Surya Namaskar Brother & Sisters,
Bhogi is celebrated the day preceding Makar Sankranti. According to the Gregorian calendar it is normally celebrated on 13 January. On Bhogi, people discard old and things in bad condition and concentrate on new things, causing change or transformation. It is also a great moment for the disposal of old habits, vices, and attachments. Material things are sacrificed in the sacrificial fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the “Rudra Gita Jnana Yajna”. It represents realization, transformation, and purification of the soul by inviting various divine virtues. Bhogi is the last day of Dakshinayana and it signifies the cleansing of our mind from negative thoughts and making a firm resolve to walk the path of light, love and wisdom. So use this day to discard all the things you do not need in your home, office, and psyche. You can also make a list of things you want to accomplish and get done during the Uttarayan transit of the Sun (Jan to June). It is also recommended to let go of any negative feelings we have harboured in our hearts, knowingly or unknowingly.
The name Bhogi for this day had taken my particular interest but this day is also known as Lohri and also observed the day before Makar Sankranti and marks the end of winter (in the northern hemisphere) It is mainly observed and fervently celebrated in Punjab and other the northern states of India and very significant in days past and still for the farmers the returning of warmth of the sun.
M a k a r S a n k r a n t i
The day of Makar Sankranti is dedicated to Surya, the Lord of the Sun. On this auspicious day, usually the 14th of January, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn (or Makar) which marks the end of winter month and the start of longer days. This is the beginning of the Hindu month of Magh. While Makar Sankranti is most popular in West India, down south, the festival is known as Pongal.
This wonderful painting is made by Full Chand in the early ‘80s, an Italian artist, and it depicts Babaji as Surya, the Lord of the Sun and Vishnu Datt Acharya as His charioteer. It is on the wall of Babaji’s kutir next to the door and was made while Babaji was present. Unfortunately, I have only this part of the painting to show here now.
The night before Makar Babaji advised people to do Sadhana. This has not become a very popular practice amongst us but I remember that our present chairman, Dr. Arvind Lal, observed this day more devoutly than anybody that I am aware of, sitting all night in the Maha Shakti Dhuni with his mala. In his busy life he came sometimes only to spend the night like this and leave again in the morning for many years after Babaji’s samadhi. The most important thing to do as a devotee is to take a bath in a sacred river or the sea on the morning of the 14th. A great thing to do in India but observing that practice in Europe, USA or Canada is quite a challenge for most. Shri Muniraj was also always observing it but in his later years added river or sea water to his bathwater to be compliant to the day anyway. Perhaps this is also a good solution for Europeans and North Americans.
The iconic version of Surya Bhagwan, Lord of the sun.
One year, in the beginning of the Dutch ashram in Sadashiva Dham, we were very inspired and made our way with a dedicated group thru a pitch-dark forest to a small stream with only 20 centimeters deep of ice-cold water with lotha’s in hand. We had a hilarious time but that was once … and never again.
In Thailand at the Kamalaya resort, the temple of Babaji, Sadashiva Maha Avatar mandir was inaugurated and it has become the main day of the year for the celebrations for Babaji’s temple there. Vinodh Acharya has been coming every year to lead the ceremonies of Abhishek, Puja and Havan. This year, Covid has prevented Vinod from coming to Kamalaya, but we will celebrate Makar Sankranti enthusiastically also under the challenging circumstances for the Kamalaya resort in these times.
Devotees of the Divine in India have created lots of occasions to celebrate and observe various moments in time to honor the infinite aspects of the Divine. Westerners who have been drawn to Babaji’s feet, some more than others, did get the scent of all of this and felt pulled into this miracle of devotion. But when one is not born into such a way of life one can never keep up with all the ceremonies, and even for most Indians it is not easy. Personally, I think The time now is more about the constant remembering of the Divine and involving the Divine in all aspects of our life. We need to practice awareness of our thoughts and actions while embracing the higher powers, all while freeing oneself from the lower human natures. This is, in essence, what all the practices and scriptures are about. As easy and simple as it is written here, how extremely hard it is to actually do all the practices. This is the reason that the great seers have created such an elaborate system of worship in India. It helps to keep the focus through so many centuries. As we have reached the depths of Kali Yuga there is also a positive side. It is said that for those who make sincere effort in these troubled times, liberation comes a lot easier.
Having said all this about the essence I must also say that I love the practices that I have acquired in India through the years with perhaps singing Babaji’s Aarti as my all-time favorite. Singing the Aarti brings Him closer and closer all the time and He is the essence of everything present everywhere all the time. Whatever practice you do, give it your best!
Bhole Baba ki Jai!
Jai Maha Maya ki Jai!