Sri Sathya Sai On: The Inner Significance of Sankranti

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks

Four important transits of the Sun in a year

Every month the Sun moves into a new house in the Zodiac This movement is called Sankramana. In a year the Sun transits 12 houses of the Zodiac. Of these movements, 4 are important. Makara Sankramana is the first one. It relates to the entry of the Sun into Makara (Capricorn) from Dhanush (Sagittarius). The second one is Tula Sankramana, the entry of the Sun into the Zodiacal sign Tula (Libra). The third is Mesha Sankramana, moving into the sign Mesha (Aries). The fourth one is Shashi Sankramana, entry into the Moon sign (Cancer). Of the four, the most important and sacred is Makara Sankramana. This marks the apparent movement of the Sun from the south to the north. The northward movement of the Sun is considered highly significant, both spiritually and scientifically. It has immense spiritual meaning. The inner meaning of the Sun's northward journey has to be properly understood. 

The north is represented by Himachala. Hima means snow. It is pure, untainted and extremely cool. All these endow it with the quality of Prashanti (perfect peace). Achala means that which is steady and unshakeable. Himachala does not refer to the physical Himalayan region. It represents that which is cool, peaceful and steady. From today, the Sun is said to move towards such a state. The Sun symbolises the vision of man. The northward movement of the Sun is a call to human beings to turn their vision towards that which is cool, peaceful and unchanging. This means that men should direct their vision inwards. This is the lesson taught by the Sun.

Lord Surya Narayana

The Inner Significance of Uttarayana 

Man’s vision should not be confined solely to the 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. The northward motion of the Sun – Uttarayana, is the appropriate occasion for developing this inward vision. This is the royal road for the spiritual aspirant to realise the Supreme. It is not enough, therefore, merely to recognise the northward movement of the Sun in this period. Every effort should be made to direct the vision inwards towards the pure, sacred Indwelling Self. This is the period for cherishing sacred thoughts and performing holy deeds. The sages and seers of ancient times used to wait for the arrival of the Uttarayana to embark on their sacred tasks. The great warrior, Bhishma, lay on a bed of arrows for 56 days on the battlefield, awaiting the arrival of Uttarayana as the right time for giving up the body. The scriptures have declared that those who pass on during the Uttarayana have no rebirth. This does not mean that one should hang himself in Uttarayana in the hope of securing freedom from rebirth! The right way to give up one’s life is to fill one’s mind with holy thoughts and let the end come in the natural course. Sage Valmiki wished to distribute the composition of 100 crore verses on the Ramayana to the denizens of the three worlds in equal measure. After this was done, only two letters remained, which were offered to people in all the worlds for recitation. The two letters spell the names of Rama, Krishna, Hari, Isha and Sai. 

This illustrates how Bharatiyas attempted to sanctify every holy festival by dedicating themselves to the chanting of God’s name and to other spiritual activities. Youth today should realise that festivals in Bharat are not intended for feasting and pompous celebration, but for concentration on devotional activities. For mankind, the Sun is the most important entity in creation. When the Sun itself is proceeding northwards, why should not humanity direct its vision Godward? Human beings today are a prey to many troubles because their vision is diverted towards unholy objects. Man should abide by the laws of the Creator. Otherwise humanity is doomed. Religious festivals are observed all over the world for the purpose of raising humanity to a higher level of consciousness and conduct. 

The Glory of the Festival 

From this day, the Sun wears a peaceful and pleasing aspect. The days get longer and the nights become shorter. The day marks the beginning of the harvest season. As the crops are brought home, the granaries are full and joy reigns everywhere. A cool breeze blows all the time. Farmers sing with full-throated joy from their fields in the moonlight. The cold dew drops on the fields shine like garlands of gems. The chrysanthemums are in full bloom. This month, known as Pushya Masa (according to the Hindu almanac) is noted for the peacefulness, prosperity and joy which it brings with it. Hence it is regarded with special distinction. Unless human beings give up their bad thoughts and actions; the month; however great in itself, will be of no avail. The observance of Uttarayana should be marked by spiritual transformation of the people and not by lavish feasting and revelry. In connection with Sankranti, many auspicious functions are arranged. Newly wedded bridegrooms are invited to the brides’ houses. Sacred bulls are taken from house to house by traditional performers who relate the Ramayana story with the bulls playing their own role in it. In this way, with songs, plays and discourses, they celebrate the festival. 
The songs and plays had a sacred role in the celebrations. Unfortunately today music and sports have been commercialised. There is a price for every game, whether it is cricket or football or any other game. The sacred character of the games and dramas of the past has been tainted by the money nexus. It is clear that originally sports were promoted in the interests of health and strength. People took part in games for the improvement of their physique and to provide entertainment to the public. There was a time when a musician, if invited to sing songs at a wedding in his locality, would readily oblige. But today the musician will ask, “How much will you give me for my performance?” Singers have become sinners. Their music does not confer joy on the listeners because they sing, not out of the fullness of their heart, but for the sake of money and name. This was not the case in olden days. The performers with the sacred Gangi bulls used to gather in the centre of the village and provide entertainment as the members of one large family. Little children used to join in the fun, singing songs to gather all the children to watch the performance of the bulls. 


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