welcome, a white sheet is held to prevent this bridegroom seeing the arrival of the bride.
Arrival of the Bride
The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle (Mama), female cousins and friends. In some wedding ceremonies she may be carried in a small carriage to the mandap.
Kanyadaan (Entrusting of the Daughter)
Consent of the parents is obtained for the wedding to proceed. The bride’s parents give their daughter to the groom by putting the bride’s right hand into the groom’s right hand (Hastamelap, joining of hands) while reciting sacred verse. The curtain separating the bride and groom is then lowered and the couple exchange flower garlands. The elders of the house place an auspicious white cotton cord around the couple’s shoulder’s to protect them from the evil influences. This also symbolises the couple’s bond. The groom holds the bride’s hand and they both take vows to love cherish and protect each other throughout life.
Ganthibandhan (tying the knot)
The priest ties the wedding knot as a symbol of the permanent union between the bride and groom as husband and wife.
Agni Puja (evocation of the holy fire)
The priest sets up a small fire in a kund (cooper bowl). Agni (fire) is the mouth of Vishnu and symbolises the illumination of mind, knowledge and happiness. The remainder of the ceremony is conducted around the fire.
Shilarohana (stepping on the stone)
The bride places her right foot on a stone. The bridegroom tells her to be as firm as the stone in his house so that the can face their enemies and the difficulties of life together.
Laja homa (putting parched rice into the sacred fire)
Three obligations are offered to the sacred fire. The brother of the bride puts into the bride’s hand parched rice, half of which slips into the bridegroom’s hand. Mantras are chanted. The bride prays to Yama, the God of Death, that he grant long life, health, happiness and prosperity to the bridegroom.
Mangalfera (walking around the fire)
The couple walk around the sacred fire four times. Each time they stop to touch with their toe a stone in their path. This symbolises obstacles in life that they will overcome together. These four rounds stand for the four basic human goals:
Dharma – righteousness
Artha – monetary accomplishment
Kama – energy and passion in life
Moksha – liberation from everything in life.
The groom, signifying his contribution in helping the union to attain dharma, artha and kama, leads the first three rounds. The bride signifying their continual journey spiritual liberation leads the last round.
Saptapadi (seven steps)
The bride and groom take seven steps together around the fire. It is said in Hindu philosophy that if two people walk seven steps together then they will remain lifelong friends. They exchange sacred vows at the beginning of each encircling walk. At the end of each walk, the open palms of the bride are filled with puffed rice by her brother signifying wealth and prosperity. The seven steps and their promises are:
1.Let us take the first step to provide for our household, keeping a pure diet and avoiding those things that might harm us.
2. Let us take the second step to develop our physical, mental and spiritual powers.
3. Let us take our third step to increase our wealth by righteous and proper means.
4. Let us take out fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect and trust.
5. Let us take the fifth step so that we may be blessed with strong, virtuous and heroic children.
6. Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity.
7. Let us take the seventh step to be true companions and remain life-long partners by this wedlock.
Saubhagya Chinha (blessing the bride)
The bridegroom blesses the bride by putting kumkum or sindhur (vermilion powder) at the parting of her hair (or on her forehead) and by giving her a sacred necklace (Mangal Sutra). The Mangal Sutra represents the couple’s togetherness, love and sacred union.
Haridaya-Sparsha (touching of hearts)
The bride and bridegroom touch each other’s heart reciting promises to each other.
The bride and groom feed each other four times for nourishment of the bone, muscle, skin and soul.
The priest blesses the bride and groom. Flower petals and rice are given to the guests to shower them on the bride and groom with blessings. The wedding guests can then give their individuals blessings to the bride and groom and once completed, the marriage ceremony ends. Guests are invited to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the newlyweds.
Viddai (Bride’s departure)
The farewell to the bride by her family and friends is a very emotional episode. The bride is leaving her parents home to build a life with her husband and his family. She leaves with tears of joy and sorrow.
Before the wedding car departs for the Hindu temple, the priest will place a coconut under the front wheel of the car and wait for it to be broken by the weight of the car. The historic significance of this is that in the old days the couple would use a horse drawn carriage and the breaking of the coconut ensured that the vehicle was roadworthy for the journey. The pilucinchuanu concludes the entire ceremony.