Saturday, August 23, 2014

538. The Day when I go on to seek Alms once in a Year.........!

Shravana is the fifth month in the Hindu calendar. As per the scriptures this particular month is considered as highly auspicious. In Vedas, this month is described as “NABHAS” (Celestial). Shravana Purnima coincides with Nakshatra (birth star) of Sri Maha Vishnu, Shravana nakshatra, hence the whole month is called as Shravana masa. This makes the month so auspicious and is considered as important and significant.

Among the seven days in a week, Mondays are considered auspicious in the month of Kartika, Thursdays are auspicious in the month of Margashirha and Sundays are auspicious in the month of Magha. But in the month of Shravana there are three days which are most auspicious. On Tuesdays the newly wedded brides observe Mangala Gauri Vrata which is performed to safeguard the future of their husbands. On Fridays married women observe Shravana Shukravara Vrata for prosperity. On Saturdays every Vaishnava worships Sri Maha Vishnu particularly in the form of Sri Lakshmi Venkateshawara, especially the last Saturday which happens to be today.  

When I was young (school going kid) my mother used to wrap a dhoti around my waist and adorn an attractive “Urdhva Pundra” (Nama) on my forehead and would give me two bowls. With the two bowls in my hand starting from our house, I had to go to every house in the neighborhood and chant “Sriman Narayana Govinda..... Govinda” standing at the threshold of every house. Hearing the chant the women from the household would put rice in one bowl and toor dal in the other. I had to finish seeking alms from all the houses and run to my school which would start early compare to other weekdays. All the so collected rice and toor dal had to be donated to the temple in the evening. This is the tradition of seeking alms which even now I practice on the last Saturday of Shravana.      

But secret behind this tradition of “seeking alms” is to “induce humility.” This happens to be a common practice on certain path to induce humility. The absence of humility is the beginning of Ego. No matter how wealthy one could be, the way to surrender is taught in a very meaningful way of culture and tradition. If one feel that there would be no whiff of Ego in a small kids, this practice will work to annihilate inhibition and introvert nature in them. Some say seeking alms is bad but if it can be used as a tool to induce humility the purpose is served! Ego is subdued! Once the ego is cowed down there is no need to go for seeking alms again until the next year! Thus, there is a vast difference between the one who seeks alms to induce humility, and one who does the same just because he is lazy, the later remains beggar the whole life, while the former transcends Ego and moves towards Divinity!

In Sikh community also we can find a tradition where cleaning shoes at the Guru Ghar or voluntary service in langar is done as an act of humility. Those who do not know the greatness of such acts think it is an act where the self esteem is diminished, but such services every now and then will induce humility and humanity.

Even Maha Vishnu did not deter to take up the incarnation of Vamana where He had to seek alms from King Bali to tame Ego.... the only difference there was the Ego of the giver was tamed by the receiver.

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