What is Raksha Bandhan: Origin Rituals & Significance

      Shravan (July-August) is a Hindu calendar month of celebrations. On the full moon day of Shravan, an annual ritual of Raksha Bandhan is observed, in which sisters tie Rakhi (considered as sacred thread) on the right wrist of their brothers and apply a sacred mark Tilak in the centre of their forehead. The brother; in turn give them some gifts and money as a token of affection and a pledge to protect their honour in case of need. It is also revealed by God Shiva that the immortal, incorporeal, tinny star like human souls, while in body are seated in the centre of the forehead. It is for this reason that tilak is applied at that place. In India, the females traditionally apply Bindi at the same spot although they are hardly aware of its spiritual significance.

Sisters tie Rakhi (considered as sacred thread) on the right wrist of their brothers and apply a sacred mark Tilak in the centre of their forehead. The brother; in turn give them some gifts and money as a token of affection and a pledge to protect their honour in case of need.
Raksha Bandhan

      For the last 2000 years or so and till a few decades ago, this festival used to be celebrated in a different way. It was customary for the family priest to visit homes and tie a sacred thread and apply the tilak to each and every person in the family including the male members, elders and children. The sacred thread was also tied by the priest to the doors and windows of the house as well as to newly purchased household effects. A tilak like mark was also put on those items.

      Raksha Bandhan, also known as Vish Torak (destroyer of venom), Punya Pradayak (bestower of boons) and Pap Nashak (destroyer of sin) has a wider and deeper spiritual significance and it is also linked with Shiva. There are scriptural stories also of Indrani and Yamuna having tied rakhis to their brother Indra and Yama respectively, which brought them benefit but that does not throw any light on the original purpose of the festival. With the passage of time, the custom of the priest tying rakhi to every one in the family also came to be discontinued. It began to be celebrated as a brother-sister ritual.

      A legend related to this festival is that once in a battle between the demons and gods, the gods were defeated. Their king Indra went to the priest of gods Brihaspati and said that such circumstances shamed him into sacrificing his life. Meanwhile, Indrani arrived and said that she would plan a way out. Next morning after prayers, Indrani tied a cotton band on the wrist of Indra and sent him to the battle field. Indra won the battle.

      History also emphasizes the importance of this festival. Once there was a war between two Rajput states. Once was getting help of the Mughal in the times of Jahangir. Panda of one state sent cotton band (Rakhi) to the chief, who was under the help of the Mughals. That chief, getting the Rakhi, turned the tables and attacked the Mughals. Thereafter cordial relations lasted between the two states. Rani Karamvati avoided a calamity by sending Rakhi to Humayun and thus, making him her brother.

      The origin of Raksha Bandhan has to be traced to the incarnation of the God—Sermonizer of Gita which takes place at the fag end of every world cycle, when it is the time of extreme degeneration of values. The incorporeal self-luminous (Jyotirlinga) Shiva (the world benefactor) descends in the corporal medium of Prajapati Brahma and raises non-violent spiritual children of Prajapati Brahma. The sacred thread (Rakhi) was tied to brothers to take a vow of purity that protects the honour of sisters and the tilak applied was for soul consciousness. In return for this vow of purity, Lord Shiva granted them protection from negativity and vices and ultimately liberation from grief and suffering.

      This ancient Hindu festival of brotherhood and pure love at present is celebrated by sisters going to brothers, tying Rakhis, applying Tilak and offering sweets and the brothers, assuring the safety and honour of their sisters. Arun (reddish orange: the colour of rising sun) in rakhis has great importance that the rakhi conveys to the brother, "Oh my brother, till the last drop of your blood, the responsibility of my safety in emergency is yours."

      Raksha Bandhan fast, festival and mythological legends are outcome of spiritual and philosophical doctrines. The subtle, selflessness, spiritual mysteries are not much appreciated in the modern age, but we observe them as a matter of tradition. There is no dearth of scientific and physical base in them. Science arrives at a conclusion only on the basis of a hypothesis. Indian religious festival and legends expose the mystery of the real form of Truth by symbols, indications and by allegorical methods, which is most poignant and venerable. In modern materialistic world of reason and arguments, we pay no heed to it. To realize the sublime, spiritual and psychological truth in them, we need the persons of cooperative and element knowledge. When you understand them, the door to extreme happiness and welfare opens. With such devoted mind, the festival of Raksha Bandhan should be observed.

      In Bundelkhand (U.'P.) this is also called Kajri Purnima or Kajri Navami, when wheat or barley is sown in small containers, watered everyday for seven days and worship of mother Bhagwati is done. This is observed by those women who are blessed with a son recently.

      By establishing a love-link or mental communion i.e. yoga with the ocean of knowledge and ocean of virtues, i.e. supreme soul Shiva, a soul can regain its original state of pristine purity complete upto 16 celestial degrees (sola kala sampooran), which is symbolized by full moon. It is for this reason that Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the day of full moon.

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