Skanda Shashti; taking vows; gut health
The Adiveda Weekly #23
Hari Aum Sadhakas!
Today we’ll be discussing Skanda since Skanda Shashti is just around the corner. Skanda is one of the names of Shiva’s eldest son who is also known as Kartikeya. Shashti means six and he was born on the 6th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Kartika. We celebrate Skanda Shashti on the day on which he was born. This year it falls on the 30th of October.
The Hindu way of life
Tormented by the fearful demon called Taraka, the gods went to Brahma to seek his help in evicting the fearful asura from swarga (heaven) which he had usurped by displacing the devas (gods). Brahma told them decisively that only the son of Shiva could save them. However, the great yogi had gone into seclusion after the self-immolation of Sati, his wife who had been Daksha’s daughter, who had married him against her father’s wishes.
The story of Skanda Shashti is the story of the birth of Skanda or Kumara and the fulfilment of the purpose of his divine incarnation.
This festival as with all our Hindu festivals, what is depicted is the victory of good over evil. The outer story is only a cover for this inner truth. In the avatara of the Supreme as Skanda, the same theme is reiterated – the eternal struggle between ignorance and knowledge, between the lower demonic forces and the higher divine principles. These dualities exist both on a cosmic level as well as on the individual level.
Reflection of the week
“The cosmic drama in which the Supreme appears to be bound by his own Prakriti or Nature keeps being enacted endlessly only through ignorance. It can only come to an end with the birth of knowledge.”
For your everyday practice
It is the attitude with which we take a vow that matters most.
The word vratam means “vow” in Sanskrit. This should not be misunderstood as mere fasting. When we observe a vratam or vow, we have to purify our minds through meditation, japa and any other type of sadhana (spiritual practice), along with fasting. We can take a vow of silence or of not getting angry etc. The vratam is a serious attempt on the part of the practitioner to bring more discipline into his or her life. Even the fasting should be done willingly and not as a burden.
Shashti vratam is taken up by many devotees of Subramanya on the 6th day of the shukla paksha or bright half of all the lunar months throughout the year. Thus, there will be twelve fasts in one year.
For your health and well-being
Probiotics and the gut.
A balanced and diverse gut microbiome (those trillions of microorganisms that live in our guts) creates an environment for a balanced and healthy human. One way to support the gut’s diversity is through eating a wide range of ‘probiotics.’ Probiotics, or health-promoting microorganisms, influence the gut microbiome and have a role in contributing towards the microbiome’s balance and diversity. We’ve included natural probiotics in our diets for thousands of years, through various forms of fermented foods like yogurt, pickles, overnight soaked rice kanji etc. Continue to incorporate all these natural sources of probiotics into your diet on a daily basis (if they do not cause you any other issues) as the consumption of these foods can help promote good health through supporting the gut microbiome’s diversity.
By Dr. Poorna Menon, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
From Vanamali Mataji’s desk
When we examine the story of Kartikeya’s birth we will see that it’s actually the story of creation. He was born out of the union of Purusha and Prakriti – Shiva and Parvati. There is an essential link between the two. They are irrevocably bound together. Creation takes place when the formless Brahman descends into the world of forms through the five basic elements or pancha bhutas – ether, air, fire, water and earth. Shiva is identified with the Brahman and poetically speaking, it is said that Shiva’s seed was ejected out of etheric space into the air who carried it to Agni or fire who dropped it into the waters of the Ganga who deposited it into the earth in a clump of reeds. Thus, the five elements combined in order to nurture the seed of Shiva – the Supreme.
Important dates this week
Diwali on Monday, 24th October
Lakshmi Puja on Monday, 24th October
Solar Eclipse on Tuesday, 25th October
New Moon on Tuesday, 25th October
Govardhan Puja on Wednesday, 26th October
Bhai Dooj on Wednesday, 26th October
Notes for the upcoming solar eclipse
There are many health hazards that can affect us during the time of an eclipse. Since micro-organisms multiply fast during an eclipse there is a tendency for food to get spoilt so we are asked not to cook during the time of the eclipse and not to eat food cooked the previous day since it would have become spoilt. Immunity to disease is also lowered so we are told not to wander all over the place but to sit in one spot and practice meditation or do mantra japa. Pregnant women are considered to be especially susceptible to the evil forces during eclipses. They are not allowed to go outside where the rays would be stronger. They are told to abstain from such activities like cutting vegetables and stitching clothes.
That’s all for now. What would you like to see more of? Let us know! Thank you very much for reading.
At your service,
The Adiveda Team