SANKRANTI


Purpose

"There are three sacred festival nights for Bharatiyas: Sankranti, Shiva-ratri and Navaratri. Each of these has special significance. Sankranti enables man to turn his vision towards the sublime. It is the day when the apparent northward motion of the sun begins (Uttarayana Kaala). The day is considered auspicious for man to embark on his journey . towards the goal of a purposeful, sacred and blissful life." Sai Baba, SS, 11/94, p. 288

"This festive day has been celebrated from ancient times as a day of fulfillment and joy. Every festival is a social occasion, arising in society, flourishing in society, and promoting the well-being of society. Every festival has been designed to promote the welfare of society. Today's festival is an extremely important one for Bharatiyas (Indians). It is a festival to celebrate the glory of the Sun God." Sai Baba, SS, 2/98, p. 37

"Today is a sacred festival day. It is a day for the celebration of plenty and prosperity. This day of Sankranti brings with it an abundance of crop and wealth. This Pushya month brings with it a cool breeze, a bright sun, golden fields and trees echoing the songs of birds. The earth shines in the glory of nature. People admire the beauty of nature, but are not aware of the beauty in their inner hearts. Make your heart beautiful by adoring it with the sacred love of God." Sai Baba, SS, 2/95, p. 40 & 41

"Few people understand the true significance of festivals like Sankranti. Man cannot secure enduring bliss through physical pleasures. He has to discover that the source of this bliss is within himself. Sankranti enables man to make this discovery, like a man, who carrying his spectacles on his forehead, searches for it everywhere and discovers to his joy that it has been with him all along." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 44

"In this period, farmers and others labouring on the soil enjoy a period of rest. During this month, farmers enjoy peace of mind and body." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 44I

"On Sankranti day the farmers rejoice over the fullness of the granaries in their homes with newly-harvested crop." Sai Baba, SS. 2/98. p. 37

"The sun appears cool,

The day gets shortened,

And. is made pleasant by chill wind,

On the fields lit by moonlight,

The crows caw over the grain heaps,

While the farmers sing in joy,

Over the golden harvest.

The flowers express their joy by putting forth their petals

While in every home, filled with grain,

The people welcome the advent of Sankranti. "

(Translation of a Telugu poem sung by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on 14 January, 1998 at Prasanthi Nilayam) Sai Baba, SS, 2/98, p. 37

"The sun appeared cool and serene,

The day started getting shorter,

The cold wind blew fiercely,

The fields were filled with golden harvest.

The farmers rejoiced in singing at night,

With moon shining bright.

The buds of flowers blossomed,

Like garlands of pearls,

On the banks of rivers,

Chilies were looking red,

Farmers were bringing home,

The newly-harvested grain,

Hailing the advent of the joyous festival of Sankranti. "

(Translation of a Telugu poem sung by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on 14 January 1999 at Prasanthi Nilayam) Sai Baba, SS, 2/99, p. 35

"The Sankranti festival was designed to promote harmony and love in the family, to make people realise the unity of the Creator and creation, to teach people their obligations, to instill heroism in them by making the Sun-God their example, and above all, to make them realise their inherent Divinity. This is the sacred purpose of the Sankranti festival." Sai Baba, SS. 3/92, p. 39

 

Inner Meaning Of The Sankranti Festival

 

"The sun moves every month from one sign of Zodiac to the next. Sankranti -meaning 'sacred changes'- occurs even' month as the sun moves from one house of the Zodiac to another. But special sacredness is attached to the movement of the sun to Capricorn (Makara-Sankranti)." Sai Baba, SS, 2/98, p. 37

"In the movement of the sun from house to house in the Zodiac, the entry into Capricorn is most important. Capricorn is a sign of peace and contentment. According to Gregorian calendar, Sankranti begins on January 13 and 14. This confers a kind of mental and physical peace." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 44

 

Meaning Of Himachala In North

"During Uttarayana, the sun travels towards the north. What does this signify? In the north, we have Himachala (the Himalaaya Mountains), which is said to be the dwelling place of Eeshwara (Lord Shiva). When Eeshwara is all-pervasive, how can we limit Him to Himachala? What is the significance of this statement? The word 'Himachala' is made up of two words: 'Hima' + 'Achala'. 'Hima' means snow, which is white and pure. 'Achala' is that which is firm and unshakable. What is the place to which this description applies? It is pure heart, where Eeshwara is installed. It is said, 'Eeshwara Sarva Bhootaanaam,' which means Eeshwara is the indweller of all beings. So. in order to see God, you do not need to go anywhere. Turn your vision inward. We cannot call an unsteady and impure heart as Himachala. Only the heart, which is pure, peaceful, sacred, unpolluted and unwavering, can be called Himachala. So, when you turn inward you are Himachala." Sai Baba, SS, 6/99. pp. 161 & 162

The North is described as 'Himachala'. From the ancient times, the Himalayas were regarded as the abode of the Divine (Eeshwara). 'Himachala' symbolizes a heart, which is pure and cool as ice (Hima) and steady as a mountain ("Achala"). The message of Sankranti is that people should direct their vision towards 'Himachala' in this symbolic sense. It does not mean looking at the north with the physical eyes. It calls for inquiring into the truth of the spirit with the inward eye of wisdom (Jnana-drishti). Sankranti signifies this internal vision." Sai Baba, SS, 11/94, p. 289

Meaning Of Sankramana

"Men today are plagued by a whole battery of troubles from birth to death. How can they hope for happiness amidst this sea of troubles? They have to change their vision, their thoughts, words and conduct. This is the meaning of 'Sankramana'. Unless you purify yourself, what can any number of Sankrantis mean to you?" Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 46

 

Importance Of Makara Sankranti

"The sun moves into a house of the zodiac every month. In a year it goes round the twelve houses of the zodiac. Of these, the main houses are four. The first is Makara Sankramana (the zodiac sign of Capricorn). The second is Karkata (or Cancer). The third is Tula (Libra). The fourth is Mesha (Aries). Of these four, the most important is Makara (Capricorn). The entry of the sun into Capricorn has physical, ethical, social and moral significance." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 43

Meaning Of Uttaraayana

"When the sun enters the sign of Capricorn, it begins its northward motion (Uttara=north, Aayana =movement)." Sai Baba, SS, 2/98, p. 37

"Uttarayana is a quality of the 'Nayana' (eye). It is a matter of Drishti (attitude, point of view). It is not Ayan or half-year term. When your Drishti is on Brahman, it is Uttarayana. When it is on Prakriti, it is Dakshinayana (southward). When you have developed Uttama (noble) Gunas (qualities), everybody is Uttarayana whatever the Panchanga (astrology) may say."

"This astrological Uttarayana comes to you whether you strive for it or not. It is part of the law of nature. But for the real Uttarayana, you must make efforts, tremendous efforts." Sai Baba. SSS, Vol. II. p. 141

Importance Of Uttaraayana

"According to Bharatiya culture, Uttarayana is considered to be very sacred." Sai Baba, SS, 6/99, p. 161

This day marks the entry of the sun into the sign of Capricorn in its northward journey (Uttarayana). Bhishmacharya, lying on abed of arrows after he fell wounded waited for the commencement of Uttarayana to give up his spirit to the Lord. He lay on the bed of arrows for 56 days. This signifies the sacredness of this day. This is the moment for filling one's heart with divine feelings." Sai Baba, SS, 2/98. p. 39

Significance Of Uttarayana

"Man's vision should not be confined solely to external objects and worldly things, which are transient and perishable. Man has been given this vision so that he may see the pure. sacred Divine Consciousness abiding in his heart. Uttarayana (northward movement of the sun) is appropriate occasion for developing this inward vision. This is the royal road for the spiritual aspirant to realise the Supreme. It is, therefore, not enough to recognise the northward movement of the sun in this period. Every effort should be made to direct the vision towards the Indwelling Self." Sai Baba, SS, 2/2000, last cover page

Significance Of Sankranti

"Sankranti promotes in one and all a feeling of happiness. Sankranti promotes mental transformation. It illumines the minds of people. It induces the unfoldment of inner feelings. It brings about the manifestation of the invisible Atma within everyone. Sankranti is pregnant with such immense significance. It influences not only the mind but also the powers of the nature. Nature is the projection of the mind. The world is rooted in the mind ('Manomoolam idam Jagat'). When the mind is turned towards the heart, and the heart is filled with the Divine, the mind will cease to be a source of trouble. The mind is the master of the senses. When the senses are controlled, the mind is under control. Only the master of mind can attain Maadhava (the Divine)." Sai Baba.SS, 2/96, p. 45

Symbolism Of The Sun And The Himalayas

"The sun, in entering on its northward journey, hailed the Himalayas in north as beauteous abode of Lord Shiva. The heart should be regarded as the abode of the Lord and the vision should be turned to experience the Divine. The human heart itself symbolizes (he Himalayas as the abode of purity and peace. The sun's northward journey is a pointer to the path man should take to realise God. The sun is the supreme example of selfless and tireless service. The world cannot survive without the sun. Life on earth is possible only because of the sun. Sun teaches man the lesson of humble devotion to duty, without any conceit. The sun is the supreme example for everyone that one should do one's duty with devotion and dedication. Doing one's duty is the greatest Yoga, as pointed out by Krishna in the Gita." Sai Baba, SS, 3/92, p. 40

Symbolism Of The Offering Of The Cow-dung Balls

"In the Dwapara Yuga the cowherds and cowherdesses used to experience boundless joy in the presence of Krishna, forgetting themselves in their devotion to the Lord. On Sankranti Day, they used to employ cow-dung as a sacred means for cleansing purposes. They also demonstrated also the inner significance of the Sankranti celebration. They placed three balls of cow-dung in front of their houses, fixing three pumpkin flowers on their top and went round singing and dancing in adoration of Krishna. What is the significance of these three balls of cow-dung? People are inclined to despise cow-dung. But in the eyes of the Gopikas they were sacred. In olden days, people used to sprinkle water mixed with cow-dung in front to their houses. The cow-dung helped to destroy the bacteria in the atmosphere. The cow-dung was considered a symbol of health and happiness. The first cow-dung ball represented Krishna, who was worshipped as Gopala (the protector of cows). Krishna was adored as the bestower of joy and health. The second cow-dung ball was placed as a symbol of Govardhana Hill, which Krishna lifted and thereby demonstrated His divinity. The third cow-dung ball symbolized the cow, which is the source of health and joy for the people as the giver of milk. ( Govardhana and 'Go' (cow) were worshipped in this manner." Sai Baba, SS. 3/92, p. 38

Symbolism Of The Offering Of Pumpkins

"Among vegetables, the pumpkin has a place of honour as the largest in size. The Gopikas looked upon the pumpkin as the symbol of large-heartedness. Hence, pumpkin were offered as fitting gifts on Sankranti Day. What is the gain from this offering? Tin pumpkin does not rot quickly. It can be preserved for a long period. Any number of edible preparations can be made from it. It can also be used in combination with many other vegetables. Because of its distinct qualities, the offer of a pumpkin also meant making an offering of one's virtues." Sai Baba, SS, 3/92, p. 38

Why Is Sankranti Considered Holy?

"Sankranti is a holy day for many reasons. It was the day on which Adi Shankara took Sanyasa (renounced all worldly ties and donned the ochre robe).

On this day, it is the usual custom to offer to people a mixture of jaggery and sesame (til). Jaggery is sweet and is a symbol of love. 'Til' is also known as 'Sneha', which means friendship. Therefore, the offer of jaggery-til mixture means offering to people love surcharged with friendliness. Develop harmony towards everyone.

Because Sankranti was deemed the most important festival, it was the day on i which the newly wed bridegroom visited the bride's home. It was the day on which many people called on others as a mark of goodwill. There were rejoicings in every home because of the get-together of kinsfolk." Sai Baba, SS, 3/92, pp. 38 & 39

Spiritual Significance

"In the nine paths of devotion, beginning with listening to sacred things and ending with total surrender of the self (Atma-nivedanam). the last is the most important. After 'Atma-nivedanam' (total surrender), there is no need for any other effort. Sankranti gives call for this total surrender." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96. pp.44 & 45

Sankranti Belongs To The Entire Humanity

"Sankranti is intended to bring about various changes in man's attitude so that he may sanctify his life. It is a festival not intended for Bharatiyas alone. Its message has a meaning for everyone in the world. It has a message for people of all climes, creeds and countries." Sai Baba. SS, 3/92, p. 40

"Dr. Subba Rao (in his speech prior to Swami's discourse) said 'Sankranti is a kind of family festival'. Yes. This is so. But the whole world is one family ('Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'). The (Sankranti) festival relates to the entire wo'rld. It is not confined to one's kith and kin. Sankranti is related to the entire mankind. Whether people realise it or not. Sankranti promotes a feeling of happiness in one and all." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 45

Sankranti Prasadam

"Unless you purify yourself, what can any number of Sankrantis mean to you? You tasted sweet Prasadam this morning. After some time. its taste is gone. It is not sweet food that is important. You must fill your life with holy thoughts. That is the purpose of sacred festivals." Sai Baba. SS, 2/96, p. 46

Sai Baba's Messages On Sankranti

"Sankranti should be hailed as the harbinger of unity and peace. This was the immemorial message of the Vedas. 'Let us live together in harmony and strive together." Sai Baba, SS, 2/96, p. 47

"Kraanti (change) and Shaanti (peace) both reside in the heart. You need not search for them in the outside world. Discover them within you. This is your duty. Serve your parents and society. Lead a godly life, dedicating all your actions to God. Live in love." Sai Baba, SS, 3/92, p. 40

Glimpses of Sankraanti celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam (1992)

"The 'Makara Sankraanti' festival, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the people of Tamil Nadu, especially in the villages, as 'Pongal Thirunal' and 'Uzhavar Peruvizha' (the great Harvest Festival of Farmers) had special significance for Sai devotees from Tamil Nadu who gathered at Prasanthi Nilayam, this year to receive the blessings of Bhagavan on this sacred day.

They were able to celebrate it in the Divine Presence of Bhagavan who allowed the Sevaks from Tamil Nadu to decorate the Mandir premises and also the pathway leading to the Poomachandra Auditorium with buntings, Sarvamata (all religions) symbol flags, festoons, sugarcane stalks and turmeric plants, plantain trees and coconut palms brought in two lorry loads for the occasion. Sugarcane stalks were tied around every pillar in the premises along with turmeric plants reflecting the auspiciousness of the occasion when the sun transits into Makara Raashi (Capricorn) and begins its northward journey. In front of the Mandir, near the Ganesha idol, vegetables such as pumpkins, bananas, snake gourds, brinjals, etc. had been spread on mega-size plantain leaves in a typical Tamil Nadu style as an offering to the Lord. Six sets of decorated triple mud pots mounted one over the other were kept to demonstrate the importance of 'Pongal Paanai' (the pot in which sweet Pongal with freshly harvested rice is prepared) surrounded by fresh vegetables, sugarcane, turmeric plants, etc. There were festoons of mango leaves and coconutsil the Mandir premises. Colourful Rangoli (Kolam) adorned the floor in front of the Ganesh idol.

The devotees from Tamil Nadu numbering about 3000, who had come in sped buses and other vehicles a day earlier, were allowed to enter the premises and sitting separate group for Bhagavan's Darshan. Bhagavan was greeted with special devotion songs by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, when He emerged from His interview room at 7.00 a.m. Veda chanting by the students followed. Bhagavan arranged for the distribution of sweet 'Athirasam' to the devotees.

Bhagavan came near the Ganesha idol, inspected closely the special 'Pongal' decorations done by Tamil Nadu Mahila Sevaks, and lighted the two 'Kuthuvilakku' lamps to mark the inauguration of the Pongal festival. Major General S.P. Mahadevan expressed his gratitude to Bhagavan on behalf of the Tamil Nadu devotees.

All the devotees present at the Mandir, not only those from Tamil Nadu, were immensely pleased when it was announced the Bhagavan would give His Sankraarui discourse in the evening in the Poomachandra Auditorium.

The large number of devotees gathered in the Nilayam (nearly 30,000) were blessed with another Divine 'Prasadam' by Bhagavan in the form of 'Paayasam' along with their lunch. In the afternoon, the Auditorium was overflowing with devotees eager to listen to Bhagavan's Sankraanti message. Bhagavan's discourse was followed by a cultural programme by the Bal Vikas students from Tamil Nadu. The programme consisted of rural folk dances and a 'Villuppattu' dealing with the life of Bhagavan. The 1992 Sankraanti festival became a memorable and blissful event for Tamil Nadu Sai devotees." Editor, SS, 3/92, pp. 41 & 42


From the book - Festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam and Their Significance - An Exposition by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - Compiled and Edited by Suresh C Bhatnagar


 

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